Monday, April 28, 2008

"Topless" photos threaten Hannah Montana juggernaut. I shouldn't have to explain this, but here goes: Topless = nipple. If you can't see the nipple, she's not topless. She has a sheet as a top. To claim otherwise is to sink to Sam the Eagle levels of ridiculousness (see his Discourse on Nudity, quoted on the linked page). And speaking of ridiculousness, in what way does this demonstrate Cyrus being a bad role model? Are teenage girls going to show their bare backs in Vanity Fair? I think the worst possible ramification might be that young girls (or anyone, for that matter) might read Vanity Fair. If anything, it appears to me that she has a reasonable amount of meat on her bones, which would probably be a very good example for her target demographic (at least her humerus is not exposed).

All I know is, even though that girl I grew up watching on Saved By the Bell made that naughty movie, I turned out okay; I think this generation will somehow cope, too.

The New York Times looks at Randy Newman's "Louisina 1927" and its evolution via the folk song tradition. While the song's prominence after Hurriane Katrina was hardly surprising, it did strike me as slightly odd, or ironic, that a song about people being flooded to save New Orleans, or New Orleans' reputation, would be coopted to be about the destruction of New Orleans. But as this article shows, that's to be expected, given the towns tradition of reinventing songs. And certainly the callousness of authority to the destruction is the same.

In other Randy Newman news, apparently he can't outrun the damn paparazzi. LEAVE RANDY ALONE! Actually, though, this makes me wonder if I shouldn't leave a piano in my front yard, maybe it will attract Randy Newman.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Through Weegee's Lens": The New York Times has a profile today of photographer Jill Freedman.

Friday, April 25, 2008

More info on the shark attack. After fielding phone calls about this all day, I can finally go home and watch the news and actually find out what happened. I was surprised by just how ape-shit the media went (which helps explain all the calls). Though I suppose I shouldn't be; It is very shocking news, not something you'd expect here in San Diego.

I was surprised to see how many people were in the water at La Jolla Shores. It would be silly to retreat from the water forever because of this one freak incident, but I still wouldn't get in the water the day of the attack, between the location of the attack and the sea lions at the Children's Pool.

Breaking news: Fatal shark attack in Solana Beach.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clinton, Obama, John Edwards all on The Colbert Report Thursday night. Hillary's bit just wasn't funny; Obama at least seemed to engage Colbert a bit. But it was John Edwards who stole the show; it's a shame that politicians can only be likable when they're out of the running.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chris Gaffney, dead at 57. Only saw him perform once, at the Belly Up, opening for Dave Alvin with the Hacienda Brothers, and later playing with Dave.
Hazel Court, dead at 82. I watched her in The Raven just the other night.
The Nazi origins of the Olympic torch relay. Leni Riefenstahl staged the first torch relay, to "create the myth the Greeks never got around to telling." Sad, that in all the coverage of the torch protests, I first learned of this history not from the real news, but from The Daily Show (which led Jon Stewart do boast, at the end of his show, of his ability to open on a dreidel joke and close on a Hitler joke):

Ollie Jonston, Disney animator, dead at 95.
Padres lose in 22-inning overtime. After the 18th inning, sprinklers came on in the Park at the Park.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I saw a high school production of Urinetown: The Musical last weekend. Once I got over the awkwardness of being the only person in the audience not enrolled at or employed by the school, or related to someone who was, I had a grand old time watching one of my favorite musicals. Now I see that my college has a production of the selfsame musical this weekend, so I figure I might as well see it two weeks in a row. Perhaps Urinetown can be my Friday night thing, or if that's too difficult, just urine in general.
Slate looks back at the photograph "The Soiling of Old Glory," from Boston's 1976 busing crisis. The slide show also includes a chilling photograph of a woman and child falling from a fire escape; it reminded me of a segment on This American Life's television program about the photographs mentioned here, which I can't find reproduced online. Of course, the only possible moral ambiguity in the falling women photograph would be voyeurism (at the forefront of my mind, as I watched Peeping Tom last night), as it is more obvious that there was no action the photographer should take (and he did avert his gaze before impact).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Monty Hall problem hits research into cognitive dissonance. That article had a link to a vintage New York Times article from around the time of the Marilyn vos Savant controversy, where Monty Hall himself tried to settle the matter. Really emphasizes Hall's role on "Let's Make a Deal" as a skillful huckster. There's a documentary, Deal, with a behind-the-scenes look at "Let's Make a Deal." Not all that great a documentary, overall, but seeing all that Monty Hall had to juggle during a taping was impressive. And, as a part-owner of the show, every penny he avoided giving to a contestant was money in his pocket.
People like people with the same name. We like things that remind us of ourselves. So why does the new Mike Myers movie look to me like a piece of shit?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

So, I finally got around to returning to the library the VHS cassette trapped in my VCR. Returning it still entombed, of course. I hoped maybe it came up enough that the librarians might have some pointers as to how to remove it, but no such luck. Some patrons actually had some useful information as to how the mechanism holding the cassette works, but the gears they indicated we should turn weren't going to budge. The librarian seemed concerned with not damaging my VCR, which as this point I didn't care about. But even handling it a bit rougher, he didn't have any more luck than I at removing it. So he renewed the video for me, sent me home with my VCR, and suggested I try a little more to remove it on my own. So when I got home, I took out a hammer, and tried to pry off the metal cover of the cage holding the cassette, and it popped of with almost no effort. I'd failed in previous attempts, so apparently the combined stress of various attempts finally loosened it enough that it came off without a fight. Continuing to use the claw of a hammer, I then tried to break off the plastic pieces holding the cassette in place, without damaging the cassette itself. I couldn't break the plastic bits off, but I did manage to stretch it just enough that I could work the cassette out of the VCR and to freedom. So a half-hour later, I headed back to the library, returned the cassette (no visible damage, though I wouldn't recommend watching it), and at last my library record was unencumbered.

It did occur to me, driving home, that I should have waited until today to return the cassette. I came in with the cassette stuck in my VCR, no idea what to do; they tinkered with it for awhile and sent me on my way. A half-hour later, the tape is free. That sounds suspicious, as though I had some sort of electronic Munchausen by Proxy, getting things stuck in my VCR only so I can remove them and be hailed a hero. So hopefully my library record has not been flagged for deviancy. In any event, I don't think I'll be checking out any more VHS cassettes, no point tempting fate.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Colbert announced the other day that he won a Peabody this year (he thanked the Peabodys and their boy Sherman); now I see Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me also won a Peabody. Apparently, I am on the Peabody Award committee, and didn't realize it. If it turns out the Sirloin Steak and Egg Burrito at Jack in the Box also won a Peabody, that'll be all the proof I need.
Grand Prix head assures the public his orgy did not have Nazi undertones. No, sir, it was your typical, mom-and-pop, meat-and-potatoes orgy.
A look at the film D.O.A.. Included is a promotional piece suggesting theaters host an essay contest, with the theme of when a man is justified in hitting a woman. I remember being disappointed in the film when I saw it years ago, but amused by the doctor with about the worst bedside manner I've seen on film. "Geez, tell a guy he's got 24 hours to live, and he gets all worked up or something."

Greenbriar Picture Shows is also where I found this post about pre-code marketing, including an interesting ad for Freaks: "Tonight and Thursday with shame our screen unfolds the worst picture ever made! Don't See It! And be assured you missed nothing!"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Seuss sez: Stop making movies of my books.
Charlton Heston, dead at 84. People thought that the Supreme Court's upcoming hearing on the D.C. handgun ban would be an important milestone in the history of the Second Amendment, but now, with Heston's hands cold and dead, the issue seems to be moot.

In all respect, I should say that Touch of Evil is one of my favorite movies, and Heston deserves thanks for managing to play a Mexican in a manner as inoffensive as possible, considering he was Charlton Heston playing a Mexican.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

This American Life being simulcast live to theaters nationwide. Good idea, but $20 seems a bit steep for what is apparently a commercial for season two of their television show. I like the idea of these live events being broadcast to movie theaters, but the pricing seems out of whack. People are accustomed to paying $10 at the most for a movie, and they (or I, at least) won't pay much over that for a live event. At $12, I might, $15, I'd consider, but any higher than that and I feel like I'm being taken for a chump. I'd rather just donate $20 to public radio.
Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost, dead at 44.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008