Thursday, February 28


Over 1% of US adult population is currently in prison. That's nuts. I'm assuming that's largely due to the War on (Poor People's) Drugs. If you're a black man between the ages of 20 and 34, that number is closer to a staggering 11%.

Feh. Home of the Free, my foot.

Mallard '08

Today's "Mallard Fillmore" floats the idea of the titular character seeking the Republican nomination for president. It's hard to tell which is creepier: the idea of our nation being led by a right-wing duck or Bruce Tinsley's rendering of his own fingertips in the strip's second panel.

For more "Fillmore" analysis, check out the Duck and Cover blog.

Sunday, February 24

R.E.M. channels Fountains of Wayne

"Supernatural Superserious" is the song released ahead of R.E.M.'s next album, "Accelerate." Hear the track at the band's main site, or watch one of several videos for it.

DULLARD TAKE: It's a decent enough attempt to get back to basics, with a Fountains of Wayne feel. Whether the approach will work over an entire album remains to be seen.

Friday, February 22

Sunday, February 17

Music for films

Picking the best movie soundtrack was the focus on a recent broadcast of the public radio program "Sound Opinions." The show's hosts and guests liked "Rushmore," "The Harder They Come" and "Amelie," among others. (They were less excited about "Juno.")

Here are some of my favorite soundtracks. First, here are two rules: I have to own the soundtrack, and I am disqualifying concert films ("Stop Making Sense") and music documentaries ("The Kids Are Alright"). With that out of the way, here we go:
  • "Apollo" — Brian Eno sends us to the moon
  • "Being John Malkovich" — Two Bjork tracks plus Carter Burwell's best work equal genius
  • "Blade Runner" — Vangelis (!) wrote things that you people wouldn't believe
  • "Brazil" — alternately manic and beautiful; opening is still used in trailers for other movies
  • "City of Lost Children" — before "Amelie," gloomy symphonies for this Jeunet & Caro film
  • "Desperado" — the swagger matches the titular character; Salma Hayek (oof!) sings sweetly
  • "Married to the Mob" — from New Order to the Feelies, a fun sampler from the late '80s
  • "Monsoon Wedding" — romantic representation of India past and present
  • "Powaqqatsi" — Philip Glass and world music go together better than you might think
  • "Return to Waterloo" — Ray Davies in fine form; still need to watch the movie
  • "Say Anything" — throwaway tracks redeemed by Peter Gabriel and the Replacements
  • "Taxi Driver" — pulsates like the blood boiling in Travis Bickle's brain
  • "Trainspotting" — grooves that make it easier to plunge into the filthiest toilet in Scotland

Friday, February 15

Team America vs. Elvis

Although "Team America: World Police" is an uneven movie, I admired that it used the marionette as a tool of satire. It was audacious to merge the politics and pop culture of today with an antiquated form of entertainment. And it felt totally original.

Well, maybe not. I recently stumbled over this music video for the Dire Straits song "Calling Elvis." It includes the same puppet ploy, and it was released in 1991, a dozen years before "Team America" came out.

I'm not accusing Matt Stone and Trey Parker of stealing the idea for their movie from Mark Knopfler. (Their inspiration was apparently the 1960s TV show "Thunderbirds.") But it does take some of the edge off of "Team America."

Which dog?

that dog.

Thursday, February 14

Monday, February 11

Happy Birthday, Thomas Alva Edison

Today, you're 160 years young! In your honor, here are some fascinating facts about you from the fine folks at Neatorama.

Saturday, February 9

Endgame for Ron Paul

The Ron Paul campaign is dying, pretty much as we foretold. So it goes.

In a "playing for pride" statement, the haggard obstetrician recently told his followers that he wants to go on with his presidential campaign, but he warned them that he must also fend off a challenge for his House seat. Even the Ron Paul blimp has been grounded for lack of sponsors.

We'll still have the moment when the Paul fans pursued Sean Hannity through the icy avenues of New Hampshire. Ah, those were good times.

Friday, February 8

More Scientology caught on tape

Scientology leader David Miscavige outlines his organization's strange vision in this 8-minute clip. Psychiatry is targeted, complete with explosive imagery. There's also Operation Planetary Calm, a Scientology propaganda effort around the world.

Related post here.

Thursday, February 7

Wednesday, February 6

The cable's out

A massive Internet outage is traced to cable cuts in the Mediterranean. Whodunnit?

UPDATE: The official word now is that an abandoned anchor is to blame.

Friday, February 1

Why we need Barack Obama

Yeah, what he said.

Of replicants and outsourcing

So I finally got to see "Blade Runner" on the big screen recently. It largely reaffirmed my faith in its greatness. Even the things that bother me (Deckard's manhandling of Rachel, the failure to clarify why Roy sticks a nail in his hand, etc.) reinforce my belief that the best things in life are those with little flaws.

On this viewing, one other thing struck me: The movie has a subtle anti-outsourcing message, whether it meant to or not. The replicants are able to cause trouble through people not working at the Tyrell Corporation but who do replicant-related design. It's not entirely clear whether Chew and J.F. Sebastian were free-lancers or Tyrell employees simply working from home. But if Tyrell had kept that work in-house, the company would not have created the security breach that eventually allows Roy Baty to meet his maker.