October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween

costume credit: kimbalina

October 28, 2004

Easey Peasey

The widely, wildly blogged Crash Ballet contest produced a pretty nifty video of 'sploding planes. But it was the remix of the Interpol track that really grabbed me. Turns out you can grab it for free from matador records.

October 27, 2004


St. Louis is my hometown, but I started following baseball when I lived in Jersey. As a result, I'm both a Yankees fan and a Cardinals fan.

In other words, this is about as bad as it gets.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I was eating fish n' chips in Lower Haight as the Yanks were stomping the BoSox in Game 3 of the ALCS - their 19 to 8 victory and 3-0 series lead all but guaranteed them another pennant.

A young couple, dressed head-to-toe in Boston gear, passed by the window where I was sitting. The boyfriend stopped and looked forlornly at the restaurant TV set. He was in anguish. The girlfriend moved in close and gently stroked his arm, trying to offer some small comfort.

And I thought to myself, "Wow. I actually feel bad for those guys. It must really suck to think your team's gonna win it each year and then just get the bejeesus knocked out of you."

This is what my sympathy has wrought.

Having been cruelly punished for my moment of weakness, I, therefore, commit myself this day to evil. It is the hard heart that kills. The meek will inherit jack squat. And so on.

Additionally, I may swear off fish n' chips.

October 26, 2004

Has been

I have to admit that when I first saw Dragon's Lair in the arcade, I thought it was pretty frickin' cool. Surrounded by 8-bit games, a playable cartoon looks pretty compelling.

The FAQ for Dragon's Lair II reveals how truly crappy the whole idea is. Apparently, to win the game all you need to do is:

SWORd, SWORD, SWORD. SWORD, RIGHT. LEFt onto the ledge then SWORD, SWORD. RIGHT, SWORD, SWORD, UP. Call out Daphne's name. RIGHT, RIGHT then embrace and kiss. RIGHT, RIGHT. SWORD, SWORD then RIGHT to go home

Now you're playing with power.

October 25, 2004

Increase the Wealth

I got this email from Netflix today:

Since our price increase in June, some of our members have expressed concerns about the new pricing. We've listened to this feedback and are pleased to inform you that we're lowering the price of your Netflix 5-at-a-time program from $33.99 per month to 29.99 per month.

Sweet! I'm taking that $4 to the bank!

October 24, 2004


No books have ever been as repeatedly reviewed by Harper's as those in the apoc-o-tastic Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

It makes sense. The books, over the course of 12 volumes, tell the tale of the End Times as tho' it were produced by Jerry Bruckheimer ... but, you know, some gentile Jerry Bruckheimer who likes a little New World Order conspiracy mixed in with his eschatology.

Just a taste: After the righteous are raptured up to Heaven, a band of Tribulation Force warriers cruise around in suped up Range Rovers so as to do battle with the Anti-Christ ... who was also voted People's Sexiest Man of the Year. Seriously.

Left Behind is a perfect combination of American consumerism, religious fundamentalism, straight-up hypocrisy and right-wing wackiness. As a result, it not only hits the mark for its intended audience, it also provides the barrel, the fish and the arsenal to the good folks at Harper's. Which is why they've reviewed it, like, twenty times.

There's something a bit disingenuous in all this ... I mean, yeah, there's always legit critical review of the books (here's a shocker - they're not particularly well written). But the larger point is really, "Ohmi-fucking-god, can you believe this shit!"

But, who am I kidding, this is one of the chief charms of Harper's. To wit, this selection from Gene Lyons latest salvo:

LaHaye comes close to revealing his own hocus pocus. He concedes, 'No one passage of Scripture teaches the two phases of Christ's second coming separated by the Tribulation.' But he adds, 'no one passage teaches against the pre-Trib view,' either. Of course, the Bible is likewise silent on the Treaty of Versailles and the designated-hitter rule.


The books are pagan tribalism writ large, complete with soothsayers and magic spells. All of history has conspired to turn suburban Americans into apocalyptic superheroes. The end is near, and dude - you're, like, the star!

Good times.

October 23, 2004


Now that Ev's retired, he's apparently selling photos to CNET for some extra cash.

And proving I'm the world's biggest nerd in the process.

October 22, 2004

Grr. Argh.

Today, I received spam with the following subject:

Subject: Goldman Need software?

Goldman angry! Goldman smash!!

October 17, 2004

Where my good people at?

Last night I was catching up with a friend who was running a bit behind schedule. He explained, "Yeah, you know, Chinese People Time."

The funny thing is I've also heard of Black People Time, Indian People Time and so on. I've not heard of Jew Time ... but that's probably just because it sounds funny.

I'm not one to try to begrudge any group of folks a bit self-selected identity. But let me say, as a project manager, that when it comes to schedules everyone runs late.

October 16, 2004

Take Two

I've watched the Jon Stewart on Crossfire video several times. Man it's hard to watch. What the hell was it like to sit up there during the commercial breaks, for crissakes?

It's to be expected, I guess, given that he showed up on live TV to shame the hosts about what they do for a living (and fair enough). But aside from the content, it's an odd performance as he's going out of his way to say things in a pained, I-hate-to-tell-you-this sort of way. In short, he's trying specifically to be unfunny.

This differs from when he went on O'Reilly, for example, where it was so chock-a-block with jokes you could keep a running tally. The indictment count was negligible.

But, as he points out at the beginning, Stewart's had a special hatred of CNN and Crossfire for quite a while. In an interview with Bill Moyers last year he said:

Crossfire or Hardball? Which is funnier? Which is more soul-crushing, do you mean? You know, the whole idea that political discourse has degenerated into shows that have to be entitled Crossfire and Hardball. And you know, 'I'm Gonna Beat Your Ass' or whatever they're calling them these days is mind-boggling.

Crossfire, especially, is completely an apropos name. It's what innocent bystanders are caught in when gangs are fighting.

The underlying argument is that CNN has a burden, not shared by Fox, to offer legitimate commentary on politics. Fox, as Stewart has said previously, has simply "taken the AM radio mentality and labeled it fair and balanced just to upset you guys."

The argument is that shows like Crossfire are inherently disingenous because the participants are partisan hacks reciting talking points rather than substantively debating the issues. And I completely believe that to be true.

Going back to the video, however, the weird thing is the way in which this all plays out. After laying out the above argument, Tucker Carlson seeks to debate Jon Stewart on the merits of their respective shows. The fact that he has a graphic prepared suggests he knew the argument was headed this way.

This is, obviously, boneheaded. Stewart's response that "You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls" is both consistent with his original argument about the responsiblity of legitimate news and it gets a laugh.

It is, in fact, a joke that Jon Stewart uses a lot. In other interviews, he goes out of his way to eschew journalistic responsibiltiy by pointing out the fakeness of the Daily Show (and frequently using the puppet line).

For example when Bill Moyers asked if he viewed himself as a media critic or a social critic, he said no to both:

I think of myself as a comedian who has the pleasure of writing jokes about things that I actually care about. And that's really it. You know, if I really wanted to enact social change… I have great respect for people who are in the front lines and the trenches of trying to enact social change. I am far lazier than that.

Here, I think, Jon Stewart is being a bit disingenuous. Certainly if you show up on cable TV to indict folks for how they do business, you're doing a bit more than throwing tomatoes from the back of the class.

Which goes to the overall impression I'm left with given the Crossfire appearance. It's either appropriate or ironic that this flawed debate show ends up producing a really awkward and poor debate on the topic of what a debate show should be. Tucker Carlson's too busy being a dick (and getting called on it) to be aware of the real issue and Paul Begala's doing his best to avoid being noticed.

There's a real argument to be had about the responsibility of all those involved in shaping public discourse. And I feel being on Comedy Central (or Fox) doesn't exempt you from that responsibility. Maybe Jon Stewart ends up proving his point by showing exactly how that debate's never gonna happen on a show like Crossfire. But, yeesh, it ain't pretty.

October 15, 2004

I bomb you

Jon Stewart went on Crossfire and beat the ever living crap out of the Tucker Carlson, CNN and the media establishment. It's stunning. The transcript is available on CNN and I'm hoping a video will turn up soon.

The obvious highlight is this exchange:

Carlson: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.

Stewart: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

But while that might get the most play, it's his explanation of what's so wrong with political media coverage that's truly important. The man actually showed up on CNN to face the talking heads and call them partisan hacks. To indict them, in particular, for hurting America.

"See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns."

"After the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards? You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?"

Jon Stewart - you are a great man.

Update: BoingBoing's got the goods.

: Whoa. Watching the video gives it a whole new level of uncomfortableness. Reading the transcript doesn't convey the dire awkwardness of the whole deal.

October 12, 2004

The more you know

So, how high does your irony tolerance need to be before you add After School Specials: 1974-1976 to your Netflix queue?

A nervous boy avoids a bully in "The 18th Emergency" (with Lance Kerwin)

Not the Lance Kerwin!

October 06, 2004

Best Comment Ever

Chris Wetherdeal built a boat out of javascript and sailed to Vietnam. When he returned, he wrote about it on his blog.

But then, via comments, he got utterly dorkslapped for technical inaccuracies in his extremely popular Elvish Name Generator.

Seriously, go look right now. There's a list. With cited sources.

Okay, I'll just quote one of my favorite parts:

3. No mixing of languages from different races. You have Quenya, Sindarin, Ilkorin, Nandorin, and Doriathrin mixed up with Adûnaic. Adûnaic belongs to the men of Númenor only.

Wetherdeal's disrespect of the rich linguistic traditions of the elvish people not withstanding, one has to wonder if the comment was meant ironically. I mean, no one's that serious about Tolkien stuff, right?