Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Along Highway 1

Yesterday, along with a fellow photo enthusiast, I headed down the coast to Monterey County. Starting around sunrise just north of Big Sur and working our way up to Point Lobos, we found some of the classicly beautiful subjects that have inspired so many of my photographic heroes. The weather was a bit limiting and the light was elusive, but there were a few images worth sharing here. These were taken with the Canon s400 digital camera. Actual film is yet to be developed, and that will probably find it's way to in due course.

Update your links

Dear friend, and fellow blogger, George Wallace has adventurously moved his blog, A Fool in the Forest to typepad, so update those links.
The new URL is...

Best of luck in your new home, George.
Futurballa Sells Out

I know you all thought that happened a long time ago, but this time it's for real. Actually we are in the process of opening a store on offering some of our best work for sale. Early stages, but we'll keep you posted here at the blog. And don't worry, we are not selling out completely. Besides for the occasional notice here, you can continue to enjoy the same links, commentary, and often bad writing, that you've come to expect here at futurballa blog.

The direct link to the store is....

Monday, December 29, 2003

Monday Housecleaning

The ultra-observant among you (and I don't mean Hassids) will note that I've done a bit of house cleaning on the old blogrolls and added some Amazon recommendation links. I know postings been a bit sporadic over the holidays, so may I suggest you click some of the Sites to Visit.

A few notables...
For culture, may I suggest, God of the Machine, 2 Blowhards, and Terry Teachout and Our Girl in Chicago. AC Douglas also has a nice archived post that he is featuring today on the Harry Potter books. For politics Escahton, Josh Marshall and Calpundit. And for a bit of everything, my dear friend at Fool in the Forest.

Couple of upcoming events... Planning a photo excursion later this week to walk in the footsteps of Adams and Weston in Monterey County. Hopefully to produce some photoblogging and maybe a gallery. And MacWorld SF is coming up.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

What We're Watching

Movie watching is always a pleasant holiday activity and this year's holiday season is no exception. A few highlights from this years viewing, with comments...

Woody Allen's Anything Else: Not his funniest, but definitely his best written and most intelligent movie in years. Jason Biggs is a good Allen surrogate and Christina Ricci is extremely unlikeable as the girlfriend from hell, but she is definitely written that way, so kudos to Miss Ricci for daring to play her for all of her despicableness. Allen is excellent playing a scary version of himself. This is an interesting update on Manhattan, but with age appropriate romance. Not for everyone, but for fans of Allen's best work, worth viewing.

Robert Duval's Assassination Tango: A slow and methodical political thriller with dance. Go figure. But it works. Duval is just so good and so fun to watch.

Seabiscuit: Great performances by all 3 of the leads (Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and Toby Maguire) as well as a horse. Too many inspirational moments for my taste, but season appropriate and not boring.

Freaky Friday:Why remake this seventies teen movie, originally starring Babara Harris and Jodie Foster? I can't answer the why, but I can say that if you have to remake a silly little movie like this, by all means get Jamie Lee Curtis. She turns in a delightful performance and shows her comic chops. Aimed at tweens, but if you have one of those hanging around or plan on borrowing one for the evening, this is a lot better than sitting through most movies geared towards that audience.

Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion: The seminal POW escape movie. No Steve McQueen, but all of the elements are there, and Jean Gabin is wonderful. A movie that inspires and aspires. If you haven't seen it, rent it. The Criterion Collection transfer is perfect, as usual.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Season's Greetings

All of us here at Futurballa Blog and Futurballa Photography (and all of the little futurists) wish you one and all a very merry Christmas, a most happy Chanukah and the finest of New Years.


Here are a couple of leftovers from my Las Vegas trip photos. These didn't make it to, but I thought them worth sharing.

Zeus loses his head at Caesar's? Scene from Terminator 4?

Fake Eiffel Tower, but at least the sky is real.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Friday, December 19, 2003

Elsewhere and More

Gosh, it's hard to pick sides in this fight.

Via Josh Marshall, this online survey sponsored by Ralph Nader's exploratory committee. I doubt that his ego will allow him to listen to the voices of voters who actually want to defeat Bush, but it's worth a try.

Two fun posts from the 2 Blowhards. First, Michael needs Heinlein explained to him. He's only read Starship Troopersbecause he liked the movie, but found the book too earnest. I would suggest reading some of Heinlein's later works along with his straight forward SF, like Starship. Puppet Masters is great fun, Glory Road is a hoot, and Stranger in a Strange Land, while flawed and dated, is the book that got many of us hooked. Second is another Michael Blowhard posting on his favorite sexy movies (or at least fun sexy movies). I have seen most of these and will concur with the fun characterization. Would consider adding Henry and June, That Obscure Object of Desire, and Boogie Nights to name a few off the top of my head. Of course I may be missing the point, because at least a couple of my choices are just plain good movies that happen to have some eroticism.

Brian Mickelthwait is PhotoBlogging today. I particularly liked the first one with the warm light taken from under the railway bridge. We plan to do more of that sort of thing in this space soon. Stay tuned. Oh, and by the way, Brian, Photoshop is not a verb.

A humorous piece via Indigo Ocean on Weapons of Math Destruction. Probably familiar to many of you, but it was new to me.

Here is my vote for this weeks Showcase. Good luck to all.
Chris "Lefty" Brown's Corner: What's so funny about peace, love, and higher taxes

And finally, just wanted to note that with company shutdowns, PTO, and holidays, blogging may be a bit light the next couple of weeks, but the s400 should be arriving today, so photoblogging should pick up steam in the coming weeks.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a Fantastic New Years to all.


Thursday, December 18, 2003

Balla's Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash

Not much on my mind at the moment, so I thought a tribute to our namesake would suffice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Friend George, in complaining about jingles (here) getting stuck in one's head, has implanted the Armour Hotdogs jingle in mine. Make it stop. (He - put creatures in our bodies. To control our minds.")

Mssr. Fool writes,

"Hot dogs! Armour Hot Dogs!
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids,
Kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids,
Even kids with chicken pox
Love hot dogs!
Armour Hot Dogs!
The Dogs Kids Love To Bite!

"What a parade of horribles: children with body image issues (the obese and the anorexic), children engaged in dangerous ascents of geological formations without appropriate state-sponsored supervision, children with aggressive tendencies or questions of gender identity, even children suffering from now-arcane and little seen diseases, all culminating in an outright endorsement of animal cruelty. Not to mention, of course, that the Center for Science in the Public Interest instructs us never to approach within a hectare of the product being sold. (Do you know how those things are made? Why, it's more frightening than the legislative process!)"

Well, vengeance is mine. Take this...


Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener
That is what I'd truly like to be
'cause if I were an Os-car Mayer Wiener
Every one would be in love with me.

Talk about a message to send your kids. If I was but a piece of meat, ground from many organs and other unspeakable animal parts , then my peers would admire and adore me.

Is that really what we want our kids to think?
Odds and Ends

We watched Sinbad - Legend of the Seven Seas last night, Dreamworks animated version of the Sinbad story (actually a story unrelated to any other Sinbad story I've ever read.) The animation was somewhat stiff and there seemed to be an uncomfortable juxtaposition between the CGI elements and the hand drawn characters. But what struck me as most odd, was the Helenization of the story. No mention of Baghdad, Arabia, Allah, but instead the story plays in Syracuse and characters come from Thrace and Greek Gods pull the mortals strings. Why Dreamworks didn't just animate Jason and the Argonauts, I don't know. If you want to see a good Sinbad movie, rent this one.

Nice piece on Slate on the subject, is their God the same as our God. Worth reading.

A fine review of Return of the King on Salon, get a daypass, you won't regret it. I'm going to a private showing on Saturday. This is a very excited blogger.

This is my new toy...

Canon s400.

I must admit to being a terrible bandwagon rider, but I couldn't let the challenge of coming up with a list of best cover versions pass me by. (Aaron) So here we go with my top 8...

1. The Residents - 96 Tears
2. Patti Smith - Gloria (not really a cover, but she slips in the G-L-O-R-I-A thing)
3. X - Soul Kitchen
4. John Cale - Heartbreak Hotel
5. Indigo Girls - Uncle John's Band
6. Devo - Satisfaction (you're right about this one, Aaron)
7. Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing
8. Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Over at Slate, Tim Noah laments the need for an Office for Rhetorical Competence.

For you wine lovers among you (and you know who you are), Mike Steinberger, also at Slate, has a very entertaining piece on why haut cuisine and fine wine are heading for a divorce. Favorite quote, "What exactly do you pair with Adria's coconut ravioli in soy sauce or his Parmesan cheese ice cream sandwich? Hawaiian Punch and Yoo-hoo spring to mind. Haut Brion does not." Read the rest here.

Via Joe Conason, this NRO editorial from David Frum. You know I thought that he was on a mission from God, but I just wasn't sure. Thanks Dave for clearing that up. Guess Bush is the third Blues Brother.

Kevin Drum describes what happens when bloggers congregate. And we learn that Atrios is a pretty centrist guy. I think Kevin is fairly accurate in his assessment that most lefty bloggers are pretty centrist and most righties tend more libertarian than conservative.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Las Vegas at Night

No, it's not Hef's new TV special. It's a web gallery at my photography website, Futurballa.

Just go to and click the Las Vegas Nights link to view the latest gallery.

The subject is self explanatory.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Send Lawyers, Guns & Money

I swear that Joe Conason's Journal alone is worth the price of my subscription to Salon (says Rick of Futurballa Blog).

Joe has a tasty tidbit today on when the stars align and we see that the Bush team are not the grownups they once claimed to be. This particular graf jumped out at me.

"Bush added his own folksy touch to this fiasco while chatting to the press this afternoon, when he explained that the situation was 'very simple.' The 'friendly coalition folks' deserved the contracts, while the war's opponents in France, Germany, Russia and Canada do not. Asked about the policy's possible conflict with American treaty obligations under international law, he replied cutely but cluelessly: "'nternational law? I better call my lawyer ... I don't know what you're talking about, about international law. Better consult my lawyer.'"

Read the whole thing here. (Subscription or daypass required)
Showcase Votes

Here are my votes in the New Blog Showcase for this week. Two worthy choices. Best of luck.

Kick the Leftist: Big Corporate vs. 13 y/o girl

It's Craptastic!: What is the Point?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Shalom Springfield

Staying on a theme (see below), The Simpsons last Sunday featured Krusty's Bar Mitzvah. The high point was the entertainment. Unfortunately they only gave us the first stanza, maybe some poetic type (George?) could finish the rest of the lyrics. But I thought it worth transcribing, nonetheless.

Sideshow Mel:Now to get you in the Bar Mitzvah mood, put your hands together for The Beach Boys.... Experience

The Beach Boys Experience (sung to the tune of Kokomo)
Mezzuah, menorah,
Reading from the torah
Pastrami, knishes,
on two sets of dishes
A church with no steeple
For G-d's chosen people...
Read the Comments, Nu!

One of the pleasures of blogsurfing is when the comments overtake the posting. Aaron Haspel made a short posting linking Terry Teachout's piece on the "perils of the goyim among the Jews" (here). I had read Terry's piece (here) and enjoyed it.

But now the comments at God of the Machine have turned into a diatribe (actually a triatribe, if that were a word) between David Sucher, who objects to the use of the word goyim, with Aaron & AC Douglas who defend it (here).

As another Jew, I most certainly come down on the side of AC and Aaron. Goyim is a perfectly acceptable word. I know of no other Yiddish word for gentile. And while it is mildly condescending, it can be said affectionately. It merely connotes the long history of the Jews in which you had us (The Chosen) and them (The Goyim). The Germans refer to foreigners as auslanders, which literally translates as outlanders. The us and them mentality of the word auslander is no more offensive than goyim, but it is their language, just like Yiddish belongs to the Jews (as well as Ladino for the Sephardic amongst us, but I think Sephardics call them goyim as well).
*News Alert* Futurballa Makes No Endorsement

As most of you know, I'm a Democrat. While I try to keep the majority of this blog on subjects non-political, occasionally my views on our government, the Bush administration, and the upcoming presidential elections find their way onto these "pages".

I seriously have not made up my mind on who I may be supporting in the Presidential race. Politically, I think Kerry is actually the candidate that I'm best aligned with, but his campaign has not inspired me (or anyone else, for that matter). Clark has the national security and foreign relations creds that I think are going to inoculate him from a lot of Republican attacks, but I don't know enough about his views on domestic policy. I like the grassroots passion that Dean has inspired and think he is a lot more centrist than he is often painted.

It behooves all of us who have not made a choice yet to consider all factors in picking a candidate. Not just getting swept up in the excitement of the moment, but thinking A) who best reflects our views, and B) who has the best chance of defeating Bush. My preference, of course is that A and B align. I certainly don't endorse going with B in lieu of A. But there is nothing wrong with striking a balance between A and B.

As a public service, here is Joe Conason's column from WorkingForChange on Dr. Dean. I don't necessarily agree with everything he has to say, but think that he raises some points worth considering. At the end of the day, I may decide that Dean is the guy who best combines my A criteria with my B criteria, but I'm still reading thoughtful opinions such as this.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Deja Vu All Over Again

Visiting the 2 Blowhards this morning, I was struck by a weird sense of deja vu. Michael Blowhard's less than nostalgic waxings of how he was sent running into the night when his hopes of becoming a filmmaker crashed against the rocks of reality, struck me with the similarity of my own experience. Perhaps we should do a survey of culture bloggers. How many are simply wannabe artists, poets, filmmakers, actors, novelists, or playwrites, who lacked the ego, drive, insanity, and "rhinoceros skin" to pursue that career.

I admit, I lack most of the above. My years of trodding the boards in the Berkeley Theater Arts department in the mid '70s came to an end when I came to very similar realizations as Michael. And a few years in LA after college took care of completing the process of self discovery that taught me I was without some essential characteristics for making it in Hollywood.

This particular graf from Michael Blowhard's posting was particularity poignant in reflecting my own feelings and experience (except for the Mid-West thing), "Dreamy, polite, raised-in-the-middle-class, mid-American kid that I was, I got a look at this world and concluded, Hmmm, y'know, I don't think I'm temperamentally suited for this life. I'm barely able to yell and scream, or to take being yelled and screamed at, for instance -- and there's a lot of yelling and screaming in the moviebiz. Unrelenting tension makes me take to my bed. Power-games make me want to step aside and hand the reins to whoever happens to be standing there."

All of this is by way of Michael being prompted into a Proustian reverie by a viewing of the documentary Lost in La Mancha. The film about the filming of Terry Gilliam's ill fated Don Quixote movie. I agree with Michael that it is but a "good enough" documentary, but the subject is fascinating. Gilliam does seem to be one of the few nice guys to make it, but even he is capable of a tantrum when it suits his purposes.

Now if only Francis had included Hearts of Darkness on the Apocalypse Now Redux DVD.

Read the whole thing here.

[Update: George Wallace Comments]

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Fair and Balanced... Here's Al Franken

Al Franken sits down with the Star Tribune for a very entertaining interview.

[Link via Buzzflash]
This is not my Presentation Software

David Byrne, former Talking Heads frontman and all around artistic guy, is interviewed at Wired News today. The subject, his latest project, a new book and DVD set called Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information, which makes use of Microsoft's ubiquitous presentation application, PowerPoint.

Wired describes his project, "His art presentations make babble of business-speak, and question whether the form of what we communicate can affect its truth: Rebellious flow charts stream backward, screens overflow with clip art gone wild, deliverables and leave-behinds assume surreal new roles, and renegade bullet points assault the viewer in a rapid-fire barrage."

When I first heard of this, I was almost disappointed that Byrne didn't use a better piece of software. Photoshop, Acrobat, Flash. I could think of a number of ways to create presentations that would result in a more polished and elegant experience. But when I read Byrne's comments, I realized that it was the ubiquitousness and simplicity of PowerPoint that fit what he was trying to accomplish. He says, "...because people make art out of all kinds of crappy things -- Lite Brites, or Pixelvision cameras. For every odd little tool, there's someone out there who's chosen that as a medium. And in spite of the limitations of a given technology, they turn it around so that each defect becomes a positive quality."

Answering the question of whether the availability of affordable image editing, presentation, and video software would democratize art, Byrne concludes, "It's true, but then again, it's not. Even before the advent of digital imaging, when large videotape cameras became small handhelds, the idea was that now everyone will become a filmmaker. And as technology progressed, this has become so easy that now you really can make a film on your laptop.

"New people do become creators; they jump in where they might not have before. Within the last few years, for instance, all of a sudden we have a glut of artists who do video installations -- perhaps too many. But some of this new work is really great; the simplicity and affordability makes it happen.

"I think this trend will continue. But just like the Internet itself, the fact that everybody now has access opens up this possibility for broader participation, but most of the time the potential isn't realized.

"Just because it's there doesn't mean people will use it."

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Have you read your Necronomicon today?

H.P. Lovecraft meets Jack Chick....

We will all be eaten!

[Link provided by George]
Look Forward in Ambivalence

Aaron Haspel moves away from literature and culture to ruminate on the future of technology. In his other life he is a software developer and has some interesting insights into the future of programming, development tools, and outsourcing. As someone in the same field, being involved in the development of consumer software, I share much of his concerns, and to a certain degree, his ambivalence.

He writes,"Hardware, by contrast, improves so rapidly that there's a law about it. It is a source of constant reproach to software, which has no laws, only rueful aphorisms: "Adding people to a late software project makes it later," "right, fast, cheap: choose two," and the like."

And, "Certainly if, as we baseball geeks say, past performance is the best indicator of future performance, I wouldn't hold my breath for orders-of-magnitude productivity improvements. On the other hand, bad as software is, enormous sums are poured into it, large segments of the economy depend on it, and the regulators do not even pretend to understand it. This all bodes well for 2020."

There are certainly arguments to be made for why the software industry is in its infancy, and development of new technologies will continue to stimulate new industries and revitalize existing ones. And at the same time, ourtsourcing to inexpensive job markets will require us in the industry to stay ahead of the curve. The excitement and fear that this can combine to create, is about as close to what I imagine sky diving to feel like as I ever plan to get.

Read the whole thing here.
Happy Birthday, Fool!

Go wish George, he of the Fool in the Forest, a happy birthday. We may differ on some issues, but on subjects cultural or the uses of the grape, he is unimpeachable.

Friday, December 05, 2003


Via Pen-Elayne, I discovered that Neil Gaimon has a blog (will, most certainly be added to the blogroll), and via Neil, part 2 of Arie Kaplan's article on Jews in Comics.

A thoughtful essay on discovering Film as Art, and the advent of Video and Cable as an introduction to the Classics by Terry Teachout today.

I grew up in major markets with lots of TV stations showing classics, a Father who loved old movies, and Art & Revival houses being a regular stop from high school on. Even though my journey to film as art might be a bit different than Terry, I agree completely with him, "the fact remains that most people see most movies at home, which is infinitely better than not seeing them at all."

And for better or worse, with DVD, Home Theater, HDTV and Widescreen TVs the home viewing experience will only become better and more pervasive.

Read the whole thing here.
Before Middle Earth...

Via the Blowhards, Polly Frost on Peter Jackson's Dead Alive. One of the best, if not most extreme, Zombie splatter flicks ever made. And it is actually very funny as well. Nice to see it getting some attention.

Read the whole thing here.
Fear and Loathing

Mickey Kaus often seems to me to be one small step from stepping over the edge into Christopher Hitchen's world, who along with Chris Matthews and Zell Miller, give the name Democrat new meaning. (And that new meaning is Republican). The Mickster can be a reflexive contrarian who would rather bash the Clintons and Dean, while he praises the Gropenfuhrer and the Boy King.

But today I have to give full points to Kaus, if only for literary references. In a piece on why Kerry should drop out of the race he offers this...

"But what can Kerry say that isn't even more humiliating than seeing it through? "I realize my wife Teresa needs me more than my country needs me"? That won't cut it. "I've decided to take time out to learn the Web so I can compete in future campaigns" and "I'm entering rehab at an undisclosed location to recover from my vicious Ibogaine habit. I make no excuses" are too trendy. ..."

For those of you who may not be fans of the Good Doctor, here (via Amazon's inside the book search) are the salient passages.

You can read Kaus' permalink free entry here.


[UPDATE:] Eric Alterman gives a more thoughtful and ulitmately useful appraisal of John Kerry. Here.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Showcase Votes

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:

In the realm of politics...

Bark Bark Woof Woof: More on Moore, Who Is No More
A piece that had me nodding in agreement.

And in the non-political (happily this week there were a couple to choose from)...

Blown Fuse: Bestiality is a no-no.
Just cuz I like animal stories.

Get your RSS here! has the quintessential article on RSS. What is it, where can I get it. Scott Rosenberg tells all. Click here.

Also at Salon, is Drudge a Dupe for the Dems?

The always informative and entertaining Dahlia Lithwick is on a bit of a roll at Slate, with this piece on a Wingnut's quest for Vince Foster crime scene photos and yesterday's informative article on the Locke v. Davey establishment clause case.

TPM has an interesting piece today on the stage managed Presidency.

The SF Chronicle reports on a group of scientists and Steinbeck scholars who will be retracing the steps of the author and his friend Doc Rickets from "The Log From the Sea of Cortez," from Monterey Bay to the Sea of Cortez. Where do I sign up.

That's Sir Mick to you! But Keith is not amused. Here.

And speaking of "Sirs". Sad to hear that David Hemmings has passed away. Blowup, remains a favorite.

The other Roger Ailes has some excerpts from Mel Gibson's version of the bible that they must have left out in my copy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Unhappy Families

Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, "All happy families resemble one another while every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Which leads us to our quote of the day.

Tina Weymouth at the height of the (all too public) squabbles between her and David Byrne, speaking on Byrne's collaboration with Brian Eno...

"By the time Brian and David finished working together for three months, they were dressing like one another. I can see them when they're 80 years old and all alone. There'll be David Bowie, David Byrne and Brian Eno, and they'll just talk to each other."


This is all happily behind us and a new Talking Heads box set is coming out.

[Quotes via]
A Fine Friendship

How did an obscure philologist, and the scholarly author of a couple of slim books of verse go on to become the greatest story tellers of the twentieth century? The symbiosis between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein is described in detail in today's article. Tolkein brought Lewis back to his faith, which inspired him to produce his greatest works, and Lewis encouraged and prodded Tolkein to complete the Middle Earth saga. Without this relationship, neither Middle Earth nor Narnia might have ever come to be.

There influence upon each other continued beyond religion. Tolkein recalled of Lewis, "'The unpayable debt that I owe to [Lewis] was not 'influence' as it is ordinarily understood but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my 'stuff' could be more than a private hobby.' "

Tolkein's influence on Lewis did not end at encouraging his belief in Christianity, but as Steven Hart writes, "... the debt did not end there. Lewis quickly built a reputation as an explainer of Christianity, but he would hardly be remembered today if his fame rested solely on books like 'The Problem of Pain' (1940), with their bullying style and legalistic method of argument. The man who had returned to faith through myth and poetry seemed to think he could lawyer his readers through the gates of heaven. This point was not lost on Lewis' critics, particularly those within the faith. 'The problem of pain is bad enough,' one clergyman groused, 'without Mr. Lewis making it worse.' "

Their relationship had some ups and downs. In later years Tolkein criticized Lewis for mixing his mythology in the Chronicles of Narnia (Germanic Santa Claus rubs elbows with Greek deities), but when the Middle Earth trilogy was complete Lewis came to its defense. And there must have been some loving respect even when Tolkein was fashioning his tale, since as told in the Salon article, Lewis was the template for Treebeard. Haroom!

"Tolkien repaid the favor in 'The Lord of the Rings' by giving some of Lewis' mannerisms to Treebeard, the ligneous leader of the tree-like Ents -- chiefly his booming voice and constant throat-clearing. And it's not too far a stretch to find a faint dig at Lewis' nonstop literary productivity when Tolkien has Treebeard describe Entish as 'a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it unless it is worth taking a long time to say.' "

Hart concludes, "The long-overdue arrival of a proper film adaptation of 'The Lord of the Rings,' courtesy of Peter Jackson, gives this story a fitting coda. A film version of the first of the Narnia books, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' will soon go into production in New Zealand. The enterprise was finally able to go forward because of the huge success of Jackson's "Lord of the Rings," and will use some of the same production and design people, including the Weta special-effects shop that helped bring Middle-earth to earth.

"The repercussions of that 1931 conversation along the River Cherwell are still being felt. Even now, it seems, Tolkien and Lewis are helping each other out."

Yes, a fitting ending to the saga. As they say, read the whole thing here. (Day Pass or Subscription required)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Late to the Party

This is one of the reasons that I love DVD as a medium. I never watched West Wing before this last weekend. I knew that it was supposed to be quality drama, and that it had a great ensemble cast. But after years of Bochcoesque dramas, from Hill Street Blues to St. Elsewhere to LA Law to NYPD Blue to ER, I was so burnt out on yet another "must see" show that would obligate me to stay home or set the VCR every Wednesday come hell or high water. So I unconsciously boycotted West Wing.

After 3+ years of hearing how good it is, they have issued the first season on DVD. I thought to myself, what the heck, let's put it on the Netflix queue and give it a shot. Well thanks a lot, Warner Home Video, now I'm hooked!

This show is so intelligent and so funny and so engaging. Speaking for myself, it makes me nostalgic for the Clinton days when we had a smart, articulate president, surrounded by people with a passion for government. I know my conservative and libertarian friends will think that was exactly what was wrong with the Clinton years, but to those of us that think government can play a positive role in the lives of ordinary people, The West Wing is an idealized version of the way we would like to see the presidency. Oddly enough, my more conservative wife also fell in love with it. The humor and passion and intelligence of it also struck a cord with her.

So much for Wednesdays now. If you need me, you know where to find me, but don't call between 9 and 10.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Monday Morning Roundup

Hope everyone had a very pleasant and happy Thanksgiving. La Familia Futurballa most certainly did. this morning has a nice little roundup of the lower end of digital cameras that might make good stocking stuffers. Though my stocking rarely gets stuffed with $200 trinkets. is profiled at Salon. Worth reading (subscription or day pass required).

Triple your pleasure, triple your fun at Blogcritcs, with three postings on the Living Dead series. Here, here and here.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Voting for Damage

Again not too much in the non-political sphere, but here is my vote for a very nice environmental blog. Some things trump politics, or at least should.

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:
Damage: Global Warming Catastrophe - New Evidence
Real Magic

The kind of Bleat that I look forward to today. Lileks offers his awed assessment of the Two Towers Extended Edition DVD, which he watched along with the Fellowship Extended Edition in preparation for the release of the final installment of the LOTR trilogy. I actually had the same idea, and plan to spend my Thanksgiving Friday, in the Lazy Boy watching both of the extended edition DVDs. It is pretty much a days work, but I agree with James that these movies are pretty much the height of grandiose film making.

Lileks bleats, "When asked for my favorite movie I give the old standard reply - Casablanca, because it has everything I want in glorious Warner Brothers monophonic silvery-toned perfection. It's a movie in the sense that LOTR isn't. Short, self-contained, pop culture that effortlessly transcends its limitations (perhaps because it isn't trying to do anything of the sort.) But LOTR may be the most impressive thing I've ever seen on the screen."

This is a fair take. There are better movies that function purely as movies (I would list the aforementioned Casablanca, but also The Maltese Falcon and Touch of Evil as examples of pure movie making that functions on the level that James is describing), but the LOTR trilogy seems to offer a loftier experience more akin to the great epics and opera.

And James even manages to get some lilexia into the post without being overly cute. And he has a nice idea for The Fantastic Four movie.

Read the whole bleat here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Booklist Game

Kevin Drum at Calpundit has stumbled accross a most entertaining parlor game.

Take Clinton's list of 21 favorite books that has been so disparaged lately, count how many you have actually read and how many you have even heard of. Whoever has the highest sum total is the winner.

Much like Kevin, I count only 11 out of the 21 that I've even ever heard of and have read only one. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Happily, I can say that if I was coming up with my own 21, Marquez would probably make the short list.

Here is the list, so you too can play at home...

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Maya Angelou
"Meditations," Marcus Aurelius
"The Denial of Death," Ernest Becker
"Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963," Taylor Branch
"Living History," Hillary Rodham Clinton
"Lincoln," David Herbert Donald
"The Four Quartets," T.S. Eliot
"Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison
"The Way of the World: From the Dawn of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-First Century," David Fromkin
"One Hundred Years of Solitude," Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes," Seamus Heaney
"King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa," Adam Hochschild
"The Imitation of Christ," Thomas a Kempis
"Homage to Catalonia," George Orwell
"The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis," Carroll Quigley
"Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics," Reinhold Niebuhr
"The Confessions of Nat Turner," William Styron
"Politics as a Vocation," Max Weber
"You Can't Go Home Again," Thomas Wolfe
"Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny," Robert Wright
"The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats," William Butler Yeats

Have fun!
Poetry Shmoetry

Knowing shamefully little (in fact not knowing jack) about poetry, I would not even entertain the notion of joining in the fray of the battle of Oz(ymandias) lovers and haters. I read it in High School, liked it then, and that's about it. But I have enjoyed following this string between George Wallace (whose hiphop Ozymandias I linked to previously), Aaron Haspel and Mika Cooper. Since George has given me a peripheral mention in reference to another Ozymandias modernization by Howard Nemerov, who is the brother of someone I know a little bit about (or slightly more than the above mentioned jack), Diane Arbus.

I so enjoyed this more beat interpretation of the classic that I thought it must be linked to.

And with that, I go gentle into that good night.

Excellent Krugman in the NYT. Puts the whole question of "who's angry?" in perspective.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Herr Gropenfuher's spending cuts may not be so compassionate, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger presented lawmakers Monday with nearly $2 billion in midyear spending cuts aimed primarily at social programs, including payments to doctors who care for the poor and recreational programs for developmentally disabled children."

And that 2 bil should just about cover half of the repeal of the car tax. Watch this space!

In the Denver Post, Walter Cronkite offers an op-ed on Bush's penchant for unilaterlism.

Away from Politics, Terry Teachout has finally posted his review of The Looney Tunes Golden Collection, to which I added my two cent here. Terry likes it. I agree with him!. Read his blog posting here and the complete WSJ review here.

See you!

Monday, November 24, 2003

Very Witty Wilde

Don't know why this Monty Python skit came to mind, one of those archived bits of information that randomly surfaces from time to time, but surface it did. Perhaps the whole culture blogging thing and Terry Teachout's recent comments on the blogging community, which I commented on here.

So without further ado...

The Oscar Wilde Sketch

London 1895... The residence of Mr Oscar Wilde
(In WILDE's drawing room. A crowd of suitably dressed folk are engaged in typically brilliant conversation, laughing affectedly and drinking champagne)

PRINCE OF WALES: My congratulations, Wilde. You latest play is a great success. The whole of London's talking about you.
OSCAR: There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that it not being talked about.
(There follows fifteen seconds of restrained and sycophantic laughter)
PRINCE: Very very witty... very very witty.
WHISTLER: There's only one thing in the world worse than being witty and that is not being witty.
(Fifteen seconds more of the same)
OSCAR: I wish I had said that.
Whistler: You will, Oscar, you will.
(More laughter)
OSCAR: Your majesty, have you met James McNeill Whistler?
PRINCE: Yes, we've played squash together.
OSCAR: There is only one thing worse than playing squash together, and that is playing it by yourself.
I wish I hadn't said that.
WHISTLER: You did, Oscar, you did.
(A little laughter)
PRINCE: I've got to get back up the palace.
OSCAR: Your Majesty is like a big jam doughnut with cream on the top.
PRINCE: I beg your pardon?
OSCAR: Um... it was one of Whistler's.
WHISTLER: I never said that.
OSCAR: You did, James, you did.
(The PRINCE OF WALES stares expectantly at WHISTLER)
WHISTLER: ... Well, You Highness, what I meant was that, like a doughnut, um, your arrival gives us pleasure... and your departure only makes us hungry for more.
Your Highness, you are also like a stream of bat's piss.
PRINCE: What?!?
WHISTLER: It was one of Wilde's. One of Wilde's.
OSCAR: It sodding was not! It was Shaw!
SHAW: I... I merely meant, Your Majesty, that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.
PRINCE (accepting the compliment): Oh.
(To PRINCE)Your majesty is like a dose of clap. Before you arrive is pleasure, and after is a pain in the dong.
PRINCE (Loudly): WHAT?
WHISTLER and OSCAR: One of Shaw's, one of Shaw's.
SHAW: You bastards. Um... what I meant, Your Majesty, what I meant...
OSCAR: We've got him, Jim.
WHISTLER and OSCAR: Come on, Shaw-y.
SHAW: I merely meant...
OSCAR: Come on, Shaw-y.
WHISTLER: Let's have a bit of wit, then, man.
SHAW: (Blows raspberry)
(The PRINCE shakes SHAW's hand. Laughter all around)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Odds and Ends

Returned last night from "vacation". Odd how a week away can be more tiring than work. I've discovered that the optimal time in Las Vegas is about 3 days. Stay for 4 at your own risk.

If you are out that direction, I highly recommend a jaunt to Red Rock Canyon, just outside the city (though the city of Las Vegas is rapidly encroaching on the outskirts of the park). Hopefully some pictures will follow soon, but processing, scanning, posting, can take a bit of time. Be sure to check in at Futurballa Photography, and of course, a posting will find its way to the blog.

Most entertaining sign in Vegas is the offices of the Las Vegan Magazine that I mistook for a vegetarian restaurant.

Friend George is in rare form at the Fool, rapping Shelley.

Hopefully not too late, but here is my vote for the political entry at the TLB Showcase. Only one non-political entry, so I'll pass on that. Come on you budding culture bloggers, let's hear from you!

Anarchy Xero: Winding the Iraq Deathwatch

Normal blogging duties will resume tomorrow along with normal work duties.


Saturday, November 15, 2003

Not a Heather

I'm still in San Jose, and was making my daily blog rounds in between running some errands and came across Terry Teachout's defense of the blogosphere.

I must chime in. As a new kid on the blogging block, relatively speaking, I can say that there are a few established bloggers, and even mainstream media types, like Terry, who will blogroll a new guy, or give him a mention as Aaron Haspel has been so kind to do for yours truly. And there's NZ Bear who gives newbies a chance to promote themselves through the New Blog Showcase.

All in all, with few exceptions, the blogosphere is a pretty friendly place where even unknowns like myself can get a link or a blogroll, if he even occasionally has something interesting to share. The trick is to join in, dive into the deep end, comment on what others write, be willing to share your opinions. Sometimes you may get criticized for a posting and even occasionally flamed, but that is part of the game, and really the goal of blogging is just to get a bit of oxygen for your thoughts and ideas.

And as Terry said, "Above all, blogging is fun."

Friday, November 14, 2003

Where did we go right?

Reviewing the Rosie O'Donnell production of the musical about Boy George (no, I'm not kidding), Terry Teachout has a classic line, that I just had to share.

TT quips, "If Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom had produced "Taboo" instead of "Springtime for Hitler," they'd have stayed out of jail... ."

To coin a phrase, read the whole thing here.
Viva Las Vegas

The wife and I are heading out on a well deserved vacation, so postings may be sporadic this next week. I'm taking the trusty iBook, recently upgraded with a bigger hard drive (a tale for another day), and a bag full o' cameras. So at the very least I will return with good stories and pictures for the photography site. But, who knows, if internet connectivity presents itself along the way, there might even be some postings from on the road.

In the meantime, visit Futurballa Photography. My good chum and conservative counterpart, George Wallace at A Fool in the Forest (it is said if we ever meet the universe will self destruct, but that is patently untrue). Make good use of the blogroll (to your right, please keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times). And take a gander at the League of Liberals and its ever growing list of members.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

Casting a Vote

There were a few nice political postings, but not much in the non-political area this week at the New Blog Showcase, so I'll just be casting one vote for fellow League member, And Then...

And Then...: Late Night With Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
You've Lost That Loving Feeling

It's been several days, but I forgot to mention the passing of Bobby Hatfield, half of the blue eyed soul band of the Sixties, The Righteous Brothers.

Yes, they did soul with a face that white America could accept, just like when Pat Boone sang Little Richard songs, but the difference was that these guys had a voice and a sound that crossed racial lines.

They are a bit before my time, but I have an older sister who was a big fan of theirs ever since she saw them warm up for The Beatles in the early sixties (either San Francisco or Vegas, not certain). So I heard them a lot growing up.

Bill Medley spoke at Hatfield's funeral yesterday. He said, "I'm going to miss our two-part harmony. I'm going to miss our rock and roll. I'm going to miss looking to my right on stage and seeing my friend." Addressing Hatfield, he added, "I want you to rest as well as you lived."

The CNN article can be read here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Blogger Alert!

Don't let this happen to you.
My Top 10

The last post inspired me to respond with my own 10 best.

1. This Is Spinal Tap
2. A Hard Day's Night
3. The Wall
4. Tommy
5. Don't Look Back
6. Rock & Roll High School
7. The Doors
8. The Decline of Western Civilization
9. Help
10. Yellow Submarine

And 5 best Concert Films.

1. The Last Waltz
2. Stop Making Sense
3. Gimme Shelter
4. Rust Never Sleeps
5. Woodstock
...these go to eleven

It's official. This is Spinal Tap is the best rock movie ever!

Here is the rest of the list ---
The top 10 rock-related films are:

1. This Is Spinal Tap

2. A Hard Day's Night

3. Sid & Nancy

4. High Fidelity

5. Almost Famous Untitled: The Bootleg Cut

6. Velvet Goldmine

7. Desperately Seeking Susan

8. Hedwig & The Angry Itch

9. Rock 'N' Roll High School

10. 24 Hour Party People

I would agree with about half, but the number one is a sure thing.

Concert films were handled in a separate poll. The Band's The Last Waltz beat Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and The Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter in a list to find the Best Rock Concert on DVD.
Don't Mess Around With Bill

As my regular readers might have noticed, the Al Franken, Fox News, Bill O'Reilly dustups have been a bit of a pet project here at Futurballa. Last evening, I saw something that has a peripheral relationship that kind of made me do a double take. Fox's O'Reilly, on the Spin Zone show, began to do one of his regular, boy has our justice system gone awry and look at the librul judges, shows. The story was about a judge who blocked an FBI sting operation against child pornographer because the FBI had overreached in some way.

Of course we won't know the way that the FBI over reached, because O'Really's guests included a retired FBI agent who had not been involved in this operation for over a year and Chuck Norris, who was there to pimp some family friendly internet service provider, but who appeared to have absolutely nothing to offer in terms of the case at hand. There was no legal expert or professor of constitutional law who could shed some light on why the judge might have found that this particular operation violated the constitutional rights of its targets.

What was interesting about this little story is who the judge was. The judge in question was one Denny Chin, who happens to be the same jurist who threw out the Fox copyright infringement lawsuit against Al Franken as being totally without merit. Is this a warning to judges throughout America? Don't mess with Fox or you might be the target of a Spin Factor report! I knew Bill was thin skinned, but this seems to be just plain vindictive.

Sorry no links, O'Really hasn't posted this story yet on the Fox website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

What's Up Doc?

I don't subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (for obvious reasons), and Terry Teachout, if he has gotten around to it, has not yet shared his take on The Looney Tunes Golden Collection, so I'll jump out ahead. I'm sure he will have more interesting things to say on the subject than I, but here goes.

I've only gotten through the first disk so far, which focuses, quite pleasantly, on Bugs Bunny. It has 14 shorts and an enjoyable collection of extras, including a history of the development of Bugs, Elmer Fudd, and Yosemite Sam, who was patterned after Tunes director, Friz Freleng. Some nice bits from the early Bugs Bunny TV show are also included. The selection of shorts is good, but not perfect. Some obvious classics are being held back from future releases, but this is a solid collection including, "What's Up Doc", "The Bunny of Seville", "Water, Water, Every Hare", and "Baseball Bugs".

The other disks focus on the many other great Looney Tunes characters, including Daffy, Foghorn Leghorn, Roadrunner, and the list goes on. There are 58 shorts in all and extras on each disk. The restorations are very nice, and most importantly, they are as funny as ever. Looney Tunes, were always the witty counterweight to the softer Disney shorts. While Disney has always had very smooth and detailed animation, they were always geared to the younger audience. Warner, made more animated and frenetic cartoons that had the silliness and characters the kids loved, but the wit that could entertain adults. For my generation the Jay Ward cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle were the obvious heir of Warner's sharp wit.

It is a fine collection. My only caveat is that WB will probably own my wallet for at least 3 or 4 more sets. Curses!
Elsewhere (on the culture front)

Mickelthwait posits, to paraphrase Marquez, Love in the Time of Multiple Remotes.

DVD Journal introduces me to a new word. Quadrilogy, as in "Don't want to shell out a B. Franklin for Fox's upcoming Alien Quadrilogy box set? Never fear all the four films will be released individually in two-disc sets on Jan. 3, while the ninth, "bonus" disc will be available only for slipcase buyers."

Forager 23 has a very nice analysis of the X-Men. (My current comic book reading is focused on Sandman.)

OGIC goes to see La Jetee, and tells us that if we are in Chicago not to miss Jules et Jim. "Shakespeare."

Couple of League Links

The Mahablog provides a bit of history of Armistice Day.

Different Strings has a heartrwarming story about Larry Flynt. Who'd a thunk?

Poison Kitchen picks Devil in the Dark as the best Star Trek episode ever.

Josh Marshall makes some interesting points on why Howard Dean may not be "the man" just yet. In summary, his main point is that the Dean electorate while united, does not necessarily reflect the party at large, and as the field narrows that will become more evident. Read the whole thing here, and John Judis' response here.

Honestly, I haven't made up my mind yet, and expect the field to be significantly narrowed by the time we get to the California Primary, which should make my life easier. As it stands I could live with Dean, Clark or Kerry, but expect my choice to be between Dean and Clark. To coin a phrase, stay tuned.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Diane Arbus Reevaluated

It must have been around 1975 that I first became aware of Diane Arbus. During my junior or senior year in high school the famous Aperture monograph of her work (the one with the twins on the cover, originally published in 1972, one year after her death) was circulating. I don't remember if it was a student or a teacher who brought it in, but we were all fascinated by her odd pictures of Transvestites, Twins, nudists and Jewish Giants. To my teenage eyes it held the fascination of a freakshow, but even then I understood that Arbus was not being voyeuristic, but that the images I was looking at were oddly loving and intimate.

In some ways, Arbus was my first introduction to fine art photography. Before that, photography to me was to be found in the pages of Life or National Geographic. Now my tastes lean more towards artists like Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Bill Brandt, and Man Ray. Sometimes Arbus seems like the stuff of college girls. Kind of the Sylvia Plath of photography, the progenitor of Cindy Sherman. But still she carries a fascination. Her subjects are so obviously at ease with her. She has intimated herself into their lives and they have opened their doors to her and bared something very personal to her camera.

As a photographer myself, I'm more of a landscape and architecture type. Occasional candid street photography, but never what Arbus did. She so obviously befriended these people, lived with them, spoke to them without judgment, and in the end recorded them at their most vulnerable. That in itself is a talent that I am in awe of. She is an observer of humanity in all its frailties, and as much as her work is flawed in terms of often static compositions and the use of full frame 6x6 images can be disconcerting, it continues to engage the viewer and to invite the observer into the lives of people that we would ordinarily turn away from. Her fascination with the beauty in what others might see as ugly reminds me in some ways of the stories of Flannery O'Connor.

There is a beauty and an innocence to her images that even today is very powerful. It is often necessary with an artist like Arbus, who has committed suicide and become an icon of sophomoric angst, to forget about how you reacted as a teenager and look at her with fresh eyes.

The current show at SFMoma, which I attended last Friday does just that. It brings together over 300 pieces and presents many works that have never been exhibited before. They are shown in a roughly chronological order and show her development as a photographer, an artist, and a technician. The exhibit has been memorialized in a new book as well, Diane Arbus Revelations. If you get an opportunity to see the show, forget your preconceptions and you will perhaps find weaknesses in her work you never saw before, but you will also find that Arbus has earned her place in the history of art photography.

Friday, November 07, 2003

I Link to a Fool

I just noticed that my Google ad banner on Futurballa Blog has a link to a site called, which features true stories from the workplace. Oddly enough I don't work with fools (in general), and have never written on the subject. So it must be a case of mistaken identity, because quite often, I link to a Fool.

....and elsewhere

Kevin Drum wonders if Arnold is hiring investigators to look into his past groping behavior, couldn't they pool resources with OJ's investigators?

And remember those new neologisms I linked to from Atrios? Well one of my LOL compatriots has brought to my attention that some fine person has created a whole dictionary of them.

Might be another light day beyond this short missive. Planning a field trip that, if all goes as expected, should produce some blogging grist for this blogger's mill.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Insert Blogging Cliche Here

Yes it is the inevitable, light blogging day, not a hiatus, just away from the computer most of the day fulfilling other responsibilities.

Couple of niceties from About Last Night.

First Terry gives a bit on why attendance is lagging at The Producers. TT of course, puts it down to the show being dated, which is something we here at Futurballa, heartily disagree with. The good news is that Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane will be returning for a 14 week stint to inject some life into the production. Terry is even kind enough to link to his WSJ piece that is, glory be, in the free section. Read my take on The Producers here, and Mr. Wallace's assessment here.

Secondly OGIC shares a smidgen of Gorey.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Had enough of Blogging?

More neologisms from Atrios.

I doubt if any of these will really catch on, but amusing nonetheless.
Vote Early, Vote Often

Here are my votes from the early entries at this weeks New Blog Showcase.

Nice piece on "Mr. Bring it on"
Clareified: Death By Invitation

And in the non-political category, how could I resist a "Halloween is my favorite holiday" posting from someone calling themselves Mr. Cranky?
Mr_Cranky: A Halloween Story
To Blog or Not...

George Wallace and Aaron Haspel engage in a discussion on the use of the word Blog. I have no dog in this fight. I respect, read, and link to both of these gentlemen, and George is a dear personal friend. However, I can't get too upset about the use of jargon. As someone who works with software engineers for a living, I can tell you that without jargon we would be reduced to hand signals and grunts.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Not Here [Addendum]

Eric Alterman offers more insight into the item I noted below from Josh Marshall. The last word in the truth about Linda Tripp. Here.

And Terry Teachout tackles the cancellation of CBS' Reagan miniseries, and has some very interesting things to say.
Read the whole thing here.
Not Here (Elsewhere)

At Salon (get thee a day pass or subscribe) Eric Boehlart has an excellent piece on the (mis)assumptions of BushCo going into Iraq.

This paragraph especially struck me.

"At the center of those plans was a unique brand of neocon wishful thinking that bordered on the fanciful, even delusional. As Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, told Salon this summer, "There doesn't appear to have been a contingency plan. It's scary but true. An underlying assumption of this whole campaign against Iraq and the larger campaign to remake the whole Middle East was that all we had to do is knock off Saddam Hussein and everything else would fall down obediently at our feet. The Iraqis themselves would welcome being liberated, the Syrians and Iranians would be cowed and start doing what we want, and all will be for the best in this best of all possible worlds.""

Joe Conason chimes in on a similar subject here.

Via SFGate this NYT story is an unfortunate reminder that the so called liberal media has no teeth.

Josh Marshall notes that irony is not dead.

Leaving politics, Michele Delio writing at debunks some myths around the Salem Witch trials and links to the University of Virginia's Salem Witch Trials Site. They actually happened one town over. Read it here.

Not surprisingly, Michael Blowhard hates Kill Bill. Read his evisceration here. (Earlier discussions can be found starting here and here.)

And thanks to the LOL for plugging my newest gallery.

Whale Power

This last weekend I watched Whale Rider. This film had provoked some controversy during its theatrical release because the producers had used a quote from Roger Ebert recommending the movie to "the whole family" on the advertisement. The film has a PG-13 because of a bit of language and a momentary shot of a marijuana pipe. The MPAA cried foul that the makers of Whale Rider were marketing a PG-13 movie to children, which is a no-no. Ebert entered the fray, arguing the ridiculousness of a ratings system that puts a fine film such as this in the same category as Scary Movie and Scream.

I will join Roger in saying "take the kids". This is a great movie about empowerment. There has been a recent spate of films from overseas about young women and girls overcoming the limitations and prejudices placed on them by society. Rabbit Proof Fence dealt with racism, and a journey home for 2 young girls across the Australian outback. It was an emotional and heartrending film. Bend it Like Beckham was a lighter look at an Indian family in modern England, and the culture clash that occurs when the youngest daughter wants to play soccer. And Whale Rider deals with a girl born to be a chief of her Maori tribe in New Zealand, but has to deal with her paternalistic and chauvinistic grandfather.

All of these movies have important things to say to the subject of female empowerment and simply of humans overcoming odds to live their dreams. As an adult, I enjoyed all three. Whale Rider, with its focus on a young girl, is a wonderful film to share with your children. It is life affirming and the language is very mild. The one drug reference is of the girl's slacker uncle trying to hide his pipe when she walks in on him. You never see him use it, and it is almost too quick to notice.

The ratings system is broken, and this case is the best example of why it needs to be revamped into something that might actually be useful to parents.

Monday, November 03, 2003

New Gallery at Futurballa Photography

A gallery of images taken in Los Angeles last month are up at Futurballa Photography. They are posted in Black and White Gallery II, and include a number of interiors at the Bradbury Building, perhaps most famous as the location where scenes of Blade Runner were shot. Some exteriors in downtown LA around the Bradbury. And a number of shots taken on Fairfax Avenue, home of the best delis and bakeries on the West Coast, in my humble opinion.

The Bradbury shots were taken with Ilford Delta 100 using a Sigma 20mm lens on my Canon Elan 7. The shots on Fairfax were shot with Ilford HP5 with a Canon 1.8 50mm lens. For those of you who care about that sort of thing. The images were scanned from negatives on an Epson 2400 Scanner and the Gallery was created in Photoshop CS.

Enjoy and Mahalo
Count Your Pixels

Nice article at on why pixels matter. Does a pretty good job of clearing up some of the mystery around digital photography and pixel count.

Sorry that it's more of a Linking Day than a Thinking Day. Not enough time in the day.

Putting Blogs to Good Uses

One of my LOL compatriots, Grateful Dread on the Web, is participating in Blog for a Cure to Diabetes, along with BlogCritics he is trying to raise awareness of the disease through his blog. This is a fine and noble purpose for whatever publicity can be garnered via the blogging medium.

Pay a visit, get informed, and maybe get involved!
Scanning for you

Spent a good part of Sunday scanning negatives from my recent trip to LA (read about it here) and hope to have an update to Futurballa Photography soon. There are some interesting shots of the Bradbury Building in downtown LA and a bit of street photography in my old shtetl. Still have a roll or two from old town Pasadena to digitize and after spending a bit of time updating some software, time ran out.

Keep your eyes peeled.

Other matters...

I noticed this morning that the ecosystem has moved to a unique links method for ranking. Since joining the League of Liberals, I had skyrocketed to undeserved and lofty status in the blogging ecosystem. Today, I'm back to a more realistic Flappy Bird level. Kudos to the Bear for discouraging the playing of the system.

Normally, I would never link to this "news" outlet, but the link comes via Buzzflash, and one wonders, if true, could this be Tweety's swan song?

Friday, October 31, 2003

Trick or Treat

I arrived exactly one week before Halloween, and my father weaned me on Universal horror movies.

Halloween is my favorite holiday.

Who wouldn't want to run wild with your school chums, unsupervised by adults, dressed as your favorite super hero or a ghost, knocking on neighborhood doors, demanding candy, and getting it? Later years, college parties that involved sneaking surreptiously into the Cal drama department's costume warehouse to find the best disguise. Halloween is the best.

Sadly, it ain't what it used to be. Only the Simpsons seem to keep up the tradition of the Halloween special. AMC is the only station that can be counted on to have a horror marathon. Fewer and fewer kids show up at the door every year. Pumpkins are overpriced and seem to go moldy so much faster. I'm too old to dress up and knock on doors. And too much candy makes my teeth hurt. But I haven't given up.

Let's bring back Halloween. Parents, dress 'em up and take your kids out. Neighbors, decorate your home and have lots of candy on hand. Sitcom makers, have a Halloween special and don't show it two weeks after Halloween. TV Stations, show Dracula and Frankenstein. Read a scary story aloud.

You too, can help.

If we all pitch in, we can save Halloween.

Feel the Power

Stanford Law Professor, Lawrence Lessig, writing for Wired, sings the praises of grassroots blogs and their potential influence in the upcoming presidential election.

Speaking in particular of the Dean campaign, Lessig states, "Enter the blog, a space where people gab. As implemented by most campaigns, it is a place where candidates gab down to the people.

"But when done right, as the Howard Dean campaign apparently is doing, the blog is a tool for building community. The trick is to turn the audience into the speaker. A well-structured blog inspires both reading and writing. And by getting the audience to type, candidates get the audience committed. Engagement replaces reception, which in turn leads to real space action. The life of the Dean campaign on the Internet is not really life on the Internet. It's the activity in real space that the Internet inspires.

"None of this works unless the blog community is authentic. And that requires that members feel they own their gabbing space. A managed community works about as well as a managed economy. So the challenge is to find a way to build community without the community feeling built."

Today the ecosystem, tomorrow the world.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Futurballa Writes Like a Guy

I've come across this little gem from Bookblog in a couple of places lately, including About Last Night and All Facts and Opinions.

Just copy and paste a sample of your writing into the Genie, tell it if it is fiction, nonfiction, or a blog entry, and click submit. The Genie will tell you if the writer is a male or female.

Good fun had by all.

Click here to play.
Stalking Atrios

Crooked Timber chimes in on the Donald Luskin suing Atrios affair. Let's see Perle threatens to sue Sy Hersch, Fox (O'Reilly) try to sue Franken, and now Luskin goes after Atrios. Is this a trend?

How many courts can thin skinned conservatives get laughed out of?

42 (Sorry, but that is always the answer).

Be sure to read Andrew Northrup's comments. Classic!

Kevin Drum comes to Atrios' defense as well.

And Atrios has kindly posted a list of blogs commenting on this bit of inanity.

A very entertaining Michael Blowhard shares his thoughts on noisy movie patrons and geezers who narrate the Kama Sutra. Read it here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Time to vote

Here are a some worthy reads from this weeks new blog showcase:

ink from the squid: investing in the future


[Update: Because of some late entries, I've changed my votes.]
Are you a linker or a thinker?

That's the question that Aaron Haspel asks at God of the Machine.

Aaron argues for thinkers, "Now we non-portal types don't rightly cotton to this. I can't speak for Cowen, but I read the blogs I do precisely because they offer the author, and the author alone; "too much," Steven Den Beste possibly excepted, is never enough. Blogs are amusing because they are personal. The "cream" of a blog always means more to the regular reader, who knows the author's foibles and obsessions, than the skimmer who happens by only for that. By Cowen's logic book-readers would restrict themselves to anthologies, and music-listeners to greatest hits. Cowen himself writes an entertaining blog where he ignores his own advice. "

Bloggers do seem to enjoy ruminating on blogging, and this blogger is no exception. I'm still fairly new to blogging, but have made a bit of a commitment, at least to myself, to post something everyday, Monday to Friday, unless I'm out of town. I hope that my blog is more of a thinking blog than a portal blog, but I do find that I may not have something to say every day, that even interests me, much less a wider audience. Links can be a way to share my interests and promote bloggers I respect and enjoy. Nothing wrong with an "Elsewhere" posting, but not a daily dose of elsewhere and nothing but. At the end of the day, I blog to share my interests, my thoughts, and perhaps a bit of myself. Generating hits is a goal, but not an end in itself.

Usually it is another blogger's post that gets me to thinking on a subject. The result, as in this case, is to join the party and chime in with my thoughts on the subject. Personally I don't read portal blogs very much. When I make my daily round of blogs, I look for opinions. Whether it be culture or politics I want to gain some insight not just into what the author thinks, but why he thinks it.

And now, Rocky, some bad poetry.

Some days I link,
some days I think.
Even when I think I link.
And so I think,
then link...
Then think some more.


[Update: George Wallace comments]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Political Compass

I come out somewhere in between the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela on the political spectrum.

Click here to take the test.
Blowhard on Books

Thought provoking post on the future of book publishing by Michael Blowhard. Give a young person a book, preferably fiction, for Christmas and let's hope that Michael is overly pessimistic.

Read the whole thing here.
Hoops Time

Baseball ended sadly in the division playoffs for yours truly, when both The Giants and The A's got knocked out, but hope springs eternal in a young man's heart (or should I say, hoops spring eternal? [ed. sorry]).

I pretty much divide the year into baseball season and basketball season, and whatever bit of time is in between is some sort of nebulous dreamstate. It should be a season of wierdness and loathing, with all eyes on Kobe and LeBron.

Here is the SF Chron's David Steele with his season preview.

Hold your hats boys, it's going to be one hell of a ride.

Monday, October 27, 2003

You can run...

The Sun newspaper quoted a source at the school as saying: "By the time the afternoon lessons began, there was no hiding what they had done."

A prank gone wrong. Indeed.

The headline of this AP piece looks more like an Onion headline.

Bush blames rise in Iraq violence on U.S. success

And what is it with the Onion lately. I thought that satire involved exaggeration. Seems like they are just reporting the news.

Some recent headlines at the satirical weekly include...
Muscleman Put in Charge of World's Fifth Largest Economy
CIA-Leak Scapegoat Still At Large

Just looks like the evening news to me.

[update: should thank friend and coworker Tom for pointing these Onion headlines out]
Thanks to TT and/or OGIC

Futurballa has been added to the Sites to See at About Last Night. Thanks Terry and OGIC.
What, my art?

Today's Bleat has some interesting things to say about accessibility in art while comparing The Rite of Spring to Night on Bare Mountain, following a viewing of Fantasia.

This got me to thinking about the whole subject of accessibility. Why is it that as soon as something can be understood by the masses it gets the middle or lowbrow tag? While there is certainly much great art that requires work on the part of the viewer, and rightly so, if something can be understood on a more visceral level should it be classified as somehow a lesser achievement.

Lileks describes the experience of hearing Night on Bare Mountain, "'Night on Bare Mountain' - now, that's different. It's less adventurous than 'Rite,' less experimental, more literal and kitschily dramatic. And hence more popular. I don't say that with rolled eyes: of course, the masses love it. They would. No, it's more popular for a reason. If you played 'Rite' for someone in a culture with a completely different musical tradition, it would probably baffle them: what the hell? But play them 'Night' and they'd get it right away: this is scary music. Is it about dragons? If so they are very powerful dragons. Many people die, I think. But it's not just disorder and evil - it's disorder presented in the orderly terms of tonal music. It makes sense. It even has a plot. Plus - and this just occurred to me - it clearly exists in a world in which there is an opposite force to the events we're hearing described. We know what is going on in 'Night' is wrong without being told; you just sense it. 'Rite' has no such moral framework. It's not amoral as much as pre-moral, and in a way that's worse. You don't even have the terms to describe why things are wrong."

I'd be interested in compiling a list of contemporary middlebrow entertainments that could still be considered Art (with a big A). Shakespeare was certainly written to entertain a broad audience, but the language has placed it solidly in the highbrow arena for modern audiences. This is actually true of many classics, that in their own time they may have been intended for a wider audience, but today are the domain of the literati. Does that mean that much of our contemporary popular art will be elevated in the future? There is the middlebrow that is firmly planted in the middle, the Ventriliquists, impersonators, comedy teams etc that have been discussed earlier. But there is also the popular literature that perhaps today is seen as a bit too middlebrow for the Universities to teach or serious critics to give attention. I'm referring to things like books by John Irving and Michael Chabon, musical theater, Coppola or Scorsese movies. Definitely popular entertainments, but of a quality that future generations may look at them differently.

Nominations are welcome.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Note to my readers

Just thought it would be prudent to let my regular readers know that the mood and subject matters of Futurballa will not be changing. This will remain a blog that showcases photography, art, cinema, literature, culture (low, middle and highbrow), technology and a dose of my brand of politics and humor.

My joining with the League of Liberals is something I do proudly, but this is not becoming any more of a political blog than it was before. Politics have always had their place on Futurballa, but person can't live by politics alone. As a past winner of the Truth Laid Bear New Blog Showcase, I felt it important to "give back", and support other bloggers who take a left of center stance. The league is doing a great job in doing just that.

If you share my views politcally, please click through to the League and check out some of the fine bloggers that they offer. But if you come here for other subjects, keep coming back. There will still be plenty of semi-educated musings by an ill informed culture lover. Moi.

Robin Hood

One of the prezzies I managed to score for my birthday was the beautifully restored, exemplary packaged, DVD edition of the 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. I had commented on this film briefly before (here) in response to Terry Teachout's discussion of Swashbucklers (here). Now that I have my own grubby little mittens on this fine DVD box, I can give a bit more of a personal assessment.

Teachout had this to say in reference to a showing of the film at the Film Forum, "Anyway, Generation Z was out in force and we all had a terrific time, except for a few dried-up spoilsports who kept turning around in their seats and shushing the fathers who were telling their children all about Robin Hood. Sure, I like a quiet theater, but to expect a dead hush at a Labor Day matinee of The Adventures of Robin Hood is just plain silly. Me, I didn't mind the background chatter one little bit. The newly restored Technicolor print was delicious-looking (no red is quite so red as Technicolor red), Erich Wolfgang Korngold's score was more thrilling than ever, and - glory of glories - they even showed a cartoon, Chuck Jones' "Rabbit Hood," a Bugs Bunny in which Errol Flynn makes a cameo appearance. I can't remember the last time I went to a matinee screening of an old-fashioned swashbuckler complete with cartoon. Probably not since I was a kid, and I had at least as much fun last Monday as I used to have watching Saturday-afternoon Audie Murphy double features at the Malone Theater in Sikeston, Missouri. The only thing missing was a newsreel.

"Was it art? No. Do I care? No. Man cannot live by art alone. He needs a little popcorn from time to time, and the occasional Bugs Bunny cartoon to go with it. Which is how I spent my Labor Day, thank you very much. "

I think Terry makes many of the salient points about the restored version. The technicolor is more vibrant than I can every remember. After years of faded prints on Saturday matinees it is a joy to see the color as it was originally intended. The score is indeed thrilling. The addition of a Looney Tunes short before the film, completes the experience, and the DVD includes a choice of two, the above mentioned Bugs Bunny and a Daffy Duck version of the legend. The Bugs Bunny is the better and more classic of the two. I part company only slightly with Terry on his use of the word "silly". Though he obviously means it fondly, I would hate the reader to think that this film is somehow not worth your time. It is good fun in a way that we are rarely allowed to have it in our era.

The DVD package, as I've stated, is excellent. Along with the beautiful restoration and the two animated shorts, there is a plethora of extras that are actually worth watching. Feature length commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. A Warner documentary with Leonard Maltin. A collection of Errol Flynn trailers. Documentaries on Robin Hood in history and in the movies. Errol Flynn home movies. More vintage short features, and more. I often find myself ignoring the extras on these overloaded "special editions", but these are truly extras worth having and add to the movie watching experience.

Let's hope that move classics of Hollywood's golden age receive similar treatment in the future.