31 July 2005

Röyksopp The Understanding

Röyksopp, a two-man band from Norway, did a very cool but sort of repetitive album called Melody A.M.in 2002. It had two great songs, plus one pretty-good song, and while the rest didn't suck, it didn't really work, either.

Their new one, called The Understanding, is much, MUCH cooler.

There are shades of everything from Air to Jean-Michel Jarre on this disc... Röyksopp may be Norwegian, but they've clearly listened to a lot of French electronica, both old and new. This album's a lot more song-oriented than Melody A.M., and while the overall mood is less cohesive, the individual tracks are GREAT. I think it's a worthy tradeoff. Favorite tracks: Circuit Breaker, Triumphant, Alpha Male(this is the one that reminds me the most of Jean-Michel Jarre, in its early parts, and then goes on to become my favorite song from the album).

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30 July 2005

These eyes see everything

Originally uploaded by mrtwism.
At some point in every person's life, they become aware of their own mortality. This is one of the things that separates us from animals... the inescapable knowledge that one day, we and everyone we know will be gone. Most of us reach this point in late childhood or early adolescence, I think.

The baby in this picture just figured it out, at a MIGHTY early age. (Click the pic for the full-size version, to get the full extent of this infant's existential moment.)

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29 July 2005

Listening to music while high (in the sky)

I had a couple of really cool "music moments" while flying to and from these two launch attempts down at Kennedy Space Center.

After the first attempt, which happened on July 13, a bunch of us went home to Atlanta from the Orlando airport the next day, July 14. It was lightning like CRAZY when we got there (around dusk), and we got delayed about 90 minutes because the airport wouldn't send the ground crew out to get our plane when it landed. We finally got to board the plane, and took off northward for Georgia... I dozed off in my seat almost immediately, listening to my MP3 player (not an IPOD) on shuffle.

I was seated in one of those seats that's in the middle of the plane, with aisles on both sides... the plane was probably 8 or 10 seats wide altogether. I woke up when we hit some turbulence, and the lights inside the plane were dim... on both sides of me, the windows were flashing bright blue with LOTS of lightning, and in my headphones, Ian Curtis was crooning Joy Division's "Atmosphere." I got chills immediately, because it looked like a movie scene... one of the advantages of wearing headphones, I guess. :) The shadowy people moving in front of the flashing windows were a gorgeous sight to behold.

Then this week, on Wednesday, we were flying home after the launch. The plane was taking off from Orlando airport, it was gorgeously sunny out, and The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds" popped up in shuffle play. It felt very "floating" and happy as the plane lifted off and you get that little feeling when your stomach drops... I'm probably not explaining it very well, but it seemed like a perfect meshing of the music with the moment, with the weather, with my whole mood at the time.

Jeremy and I used to talk about "music moments" like these a long time ago... anybody else have an example that has stuck in their memory?

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28 July 2005

Blast off!!

I've posted my pics of the space shuttle Discovery launch here. It was just as incredible as everyone had told me it would be... :) Not as many pics this time, since I took so many on the previous (unsuccessful) launch attempt.

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25 July 2005

A couple of examples of Self-Promotion (And we all know how painful those can be...)

I'm gonna do somethin' I rarely do here and plug a couple things I'm workin' on. (So, let the booing and calls of "sell out" commence!)

First off -- every Monday I've been posting mp3s to Phancy.Com, which isn't my site or anything, but run by a cool guy who asked me to -- I wouldn't normally plug it here, HOWEVER, this week I uploaded a cut from the new Ween release, Shinola, and OH MAN it is GOOD. So, totally check it out. It's just one of those really mindblowing songs. (The other track is a pretty awesome Stereolab song, too, but yeah; also, as far as I know, the previous weeks' mp3s are still live, so you might poke backwards and check those out, too. And check out the rest of his blog; it's really cool, and he'd done a lot of cool stuff, like The Futurama Panoramas linked at Memepool a while ago (though, contrary to what they said, he did them by hand, not with image stitching software). (If you just want the direct links to the mp3 posts, though, that's not nearly as fun, but: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6.5, 7, 8, 9.)

Also, I've been contributing to The High Weirdness Project, a Subgenius Wiki, and I've just put up something I wrote for TODCRA -- a guide to all the Residents Albums -- sort of like RzWeb, only with more of a reviewing aspect and less of a historical overview aspect. (Man, I love RzWeb, though. Before I got into the Residents, I read through every single page of RzWeb (it's laid out like a book! That's so useful!) and figured that even if I didn't like the records, the Residents were still pretty damn awesome. But then it turned out I liked the records, so, hey!) Anyway, though, yeah -- check through, and feel free to leave any Residents-record-advice you might have.

Hmmm... I think this particular case has passed -- hopefully I won't need to see the doctor! Now to go back to being bummed about being denied both DEVO and TMBG...




...oh, goddammit.

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22 July 2005

It's a Mall World after all?

The emirate of Dubai sounds like a surreal, slightly hellish place:

...the coastal desert has become a huge circuit board into which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, "cities within cities" -- whatever is the latest fad in urban capitalism. The same phantasmagoric but generic Lego blocks, of course, can be found in dozens of aspiring cities these days, but Sheik Mo has a distinctive and inviolable criterion: Everything must be "world class," by which he means number one in The Guinness Book of Records. Thus Dubai is building the world's largest theme park, the biggest mall, the highest building, and the first sunken hotel among other firsts.

Well, hellish if the idea of wretched excess scares you.

The above quote, taken from this article by Mike Davis, is only part of the story. Davis goes on to describe the "invisible majority" of Dubai: Filipinos and Sri Lankans who clean rooms in the mega-hotels, Indians and Pakistanis who build the artificial islands and the world's tallest buildings. Apparently most make just enough money to survive, but never enough to prosper.

Reading about Dubai gives me the same sort of uneasy feeling I get when I read about massive development in the American southwest, where you just know it'll never be sustainable.

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Music: 3, Books: 1

Sports Match Of The Ages! Books versus Music! And it is over! And Music has solidly trounced Books with all sorts of vaguely creepy war and fighting metaphors!

The Big "A" = The Big "M": If you are looking for more in a Li'l Markie vein, you might want to check out this single by Gary S. Paxton, formerly of The Hollywood Argyles, who had a hit with "Alley Oop (though the Bonzos also had a cut on it). It's... pretty surprising and odd. I hope Negativland have a copy of this -- if not, they need one. Still, though, I think that no matter one's political stripe, we can all come together and agree that this record is pretty creepy.

While My Ukelele Gently Weeps: Got this from MeFi, but it's really awesome. It's Jake Shimabukuro in Central Park doing an incredible version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on his Uke. It's really, really impressive.

The 2-String Bass: I got this from the WFMU blog, which has an additional picture of him with it. It's pretty awesome. It's a Metal Album Sleeve Made Flesh. (or, rather, wood.)

No Thanks: Saw this linked at Dr. Frank's (of MTX) blog, and it's basically a list of things not to do on your book's acknowledgement page, using the new Chuck Klosterman and Steve Almond books as examples. It's pretty engaging reading and she makes some pretty good points. (The point about not thanking God, especially -- always thought that was weird. "Sorry about not savin' all those people, I was helpin' some guy write a book about a Ninja Dinosaur!") Though I don't get the example cited in "Don't Namedrop and Nickname Simultaneously"....

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Um, GodChecker...

Do you believe in God? No? Why not?? Because, well, come on! There are so many to choose from!

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21 July 2005

Working Title

Haven't you ever said, "MAN, I wish there was some way to combine photoepilepsy and movie title screens! And maybe add a drum machine, too! And a little bit of sound collage, too, why not? That might be cool..."?

Well, now someone has!

(It's actually pretty cool, to be honest. I watched the entire thing and ended up pausing it a few times and flipping through and looking at certain stills. And, hey, it's a cool way to see a bunch of title design at once.)

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20 July 2005

Thank you Mask Man

Here's a review of a book about a film genre that fascinates me, even though I've never actually seen one... Mexican masked-wrestler films.

I have, however, seen a cartoon about 'em.

I love the fact that masked wrestlers are/were real life superheroes of a sort in Mexico... it reminds me of how me and every kid I knew felt about Evel Kneivel when I was growing up. (Not to mention Elvis and Dr. J, but that's another post...)

I saw the Cartoon Network's Mucha Lucha
when CW's cousin Terry brought a DVD of it over to one of CW's "movie nights"... EVERYBODY loved the cool musical open to the show, and then lost interest once the show itself started. A note to the Mucha Lucha guys- pacing, pacing, pacing.

But I digress... :D It sounds like a lot of the classic masked-Mexican wrestler films are either gone, or just buried in non-home-released limbo. Regardless, I may have to track down this book, just because of the aforementioned superhero aspect.

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Orchestral Aphex Twin

The idea of transposing electronic music for an orchestra or ensemble is not as outlandish as it might sound at first- as this review points out, Philip Glass arranged and conducted a version of Aphex Twin's Icct Hedral many years ago (and it's a VERY cool track). Now, a group of musicians known mainly for playing Steve Reich compositions have made an entire album of Aphex Twin arrangements...

From the review:
As fascinating as such chaos is, however, it's the selections from Selected Ambient Works, Volume 2 that drive home the point that Acoustica is more than a simple display of showoffery. Both "Blue Calx" and "Cliffs" are exercises in restraint, the former featuring exquisite string harmony over a repeated, metronomic percussion that approximates the slow dripping of water, and the latter highlighting more slow string work over vocals, horns, and tuned percussion each echoed several times over. [...] the translations and the performances are perfect, providing further proof of one of the maxims of classical music -- any hack can play fast, but only a true musician can pull off a slow work while avoiding utter boredom. Alarm Will Sound passes this test effortlessly.

Now I'm REALLY anxious to hear this. :)

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18 July 2005

Flickr Folks Investigated by the Secret Service

The other day I was telling someone that we have yet to really scratch the surface concerning the effects Flickr (my account there) will have on society. I see its photos used as evidence in court, for instance. Divorce? "Where were you this weekend? You told me you were working late!!! But who's she?" Child custody. And on and on. How long will it be before someone's Flickr account becomes infamous-- did Scott Peterson, for instance, have a Flickr account? What about BTK?

Let's also not forget to mention the eventual historical interests in Flickr. With a photographic record now unfolding, perpetually, in 50 years, what will it show?

Naturally, there's also a dark side to the Flickr phenomenon. Apparently, something I was predicting the other day (that Flickr and perhaps its occupants will eventually be "harassed" by the government) has already happened-- the FBI and other government agencies are becoming threatened by and are investigating anti-Bush/anti-Government content on Flickr.

Because of their actions, the man in question, Jeremy Lassen, has been placed on what the University of California, SF (where Jeremy works) is calling "Investigative Leave," apparently because he "misused university resources" in participating in two Flickr photo groups, "Bush Bash, and the Anti-Bush League.

SPEAK OUT and SUPPORT Jeremy! I'd say email his boss and maybe Deborah Brennan, the Executive Vice Chancellor at the University there. I am doing so now.

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Band Of Outsiders

I finally got to see a film this weekend that I've read about for years: Jean-Luc Godard's Band Of Outsiders (Bande à part).

The film's plot concerns a young woman named Odile, who meets two dodgy characters in her English class, Arthur and Franz. Before the movie starts, she has told them that she lives in a villa outside of Paris with her aunt and a boarder who has a lot of money stashed in a cupboard in his room. Naturally, they hatch a plan to steal it.

But the plot of Band Of Outsiders is secondary to Godard's stylistic pranks and loose, naturalistic storytelling. Godard said he wanted to do things in this movie that "you weren't supposed to do." Things like:

  • During a sequence where the three characters are dancing in a cafe, the director occasionally stops the music and tells us, in voiceover, what each of the three is thinking at that moment.

  • When Franz suggests that a minute of silence can feel like a VERY long time, Odile insists they try it. The soundtrack goes silent, and the characters sit, fidgeting, for a minute. (Actually, I think it's less than a minute, but it feels longer!)

  • When one of the men says, early on, that they will hatch a plan to steal the money, Odile responds, "Un plan?" Then she looks directly at the camera and asks, "Pourquoi? (Why?)"

This is only the second Godard film I've seen, my first being the intriguing but nearly impenetrable Alphaville , which I have since read is a bad place for a Godard beginner to start. (No wonder I was so baffled by it.) After seeing Band Of Outsiders, though, I really want to give some more of Godard's films a look.

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16 July 2005

Below Code

This is kinda/sorta a follow-up to the Terre Thaemlitz section of the CYOA post, but I thought it was different and cool enough to actually post it as its own thing, rather than as a comment.

Anyway, he's got his own label and has had it for over 10 years, and for the anniversary, he compiled Below Code. The original release was a CD in a DVD case filled with postcards for each song (the image above is for the last track); it was a limited edition of 250 given away for free. For those of us who missed that, though, he put up the complete contents (plus a bonus track) available for free download. (Just use the arrow buttons at the top to navigate through.)

It's a pretty cool compilation. Not all of it is great, but most of it is pretty cool. "10 Years of Amazing Demo Tapes" is basically what it sounds like -- a razor-tape of various demos. "Form and Trauma" is an off-kilter rock song -- the vocals aren't really that great, but it is pretty cool. "Bob Foxy/Midnight Sexy" is sort of similar to this vein.

Family Guy fans will probably recognize "The Lonely Man Theme" as a cover of the "sad, walking away" music from The Incredible Hulk -- it actually opens with a sample of Lou Ferrigno congratulating Comatonse on the anniversary. There're some more piano based compositions, like "A.D.D. Dance" (a really awesome avant-classical piano song with a drum machine), "Harrodspianos", which starts like a standard piano composition that gets processed in cool ways

There're quite a few noisy tracks on here -- quite a bit reminded me of Otomo Yoshihide's more electronic-noisy stuff; like "Sympathy for a Chump" (vaguely-rhythmic static that goes into a computer voice speaking), "Southside Silence" (modified/processed ambient-noise recordings), "Texts was Subscribed" and "Terre Loves Robin".

Since most of this compilation is pretty much in the Noise Genre, there's quite a bit of found recording type things: "Robot Love I Love You" is a small child singing a song (the lyrics are basically the title) that intially threatens to be kind of cutesy and annoying (a la Negativland's "Clowns & Ballerinas" and "Over the Hiccups" from A Big 10-8 Place and Escape from Noise respectively), but then the recording is cut-up and processed and is actually really cool. I'm assuming that Ralph and Geri Thamelitz are Terre's parents or otherwise family members -- Ralph sings a short, phoned-in song about Lincoln and Geri plays a nice accordion song -- I'm not sure if the latter was recorded for this compilation ("Lincoln and Liberty" obviously was), but both have a "found family cassette" type sound to them, and they're surprisingly cool. And, "N30" is 10 minutes of field recordings from the Seattle WTO protests -- it's not something I'd want to listen to much as there hasn't been much (if any) processing, but it is still kind of interesting -- it doesn't really get boring.

Three of my favorite tracks are actually really poppy (and two of the three are by Terre, which makes me want to check out his non-Rubato CDs):

"Up'n'Down (Pogo-a-Gogo)" by Yesterday's Heroes (a project between Terre and Haco) is really, really cool -- it's sort of an art-dance track; very little in the way of different lyrics and pretty minimalist, really, but really keen. I want to get the full Yesterday's Heroes album.

In a more straight electronica feel, "Singles Collection (Remixed by SND)" by You Speak What I Feel (Terre & SND -- couldn't find any more information on SND, otherwise I'd link, heh) is really cool. I don't think this is available anywhere else, either, actually. I'd like to hear the non-remixed version, too; this one is really cool, though.

"Rain" by Screech is sort of a world-pop kind of thing; cool percussion in it. And, to do a sort of weird looping back thing, Screech released some stuff through Hippocamp, which also put out Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds (though Screech didn't appear on that comp.), which, I suppose just goes to show how few themes I really have when it comes to posting.

Anyway, though -- it's a pretty cool compilation, and it's free! So, hey, what more could you ask for?

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15 July 2005

(some) NASA pics online

VAB at sunset
Originally uploaded by lee_3dhighway.
Hey guys... I've posted a few of the best pics from my time down at Kennedy Space Center over on Flickr. I'm going to make a much larger set with some of the behind-the-scenes stuff at the press site, probably tomorrow, and I'll link that set in a comment. But, I figured I might as well post these as kind of an overview; I just wish I had some way to share the feeling of 800% humidity and swarms of mosquitos while you view the pics! :D

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13 July 2005

TV Sheriff

I found this on Snuggles, the Negativland (& c.) mailinglist, and it's kind of neat. TV Sherriff is a guy who's a professional video editor by day, video collagist by night. He's got Coldcut's VJamm software controlled by a MIDI keyboard when he does shows, and speaking of Coldcut, he's done a video for them, too.

His site's got two main sections -- "Antimercials" (I liked the vaguely disturbing for no real reason you can put your finger on "Treet" one) and "TV Musicks", collage songs made out of Advertisments and other stuff from TV, along with a couple examples of his live show. Apparently, he's been working on a DVD for a while, but it hasn't come out yet, and next week, he'll be opening for Beck in LA. I guess he's done shows with the Evolution Control Committee (behind the Rocked By Rape 7" and the Whipped Cream Mixes of Public Enemy). The only problem is that the .mov files at the site aren't of the highest encoding quality, so sometimes the image gets a little lost in the pixellated soup. But it's still pretty neat.

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The call that cracked the UK bombing case.

An interesting (and strangely cold) synopsis of the UK bombing. Detailed, but brief and concise. Worth reading.

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T-MINUS: Shuttle Launch [Wednesday]

Want to watch the shuttle launch? Damn, they have a lot of work to do.

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11 July 2005

Heaven & Hell

I've pretty much always been an atheist; when I was very small, I asked my mom what religion we were, and she just said "Christian" without really clarifying which franchise (as Emo Philips calls them), and I just sort of identified as that. Being "Christian" basically meant that we didn't go to church or worship or believe in pretty much anything, but we did celebrate Christmas and Easter, since, hey, presents and candy!

I think when I was in 4th or 5th grade, there was a local-news fallout about someone being kicked out of the Boy Scouts because he wouldn't say the pledge because it included the word "God" -- it seemed to make sense to me, but I wasn't sure about the particulars. My dad said that that was "atheism", and that it was a type of religion that said there wasn't a god, and they couldn't even say "god". I thought that was kinda funny (Even then, I loved saying "God!" My favorite curse today is "Goddammit!"; then, I knew that the "damn" part wasn't good for little kids to say, so everything would be "God darn it!", which I suppose is kinda funny, since I figure to most people that'd be just as offensive as "goddamn"...), but didn't think anything of it.

In sixth grade, I read a biography of Bill Gaines, the publisher/co-founder of Mad Magazine, and there was quite a bit about his faith, or lack there-of, and it basically clicked with me -- he believed basically the exact same thing that I did, and he even had a name for it, "atheism". So, at that point, I was Officially An Atheist. Not that I really had to change anything -- I just had the name for it.

But, well, religion has always been sort of odd in our household. My mom is basically agnostic (she tends to believe in a spiritualness based on nature and suchlike; I think she doesn't believe in God per se, i.e. Some Guy Who Created Stuff, but sort of a nebulous... power or somethin'), my grandfather (her father) was basically like me and an organized religion-hating Atheist (I think if he ever knew about it, there might have been a chance he actually would have been a SubGenius minister like me). My father is a Lapsed Catholic, who still kinda-sorta believes, but not a whole lot (one memory is when I was about 7, and he was watching a Christmas or Easter service, and the preacher said something about Jesus -- as they're wont to do -- and I made some sort of joke about it, and Dad got really mad and told me to never joke at Jesus' expense). His parents and extended family are typically pretty religious. When I was younger, I couldn't figure out why there were so many pictures of this bearded guy all over; I assumed it was just some family member. I asked Mom who that was, like, maybe some dead Uncle or something, and she goes "That's Jesus", and I remember making some sort of comment to her that it was odd to have him on the wall in a painting like he's a family member or something. She concurred.

However, unlike my parents -- and particularly my mother -- I typically am interested in Organized Religion, especially viewed from those ensconced in it. One of the things I always tell people -- and this is true -- is that while most parents forbid their children to watch violent or more adult fare, my parents were fine with that (hey, when I was in 4th grade, my favorite show was Twin Peaks), but the one thing my mother forbid me to watch was the TBN Children's Shows. And, of course, when she's go to the store on Saturday Morning, I'd flip them on and watch until she came back. And, of course, we'd have the same conversation every Saturday Morning when she'd catch me:
Mom: I told you, I don't want you watching that shit!
Me: But it's funny! They're awful!

But more on those, later...
For every bunch of bad ones, there's a few really good and interesting things on religion. And one of my favorites is Slacktivist. Fred Clark is a devoutly religious man whose done a lot of scholarship work (I'm pretty sure he's Southern Baptist) and works at a newspaper. He's also disturbed by the current US culture of people who identify as Christians who tend to ignore Christian Values in the pursuit of same.

Since he works at a newspaper, the man has excellent writing skills. And since he's really religious, he never looks down on the folks he's writing about, even when they're doing heinous stuff. He is able to see them with compassion and he makes an attempt to understand their mindset. (And he knows the Bible inside and out and wrestles with various aspects of it -- it's clear that he's weighed all the options and Christianity makes the most sense to him, and so he's a Christian -- it's not the type of mindset I find the most baffling where it's "Well, my family's believed this for generations, so therefore, I believe it!")

Right now, he's got a series going on about Creationism and Fundamentalism, which is just beautiful. Here are the three entries in the series that he's done (I'm not sure if there will be more or not):
Creation Snapshot, Part I
Creation Snapshot, Part II
Creation Snapshot, Part III

The first is about a wonderful science teacher he had -- who happened to be a Young Earth creationist, though an "apparent-age" one, which stated that while God had created the earth only, say 10,000 years ago, he made it LOOK like it was made billions of years ago. The second is another piece about education; primarily a wonderful astronomy professor who was also a creationist, but believed that God merely set events in motion -- so that he set up the mechanisms for Evolution and all that, and just let it go, perhaps occasionally interfering, but mostly just letting it go (I have to admit: This seems to me to be the most elegant view of Creationism; I had an excellent teacher in fourth and fifth grade who believed in this view, and it makes the most sense to me, if you're going to go that route). The third is about creationism, fundamentalism and a crisis of faith when being faced with obvious evidence that your worldview is wrong.

These three essays are just magnificent; they look at these issues with a compassionate eye -- especially in the third one, there's a temptation to go "Wow, look at that wacky crap that dude thinks!" but he never succumbs to it, and uses it to explore the fundamentalist mindset and bringing a humanity to it. Mostly when folks think (or, well, at least, when I think) of fundamentalists, they tend to think of kooks going around, foaming at the mouth and saying that, say, the homosexuals are going to bring down society and we'll all be eating out of burning dumpsters and fighting wars for control of gasoline. And while I don't think anyone would really disagree that these types of folks are wrong (right? Right?!), it's rare that these people are treated as, well, people. You don't often get to look at their mindset that leads them to think that way -- hell, they often don't seem to be thought of as having minds to begin with!

Fred Clark understands that while this type of mindset is dangerous (so dangerous), he also can show what kind of things lead to it. And though he's compassionate towards the type of people who believe that kind of crazy stuff, he's not afraid to call bullshit on it, either. For example, every Friday (and this is what got me reading his site, actually), he works on critiquing Left Behind; less so, the tortured syntax and fiction writing skills (though, oh, man, that's there in spades), but mostly the equally, if not more-so, tortured theology. Since he's got the knowledge to back it up, it's really interesting -- like this recent post where he clarifies that the Left Behind books aren't based on the Book of Revelation, but rather, pre-millennial dispensationalism. There're also posts on what the end-times mania means for those of us who don't buy in to this crap.

And, hey, sometimes it's fun to go through and see the various references to Infinite Jest in his posts.

But, on the other hand, sometimes the other side of the coin can be just as interesting and enlightening. Primarily, the aforementioned TBN children's programming. The normal programming isn't nearly as fun, because it's typically just televangelism, which is usually sort of boring (although there was the one that was funny because they were explaining that the line in the Bible "it's easier to put a camel through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven" as that it wasn't a literal needle, but rather, a gate to Jerusalem that was exactly camel-sized, so it was difficult fo get a camel to squeeze through, but still possible, and as such, it's difficult for a rich man to get into Heaven, but not impossible, so give them your money!). However, the Children's programming is a particularly strange flavor of propaganda.

Not all of what they show is bad, though -- I am a fan of Davey & Goliath; this is basically what I think a children's Christian show should be, particular the later episodes. With Davey & Goliath, most of the episodes are basically about being a good person -- there's a religious aspect to it (sort of a "Don't be a jerk, because it makes God sad" type thing -- which is a gross oversimplification, but to me, the main thing is "Don't be a jerk", which is a good lesson, no matter how it's couched). And there's an episode where Davey and Goliath go into the forest and just explore the beauty of the world around them; it's as "Look at all this neat stuff that God made for you", but still, while I might argue against the second half of that, I think you've got to be pretty batty to say that this stuff isn't neat or beautiful. And, well, it's fine with me that if the impetus to get you to notice that stuff is God; you SHOULD realize that it's cool. So, basically, these are pretty good values, I'd say. Don't be a jerk, the world is a beautiful place, clean up after yourself, follow rules so you don't get hurt, don't be prejudiced, love people.

Unfortunately, Davey & Goliath is about the only show on TBN that seems to espouse these values. Mostly, they're of particularly wacky subsets of Christianity. The Jack Chick type Christianity.

A few examples:
  • A show called Circle Square: It's based off of a Wild-West type hotel, and they sing and whatnot, and do sketches. Each episode has a theme -- in this example, the theme was how you should Live For Jesus (although, I suppose, all of them are, really).

    One of the sketches was a thinly disguised parable about a guy who doesn't care to accept Jesus, but enjoys his Easy Chair (which is actually a rocking chair, not an easy chair, but whatever) and basically lives for this chair, instead of Jesus. They talk about how everyone needs someone or something to believe in to keep them getting up in the morning and whatnot. For this guy, it's his chair.

    The guy's wife asks "Do you depend on that chair?" and he says "Yeah, so, go 'way." And she asks "So, do you live for that chair", and the guy says "Yeah, I guess, leave me alone", and she says "BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT!" and it pretty much continues in that vein. Unfortunately, there's very little actual debate that doesn't result in Reducio Ad Absurdum; for example:
    "Well, you need food to live, right?"
    "And, Jesus is food for the soul! Therefore you need Jesus to live too!"
    "...but I don't believe in the soul…"

    I found this particular sketch hilarious, though, because my reaction to them hassling the guy over his chair is the EXACT SAME to hassling the guy about Jesus. Basically, "WHY THE FUCK DO YOU PEOPLE CARE?" I mean, granted, that is one of the tenets of Evangelical Christianity, but later in the episode, they actually say "People might not care about what that we depend on and believe in!" So, apparently: You should believe in Christ and make sure that everyone you know knows both that you believe in Christ and that they should also believe in Christ. So: people don't care the same way about what you believe in, therefore believe in Jesus!
  • A show called Kids Like You: This one doesn't really have much of a storyline or setup – it's more of just a bunch of bits strung together, all with a common theme. One of the features is where they take a storybook and read it; sort of like a small-press Christian Reading Rainbow.

    One time they did a story book about this poor little girl whom everyone would laugh at and beat up because she had no money. She'd only get to eat at school since they'd run out of food for her when it came time to divvy up the family food at home. Basically her whole life is one chain of misery after another.

    At some point in her life, she decides to Accept Jesus. The next day, the teacher tells her that two ladies have shown up and are going to give her a Very Special Day in which she can do anything. They ask her where she wants to go first, and she says a store, and she gets a bunch of nice clothes, and then she goes to a restaurant and gets a bunch of nice food, and then she goes to the Toy Store and they give her any toy she wants, and she chooses a doll. Then it's time for her to go back to school (for some reason, part of the deal is that the Mystery Ladies have to bring her back to school...), and so she does. When they get back, all the kids who were mean to her before are now obsessing over her new stuff.

    Her reaction is "Joy! I'm accepted! People like my stuff! Thanks, Jesus!" and the story ends.

    I could be wrong in my reading of this story, but as far as I can tell, the moral is "Poor People Suck, and Jesus can help you become Not Poor so you can fit in with the richer people who are, by definition, better than you. Because you're POOR, POORY!" I suppose the secondary moral is something along the lines of "Oh yeah! Who needs real actual human friends when you've got JESUS! And MYSTERY LADIES!"

    Then again, I'm probably just missing something, not really being a Christian and all. Perhaps Paul said "(1)And Lo, you shall go into the valley of darkness and verily, (2)there shall be some middle aged ladies who will take you off school grounds (3)despite not being a parent or guardian and yea, (4)they shall buy you things, (5)but only if you had accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord And Personal Savior thine night before. (6)Thy will be done. (7)Amen." After all, I don't have a copy of the Bible on me or anything, so...
  • A show called Joy Junction: Like Circle Square, this one is based on sort of a Wild West-type town, and they have little games and such between the sketches. There are loads wrong with this show (it's just got this incredibly creepy vibe to it -- more so than the others, to be honest; for example, they had a woman on who would sing songs, and she'd been singing on the show since she was a happy little girl, and is still singing on the show even though she'd grown into a woman who looks constantly on the verge of tears and self-loathing -- her constant expression is indescribable, but it's not a pleasant one), but one thing I found sort of amusing was a question asked in the quiz show segment that ends each episode.

    In this episode, it was a series of true-or-false type questions called "Wise or Foolish", and you had to say whether each given situation was "wise" or "foolish". One of them was "Was Judas Wise or Foolish for Betraying Jesus?"

    The "correct" answer was "F", which strikes me as weird, since, uh, if he didn't, Jesus wouldn't have died for our sins, therefore leaving humanity in a bit of a pickle (or, rather, leaving us to continue making sacrifices to God as that was what Jesus' crucifixion was meant to replace). Sherriff Don, the host, said it was Foolish because Judas felt so bad afterward he hanged himself -- but had he not "betrayed" Jesus (and there are scholars who think that the kiss between Jesus and Judas symbolizes that it was actually a planned thing from the get-go), Christianity would have been quite different. (Not to mention that as my friend points out, there are incompatible Biblical accounts of what happened to Judas, one where he hanged himself and one where he fell and eviscerated himself on a pointed rock.)
  • A show called The Gospel Bill Show/Adventures In Dry Gulch: This takes place in Wild West days (what is it with these people and cowboys?), where Gospel Bill (played by Willie George -- the linked site is wrong when it claims it's Bill Gaither -- he's got his own show) is the Sheriff of a small town called Dry Gulch, and solves problems/captures Cartoony Villains using the principles of the Bible. The one that really bothered me, however, was the episode about Faith Healing.

    Of all the scams, I think Faith Healing is my most despised (along with Psychic Surgery, different sides of the same coin). Not only does it take money from people who are sick, it provides false hope which can result in death. There's lots of examples of people with maladies that are easily curable with traditional medicine, but die because they don't get treated by an actual doctor, opting instead to get "healed" by these scamming assholes. I'm sorry, but this just gets me so angry -- the other stuff is pretty awful too -- the swine who prey upon grieving people who miss their dearly departed friends and family by pretending they can talk to the dead can go straight to hell too, but at least with that, you just get a lighter wallet. You're not going to die because you gave John Edward money -- you're just going to buy him another yacht for poorly doing a parlor trick. But these people -- these worthless fuckers -- kill people.

    Anyway, though -- the episode: There's a mysterious sickness going around, and a family on the outskirts of town are all sick and dying; the doctor went in and couldn't save them and instead caught the illness as well. So, they call in Gospel Bill (I guess so he can arrest the virus?) to take care of the problem, and he goes in, despite everyone's best advice, takes his Bible and prays over them and in no time, they're eating and not dying anymore. And then there's a music video segment (each episode has one) about a little girl whose mother has cancer, and so she prays, and the mother's cured of cancer. And the bit at the end with Gospel Bill talking is all about faith curing disease -- and not in the "Being In Good Spirits Can Help Your Body Fight Disease" sense, which is a true thing; if you're sick, it's best to not Give Up and to think you're going to pull through... in addition to medical attention, of course. This entire episode, however, was about how if medicine isn't working, pray the disease away! (And the way it was written and made really implied that the Doctor Stage was a mere formality that could be dispensed with.)

    And, well, I'm sorry, but this is just heinous. I know that there's a lot of Faith Healing on TBN, but this is for children. I suppose you've got to get them young, but still -- this is easily the worst thing on here. Whether or not Judas was foolish doesn't kill people (other than Judas). Believing in Easy Chairs doesn't kill people. Waiting for deliverance from classist schoolmates doesn't kill people. This does. Willie George looks and acts like an affable enough guy, but that's just too much. Most of these shows aren't actually doing palpable harm to people.

I must say however -- even though I'm an atheist, and I just can't wrap my head around faith, I don't think poorly of people just because they've got That Old-Time Religion. My distaste for people like Gospel Bill isn't based in what he believes -- it's the way he acts because of these beliefs (and what he's apparently willing to do for his desire for money). For some people, religion is an Instant Turn-Off, and that's not really my scene. I basically tend to think of it as a "Whatever floats your boat, as long as it doesn't interfere with my own boat" situation. Believe what you want and Rock On, as long as you're not going to do anything to hurt me or try to convert me or in any other way interfere with my own On Rocking. And sometimes I enjoy asking about it -- I'm a culture-junkie, it's an aspect of culture, therefore I'm interested in it. So, I don't write people off because they happen to be Jesus Freaks. (There are many other real reasons to write people off, heh.)

Admittedly, I do fall into the pit of open mockery (I tried to reign that in, but look at how long the TBN section is versus the Slacktivist section of this post -- and, jeez, did you read the bit on the Mystery Ladies? Talk about open mocking...) much too often, and I feel bad for it, particularly when writing about people who I think actually might be mentally ill. But I think that's just a particularly icky part of human nature -- that sense of "These people are the Other; they're not as cool as me, otherwise they wouldn't be the Other, so let's point and laugh," and we're all guilty of that. Sometimes it's because people do stuff that's worthy of Pointing And Laughing (hey, I know I've done my fair share), and other times it's just because we don't understand. Folks like Fred Clark help to the latter, and, well, sometimes TBN can provide the former. The danger just comes when we try to apply as a blanket judgement call, and that just doesn't work. There's good and bad aspects of religion, as with most everything; it can cause people to marvel at the beauty around us. I personally tend to think that the chain of coincidences that lead to this particular world is more amazing and beautiful than the idea that it was particularly created this way; other people disagree and think that that takes the magic out of it rather than adding more magic. But that's cool too! They don't necessarily have to agree with me, and I don't have to agree with them; we can just co-exist and get along in our own ways.

As far as I can tell, the ideal situation is that people Don't Be Jerks and Realize That Stuff Is Really, Really Cool. And I think there's times when people agree more than they think they do, and there's other times when people need to be called on things that are wrong (and that goes for me, too). But as long as we're all trying our best, that's all we can ask for.

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This is cool

Post a Secret

These secrets are scribbled or collaged on 4- by 6-inch postcards and anonymously mailed to Frank Warren, who then posts them on his blog. There are many that are just punches to the gut... and others that are just plain odd.

Found via ObscureStore

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Disguise that dangerous dog!

Worried that you have a nice dog from a "dangerous" breed that people will be prejudiced against? Why not disguise him as a different breed? This enterprising guy has even created conversion kits to make your dog into "something else." Check it out. Don't miss the photo gallery below.

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10 July 2005

The (Not-So-)Fantastic Four

So far the reviews of the new Fantastic Four movie are less than stellar. But how does it compare to the never-released 1994 version, which was produced by Roger Corman and directed by Vidal Sassoon's son?

According to an interview that Fantastic Four creator Stan Lee did with director/comics geek Kevin Smith, the film wasn't ever intended for release:

Kevin Smith: Now a couple years ago, they made a Fantastic Four movie, very low budget, that never really saw the light of day.

Stan Lee: It wasn't supposed to. That movie was made just so that somebody wouldn't lose the rights to make the real movie later.

Smith: They had an option on the property.

Lee: Yeah, he would have lost his option if he didn't begin principal photography by a certain date. So for a budget of like $1.98, he did that movie. Which was really pathetic, because the people who did the movie didn't know it was never intended to be shown. They acted and directed and photographed their hearts out. They did the best they could.

Roger Corman disputes this version of events, saying basically that the financing for the film didn't work out until AFTER the film started production, so he'd figured out how to cut the budget from $40 million to $1.4 million (!), the most Corman had spent on a film at the time. (All of this info from "bad movie site" AgonyBooth.com's review of the film.)

Bootlegs of this Fantastic Four movie have apparently been available for years at comics conventions, and can be found for sale online. Even though I'm not a huge Fantastic Four fan in the first place, I'm actually more curious to see this low-budget version than I am the new one, mostly because Roger Corman was involved.

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09 July 2005

Plan 9 online!

Heh heh... who knew? Ed Wood's 1959 "masterpiece" is in the public domain, and available for viewing online at archive.org.

I highly recommend seeing this film if you've seen/plan to see Tim Burton's movie Ed Wood, which is a great flick. IMDB has a pretty good list of Plan 9 trivia, and on the off chance you'd like to read a review first (in case "worst movie ever made" isn't specific enough for you), here are some reviews of the film.

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08 July 2005

Shuttle launch is still a "go"

NASA is reporting today that they don't think Hurricane Dennis will interfere with next Wednesday's launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

And as a couple of you already know, I'm watching this very closely because I'm going to be at Cape Canaveral to see the launch! :) I'm heading down as part of a pretty large crew from CNN to cover the launch; my job will be editing video and at least one reporter package from the scene. I wish I could post from down there, but unfortunately I can't. I promise to bring back as many pics as possible, though.

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Google Maps with Overlays

Well, isn't this cool. Everyone knows about Google Maps, but these guys have improved things with putting a map overlay of where you want to be/go on the maps. Spectacular. It was made with the Google API, but... still, I wonder how long Google will allow this.

Anyway, however, it's useful! It has Canada! Come see my house. Zoom in as far as you can (the link won't reserve zoom settings, yet). See that square blue building? My apartment is in the top left corner of the second building up, across the street, and to the left.

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Tombstone Generator

We've seen the Church Sign generator, now... we have the Tombstone generator. I wish there were some choices instead of just the one, but hey, it's free.

Sorry I haven't been on in a while. I have a new obsession, my Flickr account.

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06 July 2005

Choose Your Own Adventure

Man, I was looking around, and I found something really cool! I totally have to share it with you, because everyone would really dig it. It's sorta weird, but pretty interesting, and maybe you'll get a kick out of it. So, anyway...

If you would like me to have found an article about Roald Dahl, turn to page 27.

If you would like me to have found this image:
turn to page 172.

If you would like me to have found some article at McSweeney's, turn to page 67.

If you would like me to have found some new record at a record store, turn to page 88.

In connection with the new movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the New Yorker posted an article about Roald Dahl (since New Yorker links expire after a while, I've mirrored it here, swapping the image files for ones stored on my own gallery site). I found this actually a really cool article; a lot of stuff about the man as a man, his good and bad points, and a nice little bio.

I find the thing about how his widow opens up his writing cottage one day a year for children to explore really cool; I know that growing up, I would have loved to see this. He was probably my favorite author during my childhood, and I love the way that even though the adults seem somewhat bored with looking, the children see the magic and wonder. I especially love the "Look! There are the BOOKS!" section.

It's kind of funny, though -- like the author, I've tried reading his adult fiction, and it doesn't really do the same thing for me that the children's work does. I've got the Tales of the Unexpected book compilation (which compiles most of his other, shorter books), and they tend to get a little boring after a while; I think there's only so many twists you can read in a row, to be honest. Some of them -- actually, most of them are clever -- but as the article mentions, he just doesn't seem to have any real empathy for his non-child characters. They're almost like brainteasers than actual stories. But, his children's books (or, books like The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar that are halfway children's/halfway adult) are exquisite.

It's a little disheartening to find out that Dahl was somewhat anti-semitic, or a bit of a bully, though I suppose we all have our faults, and I think you sometimes get some of that, especially in reading about him; I recently read (Spoilers for the new movie in there!) that the main reason for his dislike of the Mel Stuart version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was that he wanted Spike Milligan as Willy Wonka, and while the studio paid lip service to this and auditioned him, their decision to go with Gene Wilder (the right one, in my opinion) soured him on the film project and he'd talk about how dissatisfied he was with it.

Still, though, the man wrote a lot of my favorite books growing up and had a profound influence on me; we're willing to cut adult authors a lot of slack for their personal behavior, but not children's authors, which is always somewhat odd. And I disagree with the complaints put forth by Eleanor Cameron and Ursula K. LeGuin (although, I suppose that might be par for the course, as I'm one of the only people on Earth who can't stand her writing, so I suppose it makes sense that she'd be dead-set against someone whose writing I loved).

Hmm, I guess this is a little short; maybe I should pad this out a bit.

If you want me to pad this out with another thing about books, turn to page 175.

If you want me to pad this out with a thing on a Japanese movie, turn to page 172.

I've had these CDs for a while, but I've been digging Terre Thaemlitz' Rubato series of cover CDs, where he takes music by electronic artists that influenced him deeply and does solo piano arrangements in a rubato tempo. The first (and so far only) three (although I'm not sure if there will be more -- I hope so!) are Kraftwerk, Gary Numan and DEVO. I personally think the DEVO one is the best, though they're all very good; the Kraftwerk one is probably the least successful because Kraftwerk's music is already pretty close in structure to solo, classical piano, but it's still cool.

Thaemlitz also has a bunch of his own solo work as well, and his webpage has a lot of his writings; since he's genderqueer (he seems to identify more as trans, although his website uses the "he" pronoun, so I'm using it too, but this article seems to explain where he's coming from on that type of thing), most of his writings -- especially the essays that come with the Rubato discs -- are about gender and sexuality issues, although he has essays on other topics -- for example, Post-Modernism in Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side Of..." cartoons for Mad Magazine, Music and Technology, and being insulted, as a child, by a member of Cheap Trick.

I haven't actually heard any of his non-Rubato records, though I'd like to; I hope there's also plans for more of the Rubato ones, too. Perhaps an Eno one would be pretty interesting (and maybe not so far-fetched given Thaemlitz' love of ambient music). Or maybe someone else with an electronic flair?

For instance, someone like Moloko, turn to page 88.

For instance, someone like Negativland, turn to page turn to page 110.

I used to collect Mad magazines (I've got almost all of them; mostly just the comic issues I'm missing, and a couple of the first magazine issues, along with loads and loads of memorabilia), so I have to admit that I got a kick out of Spy Vs. Spy, The Unused Treatments. I know Achewood says that McSweeney's approaches humor like a man in a labcoat with tweezers, but I kind of like that aesthetic sometimes. I like the long, drawn out scenarios with way too much put into the motivations for the two spies. The last one is particularly good, really.

Hm, you know, it's kind of lame to do a post on a thing found at McSweeney's, just because they're so short, and well, I figure everyone who'd want to see it has probably seen it anyway, so...

If you want me to add an aside about Roald Dahl, turn to page 27.

If you want me to talk about another author, turn to page 175.

Yeah! It was pretty cool -- I went to a used record shop yesterday and found a cheap copy of Moloko's Do You Like My Tight Sweater?; I just listened to it, and, it's OK. It's not great, but there's some cool stuff on it, like "Day For Night" which was in an episode of Blue Jam and --
Just then, he wasn't watching where he was going and fell into a pit. The pit wasn't very deep, so he didn't get injured. However, as darkness fell, the witch who had dug the pit as a trap came upon her prey. She used her magic to pull him from the pit and while hovering in mid-air he disappeared!

Upon re-appearing, he found himself tied like a roast on what appeared to be a long dining room table, with an apple in his mouth. It looks like he won't be getting any more records anytime soon!


After Lee linked the RSS plugin for Firefox a week or so ago, I found, through Paul Collins' blog a good use for it! Mainly, it's the blog for the editors of Seattle's Good Alternative Weekly, The Stranger! The Slog is really frequently updated (too much so to, say, make a LiveJournal Feed make much sense), but often worth reading -- somewhat more so for Seattlites, but there's some cool stuff for folks all over, and, hey, Dan Savage is a frequent contributor, being the editor of the Stranger and all, so that's something you typically can't go wrong with. Unless you, like, hate Dan Savage. But you shouldn't!

Just then, a bucket-ful of money came from the heavens and made him rich beyond his wildest dreams. Also, inside the bucket was a Reuben sandwich fresh from Michael's Cafe in Palm Springs, which has the best Reubens he'd ever had in his entire life. He then realized that he had done everything right, and that it would, indeed, be a good day.


I really dig Negativland. There's a new interview with Don Joyce and Mark Hosler in this week's Onion AVClub, where they talk a lot about their views towards copyright law and their own particular stance, and I think they raise a lot of good points. I tend to be somewhat closer to Negativland on the IP-Law-Scale, though maybe not quite as far as they are (I do find myself typically agreeing with Lawrence Lessig; or, well, it turned out that he was basically saying a lot of the stuff I was saying for a long time, just way more eloquently; for example, he doesn't use constructions like "way more"), but I'm much closer to them than, say, the big content producer companies. But I still think that whether or not you agree with them, they're not really folks that can be dismissed; I think people still have to engage their arguments even if you think they're wrong. I just picked up the new album -- I haven't heard it yet, but it does come with a 64 page booklet of 3 essays that I'm really excited to read (what can I say, I love reading about copyright issues), a whoopee cushion, and a CD that's 100% samples -- their only album that doesn't contain anything recorded by them. There's also a new video that they've released via BitTorrent (I've actually got my client open to help seed if they need it!) which is very cool, too (I especially like the scared musical notes), and the CD itself has the "Gimme The Mermaid video (hosted here by Illegal Art, who're also hosting the wonderful Superstar by Todd Haynes) -- though for the song, you'll want the Fair Use book & CD combo about their U2 combination EP and lawsuit.

Speaking of which, I know it's really old, but I just have to mention their previous project, Death Sentences Of The Polished and Structurally Weak, another combination book/CD. This might actually be one of the most powerful things they've ever done (maybe even more so than "We Are Driven" from Free). Negativland went to auto yards, and went through the wrecks, looking for notes and documents; when they found them, they'd take a photograph of the car they came from. The book is made up then of, one one page, a photograph of the actual document, an easy-to-read transcription of it, and on the facing page, a photograph of the source-wreckage. It's an unimaginably beautiful and sad work -- sometimes it seems obvious from the wreck that no one could have survived that particular accident, and so these are little glimpses into the world of someone who is no longer alive, and died in a very unpleasant, terrifying way.

Negativland is also hosting a streaming version of a This American Life segment on the project before the book came out. In it, you can hear Richard Lyons (a/k/a Pastor Dick, Dick Vaughn and a few other characters) talk about the project and you can hear him and his cohorts going through the wrecks, smuggling cameras in (as the yards actually don't allow photos to be taken) and looking at this stuff. It's just really interesting and sad -- it's modern archaeology.

But man, that's kind of a downer, really! A beautiful downer, but still a downer! It's usually not good to end on a down note, is it?

If you'd like something about happy music, turn to page 143.

If you'd like something about another blog that has quite a bit about Seattle Politics, turn to page 109.

Last week, as I mentioned, I saw The Ditty Bops here in Seattle, and MAN it was good. They're one of those bands that I've been trying to convince everyone to check out; their first, self-titled album is one of the best, if not the best album of last year, and I typically will point it out when I'm at a record store to the person I'm with and tell them it's good and that they should get it, but it's difficult to get someone to buy a CD blind. However, when I took my two friends to the show, as soon as the show ended, they both bought the CD, and I was all like "SEE?! SEE?!" And it was wonderful. If you'd like, they're taper-friendly, and as such, have a few shows on Archive.org -- I particularly recommend the shows from Cafe Du Nord (great sound quality, AND it has "Angel With An Attitude" which is just a magnificent song), The Music Mill, and The Independent. Also, there's some Mountain Goats shows, too!

Also, I saw this (QT, sound) over at MeFi, and it's actually really well done....Circuit Bending is something I've always wanted to try....I'd been thinking about writing something about this for here for a while, but I basically decided to when my best friend sent me this link. This is something that I basically am wanting so bad....I think there are about 3 types of people....Sort of strange news that I just saw -- David Lynch...

The room spins and it turns out to be everyone's worst nightmare -- he's caught in his own mental TIME WARP!

Over on the Criterion Forum someone posted a thread (need to be logged in to see, but accounts are free) asking about Japanese Avant-Garde films, including Emperor Tomato Ketchup (which folks might know because it was a Stereolab album), which I've always heard of but never seen (I've heard it's rather disturbing, though -- but I'm not sure how true that is; admittedly, it doesn't exactly sound like a walk in the park), and Funeral Parade of Roses, where that image comes from.

I haven't seen that one either, but I love the still from it (there's four more stills on the Criterion Forum page, including more with words). Apparently, it's a retelling of Oedipus Rex (or, for PDQ Bach fans, Oedipus Tex) only with the sexuality toggled, so instead of a future king killing his father and marrying his mother, a trans club kid kills his mother and in order to sleep with his father. Also, it stars an actor who was later in a Kurosawa picture (Ran) in the lead role. The film was promoted and considered the first Japanese film to deal with gay culture, and is said to have inspired some shots of A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick. This also seems to be a film that's sort of a cult item among the trans community as well as the film geek community.

Granted though, I suppose I should maybe write about something I actually know, not just something that sounds interesting.

If you would like me to mention something along the queer/trans line, turn to page 53.

If you would like me to talk about another obsession other than film, turn to page 67.

Hey, you know who one of my favorite authors is that no one seemed to give a whole lot of credit to? John T. Sladek. He did a lot of really hilarious sci-fi novels; I love Tik-Tok, a parody of Asimov's I, Robot type stuff, or The Mueller-Fokker Effect (so named to cause people embarrassment when asking for it in libraries or bookstores), about a man whose conciousness is put on a special type of paint in a situation that ends up going Very Much Awry. (One funny thing about that one -- the President in that particular novel, written in the late-1960s/early-1970s, is Ronald Reagan, clearly intended as a joke.) The good news is that it looks like his stuff is finally drifting back into print (unfortunately, posthumously). I think this first one to start the new wave of In-Print Sladekage was Maps, a new collection of short work, including "The Lost Nose", an... unpublished... eeeergh, I'm sorry, I've got a really bad headache; I'll have to finish this later.

Just then, his head started vibrating, and exploded, painting the slanted walls of his upstairs room in a most interesting color; one you wouldn't expect to come from a human head. And in such copious amounts!


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05 July 2005

Russian Asstrologer Sues NASA

MOSCOW - NASA’s mission that sent a space probe smashing into a comet raised more than cosmic dust — it also brought a lawsuit from a Russian astrologer.

Marina Bai has sued the U.S. space agency, claiming the Deep Impact probe that punched a crater into the Comet Tempel 1 this week “ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe,” the newspaper Izvestia reported Tuesday. A Moscow court has postponed hearings on the case until late July, the paper said.

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04 July 2005

Queen for a day?

It's Independence Day here in the U.S. What better occasion for our fearless leader to pimp his war again?

Appearing at a West Virginia college, the President apparently tried to put a happy face on the war effort, southern belle-style.

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