8.31.2003

behold the wonders of science

So, I had two topics I was considering for today's entry. A lengthy discussion on contemporary labor relationships and the status of capitalism, or my trip to the Museum of Science!

Don't worry, its the latter.

Spent the morning at Boston's Museum of Science. I get in free because I work for a non-profit cultural institution. Yay me! I wanted to get there today because they were having an exhibit closing this week that I haven't been able to see called "Speed". It was very hands-on and kids-oriented, so it wasn't really as fun as I'd hoped, but probably would have been nice for kids in groups. Some of it was interesting, though. Had a little thing that let you do your own animation, which was cool.

On my way there, I walked through an exhibit on Microbes, sponsored by Pfizer. I'm not going to be too hard on the Museum because this was very clearly labeled on the sign that introduces the exhibit (although its not on their website), BUT the exhibit had some pretty obnoxious corporate shilling. Its a traveling exhibit thats a few years old at this point, but it reminds me about why corporate sponsorship is dangerous in education/museum. The way it was set up, I was left with the impression the Pfizer single-handedly won World War II. Okay, I'm exaggerating (slightly) but it heavily tied Pfizer to the discovery of penicillin in a manner which wasn't entirely historically accurate. I imagine if I sat through the whole video display, it'd have been more clear, but it was definetly misleading. (Pfizer didn't discover penicillin; it also didn't discover the original research which discovered penicillin; it was just tapped to aid in production once it became clear that a drug from penicillin had considerable potential) But aside from creepy corporate influences, the exhibit had an infant-sized iron lung which reminded me how damn scary Polio must have been and how incredibly thankful I am to live in a world where fat people qualify as a major health concern. It may be wrong, but at least they only got to hassling us because they cured stuff that was really frightening. Just the thought of people trapped in Iron Lungs for the rest of their lives was shocking. We all owe much thanks to Jonas Salk, and should be thankful of where we live, because Polio hasn't yet been eradicated. Anyway, one more thing on the exhibit I want to comment on. They had a game/exhibit called "Race a Bug" which was a badly designed 3D racing game involving microbes going through a human body. There was an on-going naration in the game (which lasted WAY too long) and it kept fitting in these fat-baiting remarks. I mean, its a freaking game, and it keeps saying how the body in the game needs to lose weight. Yuck!

So, after learning how Polio saved the planet, I went into an IMAX film, Top Speed which was basically about people and things that go fast. A lot of it was a love-fest for athletes, which kinda annoyed me, since in the details were bits about how horribly dangerous these sports are and produces numerous injuries even for a good athlete. This is what we have to aspire to? Putting our bodies in unnecessary danger for the persuit of health? We're not talking aerobics or anything here, but mountain biking and 24-hour road races. It was scary just watching the mountain bikes as they hoped along some picturesque rocky desert-type terrain. No thanks. I'm not nearly that enamored with the thrill of cheating death. I'm much happy playing fair with death as opposed to tempting it.

So, those are my pointless thoughts of the day. I'll consider subjecting you all to my diatribe about labor relations some other day. Oh, and Good Will Hunting is on Bravo now. I take back anything positive I said about Ben Affleck's performance. It was much more of an absurd chararicture than I gave him credit for. Big props to Gus Van Sant for the directing, though. I love the atmosphere he creates in the film. Its all very real. Except for Affleck. I'm loving the ambient noise in the Harvard Square scene with Matt Damon and Minnie Driver. Everything about the film grounds in reality, which is so important for a story of someone with unreal abilities. Except for Affleck. Though, to be fair, Affleck was good in the final scene, but that's only because he has to act with his mouth shut so he doesn't get to ruin things.

8.30.2003

dude, where's my birthday?

So, I was on IMDB looking up celebrities born the same year as my girlfriend as she's about to have a birthday and is anxious about her age. I thought I could logically reason out of this by pointing out hip, young celebs who are the same age as her. I keep noticing it in recent months, so I figure I would sit down and come up with names. Found some good ones, too, but naturally, this isn't the kind of thing you can argue against as age is such a screwed up concept in our society.

I did manage to make myself feel young, though, when I checked out my own birth year. It seems I was born in the same year as such luminaries as Ashton Kutchner. (shudder) Also Joshua Jackson, Countess Vaughn, the guy who played Jake Sisko on DS9, Sisqo, Josh Hartnett, plus size model Mia Tyler, Ethan Embry, second best comic actor of his generation, Topher Grace, and the best comic actor of his generation, Jason Biggs.

Not like any of them make me feel old, (although Embry and Hartnett have both played homicide detectives) but man does Ashton Kutchner make me feel young. I mean, he's the epitome of horribly immature actors. Oh, well. Anyway, if I want to feel old I just need to watch MTV and realize that I'm no longer in the young demographic they are going for.

8.29.2003

martha stewart and her pillows

After the somber nature of my last two posts, I wanted to post something a little more frivelous for the weekend. So, lets discuss Martha Stewart's pillows. And no, that is not some kind of play on words. I litterally mean her pillows, available at K-Mart.

I bought a pair of them a while back. I was less that satisfied with my pillows, and I felt I needed another set, anyway, to complete my bed. So, her's were on sale and they looked quite comfy so I picked them up.

They are quite comfy, but they get horribly misshapen at the drop of a hat. They rarely resemble pillows in any meaningful sense, and I can't get them back into any normal form. Its really annoying. Especially since my old pillows were so dependable at keeping their form. Oh, well. What do I expect when I get Pillows from someone who committed Securties Fraud.

ultimate penalty

One of the reasons I was prompted to write about Victor Salva is what has been going on here in Massachusetts with the death of John Geoghan. He was serving a sentence of 10 years for a lot less than Salva served 15 months for, though, in fairness, Geoghan was suspected to have done much, much worse than Salva did. His death has brought no comfort to his victims. They understand that this is not justice served. They wanted Geoghan to serve his sentence and face further justice for his crimes.

Which reminded me of how serving time often gets devalued by death penalty advocates. In my book, rotting in prison has to qualify as more punative than a quick end to one's life. Why have we gotten into this mindset of thinking prisoners have it easy? Since when is prison life fun? We underestimate the value of freedom and liberty when we suggest that life in prison is not a harsh sentence.

The death penalty is a tough issue for me. I think the notion of it as a deterrant is a joke. The death penalty is applied so inconsistantly, that it'd be silly to think it has any use at discouraging crime. As a punishment, though, I tend towards having some sympathy to this arguement. If you take another persons life, it makes sense that you should forfeit your own.

Trouble is, the system is horribly unfair. The stakes are so high that it demands a system which is beyond reproach. I think such a system just isn't possible, and that our current system is disturbing far off the mark. I just can't support it. I can understand why someone would think it is a fair punishment, but it just isn't applied in a fair manner.

I have a special understanding of how unfair the justice system can be. An uncle of mine was wrongly convicted of murder back in the 80's. The prosecutors and police withheld evidence. He was able to get the conviction overturned and was never retried, but it ruined his life. This stuff happens, and we cannot let this stuff happen with someone's life at stake. That's why we just cannot trust the death penalty. The stakes are too high. We can correct an error when we jail someone. We cannot take back a lethal injection.

Hopefully, I'll get back to less serious topics, but I wanted to get this out. Thanks for putting up with me.

8.28.2003

don't go see jeepers creepers 2

Okay, I'll get back to real issues later tonight, but for now, I want to make a plea to my readers. Do NOT see Jeepers Creepers 2 this weekend. Its director, Victor Salva, does not deserve your money.

Why? Because he is a convicted child molestor. Moreover, he coersed his 12-year old victim from a movie he was directing. Especially disturbing is the fact that the film was recently released on DVD. That is, the film that served as a method for him sexually assaulting a young boy is still making money for Salva and MGM. The production company, run by Francis Ford Copella, actually sued the VICTIM when his mother pulled him off the movie when she discovered her son was abused by Salva. Thankfully, Salva is a moron who FILMED his crimes. With this evidence, he was able to plea bargain himself a sentance of 15-months. Now, he cracks jokes and decieves people about the nature of his crime. He may have done his time, but he's never demonstrated any interest in apologizing for his actions. He also keeps making movies about children, although studios have at least the intelligence to not let a child on one of his sets again.

I have very little tolerance for child molesters. It is an act which horrifies me to my core. Sexual abuse of children is about as unforgivable as it gets, and our society is FAR too leniant against these scum bags. 15 months is not an appropriate sentance for rape, especially with a child victim, ESPECIALLY when you taped the damn thing. There is nothing we can do about that, now, but that doesn't mean this criminal deserves our money. I have very little desire to forgive child molestation. Especially when the scum bag exhibits little or no remorse or desire to rehabilitate. Especially with what we've seen about the prospects of rehabilitation for child molesters. Moreover, there should be consequences for such beahvior. There are plenty of people who who have never forced a 12-year old boy to perform oral sex on them who aren't getting to write and direct movies. I would say that it would make some sense to put convicted child molestors who used their job in the film industry to procure a victim should go to the back of the line.

I have never seen any of Salva's films. I'm not going to. Especially what I have read from those who have seen his work with an understanding that the director is a child molester. Powder is said to have strong allusions to an outlook which is textbook for child molesters where they feel alienated and superior to people who don't "understand" their relationships. The first Jeepers movie, too, has been said to have some creepy moments that had nothing to do with its horror movie pretext, but rather with the real horrors Victor Salva has committed.

Sorry, I know I'm really going off, but this is something that really bothers me and I get reminded with every ad for the film that this scum bag is continuing to get to persue a profession after he used the profession to molest a 12 year old boy. I just don't think that is right, and I urge you not to give this man any of your hard earned money.

Oh, and as to the comparisons to Roman Polanski and Woody Allen that inevitably get brought up whenever anyone tries to point out Salva's crimes. First things, first. Pretty much everyone knows what Allen and Polanski did. Not everyone knows what Salva did, so it merits discussion so that people who don't want to support child molesters can make the informed decision to stay away. Next, Allen was accused of child molestation but it was never proven. What he did with Soon-Yi Previn was bizarre and wrong, and he did a great deal of emotional harm to the children he shared with Mia Farrow by breaking up their marriage in such an indefensible manner. All very wrong, but also not criminal and certainly not on part with forcing a child to have sex with you. As to Polanski, I don't want to go to see his films, either. I went to see The Pianist under duress and only because I didn't pay for it. I've never rented any of his films and I never will. He raped a young girl, and it was not consentual as some like to pretend, and I still have no tolerance for that. I'm still upset with myself for going to see The Pianist and I doubt I'll ever go to a Polanski film again. But there is a difference here. Polanski did not use his job as a director to acquire his victim. The other difference is that Polanski never paid his debt to society. He fled. As many problems as Polanski has experienced in his life, I can't respect that. BUT, he did go through a LOT in his life. A lot more than a guy like Salva who caught ever break you could. Salva wasn't imprisoned by the Nazi's, and didn't have his pregnant wife mudered by Charlie Manson. It doesn't excuse Polanski's crime or his fugitive status, but it sure makes his case different from Salva. I also don't believe any of Polanski's films can be interpreted as an justification of child molestation. But, yeah, I don't want to go see his movies either for the same reason as Salva.

8.26.2003

satire, too true?

So, I've finished Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken. I really enjoyed it. Its clearly a satire, and Franken is at his wittiest, but also frequently genuinely outraged. A chapter on Paul Wellstone's funeral was especially emotional and a very good demonstration of the way stories get manipulated by the "fair and balanced" press. This is satire taken seriously, because he understands that these are serious issues. He makes a solid case in spite of himself. Also, practically none of the fat jokes that made me uncomfortable with the first book. They were all in one chapter which I just skipped over, too.

The first book always troubled me because I wasn't entirely sure how much of the endless fat jokes was satire. I mean, I understood in principle. He was satirizing the break-down in public discourse precipitated by people like Rush taking cheap shots against a 12-year old Chelsea Clinton. I don't think Franken really believes the fat jokes are, themselves, justified and proper. The thing is, I'm not sure he doesn't mean them anyway. Some comments he made about Chris Farley when he passed away were frustratingly fat hating. I don't believe he thinks its right to make cheap insults at the expense of fat people, and did it in his first book just to prove a satirical point. But, I don't think he's at all respectful of fat people on his own, so the satire seemed a little too true.

This reminds me of my unending confusion on how to take Comedy Central's The Man Show. On the one hand, it seems so hopelessly over the top that it must be satire. And there are moments which seem clearly intended to mock men and their habit towards "manliness". But men have a nasty habit of not getting satires of manliness, and other elements of the shows are viciously reactionary and entirely unredeemable. Fortunetly, I'm decidedly not their target audience so never watched much anyway, but I'm usually left with the feeling that its half-satire, half-serious, and I'm not sure how to take that. They have new hosts, now, though, so I'm curious how they are going with it. Joe Rogan, for instance, is a mixed bag. While he sometimes comes off as pretty mean-spirited, he's in the "equal-opportunity hate" kinda vein and has absolutely no tolerance for bigotry. He's very libertarian-style in his thinking, and I can respect that. Besides, I liked him on NewsRadio. But, I'm guessing it will probably keep to the formula of satire that's too truthful. But, given how unmotivated I am by giggling and jiggling porn-star types, I think these questions will remain unanswered for me.

8.25.2003

yes, cats

Yeah, that's right. I mentioned a cat. Aparently this is a blog rite of passage. And I just thought it was a kitten leaping on my lap. hehe

For the record, I am a cat person, but I'm not one to discuss them. For starters, I don't have a cat. Nor do I want one. I'm not that keen on being responsible for another living thing. I don't have plants, much less pets. I'm happy only having to look out for myself, thank you very much. I mean, I'd love to have a cat, but I'd be too scared I'd do something horribly wrong or not give them enough attention or something. And the hair would get over everything!

My interaction with cats consists of my girlfriend's three cats. She just got the kitten. Was just going to mind it for a few days as her landlord was giving it up, but the kitty grew on her. The darn thing is just so completely cute. This must be some evolutionary trait. Their cuteness is a means of survival by encouraging humans to grow attached to them while their cuteness persists. This one just oozes the cute. It's incredible sweet and affectionate. It always wants to be around people, and rushes into a room whenever you're their. Its also really playful. She has this toy called a cat dancer. Just some wood on a wire that cats aparently cannot avoid swatting at. The kitty is going nuts with the thing. It has a wall mount, too, so it can just entertain itself with the thing. Of course it leaps and flails about like the cutest thing ever. Worked, too, as he convinced my girlfriend to keep him. Her other cats are less enthusiastic, but at least warming up to him. And as long as he stops waking me up by biting my nose (I think he's trying to suckle... yeah, AW!), I'm cool with him, too. Even if he interupts my blog before I get to discuss Ben and Jerry's Organic Strawberry (not a fan) or Cabot Chedder Slices (BIG fan).

So, in conclusion, I'm a cat person but I don't want a pet. Or fish. Might want a Bonzai tree, though.

8.23.2003

random thoughts #1

The Honda Element isn't nearly as cute as it thinks it is. Its the plastic paneling that kills it for me. I know its supposed to be functional, as this is an Extreme Sports kinda car, but its just so damn ugly. The only ones that kind pull it off are the silver ones, because its a light enough color to pull of the contrast with the dark plastic paneling.

Ben Affleck should pay Kevin Smith to put him in movies. I like Affleck, and all, but the fact is that when he's in a Kevin Smith film his acting is taken to another level. Chasing Amy and Dogma stand out for his best acting work by a wide margin. Most of the time, he just mugs for the camera and allows himself to be Ben Affleck, movie star. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the worst thing in the world. There are a number of great entertainers who forge a career playing themselves in every role. Think Alec Baldwin. Has there ever been a movie where he wasn't overtly Alec Baldwin? Its the Cary Grant school of being a movie star, rather than acting. The thing is, Affleck is GOOD when he works with Smith. He should have been nominated for an Oscar for his work in Dogma. At the least, he could be taken seriously as in the running. Ditto for Chasing Amy. You think that was the case for Armageddon or The Sum of all Fears? Or the absurd impressions he passes off as acting in Good Will Hunting and Gigli? (okay, he wasn't bad in Good Will Hunting, but there were a lot of moments where he was unintentionally amusing) He makes his bank because people know he can act up a storm because they saw it with Kevin Smith. I'm just saying.

Man, fresh tomatoes are good. I mean, really store-bought are such a pale replica of the real thing. Ditto on Strawberries.

Just got Al Franken's new book. it was published a month early to capitalize on publicity. Its good stuff. Very, its funny cuz its true, though, which is also frightening. And no fat jokes, yet, which is good.

I think I need to go now, because my girlfriend's new kitten just jumped on my lap, and seriously, do you think anyone can ignore a cute kitten?

8.22.2003

shorthand fat

So, I'm watching this movie and it is quickly established that one of the lead characters is fat. Fine, no problem with that. Then, it is also quickly seen that this is him in the past, and now he's thin. As the movie progresses, it pretty clearly establishest that his weight was a physical manifestation of his emotional problems and now that he's moved past it, he's thin. Its all very "mature" rather than the vacantness of, say, Amercian Sweethearts.

I find it just as offensive.

In the first place, its lazy filmmaking. They are using fat as shorthand for emotional problems. It almost doesn't need to be said that his fat is a reflection of some psychological damage, but they say it anyway. As if everything in life can be easily explained through psycho-babble. Which really isn't the point of the film at all, except about fat.

Now, I might be okay with this if it was an occassional portrayal of fat characters, but this is it. This is the only portrayal, and that makes it a reflection of bigotry. Fat people are so narrowly defined on film that it becomes easy for people to see in such a one-dimensional manner. Hell, just watch Oprah or Dr. Phil. Fatness is regarded as an easy question. Clearly, we've got emotional problems. After all, the movies said so. Its insulting, and it is frustrating, because this is damn near IT.

Not much else to say. Just wanted to vent as yet another movie uses my body as shorthand.

8.21.2003

scooter men

So, I was planning on writing an entry about what songs I'd like to do with a cover band, but I've decided I need to think about it more. So, you get a little meandering post about little things. I'm actually wondering if my long rants are perhaps off-putting. Oh well. Its my blog.

The big fat blog has relaunched with a new look and some new features. Included are two new columnists, who just happen to be among my readers. Of course, all of my readers came from the BFB right now, so this is probably new to no one.

Anyway, what I really want to discuss is something I just saw on Comedy Central's Insomniac with Dave Attell. If you haven't seen the show, it basically is light-hearted but ultimately very earnest exploration of the nightlife of various cities. This episode had him in England where he toured the offices of Scooter Man and I can't even begin to say how impressed I am. Basically, this is a fleet of chauffers with mini, foldable scooters. When you get drunk, you call them, and they send a guy out on one of the little scooters. The scooter folds up into a dufle bag which gets put into your trunk. Its actually small enough to fit into the back seat of a Cooper Mini if you really wanted it to. They then drive you home. As their motto says, "you drink, we drive". I can't get over what a brilliant idea this is. They set the price on the idea of it being cheaper than the price of cab ride home and then a cab ride back to get your car. Not being much of a drinker and nothing of a driver, I don't really know much about the experience of drinking while you have your car out with you, but I've got to imagine a service like this is quite useful. Anything to discourage drinking and driving is good in my book, and these seems like a really smart idea to provide a useful service and also protect the public. Not, lets just see if someone tries this in the US.

Or maybe someone already has. What? You expect to be look it up? P'shaw!

8.20.2003

you're a sad, sad man, charlie brown

My god, were the old Charlie Brown cartoons horribly depressing. You ever sit down and try to watch one of them again? They will leave you horribly distressed. No wonder Charlie Brown's got such self-esteem issues. He gets cruelly abused at every turn.

I was reminded of this watching I love the 70's on VH1. [by the way, has vh1 stopped even pretending to be a music channel anymore? i can't quite tell] They had a clip from the Thanksgiving special where Chuck is predicting the outcome of a soon to be futile effort to kick the football, and it is revealed that he expects to DIE. This is a kid's show and Charlie Brown is talking about how the ball is going to be pulled away and he'll slam down to the ground and to his DEATH. Man, they don't make kids shows like they used to.

This just reminded me, though, of how painfully depressing the Christmas Special and the Halloween Specials are. Its not just that Chuck hates himself. People really do hate him. And for no apparent reason. I mean, Charlie Brown's a nice guy, but everyone just holds him in such horrible contempt. Indeed, they often don't even know why they hate him. They know he's a fine fellow, they just don't like him. It just makes you sad. That's the appeal, though. How many of us have felt horribly lonely and unwanted? We can identify with Charlie Brown without any forced happy ending appended. Its a pity party, but that serves a purpose. We love Charlie Brown, because we feel like we know what he's going through. The redemtion doesn't have to come from the story (though there is usually some manner of happy resolution), but rather from outside the story in that we connect with Charlie and as such don't feel so lonely anymore. Because her was this dumb, put-upon, shmuck who was going through what you were going through.

Its not just Chuck, though. The whole Peanuts gang are a veritable living (well...) encyclopedia of pyschological problems. Something for everyone, I supposed. Chronically depressed? Charlie's your man. Obsessively lovelorn? Just check our Sally (or Charlie, or Lucy, or Patty...). Unwilling to join the real world? Just grab a security blanket like Linus. Lucy is cruel to hide her own unfufilled longing, Schroader is an egotist, Snoopy has delusions of granduer, Marcie is a socially inept submissive, and Patty is basically abandoned by her parents and DCS case waiting to happen. But, it all works because their flaws are allowed. They are permitted to be flawed, depressed little kids. And, from these depths come great insight and philosophy. Such is life. You find your happiness where you can, and you endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We are all blockheads.

8.17.2003

all kids, out of the pool

There is nothing funnier on television right now than Cartoon Network’s [adult swim] block. Well, maybe The Daily Show, but frankly, nothing else is even close. Hell, the network promos that air during the commercials on adult swim are funnier than most of what is on television!

Adult Swim is Cartoon Network’s programming block featuring more mature cartoons. Some are comedies, other are action cartoons from Japan. The programming is constantly changing and surprisingly responsive to its viewers. They’ll even respond on air when a show is taken off the schedule and they might even bring it back. Some shows are cycled on and off the schedule to keep things fresh. It’s really come up with a strong identity as a programming block rather than a collection of individual programs. This is actually something Cartoon Network does better than anyone else on cable and it builds a heck of a lot of brand loyalty.

This brand identity is really built with the network promos they run between the shows. They are brilliant and unabashedly self-referential. They are also so simple you have to admire the audacity that a network was willing to even do this. It is just white text on a black screen. Some show-specific promos mix things up with silhouettes of characters. All with some cool funky jazz/rock music playing in the background. Some are jokes about the programs, often very random at that. Others are just weird meandering thoughts. Kinda like reading a blog. These promos themselves have inspired fan sites, which has to please the network. A lot of networks have tried to make their self-promos this memorable by just making them weird, but they really haven’t worked. I can think of those bizarre VH1 commercials with the rapping kittens with the simplistic collage style animation as a good example. They just leave you with “huh?” rather than anything genuinely memorable. Adult Swim gets it right and they give me a reason to stay focused during commercial breaks, which has to please their advertisers.

The comedy section includes a mixture of Cartoon Network’s original programs reruns of shows that originally ran on network TV but were canceled before their time. This is actually something Cartoon Network has really pushed since the major success of Futurama and the subsequent success of Family Guy reruns, but its been a part of the adult swim block from day one. By the way, if you haven’t seen Futurama, do your self a favor and tune in. It is the best animation seen on television ever, with hilarious writing and acting to go with it.

The original stuff, though, is insanely brilliant and wickedly subversive. This basically started with the long-time hit, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Cartoon Network has a huge archive of animation and are very willing to go all post-modern and revisionist to appeal to the post-Gen X’ers who like that sort of reimagining of their childhood. VERY willing. The best example is Harvey Birdman. They take classic superhero, Birdman, and reinvent him as a lawyer fighting to protect fellow Hanna-Barbara cartoon characters. It’s not afraid to make all sorts of outrageous jokes at the character’s expense. Shaggy and Scooby? Arrested for pot use. Yogi and Boo Boo? Boo Boo is an eco-terrorist. Dr. Quest and Race Bannon from Johnny Quest get into a custody battle when their “relationship” falls apart. Fred Flintstone? Mafia don. It all looks great and is so absurdist that its fantastic.

The action shows are mostly Anime stuff. I’m not a big fan of anime, but this is the best of what’s out there. Two shows have even managed to win me over for being so distinctly un-anime. Cowboy Bebop is just a great sci-fi show with very little of the usual nonsense that bogs don’t most Japanese animation. It is episodic, yet evolving, and has some great action scenes and smart writing. Plus the best soundtrack you’ll ever find on an animated program. The other end of the spectrum offers FLCL (pronounced Fooly Cooly, I gather). The show is so bizarre that it just grabs you. It only has 6 episodes, so it’s not too overwhelming of a narrative, but it’s all wildly experimental as it shifts from different animation genres not just within an episode, but often within a scene. A lot of it is very “anime-esque” but it’s as if it’s trying to deconstruct the genre’s clich├ęs. The subject matter is very adult and Cartoon Network really went out on a limb putting something this weird on. Its scheduled to go on hiatus soon, so catch what you can. Also, though it is neither anime nor part of the Adult Swim block, check out Samuri Jack on Cartoon Network. I love the stylized look, but the storytelling is some of the best I've ever seen. Very creative stuff, and it completely works.

The unfunniest thing on television? Well, that distinction goes to Adult Swim’s imitator over on Spike TV (formerly TNN). Its just not funny or entertaining. You’ve got Kelsey Grammer in the Flash animated Gary the Rat. I watched the debut, and I’ll be damned if there wasn’t a joke in the whole thing. You’ve also got Pamela Anderson as Stripperella, which is just a thin excuse to show naked cartoon women. It also had a horribly anti-fat debut episode. Finally, you have the “new” Ren and Stimpy cartoons. They should have just kept to running the classic Ren and Stimpy stuff. The new ones are overtly adult, which really seems to have elevated the need to write smart, subtle gross-out humor and its all just blatant. We all knew something was going on with Ren and Stimpy, but we didn’t need to have it explicitly explained that they are gay. Its not funny to see Ren and Stimpy arguing over who is the “pitcher” and who is the “catcher”. It’s just boring. It’s a shame because I loved the original back in the day, but I can see that it benefited from the restrictions Nickelodeon place on it. It forced them to be creative instead of just falling back on cheap humor.

So, that’s about all I have to say about the state of adult animation. (Believe or not, this is the edited essay). Cuz gosh knows you wanted to hear them. Now, if you excuse me I have to go kill myself because some CNN reporter just asked a US soldier serving in Iraq about how great their tour of duty has been for weight loss. *shudder*.

pointless list #1

Before we begin with my first pointless, self-indulgent list, I see my readers have no extended to a whopping 5, including myself. Thanks for reading, folks, and my apologies for all of the pointless tirades I will proceed on. I promise, I'm working on some really good entries. This, will likely not be one, but it does have a user participation angle. What follows will be a list of my modest little DVD collection. For any other DVD collectors out there, why not post how many you have in common with me. A number or a listing will do, whatever suits your fancy. Thanks for feeding my ego! They are all widescreen whenever possible. I also used to own Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet but I gave it to my ex-girlfriend because I plan to eventually buy its special edition.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Almost Famous
Animatrix
Back to the Future Trilogy
Beatles Anthology
Being John Malkovich
Best in Show
Can't Hardly Wait
Chasing Amy
Clerks
Clerks Uncensored (The Animated Series)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Daredevil
Dogma- Special Edition
The Doors
Family Guy, Volume 1
Friends- Complete First Season
Friends- Complete Second Season
Friends- Complete Third Season
Friends- Complete Fouth Season
Futurama, Volume 1
Futurama, Volume 2
Gladiator (My first DVD, a gift from my dad)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy
Mallrats
Moulin Rouge
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Ocean's Eleven (the George Clooney one)
The Simpsons- Complete First Season
The Simpsons- Complete Second Season
Spiderman
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Unbreakable
X-Men 1.5
Vanilla Sky

8.15.2003

sodium chloride containment units

Those who know me in the real world will inevitably learn very quickly that I am a notoriously picky eater. I am oft reviled for only eating 5 things. Now, I contend that this is a gross overstatement of how picky I am, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most open-minded eater ever. And I hate spicey food, which seems to comprise the great expanse of cooking options.

The weird thing is, I love cooking shows. Not all cooking shows, mind you, although I could easily watch any cooking show as kind of dead viewing. I watch and enjoy despite the fact that not only will I never make any of these things, but I wouldn't even like them if I did make them. It started with Iron Chef but I've come to be a huge fan of Good Eats with Alton Brown. Its fun, not over-involved, and is just good television. Its also gotten me the closest to actually mimicking a TV chef. Alton spoke of the wonder that is cast iron and helped convince me to buy a cast iron rill pan from Lodge. Suffice to say, I've been very pleased. He also first introduced me to Kosher Salt. Now, my girlfriend helped along here when she made me fresh popped popcorn with kosher salt, but Alton Brown first planted the seeds. Now, I'm huge into Kosher Salt. I haven't used my Table Salt in nearly a year. I'd probably be getting an Iodine deficency if I didn't use Iodinzed salt on my lunch most days.

ANYWAY, on Good Eats, Alton has this flip top device for his Kosher salt that I have long coveted by have not been able to find anywhere. My girlfriend actually went on a pretty extended search for it last Christmas trying to get it as a surprise gift knowing how much I wanted it. She struck out, too. The cool thing about this item is that its relatively shallow and has a top which can be raised with a trigger. This makes it perfect for adding a pinch of salt to something. Right now, I'm just dumping out a bit of Kosher Salt into my hand and pinching from that. This usually wastes a lot of salt, though, and is a bit of a pain to begin with. Alton's device just looks so simple, so perfect. So, I keep trying to sneak into every kitchen's good store into what has felt like an increasingly hopeless search. Until yesturday.

I happened to do a websearch for Good Eats and discovered that Alton Brown had his own website. On his home page was a mysterios text banner reading "Salt Cellars are in". Was this my long-sought for Kosher Salt holder? Indeed, my hopes were realized. He actually sells the Salt Cellars directly. And a thing of beauty they are! So now, at long last, I can fully persue my kitchen dreams of pinching salt just like my hero. Yay! I've seriously been wanting one of these for years, and now it is within grasp. Like I said, Yay!

Have I mentioned that I'm easily amused?

8.14.2003

great american comic book

Its actually kinda funny that I just saw American Splendor because one of my dream creative projects is to write and illustrate a comic book. One of many dream projects. I actually wrote a play in high school but never got to produce it. It wasn't a very good play. Loaded with unnecessary pop-culture references and all the characters sounded like me, which is a problem I have when writing fiction. I've occassionally dabled with the idea of doing a movie but I haven't got the guts to gather the kind of debt that would be needed. I still ponder it, though, if digital film-making can get realistic enough. It gets back to wanting to tell a story. Short of blogging, there aren't really good ways of doing that these days.

Its funny that a comic book has become my most attainable idea. I was never into comic books as a kids. I actually love the idea of superheros. In movies, cartoons, TV shows, I'm always a sucker for a superhero. I just could never get into comics. They were always so convoluted and difficult to jump into. But, I'm not opposed to the idea of a graphic novel and have a lot of respect to folks who do it. The other funny thing is that I can't draw. I mean, I'm better than Harvey Pekar. I can do a nice little sketch, I just can't really compose a scene. What I can do are some neat little computer graphics trace drawn from photos. I've developed a nice little style to it and its fooled me into thinking a graphic novel might be a realistic method of creative expression for me. I just need to figure out how to write a comic book. hehe. A little detail, I'm sure.

In other news, I aparently have a whooping 4 readers. Woo hoo! All who know me from Size Acceptance sites. I know some might find it weird that I haven't mentioned fat issues much yet, given how wildly passionate I am about it in other venues. I think to a large degree, I get talked out elsewhere and am frankly happy to lend my voice to the chorus at Big Fat Blog for instance, rather than just rant by myself. Either that or enter the fray that are the NAAFA boards guns a blazing. Fat politics really bother some people and they don't like that size acceptance is promoting something they don't like. Some sites are able to foster a positive and supportive atmosphere despite occassional incursions from these trolls. Two good examples I highly recommend can be found on my side links. Others aren't so great, though. Which is a shame. Trolls come in and set up shop and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them. But anyway, I'm sure I'll talk fat here, but until then, check out the BFB for all of the great folks posting there.

8.13.2003

movie review: american splendor

So, I took a trip out to Boston's only non-profit art deco movie theatre (it said so, anyway, although it actually isn't in Boston) to catch a free screening of the forth-coming indie film American Splendor. Based on the cult comic of the same name, it tells the story of Harvey Pekar, hospital file-clerk in Cleveland. The comic book is a weird mix of autobiography and meandering philosophy and the movie tries to recreate this by employing a really weird narative without actually going too far. There is a story being told and its mostly linear. The biggest trick is naration from and frequent appearance by the real Harvey Pekar. He is, indeed, a very interesting character. His apperances also include many of the other "real" people in Harvey's life and in his comics. They lend a lot of credibility to their portrayals and are pretty fascinating in their own right. The mix of documentary and fiction is even brought into the movies plot as it is commented on by the real Pekar. All in all, it could have come off as an overwhelming gimmick, but I really think it was sold perfectly.

Paul Giamatti is brilliant as the fictional Harvey Pekar. He's easily the bright spot of the film as some of the other characters are a touch over played. His nerdy friend Toby, though, seems to be overplayed until the film introduces us to the real Toby and it becomes aparent that he really is as painfully nerdy as the movie made him out to be. It actually becomes quite funny as we see the real Harvey and Toby talking (with their actors sitting behind them) and you see just how dead-on the portrayal is. Still, given the conceit of the film as being a self-aware recreation of a recreation of reality, it is to be expected. (Actually, a further level is brought in as the fictional Harvey views a play within the film based on his life, meaning we are seeing a recreation of a recreation of a recreation in a recreation of a recreation. Get that?

The story is focused on examining the plight of the mundane and the struggles of what is often demeaned as ordinary. His life is admitedly not extraordinary, but that doesn't mean it is ordinary, either. It is a fascinating story with some great philosophy at times. Harvey really is living the American Dream, if he doesn't always realize it. No, his comic book never allowed him to live off his writings. But he got to tell his story. Much like I and so many other blog writers are doing, but he did it at a time when not everyone could just sign on and tell their story to the four interested people. As such, his ordinary life was able to speak to a much wider audience and he was able to tell the story of his life. That's the real American dream, I'd think. The chance to tell our story and be remembered. I highly recommend this film. Great flick.

8.12.2003

they report, they decide.

Ah, that's right! I meant to post every day. Well, its before midnight, at least. hehe

So, did you hear about FOX suing Al Franken over the phrase "Fair and Balanced" which apparently is the official property of Fox. I swear, the jokes write themselves. I'm not crazy about Franken's fat-baiting, but FOX is motivated by nothing less than bitterness. Their court brief goes into much detail about how unfunny Franken is, as if that mattered in the least. It also commits what I have to assume is liable when they insisted he was either intoxicated or deranged for confronting their poster boy, Bill O'Reiley. Or is that slander. I guess Fox isn't familiar with the concept of satire or fair use. I don't think Franken could have come up with a better publicity stunt if he tried. Fox is reminding us, yet again, that Ann Coulter is not as unrepresentative of the "mainstream" right as most of us would like to believe. Its not too far from her accuasations that dissent=treason to Fox's detirmination that dissent is actionable. It'd be funny if it wasn't so damn sad that this is really happening.

And in other news, I've been commented on! YEAH! That brings readership of this blog up to a whopping two, including myself. Woo hoo!

8.11.2003

obligatory introduction

Okay, so I promissed an introduction, so here it is. Why am I writing yet another blog dealing with absolutely nothing of importance? Well, oddly enough, because I was inspired by a friend's online diary. Her diary deals with a lot of deeply personal issues and is cathartic, informing, and brilliant literature all at the same time. I am consistantly impressed with what she is able to do with her web log and it has gotten me excited about writing again.

When I was in high school, writing was a major part of my life. Primarily through wildly unstructured stream of conscious poetry. I committed myself to writing something every day and I kept to it. Was it all great literature? Heck, no, but it kept me working at it and thinking about writing. So that's what I am trying to do again.

My mind is constantly racing with any number of creative ideas that I never follow through on. So, I figured, as I tried to get back to exploring my creative side, why not start small. Hence, the disorganized meanderings that will appear here. Now, I'm an opinionated sort, so expect ranting about more important matters than parades and vanilla flavored cola. But, expect a lot of self-important discussion, too, and just my random observations on my life and times. I might even get serious from time to time, but I usually hover between angry and passionate so serious doesn't get much room.

Will it be great literature? I doubt it. But it will be writing, and that's the point. For now, anyway.

8.10.2003

mmm, vanilla

I promise, I will eventually post an introduction. But until then...

PEPSI VANILLA!

I cannot tell you how happy I am with this. I'm a huge Pepsi fan. I've always liked it much better Coca-Cola. Plus, I'm a huge Vanilla fan. My favorite ice cream is genuinely vanilla. I like Sky Bar's just because they are 1/4 Vanilla filling. I'm a cream soda fanatic. So, when I heard about Pepsi Vanilla coming out, I was quite eager and I just picked up my first 12-pack today.

Yeah, I'm making too much of it. But, sometimes its good to excited about the little things. The big stuff is always so difficult to get your head around. There is always so little to be excited for because there is always so much to be done. So, I get excited for Pepsi Vanilla, Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and the impending release of NewsRadio season sets on DVD.

And action figures of the Swedish Chef.

Its good to be easily amused, sometimes.

before we begin

Okay, so I'm sitting here signing up to finally join the much ballyhooed blogging revolution and suddenly I hear a drum beat. I dismiss it, thinking it surely must be someone upstairs listening to music too loud. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that the drum beat is growing closer and is now joined by a brass accompaniment that has all the earmarks of a marching band. A parade, I wonder? Now, I'm about a half-block off a major road, so this isn't out of the question. I go to put on some sandals and walk outside to see the parade as it passed when it became increasingly apparent that the parade was much too loud to be even a half-block away. Sure enough, a peek out my window revealed a band dressed up like police officers drumming away as they marched in front of some religious statue which was covered in fake dollar bills and an honor guard holding the Italian Flag marched in the distance.

Ah. A Saint's Day. A phenomenon I hadn't the occasion to witness, which is odd since I grew up and have lived in very Catholic (and more the point, Italian Catholic) neighborhoods. Yet, here it was marching down my side street awaiting people to come from their houses and deposit money with the cash-happy religious statue. It looked like Jesus, but so do half the Saints, anyway. Doing a web search, I now believe it was actually a Feast Day for San Lorenzo. Who I believe is actually Saint Lawrence who was the namesake of my first school. Which is weird, because I'm not Catholic, but I'm told my mother didn't trust our public schools until she knew she couldn't trust the Catholic ones.

Naturally, the very small parade was followed by an old guy pushing a shopping cart full of unlicensed balloons of Spiderman, Clifford, and other children's characters. Cuz, really, would it be a parade without unlicensed balloons?.