Thursday, November 30

Humans cheat death in brushes with beasts

Happy Holidays

From Billy Idol.

Wednesday, November 29

I got capped

Halfway to work during my 25-mile commute, I noticed that the "check engine" light was on. The car was running fine, but I was still uneasy until I reached my destination.

During my lunch break, I took the car to a local repair shop. Several hours later, I got a call back. The problem? A sensor had detected fuel evaporation caused by . . . a loose gas cap. The car checked out fine otherwise. Apparently, when you fill up, you have to turn the cap so it clicks three times, or the "check engine" light will come on. So don't forget to do that, or you will be screwed.

I'm out $50 for labor. So it goes.

Tuesday, November 28

Buy Syd Barrett's bike

Everything must go! The estate of the Pink Floyd founder, who died earlier this year, is up for auction — mostly furniture but some artwork and other unique items. Some of the proceeds will go to support art education.

Is Borat a homewrecker?

Pam Anderson will soon be single again, filing for divorce from Kid Rock. (High five!) And yes, Borat and his quest for "sexytime" with her may have had something to do with it.

Thursday, November 23

LISTS: Top 5 Keith Moon vocal performances

Inspired by my recent rediscovery of Side 3 of "Quadrophenia." Links go to YouTube clips.

1. "Bell Boy"
2. "Tommy's Holiday Camp"
3. "Barbara Ann"
4. "Fiddle About"
5. "In My Life"

Wednesday, November 22

Beatles' Love

I was the recipient of an early Festivus present yesterday: the Beatles' new remix album, produced by Sir George Martin & son. It's quite amazing. Apart from the fun of trying to sort out which bits are from which Beatle song, the re-mastering is stunning. Even on tracks that haven't been obviously manipulated much, the sound quality on all the instruments and voices is outstanding.

If there's one last thing we can impose on George Martin for before he shuffles off this mortal (reverb) coil, let it be this: Get in the studio with all the Beatle master tapes and give them one more going over. Because, as it turns out, the Love record shows that the recordings of the early Beatle tunes don't HAVE to sound like they're being played on a 1960s am radio. With the advent of cheap, hi-fidelity stereo (and 5.1) systems, the legacy of the Beatle recordings should be a matter of national interest to Great Britain.

I'm not the biggest Beatle fanatic in the world, or even in my immediate family, but their recordings are one of the most important cultural artifacts of the 20th century, and every effort should be made to maintain them for future generations in as pristine a condition as possible.

Tom Waits: New record

Tom Waits talks to NPR about his latest, a 3-disk affair with 2 disks of new stuff and a disk of rarities.

Tuesday, November 21

Sound advice

If you're bothered about getting shot -- here's a thing -- don't join the army."

-- Noel Gallagher, of Oasis, who have a greatest-hits album out next week. Yeah, thanks, I already have it -- it's called "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?"

Hearts & Minds

Christ on a crutch.

Robert Altman is no longer with us

The famed director is dead at 81.

Monday, November 20

Kramer drops n-bomb

Michael Richards, Kramer of TV's "Seinfeld," didn't like the chatter at his stand-up gig, so he went racial.

UPDATE: He apologizes in this somewhat awkward conversation with Letterman. (Google video)

Sunday, November 19

Hopefully this will put a nail in the coffin...

...of the myth that McCain is somehow more centrist than the rest of the Republican party. He may well be in his actual views, but here he clearly confirms that he'll take whatever stance he has to to court the religious-right vote in '08.


Saturday, November 18

Face of matrimony

The Associated Press captured this image of Katie Holmes, new bride of actor/Scientologist Thomas Mapother, also known as Tom Cruise. Given that Scientologist honcho David Miscavige served as best man for the wedding, her expression seems perfectly appropriate.

Will she someday say goodbye the same way K-Fed did? We can only hope, through Holmes could pick more delicate language.

UPDATE: ABC News has posted Ted Koppel's 1992 interview with Miscavige, who was then sporting a hairdo that's part evangelist, part "90210." Nice!

Y'know what's clever?

The Simpsons.

Y'know what's awesome?

Dice stacking.

Y'know what's periodic?

This table.

Y'know who was a smart guy?

Douglas Adams.

Friday, November 17

Thursday, November 16

Larry King has not yet used the Internets

In this clip, the CNN host says he is not sure about "the little buttons and things," but Rosanne (of all people) says she will teach him.

Wednesday, November 15

Just doing my part

A couple years ago, it seems like half our friends squirted out babies on about the same weekend. These babies are now getting to the point where, if their parents are not vigilant, they will start to listen to a lot of Really Sucky Music. I took it upon myself to burn CDs of child-appropriate Beatle songs, of which there are a suprising number, and of which a suprising number come from the White Album (which, if it didn't also include "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," and the sadly Manson-associated "Helter Skelter" and "Piggies" [which continues to freak out my wife to this day], would be perhaps the greatest children's record of all time).

Anyhoo, above is the adorable artwork I was rewarded with for my stageringly kind magnanimousness by the offspring of a co-worker. It makes the threat of financial ruin at the hands of the RIAA seem almost worth it. And below is the playlist I used, if you'd like to make such a compilation for the 3-year-old in your life.

  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Yellow Submarine - Revolver

  • Octopus's Garden - Abbey Road

  • Wild Honey Pie - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey - Paul McCartney All The Best

  • Maxwell's Silver Hammer - Abbey Road

  • Rocky Racoon - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Honey Pie - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Good Night - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Blackbird - The Beatles (White Album)

  • C Moon - Paul McCartney All The Best

  • You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) - The Beatles Anthology 2

  • Hello, Goodbye - Magical Mystery Tour

  • Birthday - The Beatles (White Album)

  • All Together Now - Yellow Submarine

  • Beautiful Boy - John Lennon Anthology

  • The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - The Beatles (White Album)

  • Hey Bulldog - Yellow Submarine

Entertainment Weekly's 10 best and worst Bond girls

Hard to argue with their "worst" list, but I ain't down with their "best," entirely. Me, I'm all about the Famke, myself -- one of the few Bond girls not famous before the film who went on to have a bona fide career (and no, "Caveman" doesn't count, Mrs. Starkey).

Mmmm, Famke....

The rap on Libertarians

Can a Libertarian candidate rap his way to the governor's office in Louisiana? Judge for yourself.

Monday, November 13

In sickness and in clear

The NYT tells us what a Scientology wedding is like. The article comes just a few days before the rumored nuptials between a certain Mr. Mapother and the woman who tried to ruin "Batman Begins." Among the vows:
Know that life is stark and often somewhat grim, and tiredness and fret and pain and sickness do beget a state of mind where spring romance is far away and dead.

Second to last

More scholarship based on our comics pages:

  • This blog offers a pretty good take on the habit of strips to rely on the "silent panel" to set up the punch line. You'd be surprised how often that technique is used.
  • This blog has a take each day on the dreadful Mallard Fillmore.

We like 'Borat' very much


Being a Trojan, I was a bit horrified at the bahavior of the USC frat boys in the film. Until my wife pointed out they were from the other USC, which happens to be Ange's alma mater, which makes it a bit funnier. Now it seems the frat boys have the good sense to be embarrased by their own actions -- either that or they smell a payday.

Interesting to glean from this article and the IMDB FAQ that the setups for some of the situations in the film were staged -- though I assume that the reactions of everyone not in on the gag were real, otherwise the film is almost pointless.

The most I've laughed in a film in forever, but for God's sake, unlike the half-dozen or so families at the Santa Monica theater we saw it at, don't bring your pre-teen children. There is a suprising amount of gay penis in this film. The only reason I can think the far right has not been picketing in droves is that they probably figure all the jew-bashing kind of balances it out.

EDIT: Not everybody likes Borat. High five!

Fading freaks

The NYT reports that the old-fashioned freak show is in steep decline. The reasons:

  • political climate that makes it taboo
  • surgery that can repair deformities, separate conjoined twins, etc.
  • increasing freakiness of American society at large that makes circus freaks seem boring
Step right up and read more here.

Friday, November 10


Republicans and Scientologists have many similarities, Bill Maher writes.

Thursday, November 9

The new Bond is boffo

Early reviews are positive, perhaps even giddy, for "Casino Royale," which opens Nov. 17:

VARIETY: Daniel Craig "comes closer to the author's original conception of this exceptionally long-lived male fantasy figure than anyone since early Sean Connery."

BBC: "Daniel Craig is not a good Bond. He's a great Bond."

Read 'em all here.

Still SOME link-blogging, of course

U2 or REM? Slate's Dan Kois has a great essay.

I come down on the side of early REM, though it's been over a decade since they put out anything I wanna listen to.

Playing Out: Old Towne Pub w/the Running Kind

So the other day I got an email from Matt from the Running Kind asking if I'd be interested in playing with them, as he wanted to try upright bass rather than electric, and knew that Andrea Peterman and the Alternators were kaput due to Andrea's husband taking a job in Seattle (boo, Matt!). I dig the Running Kind, as they're tight and have a real old-school country vibe to them, with lots of Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Patsy Cline covers thrown in to complement some great originals.

Then David Serby (above) emailed Tuesday to see if Ghost Town wanted to open for him at the Old Towne on Wednesday. We couldn't do it due to scheduling problems, but I figured I was game to give it a go with the Running Kind, essentially having my first rehearsal with them on the stage last night. To top it off, the original bassist for the band shows up to take pictures for the band's website, just a day or two after being let go. Nothing nerve-wracking in playing new tunes you've only heard a few times on stage with the old bass player watching you. But I think it went pretty well -- I played most of the right chords in most of the right places, and no one was seriously injured. I did kick over my damn beer, though.

Anyhoo, this is all a long preamble to say that I got a new camera (a Sony Sure Shot 7-megapixel deallie) and will try to start chronicling more Stuff From My Life here, rather than all this link-blogging. I figure if Dooce and the Waiter Rant guy can be so compelling without ever leaving the confines of their respective house and bistro, I might be even more entertaining, since I actually go out and Do Stuff.

Except of course, those guys can write. Which is why I got the camera.

There's a burgeoning rock movement here in LA (which LA actually has a long tradition of, being a launching pad for everyone from Buck Owens to Gram Parsons to Dwight Yoakam) -- and I'll try to chronicle some of it in these Playing Out sections.

And keep an ear out for that David Serby fella -- he has great songs, a good presence on stage, and a crack band. Nice guy, too. I imagine I'll be boring folks with "I knew David Serby when" stories in about 3-4 years.

Wednesday, November 8

Frank Gehry designing watches for Fossil


Welcome to America

With the Associated Press declaring Webb the winner in Virginia and therefore ending GOP rule in the Senate, here's a chance to see where it all started: the "macaca" incident.

Tuesday, November 7

Monday, November 6

Fire hits Gatorland

One of Orlando's venerable pre-Disney tourist attractions, Gatorland, has been hit by fire. Among the casualties is the famed entrance, which dared visitors to walk though the toothy maw of the dreaded reptile.

Saturday, November 4

Freedom '06

George W. Bush meets George Michael. No, not like that. Like this.

Gay or not gay?

Friday, November 3

In search of

A Bigfoot researcher is scorned by his academic peers and may lose his tenured status. Is he getting a raw deal, or is he just a kook?

"Oh yeah, what's YOUR plan!?"

THAT'S how Bush is defending his record in Iraq? What's next? "Yeah, too bad for you guys Nov 7th is Opposite Day, so Republicans get to keep the House and Senate! Pbbbbbt."

Lou Reed answers the question

Is there a worse remake than Don't Stand So Close To Me '86?

Yes. Yes there is.