Saturday, February 18, 2006

I believe the children are our future (or, on the other hand...)

Those of you who have read My Girlfriend's Boyfriend in one or another of its forms may have seen that I work pretty hard trying to justify a few references to '80s pop songs. Though I hope you didn't notice too much, because if you did I'm not doing it right.

My problem is that it's the music that I love, and that informs much of what I write. To one degree or another both of the main stories of Girlfriend's Boyfriend owe their lives to things I've thought of while listening to music. If it's good enough for Aaron Sorkin, it's good enough for me.

And I like to put references to some of it into the work; I know when I'm reading something that mentions songs I happen to have, I put them on the CD player as soon as I can. I like the feeling that the writer has provided me with a "soundtrack."

I see my story taking place in this century, but I'm writing about characters who are mostly almost 10 years younger than I am. Colley & Mary are even younger. So I use characters like Giovanni, who is my age, and Keitha's older brother, who's a little younger, to get some references in. Plus putting Keitha to work in a "hip" record shop I hope justifies without the sound of too many gears grinding things like that she would like Morrissey and Kirsty MacColl.

Still, I worry, because occasionally you see TV shows and movies where characters make references to things you wouldn't necessarily expect them to get. So you can imagine my relief when, at Burger King this evening, I heard a young woman who couldn't have been more than 16 (if that) announce "I love this song," as Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper began to play.

So maybe I've been worrying about nothing. Wouldn't be the first time.

Words of Advice for Young People

"People often ask me if I ((cough)) have any words of advice for young people." are a few simple admonitions for young and old.

Never interfere in a boy and girl fight.

Beware of whores who say they don't want money. The hell they don't. What they mean is they want more money, much more.

If you are doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch get it in writing. His word isn't worth shit--not when the good Lord taught him how to fuck you on the deal.

Avoid all fuck-ups.
You all know the type.
Anything they have anything to do with no matter how good it sounds turns into a disaster area.

Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill.
Tell them firmly:


Now, you may encounter the devil's bargain if you get that far. Any old soul is worth saving, at least to a priest, but not every soul is worth buying--so you can take the offer as a compliment.
They try the easy marks first--you know, like money (all the money there is)
but who wants to be the richest guy in some cemetery?
Money won't buy it.

In order to feel something you have to be there...
You have to be eighteen...
You're not eighteen...
You are seventy-eight.

"You always wanted to be a doctor, well, now's your chance."

"You could become a great healer and benefit humanity."

What's wrong with that?

Just About Everything.

There are no honorable bargains involving qualitative merchandise, like souls, for quantitative merchandise like time or money.

-William S. Burroughs-

Okay, important question time

Which of these things is more likely to happen?

  1. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen pose for Playboy.
  2. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen star in remake of "The Shining" as those horrible twins.

Because the way I see it, they're going one way or the other.

Only 10 disasters to go before Voldemort

Via TGW.

My luck was spent, The floor opened up, down I went

Yes, it's another post about the Democrats tendency to metaphorically wander about with their shoes off approaching strangers and asking "are you my mommy?" Robert C. Koehler has a column in which he identifies two figures that he thinks have turned the 'Crats white as sheets:
One is George McGovern, who taught them that only Republican values matter in a national election. The other is Ralph Nader, who taught them who the real enemy is.

In my opinion he left out a third: Bill Clinton, who taught them they should step on their dicks.

As someone who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, and has been defending my right to have done so ever since, I think it’s time to have it out about this preposterous state of affairs. It has turned mainstream Democrats into ballot bullies, convinced that their party’s future can only be secured by denying voters legitimate choice at the polling place. Indeed, this is the only fight they seem to wage with any animation.

In 2004, John Kerry cravenly conceded to Bush while the enormous irregularities in the Ohio vote were being contested by the Greens and Libertarians, and said not a word about the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of would-be (mostly Democratic) voters nationwide that probably cost him the election. Yet he managed to wage a vicious, resource-wasting campaign of harassment to keep Nader, and his message, off the ballot in as many states as possible. It’s the only fight Kerry won.

The myth that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election remains a virulent component of what passes for conventional wisdom among mainstream Dems. This is an outrageous simplification of what really happened. First of all, there’s no moral ground for claiming that Nader took any votes away from the stumbling, pandering Gore, who, like Kerry four years later, campaigned as though the only votes he had to “earn” were Republican votes.

Like this guy, I voted for Nader in 2000. I can tell you why in two words: Joe Lieberman. Although, had Washington State actually been in play for Bush, I might have done differently.

I think Nader did a lot of stupid things in the years since, and I was in no way tempted to vote for him again in 2004. But the one thing he said that I think was absolutely dead-on came shortly after the 2000 race had finally been decided, and he was beginning to face the "cost Gore the election" question.

He said (this is approximate), "Nobody cost Al Gore the election except Al Gore. Al Gore and George Bush--we're talking about the only two candidates in America who couldn't beat each other."

The night The Daily Show ran that clip, they cut back to Jon Stewart, who opened his mouth to say something typically funny, and then went--"He's right. Funnyman got nothing."

I don't know how many more floors the Democrats have to crash through before they finally stop opening them up beneath themselves, but it looks like it's not over yet.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Another picture I like but know nothing about



Date Movie, starring Alyson Hannigan, is being released without benefit of critic's screenings. This is frequently a big old warning sign. Too bad, the idea of spoofing the conventions of a romantic comedy has promise.

Possibly it's an idea that would have been better in the hands of a Richard Curtis or Jim Brooks, people who know how to make date movies in the first place. Rather than "two of the six writers of Scary Movie."

What's more of a shame is that this is, unless I'm mistaken, the first film in which Hannigan is first-billed, and it's probable failure will keep her in TV. Hannigan is the rare actress who can play comedy or drama while also being a beautiful woman.

Yet apart from (arguably) American Pie, go prove that by the movies in which she's been cast.

The greatest pick-up line ever

"If I were an enzyme, I'd be DNA helicase... so I could unzip your genes"

Found in hot_nerds.

I'll believe it when I see it

As I think most of you know, the wonderful Kirsty MacColl, my favorite female singer, was killed in a powerboat accident while swimming in Mexico in the year 2000. Since then Kirsty's fans, family and friends have had reason to understand why there are so many jokes about the Mexican justice system. For the past two or three years her mother Jean has been waging a Justice For Kirsty campaign.
You see, Kirsty was torn in half in front of her children and the man who did it was fined the equivilent of $110.

Well, we're closing in on the bastard with some high-profile help in shining a spotlight on the case:

At a recent U2 concert in Mexico, Bono, a longtime friend of Kirsty's (he once tried to pick her up in a Dublin pub), dedicated a song to her.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

The next night the Mexican Government issued a statement promising "justice." Like I say, I'll believe it when I see it, but I figure it always helps to have Bono on your side.

My man (or woman, I'm still not sure) Mariano is back

...with some new drawings. One or two of you longtime readers will remember that Mariano is the unofficial official "mystery artist" of Dictionopolis in Digitopolis. In that I still know almost nothing about him or her but enjoy his-or-her work.

So here's some more of it.

Is it me or is this Lisa Loeb?

When Prince disses your little shout-out to him, it's a sign of something

Poor, poor Paris Hilton. That girl just can't catch a break. First her millions of dollars keep her from seriously pursuing the career of her dreams (that of porn star), now this.

I stopped an old man along the way; hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies

I'm taking a tip here from ReddHedd. She was seeking an antidote to the pessimism the week's events have engendered. (The Bush administration is so powerful they can actually shoot someone on a drunken bender and get away with it).

Redd says:
I know it is thoroughly nerdy, but in times like these, I pick up material from our nation's history and remind myself about what true obstacles really are -- and how much courage and conviction it took to overcome them at our nation's founding and throughout our history.

Here's what she found.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

From Thomas Paine. If you don't know who that is..Billy Bragg went out drinking with him once.

Looks like I finally have something in common with Congress

A fella named Petrelis writes:
The gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" continues to rake in the buck at the box office. According to its earned more than $106 million in domestic and worldwide release so far.

If that kind of money isn't enough to persuade Hollywood to make more gay-themed movies for both the gay community and other moviegoers, nothing will.

Oh, would to that it 'twere.

Petrelis goes on to look at the response to the film in of all places Congress where, by an unbelivable coincidence,
> They swear it has nothing to do with “Brokeback Mountain,” but a group of Senators, mostly from cowboy country, has introduced a resolution designating July 22, as “National Day of the American Cowboy.”

Probably predictably, few members of Congress will comment on the film, and those that will all seem to make a point of mentioning that they haven't seen it. Of course, niether have I.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fox News. Priorities.

At Shakespeare's Sister's, Thesaurus Rex had the same what did he say? moment as I did when I saw part of the FOX interview w/ Cheney:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- part of the shot. He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body.

Q And you -- and I take it, you missed the bird.

And I take it you missed the bird?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oh, my my my my my my my...

It's beginning to look a lot like the reason it took Cheney so long to speak is because he'd had a beer or two (at least) before shooting the man. Here's why. From an item posted on Yahoo! News:
Vice President Dick Cheney, who was forced to leave Yale University because his penchant for late-night beer drinking exceeded his devotion to his studies, and who is one of the small number of Americans who can count two drunk driving busts on his record, was doing more than hunting quail on the day that he shot a Texas lawyer in the face.

The vice president has admitted that he was drinking on the afternoon of the incident. He claims it was only a beer, according to the transcript of an interview with Fox New Wednesday. But the whole discussion about how much drinking took place on the day of the fateful hunt has been evolving rapidly since Katherine Armstrong, the wealthy Republican lobbyist who is a member of the politically connected family that owns the ranch where Cheney blasted his hunting partner, initially claimed that no one was imbibing before the incident.

And Alan Dershowitz asks:
What is the most likely thing to happen during a 14 hour delay that is worth the negative publicity? One possibility is that it takes approximately that period of time for alcohol to dissipate in the body and no longer be subject to accurate testing. It is fairly common for people involved in alcohol-related accidents to delay reporting them until the alcohol has left the body. There is no hard evidence that this is what happened here, but we are entitled to a better explanation. We should be told whether Vice President Cheney's victim had alcohol in his system when he was taken to the hospital. Was there any alcohol at or near the hunting area? Were any in the hunting party carrying flasks (which is apparently common among hunters)? What was Cheney doing just before he went hunting? Did anyone in the hunting party have a drink? We do know that Cheney had two drunk driving convictions when he was in his early 20s, but he has apparently been clean since then.

This is just such an encapsulation of the Bush administration way. They do stupid, hurtful things, and they never, ever take responsibility for them. I'd like to think the American people would finally rise up and make them-but the last time I thought that was early November 2004.

Always asking questions

Last night's Boston Legal, along with its usual witty banter and eloquent closing arguments, certainly raised some interesting questions. One of the featured cases in the episode was about an 18-year-old girl who is raped and becomes pregnant as a result. She now wants to sue the Catholic hospital where she was treated because they denied her access to "the morning after pill" until it was too late.

I thought the show did it's usual, expected good job of dramatizing such an issue without quite reducing conservatives to straw men. I also liked the story about Alan Shore (James Spader) bonding with a little girl who is unable to smile due to nerve damage following an accident. Neat little dig at Tom DeLay in that segment, too.

But I have to admit the most long-lasting question it left me with was...

...who is that amazingly cute girl they have playing the rape victim? The answer? Her name is Kelly Smith, she's a 26-year-old actress from Florida who has done a couple of movies and several episodes of various TV series. Including, perhaps unfortunately, one of the "Buffy" episodes with the worst reputation among fans, "Smashed."

Let me explain what I mean by amazingly cute before you all start thinking I'm just being a pig again. Or, you can see what I mean by her IMDb Publicity Photos here and here. K-thump, k-thump.

From a man's point of view (or at least this man), they couldn't have cast anyone better if they wanted to get an audience immidiately on a character's side. Not that I'm saying it would be that hard to work up sympathy for a character in such a position no matter who played her...

Shit, I have a feeling that by trying to explain myself I'm just digging in deeper. It's just that she activated all my paternalistic, somebody hurt you, baby? Let me know who it is, and I'll kill them! instincts (yes, I've got 'em, I can't help it).

It was also a really, quietly touching performance, I want to be sure to add. I was genuinely impressed. And as almost always when I see a young woman with talent, immidiately started thinking which of my characters I'd like to see her portray.

But I'm sorry (though only kinda), my most overwhelming response was...who is that amazingly cute girl?

It was only a matter of time, really

Via TGW.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oh, no

I've just learned from Peter David's blog that the actor Andreas Katsulas, G'Kar on Babylon 5, has passed away. G'Kar was probably my favorite character on that fine series, and Katsulas was a big part of the reason why.

The range he showed in taking G'Kar from the lusty creature he was at the beginning of the series to the stillness he showed as the holy man (or Narn) he became was breathtaking. He was also a rebuke to anyone who would ever say that makeup would smother a performance; given the right actor (and the right makeup) a performance shines through.

A British friend once sent me video of a convention appearance he'd made there, which I'm even more appreciative of now. I remember watching it, my first lengthy exposure to him out of makeup, and having that weird feeling of "It's not G'Kar...but it is."

He had incredible presence. Makeup couldn't disguise it, and he didn't need the makeup to be recognizable as his character, he'd invested too much of himself in it, or so it seemed. I don't know if any of this is making sense to those of you who haven't seen the series, if you haven't, you should.

I also remember that he opened that convention appearance by singing the first two or three lines of "On Broadway." ("They say the neon lights are bright...")

He was another one of those actors who I'd always kind of hoped to meet and in my wildest fantasies, write for. If the man could deliver long, Shakespearianesque speeches dressed as a giant lizard and make them work beautifully, he could do anything.

I'm sorry I won't get to see more of his work in the future, and I'm glad I had a chance to appreciate a little of it in the past.

As you might have imagined...(w/additions)

...Jon Stewart and the boys at The Daily Show had some things to say about Dick Cheney shooting a 78-year-old-man in the face. If you missed it, Crooks and Liars' got the footage...
"Don't let your kids go hunting with the Vice President. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land or-energy regulations they're trying to get lifted. He'll shoot them in the face."

Oh, and Bush is now at 39%.

ETA: Say, remember how some people pretended to be upset with Bill Clinton for setting a bad example for kids in this country? Because no kid in puberty ever thought about giving or receiving oral sex until Clinton was Lewinskied.

Well, as Redd Hedd points out,
I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise, seeing that it is Dick Cheney and all...but still, what kind of message is [this] sending to the kids in this country?

"Go ahead and shoot your friends. Then blame them for getting in the way of the shot, and have a female friend deal with the press for you so you can hide behind her skirts and never have to accept any responsibility. Ever."


How is the WH dealing with this mess? Apparently, the President, his Press Secretary and his staff have decided that when Dick Cheney shoots a man in the face, neck and chest with a shotgun, it's a laughing matter for the formal WH staff. Including the President.
Forbes:President Bush's spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn't be confused for hunter's safety wear.

"The orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there," joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. "That's why I'm wearing it."

The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, "No Farmers, No Food."

"I'm a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in," the governor cracked during an appearance in Tampa Monday.

And as Joe in AmericaBlog says,
I expect Jon Stewart and Jay Leno to make jokes about this incident. That's their job. But, for Scott McClellan and Jeb Bush to make fun of the whole thing is just creepy and incredibly unseemly.

Redd was right, above, I don't know why this should come as a surprise. We've been shown time and again that to the Bush administration, putting people's lives in danger is funny, funny, funny.

Leaking the name of a government agent, that was funny. The WMD fuckup, costing the lives of thousands of soldiers and who knows how many wounded, that was funny too.

Funny, funny.

22 songs about 11 women

...who will remain nameless, but one or two of you may recognize yourselves or someone you knew.

The girl I lost my virginity to I associate with of all things, "Yellow Submarine", but that's because it had just come out on video at the time and we watched it...after. Later I would come to associate OMD's "The New Stone Age" with her, for entirely less charming reasons.

Then there was a girl I once spent a memorable evening with whilst listening to Tangerine Dream's Underwater Sunlight album and the soundtrack to Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. I feel sure that the latter inspired me to new heights.

Had a girlfriend for a while who was crazy about Prince. I think I "sealed the deal," so to speak, when she asked me what I thought of him the first night we met and I was able to say (honestly) that I thought he was a musical genius. Of course, she herself turned out to be a little...kind of...let's just say confused about her sexuality. At least when I knew her. For all I know she's fine now. I often think of her when listening to Duran's samplejam, "Burning The Ground."

Split Enz' "Message To My Girl" is what I always think of as "our song" for another girlfriend. I also remember waking up the morning after we'd broken up to be greeted with Yaz' "Only You" on the radio. Frankly, I can do without those kind of cheap coincidences in my life.

Knew a girl once who, looking back it seems strange to say we had little in common-she was an actress. At the time I think I was running from my artistic inclinations, thinking I might be able to lead a simple life. Anyway, we were pretty good at sex, and one night I noticed that while we'd been, shall we say, "sharing a moment" my Pet Shop Boys b-sides tape was playing songs called "We All Feel Better In The Dark" and "I Get Excited, You Get Excited Too."

Slept with a woman who was in the early stages of pregnancy with another man's child once. For reasons which would take too long to explain I associate her with a Naked Eyes song called "Fortune & Fame" and the theme to Spike Lee's film Mo Better Blues.

I was stalked once by a girl who, after seeing Heathers, told me she'd planned to offer me her virginity in a game of strip croquet. Being stalked is not as much fun as it sounds. But the girl in question ended up buying the Thompson Twins In The Name Of Love album just because I'd told her I like the title song. If she'd asked me, I could have told her the rest of the album sucked and what she really wanted was the Greatest Mixes collection...but she didn't ask me. That may have been why the situation didn't last long.

Another girl I think of with INXS' "I Burn For You" (the live version) and Frank Sinatra's "Sleep Warm."

There was a girl out here in Seattle for a while; our relationship was best described by a two-word phrase, the second word of which is "buddies." We're "just" friends now. I remember two specific things with her and music. One is when she used her job at a record store to get sixth-row tickets for us to Joe Jackson, my second favorite musical performer. I like to think I showed her my appreciation. Then there was the weekend she crashed here while working days at an annual music festival. I like something she told me she told a friend later, "It was basically a whole weekend of nothing but music and sex."

Then we come to a woman whose lesbianism I think I confirmed, but along the way we did spend a nice day or two listening to Elvis covers and watching a Daria video.

And to end this list, a kind of crazy woman (trust me), but who did at least provide a heavenly activity to listen to "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" or Noel Coward covers with.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Random Confessions Of The '80s (and pre '80s) Man

Has anyone else ever noticed that The Human League's song "The Lebanon" is a complete and utter rip-off of Chicago's record "25 or 6 to 4?" I mean, I can't be the first one to notice this, but I don't remember seeing it anywhere.

Lisa Loeb explains "the thong incident"

I forgot people have freeze frame and internet sharing. I have a switch in my head where I just do things.

--in conversation with Better Than Fudge

We now pause for the following commercial announcement

The boys at Ain't It Cool are, shall we say, looking askance at the first poster images to be released from the forthcoming X3. And with a little doing, they've managed to visualize their dissatisfaction by turning the images into a series of tis-the-season cards, thus: well as with a dandy comparison between the X3 poster art and that of Rent. Personally, I've been worried about the fate of X3 ever since I heard that Bryan Singer wasn't doing it. I don't go to the boys at AIC too often, but in this case, I think they may be dead on.

And by god, Harry was in the line of fire (w/updates & additions)

Update: Here's an item from two or three years ago that may shed some light on just what kind of a "sportsman" Cheney is.
Monday's hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape.

That's digusting. (Empahasis mine.)

Update again: Firedoglake is all over this. One of the ladies who write it ("ReddHedd") and more of those who read it than I would have thought have some experience hunting. Redd writes:
A 28-gauge shotgun is a fairly specialized firearm. My dad called it a "ladies gun" when I learned to shoot as a kid -- it was the first gun I ever took out for target practice at the quarry. It shoots a fairly small pattern, compared to the spread you get from a 12-gauge, say, so the buckshot comes out in a fairly concentrated pattern, and there is little to no recoil -- which means you don't get that smack into your shoulder when the gun rebounds from the pressure of the shot like you would with a higher-gauge (stronger) shot. At least, that's what I remembered (it's been a while since I was a kid and went target shooting with my dad), so I did a little research and...yep, I remembered correctly.

She also notes something interesting about statements made by Katharine Armstrong,owner of the ranch where the shooting took place.
"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

Well, this explains why Ms. Armstrong has been silenced now by the Cheney PR team -- nothing like reminding the public that Cheney has an ambulance always on call, is there?

Original post: Dick Cheney shot a man. And though I'd love to be able to add the words "in Reno, just to watch him die," it was, reportedly, an accident. Maybe. Via AmericaBlog:
Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on Saturday while the two were hunting at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.
Whittington was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.
"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

He's the NRA.
(Picture via IronCity)

ETA and one more for the road: Mark Evanier, who's spent the weekend in the hospital due to a leg ailment (get well soon, Mark) has a final commentary.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I'll accept that too

Who Should Paint You: Andy Warhol

You've got an interested edge that would be reflected in any portrait
You don't need any fancy paint techniques to stand out from the crowd!

I'm a post-post modern man who belongs on a can of soup...

A Doonesbury apology

If you live long enough, you see everything. I've seen it snow in California. I've seen my country go to war over nothing at all. And now I've seen a Doonesbury character apologize to George Bush the first.

I almost had a witty pop culture reference

... to make about this Crooks and Liars entry, but I couldn't think of an entire one. All I know is, it's: Something something "Joss Whedon" something. Anyway, C & L has two or three articles saying how Bush conservatives really and truly are unwilling to hear criticism of their leader. They think America is George W. Bush, and vice-versa.

For them, even to be subjected to the idea that "Bush is off course" is traumatic and wrong. Such an opinion has no place at a "conservative" event, where only praise and reverence of the Commander-in-Chief is appropriate. One sees this time and again: "conservatism" these days very rarely has anything to do with actual conservative principles of government and has come to be distorted shorthand for "George Bush follower."