Friday, April 30, 2004


I pass this place quite often on my way to lunch, but never go in. The Caravan sits conveniently next to the Greyhound station. It's downtown San Jose before the tech boom. An oasis for barflies and bums in a high tech desert.

There was a time that I would have ventured in and pulled up a barstool. But now I walk by and take a picture.

The Caravan

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ulla, Dance

Nicole Kidman will be answering the phones, "Bialystock and Bloom" when she picks up the mantle (not to mention the blonde wig) of Ulla, in the film version of Mel Brooks' Broadway musical.
"Last night a star was born on Broadway - the lovely Miss Ulla
Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Svanson.
We predict that her name will soon be up in lights. If they can find enough bulbs."

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are slated to reprise their stage rolls and word is that Will Ferrell will be taking on the role of Franz Liebkind.

God of Last Night

Aaron Haspel's satirical take on About Last Night is almost spot on. However his title was missing one necessary little touch, if you want to totally get that Teachout style he so aptly parodies.

It should have read AH: Administrivia.

Here is Terry Teachout's good natured response.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Hot Enough For You?

It's been a few days of scorching weather this week in Northern California, but today is supposed to be cooler. These kids had the right idea.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

You Will Watch This Space

It seems to be a trend, but many of my favorite bloggers and friends are too busy with their dayjobs to post at the moment. Alas, I too must say stay tuned.

Sunday, April 25, 2004


Had a very entertaining DVD watching day yesterday including some worthy recommendations to pass on.

School of Rock... Jack Black doing a pretty good Angus Young impersonation in this Sister Act for heavy metal fans. Light weight fare, certainly no This is Spinal Tap, but good innocent fun.

The Searchers... Following my comments earlier on John Ford and Terry Teachout's appreciation of Ford's "painter's eye", I had to return to the greatest western every made. This is a multilayered film about racism and obsession. There are all sorts of unanswered questions that take on meaning with each repeated viewing. Like the tension in the early parts of the film between John Wayne, his brother, and his brother's wife. Could Natalie Wood's character be the biological daughter of Wayne? Had never thought of that possibility before, but it struck me last night that might be the case. Would certainly add another layer to the fact that Wayne is ready to kill the girl after she has become the wife of the Indian war chief, Scar.

Finally, I ended my triple feature with Robert Aldrich's, Kiss Me Deadly... The Mickey Spillane classic starring Ralph Meeker in the role of Mike Hammer, with a very young Cloris Leachman (Blucher... neigh) as the blonde who sets the story in motion when Hammer picks her up on the road. The film contains the infamous suitcase full of ?????(could we say, combustibles?) that has been paid homage to in Alex Cox's Repo Man and Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.

Next up... Evil Dead II

Friday, April 23, 2004

Fashion! Turn to the left

Slate is sharing a small slideshow and essay on the NYMoMa's exhibit of fashion photography.

The article is titled, Striking Poses: Is fashion photography art?. I am familiar with two of the artist's featured (Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin) in the slideshow and neither of them made their names as fashion photographers, but instead are best know in the fine arts world.

Based on this small sampling, it would seem that the exhibit is more about, is art photography fashion?, instead of vice versa.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

John Ford and Antonioni

Terry Teachout is watching John Ford in today's consumables, and praising Ford's "painter's eye". I concur. Ford was a master of composing a frame.

My own consumables at the moment include, Robert B. Parker's earlier Spenser novels. Michael Moore's last book, Dude, Where's My Country. Listening to the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. Most recently watched was David Cronenburg's first feature, Shivers. And next up on my movies to watch, Harry Shearer's Teddy Bears' Picnic.

Was searching Netflix to no avail for the Zabriskie Point DVD, and after searching Amazon, discovered that it has never been released on DVD. Criterion, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A Nod and a Wink

As Carrie Fisher said in When Harry met Sally, "Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they can't possibly all have good taste." Not to say that people who don't get Quentin Tarantino have either no sense of humor or bad taste, perhaps the opposite. But I do think that a taste for Tarantino requires that you are in on the joke and share his tastes to some extent.

This, by way of saying, I saw Kill Bill Vol. 2 last night and predictably enjoyed it. Liking Tarantino is similar to having a taste for Kevin Smith, who also seems not to be everyone's cup of tea. It is often one big "in joke", and either you are in on it or not. Kill Bill Vol. 2 is pretty much that. Where Kill Bill Vol. 1 was mostly a tongue in cheek homage to a certain brand of Hong Kong action pictures, Vol. 2 is a pastiche of styles, from Noir to Spaghetti Western, to other types of Kung Fu movies, with nods to TV shows of the seventies and before.

David Carradine shines as Kwai Chang Caine's evil twin and Uma Thurman takes a beating that might catch Mel Gibson's attention. The dialog is typical Tarantino. Nobody actually talks like that in real life, but there is nothing in this movie that would or could lead you to think that this is real life.

I heard Ebert and Roeper on Sunday singing the praises of KB2, and one of them even mentioned the "O" word in terms of Uma Thurman's performance. That will happen about the time monkeys fly out of my butt. This is low art and not the sort of thing the Academy is ever going to honor. But it is high entertainment, full of wit and action, and can be oddly touching. But you need to share some of Tarantino's vocabulary. I lack Tarantino's fanboy passions for Kung Fu movies, but I've seen enough of them to get the archetype character of the white haired teacher. I get the joke when the master says something like, "Your Kung fu is pathetic... Let us see if your Crane style kung fu can defeat my Tiger style." And I had to laugh when the Bride walks out of the chapel and there sits David Carradine playing a bamboo flute.

Also, as usual, kudos to Tarantino for a great soundtrack. Especially the Malcolm McLaren, oh so slow version of The Zombies She's Not There (titled About Her on the soundtrack). There is also a wonderful Johnny Cash rendition of A Satisfied Man.

If you want to get in touch with your inner teenager KB2 is a lot of fun. Is it better than KB1, as many critics are claiming? Yes, as a piece of filmmaking, but KB1 had it's charms. KB2 is slower and more about dialog and character. It took me a bit longer to warm to KB2, but it hooked me in and I had a good time. And what's so bad about a good time?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

And Speaking of....

The self same Brian Mickelthwait has some thoughts on The Godfather today. He seems to like the more structured, linear, and operatic Godfather over the sequel, Godfather Part II. He has yet to get to Godfather 3.
The second one had a really strong "deleted scenes from the real movie" feeling about it. I don't share the widespread opinion that Godfather 2 is the greatest movie in general and sequel in particular ever made. I thought half of it was those deleted scenes, and the other half was a rather slight anti-capitalist Americans Being Evil in Central America movie, that every star seemed to want to do one of in those days, usually starring a journalist or a photojournalist. The Godfather is, in short, one movie, not three. There is The Movie. There are the extra bits. There is the Al Pacino versus the Jewish Guy bit, which is as small and mundane and stitched on as the Real Movie is big and remarkable and of itself. And there is 3, which everyone says is nonsense, and which I'll let you know about when I've sat through it.
Yes, G2 is less linear, yes it is focused on the parts of the book that got left out of G1, but the great Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth, Fredo in the boat, De Niro at his best as the young Vito Corleone. There is so much good stuff in G2. The film has a more sprawling, Sergio Leone or Bertolucci style to it. It is less opera and more family epic history.

The Godfather (Part I) may in fact, in some ways, be the better movie. But to dismiss Part II as a collection of deleted scenes is to miss the point. Where I agree with Brian is that these movies are best seen together. He mentions the TV version (known in America as "The Godfather Saga"), which re-edits the two films chronologically. I would love to see this version on DVD (without the cleaned up language that Coppola did for American TV).

Read the whole thing here.
Going All Mickelthwait on Your A**

Yes I'm promoting a new word, in honor of culture blogger Brian Micklethwait.

What is going Micklethwait, you ask?

Answer: Excessive photo blogging, containing bridges, birds (in the British sense), and buildings. Let's make it a meme.

And all of this is merely by way of introduction to a few pictures I took of a covered bridge in Felton, California last Saturday.

[Update: I've corrected the spelling of Messr. Micklethwait's name. I seem to have inverted an ee and an el.]

Monday, April 19, 2004

Baseblog Phlog

Wasn't a good weekend for the Giants, but it was a great weekend for Barry. If you care about this sort of thing, there is a very good piece at SFGate (here).

Here are some images I shot from my seat, high above SBC park.

Say Hey!

Bonds tied Mays

Cruising by the park

Barry takes his hacks

The night we attended, Barry knocked number 662 out of the park, and there was an awards presentation for number 660 at which Willie Mays said a few well chosen words. Worth the price of admission right there. Mr. Mays is, and always has been, a class act.
Quick Note on an Ongoing Controversy

Aaron Hapel summarizes the plot of Kill Bill Vol. 2, and manages to get in some entertaining jabs. Aaron and I went back and forth a tiny bit on KB1 and agreed to disagree. I will withhold comment until I've actually seen KB2, which I plan to do this week.

Stay Tuned

Read Aaron's comments here, [Beware: one or two minor spoilers]

Friday, April 16, 2004

Baseball has been very good to me

I'll be at the Giants game tonight. Mr Schmidt is pitching. Barry is hitting. The hated and reviled Dodgers will be batting first. We're in the nosebleeds, high above the third base line, but it is SBC Park (formerly known as Pacbell Park, don't you hate corporate sponsorship?), and the smell of garlic fries will be filling the air.

Maybe some pictures on Monday.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


At Wired News, an interview with author Neal Stephenson. I had a hard time getting through Quicksilver and will probably give a pass on the rest of the Baroque Cycle, but I've enjoyed his work in the past and he is a very interesting guy.

The Best of Baseball Blogs can be found via an article at Slate. To find your favorite team, is the place to go. And there are no less than 10 blogs for my Giants.

Singer, poet, photographer, Patti Smith has a new website, a new label and a new album. Check it out.

I (shame, shame, snik, snik) admit to being hooked on American Idol. My daughter got us started watching it and we can't stop. Last night's episode featured guest judge Quentin Tarantino. Sounds odd, but he claims to be a fan too. has some ongoing reviews and commentary, so I'm obviously not the only one to get Idol fever. But if you really want to enjoy snarky commentary on Idol or any of your favorite reality shows or teen dramas, the place to be is Television Without Pity. Home of the snark.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Marcel Duchamp

Some quotes and images from the father of Dada, Marcel Duchamp

In his own words...

an-artist, chess player, cheese dealer, breather, fenetrier

By John Cage

The check. The string he dropped. The Mona Lisa. The musical notes taken out of a hat. The glass. The toy shotgun painting. The things he found. Therefore, everything seen - every object, that is, plus the process of looking at it - is a Duchamp.

He simply found that object, gave it his name. What then did he do? He found that object, gave it his name. Identification. What then shall we do? Shall we call it by his name or by its name? It's not a question of names.

One way to write music: study Duchamp.

Say it's not a Duchamp. Turn it over and it is.

-from 'Statements Re Duchamp'

By Salvador Dali

The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.

When Duchamp understood that he had generously sown the wind with his youthful ideas until he had no more, he aristocratically stopped his "game" and announced prophetically that other young men would specialize in the process of contemporary art.

Then he played chess itself.

-from Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp


The Bride Stripped Bare

Nude Descending the Staircase


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Page 23, Sentence 5

Terry Teachout has a great game that he got via via. Grab the nearest book, go to page 23, find the fifth sentence and post it to your blog.

I'll play along.

From The Photoshop Bible by Deke McClelland (yes, that was the nearest book)...

"If the second value is bigger than the first, then all is happiness and Photoshop is running as fast as your particular brand of computer permits."

660 Baby

Go Barry!!!!

Dark Thoughts

Welcome back to Michael Chabon central. Or at least it seems that way lately. The author today has an op-ed at the New York Times on the subject of children expressing themselves in writing.

Chabon writes...
It is in the nature of a teenager to want to destroy. The destructive impulse is universal among children of all ages, rises to a peak of vividness, ingenuity and fascination in adolescence, and thereafter never entirely goes away. Violence and hatred, and the fear of our own inability to control them in ourselves, are a fundamental part of our birthright, along with altruism, creativity, tenderness, pity and love. It therefore requires an immense act of hypocrisy to stigmatize our young adults and teenagers as agents of deviance and disorder. It requires a policy of dishonesty about and blindness to our own histories, as a species, as a nation, and as individuals who were troubled as teenagers, and who will always be troubled, by the same dark impulses. It also requires that favorite tool of the hypocritical, dishonest and fearful: the suppression of constitutional rights.
Kids can be violent and dark creatures. As a child I sought out lurid comics, horror movies and read Lovecraft and Poe. And what did I get out of it? A healthy ability to separate fantasy from reality, a tad of creativity, and a morbid sense of humor.

It is important that in the time of the Patriot Act and in the wake of Columbine that we not throw out the baby with the bathwater by stifling our children's creativity in the name of protecting them. What you attempt to suppress comes out in all sorts of ways. Be involved, be aware, but don't block their creativity. They need that outlet. I know I did.

Read Solitude and the Fortresses of Youth

Monday, April 12, 2004

Le Mepris

I know Godard half as much as I should. I'm a fan of Alphaville and Breathless, and have seen a couple of others over the years, but it was only this past weekend that I finally saw Contempt. It is perhaps his most commercial film, in blazing technicolor and cinemascope, with money from Hollywood and Italy, featuring Brigitte Bardot and Jack Palance.

Charles Taylor writing in Salon back in 1997 describes the plot...
"Contempt" is built on a single moment of seeming inconsequence. Paul Javel (Piccoli), a promising young French writer, is courted by Jeremiah Prokosch (Jack Palance), a brash, vulgar American producer, to rewrite the screenplay for Lang's film. Paul and his young wife, Camille (Bardot), visit the studio one day, and Prokosch invites them to his home for a drink. He suggests that Camille ride with him in his sports car and Paul follow in a taxi. Despite Camille's objections, Paul agrees. He arrives at Prokosch's to find his wife out of love with him, convinced Paul left her alone with Prokosch so the producer could make a pass at her. While coping with the unraveling of his marriage, Paul has to decide whether to work on the rewrite, which is expressly against the wishes of Lang. From that scenario, "Contempt" becomes another of Godard's explorations of how much of ourselves we can sell and still remain true, a questioning into how love or work is possible in a world constantly urging us to name our price.
But it is not just Bardot's contempt for Picolli that the film's title is about. Godard's contempt for Hollywood film making, his contempt for the crass producer played by Palance, even his contempt for the sex kitten icon Bardot is apparent.

Fritz Lang, who represents an older, more pure style of film making is the only one that seems to escape Godard's venom. Lang's filming of Homer's Odyssey becomes a metaphor for Picolli, a fedora wearing Ulysses, with Bardot standing in for Penelope, Palance the suitor, and Lang a sort of Zeus watching the whole thing from above.

Read Taylor's essay here.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Carnival of Souls

This is a most striking series of documentary photography and text by a woman travelling on her motorcycle through the "dead zone" of Chernobyl.

Al Franken and his Team have a blog at the Air America Website.

Chris at Crooked Timber muses on how fictional presidents are best. Watching The West Wing often leads to similar fantasies in our house as well.

And Brian, also of CT offers a link to a remix of Man of Constant Sorrow. Mmmmmm, downloads.

The unbelievable Tony Pierce has a dancing Angus Young. It made me smile.

Via DVD Journal we have this bit of Mel-ania, Our friends at Warner are prepping a 30th Anniversary Edition of Mel Brooks' 1974 Blazing Saddles, which will include new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, commentary from Brooks, a featurette on Madeline Kahn, a cast-reunion documentary, and the 1975 TV pilot "Black Bart." Drat, how many special editions will I have to buy?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A Piece of Work

In the irony is not dead category....

While attending a speech given by Antonin Scalia, reporters were ordered to stop taping mid speech. This prototcol had not been explained before the speech began and reporters were approached by federal marshals during Scalia's talk.
The reporter initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution...

[Scalia] said he spends most of his time thinking about the Constitution, calling it "a brilliant piece of work."
Read the whole thing here
Smells Like Sonic Youth

I kind of missed out on grunge. I was living in Holland when Nirvana came around and didn't even hear of grunge until it was already passe.

Later, I discovered Nevermind and Unplugged in New York and loved them. I've never been a gigantic Nirvana fan, but have grown to respect their work. I'm especially fond of the unplugged version of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World", and their cover of The Vaselines "Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam".

Writing in the New York Times today Thurston Moore, of the Post-Punk band Sonic Youth, pays tribute to Kurt Cobain in a thoughtful piece that does a good job of putting Kurt, the band, and grunge in context.

Read it here.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Futurist's Holiday

I am informed that today is the birthday of Gino Severini, Italian Futurist, and contributor, along with our namesake, to the Futurist Manifestos.

Take the day off.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


More Yiddish stuff for Passover. has a collection of T's with Yiddish words. So you can wear your tochus on your chest or let the world know you have a shayna punim.

I myself would opt for the Meshuggenah shirt.

The mannequin for the Mamaleh shirt is a bit zaftig, especially compared to the Shiksa model. Are they making some kind of statement there?

Find Yiddishe Schmatahs here.
A Fraylekhn Pesah

In honor of Passover, Crooked Timber reprints (and links to) an essay by Michael Chabon, Next year in Yisroel. Coincidentally, you can also read a piece about Chabon at the blog of my good friend George Wallace, A Fool in the Forest.

I'd actually read this essay before, and might have even linked to it. Though I'm certain at having linked to Chabon's site, which is very generous with reprints of essays and articles by the author.

Chabon's essay is a sad lamentation on the melancholy idea of a book called "Say it in Yiddish". Where would you use such a book? In what country would you need to ask an airport employee, "what is the flight number" or a medical worker, "I need something for a tourniquet" in Yiddish?

Yiddish is the kitchen table language of Jews. Sadly it is the language that my grandparents used when they did not want the children to understand. So, apart from a smattering of expressions and curse words, I am illiterate in the Yiddish language.

Fantasizing an alternative Jewish state, Yisroel, where the Hebraists lost out in favor of the establishment of Yiddish as a national language, Chabon writes, " There is Yiddish on the money, of which the basic unit is the herzl, or the dollar, or even the zloty. There are Yiddish color commentators for soccer games, Yiddish-speaking cash machines, Yiddish tags on the collars of dogs. Public debate, private discourse, joking and lamentation, all are conducted not in a new-old, partly artificial language like Hebrew, a prefabricated skyscraper still under construction, with only the lowermost of its stories as yet inhabited by the generations, but in a tumbledown old palace capable in the smallest of its stones (the word nu) of expressing slyness, tenderness, derision, romance, disputation, hopefulness, skepticism, sorrow, a lascivious impulse, or the confirmation of one's worst fears."

Now to look for my copy of "Say it in Ladino".

Monday, April 05, 2004

Odds and Oddities

2 Blowhards gives an extensive review of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown"
I concur that it is a better musical experience than it is a piece of movie making, but the music is fantastic. See it. And if you are looking to make it a soulful double feature, pick up the new DVD edition of Alan Parker's "The Commitments" finally available in a worthwhile widescreen version after years of a hard to find pan and scan, no extras DVD.

Small Trivia point on "The Commitments"... While several castmembers went on to have musical careers, perhaps the best known musician in the movie had a non-musical role. Andrea Corr, of the Corrs, played Jimmy Rabitte's sister Sharon, and her sister Sharon Corr was an uncredited fiddle player.

Chris at Crooked Timber is Joogling. Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew, Jew. Happy Passover.

Since I linked to this excellent site on Evolution in an earlier post, I feel obligated to link to Kevin Drum's posts on the subject of Evolution vs. Creationism in our schools. Read Kevin here and here.
New Photo Gallery

There is a new gallery at Futurballa Photography, aka 'the other site'.

Just click on the San Juan Bautista gallery link. I concentrated largely on architectural elements such as doors and windows. There are a couple of landscapes as well.

The majority were shot on Kodak Ektachrome G and the black & whites were shot using Kodak's professional BW400CN film.

Prints can be had by visiting the Futurballa Store or emailing

End of shameless self promotion.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Air America

Not much time for Blogging today, and I forgot my camera this morning, so even a quick photoblog isn't happening. But while I try to juggle multiple projects here at the office, I can listen to Air America's O'Franken Factor in the background. The best stream for those of you, like myself, not lucky enough to get it over the air, seems to be Portland's AM 620.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

A Little Less Conversation

In an interesting and amusing literary exercise, Kevin Drum shares one half of a press briefing and let's us fill in the blanks.

Read the whole thing here.
Send Poets, Guns and Money

I seem to be making a habit of commenting whenever Aaron Haspel posts, but he posts so rarely these days that it is often noteworthy, and today's post would be noteworthy regardless of frequency. Following some references to favorite bloggers who wax poetic at the drop of a couplet, Aaron goes on to discuss the poetry of programming.

His praise for the single line of code as a sort of haiku is poignant, and his comment that code often grows into an epic in modern programming is well taken, but as someone who works on a mature application with years of code bloat, I might argue that the complete works of Shakespeare might be a better analogy.

Read "Code Poems"