Monday, December 31

Best wishes to all Dullard-kind for a peaceful and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 30

LISTS: Worst people of 2007

The Dickheads of the Year, according to Bill Maher. Ron Paul escaped his wrath.

Saturday, December 29

Enough of Ron Paul already

My state isn't one of those with an early primary, so campaigning and advertising have been minimal. The only visible presence is for Ron Paul, whose supporters are littering our highways with homemade signs.

The first batch suggested that drivers "Google Ron Paul." Thanks, but no thanks. The latest batch say "Paul Revolution" with a few key letters reversed and in red to spell out "love" backward. Nothing says romance like an elderly libertarian, after all.

Paul actually has some sensible ideas, such as opposition to the Iraq war. But he has plenty of nutty ones, too, that are not worth getting into here. (Read this for starters and here for more.)

What's truly noteworthy about Paul is the attitude of his supporters. They're an irritable lot, always looking for a slight against their man — mostly perceived, a handful real. They also find big victories in things that are insignificant to the rest of us. For example, Paul supporters were recently worked up about the launch of the Ron Paul blimp. Yes, by God, a dirigible will change the face of this race. And of course, Paul people love to point to the Internet as evidence of a wave of support. They've raised millions of dollars there and even plan a pro-Paul march across the World of Warcraft.

Well, just because something looks like a phenomenon on the Internet doesn't mean it will do well in the real world. I predict that Paul's candidacy will flop at the polls the way "Snakes on a Plane" did at the box office. Or, to use the blimp metaphor, Paul will go over like a lead balloon.

Friday, December 21

End of week roundup

Clinton launches Obama attack Web sites, criticizes his voting record. Girlfriend, do not go there. Obama got the one vote right you still haven't repudiated: going to war with a country that didn't attack us on 9/11.

The Lakota are ending all treaties with the US, essentially seceding. Let me know how that works out, fellas. I just may join you.

Blue-skinned freak thinks he'll be more accepted in California than Oregon. He won't.

Some folks don't get the Blade Runner thing. I'll admit the "tears in rain" thing is right on the border of brilliant and stupid, but I think it works.

Have a great Festivus!

Back in the USSR

The bickering on "news shows" such as "Hannity & Colmes" isn't usually worth bothering with. The idiocy there is self-apparent. But this exchange earlier this week is so moronic that it demands our attention to set things straight.

The topic is Time magazine's choice for Person of the Year, Vladimir Putin of Russia. The talking heads on Fox News are predictably outraged. The comments of the radio-talk show host on the panel are especially stupid and ill-informed.

Their criticism of the selection is two-fold:
  • Time is honoring a bad man.
  • Time is showing its liberal bias.
Here's why these accusations are ridiculous:

The Person of the Year is not like the Nobel Peace Prize or a lifetime achievement award. It may go to the virtuous or the villainous. What matters is impact, as the magazine explains this way:

"Time's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world — for better or for worse. It is ultimately about leadership — bold, earth-changing leadership."

Therefore, the magazine was not lionizing Putin with this selection. It was simply saying that he had the most impact on the world this year.

As for liberal bias, a review of Time's selections over the years shows this is also an ignorant assertion. (See 'em all here.) Here are a few:
  • George W. Bush (twice)
  • Ronald Reagan (twice)
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Richard Nixon
Plenty of conservatives have been "honored." In addition, Putin is hardly a liberal himself. He's an autocratic control-freak who does not tolerate dissent. He's "the decider." The magazine's profile of Putin makes this clear.

So if anyone tries to tell you that the "liberal media" is honoring one of its own, you'll know better.

Wednesday, December 19

Meet the Zeppelin!

The "Beatles" play "Stairway To Heaven." (Or is it the Knack?) I like this version better than the original. (Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, December 17

It's too bad she won't live ...

... But then again, who does?

NPR interviews director Ridley Scott on the occasion of the DVD release of "Blade Runner: Final Cut." (Previous post here.)

You can see the different endings of the 1982 and 1992 versions there too, or just watch the trailer here:

I love the Roy Baty howl at the end.

Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield's a pretty funny strip, as long as Garfield's not in it.

Pam Anderson available again

Good news for Borat and all you Dullards hoping to someday wed Pam Anderson: She just filed for divorce from hubbie #3.

Here's the clip of Borat falling in love with Pam and another one later in the movie in which he finally meets the love of his life. (Do we have to tell you that Borat is NSFW?)

Related post here.

UPDATE: Well, maybe not so fast. Pam may break Borat's heart yet again.

Thursday, December 13

Madonna, John Cougar to be in Hall of Fame

The inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced.

Previous post here.

Wednesday, December 12

Songs in the Keyes of failure

Just when I had nearly forgotten about him, Alan Keyes squirmed out of the woodwork and appeared in a GOP debate in Iowa that was broadcast by CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. I didn't even know Keyes was (again) running for president. Alas, there he was on the stage with the front-runners (Giluliani, Romney and Huckabee. Yes, Huckabee!) and also-rans (McCain and some other guys).

As usual, Keyes was a belligerent blowhard, pestering the moderator for more questions and more time as seen in this clip. And when given time, he didn't squarely address the topic at hand, instead offering his creepy vision of a theocratic America.

Keyes is also humorless. Here's his woefully unfunny punchline regarding global warming:
"I think the most important emission we need to control is the hot air emission of politicians who pretend one thing and don't deliver."
Here is a clip of that part of the debate. And here's some more about Keyes and why he is the nuttiest candidate to ever get significant airtime:
  • Likes to be called ambassador, but only represented the United States under that title at a mid-level position at the United Nations for a couple of years in the 1980s.
  • Called homosexuality "selfish hedonism" and then watched his daughter come out as an anarchist lesbian.
  • Hosted a short-lived show on MSNBC, the ironically titled "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense."
  • Appeared in the Borat movie, but not even Sacha Baron Cohen could make him funny.
  • Tried to glom on to controversies such as the Ten Commandments monument in Alabama and the Terry Schiavo case.
  • Was soundly defeated in races for the U.S. Senate in Maryland in 1988 and 1992.
  • Was soundly defeated in races for president in 1996 and 2000.
  • Was soundly defeated in a race for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2004. Refused to congratulate the winner, Barack Obama, because doing so would somehow encourage evil.
In short, Alan Keyes is a loser. The Republicans would be wise to make sure he doesn't appear at any more debates. I'd love to see him there, because it increases the lunatic factor.

O'Reilly book panned

This take on the latest Bill O'Reilly "for kids" book is almost as fun to read as these reviews for "Battlefield Earth" back in 2000.

Monday, December 10

It's time he had some time alone

President Bush "covers" R.E.M. And he feels fine.

Saturday, December 8

Get smart

The Smart car is coming to America next year. We saw these little cars during a trip to Montreal in 2006. Our hotelier told us how he and his girlfriend drove from Canada to Miami in one, to the amusement of American truckers on Interstate 95.

Friday, December 7

Seriously, people

Listen to this:

It's my favorite song of 2007, edging out "Hey There Delilah" and "1, 2, 3, 4" by... oh, a mile.

Go, Speed Racer! Go!

The trailer for the "Speed Racer" movie is out. It has a unique color palette, but it's hard to tell whether this is serious or camp. At least the Wachowski brothers are keeping Chim-Chim in the mix.

Wednesday, December 5

Tuesday, December 4

The Tomorrow factor

Tom Tomorrow takes on Bill O'Reilly. Read the comic or watch Keith Olbermann read it.

Friday, November 30

Xmas is coming....

Evel Knievel is no longer with us

CNN reports that the motorcycle daredevil, described in this recent profile as "the first Jackass," is dead at age 69. So it goes.

UPDATE: This video serves as a fitting tribute to those of us who remember the Evel toy as much as the man himself.

Monday, November 26

Kevin DuBrow is no longer with us

Quiet Riot singer found dead in Vegas. So it goes.

Relive Quiet Riot's moment of fame in this clip — if you must.

A true Dullard Feat of Strength

Work in a foundry in India making manhole covers. Shoes optional.

Sunday, November 25

The Clash sell out

"Pressure Drop" by the Clash (actually a cover of a reggae song) is the background music for this car ad. Joe Strummer is rolling over in his grave.

Related post here.

Wednesday, November 21

Giant scorpions once terrorized our seas

Scientists have unearthed evidence of an 8-foot-long scorpion that ran amok in the ocean millions of years ago. How will the "intelligent design" crowd spin this one?

Tuesday, November 20

Dullards are geniuses

Firefox 3.0

A beta for the new version of Firefox is available. As usual, the promised upgrades include better security and usability.

Friday, November 16

Ghost Town on CD Baby

GHOST TOWN: Better Now

I finally got around to sending the CD in to CD Baby. Festivus is coming, and they make great (though somewhat physically awkward) stocking stuffers!

Dawn Landes' "Twilight"

Putting this here so I don't lose it, and because she's lovely:

Daily Show writer on the strike

Praise to the Flying Spaghetti Monster

The religious movement that centers on the Flying Spaghetti Monster is finally getting some respect.

Thursday, November 15

Xmas is coming

So here's a list of toys for all the children in your life. Or at least the ones you don't particularly like.

Monday, November 12

Oddly compelling

This sort of nonsense is what the Interwub is all about for me.

Friday, November 9

Possible Dullard Feat of Strength

Convince the wife to let us buy nearly every video game system and game ever made.

A video game collector is selling it all on eBay — and it's all or nothing. His giant and comprehensive collection begins with the Atari 2600 and runs through the Wii, and it includes forgotten systems such as Intellivision and the Dreamcast.

Current bid is $9,000, plus $1,500 for shipping.

Thursday, November 8



Happy Diwali, Dullards!

It's the Indian festival of lights. Traditions include lighting candles, cleaning your house, shopping for clothes and gambling.


Friday, November 2

Lex Luthor finds way to combine red, white kryptonite

But it takes its toll -- look how skinny it's made him.

Mapping music

The good people at Gracenote offer this map, which meshes musical taste with geography. A few observations:
  • Iraq and Afghanistan are big on metal and hard rock.
  • Kazakhstan loves Genesis, the Doors and Fleetwood Mac.
  • Pink Floyd has appeal from New Zealand to Greece and even in Iran.

The Onion A.V. Club on the Jam

The Onion looks back on All Mod Cons and gives a succinct summary of why the Jam was such a great band, something that's difficult to convey to non-fans (though Weller selling out to Cadillac still sticks in my craw, much moreso than Dylan doing the same....)

Thursday, November 1

LISTS: Five least appropriately titled live albums

5. "Serious Hits … Live!" by Phil Collins. He may mean well at times, but Phil Collins’ attempts at social relevance ("Another Day in Paradise") come across as overly earnest. And no album with seven-minute version of "Sussudio" on it should have the adjective “serious” attached to it.

4. "Yessongs" by Yes. No!

3. "Love You Live" by the Rolling Stones. Caught between their glory years (1967-73) and the “elder stateman” years (1994-present), this album is a perfect example of a band in a holding pattern. Of the numerous (mostly failed) attempts to represent a Stones concert on film or on vinyl, "Love You Live" is the most forgettable and hardly lovable.

2. "The Song Remains the Same" by Led Zeppelin. The problem here is the songs don’t remain the same — they get worse. Not one track here improves on the original studio version, and the performances sound strained, the sound muddied. Zeppelin is better heard live on "How the West Was Won."

1. "Pulse" by Pink Floyd. The Water-less, Gilmour-led Floyd produced two humdrum studio albums and two dreadful live LPs. "Pulse" is the second of these uncomfortably numb sets, and the note-for-note renditions of Floyd classics and Gilmour-era material will not set any hearts racing.

Related post here.

"X-Files" sequel: Why?

A second "X-Files" movie gets the green light. All of the main players are in, with a release set for next summer.

DULLARD TAKE: Of course, we'll hope for the best, but given the pitiful way the series died, those hopes cannot be high. After all, is there really anything left to say?

Wednesday, October 31

Tuesday, October 30

PASTE (Don't eat it.)

PASTE magazine is offering a Radioheadesque name-your-price promotion. Fill out this form and you get to decide how much a 1-year subscription is worth to you.

The minimum price for 11 issues of decent pop journalism and 11 quite-good-in-a-KCRW-kinda-way CD samplers is one US dollar. Coincidentally the maximum price, unless you are a sucker, is also one US dollar.

Monday, October 29

The perfect excuse

You may have heard about the fake news conference in which FEMA employees posed as reporters to ask softball questions about the SoCal wildfires. Now FEMA regrets the whole thing, of course.

Now comes this from a FEMA guy:
"I did not have good situational awareness of what was happening."
This is my new catch-all rationale for everything I do wrong:
  • Pulled over for speeding? "Officer, I did not have good situational awareness."
  • Forgot to get milk at the store? "Honey, I did not have good situational awareness."
  • Rushed our country into war with shaky intelligence? "My fellow Americans, I did not have good situational awareness."
It just about covers everything.

Monday, October 22

Possible Dullard costume for Halloween

Halloween (pretty much my favorite holiday) is only a week away. This year, I'm thinking of being scary Larry Craig, the disgraced senator from Idaho. I may wear this mask, dress in a suit with a flag pin on the lapel, and walk around with a boarding pass.

See you in the restroom! (Related post here.)

UPDATE: The costume went over pretty well at a Halloween party I went to on Saturday. It required explanation now and again, but once people got it, they laughed. Curiously, one party-goer asked, "Are you dressed as a Republican?" I responded, "Yes, but which one?" It turned out she had never heard of Larry Craig or his bathroom brouhaha.

Friday, October 19

Just putting this here so I'll remember it, and it may be of interest to the 20% of our readers who work at Gracenote: the DOT.TUNES software and plugins allow you to stream your iTunes collection to an iPod Touch, iPhone, web browser, or even gaming console. Pretty spiffy.

Thursday, October 18

The kraken deconstructed

The role of the giant squid in literature gets its due in this essay, which traces the great beast from Greek mythology to "SpongeBob Squarepants."

Wednesday, October 17

Bring the boys back home

Clinton pledges to end war "immediately" upon taking office.

She just became a much more interesting candidate to me. I'm still not voting for her in the primary on principle, though. Counting GHWB's veep stint, there's been either a Bush or Clinton in the Whitehouse since I was 12. I don't want that continuing until I'm 48. That's just insane.

Monday, October 15

Pete Doherty meets Paul McCartney

Macca interviewed by slovenly British ne'er-do-well.

Today's Coolness: Moths

From Neatorama, the World’s Weirdest Moths.

Possible Dullard Feat of Strength

Ride a bike through Times Square. David Byrne shows you how in this clip best viewed with Quicktime.

Friday, October 12

Gatorland rebuilding

Of note to anyone who grew up in Orlando: Gatorland Breaks Ground On New Complex After Devastating Fire

Man I loved that place when I was a kid. More than Disney World and Sea World put together. But that was probably because we went to Disney too much -- every damn time relatives visited, we had to go to Disney. None of my stupid cousins wanted to go where the action really was: Gatorland and the Mystery Fun House.

Thursday, October 11

You Blade Runner! You shut up now!

I didn't get a chance to vote in the poll, but I did see the Final Cut of Blade Runner the other night. It's basically a cleaned up version of the Director's Cut from 1992, which Ridley Scott wasn't actually directly involved with: a better-looking unicorn dream sequence, cleaned up stunt-double insertions. More of a refinement than a radical reworking, but it looks great.

Oh, and Batty clearly says "I want more life, FATHER" this time. That makes more sense thematically, but just isn't as cool.

Wonder what the Vegas odds are that there'll be a final final cut in 2019?

Anyway, the Final Cut is clearly superior (just for the remastering of picture and sound, in addition to the small fixes) to the "Director's Cut," and both are a vast improvement over the theatrical release. But I can't get behind the unicorn scene. Something else that raised the question of whether Deckard was a replicant rather than implying rather unequivocably that he is, would have been preferable.

If you're a big enough fan of the movie to have read this far then replacing your Director's cut DVD will be worthwhile, especially once the hi-def wars have been settled. It's coming out in a variety of interesting editions (miniature hover car! origami unicorn!) in time for xmas.

Q&A with Wes Anderson

An interview at the Onion A/V Club, pegged to Anderson's new movie, "The Darjeeling Limited." Here's the trailer.

Tuesday, October 9

Stephen Colbert is ... America!

And so can you! Excerpts from the Stephen Colbert book are now available.

Monday, October 8

Friday, October 5

David Byrne Journal

David drives cross-country, doesn't find an excellent place for a fist fight.

Tuesday, October 2

When was your first time to rock?

A writer at MSNBC had a good idea for an essay but took too long recounting his first concert, a Pat Benatar show in Phoenix.

We'd love to hear about your first time with live rock 'n' roll. Tell us the performer, approximate date, venue, summary of the show and assessment of it based on the Dullard rating system of rocked, sucked or so-so. I'll start:

PERFORMER: The Who, with opening act the B-52s
DATE: Fall 1982
VENUE: Tangerine Bowl, Orlando
SUMMARY: Part of the Who's first "farewell tour" with the band still in "here's one from the new album" mode. Sponsored by Schlitz beer in a time when such corporate tie-ins were still somewhat shameful. The B-52s opened and were not greeted warmly.
RATING: Rocked. Sure, this wasn't "Live at Leeds" but it was still the Who, or at least three-fourths of them.

Monday, October 1

Those aren't your memories

Yet another cut of "Blade Runner" is hitting screens in the big cities, with a mega-DVD release to follow. It's all tied to the movie's 25th anniversary. This NYT article explains everything — and includes semi-spoilers, in case you were the last person still wondering whether Deckard was a replicant.

UPDATE: Check out the trailer for the "final cut" version. There's still enough time for L.A. to look like this by 2019 — if it doesn't already, except for the endless rain.

Friday, September 28

R&R Hall of Fame

It shouldn't exist in the first place, so it's silly to complain about the nominees. But still, c'mon, if you're going to have one, why not limit inductees to folks who actually play, I dunno, rock 'n' roll? This year's nominees are:

  • Leonard Cohen. Allegedly brilliant poet. Canadian. Doesn't rock.

  • The Beastie Boys. Crusaders for protecting our inallienable right to party, and rap pioneers. Not known for rocking.

  • The Dave Clark Five. At least they were a band, who played instruments, with a singer and all. But their biggest hit was the rather fey and unrocking "Glad All Over." The Monkees, terrible actors, half of whom were also terrible musicians, deserve a spot before the Dave Clark Five.

  • Madonna. I forget who said it, but she looks better than she sings, dances better than she looks, and we all have a cousin who dances better than she does. She's not untalented, but neither does she rock.

  • Afrika Bambaataa. Maybe belongs in some hall of fame. Certainly a Hip-hop HOF. Maybe even a generalized "Popular Music HOF." But with the rocking, not so much.

  • The Ventures. I guess, but there must be a few hundred bands deserving induction ahead of them.

  • Chic. Nile Rogers is a brilliant producer. But disco is, if not the opposite of rock, at least the coke-fueled, fun-house-mirror-distorted bastard cousin with only the bad DNA of some of rock's worst elements, such as crowd-pandering and dancing.

  • Donna Summer. No. See above, and just, no.

  • John Mellencamp. Sadly, the most defensible nominee on the list, his best work sounds like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond, and I don't mean that in a good way. Sold more records than the Ramones, but has any band of note cited him as an influence? Would the course of rock be changed if you could (mercifully) go back in time and erase all his master tapes? If you let Johnny Cougar in, it's hard to defend keeping Bryan Adams out. Except that Bryan Adams is Canadian.

Thursday, September 27

Diamond Dave, master of the spoken word

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys extended his career by going into the "spoken word" world, and Henry Rollins of Black Flag took the same route. And any number of rock lyricists have been touted as poets, though such claims are often dubious. (Read any Jim Morrison lately?)

Regardless of the merits of these artists, they all pale in comparision to the master of the spoken word, David Lee Roth. In their glory years, Van Halen often "broke it down," and Roth went from singing to talking. On the occasion of the Van Halen semi-reunion, we offer a retrospective, presented here in poetic form, of Diamond Dave as he spoke to listeners. Enjoy!

"Ain't Talking About Love"

I been to the edge
And there I stood and looked down
You know I lost a lot of friends there, baby
I got no time to mess around
So if you want it, I gotta cut you free, baby.

"Everybody Wants Some"

I like the way the line runs up the back of the stockings.
I've always liked those kind of high heels too.
No no no no, don't take 'em off, don't take... Leave 'em on, leave 'em on.

Yeah, that's it
A little more to the right, a little more.

"Mean Streets"

See, a gun is real easy in this desperate part of town
Turns you from hunted into hunter
You go and hunt somebody down

But hear me now
Somebody said, "Fair warning, Lord!"
Lord, strike that poor boy down.

"And The Cradle Will Rock"

Have you seen Junior's grades?


Take a look at this!

Hey, man, that suit is you!
You'll get some leg tonight for sure!
Tell us how you do!
(Come on, Dave, give me a break.)
Hey, hey, hey, hey, one break coming up!

"Hot for Teacher"

Hey, I heard you missed us. We're back!

I brought my pencil. Gimme something to write on...
Oh man, I think the clock is slow. I don't feel tardy.
Class dismissed!


Yeah, we're running a little bit hot tonight.

I can barely see the road from the heat coming off of it.
Ah, you reach down between my legs
Ease the seat back.

Previous Van Halen posts here and here.

UPDATE: This review says the reunion rocks.

Monday, September 24

Clear in Clearwater

This story from The Associated Press claims that Clearwater, Fla., has come to terms with being the hub of all things Hubbard. Here is a spooky quote about the influence of Scientology there:
"Now if you go to one of their events, you see more business leaders, more community leaders, more elected officials than any other event in the county. They recognize the church's value now; they see it was an integral part to the solutions of Clearwater."

Sunday, September 23

Let it be compares the bizarro appearance of Marcia Clark (of O.J. trial fame) and Phil Spector (of "Wall of Sound" fame and "allegedly killing a woman" infamy).

UPDATE: Spector may be off the hook; a judge has declared a mistrial. Maybe they can try again, this time investigating how Phil mucked up "Let It Be."

Friday, September 21

LISTS: Top 10 imperatively titled R.E.M. songs

Michael Stipe, an Army brat, likes to give marching orders to R.E.M. listeners (and we're not even counting "Life and How to Live It"). Here are his top 10 directives, based on the general advice and quality of the song:

1. Begin the Begin
2. Find the River
3. Why Not Smile
4. Belong
5. Drive
6. Stand
7. Try Not To Breathe
8. Get Up
9. Star Me Kitten
10. Bang and Blame

Thursday, September 20

Crazy in Carolina

A man rants to council members in Charlotte, N.C. Even the Boy Scouts in the audience may be frightened, as one board member says.

Wednesday, September 19

Google Office

Google is pimping what appears to be its version of Microsoft Office. (Go and play with the beta version.) Here's a three-slide presentation I threw together on its equivalent of PowerPoint.

Saturday, September 15

Happy birthday, Ganesh!

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, known as the birthday of Ganesh, famed diety of Hinduism. The occasion is being marked here in the U.S.

Friday, September 14

Pluto, Mom in Disneyland fracas!

The only thing missing from this clip? This Dullard quote from a long-ago trip to Disneyland: "I listen to you. Now you shut up!"

Wednesday, September 12

It's always the drummer, isn't it?

Percussion-related music news:
  • The White Stripes have nixed a Western tour swing because drummer Meg White has "acute anxiety."
  • Led Zeppelin will play a reunion gig this fall with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums in place of dead dad John Bonham.

Tuesday, September 11

Oh, Canadia

I'm a bit late to the game here, but to continue the Dullard Gazette's appreciation of Canadian pop music, here's the lovely and talented Feist to bring some cheer to this otherwise bleak day:

Helpless dancers

If you need help deciding how to vote in our poll, check these out:

Monday, September 10

Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before

Help save the youth of Great Britain! If you happen to be in the greater Manchester area later this month, be sure to dress up like Morrissey and ride your bike (like in this Smiths video) to raise money for the famed Salford Lads Club.

Sunday, September 9

This woman's work ... now a commodity

It's not as stunning as The Jam shilling for Cadillac, but the use of "This Woman's Work" to promote "CSI" is still a surprise on two levels:
  • that Kate Bush would agree to let one of her songs be used to promote a TV show.
  • that someone at CBS successfully pitched the idea of a using a Kate Bush song to promote a show on network TV.
Watch the CBS promo here. Here's the original video of the song.

Friday, September 7

Madeleine L’Engle is no longer with us

The author of "A Wrinkle In Time" (among others) is dead at age 89. So it goes.

Thursday, September 6

Dumbest. Boycott. Ever.

"Land rights" advocates ask the world to boycott the Minneapolis airport over the Larry Craig scandal. They want airport police to apologize to the disgraced senator. I like this comment in response:

"If I am using a stall in a men's room, I consider that small rectangle of floor space to be mine, on a temporary basis, and would frown upon incursions by foreign toe-tapping shoes on to that property."

In other amusing Craig-related news, here's a clip of blogger Mike Rogers taking on Sean Hannity of Fox News infamy.

Tuesday, September 4

El Ron to be brought to justice?

Scientology is charged with fraud and extortion in Belgium.

Monday, September 3

Advantage: Musto

Just got back from three days of U.S. Open tennis in NYC. Here's our pic of our one brush with semi-celebrity: Michael Musto of Village Voice and "Countdown" fame. He was interviewing fans about tennis fashion in his characteristically snarky way.

That's the best we could do.

UPDATE: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were there Wednesday night. We got to see them ... on TV.

Friday, August 31

Damp Cats

Here's a special link for my special wife, who could look at pictures of other people's pets online all day. The link will also serve to piss off Tim, so it's nice when a link can serve a dual function like that.

It's also nice when a blogger knows all of his readers by name, isn't it? You won't get this kind of personalized service at the Daily Kos!

Thursday, August 30

The Great Iraq Swindle

If you have any outrage left in you, this article from Rolling Stone on contractor fraud in Iraq should get your dander up.

Follow-up: Texas governor spares getaway driver

Well, this is good and surprising news. I'm an absolutist about the death penalty, anyway, but this seemed like a particularly egregious case.

The Office

Watch this What we did on our summer vacation promo.

Wednesday, August 29

Desperate NASA turns to the Force

The space agency will include the original prop of Luke's light sabre aboard the next shuttle. Here is a collection of photos from the ceremonial hoo-ha led by Chewbacca.

DULLARD TAKE: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

Tuesday, August 28

Everybody still hurts

Two items on the two-year anniversary of Katrina:
  • A mutton-chopped Michael Stipe documents the post-storm devastation in New Orleans.
  • Our Dullard editorial seeking the resignation of another Michael, this one named Chertoff, still stands.

Aye-aye, Cap'n!

25 Weirdest Animals -- including the blobfish, which bears a striking similarity to everyone's favorite also-ran, Ziggy.

Dude, they burned it too soon

The giant Burning Man, the icon of the desert festival of the same name, goes up in flames days ahead of schedule. A guy who makes a living pretending to be Hunter S. Thompson is arrested.

Here's how a Burning Man attendee named Ranger Sasquatch assessed the situation:
"Someone went to a great extent to interfere with everyone else's burn. I think, frankly, an attention whore has made a plea for attention."
Plans are under way to build a new Man in time for the traditional burn.

Snark Chef

If you've been watching Top Chef (and maybe even if you haven't) you'll definitely want to check out Anthony Bourdain's weekly blog posts about the show.

He didn't even flush

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, despite a guilty plea, says a "lewd conduct" incident in an airport bathroom was just a misunderstanding. Study the mug shot, read the police report and decide for yourself.

Here are some Dullard tips on how to avoid this kind of situation when visiting our nation's public bathrooms:
  • DO enter the bathroom with a mission: get in and get out quickly.
  • DO try to avoid touching as little as possible.
  • DO keep quiet. This is not the place for chit-chat.
  • DO keep your eyes to yourself.
  • DO your business.
  • DO flush the toilet if it doesn't do so automatically. The next person deserves a clean bowl.
  • DO wash your hands.
  • DO get the hell out when you're done.
  • DON'T linger in front of an occupied stall.
  • DON'T peek into an occupied stall.
  • DON'T make eye contact with the person in an occupied stall.
  • DON'T tap your right foot when seated in a stall. This can be perceived as a signal that you are interested in "lewd conduct."
  • DON'T let your right foot touch the left foot of the person in the stall next to you.
  • DON'T repeatedly swipe your hand under the stall divider for a few seconds. This also can be perceived as a signal that you are interested in "lewd conduct."
  • DON'T try to impress the police with your business card while you are being arrested.
These tips will almost certainly keep you out of trouble and out of the headlines. That's essential if you are a "family values" politician.

A curious footnote: At the end of the police report, the officer says that Craig was worried about missing his flight. A detective called the airline to try to get the flight held, but no one answered. Good to see Big Air's customer service coming through in the clutch.

Saturday, August 25

Happy birthday, Big Mac!

The famed burger turns 40 this week. Here's the back story.

I've never eaten one, preferring the Quarter Pounder during my McDonald's days. Something about "special sauce" made the Big Mac unappealing.

Take our latest poll, this one on fast food, conveniently located in the left-hand column of this blog. Results of the previous poll found that our readers believe that Ann Coulter is asexual. That would seem to settle it.

Friday, August 24

Do ya like Sam Phillips?

You should like Sam Phillips.

A happier post

Something to put a smile on your face for the weekend: Canadian power-pop group the Golden Dogs' video for "Construction Worker." For anyone who likes smiley dancing girls in cute dresses set to a Canuck indy-pop beat:

If you dig that (and surely you must) check out the link above and click on the white typewriter for another swell video.

Thursday, August 23


What the hell. I can't stand that I live in a country where proxies for the government are running this ad:

To top it off, Ari Fleicher, head of the group running this $15-million dollar campaign, couldn't even tell you the soldier's name.

Wednesday, August 22

Happy birthday, Ray Bradbury!

The sci-fi scribe, once dissed on "The Simpsons," turns 87 today. The New York Times offers this profile.

Monday, August 20

Mining history

Reading this article about the mine disaster in Utah (as well as the one in China), I recalled an excellent book I read last year, "Coal: A Human History."

Author Barbara Freese traces the evolution of coal's use, and her book stands out among similar "commodities" books, which include examinations of salt and even the humble cod. "Coal" offers stark details of when England was coated in soot, but it also has an optimistic view of how we can shake our dependence on coal, an essentially filthy way to get energy.

You can buy the book dirt cheap at, or check it out from your local library.

Thursday, August 16

Jenna Bush to wed

First daughter Jenna Bush is engaged to Henry Hager, a young Republican from Virginia.

We wish the best to the happy couple as they get married and experience the physical act of love for the first time. (They have been abstaining, haven't they?)

Wednesday, August 15

Happy birthday, India!

The world's largest democracy turns 60 today.

Tuesday, August 14

Makeover in progress

Yes, we are changing the look of the Gazette. It's possible that some comments have been lost in the transition, and we apologize for any inconvenience. [I think I fixed it -- Franko]

Let us know what you think.

UPDATE: I fiddled with the colors some more, getting rid of the blue in favor of green. And the "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dullard" has a home. It all looks best when the window is narrow rather than full screen.

Amnesty action

The state of Texas is about to execute a man who's biggest crime may be that he merely witnessed a murder. Please go to this site to learn about it and send the governor of Texas a letter or fax asking for clemency.

Monday, August 13

One day at a time

The Van Halen reunion is on — the most interesting thing about it being the resemblance between new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli.

Previous posts on Van Halen here.

More Talk, Less Rock

15 Masters Of Onstage Banter from the Onion A.V. Club.

Sunday, August 12

Merv Griffin is no longer with us

Former TV host turned game show impresario (and music man) Merv Griffin is dead at age 82. He lives on here. (Links are to YouTube.)

Friday, August 10

Murder in LA

LA Times has an awesome use of Google maps, from which we learn:

  • After 30, people gradually stop with the killing each other so much.

  • No surprise, really, but there are a disproportionate number of Hispanic and black homicide victims. In fact, most of the points flagged on the map are in heavily minority-populated areas.

  • Males are more than 7 times as likely to be murdered as females. And you ladies begrudge us a small thing like higher salaries...?

  • Guns don't kill, wait, yeah they do.

  • Sundays a good day for a killin'.

  • The Po-po are almost as big a threat to you as your own family.

Thursday, August 9

It's a Southern thing

One of the few Southern traditions I can get solidly on board with: sweeet tea.

Wednesday, August 8

LISTS: Best fictional bands

Something called Earvolution offers "The Ten Best Bands That Never Existed." The top spot may surprise you.

DULLARD TAKE: I'd add the Way-Outs, from a Beatles-inspired "Flintstones" episode. Speaking of Beatles-inspired, the Monkees could be argued to be fictional.

Monday, August 6

Something in the way Layla moves

Patti Boyd tells all about her love life with George Harrison and Eric Clapton. She claims that Ringo's first wife, Maureen, even got into the mix.

Sunday, August 5

Thumbs up

Gene Siskel is no longer with us, and Roger Ebert has been ailing for some time. Movie reviewing itself is suffering as well, thanks to newspaper layoffs, marketing flim-flams and other maladies.

At least now you can watch Siskel and Ebert in their glory years. This collection of reviews from their show is searchable by movie, actor or director. But not everything is there. I couldn't find "Brazil," for example, which must have been reviewed on the show at the time of its release. Still, this is a great resource and a nice trip back to a better time for film criticism.

Saturday, August 4

Evel Knievel has a few aches and pains

A good profile of the canyon-jumping daredevil turned condo-dwelling retiree.

El Ron to the rescue

The Minnesota bridge collapse is the latest disaster that Scientology has responded to. Are L. Ron Hubbard's followers just trying to help, or are they trying to add to their ranks? This story at ABC tries to tell us.

Friday, July 27

Advanced decrepitude? Not here.

Check your "real age" here. I'm 40 going on 24.3.


Fox News attacks bloggers

The Dullard Gazette has dodged this assault — for now.

Thursday, July 26

Wednesday, July 25

LISTS: Greatest movie robots

According to the Times of London. Replicants excluded (and rightly so) for being more human than human.

Back in the New York groove

I haven't bought music on vinyl in a long time and don't even own a turntable anymore. Yet I am still sentimental enough about the medium to enjoy thinking about record shopping the next time I am in NYC. This list will help me.

Kraken storm California!

Scientists warn of "a new, voracious predator."

Monday, July 23

Draft of Dullard '08 platform

Our possible platform for the 2008 campaign, open to revision and suggestion:

  • End the war in Iraq. Follow the Dullard Study Group plan outlined here.
  • Push so-called allies such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to root out terrorism in their countries.
  • Capture Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.
  • Require a budget statement be submitted to Congress on any pre-emptive military action so we can see the “bang for the buck” beforehand.
  • Appoint Bill Clinton as ambassador to the United Nations so he can sweet-talk other countries into liking us again.
  • End the War on Science by funding stem-cell research, teaching evolution and recognizing the problem of climate change.
  • Ask scientists to create a hot-water heater that can meet demand for an endless” shower. Everyone needs a long shower once in a while.
  • Stop wasting money on manned missions to Mars. Ain’t nothin’ there but red dirt.
  • Make it easier to send e-mail with attachments of more than 5MB. Nothing should ever bounce back because it’s “too big.”
  • Legalize marijuana and educate people on its ill effects. And tax it.
  • Legalize prostitution and regulate it carefully. And tax it.
  • Maintain Net neutrality.
  • Simplify the income tax, but don't get all Steve Forbes on us.
  • Index the minimum wage to inflation.
  • Get rid of the Electoral College. We're sick of Ohio being "the decider."
  • Create a National Primary Day. New Hampshire and Iowa have had too much power for too long.
  • End the NSA wiretapping program.
  • Revise and resubmit the Patriot Act.
  • Stop equating immigration with terrorism — we all know that “border security” is just a code for “keep out the Mexicans.”
  • Legalize same-sex marriage. The phrase “too bad he’s gay” is music to the ears of us hetero types.
  • Keep abortion safe and legal.
  • Ensure a “well-regulated” militia as prescribed in the Second Amendment by requiring licenses for handguns. Gun owners must also carry liability insurance and demonstrate competence with their weapons every five years — just like car owners do with their vehicles.
  • Outlaw the death penalty. Life in prison is worse anyway.
  • Appoint justices to the Supreme Court who aren't nuts.
  • Revoke the tax-exempt status of Scientology and brings its ringleaders to justice.
  • Create a system of universal health care. Sure, it will be complicated and expensive. But would it really be more complicated and expensive than the silly system we have now?
  • Ban smoking in all public places, indoor and out. Heavy fines will be imposed on violators, especially those who discard their cigarettes on beaches and at playgrounds.
  • Pass and vigorously enforce the Passenger Bill of Rights to stop the abuses of Big Air.
  • Pass the Crash Hassle Fee: Drivers at fault in accidents that cause major traffic jams must pay a heavy fine for messing up our day.
  • Invest in alternative energy: wind, solar, biofuels, etc. Yeah, we’ll consider nuclear too.
  • Install waterless urinals in all government buildings. Use tax incentives to encourage businesses to do the same.
  • Encourage pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and mass transit.
  • Force motorcyclists to muzzle their loud vehicles. If we can hear your bike from a block away, you get a ticket.
  • Ban leaf-blowing machines.
  • Allow citizen’s arrest of dog walkers who fail to scoop poop.
  • Music featured in a movie’s trailer must be included in the actual movie — if a studio teases us with the theme from “Brazil,” they have to deliver it.
  • Relieve Internet radio of the burden of high royalty fees.
  • Require cable and satellite companies to allow “a la carte” service so we can choose which channels we actually care about.
  • Require cable and satellite companies to include a channel that shows “The Big Lebowski” 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Review all public golf courses to see whether they can be converted to parks for all the people to use, not just players of a boring “sport.”
  • Outlaw the Super Bowl halftime show. The Super Bowl itself will be allowed to continue — for now.
So. Are you with us or against us?

Sunday, July 22

Bat Boy out of work


How many Megs do you need?

Here's something else to spend your money on: Flash drives that look like the White Stripes. Or just watch their latest video for free. Key lyrics:
Well, Americans:
What, nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too.

Friday, July 20

Hillary Clinton's Cleavage

To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation. Good to see the Washington Post's Style pages are every bit as insightful as their political coverage.

Keep those babies under wraps, ladies! Unless we're getting you likkered up!

Thursday, July 19

Monday, July 16

Bright Shiny Living Hell

I just wish HTML would let me put umlauts over the "e" in "hell."

All apologies from Mo Dowd

An especially funny column from the ever-clever Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.

Registration required, or try here for a one-time password. You didn't hear that from me. Just promise to buy the actual paper once in a while to make up for your sin.

Saturday, July 14

Dewey Decimal dissed

A public library in Arizona drops Dewey in favor of Borders-style setup. It's the second time in a week that The New York Times has taken on issues and trends facing our nation's libraries — and the second time we've linked to the coverage.

Thursday, July 12

Hinduism heckled in Senate

Christian activists in the gallery heckle a Hindu priest trying to give an invocation at the U.S. Senate. Watch the video here, but first enjoy this quote:
When you stand up and are arrested and the Hindu is allowed to go free, this country has gone upside-down.

Yes, if only "the Hindu" could be placed behind bars...

Rosie, you're no Kiki Dee

Rosie O'Donnell and Barry Manilow will team up for a cover of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." It's part of Manilow's "greatest songs of the 1970s" project, which will also include his version of "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. (Wasn't that a hit in 1980?)

Take me away!

Wednesday, July 11

Lobsters don't rock

Reading a Wall Street Journal primer on how to kill a lobster reinforced my view about these creatures: They're hideous, like some horrible hybrid of centipede and spider, only with pinchers.

That's why I don't eat lobster.

Monday, July 9

Que es mas macho?

The kraken or Salman Rushdie? See which one Padma Lakshmi picked last month.

Let's get instrumental

Highlights of musicianship at the Live Earth concerts, via YouTube:

  • A giddy Roger Waters does his best to turn the bass player into the primary stage presence on "Another Brick in the Wall."
  • Madonna straps on a guitar on "Ray of Light," complete with a Thurston Moore feedback blast at the end.
  • And finally, Spinal Tap brings on every bass player in the house for a bottom-heavy take on "Big Bottom."
UPDATE: Some of these clips have been removed because of copyright issues. The Gazette apologizes for any inconvenience.

Saturday, July 7

Dewey Decimal chic

Librarians are cool, according to The New York Times.

Friday, July 6

Hey, Jack Kerouac

NPR gives us the back story on "On the Road" and the famous Kerouac scroll. Wash it down with some vintage 10,000 Maniacs.

Wednesday, July 4

Kobayashi dethroned

The streak is over. All hail Joey Chestnut, the man who ate 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes.

Tuesday, July 3

Blind, quadriplegic, struggling to breathe

This is why the crimes being comitted by this unlawful administration matter.

Happy 4th of July. Support our troops by ranting like an unhinged liberal until they are brought home (I don't know if it'll help, but it's all I got).

Blogging entertainment for the whole family

Online Dating
This cheesy site will rate your blog using the MPAA system. It says that the Dullard Gazette is as wholesome as Mary Poppins.

We'll try to throw in some language, brief nudity and adult situations to get it to PG-13 so we can make something at the box office.

iWant an iPhone

I'm a Mac user, but I am not automatically seduced by whatever Apple is offering. That's why I was skeptical of the iPhone. The $500 cost reminded me of the recent game consoles, with the overloaded and overpriced Playstation 3 flopping in the face of the cheaper and simpler Wii. Surely, this was another example of a company charging too much for a product that tried to do too much — and none of it well.

Then I saw an iPhone at work yesterday, and it was amazing. Slim and lightweight, yet substantial. Easy functionality and total intuitiveness. And fun. The only complaint this co-worker (a Windows person, by the way) had was with AT&T, which has been struggling to keep up with the iPhone demand for calling plans.

So I was wrong. The iPhone is great. And I apologize to Franko for any disparaging remarks I may have made about the Newton all those years ago.

Monday, July 2

Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence -

OMG. They don't even care about appearances anymore.

So much for checks and balances.

I think that if you agree that Libby obstructed justice (which apparently the President does, as he commuted rather than pardoned) then I think you have to view the commuted sentence as endorsement of obstructing justice, if not downright conspiring to help obstruct justice.

I just hope an RNC email surfaces showing explicitly the deal that was at least implicit here -- that if Libby takes one for the team and doesn't sing, he'll never see the inside of a jail, and Bush will give him a full pardon as he leaves office.

Hammer time in Croatia

Part of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" imagines the rock concert as fascist rally. As a metaphor, it's not as compelling or believable as the personal "wall" built by the story's protaganist as a shield against perceived tormentors. This is probably why the double album effectively ends with "Comfortably Numb" — the remainder (known to old-timers as Side 4) comes across as overblown.

But now, thanks to this bit of news, I may have to rethink that view. Concert-goes in Croatia are giving Nazi salutes and wearing fascist garb. Unlike "The Wall," this is not intended as a criticism of hateful dictatorships, but a tribute. Ugh.

Saturday, June 30

Witches over Mexico

A local UFO club and an astronomer are at odds about what is in this video.

Friday, June 29

Germany gone craven!

Tom Cruise may be able to film a movie there after all, despite previous reports that Germany would say "nein" because of Cruise's strident Scientologist views.

Thursday, June 28

Wednesday, June 27

Fun with Jehova's Witnesses

Shortly after getting out of the shower this morning, just after my wife had left for a meeting, I'm in my bedroom about to don my work togs (don't picture it, you filthy monkey). I hear a light tapping at the front door, and assume it's my wife having forgotten something, like her keys. So I wrap my towel around me and open the door to find a pair of besuited African American gentlemen. Carrying copies of Watchtower. So, wanting, for everyone's sake, to cut the conversation as short as possible, I blurt out, "We're Buddhists." I look down at my damp, half-clad corpus. "NAKED Buddhists."

They left without incident, looking like they probably wouldn't want me joining them in the afterlife, anyway.

Tuesday, June 26

Recording death

Rolling Stone magazine, itself on a slow spiral of irrelevancy, recounts the decline of the record store. Tower is more or less dead, and about 2,700 record stores have closed across the country since 2003.

Related posts and links here and here.

Monday, June 25

Follow-up: House proposes to cut funding of VP office

Rahm Emanuel Ups the Ante, sends message to Cheney that if he doesn't want to be considered part of the Executive branch, he shouldn't get funding through the Executive branch.

This Washington Post series is a must-read as well.

I loves me a good Constitutional crisis!

Friday, June 22

Possible Dullard Feat of Strength

Go to a yoga class in the middle of Times Square.

Just what is a Dullard Feat of Strength? Borrowed and modified from the mock holiday Festivus, it's an act that mixes the brave with the naive, the bold with the corny. Each Feat of Strength presents its own challenges and rewards. It's done as a group; part of the challenge is participation.

Here are some examples of Feats of Strength that we've done over the years:

  • Zipped around Key West on personal watercraft
  • Hiked up the switchback-heavy trail of Mount Si, near Seattle

Thursday, June 21

Cheney: Vice President's office is not part of the executive branch

Most. Lawless. Administration. Evar.

This is actually a huge story. Cheney is trying to get around having to provide copies of emails to the National Archives. And you know there's a damn good reason for that.

It's never the crime that brings 'em down. It's the cover-up.

Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia Harrison to on "Larry King Live" Tuesday

I'm hoping it'll be a cage match.

The unbearable nonsense of being Bill O'Reilly

Keith Olbermann, with an assist from Arianna Huffington, sticks it to Bill O'Reilly in this "Countdown" clip.

Their analysis, however, isn't really necessary. O'Reilly's words are enough. The segment really shows that O'Reilly is a parody of himself as he rambles on about non-news while downplaying the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He even had a segment about the danger posed by bears — that's Stephen Colbert's schtick! And Colbert is a parody of O'Reilly. Doesn't O'Reilly get that?

Tuesday, June 19

Hillary Soprano

Hillary Clinton goes "Sopranos" as her campaign's song contest concludes. The winner? Not Journey, but this song by Celine Dion.

It is, as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo asserts, "truly too horrifying to contemplate." At least Bill looks pretty cool in the casual shirt.

UPDATE: The Dion song was originally written as an ad for Air Canada. Blame Canada, indeed!

Saturday, June 16

Possible Dullard Feat of Strength

Go on a shark safari in South Africa, including a plunge into the underwater cage to see the great beasts up close.

I (heart) Applebee's

Restaurant accidentally serves a margarita to a 2-year-old.

Wednesday, June 13

Have you ever had it blue?

A lobster cheats death thanks to its freakish "true blue" tint.

Tuesday, June 12

Movie review: "Knocked Up"

Though not formally a sequel, "Knocked Up" feels like a follow-up to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." It's got the same director, Judd Apatow, and much of the same cast: Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and (in a cameo) Steve Carell.

The real similarities, however, come in tone and technique. Apatow ably counterbalances a sweet story with raunchy humor — until the dirty jokes fade and sweetness wins out.

Rogen, in a leading role for a change, turns in a reasonable performance as a pot-smoking, porn-purveying schlub named Ben Stone. Shiftless yet harmless, he's a younger version of The Dude from "The Big Lebowski." Apatow's script calibrates the character just right; Ben is just bad enough to be embarrassing but not so horrible that the audience roots against him.

Ben meets a pretty anchor for the E! network, played by Katherine Heigl. Her character is a bit underdeveloped; it's curious that the movie is told more through Ben's view rather than hers (as hinted at in the movie poster). The mismatched couple hooks up in a drunken moment, and she gets pregnant. Will these parents-to-be fall in love before the day the baby comes?

The answer is obvious. That's why "Virgin" worked better — the concept itself was unusual and outrageous. 40 years old and still a virgin? Impossible ... and funny. "Knocked Up," on the other hand, is a story that happens all the time, and therefore, the movie doesn't feel as creative. The one-liners work well enough, and it has some refreshing honesty about pregnancy. But the movie is often predictable, and at more than two hours, it misses its due date by about 20 minutes.


A Cronkite moment

W. has lost MC Hammer. The war is lost.

Breaking up is hard to do

At the risk of making this blog look like TMZ, we must make note of two celebrity splits:

  • Larry David of TV's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has separated from wife Laurie of climate change fame.
  • Catherine Keener of "Being John Malkovich" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is divorcing Dermot Mulroney of "My Best Friend's Wedding."
Upon hearing the news about the Davids, my wife said: "I wonder what Larry did."

Sunday, June 10

Absurdity on Parade

The nuttiness of Parade magazine is consistent from cover to cover: Leading off with Walter Scott's Personality Parade, moving to the brain-dead musings of Marilyn Vos Savant, yukking it up with that mega-mutt Howard Huge and wrapping up with Brady's Bits.

Now the magazine takes its absurdity to new lows, offering a quiz on pop culture from none other than Bill O'Reilly of Fox News fame. It's hard to tell whether O'Reilly wrote the ridiculously easy questions himself, but a clue may lie in the weird wording of this one:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower had one recreational passion outside of Mamie. It was: a) eight ball b) golf c) jogging d) gangsta rap.

Do most people think of their spouses as a recreational passion? Is that how Ike thought of his lovely wife? Then again, this sentence was (allegedly) written by the man who found new uses for falafel, so who knows? Perhaps O'Reilly considers marriage to be a pastime similar to cribbage, yoga or World of Warcraft.

The answer, by the way, is golf. I do like the idea of Ike consulting a magic eight ball in the Oval Office, if that is the sort of "eight ball" that O'Reilly is referring to.

Friday, June 8

LISTS: 50 things you need to know by 50

Our first AARP link. Hey, I've only got 10 years left to know this stuff.

Thursday, June 7 streaming Lennon tribute

Raising cash and awareness for Darfur. Also raising awareness of just how kick-ass a vocalist Lennon was.

Haven't gotten through all of it yet, but some of the more egregious tracks are Christina Aguilera's "Mother", Aerosmith's "Give Peace a Chance", Lenny Kravitz's "Cold Turkey," and the Black Eyed Peas' "Power to the People." REM's "No. 9 Dream" is fun, and Corinne Bailey Rae's voice works for "I'm Losing You," though as with the covers of "Cold Turkey" and "Mother," it's hard to match the intensity of the pain that Lennon was able to convey in his delivery.

Friday, June 1

We know who you are

I had a few minutes to kill today while getting some copies made at Kinko's, so I went into the adjacent store, a merchant specializing in the dwindling business of compact discs, both new and used. It was my first visit to such a store in some time, as I buy music online or simply watch the video of a desired song or performance on YouTube. Twenty years ago, such a store visit was a weekly occurrence; now it seems novel.

The store had a strange atmosphere of obsolescence, made evident by the disorganized bins of "bargain" CDs. A Christmas album inspired by Rachel Ray, a Faith Hill CD and "Achtung Baby" by U2 were available for $1.99 each. Everything must go!

The rest of the shop was more orderly. I browsed through the bins of regularly priced items, noticing discs such as the oxymoronically titled "The Essential Stabbing Westward." But one thing did catch my eye as still desirable: a used copy of "Who Are You" by the Who, an album I bought on vinyl 25 years ago but never owned on CD. I was in luck: This copy was the remastered version with a handful of extra tracks and extensive liner notes. I wasn't sure how the album, released in 1978, would hold up in 2007 but figured it was worth $8.99 to find out.

"Who Are You" manages to avoid the trappings of its late 1970s heritage — mostly of the time. In certain moments, the album has a dated feel, especially its instrumentation. Like other keyboard-infused music of the day, the synths on "Sister Disco" sound like an unfortunate product of the time, though not as obviously so as Led Zeppelin's "In Through the Out Door" album of the same era. Another tech-heavy track, a wry sci-fi riff written by bassist John Entwistle called "905," fares better and maintains a contemporary feel.

"Who Are You" also includes a prominent use of strings. These arrangements work better on the wistful "Love Is Coming Down" than they do on Entwistle's "Had Enough," where the flowery feel is an odd fit over the angry lyrics. The combined effect of the keyboards and strings is to mask the diminished power of Keith Moon's drumming. Roger Daltrey's vocals are in good form; he would adopt a more annoying style with the later "Face Dances" and "It's Hard."

The timeless theme of "Who Are You" is artistic identity. Who are writers, and how do they create? And how do they keep their creativity alive and relevant? These are the concerns of guitarist and band leader Pete Townshend, a remarkably candid songwriter who is willing to share his vulnerabilities and foibles almost to a fault.

Townshend's lyrics seem especially weary and cynical on the album's leadoff track, "New Song" — a sort of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" take on songwriting. Later, he argues that the "Music Must Change," perhaps in recognition of the "rough boys" of punk who were critical of the old guard. The rousing "Guitar and Pen," on the other hand, is an inspirational call to action.

The title track, of course, is a classic of the search for self, and it's gratifying to hear "who the fuck are you" in this day of FCC-forced edits of songs. As a finale, "Who Are You" works better in the context of the entire album rather than as a tired warhorse of classic rock radio. Entwistle, as always the unsung force behind the band's most successful moments, propels the song with bass work that heightens the sense of urgency — and at last, Moon sounds like his fierce self.

The extra tracks are typical: unpolished curiosities of interest to the core fan. "Guitar and Pen" doesn't sound much different from the regular version, for example. Perhaps the most interesting fragment here is an early version of "Empty Glass," which later became a title track for Townshend's best solo album.

DULLARD RATING: Surprisingly, it still rocks.

Thursday, May 31

New feature on Google Maps

Now offering virtual street view. Watch the goofy demo here.

Wednesday, May 30

Stock your bar for $300

Three hundred clams will, allegedly, get you through the summer.

Unless any of my friends and relations come to visit you.

Paul or John?

Well, Paul's all we got left, so... Sir Paul!

For $326

The set from the Family Feud could be yours.

Plus $5000 shipping.

QUIZ: Reverse image album covers

Go here and see whether you can tell which images from famous album covers have been reversed and which are the real deal. (Franko favorite Steve Miller is represented.)

I got 13 out of 15 correct.

All hail Two Buck Chuck

The story of cheap wine.

Monday, May 28

In Rememberance

Washington Post columnist on losing his son in Iraq.

Charles Nelson Reilly is no longer with us

The "Match Game" superstar is dead at age 76. In his later years, Reilly showed his versatility with a guest spot on "The X-Files."