Tuesday, October 31

Two Years Too Late...

John Kerry gets his balls back from his wife.

"I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes... It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did."

I'd like to think the remarks that Kerry orginally made (what he called a "botched joke") that drew the ire of the White House was bait put out by the Democrats to get the Republicans to engage in this debate and set up John Kerry to come back with these remarks.

I'd like to think that... because then the Democrats would actually be doing something to win.

Barker to cash out

Bob Barker of TV's "The Price Is Right" says he will retire next year at the age of 83.

DULLARD TAKE: All things must pass, but the yodeler game won't be the same without Bob. And what will become of "Barker's Beauties"?

The 29-year-old virgin?

The federal government is extending the target audience for "abstinence only" grants to the age of 29. Congress spent $50 million on this last year.


Favor curry

And perhaps fend off arthritis.

Sunday, October 29

"Dylan!" panned

The new musical based on the songs of Bob Dylan is getting same rough treatment that the "Lennon!" production got last year. Not even Twyla Tharp can save "The Times They Are a-Changin'" from the barbs of critics.

Note to Broadway: Stop making these.

Saturday, October 28

Hope I die before I drink Schlitz

The Who sell out, circa 1982, in this clip from YouTube. To rid yourself of the aftertaste, watch the soundcheck of "Eminence Front" — still better than the studio version.

Friday, October 27

Cheney endorses simulated drowning - Financial Times - MSNBC.com

Actual headline. Where is Yakov Smirnov when you need him?

"In Russia, we drown our sorrows about the government in vodka. In America, government ties you to board and drowns you in shallow bucket of water until you confess to all charges! What a country!"

Thursday, October 26

Our lives at 45 rpm

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

: "Absolute Beginners"
Artist: David Bowie
Year released: 1986
Highest U.S. chart position: 53
Video available? Yes (extended version)

In the erratic career of David Bowie, the 1980s were especially tumultuous. He began the decade with the masterful "Scary Monsters," essentially the endgame to his Berlin period. He then turned to danceable pop with "Let's Dance" — a commerce-friendly trend extended with "Tonight" (and its silly but enjoyable single "Blue Jean") and through "Never Let Me Down," an ironically titled disappointment that seriously wounded Bowie's status as a Major Rock Star. He then killed off that persona altogether by forming the noisy feedback-fest of Tin Machine, a bookend to the similarly abrasive "Scary Monsters."

Where does "Absolute Beginners" place on this timeline? Think of it as a tangent off that story arc, much as Bowie's flirtation with acting is a tangent off his musical ambitions. "Absolute Beginners" is a soundtrack song, similar in mood and sheen to "This Is Not America," another Bowie song done for a movie in the mid-1980s. "Beginners" is not a cover of the famous Jam song; it's a Bowie composition from the little-seen Julien Temple film of the same name, a tale of Mod love in 1950s England. (The whole thing started as a book by Colin MacInnes.)

As befits a movie theme, "Absolute Beginners" has the tone of a high-cost production number. The team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley bring a crystal clearness to the sound that finds its foundation in cool synths and its ornamentation in horn sections. These British producers plot the song out note for note in clever fashion, as a small army of session players (the sleeve lists 14 musicians backing Bowie) prove their chops from start to finish.

Over this formidable yet antiseptic soundscape, Bowie tells a typical Hollywood tale of desperate love. His lyrics here are not his strongest, but they match the content of the story adequately. He starts with humility:
I've nothing much to offer
There's nothing much to take
I'm an absolute beginner
And I'm absolutely sane

He follows through with bravado:

As long as we're together
The rest can go to hell
I absolutely love you

Then, he offers a sop to the "musical" nature of a soundtrack song:

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Sail over heartaches
Just like the films

Wistful yet full of hope, these "Beginners" make for a memorable Bowie track, with enough emotional gravity to pull the production and lyrics together. As a movie theme, it works. As a part of the Bowie canon, it's interesting, but not essential.

For Pete's sake

What was he expecting? Has he never heard the Howard Stern show?

Shuffle up and deal

Why your iPod shuffle doesn't seem as random as it should.

Wednesday, October 25

i Es un milagro !

Dilbert's Scott Adams writes something worth reading.

Dullard news ticker

View from across the pond

John Oliver, the Daily Show's Senior European Courrespondent, on his experience with the show, and the US.

Tuesday, October 24

Must-have OS X web development apps

Good, small reference.

Searching the Internets

Over on the YouTubes, you can watch President Bush talk about using the Google.

Monday, October 23

Last Chance to See....

I usually only shill here for Ghost Town gigs, but tomorrow night at the Cinema Bar I'm playing upright for Andrea Peterman, a really talented singer/songwriter who's doing her last LA gig before moving to Seattle next week. She has great songs, and the band is pretty good if I say so myself (and I do!)

Also, next Monday, you'll get a chance to hear a double set of Ghost Town at the Cinema Bar. We'll be playing from about 10:30-midnight. Both shows are free, and also feature the ethereally delightful Dafni.

Tues, Oct 24:
8:30 pm Manisha
9:30 pm Dafni
10:30 pm Andrea Peterman and the Alternators

Mon, Oct 30:
9:00 pm Dafni
10:30 pm Ghost Town

The Cinema Bar
3967 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City

Four minutes of Borat

The movie's opening moments are available on YouTube, along with what are supposedly deleted scenes, including some with Minutemen-style border types and a run-in with the Dallas police.

It's pretty good stuff, but it will be interesting to see whether this can be sustained over 82 minutes. So far, the critics say yes.

UPDATE: A nervous studio will release "Borat" on only 800 screens, not 2,000 as planned, amid concerns that the box office will not match the hype.

Friday, October 20

Second Life

I think what's going on in Second Life is fairly fascinating. People have been trying to get stuff like this off the ground for almost a decade now, but I think the bandwidth and web-browser technology is just now starting to be able to support something like this. I went ahead and signed up for a free account this week. It's worth taking a look at, though the universe there is so sparsely populated, it can seem a bit pointless. You almost have to converse with strangers to get anything out of the game. I got married so I would no longer have to talk to strangers, real or virtual, so this is a bit of a drawback to me.

The other drawback is that, playing in two bands, keeping up on pop-culture, and spending time with the few non-strangers my wife and I still like, pretty much takes up all my time as it is. I don't have time for a second life.

On the plus side, I took in one of their virtual sunsets last night, and it was pretty spectacular looking. Sadly, this was right around sunset in real time, and I live five minutes from the beach.

Alright, I have to go tend to my Sims now....

Q&A: Robert Christgau

The former Village Voice rock critic, recently signed to NPR, answers queries on the media and the music.

And Ahmet Zappa shall lead them


Thursday, October 19

First step toward Romulan technology?

Scientists (sort of) figure out a way to make things invisible. Well, kinda.

Wednesday, October 18

Happy Birthday, Chuck

Chuck Berry is 80 years old.

S.F. on the cheap

Where to stay and not pay much in San Francisco — if the embassy is booked.

Ramble on

Rick Santorum, senator from Pennsylvania, on the Iraq situation:

As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.

More here.

UPDATE: Colbert has a take — with action figures.

Come on and let him know

Should he stay, or should he go? Tony Blair "covers" the Clash in this creation on YouTube.

Behind the Secrets of 'Lost'

Lost scribes discuss how to avoid fizzling like the X-Files, and threaten to murder Nightline interviewer.

Monday, October 16

Sunday, October 15

Friday, October 13

Trey & Matt's corporate film

About 15 minutes, but it's hilarious. Somehow, when Seagram's bought Universal, they thought it would be a good idea to have Trey Parker and Matt Stone make a new orientation film for them.

When in India, telecommute

If you think traffic in your city is crazy, check out what it's like to drive in India (via YouTube). Here is the first-person view, and here is how it looks above the fray.

Thursday, October 12

Our lives at 45 rpm

Tenth in a series on one Dullard's collection of 45s. Read the previous post here. (Yeah, it's been awhile.)

Song: "Who Can It Be Now?"
Artist: Men at Work
Year released: 1981
Highest U.S. chart position: 1
Video available? Yes.

For most people, "Down Under" is the iconic Men at Work song. It may be the band's most memorable track, but it's also an overplayed novelty number, its influence in 1980s music overstated.

The real Men at Work is in this song, their first U.S. single. Like the Australian band that recorded it, "Who" is quirky and off-kilter, the music simple and catchy.

The track is a paean to paranoia that is made all the creepier by the flat delivery of songwriter and singer Colin Hay, who may or may not be role-playing an extreme shut-in. He is the ultimate isolationist, so cloistered that he refuses to leave his lair and dreads the idea of anyone else even approaching him:
All I wish is to be alone
Stay away; don't you invade my home.

At the same time, Hay indicates that these unwanted visitors could also turn his home into a prison. Therefore, his own silence is necessary, thus furthering his isolation:
If he hears, he'll knock all day
I'll be trapped, and here I'll have to stay.

The narrator of "Who Can It Be Now" also hints that he is aware that his aversion to "guests" is exaggerated. His fears may be rooted in the idea that if he reveals his presence, he will be sent somewhere that, oddly enough, may or may not be more unpleasant than his own home.
Is that the man come to take me away?
Why do they follow me?
It's not the future that I can see
It's just my fantasy.

Hay's weird vision is expressed over Police-lite pop, with scratchy guitar and knock-knock drumming. Greg Ham's sax playing fleshes out the sound with a sense of urgency that befits the lyrics. Put together, it gels into one of the better three minutes of early '80s music.

Q&A with Terry Gilliam

The Onion A/V Club asks him about the target audience for "Brazil," his flirtation with directing the first Harry Potter movie and his latest project, "Tideland."

Tuesday, October 10

'Bionic Woman' reloaded

The guys who brought back "Battlestar Galactica" are working on a new, modern version of "The Bionic Woman."

DULLARD TAKE: I haven't seen the new "Battlestar" despite the positive word from critics. To me, Starbuck will always be Dirk Benedict. As for the new "Woman," it could work if they made sure to update the dreaded fembots. Those cyborg foes not only battled the Bionic Woman, but also damaged boy-girl relations in my fourth-grade class.

Google adds more for Mac

Google is increasing its options for us Apple people with the debut of its Mac blog. New features include Google widgets for the OS X Dashboard.

DULLARD TAKE: This is a step in the right direction. As for you Windows people out there, I ask: Which will be released first, Vista by Microsoft or "Chinese Democracy" by Guns N' Roses?

Friday, October 6

Michelle Malkin attacks YouTube

... By posting this video on YouTube. In other YouTube news, Google is apparently trying to buy it.

Wednesday, October 4

VWs to ship with free guitar

An odd promotion. But Jody's Jetta is a great little car. And my Mercedes is starting to act up on me....

Public dissent leads to arrest

Charges were ultimately dropped, but a Golden, Colorado man was arrested for telling Cheney his Iraq policies are "reprehensible."

Thank goodness we have a system of checks and balances in this country, where the executive branch doesn't have a blank check to imprison and/or torture folks it deems terrorist sympathisers and lock them up indefinitely without access to lawyers or even having charges filed against them.

Oops, sorry. I wrote that last graf before last week's anti-terrorism bill.

Q&A with David Byrne

David Byrne on the changing nature of the record industry.

Tuesday, October 3

Holy crap.

This NY Times journalist was on the private plane that collided with that Brazillian 737.

Monday, October 2

Ghost Town this Wednesday @ the Cinema Bar

Ghost Town is playing a FREE show this Wednesday at the Cinema Bar in Culver City. The amazing Dime Box Band is kicking off the evening at 9, Ghost Town plays around 10, and trad-country superstars The Running Kind will close the evening at 11.

That's 3 awesome bands for the low-low price of FREE!

We'll be playing the Cinema again later this month, on the 30th with Dafni and Andrea Peterman. We'll be doing a very different set for that one, though, so why not come out to both? It's free!

The Cinema Bar
3967 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City
Wed, Oct 4
9 pm

Not the most articulate review I've seen

But I think Ray Suzuki of Pitchfork Media gets across that he doesn't dig the new Jet record.

Foley and Scientology?

Is fallen Florida congressman Mark Foley a Scientologist? Read this and make up your own mind.

Be your own ticket master

To make gag tickets like this one, check out this site.