Saturday, June 10, 2006

Okay, the al-Zarqawi's death thing

At Unclaimed Territory, guest-blogger Hume's Ghost does a fine job articulating my feelings on the matter.

  • Is it a good thing? Sure looks that way.
  • Will it lead to a more peaceful, stable Iraq? Well...that's considerably less certain but I think it's fair to say anyone with the least scrap of human decency hopes it will.
  • Does it, in one shot, rationalize everything and everything the United States did in the lead-up to the war and has done in the war itself? Absolutely not.

Hume says it a lot better.

What we talk about when we talk about blogs

A site called Blogometer did an interesting poll; they asked the most popular bloggers to name their favorite blogs. Results are here. There's some good stuff, especially in the top 15.

This is it...I have reached the top. being linked to by a Paris Hilton web page.

It's a hap-hap-happy day

Just gotten in trade at used book store:

  • Hot Seat, Theater Criticism for the New York Times, 1980-1993, Frank Rich
  • Dazzler: The Life And Times Of Moss Hart, Stephen Bach
  • Rewrites, A Memoir, Neil Simon

Total cost in trade: $5.00

A History of Violence

Saw this film last night. It's very well made and well-acted (Viggo Mortensen is especially good), but I did not find it the revelation that many critics seem to have. Scanning the quotes in the Rotten Tomatoes balance of reviews, I found myself concluding that a lot of reviewers saw things in it that simply weren't there.

But, a well-made, well-acted thriller is never a waste of time, and I'm going to listen to Cronenberg's commentary before I return the DVD to see if he can convince me there is more there than meets the eye.

Another thing I did like is that when the violence comes in this film, as you know it's going to given the title, it is in no way fetishised (if that's a word). As opposed to the way it might be in a X-Men or Mission Impossible movie (and I liked the first two X-Men films, haven't seen the third).

The violence in this picture is quick, it's messy. And without lingering on it, Cronenberg makes sure we see the actual results of such violence.

Ann Coulter is making me rethink my previously hardline stance against hitting women

She's comparing herself to Mark Twain and [H.L.] Mencken.

ETA this illustrative cartoon-and I'm pleased to see that my Alien=republican prediction is being bourne out in the mass media.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Garrison Keillor is just like Maureen Dowd & Arianna Huffington that he's not one of my favorite performers or writers, but when he writes a good piece, he writes a good piece. He's written a good piece for the Baltimore Sun, in which he gives his opinions on why the Republicans have run aground.

As I say, it's a good piece. My only problem with it is a couple of times he makes clearly intended-to-be-ironic statements to which I reacted with all the hope of a young boy at Christmas.

As with:

I see by the papers that the Republicans want to make an issue of Nancy Pelosi in the congressional races this fall: Would you want a San Francisco woman to be speaker of the House?

Will the podium be repainted in lavender stripes with a disco ball overhead? Will she be borne into the chamber by male dancers with glistening torsos and wearing pink tutus?

Will she?

And then:
You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math.

To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz.

I wish.

Look what we can do

Via Yahoo! News:
KATMANDU, Nepal - Just days after a British climber was left to die near Mount Everest's summit, an American guide abandoned his second bid to stand on top of the world so he could rescue a mountaineer mistakenly given up for dead.

Not only did Daniel Mazur not scale the world's highest peak from the northern side, he also failed to get his two paying clients to the top.

Mazur, his two clients and a Sherpa guide were just two hours from the 29,035-foot peak on the morning of May 26 when they came across 50-year-old Lincoln Hall, who was left a day earlier when his own guides believed he was dead.

"I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200 feet height, just sitting up there," said Mazur, who scaled Everest once before, from the southern side, in 1991.

Mazur said Hall's first words to him were: "I imagine you are surprised to see me here."

Mazur said he knew Hall was OK because he was not crying for help and still had a sense of humor.

While Mazur's team was busy assisting Hall, two Italian climbers walked past them toward the summit. When asked to help, they claimed they did not understand English. On his return to base camp, Mazur discovered they did.

"I don't know why they didn't want to stop to help," Mazur said. "I hope when I am there, in that state, and someone passes me ... I hope it is someone like me."

Look what we can do.

His show's still not my cup of tea, but...

...Marc Cherry seems like an admirable guy. At least, that's the impression I gleamed from the new book Desperate Networks, by Bill Carter; my Amazon review went up yesterday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Let's go to the movies, let's go see the stars

Okay, these are quotes from 15 of my favorite movies. How many can you name? And no fair cheating by looking them up; I'll know.

When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it's usually because they are being treated like human beings.

"...nothing I ever do is good enough. Not beautiful enough, it's not funny enough, it's not deep enough, it's not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that's perfect. I mean, that's perfect. I want to look up to God and say, 'How the hell did you do that? And why the hell can't I do that?"

"Now that's probably one of your better con lines."

"Yeah, it is. But that doesn't mean I don't mean it."

Mother? I love art.

"...who's Ann Miller?"
"Leave this house."

I resent you. I resent everything about you. You had Mom and Dad's unconditional love, now you have the world's. How could I not envy that? I wish I could say it was because you're so much better looking than me. No, the real pain is that it's something so much harder to bear. You got the good soul; I got the bad one. Think about leaving me yours...

"He just came in for few hours to uh, to uh, fuck me."
"It takes a few hours."

"Now what the Good Master is telling us all right now is that up in Heaven, there are about a hundred million little tiny angels about 'yea' by 'yea', and they all take shorthand. And every time you do something silly, they write it down..."
"No, no."
"That's not what the Good Master is telling us."

Then, I was inspired. Now, I'm sad and tired.

"Are you nervous?"
"Good. My nervousness exists on several levels; number one, and this is in no particular order, I haven't done this in a pretty long time. Number two, uh, any expectations that you might have, given the fact that I'm... you know..."
"The most powerful man in the world?"
"Exactly, thank you. I think it's important you remember that's a political distinction, it comes with the office."

"What's the boogeyman?"
"As a matter of fact... that was."

I don't want you
You bust me up
I don't need you
You burn me up
I don't love you
You plug me in
Leave me alone
You switch me on
I'm self-contained
You light me up
Just go away

"You were wonderful! We're free!"
"Kara, we're inside a Russian airbase in the middle of Afghanistan!"

"It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression."
"It's symbolic of his struggle against reality."

"I'll meet you at the place, near the thing, where we went, that time."
"Okay, I'll meet you there."

Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune...I LOVE the corps!

You are so rare to me (UPDATED)

Since he figured out how to post embedded video clips on his blog, something that still eludes me (I'm so ignorant of technology we're lucky I can understand the chair), Mark Evanier has been something of a precious resource.

Well, he kinda already was, but...skip it. I was just looking for a cute way to link to Mark's presentation of a clip from the great old Sid Caesar show. It shows Sid, Carl Reiner and Howie Morris doing a takeoff on the then-new phenomenon of rock n' roll groups and teen idols.

Sometimes when you look back at things like this the people taking the shots come off as smug and condescending jackasses who are about to be left behind by the freight train of history. Not so here.

The trio take the shots where they deserve to be taken and they do it with such commitment and they're having such obvious fun that this clip is still funny some 50-odd years (give or take) since it was first broadcast.

Also, at one point, I swear you can see Caesar inventing breakdancing. Enjoy.

UPDATE: And Shakespeare's Sister found the DS desk segments I mentioned. If you're anything like me, you'll laugh till tears come out of your eyes.

PS: Or if clips from great comedy shows of the past aren't your thing, Mark also found the entire Stewart vs. Bennett debate from the night before last.

Well, duh

You Belong in San Francisco

You crave an eclectic, urban environment. You're half California, half NYC.
You're open minded, tolerant, and secretly think you're the best.
People may dismiss you as a hippie, but you're also progressive, interesting, and rich!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A cheap shot

Ashlee Simpson displaying the endearing young charms that have made her what she is today.

Via Bricks and Stones.


GOP Senator David Vitter says of gay marriage: "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one"

David Vitter is the GOP Senator from New Orleans.

Via AmericaBlog.

Jon Stewart shows why he's a national treasure

I assume that most of you watch The Daily Show...well, daily. But if by any chance you missed last night's you owe it to yourself to look for a re-run. Stewart started out by taking on the supersition surrounding yesterday's date better than I've ever seen it done.

The rest of the show was about gay marriage; first in a desk segment with Jon (later joined by Rob Cordry) that was TDS at it's make-you-laugh-so-hard-you'll-think-you're coughing-up-blood best.

Then, a debate with the racist Bill Bennett. Crooks and Liars has a clip and partial transcript, but you'll want to see the whole thing.
Bennett Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart:I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.

Tell it, brother. C&L adds:
Jon always boils the debate down to it's simplest form which usually causes people like Bennett to look foolish.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Five words (and a long, satisfied sound) on those couple of new templates I was trying recently

There's no place like home...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

The greatest talk show lineup in recent televisual memory

The list of guests for tonights episode of The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno:

Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and...Tim Russert.

David Lee Roth, too.

Now that is a party.

I resent that slur on my dancing

-and driving too, come to think of it.

Your Personality Is Like Alcohol

You're the life of the party, a total flirt, and probably a pretty big jokester.
Sometimes your behavior gets you in trouble, but you still remain socially acceptable.
You're a pretty bad driver, and you're dancing could also use a little work!

This could be promising

Winona Ryder is reuniting with the scribe who wrote "Heathers" and helped establish the actress as the edgy "it" girl for Generation X.

Ryder has signed on to star as a feminist vigilante who becomes an urban folk hero in "Sex and Death 101," which Daniel Waters wrote and is directing.

Ah, Dan Waters. For me, one of the big question marks among writers. I mean, like it says up there he wrote "Heathers," one of the more perfect movies of the past 15-20 years. He then spent the rest the '90s writing (or at least having his name attached to) varying degrees of crap (Two words: "Hudson Hawk").

But there's no way of knowing how much the final results of those movies reflected his scripts. I do know in the case of "Batman Returns" he's criticised Tim Burton's treatment...which makes him even more my brother.

I have not seen his direct-to-video directorial debut, "Happy Campers" but perhaps I should.

And Ms. Ryder has quite simply never done anything else in her career as...again I come back to the word "Heathers" was. So their working together again could be quite promising...quite promising indeed.

I wonder what the story's about?
The story follows a man (Simon Baker) whose life is upended by a mysterious e-mail containing the 101 names of every woman he has had sex with and, eerily, every woman he will have sex with in the future. He is stopped in his tracks when he meets Ryder, a femme fatale who targets men guilty of sex crimes against women.

Cool! Sounds like a Martin Scorcese film of a Harlan Ellison story, which I would certainly want to see.
Julie Bowen ("Boston Legal") also has joined the cast and will play No. 29 on the long list of Baker's libidinous conquests.

Cooler! The star and writer of one of my favorite movies reunited for what sounds like an interesting story, and joined by a star of one of my favorite TV series. Who could ask for anything more?
The movie will be "hard R" for nudity, sex scenes and frequent references to sex, said producer Cary Brokaw.

No comment.

Source: Yahoo! News.

I'm a weak, pathetic shell of a man

I don't like Jessica Simpson much. Believe it or not, I have no respect for her as an artist. As for the question that occasionally gets raised of Is she an airhead? Or is she playing one on TV and in the movies?

I've always thought, doesn't matter. Either she's really a dumb woman making it on the basis of her looks, which I don't like. Or she's cynically pretending to be a dumb woman, making it on sexist appeal, which I don't like.

And I've never even thought she was that cute compared to, say, the Chicks of Dixie. But...

God help me, she looks really, really good in these pictures.

I don't know if I can sleep with myself tonight...

"The hills are aaliive...with the sound of muusic..."

Shakespeare's Sister's latest "caption this photo" fun.

Hey you fool, watch out! You'll get mauled by...

A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.

"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.

"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."

I thought Monty Python settled this years ago! God exists, by two falls to a submission.

Do you ever wonder about Ann Coulter's relationship with her father?

Because lately when I read her statements, I get this image of a forlorn 13-year-old girl in heels too high for her, too much makeup and earrings too big for her head stamping her little foot and saying "Goddamnit, daddy! Pay some attention to me!"

Statements like these:
Ann on the widowed wives of September 11:
"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities, and stalked by grief-erazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."

To which I have only to say, this.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Do you know what this quote has to do with this picture (and vice-versa)?

When the individuality of the artist begins to express itself, what the artist gains in the way of liberty he loses in the way of order, and when you're no longer able to attach yourself to an order, basically that's very bad...

Should I be worried that they don't think I'd make an excellent writer?

Your Career Type: Artistic

You are expressive, original, and independent.
Your talents lie in your artistic abilities: creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

You would make an excellent:

Actor - Art Teacher - Book Editor
Clothes Designer - Comedian - Composer
Dancer - DJ - Graphic Designer
Illustrator - Musician - Sculptor

The worst career options for your are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary.


You Belong in 1961

If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

This can't be right. 1961? Oh great, just in time for the Bay Of Pigs. I can see whether Kennedy really was all that and a bag o'chips.

On the bright side, maybe I can find Boy George as an infant and tell him not to mess with Dr. Dream.

I could take in certain classic Disney movies on the big screen...but thanks to their pre-video rerelease policy, I did that anyway. But I could also still see Warner Bros. cartoons that way!

But still, 1961? The year the Rolling Stones musical career began? Me? (Don't pretend you're not enjoying this, Sherman) On the other hand, I would get to experience the rise of the Beatles. And there's always the beginning of Sinatra's Reprise years. And Motown, can't forget the Motor City., some 20-25 years before the rise of electro? This can't be right.

Although you know, I could go see a few of the last classic Broadway musicals, including one of my favorites, Carnival....

1961, hmmmmm...

(We're not going-Keitha)

That settles that.

I was gonna make jokes, but that's almost spookily accurate

You Are Iceman

You tried to live a normal life, but it just wasn't possible
A bit of a slacker, you rather tell jokes than cultivate your powers

Powers: turning self and others into ice, making ice weapons, becoming nearly invisible

The world is coming to an end

  • Haditha.
  • Militants in Palestine (or actually, anywhere).
  • It now costs almost $40 to fill my tank with gas.
  • George Bush is once again cynically (and kind of inexplicably, as Mark Evanier writes) exploiting homophobia for political purposes.
  • Unattractive photos of Kate Winslet.

Well, that about wraps it up for this lifetime.

It's been some time since I indulged in a little gratuitious Tennessee-bashing let's take care of that right now. This is from Frank Rich's Sunday NY Times column, via True Blue Liberal...
The current Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, has proudly put on this month’s legislative agenda constitutional amendments to stop same-sex marriage and flag burning. “Right now people in this country are saying it’s O.K. to desecrate that flag and to burn it,” he said on Fox News last Sunday, though it’s not clear exactly who these traitors are. A Nexis search turns up only one semi-recent American flag-burning incident — by a drunk and apparently apolitical teenager in Mr. Frist’s home state, Tennessee, in 2005.

Ahem. "Duck-humping, homophobic, rock-stupid, anti-sex, illiterate, flag-burning hillbillies!"

Ahhh. I feel much better. It's not good for me to hold those in too long.

Unfortunately, the rest of Rich's column is not funny at all, as he concludes:

We know that even as coalition partners like Italy and South Korea bail out, we are planning an indefinite stay of undefined parameters: the 104-acre embassy complex rising in the Green Zone is the largest in the world, and the Decider himself has said that it’s up to “future presidents and future governments of Iraq” to decide our exit strategy.

Actually, the current government of Iraq already is. On Thursday the latest American-backed Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whom Mr. Bush is “proud to call” his “ally and friend,” invited open warfare on American forces by accusing them of conducting Haditha-like killing sprees against civilians as a “regular” phenomenon. If this is the ally and friend we are fighting for, a country that truly supports the troops has no choice but to start bringing them home.

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_1339

Hi there; I'm participating in something that Tom Hilton came up with.
Here's how it works:
Every week, we all start with the same randomly-generated four-digit number (call it ####).

Go to Flickr and search for "IMG_####". There should be anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand results.

Choose an image from among the results, post it to your blog (be sure to include attribution and a link back to the page where the image appears--this is done automatically if you use the 'blog this' feature in Flickr).
The rest is up to you. Write about the place shown in the image. Make up a story about it. Connect it to some issue you care about. Or just post it as an image you really like. Do whatever you want.

I think I like this one because this kid looks like he's already pushing his boundaries and he's only five months old. Also, in a neat bit of freaky symmetry...his name is Tom. Careful, kid, push too hard and you're gonna fall off the other end of that sofa.

...and if that isn't a metaphor for life, I don't know what is...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What he said

From Vincent van Gogh: Genius and Disaster, by A.M. Hammacher:
Poetry is actually more terrible than painting, he once said, for painters can at least keep silent.

I KNEW it!

So, you've heard me mention Bryan Adams, specifically, that I have a rant about him. It goes a little something like this: If I ever snap-I mean up on the water tower with a high powered rifle snap-and they come to you and they say, you read the man's blog, what do you think could have pushed him over the edge?

Two simple words: Bryan Adams.

Now, I don't think I've ever mentioned Voice Farm here, but they were a synth/punk (mostly synth) duo from San Francisco, Myke Reilly and Charly Brown. They achieved local radio success with a 1987 self-titled album, one of the coolest records ever.

They then released an inferior (to my ears, but it's got a couple of great songs) album, Bigger Cooler Weirder on a major label, Morgan Creek. Hitting the national dance charts with the samplejam "Free Love" & torch song "Seeing Is Believing."

I was just idly Googling them, as you do, when I came across this article from the SF Weekly seven years ago. The emphasis in the below quoted paragraph is mine.

Then Voice Farm all but disappeared. Blame Bryan Adams. Just as Bigger Cooler Weirder hit the streets, the film arm of Morgan Creek was getting set to release the Kevin Costner vehicle Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It went looking for synergy -- and found it in "Everything I Do, I Do It for You," the soundtrack's putrid single, which would be jackhammered into the public consciousness throughout the summer of 1991. The bulk of Morgan Creek's promotional energies went into "Everything I Do," which left Voice Farm in the lurch. "The consensus was, 'Yeah, why put money into this experimental San Francisco band?'" says Reilly. "After all those years of working and developing our act ... it was sort of a hard blow. So I guess I lost my faith in the music industry."

And then they were assimilated by the Borg-I'm sorry, I mean, and then they started producing music for television commercials. As if I needed more fuel for the fire of my Bryan Adams hatred...

Come in, London...

Kind of a nice blog here by a couple documenting their trip across England with blog entries and photographs.

Kristen Bell IS Rory Gilmore in...

Actually, that's (top) a picture of Bell in costume for her upcoming film, Fanboys. But the headline is the first thing it made me think of.

Rory Gilmore (or more properly, Alexis Bledel) is seen above. Next season, Veronica Mars will air right after Gilmore Girls on their new, shared CW network.

There was a time, really not all that long ago, that this news would have excited me. But now, with my returning to Veronica Mars still very much up in the air after its writing spun out of control during the second half of last season; Gilmore Girls a definite "thanks, but no thanks" following its season finale (and the Palladinos departure)...well, it's funny how quickly things can change when your favorite shows go down the drain.

I feel like letting out my inner bitch, so...

...Let's play fashion police!

See, this is almost a nice outfit, and then...oh dear.

Veronica Mars cleverly disguises herself as a piece of luggage.

...and then she transformed herself into a helicopter and flew away...

How to get global warming through to comic book fans

Elliot S. Maggin, a longtime comic book writer, points out that if this were Krypton and Al Gore were Jor-El...
[Jor-El,] you will recall, is Superman's Kryptonian father, an eminent scientist whom the ruling "Science Council" of his world laughed out of the room when he told them that they were facing a planetary crisis: "Gentlemen, Krypton is doomed."

Like the Science Council, our leaders reacted with guffaws when one of our own rose to sound an earthshaking alarm. As a professional fabulist, by contrast, my reaction to Al Gore's 1992 book, "Earth in the Balance," was one of enormous excitement. It had pathos and drama, and extraordinary ideas expressed clearly and simply: a proposal for a new paradigm for the relationship between humanity and the planet.

Fiction, when it's any good, is a fantasy that tells the truth. Given the characters and degrees of suspension of disbelief with which you seed your story, you have to be internally consistent. A hero, for example, cannot choose as a matter of preference to let a bad guy get away with murder — or theft, or extortion, or environmental exploitation. And a group of characters established as a stodgy, priggish oligarchy of entrenched rulers cannot choose to accede to the warnings of an upstart — a rival, really — who makes a case, no matter how compelling, for an extensive and costly solution to a pressing problem. More likely, the rulers would deny that the problem exists.


At the close of his commencement speech before 250 graduates (and 4000 others) at tiny Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. on Saturday, satirist Stephen Colbert left them with a piece of advise: Get your own TV show. “It pays well," he observed, "the hours are great and you have fans. Eventually, some nice people will give you an honorary degree for doing jack squat.”

Colbert, who slipped in and out of his rightwing blowhard TV persona on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” received an overwhelmingly positive response compared with the mixed reaction at the recent White House Correspondents Dinner. Afterward, students presented him with a purple “Veritasiness Tour” t-shirt (which translates, very roughly, as “truthiness”).

Colbert had opened his speech with: "My name is Stephen Colbert, but I play a person on TV named Stephen Colbert ... who says things with a straight face that he doesn't mean."

In that vein, Colbert considered the immigration debate: “It’s time for illegal immigrants to go — right after they finish (building) those walls." People keep saying immigrants built America, “but here's the thing, it's built now." His suggestions for securing the U.S.-Mexico border went beyond walls to include moats, fiery moats and fiery moats with fire-proof crocodiles.

He added that the border with Canada also has to be secure so Canadians cannot bring their "skunky beer" into the country. He backed English as the official language of the United States — “God wrote (the Bible) in English for a reason: So it could be taught in our public schools.”

Noting the college was founded by abolitionists, Colbert came out against slavery. “I just hope the mainstream media gives me credit for the stand I’ve taken today,” he said.