Saturday, March 17, 2007

One more reason to hope scientists are wrong about time travel being impossible



Chance of getting to know Cyd Charisse in 1956.

I'm getting ready for a freakout

There is a fantastic interview here with a man named Neil Nyren, who is senior vice president, publisher and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Just a few of his authors include Tom Clancy, Dave Barry, Maureen Dowd, and Linda Ellerbee.

The interview is posted at a murder mystery site, but ranges (like Nyren's career) more widely than that. Here's what he had to say on the subject of what he looks for in a new writer:


Whenever I get a new ms, here’s what I want to see: 1) Something different, a situation or character or voice that I haven’t seen hundreds of times before (or if they are familiar types, presented so damn well that I can’t resist them); 2) A sure command from the very first page – I want to feel immediately that the author knows what he or she is doing – if it’s wobbly, I’m just going to move on to another manuscript; 3) Something extra. This is hard to describe, because you only know it when you see it, but for me it’s a special intensity, a fierceness or passion that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

I need to say a few words further on the subject of what I alluded to last night, about personal things going on for me at the moment. I still don't wish to get into this in any detail here, but...

Just at a time when I really need everything in my life (or at least as it ever does) to be going right, I feel everything's going wrong. One of my big issues is that I never quite feel I have a foundation beneath me that I can trust, so it's hard to dig my heels in and really start running because I'm always checking that the floor isn't going to open up beneath me.

As you know, I have an incredible opportunity full of possibilities in front of me right now. I really need my head to be in a good space, to feel that I can safely touch something fundamentall that I can trust...and push off from it. Like the wall of the pool when you're swimming.

Instead, I feel like everything's in danger of collapsing again. And as always, the things that other people-at least most of them-seem to able to count on without even thinking about I can't count on at all.

And, I note with a growing sick-feeling in my stomach...this is the fourth anniversary of my stint in Tennessee.

How nuts is Heather Mills?

Mills, Paul McCartney's soon-to-be ex-second wife, has been distinguishing herself by:

  • Bad-mouthing him in the press-and threatening to continue to do so- claiming he's "tight with money"-he's only offered her somewhere in the neighborhood (reports vary) of 45 million pounds
  • Accusing him of being a bad father who abused her
  • Claiming that "huge powers" are against her
  • Calling "999"-Britain's version of 911-multiple times over paparazzi, to the point where she became a nuisance and police had to ask her to stop
  • Agreeing to appear on Dancing With The Stars.
  • And even driving Paul away for his long-time label, for Pete's sake.

And, um...
A clutch of former friends allege that she was a hooker who sold her body to rich Arabs, and her stepfather has disputed the incredible coincidence in her autobiography that her late mother nearly lost her leg in a car crash years before the model suffered her own such injury.

Bizarrely, she accused the TV producer she jilted for McCartney of being a gay government spy intent on wrecking her anti-land mine campaign and even pretended to be a respected writer by proudly showing articles written by a journalist with the same name.


She also wrote that she slept in a cardboard box as a teenage runaway in London, while her puzzled stepfather said there was always a room for her in the family house.

But all that, and more, didn't really start me wondering just how nuts she really was until I read this: Even PETA doesn't want any part of her any more. How the fuck nuts do you have to be for PETA-not known for their well-thought-out, convincing, rational and clear arguments-to go You know what babe? You're making us look bad.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another one of those all-too-rare moments when...

...I am proud to live in Washington State.
Student in hot water over Pledge



Kyle King's act of protest against the Iraq war was silent.

When other students stood up to salute the flag during Monroe High School's fifth-period music class, King would remain quietly in his seat.

The high school senior had declined to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance for about two years before his quiet demonstration got him into hot water with a teacher who insisted that King was bound by law to rise and recite the pledge with the rest of the class.

The teacher was mistaken. King's mother, Kelly King, found that out when she visited Monroe High's principal to complain about how her son was treated.

There's more which you should read. But dig how classy that protest was. It didn't disrupt or prevent any student who wished to salute the flag. It wasn't exhibitionistic like those murky-thinking college students who think mooning a paper mache doll of President Bush sends a clearly-worked-out political message.

It simply, quietly, and I think quite eloquently, said: I do not wish to salute the flag when my country is being led by criminals, liars and torturers carelessly sending men and women to die.

That's what I think it says, anyway. Your mileage (as King's) may vary.

Radio night

Another one of the things you probably get if you've been reading this blog for any period of time is that I'm on an emotional yo-yo pretty much seven days a week. Today has been a "down" day, mostly because I woke up after only six hours of sleep, but also because of a few personal things I don't wish to get into here.

However, around dusk I went out to return a DVD and do a little shopping. On the way home I had one of those great experiences when the radio plays what you need just when you need it and you pump up the volume...



BTW, I can't knock this band for carrying on after the loss of that poor dumb bastard singer of theirs...but they'll never be as big as they were in 1985-87. Not to me, and probably not to anybody else.

But I gotta thank them (and the universe) for giving me little moments like that. What else can I say?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oh, my god.

Cowell Says He's Bigger Than Springsteen


Simon Cowell says he's bigger than The Boss. In an interview to air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," the "American Idol" judge says he's worth five times more to Sony BMG than Bruce Springsteen.

"I sell more records than Bruce Springsteen, sure," Cowell says of the 57-year-old rocker, who signed a contract that was reported to be in the neighborhood of $100 million.

"I mean, in the last five years, I've probably sold over 100 million records. If (Springsteen) got one hundred (million dollars), I should have got five hundred (million dollars)," he says.



Ok. I never cared that much about Cowell in the past. I don't watch American Idol because their make of prefabricated pop stars, by and large, doesn't win my affection.

(I have no problem with prefabricated pop stars as a rule: I own several Monkees albums and I'm not ashamed of that fact. I thought the Spice Girls were dumb but only in the best way. Even fucking N'Sync had as least one dance mix I liked. It's just AI's model I can do without 98 times out of 100.)

But his icon has fallen deep enough into the consciousness that I know his persona is, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying so, a douchebag. And he's making a wonderful living being that way. Fine.

Bruce Springsteen doesn't exactly get my wheels turning either, but he's someone I respect. I can tell he's a great showman, I think he tries to use the riches rock has brought him for good things, and I don't begrudge him any of it. I just don't get the urge to sing along to Born In The USA that much anymore.

And...no doubt it's the fact I was just rereading Love All The People that's got this lodged in my skull. Bill Hicks had several wise sayings on the subject of artists vs. salesmen. But can Simon Cowell really not see the difference between selling eight to nine million records as an artist (which Springsteen did with his breakthough Born To Run album, for example) and selling 100 million as a salesman?

Especially at night...At least there's pretty lights...



Let the worry and neurosis begin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Great. A concert tour that absolutely no one who isn't already aware of gay rights issues is going to go see

Cyndi Lauper, Erasure and Debbie Harry will anchor a summer tour of 15 North American cities designed to raise awareness of gay-rights issues.

The True Colors trek, which begins June 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will also include the Dresden Dolls, the Gossip and the Misshapes, along with host Margaret Cho.

"This tour was created to celebrate our differences by raising awareness for liberty, fairness and dignity for everyone -- not just some of us," Lauper said in a statement. "Our fans can come out to celebrate a great cause while also hearing some great music."


You know, I love a lot of these groups. Some of them are pioneers. But do they really have any kind of fanbase which needs their awareness of gay-rights issues raised? And as if that weren't enough to winnow out the ranks of those who still have some residual homophobia in their veins, check this out:

Rufus Wainwright, the Indigo Girls and Rosie O'Donnell will make special appearances throughout the tour, which is sponsored by gay/lesbian TV network Logo.


My feelings on the Indigo Girls and Rosie O'Donnell (and Margaret Cho) range from not really seeing the appeal, not to my taste, to absolute hate. But I think I can feel safe in saying none of them has a single fan who needs their awareness raised.

If you're a fan of any and/or all of those artists...and in at least one case I use the word loosely...you're probably overconcerned with gay-rights issues, if possible.

The Human Rights Campaign, for which this tour will be in benefit, is a worthy charity, I hope it raises lots of money and I'm sure it will. But let's not pretend anyone is going to leave feeling any more pro-gay than they were when they walked in.

If they wanted to impress me, and more importantly have a chance to raise the awareness of those who need it, they'd get someone like Justin Timberlake who actually has fans outside the pro-gay population.

Richard Jeni

I haven't had anything much to say about the recent and obviously tragic loss of comedian Richard Jeni, nor will I.

I simply didn't know his work well enough to be a big fan. Though I do remember catching at least part of one of his HBO specials and a Tonight Show appearance or two and finding him funny, for me personally it was never to the extreme that made me want to seek out his performances and other appearances.

But I'm always saddened when someone choses to take their own life. And frankly a little frightened when that life seems, from an outside perspective, to have had so much in it that you'd think would be rewarding.

On that topic, his official homepage has statements from his family and a friend that I thought should be shared.

You'll Never Get (The) Rich(es)

Missed the premiere of "The Riches" Monday night (though it seems to have gotten off to a good start in the ratings without me). If you don't know the idea of the series., here's something quick that'll bring you up to speed.

Corey took to it and thinks it's really good, so I tried the rerun this morning. The following is slightly revised from an e-mail I just sent him:

I thought it was good, not great. I like that it seems to be more complex than the ads made it seem; that you can't necessarily describe it in 30 words or less. I'm a bit worried about whether it'll be able to maintain the pace and tone-there are sinkholes all around-but I'd definitely watch another episode. Maybe more.

Particularly well-acted and directed, I thought, with Eddie Izzard especially strong. I didn't think Minnie Driver was always as great, but perhaps her work will grow on me. Some of it is not her fault as much as the writer's choice-the heroin addiction seems like it could get tired really fast.

Shannon Marie Woodward (far right), who plays the older daughter, was also a standout in my opinion.

I noticed the way she watches the other characters when they're talking, as though she's really listening to and thinking about what they're saying.

This is one of the signs of a good actress, to me.

Also, for those of you interested, in looks she's very very very very close to Keitha. Even down to some of her costumes-though maybe not so much the one above (A pink-and-gold skirt? Keitha would kill me if I even so much as thought of putting her in one of those).

And in the "TV is such a small world" department, Noel Fisher, who plays the older son, was the 15-year-old patient who committed suicide in front of Huff in the pilot of that series and another cast member, Gregg Henry, plays Rory's boyfriend's dad on "Gilmore Girls."

A possible hooray

A comic strip gag I've always remembered from when I was a kid was in, I think, Beetle Bailey. It showed one of the characters stopping to pick up his mail and calling out "A possible hooray! A possible hooray!"

Then another character explains to someone next to them, "He got one of those envelopes reading 'You may already be a winner."

The Literary Agency to which I sent my e-mail query yesterday has replied saying they would be happy to read a sample of my work.

This is not exactly getting the ball into the dragon's mouth at the end of the miniature golf game, yet. I mean, now I get to worry and be neurotic about preparing the sample (what fun).

But, it is, at least, step two. Maybe even step three. So...

A possible hooray! A possible hooray!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Steal some words, steal some tunes, Don't be shy, hit the hi-tech groove

A stolen stolen meme (pass it on):

How tall are you barefoot? 5 feet 8 inches (with the hair, 9)

Have you ever flown first-class? No, but I understand the peanuts are terrific.

One of your favorite books when you were a child? Mad Magazine paperbacks

A good restaurant in your city? I'm the wrong person to ask about restaurants, because basically if you can't get fries with your meal, I don't know about it. I prefer Burger King.

What is your favorite small appliance? Don't know that I have one, really. Maybe the knife I use to spread peanut butter on bread?

One person that never fails to make you laugh? Never fails? I don't know if anyone never fails. Chuck Jones, John Belushi, John Goodman, Mel Blanc, Bill Hicks, and Chris Rock have got to be on any short list, though.

One movie that literally never fails to make me laugh is Young Frankenstein.

First LP you ever bought? Probably the Ghostbusters soundtrack. Speaking of, Bill Murray should probably be on that short list too. So should Ghostbusters on a list of movies.

Do you do push-ups? I'm sorry, what?

What was one of your favorite games as a child? Scrabble.

When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Ghostbusting Jedi Knight Time Lord. Oh, like I was the only one.

Your favorite Soup of the Day? Never been much of a soup lover, really.

Have you ever met someone famous? I've been held by Joan Baez when I was a baby, shook hands and exchanged words with Condi Rice when she was at Stanford, met Lois Duncan in a bookstore, Mark Evanier at a con, Sergio Aragon├ęs in a comic shop, Harlan Ellison at a few appearances and cons.

Date Of Birth? September first, 1971.

From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news? The Daily Show and Colbert Report are the only TV "news" shows I watch regularly, the rest I find online.

Current worry? Outside the current political situation, you mean? That I'll never make much-or any-money doing all the cool things I can do.

Current hate? Republicans. Anime. Every stupid romantic comedy with a gay theme that gets made before my incredibly intelligent one does. Democrats when they act like jackasses. Eminem and the glorification of thugs. Paris Hilton-as Shakespeare's Sister says, just because I know who she is.

Favorite place to be? Home, wherever it is.

Least favorite place to be? Somewhere there's too much cigarette smoke and loud engines. Or Knoxville, Tennessee.

Do you consider yourself well organized? Bwa ha...bwa ha ha ha...ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Do you believe in an afterlife? I'm not so sure I believe in a BEFORE life...

Where do you think you will be in 10 Yrs? Smarter. Published and/or produced (again)

Do you burn or tan? Mostly tan but I would burn if I were ever in the sun long enough.

Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about the future? Let me put it this way. An optimist sees the glass as half full. A pessimist sees the glass as half empty, and knows he has colon cancer. (thank you, Dr, Katz)

What did you fear was going to get you at night as a kid? The Creep in Creepshow. (Letting me watch that movie alone at 11 years-old: Only one of the many things my mother shouldn't have done). Giant spiders.

What’s in your pockets right now? I'm not wearing pants right now. That's right, ladies.

Last thing that made you laugh? A Fraiser re-run this morning.

Worst injury you’ve ever had? Nothing bad so far, knock wood.

How many TVs do you own? One.

Best compliment received? Someone once told me I was brilliant when I was being bitchy...(it was after reading this review).

What leaves you speechless? I can't answer, I'm speechless.

What is your favorite book? Can't choose just one.

Last meal you cooked for the opposite sex? Probably a hot pretzel, years ago.

What were you doing at 12 midnight last night? Watching Leno and/or Letterman, switching back and forth.

Cross your fingers or send me something from my Amazon.com wish list for luck

I've just sent off my first e-mail query to an agent.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Oh, god

Here's a local story that...well if it affects you the way if affected me, it'll make you feel like laying down on your couch in something like a fetal position in contemplation of the face of true evil.


Pierce County investigators say at least two people ignored a woman's cries for help, and now she's dead.

One of those people was her boyfriend.

William Hart is now charged with manslaughter, accused of leaving his girlfriend Annette McGrath to die. Hart told police he and McGrath got into a shoving match at their Spanaway home Friday night.

It spilled outside, where Hart told police he pushed McGrath so hard, she fell back and hit her head on the garage.

According to court papers, he heard a "horrible noise" when her head hit, and she fell to the ground.

That's when Hart told police he went to the grocery to buy alcohol and his next day's lunch. Then he says he went to his father's house and watched TV.

There's more if you can take it. It gets so much worse than you can possibly imagine.

It's times like these I really wish Bill Hicks were alive.

"I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way...I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts,"


-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace, native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

...all these military guys and all the pundits "Seriously, aww the espirit de corps will be affected, and we are such a moral..." Excuse me!? Aren't y'all fucking hired killers?! SHUT UP! You are thugs and when we need you to go blow the fuck out of a nation of little brown people, we'll let you know. Until then... when did the fucking military get all these morals-"We are the military. Is that a village of children and kids? Where's the napalm? Sh-boom! I don't want any gay people hanging around me while I'm killing kids."


-Comic, social critic and Goat-boy Bill Hicks. Native of Houston. High school graduate.

May the Force be with me.

If you've been reading this and/or my old blog for a reasonable period of time, you probably know that I have a certain...ambivalence when it comes to Star Wars.

I was five years old the year Star Wars (not "A New Hope," bitches) came out. It was BIG in my life. I saw it 20 times in the theater plus I don't know how many on cable/video/network TV since then.

And I'm pretty okay with the idea that some things in the Star Wars adventures really don't need to do much more than look pretty badass (two words: Boba Fett). I don't even mind comic book (and not in the best way) things like the Ewoks...that much.

But I think Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace was an insult to the intelligence and I look with disdain at most of the tie-in novels, comic books and such. I particuarly resented being told by a fan or two that I needed to read said novels, comic books and such to understand who some characters in the prequels were.

I see this as little more than George Lucas' attempt to separate more cash from more brain-dead "collectors." And I do get a little sick of references to the series passing for dialogue in films made by overage fanboys (Kevin Smith, I'm looking at you).

However.

This is incredibly cool.

Something to do until Stephen Colbert's flavor comes in

You Are Strawberry Ice Cream

A bit shy and sensitive, you are sweet to the core.
You often find yourself on the outside looking in.
Insightful and pensive, you really understand how the world works.

You are most compatible with chocolate chip ice cream.

I've never really liked strawberry ice cream all that much, but the description isn't bad. Although, if I really understand how the world works...shoot me.

Of course, of course

Which horse breed best relates to your personality?




Andalusian: You're the perfect mix of business and fun. Your natural talent and grace often puts you in the spotlight and your friends often use that to their advantage. You're definitely not one to fade into the crowd, in fact your unique beauty and/or character make you stand out. You may be a bit of a dreamer, but you've got the determination to put those dreams into action.


Dreams into action? Wouldn't you just know that if I was going to be a horse, the description would turn out to have a reference to a certain "spiky-haired imp" synth-pop musician?


528 other people got this result!
This quiz has been taken 14607 times.
25% of people had this result.

Once again, you lot who read them will have to tell me how good this is...


Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_6534 BONUS




That's the sexiest T-shirt I've ever seen in my whole entire life.

(Image stolen from Tom's fine contribution, on the moral grounds that some things are so good they must be shared)

Well, if there's anyone severely qualified to know about undermining troops, he's the guy.

Anti-war lawmakers in Congress are "undermining" U.S. troops in Iraq by trying to limit President Bush's spending requests for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday.



You don't suppose that whole "not-exactly-being-greeted-as-liberators" thing could do that, do you?

BTW, the Associated Press-that well-known bastion of liberalism-dropped the ball all over this story. It's almost a textbook example of why people like me have lost almost all our faith in the so-called "credentialed" media.

Take a look at that first paragraph.

"Anti-war lawmakers." No, there are no-or very few-"anti-war lawmakers" in Congress. There are a lot of lawmakers-and even more of a country-who know that this criminal war needs to be ended ASAP. Because our leaders cannot be trusted to run it. That is not the same thing.

Now dig the second paragraph.

Hitting out at lawmakers who profess to back the troops but oppose Bush's plans in Iraq, Cheney said proof of their commitment would come as they consider legislation to provide nearly $100 billion for the rest of this year's costs of the wars.

Emphasis mine. Get that? Two paragraphs in, and this AP story is saying that if you don't trust Bush-for some reason-you're only pretending to care about the lives of the troops.
"When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleeding,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them," Cheney said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


"...that's been called slow bleeding." Yeah, it's been called that...by Republicans. As Media Matters has documented, "slow bleeding" is a label that was invented by a Republican and exclusively used by Republicans. Who then at least muddy, and at worst flat-out lie, about the truth of its origins.

Am I being hopelessly naive to think that's the sort of the thing the press-Associated or not-should keep up on?

This one, however, is my favorite:


Speaking before a packed crowd at the Washington Convention Center, Cheney said it was one of several disturbing "myths" that one could support the troops and at the same time not give them what their commanders say they need to win.


Now...given what we now know about the lack of armor provided to the troops, which is so bad that parents are having to raise money to provide it themselves. And the fact that from the beginning we went into this war with less troops than the commanders said they needed to win.

Can you think of any reason why for saying such things, Dick Cheney shouldn't be forced to get all his health care from now on at Walter Reed, before moving to Guantanamo? Me, neither. But the Associated Press just reports it like if the Vice-President said something, it must be true.

Caption this photo




"Now children, let me tell you about the heck of a job my husband's administration did after Hurricane Katrina. Once upon a time, in New Orleans..."

Add your own in the comments.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Random Flickr-blogging 6534




Angie had decided that her trouble with meeting men was that she was simply too subtle.

Credit

Well, that's certainly a relief

'THIS IS NOT Luke Skywalker here," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), discussing his friend and Senate colleague John McCain's second run for the presidency. "This is a totally different campaign."

Graham was looking for a way to reassure his fellow conservatives that they no longer had anything to fear from McCain. His choice of metaphor is one of those windows into the fundamental cultural gap that separates hard-core conservatives from the rest of humanity. To most people, who think of Luke Skywalker as a hero battling an evil and immensely powerful empire, Graham's implication would be seen as an unmitigated insult. In the world of the GOP elite, though, it's a form of praise: No, no, don't worry, McCain's with the empire now.



That column goes on to observe that McCain, the "good" "maverick" "straight-talking" republican, has made himself over into a pandering, flip-flopping joke of a man who doesn't deserve anyone's trust.

Much the same thing I've been saying here for months if not years.

Schickel is right:

No one should waste their time blogging, since it is an unpaid activity and no one other than your mother and maybe a cousin or two will be reading it.

You probably only want to watch this if you love electropop as much as I do



But if you do, this is awesome. I once told you there was a time in my life when if you asked me who I would want to be if I could be anybody besides myself I would have said: Daryl Hall. That was around 1984.

A couple of years later I moved on to the lead singer of this band. If I'd had the confidence I totally would have adopted his style in high school. Actually, after I dyed my hair red, when I was about 17 I fancied I looked a bit like him but that was probably delusion.

A bit like who? Oh, sorry. Tom Bailey. With the Thompson Twins. Live in Liverpool, 1983.

If you don't know how wonderful this is I don't want to know you, really.

So happy I could amuse you all.

A blogger named Maisha thinks I'm funny.