Monday, July 31

The passion of the Mel

Mel Gibson is reportedly in Jacko-like seclusion as he faces the aftermath of a drunken-driving arrest. The actor/director was pulled over Friday doing 87 mph on the Pacific Coast Highway, a bottle of tequila allegedly in his car.

That part of the case isn't nearly as controversial as his anti-Semitic tirade he made at the scene, causing protests from Jewish groups already irritated by "The Passion of the Christ." Now super-agent Ari Emanuel (who's supposedly the model for the Ari Gold character on "Entourage") is calling for a Mel boycott.

DULLARD TAKE: Gibson's career began its decline about 45 minutes into "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," when his character broke a deal, spun the wheel and was cast into the desert. From that instant, Gibson has grown insufferable, tedious and arrogant. In other words, a boycott is moot. The only practical effect of his idiotic comments is to prompt us to cheer for the leather-clad mutants a little harder the next time we watch "The Road Warrior." We still love the kid with the boomerang, though.


A cool Risk-like Flash game. You may want to read the rules first, and then start of with a 4-player game.

Watching Beirut die

Anthony Bourdain writes up his recent experiences for Salon.

Friday, July 28

Random observations from a trip to Montreal

  • When visiting North America, European tourists love to take pictures of squirrels.
  • Mazdas are very popular in Montreal. So is the Toyota Echo.
  • At least one Italian restaurant serves a bowl of unshelled nuts (filberts, almonds, walnuts, etc.) and two oranges as free dessert. A nutcracker is provided for each patron.
  • Above-ground pools are a frequent site in the hard-luck suburbs south of the city.
  • Waste from horses is common in the streets of Old Montreal.
  • The McGill University student center is named for William Shatner. You may remember him as Captain Kirk from TV's "Star Trek."
  • The McGill student center has computers for use by the public. Someone has changed the title bar on the Web browsers to say: "Micro$oft Internet Exploder (Resistance is Futile)."
  • A TV ad for Sears uses "What About Love" by Heart to sell appliances.
  • These are among the U.S. shows that are dubbed in French for viewing in Quebec: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Family Feud" and "The Simpsons."
  • Two young Thai women were taken off our train by Canadian customs officials. The scuttlebutt: They were suspected prostitutes.
  • A Vietnamese woman could not find her bag on the train despite assurances from Amtrak that "red caps" were reliable with checked luggage. She marched up and down the train looking for her black suitcase, which leads us to the question: Why is most luggage black? That sure makes it hard to find your bag among the many.
  • All meals on Amtrak, from pizzas to bagels, are microwaved into spongy submission.

Los Beatles.

Here' an awesome discussion of great Beatle moments, with audio illustrations.

Your tax dollars at work

Oakland police going undercover with anti-war groups, actually assuming leadership positions.

This angers me.

Monday, July 24

Didn't see that coming

Ani DiFranco pregnant.

Crap, now she's gonna write a bunch of songs about motherhood. Ah well, I was getting a bit tired of her anyway.

(I'm not a complete misogynist -- in fact, I could listen to Heather Armstrong talk about motherhood until the cows come home, which she does. It's just I've noticed this tendency of Ani DiFranco to be on the self-involved side. Perhaps you've noticed it, as well.)

Sunday, July 23

Top 100 music videos

As ranked by Stylus magazine. (No, I am not familiar with it either.)

DULLARD TAKE: A pretty good list, with fun commentary such as the proposition that Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" was expressing neo-colonialism for the Indian sub-continent. And they're all there via YouTube. But putting a-ha's "Take on Me" ahead of "Sledgehammer," Bjork's "Human Behavior" and "Once in a Lifetime"? That's so wrong.

Friday, July 21

Thursday, July 20

Activist judge says it's OK to live in sin

A North Carolina judge says the state law banning unmarried couples from living together is unconstitutional.

DULLARD TAKE: Let the shackin' up begin! Or has it already started? My wife, a two-time offender, can finally stop running from the law.

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus

Caught this travelogue on, I think, the IFC (or maybe BBC America) last week. Mild-mannered alt-country nutball Jim White takes his friend's beater, a weathered Jesus statue, and a film crew through the prettily-decaying backwaters of the South, filming his friends playing music along the way. Worth checking out.

Is the taxi on its way?

What is the Japanese for My pants are tight?

Wednesday, July 19

Criticizing the critics

Updates from the world of film criticism:

  • A.O. Scott of The New York Times discusses the role of the reviewer and why critics and audiences seem to disagree so often. "The discrepancy between what critics think and how the public behaves is of perennial interest because it throws into relief some basic questions about taste, economics and the nature of popular entertainment, as well as the more vexing issue of what, exactly, critics are for," Scott writes.
  • Kevin Smith blasts back at Joel Siegel after the "Good Morning America" reviewer walks out of a screening of the "Clerks" sequel. "Leave the diva-like behavior and drama-queen antics to the movie stars, not the movie reviewer, ya rude-ass prick," Smith writes.

South Park's Matt and Trey talk about Scientologists, Muslims

Inneresting and funny interview.

And Now: I Get Revenge on Frank


Don't click on it if you have things to do.

My highest score so far is 236.

YouTube sued

An L.A. journalist is suing YouTube for copyright infringement, saying that his work, including video of the beating of trucker Reginald Denny during the 1992 riots, is posted there without his permission.

DULLARD TAKE: Give us a break. If I think for a moment, I can see the horrific images of Denny's beating in my mind's eye. Is this guy going to sue me? Long live the YouTubes!

Tuesday, July 18

Monday, July 17

LISTS: Ranking the Who

Sixth in a series of posts ranking band members on impact, originality and intangible coolness. Read the previous post here.

1. John Entwistle. Besides being a pioneering bass player, the Ox possessed a memorable nickname, matched the greatness of the rest of "Who's Next" with the track "My Wife," contributed essential horns to "Quadrophenia" and brought a sly sense of humor to the proceedings. The bass solo on "My Generation" remains one of the defining moments of rock music, showing that the instrument could be deployed in ways that had gone unheard. And yes, Entwistle died a classic rock 'n' roll death in a Vegas hotel room, accompanied by cocaine and hookers.

2. Pete Townshend. The clear leader of the band doesn't always come out on top. Townshend, for all his remarkable songwriting skills in simple forms such as "I Can't Explain" and complex ones such as "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia," can be self-absorbed and pretentious, a problem that emerges more in his solo work than in Who material. That said, the astounding accomplishment of "Who's Next" and other contributions still stand tall over his recent personal issues. The repeated reunion/farewell tours are not helping, however.

3. Keith Moon. The manic drummer embodied the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, his death a sad testament to his failed attempts to restrain himself. Although Moon's drumming lost some of its power in the last years, his work on the band's early work and through "Quadrophenia" is unsurpassed. Moon, unlike other drummers of the day, wasn't showy onstage or on record, letting his unique style speak for itself without the need for pyrotechnics and 20-minutes solos. The album cover of "Who Are You," with its photo of Moon sitting in a chair marked "Not To Be Taken Away," is still spooky.

4. Roger Daltrey. The mouthpiece for Townshend had his vocal highs ("Won't Get Fooled Again") and lows ("You Better You Bet.") The quality of his performances usually reflected the quality of the material he was given; he knew when was singing greatness and when he was not. Daltrey matured tremendously as a vocalist from the band's formation and into the 1970s, but he was often sartorially challenged, as evidenced in this video from the "Face Dances" era.

5. Kenney Jones. It's not Jones' fault that his arrival to the band came at the same time that its creativity declined. It's also not his fault that stepping in for Moon was an impossible task. His drumming was competent, but this former Face was faceless, an unfortunate contrast to his charismatic predecessor.

LISTS: Ranking They Might Be Giants

Fifth in a series of posts ranking band members on impact, originality and intangible coolness. Read the previous post here.

1. John Flansburgh and John Linnell (tie). I honestly can't be bothered to tell them apart.

Sunday, July 16

Two from the dark side

The kind contributors at Metafilter point out a couple of videos that are worth a look:

  • You've probably heard how "The Wizard of Oz" and "Dark Side of the Moon" can be synchronized to weird effect, but you probably never got around to trying it yourself. Someone has done that work for you. It's only a matter of time until that killjoy Dave Gilmour shuts this down, so check it out now if you are interested. (The opening doesn't match that well, but "Time" and "The Great Gig on Sky" sure do.)
  • Darth Vader gets some new lines in this video, in which someone has patched in dialog from other James Earl Jones performances into the original "Star Wars." Now we just need someone to dub some Samuel L. Jackson lines from "Pulp Fiction" over Mace Windu's dreadful dialog in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith."

Saturday, July 15

The half-and-half lobster

This freaky creature was pulled from the depths along Maine's coast. Not much is known about it, except it exhibits an intense antipathy for lobsters that are mottled on the left side and red on the right.

Friday, July 14

CSI themesong coverband touring

Uncut. Uncensored. Unrepentant. Uninterested.

Road to nowhere

The NYT isn't too keen on "Cross Country," a travel narrative/trip memoir by Robert Sullivan. The problem? Nothing much happens on Sullivan's interstate journey, leaving the author to muse about the meaning of the road in between bouts with the luggage rack.

DULLARD TAKE: Sullivan should have done the trip Dullard-style, with a drive-through visit to Pie Town, N.M., a fist-fight at White Sands National Monument and a triumphant visit to the Vegas casinos. Then he would have the material he needed.

Thursday, July 13

'Rocky Balboa' trailer

I disagree with the snarky-pants blogger. This looks better than Rockys III through V.

LISTS: Ranking the Jam

Fourth in a series of posts ranking band members on impact, originality and intangible coolness. Read the previous post here.

1. Paul Weller. The most talented English songwriter of the last (nearly!) 30 years. And quite a flash dresser, to boot.

2. Bruce Foxton. His melodic bass playing added a great deal to the sound of the Jam. Contributed Smithers-Jones, and co-managed the Vapors in his spare time. Points off for the mullet, though.

3. Rick Buckler. Drummer. Yeah, whatever. Added points for reportedly ridiculing Weller's jazz-leaning Stlye Council demos.

Overheard at the Beach

The 'Overheard in NY' folks have a seasonal addition to their burgeoning media empire.

Plame suing Scooter

This should be fun.

The first two Office webisodes are up

I'm at work, so I haven't seen them, but I'm willing to bet they're worth a look.

Tubular Internets

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska talks crazy about the Internets in this "Daily Show" clip. For a blast from the past, here's a short clip that shows how the "Internets" got started.

UPDATE: A remix of Stevens' comments is available. It may remind you of Max Headroom.

Superman Returns

Saw it last night -- I'll wait a week or so before commenting in case anyone's planning to see it, as I can't say too much without spoiling it. In the meantime, here's an hilarious video of Kevin Smith recounting his experience writing a Supes draft for WB.

Wednesday, July 12

A defeat for Scientology

Comedy Central has relented and will rerun the famous "South Park" episode that sticks it to Tom Cruise and Scientology. If you missed the Emmy-nominated "Trapped in the Closet" earlier this year, you can catch it starting next week.

Garfield analyzed

At last, someone has taken the time and effort to figure out what the hell is going in that strip.

LISTS: Ranking the Clash

Third in a series of posts ranking band members on impact, originality and intangible coolness. Read the previous post here.

1. Joe Strummer. Despite his readily apparent limitations as a vocalist and musician, Strummer represented the spirit of the band, and indeed, the serious side of the punk movement. A truly revolutionary rocker who is still missed. (We'll forgive him for "Cut the Crap.")

2. Mick Jones. The perfect pop foil for Strummer's hard-edged politics. Jones brought a tuneful side to the Clash and also led them into dub and funk influences as heard on "Sandinista!" and "Combat Rock."

3. Paul Simonon. An adequate bass player, Simonon enjoyed a moment of Clash glory with "Guns of Brixton." He was immortalized on the cover of the "London Calling" LP, a fact diminished by the fact that Simonon's face isn't visible in the photo.

4. Topper Headon and Terry Chimes (tie). Drumming was never especially important to the Clash, as reflected by occasional changes in the band's lineup at this position. Of the two, Headon's work seemed to generate more power, especially on the stunning cover of "I Fought the Law." His heroin addiction, however, played a role in its dissolution. Chimes, the first Clash drummer who stepped back in for the ill-fated "Combat Rock" tour, didn't pack the punch that Headon did, but he had a better nickname: Tory Crimes.

Mice on a plane!

A TV station exposes rodent infestation on an American Airlines jet that flew frequently between JFK and LAX. Given the filth on most airliners, it's surprising this doesn't happen more often.

The Lost Mac Ads


Tuesday, July 11

Wrong bands reuniting

Davy Jones won't work with the other Monkees again.
David Gilmour is the one putting the kibosh on a Pink Floyd tour.
And yet no one can stop ASIA getting back together!?

Syd Barrett is no longer with us

Syd Barrett, one of the original members of Pink Floyd, has died. Mentally, he may not have been with us for some time, but his passing still brings sadness.

Shine on.

Monday, July 10

Good for Adam Carolla

Hangs up on horse-faced right-wing blowhard Deadhead Ann Coulter

Rock 'n' roll hotels

The NYT tells us where rockers stay these days.

Be like Pollock

For all you Dullards who ever looked at a Jackson Pollock painting and said that you could do that, here is your chance.

One red paperclip guy gets house

The nutty quest comes to an end, with a little help from Corbin Bernsen, Alice Cooper, and a KISS snowglobe.

In a somewhat similar vein, I just finished Danny Wallace's Yes Man, and couldn't recommend it more highly.

Our lives at 45 rpm

Ninth in a series on one Dullard's collection of 45s. Read the previous post here.

Song: "Two Tribes"
Artist: Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Year released: 1984
Highest U.S. chart position: 43
Video available? Yes, in this remix.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood is one of music's most notoriously contrived bands, bridging the gap between the Village People and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. The famous "Frankie Says" T-shirts showed that the band was more about marketing than music. For a brief period, Frankie ruled the charts of Britannia, but the band never made it big in the United States the way similar U.K.-based exports such as Wham! did.

The real genius behind Frankie was producer Trevor Horn. Horn, one of the Buggles who was also briefly a member of Yes, was the clever architect of the over-the-top construct that became Frankie. Without Horn behind the boards, it's unlikely Frankie would have recorded anything memorable.

Even with Horn's help, the band only came up with two memorable tracks: "Relax" and "Two Tribes." Where "Relax" attempted to arouse an absurd sense of the hypersexual, "Two Tribes" tapped into the basic fear of annihilation.

"Tribes" was released against the backdrop of the Cold War, as Ronald Reagan and his U.K. ally, Maggie Thatcher, rattled sabres with their counterparts in Moscow. The tension was high in Europe, a likely battleground in any nuclear exchange. "Tribes" takes on these issues of war and politics, but whether the band sincerely believed these were important issues is unknown. It's entirely possible that Horn and the band members saw a way to stir up controversy politically the same way "Relax" did sexually.

Whatever the motivation, Frankie plays to its relative strengths with "Tribes." Vocalist Holly Johnson, one of the most obnoxious singers of the time, captures the cynical side of the political situation. This climactic line redeems the clunky "one is all that you can score" chorus: "Are we living in a land where sex and horror are the new gods?" The answer would seem to be yes. Horn adds whiny sirens, sinewy guitar lines and a propulsive backing track, making "Tribes" a nuclear apocalypse you can dance to.

Saturday, July 8

Goldblum-Richie hookup?

In one of the weirdest celebrity couplings yet, Jeff Goldblum and Nicole Richie are (allegedly) an item. Here's how the oddball pair stack up:

AGE: 53
HEIGHT: 6 feet, 4 inches
WEIGHT: Typical, but probably putting on a few pounds these days.
BIG BREAK: Appearing as "Freak No. 1" in "Death Wish."
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE: "Tenspeed and Brownshoe," "The Adventures of Buckaraoo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension," "Into the Night," "The Fly." It's pretty much downhill from there despite commercial success in junk like "Independence Day."
PREVIOUS LOVES: Geena Davis, Laura Dern.
KEY QUOTE: "I'm watching and thinking, 'Good, Jeff. That's nice, Jeff. Yes, Jeff, go for it. Oh, yes, Jeff.' " (on seeing himself on the big screen)

AGE: 24
HEIGHT: 5 feet, 1 inch
WEIGHT: Unknown, but Twiggy-like.
BIG BREAK: Being adopted by Lionel Richie.
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE: "The Simple Life." Frequent target of paparazzi, who make money selling her skeletal image to US Weekly and similar publications. Outlook for sustained fame seems dim.
PREVIOUS LOVES: DJ AM, whoever he is.
KEY QUOTE: "I went to the University of Arizona. I stopped because I went there for two years and I felt like I experienced college or whatever. I'm over it. I like Hollywood better."

Friday, July 7

Tom Waits touring the South

One of the best shows I ever saw was Tom Waits, new year's eve at the Wiltern, 1988. Definitely worth a look if you're in the area.

Thursday, July 6

For Laura

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pirates! And the review is chock-full of pirate puns.

"Office of Censorship"

That's the bright idea of one of the geniuses at Fox News.

If global warming can raise the average temps in Vancouver by about 10 degrees, that'll be enough.

Vet arrested for wearing a peace t-shirt


Remember America? That was a pretty good idea. We should try it again sometime.

Que es mas macho: the kraken or Johnny Depp?

Apparently the kraken plays a significant role in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, according to this review. Meanwhile, a robo-Depp has been added to the revamped "Pirates" ride at Disney World, and you can experience it with the man himself through YouTube.

Tuesday, July 4

All hail Kobayashi!

What better way to observe July 4th than to conspicuously consume nearly 55 hot dogs in 12 minutes? That's what Takeru Kobayashi did to claim his sixth straight Nathan's Famous contest.

Monday, July 3

Talking cats

A little unsettling.

Lucy used to talk, too, though the only thing she would say was "Meh." We took this as an expression that she was slightly displeased with us. She said it a lot.