Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It looks likely that Arianna Huffington will run for Governor. Should be fun to watch.
One of the dumbest things I've read about in some time. No surprise John Poindexter is involved.
Went to Del Mar on Monday to play the ponies. Won $27. Hit a trifecta in the second race, but with two favorites in a six-way field, it only paid $22. Then I hit a quinella for $51 in the sixth. Should have won more than I did, but my favorite horse of the day, Lori M'Love, #1 in the fifth race, was running at good odds, and I figured it was a good race to pump some money on Lori to win, along with a fair amount of exotic wagers. Lori leads most of the way, has a wide lead going into the final stretch, only to get nudged out by a nose in a photo finish. And the horse that did it, Revillew Slew (road by Desmoreaux...should've known), wasn't in any of my exactas/trifectas, so no big payday there. And in the last race, I put a fair amount on a 23-1 shot, turns out there was a reason he was at those odds. Good thing it was the last race and the track is dark on Tuesdays, because I think he's still running that race.

On a related note, I finished the book Seabiscuit tonight. I enjoyed it, though more as light entertainment than as the triumph of the human (and equine) spirit it has often been portrayed to be. Looking forward to seeing the movie, though I have misgivings. Seems rather treakly.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

An excellent article on the California recall election. If you don't have a Salon subscription (and if you got $30 to blow, you really should), get the day pass by watching an ad, its a great, funny article. I believe I'm having a change of heart on the recall, at least to the extent that its now a fait accompli. I'm half-way through the book Seabiscuit (want to finish it before seeing the movie), and realize that maybe, just as the people then needed a distraction from the Great Depression and looming war, we today need a fun election to cheer us up after all the pointless political ramblings going on (God help me, I have a feeling Joe Lieberman may be the Democratic nominee...makes me sick to my stomach to think about it). The $30-$35 million price tag is cheap compared to the average Summer blockbuster, which don't seem to be doing the job anymore. And there's no consequences, really: The state was totally boned even without the election bill, and even if a total moron like Issa wins (the IQ comment in the link above was the funniest thing I've heard in awhile), they can't do too much harm, and will inheirit enough grief to guarantee them a defeat in 2004 (which is why I had thought Schwarzenneger would be smart enough not to run). So I say, bring it on. To quote the Salon article, "The recall drive is a little like those photos of Uday and Qusay -- they're horrifying, but you can't help wanting to look."

Friday, July 25, 2003

Just in case Arnold Schwarzenegger's involvement wasn't enough, more headlines emerge to indicate what a joke the recall election is.
The BBC on the precedent for displaying corpses of leaders. Liked the Che Guevara comparison.
Neal Pollack on the Believer-ULA feud. Thought he got both sides pretty good.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Curse of the Audio Commentaries of the Damned.
Powell's Books has an interview with Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
The Bush administration is now rooting out CIA operatives for political gain. Didn't they fry the Rosenbergs for this kind of thing (allegedly).
House rolls back new FCC regulations. Doesn't go particularly far, but at least its egg on the Bush administration's face.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Chicago police appologize to Ice Cube.
The Getty's Illuminating the Rennaisance exhibit looks awesome. I'm going to have to go up and check it out. I've only been there once, but their illuminated manuscript collection was definately my favorite thing there.
The solutions to McSweeney's "How You Jellin'" contest made me laugh. This week's contest is hard...I've only got two so far, but I'll keep working at it.
It's been brought to my attention that the exact title of the Futurama episode screened at Comic-Con was "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV," not "Bender Shouldn't Be on TV," as erroneously reported below. Mr. Myers regrets the error.

Monday, July 21, 2003

The good people at Can't Get Enough Futurama have synthesized my report on the Futurama panel with that of several far more observant participants, to create a nice overview of the Comic-Con 2003 Futurama panel.
I went to Viejas with my mom for lunch today. They are having a promotion where they send you a card, and you can go up and swipe it over the course of a week, and win a prize each time. A different week is assigned to different neighborhoods, apparently, so this week is my neighborhood's chance. It looked like a good promotion, since you are a guaranteed winner, until I realized one of the prizes was simply a second-chance entry into the drawing for something at the end of the month. After hearing that the Monty Hall promotion at Barona was a big dud (apparently, they didn't give away the car they had been hyping--the guy trying for the car ended up with a two-night stay at the Barona Valley Ranch Hotel; or so I hear--I wasn't in attendance), I had low expectations of this one. We scanned our cards, though. Mom won a T-shirt. I won $1000. So it turns out it might be an okay promotion after all. I lost $100 at poker, but $900 is a nice profit for an hour or so.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

My photos of Comic-Con 2003 are now up. Be sure to check out my photo with Matt Groening.
Major artists going indie. I was especially interested to read about Pearl Jam making live CDs of their concerts available almost immediately. Let's hope that becomes standard practice.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Wow I'm tired. I had hoped to upload pictures from Comic-Con today, but I just can't. Come back tomorrow evening, and you'll see me with Matt Groening.

I will try to write my report now, though. I'm more sore than tired, anyway, and its not yet 10:00 when I begin writing this, so I should be able to get a decent report done. Actually, immediately after typing that, I decided I was a little rank, and had better take a shower. But now I'm clean, and ready to report.

This was my first time ever at Comic-Con. I've always wanted to go, primarly for The Simpsons, but also to explore the other meats of our pop-cultural stew. But this year, my sister and brother-in-law came down, and my brother-in-law was going in full Storm Trooper uniform, to march through the convention along with his fellow Star Wars nerds. I must admit, the costume was impressive. I think about ten people stopped him to take a photograph with him before we even got inside the convention center. I was not in any costume; I simply was wearing my Princess Mononoke tee-shirt. Miyazaki merchandise was one of my goals for the day. I was especially hoping I might find the comic book versions of Mononoke or Sprited Away for a steal. But that was a tertiary goal at most; first and fore-most, I was hoping to pick up some Futurama merchandise. The Nibbler tin toy, and the tin posters, were my main target. I also took my Bender tin toy with me, hoping to get John Dimaggio and Matt Groening to sign it. And I was hoping to swing by Keith Knight's booth and get the books of his which I didn't already have. For the most part, I was a failure on these points, but I did achieve some of what I set out to do, and more.

The convention center opened around 10, and we began on what I believe would be the North side, if I have my bearings right (that close to the ocean, I really shouldn't be confused, but I am). Lots of shops, but not as much stuff I was interested as I thought there would be. Lots of Simpsons merchandise, but mostly stuff I'd already seen and, if I desired it, had. Early on, I did discover one product I was unfamiliar with, a series of Simpsons tin click toys. There's a clicker on the back, and clicking the clicker makes something small yet satisfying happen. I purchased two, for a total of $8. One features the Krusty Burger ordering box, with a shaking Krusty head; the other features Homer and Marge dancing--Homer dips Marge with just one click. As my first purchase, I thought it started the day off on a good note; I found it later for more, but never for less, so fiscally it was a sound decision.

I found other Simpsons merchandise, noting its location and price for future reference. The Simpsons Main Street environment was going for $75. Not an outrageous price, but no bargain either. A quick poke around the internet turns it up easily for a bit under $70; with shipping, its probably a wash. The Simspons playing cards were going for $7. It seemed inconceivable that I did not yet own a product so suited to me; I was certain I would be back for it. I found very little Futurama goods. I never did see a tin sign, and I saw the Bender robot I already had, but never the Nibbler one. I found little Miyazaki goods, as well. I saw plenty of DVDs, but I already had them, and one booth had the Spirited Away comics, and the Art of... books dedicated to Spirited Away, Totoro, and Mononoke. The prices, again were not necessarily unreasonable, but the comic books were $10 each (the cover price), and the art books ranged from $35-$50. Seeing as I already had a hunch this would be an expensive day, I was not willing to spend that much on those books.

After wandering over to the other end of the hall, to find Keith Knight's booth and get his books (turns out he's a very nice guy), I met up with my family and headed to the Bongo Comics booth. I bought four of the Futurama comics for $2.50 each, one of them signed. There was a guy signing comics, but after getting his name, I ascertained he was not involved in any of the comics I bought, so I didn't have him sign anything. I learned I would need to be there at 2:30 to get a ticket to get a place in line to get Matt Groening's autograph.

It was almost 11:30, so I decided to wolf down a costly lunch, and then hustle to the Futurama conference. I got to the room almost twenty minutes early, so I got to see Game Over, an upcoming show on UPN. Very funny. The plot is basically the troubled family life of a Lara Croft-type video game heroine. I hope it will have better luck than previous UPN animation.

Then it was time for the Futurama conference. After meeting Dimaggio and some of the other cast members, they screened an unaired episode (they later reminded us to thank Fox for pre-empting the show so often, they still had unseen episodes to screen). The episode, "Bender Shouldn't Be on TV" ("Fox took the name a bit too literally"), is destined to be a classic. The opening scenes from soap-opera parody "All My Circuits" started the crowd laughing, and it never let up. Supposedly Fox will eventually air this episode; if not, Cartoon Network gets the rights to all Futurama episodes, aired or unaired, in November. So eventually, you will see it. So I won't go into too much details, though I will say Bender's catch-phrase, "Bite my shiny metal ass," gets a lot of play. Having never been to Comic-Con, I didn't know what to expect, but it was a lot of fun. Just seeing the episode made the whole day worthwhile, and the Q&A session was hilarious and informative. There is still discussions regarding the possibility that new episodes of Futurama might be made for Cartoon Network. They just don't see how they could possibly pay for them. But hope springs eternal. Groening also suggested it is possible that a Futurama movie (or three!)could be made. I also learned that the episode "Jurassic Bark," the only episode of an animated sitcom (or any sitcom, for that manner) made me cry (I actually started crying earlier tonight just thinking about it), had been nominated for an Emmy. Good luck!

At the conclusion of the hour, the talent left the stage, and I had a dilemma. I had a great seat, and the Simpsons conference was in the same room. But I really wanted to get John Dimaggio to sign my Bender robot. I decided I had to rush the stage, and see if I could get his autograph. So I did, and I did. I also got a photo of him, but it was too close up, and you can't see the robot, and he's looking away. And I had to sit in the back for the Simpsons conference, but it was worth it.

I loved the Futurama conference, so I had high hopes for the Simpsons conference. I'll say now I was disappointed. Instead of a new episode, they showed a recent episode, "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can," including scenes that were cut when it first aired. I'd cry foul, but for one thing; one of the cut scenes was a parody of Randy Newman's famous score for The Natural: Bart hits a home run, the now-ubiquitous song starts to play, and Bart runs the bases and fireworks erupt. It was dead-on, I thought--perhaps a bit too on the nose. It wasn't particulary funny, but I was just excited to encounter an unexpected Randy Newman reference. (If memory serves, Randy's Natural score was parodied on The Simpsons once before, in "Homer at the Bat") The Q&A had its moments, but often reverted to things already discussed at the Futurama conference, or the always-asked pointless question, "Where do you get your ideas?" Still a fun conference, but a let-down.

I approached the stage, just in case Groening would sign Bender for me. He posed for some photos (not with me), but wouldn't sign anything, so I headed downstairs to get the tickets for the autograph session. But first, I swung by the Adult Swim booth, where Maurice LaMarche, best known as The Brain of Pinky and the Brain, was signing autographs. The line was actually quite short, and he was very friendly. I took a picture ("The first flash took care of the red-eye," he said, "and the second blinded me"), and he signed an Adult Swim montage poster I purchased, made out to "Capt. Mike." I assume he is unaware of the retired San Diego weatherman of the same name. He joked with me briefly and sent me on my way.

Unfortunately, that would be my last autograph fix. There was a mob at the Bongo Comics booth. I didn't really understand where exactly I was supposed to line up for the autograph tickets. It was soon a moot point, as I learned the tickets had ran out. The good news, however, is Matt had come down to the booth, and was posing for photos, so some of us who missed out on his autograph got a nice consolation prize. As I say, I'll hopefully get that photo up here tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Around this point, I was beginning to get a bit bored. The convention was now far more crowded, so it was harder to just browse around. I went and got a few things I had initially passed on, like that deck of playing cards, and a DVD of Takeshi Kitano's Getting Any? I hear its terrible, but its one of the few movies of his I don't have, and as the last film before his motorcycle accident (suicide attempt? I've never been clear on that), marks a turning point in his career. I got that at Drunken Master's booth, which had lots of DVDs I wanted, at very fair prices, but I ultimatly decided on just the one.

Finding less stuff left on the floor I was interested in, I headed to the room where the next conference I would be attending was to be held. That room was currently hosting a presentation with some famous cartoonists regarding some of their most controversial strips. When I arrived, Dan Piraro of Bizarro was discussing some of his most controversial. Jerry Scott of Baby Blues also spoke. It was enough to hold my interest until it was time for the next conference, "Oh, I've Wasted My Life," about Simpsons collectables. This was well-worth attending, if only for the generous gift of B-Sharp Barney figures to all in attendance. They also raffled off several products, including an animated cel, but I sadly did not win. It was interesting, but I must admit I am not as hard-core as most in attendance, so at times it was a bit beyond me. It was supposed to end at 4:30, at which time Brendan Small of Home Movies would be joining C. Martin Croker and Andy Berill (Zorak and Brak, respectively) at the Adult Swim booth to give autographs. With the raffle still going on, I didn't want to leave, but I really wanted Small's autograph. Finally, around 4:50, I hustled off to the Adult Swim booth, to be told the line was full. I noticed Small was about half-way down the line, which went past several more booths before hitting the other two, so I probably should've asked if I could just get in line for his autograph, but I didn't. If I had something Home Movies-related, I probably would, but not having anything specific for him to sign, I didn't care too much. Autographs aren't that big a deal, really. So I hurried back to the collector's conference, and I don't think I missed any raffle, so that was good.

The last event of the evening for me was the Adult Swim conference. This was probably the most crowded of the conferences I attended, and for the most part, I found the crowd a bit annoying. The questions basically involved, I like this show, I like that show, put it on. It was worth attending, however, just to see the clips of upcoming episodes (Space Ghost Coast to Coast isn't my favorite, but the Shatner interview should be good), and to get the T-shirt and DVD they handed out afterwards. Of course, handing this stuff out at the door was probably a bad idea, creaing a horrible bottleneck. Fortunately, a bunch of people near the back kept screaming, "Move your ass," and whatnot, which helped things immensely, of course.

And so my day neared its conclusion. I thought I'd go look around a bit to see if I could find any good Simpsons T-shirt before I left, but had no luck. As I was leaving, I saw Brian Posehn, apparently just there as an attendee. I decided not to bother him.

To recap: I got John Dimaggio to autograph Bender, but not Matt Groening (there's always next year). I did get my photo with Groening, however. I got some free goods, most notably the Adult Swim T-shirt and DVD (one full episode each of Space Ghost and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, to promote the upcoming boxed sets). I purchased:

--2 Simpsons Click Toys (Krusty Burger and Dancing Homer and Marge)

--4 Bongo Comics (all Futurama)

--2 Keith Knight Comics

--1 Chuck the Ugly American Comic with Complimentary Print (he said nice things about Mononoke, and it looked cool, so I figured I'd buy one

--1 Takeshi Kitano DVD, Getting Any?

--1 Comic-Con exclusive Adult Swim Print

I think that about sums it up. My first Comic-Con. I wasn't quite prepared for it. Next time, I'll have a better battle plan. Next time, I WILL get Groening's autograph. I spent a lot of money (less than $100, but just barely, and only because Mom paid for my admission), but for a once-a-year event, it was a lot of fun, and well worth it.

Photos to follow soon.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Went for a run today. Hadn't been in some time. I was too sick to run for a week or so, and then the heat made it too difficult to get back into the swing of things. Ran about two miles today, just to ease into it. Overcast, not as hot as its been, but increadibly humid. But nice to be back in the saddle. Been a bit blue lately, I figure running should boost my spirits a bit.
Pat Robertson continues to aggravate me to no end; and now I read that old guy might have been fleeing the scene of another accident. People suck.
I meant to mention, I thought MacCauly Culkin was in attendance last night for the Trachtenberg Family, only he had black hair, in dreadlocks. As I can find no mention of Culkin growing black dreads on the internet, I am beginning to believe I was mistaken. Bruce McCulloch of "Kids in the Hall" fame was there, however.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I saw The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on Tuesday. A lot of fun, as always. I believe this was my fourth time seeing it at the Ken, though this time there was twenty mintues of extra footage. The added footage was basically exposition, making plot points abundantly apparent, and were probably unnecessary for a film of its length. But still, it was interesting, especially a scene where Tuco recruits some old friends to help him kill The Man With No Name.

Then yesterday, Wednesday, I went to the Derby to see the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players. I had some errands to run, then around one I got on mapquest to see just where I was going. The show didn't start until 8, but I noticed that the Derby is right next to Griffith Park, so I thought I would leave early and go there before-hand, have a picnic and read until it was time to go to the show. I didn't hit the road until close to three, however, and as one might imagine, had quite a bit of traffic all the way.

Around five, it was getting so bad, that I decided to just eat along the way and wait out the traffic a bit, so I got off when I saw an In-N-Out. But I decided I should pick up some local color, so I pulled into a place called the North Woods Inn, which I had noticed on previous trips through what is apparently the town of La Mirada, but reminds me of the least-visually appealing parts of Kearney Mesa. The sign promised sandwiches and dinners, so I figured a sandwich sounded good. The building was built to resemble a large log cabin covered in snow, and inside the look was complimented by wall hangings (paintings, stained glass, taxidermy) which might be considered tacky, but actually seemed to me to be charming. I thought there was sawdust on the floor, but it turns out those were well-trampled shells from the complimentary peanuts on the table (you are encouraged to throw them on the floor). The dinners were around $25-$30, but from what I observed, were huge; everyone seemed to be sharing a dinner (the dinners come with two salads, so I imagine this is encouraged). I just ordered a sandwich, which I gather doesn't happen there often. The open-faced chicken sandwich, it turns out, isn't really a sandwich at all, just a grilled chicken breast, with cheese bread on the side. The bread was amazingly good; soggy, but in this case, that seemed to work in its favor. The salad wasn't bad; I've since learned I was supposed to mix the red cabbage slaw into the salad, instead of eating it seperately, but I enjoyed it on its own. The chicken was okay, nothing special; I assume most people come here for a steak. I ordered dessert, which apparently is unusual as well, or so my waiter told me. He was training someone, and was delighted he could show her how to make a dessert, because no one ever orders them. I guess the dinners are just too big. Interesting place; I can think of lots of reasons not to like it, but it charmed me nonetheless. If I was fond of steaks, I'd go back sometime.

I was there about an hour, and traffic was letting up. I hit more traffic as I got closer, and realized that, my earlier concern that I wouldn't be able to keep busy until the show notwithstanding, I was just barely going to make it on time. So I went straight to the Derby, around 7:40. Turns out the show didn't start at eight, that was just when they would be letting us in. So I had to stand outside for twenty minutes, as the muggy air tried to bring me down. Once they let us in, I was really taken back by the venue. The domed ceiling was impressive, as was the circular bar in the middle of the room. I saw a screen in a side room, and a stage in the main room. I assumed the opening acts would be on the stage, and the Trachtenberg Family would be projecting their slides onto the screen. So I sat at the bar and had a drink while I waited for the first act.

The Moodoo Puppets opened the show, inviting us to sit on the floor and watch the adventures of Martina, a little girl lost in the universe, trying to save a magical school bus. Watching a children's puppet show in a bar was a bit odd, but a lot of fun. The only person under 21 in the whole place was Rachel Trachtenberg, who seemed to enjoy the puppet show; her presence in the audience gave the moment some air of authenticity, as though the puppets were for her and we were just along for the ride. I can't say it was a great puppet show, but it was entertaining, and the Snailian puppet was especially amusing.

The next act, and the highlight of the evening for me, was Gwendolyn and the Good-Time Gang. She has a wonderful voice and just enough perkiness to perform delightful children's songs, without becoming grating. I suppose "effervescent" would be the word. She opened with "Farm Animal Friends," the only song of hers I'd heard before. She also performed "Freedom of the Heart (Oodily, Oodily)," which might be more well-known due to its inclusion on the Chuck and Buck soundtrack. Actually, she sang just about every song on her album, and some more: "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider," a countrified "Bare Necessities." It was not hard at all to see why children would love her, and not much harder to see why the adult crowd was, for the most part, digging her. I bought her CD after the set, and having listened to it on the way home and during my commute today, my favorites are still the songs I loved the most during her set, like "My Anatomy," and, probably my very favorite of them all, "I Don't Think I Like It."

The CD I'm sure would delight any child, and is great, but not as great as seeing her live. Gwendolyn is very good at doing different voices, and for the most part becomes a child on the album. She's good at it, but I enjoyed her live, better, when she was portraying herself as she is, an adult with a childlike appreciation for good innocent fun, rather than a child impersonator, as on the CD. But that said, I still love the CD.

When they were done, I got the CD, then ducked into the side room where the screen was. I got a seat on a wonderful, plush chair, right in front of the screen. I was brooding on my unbelievable fortune for a good five minutes or so, before I realized there were no instruments in the room. Then I looked on the screen, and saw via the televised projection from the other room, the Trachtenberg's setting up on the stage. So I went back to the other room and got as good a vantage point as I could. Sadly, despite the intimate venue, there were a lot of people for the Trachtenberg Family's set, and with the huge honking bar in the middle of the room obstructing the view, it was very difficult to get a good vantage point. And it was hot as blazes. And we were crammed in like sardines. So by the time the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players took the stage, I was hot, sweaty, and clausterphobic, and probably not in the best mindset to see the show. So please bear that in mind.

They were fine. Nothing special. "Look at Me" and "Mountain Trip to Japan, 1959" are great (the "secret" portion of their web site has a multimedia clip of "Mountain Trip," but sadly without the apparent public execution). "Middle America" is good, too, though for some reason, given the wonderful potential of the subject matter (it narrarates drivers ed training material), seems to me to fall a little short. Jason Trachtenberg is a bit odd, his ramblings between songs veers erratically between amusing and aggravating. Rachel Trachtenberg's occasional comments are charming, though for the most part you forget about the novelty of the youthful drummer. Maybe because I couldn't see the drum kit from where I was.

What I'm trying to say is, I enjoyed the songs, but still felt let down by their set. I think the imperfect conditions, plus fretting about the drive home, might have put a damper on my mood, so I won't necessarily lay the blame on the Trachtenbergs. In any event, it turns out Gwendoly and the Good-Time Gang was worth the drive alone. There was apparently another act after the Trachtenbergs, which I didn't know about, but it was about 11:30, and I had to work today, so there was no way I was staying. I made it home around 1:20, and after getting Tanner calmed down, went to bed.

Today was an okay day at work, the new ticketing system was having some problems, but overall not much happened. I took a long lunch and went and got my tickets for the White Stripes, that should be fun. Michelle is in town, Eric will be dressing up as a Stormtrooper and marching into Comic-Con. This will be the first time I've ever gone to Comic-Con. Looking forward to the Adult Swim seminar, and the Simpsons stuff. And meeting Keith Knight. I thought his band was going to be playing down here for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but apparently not. So it goes. Haven't seen Michelle yet. She and Eric left for a planning meeting with her little Star Wars nerd friends before I got home from work.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I liked this article, which addressed a dilemma I, too, face: What to do when you really like the new Willie Nelson song? I just told myself that its references to lynching and whatnot was a reference to Western movies, divorced from the real lynchings of the South, and that the tune was more cathartic than a real call to action. Had I known his duet was with Toby Keith, I might have had more problems with it. In any event, the message troubles me, but it is a catchy song, so I suppose, if I catch it in one of the rare moments when I'm listening to the radio, I'll listen.
Murder convictions overturned in Ted Binion murder case. This really took me by surprise, though I agree with the court that Tabish's assult charges over the Leo Casey matter should never have been tried with the murder charges. I simply don't believe Casey was telling the truth. In any case, it was unfairly prejudicial towards Murphy to let the jury hear those charges. I personally thought they might be granted a new trial because the prosecution withheld information about a potential mob link to the (alleged) murder.

I'm farily certain the two are guilty, and will probably be convicted again. I could be surprised, though. They know what to expect this time around, and new developments will enable them to attack the forensic evidence much better. If the two weren't such huge morons, they'd probably walk. What did we learn from this case? Don't dig up the mudered man's silver the night you kill him, and don't film yourself stealing from the dead man and potentially destroying evidence the day after you killed him.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

I found this old article confirming that the Cove will never again be a theater. I was going to go into downtown after work today to take a picture of what's left of the place, but I forgot about the construction they're doing on Ardath (or La Jolla Parkway, as they decided to rename it for some inexplicable reason), and ended up turning around; I'll check it out when I have a bit more time.
The White Stripes at RIMAC in September. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will be there, too (the young people are all abuzz about them). Tickets go on sale Thursday; I'll be there.
Bush's latest strategy: If you're getting heat for admitting you were wrong, take it back.
Clear Channel must sell some San Diego stations. Hope they sell some that I'd like to listen to.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

I decided to spend a quiet evening drinking daquries and cleaning my room. I found my lost Rushmore soundtrack in the progress. So it was a good night (and the night is still young).
The best folk in the world are carnie folk.

Friday, July 11, 2003

I finally got around to installing Photoshop Elements, and made some photo galleries to share with you all:

Cove Theatre


Birch Aquarium

Various Outdoor Pictures

Hope you enjoy them.

A great article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal on casino's strong-arm tactics against card counters.
I had hoped to post about the Lyle Lovett concert last night, when it was fresh, but I was completely exhausted. I hadn't slept well the night before. Then traffic was awful getting to work, work was awful, and traffic was awful getting home. At work, we got a new ticket system put in, which is fine when it works, but it was having all sorts of problems. No worries, though, the other system is still installed, so we can just use that, right? Unfortunately, around the same time, that system went absolutely apeshit, printing out all sorts of bizarre tickets and receipts while the cash drawer just kept opening over and over again, while the screen displayed all sorts of gobbledygook. The computer support guy said that the director's computer started shooting sparks at the same time, so apparently some sort of evil came to visit the aquarium yesterday. In any event, I was already exhausted before I even left for the concert. But once I got down to the bay, I was pretty excited, and forgot about being tired.

Around 7:45, Lyle's band took the stage, and began playing. A few moments later, Lyle himself skulked out on stage in an ill-fitting black suit, and began to sing "Mack the Knife." As the sun was setting and the fog was rolling in, and an amber spotlight illuminated Lyle, his brooding, soulful rendition, that was almost unrecognizable to someone mostly familiar with Bobby Darrin's version, was worth the price of admission alone. I had been reluctant to buy Smile, choosing instead to get more of his older stuff, but having heard "Mack the Knife" and the other songs he played off the album, I'll be picking up Smile today. The band played a bit after that, and then Lyle sang, I believe, "Blue Skies," and I began to wonder if Lyle Lovett had turned into Harry Connick, Jr. But Lyle showed he could reinvent himself as many times in one concert as he has over his recording career. He played his country hits, like "If I had a Boat" and "She's No Lady," standards like "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (I've been in love with this song since hearing Rosemary Clooney's version...Lyle commented on it a bit before playing it, to paraphrase: "This song never made any sense to me, but I try to follow its advice. I think there were some happy people when they wrote this") and "Summer Wind," and gospel and R&B influenced works like "Church" (one of my favorites) and "Here I Am."

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band played for two hours or so, and I'm sure I can't even begin to recount what all he played. It was a great show, though. And Lyle highlighted his band and backup singers well. I can't remember the names of the musicians, sadly, but they were all supberb. A chellist who looked like a svelt Randy Newman, and in fact sang Randy's part when Lyle performed "You Got a Friend in Me," was especially impressive during second encore, when his chello solo brought down the house. All the musicians shined, but it was Lyle's backup singers that deserve the most praise. I missed some of the names, but Sweet Pea Atkinson I recognized, and I was especially impressed by Francine Reed. She brought the audience to its feet more times that Lyle. I'd appreciated her work on Joshua Judges Ruth especially, but had never really given it all that much thought before last night. Her rendition of Nina Simone's "Sugar in my Bowl" was probably her best moment of the night, but picking one is hard. The All Music Guide notes that "her amphitheater performances with Lovett must have surely had an effect on sales of both of her records," which is the understatement of the year; I don't know how you could see this concert and not love her.

The concert got out around 10:30, and I headed home, exhausted. Awesome show, well worth Humphrey's exorbitant cost ($75 to be packed in shoulder-to-shoulder like sardines). Lyle Lovett is just so cool.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Catching up...here's a link to a RealAudio clip of This American Life. Skip ahead to 22:55 to hear Sarah Vowell talk about "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Regarding the controversy between "let us die to make men free" and "let us live to make men free," she says: "In my opinion, die is the way to go. When you get rid of the word die, you erase the most moving idea in the song, that if Christ died for us, we should be willing to die for each other--why give that up? This is the one clear-cut case where you can ask yourself, 'What would Jesus do?' and you know the answer. What would Jesus do? Die."
The New York Observer reflects on the rise in stock of the word fuck. "'I don’t think fuck is the new damn,' said Mr. Karo. 'I think it’s the new the.'"
Sold my stock in Hasbro today, after it hit a 52-week high yesterday. 30% return in three months or so, can't complain about that. I bought it on the cheap, but was still nervous, I don't have much confidence in their management. I think I'm going to keep the proceeds of that sale liquid, because my emergency cash reserves were getting depleted (I've been spending a bit faster than its coming in). Looking around, there's not many bargains out there. Stanley Tools looks promising, however. A bit risky, though; its ironic that the old workhorses are becoming the big risks now. I remember taking a pounding after taking Spencer's advice and buying AT&T. Not to blame him; I took a bigger bath on IBM, all on my own. I'm strongly urging my mom to get out of IBM, but it's one of her larger stocks, and doing anything with it makes her nervous.

Still a bit ill, got out a bit, to get my mail and return some things to Radio Shack I had bought when I was trying to get the cable modem working. But mostly I've just been doing little things around the house, like reviewing my stocks. I like to think I picked up a little knowledge on the subject from my father, though I don't think I've ever heard him mention any of the stocks I own. But at the moment, all of my stocks are up, except for Adobe, which I'm about even on, and my portfolio as a whole is handily beating the S&P 500. I'll be curious to see if I can keep that up in the long haul, but it makes me feel good to know Dad would probably be happy with how I'm managing his money (and I'm sure he's glad I've paid off my high-interest debt I so dilligently hid from him).

Oh, and as long as I'm writing about finances, I might add I wrote my Senators to express my disgust about their sponsorship of legislation to prohibit the expensing of stock options. I also gave them a phone call today to urge them to push legislation to reverse the FCC ruling on media deregulation.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is presenting King Lear and Lysistrata this Summer. I've never been, but it looks like a neat place to see theater.
Food manufacturers to begin listing trans fat information on nutritional labels. Finally I can stop scanning ingredients for the word "hydrogenated."
Jeffrey Jones gets off easy. I like the guy, his tour de force performance in Ravenous especially, but really, not pleading guilty, but no contest, and then hiding behind the passive voice, "sorry this incident was allowed to occur." Well, gee, I guess its nobody's fault. I just hope Pee-Wee is vindicated, I'd hate to see him fall again.
I'm still sick. Last night I felt awful, a really bad headache on top of everything else; and I don't get headaches often, so I'm not good at coping with them. I didn't get much sleep, but by 4:30 or so I was out until my alarm went off, I think. Called in sick to work and slept until noon. Once I got up and had my coffee, I felt better, just sort of loopy, out of it. But I'm feeling pretty good now, and hopefully, if I can get a good night's sleep tonight, things can get back to normal tomorrow. I had an appointment to donate blood tomorrow, but moved it to Saturday. That was the only day I was free for some time, which is why I picked it, but I'm thinking I might have to reschedule again, since I doubt I'll be fully healthy by then. Oh, speaking of blood, I got my certificate for donating two gallons a few weeks ago. 1/5 of the way to my ten-gallon hat!

Now that I have high-speed internet access at home, I can listen to the Retro Cocktail Hour more often (I listen at work sometimes, but no one else seems to enjoy it). I found an interesting CD referenced on their page, a Lounge Tribute to Eminem. A bit pricy, but I'm mighty tempted. Amazon has more sound clips from the album.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Michael Savage canned, in much shorter order than Phil Donahue. Who would've thought, just because he's told callers to his radio show to get AIDS and die, that he would say that on national television? Shocking, shocking...

I'm sick. I feel better today than yesterday, but if I'm still sick Thursday (Lyle Lovett concert, outside), I'll be pissed.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Barry White's family already feuding over his wealth. I'd have to say the common-law wife wins by a nose, seeing as she did give birth to his child four weeks ago.
Yesterday was a fun day. I went up to L.A. for dinner and a movie. Ate at Farmer's Market. I'd never been there before. Neat place; lots of little restaurants, lots of produce. I just had pizza; I think I was a little overwhelmed by the choices. I didn't buy produce, since leaving it to sit in the car on such a hot day would've been a waste. Then went to the Silent Movie Theater for their holiday weekend screening of The General. I love that movie, not quite as much as Sherlock, Jr., but its still great. The theater itself is great; not presupposing from the outside, but a small, quaint lobby, and the theater itself is very charming. The seats are uncomfortable, but they have pillows on every seat for your comfort. And the walls are decorated with poster-sized photos of silent movie stars, including Fatty Arbuckle, Louise Brooks, Harold Lloyd, and quite a few I'd never be able to identify. The proprieter is young and energetic, bringing to the enterprise the fervent enthusiasm of a recent convert. This is only my second visit, but I certainly hope it won't be my last.

I was disappointed to see the sign when I got there that Janet Klein would not be performing as promised, due to illness. I enjoyed her the previous time I came (when the feature presentation was Harold Lloyd's Safety Last). But it was still a full evening; one of the nice things about the theater is you don't just get a movie, you get a nicely packaged entertainment experience. We didn't get Janet Klein on the ukelele, but there was live piano music during the shorts, and organ music during the feature. The shorts were actually more fun than the feature, probably because I've seen The General several times, but the shorts were new. They showed one of Max Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell cartoons, I believe it's called "Koko Steps Out," and involves a dog pulling the Earth's self-destruct lever. I've seen footage from it many times, but never seen the entire thing. I like in old cartoons (its in just about every Felix the Cat silent cartoon), when the characters interact with the thought bubble or dotted-line-of-sight or other construct, such as when the dog pulls himself up by his light-on-sight line to reach the lever. Next was a Charlie Chaplin PSA for Liberty Bonds, which was fun. It was nice to see in a crowded theater, with everyone hissing that horrible Kaiser Wilhelm. The highlight of the evening, though, was a Laurel and Hardy two-reeler, "Liberty." The plot was basically that Laurel and Hardy, fresh out of prison, are accidentally wearing each other's pants, and need to switch pants. But that eventually leads to the two of them teetering on the edge of an under-construction skyscraper in a hilarious and nerve-wracking finale. I don't know how it was filmed, exactly, but they obviously were at some height, and even though there was surely safety gear in place, it really was scary to watch. I don't mean to sound like some luddite, but it's funny that modern movies with all the special effects rarely can have that sort of visceral impact. I was also impressed that a man as heavy as Oliver Hardy could do such physically demanding comedy.

The feature presentation was The General, and it's still great fun to watch. I think its just that I've seen it many times, but the comedy is not quite as strong as Sherlock, Jr. or Seven Chances, but it's still funny, and takes a lot of risks. I'd recommend seeing it if you haven't, just as I'd recommend the Silent Movie Theater for any Southern Californians who haven't yet been.

Looking for some info on The Wiper Times, and I found (or re-discovered, actually) an interesting site on World War I and Humor. The selections from No Joke look interesting, I'll have to read it when I'm not at work and can give it my undivided attention.

Friday, July 04, 2003

I'm beginning to plan my vacation for next month. I'm going to San Jose, to see my sister (I've yet to visit her new house, or visit her dogs), and see Randy Newman at Villa Montalvo again. His last show was there was great, and well-handled, coming about two weeks after September 11th. Truth be told, had I known about his January gig (I can't make his L.A. appearance on August 22nd, because I'm seeing Paula Poundstone that night), I might have reconsidered going to the Saratoga concert, but I'm glad I'm going, both because I'm always glad to see Randy perform, and because it gave me the impetus to take an actual, non-Vegas vacation.

I'm going to Redwood National Park and the surrounding area. I still haven't made up my mind exactly between camping and staying at a hotel, but since I'm finding accomodations up there are pricy, I think I'll be camping for at least part of the trip. The Eureka Inn looks nice, and would set me back less than $100 a night, which isn't bad considering the dumps look like they'd set me back over $50. But a developed campground in the National Park is $15/night (and I think I can save even more at some of the adjacent State Parks), so I'll probably go that way, but maybe spend a night or two at the Eureka Inn while I explore the more urban side of Humbolt County.

The more I look into it the more excited I am; the park looks so beautiful. I remember driving through it on our way to destinations further North as a child, the trees were amazing, and I'm pretty sure that's one of those things, unlike the penguin encounter at Sea World, which does not merely seem big as a child, to surely disappoint you as an adult. I'm just wishing I began planning sooner. At the very least, if I'd requested a month ago all the information packets I requested this morning, I would most like have received it all in time to help me plan; as it is, I'll probably get it a week or two before I leave. But I have a nice book on the State Park system that has some good side trips into the Lost Coast and other areas to complement the National Park, and if I enjoy it, I can always return next year, since its a nice trip to add on to a trip to Michelle's.

In any event, if any of you are familiar with the area and want to suggest some accomodations, or some can't-miss sights up that way, feel free to e-mail me.

I got an odd survey in the mail yesterday from the DMV. Seems they noticed my liscence plate driving the I-5 North in San Clemente, and wanted me to fill out a survey explaining where I was going, "in order to better serve the community." I looked into the date, and it was the day I was going to LA to dine at Spago's. So I guess I'll send it in, do my civic duty (and apparently, I'm entered to win a prize), but it struck me as rather odd and vaguely disturbing, in a Big Brother sort of way. It reminded me of privacy concerns raised by the red-light cameras; I have to wonder if any spouses opened the survey and were surprised to learn their loved one was not at work after all, but rather off to a romantic dinner at Dana Point.
This heat is so draining, I don't know how I get the energy to do anything. I don't know why it seems so intense now, as opposed to other Summers, I guess its just after all the June Gloom we had, we just went straight into sweltering heat. I ran on the beach on Tuesday, and by the end I felt like I was going to die. Walking the last mile and a half or so back to my car was not fun. Today I went to a BBQ at Kelly's house, which was fun, I got to see her baby as he went in the pool for the first time; he did not enjoy it. I did have fun in the pool, I hadn't been swimming in awhile. I really need to get back into that, as a nice cross-training exercise, but now that its summer, the pool at the Kroc Center is more crowded. But I had fun, good food, and of course, my influence onto the day's proceedings, we ended up playing some cards. I won. But now I'm so tired and its only 9:15, and I can hear the fireworks, but can barely muster up the strenght to go outside.

Okay, I went outside. Pretty colors. And its cool out now. But I'm still exhausted. I intended to run tomorrow morning, make up for not running Thursday because I felt like I was going to pass out, but I have a feeling I might not make it.

Barry White, dead at 58. He died in Los Angeles, but had been living in Point Loma; he used to call in to the local R&B station from time to time. "Your the First, the Last, My Everything" is one of those songs, if I hear it on the radio, I don't care who's in the car with me, I have to crank it up. He will be missed.
Perhaps I shouldn't be so treasonous (by Ann Culter's definition) as to post about this on the 4th, but, "Bring 'em on!?" Was Bush afraid he wasn't regarded as a complete idiot?

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

This article regarding big business' response to fast-food lawsuits was quite interesting. The lawsuits struck me as a bit dubious, seeing as the dangers of eating deep-fried everything should be fairly obvious, but reading business groups deny a link between fast food and obesity makes one wonder if they really are as truth-challenged as the tobacco industry. And seeing as the lawsuits seem directly responsible for the removal of trans fats from several popular foods, it's hard to dismiss them.

Cox cable came out today, and $50 later, I'm on-line at a decent speed at last (and my television service is vastly improved...The Simpsons have never looked better).

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I saw Frauline Else at the La Jolla Playhouse on Sunday. I intended to post a more in-depth review on Monday, but I didn't feel like it. I'll just say I enjoyed it, and the starring actress, who also translated and adapted the play, was excellent.

Today at work was no fun. The computer was down for much of the morning, so I had to hand-write tickets all morning. And the customers seemed to be particularly stupid today. Considering I had a rather fitful night of sleep, waking up feeling quite ill at one point, and having a rather disturbing dream I'd rather not go into, and so was rather worn out to begin with, it just felt like a particulary long day.

I did go for a nice run after work. Ran along the beach for awhile, which was fun; seeing as I run so much in La Jolla, I wonder why I don't run on the beach more often. Running down the road to Black's Beach killed my knees, though, and it was quite hot, so I was pretty worn out, but I got a good three-mile run in, followed by a nice two-mile walk back to my car. Makes up for cutting my long run this weekend short; I could feel a cold coming on.

Would write more...but so very, very tired...