Monday, September 29, 2008

Different Names for the Same Thing

In these troubling economic times, at least the people who put up the big signs on local sports arenas know that they won't be out of a job.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Noah's Ark of Television

So for the past couple of days, I've been working on a very long-winded post on all of the reasons that I was disappointed in Monday night's episodes of Heroes. Then I took a look in a mirror and was frankly disturbed by what I was becoming. So, I'll boil my argument down to its basics: the preventing-an-apocalyptic-future stuff is getting repetitive, the cast is too big, and the writers always act like they're going to kill off characters, but never have the guts to go through with it. Also, having someone record a DVD to be played after their death is perhaps the laziest method of exposition imaginable.

So, there it is: Heroes is a highly frustrating show, but one that I'll probably keep watching because it has the potential to be much better than it is. I was excited, however, to see Francis Capra's name in the credits this week. That got me thinking about the way the show tends to poach pairs of actors from better and more beloved shows: Sulu and Uhura from Star Trek, Weiss and Sark from Alias, and now Weevil and Veronica from Veronica Mars. I started musing that, maybe since The Wire is finished, the Heroes casting director can get a couple of guys from that show.

Well, you might be able to guess how this ends. Welcome aboard, Bubbles and Marlo!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why Is Wikipedia Better Than the Encyclopedia Britannica?

  • Only one has an article on that song from Sesame Street where Big Bird thinks the alphabet is a very long word. Someone went to the trouble of transcribing it in the international phonetic alphabet to help with the pronunciation (æbkədəfgidʒəkəlmənapkwərstuvwɪksɪz, in case you were wondering).
  • Britannica doesn't have a list of movies with the most uses of the word "fuck". Martin Scorsese, Judd Apatow, and Oliver Stone are well-represented, with honorable mentions to Spike Lee, P.T. Anderson and Kevin Smith. Somewhat surprisingly, neither Quentin Tarantino nor The Big Lebowski manage to make the top ten.

Reading List

Holy crap, Barton Gellman's book about Dick Cheney sounds rather terrifying.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Some Time Ago a Crazy Dream Came to Me..."

The other night, I had what is perhaps the quintessential nightmare: the ol' "I'm at school/work and in my pajamas/underwear/completely naked." In this case, I was at work without any pants on. Interestingly, it wasn't that I had forgotten to wear pants; I seem to recall making a conscious decision as I got dressed to go to my office that pants were not actually an essential part of my wardrobe. It made sense at the time.

I've had this particular type of bad dream at least once before. That time, I was about ten years old and went to school fully clothed. At some point, though, I realized that all of my clothing had vanished, possibly due to witchcraft. I guess if one is to be nude in public, it is at least reassuring to know that the situation is due to some mysterious, unavoidable turn of events.

There is another type of nightmare that seems to be fairly common: it is final exam time, and I discover that there is a class on my roster that I have not attended since the beginning of the semester. There are some variations on this dream. Sometimes it is a high school class, sometimes it's a college course. Sometimes I forgot that I was signed up for the class, sometimes I just got lazy and assumed I could catch up on my own. The class in question, though, always seems to be math.

It seems like there are two main ways to wake up from a nightmare; if it's the terrifying "Eek, I'm being chased by a monster" kind, there's an immediate sense of relief -- the stereotypical sitting bolt upright and saying "Thank God! It was only a dream." If it's the sort of dream that hinges on one's own mortification or unpreparedness, it's more complex: I tend to wake up confused and try to piece things together: "Let's see . . . I was sitting in my cubicle, trying to tug my shirt down enough to hide the fact that I was naked from the waist down, and now I'm in bed. How did I get from there to here?" It's only then that I come to the conclusion that it was a dream, and I can relax.

Perhaps the best thing about showing-up-at-work-naked nightmares, though, it that they set the bar incredibly low for the day ahead. As soon as I walked out the door and confirmed that I was, in fact, wearing a pair of khakis, it felt like my day had already exceeded all expectations.

At Least It Wasn't a Clip Show

So I thought that I'd try to get into Gossip Girl this year; these are the sorts of lofty goals that I set for myself. Anyway, last night I'm watching the third episode of the show that I've ever seen, and it's both a "Citywide Blackout" episode and a "Two Characters Get Stuck in an Elevator" episode. If it had included the "One Character Acts as Cyrano de Bergerac to Help Shy Friend Court Love Interest" plotline, it would have hit the television cliche trifecta.

Also, apparently Victoria's Secret ads now have Lykke Li music in them? That seems a tad strange.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Obligatory Iggles Post

DeSean Jackson, I do not like you.

Brian Westbrook, I like you just fine.

Things That I Just Recently Noticed (But Which May Have Been Obvious to Everyone Else)

  • Apart from the chorus, Sheryl Crow's song "All I Wanna Do" does not rhyme at all.
  • Perfect square numbers can expressed as the sum of consecutive odd numbers (4=1+3; 9=1+3+5; 16=1+3+5+7, etc.)
  • In the Milwaukee Brewers' old logo, the baseball glove is actually made up of the letters M and B.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Who Could Find Them Controversial?

I must say, I'm very curious about what sort of malfeasance required Wikipedia to lock editing on the entry for doughnuts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Everybody Out of the Chunnel!

I have nothing to say about this story; I was just dying to use that headline.


You can keep your Kanye vs. expensive camera and Lou Lumenick vs. Roger Ebert smackdowns; I'm quite enjoying the feud between Philebrity and Johnny Goodtimes. The arguments mostly boil down to "Quizzo is for losers!" on the one side and "Hipsters suck!" on the other. I'm more of an Irish John partisan myself, but I have to side with JGT on this one.

Also, check out the comments, where Atrios has unleashed his minions on an entirely tangential matter. This thing threatens to consume the entire Philly blogosphere, and I will once again be stuck watching on the sidelines.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun With Letters to the Editor

From today's Inquirer:

Truth squad needed

Isn't there some election ethic commission that can control the outrageous slurs and outright lies told by both sides in this election?
Um, no. There is not. Sorry.

Also, the phrase "outrageous slurs and outright lies told by both sides" leads me to believe that this was written by the sort of person who does not actually follow politics, but just subscribes to the "Both sides are crazy! What a bunch of crooks!" school of thought. No need actually give an example of the outright lies coming from both sides; after all, you know how politicians are! Am I right, folks?


  • So this weekend, I finally got around to seeing Ghostbusters. It was one of those movies where I keep thinking, "Maybe if I'd seen this when I was 10 years old, or in 1984, I would like it." As it was, I could never muster any response more passionate than mild amusement. It's always a pleasure to see Bill Groundhog Day, Ghostbustin'-Ass Murray doing his usual wiseass schtick, and Rick Moranis was surprisingly funny as well, but overall it was a typical big-budget action-comedy in which the action isn't particularly exciting and the comedy isn't particularly funny. And dear God, those terrible songs. Now that I've seen it, though, I can start building my indifference towards the next sequel.
  • Somewhere on my massive to-do list, beneath such perennials as "Apply to grad school" and "Write long-form essay on Springsteen's The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle," is the more realistic goal of catching up on Battlestar Galactica before it returns in January (all together: "Nerrrrrrrrrd!"). I'm moving through the first season at a nice pace, and almost immediately I noticed that Colonel Saul Tigh bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Republican presidential candidate. A quick Google search reveals that I am not the first to pick up on those similarities. The Sarah Palin-Laura Roslin comparisons, though, are slightly more far-fetched.
  • Finally, yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of Warren Zevon's death.

Go enjoy a sandwich in his memory.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What a Wonderful Band

It was early in My Morning Jacket's 2.5+ hour set on Friday night at Festival Pier. Singer/guitarist Jim James was wearing a cape atop his head, framing his wild mane of hair and full beard, while behind him the mist from the smoke machine was pushed across the stage by the winds that were to precede Hurricane Hanna. It was a an image that walked the line between awesome and laughable, as though someone had brought to life a mystic from a fantasy-novel cover and handed him a Flying-V guitar. It's this balance between silliness and rock-god majesty that encapsulates the experience of seeing James and his band play.

At risk of hyperbole, My Morning Jacket is the greatest pure rock band that I have ever seen perform. Their reputation as a jam band is earned in some respects, since they have an affinity for stretching their songs out live with extended solos. At the same time, though, the band's crack rhythm section of "Two-Tone" Tommy on bass and (especially) drummer Patrick Hallahan keep the songs grounded; you know that these guys are going somewhere with their improvisations and not just dicking around for a few minutes.

I still haven't spent a lot of time with Evil Urges, but I have to say that the contrast between the songs off of that record and the rest of the band's catalog is striking. The new songs have a much more groovy, soulful feel; even the much-maligned "Highly Suspicious" really came alive, with the funky backbeat offsetting the vocal schizophrenia of James's Prince-falsetto-meets-metal-growl. The last time I saw MMJ play, I had to eventually move back from the stage to escape the moshing, but this time it seemed more likely that some pansexual orgy would break out.

As the band played their encore, a light rain started to fall, the droplets reflecting in the spotlights like a science-fiction starfield. On the other side of the Ben Franklin bridge, fireworks lit up the sky. It was an lovely moment, and I thought back to my amused reaction to James as a rock-and-roll wizard earlier in the evening; maybe the guy had some mystical powers after all. The band closed out their set with a pair of epic rockers from It Still Moves: "Run Thru" and "One Big Holiday." And as the guys left the stage and Vera Lynn's voice came over the speakers singing "We'll Meet Again," I could only think, I certainly hope so.

Supplementary Materials:
  • In case you don't trust my opinion (an understandable reaction), here are a couple of near-orgasmic reactions to My Morning Jacket's Bonnaroo set earlier this year.
  • WXPN was broadcasting the concert, but I'm not sure if they'll have it available on-demand. If not, there are a couple of YouTube folks who already have some decent-quality videos posted of the show.
  • The band's Okonokos DVD is a great recording of a performance in San Francisco during the tour behind Z. If you're looking for an introduction to what the guys are capable of doing in concert, it's a good place to start. And, in case I was somehow unclear in my drooling praise earlier, I highly recommend attending an MMJ concert the next chance you get.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Finally the Oklahoma Legislators are Taking Acid

Oklahoma is holding an online vote to determine their Official State Rock Song. Who in good conscience could vote for anyone but the Flaming Lips?

An Elephant Never Forgets the 12 Steps

Could there possibly be a better headline than "Heroin addicted elephant clean after rehab"? I certainly can't imagine one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Speaking of Sarah Palin...

I think that all of those people who cracked jokes about Sarah Palin looking like a sexy librarian owe an apology to actual librarians, of whom Ms. Palin does not seem very fond:
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.
Glenn Greenwald has more details.

Sarah Palin Is One Funny Lady

I hope her RNC speech tonight is as good as her vlog.

"That first Spiritualized show [at the Troc] pulled a lot of people into [heroin]."

Just a few weeks ago, I went to a Spiritualized show and left feeling underwhelmed. I guess it could have been worse, though; I could have left with a raging drug problem.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Friend to the Working Man

In honor of Labor Day, here's Johnny Cash singing about punching your boss in the face.