notes from
the MUCK . . .

How does your garden grow? With muck, muck and more muck! I spent much of today finishing the final muck box and then shifting muck from one box to the next. The first box, which the Big Lad is enthusiastically pointing out, has been rotting down for two years now and once we’d removed the top quarter of unrotted material, we found we’d hit the pay dirt.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Request for Ben

As our resident Englishman, we're counting on you to explain what exactly is going on with Tony Blair in this picture. Doesn't he know that Bill Clinton got impeached over similar behavior (or should I say behaviour)?

Needless to say, I'm not buying the "lung function test" explanation.

Wretched

I'm not convinced that this and this are totally unrelated. Canada aint far enough to run to, and the rest of the world doesn't look much better...

Rest in peace Coretta.

Academy Award Nominations

In anticipation of the (3rd annual) Oscar party Niki and I will be throwing on the big night, I'm posting the nominations for the 78th Academy Awards below. These were announced this morning.


Best Picture

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Capote
Crash
Munich


Best Actor
Philip Seymore Hoffman (Capote)
Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain)
Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line)
David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck)
Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow)

Best Actress

Felicity Huffman (Transamerica)
Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)
Charlize Theron (North Country)
Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents)
Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice)

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)
George Clooney (Syriana)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain)
William Hurt (A History of Violence)

Best Supporting Actress
Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)
Amy Adams (Junebug)
Catherine Keener (Capote)
Frances McDormand (North Country)
Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)

Best Director
Paul Haggis (Crash)
Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
Bennett Miller (Capote)
George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck)
Steven Spielberg (Munich)

Best Original Screenplay
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale
Syriana


Best Adapted Screenplay

Brokeback Mountain
Capote
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence
Munich



The Oscars are some bullshit, aren't they? Still, I watch them every year. This time we're going to spice things up a little with an elaborate drinking game (wardrobe malfunction = 5 drinks). Keep your calendar open. We'll be sending formal invitations to those in the area in the near future.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fight, for your right...(II)

As January prepares to become history, I'd like to share with you this little inspiring story of civil disobedience in the face of direct and gross injustice which is especially fitting for the month of Martin Luther King Jr day that Jeff brought to my attention.

So soon after George Galloway socked it to the man, the passengers of the Queen Mary II decided to summon up the spirit of the civil rights movement to make this world a better place. Boats and the British have a notorious reputation, the middle passage, and privateering (legalised pirates) spring to mind. What brutal torture did the passengers endure? The cruise they paid for could not stop at the three scheduled ports en route to Rio de Janeiro, and instead just went from A to B. The passengers were offered a 50% discount for this, but thankfully they did the only thing they could do; threatened to stay on the boat at Rio.

Yep, now alongside Rosa Parks simply refusing to stand on a bus, a group of black youths refusing to move from a Woolworths stand, we now have a bunch of British people staying on a boat in a port in Rio. They'll eat sandwiches, watch tv, read old magazines, but more importantly, once in a while, they will stand on the deck, look across Rio buzzing with excitement, ball up their fists, and stand, hair billowing dramatically, eyes weeping from the wind, contact lens coming loose, and they will shout from the bottom of their heart unleashing a fury that will threaten to make the Cristo Redentor weep; "THIS IS NOT BARBADOS, THIS IS NOT ST KITTS, THIS IS NOT SALVADOR, AND THIS IS ME, MAKING A STAND".

Were it not for brave action of these souls, who have been stripped of everything except their pride, bravery, and I wager bum bags/fanny packs full of travellers cheques, our society would not advance, would grow stagnant, and eventually crumble. We should be thankful to this brave band, we shoud not call them lame, pedantic, petty, silly, or just stupid. Nor should we suggest they just take the 50% refund to have a great time in Rio. No, we should name days, months, maybe years after them...It's the least they deserve. For the meantime, the next time you go on a cruise, and the boat stops where it says it will, just remember the courage of those tired weary soldiers of justice who just stayed on the boat.





Cristo Redentor looks down upon Barry from Kent, still just staying on the boat, thinking; "Boy, I thought I had it bad."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Nation of Diplomats

If any of you woke up this morning thinking that there was still hope for humanity, this video will quickly set you straight.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Trouble a brewin'....

I'm Going To Talk About Kanye West To
Say That People Should Stop Talking
About Kanye West

It's a boring discourse. The man is talented. The man is arrogant. End of story. He's a pop star, not a god...

Or is he?




Look, I really like Kanye West. I think he's a brilliant producer and a damn decent rapper. I am getting tired of hearing about him, though. In fact, I'm tired of it because I enjoy his music so much. By shining such a bright spotlight on him, his personality and media presence are overshadowing his talents. Plus, because everyone is saying he's so great, it becomes much easier for people to cry that the emperor has no clothes, just because he doesn't live up to the hype. Again, I really like his work, but he's not the sort of artist you can keeping digging away at hoping for deeper treasures. He's more like a scratch off lottery ticket that wins - if you keep on scratching you'll tear through the paper and destroy it. Just cash it in and be happy.

It's for these reasons that I hate the new Rolling Stone cover, which features him posing as Jesus and wearing a crown of thorns. I doubt this was West's idea. It reeks more of some corporate attempt to commodify his reputation as an egotist. Nick Sylvester of The Village Voice puts it this way:

Here the shock is so transparent, the board room meeting and aha! moment so needlessly vivid, so too the night they opened up the "Kanye Jesus" issue boxes and saw the cover and started laughing, hee fucking haw, about what they were about to do to the American public.

At best maybe this cover's actualizing West's opinion of self, but the mag takes no stance--does nothing beyond the literalization, so toothless, dickless, humorless, unsubtle but the bad kind of unsubtle, motivations so primitive and transparent. This is bad teenage poetry...
Exactly. And you know what else - so what if he's cocky? Half the time, he's right. Or half right, at least. As far as mainstream radio hits go, "Gold Digger" was the best song of the year.

I guess I just don't get the sensationalism that surrounds Kanye West. I may be naive, but I don't think he's creating it, either. He definitely hustles for fame, but so does every other pop star. Surely that's only half the story. But whatever the case, I'd like to see everyone just calm the fuck down. The world's busy talking about Kanye while countless other, and yes, better artists remain in the shadows. We've already given him his props and now it's time to move on.

Who knows? Maybe if we give him some space he might just stay focused enough to make another great album.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Many Happy Returns...

Paul Newman's 81 today!!!!....SHIT!!!

Heres to you Paul; may you live to be 100. Seriously, I can't cope with the thought of losing him in the next decade at least.

Friday Random Ten (TE)
(Special No Commentary Edition)

I’m not feeling the commentary this week (don’t let that stop you), so just a straight Random Ten:

Mos Def, Zimzallabim
Jurassic 5, Quality Control
The Helio Sequence, Kablerium v.s Obliviousity
Beck, Earthquake Weather
Willie Nelson, Somebody Pick Up My Pieces
Jay-Z, Izzo (H.O.U.R.) (from the Unplugged album)
Steve Earle, I Feel Alright
The Beatles, She Loves You
Billy Bragg & Wilco, Blood of the Lamb
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose

I am, however, feeling a new twist: Including the first three random five star songs that get played from my favorites list. This seems potentially more informative and/or embarrassing.

Four Tops, Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
Tom Waits, Make It Rain
Eddie Holland, Just Ain’t Enough Love

Yep. Those are all awesome.

Get Out of Jail Free, collect $2 billion...

Red, the colour of blood, santa's suit, the inside of the submarine in Crimson Tide, and now the symbol of multinationals Nike, Gap, Armani and American Express' way of helping those in need rather than exploiting them for all they have. Bono, famed frontman of U2, has persuaded them to create a special "Red" line, and devote a percentage of the profits from that range to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. That percentage? A whopping 1%.

Maybe I shouldn't scoff, that 1% will make a lot of difference;

Prof Feachem says the Red brand could raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year within five years if the idea catches on and spreads to 40 or so companies. "I need Red", he said


Maybe I should be grateful to the multinational companies, their money will probabaly save and enhance lives across the world. However, I'm left in agreement with the author;

There was, as you can imagine, a whole load of corporate self-love, with the Fat Cats in the Snow (Bono's phrase) emoting all over the place about how they really, really cared about the plight of poor people in Africa. It was decidedly sick-making.

My question to Bono was this: aren't you being used here?

How much of this is down to philanthropy and idealism and how much is it a cynical marketing ploy on the part of companies who have made billions out of exploiting poor people and are now looking for a way to repair their reputations?


The very fact that such a paltry percentage could have such an impact on people's lives makes it all the more galling that they do not do more to help, especially when their profit margins are hugely dependent on the tireless labour of the developing world. In no way should this be cited as an example of the capitalist model working to the benefit of all rather than the tiny minority. This does nothing to address the disparity between the rich and the poor in the world, and may in fact help maintain it. By all means, buy red, but don't for one second think that Nike et al are doing this out of anything other than concern for profits and global image. In a fair world, maybe they would be legally obliged to do more good, to do less evil, and maybe if we keep pressuring them we will.

Red or dead? Thanks Gap, but you shouldn't get to decide.


The CEO of Nike relaxes at home before donating the proceeds of his litter tray to fight poverty. BAD CAT!!

A Quote From President Bush

Re: Hamas -
"I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country," Bush said.

Come again?

MySpace Sucks, Soderbergh Bucks,
& Katie Holmes, well...

~I recently cancelled my MySpace account, and this little bit at The Village Voice only validates my decision. It's not long, but it touches on the corporate aspect of an otherwise egalitarian enterprise. The only question remaining: what's worse, vampires or Rupert Murdoch?

~While I don't think that Tom Cruise was behind this, would anyone be surprised if he was? Apparently a sex scene from Katie Holmes' new movie disappeared at Sundance.
At a sold-out screening for his new satirical comedy, Thank You for Smoking, rookie filmmaker Jason "Son of Ivan" Reitman was shocked--shocked!--to discover that a 12-second scene of a hookup between Holmes' journalist character and a tobacco lobbyist played by Aaron Eckhart had vanished.
I guess everyone had to rent The Gift instead.

~Stephen Soderbergh is officially my new filmmaking idol. He's experimental, mainstream, creative, and business-minded all at the same time. He's also very prolific, while managing to maintain a commitment to quality. Tomorrow, his movie Bubble will premiere on cable and in theaters. Next Tuesday, it will be released on DVD. This is all part of his effort to change the economic model of the film industry, which in turn he hopes would lead to better movies being made. Read all about his ideas in this interview at Suicidegirls.

~If you like Soderbergh, and aren't sick of biopics yet, you might like to know that his Che Guevara movie is finally underway. This movie has had a tumultuous past (Terrance Malick was set to direct at one point, and there have been many versions of the script) but now they're apparently shooting some scenes in New York. Oh yeah, one of my favorite actors is in the lead role. Here's a pic of Benicio Del Toro as Che:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"Drop Him Like A Toilet Seat, Tommy!"

As an avid movie lover, I often feel as though I have a second family up there on the screen. Certain actors and directors show up so often that a familiarity develops, and when I see their faces and names I have some of the same feelings I get when I attend a family get together. Or maybe it's more like big network of old friends. I've got the ones I look up to, the ones I enjoy being around, the ones I have crushes on, the ones I hate, and the ones I like but kind of take for granted. These last ones, whether in reel or real life, are always there, hanging out on the sidelines and occasionally emerging to have a conversation with you. When they do, it's usually a rewarding experience. And yet, when the conversation's over, they go off to their little corner of things and you go back to following your Nicole Kidman around like a lap dog.

Then one of them goes and dies, and you realize that you'll never have one of those little encounters again. This is how I felt when I opened my email this morning to discover a message from Ben telling me that Chris Penn was found dead.

Chris Penn was a not well known, but very talented (usually supporting) actor. There are plenty of news stories about his death, so I won't rehash the same biographical tidbits that are already out there (in summary, though: Chris Penn is the brother to actor Sean and musician Michael Penn, was what they call a "character actor," and had roles in Footloose, Short Cuts, The Funeral and, most famously, Reservoir Dogs). Instead, I'd like to briefly recall the first time I "met" Chris Penn - as a boy of nine watching him on the big screen in a little piece of cinema called Best of the Best.

For those who don't know, Best of the Best is, in a word, rad. It's sort of like the Ocean's Eleven of late 80's/early 90's martial arts movies. Here's the plot summary from IMDB:

A team from the United States are going to compete in the world finals in karate. The team consists of fighters from all nations, can they overcome their rivalry and work together to win ?


You know that they can. You see, there was a time, believe it or not, when America thought they could make karate movies...and I loved every single one of them. And these were real movies, too, with theatrical releases and box office profits and stuff. Then the bubble burst and everything was straight to video, but for a brief time it was a big deal when Seagal or Van Damme had a new movie out. There were also these other "B" type movies, like American Kickboxer 1, Only the Strong, No Retreat No Surrender and Best of the Best.

Anyway, in the movie Chris Penn plays this redneck with an attitude named Travis Brickley. If I remember right, his character usually wears a blue-jean jacket and a cowboy hat, and goes around saying rascist things to the Korean member of the team. It's loads of fun, and I recommend that you go out and rent it immediately in homage to our fallen brother.

The lesson here is to appreciate those quieter members of your extended pop culture family. You never realize just how much you like them until they're gone.

R.I.P., Chris.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fight, for your right...

To purr like a cat and dance like David Brent. George Galloway, who famously told the US Senate where to get off, is currently stuck in the celebrity Big Brother House with Dennis Rodman, along some other people you probably haven't heard of. You may be pleased to know that he's still socking it to the man; he had hoped that he could use Big Brother as a public education forum about the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, but Channel 4 censor it everytime he talks politics. Don't worry though, he's found a way of getting the message out; by imitating a cat, generally sitting on his arse all day smoking cigars, and being a bit of a bully.

Frankly, I'm surpised and disappointed with "Gorgeous George". I admired the way he was so outspoken about Britain's participation in the invasion of Iraq when the dialogue here was so stifled and reactionary. I thought it was great when he tore the US Senate a new asshole at the hearings into the food for oil scandal. When I heard he was a member of the Big Brother house, my heart sank; why o why did he think this would be a good venue for such discourse? Why did he think it would further the cause? Why George, WHY???

George is an MP for the Respect Party; he has constituent's interests to look after who are a little peeved about his antics; yes, they all know where he is, he's in the pool drinking wine and smoking another cigar but that's not the point. The English press, somewhat predictably has leapt on his unpopular stint on the house to publish photos of him shaking hands with Saddam Hussein's son; so far the link the British Government played in arming Saddam himself, a point made repeatedly by Galloway, hasn't made it to the front pages. Is this George's fault? No. Should George have known better and used another way of promoting a more open dialogue about what's happening in Iraq? Yes. Does he look like his interest in the cause of Iraq is motivated not by humanity but by simple self promotion and a need to be idolized? Yep.

Anywho, he gets evicted tonight, probably along with Dennis Rodman, who also smokes a shit load of cigars. We'll be left to gawp over the remainder as they bitch, flirt, fight, cry, till one by one they leave, and very little, if anyone at all, will be any the wiser for the experience. I didn't expect anything else, and nor should George.


Galloway demonstrates his ability to stay connected to the younger generation. If anyone can get the footage of him dancing it's fucking hilarious.

While We're Still On the Subject...

While we revel in Dear Leader's latest desecrations of the English language, it's worth reminding ourselves what a total clusterfuck the Bush Administration has been. The man has an uncanny capacity to fuck up anything he tries to do. Despite the Iraq debacle, the Medicare fiasco, the utter failure of social security reform, the tanking economy, the energy crises and the corporate scandals, not to mention the Terry Schiavo spectacle and the NSA and Valerie Plame scandals, perhaps nothing more starkly illustrates the fecklessness of the Bush Administration than the monument to goverment incompetence that was the response to Hurricane Katrina.

The Washington Post reports today that
[i]n the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.
and
The NISAC paper warned that a storm of Katrina's size would "likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" and specifically noted the potential for levee failures along Lake Pontchartrain.
Interesting. But let's remember back to what Bush had to say about the failure of the levies in the immediate aftermath of the disaster:
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm," Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Nobody, it seems, except the whole fucking government agency that sent a 41 page assessment to the White House anticipating the breach of the levies. Of course, in fairness to Bush, 41 is a whole lot of pages to read. Not like The Pet Goat, which is apparently a little more his speed.

This is eerily reminiscent of what Condi Rice had to say right after 9/11:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that ... they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
Which is true. Except for the FBI, CIA, and NIC.

Really though, what the fuck is it with these people? They can do their little ideological bullshit - their stupid gay-bashing, their ill-conceived tax cuts, their marriage of church and state - we've come to expect that kind of crap. All we ask is that they stop fucking up and getting lots of people killed. Is that really too much to expect of one's government?

Thanks, Republicans! This Bush thing is really working out really swell for the rest of us.

President Asshat hard at work.

While We're On The Subject...

President Bush has once again shown off his eloquent command of the English language, as well as his fine ability to think on his feet. Bradblog.com posts the following transcript of an exchange yesterday between the President and an audience member during a post-spech Q&A:

Question: You're a rancher. A lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I just wanted to get your opinion on Brokeback Mountain and if you had seen it yet... You would love it. You should check it out.

Bush: I hadn't seen it. I would be glad to talk about ranchin' but I haven't seen the movie... I've heard about it... I hope you go.. you know.. heh, heh.. I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm is what I was going to say... I hadn't seen it.

Jesus, the guy can't even talk about movies without sounding like a moron. Watch the video - it's even more awkward. Note that the few seconds we get of his preceding comments aren't exactly Shakespearean, either.

fuck-o-meter

Best wikipedia entry yet?

The missing link

I thought this news would be a follow up to this post, but after reading more I decided it explained these posts. Evolution baby, no wonder the conservative right are so keen to deny it.


An amazing breakthrough; for the first time the ignorant, bloated arse, flea infested ape writes a comprehensible sentence: Me nam jorj. Meanwhile, Fifi is disapointed with the shading in her impression of Niagra Falls. Watercolours never where her thing anyways.

Monday, January 23, 2006

More Bushisms

Inspired by Jeff's social security post below, I thought I'd share my all-time favorite dumb-ass things Bush has said. I was just going to leave a comment, but then it started getting too long. Let's face it, the man has uttered more idiocies than any one comment system can handle.

Unlike Jeff, I never tire of this game, nor do I find it to be a trite criticism. If a goddamned moron is going to be the leader of the free world, then we're at least entitled to laugh at the dumb fucking things that come out of his mouth, aren't we?

So here are my top three:

Number Three
Bush on medical malpractice:
Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.

Number Two
Asked about what tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century, Bush give this insightful response:
Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.
(You've really got to hear the audio on that one to appreciate how badly he was floundering. The audience literally started laughing about halfway through his "answer." You can download a clip at the link above.)

And the most wonderful, dumbest thing he's ever said:
"Peeance freeance," as in:
A peeance freeance secure Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have enormous historical impact.
Watch it here. Skip to about 6:40 in the video.

January of Penguin

Who the hell am I to go off the beaten track and post something about a subject other than a dieing/missing/or dead animal? Remember little Toga the penguin, who got stolen from his zoo before Christmas? Well they never found him, I guess he died. His parents have dealt with their grief in a practical and passionate manner and are now looking after a brand new egg. I know I'm not alone in wishing this couple all the best, and I hope that they don't treat this new bundle of joy as a new Toga. He's gone.


Toga, unaware of the kerfuffle caused by his disappearance forged a new life as a tour guide round the sets of famous westerns. He was also the first penguin to ride a donkey.

Bush Solves Social Security

Check it out:

"...the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

That was our president's response during a Q&A following a speech on Social Security in Feb. of 2005. It's been making the rounds in an email forward recently, and apparently it's a verbatim transcript of what was said (read about it on Snopes).

I wish I could say I was over the fact that Bush always sounds like a complete idiot...That's such a trite, easy criticism by now.

But damn if it ain't true.

Four O'Clock. By the Monkey Bars.
You're Dead Meat, Clooney.

Really, George, show some respect. Your little dig at Jack Abramoff during the Golden Globes has sullied the name of an otherwise reputable family, and, worse, brought a little girl to tears.

Those liberals out in Hollywood have finally crossed the line, haven't they? Felony, fraud and corruption is one thing...but making a 12 year old cry is something else.

Seriously, though, are we all in seventh grade again? While I admittedly find it amusing to picture George Clooney on the four square courts side by side with the other popular kids, pointing and laughing at some girl while singing "your dad's a jack-off, your dad's a jack off," the subsequent display of wussiness is just a bit too much to take.

Also, I bet Clooney's dad could beat up Jack-Off's dad any day. In fact, that playground brawl is already starting to heat up.

First, Jack's dad was like:

Your words were deeply hurtful to many innocent and decent people...One day the truth about my son will come out and there will be a lot of people in your industry and others lined up to apologize for their efforts to destroy him and our family.

Then George's dad was all:

The difference here, and it must be said, is Mr. Abramoff's son, instead of pursuing some positive efforts to do what he hoped would change the climate of the American politics, has confessed and has been convicted by that confession of subverting the political process.

Oh, snap!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

à bientôt, NoFX...

The dreaded day has finally arrived.

A little over a year ago, when I purchased my mp3 player, I struggled long and hard with the decision. While it eventually became clear to me that I wanted a Creative Zen Touch over an iPod, I still didn't know whether to go with the 20g or the 40g. Ultimately, I decided to save the $ and get the 20g. Hell, 5000 songs should be plenty, right?

Yes and no. 10 minutes ago I filled my player to capacity. It's true that there's enough on there to keep me entertained for quite some time, but there are nevertheless a couple of major problems. 1) I don't have anywhere near everything I own on there, and 2) I just got addicted to bittorrent and fully expect a rapid and obscene expansion of my music collection in the very near future.

So what to do? Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to put the brakes on the music acquisition for a little while. Secondly, I'm going to have to edit the music currently on my player. This will involve hours and hours of difficult decisions as I argue with myself over the merits of the Grosse Pointe Blank Soundtrack vs. Ol' Dirty Bastard's N***a Please. I could just buy a new player, but then I'd have to upload all this shit again. Besides, I can't afford it anyway, which was the problem to begin with.

In short, it's a tough life, folks. I think we can all hear the violins swelling...


"Number one, I live in my momma house!"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Oh No

I may well have found what to do with the rest of my day. I live in London, so I'll do a bit of whalewatching.

It's cool having a whale in the Thames but I just know this aint gonna have a happy ending. The river is pretty disgusting, and a radio report just said that it seems to be in distress. And all the while that fucking persian cat is parading up and down my garden.

UPDATE; 3.45PM GMT, 10.45AM ET

You can now see the whale live on the link above. I looked at the story, and while the whale seems to be doing fine now, people are worried it may soon tire and beach itself. It's a whale, surely it swims all the time, why would it tire just because it's in a river?? Can someone help with this please?

UPDATE II; 3.20PM GMT, 10.20AM ET

The whale is now on a barge making it's way to the sea. The vets are making an assessment right now as to whether it will be well enough to go back to the sea or whether it will destroyed. There is constant coverage of this in the UK, it's on on all of our tvs at home...and a baby whale or a dolphin has been found dead in my home town of Putney. My theory? Whales are following their evolutionary instinct and are trying to come inland to fulfil their mamalian destiny. Cue theme from jurassic park, doo doo doo, doooo dooo, doo doo doo, dooooo doooo, as one slowly makes it's way up a shingled shoreline, and lies there, open eyed, breathing steadily and unimpaired. The age of the whale has arrived people. Be prepared.

FINAL UPDATE: 7.09PM GMT, 2.09ET

The whale died.

A low?

I've been getting over a cold and jet lag recently which has played havoc with my body clock. Wednesday night I didn't get to sleep till 5.45am; and slept till 2.40pm on thursday. Determined to break this trend and actually do something productive with my day, I awoke before 9am this morning in determined mood.

First things first, I began playing King Kong on the PS2. It wasn't too long before the control pad was set down and the console turned off; motivated to be more productive, to actually leave the house and do something? No. I got scared of the raptors that kept coming at me out of the mist; the music is really atmospheric and you can hear them screeching around you before you actually see them.

After returning from the bank I felt marginally better about the day. I looked out onto our garden feeling slightly smug when I saw what is fast becoming my arch nemesis; a Siamese cat that keeps on coming into our garden. We did have two dogs, Scrap and Honey, neither of which would have stood for such an invasion in their pomp. Now Scrap is dead; she died at the bottom of our garden whilst barking at foxes, and Honey, though with us in body (just), is clearly chasing cats in heaven. Personally, I suspect she is a ghost, but nobody will take her to the vet to make sure. So till she stops moving, we go through the facade of feeding her. Sadly her crap is all to tangible.

This fat cat parading up and down our garden is an act of pure aggression and downright smugness. It knows that Honey cannot even see her/him, let alone do anything about it, so it comes and walks the perimeter of our fence, shaking its fat ass in our face. The cat's presence angers me because I feel like it's mocking my once tenacious pets, and it makes me sad to think of how boldly they once defended their path of grass. It makes me forget how annoying their barking would be, and how this attitude chased away my cat, Indiana, from our household, and today, when I set eyes upon it curled up in the rhododendron bush, I instinctively shouted at it to fuck off, and seriously considered throwing a bucket of water over it's precious fur and drop kicking it over the fence*.

Then I caught sight of my reflection in the window, hands on hips, brows deeply furrowed, eyes glaring, lip twitching, I realised that I need/ed to back down. Here stood a man who had only left the house because he had been scared of a computer game, and now wanted to deal with the grief for his dead and dying pets by attacking a poor defenceless cat, smug little shit or not. It's time to act; I'm gonna do something with this day. I'm going to take out King Kong, put it back in its case, replace it with my wrestling game, and defeat 80's Hogan with the Undertaker.

That'll show that damn cat.


Fuck right off.

* I would like to make it abundantly clear that I would never ever kick a cat, or any other living creature. If someone were to make the cat "go away from this planet permanently" I would not complain, however.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday Random Ten (TE)

Thursday is fast becoming my favorite day of the week.

Billy Bragg, Take Down the Union Jack (King Normal and the Rug Remix) - Just yesterday Jeff was asking me (1) if I had any Billy Bragg and (2) if it was any good. The answers are (1) yes and (2) I haven’t decided yet.
Madvillian, The Illest Villains - Intro. No real music here. Move on.
Richard Thompson, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning - His most popular song, and deservedly so. For a good time, find and download the song Richard Thompson wrote about Janet Jackson at the Superbowl. Actually, just go here to get it; this is a full service blog.
Talking Heads, Give Me Back My Name - A band that only seems more and more influential as time goes on. Not one of their masterpieces, but a cute enough little song.
Bright Eyes, Little Drummer Boy - Well, now that the tree is finally down and all the cookies are gone, I guess it’s about time to take the Christmas music off the iPod for another year.
The Meters, Hand Clapping Song - I think this one has come up before. Like everything The Meters do, this one is funky as hell and a lot of fun.
KRS-One, Are You Ready for This? - Very good first track from an otherwise lackluster album, 2004’s Keep Right.
Primus, Pudding Time - Why, you ask, is this still in my iPod? Why, indeed.
Fats Waller and His Rhythm, I Won’t Believe It (‘til I Hear It From You) - Funny, Jeff and I were talking about Fats Waller yesterday, too. Spooky.
Joy Division, The Kill - The band that took depression to a whole new level, they make Pink Floyd seem like bubblegum pop. Really good music, best taken in small doses.

Bonus Songs On Account of the Skit and Christmas Music

The Magnetic Fields, A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off - Some day soon we’re going to play that game on this blog where we each pick our favorite 20 songs off of 69 Love Songs. Start thinking about it. This one will make my list.
The Band, I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) - With Bob Dylan at The Last Waltz. So-so performance.

Not too shabby. Do give that Richard Thompson song a listen. I just did again, and it's worth a few chuckles.

Casting Against Type

what's great about art? in a word, surprises - little gifts of the unexpected that change the way we see the world. sometimes, this quality comes in the form of what is called "casting against type." when actors excel in roles that they have no business playing to begin with (at least according to popular wisdom), the result is a refreshing blast of texture and cinematic dynamism that forces everyone to re-adjust their pop culture barometers.

some examples:

Jamie Foxx, the comedian from In Living Color, turns out to be a damn fine Academy Award winning dramatic actor.

Tony Curtis, the charming leading man type, chills you to the bone with his nuanced portrait of the The Boston Strangler.

Charlize Theron, the stunning but theretofore unremarkable starlet, blows everyone away with a fat suit and her uncanny performance in Monster.

Russell Crowe plays characters that probably wouldn't throw a phone at your head.

we could go on and on, but that's what the comment section is for.

in case you can't tell, i eat this shit up. i love it when our prejudices against comedians (who, we feel, should stick to being clowns and leave the real roles to the real actors), and against the seemingly vapid tabloid fodder of Hollywood, are challenged by a single, inspired stroke of casting.

and yet, when i heard that jared leto...THIS DUDE:


was going to be playing Mark David Chapman in the upcoming film Chapter 27, i had some serious fucking doubts. casting Jordan Catalano to play the dumpy, anti-social, Holden Caufield obsessed assassin of John Lennon just seemed like too much of a stretch.

but my fears subsided when I saw these pictures posted at pinkisthenewblog (also responsible for the caption):



and here's the real Chapman:


surprised? i know i am. putting the moral issues of this project aside for the moment, i think we might see some good work from Mr. Leto here.

or at least from the make-up department.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

International Dialogue

Want to hear Tony Blair say the C word? Go here. Now.

Good Riddance

A lot of things piss me off like the death penalty, censorship, the invasion of Iraq, and of course pickles but I'm here to tell you of the demise of one of my most loathed groups; Father's For Justice. They were set up in reaction to the fact that Court's in the UK give priority to the mother when custody is contested. They feel that fathers are victimised by the law and seek to highlight their plight with high profile demonstrations. You may think that these demonstrations try and educate the British public, highlight specific legislation, or at least bring a modicum of dignity and decorum to the cause.

You'd be wrong.

In May of 2004, members of the group threw a condom full of purple powder at Tony Blair in the House of Commons. Great going. They followed this bullet of justice with a full scale assault on the very source of their perceived injustice, one member dressed up as Batman, scaled a wall of Buckingham Palace (running past armed guards who almost shot him there and then), and just hung out there for a while before coming down in a cherry picker. It's sad to think that there was a great deal of planning behind these events; various meeting may have been held, juice and biscuits were served, on some nights of continued creative conspiracy a pizza or two may have been consumed. And the result was a fat guy in a Batman suit standing on a wall.
Way to take it to the man!!!

The fact that their protests are so stupid is just the tip of the ice berg of my dislike for this group. Basically they represent a lot of stuff that makes me angry about men, and those in positions of power. It's a typical response from a group who occupy a priviledged position through some kind of continued, ingrained injustice. They cry foul play, they are desperate to be seen as the victim of the big bad legal machine which panders to the maniacal, power hungry, heartless demands of the feminists who have stripped men of any dignity they once had and have relegated them to a position in society slightly above the cockroach. While I agree that there are instances where Court's get it wrong and a father suffers, those occasions are completely dwarfed by the amount of mothers struggling to raise her children while the father does nothing in the way of support, financial or otherwise. While Batman sat and ate his sandwiches on the wall of the palace, the whole palace itself could've been filled with mums who would love to have their child's father take some kind of responsibility for their kid. Do the group promote such a responsibility? If they do, they keep it to themselves.

The group's collapse comes with the uncovering of a plot to kidnap Blair's youngest child Leo (5 years old), keep him for a period of time before returning him unharmed to show what it's like to be without a child. Of course, the spell binding sheer stupidity and recklessness of this venture was not taken as a prank, and the police were involved. Although Father's For Justice came out to condemn the plan, the incident highlighted that the group had splintered after the Batman charade, with one section wanting to take a more militant stance; the resulting bad publicity has lead to the disbanding of the organisation. I for one will not miss them, and hope that the members, faced with the bare faced idiocy of the direction of their campaign, will take stock and maybe start working towards fostering responsibility rather than simply blaiming all and sundry. And please, ditch the superhero crap, it's stupid, it's ugly, it's wrong.


The donor of the "chest hair" below...

For the Record

This does not look like chest hair to me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hooked on a nerdlinger

I got this from the Muck It Ts link (the only link I have currently endorsed here), it's under their wonderful mystery link section...I urge you to check out the site and peruse their witty t-shirts. I know I do. Regularly.

Feeling down? Never fear, David Hasselhoff is here. And how.

Beldaz Has Arrived

At the risk of inflating anybody's ego, I'd like to call everyone's attention to the following:

1. Go to Google
2. Type in "Beldaz" (with or without the quotation marks)
3. Click "I'm Feeling Lucky"
4. Turn green with envy.

Beldaz, my friend, you've made it big time. Try to keep it real and not forget us little people who helped you get started.

____________________

P.S. I blogged this from the toilet. How fucking cool is that? Do you all feel dirty now?

Back on the wagon...

or off it, whatever way you look at it. For whatever reason I haven't posted in a while, and just felt I needed something safe to get back in the water with. So, without further ado...

Just as You Thought it Was Safe to Go Back to the Dentist's....



Let's just be thankful his girlfriend wasn't a grief counsellor/gynacologist/capital attorney/insert other...

No, replied Tom, the trip to the dentist did not go well. In fact I'd say it was terrible.

Tuesday Morning Cheer

a friend of mine linked this and i liked it so much i just had to repost.

enjoy

Idlewild

Not sure when this hit the web, but you can now view the trailer online for Outkast's upcoming movie, Idlewild, at Yahoo! Movies. Go ahead, take a look.

Actually, I really don't see how this could be very good since it Looks more like a showcase for the pair than an actual film. But who cares? The only exciting thing about this movie (and the reason that I'm posting the link) is the soundtrack. Keep your ear out for one of their new songs about half way through the preview, and here's a tidbit on what to expect from the rest of the album(excerpted from Pitchfork):
And the soundtrack? "It matches the movie," Big Boi told MTV.com. "The movie's set in the 1930s, so there's a lot of piano playing, a lot of ragtime, Cab Calloway, Jelly Roll [Morton]. A lot of different stuff on the album. It's a very mature album, it's rapping and everything else. You've got to expect what you always expect from Outkast, and that's the unexpected."

That description, coupled with the song in the trailer, have significantly reduced my fears (frequently expressed in my Friday Random Ten sessions) that Outkast's best music is behind them. I liked Speakerboxxx/The Love Below a lot, but I've worried that the success of that album might shift their output in a more commercial direction. I don't know, I guess I just miss the dark, soulful mystique of Aquemini. But as long as they continue to push the boundaries of music, and push themselves, we will at least applaud their efforts. Hopefully that's just what they've done with this soundtrack.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Trumpet of Conscience



Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Baby, Don't You Do It

See bottom of post for special update.

Controversy rages in Random Ten land. Our own Jeff played an FRT(TE) over at MBI's blog yesterday, and had this to say about the first song that came up:
1) Baby Don't You Do It - The Who. Have to confess that I haven't listened to much "Who" in my life. I actually recently bought this album (Who's Next) and was appropriately impressed, but I must always skip this song because I don't recognize it at all....hmmmm. Yeah, now I know why I skip it. I'm already bored and it's got another 2:30 minutes to go - an eternity in crappy song land.

Still going...

Finally it's over. What a dumb song.
Now, Jeff meant no harm and could only go by what he heard, but it just so happens that Baby Don't You Do It is one of my all-time favorite songs. The problem, I think, is that Jeff is listening to the Who version, which, based upon the 30 second snippet that iTunes provides, totally sucks ass. Crappy songs are always depressing things, but crappy covers of great songs are an abomination, and I'm afraid that's what The Who has given us.

This is a song with a pedigree, written by the legendary Motown trio Holland/Dozier/Holland, and recorded first (I think) by Marvin Gaye. It's an irresistible performance, featuring a driving piano rhythm sharply punctuated by hand claps. But it's the horns that make this song a classic. They're not up front in the mix; you might could even miss them if you weren't listening closely. But once they find a way inside your head they won't leave. Ever. Gaye doesn't actually give this song the reading I'd like, though he does capture a hint of the lyrical desperation in the second verse: "My biggest mistake was loving you too much / and letting you know / 'cuz now you got me where you want me / and you won't let me go / If my heart was made of glass / then you'd surely see / heartaches and misery / you been causing me / but I've tried to do my best / girl, I've tried to do my best / don't you do it / don't break my heart."1 And I mean, it's Marvin Gaye, so it's got that going for it.

As good as the Marvin Gaye recording is, this song is positively owned by The Band. The definitive performance was captured on their Rock of Ages live album (which is, incidentally, the best live album ever recorded (except for Dylan's Royal Albert Hall Concert, which is way better)). As is well documented, Allen Toussaint was brought in to write arrangements for the five man horn section that played with The Band on this tour. Toussaint built on the horn foundation from the original and really brought them front and center. Swirling behind the horns are Richard Manuel's brilliant piano and Garth Hudson's tantalizing organ fills. Levon Helm sings lead vocal, with Rick Danko backing him up. Helm perfectly captures the mood of lyric, pleading "pplleeeeeeaaasse don't do it / don't you break my heart." Two quintessential Robbie Robertson guitar solos in the second half round it out and make it simply one of the greatest live performances of all time.

I'm going to go ahead and implore Jeff not to judge this song based on what The Who did to it. I mean, they took the horns out, for Christ's sake. The horns are the song, and anyone who can't appreciate that shouldn't be fucking around with it in the first place. Please download the recordings by Marvin Gaye and The Band. Listen to the Marvin Gaye version three times (it's only 2-and-a-half minutes long), then listen to The Band's cover twice. And if you're not hooked by then... Well, never mind, because you will be.

UPDATE 1/14/06: Just for the sake of experimentation, I've uploaded the mp3s for the Marvin Gaye and Band versions of this song. Right-click, save file should download them. Needless to say, this is for evaluation purposes only. I stongly encourage everyone to purchase these songs.

Marvin Gaye
The Band


___________
1 If you look up the lyrics on-line, they're all fucked up. Someody should do something about this.

"Nothing seems real except what is unreal..."

Recently, over at Rat Bastards and Other Hazards, the phrase ""the exception that proves the rule" was causing a little confusion. Coincidentally, I've had my own confounding experience with a common expression lately.

As an aspiring filmmaker, I frequently find myself using the phrase "pipe dream" to describe my future plans. Like most people, I'm pretty comfortable with the meaning of this expression, and I think I use it correctly. What I never gave much thought to, however, was the origin of the phrase. I always had some vague and convoluted notion of some historical figure, perhaps an oil tycoon, who had great but seemingly impossible plans to stretch miles and miles of underground pipe from the Gulf coast to the rest of the country. The image that popped in my mind was something like this:


Instead, and here's the epiphany that blew my mind the other day, the words refer to an entirely different sort of pipe - specifically the type that you smoke opium through. Like this:


I had my hunch checked with Papa Google, and this time I got it right. So how about that? Now it not only makes sense, but it completely changes the way I think about the expression. It's taken on a darker significance, one that harkens back to the smoke filled dens of the 19th century where madness, genius, and desperation mingled on common ground. The juxtaposition of something so deviant with the mainstream nature of the phrase is really interesting to me.

Anyway, I'm now curious about other interpretations of common expressions. Did you know the origin of pipe dream? A quick survey of my office suggests that many people have their own ideas on it's derivation (Matt's is the most interesting). We all seem to get different mental images. Not only that, but each person wholeheartedly believe that his or her own assumptions are the only ones that make any damn sense.

What other phrases do you think you know the origins of? Even if we can't totally explain something, the brain tends to create partial meaning, and then take that meaning for granted. For example, I've never known where "kick the bucket" came from, yet I inevitably pictured a typical bucket that one might put dirt or water into. Turns out, "bucket" referred to the wooden structure from which animals were hung to be slaughtered. In the spasms of death they would often kick this structure - thus the phrase.

So, can you think of any other daily expressions that most people don't know the origins of? Or, better yet, what are some that people are likely to have concocted their own, probably false, origins for?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Friday Random Ten (Thursday Edition)

Dear iPod,

No more bullshit like the last two weeks. I can’t take it again. Please no more bullshit like that.

Thanks,

M

Gift of Gab, Moonshine - From his slightly underwhelming solo album. Like the album, this track has its moments, but is largely forgettable.
Wolf Parade, I’ll Believe In Anything - Haven’t listened much to this one yet. On first impression, it sounds like yet another guy trying to sing like David Byrne. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps it’s getting to be a little bit overdone.
Pigeon John, Alone… - This is the dude who opened for Lyrics Born when Jeff and I saw him, and who was kind enough to sign CDs after the show. I haven’t been blown away by the albums we bought, but he put on quite a good live show.
Pixies, Crackity Jones (live) - Folks, it’s not “The Pixies;” it’s just “Pixies.” Let’s keep a close eye on that.
Bob Dylan, Forever Young - The fast (i.e., the good) version.
French Kicks, The Trial of the Century - This is just a random song I downloaded from a band I’ve never heard of. It’s actually quite good; I should look into getting some more of their stuff. Papa Google, here I come. The Amazon reviews look good, though they also look good for the Britney Spears Remix Album, so that’s maybe not the best measure.
Bullfrog, Isn’t So Bad - I’m recognizing a Meters’ sample here, so it’s bound to be pretty good….. And yes, it is.
RJD2, The Horror - Nice, nice, nice. I love it when the random songs just flow. This is great.
John Hiatt, Old School - So much for the flow, but this is still a pretty little country song.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Honky Tonk Blues - Wow, nothing on this list sucked, and this goes well with the John Hiatt. I prefer the Hank Williams original, but this is fun stuff.

Nice recovery. Ironically, none of these songs were among the thousand that I added this morning, so it was drawing from the same pool as the last two weeks, yet somehow managed to not suck. Just goes to show how random these Random Tens can be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The New Style

While I have not had much to offer by way of posts here lately, I did manage to devote a substantial portion of my day to an overhaul of the site. It was truly a pain in the ass, but I learned a hell of a lot more about html than I ever meant to. I hope everyone likes the new look. Unfortunately, we have no plans to improve the content.

Why papa Google, WHY? (Vol II)

On the heels of the rip roaring success of "Why Papa Google" vol I , I thought I'd give you all a little bit more of what you've been missing.

This week, I have been watching something called "Chimp Week" which follows a clan of chimpanzees, distilling 8 years of life into 7 days. Sweet. It's easily one of the most riveting pieces of television I've seen for a good while; we see twins born, a seemingly continuous fight for domination amongst the males, the twins get lost, the leader goes AWOL, baboons come along, leader comes back all skinny and gets his ass kicked, twins are still lost as I type, and so on and so on.

One of the things that struck me, well, my mum if you must know, was just how violent the little things were. A lot of the fight to be leader is done by posturing, a lot of tree shaking, puffing up of chests, you know the score; but there is a lot of violence that doesn't seem to permeate other ape culture such as the orangutan or the gorilla.

One time, the leader of the clan, Frodo, who was built like a brick shithouse at the time, found a little chimp just on the borders of the clan's territory; he positively beat the living crap out of that lil' ape, dragging it round, clubbing it with his fists. I no doubt anthropomorphised somewhat, but still, it was pretty shocking. Male chimpanzees will also target females a lot, in fact just about anyone who is weaker than them. Darn it they're cute though.

So anywho, I wanted to know just why chimpanzees are so violent, and I asked papa google. This time, papa google was able to give me a little bit more help than last time, when he bombed completely. I found this site which seems pretty interesting; I should really have read it a bit more closely but I just tried to get the juicy bits. Apparently chimpanzees are the most violent apes, and, whats more, they are the ape most closely related to the human race. That's pretty telling in and of itself; that the most violent ape is our closest ancestor. What's more, the site explains this in that natural selection has favoured chimps to the extent they are merely a good shave away from congress, the males do nothing but eliminate weakness and promote strength whenever possible. Other animals such as lions may well indulge in a bit of testosterone fuelled jousting for the pride, but once a winner is found, this process stops for a quite a while until the next challenge comes along.

Not so with chimps and humans, who seem genetically driven to eliminate those they see as weak, and consolidate with those they see as the elite. It's a pretty depressing forecast for evolution, but anybody whose been to school and not been the kid who kicks the shit out of everyone else can completely identify. Sadly, we cannot sit back and pat ourselves on the back in the knowledge that as we grow older we outgrow such violent, beastial tendencies. I'm sure I don't need to point to examples of colonialism/segregation/genocide/imperialism, to show that the big chimps still rule with an iron fist, and will always seek to pound on those who are of least actual threat to them.

Part of me wishes papa google hadn't thrown this up, but another part of me says, tell me something i didn't already know, papa google.


Who said I look like Ted Bundy??? WHOOOO OO OOO OOOO????

See Ben Learn.

So, after being pulled in by the report of 42 midgets being defeated by an african lion (see post below), I feel I have to improve my bullshit radar...I start with this; it's bullshit right? Levi's aren't making jeans for your ipod are they?? Come on. Seriously?

I don't know what to believe anymore

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Round 1.

Godzilla or King Kong, Donald or Mickey, Mario or Donkey Kong, Oasis or Blur, 42 midgets making up the Cambodian Midget Fighting League (CMFL) or an African lion...we've all sat still and pondered who would win such confrontations, and, aside from the odd B movie, such clashes have been confined to our imaginations...and a good time was had by all.

Recently however, we thought we had the answer to the last match up, as an article surfaced reporting that the bout had taken place, with the lion coming out well on top. According to the report, the CMFL's president the vertically challenged troupe could defeat any "man, beast, or machine"in a bout of fisticuffs. Someone took him up on the challenge, a lion was shipped in, and the fight was on. 12 minutes in, 28 of the league were declared dead, the others were suffering from horrific injuries, man defeated by its own arrogance once more, yadda yadda yadda.

But of course, the story's a fake, how could it be real? Sadly however, I heard this issue discussed on Ricky Gervais' pod cast before I found out it was false, and I started to ask myself if the President of the league was actually a midget or not, and if so did he fight? If not, who the fuck was he to put lives on the line by saying that they would beat any man; ok fine, there's 42 of them, BEAST; HOLD ON...this is a very very vague term...a shark is a beast, a tiger is a beast, an elephant is a beast..., and MACHINE; fuck right off, a MACHINE??? No, no and no. The death star is a machine, a hummer is a machine, a chainsaw is a machine...don't put you're people's lives on the line by offering them to a machine. They didn't of course, because they don't exist.

I also thought about what had compelled the 42 individuals of the CMFL to choose such a path? I tried to comfort myself by holding on to the possibility that they were all really aggressive, muscley midgets with no-one to fight because of prejudice in the regular fighting leagues. They responded with a grass roots movement to find the toughest damn midgets in the whole of the country, travelling up and down, getting into scrapes and scraps that would test and define their fighting ability, before finally settling down on a final 42 who would just have a fight every now and then. However, the annoying part of me whose job it is to keep a tentative (i didn't think for a second the story was false till I researched it more) hold on reality somberly but tenderly told me that the only reason they were in that group was because it was their only chance to earn any kind of living or acceptance in their society. Although I was glad the lion didn't die, I hate bullfighting, and think the matador get's what he/she asks for when the bull sticks 'em, this was different; the choice of the midgets seemed a lot less than those who enter the bull ring. You could say that I was somewhat torn.

What feelings went through my mind when I found out it was a fake story? Anger, that such a bizaare encounter hadn't taken place; relief, that those 28 people hadn't been killed, though they didn't actually exist, so whether they were killed or made up, their presence on the earth right now is pretty much the same. I guess if they had died then their families would've been pretty cut up about it, but come on, they were part of a fighting league and they had some dude trying to pit them up against dinobots, silverback orangutangs, tie fighters, and the odd tag team match with sharks. This wasn't going to have a happy ending.

Right now though, I just feel pretty empty inside. This had some good blogging legs, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna give up on it now just because it never happened. Wait, there's someone at the door, hello? who are you?? GOD?? My, you do exist, what can I do for you? Oh, you're here to damn me?? What for?? Wasting up blog space spouting on about how you felt about people and events that were a created by someone's imagination?? Come on...people spend a LOT of time talking about movies... what's that, you won't damn me if I don't hit publish??? No dice G; I haven't been able to post for 4 damn days, do your worst, you know where comments is...

Get Bent Utah

The new movie, "Brokeback Mountain" , is out and creating quite a stir. Most reviews, from what I've read, are favourable. For those who don't know, it's a Western that centers round two cowboys who are in love with one another. From what I hear (the film hasn't come out here in England yet), it's quite tender with powerful performances from the butch male leads, having Ang Lee direct means we're in for some stunning cinematography.

It's got one cinema in Utah, owned by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller in such a twist, he's banned it from his theater. Maybe this isn't suprising, Utah sure aint a bastion of liberalism in a nation who is doing its darndest to isolate and victimise homosexuality. Gayle Ruzica, president of the "Utah Eagle Forum", a conservative group if ever there was one, had this to say,

I just think (pulling the show) tells the young people especially that maybe there is something wrong with this show.

In my mind, any group that has the word eagle in their group name and doesn't play golf or actually do something with the actual birds themselves is desperately trying to over compensate for something, what exactly, I don't know. What also pissed me off about this story is that just after I read it, I found out that the Jazz had beaten my beloved Detroit Pistons on their own turf. Owned by a homophobic dick who tries to impose his views on other people, and tainters of my team's great start to the season. Fuckers.

In the meantime let's raise a glass to all those cowboys who want to come out of the closet but can't due to bigotry...please use comments accordingly, and keeping reaching for the rainbow.

Before becoming "Butch" Marion spent a wonderful summer in Europe just getting to know himself; the disco scene was amazing, the lattes exquisite, and everyone loves a cowboy.

Speaking of Bush

The president was summoned for jury duty in December for service in McLennan County, Texas, home to his beloved ranch. He was too busy playing leader at the time to make it, but has said he will gladly perform his civic duty when he gets the chance. Bush can choose from several dates in the next six months to show up to court and be promptly stricken from the selection process:
Prosecutors and defense attorneys tend to steer clear of highly educated, powerful, or strong-willed people, says Professor Jillson [professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas]. They are looking for more of an Everyman who is impressionable and subject to argument.

"From all we know about Bush, once he gets an opinion about something, it's there for good. There's no changing it," he says.
Still, it's a great thought isn't it? Imagine being a juror, sitting there in the box next to ol' W...the smell of whiskey on his breath, making fart noises during the defense attorney's opening statements. ..

The possibilities for a long winded and only moderately amusing SNL skit are endless, aren't they?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Desperate for Content

Well, seems we've all got precious little to say these days. My life anymore consists essentially of shitty diapers, lots of West Wing and Arrested Development on DVD, and the occasional backgammon game with Jeff, a perfectly tolerable existence, but not particularly conducive to the kind of quality blogging you've all come to expect from the Muck.

But it's clearly time to move those pickles on down the page, so I'll post something that's been nagging at me ever since my mother-in-law first pointed it out: young George W. Bush looked an awful lot like Ted Bundy. Discuss.


Friday, January 06, 2006

For Jenny

TBogg has an interesting post up about the damage that Wal-Mart's ultra-low pricing on select "statement items" can do to name brands, and the extent to which some brands will go to avoid doing business overtly with Wal-Mart. It's an interesting read, and an angle to the Wal-Mart criticisms that I had never really considered before. But what I really appreciated was the following description:
A gallon-sized jar of whole pickles is something to behold. The jar is the size of a small aquarium. The fat green pickles, floating in swampy juice, look reptilian, their shapes exaggerated by the glass. It weighs 12 pounds, too big to carry with one hand. The gallon jar of pickles is a display of abundance and excess; it is entrancing, and also vaguely unsettling. This is the product that Wal-Mart fell in love with: Vlasic's gallon jar of pickles.
Mmmmm... pickles.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Friday Random Ten (Special Thursday Edition) (Extra Special Late Night Edition)

Technically, it's still Thursday. Here's hoping for a return to form.

Mos Def, Dollar Day for New Orleans - Every white man’s favorite hip-hop artist raps for Katrina relief.
Wilco, In a Future Age - From Summer Teeth. As it happens, I greatly prefer Wilco’s newer stuff, but this album is still pretty good.
The Pharcyde, It’s Jigaboo Time - Fatlip then sure didn’t sound anything like Fatlip now.
Tony Bennett, All of You - From the outstanding Unplugged album.
The Band, King Harvest (Has Surely Come) - I was just listening to Rock of Ages today and thinking about how fucking great The Band was. This track from their second, eponymous album has one of the greatest guitar solo fade-outs ever.
Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) - I got a Holland/Dozier/Holland box set for Xmas, and it hasn’t come out of my car CD player yet. This stuff is delicious.
The Pharcyde, If I Were President - Fatlip then sure didn’t sound anything like Fatlip now. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Wilco, ELI - From Summer Teeth. As it happens, I greatly prefer Wilco’s newer stuff, but this album is still pretty good. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. What the fuck is going on here??
The Pharcyde, Hey You - Freeeeaaaakkkyyy....
The Fugees, How Many Mics - And crap.

Another wholly unsatisfying week. BUT, the odds of my getting a new powerbook next week are looking good and if I do, I’ll be back up to a full iPod in no time....

Justice Served...You Want Fries With That?

On January 17, California will carry out the execution of the oldest inmate currently imprisoned on their death row:

Clarence Ray Allen, 75, is scheduled to be executed on January 17 for ordering three murders while serving a life sentence in prison. He is blind, deaf, and confined to a wheelchair.Source

On the heels of Tookie Williams' execution, The Terminator has yet again denied clemency to an inmate many feel it would be wrong to put to death:

Allen will be rolled in a wheelchair to the door of San Quentin State Prison's drab green execution chamber, where prison guards will essentially have to lift him onto a gurney. Allen, legally blind, is unlikely to be able to make out much of what will be happening around him as he receives a lethal dose of drugs, according to court documents.

At 76, he will be the oldest inmate ever executed in California and the second-oldest in U.S. history.

To Allen's lawyers and death penalty opponents, the execution of a feeble old man would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Source

Meanwhile, it will have cost the tax payers of California approximately $250 million to finance this execution. To clarify, that's $250 million more than it would have cost to keep him locked in prison until he died of natural causes.

How is this not blatantly ridiculous (not to mention immoral) to anyone with a pulse? Why can't all those "fiscally responsible" conservatives get behind the abolition of the death penalty on economic grounds? Granted, the money has already been spent in Mr. Allen's case, but the guy's worse off then Helen Keller and we're supposed to sleep well at night feeling like the death penalty is a deserving recipient of our hard earned wages?

That's all.

Hey Ricky you're so fine you blow my mind, Hey Ricky...Hey Ricky...

And so it was that I awoke this morning to the headlines on the radio telling me about the Simpsons episode, "The Office" and "Extras" creator Ricky Gervais has written. He also stars in the episode; the Simpsons take part in the programe "Wife Swap", and Ricky stars as a Brentish man who lives in a loveless marriage and comes to live with Marge and the kids. Apparently Matt Groening is pretty excited, and wants the character to be a permanent edition to the show. I'm not getting too excited yet, seeing as the newest Simpsons have been pretty turgid and have relied on Homer's increasing imbecility for laughs, but I have to say, I'm getting there. Quick.

I also found out that Ricky's hero is Larry David, from "Curb your Enthusiasm". Tonight, on Brit TV, they are showing an Ricky interviewing Larry. To me, this is heaven. When I came to the U.S. I desperately missed "The Office"; both being able to watch the actual episodes, and also being able to quote lines, and also act out bits of the dance with people who understood what I was talking about. Luckily for me, the people in my office, Jenny, Matt, Jeff, maybe Rob, I think he is, are all big fans. Jeff then introduced me to "Curb your Enthusiasm"; I was pretty skeptical that I would find it as funny as my beloved Office, but I was pleasantly suprised. Easily one of the funniest shows I've seen period for some years now. Sadly though, I rarely, if ever did the Brent dance in the office, to this day I don't know why.

So, towards the end of a grey day, a grey week, and who knows what colour this years going to turn out like, I'm taking advantage of this small pleasure...thanks be to Ricky, Larry, and all who conspire to make us piss ourselves.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Keep Your Hands To Yourselves, Kiddies

Apparently sick and tired of being fucking tickled all the time, the cute and cuddly Elmo is striking back - with a vengeance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

How was for you? (Part II)

So, after the general festive happiness comes January. You've bought, wrapped, received and unwrapped presents.You've played with them, read them, hung them on your walls, worn them for a quick walk/saunter/maybe even a run. You've seen the younger people's in your family eyes light up, and like my cousin, "be so happy they are wobbling". You've slept in, you've eaten your fill, you've watched good tv, crap tv, more movies then you thought possible, then one more before you went to bed because hey, you didn't have work in the morning.

Then you've seen the new year in. Maybe you were like me and partied a little to hearty and are still in a little pain, maybe you spent it the way you wanted to and just slipped into a hot bath and got an early night..or watched another movie, because hey, you probabaly had the next day off. But now it hits you; you're back to work, the batteries have run out, the new clothes are in the laundary, the toys are in their boxes, and all you have to remember your feeling of goodwill is the large hole in your wallet. Bugger. And we've got a lot more of winter to go through, and no real holiday to look forward to.

Personally, I hate this time of year, and I don't think I'm alone. Apparently there is some argument for January the 3rd (today) being the worst day of the year for most people. For me, I have to say that it was pretty bad; no particular reason, just the weight of reality reattaching its talons to my back, the greyness of the sky, people continuing to go about their business as if nothing had ever happened, just generally crap. Would I say it's the worst day of the year? Well, if it is, then I'd say this will be a pretty ok year and I won't have that much to fear. I want to know how it's treated you though...by the time you read it it will probabaly be over and you'll be able to give an honest appraisal...if it was particularly bad, please do share with us...we want to help in anyway possible. If you had a good day, tell us, we want to share the sunshine.

So, again, how was it for you??

Relax kids, it's a camera trick. The kid is actually a brunette.

President Tipsy McStagger

EXHIBIT A
May 22, 2004
George W. Bush falls off his bicycle
while riding on his ranch in Crawford.

EXHIBIT B
July 6, 2005
Bush collides with an on-duty Scottish police officer while riding his bike at the G8 summit, slightly injuring himself and the officer.

EXHIBIT C
January 14, 2002
Bush loses consciousness, falls off his couch,
and scrapes and bruises his cheek and lower lip after choking on a pretzel.

EXHIBIT D
(my personal favorite)
August 30, 2003
President Bush, along with first lady, Laura Bush, and members of the Waco Midway Little League Softball World Series championship team, react as Bush accidentally drops his dog, Barney, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2003, at TSTC Airfield in Waco, Texas. Bush quickly scooped up the dog who was not injured. (AP Photo/Duane A. Laverty)

EXHIBIT E
June 14, 2003
Bush falls off a Segway scooter, the four thousand dollar transportation device with balancing technology (!) that is, according to the manufacturer, "truly revolutionary."

EXHIBIT F
January 1, 2006
Two days ago, Bush appears at Brooke Army Medical Center with a
cut on his left forehead that he allegedly got clearing brush at his ranch.

Folks, there's only one explanation for what's going here:
That dude is seriously off the wagon.




Special bonus: Click here for drunken Bush hilarity.