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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Insta-Idiot

I'm done with Instapundit. Much like Powerline (whose demise on my screen here occurred a LONG time ago) and the Corner (whose Jonah Goldberg inanities make my eyes bleed), I no longer have any desire to read, monitor, or even know what the fuck Glenn Reynolds is talking about.

What school does he teach at again? Remind me not to go there. I can remain ignorant all by myself without a hefty out-of-state tuition.

In a post about Bill Maher's show, Reynolds stoops to making hollow threats:
Should things go badly with the war, Maher's audience -- and, for that matter, Maher himself -- will be cited by historians as evidence of the American opposition's unseriousness.
First of all, which war? Iraq? Sorry, pal, but things with that war have already gone badly. When was Mission Accomplished declared again, and why are we still there? Oh yeah...because the place is in a CIVIL WAR.

Reynolds thought Iraq would be a secular democracy by now....so who's he calling unserious?

Also...if the war does go badly (assuming it already hasn't) won't "history" have bigger fish to blame than Bill Maher's audience? Like our enemies or maybe the incompetent leaders who seem to be unserious about defeating them?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bill Maher

Friday night. Watching Bill Maher. Is this the premiere? And look at the guests, Christopher Hitchens, Max Cleland, Elvis Costello, Spike Lee!

Bill flubs some jokes in his monologue. New staff writers maybe? It's not the delivery.

And what's with the striped shirt and the pinstripe jacket? Taking a line from Spike Lee's 25th Hour, Bill looks like a fucking optical illusion.

Although he did make some joke that got a whoop of laughter from some offscreen woman. "Thank you, lady," he says. "Where have you been the whole show?"

And then of course, a joke that I find particularly funny:
"And you know that if you use an Apple computer, they're recalling the batteries because apparently they burst into flame, so if you're surfing the net and you feel a burning sensation in your lap, it's either your battery or that chick you met on Myspace."
Bill gives Spike genuine props. "You are a powerful man in the hands of your craft." Yep, that's Spike.

Elvis Costello rules. Never got into his music, but his attiude...yeah, that's cool. Positive, but real.

Ah, the panel.

I'm still creeped out by Max Cleland's flapping sleeve. I'm glad they showed him only from the waist up.

Christopher Hitchens, glowering over the desk at Bill, reminds me of the judge from Pink Floyd's The Wall. He's got a great voice, but he's an ass. And what is up with those yellow socks?

Yellow socks? He looks like a snake.

Am I the only one kind of embarassed by dumbass good ole boy talk like "snooping and pooping," coming out of Max Cleland's mouth? Less emotion, Max. And don't push your demonstration for Jack Murtha, please. Blah.

Ooh, Hitchens is getting booed. He flips the audience off, even. What an ass.

He could take a page out of Vali Nasr's book. That guy is unflappable. It's like he's praying...all...the...time. You go, Vali.

Damn, another satellite interview? First Spike, then Elvis, and now Markos? Markos Moulitsas, from the famous DailyKos.

Bill
But blog is a dumb word, innit?

Markos
(confused)
It's a dumb word?

Bill
Yeah, I hate that word blog. It's not cool.

Markos
It's atrocious, but we're stuck with it.

Bill
What about blogga? Like, what's up, blogga?

Blogga please.

Now I don't want to sound politically incorrect here, but Markos Moulitsas is gay. I never considered it until I heard him speak. He's gay.

And I think Christopher Hitchens picked up on it. He coughs conspicuously after Kos's segment and it sounds vaguely like some kind of sotto voce insult. Fufu, maybe?

Yeah, he's still an ass.

Ah, New Rules. NEW New Rules.

Not so hot this time. Fire those new writers. Bring back the old guys.

Homeless with Children

For the last three days I have seen a panhandler at the off-ramp of 225 and Colfax, skinny hippy looking guy, long hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, beard, young though, my age, maybe a few years older.

With a kid strapped to his back.

Here he is, darting in and out of cars, taking handouts from sympathetic people, with a kid, not a baby, a kid in one of those reinforced child-bearing backpacks. The kid is almost always sleeping, or passed out from the heat, and is much too old, three maybe, to be hanging around in Dad's backpack.

I understand why this hippy would bring his kid with him on a day of panhandling, but that doesn't make it right. Get a babysitter. Get a job. It's really not that hard. I wasn't even really trying and I got a job.

You don't have any skills? That's okay. There's jobs for you, too. If the INS starts this big crackdown, there's going to be lots of openings. Can you hold a sign? Do you know how to use a shovel? Great, when can you start?

See, you can't go wasting your life on the streets, begging for spare change on a corner. Not anymore. You have a child. You have responsibilities.

And you need to live up to them.

Eating the Ham Sandwich

Updates on two items in my last post:

1) Little Scottito won't be home until next Thursday. So one more week without the guy. I'm really starting to miss him.

2) The tests for Grandma came back. When I asked my Mom if they were good or bad, she said bad. An oncologist is getting involved, and Grandma already said if it was the big C, she didn't want anyone cutting on her.

It could be bad, but that's all I know and, unlike CNN, I'm not going to pontificate about all the scenarios that could be. I'm just going to wait and see...and hope for the best.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slicing the Pig

The news as usual is dreadful. If it's not the Ramsey bullshit, it's the president saying things like, "I'm looking forward to the feast you're going to have tonight. I understand I may have the honor of slicing the pig."

But then again, on the family front some news.

First the bad news: Grandma Espinoza is in the hospital. Her trip, which could have settled the Jewish heritage question, has been canceled. I got the details second hand, and don't want to go into them here, but she is feeling better. You know how these things go. They'll run some tests...

But there may be a trip in the future. Me, down to Texas.

And the good news? My nephew Scott is supposed to be back from his summer trip to Arkansas tonight. I haven't heard if that happened or not, but I'm trusting the calendar. School starts soon. And not to sound cruel about it, but I want to get the little guy in a head lock and give him a noogie.

And finally, I'd like to dedicate this little snip of music to a friend who's going through a hard time. If her heart could sing, I think this is what she would say. Maybe in a higher register, of course.

500

Ladies and gentlemen...my 500th post. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Fashion my Crown From Quetzalcoatl's Quills

Here I sit, watching Deadwood one more time. It’s amazing how much stuff I missed the first time, and there’s so much to love: the subtle awkwardness of Charlie Utter, the quiet intensity of Seth Bullock, the humorous melodrama of Langrishe, and of course, the cunning Al.

Al owns the screen and gets a the last scene all to himself. Coming out of a meeting with Wu, he strides by a passed out drunkard and says, “Rouse him to spend on pussy, or rob the son of a bitch.” Then he walks to the bar, pours himself a shot of whiskey, and drinks it.

Brilliant.

The news…

Jerry Fallwell weighs in on stem cell research. He proposes a three-part test for scientific research.
"Is it ethically correct? Is it biblically correct? Is it morally correct?"
I don’t want to quibble about the difference between ethics and morals, but “biblically correct?” That’s ridiculous.

But here’s some good news. The Broncos have ditched Ashley Lelie, training camp hold out, to Atlanta. Mark Kiszla has some insights into why.

The Aztecs were known for human sacrifice. Willing victims had their hearts ripped out with obsidian blades. But were they always so willing? Apparently not.
The prisoners were kept in cages for months while Aztec priests selected a few each day at dawn, held them down on a sacrificial slab, cut out their hearts and offered them up to various Aztec gods.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dreams

I often wonder...when you dream about someone, does that mean that you're thinking of them, or they're thinking of you?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Netflix Threesome

Brick – 2005

Owing heavy debts to the work of Dashiell Hammett, and in a lesser way, that of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, it’s somewhat ironic that Brick, a film noir set in a California high school, won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for “originality of vision.”

Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt (of Third Rock fame) and helmed by first time director Rian Johnson, Brick is the story of Brendan, a weary high school loner who charges fist-first into the underbelly of a stylized underworld of juvenile crime and jailbait femme fatales.A fast-talking hard-boiled oddity that challenges it’s audience to keep up with it. The language, rather than the intricate plot, is perhaps the bigger draw, a mix of pulpy slang and irreducible coolness. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Listen closely. They won’t wait up for you.

It’s not for everybody, but I dug it. And I’m not the only one.

Four out of Five Stars


The Libertine - 2004

Johnny Depp earned his stripes as an actor long ago. 21 Whatstreet? For, oh, the last decade or so, Johnny Depp has been able to slink into any role he desires and really take it on, so to speak. He can do accents, he can do attitudes, he can do funny and he can do serious. He can do pretty much anything, which is why he’s a perfect fit to portray John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, from Stephen Jeffreys’s play.

Wilmot was famous for a debauched lifestyle that left him syphilitic, disfigured, and prematurely aged, a true libertine in every sense of the word, and Johnny Depp brings him fabulously to life. In the opening scene, he gives you a taste of what’s to come, the attitude, the bored, slightly amused delivery. And that accent? Flawless.

Here’s Johnny Depp as Wilmot, hung over, wig askew.A vague contempt for life fuels Wilmot’s excess, best expressed long after his prime, blinded in one eye, barely able to stand.

Life is not a succession of urgent nows. It is a listless trickle of why should Is.

A listless trickle indeed. The language of this one, much like previously mentioned Brick, is a distinctive feature of the movie. It’s based on a play, so it’s very talky and not necessarily all that natural.

There’s a scene towards the end, when Wilmot shows up at the legislature, devoured nose hidden behind his silver prosthetic, and stuns the court with a rousing speech in favor of the crown, fulfilling some of the promise he had yet to squander. It’s a great scene, a bit of which you can hear here. Depp’s get-up in this scene is very Marilyn Manson.
Four out of Five Stars (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I happen to like costume dramas, so pblttttt.)

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – 2005

A black comedy quasi-private detective-slash-crime caper from the mind of Shane Black. Shane Black, for those of you with short memories, is the mind behind Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Of course, he’s also the brains behind Last Action Hero, one of the Governator’s more lamentable flops (but a great Tesla song).

Seems this time he decided to direct, not only write the script, and he recruits Robert Downey Jr. as a petty thief who’s mistaken as an actor who then becomes a private eye who witnesses a murder. It just best not to go into it. That stuff doesn’t matter.

The stuff that matters is all the meta Hollywood in-jokes and clever one liners. You got a narrator who knows he’s a bad narrator and talks about it. At one point, Val Kilmer’s character says, “This isn’t a book. This isn’t a movie.” Unless you’re totally sucked into the world up on screen, it’s hard not to say to yourself, “Well, actually…..”

The plot has something to do with Johnny Gossamer, a fictional hero of pulpy paperbacks, that plays into the plot in a minor way. The convention of the Johnny Gossamer books is that he would take on two cases, and by the end they would end up being the same case. I liked that part, and I loved how Michelle Monaghan’s character swooned when she saw those ancient paperback books with the lurid covers. I know exactly how that feels.

Another thing I liked about it was that it was broken up into chapters named after Raymond Chandler books. Unneccesary, yes, but charming nonetheless. A decent movie, entertaining and all, but I didn’t like it as much as Brick of the Libertine.

Three out of Five Stars

Soundtrack to the Apocalypse

You're never going to believe who holds the #5 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. You won't hear them on the radio. You won't see the video on MTV. And no, there ain't gonna be no ringtone.

We're talking about Slayer's first new album in five years, Christ Illusion, the first album featuring the original line-up (with Dave Lombardo back on drums) in over a decade. I'm a fairweather fan of Slayer's music, but this record showed up on my radar early.

First there was the news that Lombardo was back in the fold. (Those are his blast beats you can hear on South of Heaven.) Then there was the news they would be doing a song about 9-11...from the terrorist's viewpoint. (You thought they'd go sappy like Oliver Stone? Ha! This is Slayer, man!) Then there was the controversy over the cover, which prompted them to release a tamer version that didn't include a dismembered zombie Jesus.

It's quite clear that Slayer still wants to scare you. Or at least scare your parents, because you would do them a disservice to take the band seriously. On songs like Skeleton Christ, they seem to descend into pure camp, with its falsetto pronouncement of Hail Satan! Here's the clip, and here's the lyrics so you can understand what he's saying:
You'll never touch God's hand
You'll never taste God's breath
Because you'll never see the second coming
I laugh at the abortion known as Christianity
I've seen the ways of God
I'll take the devil any day
Hail Satan
And the terrorist song, appropriately called Jihad, isn't as scary as they would like you to think. Far from being sympathetic to jihad, the song eviscerates the hypocrisy and insanity of a "holy" war. And remember, Slayer wants to scare you. You're supposed to feel unnerved when you listen to them. The effect is the same whether you listen to Dead Skin Mask, their examination of killer Ed Gein, or Jihad, their skewering of the holy warrior. You listen to Slayer and you say "This shit is insane!"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Books, Books, and more Books

One of the first things you notice upon entering my house is the preponderance of books. Books are everywhere, shelves of them, every genre, every size.



In the office, where a small bookcase holds my books on the Yugoslav wars on one shelf, research material for an ambitious writing project.




And in the bedroom, where two shelves, one black, the other white, hold some of my favorite authors, King, Lansdale, Mosley, Barker, Steinbeck, Connelly, etc.




The first question I'm asked when people see them is "Have you read all of these?" The answer to that one is no. Of course not. And I probably never will. There are just too many of them. It would take a hundred years of reading.






I collect them. I read them. I sell them on the internet and store them for the day when I can open my own bookstore. I look at them and imagine all the things that happen between their covers. I adore them.


You can never have too many books. Books are the lifeblood of the human mind. Classics, history, mysteries, horror, science fiction, poetry, and everything in between. Grab them all! Horde them for those lonely nights and inquisitive days. Books are the only form of immortality we know.


And if you're clever about it, you can get a whole stack of books, much like this stack here, for less than $15. Some of these books were a steal. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for 50 cents! Elmore Leonard, a buck. Poppy Z Brite, 50 cents. The Tao Te Ching! And it was a bargain in another way, too.

I paged through one of these books and found a crisp five dollar bill. It was a message from God. Buy more books!