October 29, 2003

Speaking of the Simpsons

Matt Groening says that Fox News threatened to sue over an episode featuring a fake news crawl. Apparently, the crawl featured such stories as:

Democrats cause cancer? Find out at ... Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer ... Dow down 5000 points ... Study: 92 per cent of Democrats are gay ... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party ... Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple.

Some of which are almost as funny as "Network sues self."


Camille Paglia's a nut. She's compelling because she intermixes pop culture and social critique. And, you know, my generation's greatest contribution to the world is obsessive Simpsons-quoting, so I'm all about stuff like:

What a bunch of crap this Clark boom is. Clark reminds me of Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- a blank, vacant expression, detached and affectless. There's something sexually neutered about Dullea in that film -- a physical passivity necessitated by cramped space travel -- that I also find in Clark.

Sci-fi + sexual identity + politics ... I'm with ya'.

But then she's gotta go poop all over blogs:

Blog reading for me is like going down to the cellar amid shelves and shelves of musty books that you're condemned to turn the pages of. Bad prose, endless reams of bad prose!

While, in the next breath claiming she invented them (fair warning here, Camille ... this is a crowded field):

Now and then one sees the claim that Kausfiles was the first blog. I beg to differ: I happen to feel that my Salon column was the first true blog.

Really her issue is that there's no blog super-celebrity. That someone needs to do for blogs what Rush Limbaugh did for AM radio - make it "buzzing and vibrant" with voices that have "energy and vision."

To which I say, first, we already have these folks. And, second, my debate team kicked your butt!

October 28, 2003


Netflix will mail you your complete rental history upon request (a partial list is available online). In 134 days of being a subscriber, I've rented 79 movies. So, 0.6 movies a day seems a bit ridiculous ... I mean I do leave my house and, like, bathe.

It would be nice to have that list, maybe sorted by ranking, in an XML feed. I'm not a huge "must document everything about me in a sidebar" person, but I could get behind including that list on my blog. Or at least a link to the movie most recently seen.

October 26, 2003

October 20, 2003


The worst type of DVD commentary is when the director decides to narrate the film.

"He's walking down the hall to get to the bedroom. When he gets there he will sit on the bed ... our set designer is a genius, by the way, completely captured the feeling of the bed."

Of course, the exception to this rule is a movie where you find yourself saying "What the hell were they thinking here - who thought this was going to work?" In other words, the Logan's Run commentary track.

The costume designer pops up once in a while with such gems as "Well, this is a future society based on free-love and free-expression. So we didn't really see the need for anyone to wear underwear."

But the majority of the justifications come from director Michael Anderson. For example, the ice cave scene. Logan 5 and Jessica 69 have just escaped from Hamster City and find themselves moistened and alone in the layer of the evil robot, Box. This gives rise to one of the great lines in any movie, "It's freezing ... let's take our clothes off."

Director Anderson explains, "Well, they were freezing ... and thought their clothes might freeze ... so they decide to get undressed. And then they wrap themselves in some furs that are lying about ... which god knows how those things got there."

Sadly, no deleted scenes on the DVD and according to the commentary there are many. The Sex Shop scene got cut way down because of censors. (Anderson on this: "It's a shame because we spent hours applying flesh covered tape") And, in a scene cut from the above-mentioned Box lair, the dastardly crapbot tricks our heroes into getting naked (again!) so that he can sculpt them in ice.

Hopefully, there'll be a Platinum Edition one day.

October 17, 2003


Today's my brother's birthday. When we were kids, and I was waiting for him to die in Super Mario Bros., I would use the other controller to 'control' the bad guys.

"I'm that Koopa that got you. Fear my turtle wrath!"

This may explain why I'm a Yankees fan today. Yeah, we're the Big Bad of MLB ... ruining the game by buying up everyone and winning so much. The Evil Empire.

Evil because the Yankees have more money to spend than anyone, an owner willing to spend it, and a lack of any rules to prevent that from happening. It's really great. When I was sitting around with some Yankees cohorts watching the ALDS a couple weekends back, there was a lot of "Hey - that guy's pretty good. Maybe we can buy him before the next round."

There are some drawbacks. You get called names. You gotta worry about getting jumped in a Boston sports bar if you cheer too demonstrably. But still, when your team comes back on Pedro to win Game Seven with a walk-off homer in extra innings, it doesn't feel evil at all. In fact, it feels real good.

It's understandable why Red Sox fans would want to experience this for themselves one day. But the truth is, there's solace to be had in the Curse. I mean, for one, it's all the BoSox have. It's not like there's moral superiority in having only the second highest payroll in baseball ... selling out the Green Monster in order to grab a few more dollars (Hint: get your own TV network ... very lucrative).

And, second, I don't think they've thought about what would happen if they won. It's not like it actually erases all those other botched opportunities. Now, you're just the team who's won once in a hundred years rather than this super-mysterious tortured team of doom that's haunted throughout the ages by a fat man in pinstripes. That's the thing that suprised me about all the Cubs v. Red Sox hype - how does that work out well for anyone. All you end up with is a team who's Curse wasn't as big and hairy as the other guys. No one wins ... someone just loses more.

So, embrace the Curse, Boston. It's what makes you special.

There's also a lot to be said for certainty. Now, I've got to worry about the team of freaks from Florida and the fact that Mariano Rivera's arm may fall off and that we've got no starters on full rest. The Yankees win a lot, but they still haven't figured out how to win all the time.

Maybe if we can buy Pedro.

October 16, 2003

Scared down to his hooves

satan.jpgMy friend, Eugene, he paints. A while ago, we decided that he should paint me ... with horns and a black cape.

This past weekend at Open Studios, Eugene sold this smaller version of my gourd to, Bob Gerbracht, a pastel artist and Eugene's teacher's teacher.

Live well in Pinole, painting called "Satan."

October 14, 2003

Piss on a spark plug

Something I never realized about WarGames until I listened to the writer/director commentary ... Joshua's voice is a processed and cut-up version of John Wood (Falken) reading the dialogue backwards.

Which is funny because Falken was supposed to be a ornithological-proxy for Stephen Hawking ... wheelchair and all. The idea got dropped when Hawking was asked how he felt about it. He said that he would be interested in talking if, in fact, the filmmakers were interested in him because of his work as opposed to his affliction.

Yeah, not so much.

There's some discussion about the kinds of things WarGames accurately predicted. In particular, they take credit for inventing the war dailer. But they couldn't understand why having computers talk hasn't caught on more.

October 10, 2003

Why dorks love Belle & Sebastian

From the liner notes to Dear Catastrophe Waitress:

There are four towers to choose from though. Orthanc, Morgul, Tirith and Barar-Dur.

I'm surprised Tolkien didn't give the Hobbits a tower as well.

Well they had a sort of mound.

They (sic) are twelve ways you can pick two towers from four, right?

In related news, in listening to the Themselves remix album, I noticed there's this slowed down sample in Home Work that goes, "He's gone back on his old job - hauling sand. No! He's working at the office, that's right."

It's a quote from Florence Rasmussen, the Sweet Ol' Grandma from Hell, who shows up in the middle of Errol Morris' first film, Gates of Heaven.

Soon I will have all the facts I need.

October 09, 2003

Sonic Blue Death

Thought I would work from home today - just a chance to get away from the bustle of the office.

Instead of quiet, I got Blue Angels practicing aerial manuvers over my house. Turns out F/A-18's are real fucking loud.


Sometimes times are rough.

Rough like you vote for a terrible politician in order to avoid electing a morally rephrensible one. And then the reprehensible one wins anyway.

Rough like your team loses the first game of the ALCS after getting baffled by the ol' knuckler. And your shortstop gets attacked by a bald eagle to boot.

But then you find out that your local record store, one of the great record stores anywhere, actually does have Themselves' remix album, The No Music of Aiffs. And it's not only great, but has a sweet little video clip as well.

Things are looking up.

October 08, 2003

Been down so long

Europe vs. Bush:

Europeans are waiting for the Americans to give up on Iraq and come back to their senses, so U.S.-European relations can get back to the intimacy of Cold War days.


Both the Bush administration, which has been overly dismissive of other nations, and its guerrilla critics need to remember Rule One of crisis behavior: When you are in a hole, stop digging.

October 07, 2003

Designed to break your heart

Baysball: a world of heartache:

"The Bay Area's baseball dreams are in a skid row pawnshop today, in a grimy glass display case between a banjo and someone's mother's wedding ring."

October 06, 2003


When I came home this evening, I had messages on my machine from a DNC official, Bill Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton a second time and Joe Lieberman.

You know, today was Yom Kippur and while I ate lunch like normal, I'm guessing that Holy Joe didn't - I'm surprised I couldn't find a press release on this, actually. My point is that 38 years ago to the day, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in the first game of the World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. Meanwhile, I've got auto-Joe on my machine.


Jinxes are an interesting thing. I had predicted that this weekend the Red Sox would see their hopes dashed and was proved, infuriatingly, wrong. I blame myself. Still I had the good luck to be able to watch the game with a bunch of old college friends - cursing the TV and Joe Morgan.

The game was cursed because of the A's penchant for squandering every opportunity to put away the BoSox. Joe Morgan was cursed because ... well, largely just out of tradition. In post-seasons past, we got into a bad habit of throwing soda cans during Morgan- & Miller-commentated games.

The A's have lost 8 straight games in which they've had the opportunity to clinch a post-season series. Here's hoping their luck will change tonight.

October 04, 2003

I want you to hit me as hard as you can

I'm experiencing insomnia for the first time this weekend in Boston. It's just like being awake all the time. I feel I could be a much more productive, yet insane, person if this were to keep up for a few more days.

Despite that, I had an excellent time at Day One of BloggerCon. Great panel on education filled with passionate folks and new ideas about how to make blogs work in schools. And not to be too aw-shuckish, but it's been a real treat meeting folks who say "I use Blogger - thanks so much" and then getting to hear their ideas on what we should do next. Tomorrow morning's user get-together should be a good time assuming I get any sleep between now and then. Where's some valerian root when you need it.

October 02, 2003


Headed out to Boston this weekend for BloggerCon.

Of course, I'll also be on hand for what is likely to be another sad ending to a BoSox post-season. So, I'll be looking to capture Boston's collective woe in tiny picture format.

October 01, 2003

Roosian phrase book

Saw a documentary on Peter Sellers which completely skipped over Lolita, but had great info on Dr. Strangelove. In addition to learning that Sellers considered Strangelove his favorite character, I also learned that he was meant to play a fourth role in the movie - Major Kong.

As you can read elsewhere, Sellers 'conveniently' broke his leg and Kubrick had to cast Slim Pickens instead.