3.31.2004

Hey moms, why have kids? -- They cost a mint to raise, turn your life upside down, and might give you Maternal Depletion Syndrome! Ah, but they're the future: "Today's chubby-cheeked darlings on the playground will become tomorrow's adults who take care of the sick and elderly, run the government, collect the trash, hold the hands of hospice patients, fix our cars, cure our diseases, harvest our food, create our cultural masterpieces, and generally keep the economy trucking along." Also, they are often cute! An interesting balance sheet from Brain, Child magazine.

And for parity: Hey dads, why do you exist at all? The BBC probes the big biological question, "Are males necessary?" Answer: a resounding yes, of course. ;)

And the coup de grace from New York Magazine, consistent provider of quality fluff: "Why My Wife Won't Sleep With Me," the sad, annoying tale of a househusband who's turning into Emma Bovary while his magazine editor wife works fierce hours and is "never in the mood." Before you get volcanically irritated with this guy, click here and let "Pencopal" do it for you in her online diary! I quote: "Take your balls out of their velvet case and reattach them." Yeow!
*tap tap* Is this thing on? -- A few minutes ago, AirAmerica began broadcasting its high-wattage liberal response to the foaming mad dogs of conservative talk radio. With hosts like Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead and Chuck D, I'm keen to tune in...which, unfortunately, will have to wait until I get to a computer with speakers! But YOU can listen away, and sign up as a charter member here...once the bugs are worked out of the system, that is. In any event, bring on the loudmouths on our side for once, woohoo!
FutureMe.org allows you to send yourself an email...in the future! Sort of a Marty McFly move, only in reverse. I'm assuming my future self doesn't have the ability to send me email back here in the past, or I'd be getting some much-needed advice, like "Don't worry, be happy," or "Stay home sick on October 16, 2024," or "Eat more fiber, for Christ's sake!"

On a semi-related, and crazy, note, check out RaptureLetters.com, which allows you to sign up your friends and family for a free email letter notification when you disappear into heaven at the start of the End Times. Or whatever. Hmmm, I guess they employ one sinner to stay behind and run the server?
Purple Reign -- I'm with Keith Knight, the man behind The K Chronicles: there are two things from the 80's that deserve to be revived, and Prince is one of them!
I know Bostonians are crochety, but this is a new low -- there are some pretty pissed off people this morning venting their splenic displeasure over the unsurprising announcement by the US Secret Service that I-93 will be shut down during the evenings of the Democratic National Convention in July. What really gets me is that so many people are parroting our mealymouthed Governor and calling for a change of venue to the new convention center in South Boston -- you know, the one that's a) no going to be finished in time, b) is booked with MacWorld Expo until 10 days before the DNC, c) isn't the right type of venue for television coverage, d) will be equally difficult to secure (it's on the water, 100 yards from the airport and not far from the infamous LNG port!), and e) will equally paralyze transportation downtown since it's not on the T or close to any hotels, etc. My prediction: people will grouse non-stop about this, the con will come off with a modicum of fuss, and everyone will pretend it was no big deal and that they thought so all along. That's the New England way! >:-Z
What Tucker Shaw eats -- a NYTimes bit on one man's personal digital NYC food diary. Mr. Shaw decided to photograph everything he ate in 2004, because hey, why not? This is a tantalizing glimpse at one of my lifelong fantasties of the afterlife: being able to see a visual representation of everything I'd eaten in my whole life, at once, i.e. 3,000 boxes of Raisin Bran, 27 roast turkeys, 12,600 slices of bread, 68 Ring Pops, and an Olympic swimming pool of Diet Coke. Cool!

3.30.2004

The Plain English Campaign is just what it sounds like -- of course. They promote writing "with the reader in mind and with the right tone of voice, that is clear and concise," offering a free style guide and entertaining examples of un-plain writing, like the longest sentence ever. They also hand out the Golden Bull awards, 'nuff said.
Jack Black + Peter Jackson = 1 ticket to "King Kong," please! *swoon swoon*
Aahh, the subway crush -- we're all a-flutter in the underground.
Look! Up on the web! It's SUPERMAN! -- Some clever person has scanned in the entire Action Comics #1, the first comic book featuring the Man of Steel. An original copy of this book runs about $75,000...love that internet!
Scubadoo! -- What will those Aussie engineers think of next? What could top an underwater motorcycle??
Men in Pink -- it's nice to know this is front page material at the Wall Street Journal. Hello, it's the 80's revival, stupid.
One step forward, one step back -- that's the refrain from same-sex marriage advocates around the Commonwealth today. The Legislature narrowly passed the first round of a Constitutional amendment creating civil unions instead of marriage rights for all; it will have to pass next year's Legislature and a referendum vote in 2006 to become law. In the meantime, a showdown is brewing between sneaky Gov. Romney and stalwart Attorney General Tom Reilly (who incidentally may run against Romney for governor next time around): although Reilly personally disagrees with the SJC on gay marriage, he's refusing to ask the court on behalf of the Gov. to delay issuing marriage licenses under the Goodridge decision this May. In short, this is going to be a long, long battle.

But speaking of Attorneys General, I was surprised to see John Ashcroft's face on TV the other day in a non-terrifying capacity -- he appears in a public service message for the federal Office on Violence Against Women. The ad features a variety of men urging others to speak out against DV, and to "Take the Pledge": "I pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about domestic violence," and to be role models for boys on stopping violence against women. Impressive!

3.29.2004

Wiretap is the smartest youth-oriented social activist mag, or actually any kind of mag, I've ever seen -- slogan: "Youth in Pursuit of the Dirty Truth." From articles on black colleges to "The Lord of the Rings," to their new book Storming The Polls: How To Vote Your Views and Change the Rules, it proves that all is not dead in Generation Z (or whatever the hell it is now).
Anyone who trashes Lars von Trier is OK in my book -- aah, a nice, scathing review of Dogville, von Trier's latest exercise in cinematic sadism. I rented Breaking the Waves one night when I was alone...BIG mistake. Apparently Lars hasn't changed: he's still "a preening, misanthropic bully who wouldn't recognize an act of decency if it bit him on the ass."

UPDATE: Check out the chuckle-worthy map of Dogville on Low Culture, nice!
English 101 at San Quentin -- teaching incarcerated felons is a tough job, but this professor calls them "dream students," and not just because they can't cut class. Read on...
The "soundtrack to greed" -- has hip-hop lost all credibility, vitality, soul? Critic Nick Crowe thinks so. I think his definition of "rap" might be a little dated, though -- I don't think Missy Elliott, The Roots, or OutKast really fall into the old-style "rapper" category, and they are the wildly successful ones these days.
Benji Returns -- yes, that Benji. As if the 70's and 80's had not yet been fully corrupted and recycled for today's youth, I'm sure they'll enjoy this leftover cheese. Ugh. OTOH, it turns out the guy behind Benji is an anti-Hollywood rebel who refuses to kowtow to big studios' demands to make all family entertainment lowbrow, which I suppose is good. But it's still Benji. What can I say, I was not a "puppies and kitties" little kid.

3.26.2004

Swollen Gummi! -- (Don't) try this at home.
Down with the "secular concept of 'the weekend'" -- so says the Pope, big whoop. Is anyone surprised when the pope, uh, pontificates on the separation of church and fun? Still, it's bitterly amusing to see someone who doesn't work a 40 hour week in a capitalist economy, nor face the challenges of juggling work, family, social life, and making ends meet, condemn even those who do make time for their faith in their precious little free time for, of course (this is Catholicism we're talking here) not doing it well enough. Feh. Join me in the Church of the New York Times this Sunday morn, won't you?
Bow to the CHUD list! -- OK, I just wanted to write "CHUD," which in this case stands for "Cinematic Happenings Under Development," not "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers," thankfully. ANYWAY, this is a list of 100 Movies That Deserve More Love, i.e. underdogs, little-seens, and beloved 80's classics. Wow! It includes many of my favorites, from cerebral sleepers (Contact, Big Night, Gattaca) to overlooked comedies (The Cable Guy, Living In Oblivion, Jackie Brown) to childhood nostalgia (Dragonslayer! Young Sherlock Holmes! Point Break!). I know Nat will love this as it includes not only The Money Pit, but also The Ref, which I think he has quoted to me in its entirety. :P What does it say about me that I've seen (and enjoyed) most of these movies?? Frankly, everyone should rent Liberty Heights, it's probably the best one on here. I'd add a few, too: Flirting With Disaster, Lone Star, and Lantana. And for good measure, I think Keanu's forgotten gem is Permanent Record. Yarr!

UPDATE: And in other movie news, try your hand at The World's Hardest Movie Quiz, complements of the Village Voice. Warning: they are not kidding. Here are the answers, you'll need them.
More reasons to boycott Wal-Mart -- like you needed more? This WSJ article reveals how companies that actually give their employees a decent wage and benefits, like Costco, suffer on Wall Street, while rapacious slavedriver WalMart gets a boost for "putting the shareholders first." This makes me ill...and also makes me want to go buy a case of toilet paper at Costco, yeah! That'll show 'em! Sigh.

One interesting ray of hope, though: former Miss America Carolyn Sapp has made stopping WalMart's mistreatment of its female employees her mission. Slightly ironic, but very cool.

3.25.2004

Giant Shrimp on Mars! -- Oops, make that Giant Shrimp for Mars. To celebrate NASA's discovery of evidence of a past "salty sea" on Mars, the seafood chain Long John Silver's is offering free shrimp ("one piece per customer") on May 10. For, uh, some reason: "Our faith in NASA has paid off. Their giant accomplishment calls for Giant Shrimp." Arrrrrrr!

Note: according to the LJS store locator, there are no franchises in New England -- the closest state is NY. So no shrimp for me...but why do I occasionally see one of their television commercials?
"Empirical Aesthetics, Or, Eating a Durian Fruit" -- Gee, I wish my professor of "Negative Aesthetics" was as cool as Cynthia Freeland! Wait...I mean, I wish I had taken "Negative Aesthetics" at all. Durian is the "King of Fruits," despite its off-puting shape and toxic stench...surely a contradiction ripe (!) for classroom debate.
What will those nerds think of next? -- A vintage Underwood typewriter lovingly outfitted as a computer, complete with original typewriter keys and sounds! Simply brilliant.
Parliamentary Balls! -- not just a great band name, but the way they do things Down Under. Uh, right. Turns out Australia has its own rules for more than just football: in the legislatures there's a long tradition of colorful insults delivered on the record. A comment about having "more balls than brains," however, drew the ire of the legislative shielas, and rightly so. This one goes out to Mark and Claudia, of course!
What's in a namespace? -- a fine, long article from the NYTimes Mag on naming rights in this cuh-razy global economy. Is all fair in trademark and war, or do we take pity on the child named Kobe, Celine, or Porsche? Note also the very cool artwork by graphic genius Ed Ruscha over on the righthand side!
No clapping for the atheist! -- Linda Greenhouse of the NYTimes gives a fine account of yesterday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court in the Newdow "under God" case. Plaintiff Michael Newdow apparently more than held his own as he represented himself, a tough job in front of the Big Nine. He is also the man who accomplished what the Sierra Club could not: getting Justice Scalia to recuse himself from this case, for his outside statements that show his pro-Pledge bias. In his closing, he said he hopes to "have every American want to stand up, face the flag, place their hand over their heart and pledge to one nation, indivisible, not divided by religion, with liberty and justice for all." Right on!
David Foster Who? -- In a chilling story of academic censorship, PR spin, and maybe greed, a college freshman at the Academy of Art in San Francisco was expelled for writing a short story full of over-the-top sexual violence. How did the administration find out about it? His professor asked for advice in evaluating the story, and possibly getting the student counseling. She was then not re-hired (the life of an adjunct), after admitting she had students read "The Girl With Curious Hair" by D.F. Wallace, who is himself a writing professor in California, and none too happy about this. Whither imaginative freedom these days?

3.24.2004

Penguin-cam! -- I can't wait for the Discovery Channel special on this one...
Beyond "This Land Is Your Land" -- the New Yorker has a nice review of the new Woody Guthrie bio, "Ramblin' Man."
I missed an ehhhxcellent Friday Five last week, so I believe I'll foist it on you all now:

If you...

1. ...owned a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?
I'd love to run a real-life "Homesick Restaurant," where there's no menu and each customer is given what they most long to eat.

2. ...owned a small store, what kind of merchandise would you sell? One guess.

3. ...wrote a book, what genre would it be? Is "new American darkly comedic genius novel" a genre? Sort of like this, or this, or this.

4. ...ran a school, what would you teach? Community service and critical thinking: everything else is formula and trivia.

5. ...recorded an album, what kind of music would be on it? Hmmm...I think this is a trick question. I can't imagine recording myself singing or playing an instrument...but I would love to produce a record of covers by my favorite bands, so I'd get to meet them. I think, for example, U2 is nearing the age of a "tribute" record, no?
Before I forget, let me remind all you Bostonians that the annual Project Bread Walk For Hunger is coming up -- Sunday May 2. Miss Kim and I have already decided to make the trek, and the more the merrier, especially for 20 miles (OK, for us, more like 13 or 14)! The Walk raises money for food banks all over Massachusetts -- last year, 80% of those asked for an increase in aid. With the spiraling economy and Massachusetts leading the country in lost jobs, something as basic as food is out of reach for many working people, families and children. I'm going to shoot for raising $500, the Heart & Sole (!) Circle. All the cool kids are doing it -- sign up to walk yourself, or at least sponsor me! :-D
OK, finally -- here's my SXSW entry. First off, a word to the wise: if you care about music, you MUST attend this thing, it's the (semi-)adult alternative to Bonnaroo, Woodstock, the H.O.R.D.E. festival, or any other summertime uber-concert. Sure, it's a lot of money, but you can see literally dozens of bands and hang out in a series of smoky (!) bars and art galleries and barbecue joints drinking and eating and listening to those bands and meeting hipsters and goofy record industry guys from all over the world. The best thing about Austin is, well, Austin -- it's a town with a real vibe to it, that sense that you couldn't be anywhere else but in Austin. Friendly people, great food (tamales! tamales!), cheap everything, and it was 80 degrees and warm and green there, aaaaahhhhh. Thank goodness for us that Karen and Lee Ann decided to move back there, to picturesque Kyle, TX, land of the 4 br./2 ba. ranch house that sells for, oh, $100K. :-o

So my club-hopping began as a solo mission, on Friday night. After checking out Joss Stone, the very young, blonde, British singer with the incongruous voice of a seasoned R&B chanteuse, for free at a lovely outdoor venue along the Colorado River (which for some reason Austin refers to as "Town Lake"!?), I headed to 6th Street, a vast stretch of musical venues. I staked out a spot at Exodus around 10, anticipating the appearance at 1am (gulp) of Calexico, one of my favorite newly discovered bands. SXSW reviews submissions by hundreds of acts, and those that make the cut perform in these showcases, from 6pm to 2am all over the city, in 45-minute sets. Like I said, there is a LOT of music going on. I caught most of the set by Silkworm, a rather Wilco-ish trio from Chicago, from the back corner, then moved up much closer to the stage as the crowd began to fill in. I'd never heard of TV On the Radio, the next band, but from what I could tell everyone else in town had -- and they were phenomenal, a unique blend of, mmmmm, say, The Strokes with riot-grrrrl-ish caterwauling and crazy punk/David Bowie dance moves by the lead singer. They just rocked. Then the Dallas area band The New Year came on, and they had a strong local following -- me, I could take it or leave it. They had five guitars, and were still subdued and monotonous, like Radiohead with all the dystopian genius sucked out of it and really dull lyrics -- although the bass player provided the high comic moment of the night. There were some sound problems, as you can imagine with a tiny crew of roadies setting up six or seven bands a night in 15 minutes flat. So Bass Player is fussing with his monitor or whatever, and scowling at the sound board guy and flailing his arms to signal that he's not hearing anything, etc etc etc. They decide to start playing anyway, which really pisses off B.P., and he stands up and lo! His cable isn't plugged in to his guitar! It's just hanging there on the guitar strap! Loser.

Anyway, I digress -- the headliners, Calexico, were spectacular, totally worth waiting for hours in relative filth (I crouched between sets to ease my poor feet) to see. They are from Tucson, AZ (who knew?) and have a hypnotic, mariachi-inflected, very danceable sound. Drummer, keyboards, pedal steel guy, lead guitar/vocal, and two multi-instrumentalists: both played trumpet (so they could have one or two!), one played percussion (shakey egg!) and the other...accordion! They played all my favorites from their latest CD, and it was a swirling mass of happy listeners streaming out the doors at 2:15 am after the show...aahhh! I wound up getting back to Kyle at 3am, to sleep at 3:30 -- 24 hours after I woke up in Boston to go to the airport! Ooops, stayed up for a whole day, oh well.

The next day, Saturday, was more hipster heaven. Karen kindly shlepped up to South Congress, an area rife with cool shops and restaurants, for lunch at Guero's for tip-top tacos. We wandered into Yard Dog, a gallery with amazing art and a free music showcase in the backyard -- Magnolia Summer, an excellent unknown band, was playing. Mandy, George and I then made our way to Flatstock, the rock poster show at the sprawling convention center. May I just note that my "Mr. Sparkle" t-shirt was the perfect choice to wear -- I got at least a dozen "Hey, that's a great shirt!" from these insanely talented artists and graphic designers, blush blush. Anyway, there were incredible displays of handbills, posters, and original prints for every band you can think of, from Built to Spill to The Sea and Cake to Black Eyed Peas. We rigorously scouted out options, then wound up purchasing a few -- Mandy and I actually bought posters from the renowned Hatch Show Print, for the show we were going to later that night...read on!

After a little rest and some delicious homemade pizza, we headed to Stubb's, a legendary barbecue joint and music venue, for one of the big shows of the weekend: Ozomatli, The Mavericks, Patty Griffin, Old 97's, and Los Lobos. We caught about the middle third of the show, standing in the dusty parking lot in a huge crowd in front of the outdoor stage, under truly big and bright Texas stars, cold and delicious Shiner Bocks in hand. Patty was fantastic, she played with a band and all new material. We headed out into 6th Street into the wave of strolling folks, from bikini-clad freaks to college kids to little kids to yet more wandering hipsters in faded vintage tshirts. Every few feet along the street the sound of a new and different band came pouring out of the next club, it was amazing. There was a block-long line to see The Hives, no dice. We wandered past Esther's Pool, where a naughty magic show was taking place in the brightly lit front window...and ducked into Coyote Ugly (yup, with all the bras) for a minute looking for George's friend Neil Cleary, who'd performed there earlier. At midnight we caught Boston favorites Mr. Airplane Man, a normally rip-roarin' "trash blues" duo, who weren't in top form but suffered from a lame-o sound guy and a very strange venue featuring cheesy velvet paintings of topless centerfolds on the walls, OK whatever. An appropriately surreal end to our night.

Sunday was recuperation day (read: Krispy Kremes), and we decided to tour some shopping hotspots with Miss Karen. We stopped in at Central Market, and even more delicious food emporium than the enormous Whole Foods flagship across town, where I picked up some special pop for Soda King Nathaniel...mmmmm, cane sugar! Next on our list, Tesoros, a wonderful shop crammed with Mexican art and handicrafts from around the world. Then we drove through the University of Texas campus, the city within the city, with a stop at ToyJoy, the most diverting place on the planet. Starving by now, we waited a long time for a table at Stubb's, which was eerily quiet after the rocking night before -- but it was worth the wait. Mmmmmm, brisket.

In fact, mmmmmmm, Austin. I can't wait to go back (just not in the summer, eeeek) for more of that Lone Star flavor. And speaking of which, I saw 29 cowboy hats while I was there -- yeehah!
Promises, promises -- it's already Wednesday, and I have yet to blog my South by Southwest adventure -- but I shall! And while I'm working on that, you can read the Onion A.V. Club's spotty yet entertaining report. Allow me a little hipster gloating: I did attend the TV On The Radio show that the writer couldn't get into, tra la. And at that show, I stood right next to this guy, Sam Beam, from the band Iron & Wine, which I didn't get to see. He's a real freak, though. Sometimes it pays to stand against a wall for four hours, what can I say?

3.23.2004

Hey gang, I am back from a fantastic weekend in Austin, TX -- but before I file my comprehensive SXSW report, allow me to introduce you to Polyp Man, the worst job in the world. :P

3.18.2004

Ok, kids, I'm off to Austin, not Boston, for the weekend, at SXSW. Yeehah!
Jane Austen, national security advisor? -- Maureen Dowd's column in today's NYTimes daintily skewers the "Pride and Prejudice" of both Bush and Kerry...well, a bit more of the former and less of the latter. On the GOP scuttling after the pro-Iraq-War Spanish government was ousted last week: "The Republicans certainly don't want anyone here to think about throwing somebody out of office because he was misleading about Al Qaeda." Heyyy....wait a second...she's got a point!
Computer filth! -- no, not that kind. There are more germs on your keyboard, mouse, and phone than on the office toilet seat, by far. Ewwwww!

To balance out this BBC News Gross-Out du Jour, enjoy another fine BBC Quiz: Are you an "ideas person"? Ouch, I got a 3! I'm "in the dark," gaaah. Hey now, cultural differences!

And of course, there's some quality BBC fluff: "Can men learn to seduce women with humour?" Judging by the atrocious pickup-line captions, no.
Vend-A-Temp -- as easy as buying a can of soda! Brilliant...yet scary. Note to self: redouble job search next week.
"The Ambition Tax" -- a chilling Village Voice article on the price of being young (as in, 18-35) these days: crushing, lifelong debt. Between college costs, stagnant wages, consumer spending, and diminished employer benefits (i.e. paying for your own health insurance), this generation has to "pay off the equivalent of one full mortgage before they make it to flat broke." Gullllp. And why isn't this an issue in the Presidential election, this year's Battle of the Boomers, I wonder?
Anybody got a Swiss Army memory stick? -- This will surely become the next geek must-have: the classic pocketknife outfitted with a teensy USB memory card. I quote Keanu: "Woah."
Cruella de Couric -- Salon has a great article today on Katie "Princess of Perky/Queen of Mean" Couric from the TODAY Show, and how she's gone from NBC sweetheart (and grieving widow) to the subject of rampant gossip on her brow lines, bitchiness and sky-high Blahniks. I've always found her a little tiresome, but lately I've been making catty comments about her "hoochie mama" outfits and clear loathing for poor Matt Lauer. Is it only powerful women in the media we Americans can't abide (not so for me, I can't stand Dan Rather either)? Get the day pass to read the whole thing.
Methodist minister on trial in church -- literally. Rev. Karen Dammann is being tried by her clerical peers for her crime/sin: living in a lesbian relationship. The Methodist Church is torn over its stance on gay issues, but it staunchly bans "practicing gays" from ministry. For the record, what the hell is a "non-practicing" gay person, and how would celibacy be fair in a church that allows married clergy? Gahh.
To the theater, friends! -- Last night, Ms. Kim and I went to see a fantastic play, "Our Lady of 121st Street," and any of you who are now or who have ever been a) Catholic, b) an NYC-metro area resident, or c) interested in hilariously snappy dialogue should run to the box office. With an intense, diverse cast and a story that's a very modern take on the old "everyone comes home for the funeral" plot, the show is bracing, biting, and very professionally produced. And it involves a dead nun, stolen pants, and a number "Law & Order"-esque plot twists. Right here in the South End, people!

3.17.2004

What would I do for $1 million? Hmmm, how about strangle Mark Cuban? -- The self-made zillionaire and loudmouth jerk owner of the Dallas Mavericks will be starring in a new reality show, "The Benefactor" (gag me!), where he gives a cool million of his own money to someone for basically no reason. "The right person is going to get on my good side at the right time," he says. So it's a casting call for desperate sycophants, I guess...and hey, it's not like that money could be put to better use anywhere in our perfect world, right? Christ.
Get yer RetroCrush here -- it's full of odd, good things, like a gallery of hideous 80's makeup, abominable 70's furniture, and weird food for kids. They also give the "Starsky and Hutch" movie 4 out of 5 (martini glasses, that is), with which I concur. Mmmm, enjoy.
"The leprechaun told me to burn things!" -- For further St. Pat's fun, make like Ralph Wiggum and listen to the leprechaun: it's a list of Irish references on "The Simpsons." Thanks, Gothamist!
What's in a Maiden Name? -- This ought to be good: Katie Roiphe, infamous anti-feminist, on the eveolving trend of women keeping, hyphenating, morphing, or ditching their surnames when they marry. She sums it up thusly: "Like much of today's shallow, satisfying, lipstick feminism: One can, in the end, have it both ways." Oh, puh-lease.
A quest for cheesecake -- if that sounds like just the thing for a St. Patrick's Day covered in snow, click away, yum yum. Maybe it's the last gasp of winter talking, but I am so in the mood for some comfort food...well, comfort dessert, anyway.

Speaking of St. Patrick, check out President Blarney's official statement on the holiday, it's a gem! And for a slightly more accurate account, check out the history of St. Patrick -- no snakes involved.

3.16.2004

The Random "Law & Order" Plot Generator -- finally! This is certainly comprehensive, but I'm surprised it omits the "Lenny Briscoe Zinger" for each episode, in favor of the "Embittered D.A. Aphorism"...oh well. CHUNG! CHUNG!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Governor Motherinlaw! -- In a brilliant example of passive-aggression, Gov. Romney today announced his "support" for Boston's hosting the Democratic National Convention this July by suggesting it move to a new venue. In classic meddling manner, Romney does the ol' "That's not how I would do it, but of course I'm not in charge, you are, sweetie" and it works like a charm. He's trying to win points with the national GOP, hogtied as he is as the Republican governor of a state overrun with Democrats. I guess if he has to preside over the crowning of the "presumptive Democratic nominee" in his own backyard, he's going to be a big fat spoilsport about it. Nice. I wonder, if he were governor of New York, would it be a big "inconvenience" to shut down all of Manhattan two weeks after the Sept. 11th anniversary for the GOP convention? Methinks not.
Celebrities Missing Fingers -- not as in, "Wanna buy some?" but rather "An incomplete list." Jerry Garcia, check. Darryl Hannah?! Who knew? And there's a key omission: they include Frodo Baggins (who, famous or not, isn't real) and leave out the man who played Gimli: John Rhys-Davies. Somewhere deep in the behind-the-scenes disc of the LOTR:TTT DVD set, there's a very funny prank involving John, his non-finger, and director Peter Jackson, tee hee.
The Pill: "safer than aspirin" and available over the counter in Seattle -- well, sort of. In a new pilot program (funded by the NIH -- at least until the White House hears about this), women can obtain birth control pills directly from certain Seattle area pharmacies, with just a short health screening. Women with risk factors like hypertension, smoking, and obesity are denied, but otherwise the program hopes to provide access to women who have no doctor or who are otherwise not using birth control. Thanks to Ms. Kim for the link! I think it's a great idea -- now if only the government would subsidize the stuff, and if the pharmacist threw in a few free condoms, perfection.

In fact, allow me to add this to my Radical Socialist List of Things the Government Would Provide Free at Public Dispersal Sites If I Were In Charge:

1. Toilet Paper, paper towels, tissues -- hell, all disposable paper products (recycled, of course)
2. Pantyhose
3. Menstrual apparatus of your choice
4. Birth control and STD prevention apparatus of your choice
5. Hand sanitizer
6. Clean socks
7. Envelopes (oops, that might go under #1)
8. Cat food

Bring on the true Nanny State, I say!
Sushiesque -- a clever name for a clever blog, and one based in Boston, yeah! Persue the delicious content, like this musing on Pets Named After Fonts ("Sit, Garamond, sit!"), and some excellent pictures of the same-sex marriage protests at the State House last week, like this one. Go Sox, indeed.

There's also a link to a goofy page of poorly translated captions from the DVD of "Fellowship of the Ring" -- I've seen similar collections, but these have amusing commentary...and hey, you can't get enough of this stuff, right? :P
"Omigod! I have Chris Rock's old cell phone number!" -- Well, I don't have it, but this rather incongruously giggly woman Laura does. Read more of her madcap adventures, and really retro girlish tips, and see why she may be already be starring in her own low-rent version of "Sex and the City." Or it might be "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," I'm not sure...anyway, countdown to TODAY Show interview in 5...4...3...
Show me your amygdala, baby -- another shocking breakthrough in the world of science today: men and women have wildly different mechanisms of sexual response. Woah! Turns out that Viagra will never be a big seller for women, because it just works on the plumbing, not the brain -- the biggest and most important piece of sexual equipment, after all. Best line, regarding male lab rats: "Yet despite this lack of motivation, they had no problem engaging in sexual intercourse when the females were placed in their cages." I think that pretty much says it all. ;-)

3.15.2004

The Knockoff Project -- a collection of album covers that look just like other album covers. I'd like to note that I like both Born to Run and Born to Add, thank you.
"Being Human" -- summed up in a mere 628 pages, by the federal government! It's a sort of report from the President's Council on Bioethics, the somewhat controversial body that's grappling with stem-cell and human embryonic research (under the direction of the Bush White House, remember). The NYTimes reviews it as an anthology, and you can get your own copy free. I can't decide whether this sounds intriguing or like a bad freshman year survey course...
Pssst, wanna buy some Google? -- huckster nabbed after selling $2.8 million in fake shares in Google, everybody's favorite search engine. Hint to would-be investors -- you might want to, say, use Google to determine whether Google is actually having an IPO before you buy into it. Just a suggestion.
Next stop: Planet Sedna -- just when you think you can remember basic facts from fourth grade, like the number of planets in the solar system, they go and change them. Later today NASA will give more details on the new "planetoid," three times more distant than Pluto and 400+ degrees below zero. The article also mentions Quaoar, a recently discovered not-quite-planet in the Kuiper Belt I'd never even heard of. Time to pay more attention to the skies...

Meanwhile, if you're like me, you'll be interested to read the tale of the Inuit goddess Sedna, for whom the celestial body is named. Quaoar is also named for a deity: the "great force" in the creation myth of the Tongva people, the native inhabitants of the Los Angeles area. If you're inspired by all of this to name a star after yourself or your favorite god, click here and go crazy.
Lazarus lobsters -- run for your lives!
"First Class Ticket" -- a great sports story from yesterday's Globe, on the boys basketball team from the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, MA. This all-senior squad represents the first graduating class of the school, and they made it all the way to the Division III state championships yesterday. It's a screenplay waiting to happen: gritty urban setting, families pushing for better education, the charter school has no gym, the school's custodian doubles as the basketball coach and father figure...it's all there! These sound like great young men, and I'm sad to report they lost by a heartbreaking 3 points to Rockland. But what a great story...paging Ron Howard...

3.12.2004

Jesus: not a Sox fan? -- I just couldn't resist posting this, though Nat has done an admirable analysis on the issue already. Can we just say, "Only in Boston"? I especially like the last paragraph on Cardinal Law -- a man who bent the rules so corned beef could be eaten without sin, yet who harbored pedophiles and paid off witnesses to protect himself. Lovely. And let's take a moment to wonder just what sort of Catholics would be skipping Mass on Good Friday to go to a ball game, but are so worried about their immortal souls that they'd ask for special permission to eat a hotdog while there? Gee, good thing the Vatican doesn't have anything to say about beer on Fridays...
Seems it's a hot day for the Friday Five -- I'm all over it, and I am not alone in this:

1. What was the last song you heard? I'll count the snippet of "Italian Leather Sofa" by Cake they used on "Morning Edition" today.

2. What were the last two movies you saw? I am so lame: the last 2 in the theater were ones I had already seen at least once! Lame! So I'll count "School of Rock" (thanks, babe!) and "Iron-Jawed Angels," both enjoyed at home on TV.

3. What were the last three things you purchased? Cat treats, socks, and a toy Palm Pilot.

4. What four things do you need to do this weekend? Exercise, relax, visit friends, research trip to Austin. In my fantasy these will be the only things I do at all.

5. Who are the last five people you talked to? Coworkers, housemates, cat, brother, boyfriend.

And for some related Friday fun (related in that it's trivial), here's a list I poached from Jen -- only the bold lines are true:

I have never been drunk
I have never smoked pot (or anything else, FYI)
I have never kissed a member of the opposite sex
I have never kissed a member of the same sex
I have never crashed a friend's car
I have never been to Japan
I have never ridden in a taxi
I have never been in love
I have never had sex
I have never had sex in public ("public" as in a train station)
I have never had oral sex
I have never had anal sex
I have never been dumped
I have never shoplifted
I have never been fired
I have never been in a fist fight
I have never had a threesome
I have never snuck out of my parents' house
I have never been tied up (sexually)
I have never been caught masturbating
I have never pissed on myself (infancy excluded)
I have never had sex with a member of the same sex
I have never had sex with a member of the opposite sex
I have never had a relationship with someone of the same sex
I have never had a relationship with someone of the opposite sex
I have never been arrested
I have never made out with a stranger
I have never stolen something from my job
I have never celebrated New Year's in Times Square (nearby rooftop: close enough)
I have never gone on a blind date
I have never lied to a friend
I have never had a crush on a teacher
I have never celebrated Mardi-Gras in New Orleans
I have never been to Europe
I have never skipped school (law school excluded)
I have never slept with a co-worker
I have never been fisted and/or have never fisted anyone
I have never thrown up in a bar
I have never visited a site held holy by a major religion
I have never cheated on a final exam
I have never been/gotten someone pregnant

I have to wonder, who came up with this list? A bunch of repressed Catholic schoolgirls? Voyeuristic GOP senators? What? Let me add a few less salacious ones:

I've never flown in a hot air balloon.
I've never had three arms.

I've never gotten a celebrity autograph.
I've never given money to a homeless person on the street.
I've never driven a manual transmission.
I've never sent an anonymous love note.
I've never broken a bone.
I've never witnessed a crime.
I've never helped to deliver a baby.
I've never snorkeled.

I've never baked a cake.
I've never ice skated backwards.
I've never spelled "ARGYLE" in Scrabble.
I've never been to Antarctica.
I've never pinched someone's butt in public.
I've never been to a professional hockey game.
I've never been to a college hockey game.
I've never liked kidney beans.

Much less interesting, right? :P
The 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English -- compiled by one "Dr. Language," who may be correct on spelling but is also addicted to terrible puns. No more "mannaise"!
"Midlife Crisis at 30" -- Hmmmm, don't remind me. This new book seems to have some interesting points about my generation of overachievers...but of course, since we're all going to live to be 100 won't we be due for another "crisis" in 20 years? Great.
I'm through with "The Dante Club" -- finally! Now I can freely blog that it is by far the best book I've read in a long while -- gripping plot, fascinating characters, and layers of local history, what more could you ask? It's the story of a creepy serial murderer in 1865 Boston, and the group of writers who track him down through their love of Dante's Inferno. Brilliant stuff -- and much of the action takes place at the Longfellow House, right on Brattle Street! I'll be there for a long-awaited tour this spring.
You are your supermarket -- OK, so this article is all about British supermarkets, but it's still applicable here in the States. There's definitely a little niche marketing/class warfare going on between Whole Foods, Shaw's and Market Basket, no? And while I stand by my local Foodmaster (which a certain unnamed party referred to as too "ghetto"), I understand the allure of Wilson Farms too.
It was a long and muddy night for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, with determined protesters on both sides, including the intrepid Miss Kim! Now we are one step away from the first approval of a "compromise amendment," which would give new meaning to "mealymouthed" by simultaneously prohibiting gay "marriage" and establishing gay "civil unions" with the exact same benefits and rights. This is unquestionably better than some of the alternatives -- but the fact remains, there will then be no rational basis whatsoever for the state to carry out these two parallel systems other than plain old homophobia. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it -- meanwhile, someone had better start prodding the city clerks to change those "Bride" and "Groom" blanks on the marriage licenses to "Spouse 1" and "Spouse 2" -- only 66 days left...

3.11.2004

McMansions in Manhattan -- well, in Brooklyn, anyway.
It's just like Silly Putty, except it's black and attracted to magnets. It's Thinking Putty, of course. Get yours today, from Crazy Aaron's Putty World. Ah, a world of putty. Putty putty putty.
CHUNG! CHUNG! -- That's right, folks, it's the onomatopoeic "Law & Order" t-shirt! Kool! Thanks, Gothamist! Hmmm, if I were Lenny Briscoe I'd make some kind of dark comment right here, like "I guess we lost our shirts" or something...
"Branded For Life" -- a piece from The Morning News archive on the lives of the ultra-consumerist teenagers of today, who make my generation's hoarding of Champion sweatshirts and S.W.A.T.C.H. watches in the 1980's look like the child's play it was.
Creepy backwards messages in the Beatles' music retained in arguably illicit re-re-mixing with Jay-Z on The Grey Album -- it's nice to know the proper homage has been paid. Thus, according to LowCulture, Paul is still sorta dead...?
"It was like someone handed me a skeleton key to the world of rock!" -- I'd spray that key with Lysol, if I were you. Meet Jef Hickey, infamous drug-addled roadie and adult entrepreneur. He's also an ex-con, a writer, and somewhat...physiologically unusual. See (?) for yourself.
Nearly 200 people were killed, and hundreds more injured, this morning in Madrid, after ten explosions tore apart commuter trains and the main train station. Officials are looking to ETA, the Basque separatist/terrorist group. Who are ETA and what do they want? On an even more terrifying note, what if it's related to Al-Qaeda instead? Hmmmmm...
If it feels good, vote for it -- very interesting piece on "lifestyle politics," the political choices based on our feelings and the new strategies of winning voters based on gut reactions, spin and appearances. Lovely.
As the Mass. legislature returns to constitutional convention today and haggles over same-sex marriage rights, the Log Cabin Republicans are getting serious about unseating Bush in November. The national group, headed by former MA mayor and state rep. Patrick Guerriero, is airing TV ads quoting Dick Cheney way back in 2000, that "people should be able to enter into any kind of relationship they want to." I often wonder why gay people would stick with the GOP, but Guerrero himself pointed out on NPR this morning that it "doesn't have to be the party of Gary Bauer and Pat Robertson, it can be the party of Bill Weld, George Pataki, Arnold Schwarzenegger (!) and Abraham Lincoln," i.e. a party of progressive inclusion. Heck, I voted for Bill Weld, so I say more power to them! And after last night's amazing candlelight vigil at the State House, more power to everybody in this fight...just look at the yahoos we're up against. Scary. More SSMU's as the day goes on...

UPDATE: Check out this beautiful poster, the perfect gift for the same-sex couple in your life who ran off and got married! Photographer and straight, affianced man Derek Powazek created this photo gallery over Valentine's weekend, and is raising money for Don'tAmend.com with the prints. Cool!

3.10.2004

Harvard cancels tuition...for neediest students -- in a bold move meant to encourage low-income students to apply to top-tier colleges, the Crimson compound will not charge its customary minimum fee to families making $40K or less per year. That's not too many families, since a whopping 75% of Harvard students come from the top 25% income bracket...and that's a big bracket. Speaking as someone whose $140,000 undergraduate education tab was shared by my parents and my school and the federal government and myself (to the tune of $16K in loans), every little bit helps. This is what really burns me about the system: talented kids don't even think of applying to selective colleges because they (often wrongly) assume they could never get enough money together, and meanwhile the school itself is full of upper-middle class kids who assume that everyone is in the same boat. I won't waste time railing against the super-rich legacy kids; it's the generic "doctor's daughter from Connecticut" whose parents charge the full tuition on a credit card ("to get frequent flyer miles") and who doesn't have to work a part-time job (or three) to make ends meet at school who take their liberal educations for granted. The kids who are working those jobs and missing out on time to study could really use the break, and I think it's admirable that Harvard is unclenching its notoriously tight fist for such a worthy cause.
"Waking Up the Vote" -- an inspirational speech from Granny D., aka Doris Haddock, 94-year-old political activist and hellraiser who walked across the US to support campaign finance reform. Just one more reason to get off our collective duffs this year...
A typewritten Mona Lisa -- unbelievable! Another keen Bifurcated Rivets link leads us to the story of Paul Smith, an octogenarian with cerebral palsy who enjoys chess and creating detailed artworks on a typewriter. Wow! He may be the grandfather of these dopey ASCII drawings.
"Diot Coke" in the 14th century -- a fluke of genealogical research reads to the discovery of a little girl with a not uncommon name, 600-plus years before the introduction of a certain delicious beverage. I for one would rather be named "Diot" than "Godelena" any day.
Lunch at the Dollar Store -- scary off-brand foodstuffs (sorry, was that redundant?) brought to you by The Onion A.V. Club. You might want to eat this off one of these...mmmmmmmmmm.
Movieoke -- that's right, people, MOVIE KARAOKE! Ahem, somebody please cue up "Ferris Bueller" for me...
Lacoochee, FL -- land of the Coolest Schoolbus Driver in the World! If you think letting students trap an alligator and bring it on the bus is cool.
One Man Army pleads guilty to assault -- Jack White, my second favorite White Stripe and the best thing about the movie "Cold Mountain," avoided jail time over some fisticuffs with this guy. Rock 'n' roll!
If Tommy Thompson can do it, so can America! -- that would be, lose a few pounds. Yesterday the US Dept. of Health & Human Services launched the "Healthy Lifestyles" campaign, to combat the obesity epidemic -- soon to be the #1 cause of death around here. But is "Be healthy!" the "Just Say No" of the 00's? The Center for Science in the Public Interest thinks so. My advice? Curves for everyone!
I'm a Buddy -- that's right, a Beantown Buddy. By popular demand, I'm hereby blogging my acceptance to be the liaison to the New Jersey delegation to the Democratic National Convention here in Boston this July. In other words, I take a week "off" from work, live in a hotel with the NJ delegates, and squire them around our fair city. Woohoo!

3.09.2004

How much do you know about fast food? -- Man, I love these BBC quizzes...uh-oh, I got 100%, what does that say?
"When the red, red robin goes AIIIEEEEEE!!!" -- Rare American robin appears in Britain. Excited birdwatchers gather. Robin is promptly eaten by passing hawk. Gah. [Robin photo credit goes to our own intrepid Audubon Boy, Nat. :*]
Heaven is a therapy session -- I can't believe I'm sort of agreeing with David Brooks, but there you have it. He's grumbling about this book and its ilk, and our culture of self-esteem bromide-addled narcissism. Harrumph.
"A Californian's Conception of the Continental United States" -- now that's some selective geography! Of course, I am already working on the "Northeasterner" version, mua-ha-ha-haaaa...
The Garden Under Glass may actually bloom -- the Boston Horticultural Society is unveiling long-awaited plans today for the indoor gardens it plans to build once the decrepit Central Artery is finally torn down. I have had a sinking feeling about the proposed beautification projects for a long time now -- that somehow after $15 billion there might not be enough political will left to keep the space open for the public and not sell it off to the highest bidder. Let's hope this comes to life.
"Schindler's List" and Spielberg's Life -- The DVD of the harrowing Holocaust movie arrives today, and it's also the 10th anniversary of Spielberg's becoming a major Jewish philanthropist. He founded the Shoah Foundation to record oral histories of Holocaust survivors and do educational outreach to young people on discrimination and stereotyping. You have to wonder, how much good could be done in the world if Peter Jackson, James Cameron, or other zillionaire movie moguls followed his non-profit lead?
"So what would happen if a young woman did write a sharp, brilliant new novel -- a portrait of the artist as a young woman in the city? Its publishers would wrap it in pink and slap a martini glass on the cover." -- The tsunami of "chick lit", that booming sub-genre "juggernaut of consumerist husband-hunting femme stereotypes," and its discontents.
"The geek shall inherit the earth" -- and we may be worse off for it. Are sci-fi/fantasy nerds truly socially stunted and avoiding reality by withdrawing into escapist invented universes? Um, possibly.
Grow up, people! -- The Weekly Standard tackles the phenomenon of "perpetual adolescence," which has been irritating me since about 1985, so let's put an end to it, I say. More responsibility, clothing, and gravitas for everyone!
"The Terrazzo Jungle" -- deep within the Short Hills shopping mall, a New Jersey landmark, on the 50th anniversary of the great institution of mall-dom. Or not so great -- I quote Frank Lloyd Wright: "What is this, a railroad station or a bus station? You’ve got a garden court that has all the evils of the village street and none of its charm." Ouch!
Spalding Gray, actor, monologuist, and generally entertaining weirdo, has been confirmed dead in New York. Sigh. He likely committed suicide by leaping from the Staten Island Ferry. Double sigh. After taking his two sons to see "Big Fish," a poignant movie about a son reconnecting with his dying father. Triple sigh. I remember seeing him read from his book "Impossible Vacation" in San Francisco, I laughed so hard I thought I'd split. I recommend reading at least "Swimming to Cambodia," it's a gem. Sigh.

3.08.2004

Free Martha, buy towels -- for today's daily dose of surreal black comedy, try reading some of the letters of support sent to Martha Stewart by her staunch supporters after Friday's verdict. I'm a grudging fan of hers, but...wow.
"Is 'The Sopranos' a chick show?" -- After last night's delicious season opener, the most intriguing family in NJ is back on the scene...but are Carmela, Meadow, Janice, and Dr. Melfi the real reason the show's so good? Starting with Tony's thankfully deceased mother, the show does have some of the juiciest female characters on TV, or anywhere. Get the Salon day pass to read the whole article.

And hey, take the Sopranos Opening Credits Tour while you're at it! My personal favorite shot (of the NJ Turnpike exit (#13, baby) for my hometown) is inexplicably absent, but this one is the church where my parents were married. Woah!
"Sonata For Jukebox" -- a review of what sounds like a fascinating new book, on "Pop Music, Memory and the Imagined Life." Which is to say, what we listen to, and why. Allow me to quote: "In an age of recording devices and mass commercial exchange, people don’t ask of a piece of music 'Is this beautiful?' based on its proportion or harmony. They say 'This is me,' or 'This is mine,' because it evokes intense feelings of personal allegiance." I guess in 20 years one of my peers will write "Symphony for iPod" in the same vein?
Big Chill, Big Crunch, or Big Crackup? -- How will the universe end? Despite the assurance of Douglas Adams, the end-all of life, the universe and everything may be a bit more unpleasant than "42." Not that we'll be around to find out, but still...
"I am lucky I went there, and now I miss it." -- That would be Guantanamo Bay, and the three young boys who were recently released after years of imprisonment with "other alleged Taliban fighters" have nothing but good things to say about their stint, oddly. The Guardian tracked them down in Afghanistan, and they report being treated well, learning lessons, and playing sports while at the camp, despite homesickness. Hmmm, Camp Ashcroft, anyone?
Heads up, "Donkey Rising"! -- Perhaps the name could use some work, but this new weblog from the authors of "The Emerging Democratic Majority" has some real...well, kick.
"Lethal Passion" -- Steve Martin mocks Mel Gibson's "Passion" in this week's New Yorker. Sanity returns to the universe! Thanks to newshound Marky for sending this one in... PS: watch out for some of those Google links, they don't look very Christian.
"What is keeping me from, like, soaring? 'Cause I just want to soar." -- Meet Tabitha, high school senior and budding thespian, who struggles with love, sex, college applications, "Great Expectations," and homelessness. An excellent NYTimes profile.
The "Not So Big" House -- what a concept! For once, the Boston Globe Magazine (perhaps to kick off its long overdue redesign) celebrates a modest home renovation instead of a deluxe suburban ├╝ber-McMansion. These folks used this book by architect Sarah Susanka to make their normal-sized dreams come true, a new trend in building and reno. Nice!

3.05.2004

Seems like a good time for the Friday Five:

What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name? Mrs. Keough, a wee silver-haired harpy who despised little children, or so it seemed. I remember getting yelled at for not following directions during a standardized test, when I pointed out there was a printing error on the answer sheets. I cried, even though I was right, and it turned out several other kids were giving themselves ulcers debating whether to say anything or stay quiet. This is also the woman who told us if we told lies pimples would grow on our tongues, and made troublemakers stand in the class garbage can. Do I even need to mention this was at St. Hedwig's Catholic School?

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon? Ah, that would be "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends." I also had a soft spot for "Muppet Babies," though it doesn't hold up as well.

3. ...the name of your very first best friend? Christine Szaro, who lived nine houses down the street. She had an all-pink-and-white room with a canopy bed, and we played spit for hours on end, the only card game I know how to play.

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal? Right now it's Kashi GoLean Crunch. Back then we were only allowed to have Cheerios and Kix. Coincidence? Obviously not, because in the interim I had a five-year love affair with Lucky Charms...

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school? Flop down on the sofa, read, play. In that order.
Beyond "Rock, Paper, Scissors" -- Woah! The World RPS Society might be dismayed to discover this mutant strain of the classic game of skill, developed by this guy, a geek from Sunnyvale. It goes something like this: rock, paper, scissors, Spock, lizard! I don't remember Spock being able to vaporize things, but I digress. Apparently this scheme satisfies the Law of Fives...which may or may not be a real thing. Hmmmmm....thanks anyway to Bifurcated Rivets!
"Stop teaching my kid!" -- a disheartening diatribe from a California high school teacher on "the one potent force that keeps the quality of public education low." That would be...parents!
Memo to Spike Lee: I think you already made this movie, dude. -- It appears Spike is working with LeBron James, 19-year-old NBA phenom, on a...wait for it...basketball movie. Not to be confused with this one, also featuring an NBA phenom, which the article cites as "Lee's most famous basketball movie." Um, right.
Lead, Tested, Safer & Stronger -- random string of words, or the Bush reelection campaign themes? Check out the TV ads, and feel your eyes rolling in your skull! Though the GOP are no strangers to stooping low, the new ads have raised the ire of 9/11 family members, and rightfully so. Let's let Rudy Giuliani set the tone: "[Bush's] leadership on that day is central to his record." Absolutely! As I recall, it was Rudy himself in the midst of things, while Bush was kept airborne by the Secret Service. Some have speculated he has yet to land...and considering his stonewalling of the Kean Commission's investigation, he might want to keep circling right through Election Day.
S-SMU: In a little over a week, the Massachusetts legislature once again takes up the same-sex marriage debate -- and there are plenty of opportunities to make your voice heard! Here's the list of upcoming events from EqualMarriage.org...and just to get you motivated, remember the opposition is getting ready too. I for one will be at the Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday the 10th -- who's with me? :)
"Woke up this mornin'...." -- and read all about the new season of "The Sopranos", starting Sunday night. Like the t-shirt says, "New Jersey: Only the Strong Survive."

UPDATE: Get on the LowCulture bandwagon, and Vote Soprano!

3.04.2004

Craig is real! -- And you thought Craig'sList was just a name...
How to win 11 Oscars -- when "Lord of the Rings" swept the Academy Awards on Sunday night, it tied "Ben-Hur" and "Titanic" for the most statuettes won in one night. But what else do these three films have in common? Sadly, it's not Bill Paxton.
"Welcome to Japan...bleep bloop bleep bleep" -- check out these goofy little translator robots, much more "21st century" than a plain old phrasebook.
One small sniff for a man -- this guy's job is to smell everything NASA sends into orbit. Seriously.
Weeping virgin, film at 11 -- I always wondered about this sort of thing, and now it's happening right around the corner from my house! This neighborhood church is small, but judging by the massive parking problem during the weekend Masses, well attended. It's a shame the diocese has to make these tough decisions...and who knows? Maybe this is a sign. I'd go check it out today, but of course it's raining...hmmm...
"Nothing like hypocrisy with high production values." -- Maureen Dowd slices up President Candidate's new zillion-dollar re-election ads, aka "Mourning in America," ouch.
First my back, now my front -- from the If It's Not One Thing, It's Another File, I've gotten the office stomach bug these last two days...actually, about an hour after my last post, I nearly had a close encounter with the garbage can in my cubicle! I stayed home yesterday, and I'm in for a little today, still wobbly -- watch out for those dastardly microbes! :(

3.02.2004

Americans: mad as hell, and unable to spell -- that's the impression one gets reading these selected letters to the FCC regarding TeatGate at the SuperBowl halftime show. Wow. These make me want to run out and vote. Or, just give up and never vote again.
The Mommy Mythology -- a New Yorker piece on the theme du jour, another round of hand-wringing over the state of working motherhood and the collapse of the Feminine Mystique. Over at the Atlantic Monthly, Caitlin Flanagan comes out as a mom who works from home...and employs a nanny to take care of her kids. What will the next earthquake to rock the domestic sphere look like? My prediction -- since we're moving into an all-service economy, we'll go fully retro to the era of Gosford Park, with entire families of domestic servants moving into the palatial McMansions of those who can afford to employ them. Sheesh.
See the Seuss Centennial stamp! -- Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, was born 100 years ago today, in Springfield MA. He's got a stamp, a university library and archive, hometown library birthday parties and sculpture park, and a great website. Ahhh, nostalgia...
Donkey, elephant, white bison? -- The Independence Party of Minnesota (most prominent elected official to date: Jesse Ventura) will select a mascot at tonight's caucus. Long live the political process!

3.01.2004

Oscars Haiku Blog -- amusing enought to get its own post.
"Is this a proposal, or some kind of postmodern intimacy avoidance strategy?" -- Only Alison Bechdel, the genius behind Dykes to Watch Out For, could spin such dry comedy from the same-sex marriage revolution. Enjoy!

In addition to this gem, for today's same-sex marriage update I'll post a Letter to the Editor of Salon, which is so goofy it just might have something:

"As a heterosexual couch potato, I wonder when all of them thar' wacky gays on TV are going to become fed up with the double standard in our country.

The stars of "Will & Grace," "The L Word," and most definitely "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," et al., should wake up America by walking off their respective shows and declaring that they will not be the modern-day Amos and Andy. These celebrities have a direct line into the hearts and minds of millions of viewers who are happy to see them play gay for pay, while at the same time considering "real" homosexuals to be second-class citizens.

Maybe it is the metrosexual in me that's gotten me worked up, or the fact that (unlike the moral majority) I've actually met real live gay folk, but this is crazy! Move on up to the front of the bus and demand that this stupid debate over gay marriage end. God save the queens!"

-- Matt Bergin
Are you, like, bipolar? -- I think it's safe to say Big Pharma has won when the lifestyle mags are trumpeting bipolarity as the depression of the 00's. Perhaps crazy is the new black.
"For Your Good Health, Barrel Picking Is Prohibited" -- great digital photo gallery of odd signs.
Ban Same-ish Sex Marriage! -- The New Yorker waxes droll on the modern shame of men with small penises marrying women who know how to fix cars. Horrors!
"Is art served by presenting ancient divisiveness in blood-streaming media to the widest audiences in the history of drama?" -- William Safire's criticism of "The Passion of the Christ" is wise and reasoned -- for once, I agree with him wholeheartedly. And in a similarly unusual moment, Christopher Hitchens is right on Gibson himself, "a coward, a bully, a bigmouth, a queer-basher." Ouch.
And the Oscar goes to...about 12:10am this morning, it's sleepytime at the cubicle for me and many others today. This year's awards show was a little...tepid compared to years past, but it was gratifying to see "Lord of the Rings" rack up the prizes. There's an avalanche of press coverage and fashion analysis out there today, but allow me to pluck out this AP article asking celebs on the red carpet, "Should politics come up at the Oscars?" Some surprisingly lucid responses to that one. And in other small news, this reporter sat with Keisha Castle-Hughes' family back home in New Zealand watching the show, very sweet. And on an ecologically sound note, several celebs arrived at the show last night in hybrid cars, not limos, as part of the "Red Carpet, Green Cars" campaign of Global Green USA. Here's Sting using his star power for good, not evil. Finally, the NYTimes gets to the bottom of the bizarre "Best Foreigh Language Film" category -- and how "City of God" has been to the Oscars now twice, without a win.