Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stephen Sondheim is God

I've nothing to say.

You have many things.

Well, nothing that's not been said.

Said by you, though...

I want to make things that count,
Things that will be new...

Stop worrying if your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision
They usually do.

Anything you do,
Let it come from you.
Then it will be new.

from Sunday in the Park with George.

Signify Palo Alto, Motherfucker

Mercury News:

President Bush's visit to Stanford University's Hoover Institution was quickly moved to another location after more than 1,000 protesters converged around the Hoover tower.

The White House said the protesters blocked the only road into the central areaof the campus where Hoover is located, which forced a meeting with several Hoover fellows to be moved to the campus home of former Secretary of State George Shultz, a Hoover fellow who organized the gathering.

The motorcade instead traveled to the house, which is on the outer edge of campus.

The change in plans delayed the president's arrival by about 15 minutes.

That's my hometown, goddamnit. Thasright.

It's a hap-hap-happy day

As I sit here typing this, to my right there are two big brown shopping bags full of the following just-purchased books:

Bloom County Babylon
The People's Doonesbury
The PreHistory of The Far Side
The Billboard book of #1 Hits
The Devil's Candy
Murphy Brown: Anatomy of a Sitcom
The Moon's a Baloon by David Niven
King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson
Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo
Doonesbury: The Original Yale Cartoons

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
Much Ado About Me by Fred Allen
Until I Find You by John Irving
Prime Time Blues by Donald Bogle
My Father's Daughter by Tina Sinatra
Fletch Reflected by Gregory McDonald
Adventures in the Screen Trade
Down & Dirty Pictures
There Really Was a Hollywood by Janet Leigh
Show & Tell by John Lahr

...all for less than $20.

Library sales. Gotta love 'em.

Hey hey!

You Are Krusty the Clown

You were the class clown as a kid, and you still entertain people.

From faking your own death to getting a wacky boob job, you'll do anything for a laugh.

You will be remembered for: your face being everywhere, from cereal to home pregnancy tests

Your life philosophy: "I heartily endorse this event or product."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Oh, $&#&&%%!

Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator, chief writer, and showrunner of "Gilmore Girls"is leaving the series at the end of this season. Along with her husband, creative partner (and lucky SOB because he's married to such a writer), Daniel Palladino.

Around the web, this is being compared to Aaron Sorkin's quitting "The West Wing." I won't go quite that far. If only because while it's true that the Palladinos have written the lions share of "Gilmore" scripts, they still haven't written as much as Sorkin did of "West Wing."

But that's splitting hairs, and this is really upsetting news for fans, especially since next year is thought to be the series final. I've been meaning to post something about how I think GG has, in relative quiet, been having one of the best runs in TV history.

Unlike perhaps 98% of all shows that last more than five years, they have yet to have a bad season. Even their fourth year, which is generally held to have been a misstep, seems to me to be deeply underrated, with some of my favorite lines and characters.

I was really looking forward to the Palladinos "bringing it on home" next year. Now I just have two or three more episodes to go and then for better (not likely) or worse (probably) Stars Hollow changes forever.


Cut to Ben banging his head against the computer desk again

Or, "more things I shouldn't do." I shouldn't attempt to read "The Most Popular Lesbian Romance Novel Of All Time." Why? Because on one page....on one flipping page...I find not one, but two fairly specific character traits that I've already assigned to "my girls."

You have to understand, ladies and gentlemen, I have this terrifying fear of being unoriginal. That this thing I've been working on for years is going to come out and be judged "nothing we haven't seen before."

Or perhaps worse-that it won't even get to that stage because editors will say something like "We already have thousands of books like that-and they're written by real women, real lesbians."

The more sensitive among you are beginning to figure out why the notion that a vagina instantly confers upon one deeper feeling, greater strength and talent was such a touchy subject for me last week.

I'm as shocked as you are

At Shakespeare's Sister's, Waveflux found an item that says there's now actual scientific data to support this notion:

When heterosexual men are confronted with images like this we tend to lose all of our critical faculties, and it makes it hard...for us to make decisions.

I know I was having a heck of a time deciding whether to run a picture of Holly Hunter, Nicole Kidman, or both.

But getting back to this incredibly important scientific study, take heart, gentlemen, it's not that we're just dumb guys, apparently, it's that we've got testosterone oozing out our fingertips.

The more testosterone he has, the stronger the effect, according to work by Belgian researchers.

Hush little Cheney, don't say a word

Via The NY Post, Cheney taking a nap during a meeting with the Chinese President.

Ha ha, ha ha, ha

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said on Thursday he was seriously thinking about another White House bid in 2008 and will decide before the year is out.

"I will make that decision toward the end of the year, but I'm thinking about it hard," Kerry said in response to a question at the Latin Economic Forum at the United Nations.

"If you can get help me find 60,000 votes in Ohio ...," he joked, referring to the close race in that state on which his 2004 loss to President Bush hinged.

Via Pam's House Blend.

The lord helps those who help themselves, John.

This is just for those of you who love the piano as much as I do

And I mean the musical instrument, not the movie (of which I'm not a fan-Jane Campion's films would be better if all her characters were as mute as Holly Hunter in that one). But I digress. NPR's Fresh Air has a selection of appreciations of and interviews about Thelonious Monk.

It's the use of the words "semi-competent" that send a chill down my spine

Kos has a good post building on a piece in The Economist about the question most of us leftys are asking: Just how suicidal are the Democrats? The Economist sez:

The Republicans are so unpopular that any semi-competent opposition party should be sauntering to victory in the mid-term elections in November.

It's true; even Fox-flippin'-news yesterday had Bush's job approval rating at 33%. But as I say, it's those words "semi-competent" that scare me. Ted Kennedy was on Fresh Air and The Daily Show yesterday. I missed the radio appearance but I can tell you that judging from TDS, Sherman's right: It was very much a stay-on-the-talking-points kind of interview. But what were those talking points? The DNC-approved "we can do better" and "withdrawl from Iraq-but with honor!"

Seems to me I've heard the "with honor" thing before in histories of the Vietnam war. It seems to be what we say when, for some reason, we just can't say, you know what, this has been a complete and utter cock-up from the beginning, there is no getting out with honor, and so we just have to get out now.

But anyway, back to The Economist.

"For the Americans in the middle, who have no strong partisan allegiances, we have failed to articulate a real plan or vision," say Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga and Jerome Armstrong, two of the most popular Democratic bloggers. "It's not that people know what we stand for and disagree; it's that they have no idea what we stand for," say James Carville and Paul Begala, two of the architects of Bill Clinton's winning presidential campaign in 1992. The junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, one of the Democrats' most admired politicians, has tried to make a joke of it. "You hear this constant refrain from our critics that Democrats don't stand for anything," he remarked the other day. "That's really unfair. We do stand for anything."

See, here's why I'm wary of Kos and have little or no interest in reading his book, though I do read the blog (obviously). On the one hand, he says the Democrats have to appeal to the middle. This is the thinking that brought us Kerry '04 and Gore 2000.

Then he says things like this-

The GOP WILL motivate its voters come November. They'll rail on abortion and gays and scary brown people crossing the southern border and how Democrats want to take their Bibles away. And their core supporters will turn out. And Democrats, unless they realize that they need to inspire, will find those huge gains will fail to materialize.

You cannot have leadership without offending someone. Someone once said you could measure Bobby Kennedy's greatness by the number of enemies he had. George Bush and Karl Rove know this, and they don't care who they offend as they seek to inspire and motivate their core supporters.

-with which it it would seem hard to disagree. Except that if memory serves, each and every time a pro-choice, pro-gay or other "special interest" group has stood up and demanded that the Democrats live up to their inspirational rhetoric...or they can't count on their vote... Kos is almost always among the first to say:

"Shut up, man, you're gonna queer the deal!"

I think women and gays and "scary brown people" are to the Democratic party what those not-at-all gullible folks who believe themselves to have a good dose of the Holy Spirit are to the Republicans: People you say the right words to in order to get their votes, regardless of whether you really mean them or not.

And then you turn around and do whatever shitty things will keep you in the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed. And I'm not sure, but I think Kos really, really wants to get accustomed to that lifestyle.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ted Kennedy is a twit

I mean really, how do you louse up one of the greatest political quotes of all time, as he just did on The Daily Show? The line he tried to use was Will Rogers' "I am not a member of any organized political party...I'm a Democrat."

Only he forgot the word "organized," rendering the joke unfunny and meaningless.

I wonder if Ralph Nader will be any better on The Colbert Report.

Music to Play When I'm Dead

M' learned colleague James "the" Mann recently wrote to me to ask if I'd contribute to a project he's putting together; the idea, to assemble a collection of songs people want played at their funerals or like events.

I am happy to comply as I owe James a favor and as it happens I do have such a list, but I am now going to lessen the value of my contribution by repeating the answers here. Sorry, James. The order of the following has no least that I am aware of...

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye/Bananarama

Many years ago I told a close friend I wanted this played when I was dead. I was kidding, but she said anyone who knew me would be crying, no doubt in remembrance of my puckish wit.

Frozen In Time/Thompson Twins

The American release of TT's "Side Kicks" (on casette) contained an extra side of remixes, including this mostly-wordless version of an album track. It's a song that, to me, may sum up better than any other my absolute and genuine love of synth.

Steppin' Out/Joe Jackson

The 1986 live version included on his "Live 1980/86" two-album set, wherein he slowed it down into a beautiful ballad that made the lyrics take on new meaning. "We were...steppin' out...into the night...into the light..."

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (Almighty Radio Edit)/Soft Cell

This is reserved for one of my more toxically cynical moments, but sometimes I can't resist the drama of laying on a room full of dutiful mourners a song whose last words are "Take a look at my face for the last time...I never knew you, you never knew me, say hello, goodbye."

Bon Voyage/George Winston

Composed by Vince Guaraldi for a "Charlie Brown" special, this descending, minor key piece was originally meant to underscore a departure no more permanent than Snoopy being shipped to obedience school (it didn't take). But it's arguably my all-time favorite Guaraldi piece-Great Pumpkin Waltz is its only real rival. It was unrecorded by him, but included by Winston on his tribute solo piano album.

Even more words to live by

As quoted in If You Want To Write, by Brenda Ueland...

Van Gogh said:
"My only anxiety is what I can do...could I not be of use and good for something?...And in a picture I wish to say something that would console as music does."

Let's say I'm beneficent

Student, to Mel Brooks: I think your films are somehow more benevolent and affirmative than Woody Allen's.
Brooks: Let's say I'm beneficent. I produce beneficial things. A psychiatrist once told me he thought my psyche was basically very healthy, because it led to product.
As quoted in Show People, by Kenneth Tynan.

Nude women just can't get a fair shake in America

Texas college bars students from posing for Playboy

Someone call William Donohue, he'll want to speak out against this important affront to civil rights.

(Actually, my favorite thing about this item is these two final paragraphs)

The threatened punishment was met with a yawn by students on campus.

One woman, who professed no desire to pose for Playboy, said Baylor officials had "more important things to worry about" and wondered if male students would face similar punishment if they were seen reading an issue of Playboy featuring Baylor women.


...prepare to see the words "Rove," "Karl" and "indictment" in a sentence, probably sometime in the next couple days.

And they fell for that? Wait a minute...

Philip Winikoff walked up to the door of the Lauderdale Lakes apartment carrying a black medical bag.

He told the woman inside he was a doctor from ''North Miami Hospital,'' going door- to-door offering free breast exams.

But authorities say the 76-year-old Winikoff was no doctor. And the medical bag wasn't his, but his wife's. She is a registered nurse.

On Wednesday, Broward sheriff's deputies arrested Winikoff on charges of sexual battery and simple assault. Winikoff allegedly fondled the breasts of two women and then sexually assaulted them.

It's a ''very bizarre crime,'' said BSO spokesman Hugh Graf. ``It may very well be a first.''

Ladies...I ask you...

Full story here.

You know, what's great about Michelle Malkin is that she has a vagina

Which automatically makes her better than someone who happens to have a penis, even when she does things like this (as described by Dave Neiwert):
There is a good reason that using the power of mass media to expose individual citizens' private lives to abuse and threats is considered unethical: It represents unchecked and abusive power. No one interested in holding the public trust should either want or seek it.

Yet this, of course, is exactly what Malkin did this week in publishing, on her blog, the home phone numbers of three students who led anti-military protests on the campus of UC-Santa Cruz.

Predictably, the students were deluged with hate mail and phone calls, including a number of death threats.

Malkin not only refused to take the numbers down -- in response, she reverted to her timeworn victimization schtick, posting some of the nasty e-mails she received in return and pretending there was nothing wrong or unethical in her behavior.

We're all too familiar with this routine. After all, it's what the entirety of her book Unhinged was predicated upon. Malkin, as I said then, is like the lunatic who walks around the public square and pokes people in the eye with a sharp stick, and then is shocked, shocked, that anyone would respond with anger and outrage.

This is not at all unlike something Ann Coulter did once, despite the fact that she too has a vagina...

Yeah, that's probably fair

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!


I don't know the books, and I can't remember this character in the movies

Is this good or bad? I'm thinking it's bad.

As Neville, you may be shy and clumsy, but you are loyal, gentle and generous, admired for your easy going nature.

According to this quiz, I'm 15% more like this Neville fellow than I am like Hermione, who as we all know is my favorite character.


So there's this fella named William Donohue. Mr. Donohue is the president of a group called the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He is deeply, deeply concerned about civil rights and he knows that gosh darn it, Catholic people just can't get a fair shake in this America.

Every day, they are beaten down by the brutal, savage thuggery of shows like South Park, that hurt their feelings by suggesting that the things they hold sacred and dear may not in fact be sacred and dear.

And Mr. Donohue sees, quite clearly, that people like Trey Parker and Matt Stone-or as he calls them "The Man"-are keeping his people down oppressed, and by golly, he's angry about that. Or as he put it:
85 percent of the population is Christian in this country. Sometimes, I feel like we have an inverse situation here, somewhat analogous to what we had in South Africa, where the majority of the people who were black were dumped on by these white racists. Here, we have a small segment of the population, I call them the "secular supremacists," and they have it out against the 85 percent of the population who's Christian...

Yes. Catholics in America...blacks in Apartheid South Africa. That's roughly the same, yeah. Somebody call Little Steven!

Once again, I am absolutely not making this up.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

When this movie was new and in the theaters I wrote about why I found myself with surprisingly little interest in seeing it, but emphasized that as I hadn't seen it, this was an uninformed opinion.

Well, I've seen it now, so this is an informed opinion. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If we don't nail it to a perch it'll be pushing up the daisies. I didn't like it. A few jumbled thoughts on why:

First of all, the special effects, particuarly on the talking animals, should be lesson one in a class called "Why CGI is not always the answer."

And because the film is PG, there are some ridiculous cuts and story choices sparing us the agony of seeing children becoming involved in violence...which is only what the story's about.

Worst of all, there is a hushed, quasi-religious tone to much of the dialogue and the way it's delivered that's unbearable. It's the same sense I get for much of the Star Wars movies once Lucas stopped trying to make popcorn movie homages to saturday afternoon matinees and became reborn as George Lucas: Mythmaker. It's not as bad as the dialogue in the latter Star Wars movies (nothing, at no time, has ever been as bad as the dialogue in the latter Star Wars movies), but it's hideously bloated with self-importance.

"Bloated" is a good term to describe the whole film, actually. I believe judicious editing could have trimmed it down to a neat 90 minutes or so instead of two hours and 15 minutes. But it was made while epic film lengths were still hot (I think King Kong may have killed that for a while) and so we get lengthy battle scenes in which I didn't care about any of the characters, and so had no emotional investment.

Terry Gilliam once said that only when he saw Steven Spielberg's Hook did he appreciate how good his own Adventures of Baron Munchausen really was. Films like this and the aforementioned Lucas films underscore for me what an achivement the Harry Potter movies and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy are.

I suppose I can offer sympathy to the director Andrew Adamson on two or three points. He's not as ood a filmmaker as jackson, but I think Tolkien was also a better writer than Lewis, so he wasn't working witb as rich source material.

Lewis' children heroes are uniformly horrible people to the extent that I was grateful for a wolf attack breaking up their innocent games. They're not inspiring, they're blah. Unlike the main trio in the Potter movies of Harry, Hermoine, and Ron-I think the characters are the best part of those films.

It's been years since I re-read any of the Narnia books, but I did try to read another of Lewis' works not long ago and couldn't even get through the first few pages.

Also, Adamson was between a rock and a hard place, really. He rarely even attempts any shots with the artistry of Jackson, true...but when he does, a voice that sounds remarkably like that little kid on South Park can be heard saying "Lord of the Rings did it!"

Push out the love, bring in the jive

Okay, enough of those lists of our favorite things. Q Magazine lists the 50 worst albums ever.

Confession time: I actually kind of like one or two of the versions on their pick for #15. Various – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – OST. The movie's my best-ever pick for the school of bad movies I like to call what were they thinking? But the songs, well, it's hard to screw all of em up...

Then there's #28. The Rolling Stones – Dirty Work. Again, I actually kind of liked "Harlem Shuffle"-but then, as we've esatblished, I don't give a ratfucking piss about The Rolling Stones, so you can't go by me.

#29. Various – Christmas In The Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album. I haven't heard this, but it cannot possibly top the Christmas With The Super Heroes album on which Batman goes up against Rudolph, the red-nosed hitman.

#31. Stevie Wonder – Woman In Red. Oh come now! What, they're right.

#42. Babylon Zoo – The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes. Dunno about that, but I still like "Spaceman."

As for albums I'd add, well, believe it or not...

Pet Shop Boys-Release. In which the boys distinctive songwriting skills desert them, it is to be hoped not forever.

Joe Jackson-Night & Day II. This misstep is the nadir of Jackson's recording career.

Okay, the Duke thing

I don't have too much to say about it-just that for my money, hands-down the best blogging about it is being done at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime. Here is the most recent post, and here is a link to their archive.

The real reason the vile Rumsfeld won't be fired

I think Josh has got it.

...I think the real story here continues to be that things are so bad at the White House, the level of denial and secrets to be kept, the self-bamboozlement and bad-faith so profound, that they just can't manage to bring in any new blood.

With Rumsfeld, or any other cabinet secretary, there's a related problem -- the importance of which has, I think, not been fully appreciated or aired. If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that ...

He's so photogenic

I mostly like Al Franken

I like his book Lies. I like his radio show-but more, I liked the televised version Sundance used to air. On the other hand, when Sundance aired what was supposed to be a victory celebration on election day '04 (and we all know how that turned out) it was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. On the other other hand, he annoys Bill O'Reilly, which is the most noble task ere given to man.

So I mostly like him. And I liked this thoughtful interview in which he discusses a forthcoming documentary about him (which I'll probably also like) and the possibility that he'll run for office in 2008.

...[the Republicans] continue to make a lot of mistakes. There's still the profound lack of intellectual honesty and seriousness—in the way they approach the war, in the way they talk to Americans, in the way they approach the rest of the world. That hurts us every single day.

I get angry, too—especially when it has to do with the troops. These guys [in the White House] seem to be very blithely willing to risk other people's lives and then completely disrespect [the troops] on top of it.

First sign of a dumb rule

George Bush on how he responds to his critics:

Asked on Tuesday how he would respond to critics who equate his defence of Mr Rumsfeld with ignoring the military, Mr Bush said: "I'm the decider and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defence."

Via Echidine, who adds
Reminds me of those t-shirts which say "Because I'm the mummy, that's why." Or the daddy in this case, perhaps.

PS: So he's the decider, is he? Reminds me of two things: The high priests Annas and Caiphas plotting to crucify Jesus in a song called "Then We Are Decided" in Jesus Christ Superstar.

And here's another one for the Doctor Who fans: Who remembers Full Circle?

"Hey, pay attention back there! Kang is talking!"

The link that remolded the web: Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars reenactors.

"Look, at no point in the series does the Hulk ever fight Dr. Octopus! Might as well have him fight Fin Fang Foom!"

"Fin Fang Foom wasn't in Secret Wars."

"My point exactly!"

Little dreamer, you're the DJ of your soul

You Are a Red Flower

A red flower tends to represent power, seduction, and desire.
At times, you are loving like a red tulip.
And at other times, you're very enthusiastic, like a bouvardia.
And more than you wish, your passion is a bit overwhelming, like a red rose.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Timely "Legal"

There's been a lot of talk of vaginas around this blog of late. First we discovered that the good Reverend Donald Wildmon's press people can't even bring themselves to type the word. Then Egalia taught us all that the mere possession of such an item instantly confers on one an inherent superiority to any and all possessors of a penis, whomever they may be.

Then to my surprise and delight, a subplot on "Boston Legal" tonight dealt with an idiotic lawyer ending a relationship with a beautiful, bright woman because she freely and frequently used the term.

This woman.

When I say idiot, I mean idiot.

Sing your life

Misty, via Shakespeare's Sister, asks:
What song (or up to three for a mini-soundtrack) currently describes your life?

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin (Colin Hay)

Time Will Tell (The Twins)

Field Work (Ryuichi Sakamoto/Thomas Dolby)

Oh. My. God.

This is going to be one of those posts that I feel compelled to start out by saying: I am absolutely not making this up. One or two of you may remember the Abstinence Clearinghouse, which, as it sounds, is a group that promotes saving sex for marriage.

I wrote about them late last year when they had the bright idea of merchandising cherry-flavored (I am not kidding) lollypops with "just say no to sex" messages on the stem.

But that was just kind of stupid, mostly, and also a little bit funny.

This is not funny.

The Abstinence Clearinghouse also sponsors something they call "the Father-Daughter Purity Ball."

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

The "Father-Daughter Purity Ball" is a dance, you see, like a prom. Only at the end of this one, the girls recite a pledge to their "dates"....their fathers.

Digby says:

You have to see it to believe it. They are all dressed up like prom goers, the dads in tuxes and the daughters in evening gowns looking all grown up. They dance, they laugh, they giggle. And then father and daughter stand up, holding each others hands, staring into each others' eyes and the girls make these vows as if in a wedding ceremony.

The pledge goes a little something like this.

I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

Already, creepy enough, right? Wait, there's more. These are not 15 or 16 or 17 year old girls I'm talking about here, no no. This is what I'm talking about, in an actual picture from one of the balls.
As Digby also says, in a separate post:
I can understand why the little girls would want to do this. It's a chance to dress up and spend time with their father. If it were for another purpose, it might be sweet.

But instead, it's unspeakably corrupt.

This upsets me more than words can say.

Okay, Spade, I'll give you that one

As a rule, I like David Spade only slightly more than I like Rob Schneider. But there are occasional exceptions; I thought he gave a very likable vocal performance in The Emperor's New Groove, for example.

And this made me laugh...
"The National Enquirer has reported that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were married eight months ago by a chaplain in the Church of Scientology. The groom wore a casual linen suit while the bride wore an expression of slowly-awakening terror."
---David Spade on The Showbiz Show

-Via Daily Kos

Monday, April 17, 2006

Just when you thought The Colbert Report couldn't get any better

Not only do they reference one of the coolest videos of all time-The Cars "Magic"-but Rik-bloody-Ocasek appears and smacks down Todd Rundgren, currently touring as lead singer for the "New Cars."

Red Eye

This was my first extended look at Rachel McAdams in action. There are those-indeed, many-who think she's quite the hottie. I don't quite see it myself; no argument she's attractive, but for me personally there's something missing.

Or maybe it was just this role. I liked the film generally and McAdams certainly does a more than capable acting job in it, but her character makes too quick a change for the last act. As it happens, that last act is when I started liking her character (and the movie) a lot more, so I was okay with it while I was watching it. But sitting here, now, I wish her characterization could have been a little less plot-driven...and the plot a little more character-driven.

But, that's probably not a wholly fair thing to ask from a thriller, that's not what it's trying to be, anyway. As a thriller, Red Eye works well; the tension is neatly sustained with little or no gratuitious violence.

And I'm a sucker for "woman fighting back with smarts" stories anyway. One thing happened in the denouement that I wish they'd avoided; I won't reveal what, but it's not enough to capsize the movie. Hell, even a show as smartly written as Veronica Mars was its first season didn't avoid this particular trap.

If you see it, keep an eye on an actress named Jayma Mays, who plays Cynthia, a coworker of McAdams' character. The two have some nice "female bonding" moments throughout. I know nothing about her-this is apparently her major credit to date-but again, just to my personal taste, she is more of a sweetheart than the film's star.

(It says here she comes from Virginia, worked with Tim Busfield of The West Wing in the theatre, and "has appeared on the Los Angeles stage in several plays, including a production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which she played the lead role of Janet." This explains everything.)

What's My Line?

The UK has done another one of those polls, this time to determine their favorite (single-line) song lyrics. U2 have come in at number one with this line from, drearily enough, "One:"
"One life, with each other, sisters, brothers"

Also in the top 20: The Smiths, Nirvana, Marvin Gaye, U2 again, Bowie, and The Police.

So, as you can well imagine, this started me thinking about a list of my own...which follows in no particular order:

My Favorite-Homeless Club Kids. "The ghosts of dead teenagers sing to me while I am dancing."

Bobby Darin-Simple Song Of Freedom. "No doubt some folks enjoy doin' battle, like presidents, prime ministers and kings, so let's all build them shelves so they can fight among themselves."

Pop Will Eat Itself-Can U Dig it? "We like the music, we like the disco sound...hey!"

Glass Tiger-Thin Red Line. "Red is for the heroes; green is for the brave; soldiers would you leave me with no souls to save?"

Howard Jones-New Song. "Don't crack up, bend your brain, see both sides, throw off your mental chains!"

Joe Jackson-It's Different For Girls. "You're all the same..."

Joe Jackson-Steppin' Out. "But nothing hides the color of the lights that shine..."

Tears For Fears-Shout. “If I could change your mind, I'd really love to break your heart”

Culture Club-Move Away. "I never wanted to be a hero; I never wanted to be a man"

Pet Shop Boys-It Couldn't Happen Here. "All dignity and injured innocence"

Human League-Love Action (I Believe In Love). "I believe in truth, though I lie a lot"

Kirsty MacColl-Don't Go Home. "Nowhere was mine, no one was home"

Kirsty MacColl-As Long As You Hold Me. "As long as you need me I will try not to die"

The Beatles-Strawberry Fields Forever. "It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works doesn’t matter much to me."

A sobering post before 11 o'clock in the morning

Billmon gives a possible explaination for the United States' reported plans to attack Iran. And it ain't too damn good.
What we are witnessing (through rips in the curtain of official secrecy) may be an example of what the Germans call the flucht nach vorne – the "flight forward." This refers to ta situation in which an individual or institution seeks a way out of a crisis by becoming ever more daring and aggressive (or, as the White House propaganda department might put it: "bold") A familar analogy is the gambler in Vegas, who tries to get out of a hole by doubling down on each successive bet.

Classic historical examples of the flucht nach vornes include Napoleon's attempt to break the long stalemate with Britain by invading Russia,the decision of the Deep South slaveholding states to secede from the Union after Lincoln's election, and Milosevic's bid to create a "greater Serbia" after Yugoslavia fell apart.

As these examples suggest, flights forward usually don't end well – just as relatively few gamblers emerge from a doubling-down spree with their shirts still on their backs.

Read more. And give thanks to If I Ran the Zoo for the link.

And now, "Poetry Corner"

Okay, the "Generals speaking out against the vile Rumsfeld" thing, about which you may have heard. I think columnist Madeleine Begun Kane sums it up best...
Some Gen'rals are filling our ears,
With Rummy critiques and Bronx cheers.
What a shame they're so late,
And didn't join the debate
Before Bush got another four years.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Good news for people with vaginas

Got a comment from Egalia to an earlier post. She writes:

...the fact is people with penises continue to rule the church, the state, the corporation, ETC., and the world is a friggin mess. Both fairness and sanity suggest the world might be a better/warmer/saner place if people with vaginas get their turn.

This just in...

Cathy Guisewhite is automatically a better cartoonist than was Charles Schulz, because she has a vagina.

The L Word is automatically a better show than Huff or the first four years of West Wing because it's written by more people with vaginas than they are/were.

For that matter, Anna Faris is a better actor than Hank Azaria, because she has a vagina, and he does not.

Amy Ephron is a better novelist than Gregory McDonald-again, because of that whole vagina thing.

Mary J. Blige is a better singer/songwriter than Colin Hay. You know why? Vagina.

Paris flickin-Hilton is of more value, and stands a better chance of making this world a better/saner/warmer place than Muhammed Ali. She has a vagina too, after all (in case you hadn't heard).

Oh, and Margaret Cho is a more important comedian than Richard Pryor. Can you guess why?

In closing, I'm going to repeat something I said in replying to Egalia's comment:

What's between people's ears is more important than what's between their legs.

And thank you and goodnight.

Gay families screwed by White House at Easter Egg Roll

To shock and horror of all.

Every day is Breast Appreciation Day

An e-mail controversy has some people calling for the resignation of an elected official in Bucks County.

Republican Warminster Township Supervisor Fred Gold distributed the e-mail. Gold sent an e-mail picturing a topless woman to other township employees. It was sent back in January, but then photocopies started popping up earlier this month.

The e-mail supposedly celebrates the fictional holiday of National Breast Appreciation Day on Jan. 15. Accompanying the photo of the topless woman is the message "Beats the **** out of Martin Luther King Day doesn't it."

I don't know which I like more; the fact that this silly SOB thought this was a witticism he needed to share with his employees...or that the news story quoted felt the need to tell its readers this was a fictional holiday.

Oh good, I was hoping someone would post this so I could link it

Via Cartoon Brew, very funny Disney parody from last night's Saturday Night Live. Just what else is kept in "The Disney Vault?" One of the jokes you'll see coming-frozen Walt, ha ha-but it goes just a little bit further than that...

The Aristocrats

Directors Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette make a point in their commentary-which is surprisingly thought-provoking considering it's for a movie that consists of nothing but putting two cameras down (at most) and shooting people talking: This is about comedy as jazz.

As you've probably heard, what they did is take an old joke that every comedian seems to know and filmed about 100 comedians telling or commenting on or talking about it. It's a long, highly filthy joke with lots of room to riff and put your own personal stamp on, and they do. It's just about watching a bunch of different minds playing with the same concept.

You can see who can absolutely fly with it and who falls flat on their face (that will of course be a matter of taste) And since some of the minds are brilliant comic performers-

Hank Azaria seems to create a whole character (complete with backstory) just for the one joke.

Drew Carey insists that a physical bit of business is required to sell the punchline, something which seems to come as news to most of the other comedians.

Carlin, of course-another point Provenza makes in the commentary is that there are very few comedians he likes to listen to talk about the technique of comedy; Carlin is certainly one of 'em as far as I'm concerned (Provenza also mentions Paul Reiser and Larry Miller). It's like listening to Sinatra talking about singing...

Andy Richter lovingly tells the joke to his infant child...

After the first few times you hear the joke, you'll find, what kills you in the re-tellings is the little "licks" the players throw in. Steven Wright, among others, questioning the very reality of the joke, like "Wait...why would the man say that?"

Why would the man say what? Well, lemme tell you. A man walks into a talent agent's office, see, with his family, and he says, Have I got an act for you!

...oh just see the movie. In time, the actual content of the "Aristocrats" joke stops mattering because this is really a tribute to comedy and the way a comedy mind works.