I'd just like to take a moment out to say that The Internet is awesome and I love it.
So, I was looking something up on Wikipedia and randomly happened to wind up at this page, a List of Phish Covers. Which reminded me of that Halloween show where Phish covered the entire Velvet Underground album "Loaded," which includes my all-time favorite VU song, "Oh! Sweet Nuthin." (Probably one of my all-time favorite songs, period.)
So I head over to YouTube and...what do you know...someone has graciously uploaded the entire show, with each song individually uploaded for maximum convenience. And here it is.
So, yeah...computers are good. That is all...
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I'd just like to take a moment out to say that The Internet is awesome and I love it.
Apparently, starting failed wars based on fraudulent "evidence," spying on your own citizenry, hiring and firing federal employees because they won't violate their professional code of ethics and punish your political opponents, defending torture, suspending habeas corpus, looking the other way in the face of massive corruption and war profiteering, repeatedly undermining and outright ignoring the actions of Congress and leaking the names of undercover agents...these things are just politics as usual for a President. But permit a handful of brown people to remain in the country if they're willing to participate in a bloated, punitive bureaucracy? IMPEACHMENT!
Wonkette has braved the Pit of Despair and returned with these absolute GEMS from the Free Republic comments. If anyone could intentionally create more hilarious ignorance than what you are about to read, he or she would possess the greatest comic mind of our time. I'll include a few of my favorites, but you should head over to Wonkette and read the whole thing, as they say:
We still have Tancredo, Hunter and Fred Thompson on our side. This bill wont go anywhere when our representatives start receiving our faxes
An angry fax campaign? Are we doing 1985 over again and no one told me?
I’m done with him on this and many other issues. I’ll never vote for him again. Illegal invaders are going to kill us all.
Well, at least they're not going to support that third Bush term I was so worried about...Also, I'd like to just pause for a moment to appreciate the fact that this anonymous person feels the phrase "illegal invaders are going to kill us all" is a worthwhile addition to a serious, sober political discussion. I mean, say what you will about our friends who have entered our border uninvited...Occasionally, they play loud polka music, often following key futbol matches or in the midst of central religious holidays...But I haven't really noticed them plotting any kind of organized campaign of mass murder. Maybe they'll get to that after they've finished providing the rest of us with food, clean homes, child care services and handsomely-manicured lawns at bargain prices.
“BUSH SUCKS” And the leftists blogs are now PROUD of this fool! What a dichotomy.
My husband just recently retired and we where planning on going back to Texas but we are now seriously considering Australia. It looks better and better each minute. Our kids want to leave also !!! And you are right, we have been betrayed.
Far be it from me to DEFEND the Chimp-in-Chief, but I fail to see how this is a betrayal. He has always been relatively open about his feelings towards immigrants, and Spanish-speaking peoples in particular. He has appointed our first Latino Attorney General (however long that lasts...), has delivered speeches in Spanish and has repeatedly stated that he'd like to solve our immigration "problem" (I don't think it's much of a problem, but others seem to) without mass deportation.
So it's not really much of a betrayal. He still wants to kill all the Muslims, after all.
This is what happens when you kill 40 million unborn US citizens.
Of course a compromise on the immigration issue is the direct result of Roe v. Wade. Are you blind?
Look this is what it all boils down to, these people in Washington are no different than the celebrities in hollyweird,they do not respect the rule of law or the ten commandments. These people feel they are above the law and can do as they please. And that means they can turn the United States into a third world country.Right now these Washington jackasses are NOT paying attention to Iran because they are too busy making life easier for the RICH in MEXICO.
This comment really has it all. If it weren't so long, I'd have it put on a T-shirt. (But not this T-shirt...it's perfect just as it is.)
"...these people in Washington are no different than the celebrities in hollyweird..."
This is true in many respects (though I can't believe anyone still thinks it's clever to refer to Hollywood as hollyweird). In fact, you could say that the people in Washington are no different from people anywhere, in that we are all people and act in a fairly predictable manner most of the time.
"...they do not respect the rule of law or the ten commandments..."
These are the same people, recall, that want to let George Bush violate all sorts of laws if it will help us continue not really fighting terror. But we can't break the rules even a tiny bit as part of a political compromise, oh no. That's an impeachable offense! As for the Ten Commandments thing, I would bet $1 million (if I had it) that the author of this comment does not always respect all ten of those bad boys. No one does! You're not allowed to covet anything. You know how hard it is to never covet, ever? And I'm not even talking about "your neighbor's wife, nor his ass" (which always made me laugh back in my Jew School days). Even his stuff you're not allowed to covet. What if he has a Nintendo Wii? That shit's awesome!
Also, I fail to see how providing the hope of a green card several years down the road for Mexican families who don't break the law and contribute to society violates any of the Ten Commandments. To be sporting, I'll even concede that he or she means the Christian version (the Director's Cut, if you will), and not the compromised original version, with all the unnecessary voice-over.
"These people feel they are above the law and can do as they please"
Bear in mind, he or she is talking about the President's immigration policy, not all the times he boldly stated tha the was above the law and can do as he pleases. I mean, this is not a surprise to anyone who isn't a Free Republic regular, but the fact that it took a little bit of understanding and compassion (just a teensy little itty teeny tiny bit) for these people to realize it just demonstrates how upside-down and perverted their view of the world has become. In other words, breaking the law doesn't make someone "above the law"; disagreeing with hardcore Bill-the-Butcher-style nativists does. (By the way, Gangs of New York just gets more powerful, insightful and timely every time I watch it. Modern masterpiece, deal with it.)
"And that means they can turn the United States into a third world country."
Again, we get rare insight, but it's buried under such heaping mounds of bullshit, there's no way it can be accessed. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their corporate cronies really do want to shift America to a Third World model. (Ironically, many of the pseudo-theocratic Middle Eastern dictatorships, with their emphasis on centralized power and close collusion between the key industries, religious authorities and political leaders, provide a roadmap for where George and Dick would ideally take America.) Their agenda has been clear from the beginning: continually entrench the upper-upper-upper class in power and wealth, forcing everyone else into a state of desperate, easily-controlled near-poverty. Or, failing that, outright poverty.
But this immigration policy is not some sort of magic bullet designed to explode the heart of the American Dream. There are definite big business interests behind the decision - several influential industries rely on cheap immigrant labor to thrive. But what matters is the cumulative effect of years of Bush administration nightmare-policies, from the upper-class tax cuts and estate tax repeal onward. The GOP plan has been the same for my entire lifetime - eat away at social services from within, then wait for them to fail and use it as an example of "the failure of government."
I saw WSJ hack John Fund make this very case on Bill Maher's show tonight. He was arguing that we should essentially get rid of government services because the government can't do anything right, and then used the postal service and the DMV as examples. This is bad stand-up comedy as political rhetoric. Sure, we've all waited in obnoxious lines at the DMV, but the suggestion that this should guide one's political philosophy is complete ridiculous humiliating nonsense that the guy should be embarrassed to suggest.
America remains one of the world's wealthiest nations and the fact that we have next to no social safety net left, that we are beginning to resemble a Third World country in some significant ways (such as, oh I don't know...disaster preparedness and relief...) is a deeply important observation. But Freepers can't come to this conclusion from any other perspective than Hate. They're just smart enough to recognize George Bush for the villain he is, but they're only angry because he doesn't hate browns enough.
Right now these Washington jackasses are NOT paying attention to Iran because they are too busy making life easier for the RICH in MEXICO.
And there you go...the hate cycle is complete...Bush is bad because he's not mean enough to the Muslims and the Mexicans. One has to wonder how much more attention the Bush administration could possibly pay to Iran in order to satisfy this person. Anything short of personal 24 hour surveillance simply will not do. We gots to put a hurtin' on someone!
Ezra Klein posted a fascinating graph the other day. It depicts the amount of government-mandated vacation time in a variety of countries. Out of 21 depicted countries, including Italy, Japan, Greece, France and Australia, the only one with absolutely no state-mandated vacation time is our country, the United States. What's wrong with us? This is SO OBVIOUSLY IMPORTANT. Why? Because life sucks if you have to work all day, every day, year round. A-duh.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for this quite frankly insane bit of business.
TinyPocketPeople produces made to order dolls, based on digital photographs that customers upload to the website. The company was founded by two parents whose youngest daughter was starting day-care. To help make her feel safe and secure, they created mini versions of themselves that she could take with her. The concept spread by word of mouth, and it turned out the dolls weren't just popular with children. Grandparents order pocket versions of their grandchildren and long distance couples order mini-me-and-yous.
Yeah, they'll make you a cheap doll with a photo of a loved one plastered on the head. For real.
If folks all over the Internet weren't swearing that it's real, I'd think this HAD to be an elaborate gag. These things cost $50. And the concept doesn't even make sense! You're supposed to miss this person less because you had their likeness attached to a cheap piece of cloth? How superficial would you have to be for that to work? I mean, don't people miss one another's companionship and personality, as opposed to simply their presence? It's like, I miss my friends who live in far-flung locations...I don't miss having something around that vaguely resembles them.
The website itself is really creepy. Photos of children hugging these dolls, caressing them, even. What a wonderful message to send that special kid in your life. "I'm too busy to spend any actual time with you, little one," the doll seems to say, "but please accept this overpriced trinket made up to resemble me, in a kind of half-assed fashion, to tide you over until some actual human companionship can be arranged by my administrative assistant or, if he is busy rolling calls, someone from the mailroom."
My one remaining question: do they have fat dolls available to resemble portly loved ones? If not, isn't that discriminatory? And if so, are there frequently cases in which the doll company is forced to make a fat person into a slender doll in order to spare someone's feelings? Is this what a tough executive decision is like at the Tiny Pocket People (creeeeeeeepy...) doll company? Because that would be pretty awesome.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I don't keep up with my movie gossip any more. I could have sworn the word was Ryan Phillipe playing Harvey Dent. Apparently, I was wrong...
Eckhart's a good choice. He's usually in shit films, but I like him as an actor, and he'll make a good addition to this cast. According to Ain't It Cool, other newcomers include Maggie Gylenhaal (replacing Bride of Hubbardstein Katie Holmes) are Heath Ledger as The Joker, Eric Roberts as Salvatore "The Boss" Maroni (really?) and and Nestor Carbonell from "Lost" as the Mayor of Gotham City. (Not sure which Mayor they're going to go with...)
Interesting side note...Carbonell previously played "Batmanuel" in the ridiculous live-action version of "The Tick." It's like...you know...coincidental...innit...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
When I first read the synopsis of CBS's new reality show "Kid Nation," it sounded like the greatest single idea for a TV show of all time. Abandoning 40 kids in the middle of New Mexico and telling them to construct a new society. You could just call it "Lord of the Flies," but I suppose that might cause some copyright issues, so instead "Kid Nation" would do.
Holy crap, that would be amazing. No adult intervention or supervision whatsoever, just cameramen who promise not to intervene, and let the little bastards loose on one another. It'd be like a weekly Battle Royale only REAL! Forget The Running Man...This is a much better concept.
But, no...It was not to be. I watched the preview over at CBS.com and it's really a wimp-out kiddie version of "Survivor." Kids are divided into four teams and then they compete one another for amenities and candy and blah blah blah. But because it's Kiddie Survivor, none of the kids even get voted off! They can CHOOSE to go home if they get homesick, but otherwise everyone stays. PLUS one kid gets a "gold star" worth $20,000 each episode!
Lame lame lame. Sounds like sleepaway "Double Dare." And for all the "we're letting kids build their own society!" talk, it doesn't seem like the kids really have to do much other than physical competitions to win the prizes each week. They're not exactly raising a barn or irrigating or anything. Disappointing...You came close, CBS. Better luck next year.
There is no compelling difference between a low-budget '70s dystopian fantasy film and the Republican debate from last night. Crooks and Liars has video of the "candidates" discussing torture with Brit Hume on Fox News, and it's seriously breathtaking. Fuck those Eurasians!
Okay, so the first thing we have to talk about is Hume's patently ludicrous question. He sets up this whole ticking time bomb scenario. Suicide bombers have already attacked several public centers; hundreds are dead and thousands more are injured. One attack has been averted, and you've got the man responsible holed up in Gitmo. Do you torture him to try to stop a possible next attack?
Is this supposed to be a likely scenario? I assume Brit thinks this may actually happen, because he's taking up valuable debate time laying it out. So it's not just some idea he thought up, a "24" spec he's been working on by night, but something he can genuinely imagine going down on the streets of America during the tenure of our next President.
That's laughable. We don't really have suicide bombings in America. Ever. 9/11 happened approximately once, and those guys weren't bombers; they were suicide hijackers. Big dif. I doubt they'd try that one again, but it at least keeps us somewhat in the realm of the possible. I put it to you that Brit labeled these guys Suicide Bombers to identify them with a certain kind of terrorist (the brown kind) and not another (the hillbilly kind).
As it turns out, torture is pretty much the only issue about which John McCain can speak reasonably and credibly. I hate to put it in such an insensitive manner, but he has a rare insight into this entire controversy, and everything he said pretty much made sense to me. He mocks Brit's ridiculous question by pointing out how improbable it all is, then moves immediately into a plea for sanity. We're Americans, we don't torture people. Exactly.
The other two men in the video, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, proceed to make complete and total asses of themselves. It's humiliating. Giuliani does not waste a split-nano-second of time before moving into 9/11.
He's so one-note, it's actually kind of comical. 9/11 is seriously all he's got. (I guess running for President on a "more police brutality/less urine smell" platform didn't get past the focus groups.) It's like Tom Cruise and Scientology; no conversation can go on with Rudolph Giuliani for more than 30 seconds without seguing into 9/11.
"Hey, Rudy, you want to grab a bagel?"
"Sure. You know, there were a few moments there, when I was coordinating rescue efforts to save the lives of small adorable children, when I thought I might never again get to taste a delicious, lightly-toasted-but-still-chewy bagel drenched in cream cheese and, possibly, raspberry jam. That's a day that changed my life forever, and the lives of all New Yorkers, and every person, everywhere."
"Yeah, great. Say, I like that watch. Is that new?"
"I had to get a new watch. My old one stopped working because its tiny gears were encrusted with debris from the Second Tower. I had it on my wrist as I was pulling rare panda and koala bears out of the rubble left by those heartless terrorist maniacs whom I personally will waterboard if it means that even one 90 year old American man, a guy named Hank in Arizona, can live for two extra seconds."
"I'm not sure that's possible."
"Well, I don't have data on that. I'll get back to you."
And so forth.
Then Mitt Romney tries to top Rudy by actually speaking indecipherable nonsense. He says, to start, that he's glad the hypothetical terrorist is in Guantanamo Bay as opposed to here in America, which strikes me as a very odd thing to say. Don't we sort of accept that there are dangerous men here in America, in prisons, without getting all bent out of shape over it? I mean, is Romney really suggesting we're all safer because the fictional terrorist is in Cuba as opposed to Leavenworth? Charlie Manson's here in America, we've managed to keep an eye on him alright. Ditto the Unabomber, Eric Rudolph, the BTK Killer, Sirhan Sirhan and Paris Hilton.
As if this weren't a strange enough starting-off point at a political debate ("I propose we immediately send all made-up bad people away!"), Romney then launches into a diatribe about how we should "Double Guantanamo".
Watch the video! He says, "A lot of people" - Wussocrats - "want to close Guantanamo. I say, double Guantanamo!"
What does that even mean? Is Guantanamo overcrowded? It's a huge naval base and they're only holding a few hundred guys in there. There were three camps, but then they closed Camp X-Ray, so now there are two. Is Romney saying we should re-open X-Ray and then open another one, for good measure? Just to show 'em.
This is politics as Monty Python sketch.
"I say, we send all terrorists to Guantanamo for torture!"
"I say, we send them to...DOUBLE GUANTANAMO!"
[Everyone begins muttering to one another - "Double Guantanamo," "double guantanamo," "double GUANTANAMO?"]
If only a guy in chain mail would come up and clobber these guys over the head with a rubber chicken...
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
And perhaps a new contest? Can any of you actually watch this entire clip? Try. I tried really hard to watch this entire 9 minute sample of Fox's "1/2 Hour News Hour." After about four minutes, I had to shut it off.
"The 1/2 Hour News Hour" is like a David Cronenberg film. You don't just watch it; instead, it becomes a part of you. The bad comedy is in my head! Dear God, grab that power drill and jam it into my eyeball! Anything to rid me of Kurt McNally's sub-SportsCenter post-Kilborn nasally smug-drone!
Seriously, Roger Ailes, I know you think you can get away with showing anything because your audience is made up exclusively of jerks who watch Fox News to pisses off imaginary hippies and 90 year olds Montanans who aren't aware that such a thing as a television has been invented, let alone that they own one and it's tuned to Fox News. But you've got to cancel this show. This thing is a trainwreck by Fox News standards. You guys pay John Gibson and I'm telling you that your decision to air "The 1/2 Hour News Hour" is considerably worse!
You could hire Colin Quinn and Jimmy Fallon to host the real NBC Nightly News and it would reflect a saner managerial philosophy than going forward with this "Daily Show" rip-off experiment one minute longer.
It's not even conservative! That opening sketch has no political perspective, really, other than making light of both the Duke Rape Case and the Imus controversy. (I thought conservatives were still upset about the Duke thing, though, because it's just another example of how white men can't get a break in this society...)
One afternoon, when I was a junior or senior in high school, I got a ride from my mother with my little brother and his friend in the backseat. (I want to say the friend's name was Nate, but it could have been Nick...I'm pretty sure it was either Nick or Nate.) Anyway, they were babbling on about some kind of silly bullshit. They were middle-school students at the time.
I'm sure any adult human being on this planet would have found their conversation inane, but for some reason, the level of inanity really started to piss me off. I was getting visibly upset that they were being so loud and boisterous and nonsensical back there, to the point that my mother had to remind me that they were just kids, and that I too sounded really stupid when I was in middle school with friends in the backseat.
That's the kind of irritation I feel when I view these "1/2 Hour Comedy Hour" clips. It has very little to do with my regular disdain for Fox News. These clips aren't genuinely offensive. That would be interesting. Rush Limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro" song was genuinely offensive, which is why I wrote a blog post about how he's a racist asshole. Pretty much everything Glenn Beck has ever said is offensive. (Yes, I know, he's on CNN, but bear with me here...)
Jokes about Mexican protesters enjoying the zesty flavor of pepper spray and female-on-male sexual harassment may not entirely appropriate, but they're not inherently offensive. They're just fucking stupid.
This is 9 minutes of pure pain. I defy you to watch the whole thing.
Lately, I've noticed that Netflix seems to be running out of movies. 18 movies of the 66 total in my queue are currently listed as unavailable. Out of those, a full third - six movies - are flagged "Very Long Wait," which usually means I will not get them for at least 3 weeks to a month. If ever. (Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner has been marked "Very Long Wait" since it first came out over a month ago, so I've pretty much given up hope.)
When I first joined back in January, there would occasionally be "Very Long Wait"-listed movies, but it was rare, and if I moved that film into the #1 spot in the Queue, often they'd surprise me with it anyway in spite of the wait-list warning. So I just chalked up my bad luck lately to some kind of Netflix oversight (say, they didn't order enough copies and were slow getting around to beefing up the catalog) or a regrettable confluence with the Netflix zeitgeist, my trying to rent the same movies as everyone else at the same time.
But, no. Today, I found out that Netflix manipulates what films they send to maintain a healthy profit. If you return movies too briskly, you are penalized. Frequently, they will send you the less popular films on your queue and flag popular titles for infrequent or new renters. So I'll get When a Woman Ascends the Stairs and Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual because no one else in LA gives a shit, but have no shot at Deja Vu, Breaking and Entering or Smokin' Aces any time soon because that's what all the other local dipshits want to watch.
(Oddly, the classic Horatio Hornblower has been wait-listed for me for a very long time. Is that really a hotly-desired item? I mean, it stars Gregory Peck, who has his fans, but that's still surprising to me that any non-Casablanca classic film would build up that level of interest.)
Even worse than ginning the system, which I naturally until now assumed was first-come first-serve, sometimes Netflix will apparently put off replacing your movie for an extra day or two if they feel you're renting too much! MSNBC reported on this in February of 2006, but I had no idea:
"In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service," Netflix's revised policy now reads. The statement specifically warns that heavy renters are more likely to encounter shipping delays and less likely to immediately be sent their top choices.
So there's a good reason to read your Terms of Service when you join Netflix, I guess. I was just anxious to get them to start mailing me movies, because I had recently been banned from a video store.
The thing is, Netflix is still a really good deal, and I wouldn't even mind that much if they charged me an extra few dollars a month to opt out of this system. They have plans under which I could get four or five movies at a time instead of the three I now receive (for about $18 a month), but I'd imagine these optimizing users are just stuck back in the same system. If you exceed Netflix's "suggested rental amount per week" of mystery, you stop getting the movies you want when you want them. I'd have When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual, The Devil Rides Out, Mr. Moto's Gamble AND The Fearless Avenger, but still no Deja Vu or Smokin' Aces, which would go to new users or users with social lives.
Why not a "preferred" program or something? An extra $20 a year, and I get put to the front of the line when there's a rental conflict between me and another user? I'd have fewer movies at a time for the same price, but I'd be guaranteed to get the ones I want.
Anyway, it just sucks that Netflix has found an excuse to mistreat their best customers. High-volume renters aren't the most profitable customers for Netflix, but there wouldn't be a Netflix if there weren't massive nerds like myself who want to watch 10-12 rented movies in a week. There wouldn't even be an Internet without those kinds of people, let alone a way to use it to rent movies.
Really, their shady practices bother me so much because I can't possibly imagine canceling Netflix. It's great. I love managing my queue, spending time on Sundays browsing through the upcoming new releases, and coming home at the end of the day to find movies in my mailbox.
I've been running through the second season of "Twin Peaks" on DVD lately, and I feel that, for TV, the Netflix timing is perfect. I finish a disc, return it, and at nearly the precise moment I'm ready to watch the next four episodes, the replacement disc arrives in the mail.
This is, frankly, one aspect of video rental that has always sucked at Fleshworld stores. You don't want to rent an entire series at once, because you'd have to watch it all in two or three days. So you get maybe the first disc or two, but this is of course a huge gamble. You very well may get sucked into the show, and then return the discs to find that the next sequential episodes have been rented. Frustrating.
I was going to buy The Peaks 2.0 (I have the first-season box), but having watched most of it this past week, I'll most likely hold off. There are some really terrific episodes here, but Season 2 is a pretty sizable step down from the stellar Season 1, and at about the halfway point - when the Laura Palmer story ends - the show runs out of steam completely.
It's weird. You can kind of feel the whole series just come to an abrupt, screeching halt. Every episode occurs on consecutive days (the entire first season happens within the span of a little more than a week) until halfway through Season 2, when we get a sudden 3-day time jump. Even though it's only been about 10 episodes, this feels like the natural end of the show. Palmer's murderer is discovered, Cooper's job in the strange little town is completed and even most of the subplots have been brought to some kind of resolution.
Inexplicably, after a few awkward segue scenes introducing the notion of a shadowy Black Lodge and Cooper's angry former partner Windom Earle, the show presses on for another half-season. David Lynch has admitted that there was no need to keep the thing going after the mystery at its core was solved. It's still interesting, as a fan, to watch these episodes, but I can't see returning to them again and again. Everything turned kind of jokey and pointless after a while. It was brilliant while it lasted, though.
I also have to say, I love the ease with which you can pull up your rental history. It's sometimes difficult to recall everything I've seen lately. Now that I'm actually looking at what I've screened in the last month, I see that I'm terribly backlogged on reviews I meant to write for the site. Thieves Like Us was amazing, I finally saw Dreamgirls, I revisited George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse Five, the insanely bleak Japanese war film Fires on the Plain, The Naked City, Sydney Pollack's unwatchable and misleadingly-titled The Yakuza...On second thought, never mind...I'm never looking in here again. That's like 2 weeks work if I'm ever going to catch up.