Thursday, May 31, 2007

...And It Won't Be the Last

So the entry I wrote on The Real Ambassadors the other day ended up on the front page of the English-language Wikipedia. Sweet!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Things from around the Web:
  • A very good article by Andrew Ferguson on the passing of amateur Lincoln researcher James O. Hall. Excerpt: Uncorrupted by graduate degrees, with no thought of professional advancement, Mr. Hall exemplified a tradition in the study of American history, particularly in the Lincoln field, where the most interesting writing and research is often done by hobbyists. It's been this way from the beginning. Until the middle of the last century, all the great Lincoln biographers made their livings outside the university--journalists like Ida Tarbell and free-lance enthusiasts like Benjamin Thomas produced biographies that were beautifully written and filled with news. Even now, dozens of Lincoln or Civil War roundtables flourish, and many of them publish quirky newsletters in which members let drop bits of recondite research or boldly advance new theories. While other areas of academic research have shriveled into hyperspecialization, the amateur tradition has kept the Lincoln field blessedly free of the guild mentality that can make academic history seem the dreary province of pedants and bullies.
  • I've been pimpin' out my Wikipedia User page. More to follow.
  • Mashuptown: KISS + Tone-Loc + 20 Fingers.
  • Via The Website at the End of the Universe, an insanely intricate map of the Star Trek Universe.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

NOTM: Year Three

Hey! I just realized that today was my second blogiversary!


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jim Henson Pimping for Wilson's Meats

Ever wonder how Jim Henson made his living pre-Sesame Street? Wonder no more:

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

What I've Been Watching Lately

Several movies in the last couple weeks:

  • McCabe and Mrs. Miller -- I saw this first about 12-13 years ago, and I was prompted to watch it again as part of my campaign to watch or re-watch all of Robert Altman's films -- a campaign upon which I embarked after his death. It's kind of like an anti-Western -- the hero spends a bunch of time avoiding the showdown and sneaking around in the snow. I watched Altman's Popeye a little while ago, and they both had elaborate, quirky sets that almost acted as characters themselves. On McC&MM, Altman points out in the commentary that the because the story was about people building a town in the old West, that he got the carpenters who were building the actual set to dress in period clothing and do their work, and just incorporated that work into the background of the film itself.
  • Boxcar Bertha -- This was an early Martin Scorcese film. Now I am a huge Scorcese fan, and I certainly will not say that I am dissatisfied with having viewed this film -- It was pretty good. I just don't think it was all that great. Like McC&MM, the railroad was the bad guy.
  • Smokin' Aces -- Kicked fuckin' ass! Kind of Pulp-Fictionish, but not exactly, and this movie just gets started and does not stop! Here are some samples of the Smokin' Aces comic books. Here's the director's blog, and he says there might be some prequels in the works. Can't wait!
  • Superman Returns -- I loved the overall feel of this movie; It was very loyal to the first two films in the Superman franchise of the late 70s and early 80s. I didn't see it until just now, and I kind of wish I had caught it on the big screen. I loved the way they incorporated the original John Williams score so thoroughly, and how they did the retro-futuristic effects on the opening credits. The plot... well, you know -- the villainous Lex Luthor is out to rule the world, kill Superman, etc. But that's what the plot is supposed to be. This is definitely a situation where the form of the film is at least as important as the plot, if not more so, and I think SR realizes that.
  • LBNL, (I haven't watched them all yet) -- We went to Wal-Mart yesterday for kitty litter, and I saw that they were selling all four of the first Star Trek movies for $7.50 each! And I don't mean some bare bones garbage, I mean double-disc, director's version, collectors' editons of each! Boo-yah! I watched ST:TMP late last night (for the first time in many years) and I was struck by how 70s it was. I saw it in the theater when I was about 11, and I remember being like "Huh? When are they going to do something?" Much more abstract than the following installments. (Update, 11:07 PM, Monday 5/28/07 -- I have now watched them all, and over the next couple weeks will go back and catch the extras and commentaries. Keep an eye out for ex-Go-Go Jane Wiedlin in IV!)

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    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Reading Great Jazz Book

    So I've been reading this excellent book I got the other day, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. It discusses at length one of my favorite (if not my overall favorite) jazz albums, The Real Ambassadors by Dave and Iola Brubeck. Here's an interview with author Penny Von Eschen.

    I was surprised at how little I found on the Internet about this album, given how creative it was. It was a jazz musical, performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962, about all sorts of things -- race, diplomacy, communism, American popular culture, the music business, the nature of God, a whole bunch of stuff. The Brubecks wrote it for Louis Armstrong, who performed it with Lambert, Hendricks, and Bavan (Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross on the soundtrack), and Carmen McRae. Here's an excerpt from the Von Eschen interview: I love the fact that it was written and rewritten over a period of five years, during the early dynamic years of the tours. It very powerfully captured both the foreign policy and domestic civil rights contradictions. For example, it opened with somebody saying something about going to Moscow, and Armstrong then calls out, "Forget Moscow, when do we play in New Orleans?" -- which is reminiscent of his standing up to Eisenhower, saying that he wouldn't play in the Soviet Union. While it very directly recalls his defiance of Eisenhower, it also very directly speaks to the idea of the Brubeck's wanting to honor Armstrong's role in civil rights. This was important because by this time, both among musicians and young fans of jazz, Armstrong was seen as an artist from an earlier generation -- an "Uncle Tom" who accommodated demeaning roles and strategies. The Brubeck's wanted to bring out his defiance, and did so in another part of the play when the narrator says that the "hero" is known for keeping his opinions to himself, after which Armstrong calls out, "Lady, if you could read my mind, your head would bust wide open."

    But, there are efforts at foot by a woman named Dianne Mower to bring about a revival of the TRA musical. Here's her website, and in order to help get the word out, I am planning on creating TRA's very own Wikipedia entry. UPDATE: Wikipedia entry here.

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    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Eminem + Black Sabbath; Eminem + Eurythmics

    Sometimes we call him "Emma Emma." Just do.

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    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    Batgirl Becomes a Feminist

    For a while in 1967, they were thinking about giving Batgirl her own program. Narrator: "Gotham City, like any other large metropolis, abounds in girls of all shapes and sizes -- debutantes, nurses, stenogaphers, and librarians."

    Now check her out just a few years later in this Department of Labor PSA! (Same narrator, btw.)

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    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Just Because We Gggget Around...

    If you haven't already, you have to check out this video by The Zimmers. (Make sure to watch the very end!)

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    No Longer Qualifies for the Wikipedia Category of Living People (NLQWCLP)

    Above is the parody (click to enlarge) that caused all the trouble between Rev. Falwell and Mr. Flynt a few years ago.

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    Commitment to Apostrophe Responsibility. (Apostrobility?)

    This is a brochure that Starbucks leaves out when you go to add the cream and stuff to your coffee. Notice anything? It seems like there are several fixes that could make at least some sense... "The Starbucks Commitment to..." "Starbucks: Commitment to..." or "Starbucks' Commitment to..." or "Starbucks's Commitment to..." or something like that. I asked around at work and nobody could come up with any scenario in which the lack of an apostophe made sense. Try it out on other businesses -- "True Value Hardware Commitment to Social Responsibility," "Burger King Commitment to Social Responsibility," "Best Buy Commitment to Social Responsibility," etc. None of those look right either. (Maybe this is explained in Starbucking? Winter, any comments?)

    Of course the main responsibility of a corporation, according to the late great Milton Friedman, is to increase its profits. I'm sure that's what the inside of the brochure says; I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

    Props to Angry Flower.

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    Good Research Sites; Web redesign; NYT on Cannes; NYT on Coulton et al.; Slave Leia

    • Via Rebecca Blood, here's a whole bunch (119) of links to non-Google research resources on the Web.
    • Help Me Redesign the Web -- Article from Technology Review. Excerpt: Like singing a song or writing a story, designing a printed page is a craft that is fundamentally uni­directional, or one-to-many. The flexibility of Web structures confounded and then humbled many traditional designers as they started trying to make Web pages. The whole thing had been developed to let the readers--the users, software developers confusingly called them, as if they were addicts--have control. How could that be good? For these reasons, and others, most magazines' websites until very recently were dull, repurposed versions of their print editions. Thus, a new crowd took on the design of websites. These enthusiasts assumed that the print crowd didn't get it, that what they saw as the "new paradigm" would last forever. The two-way flow of information, the Web's flexibility, immediacy, and cheapness, deeply appealed to them.
    • Good NYT article on the Cannes Film Festival. Excerpt: Its international scope is part of what makes Cannes so unmistakably French. No matter how wide-ranging their selections, American festivals — New York, Chicago, San Francisco, even Sundance — remain parochial events, but Cannes is bigger than the city that bears its name. It is a French affair, a source of national pride and a reminder of this country’s cherished, and perhaps vestigial, status as a capital of world culture. The covers of the glossy magazines cluttering newsstands are divided between Nicolas Sarkozy, the newly elected president, and Cannes, and it is not always clear which — affairs of state or affairs of cinema — are more important.
    • Another good NYT article, this one on the web-based efforts of musician Jonathan Coulton (Wiki, 43 Folders Pt. 1, 43 Folders Pt. 2, NPR) and others (OK Go, Jane Siberry Issa, The Hold Steady). Excerpts: The universe of musicians making their way online includes many bands that function in a traditional way — signing up with a label — while using the Internet primarily as a means of promotion, the way OK Go has done. Two-thirds of OK Go’s album sales are still in the physical world: actual CDs sold through traditional CD stores. But the B-list increasingly includes a newer and more curious life-form: performers like Coulton, who construct their entire business model online. Without the Internet, their musical careers might not exist at all. Coulton has forgone a record-label contract; instead, he uses a growing array of online tools to sell music directly to fans. He contracts with a virtual fulfillment house called CD Baby, which warehouses his CDs, processes the credit-card payment for each sale and ships it out, while pocketing only $4 of the album’s price, a much smaller cut than a traditional label would take. CD Baby also places his music on the major digital-music stores like iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster. Most lucratively, Coulton sells MP3s from his own personal Web sites, where there’s no middleman at all... ...Will the Internet change the type of person who becomes a musician or writer? It’s possible to see these online trends as Darwinian pressures that will inevitably produce a new breed — call it an Artist 2.0 — and mark the end of the artist as a sensitive, bohemian soul who shuns the spotlight. In “The Catcher in the Rye,” J. D. Salinger wrote about how reading a good book makes you want to call up the author and chat with him, which neatly predicted the modern online urge; but Salinger, a committed recluse, wouldn’t last a minute in this confessional new world. Neither would, say, Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies, a singer who was initially so intimidated by a crowd that she would sit facing the back of the stage. What happens to art when people like that are chased away?
    • LBNL, here is a site of fangirls who like to dress up like the Jabba-enslaved Princess Leia.

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    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Survivor: Fiji -- Liveblogging -- Epilogue

    Caution! Do not buy a used car from this man. And don't give him a new truck, either.

    Also: Lisi and Janice Soprano -- Separated at birth:

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    Survivor: Fiji -- Liveblogging -- Earl!

    Earl wins with 9 of 9 votes!

    Additionally, here's something from the Wikipedia history page for Survivor: Fiji.

    01:24, 14 May 2007 (Talk) (37 bytes) (Replaced page with 'DREAMS IS A LITTLE BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!')

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    Survivor: Fiji -- Liveblogging -- Yau-Man Got Screwed!

    Well, looks like the predictions below are shot to hell. We think that Yau should have released Dreamz from his promise and just told him to keep the immunity necklace, on the condition that he vote for Cassandra. But, I was right that Earl would betray Yau in the final four.

    I bet Dreamz comes up with all these rationales for why he welched on his end of the deal during the balance of the show and on the live aftershow -- He's one of these ones that makes a BFD out of honor, his word, etc. I'd rather see guys like Boston Rob do stuff like that, because he comes right out and says that he takes strategies straight from The Godfather.

    Predictions for ultimate winner:

    The ♥G♥: Dreamz.

    Me: Earl.

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    Survivor: Fiji -- Liveblogging

    Our predictions as the show starts.

    The ♥G♥: Yau-Man 1st place; Boo 2nd place.

    Me: Yau-Man 1st place; Cassandra 2nd place; If Earl is still there, he will try to betray Yau at the final four.

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    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Danny Peary's Guide for the Film Fanatic; BttF Timelines; Bill O'Reilly Is a Ka-Ka Head; King of Thailand Is Also a Ka-Ka Head

    • Over a year ago I commented on my affinity for the film writings of Danny Peary. Here is a very thorough website devoted to Mr. Peary. Excerpt: What’s this site all about? Sixteen years ago I bought a copy of Danny Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic (1986), and since then, I’ve steadily been trying to see each of the titles listed. I recently decided there was a need for a website where devotees of this book—and other hardcore film fanatics—could chat with each other, debate Peary’s selections, discuss how to locate the more hard-to-find films in the book, suggest “must see” movies released since the book’s publication, and more. I also wanted a forum for posting my own reviews for each of Peary’s listed titles, and I’m adding new ones every day. I started this site for me, but I hope you will enjoy it as well! Note: If you are at all interested in cinema, you need to check out Danny Peary.
    • Speaking of film fanaticism, here's a chart that shows the timelines of the Back to the Future films.
    • Here's a chart of how often Bill O'Reilly uses name-calling techniques, and comments from the WSJ. Mr. O'Reilly is compared with Father Charles Coughlin.
    • Speaking of name-calling, NYT article: Google blocking videos that insult the King of Thailand. Excerpt: Google has agreed to block four video clips on its YouTube Web site that the government of Thailand said insulted its king. But in a letter to the minister of communications, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom, Google said two other videos that had angered Thailand’s military government would stay on the site, because they did not break laws against offending the monarchy. “They appear to be political comments that are critical of both the government and the conduct of foreigners,” said the letter, signed by Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel. “Because they are political in nature, and not intended insults of His Majesty, we do not see a basis for blocking these videos.” The government, which blocked access to YouTube last month when clips mocking King Bhumibol Adulyadej first appeared, gave copies of the letter to reporters on Friday. The company could not immediately be reached for comment. You know what I have to say about that? Fuck the King of Thailand! The King of Thailand picks his earwax and eats it! Now that's not political at all -- it's just an insult. I don't even know anything about the poo-poo head King of Thailand; I just hate the fact that Google un-YouTubed those videos! What happened to "Don't Be Evil" --? Bangkoksuckers.

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    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Welcome, House Surfer

    Welcome to NOTM, anonymous House of Representatives surfer. My hope is that you were visiting so that you can better relay my thoughts on civil liberties, free trade, open immigration, decriminalization of pot and prostitution, etc. to your colleagues and/or bosses.

    What's interesting is that this person clicked onto the blog from my Wikipedia page. Their I.P. address (shared by many many users) ( is well known to Wikipedians because it almost assuredly means "beware of edits to politicians' pages." Specifically, scandals associated with their opponents magically appear. Scandals associated with their bosses and allies disappear.

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    Sunday, May 06, 2007

    Finally Finished Hirohito Book

    I finally finished a book I started last fall, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, by Herbert Bix. Here's the Booknotes interview and transcript for that book. Lengthy (as it had to be) but very well-researched and thorough. I wanted to read this after I saw the film Japan's Longest Day, about the intrigues amongst members of the Japanese military and cabinet in the final days of WWII. Prof. Bix takes the Emperor to task for his leadership in military aggression towards China, Korea, Southeast Asia, The United States, Britain, and The Netherlands, and documents how it was in both Japan's and America's best interests after the war to portray him as a peace-loving figurehead so as to keep Japan as a buffer against Soviet and Chinese communism during the Cold War. Well worth reading, but make sure you either set aside a good chunk of time, or else be prepared to pick it up and put it down quite a bit before finishing.

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    Safeguard Liberty; Bloggy Neighborhoods; Geometry; Writing


    • I've been watching V: The Original Miniseries lately, and the other night we watched Children of Men. I know that V had some sappy early-80s haircuts and the special effects are primitive by today's standards, but I just get choked up over the old guy who survived the Nazi Holocaust showing the kids with the spray paint how to deface the Visitors' propaganda posters... "If you're going to do it, do it right. I'll show you." (Spray paints a "V" over one of the posters.) "You understand? For Victory! Go tell your friends." As for CoM, I really liked the look and feel of it, but IMHO the anti-globalization philosophy elucidated upon in the extras was contradictory to the anti-anti-immigration scenes depicted in the film. Both good reminders to be vigilant in our efforts to demand our civil liberties from the state. Speaking of which, check out this Agitator post. Excerpts: The Ocala, Florida Sheriff's Department shows off its new toy. You know, in case North Korea ever decides to invade Central Florida... ...I can't really think of any reason for a paramilitary police team to wear camouflage other than to mimic the military. Which, for the umpteenth time, isn't a healthy aspiration for the domestic peace officers charged with protecting our rights to have. All goes back to that "mindset" problem.
    • America's Top 10 Bloggiest Neighborhoods, via S.B. Johnson.
    • Here's a fun way to learn about geometry.
    • Via Bookworm, Writers and writing:

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    If You Haven't Figured It Out Yet...

    Somebody (a Verizon user in the U.S.) did a Yahoo search yesterday for the following phrase, and my blog came up as the #1 hit:

    answer to this riddle what is an eleven lettered word that is spelled incorrectly?

    Hint: i-n-c-o-r-r-e-c-t-l-y

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    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Blade Runner Documentary

    Long before I wondered if I was actually a Cylon programmed to think I was a human, I wondered if I was a replicant programmed to think I was a human. Here's a real good British documentary on Blade Runner.

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