Saturday, July 01, 2006

Random Observations Of The '80s Man

Things I've learned by reading Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 (so far) :

On the Post-Punk Candy Pop Surf-band Bow Wow Wow, of "I Want Candy" fame, most of which were defectors from Adam's original Ants, apart from the much-younger lead vocalist, Annabella Lwin:

"Because the fourteen-year-old Annabella initially had problems fitting in with a bunch of men who were much older, [notorious manager Malcolm] McLaren even persuaded the guys that the problem was her virginity. To get her out from under her mother's sway and make her commit to the group, one of them had to do the dirty and deflower the underage singer. Reluctantly, the band drew lots, and guitarist Matthew Ashman was dispatched to perform the task. He failed."

On club band Liquid Liquid:
..."they are mostly remembered for one track, "Cavern," which was heisted hook (bass) line and sinker by Grandmaster Flash for the 1983 rap hit "White Lines Don't Don't Do It)."

Well, I don't know about...oh, crap. Why yes, yes it was.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Words and image

I remember a feeling coming over me
the soldier turned, then looked away
I remember hating you for loving me
riding on the Metro
-The Metro, Berlin

One of the things we like here in Dictionopolis... cartoons. Therefore, one of the blogs to which we most often link is the boys over at Cartoon Brew. They found a couple of cool things today that I felt like sharing; both are animator's websites, one from today, one from the "Golden Age."

The first is a website by a woman called Cynthia Petrovic, whose name is new to me, but her designs are cute (in a good way) and the animated intro to the site is, as CB's Jerry Beck says, nifty. Go here and give it a few seconds to download; I don't think you'll be sorry.

The second is a site devoted to the work of Warner Bros. animator Ken Harris, whose name is well known to me and other fans of said Golden Age. He worked under the director Chuck Jones for almost 30 years, all the way through How The Grinch Stole Christmas, on films including Much Ado About Nuttin (character model sheet seen above). This is the one to which the makers of Ice Age were either paying homage or completely ripping off (depending on how generous you want to be) when they created Scrat.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm screwed.

"One Odd Goose" attended a Writers Conference in Philadelphia earlier this month. Amongst the things she learned from an agent there,
One interesting tidbit she passed on is that she reads writer's blogs to see if they are crazy.

I'm screwed.

I hanker for a hunka cheese

A man named Lennie Weinrib, who was the voice of H.R. Pufnstuf (also the main writer of the series)and Scrappy Doo among others, and appeared on-camera as Magic Mongo, died yesterday.

Mark Evanier takes note of his passing, and provides links to video clips that most people who watched '70s Saturday morning TV will remember, here and here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I know it's hideous but I...I can't look away!

Sharon Stone at the Dalai Lama benefit on June 9, 2006.

Photo via Ohnotheydidn't.

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's too easy.

Your attention please. In the next day or so, you can expect to see lots of jokes in the other Democrat-leaning blogs about the recent confirmation that Rush Limbaugh can't get it up. I would just like to state, here and now and for the record, that such jokes are cheap, and we here at Dictionopolis in Digitopolis are better than that.

No, you won't see us reveling in the revelation that Rush Limbaugh couldn't get hard with Lindsay Lohan riding him. Not for us the speculation that even a coked-out Ginger Lynn paying special oral attention to his whithered, pinky-sized member wouldn't inspire even a semi.

It would be callous of us to postulate that the once-in-a-blue-moon times Rush actually does get hard, it's when he's using torture pictures from Iraq as a stroke book.

Or that his lifelike inflatable doll of Mary Matalin has several suspicious and sad indentations in the bum-area. Or that he and Michael Medved had an encounter they still don't talk about at a glory hole.

Such talk would be pandering, and we will not stand for it here at Dictionopolis In Digitopolis.

We will, however, register again our distaste with Mary Lynn Rajskub for allowing his lips to come into contact with her cheek.

Now, onward with clean hands and composure.

Kristen Bell in bikini top and tight white jeans

Nice if you're into that sort of thing, I suppose.

Oh, man-Arif Mardin is dead.

From the Billboard obit:

Arif Mardin, the legendary producer/arranger whose career spanned landmark recordings from Aretha Franklin to the Bee Gees to Norah Jones, died yesterday (June 25) in New York.

Born in 1932 into a prominent family in Istanbul, Mardin attended the London School of Economics, but it was a lucky meeting in 1956 in Turkey with Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones that lead to his decision to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He graduated from Berklee in 1961 and Nesuhi Ertegun, a fellow Turk whom he met at the Newport Jazz Festival, brought him to Atlantic Records two years later.

At Atlantic, Mardin took his lessons about engineering and producing from a team of in-house giants that included Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd. Mardin originally wanted to be a big-band arranger, but he caught the pop bug in 1965, while co-producing the Rascals with Dowd. In the coming decades, he produced hits for a remarkable array of Atlantic artists, including Franklin, Average White Band, Phil Collins, Hall & Oates, Roberta Flack, Brook Benton and Dusty Springfield.

In the mid-'70s, Mardin helped the Bee Gees redefine their sound and revive their career with the album "Main Course," which included the No. 1 hit "Jive Talkin'."

Mardin showed great diversity, with successes ranging from Bette Midler's sweeping ballads "From a Distance" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" to Chaka Khan's funky "I Feel For You." He also produced memorable folk albums for John Prine, jazz albums for Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann and Charles Lloyd and country sets for Willie Nelson.

According to his official biography, Mardin collected close to 60 gold or platinum albums and won 12 Grammy Awards. In 1990, he was inducted into the Recording Academy's Hall of Fame.

Here's five of my favorites of his record productions that probably won't be mentioned in most of the obits.

Cupid & Psyche 85, Scritti Politti (album). Did Green Gartside ever write better songs than "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" and "Absolute," and did anyone ever cut him better tracks?

Move Away, Culture Club (single). Culture Club's last great...well, good song (they never had any great ones). It comes from their first attempt at a comeback. There's still no masking that the bubble had burst, but Mardin did give one of Boy George's better lyrics a most sympathetic treatment.

One To One, Howard Jones (album) You know, I hadn't thought of this before but it suddenly occurs to me that in 1986 Mardin was the go-to guy for early-'80s hitmakers who'd stopped making hits. Like Culture Club, Jones had pretty much shot his wad as a songwriter on his first two albums (especially Human's Lib), but Mardin's production helped give him his last hit.

You Win Again, Bee Gees (single). The obit mentions that he produced a number one hit for the Brothers Gibb when they really needed one. What it doesn't say is that he did it twice, after they'd spent several years wandering in the desert both times. This is an encredibly likable, easygoing record.

Labyrinth, various artists (album). Mardin co-produced the David Bowie songs on this soundtrack, including the thematic "Underground" and fun "Magic Dance."

Well, that about wraps it up for this lifetime

You know, I've spent some time-maybe not a huge percentage but some-arguing that the politics of the fans of a particular entertainment, or of its creators, should not be an issue in whether or not you enjoy it. The creators of "The West Wing," for example, liked to cite that they had heard from Republicans who disliked the politics of the fictional Barlet administration, yet enjoyed the series. Simply because it was so well-made.

This always seemed a perfectly servicable argument to me. If you enjoy a show, you enjoy a show, and it should make no difference or not whether you like the politics of its fans or creators. Well god, with his/her/or its ironic sense of humor, seems to want to test that little theory of mine.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security...was the featured speaker at a morning forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that normally sticks to real, if less sexy, topics such as tax policy and entitlement programs. Heritage's Phillip Truluck conceded in introductory remarks that the event at the Ronald Reagan Building was "very unusual" for the conservative organization.

He was probably right, considering that the panel discussion after Chertoff's remarks included two national security scholars, "24" co-creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, and the actors who play the show's Nixonish president (Gregory Itzin) and CTU agents Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) and Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub).

The discussion was hosted by Rush Limbaugh, who breached the art-vs.-life divide early by planting a big kiss on the woman he introduced to a knowing audience simply as "Chloe."

All this, plus special guest Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who sat in the front row of the packed amphitheater.

Then Bernard and Rajskub bid a hasty farewell. The whole group of counterterrorism experts, actual and synthetic, was headed to the White House for lunch. For real.

Well, $&#&.

"24" has been embraced by the evil, clownish boors that make up the modern Republican party. Which would be bad enough, even savoring the irony they don't see that Logan was at least as Bushesque as "Nixonish."

But the show is embracing them right back. They've turned Tony and Chloe into whorish flacks for them. Sorry, Mr. Bernard and Ms. Rajskub, but you didn't have to show up. Mr. Sutherland didn't.

And they're lending creedence to the idea that a TV show explains and excuses torture.

Via ABC News:

Show co-creator Joel Surnow told the Times that "If there's a bomb about to hit a major U.S. city and you have a person with information … if you don't torture that person, that would be one of the most immoral acts you could imagine."

Which means Abu Ghraib prison and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay are a-okay, right? 'Cause they're just a bunch of Tonys and Chloes, doing The Nation's Business The Only Way It Can Get Done.

And George W. Bush, why, he's just like Jack Bauer!

Jack Bauer's strategy is always proven in the end to be, if not 100% correct, then certainly the only thing he could have done with the information he had at the time. He never offloads responsibility onto others, he always knows exactly what he's doing, he asks for-and inspires-great sacrifice, shuns self-glorification and has no use for politics.

Yeah, for George W. Bush, that must be like looking in a mirror.

Yes, it's been quite a season. "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her creative partner leave the show, but not before turning Lorelei hateful. The writing on "Veronica Mars" goes stupid. "Huff" goes from good to bad so fast I view it as a mercy killing when Showtime decides to take it off the air.

Now I just thank god that Sorkin and Schlamme have a new show coming on next season. Otherwise I'm just seeing a lot of "Boston Legal" and "Bones" in my future come fall.

The last "Huff" post

So it all comes to an end and what are we left with? Well, last night sitting through "Huff"'s season and now series finale, I kept thinking about the characters and plotlines they raised and then forgot about.

This is not unheard of in television, but usually it's explainable (if not excusable) for a number of reasons not really availble to "Huff". Bad audience reaction, an actor's sudden unavailibility, the writers just deciding to go a different way after the show had begun airing.

But the second season of "Huff was written, shot, and completed before it even began airing. You would think that would mean it should be virtually watertight, with very few loose ends or logic holes.

So, to name but one example, what happened to the Sharon Stone character? I didn't like her much but they made a big to-do about introducing her and it looked like she was going to be one of Russell's big plot-lines and then, whoops!

In retrospect, the casting of Stone as a guest star that they hoped would jack up the ratings was a clue to the bad sign under which this season was born. If memory serves, it premiered the same weekend as "Basic Instinct 2," which as we know failed miserably.

Which meant "Huff" had as their biggest guest star of the season the woman about whom a whole nation had just said, as one, "Eh! We've seen it!"

The least I can say is this. The return of series creator Robert Lowry to the writer's chair did at least make this finale a little easier to sit through than the last couple episodes. And he did at least suggest a reason for Byrd's seemingly unmotivated character change. Although he also offered a new seemingly unmotivated character change, from Beth's mother, and moved Angelica Huston's character from empathy to apparent clairvoiance.

But even he couldn't save his series from all the wrong turns it's made this year, and two of the biggest plot "twists" last night were so predictable that I calmly voiced them before they happened ("And she goes into labor." "And he's going to kill her.").

I continue to be impressed with Hank Azaria as a dramatic actor and hope he'll find such a role that can sustain him (or vice-versa) for more than a season.

But, finally, the last image of the show was one of the most offensive I have ever seen. A pull-back from a clueless and adrift Craig on a rooftop, to the glittering lights of Los Angeles at night, while Tony Bennett's "The Good Life" (oh, the irony!) begins to play.

So the final message of "Huff" becomes: Feel sorry for the children of privilige, for they indeed do have it just as bad as you. Right. Of course, the really ironic thing is that at the end of the first season you did kind of feel sorry for them.

In retrospect, perhaps mostly because they hadn't begged you so much to.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

This is enough to make me rethink my previously hardline pro-sex, anti-Christian stance

Some 50,000 people are expected to celebrate the pleasures of the flesh in Los Angeles this weekend as the worldwide capital of pornography holds its 10th-annual "Erotica LA" convention.

Hosted by porn star Jenna Jameson and rock guitarist Dave Navarro, the three-day event will feature over 300 exhibitors unveiling the latest in sex toys, paraphernalia and publications.

Vivid Entertainment, one of the world's largest pornographic film production companies, will hold auditions for its upcoming movie "Debbie Does Dallas ... Again" and will film the proceedings for an upcoming reality television show.

A series of sex seminars will cover a range of topics, from oral sex techniques to a discussion of the aphrodisiacal properties of chocolate.

And one female attendee will win a free breast implant surgery from a company dedicated to "boosting the self-esteem of women of all legal ages." (Oh brother!)

Christian groups are expected to picket the convention, with one group planning to distribute several thousand "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" Bibles.


Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_4580

Words and image.

-Photo credit: Morleyroarly

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
-Roads Go Ever On, JRR Tolkien