Sunday, March 30, 2008

So, I've been filling in some gaps in my cultural education, watching Vincent Price horror movies. Some, like House of Wax, are on DVD, but for some films, I've had to go back to the old standby of VHS cassettes from the local library. And tonight, I tried to watch one, The Comedy of Terrors. But the cassette wouldn't go into the VCR. It would go half-way in, and then the VCR would spit it out. My VCR is, of course, old, so I wasn't sure if it was the tape or the unit, so I went into the back bedroom to give that one a try. The cassette went in fine, but then nothing happened, and it wouldn't eject the tape. I tried to force it out, but I could feel the film wrapped around the tape head or whatever inside the VCR. I tried disassembling the VCR, and got the case off of it, but couldn't get the cassette-holding portion open to remove the tape. So tomorrow, I'm taking my VCR to the library to see what they suggest. I figure this must happen from time to time, maybe they have some tips. I think the tape was defective, but if I have to pay for it, I'll live. As long as they aren't dicks about it (I got the tape from the city library, not the county library where I volunteer, so I don't have any special connections to rely on here).

Anyway, in light of this setback, I decided to watch The Tomb of Ligeia instead. But it appeared that whoever last checked it out was far from kind, so I would have to rewind. But every time I tried to rewind it, I heard the VCR's motor revving for a moment, but then the unit shut down. If I pressed play, I could rewind while the feature played, but then it rewound at an extremely slow pace. I had a feeling this cassette was defective, too (which would explain why the previous viewer didn't rewind), and didn't want to risk another incident like Comedy of Terrors, so I removed the cassette from my VCR unwatched.

Cursing the antiquated technology, I decided the safe bet was to watch a film in the ultra-high-tech HD DVD format. I've had Talk to Me at home from Netflix for like two months, and decided I should finally watch it. I even chuckled to myself, thinking that, given my luck this evening, I'd probably end up getting the Red Ring of Death watching it on my XBox 360 HD DVD add-on (I actually had Talk to Me out from Netflix when my XBox red-ringed, and returned it unwatched while my unit was repaired). But I never got to that point. When I removed the disc from its Netflix envelope, it came out in two pieces. Talk to Me was released in a hybrid format, with an HD DVD on one side and a standard DVD on the other. Apparently they're just glued together or something, because they came right apart on me. I thought maybe I could still play just half a disc, but given my track record for the evening, I decided not to experiment.

So three films, three strikes. The good news is, eventually, I was able to watch My Kid Could Paint That without incident. Okay documentary, and if you're interested in my opinion, the kid didn't paint the paintings, certainly not in the manner the parents claim. To say that a four-year-old painted every painting, from the first one on, with no assistance, implies that the parents are awful people. "No, sweetheart, you have to do that alone. You're four years old, we can't coddle you forever!" Of course they helped. As one curator, who rejected a Marla work submitted to her art show before Marla's rise to fame, noted in an outtake included on the DVD, who picked the canvases? Are we to believe a four year old decided on her own she wanted to paint a triptych? Also included with the special features, which I watched with judicious use of the fast-forward button, was a Q&A session, in which one supporter of Marla basically explained to a questioner that, since he never himself was a painter, his opinion didn't matter. Of course, since he was once four years old, and no doubt dabbled in finger-painting, his claim as an artist is as absolute as Marla's. For some reason, that lady's comment really pissed me off, and angried up the blood. So, fuck you, old lady. But I digress. Interesting film, but I don't know what the take-away from it is. The filmmaker intended, before the question of authenticity was raised by "60 Minutes," to make a statement about modern art, but the unanticipated shift in the narrative muddies things a bit too much. And ultimately, I was surprised just how little I cared. It's hard to get worked up about parents exploiting their child, when she's having a fine time and now has a six-figure college fund. Perhaps there's a message to be derived from the owner of the gallery promoting Marla's work. When she has her fall, and her work stops selling for awhile, he seems glad that, at last, he can openly gloat in his big "fuck you" to the modern art community (his own work is in the photorealism genre). But when her work starts selling again, it's like that conversation never happened. So what does that mean? The business of art is driven by both spite and pragmatism? Some people are tools? Photorealism ain't where the money's at? Food for thought, I suppose.

Al Jaffee profiled in the New York Times. He has drawn every Mad Magazine fold-in from the beginning to today; I just assumed some staff artist had assumed responsibility for the feature somewhere along the way. I also must say I felt a bit dense; it never occured to me that the fold-in was a parody of the fold-out features in Playboy et al. For the love of God, check out the interactive gallery of fold-ins which accompany the article. One of those things that reminds you why you got out of bed in the morning; maybe, just maybe, there'd be something beyond awesome on the internet. Or maybe that's just me. Anyways, you can probably guess which two fold-ins are my favorite; but I also enjoyed very much the more somber fold-ins in the "War and the military" category.
Stuff White People Like lands $300,000 book deal. In a related story, somebody at Random House has gone completely apeshit crazy. Hey, Random House, turn this blog into a book. Unlike the White People blog, nobody's already read this one, so it'll be all new content (and I won't even have to do anything).

That said, I will be reading the I Can Has Cheezburger book when it comes out.

Dith Pran, photographer of Killing Fields fame, dead at 65.
Have a history of dubious business deals and a string of angry investors and suspicious prosecutors looking into you? You probably shouldn't appear on "My Super Sweet 16." I remember hearing about this on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" a few months back.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Anti-emo riots break out in Mexico. So if you visit Mexico, wear your Fall Out Boy t-shirt, and maybe while you're busy being bludgeoned by punks, the drug cartels will not bother to murder you.

Gustavo Arellano of Ask a Mexican fame does see a possible upside: "This teaches the rest of the world that Mexico is not just a bunch of cactuses and sombreros."

Could Al Gore be the next Democratic presidential candidate? If the Democratic leadership is as stupid as they seem, possibly. Seems an ideal way to piss off Obama and Clinton supporters, while subverting the democratic will. Of course, this idea is coming out of Florida, which seems unclear on how this whole "voting" thing works. Of course, it's always someone else's fault, they say (Nader, Buchanan, Howard Dean), but it always just happens to happen in Florida.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

XETV channel 6 is out as San Diego's Fox affiliate. And I for one welcome the move. As a small child, I was terrified of the old XETV logo. Apparently it came on one time in the middle of a program due to technical difficulties, and my sister told me it meant I broke the TV (though I contend that, beyond that, the logo itself is creepy--the number six and yellow don't mix). For several years later, the mere site of the icon would cause me to bury my head in a pillow and slowly sob. Even today, I feel a vague unease looking at it.

The sad thing is, I'm totally serious. And, despite a dreadfully poor memory, especially of my early years, I can remember the texture of my grandparent's couch and pillows as my grandparents tried to figure out why the TV commercial made me scream.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wal-Mart sues brain-damaged woman whose son died in Iraq to recoup their health care costs. Not a surprise, of course, that Wal-Mart is evil. Though I guess a story this pathetic means I'll have to find a new place to get my oil changed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Clinton "misspoke" about sniper fire. As if there weren't enough reasons not to vote for her, I have to say I am extremely uneasy about voting for any candidate whose concentration in office might be diverted due to what I can only imagine is the immense psychological stress involved in having a public feud with Sinbad.
Dolly Parton's self-released new album goes to #2 on the Billboard charts (article doesn't specify, but I assume they mean Country charts). Good for her. I got the album off Amie Street (it's also on eMusic). I liked it. Pop country, but good pop country. "Backwoods Barbie," the title track, lives up to the tradition of songs like "Coat of Many Colors," in depicting the dreams and reality of Dolly's childhood. Some odd choices of covers, like "She Drives Me Crazy" and "Tracks of My Tears." Didn't care for "Better Get to Livin'" but it sounds like the sort of thing that country radio should dig.

I wonder if its successful because of country radio support, or successful despite the lack thereof. Is radio playing the new album? Anyone know where to check airplay numbers?

UPDATE: Now that I've actually read the article linked to in the article I linked to, I see that "Better Get to Livin'" stalled at #52 on the charts. So I guess there's still no room for a 62-year-old country legend on today's country radio.

Chris Wallace defends Obama, creates awkward moment on Fox and Friends. Can't wait to see Colbert's take on this one; apparently Steve Doocy was hurt by the confrontation, but if Wallace upset brown-haired-guy-who's-not-Steve-Doocy, there could be hell to pay on the Report.

UPDATE: The video is here. Oh, and it looks like Colbert is in reruns this week.

In light of last week's incident at the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Times has a look at other Opera mishaps through the ages.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Having recently updated the featured comic strip panel on the right side of this page with the recent Gil Thorp basketball orgy, I realized I never linked to This Week in Milford's recent selection of the best and worst Gil Thorp panels of 2007. Of course, you'd have seen this if you'd been following the Gil Thorp web community, as you all should be, and if you haven't, then the glory of Gail Martin, the Rock-and-Roll Carol King, is wasted on you.

Me, I'm still bitter about the results, and that "Lock your eyes on one hole, get set and swing and keep doing it" somehow lost in the wacky-assed quotes division.

Arthur C. Clarke, dead at 90.
Anthony Minghella, dead at 54.
I hope you had a happy Saint Patrick's Day yesterday, and that you didn't receive any inappropriate gifts.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Having just learned of the existence of How to Do Nothing With Nobody All Alone By Yourself, I was excited to see that the city library has a copy in storage. Should be fun to check out, until I find a copy of I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen.

Also found from Weekend Stubble, be sure to check out this flickr gallery of the abandoned Detroit public school system's book depository. It was apparently damaged in a fire and sold in an insurance settlement, leaving the books and school supplies to rot along with the building. The book-phoenix graffiti is a nice touch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Today is Pi Day. Maybe I'm just a bitter old crank, but I hate Pi Day. Not that I hate March 14th, that would be an odd thing. But I hate people who pretend that Pi Day is interesting. Wow, 3/14, that's the numbers in Pi, let's do stuff. Eat pie, that's crazy. Who cares? It seems like such an affectation, like people who purport to be very concerned with the latest news on Pluto no longer being a planet (if you have a documented interest in astronomy or are under 10, you get a pass on that one--and Randy Newman, your mention of this fact in your latest single does NOT get a pass, sorry). So go ahead and eat pie if you want. But guess what? If you have a few dollars in your pocket and some mode of transportation, you can eat pie whenever you damn well please! Keep Pi Day alive in your heart all year round! Just shut up about it, geez.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some old man still churning out Marmaduke. Of course, you'd know this if you read the strip, or if you let Joe Mathlete explain it to you. Of course, you'd also know that the actual strip is actually more disturbingly the work of a demented mind than The Onion realizes. I mean, what the hell?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Geraldine Ferraro revealed as a hateful bigot. The surprises of this campaign just keep coming. I mean, Jesus Christ: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position?" "I will not be discriminated against because I'm white?" These are things that a klansman says, not a trailblazing woman's right pioneer.

Anyway, I'd been meaning to say something about my growing disgust with the primary, and my decision that I will not vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination, and this bizarre turn is as good a time as any. I voted for Obama, but came slowly to his side. I thought I would support whoever got the nomination. I never considered voting for Clinton in the primary, because she voted for the war. But so did Kerry, and I voted for him in the '04 general election. Of course, that was an "anyone but Bush" vote, but it set a precedent that would benefit Clinton, that I could vote for someone despite their vote at that one pivotal moment.

But as the primaries went on, and it became obvious that Clinton would have a hard time winning the popular vote, or the elected delegate count, I decided that, if Clinton won the nomination in an anti-democratic matter, I would vote for McCain, for the sake of the long-term health of the Democratic Party (it would be so nice if, for just one election cycle, the Democrats could get their shit together; how come we can only retake Congress when Republicans take bribes or try to bone a page). But as it was all but impossible for Clinton to take the nomination by any way other than superdelegate shenanigans, I wondered if I needed to qualify the statement at all, or if I could simply say, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton? And as her campaign got dirtier and sleazier, it became easier and easier to accept that statement, and I make it now: I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Ever. For anything.

In a way, it's an easy decision. I feel very strongly about the death penalty, and would be a single-issue voter on that issue alone, if there were actual candidates advancing my position. The problem is, when there are, they're generally long-shots (Kucinich), or empty protests (Nader), which tend to make opposition to the death penalty a fringe issue, at a time when the public is finally turning against the institution. So I've accepted the political reality that I will vote for candidates that support the death penalty, within reason. In fact, the only notable vote I made on the basis of the death penalty was my decision to vote against Bill Clinton's reelection, when I cast my very first vote, ever. Clinton signed off on the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, whom Clinton deemed fit for execution, and capable of understanding what was happening to him, a judgment belied by Rector's decision, eating his final meal, to save his pie for "later." Clinton had no qualms killing a man, in our name, to prevent himself from being "Willie Horton-ed" going into the New Hampshire primary. I could not in good conscious vote for this man.

And now his wife is running, who lobbied hard as first lady for her husband's crime bill, which expanded the death penalty. Combine that with her willingness to say and do anything to win (Bill Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich has expressed shock that she would actually suggest that her Republican rival is more qualified to be President than the current Democratic front-runner), and I can't help but think that the Democratic Party, and democracy itself, is better off with Hillary Clinton as far removed as possible. Obama is now the rightful Democratic nominee, and Clinton's dirty campaigning shows her to be as concerned with the health of the Democratic Party as Joe Lieberman is. Go away, Hillary.

Two points, in fairness to Hillary: First, Barack Obama is for the death penalty. Again, I have come to terms with the notion of voting for death penalty proponents, as long as, unlike Bill Clinton, they're not untowardly bloodthirsty about it. And second, the Democrat primary rules are fucked up, and that's not Clinton's fault. Doesn't let her off the hook for exploiting them to keep her doomed campaign alive, but still, something needs to be changed. That Democrats deploy both superdelegates and proportional representation in the primary process is beyond absurd; proportional representation heightens the democratic nature of candidate selection, while superdelegates stand against the popular will. You pick one or the other. By using both, the Democratic Party guarantees, once there's a close primary, all hell breaks loose. Which is another reason not to vote for Clinton: If she's President, no way in hell is she letting them change that process on her watch.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Employees beware: You can legally be fired for demanding prostitutes. Especially if you answer the door in the nude.
Bombing of New York military recruitment center, letters showing same military recruitment center with a sign saying "We did it" a big coincidence. I think it would make the police's job much easier if they would simply decide that the world is full of coincidences.

I got to wondering, though I was pretty sure it wasn't, if it was possible that this was the military induction center from the song "Alice's Restaurant." Turns out that building was itself bombed in 1969.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Onion AV Club reports that Lou Pearlman's possessions are for sale on eBay. Feel free to shop early for my birthday.

Incidentally, if I were morbidly obese (not there yet, give me a year or two), I don't think I would collect blimps. Just seems like asking to be ridiculed.

Paul Collins on the most recent plagiarism scandal unearthed by Google. Collins marvels at the speed with which things unfolded; the author of the original blog post which broke the story also was impressed by the speed, but notes that chance helped things along. Both Goeglein and the source he stole from misspelled Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy's name, which is what kept the original article from being buried deep in Google search results.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Change in Scenery's movie theater photo stream. Good stuff.

In related news, apparently the Balboa Theatre has reopened in Horton Plaza. I'm looking forward to checking it out; too bad I see nothing of note on the schedule, having already missed Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain Tonight.