Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Lady Vanishes

Heard about this video on the Penn radio show. May I present Ursula Martinez, in a 5-minute striptease while performing a magic trick. Pretty much the essence of the art of misdirection. I'd warn you that this isn't kid- or work-friendly, but who am I to tell you what your child or boss should see?


Sleuth or Dare

Which TV detective would you want to take your case?

I think I’d have to go with Monk. There’s just no one currently on TV who gets to the truth of the matter like Adrian Monk. He’s got a great track record, and if you’re innocent, it just means putting up with his annoying habits for a while.

Then again, there are always Frank Pembleton or Kay Howard from Homicide: Life on the Street. No guarantees, but Frank’s amazingly good, and Kay is every bit as good and lucky, to boot. Then again, there’s Vic Mackey of The Shield. Chances are, he’ll be a bit preoccupied with covering his own ass, but if you’re looking for revenge, Vic’s your man. There’s no one who’ll bring the hammer down harder on evildoers, as long as he doesn’t have a piece of the action himself.

The TV detective I’d least like on my case is Dr. House. Sure, he pretty much always solves the case and cures the patient, but generally on Monk you don’t suffer acute system failure before the case is closed. Adrian’s clients vomit less blood, too.


We Are Not Descended From Fearful Men

Keith Olberman offered a stirring rebuke of Donald Rumsfeld's recent attempts to quell dissention (coincidentally enough, as an election is coming up). It runs about 6 1/2 minutes, and it's well worth watching.

Here's the video at Crooks and Liars.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spelling Counts!

Okay, this totally cracked me up.

I was looking over what searches have brought people here, and the most recent one was shmale movie. I write about movies now and then, and that, combined with the post about Lakewood's "Yale Shmale" campaign down below, has apparently misled someone in search of hot shemale action.

Proofreed yur serches, guyz.



Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Vital Statistics

Okay, it’s another Tell it to Me Tuesday at The Art of Getting By, and Janet’s asked us to tell a story about our first crush.

Well, there’s not a whole lot of narrative to mine. Colleen was a smart, pretty, friendly girl, and I was a shy, geeky guy, and nothing every happened. End of story.

Except one day, me and my friend Joe (who also had a crush on her), were discussing her various attributes in the school library, as middle-school geeks were wont to do in those days of yore. Now, when I say “attributes,” you shouldn’t read anything lurid into it. Far from it. The conversation began when Joe said: “If you were to give Colleen three 18s, what would they be in?”

Yes, we were talking about her D&D stats.

I can’t believe I’m even telling you this. I am such a geek.

Well, Charisma and Intelligence were the two obvious choices. After all, we were bright guys who liked bright girls, and the charisma goes without saying if she caught our discriminating eyes, right? But where to put the third 18?

I said, “Dexterity,” which, it turns out, is what Joe was thinking, too. This seemed kind of profound to us back then.

But really, what were the other choices? Strength? Please. We weren’t exactly Olympic-level athletes, even in those halcyon days of puberty. Neither of us was looking for a girl who could bench-press even our scrawny bodies.

Constitution? That’s just a nice way of saying, “She can take a punch.” Pass.

And the only other option was Wisdom. And with an 18 Wisdom, she’d never have had anything to do with us.

Come to think of it…


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Can This Man Defeat the Fantastic Four?

If it's an acting competition, there's no contest -- Andre Braugher can act rings around almost anybody.

In what will certainly be seen by some as a crazy waste of his talents, he's rumored to be in the second Fantastic Four movie -- turning down a recurring part on ER to do it. Frankly, I think a nice villain part could be just the sort of thing to remind people how good he is.

But while the film is subtitled "Rise of the Silver Surfer," I doubt he's playing ol' shinytrunks. I think the blog at Newsarama has it right -- he'll be playing Alicia Masters' dad, the nefarious Puppet Master.

And even though in every comic I've ever read the Puppet Master comes off like a chump, if anyone can instill the guy with menace, Braugher can.

Besides, it's a chance to see two of TV's greatest cops share a screen. How cool is that?

UPDATE: Sadly, it looks like Braugher will be playing a military general instead. Which is too bad -- it's hard to find a superhero movie where a general doesn't come off like a chump.


So's Yer Alma Mater!

Lakewood University in Canada is taking aim at Yale through its weakest link -- its alumnus who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Its "Yale Shmale" campaign, reported by the Toronto Star, features a picture of Bush's face on posters with the words:

"Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn't necessarily mean you're smart. Choosing Lakehead does."

Go Lakehead!


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Duplicating Euclid

I’ve been researching a book on ancient mathematicians for a little while now. Aa few weeks ago found this huge, scholarly tome on Greek philosophers and thinkers at the New York Public Library. Make no mistake, the book is enormous. I can barely fit it in my laptop bag. But it’s got a few chapters that should really help me understand this stuff.

On the other hand, 90 percent of it is completely useless to me at this point. So, after lugging this bad boy home and reading the chapter on Pythagoras, I’ve dragged it back into work so I can photocopy chapters on Euclid and Greek mathematics in general. (I photocopied the Archimedes chapter on our printer/copier combo, but the book’s almost as big as the printer, and the whole operation was just plain awkward.)

Anyway, this photocopying chore reminded me of a time back when I was in middle school – probably around 6th grade – and I asked my dad to copy the monsters chart from the end of Dungeon Master’s Guide. The whole chart was cool, but what I really wanted was the experience point calculations on the far end of it. That way, my friends and I could look at our character sheets, see how many experience points we needed to make the next level, then look at the charts and decide “We need to kill a xorn!” And then we’d all go kill a xorn because the DM was accommodating – after all, he had characters in the group too. (We didn’t have a lot of players, and the system did keep us going up in level, so if you wanna complain, tell it to my 135th-level magic-user. Yeah, you heard me.)

But what strikes me now is that Dad went and copied those 30-odd pages of charts for me at work. Remember, this was at a time when hardly anyone had ever heard of D&D, and some of those who had thought it was some form of devil worship. And I can picture Dad bringing this book to the photocopier and copying page after page of what can only have looked like utter nonsense for me. I mean, look at that cover! Boss or not, Dad must’ve had some explaining to do.

So thanks Dad. I’m dedicating my next xorn to you.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The 9900

I just noticed my blog counter hit 9,900. Exactly.

Which, if my math is right, is two and a quarter times 4400.

And, if my understanding of tv shows I've never seen is right, I could disappear all y'all and do experiments and poof! bring you back all at once in a big mysterious way--two and a quarter times over!

So you should probably look out if you wanna be safe.

Me? I'm goin' ta bed. When my mind starts working like this I need sleep.


Fest 2006

Some random memories from this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival…

Fest stared out with some magic. Down at the bottom of the camp hill, a number of tents had sat in the sun for too long as people were setting up on Thursday. A gust started blowing, hit the tree line and swirled up, taking a few hot-air-filled tents with it. We watched them swirl and dance some hundred or so feet above us. I’m glad it didn’t happen to me (one tent landed high in some trees), but man was it cool to watch.

Some great music… Jackson Brown and David Lindley played a 2-hour concert on Saturday afternoon… saw great sets by the Avett Brothers, Canadian funny band Arrogant Worms (“We are the Beaver!”) … Shemekia Copeland brought the house down Sunday night with a jawdropping set… The Burns Sisters took a surprisingly political turn, doing such a great job with Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” that I picked up their new album just to hear what they do with Steven Van Zandt’s “I Am a Patriot.”

There’s just great stuff all around at Fest. Every time you turn around, there’s a new band you’ve never heard of rocking you to the core. The two Hoots and Hellmouth sets I saw were amazing. They topped off they’re first one with a rousing “Everybody Must Get Stoned” (yeah, too lazy to look up the real Dylan title now) with labelmates Andrew Lipke and Matt Duke. Then the next day Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams (no lie, that’s their name) joined H&H and the terrific slide-guitar player Natalia Zuckerman for a rock-your-ass-off version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” mixed with Them’s “Gloria.” It was probably my favorite moment of fest, fresh and inspiring and full of the impish glee that always comes when you mix the sacred and the sexy.

Then again, there was the guy who wandered into our camp and the song about Jesus’s brother, Craig – which I just discovered is a Stephen Lynch song that you can hear online.

Plus, we were camped near our traditional fest buddies Nick, Brian, Lisa and Joyce, but right up next to the Illegal Aliens group. We had a blast hanging out in the shade with Clare, Dee, Celeste and the gang. Even if we occasionally forgot all about the letter “n.”

Plus, wandering children who won’t go away and a deeply stoned woman who stumbles into camp and proceeds to spoil a bunch of movies we haven’t seen yet! Good times, good times.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Done Packing.

Fest now. See you Monday.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

R.I.P. Bruno Kirby

I'm sorry to say that Bruno Kirby died today. He was an actor who could almost unfailingly make me laugh -- he had a true knack for playing a regular Joe. I don't think I'd ever seen him in a role I didn't enjoy, but the one that stands out for me was playing a pissed-off guy stalking Frank Pembleton on an episode of Homicide. And, of course, he completely sold us that someone would blurt out "Baby Fish Mouth" during a game of Pictionary.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Kirby. I'll miss seeing you around the edges, and the too-rare times you were in the spotlight.


World Trade Center

Note: I originally posted this as a comment on The Art of Getting By, but I’ve edited it a little so that it stands on its own.

I don’t really have any strong feelings about Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. It’s just a movie – an artistic way of expressing an idea about a true event. But it’s not the event itself, and certainly any criticism or praise it gets should be about the movie on the screen, and not the reality around the theater.

I doubt I’ll see it. When I eventually see a movie about 9-11, I’m pretty sure it’ll be a documentary. A reenactment like this doesn’t interest me much.

One thing that might set me apart from the crowd: I don’t think the staff of the movie has any obligation, moral or otherwise, to donate part (or all!) of their paycheck to victim’s funds. They’re professional people. Like everyone I know, part of the reason they work is to get paid. And as professional people, they deserve to be paid.

Now, you may argue that some people in Hollywood get paid too much for the work they do. But it’s still work, and they’re getting paid what the market will bear. And I don’t see why Oliver Stone or Nicholas Cage should have to give up several months of pay, but the dolly grip or the best boy can pocket their earnings. And I certainly wouldn’t ask these crew members to give up the money they’re making to feed their families; I don’t think many people would. But both Cage and the grip are profiting; the only difference is degree.

Sure, it would be a nice gesture (and good PR) for Cage to make some donations or public appearances at survivors’ charities. And I think if the studio doesn’t devote some percentage of the profits to it, they’re fools. But if they make a film that people want to see, they certainly deserve to profit from their work.

What I think is necessary for their participation in the movie is that they believe in the project wholeheartedly. No matter where the money goes, what matters is what the movie says, and how firmly the people who made it believe it.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Shit. Fuck. Goddamn it.

Goodbye Sploid. I'll miss ya.


Flight Risk?

So. Last week there was a bit of news over in England. Some blokes got nicked for a terrorist plot. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But once again it’s going to change the way we travel.

From now on, no liquids (save baby formula, medicine and, I believe, our precious bodily fluids) will be allowed on board passenger airplanes. Which sucks for Jet Blue – apparently they had allowed passengers to bring cases of beer on board. And hey, it could be worse – for a while, at least, the Brits were allowing no carry-ons at all.

Of course, this is portrayed as the government leaping into action to prevent a terrorist threat. Except that this is hardly a new threat. The government knew about this particular plot for quite a while, all the while we were blissfully sipping the Snapples we toted into coach. And hell – mixing liquids on an airplane to generate a bomb? I came up with that idea myself, still gripped with fear, sometime around September 13, 2001. I remember seeing someone make napalm out of gasoline and detergent (or something) on a made-for-TV-movie in high school, and it stuck with me. And if I could think of it. I didn’t see any reason why bad guys couldn’t. And any reason (besides the guy at the top) why the government couldn’t either.

But aside from a swift action to make the TSA look busy, what will the ban accomplish? It’s tough to say. But it’s certainly gotten everyone acting jumpy. Which is the point of terrorism, by the way. They’re not called terrorists because they want to give us all ponies.*

What’s good is that knowledgeable people who are willing to voice a possibly unpopular opinion (and certainly one that could draw the patently unfair knee-jerk question “whose side are you on, ours or the terrorist’s?”) will speak up. It usually takes a few days for them to be heard, but they do get heard.

They say, “Hold on a minute. Don’t be scared, let’s think this through.” I hope, more often than not, I’m on the side of these people.

So, in that spirit, here’s a link to a conversation with Michael Boyd, who spoke with Paul Harris at KMOX about how the new TSA regulations are doing precious little to make us safer.


*Ponies and terror are almost mutually exclusive, with the exception of that scene in The Godfather.

Keeper Tunes

It’s Tuesday, so I’m telling it to Janet. What am I telling? The songs that I seem to be able to listen to again and again. That just won’t move off my MuVo, no matter what else I might want to put on it. And what are they?

Ah, that would be telling. Go see Janet; I’m in the comments section.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Fest on Google Earth!

This is where I'll be.

The southern part of the field is the campsite. The northeastern part is parking, and the northwestern part is the performing area. You can see the Main stage (the big white box near the trees), the Craft stage (to its right) the Tank stage (to its left) and the Camp stage (the white box just beyond that thick grove of trees). By Thursday, it'll be a sea of blue tarps.


Swampass B-Gone!

Ten Years.

I've been going to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, i.e. The Happiest Place on Earth, for 10 years. Since 1996, actually, making this my eleventh show. In a row.

On our first trip, Greg and I went on a Friday afternoon, parked a pup tent on the only place available -- a 45 degree slope to which Pythagoras would give a hearthy thumbs up -- and went to see some music. That night, it began to pour. The sort of rain that makes you want to trade your tent in for an ark. But under some trash bags, we perservered, and got to watch David Wilcox amazingly sing the rain away, first by appeasing it with a few rain-themed songs like his "Eye of the Hurricane" (which is really about a motorcycle, but the man loves a metaphor like I love cheese fries), and then by easing into some sun-centric music ("Sunshine on the Land," and "Here Comes the Sun" spring to mind. And even though it was pitch dark out, it worked. For the rest of the concert and some time after, the rain stoppped. Life was good. (True, it started again later that night after we'd sacked out. And when we woke up, or tent had slid about 50 feet toward closer to sea level. But still, that was a magic show.)

That's not the only time it's rained, of course. We danced like hell in that rain, listening to the Saw Doctors lay it down a few years ago. (I think that was Kathy's first fest -- so is that seven or eight? Jaysis.) And once we took refuge in a friend's cool-ass bus, and returned to the three-man tent to find water seeping in at ever seam.

But often -- very often -- it's just hot. Awful, sticky hot. Egg-fryin', chocolate-meltin' hot. Slow-cooked-barbecue hot. Re-entering Earth's Atmosphere hot. And it doesn't have to be nearly that hot for me to sweat like I'm in the heart of the sun.

So, after ten years, I did what any sensible human being would have done after one. I bought a shower!

A nice camp shower you can see right here. Now, I know it won't keep me clean. It won't keep me half clean, to be perfectly honest. This is camping after all, and I'll be living among the dirt and the bugs and the old folkies and nuveau-hippies and granola chix. But there's gonna be a moment or two every day, when a certain 15 percent of me is going to feel clean. Clean, I say!

And that 15 percent makes all the difference.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

On Notice

Just thought you'd all like to know.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

We is Stupid

In your face, Turkey!



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A friendly pointer down below

Well... maybe not so friendly, but ya take what Google Images gives ya.

My post on Heath Ledger as the Joker has sparked a nice little discussion on cross-ethnic casting (Thanks Dave!), and seeing as how the post is sinking beneath the waves just as it's getting interesting, I thought I'd provide a link for latecomers. And for me, to save my delicate scrolling thumb.


Why You Think Mango Is The Gay?

So, a couple of weeks ago my brother called me up to let me know that Mr. Anne Coulter (Trannie Annie to you and me) called former President Bill Clinton a "latent homosexual," figuring I'd be able to make some hay of it. Sadly, I never got around to it.

Thankfully, David Letterman did. Go Dave!


Whether the wether be cold…

Bellwether. Been hearing that word a lot lately, in conjunction with the Connecticut primary between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. And I’ve been thinking it’s a pretty cool word.

The way it’s used, it means an indicator of trends – that is, if voters select Lamont, it indicates tough times for pro-war candidates, and if they choose Lieberman, it means the anti-war folks aren’t as strong as some people think. But as interested as I am in the outcome of that race, it’s only pertinent here as an example. (Although I also have to note that I really only hear the term in connection with politics anymore, but that may just be because that’s where my interests are. It could be used in football reporting all the time, and I’d never know.)

Bellwether originated as a term for a bell shepherds would hang on their lead sheep – which would indicate to the shepherd were the flock was. But what I like about it is what it seems to come from. A bell, of course, is a signal, just like in the original. And weather is something that we’re accustomed to having forecast. We’re used to thinking about weather in the future. So despite the term’s etymology having nothing to do with the Doppler 2000 Weathercenter, it still makes sense to the modern ear. Cool, huh?


(The other term that catches my ear on the news lately is Israeli pullout, but that’s mostly because it sounds kinda porny.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Kiss Kiss

KTBuffy just recommended the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on her blog, and I've got to second that. (Click the link to her place to see a preview.) It's a terrific movie, well-versed in the film noir tradition, tweaking it (and movies in general) in enough ways to be really, really funny.

Watching the commentary track, gills-full of whiskey, I noticed something. When you can't hear him talk, just watching his face, it's almost eerie how much Robert Downey Jr. looks like a young Alan Arkin. Seriously. Watch Catch-22 and then watch this. It's friggin' uncanny. (Or it's friggin' Bushmills.)

One way or another, you won't be sorry you rented this puppy. Enjoy.


Friday, August 04, 2006

The Fightin' Keyboarders

Don't miss this post on the conservative blogosphere by Jesus's General. It's called "This Week in Heroism." The message is elegant in its simplicity.


To the Girl With the Great Legs in the Translucent Blue Skirt Walking East (Into the Sun) on 33rd Street This Morning:



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Turtle Power!

It's been a long time since I followed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But if you've ever been a fan -- or even if you haven't -- this movie preview is likely to impress you.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Commute

With a new job comes a new commute. Due to the relative positioning of my new desk, my commute is now 27 steps shorter!

Seriously. I paced it out this morning.