Monday, May 29, 2006

Other Things to Point Out

In other news:

  • From Xooglers, the blog for ex-Google employees, here's part two of the story of Google's idea to have Scott 'Dilbert' Adams design some logos for them. Also, here's a Boston Globe story from today on why Google makes others nervous.
  • Two articles in particular caught my attention on A&LD recently. Here's a BBC article on philosophical issues raised in The Simpsons. Of course, such reflections are not new, given that we can opt to read The Simpsons and Philosophy, The Gospel According to The Simpsons, The Simpsons and Psychology, The Simpsons and Society, and The Simpsons and ??? (yet to be published). BBC excerpt: Another reason why cartoons are the best form in which to do philosophy is that they are non-realistic in the same way that philosophy is. True heir to Plato, Philosophy needs to be real in the sense that it has to make sense of the world as it is, not as we imagine or want it to be. But philosophy deals with issues on a general level. It is concerned with a whole series of grand abstract nouns: truth, justice, the good, identity, consciousness, mind, meaning and so on. Cartoons abstract from real life in much the same way philosophers do. Homer is not realistic in the way a film or novel character is, but he is recognisable as a kind of American Everyman. His reality is the reality of an abstraction from real life that captures its essence, not as a real particular human who we see ourselves reflected in.
  • Arts & Letters also pointed to this John Derbyshire article on Jules Verne, identifying Monsieur Verne as the father of techno-fiction, rather than science fiction. Excerpts: You could make a case, in fact, that Verne was not really interested in science at all but merely its technological applications. Certainly he was a magpie for curious technological and biological factlets, and had a fairly good head for numbers. The imaginative side of science, though—the side that actually propels science forward—was a thing he had no acquaintance with. I am sure he would have been baffled by Vladimir Nabokov’s remark about “the precision of the artist, the passion of the scientist.” The great pure-science advances of his time made no impression on him. I do not know of anything in Verne’s works that would be different if Maxwell’s equations had not appeared in 1865... ...Though a gifted storyteller, certainly in his early years, Verne had not sufficient powers of imagination, or scientific understanding, to rise to true science fiction. Here the contrast with his much younger (by 39 years) competitor for the “father of science fiction” title, H. G. Wells, is most striking. The concept of a fourth dimension, for example, first took mathematical form in the 1840s. By 1870 it was, according to the mathematician Felix Klein, part of “the general property of the advancing young generation [of mathematicians].” Wells grasped the imaginative power of this notion and used it to produce one of the greatest of all science fiction stories, The Time Machine (1895). Verne never used it at all, and would probably have found the notion of a fourth dimension absurd. I remember watching a conversation between Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Jacques Barzun one time on C-Span in which they compared and contrasted the lives and works of Wells and Verne. (Interesting that Wells, the great imaginer of the abstract, was the one who thought world socialism would just be nifty.) Also, I love this citation: Writing of another specimen, Charles Reade’s Foul Play, which was published five years before The Mysterious Island, George Orwell remarked: “Some desert-island stories, of course, are worse than others, but none is altogether bad when it sticks to the actual concrete details of the struggle to keep alive. A list of the objects in a shipwrecked man’s possession is probably the surest winner in fiction, surer even than a trial scene.” Verne’s castaways have one of the shortest such lists: the clothes they are wearing, a single match, two watches, the dog’s metal collar, and one grain of wheat.

There's Still Some Work to Do in the Yard and Basement, But Hey -- It's Not Like Grey Gardens or Anything

So we did a bunch more yardwork this weekend... We got some mulch and spread it out over the topsoil we got last weekend, I pulled out a difficult stump, I cleaned the glop out of the gutters, the ♥G♥ mowed the lawn, and stuff like that -- Also, we got the rest of the stuff we need to finish hanging flourescent lights in the basement. We've become Menard's regulars. Fortunately, there's a nice drinking establishment w/good ambience right down the street from Menard's at which we can stop off for motivation.

Speaking of yardwork, we watched the fascinating documentary Grey Gardens last night, about two members of the blueblooded Bouvier family who, shall we say, let things slip a little bit. I don't care who you are, you have to see this movie.

Quick recap: Jackie Kennedy's crazy aunt and crazy cousin are Beverly Hillbillies in reverse, in that they have a fabulous Long Island mansion overlooking the Atlantic, but because they are fucking crazy they let the place go to pieces (literally) and are usually only one step ahead of having it condemned. For a slightly lengthier recap, here's Wikipedia's entry on Grey Gardens.

Interesting afterstory: The property was eventually purchased by Washington Post editor/JFK drinking buddy Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn. (Note: Mr. Bradlee gave one of the best comebacks to a C-Span caller I have ever heard. Years before the Mark Felt revelations, Brian Lamb was interviewing Bradlee and someone called and said that he knew for sure who Deep Throat was. He smiled and nodded his head and said "Great! That makes two of us!")

On pages 456-457 of his memoir, A Good Life, Mr. Bradlee describes his new property -- In all my life, including years reporting about slums from Washington to Casablanca, I have never seen a house in such dreadful condition: attics full of raccoons and their dropping, toilets stopped up, a kitchen stove that had fallen into the cellar, a living room with literally only half a floor, grounds so matted with devil's walking sticks and other thorns they were impenetrable, a large walled garden which was so overgrown it could not even be seen. Over everything hung the knee-buckling smell of cats and cat excrement. Whole rooms had been abandoned when they filled up with garbage, as the Beales moved to the next room. The house had been condemned several times by the Village of East Hampton as unfit for human habitation, then rescued by friends and relatives (including Jackie Kennedy, once) who supplied the new furnace or new toilet required by authorities.

This morning at 5:30 one of our cats was sitting on the bed and decided that it was a good time and place to blah. ("Blah" means "barf.") We were like "Oh great -- now we're just like Grey Gardens." We were about ready to send him off to be part of the sequel of one of the other excellent documentaries we saw this weekend, Gates of Heaven, about people who bury their deceased pets in formal graves at a pet cemetary. At about 5:32, I wanted to just send him today and get it over with, rather than wait for his natural demise.

Happy Birthday to Me...

Hey! I just realized that yesterday was the first anniversary of NOTM. Sweet!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Clerks II at Cannes; FL on BoD; Free-Konomics; Pro-Pop-Culture Book Introduction in Progress

A three-day weekend awaits w/plenty of time for chores, movie-watching, reading, blogging, and watermelon eating... Items for this morning:
  • Kevin Smith describes his experience ("An 8-minute standing ovation") with the Cannes (a friend of mine used to pronounce it "Cans" and I didn't have the heart to correct him) premiere of Clerks II. Can't wait!
  • Foxy Librarian recently watched Burden of Dreams, and had similar thoughts to mine on Fitzcarraldo's similarities to Apocalypse Now. Hey Foxy -- If you haven't seen Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse yet, it's time! (BTW -- Paramount is releasing a 2-DVD set of both Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux in August... As the Amazon commenter said, it's too bad they couldn't have worked it out to include HoD in that set as well.)
  • Here's how the authors of Freakonomics handled a situation where a suburban-Chicago school-board member did not like the fact that their book was on some required classoom reading lists. Excerpt: Now that District 214 students are free to read Freakonomics, we thought it might be nice to send some copies their way. If you attend a District 214 school and want a free signed copy of Freakonomics, please send your name and address to We’ll honor the first 50 requests.
  • Speaking of popular culture, here's Grant McCracken describing the process of writing the introduction for his upcoming book. Excerpt: The academics and the essayists insisted that popular culture was a corruption, that the consumer was a dupe, that something had gone terribly wrong now that capital and commerce had been allowed to interfere with culture. It was crap as an argument even in the immediate aftermath of World War II, but the intellectuals made it their badge of difference, their cri de coeur, their enduring accusation to the friends of capitalism, their warning to the rest of us... ...They were dead wrong. Popular culture got steadily better.

Friday, May 26, 2006

SoaP Poster

The official poster for Snakes on a Plane is out. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the snaketail that ends up on the left of the plane does not seem to have a snake attached to it. The tail that ends up to the right of the plane seems to be connected to both snakes.

Here's an alternate poster:

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Crowdsourcing; Mrs. Henderson; Pulp Fiction Week; Monster Movies' Marxist Metaphors; Critical Thinking; Roger Dean

A few things for Thursday:

  • Props to Annalee Newitz on her soon-to-be-released book on monster movies, even though I think that the U.S. economy makes things like enjoyment of monster movies possible in the first place.
  • Good CSICOP article -- Critical Thinking: What Is It Good For? (And What Is It?). Excerpt: In short, since it is so easy to misperceive reality, a critical thinker is disinclined to take things at face value, suspicious of certainties, not easily swayed by conventional (or unconventional) wisdom, and distrustful of the facades and ideologies that serve as the ubiquitous cosmetics of social life. In other words, critical thinkers are necessarily skeptics.
  • Reflecting on David Byrne's comments and Howard Finster's artwork the other day got me thinking of other album art I like, even though it's quite different from that used by the Heads. Here's the website of non-minimalist album-cover artist Roger Dean. He's the gentleman who did lots of cover art for Yes, Asia, and other British art-rock bands in the 70s and 80s (actually some stuff up through the present, too). Here's his Wikipedia entry. (Plus, an Asia fansite.) I just happen to have the image below set as my wallpaper.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Pop Culture TTLB Community

This could be fun... A few months ago, Christian Johnson over at Cinerati proposed creating a new TTLB community for discussion, analysis, and celebration of pop culture.

The time has now come, and he was kind enough to include NOTM in the new Pop, Pop, Pop Culture community. (Note: "Pop, Pop, Pop" is a palindrome of palindromes, and is also a set of three acronyms for the phrase "palindrome of palindromes.") Here are some of the community's guidelines -- If you're interested, drop him a line.

Other members include Hungry Ghost, Perrero, The Shelf, Shouting Into the Wind, and The Ziggurat of Doom. I'll put up permanent links on a special section of the sidebar later this week.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Updates and Other Things



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Byrne on Album Art

Here's an interesting post from David Byrne (yes, that David Byrne) about nostalgia for album art and the manner in which the association of images with popular music has evolved over the decades, and how it might evolve in the present-and-future Age of the Download.

Excerpts: There are those who mourn the vanishing of the nice big cardboard packages that vinyl came in. The format allowed fairly large images, credits, and photos. The usual assumption is that much of this imagery, like music videos, is a reflection of, and extension of, the music creator’s sensibility. As if the packaging and the videos were usually under the direct control of the author. This is absurd. Though pop artists attempted to wrestle control of the way they were presented from the distributors beginning in the 60s, most LPs design, and music videos as well, are directed and designed under the control of the record companies... ...Our sense of the author and the music being represented and embodied graphically is imaginary. We see the music and its package as all of a piece. This of course is what good packaging does. Salty snacks and washing detergents are sold mostly based on their brightly colored packaging. Most people don’t make this assumption about books — we don’t assume that the cover of a book is a visual representation of the writing, as imagined by the author, but with music we sometimes do make this leap. Hence the love of LP sleeves… and even CD booklets.

The images that I associate with Mr. Byrne and his colleagues are sometimes notable for their minimalism, including the cover of Talking Heads: 77 and the assembling of the set on a bare stage after the concert was already in progress in Stop Making Sense. (Talking Heads had no rock-and-roll spaceships that I know of, à la Boston, Journey, ELO, etc.)

On the other hand, I can't exactly say that the Little Creatures cover art was "minimalist" (whatever that means, by the way -- I first heard that adjective used by a friend of mine many years ago when he was introducing me to the films of Jim Jarmusch) because, well, there's a lot of detail packed into it. Rolling Stone named it the album cover of the year in 1985. The art for LC was created by the late folk artist Howard Finster, beloved of hipsters of the 80s to the present. An artsy friend of mine once wrote a 10-page letter to Mr. Finster with a bunch of abstract drawings in the margins, and a couple of months later got a 10-page letter back with Finsteresque art in the margins. Scratch that - since Finster himself sketched the images in the margins of that letter, I'm not sure they qualify as being Finsteresque. If you want to buy some of the late Mr. Finster's work, here is his hompage.

Finster, Heaven Is Worth It All, 1984

Back to the Byrne post on the role of album art in the Digital Era: Music didn’t always come in packages that presumed to represent the contents. Originally what you as a music consumer could buy was sheet music — which sometimes had the picture of the singer on the cover. Later, recordings — cylinders and 78s — usually came in generic sleeves. Only in the 50s with the advent of the Long Player did packaging that included large breasted women* and snazzy typography become commonplace. The era of graphically packaged music may have had about a 50-year run. But the era of music bundled with multimedia may have just begun... ...The role of graphic designers will change. Rather than being called upon to create one or two iconic images that are emblematic of an artist and a new product their job will be to imagine sets of links, connections and relationships…. and to make those visually enticing, fun and rewarding. I can’t imagine what exactly that might be, but it will be whole lot more than LP sleeves.

Sounds a lot like the discussion that stemmed from the recent Kevin Kelly article that I mentioned a few days ago, doesn't it?

* Mr. Byrne needs a hyphen between "large" and "breasted" to convey his meaning properly. Apart from that, I'd love to see what Mr. Alpert's art consultants could have done with the technologies speculated about above. (BTW, here's HA'sTB WC&OD Re-Whipped.)

Friday, May 19, 2006

My First Legitimate Middlefingeration

I mentioned my pro-immigration beliefs a couple of weeks ago. Here's a great Tech Central Station article on the topic by Jon Henke of QandO. He cites (among other things) this blogpost from Thomas Knapp. Read both!

Henke excerpt: While we may not want a family of thirty moving in right next door, or are irritated by bilingual signage, there is very little historical or empirical precedent to recommend the nativist cultural arguments. Other groups have gradually assimilated and contributed to American culture and the evidence is that Latino immigrants are doing so, as well. In fact, it's very likely our restrictionist immigration policies that inhibit assimilation. If our immigration policy makes it clear to potential immigrants that, with a few lucky exceptions, they're only welcome to work, stay out of sight and then go home, why should they assimilate? The barrio-ization of the illegal immigrant community would then be (and could already be) a product of our own policies.

Knapp excerpt: Bottom line: No reasonable amount of money, manpower or concertina wire is going to stop economically motivated mass immigration. Any US immigration policy framed on a position of general exclusion is doomed to fail and to damage national security to boot. And nobody* who continues to advocate such a policy in the face of the facts deserves to be taken seriously on immigration -- or on "homeland security."

*Knapp is here taking a dig at Michelle Malkin. Doing that will get you on my good side any day.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a mini-festival with some rides and stuff for Cinco de Mayo, and a number of my town's residents of Mexican heritage or origin showed up, not causing any trouble or anything. As I was driving by, there were about 25 protesters waving a bunch of American flags and holding up signs about illegal immigrants, "freedom is not free," etc. and I did something I have never before done in my life: I flipped off the protesters! Of course I've flipped off friends of mine in a joking manner, but I had never extended my third finger in a genuinely hostile manner to any rude driver, obnoxious salesperson, or anyone else until then. I was so proud of myself! I wish I had shouted something like "Go back to the trailer park" or something, but I'll save that for next time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Misc. Items

A few things:
  • I finally watched Dark City, which I liked pretty well. I particularly like the Roger Ebert commentary track on this DVD. There's a separate commentary track with the director and others, which I'll probably listen to tomorrow. One of the things I learned is that H.G. Wells hated the film Metropolis (which I love, and from which Dark City drew some elements) and wrote a scathing review of it. I'm going to try to track down the full text of that review, and if I find it, I'll post it.
  • Here are the fundamentals of blogs as presented by Mark Glaser.
  • Black Horror Movies-- From the site's FAQ: is the culmination of my life experiences as a black horror movie fan: seeing hundreds of black people stabbed, chopped up, and eviscerated without so much as a "rest in peace" or even a "sorry, my bad," and finding scant acknowledgment of the role of black people in horror films (Zombies anyone?). While the marginalization of black actors in other genres translates into undeveloped characters and storylines, in horror, it translates into something more concrete: death. Usually the painful kind.
  • Xooglers, the blog for ex-Google employees, has this post today about Sergey's idea to have guest cartoonists play with the company's logo. Excerpt: So we went shopping again for a guest cartoonist. Susan had contacted Scott Adams in 2000 and he had politely referred us to his syndicate’s licensing agent. We tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larson of the Far Side. We deemed Gary Trudeau too political. Bill Amend of Foxtrot declined very apologetically. And we figured fat cats, giant sandwiches and little kids with guardian angels wouldn’t make the edginess cut. I decided to give Scott Adams a try again. It was two years later and Google’s audience and reputation had grown considerably. I had worked with him on a project while I was at the Mercury News (he donated an autographed drawing we deemed “The Mona Lisa of cubicle art” for a trade show event) and I knew he was willing to engage in extra-curricular activities that interested him. This time, he said yes.
  • Please welcome several fellow bloggers to the sidebar: Kevin Kelly (author of the article I from the other day that I liked), Elizabeth Castro (whose book -- Publishing a Blog With Blogger -- I use often), The Radical Academy, Thomas "She Blinded Me With Science" Dolby, Steven Johnson (whose book I just finished and loved), blog historian Rebecca Blood, and literary ecdysiast Diablo Cody. (Sorry if I missed anybody.)

Trutech Sucks

Tonight I bought a Sony DVD/VCR combo player for the living room, a twin of the one in my bedroom which has served me well for some time. This was to replace the piece of shit we got for the living room six months ago that decided to expire on us. That's what I get for trying to be cheap and buying a brand I'd never heard of before (specifically, Trutech) instead of paying an extra twenty bucks for a name brand. The ♥G♥ called to complain, but they (Trutech) wanted fifty bucks just to look at the damn thing. I read an article a while ago that said that companies should have someone whose full-time job it is to do Web searches for the name of their company and/or product paired with the word "sucks." So, for instance, someone working for this Trutech outfit would find the following:

Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. (These people think Trutech sucks, too.) Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks donkey balls. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks. Trutech sucks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mish-Mash of Interesting Stuff

Some things to mention:
  • My friend SSMW has an idea for how the Pentagon can turn lemons into lemonade vis-à-vis the geographically challenged nature of American youth.
  • I heard about this book coming out later this year which sounded clever: If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better And/Or Worse by Ben Yagoda (cool links page, btw). I was trying to remember how I had known of Mr. Yagoda previously, and just a few minutes ago I realized that I had enjoyed his Booknotes interview about his book on Will Rogers.
  • Ann Althouse comments on Condoleezza Rice's top ten favorite songs. I agree that if Condi can cite specific works by Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, and Mussorgsky (remember, the secretary is a concert pianist) that she's cheating by saying "U2 -- Anything".
  • Prof. Althouse and many others are discussing this NYT article by Kevin Kelly about the present and future of Google, book scanning, hyperlinking among books, etc. Here is Mr. Kelly's Wikipedia entry, and here is his blog. Here's my simple take on all that: I know there are details to work out (i.e., some book scanning staff member gets Wells confused with Ellison and a few Googlers end up thinking that the African-American experience of the early 20th Century involved drinking an invisibility potion), but look -- it's gonna be fucking cool. Kelly excerpt: So what happens when all the books in the world become a single liquid fabric of interconnected words and ideas? Four things: First, works on the margins of popularity will find a small audience larger than the near-zero audience they usually have now. Far out in the "long tail" of the distribution curve — that extended place of low-to-no sales where most of the books in the world live — digital interlinking will lift the readership of almost any title, no matter how esoteric. Second, the universal library will deepen our grasp of history, as every original document in the course of civilization is scanned and cross-linked. Third, the universal library of all books will cultivate a new sense of authority. If you can truly incorporate all texts — past and present, multilingual — on a particular subject, then you can have a clearer sense of what we as a civilization, a species, do know and don't know. The white spaces of our collective ignorance are highlighted, while the golden peaks of our knowledge are drawn with completeness. This degree of authority is only rarely achieved in scholarship today, but it will become routine.
  • Here's a neat site, RetroFuture. FAQ excerpt: The Retrofuture is a concept based on a simple question: what happened to all that futuristic stuff which was supposed to change our lives by the year 2000? Stuff like rocket belts, flying cars, food pills and inflatable homes. I think it's interesting that while the concept of the rocket belt was one that the mindset of the 1950s could process, the real miracles of the 21st Century are things like the book scanning and other search-related potential above, which few if any could have mapped out.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Questioning Traditional Ways of Thinking Is Bad. Therefore...

Here's a great post from the newly blogrolled Steven Johnson, whose book (Everything Bad Is Good for You) I have recently finished and have passed on to the ♥G♥. He comments on this op-ed by University of Florida journalism professor William McKeen, in which Prof. McKeen bemoans the loss of serendipity in the age of the Internet. Au Contraire, Pierre...

McKeen excerpt: Think about the library. Do people browse* anymore? We have become such a directed people. We can target what we want, thanks to the Internet. Put a couple of key words into a search engine and you find - with an irritating hit or miss here and there - exactly what you're looking for. It's efficient, but dull. You miss the time-consuming but enriching act of looking through shelves, of pulling down a book because the title interests you, or the binding. Inside, the book might be a loser, a waste of the effort and calories it took to remove it from its place and then return. Or it might be a dark chest of wonders, a life-changing first step into another world, something to lead your life down a path you didn't know was there.

*Hey - What do you call that thing you look at the Internet with again?

Johnson excerpts: I find these arguments completely infuriating. Do these people actually use the web? I find vastly more weird, unplanned stuff online than I ever did browsing the stacks as a grad student. Browsing the stacks is one of the most overrated and abused examples in the canon of things-we-used-to-do-that-were-so-much-better... ...Thanks to the connective nature of hypertext, and the blogosphere's exploratory hunger for finding new stuff, the web is the greatest serendipity engine in the history of culture... ...So the question is: is there anything in the online experience that compares to the random discoveries of alphabetical or Dewey Decimal exploration. I would say -- nuts or not -- definitively yes. I read regularly about 20 different blogs or other filters, and each day through them I'm exposed to literally hundreds of articles and clips and conversations and songs and parodies that I had no idea about when I woke up that morning.

Boo-Yah! To boil it down, I think that the sort of person who wants to get a single piece of information from the library would go straight to that shelf, get only that book, and go straight to the check-out desk (or Xerox machine). That person would do the same sort of thing on the Internet. OTOH, the sort of person who would walk the stacks and get all sorts of eclectic ecstasy from the 000s to the 999s (Note: I used to rotate my audiobook checkouts by Dewey ranges -- i.e., check out one audiobook on journalism from the 000s, then one on philosophy from the 100s, then religion from the 200s, etc., and when I got to the 900s I'd start all over again) would be able to find at least a comprable amount of eclectic ecstasy electronically via the Web.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Those Silly Conservatives

Allow me to point you towards this very interesting article over at Huffington. Excerpts:

The media isn't supposed to be neutral - it is supposed to be objective. There is an enormous difference between the two. And this is a difference that has been lost on the mainstream media for quite awhile now... ...Conservatives often complain that liberals want equality of results rather than equality of opportunity in social programs. They say equality of results is not possible and the best we can do is equality of opportunity for everyone in society. I agree. However, they argue the exact opposite when it comes to the press. They don't want equality of opportunity, they want equality of results. They don't want fair coverage, they want coverage which shows two equal sides no matter what actually happened... ...I love the idea of importing this nonsense idea of media neutrality to sports journalism. Tonight the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-90. If the Lakers were the Republicans and the Suns were the Democrats, conservatives would cry foul when the press reported that they had gotten their ass kicked tonight. Is saying the Lakers lost evidence of a Suns bias? No, it's evidence that you watched the game.

Read the whole thing!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Golden Ratio; Sarah Silverman; Black Cinema; I Only Read It for the Articles; J./Jay; Zombie Archaeology

A few things to mention:

  • I'm gonna check out Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic next month when it comes out on DVD. Another one with a 6-6-6 release date!
  • Here's a site about the negro cinema of the 30s and 40s. Here's another one. As with baseball, early black cinema had all sorts of great stories associated with it and it's a shame to think how many of those films have disintegrated. They used to show some on AMC sometimes, before it went to shit.
  • Rachel Mills comments on her recent subscription to Playboy. Excerpt: Tell me what's healthier? Next time you stand in line in the grocery store, you think about this - the last time you saw a Playboy, what did the cover model look like? Now look at that Cosmo or Vanity Fair, sold outside of plastic wrap in front of your 3 year old. Tell me which model is more likely to be doing lines of coke to look the way she looks? Which one is puking up her sushi in the bathroom? See here for further research material. (Via Akkam)
  • Somehow I had totally missed the fact that J. Geils is now Jay Geils, and is now a jazz guitarist! Sweet!
  • Zombie expert Max Brooks, author of the forthcoming World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, explains aspects of Zombie archaeology. Excerpt: The greatest lesson our ancestors have to teach us is to remain both vigilant and unafraid. We must endeavor to emulate the ancient Romans; calm, efficient, treating zombies as just one more item on a rather mundane checklist. Panic is the undead's greatest ally, doing far more damage, in, some cases, than the creatures themselves. The goal is to be prepared, not scared, to use our heads, and cut off theirs.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Weekend Round-Up

It's been a nice weekend, one of several recently. The ♥G♥ and I did a bunch of errands and jobs around the house, including (but not limited to):
  • I pulled up some crappy carpeting the previous owner had put on the basement stairs.
  • She pulled up some dandelions and mowed the lawn.
  • My friend the former tenant helped me move a spare mattress and box spring into the basement, and he took most of the rest of his stuff out of the garage.
  • We cleaned out some basement closets and stacked them full of seasonal boxes.
  • I cleaned out the fridge real good and fixed the shelving so that it's tall enough to hold a wine bottle with the cork sticking out of it without having to tip it over. (Note: I hate having the fridge disorganized. Also, a couple of times per month I like to go through the cupboards, fridge, and freezer and finish up whatever oddball leftovers there are. Today I had a handful of garlic chips and two bananas for breakfast.)
  • We cleaned out some of the garage. There's this game I like to play when I want to do some organizing where I pick a number (usually 5, for some reason) and get rid of that many items from the area to be cleaned. We both picked five things, and then started over and picked five more.
  • Plus regular stuff like laundry, dishes, watermelon shopping, etc.

And other stuff like that... Thus, minimal blogging. However, a few things:

  • There's a big shake-up in the TTLB ecosystem. (Yes, I'm aware of the meaning of the first "T" -- you've never heard of RAS Syndrome before?) Excerpt: The blog details page has been expanded with completely new functionality, including a Metrics tab showing how a blog is doing in terms of traffic and links compared to its historical average (is this a "hot" day or a "cold" day?) and new spiral graphs which show which blogs are linking to the tracked blog --- and which ones it is linking to.
  • Speaking of getting organized, I've been checking out the 43 Folders blog a little bit lately for discussions on organization of stuff, recommended (along with GTD) by bloggers left and right. (That means "lots of bloggers," not "liberal and conservative bloggers.)
  • If you are at all interested in the race to the moon, and you have nine hours to spare, get hold of the Rocket Science DVD set. I'm almost done with it, and it is fantastic! They have all sorts of footage and talking heads to help the intelligent layman fill in the gaps in his knowledge of the space race. Includes interviews with Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Walter Cronkite, the late Scott Crossfield, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, Gene Kranz, and many many others.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nall, Y'all

Here's the blog of a candidate for governor of Alabama on the Libertarian ticket, Loretta Nall. Ms. Nall has an interesting fundraising idea, based some comments one of the local columnists made about her chests. Excerpt:
Well, I don't approve of political reporters who are titillated by my breasts while ignoring the serious issues which affect a whole lot of poor and disenfranchised Alabamians. I responded to Ingram with, "I'd like to extend the following invitation to both of you. Now that you and the rest of Alabama have been introduced to 'the twins' perhaps you'd like to meet the rest of me. I'll don my [burqa] so y'all won't be distracted and perhaps we can discuss the other planks in my platform, since Mr. Ingram saw fit to only discuss one." In addition to my boobies , everyone knows about my underwear habits, but the media won't cover important issues like the thousands and thousands of people in state prisons serving time for victimless crimes.

Heh. Titillated.

Update, 5/5/06, 7:45 AM -- I finally watched P!nk's Stupid Girls video in its entirety; until now I had only seen snippets... I hope P! asks Nall to be in the sequel.

Coming Soon to a Home Theater Near You

Here are a few DVDs coming out soon that I am looking forward to checking out:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Primero de Mayo (Posted Tercero de Mayo)

Immigration and immigrants in the news this week... I was telling someone at work today that A Day Without a Mexican was a better concept than it was a movie, and that Monday's events did the movie better than the movie did.

A few years ago I got thinking and I realized that with the possible exception of about six months right after college, I have always had immigrants for neighbors. When I was a little kid in Detroit, we had a family from China right next door (and I think a lady from Italy on the opposite side?). When we moved to the burbs, we had great neighbors from Greece, Vietnam, Great Britain, and Egypt. Lots of the kids I went to high school were first-generation Americans, with parents from Iraq (before it was fashionable to be an Iraqi ex-pat), Lebanon, Albania, Jordan, and other majority-Muslim countries. On a side note, most were not Muslims themselves, but were Chaldeans or Copts (i.e. Christians) who fled those countries due to persecution, and/or for the greater opportunities in the United States. (There was a significantly lower Hispanic population in the Detroit area than in many other urban areas around the U.S., but Dearborn was/is home to the largest number of persons of Middle Eastern descent outside of the Middle East. Or something like that.)

In Illinois, most of my immigrant neighbors have been from Mexico (and I think there was one guy from Colombia). The guy that lives next door to me right now is a landscaper, and he always works so hard and takes such good care of his house, which, prior to his arrival, had been a run-down shitty dump (thanks to the U.S.-born "Absolutely" guy who bought it as an "investment property" and never lifted a finger to take care of it - four-foot-tall weeds were growing out of the gutters at one point, I kid you not). Like I've said before, I want guys like him around to make my neighborhood and my country better.

Now I'm not saying that immigrants are some sort of exclusively wonderful human manna falling on America who never commit crimes or create social tensions. However, I firmly believe that the overall benefits far outweigh the overall detriments. And, though it may be an oversimplified argument, I think the best way to retard illegal immigration is to make legal immigration easier.

P.S.: Tom Tancredo is still a fucking asshole. Know what I'm waiting for? For Luis Gutierrez or Loretta Sanchez to introduce a bill in the House that would rename Tancredo's home state of Colorado with the more AMERICAN name, "Reddish-Colored." (i.e., The Air Force Academy would be located in Reddish-Colored Springs, Reddish-Colored.)