31 May 2007

"It's Kobe, He Changed His Mind Again"

Said by Charles Barkley during the halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

(he did so after checking his phone in the middle of their analyst roundtable, all time NBA great, one of the best personalities on TV, and prop comic, the man can do everything)

Guess it's about time I mentioned the Kobe thing 'aka' the full employment act for LA based Sports Talk Radio hosts.

He's been busy. He's upset at the folks upstairs with the Lakers. He wants out, he wants in, he wants Jerry West.

Here's my take. This is an internal Buss family matter with Dr. Jerry Buss and son Jim Buss on one side with Jeanie Buss and s/o Phil Jackson on the other. By most accounts, Mitch Kupchak is Jim's guy, and in accord with Jerry's decision to hold down the salaries and try and compete on the cheap. Phil came back to the Lakers expecting them to give him an opportunity to pass Red Auerbach and collect his 10th championship as coach. He's upset, and he's super close to Kobe the second time around. I think Jeanie is involved cause she might feel a bit slighted that Jim is back with the family business even though he turned his back on it for some time, only to come back and be thrust into a more important position than she has, despite Jeanie having been with the Lakers for her whole adult life.

Dr. Jerry Buss (sure his doctorate is in chemistry, not medicine, but whenever it's official Laker business they always call him "Dr. Jerry Buss", so I'll do the same) is the poorest team owner in American major sport, he's the only owner whose primary source of income is his team. He's at a huge disadvantage when it comes to competing with the billionaires and consortiums that now make up the majority of team owners. But the Lakers are one of the most valuable franchises in all of sports and he has under contract one of the most marketable stars across all sports, so he should bite the bullet, pay the luxury tax, pursue a quality free agent and put a team around Kobe that has a chance to win now. Kobe may play at a top level for another decade, or he may only have 3-4 years left. Whichever team he's on must have a sense of urgency and he needs to be surrounded by players that match his intensity, or else he'll eat them alive. The Bulls during their hey day reflected Jordan, and most all the players filled their roles well. So far Odom has not been Kobe's Pippen, but that's still a possibility. Odom's very talented, and when you see him play well you wonder why he's not a perennial all star, but then he has stretches where he's invisible, and he's never seemed comfortable deferring to Kobe. Kwame Brown has shown flashes of being a great gamble, but those are two far and between. Andrew Bynum is a project, and even though his potential made the choice to pick him seem sound, his inability to contribute now makes him a greater asset as trade bait then a possible piece in a future dynasty.

If everyone had stayed healthy, the Lakers might have made the Western Conference finals and none of this blow up would have happened. The Lakers didn't do any worse in the playoffs then the Heat, Mavericks, Nuggets, or Rockets. A lot of teams that seemed like they could contend for a championship this year, are watching the playoffs just like Kobe and the Lakers.

The soap opera known as "The Lakers" this off season may end up being more entertaining than the team was this past post-season.

I'd hate to see Kobe go, being able to see all his games is a real treat. His frustration is the sign of a competitor, and I'm surprised to see that most of the press he's received has been semi-supportive. Sure he's been a bit whiny this week, but he's been whiny for cause, and if this spat with the front office causes them to shake up the roster in a good way, it will end up being better for all involved.


If you want to make your own Kobe trade, ESPN has the "Trade Machine", I came up with a four team trade that involved Boston, Atlanta, Knicks and Lakers with Kobe ending up with the Knicks and the Lakers getting Joe Johnson from Atlanta (among others), and Paul Pierce getting screwed (aka getting sent to Atlanta).

Also, Bill Simmons at ESPN comes up with a few possible trades of his own, with his favorite being a swap with Phoenix that would improve both teams and would in his words match, "The most selfish player in the league (Kobe) playing with the most unselfish player in the league (Nash). What a fascinating sociological experiment. If Nash can turn Kobe into a team player, I'm voting him for our 2008 president even though he's Canadian."

Embracing the Nostalgia (Music Edition)

Two new albums and one new song this week released on URGE. The albums are Scarred from Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde fame, and Ultra Payloaded from Satellite Party headed by Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction fame, and the single is Tarantula by The Smashing Pumpkins of Smashing Pumpkins fame.

Embrace the late 80s and early 90s, you know you miss them musically.

First the single, The Smashing Pumpkins, according to their wiki, are reformed and have a studio album coming out in July. The new line-up includes original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, and Billy Corgan who has always been the main writer of both the music and lyrics for all their incarnations. Also, as has been Pumpkins tradition, you must have a vagina to play the bass for the band, Ginger Reyes 'aka' Ginger Sling is no exception (or at least if she is, she's very good at passing). The song itself is power pop, noisy, melodic, has a strong hook and lots and lots of guitars. It's more reminiscent of their earliest Gish/Siamese Dream type stuff than their later Mellon Collie period, which to me is a good thing and means I look forward to the first Pumpkins album since '99.

Next let's discuss The Satellite Party. Perry is always coming up with new projects for himself, and here's a good interview at Suicide Girls (link is to the interview, you'll have to click over to the naked goth chicks on your own) about his latest. Perry being Perry, there's a lot of whacked out material in conjunction with the album at the band's website. There's a blog (naturally), here's the entry about their upcoming Carson Daly appearances
Carson Daily Cares about music!
Wasn't he so famous for being an MTV vj?! Well now he is famous for making tevo a common houshold appliance. They say he gets the best bands. People Tevo his show a lot. We played four nights worth of songs for him tonight. Andy Dick ran out into the hallway with his foul mouth. We laughed for 5 minutes.
I saw new friend I met in airport bar last week- in the audience as well as dancer friends who all live in the valley. Chris- you seemed happy-good to see you again.
Just about to jump off stage when Nuno ripped into Stop! The producer didn't know how to react- we just fell into it-when Nuno's guitar went out... I thought they pulled the plug- but it was Nuno who pulled his own chord out accidently! He got down and jammed it back into his chorus pedal and we all laughed and soared through to the end. I hope they add that performance on another day.

Andy Dick is like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects the Dick. That's not the really crazy stuff, though, for that you have to click on the bio portion where it goes off into lala land about "the solutionists". But you probably don't care about that, what you want to know is, "How's the music?".

The music's fine. It's not Jane's Addiction, and that's probably a good thing, Jane's was great, but that was then, this is now. This album has a pretty commercial friendly feel to it. There's some techno flourishes, some funkier tracks, some rockier tracks, one really beautiful ballad (Awesome), but mostly it's groovy. It's danceable rock, basically, more reminiscent of Garbage or Republica than Jane's (especially on the track Kinky, it's really easy to imagine Shirley Manson singing that song instead of Perry). Other than the title track, Ultra - Payloaded Satellite Party could have been on any of the Jane's album. Overall, it's a solid album, if a bit of a throwaway. It's not meant to make you think, it's meant to tap your feet, and for the summer time, that's not a bad thing.

Now, let's talk about the amazing new solo album from Johnette Napolitano. She rocks. She's one of my all time favorite performers, and Concrete Blonde was one of the best live bands that I've ever seen personally. If you're already a fan of hers, then this album won't disappoint. You can download an acoustic version of the song "When I'm Gone" (mp3 download at link) and her website has a music player embedded that lets you listen to the whole album, so you don't have to take my word for how awesome this album is. For why she's terrific I suggest listening to her cover of Coldplay's The Scientist. It's the second track, so just click next and you'll hear her rip into that song with all the intensity her voice brings. Intensity doesn't equal volume, it's a quiet song, done quietly, but she manages to convey so much emotion in her singing without edging over into bathos. It's much less whiny than the original (admittedly not hard to do, Chris Martin is a consummate whiny singer). So if that impresses you, you'll love the rest of this, if it doesn't then stay away from this album. The title track is impressive as well. Again, either her talk/singing style puts you off, or you'll find it enthralling, I'm in the latter camp. The musicianship is top notch throughout, and she just throws so much of herself into her vocals that I find it hard not to be swept up into the songs.

So that's it, instead of a "new music Tuesday" you have an 'old favorites releasing new music Thursday'. Good to see all these folks still out there, still evolving, and still holding on to what made them special back in the day as well.

29 May 2007

Embracing the Smut (Semenal Edition)

Here at Immodest Proposals we (meaning just me) like to ask the hard hitting questions all other blogs are afraid to ask.

Psych Today (hat tip Instapundit) reports on a poll conducted by Dr. Gallup (not to be confused with that other polling Gallup) that suggests women who engage in unprotected sex experience symptoms of withdrawal if their source of 'the good stuff' is cut off.

Perusing Dr. Gallup's blurb for the Psychology Department at SUNY-Albany he clearly has as an area of emphasis the stickey icky, here's how he describes his research areas of interest

My research interests focus on the impact of evolution on human behavior, with particular emphasis on gender differences in human reproductive competition, factors that influence mate selection, the role of female infidelity and paternal assurance tactics, the relationship between morphology and behavior (e.g., fluctuating asymmetry, digit ratios), adaptations that minimize forced copulation, effect of the menstrual cycle on behavior, voice attactiveness as a fitness indicator, semen chemistry and behavior, sperm competition, and semen displacement. I am also interested in the evolution of self-awareness and social cognition, and schizophrenia as a self-processing disorder.

Interesting stuff, but it suggests that he polled looking to confirm what he already suspected rather than testing for physical properties of semen that might go beyond evolutionary biopsychology. If he were interested solely in finding whether or not the hormone cocktail contained within semen had an intrinsic effect on mood he could have set up experiments that tested for its usefulness whether taken vaginally, anally, orally or topically and whether or not it effected women, but also men. If it's a bloodstream thing, then it would be useful not just vaginally, if it's some combination of vaginal secretions and hormones released during vaginal intercourse by women acting in combination with semen (which might explain why barrier methods of birth control prevent the same level of 'addiction'), then the other uses for the stuff should not show the same effect. Also another group to study would be whether or not women who engaged with men who've had vasectomies and thus lack sperm in their ejaculant experienced a different response compared to the women who had unprotected sex with men who are loaded with the little swimmers.

But I think what this study really shows is that Dr. Gallup really hates condoms and is just finding some evolutionary biopsychological reasons to justify not using them. Also women who have unprotected sex might be intrinsically different than women who have protected sex, and are either riskier by nature, or are in more stable relationships, both possibilities would suggest that the beneficial psychological boost they get from sex would be greater (in the case of the risk takers for the thrill, for the stable cause they are in a trusting loving relationship). Seems like the women who get depressed when missing out on their stickey fix are the ones who might be abnormal and not the other way around. And in such a small sample (293 college age women in what sounds like a self-reported survey), it's hard for me to believe that the conclusions drawn aren't just confirming the biases of the surveyor.

28 May 2007

Embrace the Smut

Judging from the Amazon ads that keep showing up on my sidebar (Naked Frat Men and Crotchless Panties), I'm guessing this is perceived by their algorithms as being a pretty smutty blog.

I can't argue with Amazon, they're too powerful, too all knowing, if they think I'm a smut blogger, I must be a smut blogger.

So here are some NSFW (18+ to view, please) video links to stuff I've seen recently at LiveLeak.

I won't embed the full on smut, but I will link it.

The first bit of smut is both extraordinarily wrong, and yet just a little bit right for Memorial Day. It's also why we fight. We fight against the gynophobic, puritanical, maniacal Islamist fascists so that young buxom blonde European pornstars can pose naked (but for some boots and gloves) with an RPG launcher and some other weapons (which I assume are as fake as her breasts) and perform push ups and jump rope (with really good form, if you watch this video for one reason it would be to observe her technique). She may not be American, but she can thank America for letting her produce videos like this without fearing for her life.

The second bit of smut is a montage of clips of a young slim fit South American woman. It's not spectacular in of itself (though she is exceedingly attractive), rather it's the music used (if you can stand to look at the smut, enjoy the music, it's so wrong it's right).

LiveLeak is trying to compete with YouTube by being completely unfiltered. What has ended up happening is you have lots of porn and violence being uploaded along with unfettered copyright infringement and more fringe stuff from a political standpoint. Also, it would seem to be the go to sight for both the Jihadis and the people in our Armed Forces to upload war footage.

It's hard to know where that site is headed. Either it will get bought by one of the bigger players and will move towards respectability, or it will stay as the "wild west" alternative to the comparatively staid YouTube. So long as no deep pockets get involved, it's lawsuit proof (the way YouTube was before Google stepped in), as soon as they sell, then there'll be lawsuits a plenty (as has been the case with YouTube/Google). Maybe they can afford to keep the servers going just on the ads they already get and make enough profit to please the folks who put it together. If so, it's probably a net positive to have an outlet like this for (mostly) crappy videos. If not, they'll move towards respectability, and some new video site will take its place on the "the other guys won't show you the sickest crap" rung on the ladder. There's plenty wrong with the impulse to put this stuff up. I have no problem with the titillating stuff, I have a problem with the 'faces of death' footage that also seems to be popular on this site and wonder how kids will turn out who grow up having finger tip access to whatever they want to see, whenever they want to see it (so long as they are on a computer unsupervised). But then, society always thinks that the latest tech is too much for the kiddies to handle and will rot their weak little minds. Good parents keep kids' brains unrotten, no matter what media is out there for them to consume.

Also, LiveLeak's search engine sucks, big time. If they want to get more popular, they'll need to fix that, pronto.

25 May 2007

Your Solenoid Related Videos of the Day

Pirates, Boardrooms, Two Capt. Jacks, and Dubious Thighs (A Non-Review of Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End)

Saw the big new Pirates movie last night. It was what it was. The good moments outweigh the sluggishly turgid moments, in my opinion. The ability to create visuals has vastly superseded the capacity to turn out comprehensive and coherent plots it would seem. If you focus on plot and coherence, than this wasn't a film you'd enjoy. If instead you revel in surreal visual treats, truly odd moments and cinematic spectacle, then you might find yourself won over by this mess.

About those dubious thighs, at some point during this film, supposedly the leg of Keira Knightly is displayed. I have strong doubts as to whether or not the leg in question has ever been attached to the rest of Keira's body. Whoever possesses said leg, has truly a stunning set of gams, and seems to have allowed a hamburger or two pass through her palate (and let it stay in her stomach long enough to be processed). The rest of Keira looks too angular and sharp to still have a leg that looks so delicious.

About those two Capt. Jacks. This movie has far more than two Capt. Jacks. In one of the more surreal touches in the film, Jack would conference with himself on a regular basis, but those aren't the multiple Jacks I'm talking about. The two Jacks are Jack Shaftoe and Jack Sparrow. The Pirate films and the Baroque Cycle trod similar ground. Both examine the end of one system and the beginning of another. Both Jacks are insane, but inspired. There's a huge difference in the quality of writing between Stephenson's cycle and the mess of influences and thoughts that comprise the Pirate scripts. Part of the difference is between the visual and the written. If you were to try and film the Baroque Cycle, it would be a mess, a glorious mess, but a mess nevertheless. The only way to do something like that justice would be a limited run Anime style series that goes on for 60-70 half hour episodes. You could probably tell the tale in about 35 hours and keep it interesting, plus animation would suit the settings better than live action, and many adult aimed Anime is as complex, byzantine, contemplative and digressive as what Neal Stephenson writes. But that's a different topic all together.

About the ending of one system and the beginning of another. That's one thing that the Pirate films gets exactly 180 degrees wrong. They suggest throughout the last two films that the East India Trading Company represents an encroaching (and malevolent) modernity while piracy represents a waning (and romantic) past. But the opposite is true. The old style mercantile system is what began to fall apart in the late 18th and early 19th century. Large state sponsored and controlled monopolies on trading routes were being dashed by improving technologies and fiercely darwinistic entrepreneurship. Pirates are the forerunners to today's "captain's of industry", not the petty bureaucrats who ran the state backed monopolies. Pirates were ruthlessly capitalistic, innovative, and would fit in more easily in a modern boardroom than any East Indian Trading Company big wig would. There's a boardroom scene in the latest Pirate film, they don't call it a boardroom, of course, but takeaway the swords and guns, and it's perfectly recognizable as being thoroughly modern.

Why do these effects driven pictures lack coherence lately? I think the answer lies in how they are constructed. Each action set piece is worked on by dozens if not hundreds of techs working for months on their little section of film. They get input from the director as they go, but by and large each big effects laden sequence is a little fiefdom all its own. As these sequences come together I suspect that the original narrative intent for including these sequences or for the particular beats and moments included in these bits gets lost. The lead effects people show off a new trick here, a nice innovation there, and pretty soon the sequence no longer precisely resembles what was intended, and doesn't mesh well with the original narrative. The director is then faced with a quandary. Lose months of work from dozens of techs, or tack on some extra exposition that makes these sequences fit into the overall narrative better. Well multiply that problem and solution over a dozen or so sequences and you end up with a bloated mess that can't be reduced, and can't be trimmed to a runtime of less than 2.5 hours.

People flock to these pictures (myself included, and yes, I'll see Transformers no matter how stupid it is, the eye candy aspect of that film is irresistible) as they are, and visuals transcend language so these films do massive business world wide. But they might do even better if they held the runtimes down and tried to tell simpler tales more effectively.

23 May 2007

A Better Summary of the Early 70s I Can't Think Of . . .

How stupid were the early 70s and the 60s hangover of stupid thinking that lead to bad decisions after bad decisions?

This bad (from the Band on the Run wiki):

After the success of Red Rose Speedway, "Live And Let Die" - the new James Bond theme song - was released as the next "Wings" single (without McCartney's name in the artist credit) and became a worldwide smash. It was at this juncture that Paul and wife Linda McCartney began contemplating their next album. Bored with recording in the UK, they really wanted to challenge themselves and Wings by going to some exotic locale. Asking EMI to send him a listing of all its international recording studios, Paul happened upon Lagos in Nigeria and was instantly taken with the idea of recording in Africa. Alongside the McCartneys, guitarist Denny Laine was set to go, as well as lead guitarist Henry McCullough, and drummer Denny Seiwell. However, a few weeks before departing in late August, McCullough quit Wings in Scotland; with Seiwell following suit the night before the departure, this left just the core of the band, Paul, Linda and Denny Laine, to venture to Lagos alone.

While there, both the McCartneys were mugged at knifepoint, and were accosted in the studio by legendary musician Fela Kuti for fear that Paul was plagiarizing African music (fears which McCartney quickly assuaged by playing Kuti the recorded music), and were persuaded to record at Ginger Baker's studio in Lagos (where he lived at the time) by the man himself, once he heard that the McCartneys were in town. It was a most action-packed time, clearly, and one which only saw the recording of the ensuing album's backing tracks.

I think that sums up so much of that mindset. A massive amount of drugs is the only explanation for the actions of all involved.

Would love to turn that into a screenplay though. Not some love letter to the stupidity that was the late 60s, but a moment in time that captures the stoned thinking and stoned consequences of stoned actions.

Decided to give Macca a try, since most of McCartney's early albums are available on URGE for the first time. Must say, I'm inclined to agree with Robert Cristgau regarding Band on the Run, a decidedly C+ effort (always liked the song Jet, though).

Nothing I've heard from actual former Beatles (or the Beatles themselves for that matter) has swayed me from the opinion that Beatlesque pop is best left to non-Beatles. Both Jellyfish albums are far superior to Band on the Run, and I like both Sean Lennon albums (though to be fair to Sean, neither album is particularly "beatlesque") better than any of his father's output.
And I still prefer the Monkees over the Beatles any day of the week. Matter of fact, watch this video, you know it will make you smile (from the film Head, co-written by Jack Nicholson, this film is an example of good 60s stoner stupidity)

22 May 2007

Yeah, Makes Sense, Cause There's Nothing Sexual About an Adult Man Sucking at the Teat of an Adult Woman . . .

He argued that if a man nursed from a co-worker, it would establish a family bond between them and allow the two to work side-by-side without raising suspicion of an illicit sexual relation.

(hat tip LGF)

Interesting theoretical backflips done to come up with that fatwa.

So let me try and understand this, as long as the woman in question is "expressive" (in a lactating sort of way) then it would be familial, but if she weren't "expressive", then it becomes tawdry and dirty?

Does this mean only lactating women can work outside of home in mixed company?

If we were to follow this edict in the United States, would the pay disparity between men and women evaporate?

Would women mention in their resumes the sweetness and nutritional content of their milk as part one of their selling points?

20 May 2007

Whatever Your Ideological Perspective May Be, Can We All Agree On This One Thing?

That thing being, they show far too many films in K-12 schools. A North Ontario kid named McKenzie complains that he's seen Inconvenient Truth in four different courses at his high school.

But first, a digression about the, 'we used his first name only to at the request of his parents to protect his identity', bit. How protective of ones identity is the use of a first name if that first name itself is fairly unique? How many male 18 year olds in high school in North Ontario have the first name McKenzie? I know people have been picking some messed up first names over the past 3-4 decades, but a Canuck with the first name McKenzie? That's messed up. Besides, it's totally a chicks name to begin with, so unless you have centuries of family precedent you're honoring, don't name your boychild McKenzie. He probably would have been less identifiable had they gone with last name only rather than first name. But given the nature of his complaint (he makes no complaint about the content of the doc itself, just that the teachers at his school all feel compelled to show it, even in classes where it may be of dubious relevance), why bother with the whole, 'protect his identity' silliness in the first place?

But anyway, back to my point about the overuse of video in classroom settings. We don't pay teachers excellent money (yes, I said excellent money, given that it's a 9 month a year job, one that only requires 5-6 hours of face time with students per day, and has some of the sweetest benefits packages and most militant unions of any job available) to rely on videos to babysit the students in their charge.

Video should be used never to exceedingly rarely. Students are there to learn from each other and their teachers, if the teacher can't get the job done without wasting class time on videos of little true educational value, then find a different line of work, cause those teachers are just killing time and feathering their nests till they've served long enough to receive full benefits in retirement.

We all had those teachers more interested in counting the minutes than even their students, this is a symptom of that problem. Force them to engage, or quit, demand quality from instructors, maybe you'll find that if mediocrity is no longer tolerated, then higher quality people will be attracted to the job.

But back to this particular incident, it sure seems like Gaiaism is the newest and most agressive religion to be let loose on this planet. I'm fairly certain that there are those that believe in Goracle Infalibility with regards to statements he makes on the environment, and even if he's wrong on the facts, he's right with his message so don't let any inconvenient misapplications of the data get in the way of genuflecting before the holy DVD that shows the Goracle in all his most glorious Goracleness.

17 May 2007

OK, That's A Point In Her Favor, But I Still Won't Be Voting For Her

Sen. Hillary Clinton has picked up the very important "world's most famous pornstar" endorsement (via Drudge).

As a business person you'd think Jenna would worry more about higher taxes and increased regulatory complexity than any perceived GOP interference in her industry (despite his social positions, you'd think Jenna would be a Huckabee fan given what a boon a Fair Tax would be for a professional like her).

When the GOP is in control they talk about regulations, but it's when Dems are in control is when they actually get inacted. Even though she says the Clinton era was a golden age for porn (not her words, but her inference), I think she's mistaken.

But if I were interviewing Jenna Jameson regarding the Clintons my follow up question would have been, "Which would you prefer doing a scene with, Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea?"

That's a question for which she would be uniquely qualified to give an interesting answer.

Speaking of Chelsea, she would seem to be the perfect answer for Sen. Clinton's "First Lady" problem. Bill would make a terrible First Lady. The role is too traditionally feminine, and too wrapped up in protocol for someone of his inclinations and temperament to fulfill. Chelsea on the other hand might be just right for the role. She could resign her position as an access peddler in NYC (I mean important cog in the wheel that is Avenue Capital hedge fund), move into the White House, and fulfill the wifely functions for her mother that her father would be so terrible at.

She'd be a more natural choice to fulfill the First Lady function than former President Clinton, and much less controversial.

And as far as the question I would have asked Jenna, my guess is her answer would have been, 'all three at once'.

16 May 2007

Sure Your Product Smells Like Grandpa, But Damn, You Sure Do Make Fine Commercials

Bruce Campbell cheesing it up with a piano bar version of Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf?

Doesn't get any better than that.

Still not touching your stinky product, but bravo anyway.


A behind the scenes video for a commercial? Yes, of course, when it's this awesome of a commercial it makes sense.

Why does this work where Wendy's use of Blister in the Sun doesn't? Partly it's the song. Duran Duran was cheesy to begin with, and Hungry Like the Wolf is already nonsensical, so to be put in this context only improves rather than detracts from the song. Also, Bruce Campbell can pull off anything. A lesson to other actors out there, if you shill, shill shamelessly. There's no shame in making a buck. Do it with joy, or don't do it at all. Bruce is clearly enjoying himself and the awesomeness shows up in the final commercial spot.

Crass commercialism is an art form not to be trifled with. Also, his bit in Spiderman 3 was superb.

Memo to the networks, if you think those whiny Geico cavemen are capable of sustaining a sitcom, then surely Old Spice's "Man of Experience" is worthy his own series as well. I'm thinking do it McBragg style where he tells a slightly impossible vignette to some whippersnapper each week. The possibilities are endless. And you could go animated a la Venture Bros. if you really want to open up the potential plots and scenarios, or if you go live action, use Bruce to full effect and give him a good cast to work off of. Make this and I wouldn't mind a ton of obvious Procter & Gamble product placement each week. Actually it would be preferable if you load it up with product placement but skip the commercial interruptions.


Earlier, I embedded a little bit of the John Sweeney v Scientology Panorama action, well now below we have the Rich and Mark version involving a banana.

Not bad, not bad at all, but he still don't have nothing on John Sweeney. Sweeney's still the master of the emotional outburst and defeats all comers, but in the future hopefully someone else will lose it as fantastically as he did.

(and get a haircut hippie)

I Agree With David Stern?

And not just cause I hate the Phoenix Suns (I also hate the San Antonio Spurs).

Diaw and Stoudemire deserve the punishment they've earned, even if it costs their team this series. They knew the rule, they violated it. It's that simple. Not everyone agrees with me and David Stern, though.

And Robert Horry, MVP?

His foul wasn't a cheap shot, it was a hard foul, an intentional foul, but Nash did overact once he was flying through the air. Being from Canada, you'd think he'd appreciate a hip check into the boards.

But as far as Horry, it was a veteran play, a tone setter for the next game, and he lucked out that two of the stars for Phoenix got sucked into getting themselves suspended.

As far as the rest of the playoffs, I'm leaning towards thinking that Charles Barkley is right and Utah has a real chance at winning it all. I didn't think they'd get out of the first round, but they've surprised me, and they match up well against any team they might face. Could Sloan get his first championship with these guys? Seems incredible, but not impossible.

Whichever team survives the battle between the Spurs and the Suns will be physically and emotionally spent and may have trouble facing a strong, rested, and motivated Jazz team.

And whichever team advances in the West will be a much better team than either of the teams likely to emerge from the East. Detroit and Cleveland are good for Eastern Conference squads, but I expect them to have trouble against any of the possible Western Conference champions.

Every year there's a 2nd round match up that's better than the finals it seems. This year it's the San Antonio v. Phoenix match. The NBA needs to radically alter how they seed the playoff teams. Here's how they should do it.

Mix the conferences together from the first round on. Take the six division winners and make them the 1-6 seeds. Let each team pick their opponent out of any of the remaining 10 playoff teams in order of season record. If the playoffs were set up that way, a possible first round would look something like this, Dallas-Orlando, Phoenix-Washington, Detroit-Lakers, Utah-Golden State, Toronto-New Jersey, Miami-Houston, leaving San Antonio-Cleveland as the two teams that none of the conference winners wanted to face.

All the following rounds would be reseeded based on season record with the three first round winners with the best record being able to pick their opponents from the other five teams.

A system like this would reward consistency in the regular season, give more teams a reason to play all the way up to the last game, and allow coaching staffs of the best teams to pick opponents that match-up with them in a manner they find attractive.

Seeing the same teams knock each other out in the 2nd round is a bit annoying, instead having a possible Final of Dallas v Phoenix or Phoenix v San Antonio is a lot more attractive than the possible Utah v Cleveland showdown that might be looming.

The Debates I'd Like to See

Fox News did an as good as job as possible with the 10 person circus style debate format they were saddled with. MSNBC's debates were a travesty in comparison.

But the format itself is a dead format and should be abandoned.

Here's the debate format I'd like to see.

Acknowledge that the way the system works now, there are a first tier and second tier of candidates. That's the reality, and by letting everyone who can get there name on a ballot to participate, you only make it harder for voters to see the differences between the candidates that might actually have a chance to be running the country one day.

Another thing worth changing would be to combine the Democrats and Republicans together. These debates are a conversation, and that conversation should offer both sides, not just one or the other, the earlier both major parties actively engage the other, the better it would be for both party's electorate to determine which candidate is best capable of offering a strong challenge in the only poll that matters, the one on the 2nd Tuesday in November of an election year.

So here's the format, invite four candidates from each party to bi-weekly debates. If logistics makes meeting in the same town impossible, there's this thing called teleconferencing, and I hear you can do pretty amazing things with it.

Have each candidate be the "host" for ten minutes at a time, asking questions to the four opposing party candidates. Have a moderator ensure that they don't use their time to ask 9 minute questions full of their own campaign talking points, but instead reward candidates for engaging the other side directly. If Sen. Clinton is a legitimate potential leader for this nation, she ought to be able to ask questions, and get asked questions, directly from Mayor Giuliani or Sen. McCain, or Gov. Romney. Likewise, a former prosecutor like Giuliani would have fun going after Clinton, or Sen. Obama, or Sen. Edwards on specific issues of interest to him and the nation.

If a candidate like Romney wanted to spend his time getting the Dems to bicker amongst themselves, he could, or he could directly challenge them to explain how their choices would be better for the country. Likewise Obama could use his time as "host" to offer a quick take on his views and challenge any of the leading Republicans to offer better.

By forcing the two sides together as early as possible, that would change the tone of these debates from monologue to dialogue. It would be up to each candidate to decide whether that dialogue should be shrill, informative, cooperative, or combative. This would give the primary voters real information on how these folks would perform come general election time, and it would generate far more interest amongst that big group of independents who sit these things out till the last minute usually.

The current format favors agreement over conflict (except when it comes to the fringe candidates like Paul, Gravel or Kucinich), and that's boring. My suggestion favors engagement while at least offering the possibility that a touch of substance might seep to the surface.

Also, by rotating in a different 4th from each party, you'd give the possibility that somebody currently on the outside like Gov. Richardson or Gov. Huckabee could make a big enough impression to build up a more solid base. Right now there's just too much noise and too little time to do so. Also, having those two changing seats in the debate would mark a difference and add some needed unpredictability to these proceedings.

Bi-weekly would be a burden on the candidates, but then these folks expect to be president one day, so it's not too much to ask if they want all that power. The more often they're exposed to situations they don't control fully control the better. We need to see how these folks operate under pressure, and my format suggestion would add a deal of pressure and force them to apply some intellectual rigor to their own positions and their understanding of their opponents'.

But neither party would ever agree to this, even though this could be a benefit to both given that the candidates who emerged from this process would be razor sharp and battle tested rather than some sad sack standard bearer who gets a shot at the presidency simply cause it was their turn.

A Reader Suggests . . .

Scouring my endless torrent of email, I came across a suggestion from a reader

Notice how whenever Andrew Sullivan does one of his "a reader writes" or "a reader suggests" that this unnamed reader basically says exactly what Mr. Sullivan was thinking. I'm beginning to think that there are no readers, and that he's faking these emails! I know, shocking to say the least, but it does seem like just a tired, hackneyed and pussified way to distance himself from statements that he wanted to make anyway but which he's hoping to paint with a shimmering veneer of credibility that if he just comes out and says that this is what he thinks may lack. And when I say that this is pussified behavior, I of course mean no disrespect towards his orientation. There are plenty of pussified heterosexual men, and there are plenty of non-pussified homosexual men, but when it comes to matters of intellectual honesty there are more than a few occaisons of late where Mr. Sullivan is one big massive vagina.

Anyway, that's what "a reader suggests", I certainly wouldn't have put my criticisms of Mr. Sullivan in those terms, I would have just pointed you to his rather incomprehensible man crush on Rep. Ron Paul as all the evidence you need that Sully has lost his freaking mind.

Don't believe me? Look at his reaction to the debate yesterday, in a series of posts that boggle my mind he takes on the media for their unfair(!) portrayal of Dr. Ron Paul as a crackpot.

He seems to think that internet polls are beyond gaming and sees Paul's victory in a Worldnet Daily poll as proof that Paul has appeal to rabid conservatives. If The Advocate had a poll on gay marriage and a bunch of "Christianist" (his term, certainly not mine) jumped in and skewed the results, I doubt he'd take that poll seriously. I suspect a serious case of the Mobys whenever these polls go up and some lefty jokers are organizing to screw up every online and text message poll where Ron Paul is an option. If Republicans and conservatives didn't have lives, they could do the same to the Dems and Gravel would win every time, but things like google bombing and astroturf letter campaigns and poll fixing are mostly the provenance of lefty losers and tech savvy idiots with too much time on their hands.

Whenever I visit Sully's site I tell myself this is the last time as he has ceased being capable of sustaining a thought that's worth listening to, yet I still venture over there. What's wrong with me?

15 May 2007

They're All A Bunch of Losers

While listening to the radio I heard a bit of the BBC Panorama reporter going ballistic with a Scientology representative.

Knowing there's more to the story, and knowing everything always ends up on YouTube, I was rewarded.

Above is the losing it snippet (the Scientology approved and provided version). It's a classic of the genre, it may never be topped. He goes from zero to insane, then back to zero, then right back to insane, in nothing flat. It's marvelous. Michael Palin doing his martinet routine couldn't have done it better.

But there was a backstory of course, as there always is. Sweeney was doing a hit piece on Scientology, and he was being pointedly jerky with all his pro-Scientology subjects. He would have done a better job destroying them had he not childishly insisted on bringing up Xenu or insisting on calling their religion a cult to their faces.

They are creepy enough when allowed to say what they want to say that you don't need to be confrontational to make them look like assholes. Instead he came across as the asshole the whole time. He lost it where he had his strongest case against them. Their ridiculous assertion that psychiatry can be blamed for the holocaust, 9/11, and just about every other thing wrong with this world is pretty damn crazy, and if it wasn't against their religion, I'd suggest they all need to seek psychiatric help. It's a sick and twisted game that Scientologists play when they try and subvert history to support their own pet neuroses regarding psychiatry. But, because that's where Sweeney loses it, that point might be lost on some viewers.

It does seem fairly clear that 'fair game' (explained in the piece as the practice of savaging critics and intimidating them with every legal, physical and emotional trick possible) is still in play, even if they claim that's not part of their tactics anymore.

It's entertaining, even if it's a bit vile, and for the moment is up in its entirety on YouTube.

Panorama Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

And his Scientologist stalker minder, Tommy Davis, is a close talker, I hate close talkers (but you have to love the Judge Reinhold)

It's hard to know who to hate more in this, on the one hand you have Tommy Davis who is pretty damn creepy, on the other you have the ridiculously biased and supremely unjournalistic BBC Panorama crew, which make our crappy 20/20s and Datelines look downright responsible.

I'd call it a draw this time, but there's definitely no winners in this exchange, only losers.

Here's Sweeney's explanation (or apology in the original sense of the word) regarding these events.

Lileks Should Go to Disneyworld and Get Fired/Reassigned/Quit More Often

The last two Bleats have been terrific, and he promises two more regarding his time in Orlando. Has me half wanting to go to Disneyland (where I haven't been for about a decade). Do they rent out 5-7 year olds with which to share the experience? (Links to the whole week, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)

(if only that wouldn't be so creepy)

Someone should pay Lileks (and wife if she could get the time off) to travel with Gnat this summer and take 4-5 weeks hitting all the major theme parks across the country.

It might kill him, but it'd make for some great writing.

The well of feeling for non-Disney parks wouldn't be as great, obviously, and Gnat is probably too young for the major coaster parks like Magic Mountain and Cedar Point, but surely Knott's and Dollywood, and the various Seaworlds, and Universal parks might produce some worthwhile reading.

Ideally, he could be partnered with some foreigner with which to share and trade observations about that particularly exuberant and corporate expression of Americana represented by major theme parks. Imagine a podcast/blogposts/bloggingheads collected from him travelling around these parks with Christopher Hitchens or Andrew Sullivan or Mark Steyn.

The mind boggles (in a good way) at the possibilities.

And judging from some of the comments he makes during Part II of his Disneybleats, I'm fairly certain that regarding his current employment, Lileks has indeed taken it, and shoved it as deeply and firmly as possible (but constant exposure to all things Disney may have prevented Johnny Paycheck's song from creeping into his consciousness).

An Entirely Inappropriate Way To Watch the Debate (and Commemorate a Pastor's Passing)

Taking a swig of Lynchburg's finest product at the mention of one of its recently passed favorite sons during tonight's GOP debate.

(which FNC is softpedalling surprisingly, guess they figure they don't need to pump things up the way MSNBC did)

It's especially inappropriate given that the finest product is from the wrong Lynchburg.

UPDATES to come, if I bother watching, and don't get too drunk.

Oh No! I just got drink-blocked by Brit Hume. Looks like all I get is the one swig from him mentioning that they won't be mentioning him. Can I watch this sober?

First question is Iraq, no soft pitch from FNC towards the GOP apparently. Substance to the answers haven't changed since last debate, but at least Gov. Thompson presented his answer more succinctly (it's a bad plan whether proposed by him or Sen. Biden, though), and Sen. McCain looks less blinky and cranky so far. Sen. Brownback is making his answer about Sen. Reid and his defeatism, again an improved presentation of the same idea. Mayor Giuliani brings up Ft. Dix, and agrees with McCain, not bad. I skipped Gov. Romney's response, his hair made more of an impression than his words for some reason. We'll just pretend I've already listened to the other responses on this question, does anyone care what Rep. Hunter or Tancredo think on this? ADDED: Rep. Paul forgets they aren't in Simi Valley anymore, he's addicted to Pres. Reagan references.

Sen. McCain messed up his overused drunken sailor line (it was a good line the first time, now it's a bit overused), oh well, no McCain bounce, likely. Gov. Huckabee unleashed a new quip in support of a Fair Tax, "We've had a congress that spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop" HUCKABEE WINS!! Debate's OVER!!! (not really, but almost)

Oh no he didn't! Gilmore calls out Giuliani and accuses him of being a liberal (almost, he's pressed to name names, instead he just says, visit my website).

A commercial break? Unusual. That's it for live viewing then, I'll catch up with this later (or not).

Gilmore's being an ass. Trying to break out from the bunch, won't work. Giuliani responds by reminding GOP voters all that's wrong with him as a conservative pale in comparison to what any of the Democrats would do as president. Good response. Winning response?

Goler, Wallace and Hume are lightyears better than Matthews and that Politico guy (sorry not gonna look it up). Wallace goes directly to McCain and challenges him on McCain-Feingold, he dodges, of course. Gov. Huckabee may become the top of the second tier after this, he's performing well.

Wendell Goler just gave Ron Paul enough rope to hang himself, and Rudy showed the proper outrage. Ron Paul is sounding like a Chomskyite. All the actual GOP candidates were chomping at the bit to give Paul a rhetorical beatdown (instead they move on).


As Wayne and Garth might say.

Sen. Thompson knew my man crush had flagged some, so he unleashes this video response to Michael Moore's silly challenge, and I'm again ready for him to jump into the fray.

(warning, according to proposed new MPAA guidelines, the above video should probably be rated "R")

Bob Krumm says it all in his take on it (via Instapundit).

Someone should work on the aspect ratio, though, given his features, elongating the image isn't a good idea.

Clearly, Sen. Thompson is an "it getter" with regards to how to communicate today. Despite his lackluster performance in Orange County a few weeks ago, there's a lot of time, and a lot of money available, for him to put together a serious challenge for the primaries.

After that, who knows?

The Democratic Party seems determined to push defeat, decline, and surrender as their watchwords and mantras for what they see going on in the United States today. American voters in the aggregate have never rewarded that kind of pessimism. Pessimistic messages have failed whether from the left or the right, so if the Democratic primary voters force their candidate to be the candidate of doom and gloom, woe be to them in November 2008.

10 May 2007

Just Cause I Feel Like Embedding Some Stuff, Here It Is

Yes, her faux English accent is gobsmackingly bad, but that makes the video all the sweeter. And who can argue with what she says, "I'll tell you what, we all need to take a moment and pause, and re-listen to Rupert Holmes 'The Pina Colada Song' aka 'Escape', because not only is Rupert a brilliant poet, but I truly believe that in that song is the message that we're all looking for . . ."

(and how do the hell does she even know about this song? She wasn't even born yet when it was released)

09 May 2007

Will Lileks Be Singing This Tune Next Week?

From the tone of tonight's Bleat, I'm guessing the video below might express his sentiment and actions next week.

Also, thar ain't nuthin' better than a salvage yard.

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (Cate Needs Brains, or At Least Carbs Edition)

Cate Blanchett did indeed have a few photos snapped of her that look downright frightening. Seems there was cause for this (thinning down for film role), and in person she didn't look as scary as she does in certain photos. But, she still gets a hearty fugging from Heather of the Fuggirls, see the whole thing in context for yourself, but here's a tease to convince you to click on over (plus you need to see the photo which she refers)

I can honestly say I've never before looked a photo of Cate Blanchett and feared she might have a passing interest in eating my brain. I realize this is a weird angle, but still -- her eyes manage to be both dead and dead-set on a plate of deep-fried cerebellum. And she's dangerously thin.

Maybe playing Bob Dylan -- as part of what feels like a cast of thousands dropped into just that one role -- has been stressful. Maybe Cate doesn't like knowing how it feels to be on your own, no direction home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone. Perhaps the answer was not blowin' in the wind, and unfortunately for her, neither was any creamy salad dressing. You know who can help, Cate? The Colonel. He has buckets and buckets of crispy, greasy, chickeny empathy for you, and at very reasonable prices.

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (Ben Franklin Edition)

Hereby, too, I shall indulge the inclination so natural in old men, to be talking of themselves and their own past actions; and I shall indulge it without being tiresome to others, who, through respect to age, might conceive themselves obliged to give me a hearing, since this may be read or not as any one pleases. And, lastly (I may as well confess it, since my denial of it will be believed by nobody), perhaps I shall a good deal gratify my own vanity. Indeed, I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity, I may say," etc., but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity, among the other comforts of life.

From Ben Franklin's autobiography, he was a blogger before there were blogs.

Ben Franklin=Proto-blogger

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (Dylan Jennings Edition)

Ken Jennings remarking on his remarkable son

What happened to the carefree naivete of childhood? It looks like Dylan has inherited the hardy Depression-era gift-giving ethic of Mindy’s grandma, and his descendants can all count on a eight-pack of Irish Spring from him for Christmas for the next eighty years or so.

(I'm a bit shocked he forgot to put an *an* in front of eight instead of an *a*, I thought he was nerdy enough to avoid that mistake)

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (An Appropriately Placed and Witty Modest Proposal Edition

Jon Swift brings the funny while taking apart Garance Franke-Ruta's rather Dinesh D'Souza-like suggestion that the age of consent for porn-acting should be raised to twenty-one.

Franke-Ruta's efforts to throw more pornographers and consumers of pornography in jail and make our young women less wild has been criticized by a few libertines like Ezra Klein, but I don't think she goes far enough. Can a girl of 21 really know what she is consenting to when she signs a release form for a pornographer? Does she really understand what the ramifications might be later in life? That is why I propose that we raise the minimum age of consent to participate in pornography to 65.

I think by 65 a woman has finally attained the maturity necessary to weigh the pros and cons of participating in pornography. Since she will most likely be retired or on the way to retirement by that age, there is little danger that such images will come back to haunt her in her career.

A tangential point about California law. It is illegal to serve alcohol at a place that allows fully nude dancing, but it's fine to booze it up if the women are merely topless. What this law has done is cause most fully nude places to employ mostly women in just past their 18th birthday while topless places tend towards the over 21 year old dancers with surgical enhancements. Seems like nonsense to me.

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (That Tall Bass Player Who Loves His Stogies From the Violent Femmes Edition)

(hat tip So Quoted)

Brian Ritchie a stand-up guy who plays the stand-up bass (sometimes, usually he plays a Mariachi style acoustic bass guitar), had unkind words for his bandmate Gordon Gano with reference to the use of some of their classic hits in commercials (something I've mentioned in the past).

"For the fans who rightfully are complaining about the Wendy's burger advertisement featuring Blister in the Sun, Gordon Gano is the publisher of the song and Warners is the record company. When they agree to use it there's nothing the rest of the band can do about it, because we don't own the song or the recording. That's showbiz. Therefore when you see dubious or in this case disgusting uses of our music you can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates. Neither Gordon (vegetarian) nor me (gourmet) eat garbage like Wendy's burgers. I can't endorse them because I disagree with corporate food on culinary, political, health, economic and environmental grounds. However I see my life's work trivialized at the hands of my business partner over and over again, although I have raised my objections numerous times. As disgusted as you are I am more so."

Not only could I not have said it better, but I lack the standing he does with regards to this matter. Time to break out the anecdote where I regale you with the tale about the time I met him backstage at the Wiltern (or not, Brian did seem the most 'dude I'd like to hang out with' of the three).

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (Patrick Ruffini Edition)

Today 09th of May, 2007 shall henceforth be known as 'couldn't have said it better myself' day.

Patrick Ruffini posting at Hugh Hewitt's blog lays down some knowledge.

As has been pointed out time and time again, the idea that only those who serve or who've served are qualified to comment on matters of war and peace is ridiculous on its face. (Actually, they usually stack the deck like this: only if you've served can you support a war, but anyone, regardless of past service, is qualified to oppose a war.) Last I checked, we do not have a military government and we do have a First Amendment. It's curious to see the left at cross-purposes with these two very basic tenets of Constitutional government.

But the case that seldom gets made is this. If we did follow the Kossacks' advice and let only interested parties decide our Iraq policy (service personnel and their families), the decision would be clear and it would be for victory. Want to know once and for all if the mission is worth it? Just ask the troops on the ground.

Be careful when you invoke Absolute Moral Authority (tm). You might not like the answers you get.


Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself (Anti-Quackery Edition)

OK, maybe I could have said it a little better if I really tried. Maybe I could have upped the snark level quite a bit on the particular comment I'm about to quote. But the general information is exactly what I thought after reading this post. My homepage tabs includes customizable homepages from Google, Yahoo (the offending site in this case), and MSN, there's a lot of overlap in the stories they forefront. There's also a lot of nonsense they put out there as 'news you can use'. New Age-y quack doctors are a dime a dozen. Chinese new age-y quack doctors infest the internet like [insert pest, say rats for instance] infesting [insert place where you loathe seeing pests but nevertheless unsurprised by their presence, say a Taco Bell in NYC].

I'm guessing Dr. Mao's guide to longevity is about as useful as Mao Zedong's Little Red Book.

Oh yeah, the quoted comment I referenced above? (see below)

Perusing Dr. Mao's archives, his brand of quackery isn't always crazed. His tips on natural weight loss seem fairly sound, at least undamaging, but for the most part Chinese 'alternative' medicine and herbal practices are an ancient, ineffective to outright harmful mispractice of healing arts. There's some wisdom buried in the silliness, but there's more silliness than wisdom, when it comes to maintaining good health, herbalists advice is generally OK (if you are healthy by nature and genetics, your body can withstand all sorts of self imposed stupidity), but when it comes to actually curing a real illness, these quacks will screw you up big time while lightening your wallet.

Don't eat canned goods, don't use microwave, don't use non-stick pans, don't use normal cleaners. This is RIDICULOUS advice from a "New Age" quack that is not only completely impractical, but completely devoid of any scientific basis. What garbage.

Posted by johnsig297 on Tue, May 08, 2007, 12:19 pm PDT

Unfortunately, I won't sway anyone susceptible to this nonsense, folks need their quacks, regardless of their cultural origins. But for whatever reason, Chinese quackery gets far more respect than it deserves, at least out here in La-La Land.

Word of the Day (The Internet DATA Movie Cousin Edition)

Hmmmm, Victorian era German erotica, I would imagine lots of "Stark", "Schneller", and "Tiefer", but then that holds for every era and every language I suppose.

Also, there are worse ways for a library to make money. Offering a recording of passages is probably better than allowing afterhours filming of similar diversions (bodily fluids and books don't mix, at least I hope they don't mix in any library I frequent)

This post's title, by the way, comes courtesy babelfish which translated imdb as "The Internet DATA Movie Cousin", Anne Bennent didn't show up on the English wiki, but she has a short page in German, which I sent through babelfish, and hilarity ensued.

(and no offense meant towards Frau Bennent, but any desired effect of her reading would likely be thwarted if one kept this image in mind)

08 May 2007

Word of the Day (It's In the Game Edition)

Not your usual story for a daily smack of the gob, I know, but how poorly EA performed in 1Q '07 is pretty astounding. The supply problems for the Wii and the high price for the PS3 have had major repurcussions across the industry. Even though the PS2 is still plenty of game system for most people and great games continue to get made for it, it's not shiny and new and folks know there's something better out there, so suddenly what was fun before now seems kind of dull and drab.

The jump from semi-realistic modeling fit for standard definition TVs to uncannily realistic modeling fit for HDTV is a major cost for a company like EA whose games often rely on realism as a selling point. They are having to absorb the cost of developing titles for Xbox360 and PS3, even while the installed user base for both those consoles remains comparatively tiny. Meanwhile the Wii has developed a substantial following, but given the oddball control scheme and appeal to non-traditional gamers, developing titles for the Wii takes a completely different mindset than what EA is used to cultivating.

EA will bounce back, gaming isn't a fad that will go away, guys in their 30s have grown up with consoles in their houses, and most continue to buy each new console and games, so as gamers mature, so does the market for games.

Hopefully they've banked enough funds during the fat years to survive the transition, if not they'll be an attractive takeover target for one of the bigger behemoths in the industry.

NMT: 08 MAY 07 Bjork --- Volta

Two album reviews in one day?!? Yep.

Bjork's new album is so good I actually bought it on physical media. That doesn't happen too often for me nowadays.

Shorter review: Earerojewaaaaaaaareeeoaaaaannnggaooooooaahrrrooooohhh!!!
(that's Bjorkspeak for, this stuff kicks ass!!!)

I've been a fan of Björk Guðmundsdóttir for quite some time. Ever since the 2nd Sugarcubes album. I'll follow her anywhere she goes musically, basically, so I'm not exactly unbiased. Also, if you want to see an amazing performer live, then get yourself to one of her concerts, you are unlikely to be disappointed. She's really one of the most unique and special talents on this planet.

As far as this album goes, this may be the best one that she's released. It's really a remarkable collection of music.

I'll do the full song by song break down.

1. Earth Intruders
If I could make any sense out of the lyrical content of this song, I'm sure I'd hate it for its insipid Gaiaists stupidity, but luckily this is a Bjork song, so whatever point she's trying to make is buried in strange metaphor and bizarre phrasing. As far as the soundscape goes, it's fantastic, propulsive, primitive and her singing is fantastic. Did I mention Timbaland produced this track? May seem like a strange musical marriage, but it works.

2. Wanderlust
The musical bridge between tracks one and two consists of ship foghorns. How cool is that? No really, it's fan-freakin'-tastic. Foghorns are the new cowbell. Wanderlust is another strong song that's reminiscent of tracks from her Homogenic album, but different enough to show some evolution. The use of a brass section on this song is pretty amazing. A big sounding song, undergirded by an insistent techno beat topped with soaring vocals. Good stuff.

3. The Dull Flame of Desire
Another interesting bridge, this album is definitely meant to be heard as a whole and in order, and not in discrete chunks. Bjork gets all film-geeky with this one, to quote the liner notes, "lyrics taken from a translation of a poem by Fyodor Tyutchev (1803-1870) as it appears in the film Stalker by Andrew Tarkovsky". A strange and delicate song, a duet between her and Antony, another really strong track. The poem is repeated a few times throughout this lengthy track, building upon itself over and over again. Each repetition is a delivered differently, hitting different emotional notes each time. Pretty sophisticated stuff.

4. Innocence
Another track with Timbaland. It's Bjork's turn to bringsexyback. More Bjork-y than Timbaland-y. Works. Well. Almost early Prince-like, but not really. Hard to describe, but it's definitely a dance floor track.

5. I See Who You Are
Oh, it's one of those weird little talk-singy songs she does over a strange and kind of sparse soundscape. And that's a problem? There's a bit of a dripping water and Asian feel to the music. Her voice is a really remarkable instrument, and she uses it well on this song.

6. Vertebrae by Vertebrae
Trainlike sounds are the bridge between these tracks. This track has a martial drum feel to it. Sounds like background music to a very strange film. Another vocal performance that sounds in the neighborhood of unhinged at times, never quite sure if she's nuts, or just sounds nuts, either way it makes for compelling listening.

7. Pneumonia
Horns and the sound of rain are prominent in this song. Her vocals are pushed way back in the mix, almost an afterthought. This is one of those Bjork songs that may turn off non-fans. It may be a bit indulgent, a bit abrassive, a bit slow, and the lyrics are strange and disconnected, but I don't care, I'm buying what she's selling.

8. Hope
Another Timbaland moment. I'm pretty sure that the political message within this song is one that I abhor and represents the absolute worst kind of moral relativism, but nobody listens to Bjork for her lyrical brilliance (that would be like going to a Matt Barney film for the plotting), or at least if they do, they are on as many and varied drugs as she is. With that out of the way, it's a damn fine track. I love the way she says, "virlwind'. Giving this song a middle eastern seems like an obvious move given its subject matter of a female suicide bomber, but makes for an interesting song.

9. Declare Independence
This song is so punk it's not even funny. Wouldn't have been out of place back in the late 70s or early 80s. Think "Warm Leatherette" and then you'll know what I'm talking about. This track is propulsive, full of energy. Songs this simple are actual quite hard to pull off. She does it here with style. This just keeps getting better as it keeps on going. Simplicity requires daring, this song has it.

10. My Juvenile
Big change of pace after the previous track. Another one of those more 'typical' Bjork-y tracks, but it has the benefit of Antony also singing on the track. His tone contrasts hers, and offers an interesting counterpoint within the song. The musical setting is very minimalist, but that just gives more room for the vocals to soar, and soar they do (unless you find her style annoying, in which case the minimalist setting just gives her more room to be grating).

I thoroughly enjoyed this album, but I can understand those that don't get her. But for those that do, this is one of the most Bjork-like Bjork albums in quite some time, and for that I'm grateful and can recommend this album highly.

NMT: 01 MAY 07 Tori Amos --- American Doll Posse

This may be a week late, but it took awhile to figure out what I thought of it, and I may not have been doing these NMT for awhile now, but this album deserves some words.

Tori Amos' latest, American Doll Posse is a sprawling mess of an album. And I mean that in a good way. Each song is by different entities, each with their own webpage (the wiki is a good place to start).

Short review: Multiple Personality Disorder never sounded so good!!!

It's a bit ridiculous, a bit pretentious, a bit crazy, but also pretty damn brilliant and when it works, it really works.

The best songs are "by" Clyde and Pip. Funnily enough the songs I like the least are the ones "by" Tori. That persona is a bit worn out for her I guess.

Basically this album is 16 songs with a bunch of other interstitial material thrown in.

Stand out tracks are "Body and Soul", "Girl Disappearing", "Bouncing Off Clouds", and "You Can Bring Your Dog".

When she rocks, she can really rock, there's some great glamtastic stuff going on here. The sensitive piano oriented plaintive stuff on this album doesn't move me, though. But luckily there's not so much of that this time around.

I have to wonder if this album won't turn off long time fans while not doing anything to pique the interest of new listeners.

It's a bit too conceptual, a bit too unlike where she's been most of her career. It's a gutsy move, whether it's rewarded commercially, it definitely sounds as if she found it rewarding artistically.

07 May 2007

Word of the Day (Annie Lennox Edition)

That hooligans run rampant at a house party isn't gobsmacking, that Annie Lennox has two teen daughters, that's gobsmacking (at least to me).

(and just pretend that I posted a word of the day yesterday, use your imagination to determine which story out there most likely smacked my gob)

05 May 2007

Things I've Been Doing, But Not Blogging About

Saw Spidey 3 on the 12:01 showing Thursday night. Liked it. Emo hair and a hint of eye-liner is the new goatee. Also, I loved all the musical theatre touches in the film and broadly played melodrama. In many ways this was the episode in the franchise truest to its comic book roots. Furthermore, it's easy to take for granted what you're seeing since CGI effects are so common, but this film is incredibly gorgeous and the Flint Marko into Sandman sequence is worth the price of admission alone.

Went to Hollywood Park to watch and wager on the Kentucky Derby. I had the 8 horse to win. D'oh! I knew I was in trouble at the first turn when the jockey was standing up trying to get his horse to rate, and the horse just wouldn't slow down. It was a great ride just to have enough left to finish second. Luckily one of my many bets included an exacta box with the 7 horse. Woohoo! Paid $101.80 per 2 dollars bet. If it had been an 8-7 finish instead of 7-8 my woohoo! would have been more like WOOHOO!!!, oh well.

Grabbed my camera, but the place didn't seem very photogenic this trip. Wasn't all that crowded, the live races weren't very interesting, and horse racing isn't the Sport of Kings anymore (even if the Queen of England showed up at the Kentucky Derby for the first time).

You Know Those Posts Where I Complain About a Much More Famous Person Stealing One of My Ideas, Yeah This Is One of Them

This time it's Mark Steyn who I'm not quite accusing of plagarism. Way back when, I connected Sheryl Crow's supposed joke regarding one square toilet visits with the new policy of fortnightly trash collection in some councils in Great Britain.

Well, look at this paragraph Steyn posted at The Corner (hat tip Instapundit):

If George Bush put a microchip in your garbage under the Patriot Act, there'd be mass demonstrations across the land. But do it in the guise of saving the planet and everyone's fine with it. Meanwhile, to encourage recycling, garbage collection has been halved from weekly to fortnightly. As a result, flies swarm and rats gambol. One of the biggest causes of improved health and life expectancy over the last 150 years has been what we now regard as simple hygiene: clean bathroom facilities and waste disposal. Between Miss Crow and Her Majesty's Government, we seem determined to reverse that.

He gets points for the added value of comparing the reception of Gaiaist influenced ecototalitarianism and supposed anti-terror overreaching by the Bush Administration. If Bush only repurposed the Global War on Terror into the Global Initiative to Save Gaia, he'd still be reviled, but maybe a touch less so.

Either I'm really brilliant on a Mark Steyn level, or we're both being really obvious.

You Make the Call!!!

Word of the Day (Cinco de Mayo Edicion)

I would have done a Mexican themed gobsmacking in honor of Cinco de Mayo, but our neighbor to the north taunts me so with stories of gobsmackingness.

To say that Canada Post were acting like pussies wouldn't be entirely unfair.

When this letter carrier went to his supervisor and requested to have this house stricken from his/her route for the reason given, the proper response would have been to laugh loudly in his/her face and if the request was timed just so, a long and voluminous spit take spewing hot coffee would have been in order.

Instead, the customer is forced to pick up his mail at the post office.

This serves to answer my question from yesterday, rather than being too hard on Canada, I'm not being hard enough.

03 May 2007

Watching the Rally in the Valley

From the Reagan Library in Simi Valley a few quick observations.

The Democrats made a huge mistake in refusing to have a debate hosted by FNC. Having Chris Matthews host the Republican debate has been good for the Republicans collectively (at least so far).

Having a hostile host (and Matthews so far has been much more antagonistic than Brian Williams was towards the Democrats) helps sharpen the message being delivered and allows the GOP candidates to shine.

Debates should be adversarial, if these candidates aren't going to debate each other directly (and there's too many to make that feasible), then it's helpful to have a surrogate adversary in the host.

Other quick impressions, McCain seems even crankier than usual, maybe he saw all the good press Sen. Gravel got and was jealous.

All the candidates who answered the question on Iraq did so in a strong and defensible manner. Gov. Romney and Mayor Giuliani did so especially well. The others fall into the background (Rep. Paul excepted), but they definitely stand out.

Another impression, Republicans really do like America as it is much better than Democrats do (and that's not just about the current office holder, it goes much deeper than that).

Giuliani answered the Roe v Wade answer well (and most correctly).

Rep. Hunter turned a question about having to moderate to get elected into an answer all about the border fence. Probably a smart move, maybe not.

Giuliani went back to the moderate question and pushed his message of effective leadership well.

Wow, again, the camera does not love Sen. McCain (and he's too rambly).

Follow Up to A Different Blog's Word of the Day

A few days ago Pastor Jeff's "word of the day" was discipline.

I quipped in the comments that it was "one fine album".

Not being familiar with the album he asked if I recommended it. I'll just YouTube my answer.

Above is a performance (with interview interspersed) of the title track Discipline. Sheer instrumental mastery and compositional sophistication fully displayed. Amazing stuff.

Next, the beautiful Matte Kudasai, a lush and wonderful song captured in a performance of a more recent vintage. Adrian Belew has a perfect voice to accompany this soundscape.

Another track off of Discipline is Elephant Talk. That freaky thing Tony Levin is playing is called a Chapman Stick. It's used extensively throughout this album and lends the whole project a unique sound.

I love this stuff, I guess I can understand not loving this stuff, but only barely. It is a little too smart for its own good at times, and prog rock can be pretentious. King Crimson didn't avoid some pretentiousness on this album, but it's still such a fantastic document of a group of musicians at the top of their game, that a little sefl-seriousness is forgivable.

So if those three songs aren't a recommendation to buy this album (there are more tracks as amazing as those on that album), then I don't know what else to say.

I Have Some Suggestions . . .

A Canadian magazine seeks candidates for "the worst Canadian", naturally I have a few suggestions.

Unfortunately, I can't find the links and sources for my candidates, you'll just have to take my word for the existence of these folks.

Candidate A (or is that Ehh?): Derek MacIntyre of Dauphin, Manitoba (b. 1904 d. 1983)
It was reported by reliable witnesses that over a 50+ year period Derek visited the same diner on Main St. and in all those visits not once said please or thank you to any of the waitstaff.

Candidate B: Dominic Marie de Borchave-Deveraux of Hull, Quebec (b. 1953 - )
He is reported to be the smelliest French Canadian in all of Quebec (no small feat). Through a combination of infrequent bathing, eschewing of niceties such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant (too bourgeois), and his work as an artist specializing in mixed media installations that focus on creative taxidermy, coupled with his diet consisting mainly of french bread liberally drizzled with melted garlic butter, this aging dirty hippie manages to be the singularly stinkiest gentleman in all of Canada (again, no small feat).

Candidate C: Robert "Bonzo" Dillingham of Vancouver, British Columbia (b. 1983 - )
Known amongst his friends as the biggest mooch in all of Vancouver. Is reported that he takes the biggest and most frequent bong hits at any social gathering, and furthermore has not once been known to have shared his own stash or pitched in when new supplies were being procured.

Candidate D: Jack Brockton of Whitehorse, Yukon (b. 1937 - )
This person may have a Canadian passport, but he can hardly call himself a Canadian. He doesn't drink beer, doesn't like hockey, and thinks nationalized health care is a big waste of money and a huge mistake. Furthermore, he thinks Canada is lucky to have the United States as a neighbor and thinks folks who whine about the USA are silly. Truly villainous thoughts for a Canadian.

Anyway, those are my suggestions. I'm sure there must be worse Canadians out there.

(and before I forget, heh heh, the magazine is named "The Beaver", heh heh)

Word of the Day (You Mean With That Title This Wasn't Already a Porn Show?)

Oops. Comcast has something on their face, I think it's egg, at least I hope it's egg.

02 May 2007

Giving the People What They Want . . .

. . . and what the people want is NAKED MANNEQUINS!!!

Noticed that on sitemeter the majority of my hits lately have been image searches through google to old posts. The image that comes up most frequently was the naked mannequin image that capped this post.

Well, if you look at the flickr set in which that shot was included, there are more naked mannequins where that one came from, so here are all the naked mannequin shots in one convenient blogpost.




I'm all about service.

(and if you click on the photo you'll be taken to the flickr page where you can get the full sized shot for whatever it is you plan on doing with it)

Word of the Day (The Future Is Now Edition)

I probably shouldn't be gobsmacked at all about this, it's just another step in the evolution of the internet. This part caught my attention, though
"There is a weaving together of entertainment and promotion and marketing," he added. "It's difficult to say where one ends and the other begins."

Locking future generations into the Disney brand. Mickey Mouse Forever! Kids have been marketed to for awhile now, it's nothing new, but it's getting increasingly sophisticated and a touch creepy.

(also, I can't help getting the feeling that some folks who might later end up being on Dateline might also find this new service attractive)