Friday, August 28, 2009


"It's a good thing I got that phone. The 80s called -- they want all this paper back!"

"But what else can I do with it?"

"Maybe if I stare at it long enough, an idea will come to me. In the meantime, that phone was a great idea."

"At last, the final accessory for my 80s-themed room!"

"It looks perfect here under dim lighting with my glass cube wall."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Diehard Baseball Fans

"The only way you can become a legend is in your coffin”
Bette Davis (1908-1989), actress

The local news reported this as new, but coffins decked out with your favorite baseball team’s logo and colors are available to those who fill the need for additional attention at their own funeral.

In defense of the local newscast, maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers are just the latest team to okay their iconic graphics to grace the final resting place. I looked for a photo of the Dodger casket but could not find one, so the Mets will have to suffice.

I would not be surprised to discover the Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt agreed because he thought he could collect fees from fans in perpetuity.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elvis Costello at the Greek Theater

In the fashionable nightclubs and finer precincts
Man uses words to dress up his vile instincts
Ever since we said it
He went and took the credit
It's been headed this way since the world began
When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man
Elvis Costello, singer, song writer, lyrics from "Monkey to Man"

It’s not very far from the cheap seats of the Greek theater to view an outstanding performance by Elvis Costello and a decent set from Lucinda Williams. I had the pleasure of watching Costello play songs from his new CD “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane.”

I had minimal expectations for the show because the last time, at least 10 or more years ago, I saw him at the Universal Amphitheatre, it was loud, had muddled sound, and his lyrics were indistinguishable, not in a Bob Dylan way just simply lost in the sound system. This show was more acoustic as he played nearly all the songs off “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane” backed by the Nashville band the Sugarcanes. He also covered his old hits such as “Brilliant Mistake,” “Allison,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Blame it on Caine,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” in the style of his new CD.

What was particularly nice was that I purchased the tickets from Goldstar at $25 each, plus an odious service charge. While at was in the last rows it wasn’t as far back as I could have been since the show was far from a sell out. They covered the extra seats with a camouflage tarp and wheeled in potted trees and placed them in the middle of the empty rows, which unless I was right next to it I never would have known there were rows of empty seats.

Lucinda Williams was good, but seemed too lackadaisical as if she didn’t really care, which I know wasn’t the case because she stopped in the early stages of a song because the string on her guitar was “poorly tuned.” The highlight of seeing Williams was her duet with Costello on “Jailhouse Tears” and the Rolling Stones hit “Happy.”

The only truly downside to the evening was the rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate dimwit knuckleheaded woman who insisted on talking very loudly during Lucinda Williams’ set, even when I politely signaled for her to be quiet. The woman could be a character from Costello’s song “How to be Dumb.”

The Los Angeles Times review of the concert can be found here.

I found this in the comment section of the LATimes article:

Main set: Mystery Train (Parker/Phillips) / My All Time Doll / Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard) / Down among the Wine and Spirits / Blame It on Cain / Femme Fatale (Lou Reed/Velvet Underground) / The Delivery Man / The Butcher’s Boy (traditional) / Jailhouse Tears* / Happy* (The Rolling Stones) / Indoor Fireworks / Hidden Shame / Dragging Me These Last Few Yards** / Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead) / Everyday I Write the Book / Five Small Words** (with a coda of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away) / She Was No Good / Brilliant Mistake
Encore: Red Cotton / The Crooked Line / (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes / Sulfur to Sugarcane / Complicated Shadows*** / The Scarlet Tide*** / The Race Is On (George Jones) / Alison (with a coda of Faron Young’s He’ll Have to Go)
* with Lucinda Williams, who wrote Jailhouse Tears
** unreleased song, title possibly incorrect
*** with T Bone Burnett

Lucinda Williams’ opening set
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues / Well Well Well / Happy Woman Blues / People Talkin’ / Fruits of My Labor / Blue / Jackson (with Jim Lauderdale) / Nothing in Rambling / Joy

Or for more info try:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Real News vs Fox News

Here's one of the more important clips of Barney Frank's town hall meeting on health care -- it gives you a sense of what was going on there. Spoiler alert: Frank channels Godwin's law.

And here's what Fox News showed -- start at 1:27 if you're short on time.

The Final Girl

One of the blogs I follow on Twitter is GeekTyrant, and I stumbled on a term there today that I had to read more about -- "the final girl." I wound up on Wikipedia, and will just copy-and-paste the good stuff for you to read and consider -- all about horror films and gender roles and feminism, especially in the writings of Carole Clover.

... the final girl is typically sexually unavailable or virginal, avoiding the vices of the victims (sex, narcotic usage, etc.). She sometimes has a unisex name (e.g. Teddy, Billie, Georgie, Sidney).

... audience identification is unstable and fluid across gender lines, particularly in the case of the slasher film. During the final girl’s confrontation with the killer ... she becomes masculinized through "phallic appropriation" by taking up a weapon, such as a knife or chainsaw, against the killer. Conversely ... the villain of slasher films is often a male whose masculinity, and sexuality more generally, are in crisis. Examples would include Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, or Billy and Stu from Wes Craven's satirical horror film Scream. Clover points to this gender fluidity as demonstrating the impact of feminism in popular culture.

The phenomenon of the male audience having to identify with a young female character in an ostensibly male-oriented genre, usually associated with sadistic voyeurism, raises interesting questions about the nature of slasher films and their relationship with feminism. Clover argues that for a film to be successful, although the Final Girl is masculinized, it is necessary for this surviving character to be female, because she must experience abject terror, and many viewers would reject a film that showed abject terror on the part of a male. The terror has a purpose, in that the female is 'purged' if she survives, of undesirable characteristics, such as relentless pursuit of pleasure in her own right. An interesting feature of the genre is the 'punishment' of beauty and sexual availability.

Elvis Costello Video

Elvis Costello on David Letterman. I saw Costello last night at the Greek Theater. He was outstanding. I'll write more about it later. In the meantime enjoy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Imagining the Tenth Dimension

Science geeks like me will enjoy this short video that imagines what the tenth dimension is like (by walking us through the nine that precede it).

Thanks, BoingBoing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Klan Sheep at the Ventura County Fair


The identity of the sheep and its breeders have now been obscured to protect them from those who don't understand how jokes work.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hopper Rolls On:
More "Nighthawks' Parodies

I've got another couple of "Nighthawks" parodies for all you Edward Hopper fans, just discovered.

The first is the work of Josh Ellingson, who seems to be a pretty fine illustrator:

Here's one from a Flickr user named bredlo, which may appeal to fans of the classic Airstream camper:

If you know why a pink polar bear attacking the diner is funny (from this guy), please let me know:

Rick Veitch has a great reworking of the diner as it might look in Iraq (click it to see it bigger):

There's a Sesame Street version (among other great Sesame Street versions of classic art):

If you want to see the rest of the parodies, click below.

First batch
Second batch
Third batch
Star Wars parody
New Year's parody

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Songs for the Great Recession

CEO Can You Spare a Job
("Brother Can You Spare a Dime" butchered by the Misanthrope with apologies to Yip Harburg)

They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob
When there were cars to build or computers to assemble
I was always there right on the job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With gold and riches ahead
Why should I be sleeping in my car
Just gonna end up dead?

Once I built houses, I made them strong
Made them stand against the rain
Once I built homes, now they’re empty
CEO, can you spare a job, I have a brain

Once I invested on Wall Street
401s, stocks and bonds
Once I invested, now they are bailed out
Hey Hank Paulson, I failed too?

Once in three-piece suits, gee we looked cool
Full of hopes for the American dream
Now half a million dollars in debt
I was the loyal serf, now it’s me and Jim Beam

Say, don't you remember, they called me "valuable"
I was MVP all the time
Why don't you remember, I‘m expendable now
Say boss, can you spare a job

There may be hope on the horizon, but in the meantime, we watch unemployment benefits try up and wait for the home foreclosure bomb to hit here are a few songs contemporary and from the Great Depression to accompany us through the rough times.
  1. The Poorhouse – Boxmasters
  2. Help the Poor – Eric Clapton & B.B. King
  3. Foreclosure Blues – Jerry Raven & Tom Naples
  4. Pay Me My Money Down – Bruce Springsteen
  5. Busted by Ray Charles from Ray Sings, Basie Swings
  6. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime – Dave Brubeck
  7. Low Budget -- The Kinks
  8. Land of Broken Promises – Elvis Costello & Allen Toussain
  9. God’s Away on Business – Tom Waits
  10. We Can’t Make it Here – James McMurtry
  11. Detroit Moan -- Victoria Spivey
  12. Money – Pink Floyd
  13. If You Have the Money, I Have the Time – Willie Nelson
  14. It's Money That I Love --Randy Newman
  15. It's Money That Matters -- Randy Newman
  16. Money (That's What I Want) -- John Lennon
  17. How Can a Poor Man Stand such Time and Live -- Bruce Springsteen
  18. Poorhouse – Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynn, Roy Obison)
  19. Are You Making Any Money? -- Chick Bullock And His Levee Loungers
  20. Gloomy Sunday – Billie Holiday