Saturday, September 30, 2006


I've attracted another nut.

Chaos is the enemy of hope

One or two of you may remember last year when I posted a link to a thought-provoking entry on the film "Chaos" on Roger Ebert's (good health, Roger) website. He wrote:
The message of futility and despair in "Chaos" is unrelieved

This was followed by another link to
what the editor of [Ebert's] web site calls "an unusual number of impassioned and thoughtful responses..."

The film was not well received, and is only now coming out on video. The producers have taken a rare position on how to sell their failed flick. They're arguing that their movie about two young women who
suffer through torture, rape and murder and, as some reviews have noted, not in that particular order.

-is educational. Neat.

Director/writer David DeFalco is ready to defend his baby as well, telling TMZ, "People give us slack that that's just our excuse for making a sick movie, but I don't see how anyone can deny that it's gonna affect you ... [it] may actually teach you something about real evil."

A choice of replies:

Does that storyline sound like it teaches you anything that most of us didn't get from "Hansel & Gretel?"*

And if it does, wouldn't most of us pick it up from things like war, perverts in congress, outspoken and high-profile homophobes on the Supreme Court, and book-burnings in the 21st century?

*Or at least "Footloose," which I'm betting has better music.

To be angry by: Some sort of an audiovisual poem

Add Pop Will Eat Itself-"Karmadrome" as desired

Friday, September 29, 2006


This might be a continuation of the "songs that make me cry" post. But here's it's a video. The song's fine but the video just fucking breaks my heart. It's just so perfectly how I feel.

OK...I've been sitting on this one for what I hope is a suitably respectful period of time

But doesn't anybody else think that no matter what the coroner's report says, Anna Nicole's son really died of a heightened sense of mortification? (Also known as "Molly Ringwald's Disease.")

Never been in love with no one, Sign up! Join the programme, Within me, within you, Feels like...

This is, for my money, the last good single by one of my favorite bands, Pop Will Eat Itself (now defunct).

That I think of it as a good single and not a great single is mainly down to the arrangement. Every time I hear it I wish that last chorus after the choir break (yes, a choir break) kicked in just a little bit harder and faster.

And the video starts out looking like it's going to be kind of weak as well.

Doesn't matter. The classic elements of the track overcome the second-rate.

And you who know my feelings on anime will no doubt be amused that there are, apparently, samples from Akira all over it.

PS: Oh, and this single version replaces the line "No hippy shit can try" with the more radio-friendly "PWE...I!"

Restlessness vs. resignation

ETA: Mark makes a similar point in his political comment for today. And I'd just like to say that my "uncalcuable damage" line below was written before I knew that Ms. Clinton had, apparently, said something quite similar.

Mark says:
There certainly are other important Democrats who speak for a large part of the country who are saying that Bush is screwing up big-time: Kerry, Gore, Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, etc. There just don't seem to be very many who are in serious re-election campaigns at the moment saying it, which strikes me as odd. You'd think, with more than half the country saying Bush is doing a bad job, you'd have more than half the Democrats proclaiming that above a whisper.

To coin a phrase: They don't care, Mark.

Original post:

Maha writes:

In the last post I wrote that it’s time to decide if the nation is salvageable or not. Lots of people have decided it isn’t. As I said, these people may be right. But if you think it’s too late to fight, then please step out of the way. Some of us haven’t given up yet.

... It’s not just about defeating Republicans, but about making America safe for liberalism again...Instead of just reacting to the Republican agenda, we should be showing the nation an alternative way to look at issues. We should fight from a position of clarity and purpose rather than defensiveness. We should not, for example, try to counter the Religious Right with our own public displays of religiosity, but instead promise to preserve religious liberty by keeping government out of religion.

For the record, I don't think the nation is salvageable. I just don't know where else to go. And I'll be glad to step out of the way..."Steppin' Out" was always one of the best Joe Jackson songs anyway. Tony Bennett's is wonderful too.

But I think it's ludicruous for any blogger to start telling "Democrats" or liberals what we should do. It doesn't matter what we do. It only matters what those "Democrats" in positions of responsibility and power are going to do.

And that is, as they've shown us with vicious regularity: Nothing. They don't care. A failed President from the opposing party, and Democrats don't care enough to mount a succesful fight against him. They don't care.

Or rather, they care, but not because a failed President is of uncalcuable damage to the people of the nation...but because they wish it was their guy failing. And all they know how to do is appease and bend to the guy who's got the title.

Or maybe, even, one or two of them do care about the damage caused...but not enough to actually risk their jobs over it by emulating Spencer Tracy ("Stand on the balls of your feet and tell the truth!")

They don't care.

Me, I do care, but I also see the writing on the old wall.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

As those of us who know the joke about the Jewish astronaut smile quietly to ourselves

...the next space shuttle launch attempt most likely will be at night, NASA said Thursday.


Emma Watson is playing coy about signing up for the last two "Harry Potter" movies.
Emma, who plays Hermione Granger told Newsweek on a recent visit to the "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" set, " I don't know yet... I love to perform, but there are so many things I love doing."

Pink Is The New Sexiest Woman In The World

There is more evidence to support this theory here.

Proof positive that the "celebrity sex tape" trend has officially gone too far

Anyone who enjoyed, in any way, certain video curiosities and experiments done by people like Paris Hilton...we owe the world an apology. Because it's led to this. Three words: Screech sex tape.

TMZ has obtained portions of the latest celebrity sex tape, featuring former "Saved by the Bell" star Dustin Diamond, who played Screech. To say the least, the video is unique and, dare we say, entertaining.

David Hans Schmidt, who has become famous in the sex tape industry by peddling videos featuring Paris Hilton, Colin Farrell and others, claims ownership to the Screech tape. It was shot in a hotel. Diamond is holding the camera and narrating, as he engages two women in various combinations and positions.

The tape begins with Diamond in a bathtub, narrating what's to come. It ends with Diamond introducing one of the women to a "Dirty Sanchez."

This is the kind of thing which could lead to the extinction of the human race because no one is going to want to have sex ever again.

Another one of those weird blogs written in a language I don't understand but with many cool pictures

...can be found here.

You know what word I don't know how to pronounce? Meme.

But I stole this one from Amanda...

1) One book that changed your life?

An Edge In My Voice, by Harlan Ellison.

2) One book that you have read more than once.

Most of the books I own I've read more than once-for financial purposes I tend only to buy books I know can stand up to re-reading. The rest I'll get from the library. That said, I'll name Against The Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood, edited by Bhob Stewart.

3) One book that you would want on a desert island?

Tolkien's The Hobbit.

4) One book that made you cry.

Whichever Pippi Longstocking book ended with it looking like Pippi was going to sail away to the south seas and leave her friends behind. I don't want to talk about it.

5) One book that made you laugh.

Seven Seasons of Buffy.

6) One book you wish had been written.

Ben Varkentine: The World Would Be So Much Easier If You'd Just All Accept He's Smarter Than You.

7) One book you wish had never been written.

Any number, I'm sure. But just because I tried to read it most recently, and I was sort of looking for an excuse to bash it about a bit here: The Anthology at the End of the Universe. Oh my god, what a stinking pile of crap this book was. Honestly, my expectations for the book were not that high-I've reviewed a few books from this publisher and in a word, they're hacks-but oh, my god.

8) One book you are reading currently?

I'm between new books at the moment (there's some waiting for me at the library, though), am re-reading Bill Carter's The Late Shift.

9) One book you’ve been meaning to read?

How To Win The Lottery. But seriously. Here's some of the books I have requested at the library...

The first five pages : a writer's guide to staying out of the rejection pile /
by Lukeman, Noah.

My sister, guard your veil; my brother, guard your eyes : uncensored Iranian voices /
by Azam Zanganeh, Lila.

The devil's guide to Hollywood : the screenwriter as God /
by Eszterhas, Joe.

10) What book do you routinely recommend but haven’t actually read?

None. I'm anal about that.

I hap'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach-around

A blog called Wings For Wheels is taking a look at how a few different blogs are responding to Studio 60, with a nod towards yours truly for posting the Gilbert & Sullivan parody lyrics.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More than a few short words about tonight's episode of "Bones"

I really wasn't expecting this to be a weekly feature...

ETA: It's a small world after all. The below-mentioned Hart Hanson, creator/producer of "Bones," worked on my beloved "Cupid"...which was created and produced by Rob Thomas, now C/P of "Veronica Mars."

Stephen Nathan, Hanson's second or consulting producer, began his career as an actor. He created the role of Jesus in "Godspell" on the stage. The film version of that musical is one of my all-time favorite movies, although Nathan did not recreate the part for it.

Victor Garber took the role. The same Victor Garber who currently plays the lead in "Justice" which airs immidiately following "Bones." This has to be some kind of trivia first.

ETA, again: It's a small, small world. I learn from this article that a few years ago Michaela Conlin, who plays supporting character Angela, appeared on Bravo's "The It Factor Los Angeles."

I enjoyed that reality series about aspiring, auditioning actors, so I'm a little surprised I didn't remember her.

You'd think I would've remembered...

Look at those eyes, she's judging me, I know she is.

Original post: For the past two weeks in a row, the very first non-series regular to get any camera time in the episode (not counting faceless FBI agents and such at crime scenes) has been the killer.

Lord knows it's not like my main interest in this or most other series is the great mysteries over things like character and humor*...but still, watch it, Hart Hanson.

*Though again, when "Veronica Mars" was sparking, it had great mysteries and character and humor...

TV Departments

Tuesdays are a busy night for me, TV-wise.

Below average Girls department: According to Marc Berman,

In season-premiere news, the CW’s Gilmore Girls opened on a below average note with a 4.0/ 6 in the overnights (#4), 4.56 million viewers (#4) and a 2.0/ 6 among adults 18-49 (#5) at 8 p.m. Compared to its year-ago opener on the WB (Overnights: 5.3/ 8; Viewers: 6.22 million; A18-49: 2.8/ 8 on Sept. 13, 2005), that was a decrease of 26 percent in the overnights, 1.66 million viewers and 29 percent among adults 18-49

Presumably most of that decay was from people who didn't like the way last year ended, but some (at least I'd like to think) must be people who don't want to see the Amy Sherman-Palladinoless GGs. And then there's me, who's both.

I didn't watch the SP, but I admit I dipped in during House commercial breaks. What I saw seems to go along with the gloomy assesments I'm seeing online.

Speaking of which department: House will be in repeats and such for the month of October, which is good (for me) because it means it won't be opposite Veronica Mars. Starting next week VM will be getting its last chance to win and keep the love of me and a few other million viewers.

For any latecomers: I thought the first season of Veronica Mars was one of the best shows out there. Well-acted, smartly written; layered. But the writing on the second season spun wildly out of control, with time-wasting episodes focusing on characters I didn't care about.

I'm coming back, though. And one of the reasons I am is because writer/creator/producer Rob Thomas has been apparently candid in interviews and such about mistakes he thinks they made last year.

This is infinitely preferable to the impenetrably smug "we meant to do that" attitude taken by some other producers whose series have spun out. I'm hoping it means they've learned.

Weird coincidence department: I decided to try Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which I've never seen before, and as luck would have it, found a guest star this week was Anton Yelchin, formerly Byrd on Huff. So nice to see him on a good script again.

When a pretty face just isn't enough department: I've also been trying to keep an eye on Smith, zapping back-and-forth with Boston Legal.

After two episodes watched in this admittedly not wholly satisfactory way, I find myself reminiscing about something I said regarding the recently deceased That '70s Show.

Why do they waste valuable camera time shooting anyone who isn't Laura Prepon?

One of the stars of Smith is Virginia Madsen.

Letters, oh we get letters

Well, as I kinda figured it might, my expression of pain that the mere existence of Bob Dylan had led to hideous folksingers setting up shop outside my window at 12:30 at night has attracted the attention of a Dylan-worshipper.

That's not my sarcastic name for him or her, BTW, it's what they called themselves:
Maybe if you listened to the WORDS you'd understand his appeal.

Maybe. Although, when a man makes one's living as a MUSICIAN, it doesn't seem too off-base to care about his MUSIC at least as much as his WORDS, if not more. But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Never let it be said I can't admit that.

At times like these, I like to consult my musical betters, people whose credentials as songwriters are luminious. So let's go to the words of Paul Simon, who in 1983 was asked (from the book Rock Lives by Tim White): you believe has been a positive inspirational figure in rock?

"Dylan. He made us feel at a certain time that it was good to be smart, to be observant, that it was good to have a social conscience. These are all things that are out of fashion now. Real art remains when the fashion changes, but art can run conjuctively with fashion. Both can occasionally be quite intelligent at the same time."

Blessed with the hindsights of adulthood, what's the smartest thing you ever heard anybody in rock and roll say?

[Long pause, small smile] "Be-bob-a-lula, she's my baby."

Or to put it another way, in the words of Sir Duke, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

And now...a brief word from the boys and girls at Studio 60

For those of you who aren't watching (and why not?), this past monday's episode of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip ended with the cast of the show-within-the-show, joined by a background chorus, performing this parody:

"Modern Network TV Show"
Lyrics by Aaron Sorkin
(to the tune of "Modern Major General") Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan

Cast: We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show
Each time that we walk into this august and famous studio.
We're starting out from scratch after a run of twenty years, and so
We hope that you don't mind that our producer was caught doing blow.

Chorus: They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing blow.
They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing blow.
They hope that you don't mind that their producer was caught doing mounds of blow.

Cast: Yes, it's hard to be a player when at heart you've always had a hunch
To bite the hand that feeds you is a scary way of doing lunch.
But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show.

Chorus: But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They'll be the very model of a modern network TV show.

Female Soloist (Harriet): I am a Christian, tried and true, baptized at age 11.
So unlike the lib'rals, gays, and Jews, I'm going straight to Heaven.
(She's joined by two other women in the cast): But if you feel that you've been cheated and our sordid content lets you down
We'll hap'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach-around.

Chorus: They'll hap'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach-around.
They'll hap'ly do the favor of an intellectual reach-around.
They'll hap'ly do the favor of a hundred dollar hooker's reach-around.

Harriet (spoken): "That wasn't the same thing we said!"

Chorus: They'll hap'ly do the favor of a verbal euphemistic reach-around.

Cast: We know the Evangelicals are lining up to tag our toe.
And then the corporations will not hesitate to pull their dough.
But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show.

Chorus: But still when they walk into this august and famous studio
They'll be the very model of a modern network TV show.

Cast: But still when we walk into this august and famous studio
We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show.

(Thanks to Pab Sungenis for posting the lyrics to the Aaron Sorkin mailing list.)

Monday, September 25, 2006


If you do a search for the words "anne hathaway is the most beautiful" on Pesquisa Google, the results you get are both from this blog.

I can pretty much retire now.

It's that time of year again

The ALA's Banned Books Week is upon us. To celebrate, here are a few selections from a list of the Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, with commentary where applicable.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Challenged in the Waukegan, III. School District (1984) because the novel uses the word "nigger." ...Challenged at the Park Hill, Mo. Junior High School (1985) because the novel "contains profanity and racial slurs:"...Challenged at the Santa Cruz, Calif. Schools (1995) because of its racial themes...Challenged at the Moss Point, Miss. School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet...Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, Okla. High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text...Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, N.C. (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word "nigger." Source: 2004 Banned Books Resource Guide.

I've been formulating a theory about something that's been kind of prickling at the back of my brain ever since the OJ trial. When we had nominally grown men and women using the euphimism "N-word" in the context of a courtroom trial.

Why do we get so bent out of shape about some words, even racially charged ones, regardless of their context? I think it's because we know, most of us, that race relations in this country are FUBAR. And worse, we're afraid we know that there's nothing we can do about it at this point. The wound goes too deep, yet too much time has gone by.

So if we can't do anything about that, well hey, at least we can ban a book because it uses a bad word, never mind that it uses it in the midst of an anti-racism story. That'll make us feel better.
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

The Knoxville, Tenn. School Board chairman vowed to have "filthy books" removed from Knoxville's public schools (1984) and picked Steinbeck's novel as the first target due to "its vulgar language:" ...Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, Tenn. (1989) because "Steinbeck is known to have had an anti business attitude:" In addition, "he was very questionable as to his patriotism:' ...Challenged as appropriate for high school reading lists in the Shelby County, Tenn. school system (1989) because the novel contained "offensive language." ...Challenged at the Jacksboro, Tenn. High School (1991) because the novel contains "blasphemous" language, excessive cursing, and sexual overtones...Pulled from a classroom by Putnam County, Tenn. school superintendent (1994) "due to the language:' Later, after discussions with the school district counsel, it was reinstated. . Source: 2004 Banned Books Resource Guide, by Robert P. Doyle.

I admit I kept an eye on which of these books have been banned or challenged in Tennessee, and what I found was this: Those Tennesseeans really hate John Steinbeck. They banned The Grapes of Wrath, too. Also, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. But then, Santa Cruz is one of the cities that challenged To Kill a Mockingbird, so far be it from me to say that stupid, wrongheaded behavior is limited to the bible belt.
The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Burned in Alamagordo, N. Mex. (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic. Source: Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, Mar. 2002, p. 61.

That's right, baby. Burned in 2001. You know, the Harry Potter books occasionally attract the ire of one of these whackaloons (though none of them made this list, or the top banned books of 2005 which I'll get to in a moment).

But the Lord of the Rings books are still making Christians insecure almost 50 years after they were published. I'm just saying, you gotta have some respect for that. Now as promised, here are
the 10 Most Challenged Books of 2005:

“It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
“Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
“Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
“Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
“What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
“Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
“It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.

As with Tolkien, I'm just pleased that Cormier and Blume are up there with J.D. Salinger when it comes to still offending the kind of people who ought to be offended, over 30 years after their books were first published.

I don't know "Whale Talk," but I read Crutcher's "Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes" a few years ago and loved it. If were a betting man, I'd put my money on his still being on this list in another five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years...

Bob Dylan should have been strangled in his own crib

Maybe that would have prevented the hopeless wannabebutnevergonna who set up his bleating voice, guitar and harmonica act across the street from my office not 15 minutes ago.

I must suffer and cry for slightly longer.

No $#$*&%$#$ "voice of his generation" is worth this.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

There's something in this about all women # 4 (Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_4360)

Original source here.

Star Trek & the Holy Grail

Letters, oh we get links in friend Corey sent me this. See if it don't make you laugh.

"You tell 'im I'm coming! You tell 'im I'm fucking coming!"

So yeah, I've been thinking about Stephen Soderberg. There was a time when I found Sex, Lies and Videotape compelling-and I mean the movie-and I liked Traffic. Even though I'm not sure whether it pulls off all of its ambitions. Out Of Sight is, to date, the only movie to make me understand what's supposed to be so hot about Jennifer Lopez.

The first movie Soderberg directed (of those I've seen) that I think is really good is The Limey. And it might be surprising I like that one so much because, on paper, it has a lot of elements that tend to make me skeptical.

It's very stylized, with flashbacks and flash-forwards and flash-waybacks, sometimes-often!-all in the same scene. The plot-in four words, a man seeks revenge-could have been made into the kind of "thriller" we've all seen 10 times over.

And Lem Dobbs, the screenwriter, has complained about Soderbergh making changes that he-Dobbs-thought eliminated important character information. (He makes a few of these complaints on the more-acid-than-usual commentary track he shares with Soderberg on the DVD, a must-listen).

All these things together sound like they should add up to a movie which at best, I just wouldn't "get." But I do. I've watched it three times within the past four days-and I'd seen it twice a few years ago.

I think it's Roger Ebert who says, though he may have been quoting somebody, that the way a movie is about what it's about is more important than what it's about. I'm not sure that's always right, but it's definitely right about this one.

Without its star actor (Terence Stamp), or a different director and writer, the same movie could have so much style it simply skated away. With them, it's always tethered to a momentum which climaxes in an emotional train wreck that is quite simply unforgettable.

Getting back to Soderberg's career, Erin Brokovich is a movie that, as I said about Garden State, is good...but not that good. When the first things you remember about a movie are the clips played in ads nauseaum-they're called boobs, Ed-it can be a bad sign.

On the other hand, I'm almost as big a fan of Ocean's Eleven as I am of The Limey-which in a way it's the lighter side of. Less stylized in its direction but much moreso in its performances and setting.

The film has a seemingly effortless perfection-even though I know I lot of effort went into making it seem that way-so much so that I've avoided seeing the sequel. I simply don't want the balancing act, that the first accomplishes so gracefully, flawed.

(Plus, I'm convinced, the only way the climax of the first one works is if most of the crew never see each other again.)

Finally there's Bubble, Soderberg's most recent film to date, which I wrote about in passing here.
For the first time in my experience, a film with, apparently, almost totally improvised dialogue worked for me. Why? I think because unlike movies like The Anniversary Party, this one wasn't cast with actors looking for an excuse to emote.

I've been reading a collection of interviews with Soderberg. One of the best is also archived at Salon:

When I see people who I think have become either cynical artistically or just competitive to the point of self-destruction, what they share is the loss of appreciation for anything that anybody else is doing. Seeing something good should make you want to do something good; if you're not careful, you can lose that. And that can hurt you. I still get a charge out of seeing a really good movie or reading a really good book or watching "The Sopranos" on TV.

But be warned! That interview contains spoilers for The Limey, so I strongly urge you to see that film before you read it.

The first person who makes a smart remark gets smacked right in the face

You Should Be a Cherry Redhead

Sexy, dramatic, but still sweetly feminine. Perfect for getting out of the hair color doldrums!

Or, "Why I don't think I'll be watching '24' next year."

I sense there are some people out there who simply like the idea of us torturing "the enemy" or even anyone who kinda looks like or might be part of "the enemy." These are the same people who are happy when they hear a car bomb went off in downtown Baghdad killing 80 people because they figure the odds are that there were probably a few terrorists or future terrorists in that eighty. Leave those people aside. Is there a sane case to be made for practices that fit a reasonable definition of torture? Has any genuine military authority come forth to make that case? Or is the only controversy here what constitutes "torture?"

--Mark Evanier