Friday, November 23, 2007


It's good that the act of gratitude has its own day; that way we can forget about being thankful the rest of the year. Let's push for more of these holidays... Happy Truthtellings! Merry Human Decency Day! And very happy Rationalresponse Eve...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Goddamn It!

No... we're not making any goddamned turkey already!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nobody ever said republicans aren't funny

Nope; they just implied it. Well, the inference that fueled the implication seems to be nothing more than balderdash. Mike Huckabee's campaign put together a great ad with Chuck Norris. Pretty shrewd as well, as the candidate who isn't taken that seriously is being paired with a celebrity who is also aware of his own less than highly esteemed public persona, and can laugh (stiffly) all the way to the bank.

On top of that, Mike Huckabee can now count on two types of voters - his primary base of Ted Nugent type survivalist conspiracy theory nutjobs, and the type of young, irony obsessed idiots that put Jesse Ventura in the govenor's mansion.

if the democrats want to get a tasty piece of the irony pie, I think that Senator Obama could be well served by doing a similar ad with his caucasian counterpart, Leonard Nimoy. Take it one step further, Senator Clinton should rope in Will Ferrel doing his Janet Reno bit - or better yet? Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I finally get it

I finally get Frosty the Snowman. One of the perks of rhapsody is you can find a standard by just about any artist (there's about 50 arrangements of Radiohead's Everything in its Right Place). Listening to the Willy Nelson arrangement of Frosty, I realized the song is just about some dude tripping his nuts off on really good mushrooms, running around town having dialogs with various inanimate snowmen, toking on corncob pipes and policemen hollering "stop!"

What the song charitably omits is that when Frosty "melts away" it's because you're peaking and the melting is a horrifying sight involving serpents, incantations recited backwards and pools of steaming quicksilver, that leaves you a shivering sobbing mess, huddled in a snow bank, rocking back and forth, telling yourself that you aren't going to stay crazy forever, and this trip will end. If there are no flashbacks for me to trigger: it's like when Tot's face melts away at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Thanks for clearing that up, Willy. Ahhhhh... snowmen.

The Last To Know: Pitchfork

Pitchfork makes me want to blow my brains out while slitting my throat and chugging gasoline, but I keep coming back to it.

Pitchfork has to be the most smug, hipster music review site on the internets - they are the review site equivalent of diesel sweeties' Indie Rock Pete. At the same time, I always go back. In fact, I think it's their schtick. The reviewers consistently project a tone of: "because you think this album is awesome, I dislike it that much more".

Case in point - a reviewer criticizes the Avett Brother's new album as being "the most contrived record I've heard this year". Really? More contrived than the new Brittany Spears album that was genetically engineered by producer-cum-psychologists who were masterminding her comeback? But there's the extra sting - they are so cool that they only review music so good that even the good music is contrived - and the stuff that really is contrived - well they've never even heard it. It's like the roam an alternate universe, where reviewers retain personal handlers who employ hapkido to keep non-grounding breaking music at bay. Or try this: when the album is "good, it's intrusively good". How's that again? Is there some quota on sincere praise? Imagine trying that on your woman: "Yeah, the sex was good; but it was intrusively good."

This isn't about the Avett Brothers at all - Emotionalism is a solid album, but I'm not going under blanket on youtube to defend their honor. This is just (another) bitch session about Pitchfork, and the elitism of reviewers on the web (see the AV Club). In fact, this review starts with an insult, but continues to state that they keep coming back. Which is where I come in. Pitchfork seems to love music, but hates all the musicians they review. Like pitchfork, I hate the site, but am addicted to reading their reviews, in a blind hope that they will deem an album I like cool. I keep coming back, and refuse to offer any pure acceptance of admiration. Here I am, 32, and dying to find approval and affirmation from strangers. Giuseppe's come a long way.

I guess I come form the Roger Ebert school of reviewing, where the goal is to present your own honest opinions, and not try to elevate yourself above the art, or more importantly, your audience. Maybe these reviewers really are musical geniuses who ghostwrite reviews under pseudonyms when they aren't releasing 5-star LPs. Maybe they think they are elevating the common man to their elevated state. More likely, they are a group of hipster cornholes who want to be "the camera behind the camera behind the camera". Even when the music is good, it could be better (or its intrusively good). Even though its readership is smarter than the general populace for being aware of pitchfork - its audience is nothing more than a one-eyed man walking through the land of the blind.

One more political brain fart - the cheater versus the cuckold

Given their respective roles in adulterous love-triangles; I think that Rudolph might want to start planning far in advance how he will deal with Hillary if they meet in the general election. While Clinton is prickly and trying to avoid being perceived as a victim (the cyanide to a woman candidate), I think that as pundits get rolling, there is going to be some bad mojo for home-wrecking multiple marriage Giuliani, versus the noble cuckold Hillary (yes I know cuckolds refer to husbands - cut me some slack here). God forbid the media leaves the iron curtain open enough for somebody to raise that issue during a debate. one advantage I see here is that, while difficult, Hillary has the advantage of being able to discuss the matter with some well prepared responses. Gules on the other hand, is going to have to make a "right to personal privacy" play that is not going to sit well - particularly with social conservatives and women voters. On the flip side, being a cheating bastard gets the scumbag east coaster vote sewn up in north jersey, and I think those guys get to vote two or three times at least.

Even Karl Rove...

... is putting his money on Hillary. That's not too surprising - she's the primary frontrunner, as well as the most polarizing democrat in the race. Which makes her the broad side of a barn when it comes to republican jabs. I mean, there has to be something that Giuliani and Romney can agree on - namely that red blooded Americans should use holy water and a crucifix to keep Senator Clinton at bay.
She also seems to be the most substantive. It takes a lot of spin to create substance - so kudos to her campaign staff.

A lot of people demonize Karl Rove, but - and I say this as a committed Democrat - I think he's a national treasure in his current role. He's essentially pulling back the (first) curtain to show you how he helped shape enough minds to get Bush in the white house and keep him there. You are seeing how policy gets shaped in its earliest stages.

Of course, there's some delicious layers to this article - I'll leave the particulars of his statements for interested readers to pick up for themselves. This guy wasn't the puppet master for no reason; its interesting to pick up the nuances of what's genuine advice, what are veiled criticisms of Clinton (as opposed to the clear criticisms), and the potential that he's leaving some poison bait for democrat campaigns to sniff out. It's also very interesting to read how he walks the line to present many of his views, while keeping the more callous, manipulative brushstrokes that shaped them just off in the wings. I'll concede that he's not the influential machiavelli that he was before he resigned, but the spark is still there. It doesn't bother me that he represented George W. Bush, who I think will go down in history as one of the worst presidents to hold the office. Actually, maybe its because of that fact that I find him so compelling and capable, and a voice to be listened to. It reminds me of advice I used to get from Mr. Hyde, one of my english teachers - "know your narrator". This guy helped narrate years of the current administration, and now he's concocting some insightful prologues. He's a narrator worth knowing well.

Movie Recommendations

Erik asked me for some movie recommendations. Here's some good flicks I found with "weight " that will help you get through the writer's strike. I tried to limit the movies to those that have some suspense, taught drama, or unexpected twists.

A murphy's law thriller in the tradition of hitchcock. Kurt Russel and his wife (Kathleen Quinlan) break down along some desert highway. As help turns into menace, all hell breaks loose. There's two types of people in the world - people who love the late great J.T. Walsh, and idiots. See him here in one of his best and last performances, and prepare to squirm. Plot twists abound, and you'll get your over the top end that befits a movie like this. A great potboiler of suspense, that won't leave you emotionally drained.

The Spartan
Val Kilmer is a secret service agent, tracking down a politician's daughter who has been abducted. Things are not what the seem from beginning to end. David Mamet's snappy dialog keep things moving along. Kilmer needs a good project to shine, and he gets one here.

A Simple Plan
The movie that took Bill Paxton out of my favorite bad actors category and put him in my favorite actors category. Some rural residents find lost blood money during some winter hunting. Moral disintegration and danger ensues. Billy Bob Thorton and Bridgette Fonda are inconsistent actors, but they deliver here.

You might have seen this, but if you didn't - put it at the top of your queue. Nicolas Cage plays a socially retarded writer, and his own twin brother. Amazing script that turns inside out on itself. Cage is always his best doing comedy. There's some real depth here, and you'll see some brilliant screenwriting in action.

This one's a heart breaker. Nick Nolte plays a self-destructive, paranoid drunk who sabotages what's left of his miserable life. The best part - his dad is an even more destructive drunk, perfectly cast with James Coburn. Understand how pathetic fathers beget pathetic children. Dramatic closing scene - check.

Shallow Grave
An early Ewan Macgregor film - and another "what happens to people when they find illegal money". Less about human drama than a simple plan, but way more hitchcockesque suspense. This money makes these people go muthafucking batty. Look for the "shafts of light through the ceiling" scene - that's some good movie-making right there.

Why settle for hitchcockesque, when you can have Hitchcock himself? If I had to recommend one Hitchcock film (or one Jimmy Stewart film for that matter), I'd pick this one. As always, Hitchcock casts a smokin' hottie - Kim Novak, as the female lead. Weird twins and a mobius strip of a plot make this feel like Hitchcock traveled through time, dropped some acid with David Lynch before traveling back to film this. In fact, I don't know if Mullholland Drive could have been made with Vertigo.

This is the watershed moment for 1980's Anime. The animation isn't dated at all - and because its set in furturistic tokyo, neither do the cultural references. A post apocalyptic Japan finds repressed biker hoodlums battling against mysterious goverment forces who have abducted one of their own. Once he returns, they quickly learn that he has gain incredible and uncontrollable powers. but what has he given up in return? If you don't understand what all the hullabaloo about japanese animation is - rent this now. There are some more nuanced, emotionally complex anime that have been released stateside (Princess Mononoke, anyone?) But this is first, and best.

Seven Samurai
I can only recommend one Kurosawa movie? Shit. Might as well pick the incontrovertible winner. Remade many a time, a village under prey from bandits hire a throng of ronin samurai to protect them. Striking cinematography and directorial vision will please the cinephile, while a rousing script that combines action and human drama should leave everybody who can handle subtitles well satisfied.

Who says I can only recommend one - go get Yojimbo if you like this, and see Toshiro Mifune as the ultimate bad-ass. let me break it down, SAT style for you. Mifune is to Eastwood, as Eastwood is to 60 Minute's Morley Schaffer. In fact, Fistful of Dollars is a remake of Yojimbo. For those looking for a samurai epic - rent RAN - Kurosawa's adaptation of King Lear.

The Ninth Gate
A great director guides a greater actor. Johnny Depp plays a smug book buyer who specializes in the rare and arcane. He is commissioned by a creepy patron (played with scenery chewing delight by character actor numero uno Frank Langella) to find a book written by the devil himself. About as convinced as the audience about the likelihood that such a manuscript could exist, Depp takes the sizable paycheck to conduct a skeptical search. Real or not, dangers mount up as he discovers other parties are interested. Deadly parties. Mwuh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... excuse me.

Buffalo 66
Vincent Gallo's breakout film about a malcontent, recently released from jail - he writes directs and stars. His kidnapping of Christina Ricca to pose as his girlfriend is not really plausible, but the performances are salivation inducing. You usually don't walk away from movies this bitter with a smile on your face, but here's an exception. Personal faves Ben Garazza and Angelica Huston are priceless as vincent's parents. Look for Gallo's photo-booth instruction's to Ricci: "We're a couple... spanning time. Spanning time. Span time." You'll love it, or suck trying.

A Perfect World
Like a cicada, Every 8 years, Kevin Costner emerges from his cocoon of overwrought mediocrity to shine. It doesn't hurt that pre-hype Clint Eastwood directed this "perfect" gem. As a fugitive who stumbles into taking a small boy hostage, this movie creates one of the most three dimensional bad guys. The dramatic tension builds for a good payoff at the end.

Sure - you could rent the english speaking remake (I love Chazz Palminteri and he is great), but go old school and rent the original balck and white french flick. If you think your school was bad growing up - trust me, it wasn't as bad as this. The students don't really play much of role in this deadly game of deceit and subjugation. If you can't handle subtitles, the remake with Chazz, Sharon Stone (see, I told you to get the original) and Kathy Bates is adequate.

Red Rock West
A really weird suspense movie about a case of mistaken identity that compromises a niave drifter (Nic Cage) who blows through one of the most corrupt podunk in the west. You'd think Dennis Hopper would be the menacing heavy, but (not)surprisingly, J.T. Walsh upstages him.

I think you can only make a movie like this once. A man stricken with amnesia tries to piece his identity together in a very hazardous situation. The genius of this movie is that it proceeds in a fully reverse narrative - meaning the first scene you see in the movie is the last thing that happens in the story, and each scene that follows goes further back in time, until the final very dramatic scene is actually the one that starts the whole story. hard to explain and visualize, but amazing to watch.

Some indie movies are cool and innovative - some are just "indieish" fortunately this falls into the former category. Two young engineers accidentally invent a time machine in their garage. Watch what happens with suspense and humor as they try to deal with the consequences of making decisions using a technology for which they they don't fully understand.

City of God
Holy crap - filmed on location in Rio, and cast with real street kids, City of God weaves a spellbinding story about the blood spilled by street gangs. Epic in every sense of the word. A foreign language requirement is probably why more people haven't seen this.

Dolores Claiborne
Easy to skip over - this Stephen King adaptation about a strained mother daughter relationship as the mother is investigated for murder. A cast of top shelf actors, the story unfolds in an affecting way. A great combination of drama and suspense.

Shadow of the Vampire
We've all seen clips of the creepy black and white movie Nosferatu. The vampire is bald and has bug eyes. This movie is a fictional account of the filming of Nosferatu. Part suspense, part character study, part black comedy, this flick askes what happens when you find the absolute perfect person to play a vampire...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Leaning Tower of Dishes

Sadly; an all too common sight. Of course, using a dish towel is just crazy talk. A single dish generated this mess... pesto cavatappi.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Sprucing

Maybe its because we have the same dressers we bought at the unfinished furniture store when we were 24. Maybe its because we only had a single piece of art. Maybe its because we don't even have a bed frame... Whatever the reason - our bedroom needed some sprucing.

This is a print of Monet's "La Japonnaise". It has sentimental value; I proposed to Mrs. Jones in front of the original at the MFA. This one is a pretty small reproduction; the original is something like 12 feet tall.

I guess we should get around to a real bed frame and furniture one of these days. Another piece of art or two wouldn't hurt either. For now, this beats the hell out of blank wall.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

sprucing up the dump

Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" I'm a little annoyed at how it's cropped, but looks pretty good anyhow.

Perfume: Making folks sick for centuries

Seabass came home from school the other day reeking of perfume. Clearly he had story time with a teacher who passed it one to him (I've checked his credit card statements, and no purchases have been made for perfume).

This is a sensitive subject, so let me make this preamble - I'm not here to make friends; I'm here to record a journal. So if you are into wearing perfume, or cologne, or even a lot of baby powder, you might want to click away. Seriously; this will probably just piss you off - because I have zero good things to say about perfume.

Perfume is artificial B.O.. As the afternoon wore on, Bass man's stink got so bad we had to take off his shirt, and then a scrub down. I am not going to debate that a sizable portion of the populace find perfume in general or specific perfumes attractive - much like pre-modern people found B.O. attractive. For everybody else - it's physically repellent.

There are some square pegs out there putting their hands on their hips in protest "But we don't care about what some people don't like, we out to express ourselves." Fair enough sentiment, and far be it from me to characterize this as a proposed blockade or anything more than a complaint, but consider this. It's one thing to offend people's artistic, intellectual, or moral sensibilities. It's another thing to offend the back part of people's brain - to cause a reflexive, physical disgust.

For those perfume wearers who have discovered this article and are stewing in their own Chanel - I'll put it this way. You know that one person - an aunt, a grandmother, a great-aunt, etc... who used to wear that perfume that made you sick? That made a golf ball sized cyst of discomfort materialize right above the bridge of your nose? Well, there are a bunch of people out there who feel that way about your perfume. Add to that a good portion of society that feels that way about all perfume.

Compounding the issue is that chronic, regular perfume wearers inevitably put increasing amounts of their scent on. It's only natural - after time, as you increase your tolerance to the smell, a larger amount is required for the applicant to register "I know have applied the necessary amount of perfume". Soon, you begin to amass a quality that is overwhelming to an entire sensory category. That's a lot of power for one person to have.

The olfactory organs are highly sensitive and capable of strongly affecting people's entire mood and mental state. Perfume is like taking a baseball bat to those organs. It's disorienting and discomforting - perfume and its wearer are completely indistinguishable to the beholder. If you wear perfume, rest assured; there is a portion of society who finds your smell offensive and overwhelming.

There is a clause to my railing against applied scents. In western culture, there is a scent that is offensive to only the smallest of minorities. That scent is call SOAP.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Yippie...a new printer

Nothing like buying office supplies to procrastinate. I had been
getting by on a photoprinter, and finally decided it was time to make
the leap. It's slow for a laser MFP, but quality is high. It doesn't
have a fax, but I'm opposed to faxing on principal anyway.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Craptastic Religious Films

Seriously - this movie is about your religion, and it's the BEST you could come up with?

How was this horrible creature allowed to see the light of a projector? Pick your poison:

Option A - nitwits with money and absolutely no experience producing films, somehow thought this passed as cutting edge animation. Apparently their only frame of reference is the "Money For Nothing" video by Dire Straights. You know, because they spend all their time preventing sin, advocating abstinence, and other things that render them oblivious and irrelevant to the modern world. I'm sure if I go to the Hell you are warning me about; I'll have to watch the movie you paid to have made for the rest of eternity.

Option B - Opportunistic vultures decided they could rope in well known unwitting voice talent, take all the money that should have been spent on the animation, and piss it away on coke and hookers. And commissioning their own fantasy park, populated with genetically engineered unicorns, cyclopses and pegasae. And buying the 2008 preseidential election - go Pat Robertson!

Sadly, I'm sure it's a bit of both. All these voice actors have done some horrible stuff in their day, but they must have dropped a collective mudshark in their pants when they screened the final cut. I mean, go watch the trailer for the original Toy Story movie - I bet the pre-vis for toy story (released 12 years ago) would be a better experience than this dreck. And this is getting a theatrical release.

The great thing about digital sewage like this is that it will live on forever, generating "idiot tax" based residuals for every nincompoop who mistakes it for Cecil B Demille's version(s) or "Prince of Egypt". It's almost as good as making a shitty christmas movie.

Enough of my ranting. See for yourself how incredibly bad this trailer is.

And just for giggles, here's the trailer to the 1995 release of toy story...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Golf Handicap Update

New Handicap: 18.9
Old Handicap: 19.5

Last handicap issued for 2007
2008 Golf Goal: Get to a 15 Handicap.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bye bye Halloween: Guts

Good lord. After all my searching for scary stuff to read, the scariest comes in the form of an audio book by Chuck Palahniuk (the guy who wrote the novel Fight Club). "Haunted". It's like a twisted take on canterbury tales. A great premise to frame some fantastic short stories.

One of the stories is "Guts", which was also released separately. I have to say, while its not scary precisely, listening to this was the most cringe inducing literary experience I've ever encountered. Apparently, several people fainted upon hearing it during a reading by the author.

I think hearing it read it the best way to be overwhelmingly assaulted, but if you absolutely can not be persuaded to find it on an audiobook site, here's a link to a written version, courtesy of the author's site.

Be warned, it involves masturbation, and some really unsettling mutilation. This was clearly written to push the envelope of shock fiction. It's not for the faint of anything - so if you are in doubt, don't go read it; if you do read it and hate your experience, email Chuck P. and not me.

Dethklok: Life imitates art imitating life

Part of my musical schizophrenia includes a heavy metal fetish. Is it as strong as my interest in roots reggae? Sure. As potent as my submission before the altar of Gangsta rap? Not a chance. I am selective, but the metal I like, I love. Metallica's Master of Puppets, Sepultura's Roots, anything by Faith No More.

Anyhoo - Adult Swim (the evening and late night block of original programming and imports on cartoon network that targets adults who actually enjoy cartoons [i.e. not my wife]) has a show call Metalocalypse. It's a gruesome, bizarre and ultimately hilarious send up of Black Metal. For those of you who don't know and are still reading, Black Metal is taking Dio to extremes - masturbatory guitar solos, rolling drums, and absurdly dark nihilistic lyrics. The band in the show, Dethklok, does for real metal, what Spinal Tap did for lame-ass, post Zeppelin hair metal.

So this fall, unbeknownst to my usually omniscient self, the creative team released a full album: The DethAlbum. Not surprisingly to those who have sampled the show, the album is really good. What did surprise me, is how good the album is. Sure, the lyrics are still a little overly absurd (a little, mind you, black metal is already lyrically absurd), but musically, this shit's toit. Even better - the vocals and all of the instruments, save for the drums, are played by one guy - who wrote all of the songs and produced the album. The guy is a metal savant. Even crazier, Brendan Smalls is the creator of a few shows on Cartoon Network. So music is just a small part of what he does. Way to make me feel like a waste of DNA.

Short story long; Metalocalypse may be a little too much for most people (there's a lot of cartoon blood and guts), but if you have even a passing interest in metal (it really is the 20th's century's interpretation of classical music), should check out The DethAlbum.