Friday, March 31, 2006

I Swear It's Not Me

There's an awful, farty, rotten-egg smell in the art department, and it's drifting this way. I don't believe that the entire office, bottling up a month of collected farts, could make this smell. It's horrible.

Rob
(140 minutes from my next breath)

Work

Because the words came out not twist and shout
Cause that’s not what a grown man writes about
That chapter’s over, let it blow over
I found that I’ve become the owner of a brand new book
—Graham Parker, “Brand New Book”


So with a proofreading job behind me, and a little period research under my belt, I’m rededicating myself to hammering out a rough draft of a very very complicated novel. I’m realizing I can’t just dive into it and have it make any sense, so I’m going to need to give myself an outline. I’ve started using the index-card method – writing each scene down on a separate index card and then examining and shuffling them until I have some semblance of story. (I've had the central concept for years now, but in this last week I've finally begn to find a glimmer of a plot. Whoopee!) Problem is, I wanted colored index cards – I’m working with 3 different time periods, and with similar character names, I need a quick method of differentiation – and the Duane Reade I went into at lunchtime only had white ones. So for now, white ones it is. Ah, well. I’ve got highlighters.

I do have one small project to do in the next week, but I should be able to work on both simultaneously through next week. After that, well, there’s Spontaneous Combustion, which I don’t want to skip, and then clear sailing (awesome upcoming vacation notwithstanding). I guess what I’m saying by this paragraph is that I can’t use all this stuff to put work on this book off until after I come back from New Orleans. Everything but vacation, I can work around. And who knows what my trip to the Big Easy will bring to the project?

Back to Graham:

I read that book for an hour or two
and then I looked up at the night sky
I saw the big dipper and then the big bopper
and I realized how much time had gone by
Every page had something to say
but one thing that struck me as true
The clock just keeps ticking as if you’re not there
Man it either drags you down or it lifts you


Rob

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Our Last, Best Hope...

...dashed.

Looks like it’s really over. Arrested Development comes to an end.

Don’t they know there’s always money in the banana stand?

Rob

...but I sure play a mean pinball!

Sometime last night I lost my Internet connection. Despite my best efforts (that didn't involve waking my wife, which would have been the smart thing to do, except for how flat out dumb it would be), I wasn't able to get it working again. So until things change, I may be cut off from the outside world, having only to rely on telephone, television, radio, and possibly a newspaper to get my information. It's like being in a very busy sensory deprivation tank.

Rob
(posting from the office...)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Reads

KT's right: I'm not a big fantasy reader anymore, but any way you slice it, this has gotta go on my list.

Rob

Disappointment

I just came back from lunch and had a brief conversation with Jim the Bastard. He said, “Guess what I’ve discovered?”

I took a stab at it. “Fudgetricity?”

No, as it turns out. But Jim filled me in on two taste treats he enjoyed for lunch, including Thai-flavored potato chips (flavored similarly to traditional Thai cooking, I assume, and not by some sort of extract of the Thai nationals themselves). He also extolled the virtues of the green salsa at the burrito counter down the street.

Just the same, I can’t help but feel a twinge of regret that the secret of fudgetricity is still beyond our reach.


Rob

ZZZZzzzznakes…

Okay, this is starting to get creepy. I actually dreamed about Snakes on a Plane last night.

First, before boarding, I was at home and this big-ass python was slithering around my staircase. I somehow dispatched it with a grenade, which it swallowed before detonation. The python splattered all over my upstairs hallway in a surprisingly regular maroon pattern.

Then came the waiting in line for a ticket. I was very worried about being late, because I knew there would be snakes on my plane. I knew I could catch a later flight, but would the snakes wait?

At last, Kathy and I got onboard, but we weren’t able to sit together. So far, no snakes. I kept on looking to the row behind me, but she didn’t see any snakes either. Then we took off, and soon there were snakes everywhere. We were stepping on them, hitting them with our carry-ons, whatever we could do. But I couldn’t help but thinking that Kathy & I were the only ones of our friends who made it, and thinking how much everyone else would like to be attacked by snakes, too.

I’m sure there are other details, but the thing I remember most vividly is the tension when I thought I might miss my flight, because I didn’t want to miss the snakes.

Rob

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Monument

Mark Evanier’s post today (about Chris Bliss and Jason Garfield) reminded me that I wanted to write more about Chris Bliss. Not about his juggling, but about what could be a much more impressive feat. Bliss is spearheading an effort to put up monuments to the Bill of Rights in every state of the union. He's made a good deal of progress in the first state he's worked with, Arizona.

These monuments will be on public land, but funded individual contributions from private citizens. Essentially, Bliss must raise money for the individual monuments while at the same time getting state legislatures to permit their construction. You can hear Chris speak with KMOX radio host Paul Harris about it here, or visit his website, mybillofrights.org.

Needless to say, I think this is pretty cool. The Bill of Rights never gets the respect from the government that it deserves. It’s worse now than usual, but no matter who’s in charge, the government always works against our rights. The Bill of Rights is an explicitly anti-government statement, drawing a line the government cannot cross. The fact that it has been crossed, so flagrantly and insistently, is proof enough that we need to make this document more prominent in our public discourse. Go, Chris!

Rob

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kal-El Gone Wild!

Visit Seven Hells! to see what made me smile today.

Rob

Friday, March 24, 2006

Here we go again

Once again, the President outright says the laws of the country don't apply to him. That motherfucking motherfucker oughta be put in jail. First he fucks us, then he wipes his dick on the Constitution on the way out the door.

Hope you get a goddam papercut, motherfucker.

Rob

Snakes!


Hollywood Elsewhere has a great post on Snakes on a Plane. He concludes:

I'm serious...this is not a DVD thing. Everyone is going to have to go to a theatre with their friends and bark like seals at the jokes and the shrieks and fangs-sinking-into-penis moments.

I'm hoping it'll be like the vibe at the Rivoli theatre in 1985 when I was working at New Line (as a publicist, believe it or not) and we all went to see Reanimator on opening night. That show was one of the best movie-theatre highs I've ever sampled...the kind of rave experience that high and low types can enjoy from the same place.

Rob
(I've had it with these snakes!)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Well Said

Writer Steven Grant in his latest Permanent Damage column:

“I tend to hate my work for six months to a couple of years after it comes out, and warm up to it later. This is the sort of behavior that would make me a bad father.”

Amen to that.

Rob

Human Jell-o

I've been listening to Penn Jillette’s show fairly religiously (which he'd hate!) lately, and I he said something that just killed me as I was walking to work. I'm paraphrasing, but this is the jist:

"I think that with most couples who have threesomes, there's always room for Carrot Top."

Rob

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

V for Video

First of all, V for Vendetta was terrific. See it see it see it.

It's good enough that I don't want to spoil things for anyone. Instead, I want to propose (or predict) a project.

Probably this won't be possible until the DVD comes out, but the availablity of footage always surprises me, so who knows?

One of my favorite sequences in the Moore/Lloyd comic was a chapter called "The Vicious Cabaret." The narration is the lyrics to a song of the same name, the notes of which are provided. The sequence checks in on the plot's many characters as the song descibes their predicaments and reinforces the overall theme. It's awesome -- not just for its storytelling effect, but also as an example of the new approaches Moore was bringing to the comics medium.

Unfortunately, comics are a silent menium. But film's another matter entirely. I'd love to see a fan film that reedits footage from the movie and sets it to the "Vicious Cabaret" music. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't already planned for the DVD. But if it's not there, that doesn't mean it can't be done. With today's editing software, arranging, playing and recording the music is really the hard part. And, I have to stress, it would be wicked cool.

Rob

Monday, March 20, 2006

Whither Blogpatrol?

My counter's gone AWOL, and Blogpatrol's homepage is acting wonky. Things'll probably sort themselves out, but does anyone know what's going on?

Rob

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Another Round

Mark Evanier has posted another round of There's No Such Website. This time he amps it up to nine possibilities. I'm proud to say I got it in one.

Rob

Carnival Time

The Carnival of NJ Bloggers has once again staked its tent at Sharon's The Center of NJ Life. Swing by by and have some funnel cake. Or zeppoli. Or fry your dough any way you please -- it's all good.

Rob

Garfield the Cat

...as opposed to the tubby little fuzzy human.

Here's the premise: In the Garfield comic strip, Garfield speaks only in thought balloons. Which means that Jon can't hear him. Some folks on a message board have taken away Garfield's thought balloons, putting the whole strip in a different perspective. It's about a sad, lonely man who talks to his cat. Who hates him.

Enjoy!

Rob

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ssssssssssss

It's finally here: The Snakes on a Plane trailer! And it's refreshingly spoiler-free. Just one line, then on to the snakes! On a plane!

Rob
("I've had it with these snakes!")

In a world...

Mark Evanier points out another great voiceover vid, which is actually a trailer for a movie I've long intended to see.

Rob

Call for Tunes

So...

I'm writing a novel. I've decided to set the juvie nonfiction aside for a bit and dig my heels in and see what I can create out of my own sorry head.

Idiot that I am, I'm not making it easy on myself. Part of the novel is set in the 20s, an ear I thought I knew somehting about until I tried to set a scene there and was continually flummoxed by little details that could mean a great deal to the plot. So now I've got a book to read about everyday life in the era, to give me some sort of grounding there.

The other thing I need is jazz. These 1920s pages need to fizz like illegal champagne, and I'd like a soundtrack to write by. Do any of you have or know of any good collections of music from the 1920s? Soundtracks of movies set in the '20s? If you do, let me know. It's a whole different world I'm looking back on, and I want to know what it sounds like.

Rob

Friday, March 17, 2006

Offered Without Comment

Click Here.

Rob

Peace Through Slugfests

The first issue of Spectacular Spider-Man published in Arabic (by Teshkeel) has finally been released. This may not be the stuff that ends wars, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that makes peace last. When we’re entertained by the same things, we tend not to beat the tar out of each other.

Here’s the link.

Rob

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

Atrios on V for Vendetta:

"Anyway, I haven't actually seen the movie, but if a movie about a fascist tyranny has people freaking out because they view it as a critique of the Bush administration I think that says more about their own view of the administration than the filmmakers'."

Rob

Up the Academy

Wow.

I didn’t realize grapes even got that sour.

Rob

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Do Not Call

Something just occurred to me: I’d always been taught that “Taking the Lord’s name in vain” is saying “God damn this” or exclaiming “Jesus Bellydancin’ Christ!” when you’re surprised. But isn’t publicly thanking Jesus for inconsequential stuff (like, say, a touchdown) also taking his name in vain? I think everyone who thanks Jesus for crap Jesus doesn’t care about should get an short but immediate cell-phone call from JC, saying “Lose my number, dickhead.” Is there a substantive difference between “Thou shalt not take My name in vain” and “Thou shalt not IM Me every 30 fucking seconds with thanks whenever you have a particularly satisfying bowel movement?”

I know, I know – I’d make a lousy savior.

Rob

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Poof! It's Gone!

I decided to take down my last post. Upon reflection, making fun of someone's profession of faith -- no matter how oxymoronic -- strikes me as meaner than I want to be. Maybe I'll think about it a little more and revise it. Maybe I'll think about it a little more and not post at all. Or maybe I'll forget about it by the time I reach the train. One way or another, though, I think it's worth a little more effort than a simple off-the-cuff dimissal.

Rob

Doubled My Pleasure

Talking Points Memo uncovers more Repug evil twinniness!

Rob

Double Trouble

Who cut the arm off the voodoo doll
That resembles a Republican president from long ago
I'd hate to see you leave
'Cause I have grown so grateful for the
Blame you save me from
—“My Evil Twin,” They Might Be Giants


A new wrinkle in the Case of the Shoplifting Presidential Advisor. It’s a ridiculous notion, and very, very unlikely, but I have to admit that I’m crossing my fingers that this is true. I honestly would rather have this kind of weirdness in the world than yet another black eye for the Bush regime. In a world with evil twins, can the chupacabra be far behind?

Rob

Balls-out

I've been listeing to Penn Jillette's show on FreeFM a lot lately, and one of the recurring topics has been a juggling routine by Chris Bliss. For his finale, Bliss juggles three balls for the entirety of The Beatles' "The End" off of Abbey Road. To non-jugglers, it looks pretty impressive, and sometimes seems like it's timed with the music.

Penn felt differently, and asked his friend, hard-core professional juggler Jason Garfield, to replicate Bliss's routine with five balls. And man, is it better. Not only is Garfield keeping more balls in the air, but he looks like he has more control over his five than Bliss has over his three.

You can see both videos at YouTube. I recommend watching Bliss's routine first, because I can't imagine it'll be much fun after you see him get completely schooled by Garfield (in Bliss Diss). (I also recommend seeing them soon -- these are getting more attention, and I doubt either of them has the rights to the music, so they could be pulled at any time. You can also read Garfield's comments on the Bliss routine here.

I love that I can listen to people talk about juggling on the radio.

Rob

Sunday, March 12, 2006

M for Moore

There's an feature on Alan Moore about his stormy relationship with DC Comics and Warner Bros. at the New York Times. Read it quick, before it falls behind the NYT's Iron Curtain of Time.

"I am what Harry Potter grew up into," he said, "and it's not a pretty sight."

Rob

Yee-hah!

It's Carnival time again, and Jersey Goddess is making sure you're tall enough to get into the Moon Bounce. Boing!

ROb

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Now Even Bigger Love!

I updated my post on Big Love since it's been linked to (full disclosure: I did it myself) in the comments of this Political Animal post by Roxanne Cooper.

You can read my extra, giant-sized comments on Big Love here.

(I walked in a little late, so I don't know if they're using either Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" (bad) or Little Village's "Big Love" (good) as the theme song. Drat!)

Rob

Good Riddance.

Slobodan Milosevic, dead of natural causes in prison.

Rob

VIBU!

That's my new acronym for Very Important Blogroll Update. Learn this timesaver and use it -- it could come in handy at this site as often as twice a year.

But, I wanted to direct your attention to a few new blogs to your right (or my left, since I'm sitting in your monitor watching you right now... yes, even you).

The first is VeeganMD's Journal. He's a good buddy who's moved away and we don't see him nearly enough anymore. Expect him to talk about his veeganism, being a doctor, and Dungeons and Dragons. I just hope that he finds a way to make it possible to link to specific posts on his site. (And see? Some of my best friends are Swedish!)

(If you don't get that joke, you don't really need to.)

I divided up the Other Blogs section into Political Blogs and Comics Blogs. New to the political end are The Bull Moose (an ex-republican who I don't always agree with, but always find worth reading) and BAG News Notes, which examines the subtext of political photography. I don't go there all the time, but every time I do, I'm fascinated.

Comics-wise, we've got The Beat (a great news & opinion source, and the place I look for any NYC-centered comics events), The Savage Critic (for pull-no-punches comics reviews) and Dave's Long Box (a very funny site in which Dave looks back at old comics in his collection, making up a word or two on the way. Get over there or I'll go all Airwolf on your ass!). There's other goodies too, but I'm tired of making with the descriptions. See for yourself.

This concludes today's VIBU.

Rob

Like a Circus, but With More Clowns

You can't make this stuff up.

A former Bush regime official, Claude A. Allen, was arrested for pulling the same scam pirate-fan-fave Peter Saarsgaarrrrd* pulls in the movie Garden State: Buying items from Target, then taking the receipts and going back into the store, pulling items off the shelf and "returning" them.

As Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo puts it: "[Allen] resigned abruptly one month ago to spend more time with his family, thus, like David Safavian, providing the prescribed Bush administration interval between resignation and arrest."

Hah!

Rob

*Yes, it wasn't a very funny SNL sketch, but it was based on an inspired idea.

Success!

The Googlebombing of Bill Napoli instigated by the Smart Bitches worked. (It actually was working pretty much all of yesterday, but I kept meaning to mention it with a link, which is hard to do from work.)

Congrtulations, bitches!

Bill Napoli.

Bill Napoli.

Bill Motherfuckin' Napoli.

Rob

Classic Comics

I remember being bowled over by the scene in the comic V for Vendetta (can'twaitforthemoviecan'twaitcan'twait!) where V tells Evey that the signature bar from Beethoven's Fifth (roman numeral: V) Symphony (da-da-da-DUMMMMM) is also the morse code symbol for the letter V: (dot-dot-dot-DASH). It stuck with me ever since as one of those cool little details in life.

But there's a new connection between classical music and comics. I read over at Eric Reynolds' Fantagraphics Blog that Deutsche Grammophon is releasing new "best-of" style CD compilations featuring cover art by indy comics artists such as Peter Bagge, Richard Sala and R. Sikoryak. As Eric links, so shall I: you can read more about 'em here, and buy them (for $6.99!) here.

Rob

Friday, March 10, 2006

Giving the conservatives their props

Okay, while looking for an image of James Carville to show Kathy, I found this HI-larious page from before November's election. Haven't read much of it yet, but the pictures are pure gold.

Hats off to you, conservative blogger Korlapundit. You struck comedy gold.

Rob

Everyone in India hates us

We just got a 58-pound box of beef jerky shipped to us at the magazine. Jim the Bastard will have details and photos later, and I’ll link to him when he does.

I just want to take this opportunity to express my deepest apologies to Aishwarya Rai, who both Roger Ebert and I agree is the most beautiful woman in the universe. From my nation to yours, Ash: our bad.

Rob

UPDATE: The Bastard came through with a post that says it all. Plus, the picture of Chicago Jerkface looks SO much like James Carville it's scary.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Shit, Sherlock

Rick "Man on Lobbyist on Dog" Santorum is a liar. Is anyone surprised?

Rob

Googlebombing Napoli

Jeri explains. I hear and obey.

Bill Napoli. (Christ, what a shithead.)

Rob

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Busiest Man in the World

Not in a million years would I trade places with Bill Paxton's character in the new HBO series which premeires this Sunday, Big Love. Bill Henrickson owns a hardware store that's just branching out into a chain. Which is keeping him busy enough. But he's also got his wife Barbara to think about (Jean Tripplehorn). And his wife Nicolette (Chloe Sevigny). And his wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). Plus all their kids. And his parents. And a ton of in-laws.

The way the series is set up, it looks like Bill and his immediate family (a phrase that takes on a different meaning here) broke free of a religious commune, run by Nicolette's father, Roman (Harry Dean Stanton). The commune practices polygamy, and it looks like Bill & co. took that on the road. But in the outside world, they've got to keep it secret.

I got to see a preview of the series tonight (with my friend Steph) and it looks like it'll be a helluva show. I won't get to see it for a while, since I don't have HBO, but I'll consider renting the DVDs. It's got nice tension -- familial, marital, and just a hint of legal (which will surely grow as the series progresses). It'll be interesting to see more of the wives' relationships with each other, and of Bill's private relationship with each wife. One of Jean Tripplehorn's lines -- "are you going to wear pajamas to bed all the time, or just on my nights?" illustrates what a crazy tightrope he'll be walking throughout the show.

Oh well. He made his beds.

Rob

UPDATE: (Just to add a little meat to this post, since it seems to be getting some attention.) Based on the premiere, Big Love is a good show – it looks like a well-realized drama about the troubles of a polygamous family. And while it’s bound to delve into some disturbing territory (Roman’s teenage bride being the example placed front-and-center in the premiere), it’s not a documentary. It’s a TV show presented as entertainment. Which probably means that some aspects of polygamy will be glossed over, or not shown in the most disturbing light possible. And other aspects of the show will be unrealistic, in order to make the premise work and be relatable to a general audience.

This isn’t a bad thing. Someone can make (and doubtless has made) documentaries about the true state of polygamy. I’d be interested in seeing one. But I can say for certain that it will never get the kind of audience a show like Big Love gets. But while Big Love may pull some punches, it will almost certainly be disturbing enough to bring polygamy onto the radar of people who never gave it a second thought. And it may even drive a percentage of viewers to seek out more information about the issue. Is it really fair to ask for more from a cable drama series?

Crime and Punishment

Atrios posts an interesting exchange from an old Hardball, in which Chris Matthews corners then-PA Senate candidate Pat Toomey (who was running to the right of Arlen Specter in the 2004 Repug primary) about his views on abortion. Specifically, he tried to get Toomey to say what the punishement should be for an abortion if it's banned. Read the whole weaselly exchange.

If abortion is murder (which most pro-lifers believe), then it would follow that the doctor should be charged with murder, and the woman for, at the very least, conspiracy to commit murder. Although I think if you hire a hitman -- essentially what she'd be doing under a ban based on the idea that fetuses are human beings -- you get charged with murder, the same as if you'd pulled the trigger.

Conservatives won't say that -- none but the far-fringe whackjobs, at least. It's the underpinning of what they believe, but it's so far out of line with what any sensible person can accept that any support for their argument would fall apart.

Rob

(Edited to place the conversation in its proper context.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Moxie

While I'm certainly not a member of the Cult of the Cat, sometimes spunk just can't be denied. As Elvis homself once said, "Go, cat, go!"

Rob

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Three Keyboards and a Wayback Machine

Last night Kathy & I headed out for pizza and a rock concert…at a high school, but a rock concert nonetheless. Spiraling was playing a benefit for the Metuchen High School music program and Feed the Children. Spiraling plays an aggressive synth-rock, with frontman Tom Brislin playing three keyboards, sometimes all in the same song (and despite having only two hands, seemingly all at once).

As impressed as I am with Brislin—and I have been ever since I first saw him play at one of Glenn Burtnik’s Xmas Xtravaganzas, years ago—tonight drummer Paul Wells grabbed my attention. Watching him pound away during “Transmitter,” I got a sense of how truly complex the rhythms are behind these songs.

The band played a few songs from their upcoming album during the set – “Victory Kiss” and “Choices” were two of the names I caught, plus lots of songs from their first two albums. We have Transmitter, and I recognized “Girl on Top (of the Piano),” “This is the Road,” Lightning Twice” and “The Connection,” from that album, as well as “Ah, Sugar,” “Texas is the Reason” and “A Face for Radio” from Challenging Stage, which I really oughta pick up one of these days.

But then their encore came. And it only took a moment to recognize it: A-Ha’s “Take On Me.” And there we are, sitting in the auditorium, watching a bunch of high school kids dance to this song, that I have a hard time believing they even know. But I catch sight of a couple of girls singing along, and the same thought flashes through my head that I later find out flashed through Kathy’s: We were that age when this song first came out.

Thanks, Sherman – I didn’t realize the Wayback could go to 1984.

Rob

Friday, March 03, 2006

Curse you, Snowmiser!

I've shaved my head. That means it should be Spring! Spring, I say! I'm like a groundhog, only shinier. Don't mess with me, frostypants.

Rob

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dreamlinkblogging.

Up until now, I never really dreamt about work. Even more shocking, Jim the Bastard is blogging my dreams. Eerie.

Rob