Saturday, January 06, 2007

Favorite lines do not put yourself into what you write, you find yourself there.

--Alan Bennett, Untold Stories: Art, Architecture And Authors

Out of the mouths of babes

Went to my nephew's fifth birthday party today. I gave him a yellow, Nerf-style soccer ball. We were out together one day and he told me he wanted to learn to play and be on a team. I noted with some satisfaction that it was one of the only presents he got with which he could reasonably be expected to play.

His gramma gave him a snow globe with some penguins in it, and he also got some stickers and books and things. You know I'm all for giving children books-especially Roald Dahl's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, which his father gave and is going to read to him.

But he's going to play with my present. This is what Uncles are for.

Besides my nephew, the other kids there were a slightly older boy, a slightly younger girl, and one girl who was, as she told me, "almost seven." She was a sweet but tough little girl. Her jeans were festooned with pink embrodiery, but when the boys started roughhousing she was right in the middle of it and giving as good as she got.

One of the boys (not my nephew, I am kinda proud to say) decided that the way for him to gain the advantage was to take off his shoes and drop-not to say throw-them on her. Her response?
"Don't make me get my high heels."

I like this kid.

John McCain, the conservative's conservative

Glenn Greenwald has a good post in which he starts with the latest manure John McCain is spreading to try to "prove" that Americans do not, in fact, oppose the war. I won't tell you the extremely tortured logic McCain is using, better you should see for yourself. But Greenwald is both right and has facts on his side (funny the way that works) when he says that McCain
...should not be permitted to continuously claim with impunity that Americans have not turned against the war, or that they do not "want us out of Iraq," because that is just demonstrably and factually false. Journalists ought to make clear that his claims in this regard are factually false. The latest CBS public opinion poll (h/t Media Matters), like virtually all others which preceded it, simply leaves no doubt about that.

This latest poll was conducted between January 1 and January 3 -- after the Glorious Execution of Saddam Hussein -- and revealed that Americans oppose the war by a 67-31% margin -- a gap of 36 points. Only 11% favor the McCain/Lieberman plan of sending more troops to Iraq -- 11%. Directly contrary to McCain's repeated statements, a majority of Americans -- 54% -- favor withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

I also recommend following the link at the end of that post, to Greenwald's
article in the current edition of American Conservative concerning the dishonesty of pro-war and pro-Bush pundits, specifically the way in which they simply ignore or outright lie about their history of false and misleading claims. The article features the illustrative examples of Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Peggy Noonan, and Ralph Peters.

First recorded instance of my hoping Fox News is right about something

Via News Hounds, this real Fox News Banner on Nancy Pelosi:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Poetry Corner

I want to listen to a woman speak
I don't know what it means
A voice that glistens, makes me weak
And let's loose all the seams


Proof positive that Marilyn Manson is not a man.

  1. His wife is divorcing him.
  2. This is his wife (the girl on the left).

I'm sorry, but if you're not working your ass off to keep that satisfied, god help you...

Ladies and gentlemen, a cheap shot

In response to this post from Media Matters:
On the January 2 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Michael Savage declared that the "homosexual dance of death" and the "homosexualization of the West" are the "seminal issue[s] of our time," and later added that the "homosexual mafia" is responsible for "control[ing] virtually everything that you read, everything that you see, everything that you hear, [and] everything that you wear."

Keitha: Hey, Colley! He's seen you dance!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's theatre, you gotta get over all those qualms

Here's a clip sent along by my friend Corey with the comment, "gay guys get all the girls." It's from a popular BBC reality series, "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?"

This dealt with the casting of the lead role in an Andrew Lloyd Webber revival of "The Sound Of Music" in London's West End. Which means these Maria candidates are would-be West End G-no, I can't, I can't...

Acting as...facilitator, is John Barrowman, AKA Captain Jack, AKA this blogs designated man-crush.

I believe his behavior in this segment is what's generally meant by "and eating it too."

Earth shall be fair and all her people one

(Click to see big picture.)

(If only it were that easy...)

All of a sudden not so proud

What type of person do you attract?
Your Result: You attract geeks!

Your stunning intellect and love of sci-fi and video games allures the geeks like nothing else. Maybe it is the sparkle in your eye that makes them want to text you, who knows. Geeks make good partners, but tend to be arguementative. If you are a TRUE geek magnet, you will know if that was spelled correctly, and actually care. If it is a bad-boy/bad-girl you are seeking, you are barking up the wrong tree, unless they are just 'bad' behind a PS2 console.

You attract models!
You attract Yuppies!
You attract artsy people!
You attract unstable people!
You attract rednecks!
What type of person do you attract?
Quizzes for MySpace

On the other hand, my second highest result is models...

This is the proudest moment of my life

This blog is the number one result if you do a search for "Carlson Tucker weasel" on Google.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That's the most frightening thing I've ever seen

Pam Anderson goes wild signing autographs

In fact, I think I just turned gay. This is going to require listening to a lot of Kirsty MacColl music to cure. Or, looking at pictures of the Deschanel sisters...

Ah, that's better.

(And the first one of you who said "just turned?"...why you, I oughta...)

I prefer to think of it as the "blood from a stone" strategy.

From the BBC:
US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.

The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces.

The BBC was told by a senior administration source that the speech setting out changes in Mr Bush's Iraq policy is likely to come in the middle of next week.

Its central theme will be sacrifice.

The speech, the BBC has been told, involves increasing troop numbers.

The exact mission of the extra troops in Iraq is still under discussion, according to officials, but it is likely to focus on providing security rather than training Iraqi forces.

The proposal, if it comes, will be highly controversial.

Already one senior Republican senator has called it Alice in Wonderland.

You have no idea the nausea it brings me to picture George W. Bush talking about sacrifice. Because we know that the people who are going to be asked to sacrifice are the poor, not Bush or anyone like him.

If he really wanted to talk about sacrifice for the good of his own country, let alone Iraq, he'd demand Dick Cheney's resignation before giving Nancy Pelosi his own. Since he's not going to do that, nothing he could possibly propose is going to make the slightest bit of difference for the good.

And all this talk of "extra troops," as always, brings me back to the same question: Where you gonna get em, George? Republicans like Bush and McCain seem to think that soldiers are like Tribbles.

Oh, good. John Rocker is back.

Via No More Mister Nice Blog:

Former Major League Baseball pitcher John Rocker is starting a campaign to encourage English-speaking Americans to start demanding respect from legal and illegal immigrants who do not speak English.

In a news release, Rocker said the "'Speak English' campaign is to encourage people to promote and support the sustainment of the American heritage and the American culture. This campaign is in no way intended to degrade or demean the cultures or heritages of others' nationalities or races, but instead to bolster American nationalism and promote pride in the American culture."

In the past, Rocker has been called a racist and anti-homosexual for comments made during interviews and drawn heavy fire from New York Mets fans after comments about the city of New York....

* On ever playing for a New York team: "I would retire first. It's the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

* On New York City itself: "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?" ...

Casey: ...whether you're a Mets fan, a Yankee fan, a Dodger fan or a Red Sox fan, the one thing we can all agree on is what, Danny?

Dan: John Rocker's a doofus.

Casey: John Rocker's a big honkin' doofus.
-Sports Night, "La Forza del Destino," written by Aaron Sorkin

Maybe now they'll stop misusing that Peter Gabriel song in the ads

Caught the opening episode of Courteney Cox's much-hyped new FX series, "Dirt" last night. Cox is very sexy in it, more beautiful here (IMO) than she was in the last few seasons of "Friends" when she had that Skeletor thing going on. Becoming a MILF, it seems, has agreed with her.

I've thought for a whole now she was the most underrated actor, certainly among the women of her old show, and maybe among the whole cast.

Next time you watch an episode of "Friends", watch Cox's face when she listens to the other characters. She looks as though she's actually hearing them and is not just waiting for her next joke, which is a trap into which some sitcom actors fall.

"Dirt" gives her a chance as an actress to show some of the layers that no sitcom was made for, even one good as hers often was.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the rest of the pilot was a lot more uneven. The first time I heard about this series I figured it was going to be a celebrities revenge fantasy. Getting back at the people who make them just hate making millions of dollars a year.

It's a lot better, and a little more ambivilent, than that and it does explictly acknowledge the gossip trade's place in the Hollywood ecology. But still, a real problem point of entry (at least for me) is the old "why exactly should I care?" question. Oh, the beautiful people's lives are so hard!

However, the performances by Cox & others were good enough, and the writing and overall production shows enough promise, that I'll probably be back, for at least another episode or two. To see if they can explain to me why I should care.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's no new years resolution, It's more than that

For what it's worth, this is my favorite new years song, and also one of my all-time favorites period. As I've said, I always think of it as "our song" for a girlfriend I had once. Partly because our anniversary fell on on new years, but mostly because of the lines about

No more empty self-possession
Vision swept under the mat
It's no new years resolution
It's more than that

No there's nothing quite as real
As a touch of your sweet hand
I can spend the rest of my life
Buried in the sand.

I think of that time as the last, really, that I thought I might be able to lead a simple life and run from my artistic inclinations.

Aside from that I just love hearing the song with its sweet lushness, so different both from most Split Enz and Crowded House hit singles. All of which I also have high regard for, by the way-everybody knows what really good songwriters Neil Finn & his brother Tim were/are. It's just that to my knowledge this doesn't sound like anything else they ever did.

"Random" Flickr-Blogging: IMG_0101 (first of the new year)

Did you ever have the feeling you were being watched?


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nathan Lane, ladies and gentlemen.

With thanks for recommending the link to Mark Evanier, who has some qualms.

I shouldn't link to this because I don't want to give even tacit approval to the secret and illegal videotaping of live performances but it's just too good...This is seven minutes from the recent Broadway production of The Odd Couple starring Mr. Lane and Matthew Broderick. It's shot poorly and unethically from the balcony but it's still funny.

I understand Mark's hesitation. But I have to admit that in the case of something like this that most of us were never going to get a chance to pay to see...

Well, right or wrong, if it's a choice between watching an illegal videotape of a hilarious, amazing and otherwise unpreserved performance or not, my personal ethical bar is set a little lower.

The scene is comedy gold, BTW, and has been done by dozens of actors both pro and amateur, in full productions and acting class scenes. Including, incidentally, yours truly in the latter. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Lane is funnier than I was.

Call it a hunch.

I've seen it, it's rubbish

Continuing my new tradition of late night cable TV viewing reviews, this morning I finally managed to sit through the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was uphill work.

There are reasons why it took 30 years or whatever to bring Hitchhiker's to the big screen, and one of them is that it does not lend itself to a couple hours length or a dramatic format. It's not a drama, it's a comedic yarn, a great one, and trying to make it confrom to the rules of drama (such as they are) could only ever have ended in tears.

The "laid-back," sprawling quality of the aural, TV and book versions accounts for a great deal of their charm, and trying to squeeze so much of it in can't have pleased many. People like me who are familiar with the original will be aggravated by some of the seemingly random changes, and I wonder if those who weren't followed it at all

Yet the words that come to my mind are "noble failure." I'm satisfied that most if not all of those concerned were honestly trying to do justice to Douglas Adams' novel, etc, without being a slavish imitation of the previous versions.

There were plenty of little touches along the way (the use of the original theme "Journey of the Sorcerer" by the Eagles, the TV series Marvin getting a look in, etc) to assure me of that. The trouble is it didn't work, and sometimes when it didn't work, it really didn't work.

Sometimes it only almost, but not quite, completely didn't work.

Worst of all was Sam Rockwell's Zaphod. He was either directed or chose to play the part as a lampoon of George W. Bush. Which is a "reimagining" that is both out of character and will date the film horribly in the unlikely event anyone tries to watch it in 30 years.

On the other arm, Zooey Deschanel's Trillian was probably the most improved considering her character's always been one of the weakest parts in the series. In the film, she's the most interesting character and the only one I could see spending an evening talking to.

And it's not just because she's pretty. As Adams himself found in later books, most of his characters aren't really "heroic" in the traditional dramatic sense, which works fine for the rambling narrative it originally was, but not so much for a two-hour movie.

Trillian is the only one who goes out and actually does anything for any reasons that seem inward-directed, and therefore she's the only one who could possibly have engendered much audience sympathy.

And I found myself strangely respecting Mos Def for finding a new way to approach Ford Prefect, one of my favorites. You can see him trying to find a way to approach his lines that suggest a true alien, for whom Earthling, let alone English, is not a first language.

The trouble is, he's not terribly funny in the role (though still, paradoxically, funnier than anybody else). And Ford, once he's served his individual and sole plot purpose of rescuing Arthur from the exploding Earth, really needs to be funny. Or else the character's just going to disappear into the landscape, as Def, sadly, does.

On the direction/adaptation front, I was astonished at how many of the biggest ideas of the story were treated as throwaways. This may have seemed droll in the filmmaking, but from my POV it made the movie duller and harder to understand.

Speaking of POV, one of the new elements in the film is something called a POV gun, the idea of which is that if you shoot someone with it, they instantly see things from your point of view. It's used as a quick-and-clean way to expose a character's innermost feelings, leading me to dub it "the exposition gun."

This makes for a scene which for me perfectly encapsulated the failure of the new HGttG as drama. In the words of the Robot Devil on Futurama (the best SF satire since the original Hitchhiker's):

"You can't just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!"

At the end, I'm forced to the conclusion that the problem may not have been with the performances, the direction or the adaptation (though all could have been better). The problem is inherent with the source material.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy didn't really need to be a movie, it's not best served by the form. I'm assuming most of you who are reading this have seen the 1981 TV series, heard the records, and/or read the books, and if you haven't, I urge you to do so.

This movie is perhaps a third, at best, of what Hitchhiker's, at it's best, really is.