I’ve been listening to a lot of radio coverage of Georgia’s “invasion” of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and Russia’s “response” thereto. Whether assessments that liberally goop blame for the conflict upon Russia, Georgia, the United States (see e.g. Tom Friedman’s op-ed) are more-or-less correct I’ll leave up to the experts. But what strikes me about the conflict is that nearly every reporter covering the story pronounces “South Ossetia” as if it were one word, and replaces the “th” sound at the tail of “South” with a “t.” Soutossetia. Curious, no? As a pig-headed American with a blog, I’m tempted to request that the country be renamed to suit my mistaken initial belief about the region’s name.
August 26, 2008
August 24, 2008
Although the book version of Stuff White People Like is largely a compilation of entries from the blog, many of those entries are reasonably humorous, so I would recommend the book on that basis. Also, a number of in-the-book-only entries, including the “Hardwood Floors” piece, are of similar quality to the better blog entries. So another reason to procure a copy. At least from the library.
August 23, 2008
I cannot say I’m pleased with Obama’s choosing Joe Biden as his running mate. I think it matters less for a Vice President to have no executive experience than a President–my primary complaint about Obama–if only because the Veep is a largely ceremonial position. But Biden has gone on record several times making disparaging remarks about Obama. And, having been a legislator for so long, things like his documented hysteria when it comes to recreational drugs (see e.g. RAVE Act) will be out there for public consumption. Also, Biden seems like kind of a douche.
That said, Biden’s not a truly bad choice. At least Biden can hold his own in a debate or a speech. And he has had some good ideas on how to address pressing foreign policy concerns (e.g. federalizing Iraq). And he’s an old white man, which may make other old white men a little less nervous. And he’s from Delaware, which although not a swing state, isn’t exactly code for “scary hotbed of otherness” in anyone’s mind (c.f. Texas, California, Alabama, Vermont).
August 19, 2008
Clock King. As an avid fan of the 90s animated version of Batman, I loved the series attempt to legitimize silly villains. Case-in-point: the Clock King, a fellow who’s basic powers involve a heightened ability to tell time. The image that sticks with me involves an escape from Batman by timely jumping to an elevated train. The jump is made possible because the Clock King knows that that particular train is set to pass under that exact spot at that exact time. Or something.
Egghead. Vincent Price’s entry into the 60s live-action program. A “smartest man in the world” goof, with bad egg-related puns, made this villain rather amusing.
Both ridiculous. And yet, at the end of the day, are any comic book heroes any less absurd, at least in their original incarnation? Is Joker’s “sociopath with clown makeup,” before delicious particularities and necessary character sanding had taken place, any more legitimate?
August 17, 2008
D and I today daytripped to Port Townsend and Friday Harbor, in part by watercraft. Although we were certainly interested in checking out the aforementioned towns–both of which were rather cute–and get some boat action, the calling card of the operator was the whale-finding prowess. Alas, today represented the first since July 5 since no whales were spotted by this crew. Yes, we saw numerous species of birds that are rarely seen in the South Sound. Yes, we saw harbor seal pups by the dozens. But no orcas, no grays, no minkes, and no humpbacks. The resident orca pod that recently announced a new member apparently moved West in search of food sometime late yesterday, along with the other resident pods. The transients moved northward. Shame, really. But what can you do?
August 16, 2008
After a somewhat shaky start, I ended up rather enjoying last night’s Squirrel Nut Zippers show at the Triple Door in Seattle. [The shaky start was caused by, I suspect, the anti-dance set-up and posh surroundings of the establishment.] True, the show was largely a nostalgic enterprise, pulling songs almost entirely from the band’s first three albums. But as someone who listened to the Zippers’ first three albums extensively in the mid-to-late 90s, and continue to bust out The Inevitable and Hot periodically to this day, I’m the target audience. In any event, with Maxwell and Mosher out of the current lineup, the lack of new material isn’t entirely surprising.
Two small complaints: First, Katharine Whalen’s not able to hit the squeaky notes like she used to, making what should have been show-stopping numbers like “You’re Driving Me Crazy” a little weak. Second, one of the things I adored about early Zippers’ songs was the regular inclusion of banjo; last night’s performance was curiously under-banjoed and over-guitared.
With that caveat, I have to say the cornet and fiddle solos were fabulous, the band was very tight, the starry backdrop worked well when used, the video was cool (why isn’t live music accompanying film more common?), and Jimbo was appropriately peacockish. Overall, great show.
I’ve had the good fortune of stumbling upon not one but two fabulous authors in as many weeks. The first is Mark Gatiss, who wrote The Vesuvius Club, which is a sort of James Bond novel set in the Edwardian era, with a heightened sense of literary wit. Compare favorably to Jasper Fforde. The second, Jonathan Ames, penned Wake Up, Sir!, which sort of feels like a Rick Moody road novel, if Moody wrote road novels; sort of feels like a P.G. Wodehouse piece, if Wodehouse had more of an interest in academic psychology; and sort of like Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, if Grady Tripp had had more of a penchant for Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Recommended.
August 14, 2008
In part as a way to establish roots in Olympia, I joined the board of Stonewall Youth last week. Organization seems to do a lot of good. But methinks I need to learn some new jargon. Because as it stands right now, I’m hearing a lot of vaguaries from the mouths of long-timers that are apparently intended as concretes.
August 13, 2008
Were I not so lazy and antisocial and artistically disinclined, I’d have long ago produced a pilot for Channel 101 that would have included some of the following:
- A recovering tobacco user gnawing on a cassia stick.
- A collection of somewhat concealed Alice in Wonderland characters, parading around in a hard-boiled detective setting.
- An operatic (or possibly robotic) rendering of “My Doorbell.” “I am thinking about my doorbell. When are you going to ring my doorbell?”
- A dripping faucet.
- A well-placed banjo.
- An apparently sneaky valet who turns out to be an upstanding fellow.
- An apparently upstanding valet who turns out to be a sneaky fellow.
- A non-bovine cheese platter. With marinated olives…with pits.
- An amateur song-and-dance number involving umbrellas.
- Intentionally bad singing that doesn’t sound forced.
In other words, I want to make the 101 equivalent of a Dennis Potter production.
August 9, 2008
“Mister Glasses” #7 covertly substituted in another “Welcome To My Study” in lieu of a full-on episode. Again. Although I enjoyed Mr. Magee’s coconut-themed attempt at bribing the voters, his black boot/yellow boot rant, Dale’s package, and Mitchell’s being on the verge of tears throughout, I felt this entry was a bit weak, especially where avocados are concerned. B-
The seventeenth round of “The Defenders of Stan” has a novel-for-the-program structure (a series of vlogs) that works pretty well. Amusing, well-made. What more can be said about “Stan”? B+
The fourth “Scissor Cop” features some gloriously low-tech high-tech, a lot of very red blood, a pearl-laden glassesed Jess Lane in an authority role, and plot movement from the last episode toward…something. I get what Prine and company are trying to do here, and I appreciate it. But the enjoyment factor still needs improvement. B-
“Majestic Dragon,” now playing with sixes, had a longer-than-usual theme song that, lyrically, simply asked “do you really like me?” Had Fish and Vazquez had the balls to keep the theme song going for a full five minutes, the answer would have been a resounding “yes.” Because I really like irritatingly repetitive songs. But instead, they went back to the quasi-ad-libbed stoner speak between the titular character and the newcomer of the month, and gave them the theme song as the topic of conversation. Which is somehow less satisfying. B-
“The Outer Boroughs” part deux plays with too many genres and has too inconsistent a feel to work. I liked the Indiana Jones gag, and the reference to scorpions, and the asshole superhero thing. But it didn’t feel like part of a single work. And for that it suffered. C
Top failed pilot “Freedom Wizard” is 1776 kinds of terrible. Shaky camera, unfun casting, chintzy effects, cheap cardboard sets, and windy sound, to name a few. D-
“Astoria Famiglia” represents a big wine box of Mafia-themed “huh?” C-
“Sliced” reminded me of a sub-par episode of “Stop It” that didn’t resolve at the end. Which I suppose makes it a different show. But with a collection of oddly muted performances, and a strangeness that didn’t seem liable to go anywhere, that this was not picked up is likely appropriate. C
“Fugue State,” like “The Incredible Drunk” before it, uses binge drinking alcoholism to transform a fantasy television series (replace “Hulk” with “Quantum Leap”) into something with a lot of potential. More muted performances–perhaps inspired by the far superior Mitch Magee–abound in this borderline clever and occasionally humorous entry. Shame it won’t return. B-
“Reverse Echo” provides an interesting twist on the time-travel theme…that gets sort of silly as it progresses. A little more character development may have saved this conceptually gratifying pilot from coming in last place at the screening. C+