At least some of you must be Fireheads; most
of my readers are my age, and we are the prime Firesign Theatre
demographic. Well, if you liked Firesign, and particularly loved the
Butler (Ossman) or Al Bradshaw (Bergman), or if you're so deep into
Firesign that you have a bunch of Proctor and Bergman material, than
you'll be pleased to hear that Peter Bergman has moved to Widby Island,
where he gets together with David Ossman to perform Radio Free Oz--every
day! On this weeks show, he noted that many of us take the podcast
through iTunes without visiting the home page--and that doing so will
eventually dry up RFO's funding. Don't let this happen! And, of course, subscribe to the Radio Free Oz podcast if you haven't already (warning--adult language and situations).
Thank God, the
Internet is now good for something. Who knows, maybe the Internet will also figure out a way to support both Merle Kessler AND Duck's Breath Mystery Theater as well (my other favorite comedy obsession).
4 stars out of 5
isn't much more you could ask for out of a movie than consideration of
the themes of loss, desire, Mao's Cultural Revolution, freedom and
family. All of them are dealt with here, in a film "based on real
events." The scenery is amazing, the story is moving (albeit hackneyed)
and the dancing is amazing. It is the story of a boy plucked from his
village and sent to Beijing to be a ballet dancer. He is there during
the cultural revolution, and Madame Mao is show turning the company
from traditional ballet to the agitprop soldiers/guns ballets which
gripped China during the late 60s and early 70s. The dancer must decide
whether to go home or defect. I'll bet you can guess what he chooses. I
came to this film by word of mouth and am now pleased to pay it
forward. Go see it. It is impressive.
Richard Dalton found a couple of stories:
Dan Grobstein File
from NYC subways in the 1980s
marry their cousins' | Michael Tomasky
sorry to go on about this. Really. No, actually, I'm not. It's August
and a slow news time, but even if it weren't, this is important. I draw
your attention to Frank Rich's excellent column yesterday
dissecting the history of the mosque controversy
- Roger Ebert Tweets
Lingua Anglo: How Hollywood represents characters who no speaka da English
While assholes everywhere fight over mosques and homosexuals, issues
about which history has already formed its opinions, ice
demands action on corporate donor disclosure
Boomers were always insufferable -- that's why the rest of us never
- Google News
gets gamed by a
crappy content farm
Apropos of last week's "I Write Like David Foster Wallace"
item, Dan notes: "this was blowing around about a month ago and it
seems that every time
you check your sample it gives you a different writer. a couple blogs
that i read were going back and forth on it."
Health Care Reform “Debate” Continues
machine hacked to run Pac-man
The Daily Caller has the story:
“It’s standard operating procedure” to pay bloggers for
coverage, says one Republican campaign operative.
| August 24, 2010
Hacker's Arrest Offers Glimpse Into Crime in Russia
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
American authorities said Vladislav A. Horohorin, known as BadB, headed
"one of the most sophisticated organizations of online financial
criminals in the world."
budget cuts go to the extreme
Animal by Steve Benen on 8/23/10
WHEN BUDGET CUTS GO TO THE EXTREME.... There's
been a fair amount of attention lately on the
kind of budget cuts
states and municipalities have been forced to make during lean times.
Hawaii is going to a four-day school week; an Atlanta suburb has shut
down its public bus system; and parts of Colorado Springs are going
without streetlights to save money on electricity....
had a nice Bush
tax cuts segment, including an interview with David Cay
guy). Johnston is always very clear and very specific. (I'm
including the whole piece, including the lead-in bit from Meet the Press. The
Johnston interview starts at 3:58.)
When I type "ground" into Google, the first suggested
search term is
"ground zero mosque." It comes ahead of "ground beef recipes,"
"groundhog" and, perhaps most tellingly, "ground zero" itself.
Once again, the Republican myth of self-regulation is a key part of the
problem. Whether it's food safety, insurance, banking, you name it, the
fantasy world that has been a key component of GOP policy since the
Reagan years has repeatedly been proven to be a joke. Unfortunately
consumers keep having to pay the price for bad policy. In theory the
Democrats could and should start running harder against self-regulation
but their cooperation over the years was critical for any of this
legislation to succeed. NY
with a crisis more than a decade ago in which thousands of people were
sickened from salmonella in infected eggs, farmers in Britain began
vaccinating their hens against the bacteria. That simple but decisive
step virtually wiped out the health threat.
But when American
regulators created new egg safety rules that went into effect last
month, they declared that there was not enough evidence to conclude
that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from
getting sick. The Food and Drug Administration decided not to mandate
vaccination of hens — a precaution that would cost less than a penny
per a dozen eggs.
Industries gave funding to the DLC and served on its Executive That
is, Obama-hating right wingers give money to conservative Democratic
Markets and Glibertarianism
- The right lies about Social Security, again: Matt
Bai, Movement activist
I was going to let my trip to LA pass by
without comment. I've been busy, with a lot of travel and desperate
efforts to finish my summer projects before school starts. I did manage
to clean out one important drawer in my office, but apparently that's
going to be all I can manage.
Regular readers will recall that
I spend a few days in LA every year catching up with close
friends. This year was no exception. I arrived Tuesday night at the
Venice Beach House, a lovely and reasonably priced B&B that is
yards from the beach. Wednesday morning, I caught a 6:30 bus to Union
Station, where I got an 8:30 train that arrived in Oceanside at 10 (I
mention there things to reassure my longtime friends that I am still a
train geek). My friend J, who worked with me at Windows Magazine (I
actually recruited him for the job) picked me up and drove me to his
house, about a half hour away. We stopped for Pho Noodles on the way,
then whiled away a pleasant afternoon talking on his covered porch,
overlooking hills that were scorched a year or two ago, but which are
recovering nicely. Then a ride to Oceanside, followed by another train
and another bus. Would driving have been faster? Maybe (depends on LA
traffic). But the train/bus combo was much more relaxing; I got a lot
of reading done. Besides, LA's Union Station (the last major train
station built in the U.S. in 1939) is a beautiful place. Reminds me, in
a way, of Yosemite Lodge or Timberline Lodge (on Mt. Hood near
I was about to pick up my car in Santa Monica, when I
realized I was only a block away from a theater showing The Other Guys.
How could I resist? It made for a long day, but I loved it.
after a walk on the beach, I met Jerry Pournelle, a colleague
from my Byte.com days, for a walk and lunch. I was going to show up at
11 for the short walk, but he sent me an early morning email that said,
"Come early and we'll do the long walk." I got there at 10, and was
treated (and I do mean treated) to a two hour walk through the
foothills just behind his house. A steep rise and a beautiful wooded
trail. He, I and his dog loved it! R, his lovely wife, joined us for
lunch at the Good Earth, where we've had our annual lunch for almost a
After that, Neal and I met at the Landmark theater
in the Westside Pavilion. We were planning to see another film, but
traffic was terrible, so we ended up seeing The Extra Man (reviewed
here last week), then off to dinner at Wilshire, at 24th and Wilshire
Blvd. in Santa Monica. The movie was OK, the food was good, the
atmosphere was great, and the company, as always, was amazing. Neal
reviews movies in this blog, and was the Arts Editor when I was the
Editor-in-chief of The
Tech, the MIT student newspaper.
Friday morning, breakfast in Manhattan Beach with N and his lovely wife C. N
was Vicki's friend first (they used to play tennis together in
Berkeley) and has become my friend over the 30 years we have known each
other. Manhattan Beach is amazing.
So to Palos Verdes, where
Prof. S, a friend of mine from USC, invited me into his home for
another year. We missed our usual hour-long walk to the restaurant in
town, as he is recovering from back trouble. So, we took a car to the
Redondo Beach Brewing Co., where we go annually, and I ordered the
Vacaro steak, which I order every year. He had a late breakfast, so he
enjoyed an ice tea while I ate, and regaled me, with some cajoling,
with tales of his time in commercial television. S does not believe in
looking back, or dwelling in the past, or even spending much time
recounting past accomplishments. Probably a good attitude.
to dinner in Santa Monica Friday night with F, a long-time family
friend, who is about to leave LA behind for his childhood home in
Queens, across the street from JFK. I asked him about the weather, and
he told me that it snowed at Christmas last year while he was
visiting--and that he loved it! We are both watching out weight, so we
split a Caprese salad and a grilled cod. Both were great, but then, it
was the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, so what else would you
And so another summer sojourn in Los Angeles.
My younger daughter found a web site that purports to tell you who you write like.
Copy and paste a couple paragraphs you've written into the online form.
They're promoting their software, of course, but here's what it said for me:
1 star out of 5
If there's a film actress with less on-screen charm and warmth than Jennifer Aniston (The Bounty Hunter, He's Just Not That Into You), I've yet to see her. Aniston is the frosty female lead in this mildly funny but predictable and tedious tale of mistaken paternity, late-blooming love, and the aging process. Abrasive actress-cum-rocker Juliette Lewis (Whip It) is Aniston's irritating best friend, and Patrick Wilson (The A-Team) is all obsequious blue-eyed white-toothed earnestness as Aniston's hunky suitor. The only redeeming aspect of The Switch is a trio of engaging male actors - an amusingly schlumpy Jason Bateman (Couples Retreat, The Invention Of Lying), who increasingly weaves elements of Steve Martin into his persona; dyspeptic eight-year-old newcomer Thomas Robinson; and a delightfully droll, sarcastic Jeff Goldblum (Man Of The Year, Cats & Dogs) in a small role. But mostly The Switch is to be avoided.
2 stars out of 5
This highly-praised, lengthy, Oscar-nominated film by Michael Haneke (Hidden, Time Of The Wolf, Funny Games) left me exhausted and unmoved. The reason may be as simple as The White Ribbon is in an arty genre where evocation of a time and place overwhelms the need for a compelling plot or storyline, and I'm not a fan of that approach to film-making. But The White Ribbon is not without certain appeal - it is quite a beautiful work, shot in color then converted to black & white (replete with - grrr! - white subtitles over light backgrounds), and the acting, particularly of a cast of child actors, is strong. The mood is ominous and bleak, laced with an undercurrent of looming, pervasive evil. In this rendering of pre-World War I Germany we see an environment that could foster the Third Reich and a culture that could embrace Nazism in the decades that follow. That said, I still find The White Ribbon difficult to recommend. While The White Ribbon might well qualify as "art" (a quality that Paul often seeks in films), it's not to my taste. [Paul liked it a little better when he saw it in a theater last February.]
Only one political brief this week:
Kent Peterman sent me two quotes and a test. He scored 23; I got 17.
The school is the last
expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.
there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was
elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.
Richard Dalton sent me a scary link about
incompent teachers in LA
Dan Grobstein File
J. Kilpatrick Is Dead. (ed. note: A racist who said
he was sorry, but with his fingers crossed.)
CNN anchor expresses the crux of "mosque" opposition
Patel: I have to tell you that this seems a little like
black people 50 years ago: you can sit anywhere on the bus
like - just not in the front.
think that's apples and oranges - I don't think that black people were
behind a Terrorist plot to kill people and drive planes into a
building. That's a completely different circumstance.
Patel: And American Muslims
were not behind the terrorist plot either.
That sums it up about as well as anything I've heard. Nothing
related to Muslims should be near Ground Zero, because it was Muslims
generally -- not the handful of extremists -- who flew the planes into
those buildings. It's just amazing that that last point from
Patel even needs to be uttered, but it does. This campaign is
nothing different than all of the standard, definitively bigoted
efforts to hold entire demographic groups of people responsible for the
aberrational acts of a small percentage of individual
Congratulations to CNN's Don Lemon for laying it all out in its naked
clarity. This whole controversy is exactly that disgusting.
Gibbs' hippy-punching incident is pivotal, not trivial
- Hard working Hispanics sacrifice for the nation: Look
at the surnames
- Sam Seder tweet: Sweet lord, did anyone realize
they've already put a big
fat minaret on top of our congress. WOLVERINES!
- Roger Ebert tweet:: Dear
Franklin Graham: If Obama was "born a Muslim," were you born
a bigoted idiot? I was born to ask you that question.
News Fire Hose
Food: The Best and Worst
| August 20, 2010
Appeasing the Bond Gods
By PAUL KRUGMAN
The policy elite are making a strange argument in demanding that we
engage in human sacrifices to appease the anger of invisible gods.
Tweet: Visiting the rarely
seen MIT side of Cambridge. There's a bar here called Miracle
of Science. [Ed. note: Not rarely seen by those of us who WENT to MIT]