Sunday, August 31, 2008

Have a terrific Labor Day

The late, great Phil Ochs sings about Joe Hill. Enjoy.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Must listening

Fer crissakes, listen to Rick Kleffel interview Cory Doctorow about standing firm, not being afraid, state surveillance, and his sci-fi "juvenile" Little Brother, which I think may be the best "libertarian" novel since Suprynowicz's The Black Arrow. Download the MP3 file (or listen to it) right here.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fool your friends with this fake camera

Speaking of surveillance cameras — which I was earlier today — why not spook your friends with this nifty free downloadable papercraft CCTV camera, courtesy of Nude Magazine? Mount one at your front door or, as Cory Doctorow suggested at Boing Boing, in your bathroom.

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Cthulhu for President!

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"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!"

Paul Strong Jr. has launched a public art project to protest Seattle’s recent installation of “security” cameras in some of its parks — The Camerahead Project.

The project parodies the security-surveillance police-state by deploying its own agents, “a highly trained elite group of cybernetically enhanced observers using the latest and greatest in modern surveillance technology. Each Camerahead agent has been hand selected and specially modified for their unique ability to monitor the public with a complete disregard for anyone’s personal privacy.”

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Friday, August 22, 2008

"Good Girls Don't" -- The Knack

This video was recorded by Mark Frauenfelder at a free "concert in the park" last weekend in Woodland Hills, California. I think it's amazing. For two reasons. First, it's a great performance by The Knack, a band now three decades old. Second, the band's performing one of their all-time raunchiest songs to what appears to be a group of blue-haired ladies and little kids. Might not the song selection be a tad questionable, guys? Oh well...this particular crowd seems totally oblivious.

(Thanks to Boing Boing.)

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PRIMEVAL has dinosaurs, sex appeal

Comic-Con last month was pretty much nonstop 24/7. So to rest my throbbing feet, I’d often slip into the nearest panel, not really caring what it was about.

One was for Primeval, the British time warp, dinosaurs-in-the-bedroom series that debuted on BBC America just two weeks ago. My interest was piqued enough to take a look. The show’s worth pursuing if you haven’t already. The special effects are excellent, the characters are likeable (with the exception of those who aren’t intended to be likeable), and the writers have done a good job of holding back just enough info to keep me tuning in each Saturday.

To be completely honest, one reason I keep tuning in Primeval is 27-year-old Hannah Spearritt, who plays Abby, the jaw-droppingly adorable reptile expert. So far, Hannah hasn’t fallen too deeply into a damsel-in-distress routine, but she has mastered The Scream. And the show’s producers have already had her do a dance in her underwear.

You’ll know where to find me tomorrow night at 9:00.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Elder Gods have sweet tooths, too!

Posted here, you’ll find samples from H.P. Lovecraft’s brief, once-secret tenure as a Whitman’s Sampler copywriter. Here are two of my favorite selections:

Peanut Butter Cup

In 1856, a fisherman from a tiny hamlet on the New England coast made a terrible pact with serpentine beasts from beneath the sea, that he might create the most delicious sweet seen upon the Earth since the days of the great Elder Race. Thus was forged the satanic pact between peanut butter and chocolate that resulted in the mutant offspring you see before you!

Chocolate Cherry Cordial

You must not think me mad when I tell you what I found below the thin shell of chocolate used to disguise this bonbon’s true face. Yes! Hidden beneath its rich exterior is a hideously moist cherry cordial! What deranged architect could have engineered this non-Euclidean aberration? I dare not speculate.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Prunes march into the future

A TV commercial classic...

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The game is afoot tonight!

The idea was first hatched several months ago. The Blind German Mechanics, our local Sherlock Holmes society, would go on a “field trip” to one of those mystery dinner events at, say, the Embassy Suites. Or maybe we’d gather at the nearby melodrama theater for hotdogs and a show.

Well, after much haggling and plotting, that Sherlockian “field trip” occurs tonight. At my house.

And believe me, that’s a good thing. I’m not bitchin’. Not really. After all, the house and yards are now in the shape I’ve wanted for a decade.

But it remains to be seen whether we pull it off. This group — all 12 of us — is just a tad eccentric and disjointed. And in five years, we've never assembled anywhere but a convenient Borders or Starbucks. Will everybody find my house? Is there enough parking space? Will anybody be freaked by my gigantic (but not too demonic) hound — and her canine buddy, who’s been visiting for the past ten days? Will the frozen lasagna be hot and ready at 7:00? Will the Game — yes, one of our flock has pieced together a mystery for us to solve — really be afoot?

But there’s still vacuuming to be done, a bathroom to be scrubbed, and a deerstalker to be donned. Must dash.

If I don’t mention this again, just figger all went well. If something intriguing comes of the evening, I’ll report in later.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Whedon squashes SERENITY sequel rumors

Since Comic-Con in San Diego three weeks ago, there have been rumors circulating again about a Serenity sequel. You see, Summer Glau, sitting on the Sarah Connor Chronicles panel, made the mistake of saying she was ready, willing, and able to do another Firefly-based movie, although she added that if there wasn’t a Serenity sequel, she’d “feel at peace” with that. Of course, rabid browncoats heard the first part of Glau’s statement and, while gasping with excitement, totally missed the second half.

Anyway, Firefly creator Joss Whedon, now immersed in his new Fox TV series Dollhouse, has put the kibosh to Serenity sequel rumors. He says that although he and the cast are ready to make another film, no studio is willing to launch one.

Ah, well… We can always stick Serenity back in the DVD player anytime we want. And if you’d like to watch that movie with ten other diehard browncoats, why not download the feature-length fan commentary available right here at Hey, Want to Watch a Movie? It’s a long podcast — about two and a half hours — with almost 22 minutes spent on everybody getting their favorite beverages in hand and cueing up the DVD, so the MP3 file is pretty gorram big. But it’s all a lot of fun.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 Summer Olympics coverage

The Beijing Olympics: Are They A Trap?

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The lurid world of George Orwell

The copy on the back cover of this 1954 Signet paperback edition of Orwell’s 1984 reads:

Which One Will YOU Be In the Year 1984?

There won’t be much choice, of course, if this book’s predictions turn out to be true. But you’ll probably become one of the following four types:

Proletarian — Considered inferior and kept in total ignorance, you’ll be fed lies from the Ministry of Truth, eliminated upon signs of promise of ability!

Police Guard — Chosen for lack of intelligence but superior brawn, you’ll be suspicious of everyone and be ready to give your life for Big Brother, the leader you’ve never even seen!

Party Member: Male — Face-less, mind-less, a flesh-and-blood robot with a push-button brain, you’re denied love by law, taught hate by the flick of a switch!

Party Member: Female — A member of the Anti-Sex League from birth, your duty will be to smother all human emotion, and your children might not be your husband’s!

Unbelievable? You’ll feel differently after you’ve read this best-selling book of forbidden love and terror in a world many of us may live to see!

And how about that front cover illustration? Who’da thought Julia was so, well, HOT?

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A spooky gem from Chris Carter

After just two weeks, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is tanking so badly at the box office that Deb and I had one helluva time last night finding it playing in our area. And then, there were only two daily screenings scheduled. I blame this lack of interest on two things. First, the movie should have been released in the fall, far away from The Dark Knight and the latest Mummy extravaganza. Second, I think creator-director Chris Carter’s obsessive secretiveness about the film did it in. Many of us didn’t even know until the last minute that a new X-Files movie was coming out this summer. The film's marketing sucked, and advance word about it didn’t exist.

All of this is a shame, because despite what you may have heard from alleged fans, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is a spooky gem. Were it a TV episode broadcast during the original series’ run, we X-Philes would give it high marks. If it was a pilot for a new TV series debuting next month, we’d all be singing its praises right now. The story is solid and offers a good mystery. The chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson is absolutely still there. The show’s over-the-top, oddball element is still there. Hell, even Skinner is still there, and my wife and I giggled like school kids when he made his appearance.

I wanna believe there will be another X-Files movie someday. But even if that never happens, I’ve still got this wonderful coda to the old TV series to watch again and again.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When the U.S. nuked civilians 63 years ago

Ralph Raico writes about it here.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

We survive yard furniture assembly

It’s great to have newly landscaped, drought-resistant front and back yards. It’s fantastic that our new drip system works properly. But please oh please, save me from yard furniture assembly!

This past weekend, Deb and I spent almost five hours piecing together two glider chairs and a small attached table. I knew there’d be hundreds of parts, some of them teeny-tiny, by the size of the box the item came packaged in. But even after decades of miserably building furniture and bicycles and shelving from Japanese instructions with poor diagrams, we began this project, as always, optimistic that this time, everything would snap together without a hitch. Well, as I said before, it took five goddamn hours, and none of them particularly strengthened our marriage. But now we have a nice, comfortable “Glider Tete-a-Tete” tucked into a cozy, shaded corner of our back yard — a wonderful spot for book-reading, beer-guzzling, and ceegar-smoking.

Then, this morning, a delivery truck pulled up to drop off our new backyard dining set — one round table with a glass top and four swivel rockers, all disassembled. After pulling all the pieces out of two massive boxes, Deb and I looked at each other and shook our heads simultaneously. Not today.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

A moment of hardboiled Objectivism

“The police are picking up Baggot and his bunch! I’m here to make sure you pay for what you did! Roden marked the money he gave you — where is it?”

No! No, he lied! You can’t believe a crooked lawyer! I swear I’m innocent!”

“I can make you talk like I made Roden. And you will talk, Purity! How do you want it?”

“I-I hid the money in my apartment! I-I’m not a real criminal! Please, give me a break!”

“You can confess to the D.A. on your own or I’ll drag you in… That is the only break you’ll get or deserve!”

“No, please! I’ll give you all the money! I deserve another chance! I’m sorry — I swear to God I am! I’ll never do it again! It-it’ll just be Roden’s word against mine! Please — have pity on me!”

“You scum, you betrayed the whole concept of justice! You sold out everyone who looks to the law as the protector of the innocent. And why did you do it? No one pressured you. No one threatened you. No one used force to make you! In a battle between good and evil, where there can be no compromise, you willingly chose to be evil’s secret ally! You wanted the advantages of both sides. Money you haven’t earned…respect you’re not entitled to!”

“But I’m sorry! Sob!”

“Your self-imposed blindness is over! You’re going to face up to pay for your sellout! Go turn yourself in!”

“Mr A: Money”
by Steve Ditko
(witzend #4, 1968)

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Saturday morning funnies

This is for Brian, who also has a problem with Christian Bale's "crushed-gravel, angry stage whisper."

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