Thursday, June 30

Live 8 final update

The rumor is the London show will open with Bono, Sir Paul and the guy from Coldplay singing "Sgt. Pepper" -- you know, 20 years ago today and all that.

The Floyd will play next to last. You can see it on TV as it happens or later on the Internets at

I <3 LA

Free concerts on the Santa Monica Pier are back. Highlights: Suzanne Vega on July 28, and Shonen Knife opening for the Knack on September 1.


Dead End Strategy

Anyone else thinking that if we just sit it out, eventually this rash of suicide bomber attacks in Iraq will have to burn itself out?

Mega-catfish snared, devoured!

Thai fishermen catch a 646-pound beast along the Mekong River. Yum!

Wednesday, June 29

Pitcher vs. cameraman

Kenny Rogers of the Texas Rangers turns ballistic on TV cameramen. What a coward of the county.

I Have No Idea...

...why this is so engaging, but I'll bet the Japanese have a word for it already.

Tuesday, June 28

Bush says U.S. seeks to eliminate torture worldwide

The only way to make sense of this is to assume he's talking about Mars rather than Earth. On this world he seems all about the torture to me. But it's good to see this administration is declaring Mars a torture-free zone.

Clark: Investigate the Real Culprits of Abuse

Wesley Clark supports our troops; President Torquemada, not so much.

Scotch Shortage


More NY Reviews

These were some of the highlights of our NY trip (aside from spending 7 hours a day manning a booth at the Javits Center, of course):

  • Two of the most interesting places we vistited were the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and Ellis Island. It was kind of nifty to get an idea of what some of my ancestors might have gone through.

  • The New York Aquarium out on Coney Island was a blast, as well. Sea otters -- Neptune's meerkats, as I like to call them -- are cute as all-get-out.

  • We had a great Sunday jazz brunch at the Cafe Deville, listening to the crack band of the improbably-named Vanessa Trouble. Fantastic Eggs Benedict -- you must give the Canadians props, as they understand something about bacon that we don't.

  • d.b.a. has some great things -- Tim, what's a hand-drawn ale? Besides tasty, I mean? A little crowded at night, I recommend getting your drink on here in the afternoon. It's walking-distance to a lot of great restaurants (such as Oliva and the felicitously-named Frank) as well as the cool East-Village nightspots like the Living Room, which Jody reviewed earlier.

  • Speaking of which, the band we most enjoyed there was the Mila Drumke Band. Also worthwhile was Norah Jones' former collaborator Jesse Harris. Rumor has it that Miss Jones herself frequently plays the Living Room under the nom de piano "Little Willies."

  • Also, they don't need any linkage, but the Toys R Us in Times Square is worth a look. It's a spectacle. I would maybe go at 11pm or so, and leave your kid at home -- there's no way a child could leave that place without feeling disappointed -- there's just too much great stuff. I came thisclose to buying myself a Darth Tater, held back only by the mocking, incredulous stares of my wife. Also, we didn't make it there on this trip, but the nearby Trattoria Tre Colori is good, traditional Italian food, and St. Andrews has probably the best haggis in New York's theater district.

Whew, that was almost as exhausting as the trip!

Maybe This Doesn't Rate a Blog Entry

But I just want it noted for the record that I ain't no hollaback girl.

Motley Cruise

Other Things that Tom Cruise Knows More About Than You.

Monday, June 27

Cops: West L.A.

Or, Why Your Mother Always Told You to Wear Clean Underwear

I was puttering around the house on a day of summer vacation last Friday when I hear someone outside shout something like "Get your hands up! Hands behind your back! Now!" or some such barked order as one would hear on a typical episode of Cops. So, like any curious housewife, I peer through the curtains and look out the window. Across the street, there are men in black shirts that seem to say "police" or "security" or something in large, official white letters on the back. I think, "Wow, someone got pulled over and is being arrested in front of our house. Must be serious by the number of cops." and look around for the cop car that has pulled him over, but I see none. I keep looking and see someone holding a large boom mic and someone else with a hand-held video camera filming it all. So I return to whatever it was I was doing. I hear the same dialogue two more times, as in multiple "takes," so I know it's a film crew, though clearly low-budget and probably unpermitted.

A few minutes later, I hear a helicopter—not at all unusual for L.A., and after two years of living on one of the busiest boulevards in the area, I've gotten used to blocking out the loud traffic and sounds of life and the rif-raf of humanity outside. Then I realize that I've heard that helicopter for longer than usual (it should've flown away by now), and in fact, I hear it circling. Being the product of a neighborhood in which this sort of thing was known to happen, I recognize the sound as circling directly over our house. So I go out into the backyard, curious busybody that I am, and see it is in fact a police helicopter and not a "Traffic 7 Newscopter" (we also live within 100 yards of the freeway, so I thought it could've been getting a closer look at the perpetually gridlocked 10 freeway). As I squint through the sun at the copter and wonder why it's circling, I realize that the last time I saw a helicopter circling like this, the cops were chasing a burglary suspect through the backyards of the neighborhood I grew up in, and another time it was right before they busted a neighbor (on the same street) for his blatantly healthy six-foot-high pot plants. So discretion being the better part of valor, I head indoors as I don't want to meet up with the sort of fellow who might be jumping back fences to get away from the cops, even if it is my own back yard. Just as I do, I am addressed by the helicopter over a bullhorn.

"Lady in the back yard…" I look around. That must be me. "I need you to go to the front yard." What? I look to the front yard. I can't get there with the fence locked from the front. So I head back indoors.

"Lady in the back yard of the gray house…" Yep. That's me. "I need you to go to the front of the house." Shit. OK, now I know some fugitive must be on the loose near my house. "Wave if you can hear me." I wave one skinny arm out of the door that I'm closing.

Inside, I peer out of the front window again, only this time, I see real cops, one with a helmet and a rifle, crouching behind my next-door neighbors' hedge, looking at my house. Huhn, I think. That's peculiar. And they must see me looking out the window at them. OK, man with large gun in front yard.

Just to be safe, I make sure all the doors are deadbolted, peek out at the cops again (still there, still looking at my house) and sit down out of view to wait for the police action to stop. I decide not to close the curtains. That would look suspicious. The helicopter is still circling. It addresses me again, "23 South Bundy. Come out of the front of the house." It takes a surprisingly long minute to realize that I'm being addressed by a police helicopter while I'm inside my house, and all of the neighbors can hear it calling me out. So, despite being uncomfortably braless in public, I make sure the front door is unlocked and come out. Lucy, our fearless champion birdcatcher, is in panicky wide-eyed stealth-crouch, crawling away from the front yard, headed to the back for safety. Outside, I look incredulously again at the helmeted rifleman to my left, and then look the opposite direction to see three cops crouching behind a parked car to my right, two of whom have their pistols drawn and pointed in the air. I motion to the crouched cops in a questioning pantomime asking where I should go. There are men with guns drawn on both sides of me, and frankly, I'd rather go back in my house, lock the doors and crawl under my bed till this all blows over. The cops behind the car wave me over and tell me to go to the left toward the corner, so I do, and the cop behind the rifleman motions me to go toward him. I walk. When the rifleman beckons faster, I run and get behind them.

"What is going on?" I ask the cop without a gun.

"We got a call from a passerby on a cell phone that said she saw a heavily armed man go into a house on this street."

Having grown up on a diet of action movies like Rambo, my image of "heavily armed" is rather striking. "Where? Next door to me?" I've always been prejudiced against the apparently shiftless young guy who lives in the guest house next door and who takes more interest in his fly car than in his child and doesn't seem to mind leaving the kid to the care of his elderly (I'm assuming) father.

"I need you to move back behind the patrol cars, here" and the cop in charge motions me down the block away from my house. "Do you have your keys?"

"I left the front door unlocked." I say. "What's going on?" Now I'm starting to get a little worried.

"The caller said she saw some armed men dressed all in black go into a blue-gray house on the west side of Bundy."

I look at my blue-gray house on the west side of Bundy. I look back at the cop. (Now it's more than one man?)

"I've been in there all day with the doors locked, just me and my cat. No one is in there." Or is there? I think. Lucy has a way of looking up suddenly from a catnap with a paranoid expression of "What was THAT??" but I usually ignore it. She had done that earlier today, and I heard what I assumed was the neighbor moving his garbage cans in the back yard.

After some more standing around by the cop cars, I see that they have all the lanes of this very busy boulevard shut down in both directions a block on either side of my house during the beginning of rush hour. Traffic is being diverted around the block. They also have patrol cars blocking entrance to the street behind my house.

About this time, I notice that I'm standing directly behind the afore-mentioned helmeted rifleman, so that were said "heavily armed" intruder to shoot at the rifleman, I'm in the direct line of fire. Shouldn't someone tell me to move? So I move back behind a truck a few houses down, peering over the tailgate. At which point, the officer in charge tells another to get my personal information. We get about as far as my full name when another comrade tells this guy to put on his helmet and "get going." I ask the nice man who was interviewing me, "Are you going into my house?" When he says yes, I inform him that my front door is open, but that the back door is deadbolted and you can open it from the inside. (I do want to make sure an armed killer isn't in there, but I don't want them to break anything, either.)

I then watch a line of helmeted policemen (one woman) crouch with guns raised and start to enter my house, SWAT-team style just like on TV. Only it's not TV, it's my house. I hope they don't get jumpy and shoot my cat.

After an interminable, tense silence, they all come out calmly and slowly, guns lowered. No one addresses me. I tell a couple passersby not to pass by as there is a police action happening. (Again, shouldn't there be someone besides me to stop pedestrians from walking into the line of fire?) After a few moments, I saunter over to the man in charge who asks me if I've ever seen that car parked in front of my house. No. I don't think so anyway. Come to think of it, it is a shifty looking old Oldsmobile, clearly a criminal's car. The officer then asks me what I know, and I tell him this story form the beginning, from the film crew, to being called out of my house by the helicopter.

About this time, the supervisor tells me the caller had the wrong direction: it's the blue-gray house on the east side of the street. OK, I think, and look at the house he pointed to, but that house isn't really gray. The team reassembles in front of the house across the street where the film crew had been, commences with the full-on cop-show maneuvers and enters the house, guns drawn. I tell the officer that is where I saw the film crew who were probably unpermitted since they didn't have any professional looking equipment or any barricades to seal off the area.

Sure enough, the cops come out of the second house, nothing to report. After a few moments, I notice traffic is moving down the street again. I ask, "Is it all clear? Is there anyone with any gun around? Can I go back in my house?"

I am assured there is no intruder or madman with a gun. The kid next door is not wielding a weapon in a custody dispute over the screaming child next door, nor is any daytime robber or fugitive running through the backyards of Bundy Drive. The area is secure, as they say. It must have been a mistaken caller who saw the unlicensed film crew.

After the cops finally let them come out of their house, I explain the whole debacle to my elderly next-door neighbors (just to make sure they don't think Frankie and I are the sort to commonly cause police action) and get an awkward introduction to another neighbor. I am safe to go back into my house and put on a bra, in case anything like this should happen again.

All in all, a very L.A. way to get to know my neighbors.

What Would Xenu Do?

Why Tom Cruise hates psychiatrists. And what you can do about it.

Product Placement On Album Covers

Photoshopped covers -- the ones I get are pretty funny.

Sunday, June 26

"Show some love for O.J."

The Juice holds forth at a sports bar in Kissimmee, Fla., and ruminates on the future, his kids and bling bling.

Key sentence: "As the day unfolds, O.J. will always have one eye on the door, planning his escape."

Friday, June 24

Hack the Flag-Burning Amendment


Crying, While Eating

More than you wanted to know, but fascinating.

LISTS: AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films

AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films - Yahoo! News

Plenty of great lines from the Big Lebowski, Spinal Tap, Repoman, and Liquid Sky somehow got left off, as well as my favorite, from the Philadelphia Story: "She never had any understanding of my deep and gorgeous thirst."

My two favorite film lines that aren't actually in the films they're supposedly from are "Play it again, Sam," which doesn't appear in Casablanca, and the phrase used by Cary Grant impersonators (including Cousin Goober on the Andy Griffith Show), "Judy, Judy, Judy."

Holy Crap!

Those left-wing muckrakers at Forbes were the first place I saw to report this: US acknowledges torture at Guantanamo; in Iraq, Afghanistan.

I don't know if I feel better when we're ashamed enough to keep this in the closet, or when we just come right out and say, "Yup, we're torturers."

Paging Dr. Mengele


[A] senior Pentagon spokesman ... suggested that the doctors advising interrogators were not covered by ethics strictures because they were not treating patients but rather were acting as behavioral scientists. "

Besides, they were just following orders.

I see nothink!! NOTHINK!!!

(This story is also rather, uh, extraordinary.)

Cruise UnControllable

Michelle Collins helpfully illustrates this morning's unhinged ranting about the evils of psychiatry.

Thursday, June 23

Copyright Issues

I'm not just baiting Tim -- my sympathies are with the documentary-makers here! Stay Free! Daily: How did Mad Hot Ballroom survive the copyright cartel?

Erotic crochet!

Nekkid crafts at a D.C. law firm cause a ruckus. Solution: A codpiece that looks like a fish.

The future's so bright...

... The Onion's gotta wear shades. The satirical news site goes to the future, all the way to the year 2056, in its latest edition.

Wednesday, June 22


There is no why. Just pictures, sound clips, and movies of old men crying.

Tuesday, June 21

Eat, drink and hear good music

A few suggestions for travelers to NYC from a native Californian

Music and drinks: The Living Room

We saw Jesse Harris (known for writing songs and playing for Norah Jones) and a couple other good acts here. Generally a cool, but not pretentious, late-20 to 30-something crowd who likes decent music. We did encounter one or two weirdoes and bad acts, but great Lower East Side vibe, such a part of the neighborhood that Saturday afternoon it was closed for a kid's birthday party. (Coolest 5-year-old I know.) And if you need food, they even allow delievery from Grilled Cheese.

Someone impressed so many chicks in college with his mad sandwich press skills that he thought he could make a restaurant out of it. Well, it works. This place specializes in comfort food: various interpretations on the theme of the grilled cheese your mother made, only better, without the Miracle Whip. They also have all the games that you played when you were the age that your mom would still make you those cheesy concoctions. (We watched an excruciating couple of late-30-somethings on their first date flirt over a few games of Connect Four. He let her win. As if no one suspects the ol' diagonal approach. Dude—-it's glorified Tic-Tac-Toe.) But I digress. They also have sweet potato fries that were not greasy at all and my other new addiction, ginger lemonade. If you're in the area, it's cheap and good and near cool stuff—-all you ask for from a restaurant in NY.

Humorous Mounts

Well, more disturbing than humorous, really.

Monday, June 20

Spot the Douchebag

I like Hummers. I like them because you can always tell who the biggest douchebag in traffic near you is. Now with the introduction of the slightly-smaller-and-less-wasteful H3, you may be concerned that it'll still be hard to figure out who's the biggest douchebag around.

Answer: anyone caught buying this.

Review: Batman Begins

Summary: Eh. More "interesting" than "good."

Warning, Matey! Here Be Spoilers! And Really Geeky Commentary!

First, the good bits: Casting, for the most part, was good, with Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman in supporting roles. The origin story was cleverly handled, and added some new texture to the Batmyth. Gotham City looks pretty cool, and plausible. Overall though, it pales in comparison to Tim Burton's less-flawed Batman.

To begin with, the plot should probably have been a little streamlined, and/or the editing less frenetic. It's hard to follow (let alone invest in) dramatic, chase, or fight scenes, when there's an MTV-style cut every 2 seconds. Not helping is the music from Batman Begins, which barely supports the narrative and leaves no impression at all. The music in Tim Burton's Batman was arguably a bit TOO intrusive, but for the most part, it enhanced the film, even the shoe-horned Prince songs.

As for casting, Michael Keaton made a better Batman, though Christian Bale is a convincing and engaging young Bruce Wayne -- it's just that as Batman, I thought they did him a disservice with that growly voice, and the stupid one-liners. Kim Basinger was similarly superfluous and talent-impaired in the Burton film as Katie Holmes is in BB, but KB was a bit more fun to watch. Katie Holmes has the cutesy stench of Dawson's Creek and Tom Cruise all over her, and it's only distracting. (Why does there always have to be a love interest for Batman, the one character in comicsdom who's never [since the Silver Age, anyway] had anything more than ambiguous and/or tortured relationships with some of his more comely enemies?)

The litmus test may be which version of Batman is one more likely to watch again? TB's Batman was darker than Batman Begins, but also managed to be more fun. TB's Batman had an over-the-top Joker; BB, the lamest Batman foe of all in the Scarecrow. Ra's al Gul is a fascinating character, and well-played by Liam Neeson, but I don't know if they really put that character across to folks that don't read the books.

Oh yeah, and the Bat Tank was lame.

Two and a half stars.

Never Fear!

This should kill off the super-hero movie trend.

Miss America? Me, Too.

While I was in NY, the Daily Show aired an unbelievable clip of Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) showing how easy the Gitmo prisoners have it, by showing their luxurious, tax-payer-supplied dinners.

Yeah, it's all tickle pillows and comfy chairs at Gitmo.

Our government is torturing and imprisoning people it has no intention of ever charging with crimes. Our own VP said [emphasis added], "These are terrorists for the most part" -- meaning, assumedly, that he knows that at least some of the prisoners there are not terrorists at all -- though the world will never know, as they have no access to lawyers or due process.

This ain't the America I signed up for.

Sunday, June 19

Bush + Gun

I don't know if putting those words next to one another online will get you in trouble. But apprently putting those images next to each other online will get you a visit from the SS.

Something Rotten in Ohio

Good ol' Gore Vidal.

Saturday, June 18

Live 8 update

As more Live 8 shows and acts are announced, it becomes increasingly clear that London is getting all the good stuff, while Philadelphia gets the crap. Is Bob Geldof sending a message to America?

To wit:

LONDON: U2, R.E.M., Coldplay, McCartney, The Cure, Pink Floyd.

PHILLY: Dave Matthews Band, Bon Jovi, Will Smith (could there be a reunion with DJ Jazzy Jeff?), Rob Thomas.

Speaking of Bob, he was apparently the prime mover behind the Floyd reunion. "He was really looking for a real novelty act!" drummer Nick Mason says in this interview. "To reconstitute this particular line-up of this particular band, was a great idea, and it was really Bob promoting this." Mason would not say what the band's four-song set list will be, but I will throw these possibilities out there:

Hey You
Wish You Were Here
Comfortably Numb

Regardless of what they play, Syd Barrett will not be at the show July 2, even though his sister told him about it.

Friday, June 17

Monday, June 13

Yarn girls get uppity!

Check out the boob holder and other amazing creations by Dullard wives and others at this spankin' new blog.

Katie converts!

There's always hope, but it's a lot harder to get out of Scientology than it is to get in. And Thomas Mapother IV says his new girl, Katie Holmes, is in.

Note the creepy ads from the "church" that accompany this article regarding this unfortunate bit of news. Click at your own risk!

Sunday, June 12

Pink Floyd reunion -- including Roger!

They'll play Live 8 in London on July 2. It will be the first time bassist/lyricist Roger Waters has played with the band since "The Wall" days.

But what about Syd?

Friday, June 10

Ripley's goes jock

The Believe It or Not! people (heroes in the minds of some, the biggest liars in the world to others) have created a book of baseball trivia. But it's only available to hard-working sports journalists such as the Orlando Sentinel's Jerry Greene, not the general public.

Best tidbit:

In 1902, Stanton Walker was sitting between two friends at a game. One friend was passing an open pocketknife to the friend on the other side of Stan -- when a foul ball struck the knife, drove it into Stan's heart and killed him.

Believe it ... or not!

Bend it like Ronald!

McD's re-spins Ronald McDonald as a sporting fellow, playing soccer and snowboarding.

Possible follow-ups: Grimace and hot yoga; Hamburglar and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Free Katie Holmes!

Fans of the "Dawson's Creek" star rally to liberate her from the clutches of Tom Cruise.

But is it already too late? When asked if she would follow her boyfriend into Scientology, Holmes told Access Hollywood: "I have looked into it myself and I really like it and I think it's really wonderful."

Thursday, June 9

Fusion Making a Comeback

Not the kind made by the Xenu-fearing Chick Corea. The other kind.

And with that lame joke, I'm off to EnWhySee. I trust the other dullards will pick up the slack in my absence. If not, well, ya gets what you pays for.

Mystery Hand on Black Cord -- Only $20!

As my beautiful wife said, erroneously, as I was pawing the racks at EB Games: Someone has a birthday comieng up!

Wednesday, June 8

Kate's Lazy Meadow

B-52's Kate Pierson is running a groovy Catskill's Motel. So you know.

Low-tech lynchings

While looking up something else on the Internets the other day, I ran across this site quantifying America's era of lynching. I never knew that Florida "led" all states in per-capita lynchings from 1882-1930. (Mississippi had the most in raw numbers.)

Among the stated reasons people were killed: running a bordello, being obnoxious and resisting a mob. There's more on this misery, with gruesome photos, at Court TV's site.

Why didn't they tell us this in my 4th-grade Florida history class?

TiVo Hacks

A good overview.

Tuesday, June 7

Going to NYC

Leaving for a business/vacation trip to New York next week, and need suggestions for what to do there from any Gothamite readers. Idas so far:

1. I looked into getting tickets to Spamalot, but at about $200 a ducat, that's a bit steep for me and the little lady.

2. It might be fun to take a trip out to Brooklyn, show Jody the old family homestead in Bensonhurst, and check out this apparently famous steak house.

3. The Guggenheim, Moca, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum all sound worthwhile.

4. There's some big statue in the middle of a river there I might want to check out.

5. I saw the World Trade Center site last year, but it's probably worth seeing again while it's still a massive, soul-crushing hole.

6. The Strand bookstore.

7. Picnic in Central Park.

8. Jazz clubs in the Village.

Any other suggestions?

Gu-gu-Goodbye, Mrs. Robinson

Actress Anne Bancroft Dead at 73.

Hell's Kitchen

TiVo wasn't kind to me last week, but Fox was, as they reran the premiere of Hell's Kitchen before running a fresh episode. And it was...ok. The editing, music, and voice-overs just scream cheesy-reality-show cliche, and none of the contestants seem that likable. But it's fun to watch Gordon cursing, even if they bleep out all of his charming language.

If you're only going to watch one Gordon Ramsay series (for whatever reason), I'd say check out BBC America's 4-episode Kitchen Nightmares and Kitchen Nightmares Revisited.

It Must be Great to Be Stallone, pt. II

Hm, which project to work on today? Rambo IV, the Edgar Allen Poe biopic, or Tupac vs. Biggie?

Eh, I think I'll just eat pudding.


Not nearly as fun as Robert Louis Stevenson, Dave Eggers, and Laura Fay would have you believe.

Monday, June 6

It Had to Happen

I don't know why, but it did. Catster.

Beer That Tim Won't Drink

It exists!

Understatement of the Year Nominee

To Patricia Sato, mother of an accused child molester: "She's a very sweet and loving and caring person, and she loves children."

Yes, so does Michael Jackson. That's kind of the problem, Dumas.

Children Draw Monsters

Dave Davries helps finish them.

(Make sure you read the interview.)

Sunday, June 5

Teller Left Speechless

Bad: Your dad names you after a 19th-century soft drink.

Worse: He gives you a middle name cruelly designed to induce taunting.

Thursday, June 2

Wednesday, June 1

Impeachment Fever!

I doubt it will happen, but it's nice to see that there seems to be a bit of a groundswell of lefties promoting the idea.

Even if you're willing to grant the Neocons the most benign interpretation of their true reasons behind the war, that they have a vision of spreading Democracy to the middle east via a domino effect -- they still had no right to lie to Congress and the American people, wholly fabricating a pretext for this invasion. And Congress should really be condemned for letting them do it. There's a reason why only Congress has the authority to declare war, and allowing every President of what, the last 40 years or so, simply declare "police actions" rather than wars is an abdication of duty almost as despicable as the treasonous acts of the current administration.

Not that it bothers me or anything....

It Must be Great to Be Stallone

Hm, which project to work on today? Rambo IV, the Edgar Allen Poe biopic, or Tupac vs. Biggie?


Hell's Kitchen debuted last night. I hope the TiVo gods were kind to me....

Zombie Blog

Ever wonder what zombies blog about? Turns out, it's mostly brains.

'American Idol' meets '80s nostalgia

NBC trots out a Flock of Seagulls, Loverboy and Tiffany in a battle of the has-beens. Future episodes promise the Knack, Tommy Tutone and, of course, Vanilla Ice.

Set your TiVo on stunned!