Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Great Transit Strike of '05

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing, and now the transit workers are striking.  So it looks like YT will remain in CT until the picket lines pack up and the strike restores the dignity of labor.  I spent a few minutes this morning thinking about the situation and I suppose I support the MTA workers – if they can squeeze a very nice raise and benefits package out of the city of New York, maybe they will inspire other unions across the country to demand better treatment for their members, which will in turn encourage more workers to join unions, which could make an impact on American poverty, the healthcare system, illegal immigrant labor, getting more Democrats elected, etc.  Perhaps this is hopelessly naïve.  I know that Kurt Vonnegut and all of his Eugene Debs loving protagonists would be proud.  I guess I’ll just wait for the Fox News report (“Union communists rape Christmas”) so I can make up my mind from the unbiased, bare facts.

Now, some reviews!

A pretty, pretty, pretty good movie.  In it, a great number of fine actors romp around and grow moustaches and generally confuse the hell out of the audience for most of the movie.  Amanda Peet is notable for being the only girl and reprising her role from Saving Silverman (Jack Black doesn’t make it) as Matt Affleck’s wife.  Jeffrey Wright, of Angels in America fame, plays a lawyer who has one of the above moustaches and does not really care all that much about the truth, justice, etc., preferring fine cufflinks and talking very fast and quietly.  George Clooney is supposed to be fat but isn’t.  The guy who plays Prince Nasir looks a little like a much more handsome version of actual Prince, and basically swans around being handsome and progressive and wearing wonderful white suits.  I can’t reveal any plot details except that the oil industry ends up looking like a bit of a bad egg.  Go see it if you want to understand why America is cutting the throat of the Middle East, Europe, America, and the Middle East.

Also pretty good, not as good as Syriana.  Charlize Theron looks and sounds a lot like Aeon from the cartoons, which is impressive, also she is like a goddam battleship and is nine feet tall.  All their futuristic clothing is amazing (the costumers wisely decided not to go with Aeon’s trademark bondage gear), as are the sets which look like they were designed by a coke-addled Zaha Hadid.  Lots of delightful touches from the cartoon make it in (not enough, and mostly towards the less-bizarre end of the spectrum), and Trevor Goodchild is engaging and has great hair, though he’s not blonde in this version.  Unfortunately, Goodchild engages a little too well; he’s for sure a good guy, whereas in the cartoon he was pretty morally ambiguous (or, actually, just a megalomaniacal villain) which make his relationship with Aeon more complex and interesting.  I know that it’s irresponsibly dorky to keep comparing the movie and the cartoon - the movie is quite entertaining and visually sumptuous on its own, but it’s definitely worth seeing both versions.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Some Reviews

Mike Kelly, “Day is Done”
At the Gagosian Gallery

Well, ol’ Mike Kelly’s arts are pretty big here. I imagine that a lot of people will compare “Day is Done” to a haunted house, and they’re right, it’s kind of like a haunted house. Kelly takes photographs from yearbooks from the 80s, blows them up, then re-stages them with his friends. He is also obsessed with goths, so many of the pictures are of 80s vampires and assorted morbidities. The pictures encircle a frenzied mixed media installation which involves some pretty hilarious video pieces (mopey 80s vampire working at what looks like a real estate agent's office, pasty-faced ghoul stumbling through a bush) and amusing works of sculpture, many based on poorly-designed high school stage sets. It got to be sensory overload about a third of the way through (also, the gallery does not boast a bathroom), but it’s probably worth a trip some time real soon, before it closes. Bring your own grease pencil so you can circle the differences between the pictures!

Issue Project Room, on the lovely Gowanus

I went to an experimental fiction reading here. All the pieces were pretty good, but the space was especially interesting. Issue Project Room is a converted silo, staffed by extremely rude hipsters, on the Gowanus canal. It features an enormous wrought-iron gate before which guests are invited to stand for an hour or so while the hipsters ignore them (S. Grant and I happened to arrive at the same time as one of the readers, who was LIVID and had been waiting for a long time in very cold weather – the hipster who unlocked the gate barely apologized, so you can imagine how they treat the normal guests). It also features a robust $10 cover charge and a delightfully unprofessional, under stocked bar that offers beer (wait, actually no beer) and wine for the same low prices found at Le Cirque. The reading space is upstairs in the silo next door - readers are allowed to use an interior staircase, the public is invited to go outside. The actual space is quite lovely, a huge round room with what looks like a nice a/v setup and a fine upright piano, and the rest of the building looks like it would be an amazing place to live and write, say, postfeminist fiction in which the heroine is named “Cervix.” Hear me, O Internet, and strike down the hubris of these hipsters! Let them realize that their rad hangout would be more rad if they knew how to act!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

More like Harry Potter and the New Russian. For me and E. Hastings, Victor Krum absolutely made this movie (actually, I thought it was the most skillful and least boring of the movies – although the rumors you hear that it is impenetrable to those who haven’t read the book are extremely true). Try watching the movie and imagining that whenever he is not onscreen, Krum is in a disco wearing a transparent vinyl shirt, hijacking cigarette trucks, beating people to death with tire irons, drinking tea while holding sugar in his mouth, playing dominoes with a guy who is wearing one of those shirts that lacw at the collar, etc. His touching gift to Hermione as he returns to Durmstrang for the summer? An eightball and a $100 bill.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Return to the Pumpkin Truck

Courtesy of the inimitable Andrew Porter:
A News Story About Creed
In all fairness it is not actually about Creed, my favorite band, since Creed broke up, but it is about the violent antics of soulful frontman Scott Stapp. It is easier for a fully-laden pumkin truck to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wrathful man to get into heaven, SCOTT.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Porkchopolis Now, Redux

Much to my initial delight and eventual horror Josh Kogan has resurrected the cartoons from Bullseyeart.com in a new site, www.magicbutter.com.  So once again, after about four years, you can access Porkchops, Miss Muffy and the Muff Mob, Rat Chicken, Internet the Animated Series, etc.  The only problem is, he’s charging $4.99 a month for it, which is perhaps retarded, perhaps not.  Obvy almost every ironic post-college hipster can afford five bucks a month, and clearly I waste way more than $5 a month on, say, inedible takeout, gum, etc., but there’s a huge mental block to spending this kind of money on a site subscription.  He promises two new cartoons a month, but again, it stings that we now must pay for what used to be free.  How sharper than a serpent’s tooth!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Question of Astonishingly Small Import

So I was flipping through the NYT Sunday magazine and I came across a two-page Banana Republic ad – it’s one of these teaser things that leads to a website done in the style pioneered by BMW if I’m not mistaken. Its ostensible hook is that a beautiful girl has lost a mitten and will end up knocking relatively inexpensive suede boots (made in Macau) with the scruffy gentleman who finds it. The mitten, by the way, is actually a GLOVE, advertising copywriters, since it has FINGERS.
Anyway, the ad is kind of interesting but what I am actually posting about is that the female protagonist appears to be Jenny Mollen, Angel’s werewolf girlfriend from season five. I searched the internets but did not get confirmation.
It's this link for those who are interested.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"It Look Distinctly Ordinary and Chair-Like."

Well, what a brace of episodes. Last Sunday I was traveling so I got to see the previous two weeks of Rome back-to-back.

As everyone knows, the best part of a Roman triumph was the fact that in the general’s chariot rode a figure representing THE FUTURE, who stands behind the general jabbing him in the small of the back and whining. The Romans conceived of the future as springing up behind people and surprising them – in Roman thought, you travel through time facing backwards, able to see the past spread out before you but blind to the future. This makes our metaphors and metonyms for time seem kind of stupid, huh?

Anyway, Professor von Future does not appear in this episode, and also the production budget severely constrains the triumph itself. Caesar’s spectacle is intimate rather than earthshattering – it should be like nine Rose Bowls happening during Mardi Gras while President Bush orders bible-addled shock troops to fire nuclear warheads and the longhairs; instead, it is more like two Shar Peis fighting in a wet box.

Oh, man, Vorenus! What are we going to do with you? Also, Pullo kills like nine guys without even getting up or opening his eyes. Until you have seen a dude get SO MAD about the 13th that he impales another dude with a giant barbed skull-mace, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED! It was like all my Warhammer 40,000 fantasies come to life on the small screen. Plus, the non-gladiatiroal parts of the episode were amazing, and bravo to Octavian for trying to help Pullo.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Some Good Movies and also a Remark about Real Time

Well, one good movie is The Cooler, which is a delightfully lurid Vegas casino story. Like many movies about Vegas it leans pretty heavily on luck and gambling metaphors. This really doesn’t bother me since Las Vegas, like South Africa, seems to be a land without need of metaphor. William H. Macy gives a performance with no errors as Bernie, a man whose portion of ill luck is so generous that it literally overflows. Alec Baldwin, an apoplectically evil casino owner, employs Macy – he also pays off a cocktail waitress (the accurately-named Maria Bello) to seduce Macy to keep him onboard. Also, Burger from Sex and the City hangs around representing the casino’s new-school investors, who disapprove of some of Baldwin’s business practices (like breaking people’s shins with a specialized shin-breaking maul, and also kicking pregnant women). Until you’ve seen Alec Baldwin foaming at the mouth opposite William H. Macy’s characteristic reserve, and until you’ve seen Maria Bello doing pretty much whatever she likes, you haven’t seen this movie. Which is very good.

Another good movie is Dummy, which is not quite as serious as The Cooler, nor as entirely successful, but has many things going for it, such as being hella funny and featuring Adrian Brody. Adrian Brody plays a ventriloquist (and does all his own ventriloquism: piano playing, pickle-juice drinking, ventriloquism: he’s a triple threat!), Mila Jovovich plays a punk who calls herself Fangora (perfectly, even better than her role in Resident Evil), and Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter plays Adrian Brody’s mother. The plot is insubstantial but sweet, but the best scenes belong to Brody and Jovovich. Although you may doubt her acting credentials Jovovich proves that her range extends beyond shaving the side of her head and fighting the Umbrella corporation – she’s believable, compelling and subtle as an American punk. Dummy ultimately doesn’t hold together and the end is a little disappointing, but if you don’t expect The House of Mirth then you will be delighted. If you do expect The House of Mirth then you should probably just watch that, yo, although the Gillian Anderson version was basically incomprehensible to me.

Also, I’ve been watching Real Time with Bill Maher while writing this and Joe Scarborough just a) implied that waterboarding wasn’t really bad enough to be considered torture (what, pray, should we consider it? A schoolboy jape?) and b) screamed and yelled at the ex-president of Ireland when she implied that if the US wanted to set an example of freedom, it should let UN inspectors into to our Global Coercive Questioning Resort Centers.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"I imagine now you will renew your strange interest in Caesar's health"

Suicide, murder, incest, public humiliation, toga-draping: this week’s episode of Rome has it all. Note especially the amorous glances between Servilia and Octavia at the dinner party – as everyone knows this is a trope, or “big deal”, in Roman love poetry. Also we finally learn that Timon, Atia’s lusty mercenary, is totally Jewish.

PS - Extras is as always sublime.

When I say Wiener, You Say Schnitzel

So I finally finished applying for the Wenner-Gren, a grant which supplies anthropologists with mad benjamins so that they can do their thing big-style. This took me many hours and involved the use of a staple remover and much swearing at the computer. Anyway, I decided to celebrate the way most of us young people do: going out to an extremely early dinner at a German restaurant with my parents and talking about auto-erotic asphyxiation over a round of Feuerwurst and mashed potatoes. The highlight of the dinner, other than basically the whole thing, was that the German-language edition of the breakout Euro hit of 2003, “Life is Life” came on during desert. Also, a grotesquely fat man almost scratched the exquisite finish on our Touareg.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Strange Days

So I have been watching this BBC series called Strange (offered on one of the Cinemax bizarro-channels), which is about a defrocked COE vicar who has kind of an amateur interest in hunting demons – every single media product that I have seen for the past two years is about hunting demons.  If you blended in unequal parts Buffy, Angel, The X-Files, Brimstone and the original comic-book version of Constantine, you would get this show exactly.  The hero is actually named John Strange and has some pretty boss hair (see picture).  His demon-hunting team consists of a literally retarded gardener named Kevin, some sort of computer whiz (with a VAIO), and a sarcastic nurse love-interest named Jude whose live-in boyfriend/baby daddy turned out to be Magnavox, Demon of Electricity.
     Each show basically works out as a detective drama in which Strange tries to figure out who the demon is before it kills again.  I’ve only seen a handful of episodes (there are only six total) but I worry that the formula will get tiring – fortunately the writers supply red herrings and sinister bit players a-plenty, so it hasn’t dulled yet.  They’re starting to spark a romance between Strange and Jude, intimations of a dead ex-fiancée are surfacing, and the villain, Canon Black, is fronting on mad sinister machinations.  It’s filmed in delightful BBC-o-vision, which is not as good as HBO but is better than broadcast, and if someone walks into the room they will assume that you’re watching Poirot or Miss Marple.  Also, hella Church of England inside jokes.  If you get Cinemax Eight: The Ocho, be certain that you will wile away many a happy hour on Strange.  Be sure to marvel somewhat at the competent yet unexciting special effects.
     Also I watched literally eight hours of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.  Not as good as I originally thought – I must have managed to catch the three best episodes or something.  Other than a sublime episode about an invisible duck which turned into a 25-minute extended fart joke, it was pretty much a waste of time.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Television is so Good that it Makes my Heart Hurt

Seriously, we live in a golden age in which all of our desires are identified before we even become aware of them.  While writing grant essays this weekend  I watched many hours of television – every single show now appears to be written by me or specifically for me.  Yesterday I alternated STNG with reading Don Kulick’s Travesti, an ethnography of transvestite Brazlian prostitutes who like to inject themselves with industrial silicon.  This produced an indescribable effect, especially when Picard had to recite some of Shakespeare’s sonnets in order to rescue Loxana Troy from the Ferengi.
Today I saw several episodes of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, one of which was called “Prank Call of Cthulu” (they omitted the final h for reasons of their own) and one of which involved the ghost of Lord Byron becoming lodged in Billy’s mouth.  Lord Byron then taught Billy the way of the fop before disappearing into a cleansing light (At one point in a paroxysm of nerdy simultaneity Byron recites the Litany of Fear from Dune).  I followed this with several hours of Spongebob, which is like having an inexpensive brain operation.  Also, I am now in love with the squirrel, Sandy, who lives under the sea in some kind of sophisticated biodome.  This blended into Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which is more conventional than its name implies.
Finally, Jessie and I watched a sublime Food Network show in which six chefs competed to create gigantic, tacky sculptures out of cupcakes.  The winning entry honest-to-god involved a dragon fighting a horde of fairies.  Hark to the call of the whyte wyrm!  The Solstice Season is upon us, and Queen Mab demandeth an attractive arrangement of pastries which is at least three feet tall and 70% cupcake!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

There's Something About Nibelungen

Let me just say this about Hagen of Tröneck: dude knew how to wear his ceremonial bird-helmet.  Also [MAJOR SPOILERS!] if I am not mistaken he totally kills Siegfried while Siegfried is reading an article in the Lifestyles section of  Der Nibelungenspiegel about torq maintenance.  I don’t know the details, I left before the end of the movie because of my retarded commute.  Anyway, if you are looking for sweet sword-testing scenes and a dragon which is actually more scary and interesting than any monster in a film post 1981, look no further than Die Nibelungen.  My only objection: not enough actual on-screen Nibelungs.  Also, both Brunhild and Kriemhild are brutishly ugly (Fritz Lang fans note that Müde Tod plays Volker the Bard!  IT’S LIKE I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO WRITE THE CROSSOVER FANFIC!).

PS – For those of you who have not guessed this there is a Fritz Lang film series this semester, conveniently on Wednesdays.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I am So Proud of Lindsay Lohan

Seriously.  She has really pulled it together.  According to the most reliable sources (E! News Sponsored by Rampage) she is really nailing the accessories this season.  They also praised Jeremy Piven for wearing a velvet blazer, which I have been doing since 2003.
In other news I would like to register my desire, officially, on the internet, to be reborn as a savage opium-addicted Egyptian royal c. 50 BC.  It has everything I could possibly want: wigs, eye-makeup out to here, palanquins, slapping people, intense hair.  I could go on.  Seriously, Rome could not possibly be any better – I thought their wacky voyage to Egypt-Land would tank the series, but in fact it just provided more of what we love: wieners, beheading, and awkward sex.

PS This picture is not supposed to be Lindsay Lohan, guys. It's Cleopatra from Rome, played of course by Winona Rider's British equivalent.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Tale of Shitty Knives

My apartment has a block with four knives in it, from Ikea.  They are the worst knives in North America.  No human being could enjoy using these knives.  The Zoroastrians believe that in hell Ahriman saws continually on a hot chorizo log with these knives, producing an annoying series of slivers and wedges instead of a normal round slices.  One of these knives is about two feet long and serrated like crazy, but still struggles like a club-footed orphan when it comes to slicing a fresh bagel.  THESE KNIVES!  These knives cost only $2.50, but a foul and bilious cloud of saturnine and sanguinary smog hovers over them.  These knives!  One can buy a Henckels santoku knife at TJ MAXX for around $8.  In fact, I think I will go ahead and buy myself a Henckels knife and use it to chop these Ikea knives into a thick coulis of cheap Chinese metal.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Is Drawn Together a very good series?

No, it is not.
It does have one funny episode where a few of the characters discover that Ling-Ling (their homage to Pikachu) secretes a hallucinogen when he is dissapointed. Of course, the concept of an emotion condensed into a substance has a very clear cartoon genealogy: the tears of ultimate sadness that Cartman's victim weeps.
Also, I am in possesion of a zoetrope that depicts Elizabeth Rossiter applying a flame to a cigar, clearly anticipating a pleasurable smoke, only to find, to her great dismay, that a saboteur has contrived to tamper with her cheroot, inserting into its end a substance or device which causes it to emit an actinic flash of light and foul sulfurous vapor, besmirching her face to a degree that she is indistinguishable from a spavined rag-a-bond.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tha 'Crete

My little fat dog Charlie is learning to skateboard.

Them Mass-Transit Blues

Oh, that Terrorism Rag!  One wonders why, in this post September 11 world, I would decide to give up my car and move to New York City.  Does anyone know an efficient and clever way to get between Brooklyn and New Jersey without using the subway?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It is Virtually Impossible to Run a Bakery Without Drug Money

So I have watched the rest of the season of Weeds.  It continues to improve.  By the ninth episode MLP’s Chicano muscle is putting the squeeze on Cash’s cartel and everything is starting to look more like The Wire than Desperate Housewives.  Not really but it is pretty entertaining.  Even though most of the characters are deeply annoying.

Also, I spent a large part of the day watching the Style network, as I always do in Connecticut.  I ran across a program I had seen before once or twice called The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life.  In it a largely attractive, multi-racial group of women learn to perform simple tasks which they compare to either sex or eating and then they become empowered since they know how to change doorknobs or purchase a digital camera.  It is basically the best show on television and features frequent re-captions which are usually 1.5 entendres (During a segment on golf: “Girls can also play with balls”).

Another great show is Clean House.  In it, these Style Network employees come into the houses of various pitifully deranged people and throw away most of their belongings.  The houses always look like a Sears threw up in them, and the male members of the household invariably have a large collection of Akira dolls and South Park merchandise.  They also usually have a garage sale, which is my favorite part because it exposes this sort of Sartre/Dickens underworld of the most pitiful people and events you could possibly imagine.  Picture a 40+ year old guy in a Motorhead t-shirt with profound sweat stains, leaning on a crudely duct-taped crutch and haggling bitterly over a ceramic elf-head (the lone remaining part of a set) which was originally priced at $1.75.  He has a stubbly beard because he just lost his home in a flood and some Laotians beat him up last time he tried to shave in the bathroom of the Texaco*.  Then closet expert Linda Koopersmith tells him that he looks adorable with the elf head and that the money is going to a good cause: making John and Melody’s house look like adults live in it.

* Mad love to the people of Laos – this is just describing a few bad eggs.

A Review of Gladius, a Game which it is Possible to Purchase

Gentle readers, since I have not posted anything for a while I thought I would treat you to this out-of-date review of an antiquated xbox game that I played last summer, amidst gentle sighs and the pliant rustling of leaves.  I would rise languorously around noon, breakfasting on a simple dish of eggs and Dannon La Crème premium yoghurt, then devote myself entirely to the pursuit of this virtual bloodsport.  I wrote this review in a kind of mania, late at night, for Amazon.com, but at the last minute I decided not to post it for fear that it would be lost among the many other opinions; how can my frail words resist the measureless might of “I LIKD GLADIOATOR UNTIL I SPILED A CHEESER ON MY KYBARD!”?

There is certainly no reason to play Gladius for the plot – the game is set in an unnecessarily fictionalized version of ancient Rome in which all the names have been replaced by generally dumb-sounding near equivalents, as if by eighth graders.  Thus Rome becomes “Imperia”, Gaul and Germany turn into “Nordagh”, etc.. It seems that not all is well in Imperia; there’s some backstory about old imperial conquests and rebelling provinces that might actually have turned out interesting if it had not been saddled with the boring and clumsily named “Affinity Gods.”  Bearing such exciting names as “Maritimus” (can you guess he’s the god of water?) and “Aeris” the Affinity Gods have some sort of opposition to the god of the Dark Affinity, who is a representation of man’s inhumanity to man and looks like a giant tapeworm.  Why, oh why, didn’t they just cobble something together out of the perfectly good Roman pantheon?
     Two different personal dramas play out against this backdrop – you can play as Ursula, who sounds like she’s managing a gladiatorial school as part of her semester abroad from Amherst, and Valens, a pleasant and self-effacing doormat who also happens to be the son of a great, recently-murdered gladiator.  Both protagonists have a passion for skimpy leather outfits and helping the weak (Ursula’s brother, Urlan, provides a Bill O’Reilly-esque counterpoint to the cheery friendliness of the main characters, but unfortunately sounds more like an employee of Gold’s gym than a barbarian warrior).  There is some kind of prophecy about Ursula which pits her against the Galdr, a cabal of witches who dress like chickens and wear fancy eye makeup (and also drop out of the story entirely about a third of the way through) and everyone is worried about a provocatively dressed sorceress and her legion of the damned.  I think there’s also some kind of Oedipal thing going on with Ursula, Urlan and their father.
     None of this plot stuff matters since the game is basically about buying sweet equipment and then watching your gladiators wail on their opponents in various violent (and occasionally juvenile) ways.  This part of the game is perfect and totally addicting.  The battles are all basically the same (there are a few variations, like king of the hill and barrel-smashing), but they only occasionally become boring since all the gladiators have so many skills and abilities (individual animations sometimes become really grating though – perhaps some people enjoy seeing a tiny computer sorceress wave her staff over and over in exactly the same way, but I don’t).  Add to that a system with different weight classes of gladiators and some imaginatively-designed arenas (not all are great by any means, though) and you have a really fun, relatively complex game.  It doesn’t beat around the bush or pretend that it’s not about the battles – you pretty much just pick your fights from a menu and then fight them.  But it’s hella fun and certainly worth the money.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

More Squid News

From the incomparable Cameron S.:

Ari, I thought you would appreciate this, and I can't figure out how to leave a comment in your blog. I sent this giant squid "violent lovemaking" link to my coworker, and this is the IM conversation that ensued, which I like to call "Squids In Living Color":

ciababy: hmm long penis
CamIgoUgo: so it can impregnate the female without ever having to get close to her
ciababy: like from miles away
ciababy: the female squid is like 'DA FUCK WAS THAT
ciababy: her girlfriend is like, WHAT?
ciababy: then she goes "DID HE JUST DO A 12 METER?"
ciababy: then they shake their head and go OHNO HE DIDNT
CamIgoUgo: mmmmm hmmm
ciababy: DAS MESS UP
ciababy: DAS MESS UP
ciababy: AW SHIT, im preggers!
ciababy: when they say that, do they cross their arms across their chest
ciababy: all 8 arms?
CamIgoUgo: no they just wave them around really fast

It should also be pointed out that "ciababy" is a tiny Filipino girl.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From the Depths

More giant squid news (not to be confused with colossal squid). Courtesy of my ol' pal Rusty, who referred to this blog (correctly) as "faggoty." This makes perfect sense if you know him.

Chips Ahoy!

Maybe the best news post ever, courtesy of Dinosaur Comics. I thought that the phrase "scientists now believe the males had either accidentally inseminated themselves during 'violent' lovemaking sessions with females or been inseminated by other males after 'bumping' into them" would never be heard outside of my deposition following a particularly addled night at TI.

Moon Sash Productions - your #1 source for marine biological sex-and-violence news!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Crimson Tide

Another Rad Link from Rafil Bonerston-Smith, this one about deadly navy-trained attack dolphins, JUST LIKE IN THE SHORT STORY VERSION OF JOHNNY MNEMONIC!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Beyond Black

First of all, Beyond Black is not the sequel to the novelization of Beyond Borders.  It’s a normal novel by Hilary Mantel, a British novelist famous for a searing memoir which I have not read, but which I am willing to bet is about a childhood filled with horrible abuse.  Beyond Black tells the story of Alison, who had a childhood filled with horrible abuse that emerges gradually over the course of the book.  Alison possesses psychic powers: she can see and speak with the dead, read minds, etc.  She makes her living as a medium, although she is in fact more of a large since she is hella fat.  The opening act of the book teams her with a bitter divorcee, Colette, who is tiny and thin and hard and vicious.  Colette’s business acumen and basic disregard for human kindness make her an excellent manager for Alison, who is too busy defending herself from the sieging spirits of the dead to really worry about the VAT.  Mantel does a remarkable job of making all this seem reasonable and tragic rather than thrilling and heroic – it’s not grand fantasy or horror (although many horrid moments creep through the book), it’s more like Beloved than Necroscope.
     So we have a few plots: Alison and Colette’s relationship (Colette eventually puts Al on a diet which causes Al to think something along the lines of “I am refused a piece of bread in my own house”), Alison’s relationship with her vile Spirit Guide Morris, Alison’s trajectory through the professional medium circuit, and Alison’s emerging past.  Mantel describes the other mediums with a remarkably light touch: yes, they are ethereal New-Age types named Natasha and Merlyn and so on, but they come off as carefully banal rather than wackily caricaturish.  The spirit guide Morris (It’s never 100% clear in what capacity he is acting as a guide) also comes off very finely; initially, I was inclined to like him since he seems to be an adorably lecherous Cockney, but as his relationship with Alison resolves he acquires an aura of banal menace.  By the end, when he and his mates start applying directly to Old Nick for “modifications” to their bodies he’s looking less like a lisping bootblack and more like a monster, which is after all what he is.  And Mantel’s portrait of Colette is so flawless that it’s almost pointless to describe it.
     It took me about three months, on and off, to finish the novel – not that it’s so terribly long, it just never really gripped me.  Nonetheless, you should all read it.  Perhaps those whose brains have not been dulled by the ceaseless violence of cheap vampire novels would find it more absorbing than I did.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Die Spinnen


And now,

Act One: The Hero, Kay Hoog, aboard his yacht, receives an interactive tutorial on the battle system by sparring with his beturbaned manservant (his signature weapon: an enchanted fountain pen named after something from Wagner).  Suddenly, he and Beturbaned spot a floating message in a bottle – time for GIANT OCTOPUS BOSS!  After beating the octopus and retrieving the bottle, Hoog becomes distracted by the OC and stops writing this stupid blog entry (or, as one might more tartly say, “blog entry”).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Purple Rain

Well, loyal blog readers, I’ve fallen partially off the wagon but here’s an awesome digest of the major developments in the past few weeks!

#1 – The Skeleton Key (MAJOR SPOILERS!)

I have hella guilt and anxiety about such as my father dying of an unspecified, dramatically appropriate illness.  OK word I am now a visiting nurse!  All my clothing came from American Apparel and I am winsome!

My husband has such as the vapors and a strizoke in his brizain PS I am not the skeleton ghost of any old black voodoo ladies in case you were wondering!

I am also not any type of skeleton.

Guys I hope U are not mad but I just can’t get enough of the forbidden voodoo mystery room!
[The old lady uses voodoos to take over Kate Hudson’s body]


#2 – Housewarming Party
Basically the best part was when I had like nine different conversations about Soul Calibur and then passed out during a conversation about discrimination in the primary public school system in the US.

#3 – Lawnparties Aftermath
If you ever wondered what a “cheeser” is, you can relax because it is only an innocuous ol’ cheeseburger.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Like a Velvet Glove

I don’t know if any of you have been following Achewood recently, but over the course of only two strips it has turned into a bizarre David Lynch/Daniel Clowes-esque nightmare. So good!

Saturday, September 10, 2005


So I spent this evening watching the Weeds marathon.  First of all, the word “weeds” here is a pun because it can also refer to mourning garments worn by widows, and Mary Louise Parker plays a widow in Weeds.  Such an obscure play on words will of course attract the ideal TV audience: pasty 19 year old boys who spend their weekends LARPing at Ye Weyrewolfe’s Donjonne.
     Weeds initially follows Showtime’s preffered show formula: a ridiculous premise (see Dead Like Me), incredibly bad and lazy writing (also Dead Like Me), actors who appear to have studied at the prestigious twitchy-n-mumbly school (Huff, again Dead Like Me), and a heapin’ helpin’ of sex and profanity (Huff, many superior programs on HBO).  The first episode also features a sass-talking black woman who dispenses folksy, profanity-laden wisdom and actually bakes cornbread onscreen.
     HOWEVER, it picks up very quickly.  Pryor Walter from Angels in America shows up as an inexplicably swishy in-law, the music is pretty good, surprisingly engaging guest-stars parade through consistently and the whole thing generally evens out.  The writers also wisely eliminate a back-talking Elijah Wood look-alike and ML Parker’s son’s semi-annoying girlfriend (they replace her with a rad deaf girl).  If you are one of the apparently few people who don’t find Marie Louise Parker annoying (I think she is totally super), you will probably actually like it.  Apparently Indigo from season 7 of Buffy is on it too, but I can’t figure out who she is so her role is likely minor (she may be the deaf girl).

PS - Also, now I'm watching Barbershop which has so far been hilarious and exceptionally briskly directed. Way funnier than Weeds actually.

Friday, September 09, 2005


First of all, if anyone tells you that Beyond Borders is not an incredibly good movie, they are lying through their unspeakably mendacious teeth. Basically in it Clive Owen plays a doctor who cures famine in Africa and then southeast Asia, and then decides to go to Chechnya because everything is basically OK everywhere else. Angelina Jolie thriftily re-uses her outfits from Tomb raider and plays, with complete plausibility, an underpaid midlevel UN functionary who nonetheless wields almost limitless power. Plus, the first section features an indescribably creepy CGI starving African infant, like the Ally McBeal baby's evil Nine Inch Nails-designed twin. The CGI baby pales in comparison to the satanic homonculus who (SPOILER ALERT!!) issues from the unholy union of Jolie and Owen and plays the piano at Angelina Jolie's birthday. I give it nine thumbs up. If anyone tells you that it is offensive because it portrays the starving and suffering people of the world as faceless automatons awaiting rescue at the hands of heroic white people, you need to let them know that even privilged Westerners can suffer from a serious deficiency - OF HOLLYWOOD MAGIC! Also, Angelina Jolie gets blowed up by a landmine.

Politics as Usual

The man who cut short his vacation and usurped state authority to extend Terry Schiavo's living corpse for political advantage couldn't bring himself to do either when thousands of American lives were on the line. Classic Bush.

This is from the blog portion of Bob the Angry Flower, a very good cartoon drawn by a Canadian who recently moved to Seattle. Equally cartoonish is this exchange between Scott McClellan and a reporter sent to me by Rafil Bonerston-Smith. Most of you have probably already seen this I hope, but it's certainly good for a laugh followed shortly by the chilling feeling that we are living in a nightmarish dystopia.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My The Cave Fanfiction

Piper Perabo frowned in the cave, although no one could see it because it was dark – and the darkness was composed of shadows, each one of which could have concealed literally anything that didn’t shoot out rays of light. She had just dropped the team’s last carboy of Borghese Fango active mud facial mask. Now they were without exfoliants. Although she was an expert rock-climber, she had never climbed the particular metaphorical cliff which she was now metaphorically climbing: a cliff of sheer terror.
Suddenly, one of the other actors fell down a real cliff into some water. “Guys!” he yelled, “I’m OK! I landed on the Asian guy!” Everyone, except for the Asian guy, was relieved.
Meanwhile, thirty years in the past, some Romanian grave robbers created a flimsy backstory.
Her hand shaking with twitches that were each composed of terror, Piper Perabo shined or shone her flashlight on a suspicious crevasse. She found the crevasse suspicious because it was emitting an unusual amount of blood and wailing, and also cries that sounded suspiciously like the noise that an unconvincing CGI/puppet monster makes when it is on the hunt – noises designed to induce terror! Also, Romanian folk legend referred to this crevasse as “I Crevassi Suspizione.”
Slowly, the light picked out the rock face, revealing that it did not at all look like papier-mâché on a sound stage. Slowly, the light slid leftwardsly, twitching in time with the terror infused beats of Piper Perabo’s heart, beats which rested over a bed of fear-shallots poached in a wine sauce of dread and dusted with ground black pepper of a different kind of dread. Suddenly, there was a movement – Picabo Street lunged out of the crevasse, her sharpened ski-poles held at port arms, ready to skewer Piper Perabo like a rosemary-rubbed lamb coulis!
“Oh, it’s just you, Piper Perabo,” Picabo Street said, sighing with relief and slumping back in her Winter Olympics souvenir ski jacket. Suddenly, a monster ate them. “NOO!” yelled the Asian guy – a yell of pure terror. “The monster seems to be targeting athletic women with amusing names!” he yelled in warning. Farther back in the cave, Washington Mystics WNBA player DeLisha Milton-Jones shivered – in terror!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


So a marketing research company just recruited my mother to do a survey by mail. They pitched it as a review of a situation comedy and sent her a tape. She’s supposed to watch this on Tuesday and respond to questions over the phone the next day.
So she got the packet today – it indeed included a tape which came with a surprising Rocky-and-Bullwinkleesque warning that it would erase itself as she watched it (it turns out that it just contained a ratchet or something that prevented rewinding, which is almost equally weird). It also came with two cheaply printed packets that contained black and white photographs of popular household consumer goods (like East German pornography – ZING!). In fact, the packets contained photographs of the SAME sets of household goods, but she was supposed to pick her favorites from one before the sitcom and one after.
The sitcom, which was copyrighted 2000, was called “Dads” and was unbelievably bad. The biggest star-power they could muster was whoever played Ross’ ex-wife on Friends, plus it leaned heavily on child actors. Like so many shows that I have seen in the past five years it reminded me of the sitcoms that characters in better sitcoms or The Simpsons watch. Also, it included commercial blocks.
As canny readers may have guessed already (and as my mom immediately realized) this whole market research exercise turned out to be about the advertisements. It turns out that the firm that’s running this, Ipsos-ASI, specializes in determining whether advertising is effective – if you google it, you get a bunch of articles on retention, whether or not viewers remember the ads that they’ve seen during, say, a colossaly banal sitcom.
My theory is that Ipsos-ASI bought “Dads” as a kind of television byproduct, that it was a pilot whose clearly retarded wings would never bear it aloft into the empyrean of other quality shows like Joey. I suppose it’s a little dishonest to try to pass off this research as being about the sitcom (it wouldn’t pass an IRB for anthropology, in my opinion, although it might fly in one of the fields where they allow deception) but it doesn’t really bother me that much. I do find the idea that there is a science of memory surrounding advertising pretty interesting. I wrote one of my generals essays on advertising as dreams, and my panel suggested that I might consider the idea that we generally forget our dreams – do we forget advertisements in the same way? Is it interesting to think of remembering advertisements as either natural or unnatural?
Anyway, I felt EXACTLY like Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener during my investigation - it was like I was a GOD, even better than watching the scene with the repulsive harlot in Spider.

Finally, some clothing from the future

Check out the bold sweater/Precog hood featured first in Polo’s fall lineup (link). Plus, many of the rest of the outfits feature fur collars à la Sean Young in Bladerunner. In the future, you will need these to keep your neck and collarbone warm, because that is where they will implant the tiny device that provides internet access and plays old Joy Division songs on request. If any line of clothing has ever said “I’m just slipping out to the tissue regrowers to pick up some new eyeballs grown on artificial shark cartilage”, this has.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Time to Cut Off Heads

Perhaps the only possible good thing to come out of hurricane Katrina will be ironclad proof that Bush’s network of cronies consists of not just reactionary hyper-conservative anti-science religious zealots, but incompetent reactionary, hyper-conservative anti-science religious zealots. The information coming out about “Brownie”’s qualifications and Chertoff’s (who I like to think of as Dr. Skull – note that his confusion of geographic area and city echoes Mothmonsterman’s speech about Bolivia in Aqua Teen hunger Force) infamous lapis lingua during one of his many press conferences are putting a human face on the odious lack of preparedness that seems to characterize this administration.
Bush and his colleagues seem to be handing out sinecures like Borgia popes, but perhaps this stunning display of ineptitude will finally wake the American public from its terror-induced stupor and the people will realize that Bush’s network cannot protect us from the real and imaginary enemies that it so often evokes. If you want to govern by fear, you should make sure that your administration can actually DEAL with the things you want everyone to be afraid of, and the aftermath of Katrina has thoroughly proved that they can’t.

See This New York Times article for instance.

Is Brokeback Mountain the product of Donnie Darko/The Four Feathers crossover fanfiction?


The Constant Gardener


  • Ralph Fiennes’s name can be pronounced at it is spelled to project an impression of willful ignorance.

  • According to Parade magazine, Rachel Weisz’s last name is pronounced “vice”, making the film two-for-two on delightful name pronunciations for its stars.


  • Not enough gardening scenes.

I wish I owned, or at least was lead photographer for, an ironic t-shirt company

Seriously, I do.  Apparently all you do all day is take pictures of vaguely greasy indie-rock guys who look like they design restaurant menus for a living and then girls who at first glance look like they’re just very attractive fun indie girls, like the kind who might at ANY MINUTE start hanging out with you and letting you touch their boobies, but then if you actually look at them closely they are obviously models and as such are in LA getting spray-on tans and screaming at their publicists on their razr phones.
http://www.defunker.com for instance, or American Apparel (Carolyn?  Can you get me this job??).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Seasoned Finale

I was a little puzzled by the hour long season finale of Entourage, which featured Vince getting elected Tribune of the Plebians and Drama being trepanned without anesthesia.  It certainly kept us guessing, but I’m not sure if it gave the fans the trademark Hollywood insider sass that they expect.  Turtle looked fabulous as always.

The "Great" Library

Everyone talks constantly about how great the library at Alexandria was, and how it was such a shame that it was destroyed in 48 BC.  If you tune to Fox News, 99% of the time this is what they are discussing.  But did you know that the so-called “Great Library” didn’t even have a periodicals room?  And that it only had SIX BOOKS (and that’s counting the episode directory for season three of Angel, which is only four pages)?  I’m not saying it’s a good thing that it burned down, but I am saying that in the shower today I got so mad thinking about the campaign to whitewash its reputation that I fell down and broke my nose again.  THANKS, Library at Alexandria.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Pyrat Rum

Pyrat Rum is this $26 rum made by the Patron company, who brought us all the magic of not throwing up right away.  It comes in a hella fancy bottle that looks like maybe a pirate who wore glasses and was in charge of the maps and handing the captain things would have designed it.  Knotted about its neck is a little saffron scarf and a medallion bearing the smiling image of the bodhisattva Hotai, because Buddhists drink HELLA rum at their get-togethers.  Unfortunately it doesn’t really taste like anything – it’s smooth yet forgettable, kind of like drinking a J. Crew cotton sweater.  I would go with the rad Captain Morgan’s Private Stock, which has all kinds of sugar and is just generally a lot more fun and relaxed.

Cory Doctorow's new book: as good as Ragtime?

First of all, Cory Doctorow is not related to E.L. Doctorow, or even El Doctorow, the enormous, savage genius locus of the Laboratoria de Idiomas (and El Doctorow is notoriously sexually prolific). Anyway, Cory Doctorow is one of these semi-annoying new internet & technology intellectuals like Neal Stephenson, and I suppose that he was one of the generals in the blog revolution, if the rise of the blog can be termed a revolution instead of, say, a pathetic sideshow.
Anyway, Cory Doctorow’s new book is called Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and it has no serious horrible flaws. Doctorow ends it with a twist that dramatically recasts the whole book yet is still kind of lame and unsatisfying, but it’s a magic realist fantasy so you shouldn’t read it for the plot anyway. He also includes many long, very earnest sections about public WiFi nets – his protagonist and a buddy are pitching public WiFi access to their town, and by the end of the novel we have seen them pitch it a few too many times and wish that Doctorow would have focused on the interesting family drama at the center of the plot. The protagonist, Alan, belongs to a strange family: his mother is a washing machine and his father is a mountain (one of his brothers takes after his dad and is an island). Doctorow treats this with enough mystery and delicacy that it works (if he had tried to explain exactly how things work it would have been a train wreck). Doctorow intimates that everyone comes from a weird family and is an outcast in his or her own way, joining a long and distinguished line of writers who probably include John Irving.
Doctorow has made the book available for free as a PDF, which seems like a rad thing to do. You can find it and all his other books at http://www.craphound.com/ . Come for the free books, stay for the vitriol!

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