February 28, 2006

Paul vs. John

Over at Alicublog, one of the first sites I visit every day, Roy Edroso has decided that it's time to forgive Paul McCartney for not being John Lennon. Well, I admire Edroso's writing very much, but give me a break.

I have always found this need to align with either Lennon or McCartney by some fans - and let's face it, it's the Lennon-Only Brigade that feels this big need - mucho tiresome.

Lennon was the great dark dreamer genius and McCartney was the shallow pop-machine incapable of a single deep lyric, isn't that how it goes? And never the twain did meet, right? I'm not arguing that these two main Beatles both brought the exact same thing to the music, and I'm not finding fault that someone may care more for Lennon's music - but what I've always been mystified by is the deep need of the Lennonites to treat Paul like the worst sort of musician ever.

Did it start after the Beatles' break-up, or was it after John was killed?

After that horrible event, Paul's looked like the glib and easy way, Lennon's the stony path, and many of us felt like the dark genius had been taken from us, leaving us with the glib vaudevillian. That seemed a cheat, too perfect for the shoddy era that was coming. No matter what the fellow did, it seemed like compensation, a way to get past the early deification of his storied partner.

Note the energy invested in imagining Paul's entire post-John career as a way to compensate the world for the lack of Lennon. Note the mythic tones. Note the surety that Paul was taking the "glib and easy way" after John's death - to what? To continue making music after Lennon was killed?

And if you need further proof that those people who lost their dark genius might have their heads up their big mythic rock and roll asses, ask yourself if it's possible to not really care for Paul's music, but also not really wish that he'd been killed instead of John.

For most people the answer is undoubtedly yes. And it seems like that's Roy's answer now as well, but when some horrible bitch first wondered why it was always the Lennons and never the McCartneys that get killed, he "took the point" and "never got completely past it." Again - I'll need you to give me a big ol' break.

Roy's essay reminded me of some sports writing I'd seen, the way some writers can wax on and on about the great Truths revealed by how a player moves the ball from A to B. Some of them seem to know it's bullshit, but they're unable to stop themselves.

But how nice that he's seen fit to forgive Sir Paul. I'm sure McCartney will breath a sigh of relief now that he's been accepted into the club.

Posted by Chris on 02/28/06

Even though he's my uncle and we're very close, it never really occurred to me that I was supposed to pick a side in this raging Beatle's debate. Are we supposed to believe then, that John Lennon was writhing in artistic agony when "she loves you (yeah yeah yeah)" was popular, because it wasn't comprised of dark, musical genius?

What about people like my mom, who loved Ringo best?

Your post spurs many questions.

Posted by: friend jessica at March 1, 2006 7:27 AM

February 27, 2006

Viva Sea-Tac!

We drove down to Costa Mesa Friday night to hear Robyn Hitchcock and the Minus Five at the Coachhouse. Maybe it's just because I haven't seen a lot of live music in my life, but from that evening I take away one of my life's thrilling moments in rock shows. To that short list which previously just included seeing the Stones do "Sympathy for the Devil" at Legion Field in Birmingham and hearing Living Color play "Love Rears" while I was working their show as a techie at Foster Auditorium, I now add hearing Robyn Hitchcock play "Viva Sea-Tac" at the Coachhouse with Peter Buck on bass. It was a great evening.

The first Great Road Trip I took was right out of high school - Derek, Walter, Jeb, Stevie and I took Derek's dad's Suburban out from Birmingham, to Dallas, to LA, up to San Fran and Berkeley, I think Sacramento was in there, over to Salt Lake City, then Denver, Boulder, and Telluride in Colorado, although I think I'm forgetting the order, and back. We were gone a month and the fighting began five minutes after we'd all gathered in Birmingham at the beginning. There were some sublime moments and some ugly moments.

But some of the sublime came from the mix tapes Walter and Jeb had made. At first they grated but after a month I was hooked. I don't remember all the selections (Although if I had a time machine, one of my first tasks would be retrieving that playlist), but two albums featured prominently were Camper Van Beethoven's "Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart" and Robyn Hitchcock's "Globe of Frogs." Ever since then I've associated that band and Hitchcock with complete freedom and happiness. To see Hitchcock in person was a thrill.

I've always wanted to be the kind of person who goes to see music a lot, but I'm not. I think the reason I don't choose music nights by default is that I tend to find one artist I like - a band, an author, a filmmaker - and exhaust their whole catalog. With bands, it always seems like there's about 700 running around, and who knows how long they'll be together. I'm still upset about Living Color and Camper Van breaking up.

Posted by Chris on 02/27/06

Ahhhh, so Elvis still making up 39% of your total iPod then? ;-)

Posted by: Ranger Dekiion at February 27, 2006 10:33 AM

February 23, 2006

Note to the Girl at the DMV

Dear Girl,

I realize that it is not your fault that I was not able to get my driver's license today. And you had no way of knowing that this was my second attempt to get my California license - the first time having discovered to my, shall we say, chagrin, that there were still unpaid tickets associated with my car back in Illinois, and that I was considered INELIGIBLE for a license until they were dealt with.

But can I suggest to you that the next time you have to hand someone a slip of paper stating that they have been found INELIGIBLE for a SECOND TIME (This time as it turns out not for the heinous crime of parking tickets but because the Illinois Vehicle Emissions Department has suspended their license due to not reporting for emissions tests there - because I moved some time ago to a different state, you see), that there might be the slightest, just the BRIEFEST signal from you that, as a fellow human, you consider this unfortunate?

Of course it is not your fault! But what you are tacitly saying to this person, me, by handing over that cruel piece of paper is that they are SCREWED AGAIN, MAC, that all the time spent waiting there on that day in this most unpleasant of government buildings, under buzzing flourescents and subjected to the no-eye-contact & don't-make-me-get-off-my-stool attitude of workers such as yourself, all of whom would clearly rather be anywhere else in the universe than in this job which affords them every single holiday known to Americans and probably no possible way to get fired short of a physical assault on a direct supervisor that results in death, who would clearly rather be struck dead than crack the most minimal of smiles, was WASTED TIME.

For you to even make one of those little "oh I'm so sorry" looks of regret flick across your face for the smallest fraction of a second would work wonders - it would clarify, for instance, that you are not enjoying today's labor of informing someone that they are still weeks and weeks away from settling this matter, that there are still many phone calls to make and many inscrutable, unmappable subterranean levels of Secretary of State bureaucracy for them to navigate - in two states! - before this is over.

That way the people who you have deemed doubly ineligible will not be forced upon reflection to hold the following opinion of you, one which perhaps you do not deserve but which if you think about it, through a measure of your OWN inaction, you have earned, but which I am nevertheless saddened to have to close this note with: bitch.



Posted by Chris on 02/23/06

If I were you... I'd take it up with your Governor. I understand that he's an approachable sort of upstanding fellow.

Sorry for your troubles. I've often wondered, having grown up Catholic, if it's possible that the people who work at the DMV are actually the souls of those that are dead and in Purgatory. Or it could possibly be hell. Who would ever choose to work for the DMV?

Posted by: Big Fat Brian at February 24, 2006 6:43 AM

I too am saddened by your troubles, but love the way you hold back calling out that name until it has been truely earned on a very special occasion. God speed to you.

Posted by: Vickery at February 24, 2006 9:02 AM

February 21, 2006

Dracula for Beginners


A quick formatting note: Throughout this document I use many names to refer to Dracula (i.e., the Dark One, Prince of Darkness, the Beast, the Foule One, It, etc.) but they all do in fact apply to one person: Dracula, King of Vampires. For clarity, none of these names are meant to imply that he is in fact Lucifer, or Satan or possessed thereof. Nevertheless he is an extremely potent foe, so proceed with caution.

No statement is made or should be inferred that this guide is exhaustive, nor am I liable for any damages that may arise while using it to defeat the Master.


No matter how likely it will seem to you when you are in battle with the Dark One, remember that you are not in fact the reincarnation of his lost one true love from Wallachia.

Sound strange? Couldn't possibly apply to you? Riiiight. Here's how it goes down: One minute you're standing over him reading the Lord's Prayer, the next minute he's saying how lovely and full your lips are, that you are better than your fellow vapid villagers standing there dumbly with pitchforks and torches, that at last you have returned and now you can be with him for all eternity, and suddenly you're imagining the two of you picking out tapestries for the main dining hall of Castle Dracula together.

He uses this bit all the time. I think he was using it when he was still human. He probably brought it out on his first date. Do not be taken in by his flattery.

No offense, but you ARE a vapid villager, just like the man standing next to you and the man standing next to him. There's nothing wrong with it. Stay focused. Ask yourself what the likelihood is that you'd have the same ancient soul as some girl Dracula probably raped once four hundred years ago in Transylvania. And ask yourself how many of those girls there probably were, and what the chances are that he'd remember any of them. He's a Count, right? Born into a life of privilege? All commoners are the same to him.

Nothing personal; but just see it as what it is, a trick to get you to put down the crucifix. STAY ON TASK.


Here's a classic newbie mistake when attempting to destroy the Beast: monologuing at the wrong moment.

Resist the urge to deliver a pretty speech about justice being satisfied or revenge being sweet when you open the coffin. I can't tell you how many people seem to turn into King Lear right there at the crucial moment with the stake held high! It's a classic way to blow it.

It's best to just open the coffin, stake the heart, and off with the head in a quick 1-2-3 routine. You can deliver the monologue after.

Rehearse. Practice first on another coffin, perhaps with a dressing dummy inside.

Also, has anyone ever tried just binding the coffin shut with tight leather straps, and sealing it with wax? The Prince of Darkness is wily and can assume many forms (mist, vapor, very small bugs, etc.) but if the thing is airtight I don't see why not.


Let me save you months and months of bad breath and stomach-aches: The bug thing does not really work. I have probably eaten a bucket of cockroaches, weevils, and bed-bugs since I have been here, and I don't feel any rush of immortality.

To be fair, this was my theory, not his. But he saw me doing it and could have corrected me, right?


By the way - if the reincarnated lover thing doesn't work then he will suddenly want you to be his right-hand man - but what he really means is his 'henchman.' Yeah, I studied Real-Estate Law for six years so I could be someone's Igor. Oh and by the way he will expect you to do this job from an asylum, with no support from him.

Later you will become irritated and then he will try some line on you like you are the reincarnated general from some ancient Slovakian battle. Oh, GOD. I may be crazy but I'm not CRAZY, you know?


Remember - going after Dracula is a team effort. And a good team is key.

Remember that the Dark One will prey on the weakest-minded amongst you. So, although it's awkward, it's important to be honest about who that person might be. Run some mind games before you go after him. Do some lateral thinking and improv exercises. Brainstorming is good! Maybe get the members of the team to each submit an essay on why they want to destroy the Vampire King anyway. You'll be able to sort out pretty quickly who the weak link is.

O Master! Forgive me!


I'm not sure if he can appear as a mist or not; I have a partial cataract problem and more or less everyone appears as a mist these days.


There has been much confusion lately over whether the daylight really is a problem for him. I swear I have seen him react badly to direct sunlight, but in the face of differing opinion, I think it's best to assume it is NOT a real problem.

I feel confident, though, that he will not be optimum at high noon. (Of course, if your kill-team consists of a bunch of carousing drunks as I have seen happen on more than one occasion, they won't be either.)

This should go without saying but an offensive is best done at peak daylight hours, not in the late afternoon, not evening, not even CLOSE to dusk. IMPORTANT NOTE: Check the Almanac to avoid sudden ironic solar eclipses!

If one of the team members absolutely has a conflict, reschedule at a more convenient time.


I do not know conclusively if he can control minds because I have been told I am super-gullible to start with. I'm sad to say it would not take a force of Evil from beyond the grave to manipulate me into doing just about anything. For instance, the fellow two cells down (Emerson, in for excess thuggery) had me conned into giving him my fruit cup every day for three weeks because he told me they were putting salt peter in it.

I DO know I have done some pretty strange things since the whole Dracula episode (See Sec. III), and I prefer to think it's due to his influence over my mind. Be aware - be safe. If you find yourself doing strange things when going after him it could be the stress, or it could be the Dracula mind control. It's a judgement call.

I am very sure that he can READ minds, though. Definitely clear your head before going after him. It's hard not to focus on your strategy at a time like that, but try your best. I find it best to keep a simple nursery rhyme going in your head. "London Bridges" is a good one, or "Rose Red." This seems to confound and infuriate Dracula, or maybe it's just that I tend to hum it aloud as I'm thinking it.


Instead of holding the crucifix, why not try wearing crucifix-themed clothing? That leaves your hands free! For stakes, holy water, Bibles, what have you.

And have you considered a hat with a big cross on it, like the Pope wears? I've never seen this tried, but if I saw a bunch of Popes coming at me I'd be stunned whether I was a vampire or not.


This section removed on update.

(Previously dealt with techniques of ignoring Dracula's constant whispering in your head, but that "disembodied voice" ended up just being one of the asylum guards here having a little "fun" with me after hours. Nice. Typical for this institution. I don't think they even screen these people in the employment department.)


At some point you will look around at one of your party and realize that, oh my God, THEY are Dracula. And they always were! And it will make sense - that person has been that way all your life, always being the one in the group to attract people, then they slowly suck the life out of you, never returning calls, never offering to buy dinner, but always showing up when it's convenient for them. Never giving anything back. This is another of Dracula's tricks of disguise.

Once you identify this member of the team, keep them ahead of you so you can watch them, and whatever you do don't let them hold the stakes.

Full disclosure: Before the whole Dracula business I was originally in treatment for a form of paranoid delusional psychosis. It sounds worse than it was when I actually put it down on paper.


After re-reading this, I've changed my mind. Forget what I wrote in Sec. II. Because you know what? If you've managed to fight your way all the way to the crypt or cellar of some castle, passing God knows how many obstacles like apparitions or wolves or the Three Wives, and finally you're standing in front of that coffin? Then you've earned it!

Go ahead and take a moment to make a satisfying speech over Dracula's sleeping form before plunging the stake down and cutting off the head. Savor your victory! How many chances like this does life serve up?


Forget about the turning into a bat - it's the rats you have to look out for. The bat thing just makes people ooh and ahh but the rat horde makes people move, FAST. And that's when people get hurt. The real damage isn't from the bites but from people trampling one another to get out of the way.

Again, practice is best. With real rodents if you can help it. I know where you can get a lot.


For someone so full of menace, Dracula actually has a fairly long tale of personal woe. It's really pretty convincing. I have no doubt it's all true but avoid empathizing with him - he needs to be destroyed and the last thing you need is to feel depressed about it afterwards.

Just realize while you're starting to nod sympathetically one of the minions or a Sister / Bride or whatever they are will be sneaking up on you.

Remember what I said about unnecessary speech making? (See Sec. II) It works both ways. While Dracula is droning on about the terrible loneliness of the centuries and whatnot, why not take take the opportunity to hit him with a splash of the ol' Holy Water?


Another thing about the bat - if he DOES make that change, congrats to you for getting him on the run, but you can also pack it in for the night. You're never going to catch him once he's in the air.


You can actually ignore section XII, and definitely take section II VERY SERIOUSLY. And do yourself a favor and highlight section VIII. Could there be a better illustration of the dangers of his mind control? GET OUT OF MY HEAD UNCLEAN CREATURE OF THE NIGHT.

My apologies. Don't let this happen to you!


Posted by Chris on 02/21/06

February 20, 2006

Night Watch

It feels like they announced this movie, the first installment in an epic fantasy / horror trilogy from Russia, about a year ago. And the trailer promised much visual delight. So when it came out Friday I joined the line trailing around the block at the NuArt.

If you can imagine the manic visual inventiveness of "Amelie," but instead of about French people in a love story fairy tale it's Russian with vampires and ghostly Others and eternal battles between Light and Dark and such, that's what "Night Watch" is like.

Well - that's what it's like for a while. The opening scenes with our hero visiting a witch to get her help to win his girl back are astounding, but the movie tends to slack off from there - slightly in the visuals, most certainly in the story department. All the best images you'll recognize from the uber-trailer, and there seem to be about three separate plots going on that may or may not be connected. There's a good bit of the super-cool vamp goth fixation but it doesn't just drown in it the way some American vampire movies (with Kate Beckinsale) do.

In a great touch, a little gift to the foreign audiences, the English subtitles are animated - the words slide and fade like smoke across the screen, when a vampiress speaks her words are in red, and when one character yells, the size of his words increase. It could have been distracting but wasn't.

I enjoyed the movie but was forgiving because I know two more are on the way. Maybe in one of those they'll explain the owl-woman, the lady who turns into a tiger, and what the vortex had to do with anything.

Posted by Chris on 02/20/06

Control Culture vs. Connect Culture

Great article from Jesse Kornbluth on Huffington Post today called 'Brokeback' & Abu Ghraib: What's our Problem with Gays?':

Why are so many Americans --- most of them living where there's no uncloseted homosexual for miles --- so full of fear and hate for gay men? (Gay women are another story; just ask any horny guy.) Why is gay sex unacceptable within our borders, but ideal to export to foreign torture chambers? Why, of all our urgent issues, is homosexuality right up there at the top?


Ever since we were blessed with the Bush presidency, I've been searching for a way to look at what's happening in this country that doesn't make me feel sick at heart.

Me too! And here's an uplifting notion - he does.

Posted by Chris on 02/20/06

February 18, 2006

Pre-Satirized For Your Pleasure

Some news events are so completely absurd that when they happen the first thing I think is, how in the WORLD will the comics be able to make a joke out of this? It's already so completely absurd!

Sometimes the irony is so large that it can't even be targeted. These are the moments when our professional comedians really have to earn those paychecks.

I can't think of any other recent news story so pre-satirized as Dick Cheney, of all people, shooting someone. But out of all the cartoons, jokes and monologues, these two bits of humor summed it up best for me:

#1. This cartoon by David Mamet at Huffington Post*.

#2. Not surprisingly, Rob Corddry's report on the next day's Daily Show:

Jon, tonight the Vice President is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Whittington. Now according to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time that there were quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be the 78 year old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists: he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face.

*In case the link ever goes down, the caption is of Cheney saying "Well, I may have shot the wrong thing but at least I shot SOMETHING."

Posted by Chris on 02/18/06

February 16, 2006

Why the Internets Are Great and Should Be Protected

Do you ever find that when you're intensely interested in something, even when you feel like you're moving randomly, you tend to gravitate towards that thing and things related to it? It's not always great to move in circles (Like when I tend to park in orbit around the same five political blogs) but if you find yourself consistently pulled in one direction it's good to pay attention.

The internets make this possible for me. Because by following what feels like a stream-of conscious path through links I end up moving towards this thing or idea that's interesting, something maybe I'm not really aware of how important it is, because that's how my mind works, and then by the end of the day I've found some article or community or rediscovered some website that is exactly what I needed to read. Not always, but sometimes.

I started with the most random of web searches today and have ended up at an article with a filmmaker basically saying the same thing I said here, as well as a community movement essentially in the same spirit. I'm encouraged and enlightened. Lord love the internets.

Posted by Chris on 02/16/06

I agree wholeheartedly, Chris. The internets are the cow's vagina and should be protected.

Here is something fun on the internets:


Posted by: simon at February 17, 2006 8:06 AM

February 13, 2006

Fool's Toledo

Toledo! They were finally there! At last, a place to raise their kids, a place to put down some real roots!

A man and woman could have a career in a place like Toledo. They could have a real family. Their kids could run and play! Later there would be a dog, there would be backyard barbeques, playful Christmas light competitions with the neighbors, and a favorite pizza take-out place. Was there any more welcoming place in the country?

As they drove through the magnificent town to their new house they felt themselves relax for the first time since God knows when. Even the air smelled like home.

"What did that Realtor know, anyhow?" he said. "We made it on our own and things are going to be great."

The next few weeks were hard - moving trucks to unload, a lifetime's worth of possessions in boxes, finding the right school for the kids, getting lost on new streets and a dozen trips to the hardware store. But still - it was everything they'd worked for, everything they'd dreamed of.

Later they called the Realtor. "Not to gloat, you understand," he explained beforehand. "I just want to have him over for dinner so he can see how wrong he was."

She gave him a sidelong glance, but smiled. She wouldn't mind seeing the look on the Realtor's face either.

The Realtor was hours late for dinner that night. And when he came in he was shaking his head sadly. His face held bad news.

"I was afraid this would happen," he said.

"What's the matter?" she asked. "Were the directions not good?"

The Realtor took them aside, away from the kids. "Guys - you've made a mistake. This isn't Toledo. This is Fool's Toledo."

They were speechless; they were numb. Now suddenly everything - the fresh apple pie she'd baked, his favorite chair positioned just right in front of the television, the family pictures hung with care - all just seemed so wrong.

To his credit the Realtor was taking no joy in their misery. "It's a common enough mistake," he said. "If only you'd consulted with me before you signed."

The next day, like zombies, they pulled the kids out of school and went about the task of packing up again. By the end of the week they were on the road. One day they would find their Toledo.

Posted by Chris on 02/13/06

February 10, 2006

Storefront Cinema

It has taken me a while to realize this, but my filmmaking dream is not really to be a writer-director working for a big studio. Sure, I'd like to get paid Paramount or Sony money for something I write some day, and I'd love to be able to drive up to the Universal lot and have a meeting in somebody's bungalow that's equipped with a vintage arcade machine and a wet bar, and how great would it be to see my name after the 20th Century Fox fanfare.

And I'm not exactly turning that down if it comes my way. But in as much that by stating my desire to make professional movies I've committed my entire life to a long grueling career of bowing and scraping and ass-kissing and guessing what the Li'l Lord MBAs are thinking they like this week, what I really want is my own thing.

Well sure, we all want our own thing, and not to have to work under unreasonable bosses, but wait - I'm not talking about something on the order of, say, Dreamworks. What I want is my own independent place where I can do exactly what I want on the scale I want to do it. And there's no need for it to be very big at all.

What I want is a little theatre, maybe a 2- or 3-hundred seat black box theatre, and an ensemble of regular actors that work there. What we'll do is put on plays most of the time, just like any storefront live theatre, but the primary function will be to workshop the screenplays I write. Once I'm sure the screenplays are where they need to be, we'll then go off and shoot the movie with those same actors.

Next to the theatre would be my production and post-production offices, where we keep all the digital movie-making hoo-hah. I'd want to be able to do all post right there - editing, scoring, effects, everything.

Later on, when the movie is shot, we'd premiere it in the same space. I'd also rent the space out to young filmmakers at very reasonable costs, and I'd have my staff return their calls promptly and be polite. When they weren't using it and there wasn't a play I'd show classic movies there, maybe for free.

In the lobby we'd sell the DVDs of the movies we'd produced there. Oh, don't think I wouldn't try to get them distributed through the majors, but we'd also be selling product here.

That's really it - that's all I need.

Q: Wait a minute, wait a minute. So do you want to run a theatre or do you want to make movies?

A: I want an ensemble to make movies with and I want our own space - that's it. I really don't care about running a live theatre, but I know we're not going to be using it every night, all the time. And having been someone desperate for a rehearsal / screening / performance space in the past, I can tell you that keeping an empty theatre is a cardinal sin.

But someone else is going to have to run it. I don't want to get involved in filling out 501-C3s or making a mission statement. I want to be able to close down the theatre to have a dinner party on stage if I want to, and I don't want to have to fill out a form for the IRS when I do.

Q: Let me back up a few steps - you'd shoot all the movies with the same actors?

A: Yes. But not ONLY them. They would be the ensemble in a David Mamet way. In a Woody Allen way.

Q: Does that mean all your movies will be small, "actorly" affairs?

A: No. There will be horror and action movies as well.

Q: Wouldn't movies shot inside a theatre get boring?

A: We're not shooting in the theatre - we're just workshopping and rehearsing the movie there.

Also, it wouldn't just be me originating movies - I'd have guest artists and such.

I've always through it would be fun to take over some old, defunct business's storefront and keep on using their name to make the movies. MARVIN ENVELOPES AND PACKAGING presents "The Creeping Claw." SEYBOLD WASHER AND BOLT presents "The Intervention."

No, I'll keep the "Hand / Eye" name, but I'm not about going crazy with the branding. My logo will appear for no more than five seconds on screen, and as God as my witness it will never be animated.

(And if it is I will apologize to God and then donate the amount of money it took to animate it to some young filmmaker.)

Posted by Chris on 02/10/06

I've always dreamed of being in a stable of actors for a film company. Please say I can be part of the club. Your devoted servant, Klug.

Posted by: klugula at February 10, 2006 2:33 PM

Dude, you're already in! I thought you knew!

Posted by: Chris at February 10, 2006 2:39 PM

When, not if, I hit the Lotto, you can consider this done.

Posted by: Vickery at February 13, 2006 9:10 AM

February 8, 2006

Two Great Things

"Darwinia" - A lo-res, high concept video game. An artificial life simulation is being threatened by viruses and other such malefactors and you have to send in electronic squads and engineers to help them with their mini-society. Vaguely Tron-like in look without any efforts towards "realism."

Get the demo, but beware. It significantly reduced my productivity. The full version is a little buggy and for some reason a third-party game management thing called "Steam" inserts itself on your computer and insists on popping up whenever you start the game - but worth it.

"Call of Cthulhu" - A most improbable feature film adaptation of the Lovecraft story put together by some HARDCORE afficianados in Glendale - the HPLHS (H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society). Definitely homespun, but it wouldn't be fair to call this an amateur production at all. They've so effectively recreated the look and feel of a 1920s silent film (Down to the score, the "studio" logo, even the packaging on the DVD) that it more than surpasses any other "professional" Lovecraft adaptation I've ever seen. Watch the features and you won't believe what they managed to pull off with a consumer digital camera and cardboard sets.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 8/06

You wanna talk productivity threatener? Guess how much time I wasted squinting at this 18x18 pixel version of pac man today? http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2006/02/micro_retro_agogo.php

Posted by: relpek at February 9, 2006 3:08 PM

Why? Why? WHY would someone do that to people?

Posted by: Chris at February 10, 2006 11:18 AM

Sorry, but it's true

From the interview with Dan Savage in today's AV Club:

I love those polls that say, "A majority of Americans" agree on the gay-marriage debate, as if that's the conversation-stopper, as if that wins, proves that it's not the right thing to do. A majority of Americans has been so wrong, so often, on so many issues, that a majority of Americans supporting something should be cause for as second look at its rightness. A majority of Americans supported slavery, a majority of Americans supported the internment of the Japanese, a majority of Americans supported denying women the vote, a majority of Americans supported the Communist witch hunts, a majority of Americans often have their heads up their asses.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 8/06

February 6, 2006

World News Question

Here's a question: Do all the men with their fists in the air in this picture-


-have jobs?

Just wondering, because it looks like it's the middle of the day there. Maybe they're all on lunch break? Maybe that's it. Because I once went to a mid-day protest downtown but could only be there from 12 to 1.

Oh - and I was protesting a war, not an editorial cartoon.

Or - maybe their full-time occupation is Freelance Outrage Specialist! Who knows? Maybe there's a living in it. Seems to work for Bill O' Reilly and Michelle Malkin.

Hmmm. Just a theory, but perhaps a little more time spent on honing the mad computer skilz and a little less being righteously offended, and you might raise your society out of, say, the equivalent of the 16th century. But whatever works for you.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 6/06

Jobs and girlfriends - I really think that both could change the world!

Posted by: Vickery at February 6, 2006 12:48 PM

Vickery hit the nail on the head - or in this case - the raised arms with a hammer....women and jobs would change that society 100%.

Posted by: annie mae at February 7, 2006 7:24 AM

I've been listening to much commentary, from both sides, surrounding this issue on the BBC. Some interesting points that have been made are:

-Arabic presses routinely run horrific rascist depictions of Jews in their editorial cartoons (I should stress these are rascist depictions of real-life people, not mythological characters)

-The American flag is sacred to a great deal of Americans (not just the politicians who find power in displays of phony patriotism and their redneck base) but we see frequent images of Arabs burning the flag

I appreciate that these people are enjoying the western value of freedom of speech and protest - but protesting against freedom of speech seems as hypocritical as wanting to give offense without receiving any in return. And why should those who insult Muhammed be put on trial, dismembered or executed, as some of the placards suggest? Isn't this excessive punishment, especially for people who don't believe and therefore cannot be considered blasphemers? And who would be the plaintiff at the trial? No plaintiff, no insult surely?

I agree with the above comments, perhaps a little injection of post-enlightenment sense and female empowerment would help the matter. Perhaps in another five hundred years...

Posted by: simon at February 7, 2006 10:16 AM

A Good Superpower to Have

A good superpower to have would be if you could send out a telepathic call for help, like Aquaman, but instead of to the creatures of the sea, it would be to household appliances. I especially wish I had this power today, because I just realized I left the coffee machine on.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 6/06

I need the same type of power, one that would confirm for me that I did in fact close the garrage door....

Posted by: Vickery at February 6, 2006 12:47 PM

Spot the Founding Company Members in the Cast

We saw a staged version of "The Blue Dahlia" this weekend. It's a Raymond Chandler crime drama set in L.A. in the 40s (Maybe they all are - I'm not that familiar with Chandler), and boy were they having fun with the patter, the lingo, the whole... milieu.

The stage was filled with wise guys in fedoras, see? And cops taking people downtown and people being told to scram, you get me? And dizzy dames getting busted in the mush and house dicks snooping where they shouldn't and barhops getting fresh, and lots of cigarettes being lit and then the Zippo expertly flicked shut. Although it was slightly uneven in tone and a little awkwardly staged, it was great fun.

However: It was put on by a long-standing theatre company here, and the production suffered from a slight case of Spot the Founding Memberitis. How many ensemble productions have I been to where it's a stellar cast... except for that one person in a fairly plum role. They stick out like a sore thumb - maybe they're just not up to the challenge or maybe they're just completely the wrong type.

And you wonder how that came about, so you flip to their bio in the program, and- yep, they're a founding member of the company. Or perhaps even the artistic director themselves. Unfortunate.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 6/06

February 2, 2006

Setting a Precedent

From Hullabaloo:

These missing Cheney e-mails are very intriguing. This is particularly so because we went though a similar event during the Clinton administration and the Republicans went completely apeshit over it.
. . .

There can be no complaints from the Republicans about Fitzgerald investigating this. None. The precedent was set just five and half years ago --- by them.

Of course, a precedent is only important if someone holds you to it.

Posted by Chris on 02/ 2/06