Saturday, January 08, 2005


Just before his helicopter lifted off, [Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris. "Get some devastation in the back," Frist told a photographer.

From CBS News. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link.

Pain in the Neck

I woke up this morning with a dull ache in my neck, and the inability to turn my head terribly far to the left. This happens to me, without apparent cause or warning, about twice a year, I'd say. There are no other all other times, my neck feels totally fine.

I guess it could just be a matter of sleeping wrong, but then why doesn't it happen more often? And why does it persist even after I reposition my neck? (I learned how to crack it years ago in response to this very problem). And why does it only happen when I sleep in my bed, and not somewhere else less comfortable (like a friend's couch or the floor of a Tijuana crackhouse)?

I don't know. I find that, as I get older (I'm 26 now), more and more of my health and medical-type problems and those of my friends are these sorts of unexplainable aches, pains and conditions. Last year, I had a bizarre stomach bug that seemed to come and go at will. My friends have had persistent colds that last for 6 months to a year, odd bacterial infections in their sides and sexually transmitted diseases. Well, that last one isn't really strange, but I could only think of two other examples.

What gives? Is this just the aging process happening a little faster to my social circle because of the horrible abuse subjected upon our bodies by poor eating habits, heavy drinking and the like? Or is this normal for a person my age?

Anyway, it makes me cock my head at a funny right angle all day, because it's painful to hold it straight up. So, I have to walk around all day explaining to everyone why my head is slumped over to the side, which is almost as bad as the discomfort, to be honest. I'm thinking about just pretending not to notice that my head is lopsided when people remark on it...maybe they'll think I've gone mental. Or I'll tell them I'm a reverse parapalegic, and I've lost all sensation from my neck up.

Hopefully, it will be gone tomorrow, because I have to work at the video store, and greeting customers all day like this would be awful. "Hi, and yes, I know my neck is crooked, but it hurts to move it around, okay? Now, will that be all for you, sir?"

Before You Die, You See The Ring 2 Trailer

Yes, that's right, kids. The trailer for Ring 2: Electric Boogaloo has gone online. See it here.

This trailer looks pretty kickass. I was a big fan of the first Ring, far preferring the American remake to the original Japanese film Ringu. And no, not just because my dream woman Naomi Watts starred in it, although that didn't hurt. Because I thought director Gore Verbinski really nailed the look, particularly the use of color, in the film, because I thought the kid actor was incredibly creepy, because I really liked the subtlety of the special effects, and because that last scene where the girl comes through the TV and kills future Torque star Martin Henderson is creepy as hell. Oh, and the scene with the horse on the ferry boat. And, yes, because Naomi Watts is smoking hot.

So, anyway, I was already looking forward to the sequel, also directed by Verbinski and starring Watts, this Spring. And this trailer really hits it out of the park, as far as I'm concerned. It looks like they're expanding the mythology of the tape in the sequel, rather than just rehashing the plot of the first film, which is always a good move for a second movie (unless you are the Wachowski Brothers, in which case, you should never make sequels again). So, this is definitely among my most anticipated mainstream films of 2005.

There are a whole bunch, though. Sin City, The Fountain, Corpse Bride, Batman Begins, Oliver Twist (directed by Roman Polanski!)...Actually, I'm going to save the rest...this is a whole article unto itself...

The Los Angeles Fallen Angels of Anaheim

So, I've been picking up some movies since I've been working at Laser Blazer. Last night, I watched Fallen Angels, a very strange Wong Kar-Wai film from the mid-90's. It was his follow-up to the justifiably well-received Chungking Express, which really made him an international name in cinema the year before.

Angels was a lot like Chungking, but even more haunting and stylish. I'm not sure it was as involving as that other film, and he really overuses this distorted, fish-eye lens that makes everything in the foreground appear disproportionately large. But other than these quibbles, it's an almost hypnotically good movie. You find yourself being sucked into its odd underworld of tormented lovers and killers.

The plot concerns a hitman who works with a female partner he's never seen. She deals with all the logistical work, while he takes care of the actual killing. Also, there's a mute who invades storefronts at night, opening them for business while the owners are away. And a girl in a blonde wig. That's about it. The movie's not about plot at all, but about creating a sort of hyperkinetic live-action comic book bursting with energy and visual ingenuity.

In Ebert's old review, he basically agrees with my take, adding in that he doesn't feel "regular" moviegoers would enjoy this movie. I suppose that I agree, although every once in a while, a truly weird, visionary filmmaker manages to enter the mainstream, even if its only for a film or two. But, yeah, most people would be turned off by Fallen Angels' lack of structure. There is very little narrative momentum. Things happen and then other things happen, and if you're not intrigued by the way the story is unfolding before you, I wager you'd get bored fairly easily.

It's a theme with Asian films I've watched recently. I showed my friend Vineet and roommate Nathan Ichi the Killer, and we had a similar conversation, about how the movie's only a third of a story, really, and watching it is about investing in the world, really "seeing" the universe created by the filmmakers rather than whizzing past it to follow some labrynthine, bogus storyline. And I saw Versus along with my friend Aaron a while back, and had the same conversation with him (although that film is far inferior to Ichi or Fallen Angels). The story in that movie could not be more simplistic if it tried - a bunch of guys walk into a forest and a massive fight breaks out with some zombies.

I wish American filmmakers felt they had some level of freedom to work visually, rather than filling their movies with constant, dull exposition. I mean, I really loved Sky Captain earlier this year, but it would have been even better if there was about half as much storyline and dialogue, and twice as many sweeping shots of animated killer robots.

By the way, I see that Kar-Wai's next film is listed on IMDB as The Lady from Shanghai. Could it be a remake of the Orson Welles classic? He would be kind of the perfect modern director to take a stab at that film, although improving on the finale in the House of Mirrors is pretty much an impossibility.

The Beast With Two Brownbacks

I find that I write about sex and sexuality on this blog a lot more than I thought I would. My original idea was to write a lot about politics and movies, and I have, but the Internet seems to offer a limitless supply of dumb or freaky opinions on sex, and every time I read them, I automatically think "Hey! This should go on my blog!" So, if you're sick of me goofing on freaks with dumb ideas about sex, this ain't the article for you.

You're still here?

Of course you are. Everyone's just as fascinated by this crap as I am. You just don't want to admit it.

According to an article in WIRED, clinicians and "experts" testifying before a Senate subcommittee in November reported that Internet porn is more addictive than crack cocaine. Oh, snap, for real? Dang! I could be making some money off this stuff on the street, and I've just been using it for masturbation! What the hell!

Check this out:

Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Therapy, called porn the "most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today."

The most concerning thing? Doesn't she feel this is a bit overdramatic, or even hysterical? How many hundreds of thousands of people are homeless due to alcoholism, drug addiction, schizophrenia and other mental and social disorders? Isn't that of greater concern to us all than Is anyone on the streets because of porn addiction?

That quote basically let me know not to take these people seriously. But it gets worse.

Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist and advisor to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality echoed Layden's concern about the internet and the somatic effects of pornography.

"Pornography really does, unlike other addictions, biologically cause direct release of the most perfect addictive substance," Satinover said. "That is, it causes masturbation, which causes release of the naturally occurring opioids. It does what heroin can't do, in effect."

Hmmm....did you find the name of that organization linked there a bit fishy? The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality? So, of course, I clicked the link. Here's the mission statement of that organizationwhat I found

Welcome to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) -- a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to affirming a complementary, male-female model of gender and sexuality.

So, yeah, now it makes sense. These are people who dislike pornography for religious or personal reasons, and have taken it upon themselves to tell us all how horrible it is. Perhaps the most amusing part of this entire thing is that the Senate subcommittee is not attached to any pending legislation. They just were curious about this issue and decided to get recommendations from so-called "experts." Really, villainous subcommittee chairman Sam Brownback (R-Kansas-Douchebag) wanted to talk about porno for a few weeks, so he came up with a fun little project.

And, by the way, that quote above there about masturbation and opiods is completely ridiculous. You can tell that's a guy who thinks it's wrong to masturbate...It's unnatural, like taking heroin, causing your brain to have a reaction it will then become addicted to. But sexual gratification is something our bodies are designed to experience, unlike a nice shot of fucking heroin, you idiot. It'd be just like arguing that breathing is addictive, because once you start doing it, it becomes difficult to stop.

Are some people chronic masturbators, doing it more than it healthy? Who told you?! Um, I mean, yeah, I'm sure some people are. But does this have anything to do with the pernicious effects of Internet porn? Of course not. It has to do with the person needing to get out of the house a bit more.

I'll leave you with this hi-larious quote from Sam Brownback...Senator, Guy from Kansas, Christian, and Crushed by Inertia's Asshole of the Week. Here's Topeka Sam talking about pornography "back in my day":

Some guy would sneak a magazine in somewhere and show some of us, but you had to find him at the right time.

Ahhh, memories.

Rangel Disputes Social Security Crisis in Stateme....zzzz.....

Oh, sorry, I fell asleep for a moment.

I've been meaning to talk about this ongoing Social Security debate for a while, but it's a pretty boring subject and I never know how to make it amusing or interesting, so I always wind up writing dirty jokes about Internet perverts instead. Because they're always amusing and interesting!

But today, I feel I can't not link to this Yahoo article, in which Representative Charles Rangel informs the public that there is no upcoming crisis in Social Security. Here's what Rangel had to say, in a nutshell:

Social Security trustees say the program will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2018, and can pay full promised benefits only until 2042.

"The White House wants Americans to believe that Social Security is heading for an iceberg. They think that, by scaring people, they will help increase support for privatization," Rangel said.

The cost of moving to add private accounts has been estimated at more than $1 trillion. Rangel said the figure would be about $2 trillion, weakening Social Security and leaving future retirees hoping for a miracle from the stock market.

But why would the Bush administration lie to everyone?

If you are asking yourself that question, you have not been paying close attention. Be more cynical!

The Republicans have this privitization scheme all laid out, and they'll be damned if they're going to let silly facts get in the way of instituting their bizarre, draconian, selfish policies.

Anyway, this is the next Karl Rove PR blitz, so prepare yourself. In the coming weeks and months, you'll see a lot of people talking about how the Social Security system is "broken" and we need to "fix it" in order to ensure the health and well-being of "future generations." This is crap. Just remember, when you hear someone saying that stuff, they are obviously lying, becuase this news article today said that they can continue to sustain the Social Security system with no changes until 2042.

But what happens in 2042, you may ask? Well, I sure as hell don't know. Obviously, we need to alter the Social Security system somehow by then, so that people who begin to pay into it in the 2030's aren't ripped off after they reach a certain age. But come on, people! We don't need to overhaul the entire system!

Without getting any more technical (numbers make my head hurt), I'll close out this topic by suggesting that obviously, we need to do something to salvage the Social Security system. Clearly, we can't just sit around and wait for it to fail in 40 years. But do we need to force people to invest part of their savings into the stock market? Do we need to effectively dismantle the system as it currently exists? Or do we need to find some way to make it more fiscally solvent, but keep the same principles that have governed Social Security since the 1940's?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Comic Drips

Penny Arcade is a real neat site for gamers which features an extremely clever and often hilarious comic strip. Anyway, today they pointed me to this edition of the truly obnoxious print comic strip Non Sequitur. It seems Wiley Miller, the creator of Non Sequitur, looks down on the Internet as a way for writers to get their work out.

If you don't feel like clicking through to the comic, one little girl tells another that she is a published novelist. When this comment is met with shock, the novelist reveals that her story was published on the Internet. The first little girl says "The stupidity of that rationalization is absolutely astounding!" And now, the punch line: "Absolutely astounding! Now I'm a critically acclaimed novelist."

Basically, the joke is that people who write things on the Internet don't have to go through a publisher, so they're not real writers. This is total bullshit. What makes a person a real writer? Having written something. What makes a piece of writing worthwhile. If other people read it and find value in it.

And that's it. Who gives a shit where people see it, or whether some big company decided it was bland enough to meet their standards for publication? You just know Miller is some old fart who doesn't really get the Internet, who thinks it's just made up of a bunch of punk kids writing dumb notes to each other and thinking that they've published something worthwhile.

But I bet I've written more words on this blog in one week than he'll write for his bullshit comic strip this year. And the guys at Penny Arcade aren't in the LA Times, but their comic is read and enjoyed and remembered by a hell of a lot more people than give a flying fuck about Wiley Miller and his dumb little cartoon about nothing. What the hell is Non Sequitur anyway? Who has ever even heard of it? Are there Non Sequitur fans out there who wait for one little girl to say something really offensive to a group of people they hate, and then cut the strip out and tape it up in their cubicle next to the picture of his/her six cats?

I'll give you an example of the typical type of humor found in this comic strip:

A sign reads "Caution: Drifting Snow" Right next to the sign is a snowman with its thumb out. Get it? He's hitchhiking! He's a drifter! And a snowman! Drifting snow!

Isn't that delightful? No wonder this guy is published! Forget I said anything.

Anyway, it just bothers me when successful "artists" (and I use the term loosely) look down on their less properous counterparts. Wiley Miller should be so busy being thankful that he has a job based solely on his sucky cartooning, there shouldn't be enough time in his busy schedule to resent online publications.

Oh, Lexy Spacey...Oh, What Have You Done

Yahoo! confirms today that negotiations have begun for Kevin Spacey to play Lex Luthor and Kate Bosworth to play Lois Lane in the new Superman movie. It's kind of a weird thing, because they're currently starring together as Bobby Darrin and Sandra Dee in Beyond the Sea. Guess who plays who?

Mercifully, they would not be love interests in Superman, unless Warner Bros. is really changing the mythology on us. It's kind of cool, if only because Spacey will reunite with Bryan Singer, who directed him to fame and fortune in Usual Suspects and who is helming Superman as well.

I hope Warners can turn things around in their superhero division. This new Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins sounds promising (I've been told by more than one person that the script rules), and a Bryan Singer-directed Superman movie with an old-fashioned bad-ass Kevin Spacey performance as the villain sounds like it could work for me. Only time will tell.

Oh, and as for Kate only problem is that she seems a bit young. And why do only blonde actresses get these parts in superhero movies when almost none of their comic book counterparts have blonde hair? I mean, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson is one thing, but Lois Lane = brunette, you know? Even if Bosworth goes's just not the same.

It clearly should be Ashlee Simpson.

Petism 2: The Legend Continues

In case you haven't been following the ongoing argument about bestiality that has been gracing the comments section of this blog, allow me to give you the brief version. I think it's gross and cruel, mynym thinks it's just gross, but not neccessarily cruel, because you never know...cows might like having sex with people...It's an interesting theory. I proposed he put it into practice. I have not heard back.

Anyway, that's one of the reasons (along with my being, in general, amused by perverts) I wanted to link to this story from the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Now, I know what you're thinking..."Stupid perverts making headline news from New Jersey? No way." But, I swear, it's true.

Here's an excerpt:

Jose Rodriguez, 39, who lives on State Street, was caught by Perth Amboy police with his pants down, straddling the dog last month after her owner, Maritza Rosario, called for help.

Rosario had obtained a court order in the city municipal court, barring Rodriguez from her property after she caught him sodomizing the 5-year-old female Rottweiler, named Precious, in her back yard.

On Dec. 19, police caught Rodriguez in Rosario's back yard, allegedly standing behind the dog with his pants down, authorities said. The officers called the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

What a great blog this is. I hope you people appreciate it.

The best part of the article? The part about police catching him having sex with the dog in response to a call from the owner, Maritza Rosario. So, imagine with me the scenario. Ms. Rosario comes home to find the 39 year old man who lives (with his mother!) down the road having sex with her Rottweiler (Precious!) in her backyard. She phones the police. When they get there, Jose is still having sex with the dog. Now, either the Perth Amboy Police are Johnny-On-The-Spot when it comes to dog-sex calls or this guy was really getting into this particular taboo act.

Did she yell at him to stop before the police got there? Or did she just go into the other room and try not to think about it. Or, dare I even pose the question, did she watch?

Anyway, I'd just like to point out to mynym that the man was arrested on charges of "animal cruelty," not "gross, unnatural acts relating to an animal," so at least in this case, the rule of law is on my side. Nyeh nyeh.

You Guys Want To Check Out My Video?

My friend Peter Smith's quite the talented director. He's made a few films that have made it into a few festivals, and even won a few awards. Plus, he got to go to Sundance last year, which is pretty much completely unassailably cool, and also guaranteed to get you laid in Los Angeles if you throw the information out there in suitably suave manner. And to think! He got his start working as a film writer with me down at the good ol' Daily Bruin...Stop me before I get all misty.

Anyway, he's participating in an MTV contest to Make a Music Video for Yellowcard, so I went on over to the site here and checked it out. Why not go and vote for Peter Smith? (He's one of the first names on there). I think, if he can just carry Ohio and Michigan, then...oh, never mind. That joke's going nowhere.

And I know in the title of this item, I refer to the thing as "my video," but it has nothing to do with me. I didn't even know about it until today. I just wanted to quote the line from Napoleon Dynamte as accurately as possible, so people will get it. But now that I look at it, they probably won't get it anyway.

While you're there, be sure to watch a few of the videos. Peter's looks really nice and professional, like an actual music video you might see on MTV if they ever showed music videos. Most of the others are not up to this standard. I watched one where a guy tried to recreate scenes from movies like Silence of the Lambs, except with him and his girlfriend starring in each of the parts. Then, between scenes, he puts in this trippy psychedelic lava lamp type effect. Imagine if Roger Corman directed one of the Naked Gun movies, and then hired on a toddler as assistant editor.

So, Peter probably doesn't need the help of all you Inertia-keteers out there to win, but go give him a vote anyway. Even if he takes the electoral college, he could still lose the popular vote, which would deny him a rhetorical "mandate".

Thursday, January 06, 2005

We Distort, You Resign

I hate Fox News. This is well-established. Though I felt his movie Outfoxed was poorly constructed and unengaging, Robert Greenwald has said it best: Fox News is not a news organization. They spend money on high-priced on-screen "talent" like Sean Hannity, not on reporting and investigating. Have you ever even seen an investigation on Fox News? It's always a brief report on some random issue followed by 20 minutes of the loudmouth host dithering on about why the Republicans are right and liberals are stupid. All editorializing, no actual journalism.

So, it's not surprising that the Fox News coverage of the Asian tsunami disaster sucks. They're not prepared to cover actual stories. They only know how to sit around and praise The Great Leader, and tear down all who oppose his worshipfulness.

But this tidbit, from an article on Fox News in today's Salon, goes so far over the line, I'm at a loss for words. Well, not literally. I'm writing words right now. But you know what I mean. This is an actual quote from Fox News anchor John Gibson:

This is the travel industry, major big hotel companies. How is it that United States taxpayers are going to be convinced you have to build hotels in Phuket? Thailand, Indonesia, India, the countries that got hit [will] say, "We need dough and we need buckets of it to fix all this so Swedes can go on vacation in Phuket again."

I know this isn't physically possible, but I wish the entire nation of Thailand could all get together, come to America, and one-by-one, kick John Gibson's ass. Like, have them elect a Minister of Ass-Kicking to give everybody a number, and then line up in an orderly fashion, and just give him a solid roundhouse to the head. Plus, we can have face painting.

These countries are fucking buried beneath water, entire villages are dead, and we're all driving around in SUVs with 22s on them. I don't think it's going to break the bank to save some lives. Those people you see in the photos coming back from Phuket, John? Does it look like a fabulous resort destination? No, it looks like a war zone. And I know Fox doesn't like using war zone footage, but this stuff doesn't even reflect poorly on The Leader. Powerful and evil though he may be, he does not yet hold sway over continental drift.


Bizarre. An article I found on FARK says that Norway leads the world in per capita pizza consumption.

Can this be possible? Norwegians ate a combined 50 million pizzas in 2004, with only 4.6 million citizens? And that's more than Americans?

See, I believe that Norwegians could eat 50 million pizzas. I guess. I mean, the weather always sucks, so you don't want to go outside all the time. And I know when I'm hungry and the weather's no good, I tend to order pizza. Or Chinese food. And I'm not sure if they have good Chinese food in Norway. They have lots of seafood, and that's a popular ingredient in Chinese food, but I suppose it would all depend on whether or not there's a lot of Chinese people in Norway. Probably. There's just so many Chinese people, they're just about everywhere by now.

But I digress. My point was, the 50 million figure seems reasonable enough, but I'm willing to bet that Americans eat more pizzas than that. Think about it. Everyone knows we're the fattest country, and we've got to be among the world leader's in marijuana consumption (where's Amsterdam on the pizza list?) and Italian immigration. That would seem to equal good pizza and lots of lazy fatasses wanting to eat it, no? Plus, the goddamn thing was invented in New York.

So, I'm a bit skeptical of this tidbit of information. It's from a Norwegian newspaper (thankfully translated into English, although I am fluent in Norwegian, so I could have read it anyway), so maybe it's outright propaganda. Although if Norway's leadership is hoping to impress the world by overtaking the U.S. in pizza consumption, they may want to rethink their long-term diplomatic strategy.

Cause, small-framed Japanese hot-dog champions aside, you don't want to challenge America to an eating contest. You won't like me when I'm hungry.

Screw Godwin's Law!

Okay, who do you think this quote refers to?

Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas.

Sounds a lot like our very own President. And, may I just interject, GO BUSH. But, no, it's Nazism scholar Fritz Stern discussing Hitler's rise to power in today's NY Times.

Yes, I know, I know, comparing anything to Hitler or Nazism is the surest way to end an interesting conversation. On the Internet, this is referred to as Godwin's Law:

As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

So, in essence, this item is over before it even starts. But screw that. This article is really interesting.

Stern, though he never out-and-out refers to the American Christian right as "fascist," comes pretty close to declaring the entire theocratic wing of the Republican Party Nazi-esque. Check out this quote:

The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution, but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome.

A similarly disillusioning outcome? That ain't good.

And this is a guy who knows what he's talking about. His family fled Germany in 1938, when he was 12, for New York City. He lost both an aunt and uncle to the Holocaust.

I think every Jewish person considers how they would react if they were in Germany during the years of persecution leading up to the Final Solution. What we don't consider (or, what I've never really considered) is what we will do if things turn south here in America in our own time.

Now, I'm not saying that the Republicans are going to start exterminating Jews or anyone else any time soon (unless they're retarded and commit a crime in Texas). But with Bush in for a second term, and the armies of theocracy amassing, I'm getting worried about the country I've always called my home.

Alexander the Alright

Oliver Stone's epic Alexander has begun to open around Europe, so he's doing the press rounds over there, trying to explain away the film's disasterous box office take here in America.

I think it's obvious why no one went to go see this movie. It's a 3 hour examination of the life of a well-known historical figure directed by the guy who most recently directed Any Given Sunday and a documentary in praise of Fidel Castro.

Don't get me wrong...I like Stone more than most. I think his Nixon is wildly underrated, JFK is one of my favorite movies of the 90's, and Platoon ranks among my favorite Vietnam films.

But it's not exactly shocking that his latest didn't set the box office aflame. If you're a producer banking over $100 million on an Oliver Stone production, you may want to consider a career in the fast-paced world of renting movies to people at a little store on Pico. You won't be a producer for long. The last time Stone had a hit was, in fact, JFK, which raked in about $70 million and garnered several award nominations.

So how does Stone explain the movie's tepid reaction here in America? He told The Guardian it's the fault of American religious conservatism.

Sexuality is a large issue in America right now, but it isn't so much in other countries. There's a raging fundamentalism in morality in the United States. From day one audiences didn't show up. They didn't even read the reviews in the [American] south because the media was using the words: 'Alex is Gay'.

I mean, Ollie's right. The overlap of sexuality and religion ranks among the most thorny issues in contemporary American society, and his film touches upon that distinction by featuring a bisexual hero and several sequences of sexuality. And I agree with Stone that the media focused a bit too closely on the bisexual themes of the story in the months prior to its release.

But is this really why people didn't go to see his film? I doubt it. As I said before, I think running time and content was the biggest issue here - more people would have gone to see a war film starring Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie if it wasn't 3 hours long and set in a poorly-understood ancient world. Also, you'll recall the atrocious reviews the film received across the board. This kept away people (like myself) who might have otherwise gone to see a new Oliver Stone film.

Some Thoughts on the Tsunamis

I think I should stop reading all this news stuff about the disaster in South Asia. The whole thing is just so unimaginable...I guess I feel on some level that if I can find out everything there is to no about it, it will make more sense. Like there's some piece of statistical or meteorological information that will explain how 60 foot waves can form, how an entire continent can slip underneath another continent, why 150,000 people died in an instant.

But, of course, there isn't. The more you read, the more words you scan about devastation and horror, and you may get a bit more numb to it after a while, but you don't start to feel any better. I also have no money or anything, so there's not really anything proactive I can do.

Anyway, I was reading this story on Yahoo about, you know, misery and horror in the aftermath of an insanely massive natural disaster, and there was this little detail at the end of the article that really drove the whole "immense power of nature" point home for me. Check this out:

In a rare piece of happy news, an Indonesian tsunami survivor rescued after five days at sea had another reason to celebrate. She'll have her first baby in less than six months.

"I am happy and thankful," said 24-year-old Malawati, who is recovering in a northern Malaysian hospital after being plucked from shark-infested waters last week. Her husband was swept out with her, but vanished.

Okay, before I get to the fascinating factoid here, I'd just like to say a word to the author of this otherwise fine article, The Associated Press' Jocelyn Gecker. A pregnant woman rescued from shark-infested waters after watching her husband be swept out to sea during the worst natural disaster in recent world history does not constitute "happy news." It's a rare piece of not entirely tragic news, but only because at least one person survived.

But the thing that's truly amazing about this story is that this woman and her husband were swept out to sea. A big wave came and crashed over them, and the two of them wound up stuck in the ocean for five days. Can you fathom (har!) a wave pulling you that far out into the ocean? Granted, the article doesn't say if the woman and her husband were, in fact, on the beach, or even in the very shallow portion of the ocean, when the storm hit, but this seems unlikely, unless she's one of those rare pregnant women who likes to go tsunami surfing.

So, in addition to the human toll, which I won't even bother to record here because it grows each day, I can't come to grips with the incredible force of this event. I'm not a God kind of guy, but when the ocean just opens up and swallows an entire section of the populated world, it's hard not to fixate on the big-time spiritual questions.

I Am a Massive Goober

A few of my regular readers are my real-world friends, and those people already know that I am a massive goober. But for the rest of you, this may come as a complete shock. I, Lons, the confident and capable blogger before you, am an utterly hopeless, awkward, klutzy goober, there's just no two ways about it.

This occurs to me today because I was related a story of my goober-dom this afternoon. Ivan, the assistant manager at my employer, Laser Blazer, informed me that during my entire job interview a few weeks ago, the fly of my pants was down. According to him, he knew he wanted to work with me right then and there. Anyone with little to know insecurity, or even knowledge, about the location of their own package is apparently Laser Blazer material.

Bear in mind that this was the latest in a string of job interviews I have been going on for a bit over a year now. How often have I been walking into corporate offices, trying to convince people to turn over $30, $40, $50,000 a year to me, along with the future well-being of their companies, with a portion of my underwear peeking out the front of my trousers?

I have a worse anecdote. At my old company, our office moved from one area of Hollywood to another. My boss entrusted me one afternoon with the sole key for the new office, which I would have to bring to the building manager to have copies made. Not one minute, one minute, after leaving my office with the key, I proceed to drop it down the elevator shaft, losing it forever.

Now, I ask you, are these not the acts of a total goober? How can someone live on this planet for 26+ years and still have so little ability to move through it?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Heaven...I'm In Heaven...

Okay, you've been to my blog before. What's the absolute best news I could possibly receive?

No, Zach Braff hasn't developed painful bladder stones. Good guess, though. (The top two links on his blog today? "Please vote for Zach, Natalie, Peter and Garden State at the 10th Annual Moviefone Moviegoer Awards" and "Buy the Garden State Poster at" Way to shill, Zachary!)

Even better than that. Give up?

6 words:

The. Ashlee. Simpson. Show. Season. 2.

Take it away, Yahoo:

The second season of Simpson's unscripted MTV reality show, "The Ashlee Simpson Show," premieres Jan. 26 and will capture the "SNL" appearance and preparation for her first nationwide tour, which begins Feb. 18 at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre.

OMG! Yes! If you missed Season One of Ashlee's show, you are probably thinking to yourself that I am somehow less than a manly man for enjoying it. But it's quite possibly the Greatest Reality Show of All Time. Ashlee and her father, Pastor Joe's, exciting adventures in the Land of Marketing and PR will delight the entire family, ages 4 to, oh, about 32, I'd say.

The article itself is pretty funny. It's not really about the exciting announcement of Ash. Simp. V. 2.0, but about how Ashlee was booed during a performance of her hit single "La La" at the Orange Bowl Halftime Show.

Even though I received my Master's Degree from USC, I am not a football fan, and did not watch the Orange Bowl. If I had only known Ashlee was going to perform, I could give you a personal account of how the booing went down, but I'll just have to rely on Yahoo's explanation:

The 20-year-old singer received a discernible chorus of boos following a performance of her song "La La."

"You make me wanna scream," she sang before the audience jeered.

My roommate Nathan referred to it as the worst live vocal performance he'd heard yet from Simpson, which is saying something after the American Music Awards (or the Radio Music Awards, or the Music Radio International Blockbuster Billboard's Choice Music Awards, or whatever the hell music award show she was on right after the SNL debacle).

Anyway, I can't wait to catch up on Ashlee's incredibly exciting, glamorous and not at all shallow lifestyle starting the end of this month on MTV. It sure beats developing a social life of my own!

I Find My Lack of Faith Disturbing

I know it's awful small, but click on that picture to make it bigger. Pretty cool, huh?

My thanks to Aint It Cool News for sharing this photo from an upcoming Vanity Fair 4-page layout. They reunited Lucas and a whole slew of actors from both the original and prequel Star Wars trilogies. Now, I have been less than a fan of these past two episodes. But it is encouraging to see Lucas anxiously comparing his latest film to the original three movies.

I've felt that one of the biggest problems with the prequels is that, while they frequently reference the original films, they don't really share their tone or style. The original movies are fast-paced adventure films, whereas these new movies are slowly-paced mysteries about politics and intrigue. I'm hoping Episode III veers back to the classic style.

Stomach Contents, and Other Good Band Names

My friends have formed a band. Perhaps you remember me writing about them previously. Check them out here at Mushroom Stamp Productions, if you're interested.

Anyhow, they have formed a band and have been pressing people for good band name ideas. I've been giving the topic a lot of thought this week, far far more than is appropriate. Let me just say, I have devoted more hours of brain power to devising good band names in the past several days than I have devoted to my career plans thus far this century.

My initial suggestions were the same band names I've been suggesting since high school. Emergency Banana and Captain Equinox. No one listens to my great ideas...

See, the reason Emergency Banana is such a perfect name for a band is that it sounds like it's random - just two words smashed together for no reason - but there's a rational explanation for what the phrase means.

My grandmother (you remember her...I just did a post goofing on her e-mails yesterday) always keeps a so-called "emergency banana" in her purse, in case she winds up in some emergency situation without access to food. I know, I know, it's neurotic. But we're Jews...we're a nervous people.

I won't divulge what name the band is probably going with, but they're not taking any of my suggestions (which also included The Nappy Dugouts, The Vernicious Knids and Spacecataz). My roommate Nathan has suggested Fast Food Satan, which is quite a good name for a band, even if it has no secret rational explanation. Also, I think Leet Haxors would be a good name, but it's a computer dork inside joke, which might not work out so well in the long run.

Also, The Overdose.

My friend Brian was thinking that, if only there were saxophones used in the bands music, replacing the word "sex" in common phrases with the word "sax" always results in an amusing band name.


  • Sax on the Beach
  • I Want Your Sax
  • Sax With A Minor
  • Oral Sax
  • Sax-ual Harrassment

The possibilities are literally endless. Literally.

Archbishop of Canterbury Tales

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church, wrote in the Telegraph today that the recent Asian tsunami disaster has made him doubt his faith.

Here's a quote:

Every single random, accidental death is something that should upset a faith bound up in comfort and ready answers. Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel more deeply outraged - and also more deeply helpless.

The question, 'How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?' is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren't - indeed it would be wrong if it weren't.

Strong stuff. This guy represents 70 million Anglicans around the world, yet he seems like a really reasonable guy. We obviously still don't see eye to eye on organized religion, but this passage makes more sense to me than any words an American religious leader has spoken during my lifetime.

Lots of smart American I know dismiss the notion that Europeans are more civlized and intelligent as stereotypical, but it's hard not to feel that way sometimes. They certainly seem to have a more rational approach towards this whole religion thing.

Carjackers of the World Unite

My grandmother discovered the Internet several years ago, and she now uses it on a regular basis. Normally, she just searches for political articles to get angry about, and uses e-mail to communicate with myself, my brother, our uncle, my parents and so on.

These e-mails usually take the form of bizarre forwards that some paranoid cousin I've never met apparently sends off to her. It's always some dire warning about some every day item, the kind you would hear on the 11 o'clock news..."Don't use a cell phone at a gas station or the static electricity will kill you," for example. Or "Always wash the tops of soda cans before you drink them or you'll get botulism." Or "Walk on the other side of the street when you see a group of black kids approaching 'cause they might be strapped." That sort of thing.

But with today's e-mail, Mom Mom has really outdone herself. Check out this frightening report about carjackers:

Imagine: You walk across the Parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. Then you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift into REVERSE, and you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space and you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window.

So, you shift into PARK, unlock your doors and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view...

When you reach the back of your car, that is when the car-jackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off!! Your engine was running, (ladies would have their purse in the car) andthey practically mow you down as they speed off in your car.

I hope you will forward thisto friends and family...especially to women! A purse contains allidentification, and you certainly do NOT want someone getting your home address.

I like how the passage dramatizes the scenario. It doesn't just say "Beware that carjackers might place an object on your car to obstruct your view." It re-enacts the scene cinematically to give you a real sense of what it would be like to fall victim to this clever scheme.

It doesn't sound, however, like a very efficient way of stealing cars. Think about it. You have to stake out a car you want to steal, put a piece of paper on the back (or something), and then wait around for the person to return to their car. Assuming it happens before you get tired and go home, or when you're not away from your post having a cigarette or taking a dump, you have to just hope that your potential victim doesn't notice the piece of paper on his or her car before initially getting in and turning over the engine. If they see the paper before getting in the car (and let's be realistic...most people would, if it was big enough to obstruct their view in the first place), your whole night was wasted.

Why not just get a gun and put it in someone's face when they're getting into their car? Saves you the trouble of obtaining paper and you can pretty much do it whenever you want without preparation.

The e-mail is signed, as all of these scare e-mails are, by an "expert" on criminal justice. In this case, it's M/Sgt Terry A. Granell, Illinois State Police, Zone 2/East Moline. So, I took the liberty of Googling the name. And guess what I found...

It's a hoax. The name linked me to Snopes, an excellent website that dispels urban myths. Here's what they had to say:

Since February 2004 we have been watching the news most carefully for any sign of an actual carjacking — either perpetrated or merely attempted — that followed the script outlined in the widely-spread e-mailed caution. We have yet to see evidence of so much as one. Were this "lure motorists from their vehicles by leaving flyers on their cars' rear windows, then drive off with their buggies" method in play, that surely would not have been the case.

Nothing rules out there having been one car theft carried out in the manner described that we have yet to hear about. But even if that proves to be the case, there is clearly no crime wave, no ever-present danger to motorists everywhere, no flyer-armed menace lurking in the nation's parking lots.

And there really is a Sgt. Terry Granell, but he forwarded this e-mail along from his work e-mail account without the prior knowledge or permission of the Illinois State Police. It was just a mass e-mailing that he'd received and sent along...he didn't write it at all.

So, why bring this up in the first place? Well, there is, sociologically speaking, always some import in looking at urban legends. In this case, this e-mail preys on the fear of carjacking, particularly as it concerns women. I find it interesting that the e-mail goes right from suggesting a new scheme for carjacking to alerting women of the dangers of strangers knowing their home address. Like many urban legends, it seems to hint at some sort of buried sexual paranoia.

But, really, I just wanted to help dispel this particular rumor. If any of you out there got this e-mail, or any others like it really, just ignore them. These things do nothing but strike fear into the hearts of the grandmothers of the world, and who needs that?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Quote of the Day

Nathan Rabin in The Onion:

Finding Neverland is the definition of middlebrow claptrap: This painfully earnest account of J.M. Barrie's experiences around the time he wrote Peter Pan accomplishes the formidable feat of making even the usually magnetic Johnny Depp seem boring, a feat even Secret Window couldn't accomplish.

Well put.

'Sup Ladies

Tee hee. Sometimes I love Wonkette, like when she posts goofy photos of our President.

Like this one.

David Edelstein, Nerd Hero

Just had to give you guys a link to David Edelstein's Top Movies of 2004 list. This guy is King of the Critics for this list, which is closer to my own than any other professional critic's by a good distance.

Here are his 13 picks:

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Sideways
3. Hero and House of Flying Daggers
4. Bad Education
5. The Incredibles
6. Tarnation
7. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
8. Moolaadé
9. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
10. Goodbye, Dragon Inn
11. Spanglish
12. Team America: World Police
13. Collateral (FIRST HALF ONLY)

Okay, so that's pretty good. No love for Napoleon Dynamite, but I like that he has Incredibles on there, he's the only critic I've seen to give props to Team America. I didn't love it myself, but any critic willing to go out on a limb and award Trey Parker and Matt Stone something is alright with me. (Plus, he relates his love for "South Park" in the article).

Even better are his Honorable Mentions:

The Sea Inside, Kinsey, Supersize Me, The Saddest Music in the World, The Mother, Intermission, Bright Young Things, Osama, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Shaun of the Dead, The Hunting of the President, Outfoxed, The Agronomist, The Yes Men, The Aviator, Shrek 2, Maria Full of Grace, Primer, Son Frere, The Bourne Supremacy, Before Sunset, Anchorman, Hellboy, 50 First Dates, A Very Long Engagement, Mr. 3000, Ray, and, for all its misdirection, Fahrenheit 9/11

Some odd choices in there...I thought Outfoxed was a pretty awful documentary, despite agreeing with its basic point. Ditto The Hunting of the President. Kinsey is far too bland and forgettable to belong on the list. And I didn't see 50 First Dates, but it's hard to believe it's worthy of mention in the company of Maria Full of Grace, The Aviator and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But a critic giving honorable mention to Anchorman! What an incredible mack.

Spaceland Invaders

Super cool 8 bit cover band The Mini Bosses will be playing Los Angeles' very own Spaceland on January 22nd. The Bosses take the soundtracks from old Nintendo games and turn them into lengthy guitar-heavy prog-rock masterpieces.

I've heard several tracks, and thus far my favorite is their cover of Legend of Zelda, non-coincidentally also one of my all-time favorite video games. What's so cool about their music is how seriously they obviously take the concept: it's funny, and they have fun with it, but these guys are real musicians and it's not a novelty act. Like Ween, it's great music with real depth, cleverly disguised as a goof.

I would love to attend the show and report back to you, but my finances are still woefully limited. Plus, I'm already seeing Colin Meloy's upcoming acoustic tour and The Arcade Fire later on this month. So don't cry for me, Inertiantina. I'll be a-ight.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Braff or Slash?

I just discovered Zach Braff's blog on the Garden State website. It's a real treat. He's so giving of his time, to update his blog with pithy little 300 word commentaries every 2 weeks, half of which are spent entreating his legions of followers to buy, of all things, Garden State on DVD! Available now! Look for it in Used racks across the country next month!

It's exactly what you'd expect from the Zach Braff blog. More of this guy attempting lamely to be adorable and win acclaim for his witticisms or whatever.

But it did give me an idea.

Since everyone thinks he's such a great writer, I thought, why not compare a typical Braff blog entry with something else, to see if his brilliant essence will find a way to shine through.

But what to compare it to? Of course! Slash fiction!

For those of you not familiar with the term slash fiction, it indicates pornographic stories (frequently but not neccessarily homosexual in nature) based on popular TV show or movie characters. Creative nerds apparently watch shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and then write out their kinky sex fantasies involving the characters in short story form, only to them publish these stories on the Internet for me to goof on, in the most gentle, teasing way imaginable.

And while I'm already looking up slash fiction, why not see if there's any slash fiction specifically about Zach's TV show, "Scrubs." Wow, there's 361 Yahoo results for my search of "scrubs" and "slash fiction." I guess the guy really is adorable.

Okay, so, here's the game. I'm going to type out 6 quotations, and you have to guess whether they're taken from Zach Braff's Garden State blog or Juliatheyounger's short story, "My Scrubs Slash."

I'll post the answers in the comments box below, and possibly tomorrow if I remain interested in this silliness.

1) My dog has developed a strut. He lifts his back leg when he walks in what I can only describe as a "Pimp-walk". The vet told me not to worry, he just has Soul.

2) I learned a great expression today. "Fit." It means hot!

3) Tears. One day you're going to wake up and find out that I'm fallible, just like everyone else, and its going to break your little heart, it will shatter your reality and you'll be all alone to pick up the pieces.

4) I decide to memorise what he says for later when I'm alone by myself, meditating.

5) I'm staying in a very nice hotel. It's so fancy; the bathroom has two toilets right next to each other. Not sure why. Seems awfully decadent to me. Either one is for peeing and one is for pooing, or it's to enable you and your loved one to go two-sies at the same time. I don't know, but I like it.

6) Well, just pretend I'm the naughty nurse in the tight little white number who just wants to bend over and take it in the ass.

Okay, okay, you guessed it. They're all from the Garden State blog. No, no! That's the joke. I kid Zach Braff, but it's only because I hate him.

As I said, check below for the answers, and good luck!

Just Blaze

Started my new job today, at DVD and Laserdisc superstore Laser Blazer, just off of Pico in the heart of West Los Angeles' exclusive Dry Cleaning and Overpriced Deli District.

It's going to be a fun gig, I suspect. Just chatting about films with my fellow employees, mostly, with the occassional break to get some actual work done. I wanted to work the Blazer, as opposed to just some Blockbuster or something, mainly because it's such a cool store.

They stock thousands of titles, and not just the same Spider-Man 2 crap you can find at Tower or Best Buy. Tons of rare, hard-to-find, foreign and cult movies too. And, as an employee, I get overnight rentals for free! Ha ha! Eat that, Netflix!

And everyone who works there seemed pretty cool, at least from what I could tell during my first shift. I met an employee named Ari who agrees with me that Garden State was one of the worst films of 2004. So, hey, I got that going for me.

Also, I had a celebrity sighting on my very first day. That guy from West Wing. No, not that guy, the other guy. The little, weasely one. No, the other one. Yeah, that guy.

About That Drive Home...

As I reported to you yesterday, I rode home from Santa Cruz to Culver City in one of the worst storms I have ever witnessed in California. So, I read this with great interest today on Yahoo:

The latest storm swept through Northern California on Sunday, delaying about half of the flights arriving at San Francisco International Airport and intermittently closing two main routes across the Sierra Nevada. Both were opened Monday morning.

Neato! This is, of course, exactly my style...choosing the worst weather day of the year to drive up the California Coast. A day when the 5 Freeway is shut down north of Los Angeles, a day that breaks records for Southern California precipitation, a day when $2 million worth of sand is eroded off of the beach at Santa Barbara.

Really! This is in that same Yahoo story:

In Goleta, near Santa Barbara, surging high tides washed away tons of sand deposited last year as part of a $2 million beach-preservation project.

Most of the 80,000 cubic yards of sand used to curb erosion has been swept away, leaving a jagged wall of sand and dirt and forcing officials to close part of the coastline as a safety precaution.

A $2 million beach preservation project? There are so many beaches already in Southern California, that don't require state funding to remain beaches...why are we spending $2 million to build a new beach! In Santa Barbara, of all places. You can't get doped up and drive into a crowded bar in Santa Barbara without hitting a beach.

Babbling Brooks

I leave for one little vacation, and the NY Times gives David Brooks free reign to blather on about religious crap! Oh, they do that every week? What's with that? Didn't they used to be the paper of record or something?

Anyway, David Brooks is a noted moron, for those of you not in the loop. He became well known a few years ago for the book "Bobos in Paradise," which I have not read, because it sounds dumb. He's basically an evil corporate/Republican apologist, railing on in the NY Times about how greed is still good, even though it's not the 1980's any more and Gordon Gecko was just a character in an Oliver Stone movie.

He's also one of the main guys behind this constant "you blue state people don't understand the red staters" yammering, as if (1) no one had ever made this idiot accusation before and (2) there was such a thing as a clueless blue stater who doesn't understand that people in America are sometimes religious.

This particular article, which I found courtesy of Brad DeLong's perfectly delightful weblog, finds Brooks trying to make, I mean sense...of this unbearably horrible tsunami tragedy that has traumatized several Asian nations.

Things get unpleasant almost immediately, with Brooks attempting to use tragic circumstances currently affecting the lives of literally billions of people to make a point about religion in America:

Most cultures have deep at their core a flood myth in which the great bulk of humanity is destroyed and a few are left to repopulate and repurify the human race. In most of these stories, God is meting out retribution, punishing those who have strayed from his path. The flood starts a new history, which will be on a higher plane than the old.

Okay, so far all we have is a dumb columnist stretching an important international news item into his typical kind of column topic. Fair enough, I guess, although debating the significance of flood myths at a time when so many people are dead, dispossessed, starving or displaced feels a bit crude to me.

But it gets worse.

Stories of a wrathful God implied that at least there was an active God, who had some plan for the human race. At the end of the tribulations there would be salvation.

If you listen to the discussion of the tsunami this past week, you receive the clear impression that the meaning of this event is that there is no meaning. Humans are not the universe's main concern. We're just gnats on the crust of the earth. The earth shrugs and 140,000 gnats die, victims of forces far larger and more permanent than themselves.

Meh? The media are reporting that these tsunamis happened because there isn't a God, or at least because there isn't a vengeful God? That's odd, because most of what I've been seeing on the news is images of people being killed or injured by flood waters. There were fucking 80 foot waves bearing down on Indonesia, and Brooks wants MSNBC to take time out to acknowledge that God's anger has been what killed these people?

Of course, this notion is overflowing with implied racism. Point it out for me, you say? Well, if you insist...

Brooks is accusing the news media of overlooking the possible religious interpretation of these events, I guess, although his meaning gets a bit muddled other than "conservatism GOOD" once you start reading his columns closely. It's a dumb argument, but let's entertain it for a moment.

What would be the religious interpretation of a massive flood in Asia? Depends on what religion. Since we're discussing David Brooks here, that would be Your Favorite, America's #1 Religion, Meet the Fockers. I mean, Christianity. And what reasons does the Judeo-Christian scripture give for God deciding to flood the world, or a certain part of the world? Oh, yeah, that's right...malicious anger.

So, if we take Brooks' argument at face value, the media has lost touch with the people because it's not implying that God is punishing dirty, filthy Muslims, Buddhists and other assorted brown people by flooding their countries and killing them by the thousands.

You've got to wonder why his last book didn't sell better, with airtight logic like this.

Believe it or not, the article goes on. Brooks thinks he has more interesting things to say! It's incredible.

Here's a chestnut:

"Probably if our lives were more conformed to nature, we should not need to defend ourselves against her heats and colds, but find her our constant nurse and friend, as do plants and quadrupeds," Thoreau wrote.

Nature doesn't seem much like a nurse or friend this week, and when Thoreau goes on to celebrate the savage wildness of nature, he sounds, this week, like a boy who has seen a war movie and thinks he has experienced the glory of combat.

Can you believe this guy? As if Thoreau had never considered the awesome power of nature before writing "Walden." That's what the goddamn book is about, shithead! If you had to summarize "Walden" in a few sentences, you'd say something like...a man gives up the rigors of daily city life to live in an isolated cabin for several months, to better absorb the awesome powers of nature.

And Thoreau's point has utterly nothing to do with massive floods. He's talking about communing with nature, blaming our discomfort in the natural world on the softening affects of civilized society rather than on some fault of nature to provide us with a livable environment. He's not saying that Nature is incapable of doing humans any wrong. Remember, kids, this guy's a columnist at the most famous, respected newspaper in this country.

The weirdest line is also the last:

This is a moment to feel deeply bad, for the dead and for those of us who have no explanation.

What? Brooks wants everyone to feel as bad for him as they do for the victims of this terrible tragedy? I mean, I'm alive and these hundreds of thousands are not, and it's disturbing to me. But, you know, I'll be okay. I was still able to go about my life this week, thinking about this issue but not unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of day-to-day existance on Earth. You shouldn't feel bad for me, or David Brooks, or anyone else who is alive and comfortable. Yeah, we may have the occasional existential crisis, but that's fortunately a condition you can live with. Your entire house being suddenly covered in sea water isn't.


Introducing...The Sullivan Award

On his blog, Andrew Sullivan likes giving out awards, which he names for people whose opinions he despises. An example would be The Sontag Award, given to the comment that reflects the most dubious liberal handwringing, or some such nonsense.

The whole thing is unfortunately fairly clever. It's unfortunate because his wit occasionally causes people to listen to things Andrew Sullivan says, and most of the things he says are of the "bomb Iraq-Ronald Reagan was our greatest president-liberals are out of touch with America-give Bush a chance" school of thought.

But today on his blog, Sullivan has written arguably the most wrong-headed item of his entire blogging career. Certainly the leading idiotic quote about 2004 movies I have thus far seen. I will copy it here in its entirety, links and all, so you can more fully absorb the many subtle nuances of lameness:

When I read this A.O. Scott piece on the over-rating of the movie, "Sideways," I was relieved. I wasn't nuts, after all. It's great to see a reviewer finally copping to reviewers' own biases - in favor of movies celebrating older, dweeby, neurotic characters who unsurprisingly resemble ... many critics. Don't get me wrong, the movie was far better than most - and was superb at times. Charles wasn't crazy. But it was too long, a little too precious, and the halleluia chorus greeting it far too loud. (It also reaffirmed my own pet peeve with many movies: that male characters are almost always far less attractive then the women they date and/or marry. Again: that's surely a function of the fact that many movie producers and directors are aging neurotics and movies are their way of reversing reality.) Maybe the encomia for "Sideways" are primarily a function of just how truly terrible most movies now are. But I'm glad to see this little film knocked down a few pegs. Still, compared to "National Treasure" ... I did, however, finally get to see "Garden State" on video. Maybe it's a generational thing, but it was one of the few movies last year that seemed to me in touch with reality. The reality I see around me anyway.


I loved Sideways, and feel that Sullivan's complaints don't really make good sense. The movie was sometimes superb, often far better than most, but didn't make the grade because it goes on too long (it's 2 hours flat), Paul Giamatti isn't attractive enough and lots of critics liked it. Eh? I don't think Sideways drags at all, and though I agree that the very last scene is a bit too precious for my tastes, and I would have preferred a more sad, "realistic" ending, this is a minor quibble with a fantastic piece of entertainment.

But if this quote was just a rebuke of Sideways and the praise it has received from critics, it would be tolerable. Wrong, but tolerable. It's in that last comment, about how much he loved Garden State, and then, unbelievably, how realistic it was, how in touch with the reality he sees around him!

Now, maybe he's kidding. I think maybe he's kidding. I hope. I mean, Garden State could be the least realistic movie ever made, just beating out Star Wars and Head of State for the title. Did you see my Worst Movies of 2004 list? Garden State beat out White Chicks! Guess what? It's less realistic. I believe the Wayans could pass as white girls more than I believe Andrew Largeman getting the girl and making peace with his father, alright?

So, I'm introducing this blog's first ongoing award, The Sullivan Award, or The Sully, given to the most foolish film-related opinions on the Internet. Feel free to leave nominees in the comments section below, or e-mail them to me. I'll post them if they're stupid enough. (Obviously, Sullivan's original quote wins the title for 2004...we're currently accepting 2005 nominations).

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Phuller Craft Museum

Boston's Fuller Craft Museum will exhibit the famous cassette tape dress of Phish drummer Jon Fishman.

I've seen Phish live a few times, so I've actually seen Fishman wearing this dress, but to be honest, I had no idea of the work that went into it, or the story behind it. I just thought he was a weird bearded guy with a Viking hat in a dress who happened to possess kickass drum skills. But I was wrong.

Here's the AP:

The dress includes sound collages of some of Fishman's favorite artists. The bodice includes Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra, Led Zeppelin and Prince, the newspaper reported. The fabric retains its magnetism and emits a sound when rubbed with a tape head.

The dress was commissioned by the Vermont rocker and designed by New York artist Alyce Santoro.

It's a pretty cool little article, even if you're not a Phishhead (although you really should be...they're good). The one part that bugs me? This sentence:

The band's legions of dedicated fans made them a younger version of The Grateful Dead.

Why is it that every single article ever written about Phish for the mainstream press has to bring up the Grateful Dead connection? No members of Phish were in the Grateful Dead. There are dozens of other popular jam bands. Do they really think people are fully incapable of understanding the idea of an improvisational rock group without bringing up the most famous historical example?

If I was Fishman or another member of Phish, I think I'd be insulted that our band, which had a considerably large following and a long and storied career, had never risen above the level of "Latter Day Deadheads." It's such lazy shorthand.

There And Back Again

I've just made my glorious return from Northern (or, failing that, Central) California to my apartment in Los Angeles. To get here, my friend Matt and I braved one of the worst storms I have ever experienced in California. As we were coming over the mountains into San Luis Obispo, I thought there was a reasonably good chance the roads would be flooded, and we'd have no choice but to turn around, or spend the evening trolling for SLO ho's.

Thankfully, the weather remained mild enough for us to enter LA unscathed, and I'm sitting here in Culver City, cozy in my bedroom, content to never think on this day's unpleasantness again.

Other than precipitation concerns, it was a fun trip. I still enjoyed the scenery and laid-back vibe of Santa Cruz, even with the crummy weather. And it was certainly more engaging than anything I would have done here in LA in the rain. Other than updating my wonderful blog, of course.

Tomorrow, I begin my new video store job at noon. So, that'll be interesting. I'll try to update in some more significant matter once I return home.

The Internet Dollar Experiment

Don't know if you guys saw some jackass' comment on my previous post. It's a guy, named Jason, and he wants you to send him a dollar in Paypal, in the hopes that one million people will do this and he can finally stop giving handjobs behind the 7-11 for loose change. I'm just assuming here...his name might not be Jason at all.

Anyway, I would put the link to his website in this article, but that would just encourage him. If you're really desperate to contribute to this guy's ironic experiment, check out his comment here.

See, I just kind of resent people using the blog here simply to advertise their own websites. I've had Inertia going for a little over a month now, and it's hard to get people to come and check out your site, but I've never really resorted to simply visiting other people's sites and leaving a straight-up advertisement for myself. I always try to genuinely comment on whatever the blogger is talking about, and then simply leave my web address there, so if people think I have any particular insight they can check out my writing on their own.

Jason here is just willy-nilly posting his website all around the Net in the hopes that some people will click on it out of curiosity. He also has nothing to say, and a lame idea that will not work or entertain anyone.

So, Jason, I will not be sending you a dollar just for setting up a website. If you'd like to actually earn a dollar, I'll meet you behind the 7-11 in 10 minutes. Tell no one.