October 29, 2004

The last Halloween playlet this year


~ a variant on a Halloween playlet oft-repeated in these pages ~

(The setting: An average American post office. The date: October 31st. Into the post office walks a CUSTOMER.)

CUSTOMER: Hello! I'd like to buy some stamps.

POSTAL WORKER: Of course, sir.

(The employee busies herself with the transaction for a moment, humming softly.)

POSTAL WORKER: Any particular style? Or just American flags?

CUSTOMER: Um... American flags would be good. The self-adhesive ones?


(She finishes up and hands him the stamps.)

POSTAL WORKER: And there you are. Thanks.

CUSTOMER: No, thank YOU. And happy Halloween!


CUSTOMER: Hey, you don't mind if I ask - is your boyfriend in pain?

POSTAL WORKER: Um... excuse me?

CUSTOMER: Because if he is, perhaps I could interest you in some X-A-N-A-X? Or maybe some val1um?


CUSTOMER: I also have v1agra at very low prices. Or c1a|1s?

POSTAL WORKER: My God. They got to you too.

Posted by Chris on 10/29/04

More Unexpected Costumery


~ one more alternate Halloween playlet ~

(The setting: An average American post office. The date: October 31st. Into the post office walks a CUSTOMER.)

CUSTOMER: Hello! I'd like to buy some stamps?

POSTAL WORKER: Of course, sir.

(The employee busies herself with the transaction for a moment, humming softly.)

POSTAL WORKER: Any particular style? Or just American flags?

CUSTOMER: Um... American flags would be good. The self-adhesive ones?


(She finishes up and hands him the stamps.)

POSTAL WORKER: And there you are. Thanks.

CUSTOMER: Um... thank YOU.

(He starts to leave, then turns back.)

CUSTOMER: By the way - thanks a LOT for not saying anything about my costume. I'd only worked, like, ALL NIGHT on it.

(He runs out of the store. Oh, yeah, by the way, the "Customer" was dressed up as Dracula or something but it wasn't a really good costume.)

Posted by Chris on 10/29/04

Another Halloween playlet


~ an alternate Halloween playlet ~

(The setting: An average American post office. The date: October 31st. Into the post office walks a CUSTOMER.)

CUSTOMER: Hello! I'd like to buy some stamps.

POSTAL WORKER: Of course, sir. By the way - that's a great costume! Nice make-up job. Funny - you're the third person today to come in dressed as a slightly overweight, balding, mildly unattractive man in his late thirties.

CUSTOMER: Make-up? Costume?


POSTAL WORKER: Oh. I... sir, I...

CUSTOMER: Ahem. I'll just take the damn stamps. PLEASE.

Posted by Chris on 10/29/04

Short Halloween playlet


~ a Halloween playlet ~

(The setting: An average American post office. The date: October 31st. Into the post office walks a CUSTOMER.)

CUSTOMER: Hello! I'd like to buy some stamps.

POSTAL WORKER: Of course, sir. By the way - that's a great costume! Nice make-up job. It's a really convincing massive head wound.

CUSTOMER: Make-up? Costume?



Posted by Chris on 10/29/04

October 28, 2004

My boyfriend is in pain! & other recent spam themes

  • Still getting plenty of How is your boyfriend hurting? and Your brother needs to cope with the pain, or help your girlfriend with her pain subject lines. These are then ads for v1codin or code1ne.

  • An interesting technique - the first five times it was used at least - is the "Shelby asked me to send this to you" subject line. Or Matt, or Bill, or Tom. I don't know any Shelby or Matt or Tom but I do know a few Bills, and if he referred the mail my way, it must be legit!

  • There are lots of Rolexes and Louis Vuitton bags available to me on the internet, if I were merely to reply to certain emails.

  • I could also get free cable and free Pay Per View just by sending away for a certain device that I think screws into the back of my cable box. Neat! I wonder if I can use that in conjunction with the free Horny Housewife Detectors that are also being offered?

  • Something occurred to me about all the V|agra, C1al1s, X-a-n-a-x, Val1-um and all the rest of it being offered - what if it's just the best stuff ever? What if it's like the green eggs and ham of the new world? Why are we resisting it, anyway? Maybe if we try it, we'll like it! Maybe if we try it, all the spam will go away!

    Posted by Chris on 10/28/04
  • The Shorter Lileks Trend

    I don't know why I still link to Lilek's Bleat on the side. I've mostly stopped going to his site at all, as the entertainment-to-screed balance finally tipped over into the screedy side for me. I think Lileks is a smart guy and good writer, and I enjoy hearing about his domestic life - but like Dennis Miller and others, 9/11 seemed to give him a chance he must have been secretly waiting for all his life - to reduce everything around him to good ol' black and white.

    Occasionally I still check in, though, I suppose just to see if he will make me gnash my teeth again that day. But now there seems to be a trend in the lefty blog-o-sphere which gives me much comfort, and makes me think I'm not alone: The Shorter James Lileks column.

    These are people who read the Bleats, then come back and summarize for the rest of us in vastly simplified fashion. And based on the Bleat today I have the definite sense that Lileks is aware of them. So let's see how the master of oversimplification likes being simplified himself.

    You shouldn't miss them; even if you're a big fan of Lileks. The best I've seen so far are at Alicublog... but do a search for "shorter james lileks" and prepare to laugh.

    Posted by Chris on 10/28/04

    October 26, 2004

    Why I believe in our president

    I think I may have changed my mind. Food for thought from Thomas Schaller at the Gadflyer.

    Posted by Chris on 10/26/04

    I believe more people have been able to own their own homes under Bush Jr. - they're now living in sleeping bags.

    The best idea I heard for election day: Round-the-clock Nascar with free beer in the red states.

    Posted by: isaac at October 28, 2004 12:43 PM

    October 25, 2004

    A quote of note

    Carter on Bush:

    "...our country suffered, in 9/11, a terrible and shocking attack ... and George Bush has been adroit at exploiting that attack, and he has elevated himself, in the consciousness of many Americans, to a heroic commander-in-chief, fighting a global threat against America," Carter says. "He's repeatedly played that card, and to some degree quite successfully. I think that success has dissipated. I don't know if it's dissipating fast enough to affect the election. We'll soon know."

    From the Guardian.

    Alternet on Bush supporters:

    "The survey found that 72 percent of Bush supporters believe either that Iraq had actual WMD (47 percent) or a major program for producing them (25 percent). This despite the widespread media coverage in early October of the CIA's "Duelfer Report" the final word on the subject by the one billion dollar, 15-month investigation by the Iraq Survey Group which concluded that Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programmes shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and never tried to reconstitute them."

    Obviously this is not true of all Bush supporters, but I can think of more than a few for which it is absolutely spot-on. (And to those supporters that do not fit into this category - can you deny that your side encourages and benefits from this wholesale, willful misreading of the facts?)

    Meanwhile, my California voter registration card finally arrived the other day, so I did a little democracy dance. Of course, the election of '96 taught me that sometimes even WITH a card, it matters not, so I've jotted down the Voter's Fraud Hotline number on the back. Also planning on laminating this page: CALIFORNIA VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS. Not that it matters so much for me living here, of course.

    Posted by Chris on 10/25/04

    I'm going to Harry's house for the election. I'm a little frightened to be honest. I drove one hour out of the city yesterday and EVERY YARD I PASSED had a Bush/Cheney sign out front. I keep thinking that the way of Chicago is the way of the nation, and if that were the case, Kerry would win by a landslide...I mean a real, Stevie Nicks type landslide.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 25, 2004 2:18 PM

    October 22, 2004

    AMC, Lion's Gate, and "Final Cut"

    Went to see the Robin Williams sci-fi movie the other day, "Final Cut*." We went to a local AMC theatre, that chain that invites you so enthusiastically to Experience the Difference(tm)! and then provides none of same.

    AMC has been using digital projection for their fabulous preshow countdown for a few years. The picture is horrible. I'm sure the projector would be great for the home but on a movie theatre the pixels are the size of your fist. However - since it's limited to this pre-movie presentation I can ignore it.

    The Preshow Countdown of course is when they show some ads, put up the occasional movie promo-trivia for People Who Have Been in a Coma (What latina diva starring in this month's "Shall We Dance?" alongside Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon got her start as a fly girl on the comedy show "In Living Color?!?!?") exhort you to buy popcorn, and occasionally show one of the Fandango Ads Starring Paper Bags or a winning film from the Coca-Cola contest for student filmmakers willing to sell their souls.

    But the other night, sitting through the digital preshow as we waited for the movie to start, I swear I had the tiniest warning flag go up in the back of my mind. "When movies start to be distributed digitally, I hope AMC doesn't think this projector is going to do it," I promise I actually thought. I'm not adding this detail just to sound prophetic, I swear.

    So the digital projection with the preshow melted into a few previews, and then it melted right into the movie. There was decidedly not that moment when you can see the actual film projector has been turned on, when the eye relaxes. They began to show the actual film with this awful projector. It was WRONG WRONG WRONG. That was not a movie - it was a television show! What were they doing?

    I immediately left and found an articulate ticket-tearer. "Oh, they sent this movie on DVDs, so we have to show it digitally." Well, as it turns out, not exactly, but close:


    I went back to the "film" and tried to decide if I could stay. It was that bad. After five minutes of squirming, I decided to ride it out.

    Unlike many film purists I am excited about the coming digital revolution. It excites me that movies can be transmitted this way. It opens up so many possibilities. (And another thing to keep in mind is that it is more or less inevitable.) But it's unfathomable to me that AMC would think that

    "...the quality is good enough as an interim solution," King said. "I would characterize it as high resolution rather then the superhigh resolution that the 2K projectors are delivering. I think the picture on the screen is comparable to a high-definition TV image."

    Comparable to a TV image? Comparable to a TV image? Pal, I have a TV AT HOME. And it may not be High-Def but I also don't have to pay 9.50 per show! Nor do my feet stick to the floor, and nor do I have to shush all the rude people!

    At a time when I would think they'd need to be making the case for digital, they're doing themselves much more harm than good by showing people how bad it can be. Not that we needed the lesson, but they've shown definitively that their concern for showmanship is far less than their desire to save money by avoiding the expensive film medium.

    I'm not kidding, people - this was walk-out-and-boycott-the-theatre bad.

    *It IS a movie about an editor, but is not a movie subsidized by Apple, as far as I can see, even though they makes the fabulous video editing software "Final Cut." In fact the credits thank AVID. ?

    More on AMC's fabulous "Difference" campaign.

    Posted by Chris on 10/22/04

    You make some excellent points. I encourage you to send your article to AMC. And also Greg Laemmle (Laemmle is a small chain out here in the LA area.)

    Ross Anthony
    Film Reviewer
    www.RossAnthony.com (The Hollywood Report Card)

    Posted by: Ross Anthony at October 24, 2004 7:17 PM


    Your ideas are intriguing, and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Just a friend. No real OFFICIAL standing of any sort.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 25, 2004 8:40 AM

    The Magic of Sports

    Student, 21, Killed By Rubber Bullet

    Victoria Snelgrove was a bystander in a crowd that authorities estimated numbered between 60,000 and 80,000 people. The mob poured into the streets around Fenway Park and Kenmore Square after the American League Championship Series game, some revelers setting fires and vandalizing cars and stores.

    Police clad in riot gear used batons and the law enforcement equivalent of paintball guns to disburse rowdy revelers. Snelgrove was hit in the eye by one of the projectiles and it killed her. It was the second time this year that a young person was killed in post-game rioting in downtown Boston. Another student was run over by a car during rioting that followed the Patriots' 2004 Super Bowl win.

    Go team!

    Posted by Chris on 10/22/04

    And thanks to the grinching spirit of insurance companies, it's doubtful her insurance will pay out for death in a riot. Always check the fine print on your policy before you allow the crowd around you to act in an irresponsible manner.

    You can't blame the police though, they probably mistook the celebratory spirit for fundamental Islamic aggression. It probably never occurred to them that crowds tend to disperse over time and more easily without armed aggression.

    Posted by: isaac at October 28, 2004 12:30 PM

    One Elmendorf Down, One to Go

    There is much talk in the comments about the apparent sighting of the Chupacabra or Elmendorf Beast in Texas. Says a local zoo-worker:

    "...it's something that doesn't need to be in the environment."

    That seems a little harsh and possibly premature, but on the other hand if this was under my porch I might shoot first too. Other creatures Fish and Wildlife is on the watch for in Texas:

    The Jersey Devil. Mothman. Spring-Heeled Jack. The Crawford Menace.

    Posted by Chris on 10/22/04

    what upsets me most about the entire story is the comment that it's ear "BROKE OFF LIKE A COOKIE"

    That's not right!

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 22, 2004 11:14 AM

    October 21, 2004

    Precognitive Mortgage Lenders, and other Spam Themes

  • I'm still seeing a lot of Precognitive Mortgage Lenders in my spam: "people" who write to inform me that my mortgage application has been approved, even though I had not submitted one. Are these people psychic? Are they from some alternative, parallel future where the parallel me is fiscally responsible?

  • In the random phrase generator spam department, this week I've been getting a lot of "Your son is in pain" or "Your mother is in terrible pain" or "Pain is killing your father" in the subject line. Who's been seeding the phrase generator with phrases from self-help books?

  • Speaking of random phrases and names being generated, I suppose it's inevitable, but occasionally one of the random phrases seems - ALMOST - to have some sort of meaning to me. Enough to give me pause. It's no problem for them to get MY name, but occasionally I'll see a friend's name in some sort of context that has a slight resonance. Last week I got an email spam from a beloved great aunt that died recently, someone whose name was hardly very common. Does this raise troubling questions about the afterlife and purgatory? No - but I can see in the future one might read the spam subject lines just like one reads tea leaves or the I-Ching today.

    Posted by Chris on 10/21/04

    i ching.

    Didn't the friggin i ching say the world was supposed to have ended by now?

    :: doing crazy motion with index finger ::


    Posted by: friend jessica at October 21, 2004 1:50 PM

    I believe you're thinking of Nostradamus. NOT I CHING. Don't dis my religion.

    Posted by: Chris at October 21, 2004 2:40 PM

    :: glancing knowingly at Jesus ::

    "this one, over here.."

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 21, 2004 2:43 PM
  • October 20, 2004

    The Day I'm Having

  • The rain continues, and it's hard not to catch the hysteria people have about it here. A few days of rain and the mood is like we're all living in the Old Testament. I bought into this idea that it never much rained here, and I left a box of extension cords and surge protectors in what our landlord calls the "den" and what we call the "outdoor patio." They're gone, man.

  • There is a pimple on my nose which probably legally qualifies as a second nose. If this were the middle ages they would have taken one look at this thing and burned me as a witch. These don't happen often but when they do only an exorcist could get rid of it. It's on the right side so I try to approach everyone in profile so as not to shock them with my hideousness.

  • I just hit the "clear" button on my Mac keyboard when typing in a long entry called "AMC, Lion's Gate, and 'Final Cut'." I was about four well-crafted paragraphs in. That thing's gone, man. No amount of Apple-Z is going to bring it back. Again - kudos to Mac on their design. You never want something to be TOO perfect, I suppose. Always let there be one glaring flaw.

  • My computer hard drive absolutely crashed this morning, no kidding. No recoverable errors, nothing to uninstall - just... gone, man. Everything's lost. I am a backup admin and so I back up my files more than most, but there is still loss of data, precious data. Not to mention time as I basically lose a day to rebuild the thing.

  • A bird that somehow got in the building just flew in here and shat on my books.

  • I must not be doing such a good job at hiding how much this day has kicked me in the groin, because people keep looking at me and asking "How you holdin' up?" This serves only to irritate me.

  • The snack machine won't take my dollar.

    OK, the bird one was a lie, but honestly, the way things are going... who knows.

    Posted by Chris on 10/20/04

    But... but... THEY FOUND THE CHUPACABRA! That's GOT to count for something?!

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at October 20, 2004 4:57 PM


    Posted by: friend jessica at October 21, 2004 6:39 AM


    Posted by: FattyFat at October 21, 2004 7:29 AM

    I'm nervous. According to google news, the chupacabra looks a LOT like Marge, my dog.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 21, 2004 8:00 AM


    I prefer the alternative hypothesis: zombie coyotes.

    Posted by: jeff at October 21, 2004 9:16 AM

    boy, that is such old news. don't you people listen to whitley strieber?

    Posted by: kjk at October 21, 2004 5:06 PM

    it's always easier to take the convenient mass consumption theories like aliens mutilating range animals. noone is prepared for the more uncomfortable truth about zombie coyotes.

    Posted by: jeff at October 21, 2004 6:00 PM

    The best bitches on the web

    Posted by: weak sister bitch at November 12, 2004 12:51 PM

    I thought I had the best bitches on the web! Bitch, moan, bitch, moan - it's all I ever do!

    Posted by: Chris at November 12, 2004 12:59 PM
  • October 18, 2004

    The Electoral College

    Get FattyFat to explain why this is the best system. He's quite vehement and makes a good case. Unfortunately the knowledge fades and when I read that "In 26 states and Washington D.C., laws require electors to follow the popular vote" I begin to wonder what we need it for again.

    Posted by Chris on 10/18/04

    Sporadic Biometric Protocol

    Last Thursday it was my task to stay late after work and upgrade a fancy server. These upgrades are complicated things, and because it takes hours to do we try to handle it when most everyone will be gone.

    Here at this office as at others we have "access cards" for the building. During the day you can come and go as ye may, but at around 6 PM the elevators go into a special SECURITY MODE . Only by swiping the special card may you hope to gain entrance to your floor. This is so that evil agents of rival companies can't, say, sneak into our offices and copy down the secret formulae that were left written on the whiteboard by accident. But! If you have a special access card, then you can get in.

    Some of us - like me - even have a special SPECIAL access card, which lets us into the server room, which you may know is the veritable inner sanctum for geeks. This is where we keep our Monster Manuals, and our Fiend Folios, and 20-sided dice that we use to take away hit points from our rivals, and this is where we keep all our original Star Wars action figures still in the original packaging. No. Seriously, it's where the super-important computers are hidden, the ones that keep all the email and files and which are working so hard that special giant air conditioners have to be turned on to keep them from frying as their processors near the temperature of the sun.

    And I, with my special X 2 access card*, can enter and leave this sanctum with impunity.

    Or so it is supposed to work.

    Because instead of operating on the Security Card Access system here as advertised, they seem to have slyly shifted over to the Sporadic Biometric Protocol. Which is to say, the Security Cards are useless, and you have to physically check in with the security person each time you want to go to do your job after hours. And depending on who they are (and they are a different person each time), they might possibly let you in. The only real constant is that there will always be a lot of rustling of papers as they try in vain to find your name.

    But wait - it gets better. Couldn't someone easily convince a person to let them upstairs? Say, if they were very charming, and had a Charisma score above 15? The answer: YES. But that is the beauty of the Sporadic Biometric Protocol. You see, no one in the security office at this building ever tells the security guards anything. Meaning, no matter how many times someone in "authority" from a tenant company, say, mine, informs them that a certain person, say, me, should be given access after hours on the weekend, they do not inform the actual guards!

    Do you see the genius of the system? The guards themselves are in a perfect, uninformed failsafe state! Do you see that the company's assets exist in a near-complete state of security? If not even I, a holder of a special X 2 access card, could get to them? On not only Thursday evening, but Friday evening after security had been re-appraised that I was to have access? Or even Saturday OR SUNDAY when they had been re-re-appraised? IT'S BRILLIANT! HOUDINI COULDN'T GET INTO THIS PLACE!

    *The card also gives me + 20 Dexterity. NO! I'm kidding!
    Posted by Chris on 10/18/04

    I'm sure this is a great story, but I'm still trying to parse this sentence:

    Last Thursday it was my task was to stay late after work and upgrade a fancy server

    Should there be a colon after task? IT WAS MY TASK:


    I don't know. Either way, I'm enjoying all of your goats.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 18, 2004 2:53 PM


    Posted by: Chris at October 18, 2004 3:58 PM

    October 16, 2004

    Two-Pronged Attack

    My old arch-enemy is back:

    The Return... of the SQUID

    And this time... it's the JUMBO FLYING version! And I see that it has somehow tricked its captors into shipping it... HERE. Where I live. That FIEND!

    And as if that weren't enough:

    Snakehead Spotted in Chicago

    Clearly the Snakehead isn't as smart as its Squid ally (It didn't get my updated address before attacking), but a fish that can breath out of water? A squid that can fly? Is there any question what the real threat against America is?

    Posted by Chris on 10/16/04

    don't fool yourself chris. If a snakehead had the chance he'd kill you and everyone you care about.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 18, 2004 8:36 AM

    October 14, 2004

    Smoke and Steam

    Here is the very picture of dignity:

    Me, half-asleep, naked, wet, jumping up and down in the hall, dripping water on the carpet, and waving a towel up at the ceiling as hard and fast as I can


    Jarring does not describe the noise that comes out of that thing. Piercing? Bone-crushing? Soul-shattering? Cardiac-inducing? Those are closer. It goes off and the signal stabs my skull, traveling from my ears directly to the Medulla Oblongata or whatever portion of brain that is responsible for fight-or-flight. STOP STOP STOP MAKE IT STOP STOP THAT PAIN STOP IT BAD BAD BAD STOP BAD is all that I can think when it goes off, if "thinking" even describes the instantaneous primal response it induces.

    Add to this the fact that it will happen early in the morning, when I'm practically still in R.E.M-stage sleep in the shower. It's horrible. I'm telling you I would push an old lady down into the mud and step on her neck to get to that thing when it goes off. I'd step over a burning baby to get to that thing. In Hell when the demons open their mouth to say something to you, that is the sound of their voice.

    What is the problem here? The placement of the unit? The age? Is it just too old? Did people in an earlier decade run the risk of being enveloped by steam from a nearby industrial plant?

    Maybe worse is the anticipation of that demon-howl. I've taken to shutting the bathroom door tightly, and preemptively pointing the electric fan towards that section of hall to ventilate. I have no doubt that we'd be woken up out of a years-long coma if that thing went off during a fire. If only it could differentiate between those two basic elements, SMOKE and STEAM.

    And now I have tempted karma and fate - because yesterday when it tried to kill me by jolting me out of the shower, (its plan no doubt for me to slip on the tiles and break my neck, where I would then slowly perish as the sound eroded my brain with its infernal corrosion) I managed to retain enough sense about me to head not for it but for the circuit breakers. I shut them all off (for this is a smoke-detector that is wired directly into the apartment power, not a battery kind, believe me I discovered that on day ONE of the Audio Assaults when I tried to PULL THAT THING RIGHT OFF THE CEILING) and in the merciful silence that followed... I DISMANTLED IT.

    I know that is verboten and foolhardy. I am not saying to fate that I would rather perish in fire than endure another near-heart attack in the shower. I am saying, I will go and buy another, more modern smoke-detector, and situate it far from the bathroom, and I am willing to live in harm's way until I get that done.

    Posted by Chris on 10/14/04

    SMOKE DETECTORS SAVE LIVES. Why do you hate america?

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 14, 2004 2:15 PM

    I heard that Chris doesn't support the troops either. Indeed.

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at October 15, 2004 12:51 PM

    October 13, 2004

    Theory: Freshly-Cut Grass

    Theory: People who "love the smell" of freshly-cut grass probably never had a regular summer job cutting lawns.

    Refutations? Support?

    Posted by Chris on 10/13/04

    the smell of freshly cut grass invigorates me and makes brian almost psychotic.

    I subscribe to your theory 100%

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 14, 2004 6:13 AM

    I grew up in a neighborhood where my house was surrounded by the houses of 4 widows that all lived alone. I got to mow each of their lawns as well as my own every single week. That's FIVE LAWNS A WEEK! And my parents wouldn't let me take money from them because they were all poor old widows. If it rained one day, it just made the next day suck more becuase then I had to mow TWO lawns in one day. And if it rained for 3 or 4 days straight.... FORGET IT!!! HATE!!!

    Plus... it reminds me of throwing up at football practice over and over and over again.

    I HATE the smell of fresh cut grass.


    Posted by: Brian at October 14, 2004 9:15 AM

    point made.

    Posted by: friend jessica at October 14, 2004 9:18 AM

    Let me also say this about cutting the grass after it rains: IT'S HARD.

    Cutting wet grass means it is around 230% harder to clean out the thing that catches the grass, if you happen to have that sort of lawnmower. It means having to stop occasionally, tip the lawnmower over, and scrape HOT, WET GRASS away from the underside and the blade.

    Another thing I discovered when I was cutting the grass in the Mother of All Yards, most of which was on a sloping hill of around 45 degrees: bees don't always live in those cute hives up in trees like in Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes they live in holes in the ground. AND THEY DO NOT LIKE YOU CUTTING THE GRASS AROUND THEIR GROUND-HOME. I remember one summer day vividly for the 5+ stings and waiting around for about an hour for the swarm to die down so I could retrieve the lawnmower.

    The smell of freshly cut grass? BAH!

    Posted by: Chris at October 14, 2004 10:27 AM


    Posted by: friend jessica at October 14, 2004 11:05 AM

    Blogshame: An I.A.Q.

    Infrequently Asked Questions: Blogshame Edition

    Q: Why is the blog so infrequently updated these days? What changed? Do the movies you are seeing not merit comment? Are you no longer exasperated by today's politics? Do the follies of modern customer service enrage you no more? Oh, what sad days are these when a blog is so neglected that but a single entry remains on the page!

    A: No - I am seeing good movies, I am still exasperated, and I am still periodically enraged. But two things changed - I moved, and I'm working on a writing project. So clearly frequent updates of this blog only happen when I am in a state of constancy. Flux is bad for the blog.

    Q: I mean the title isn't even randomly changed anymore to flummox linking and reflect new themes. And what's with the vanilla design? Whence goest all the picture of seals and dogs and such?

    A: I think my title-auditioning period is over for a while; I like the current one. Also, I was getting tired of the same pictures popping up, so I set the template to super-simple while I digitize and upload all the pictures I took on the way out here. (Apparently you need more than 50 images for the randomizer to give the blog pictures that "fresh" feeling.) Anyway, I wouldn't have thought a few big changes would mean poor l'il blog would go hungry, but sadly, it's been the case. I'll try to do better.

    Q: What have you seen lately at the movies?


  • Sky Captain, of course. I didn't love it as much as everyone else, which just seems wrong, as the movie seems tailor-made for my tastes. What about the tiny elephants? I wanted to know. What happened to them? And what about the Adam and Eve vials? And shouldn't we see or learn more about the World of Tomorrow since it enjoys title status? How do you hire Bai Ling as a villainess and then give her no lines and a mask? What was the point in using Laurence Olivier's image and not some other actor?

    I was impressed with the way he made the movie, and his attention to the details of that genre (or rather the romantized, nostalgic version of those details - because let's face it, no 30's serial or comic book was ever this good), but the movie felt like a laundry list of those necessary genre details rather than a well-written plot where everything naturally tied together. Giant walking robots, check. World War II flying Ace, check. Plucky female reporter, check. N.Y. setting, check, Far East setting, check, jungle setting, check. Ray guns? Um... there has to be a place for one of those... um, check. It's a lesson to me - I would have thought just having all those things present would be enough as well.

    Also, Paltrow sticks out of this movie like a guest star, or an anachronism. I don't think she's right for the Lois Lane role, or perhaps with all the blue screens she just never took it seriously. For contrast, look at the way Angelina Jolie seems absolutely born to play a British Flying Fortress commander with an eye patch. She of course had less of the movie to carry, but the sections she did carry had the life and spirit of a serial.

    The movie is odd. Every time I see the T.V. ad I feel like going back to watch it again, because SURELY I must have loved a movie with giant robots and thirties-style cliffhanger action?

  • I (Heart) Huckabees. God bless him for making it. I thought it was going to hold together a bit more, but still, God bless him. It wil be interesting to see if this movie even has the staying power of something like Waking Life. Unfortunately I'll bet no - it feels like an oddball novelty act. Wahlberg and Law really make the movie.

    Q: If you could sum up the entire political situation in our country right now with one clip, what would it be?

    A: Here it is: Presidential Debate #2. Kerry points out that under Republican rules, Bush himself is a small business owner - he has partial ownership of a timber company. This is news to Bush - he cracks, "I own a timber company?" And gets a big laugh. A minute later he asks if anyone would like to buy some wood. More laughter. HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! The joke's on Kerry! Ol' Lyin' Kerry! Won't this make a great T-shirt? Why can't the Democrats just tell the TRUTH?

    Except that Bush does own a timber company. And in fact it does qualify him as a small business owner under his own rules. But - that news a) comes out the next day, b) involves reading and basic retention of the facts, and is c) not funny. So it really doesn't register on Joe Q. And that sums it all up to me.

    Q: How's the new place in Santa Monica?

    A: Small. Technically I think we're in West L.A. Although according to the rental listing, we're in Brentwood-Adjacent, which is funny. I think the name of your neighborhood ultimately depends on whether you're talking to a realtor or someone who has recently bought in another neighborhood.

    We have made many sacrifices and let many possessions go, but Wife Ami just can't get rid of that dining room table and set of six chairs, even though it won't fit in any room. So, the table gets taken apart and put under the bed. And now we have six matching chairs mixed amongst the other chairs. If you just walked in you'd think we were set up for an AA meeting.

    Q: What is the writing project, anyway?

    A: A screenplay.

    Q: You move to L.A. and now you're writing a screenplay. Why are you such a cliche?

    A: It's how I define myself.

    Q: See, now that wasn't so hard, was it? You updated the blog! And changed the color to boot.

    A: No, it wasn't so hard.

    Posted by Chris on 10/13/04

    It's ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE! (the blog, not you Chris. We already knew YOU were alive - I think) :)

    Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at October 13, 2004 7:51 PM
  • October 5, 2004

    That Wampa Won't Walk

    Now that the much-anticipated Star Wars DVDs have arrived, as well as a new "George Lucas Director's Cut" of THX-1138, the good folks at Lucasfilm are no doubt anxious to find out what position this blog will take on the controversial revisions of all the films.

    Should he be changing the Ewok songs? Erasing not only Sebastian Shaw's eyebrows but his entire existence in one scene? Continually adjusting whether and when Greedo shot? Re-dubbing lines? Should we meet Jabba in Episode IV or VI?

    I say this: I will go with Lucas. They are his films, he has not only the legal right (obviously) but the artistic right to control their final presentation. Filmmakers so rarely get that, we should be happy for him.

    HOWEVER. Even though it is his right in every sense of the word, I would be remiss not to expand my comments. I think movies are not only a record of a story, but a record of the abilities of an artist at that point of their career. And frankly it is sometimes more impressive to see how artists and craftsmen used their imaginations to deal with technical limitations than to see the perfectly realized vision.

    We've all heard ad nauseum about the infamously malfunctioning mechanical shark in Jaws, and how not being able to show it as much ended up creating perfect suspense and tension. Despite Spielberg's tendency to enhance these production legends after the fact, the point is valid - what counts is not what you wanted but what you pulled off.

    If your Wampa won't walk, then you've got to find some other way to work it out. If the CGI didn't exist in the seventies to make Jabba slime his way through a scene with Han, then maybe the scene SHOULD be cut - allowing the sight of him in the final film to be even more shocking. And one of the most brilliant aspects of THX-1138 was how Lucas created a futuristic world out of nothing more than parking garages and tunnels and existing locations. Isn't that diminished by inserting futuristic digital backgrounds into the new release, even if they WERE in the "original vision?"

    I like the way Spielberg released two versions of E.T. on disk, and even Terry Gilliam released the version of Brazil he reviles so much alongside his preferred version.

    Still - even though as a bit of a purist and completist I'd like to have the earlier versions, if this is Lucas' vision, good for him.

    I still wish Han shot first, though.

    Posted by Chris on 10/ 5/04

    It's one of those debates that swiftly becomes academic (or geeky). I have to agree, I support the director's choice whether or not I agree with him (meaning I'm no fan or purist, etc.) We should remember Da Vinci never completed the Mona Lisa - perhaps he wanted to add a corpulent alien or rethink the smile. If a zombie Da Vinci tried to tweak it, I'm not sure I'd stand in his way.

    It should be all or nothing though. All tweaking or no tweaking - art (in which I include filmmaking) is not democratic (I think I'm quoting friend jessica here). So if it's yes to THX sound, remixed music and sharper effects, it's also yes to all the changes, even the less welcome ones.

    I wonder, do Disney World purists protest when the Magic Kingdom adds a ride that wasn't around when they first went as children?

    Posted by: isaac at October 8, 2004 12:19 PM

    Perhaps the question isn't whether the artist has a right to tweak (Lucas) or even destroy (Kafka) his or her own work over time. Change in technology, artist satisfaction, maturity, sentiment, backporting consistency to future sequels, etc. all seem to justify going back and meddling w/ a work of art.

    Maybe the question is whether the consumer of a work of art has a right to the prior versions? If Lucas has the right to continually muck around with Star Wars IV, do I have a right to retain (or redistribute if Lucas doesn't distribute) prior versions of Star Wars IV? Can Lucas go and delete everyone's Tivo'ed copies of Star Wars IV where Han shoots first? Could I redistribute the original version of Star Wars IV w/ no Jabba once the copyright expires on the original version, but not on one of his tweaked versions?

    Posted by: jeff at October 8, 2004 1:49 PM

    I think you can retain and distribute bootlegs, but should do so without profit. It might prompt the director to release the "nostalgia editions".

    I don't think this applies to the "Phantom Edit", a fan version which removed the annoying character from episode 1. That's the work of a clearly unstable fanatic.

    Posted by: isaac at October 8, 2004 2:41 PM