Friday, January 30, 2004

Friday Phlogging

My Office Toys. My pride and joy is the Sigmund Freud Action Figure. Does anyone know where I can get a My Dinner With Andre Action Figure?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

McGovern '72

Via today is an interview with former Senator and Presidential candidate George McGovern. I met Mr. McGovern once. I was thirteen years old, and had volunteered for his campaign, spending hours after school stuffing envelopes. The LA headquarters office was invited to attend one of those couple of hundred a dollar a plate fundraisers for the cost of the food. It was at one of the older, classier LA Hotels like the Biltmore, and a good portion of Hollywood had turned out. I was certainly starstruck to be rubbing elbows with many movie and TV stars. I remember seeing Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, and Dennis Weaver, among others. Being 13 I was just as impressed to see the guy who played McCloud as I was to see Warren Beatty.

Towards the end of the evening a line formed to shake hands with the candidate, and the campaign office manager pushed me to join the queue. When it was my turn, I was pretty well speechless at meeting the candidates, but he smiled down at me and shook my young hand.

George McGovern did not win that year, but he was right about Vietnam and would have saved the country the shame of Watergate. He was a good man and a thinker who continues to express himself intelligently on issues of war and peace.

Read the interview here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists
Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel have joined forces to produce a manifesto for musicians. Artist manifestos seem somehow something out of the 1920s that you would expect from Giacomo Balla or Tristan Tzara, but if anyone today has the creds to be writing manifestos, these are your guys. Call it perhaps Discreet Strategies for the new century.
Their pamphlet lists ideas for artists to explore once they're freed from the confines of the CD format. One might decide to release a minute of music every day for a month. Another could post several recorded variations of the same song and ask fans what they like best.
Click here to read the whole thing.

The Passion
Salon (subscription or daypass required) has an interview with the Reverend Mark Stanger of San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, who had the opportunity to view Mel Gibson's The Passion. He has some interesting viewpoints on the theological accuracy, and why Jews, Arabs and Christians should be concerned about the message of the film. Read it here.

Adams at 102
Friedrich Blowhard analyzes Ansel Adams' composition and offers some thoughts on Adams the artist. This is why I visit the Blowhards on a daily basis. A gem of a posting.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Kurt's Rejoinder

Looking through a book of Man Ray photographs yesterday, I came across a series of portraits of Dadaist artist and composer Kurt Schwitters. Schwitters is probably best known for his collages, but he is also the composer of the Ur Sonata, which was immortalized in Brian Eno's, Kurt's Rejoinder, from the album Before and After Science. The song features samples of a recording of the Ur Sonata in Schwitters' own voice.

I couldn't find the same images online, but I found this image that I believe was taken by his son.

It is very similar to the images in the Man Ray book. Notice his mouth. Could he be performing the Ur Sonata? In the images in the book, there were four, he had his lips pursed in a different shape in each image.

And Here is a Schwitters collage that is typical of his work.

Cabin Fever

As regular readers may be aware, I have a soft spot for horror and zombie movies. There was a time when George Romero, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenburg, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi et. al. were churning out top quality genre pix that were both fun and intelligent. But as with all things Hollywood, the execs take over and Jeepers Creepers 2 is the result.

Once in a while though, and usually from the indie/arthouse circuit comes a little film that harks back to the heyday of 70s and 80s horror. Cabin Fever is just such a movie.

An interesting homage to seventies and 80s horror films. An astute eye will pick up bits of Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, (a lot of) Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Rabid. Director Eli Roth hauls out every cliche in the book, but still manages to make a highly enjoyable film. Because of, more than in spite of the self-referential style.

It is a movie that cares about the details, and gets them right. Starting with the soundtrack, the "Mike Curb" pastiche of the generic pop music that these horror movie college kids listen too, is perhaps the first sign that this movie is extremely aware of itself. Spice that up with the fact that the "Hills Have Eyes" types party to folk music, and some John Carpenter style title music, and to add to the general eerieness of the whole thing, a number of themes by David Lynch collaborator, Angelo Badalamenti.

Roth also doesn't shy away from the requistie teen sex and nudity that was never missing from many of the seventies classic slasher and horror pix. Recent horror films seem to hug the PG13 rating for dear life, while pushing the envelope in violence and missing the boat in real scares.

It's got a fair bit of gore, no one will win an Oscar for their performance, it definitely looks low budget, and it is not for everybody, but for fans of the "classics" of the genre, it fills a need. The ending does haul out about five variations on classic horror movie endings. Could be a bit tighter. And the tounge is occasionally too firmly in cheek. Comic relief yes, make it into a borderline comedy, no.

It also stars "Boy Meets World's" Rider Strong, who has the best pornstar name in the business.

Update: After posting this I discovered that Polly Frost also had something to say about Cabin Fever. Broadly speaking, we agree. Read her review here.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

A New Gallery

I took these pictures on a trip down to the Big Sur and Point Lobos areas along the Monterey Coast on Highway 1 about a month ago. A photographically inclined friend and I headed out before sunrise to capture the morning light. It was a day of odd and changeable weather, but we had a few opportunities that involved perilous U-turns and screeching into turnoffs along the highway to catch a good view.

These images were shot in Kodak Ektachrome Transparency Film and scanned into Photoshop CS.

Click here to visit Futurballa Photography and then click on the Big Sur & Point Lobos Gallery link.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Goodbye Captain

Bad day in the obit column, we lost Ann Miller and I just read that Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan has passed away (here). The Captain, along with Romper Room, was the kid's show of my generation. A bit too young for Howdy Doody, and too old for Sesame Street, us Forty-Somethings were entertained and babysat by Captain Kangaroo and his pal Mr. Green Jeans, along with Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose. He was the surrogate grandfather of my generation.

Interesting factoid, Keeshan also played Clarabell the Clown on "The Howdy Doody Show" for five years.
Friday Phlogging

Looking through an iron turtle.

And staying on the theme. Looking through a....

Glass Onion

I told you about strawberry fields
You know the place where nothing is real
Well here's another place you can go
Where everything flows
Looking through the bent backed tulips
To see how the other half live
Looking through a glass onion

I told you about the walrus and me, man
You know that we're as close as can be, man
Well here's another clue for you all
The walrus is Paul
Standing on the cast iron shore, yeah
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet, yeah
Looking through a glass onion
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
Looking through a glass onion

I told you about the fool on the hill
I tell you man he's living there still
Well here's another place you can be
Listen to me
Fixing a hole in the ocean
Tryin' to make a dovetail joint
Looking through a glass onion

- Lennon and McCartney

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Once, Twice, Three Times a Classic

Aaron Haspel posted A Critic's Dictionary several days ago, but it took me until this morning to have a minor epiphany about what it is I disagree with. The salient paragraph, which I would take a (small amount) of issue with is this...
Surprise! Nothing is worth seeing or reading that isn't worth seeing or reading twice, and the second time you know how it turns out. Dickens wrote three endings for Great Expectations; Hollywood tests movies with alternate endings all the time. What happens in the last two pages or the last thirty seconds just cannot make that great a difference. The chick in The Crying Game is really a dude, and Kevin Spacey's Keyser Soze, OK? If you're watching a movie or reading a book to find out what's going to happen, I suggest, with all due respect, a more productive use of time, like filing your corns or catching up on the details of Britney's annulment.

While I agree with the basic premise that nothing is worth seeing that isn't worth seeing twice, I would, in fact, go Aaron one better and say that nothing is worth calling a classic (especially in terms of cinema) that isn't worth seeing thrice.

A couple of case studies.

The Usual Suspects: Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze. In the initial viewing we are in suspense, it's a puzzle to solve, we have the "ah hah" moment at the end. Second viewing we can watch to see how the director left clues for us, we can enjoy the irony of being in on the joke. Third viewing it remains a sharply written, well acted film, and even though we are familiar with the twist, it remains fun.

The Sixth Sense: First viewing, same as above. Second viewing, similarly, not too bad, because it is enjoyable to see where clues had been placed. Third viewing, don't bother, it's a bore.

Of these two, I would argue that The Usual Suspects is the really good movie, and that it takes the third viewing to establish that. Even a mediocre movie might deserve a second look, just to figure out where the mirrors were hidden, but there does have to be something beyond a twist to sustain a third viewing. Whether it be great dialog (see yesterday's post, here, for a snippet), great direction (Citizen Kane, it is of little consequence that you know what Rosebud is), or great acting. There are also movies, such as The Crying Game, or Memento that are all about the twist or the gimmick and hardly rate even a second viewing. However, in the case of The Sixth Sense, which is a clever movie but not a great movie, a lesser film may deserve, or at least remain enjoyable, for a second viewing.

Terry Teachout also had something to say on this (here), and thanks to Terry for a mention yesterday. Futurballa had a record (for this humble blog) number of hits. Welcome to our visitors from About Last Night. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Terry Teachout taunts me with a clue to the source of his favorite film scene in the update to this posting. The scene in question is indeed a doozy. It is definitely noir. I thought at first Chandler, but then thought possibly James M. Cain, maybe the The Postman Always Rings Twice, but after a little sleuthing on my part (with a bit of help from Terry's cryptic clue) found out I wasn't far off.

Double Indemnity.

And here is the scene in question...

There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff, 45 miles an hour.

How fast was I going, Officer?

I'd say around 90.

Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.

Suppose it doesn't take.

Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.

Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.

Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.
Blue Skies Again

It's been a bit gray here lately, so when a bit of clear blue peaks out, I must grab the trusty s400 from my jacket pocket where it lives and take a quick snap.
The Agony, The Agony

I hope for Terry Teachout's sake that Amazon is treating him better than Barnes and Noble is treating me. Shipping of The Rules of the Game has been delayed.

Heavens to Murgatroid!

And for the cinephiles among us Terry opines on Casablanca. And then gives his favorite bit of movie dialog, but I can't for the life of me place it. Terry, help me out here?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


A Mac, iMovie, a couple hundred bucks, and off to Sundance. Amazing what you can do with a computer and free software these days. From

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? I have.

Lisztomania... AC Douglas puts on his trenchcoat to solve a musical mystery. Here.

Couple of nice postings by Terry Teachout. Commenting on Lileks love of 60's opening credits here. On how a compulsive dogearer could never tear a page out of a book, here (and Terry, I'm with you 100% on this one). And on why blogs are the place for slightly late book reviews and it's ok to promote yourself, here.

And speaking of promoting yourself, shop at futurballa, here.

What Happened?

We will stay on politics for another posting because something great happened last night. Conventional Wisdom got a kick in the pants, and I always enjoy that. After weeks of listening to cable pundits (and I probably watch way too much cable news) say that Dean was unstoppable and the rest of the Dem candidates could just go home, things turned out very different in Iowa. John Kerry took 38%, John Edwards 32%, Dean came in a distant third with 18%, and Dick Gephardt is scheduled to drop out of the race today after garnering only 11%.

No one knows now what will happen in New Hampshire next week, where Wes Clark is added to the mix and the momentum from Iowa will certainly give a boost to Kerry and Edwards' campaigns.

Personally I could live with Kerry, Clark or Edwards as the party candidate. I am leaning Clark, but think Kerry or Edwards would make fine candidates. The problem with Dean is not his politics or his positions, but his ear. Last night I watched the speeches, concession and otherwise. Dean's triumphalism in the jaws of defeat did not come over well to me in comparison to the graciousness fest that the other candidates were taking part in. And personally, in spite of the pronoucements by the media in recent weeks, I don't think the math adds up for Dean.

Dean seems to have energized a base in the party and have a pretty solid support in the area of 20%. But what happens when other candidates start dropping out, who does their support go to? Will Lieberman supporters go to Dean? I doubt it, they will want someone with a more centrist reputation. I say reputation because I think most of the Democratic candidates, at least the ones I've mentioned, are centrist, but reputation and how the media paints them is equally important as reality. Now that Gephardt is out of the race will his supporters rally around Dean? I think not, much more likely to go to Kerry or Clark. I think you get the point. I just don't see Dean being the last man standing when the field starts thinning out.

Just a quick note to end this posting about yesterday's rant. I just want to say that I admire Michael Blowhard's writing and more often find his postings on culture and the arts to reflect my views than not. I merely took issue with how he framed the argument. In fairness I've read Michael's responses in the comments of his blog and read his interview with Jim Kalb this morning. It seems to me that both Michael and Jim are reasonable people who came to a personal political philosophy that is positive and well thought out. The problem with these sorts of discussions is we all define the argument in our own way. Michael and Jim define the terms conservative and liberal and build an argument that supports those definitions. Myself I am a more pragmatic and less philosophical type. I define the terms by the actions of those who label themselves conservative and liberal. I see people calling themselves conservatives pushing the country into war, giving tax breaks to the very rich, and participating in corporate cronyism. I see progressive and liberal voices for a multilateral foreign policy, helping the middle class find jobs, giving tax incentives to the poor, and protecting our environment. I form my worldview based on what I can see, not on abstract philosophy.

Monday, January 19, 2004

In Honor of Iowa

It seems that it is a day for culture bloggers to foray into politics, as Michael Blowhard, here, explains his evolution to the right and George Wallace waxes poetical over caucuses (cauci?), here.

First Mssr. Blowhard, describing what drove him from lefty to righty, writes, "But something kept nagging at me. It was the voluptuous pleasure so many of the lefties I knew took in demonizing something they called "the right." They'd get this gleam in their eyes; they'd start muttering about racism and sexism; they'd start feeling all rabid and charged-up ... It seemed like the behavior of lunatics; what it reminded me of most was the way depressed people try to raise their spirits. (Interesting how many lefties -- so pleased with themselves for being so liberated -- turn out to struggle with bad, long-term depression.)"

Anyway, it bugged me. I started paying attention, and I started noticing something else dismaying: the righties who were being denounced, ripped apart, and cursed were often my people -- "my people" in the sense of my family, my childhood neighbors, my friends from public school: the kind of people I grew up among, Republicans almost to a soul. People I love, in other words, and who (whatever their faults) are among the kindest, most pleasant and generous people I've known. I've never seen them not wish other people well; whatever voting lever they pull, on a person-to-person level they're far more human and welcoming than many of the vain, cockatoo lefties I now live among."

While I would not question his politics or his good intentions, and have no doubt that many of his arty/lefty friends took delight in demonizing the right, I think he is guilty of making some specious comparisons here. To say that the right is not capable of demonizing the left is to ignore the 90's and all of talk radio, much of the internet, Fox News, Ed Gillespie, Pat Robertson, Tom Delay, and Trent Lott, to name a few demonizers. And to say the attitudes of urbanite, artistic lefties is not as down home friendly as suburban middle America Republicans ignores that there are down home, suburban lefties outside the arts that are just as friendly and real and generous as the people he grew up with.

If Michael wants to broaden his horizons, fair enough, broaden them from the middle out in all directions. But it would seem that he is more concerned with justifying his political evolution than in truly spreading his wings. I lean left, no question, but I will not argue that the left is incapable of demonizing their opponents and political correctness is the bane of intelligent discourse, but to ignore the abuses of the right is to ignore reality.

Mr. Wallace who is one of the nicest, right-leaning people I know offers a double dactyl on Iowa. Which I'm sure he will not object to my reprinting here...

All Have Won, and All Must Have Prizes

Caucus race, caucus race:
Iowa Democrats,
Gathered in living rooms,
Diners and gyms,

Listen attentively,
Ponder their options, then
Follow their whims.

The Fool is becoming double dactyl central.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Votes and other Bizness

Here is my vote for this weeks Showcase.

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:
c h a n d r a s u t r a: You're Soaking in it

And if you feel like having a look, I've made some site updates at the Futurballa Store. It is a constantly evolving project.

Friday, January 16, 2004

He's a Bad Mutha... Shut yo mouth!

Michael Blowhard asks some interesting questions about what has become of exploitation movies as a genre in today's world where mainstream fare is a product of Hollywood's basic aim to exploit the viewing public. Of the methodology of movie marketing and production today, Michael writes, "Whatever the virtues of some of these movies (and some did have virtues), there's been a huge shift in the culture. These days, many if not most mainstream movies are conceived of in the "exploitation movie" way."

I tend to agree with his basic premise. There was a time that major studios were concerned with quality projects and directors like John Ford could flourish in a studio system, but let us not wax too nostalgic about those days of yore. Much main stream studio fare has always been driven by marketing campaigns and "hooks", and many a great director was chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood studios.

Probably the greatest purveyors of exploitation film were Roger Corman, along with American International's Samuel Z. Arkoff. There was a looseness and fun sensibility to those movies that is lacking from most Hollywood films. Mainstream movies, even though they are made with the marketing driven intent of exploitation movies, have the problem of taking themselves way too seriously. I can forgive schlock and even revel in it, but I can't forgive schlock posing as quality film making, no matter how expensive it was to produce.

Today's movies that fill the hole left by the exploitation movies of the past are more likely to be found in art houses than in drive-ins. Films that are the true heirs to '60s and '70s exploitation flicks are either the little art house horror jobs, like Cabin Fever, or possibly masquerading as high art, like most of Tarantino's work such as Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill. Occasionally Hollywood will do it right, such as with The Fast and the Furious, which Michael credits for the fun movie it was, but mostly even movies like that are saddled with too big a budget, too many big names and egos, and a marked lack of humor.

Read the whole thing here.
Well Terry, it's about bloody time

From DVD Journal...

Up from Fox is a two-disc collector's edition of Alan Parker's cult favorite The Commitments, which will sport a director's commentary, three featurettes, a music vid, stills, and more (March 16).

This should take the foul taste of the pan and scan, no extras, lousy transfer, unavailable dvd release out of our mouths. This is just about the best music movie ever made.
Friday Phlogging

Looking up, seeing things from a different angle(s).
This picture gives me vertigo.

Twin Palms above an (unseen) noodle house.
There is a haiku hiding in there somewhere.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Man Behind dKos

If you look to your right, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will see a list of some sites I visit daily (mostly blogs and newzines), as well as some sites that are just worth having for the occasional reference, such as SFMoMa and Masters of Photography. Among the blogs there is a good selection of perceptive and entertaining culture bloggers, as well as a healthy dose of left leaning political bloggers.

One of the political bloggers that I make a daily visit to is The Daily Kos. Well, friend Kos is already a very popular guy, being second most linked to political blog behind Instapundit in the blogosphere ecosystem (third overall, the Bear is 2), but nonetheless this deserves congratulations. Kos has received an excellent write-up on SF Gate!

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Thinking Outside the Proverbial Box

I've been taking pictures most of my life. Starting with a Brownie, then an Instamatic. Purchased my first SLR in 1978. Make my living working with photo-manipulation software. I go to galleries and museums and pour over monographs. But still I take classes in photography. Usually I don't learn much new about technique or photographic history, but what it does for me is require me to do projects. Classes force me to pick subjects the teacher wants me to shoot, and shakes me out of my usual fascination with landscapes. It is so easy to get into a rut as a photographer, just shooting the subjects that have always appealed to you, or using the media that you usually use.

Currently I'm taking a class titled, "Exploring Visual Expression". While some of the class is the usual review of photographic history and basic technique, the bulk of the lectures are on visual perception. The text is "Perception and Imaging" by Richard Zakia. Zakia taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology in all aspects of photography. In this book he focuses on the visual processes of how we perceive pictures. While he uses photographic terms the concepts apply to all of the visual arts. You could call it a class in the Gestalt of Photography.

We are also required to do a series of photographic projects using color transparency film. Not my usual medium, and the projects, for the most part, are subjects that I would not normally choose. Yet some of my best work comes when I am forced to think outside the box and start looking at my surroundings in a different way. For example, one of the projects is to find a subject that illustrates the Japanese concept of Notan, or the harmony between dark and light. Think the yin-yang symbol.

Speaking for myself, when given a project like these, I start looking at my surroundings differently than I normally would. As a photographer, I am always viewing the world looking for a good composition, striking light, color and texture. But I'm not necessarily looking at the form of negative space, as these exercises require me to do.

Certainly some of this work will be worth photoblogging here. Maybe some will be worth having a more permanent home at Most importantly, these projects will inspire me to try new things as an artist, and continue a life long learning process.

An Old Dog with a New Trick!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Lilexia Run Wild

A Gnat posting that takes on Nickelodeon's penchant for interrupting their commercials with programming. Describing an average half hour's programming, Lileks writes...

1. Titles for Cartoon show

2. Ad for Choco-Bots Action Figures now with Seizure Lasers

3. Ad for Cocoa Puffs; animated avian mascot suffers from mental condition that makes him deranged in the presence of said cereal

4. Ad for Barbie Magic Action Bubble Surprise Party Time Siege Engine

5. Ad for Molded Plastic Parts, the game with molded plastic parts

6. Live spot for some slime-based competition involving two teams of children, bleachers full of screaming kids (dubbed, I suspect) and one host trying hard to remind himself that this is work, he's in the business, and it sure the hell beats doing the weather in Akron

7. First cartoon. Ha ha.

8. Ad for "The Sassy Attitude Kids" or some such stupid Nick live-action show. Pick the cast member who will show up on the Smoking Gun for shoplifting cotton swabs in 2017.

9. Ad for G. I. Joe! Now with Steroid Tabletz! Put them in his mouth! Now with amazing genital-shrinking action!

10. Update from the competition, which is either happening live or occurred in 1998; hard to tell, and really who cares?

11. Another cartoon. It's Flatly Drawn Merchandising Opportunity Boy! Soon to be a collectible from a Burger King Happy Frickin' Meal.

Read the whole thing here.
No Pussyfooting

I was reminded by a friend, who happened to be the one who introduced me to the Futurist Manifestos back in college, and was co-writer of the original story for the Futurballa Movie, which he completed as a student at USC film school, of how we first discovered this book. It sits on Eno's bookshelf on the cover of the Fripp and Eno album, No Pussyfooting (see sidebar), which is definitely worth a listen.

You can't see it in this picture, but trust me it's there. Of course the LP had a much bigger picture than the CD, so I can't guarantee it will be visible there either.

NB: The Futurballa Movie featured myself and a certain Fool as a pair of Italian Futurists shooting a fish in a barrel.

Monday, January 12, 2004

The New Theory of Everything

Woody Allen contemplates string theory, quantum physics, the attraction of a woman with an overbite, and asks if gravity ceased working would certain restaurants still require a jacket?

Read it here.

[Link via AC Douglas]
In an ongoing series...

This is turning into The Producers central, but I'm really not obsessed, no really.

The New York Times headline on this story caught my eye. I think this joke would only play in New York.

Deja nu, indeed.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Voting for Photoblogs

Time for my showcase vote for the week.

I was very impressed to see a photoblog in the political entries this week. Some great pictures. The blog is only peripherally political in that the photographer seeks to celebrate the Third World through images. There is no commentary, and sadly no captions to explain where the pictures were taken. I would hope this is the kind of thing that transcends politics and that both left and right wing bloggers can get behind.

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:

Celebrating the Third World in Pictures: Celebrating the Third World

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Geek Chic

I spent yesterday at MacWorld SF. Partly wandering the floor of the Moscone Center and partly working the demo booth for the employer. On the floor, there was probably less to see than previous years and being the final day of the convention it was not as busy as I've seen it. The economy is not where it was by any means, as illustrated by the lack of decent swag. But I managed to get a cheap t-shirt and a nice discount on some photo printer paper for the Epson 2200. The rest of the day was spent demoing software and answering tech support questions. I only got verbally attacked once by a lady who wanted to know why we had dropped support for her favorite (and totally non-profitable) application. Pretty good day actually.

One thing I always notice when attending these sorts of things is that you can pretty much categorize the geeks into distinct groups. (Must be the day to put people in categories, as Aaron Haspel is classifying bloggers into National Lampoon 1964 Yearbook characters. Go Aaron!) I didn't manage to get pictures of the different types, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The Cyberpunk Geek -- Long hair, wears an ankle length black trenchcoat, scraggly goatee.
The Matrix Geek -- Easily confused with the Cyberpunk Geek, but clean-shaven and wearing wraparound sunglasses, trenchcoat is leather.
The Stapler Guy Geek -- Looks like Stephen Root in Office Space. Bad skin, overweight, questionable hygiene, mumbles to self.
The Old Hippie Geek -- Leftover from the Sixties who worships at the alter of Mac. Gray hair and ponytail. Has own, one-man design shop.
Gurl Geek -- Think Lisa Loeb on steroids.
The AlphaGeek -- Handsome, athletic, but still kind of brainy looking type. Has Japanese girlfriend. All of the other geeks are jealous of the AlphaGeek.

And finally, here is the Unknown Geek...

Friday, January 09, 2004

Off to MacWorld

I'll be at MacWorld today, so light posting, but hope to have some show pix and maybe a story or two when I get back.

Until then, I hope this tides you over. It is a long exposure (4 seconds) taken with the Canon s400 yesterday around dusk.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

What's wrong with this picture?

When Arnold was running for Governor one of his big campaign talking points was that we had to make California business friendly to keep jobs from leaving the state. Well, I read this interesting posting from Atrios and it reminded me of this article from the morning's news.

Am I alone in seeing the contradiction here?

While Craig Barrett of Intel and Carly Fiorina of HP bemoan the fact that they are sending jobs to India and China because we don't have enough highly educated people in America, our "business friendly" Governor will make education too expensive for middle class people to send their kids.

Read Eschaton(Atrios) here
Read SFGate's article on "Jobs are not a God-given right" here.
The Little Shop on the Corner

There are a several images up at the Futurballa Store that can be ordered.
The photos are:

A Mission Door at San Juan Bautista
A Waterfall in the Woods
Pidgeon Point Lighthouse
Pidgeon Point Lighthouse with Man
Ruins of a Cavalry Fort


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

No No Ninotchka

At About Last Night, Terry Teachout has some comments and a link to Masters of Cinema's rundown on great films not yet on DVD. And while I also regret that a DVD of Grapes of Wrath is not yet available, and fear that a box set of Police Academy DVDs will be a big seller, there are also a lot of oddities and pop-culture icons that are not yet available that I'd also love to have. Tim Burton's Ed Wood comes to mind as a film that is conspicuously missing from my collection (though Amazon seems to indicate that it will be available soon).

And while we are on the subject of John Ford's filming of the Steinbeck classic, I would like to advise any budding photographer, cinematographer, painter, or any other visual artist to watch this move (and any other John Ford classics you can get your hands on). Ford was a master of classic composition. Each shot is framed as a perfect tableau. It is a master class in composition.

Update: While it may seem that I disparaged a highbrow list in favor of middlebrow pleasures, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that I don't have a list of highbrow films of my own that are not available on DVD. Personally I would like to see the entire Bunuel ouevre on DVD. As far as I know, Criterion has issued a paltry few of his middle and later films. Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and That Obscure Object of Desire. But where oh where is Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel and Simon of the Desert. The problem with Luis Bunuel is perhaps that he was too prolific. I remember a drama professor at Berkeley in my day, Bill Oliver, saying, in reference to Don Luis' films, something to the effect of, "he just shits them out".
But I Digress

The Onion a.v. Club has an interview with one of the great comedians of the sixties. Mort Sahl. He is still as feisty as ever at 76, and has some interesting things to say about the state of comedy and politics today.

Read it here.
Where did we go right?

From Movie to Broadway Musical to Movie. Achtung, baby.

N.B. I think I've used that title before, but it is just so good for so many situations.
Shocked, Shocked!

Yet again, I advise you to get a day pass (or subscribe) to Salon and read this article. You, too will be shocked by what you read. The shocking part is not that allowed a silly ad comparing Bush to Hitler on their website. It is also not shocking to see the RNC spin machine spin out of control on this one (interestingly the only place the ad can be seen today is not at MoveOn, but at the RNC website). The shocking part is the candor of MoveOn founders, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades.

Here are a couple of snippets of Boyd and Blades' responses...

"We had a small committee running the contest," Boyd admitted, which included Pariser and rock star Moby. "We screened mostly for legal issues" -- there are limits to what the MoveOn Voter Fund's 527 status lets the group advocate politically -- "and we referred some questionable things to our lawyers. We decided to let our members decide [on content], and actually the process mostly worked really well. The good stuff rose to the top." The Hitler ads sank.

But with hindsight, given the group's new political prominence, Boyd says, "We should probably have had a content filter in the process. It's really tough when you're dealing with political speech, but we should have had one. But that's how it works. You learn, your sensitivity grows. We expressed regret, and that is real." Boyd said he'd spent the day talking to Jewish leaders who'd been offended by the ads, explaining the group's process and personally extending his apologies. "I think they've accepted our expressions of regret."

Blades acknowledged that she worried the flap could overshadow the creativity of the group's contest winners. "But I think the contest is just so cool -- the ads that were chosen are just so powerful -- that it will do what it was meant to do. Look, this 'gotcha politics' that's practiced now causes a lot of people to be afraid of getting involved. Our end goal is bringing new people into democracy, and we're achieving that. We're flexible enough to learn along the way. So we're going, 'OK, we have to be prepared to put in place ways of making sure that stuff that shouldn't get through doesn't get through, whenever we do things like this.' "

How often do you here political types say we blew it and we plan to do better next time? This won't convince O'Reilly or Drudge, but this blogger's opinion is that MoveOn's leaders are handling this just about right. Now if they could only be heard over the din.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Biggest Nitwit

The wrongheadedness of David Brooks column today is all over the blogosperhe. Silencing critique by accusing your attacker of racism is a weak and sorry tactic.

One may wonder how such a foolish man could possibly rate a prime spot in the nations premier daily. Well Tom Tomorrow has a theory. He writes...

"David Brooks' column is probably the strongest evidence of pervasive liberal bias at the Times. Okay, the editors thought, we've taken some hits lately with this whole Blair/Raines business. We'll reassert our objectivity by adding a conservative voice to the Op-Ed page. But--they say, allowing themselves just a hint of a smile--it has to be the biggest nitwit we can find."

Also be sure to read down. He shares another interesting theory of who may have been leaking dubious information to a well known Washington Post columnist.

Read the whole thing here.

Driving home last night from work, the sky caught my eye as I was waiting at the stop light. So I grabbed my trusty s400 and pointed it out the window.
Here is the result.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Who says we're stoopid?

A colleague passed this quiz on to me. The point of the test, or so I thought, was to ascertain that not all Americans were dumb, but I was disappointed when I got a perfect 20 out of 20, and it gave me this result...

If you are American, the only way you got this score is by doing the quiz 50 times, and memorizing the correct answers. You need to approach the world in a less aggressively competitive way and learn to live with your inadequacies, rather than seeking to feel through bigotry and false national pride.

Try it yourself.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A Blogger's Blog

Futurballa makes the list of "inward facing blogs" at bopnews. Not sure if this a good thing or not, but always nice to be on a list.
Back in Bakshi

Over at Cup 'o Joe, there is a very amusing review by Matt Murray of The Lord of the Rings sagas on celluloid. But not Peter Jackson's marvel of epic filmmaking, but instead Ralph Bakshi's failed attempt at an animated version of the trilogy. Pointing out the flaws in the Bakshi movie is like shooting fish in a barrel, but even that can be entertaining at times.

Read the whole thing here.
This Week in the Showcase

A couple of canine entries caught my eye this week.

From The Truth Laid Bear's New Webblog Showcase:

In the Political category...
Barney's First Dog Blog: My Great White Powder Adventure! (by Barney)

And a Non-Political entry...
in cyberspace no one can spit in your eye: a dog's opinion

Friday, January 02, 2004

Back and Forth

Looking back on 2003, DVD journal has a nice roundup of some of the best DVD releases of last year. Many I've seen, a few I own, but I was inspired to add a couple of French films to my Netflix queue. Le Cercle Rouge by Melville, which boasts a fan list that includes Walter Hill, John Woo and Quentin Tarantino, had escaped my attention until now. And Clouzot's Quai des Orfevres was another I missed. I am a fan of Clouzot's Diabolique, so look forward to seeing this one. Both from Criterion - where would we be without them?

And taking a gander forward to 2004 releases, James Lileks bleats on Spidey 2 (he is excited) and trailers for foreign films (he is not excited). In spite of the fact that I just got all enthusiastic about a couple of French movies, I have to agree with Lileks on the cliche ridden nature of the current crop of foreign movies.

He writes...
"But the real treat was a movie whose title makes you sit right up and bark Yes! Or it makes you roll your eyes and look for a slow, aimless, sort-of-funny movie about gently-bitchy Spanish 20somethings and their picaresque sexual adventures as they come to grips with life at the funeral of their father, a former Franco officer who sired them all . . . etc. You know the kind of movie. It always plays at theaters that have trailers for movies like "La Spume D'Hiver," which won some useless award handed out by a bunch of Euro-dorks who smell like ashtrays. Yes, that was it, the Golden Ashtray, that was the award. "La Spume D'Hiver," winner of Le Cendrier D'Or. And they always star some old blonde who was hot years ago but now she's crinkly but still kind of hot, and she smokes all the time because she's like at her sexual peak or something but her husband has a mistress, so she nails a train conductor in a public bathroom and then they talk about Sartre. And the next trailer is for Indistinguishable Central American Village Drama #234 - well, look at that! It revolves around a big dinner with dishes indiginous to the Guapo region of El Salvador! Never saw that coming!"

I do part company with James on his negative assessment of "Meet Me in St. Louis". Great songs and Judy Garland at her best with wonderful Vincente Minelli direction. I dare say that Lileks misses the point.