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Sunday, February 29, 2004
Nobody needed to see Billy Crystal as a CGI elf
So far, I'm two for three.
Curse you, Renee Zellweger!
Friday, February 27, 2004
It's Official, '00s "Suck Way More" Than the '80s
In a study that will surprise few, Robert Ivans, a representative from the American Institute of Sucktitude, announced today that this decade "sucks way more" than the 1980s. In a six month long examination focused on the climate of American politics, culture and "overall suckiness," the group determined that the US is in a worse condition than it was during the Reagan years.
"The 21st Century began with Y2K, the California power crisis and Bush conning his way into the White House," Ivans explained in a press conference Wednesday. "After that, we were hit with 9/11, the War(s) Against Afghanistan, Iraq and Terror, the Patriot Act, the Recession, the Columbia disaster, thousands of accusations of sexual abuse against the priesthood, that one summer when the sharks attacked all those people in Florida and at least two albums by System of a Down."
Pointing to the likes of the Kobe Bryant trail and the Halliburton scandal, Ivans compared them to notorious events that marked the '80s. "Oliver North? Debbie Gibson? They've got nothing on Dick Cheney and Britney Spears." Further speculating, the representative explained, "National politics suck. The economy sucks. Music sucks. Everything sucks!"
When asked what finally pushed the '00s past the '80s, Ivans remarked, "the fallout over Janet's boob and the FCC's ensuing witch hunt. Stern rules!"
"It's amazing and troubling that we surpassed the '80s in just four short years," he explained. " The '90s rawked. It's like that one scene in Boogie Nights when the guy blows his head off and it cuts to 'The '80s.'"
The institute's' forecast for the rest of the decade were dire. "If we keep going at this rate, we'll probably top the '50s by 2006."
-If this rips off an already existing Onion article, I apologize in advance.
Blog's Salute to the Automobile - part 2
Part 1 is over here.
The van made it to morning but was worse for wear. After turning the key, I immediately knew something was wrong. The entire thing was shaking like a Disneyland ride about to jump the tracks. Would I even make it to work?
A ten minute drive took twice that. The van refused to accelerate beyond 30 MPH. Driver's passed and shook their heads. I was clearly stoned, deaf, dumb, blind and deserved to be blasted off the pavement. Breaking down in Beaverton wasn't an option. If the van died on Canyon Road, it would be become an oversized hockey puck. These motorists would tear at it like starving circus tigers.
The van made it and promptly collapsed. Throughout the workday, I dreaded what awaited me in the parking lot. Did the van have enough life in it to make it to a mechanic? The Blue Book value on this vehicle was maaaaaybe $3.57. Was it finally time to put the old thing out to pasture? Further contributing to these portents of doom were gathering storm clouds. As I headed out, I was welcomed by pouring rain.
The mechanic's shop was two miles away. It was 6 PM, the height of rush hour traffic. Would Mad Max take this risk or just call AAA? Eager to get the nightmare underway, I hoped in. Now the van's odometer refused to rise above 20. Fifteen brutal minutes later, the van huffed and puffed into a garage.
The staff eyed it warily. They'd operated on this beast before. Unlike most vehicles, the engine of a 1984 Toyota van sits under the front seats, making it a bitch to work on. Furthermore, Ralph Nader would have kittens if he ever took a close look at this thing. A vehicle like this is not only unsafe at any speed, but probably even deadly while stationary. In a head-on collision with something heavier than a BMX bike, it would light up like a flaming Christmas tree.
A scowling mechanic jumped in the van and drove it into the depths of the complex, leaving me to sign the paperwork. I'd need a rental vehicle. The cheapest one was $25 a day. I grudgingly signed off on what sure to become a gigantic repair bill and headed outside to see what jalopy I'd be driving for the next few days.
Outside a 2004 Corolla awaited. Unlike the van, there was no mold growing in the cracks of its windows. It looked like an undiscovered Greek god. This wasn't a car, it was a 1,000 pound metal temptress.
To be continued...
Thursday, February 26, 2004
Happiness is a warm turntable
OK, I broke out the ol' Soulseek and managed to download the first five tracks of Danger Mouse's controversial opus. If you haven't heard already, the DJ decided to combine The Beatles' "White Album" with Jay-Z's "Black Album" to create, that's right, "The Grey Album." Already, it's become a weapon in the P2P war. Downhill Battle, a "music activism" site, encouraged webmasters to post the tracks on their sites for what they dubbed "Grey Tuesday." Over 400 participated and 170 have been threatened with lawsuits.
But enough about all that. Is it any good?
From what I've heard, eh, yes and no. "Glass Onion" sounds great remixed on a track called "Encore" but there's just one little problem: JAY-Z. Of all the artists to mix in with the Beatles, why did it have to be him? He's not the only one that's done a riff on the Beatles by coughing up a "Black Album." Prince did it. Dr. Dre kinda did it. Metallica definitely did it. Hell, even The Dandy Warhols did it.
What Danger Mouse has here is half of a good idea. It's too bad he wasn't willing to sacrifice the "grey" theme to make a greater whole.
And now a brief word on the gay marriage controversy
We can do this the easy way. Or we can do it the hard way.
You can cite the law all you want. You can moan and groan about the "sanctity of marriage" until you're blue in the face. The fact of the matter is this: there's a minority group in this country that is having its rights restricted.
Someday, gay marriage will be legal in the United States of America. It could be 6 months from now, or it could 50 years from now after a million heated debates and protests. So why don't we just legalize it (and pot too while we're at it) and save ourselves a whole lotta' headaches?
Gosh, that was super easy!
Blog's talkback area is now being subsidized by Haloscan instead of Backblog.
The good news is that Haloscan allows readers to post more than five comments.
The bad news is that a week's worth of comments had to be sacrificed in the process.
Let us now have a moment of silence for all those lost words. They fought bravely and they died bravely. Their noble sacrifice is our gain.
Now, the taps. Doo-da-doo. Doo-da-dooo. Doo-da-doo-doo-da-doo. Doo-da-doo-doo-da-doo. Doo-da-doo.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Just supporting the troops
If Flog wasn't 105 miles away, he'd kill me for publishing this next picture. But I think it's a good picture, you know, as a picture. Not necessarily as a memory. He can kill me later.
Aww, the little guy's all tuckered out.
No idea what this about? Go here.
I was almost over the whole Pixies/McDonald theater thing. Then I read this.
Meanwhile, tickets are already going for $200 online. Again,
Dawn of the Dead
Those of us who Actually Work For a Living hate office meetings, right? Well, I'm fortunate enough to work in a place where meetings are conducted within ten feet of an HDTV. Today, it was tuned into the INHD channel, which seems to show nothing but movie trailers. While my boss prattled on about whatever she was prattling on about, I was watching zombies.
Apparently, there's a remake of Dawn of the Dead on the way. Will it be good? Who cares? This means that the original version will almost certainly get a proper DVD release.
Currently, hard-to-find DVDs of the film run $75 or more on Ebay. According to Amazon, a "Divimax Edition" is on the way but it neglects to mention any special features. A site called the Laser's Edge claims the disc will contain a commentary by the director along with oodles of trailers and TV spots.
What's going on here? Does it matter? Humanity will soon boast not one but two zombies-in-a-shopping-mall films.
On Monday night, my next door neighbor was burglarized. Around 8:30, he showed up on my doorstep with a cop in tow.
"Did you see or hear anything?"
"No, afraid not."
"You didn't hear the alarm go off?"
One of the reasons why I live a house in West Slope instead of a trendy neighborhood like NW or Laurelhurst is because I insist on playing video games, music and TV at volumes that even the Maxell guy would balk at. I have no sympathy for neighbor and their complaints about hearing loss. Within five minutes of signing an apartment lease, I'd be drawn and quartered by other residents. Shucks, I barely heard the knock at the door.
Apparently, my neighbor is an Emmy-nominated composer and he doesn't take kindly to thieves attempting to get into his basement studio. He mentioned getting an attack dog before wandering off with the cop. On a good note, I'm living next door to a man who's performed with Miles Davis. On a bad note, THERE'S AN EVIL, NO-GOOD BURGLAR ON THE LOOSE!
A huge drawback of living in a house is that every bump in the night can't be blamed on someone on the other side of a wall. I have several weapons at my disposal in case of a full-scale home invasion (potato gun, steak knives, blood-thirsty Chia Pet) but what about when I'm not there? Right now, the thief could be devising an elaborate plot to steal my Goodwill stereo receiver.
That does it. I will not live in fear. After work, I'm going to straight to Home Depot and I'm buying an automatic draw bridge. When I get home, I'm going to dig a moat around the perimeter. Instead of water, I'll fill it with neighborhood raccoons, squirrels and that damn cat that won't get off my lawn furniture. If a moat full of feral animals doesn't steer the thief back towards Lake Oswego, nothing will.
Maybe I should also invest in a motion-censor cannon. Hmmm....
Perverted Justice indeed
Maybe I'll get my first hate letter/email for posting this but here goes. I can't be the only person out there that's repulsed by KPTV's round-the-clock coverage of their recent undercover sting. If you haven't heard, last week the local new affiliate hooked up with prevertedjustice.com to stage a ratings bonanza. Together, they set up a "bust house" to expose a dozen or so would-be statutory rapists.
OK, everyone involved has probably been congratulated no less than 50,000 times. Their pre-emptive strike against these guys, one of which is a reserve deputy, will likely prevent them from doing something insanely stupid in the future. Local law enforcement has neither the time or the resources to crack down on sexual predators that lurk in online chat rooms. KPTV and Perverted Justice took the law into their own hands and they got results. Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey would be proud.
On the other hand, do we really need round-the-clock coverage on these guys? Do we need to be endlessly reminded of what evil lurks in the hearts of men every time Seinfeld breaks to a commercial? Do any of us need the details of the Valentines gift that one man brought for his fictional underaged mistress? Do we really need a website that smugly posts all the unedited, cringe-inducing IM conversations?
Nope, nope, nope and nope. Bust the swine but spare us the gory details.
There was a time when it all it took to boost your local news outlet's ratings was footage of a nasty car crash or an exploding whale. Now perverts seem to be all the rage. Every time I turn on the local news, I'm assaulted by gleeful anchors recounting the latest pedophile arrest. Good Day Oregon now devotes an entire segment to rapists and molesters. KPTV isn't the only one pulling in viewers with these stories. Each local news affiliate seems to devote no less than five minutes of coverage during each broadcast to the latest karate instructor or priest caught with his hands down some kid's pants.
In this context, with theme-music and fancy graphics, this ain't news. It's gut-wrenching infotainment of the highest order. Guys, isn't there a war on? And where's the coverage of the upcoming mayor's race? How many Portlanders can name a single candidate? How about a little attention directed towards all those misappropriated millions being pumped into the Center Stage/armory project?
Oh, wait. Those stories are guaranteed snoozefests. Last year's Bowling for Columbine may have not been good for much, but it at least it had the balls to draw attention to the fear-mongering of local affiliates across the country. Real news stories are continually pushed aside in favor of exploitation ("Escalators: What You Don't Know Could Kill You!"). As long as KPTV and all the rest keep rolling out the child abusers, I'll be keeping my dial on Comedy Central.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Blog's Salute to the Automobile - part 1
Ah, the automobile. Those delightful little money-sucking hell boxes. How I love them!
Take a look at the picture above. This the vehicle I drive. Go ahead. Laugh, if you must. While it may look like your average '80s engineering nightmare, looks can be deceiving. This little Toyota could be the mini-van equivalent of a folk hero. It has torn through the icy slopes of Mount Washburn and through the blazing fires of the Mohave. It has been stolen twice and has lived to tell the tale both times. It has seen fire and it has seen rain. It has even dueled with buffalo.
Alas, the van has just entered its second decade, which makes 55 billion years old in Toyota years. Remarkably, it still runs, or at least it did until last week.
Two weeks ago, the van began screeching like a demon with irritable bowel syndrome. At stop lights, going into turns, etc. The van loved its new found "voice" and lived to torture other
motorists with its shrill cries. I diagnosed the problem as a loose fan belt and promptly adopted a policy of turning up the volume on the stereo.
Sometime later, the transmission began acting strangely. I thought back to my last trip to Jiffy Lube and the black doom warnings of one employee: "If you don't change the transmission fluid in this vehicle, it's going to explode and/or kill you in your sleep." At the time, I balked at the price and decided to take my chances.
The van dropped a few subtle hints on more than one rain-soaked freeway. I finally relented last week. An attendant was guiding me in over an oil pit when his eyes suddenly popped out of his head. He frantically began waving in the other direction. But it was too late. I had just committed the ultimate Jiffy Lube faux pas. The van had jumped a tiny safety barrier and landed in the pit.
Fortunately, there was a rubber net that prevented the vehicle from falling too far. Unfortunately, it was straining under the weight and looked like it was about to snap. Four employees rushed to the scene...and promptly broke out a can of sarcasm. "Wooo!!! How'd that thing jump the gap?" "I didn't know these things were still on the road..."
...etc, etc. This is the sort of shit I get every time I get the van near a mechanic.
Eventually, it dawned on them that the van was about to become a permanent addition to their Jiffy Lube. One of them rushed down a flight of stares with a industrial-sized jack. After hoisting up its flabby, metal torso, another jumped in the driver's seat. As the rest of us watched on, the van was pulled to safety.
Victory....or was it?
"That thing is losing coolant fast. It's all over the place down there." The fan belts were fine. A damaged water pump was leaking water and the cause of the screeching. The jury was still out on the transmission.
The rest of the Jiffy Lube crew took a step back. Had the fall further ruptured the pump? Would I sue? Whose fault was this? Did it matter? I had no access to legal council. Yes, I was fucked.
I bit the bullet and drove to the nearest Toyota mechanic. They were closed. Despite the van's mortal wound, it would have to get through the next 24-hours. The van "bled" all the way home. I made it as comfortable as possible in the driveway. Would it survive the night?
To be continued...
Chevy Chase poll results
An overwhelming majority of readers agreed with Blog's decision to send the kid a snide email. The final #s:
Yes, I'm shocked and appalled, you poopy head! (2) 13%
Yes, I'm shocked and appalled...by the Firefox badmouthing, you savage! (3) 20%
Naw, it was funny. The kid was askin' for it, dorkface! (6) 40%
What? What's going on? What did I miss, you mongoloid? (0) 0%
I like pie! (4) 27%
The "I like pie!" council came in 2nd. How much influence will their pie lust have on Blog's next poll? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, what do these numbers tell us? Many of you have little tolerance for stupid children.
Thanks to everyone who voted. As for those of you didn't rock the vote, you're the embodiment everything wrong and foul with the democratic system. Bow your heads in shame.
Ninjas cut off heads ALL the time
Phooeyhoo linked to this site earlier today. May all the deities ever conjured up by mankind bless him with a 100,000 really great things for his efforts. Is The Official Ninja Webpage the funniest thing ever? For the time being, yes. Ask me again in five minutes and I'll probably switch back to The Butterfly Effect.
Seppuku is the ancient art of killing yourself if you get super pissed and can’t find anybody else to kill. Ninjas use all sorts of crap to kill themselves—guns, ropes, knives, lasers, spears, etc.—and don’t even think twice about it. These guys would kill themselves for just about any reason and often for no reason at all: that’s why there are so few ninjas today.
It should come as no surprise that the site was created by a 10-year old wunderkind. He even offers helpful diagrams on how to commit seppuku with a Frisbee.
And there is also the Ninja Burger site.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Blog's battle against Sex and the City
There were two urban legends that ran rampant in the 1980s. One was that mysterious drug pushers were passing out stickers laced with LSD at schoolyard playgrounds. Another was that dealers were poking teenagers at concerts with heroin-filled syringes.
Talk about your weird segues. What does all this have to do with the Sex and the City finale? Last month, I found myself trapped in a Comfort Inn during Winterblast. Snowed in and with nothing better to do, I unsuspectingly switched over to HBO, hoping for a Sopranos rerun. What was on instead? Carrie and her posse of cosmopolitan-lovin' cosmopolitans. Queue the Velvet Underground...
[Sarah Jessica Parker], be the death of me
[Sex and the City], it's my wife and it's my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off and dead...
Had I made it just a few weeks longer, the show would be off the air and I wouldn't be cursed with this foul addiction. Now I'm half-way through a (borrowed) DVD-set of the first season. As far as I know, Kevin Smith and I are only males on the planet that will openly admit to sitting through a full episode.
Is Sex and the City actually good? For what it is, sure. The jokes are sharp and there's lots n' lots of naughty words. Nevertheless, it's as redundant as any sitcom on network TV and Nothing Ever Seems to Happen. Every episode features no less than two scenes of the protagonists lounging around the latest uber-trendy NYC hot spot. Each and every conversation follows a sort of Ad Libs pattern.
CARRIE: Say..what do you guys know about [INSERT RANDOM SEXUAL ACT]?
THE REALLY, REALLY NAIVE CHICK: What? Huh? That's offensive (giggle).
THE SNOOTY LAWYER CHICK: Nobody ever does [RANDOM SEXUAL ACT].
THE OVERSEXED, OVER-50 CHICK: I've done that 551,451,215 times. You're all soooo uptight. More alcohol now!
Four women sitting around talking about sex = good...right? Well, not when they're all pushing forty and look like Sarah Jessica Parker. So..why watch it?
Well, in one episode Carrie is ever so happy about scoring a bus ad for her weekly advice column. Men all over Manhattan will be drooling over her picture. Later, she gathers together her pals as they don party hats and sip Champaign, eagerly waiting for the bus to pass down 5th Avenue. When it does, Carrie bursts into tears. A graffiti artists has a scribbled a gigantic "wee-wee" next to her mouth.
The show usually leaves the ironic misogynistic gags to the likes of The Man Show, preferring to follow the adventures of Carrie's cackling coven as they tear through every male they can get their claws on. Like all nasty drugs, Sex and the City is bad for me but I can't...stop...watching...it.
Hoping to kill this habit, cold turkey, and save me from five full seasons of catty sexual conquests, I tuned in to the series finale. I figured the conclusion would provide closure and silence the craving.
Carrie ditches her self-absorbed French beau and winds up with Mr. Big, a multi-millionare she met in the series' first episode (big surprise. Yawn!). One of her friends scores an Asian baby, another one learns a lesson about unconditional love and the slutty chick boinks her brains out after beating cancer.
I'm proud to report that I've been clean and sober for going on 24-hours. When I get home, the DVD set will be banished to a spot underneath a pile of dirty laundry, where it will sit until it can be returned the owner. And I Will Never Ever Watch HBO Ever Again Ever.
PS: Years ago, I remember reading a rumor that Sex and the City would be toned-down and shipped to Fox. This never happened. If it had, the show would have been huge among Friends devotees. It's a shame, really. Sex and the City may be tripe, but at least it's good tripe. Every episode of Friends, on the other hand, must've come from the Powerbook of Lucifer himself.
God dammit! Jesus Christ on a pogostick! Two weeks ago, there was a rumor that the Pixies were playing the McDonald Theater on April 27th. I ran around the internet looking for solid information and couldn't find much of anything. Meanwhile, the theater's website stubbornly refused to confirm or deny the rumors. The band's official site still hasn't posted tour dates.
Tickets quietly went on sale on Saturday and sold out in five minutes flat. Again, I reiterate, GOD DAMMIT.
First: Yes, this has been pitched as a "warm up tour," suggesting dates at larger venues in the future. Regardless, why are The Pixies futzing around a boring little hippie burg when they could playing a "warm up" gig in Portland? It's all that rotten Kesey kid's fault, isn't it?
Second: By the time they get to Europe, they'll probably break up again, thus no big city dates. Lame!
Third: I hate too much demand and not enough supply.
No, not you. The other guy. Marc/Mark, if you're out there reading this, the Alvord Desert pictures can be found here and here.
If they doesn't satisfy your craving for southern Oregon scenery, click here, here or here.
The rest of you may also click on the links above but only if the spirit moves you.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
OH, NO! CONTROVERSY!
Thousands of readers have written in to express their disgust over Blog's response to an email sent by an underaged Chevy Chase fan. OK, fine. Three readers have written in. Nevertheless, this is the largest controversy to hit Blog since a string of senseless puppy bombings rocked an enclave of neighboring blogs back in January.
So...has Blog gone too far?
Yes sir, it's time for another Sparklit poll that will inevitably fill this page with an enormous amount of white space. Cast your vote. It's the American way!
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Portland loves movies. I'm willing to bet there are more cinemas per capita in this city than any other the world, aside from maybe Los Angeles. It should come as no surprise that many a local cinemaphile goes ga-ga when the second week in February rolls around.
So what's so great about the second week in February? Well, it's not that cursed holiday named for a mafia bloodbath (such is my understanding). It's the PIFF, AKA The Portland International Film Festival.
Every year the PIFF gets healthy coverage by just about every publication in the city and most showings sell out. Some devotees even take time off from work to watch as many of the films as possible. They brag like grizzled war veterans, telling tales of watching five movies a day for two weeks straight.
Now the vast majority of these films are hardly my cup of OK Soda. 95% of PIFF's offerings consist of stodgy dramas and political documentaries. The average film is of the "follow one Pakistani woman's courageous battle against bunions" variety. Speaking as someone that would love to see the PIFF offer crazier films, a lot is left to be desired. Midnight showing of international action, horror and youth-oriented flicks would be a welcome addition. Currently, the only local outlet for these genres is the Clinton Street Theater and there's only so much its single screen can handle.
Out of PIFF's large showcase of films, there was two I decided to see: Twilight Samurai and The Dreamers. Because this post just isn't quite long enough, I've decided to tell you all about them. If you stopped reading two paragraphs back, well, then screw you.
The film follows a retired samurai named Iguchi. His wife is dead, leaving him to contend with their two adorable daughters and a not-so-adorable senile mother. After working long shifts as a paper-pushing bureaucrat, he comes home to crops that need tending. On top of it all, he works part time making bug cages out of bamboo.
When and old school chum flees her abusive husband, it's up to Iguchi to clean up the mess. The husband, a high-ranking samurai, challenges him to a duel. He hasn't touched a sword in years but, because he's still a BAM*, he knows it'll be a cakewalk. Their brief battle is a nice display of pacing and sound and suggests better things to come. Unfortunately, after Iguchi defeats him using only a stick of bamboo, the movie settles back into another hour of tedious exposition before crawling towards a conclusion.
Harry Knowles listed Twilight Samurai as one of the best movies of 2003 and described it as the Japanese equivalent of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. While the two films carry the same themes, Twilight is altogether too slow to really be enjoyable. I went in expecting something along the lines of Yojimbo and wound up with a quiet fable about of and regret. Is this a good film? Yes. Does it deserve to be seen by a larger American audience. Sure. Would it have been better if Iguchi was forced into the service of a lord, offering a final hour of brilliant fight scenes along with the pathos? Y-e-s.
* If you have to ask, you'll never know.
If the PIFF offered more films like this, I'd happily submit to its grueling five-flicks a day schedule. The Dreamers is one of those films that comes around every five years; a European drama that gives American cinema a swift kick in the ass. For lack of a better point of reference, I'll call describe it as a Parisian Trainspotting with more nudity and no marble-mouthed Scottish accents.
It's 1968 and Matthew, an American student, is sitting out the Vietnam War in France. With nothing better to do, he spends his days at the local cinematheque. One day, he wanders over and finds the place closed by the local authorities. A crowd of hoppin' mad Parisians has gathered to protest and one young woman, Isabelle, has chained herself to a gate. A conversation ensues, her twin brother Theo rolls up and the three of them spend the evening wandering the streets tossing movie trivia at each other.
After their parents leave for a month-long holiday, the siblings invite Matthew to stay with them. Slowly, it begins to dawn on him that something ain't right. Isabelle and Theo are big fans of "brotherly love." They sleep nude together and have obviously been boinking for years. Each bears a scar on their arms from when they were separated at birth. With the world's most perfect breasts at her disposal, Isabelle quickly seduces Matthew. In turn, Theo becomes hoppin' mad and wackiness, as it usually does, ensues. The three of them spend the month smoking pot, trashing the apartment and declaring physiological warfare on one other while the world outside burns. It should also be mentioned they do most of this while sitting around completely neeked.
The last 15 minutes of the film is a perfect, heart-breaking analogy for the contradictions of '60s counter-culture. Despite its NC-17 rating, The Dreamers will probably get a healthy release in the US. If you're curious and confident you'll never see the damn thing, despite the copious amounts of nudity, read Roger Ebert's spoiler-filled review.
They used to love the moon, now it's the subs
If there was a ever a webmaster that deserved a series of lucrative advertising contracts, it's the mind behind Rather Good. If you've never been, the website contains a series of strange Flash animated shorts. Jerky pictures of cats on pool tables rock out Electric Six's "Gay Bar." Two characters called the Spongmonkeys sing acoustic ballads expressing their love for the moon. The site offers something like 30 different games and shorts. I'd rate Rather Good on a scale somewhere between "hoot" and "hottenanny."
Back in January, the rockin' cats began appearing in promos for VH1. Now the Spongmonkeys have become the official mascots for Quiznos Subs. Eat your butter filled heart out, Jared.
How will the average viewer is reacting to crazy mutant monsters screaming about sandwiches during commercial breaks? I imagine they'll fly off their couches, clutch their heads and scream "Oh, dear God. What the hell are those things?!! Make 'em stop!" The Spongmonkeys could be the most ill-advised ad campaign in many a year. For obvious reasons, I hope they enjoy more longevity than even the Energizer Bunny.
To view the ads, click here.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Fire the fox
Everyone else has reviewed Mozilla's new browser and I can't help but give into peer pressure. The browser has earned rave reviews from geeks across the land and I just don't understand all these blind-faith accolades. While Firefox contains plenty of bells and whistles (a quick startup and tabbed browsing), a few bugs make it almost unusable on my machine.
- The worst bug causes warnings and download messages to become more irritating than the pop-ups the browser is so adept at blocking. In Internet Explorer or Netscape, a simple click on "ok" would make them vanish. Firefox demands no less than ten clicks.
- In certain tables, pictures inexplicably flash like strobe lights.
Firefox makes CHUD look like the light display at a church-sponsored rave. Because of this irritating little quirk, I still have to use IE in order to view many sites.
- Firefox also loves to log out of bank websites mere seconds after entering a password. This is also a problem with Netscape. IE is the only thing that can handle them.
- It also isn't much to look at. Maybe I've been spoiled the Netscape's flashy browser but that doesn't change the fact that Firefox looks something straight outta' Windows 3.1.
I had the same problems with Mozilla's previous effort, Firebird. I want to like Firefox, really I do. It attempts to combine the best qualities of other browsers into something not affiliated with Bill Gates or AOL. Maybe Mozilla deserves a bell curve for being a startup. Regardless, it's no match for Explorer, which has always been rock solid. IE will continue to rule over my computer like a merciless banana republic dictator.
Monday, February 16, 2004
You passed but barely. Your grade? F+.
Remember that kooky kid that sent me an email last week, convinced I was Chevy Chase? Well, I took the advice of "eatyourdamnpeas" and answered his questions. I wonder what kind of grade he'll get for these.
how long have you been in this career?
Since the autumn of 1936.
did you go to college?
I did two terms at a community college in Ottawa. I took nothing but art classes and a half-term of ping-pong. I flunked out. Who cares? That place was filled with facists, man.
do you have another job?
In my dreams I'm an can-can dancer in a sleazy riverboat casino. I dance for old men dragging oxygen tanks. Does that count?
do you have any role models?
Just one. Bill Keane. He is an inspiration to us all.
who inspired you to become a comedian?
Quite a number of a people, actually. Benito Mussolini. Pol Pot. Joseph Stalin. Mao Zedong. John F. Kennedy. Oh, and Lenny Bruce, I guess.
do you like being a comedian?
Who said I was still a comedian? Didn't you see Cops and Robbersons?
if you werent a comedian what would you be?
Gerald Ford. Or a shark.
PS: This interview will cost you $50. Please send it to the following address:
1060 West Addison.
Chicago, IL 60613
I have seen the future of television...
...and no, it isn't The Daily Show. It's Video-On-Demand, a service that is still a good two or three years away from ruling you like a god.
Because I live in Portland and get free cable as a company perk, I'm light years ahead of the rest you troglodytes (kidding!). Since VOD arrived at my place last month, I've put on 30 pounds and now spend all of my free times wallowing in a pool of Hungry Man dinner trays and, yes my own filth. Once more programming is added, I will give up on things like daylight and society at large, preferring to live out the rest of my days in a vegetative state in front of a digital cable box.
VOD works much like Tivo. It offers commercial free programming that you can watch anytime the mood strikes and has an interface much like a DVD player. But unlike Tivo, there's no need to record anything. VOD offers a library of stuff that can be ordered at any time. Imagine having every episode of South Park at your fingertips and you can picture how many marriages VOD will one day ruin.
Because VOD is still in its infancy, the offerings are limited as cable providers and stations test the waters. Comedy Central was among the first to sign on but its library consists mostly of old episodes of Let's Bowl and Strangers with Candy. HBO, on the other hand, has been more than generous. The most recent seasons of their flagship series (Sex in the City, The Sopranos) are available, along with dozens of movies.
As a recent article in Wired pointed out, if the service proves popular, it will present many stations with a conundrum. With the exception of premiums like HBO and Showtime, your average TV channel makes most of its revenue from ad sales. VOD could cripple the likes of already fledgling networks like NBC. The obvious solution would be to incorporate commercials into the format but users would still be able to fast-forward through them. Without a captive audience, television advertising would become less attractive to buyers. VOD, coupled with the increasing usage of Tivo and other digital video recorders, could lead to lawsuits and frustrations that would make the RIAA's battles with PTPs look like a schoolyard slap battle.
But enough about the logistics. VOD could change the way we watch television and go on to become the greatest innovation the medium has seen since the advent of the VCR. Hmm...what's that pain in my chest? Oh boy! It's my first coronary, brought on by a lack on exercise and a steady diet of Popeye's chicken. Thanks, Video-On-Demand!
Thursday, February 12, 2004
The 'Sheed Years: 1996 - 2004
I may or may not have written an article about Rasheed Wallace's departure from the Blazers. This article may or may not be posted over at Oregon Sports Fan. You may or may or may not want to click on this link to read the alleged article.
While I may or may not have written the article in question, I definitely didn't think up the moniker.
Since Armed Prophet's still down for the count after a mysterious one week absence, Blog has taken it upon himself to fill in with his own special blend of political pontificating.
Matt Drudge may have discovered another Monica bombshell. As posted on the Drudge Report today, undisclosed sources are claiming democratic frontrunner John Kerry has a bit of the ol' Billy Clinton charm running through his bloodstream.
A mysterious woman is currently being investigated by just about every news outlet imaginable for her "relationship" with Kerry. According to rumor, she even fled the country at one point to prevent their little secret from being leaked.
While I'm registered as an independent, much like your average Democrat I couldn't care less who takes the nomination, provided they stand a chance at beating George "Asexual Monkey Boy" Bush.
Is Kerry really the best candidate? I don't think so, mostly for frivolous reasons that, nevertheless, have the power to swing elections. First, he's from the north and southerners tend to vote for whatever side hails from below the Mason-Dixon line. His weak stance on national defense will only serve to further alienate middle America. Plus, as Bill Mahr is quick to point out, he looks like one of the talking trees from The Wizard of Oz.
John Edwards seems like the obvious choice. He hails from a small town in South Carolina and has the haircut of a Kennedy. And he has yet to have his picture taken with Jane Fonda.
As far as poo-tang goes, there really is no end to the double standard. GW's brother Neil (now under suspicion for insider trading), found himself in the middle of a nasty divorce last year. The reason why? He was caught in a hotel room with two Asian hookers. Here's an excerpt from the subsequent legal proceedings:
ATTORNEY: Mr. Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her.
NEIL BUSH: It was very unusual.
Replace GW with "Bill," "Neil" with "Roger" and jump back eight years and this all would provide endless fodder for Conan O'Brien. The big question here? Why can Republicans get away with infidelities that would make even Bill Clinton blush? Clinton was almost crucified for his Oval Office affair but little became of Arnie's endless extramarital shenanigans.
As of 4:30 PST, the big news outlets have yet to go near Drudge's allegations. If the suspicions surrounding Kerry are confirmed, he could find himself banished to the same political trash heap as Dean. Even if they aren't, Fox News and all the others will be like sharks in feeding frenzy over a drop of blood (well, in this case, a few drops of something else entirely). While Republicans may be willing to overlook the indiscretions of Arnold "Eating Ain't Cheating" Schwarzenegger, they'll have a field day with this one.
You hear that laughter? That's Europe. Get used to it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Fun and games in Lucasland
Oh, that wacky George Lucas! He's so bumbling and senile! I love how he's spent the last four years angering fans and destroying the most beloved film franchise ever! Oh, what will that delightful rapscallion do next?
The last few days have presented two bleak reports from the Lucas camp. First off, he rejected a script for Indiana Jones IV, delaying the project yet again and maybe derailing it for good. Is another sequel to the franchise really necessary? No. Is Harrison Ford too old to don the fedora again? Uh...no. Clint Eastwood is still making action movies and he's well into his 70s. Do I want to see another Indiana Jones movie, no matter how bad it will probably be? Yes, absolutely.
According to Variety, both Ford and Steven Spielberg were happy with the script and eager to begin shooting the film later this year. Lucas? Reject a script? This is the man who's never met a line he didn't like. Ugggh.
A DVD set for the Star Wars trilogy, possibly the most eagerly anticipated release in the history of DVDs, is set for release on September 21st. Which version of the classic trilogy will be released? In a decision that will no doubt infuriate fans and lower sales, Lucas has stubbornly insisted that only the special editions will be released in the format. Last year, Spielberg released two versions of ET side-by-side, delighting everyone and further fattening the pocketbooks of Amblin and Universal.
Is this a ploy to con fans into shelling out more $ for a future set untarnished by Lucas' meddling? Nope. He's all but disowned the original cuts and has stated, on record, he will never release them on DVD. So those of us that would rather not listen to Luke's girlie scream as he plunges into the depths of Bespin will have to stick with VHS.
On a brighter note, there are rumors that Tom Stoppard had a hand in revising the shooting script for Episode 3. Does Lucas have one last decent Star Wars film in him? Has he finally come to his senses and listened to the pleas of fans and the condemnation of film critics?
But probably not.
More powerful than a Ouija Board and a Magic Eight Ball combined
The keen insight of Amazon is startlingly accurate. On a recent trip to America's favorite online equivalent of Walmart, I clicked on the recommendations tab. The first thing to pop up was this.
I'll never again doubt the power of Amazon's army of physic robots. If ever there was a song begging for a lounge cover, it's Nirvana's "Rape Me." I don't know who Richard Cheese is and I haven't heard so much of a second of his music, but I'm already a fan. Lounge Against the Machine also contains uncompromising covers of the Dead Kennedy's "Holiday in Cambodia" and NIN's "Closer."
On the other hand, Limp Bizkit and Blink 182 are also in here. If Cheese had stuck with the classics, it would be a must buy. With these tracks on there, it's merely a "must steal off of Soulseek." His follow-up album has "Baby Got Back" and "I Used to Love Her." Time to make DIY greatest hits comp.
SHO AND PETE:
Dante Hicks: The main character in Clerks. In the original ending, shown at various film festivals, he was shot and killed by a robber. Director Kevin Smith switched it to happy-bouncy ending before its nationwide theatrical release.
Jake and Elwood:
I also hate Illinois Nazis.
Donnie Darko: As in the kid with the mutant bunny rabbit pal. Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
Aparrently, Backblog is now enforcing a rule limiting feedback to a measly five posts. The restriction has also clamped down on Flog but, strangely enough, not on a certain DC-stationed blog. The moral of this story? Bloggers on the east coast sucky suck suck.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Emails from beyond the realm of reality pt. 3
OK, I have a deep dark secret to confess...except that it's not a secret and everyone knows it. A few years ago, I started a Chevy Chase fan page. Despite his rapidly waning career, the emails keep pouring in. Every once and a while, one belly-flops into the inbox and begs to be shared with the world. Today's email presents a moral dilemma. Check it out.
this is for my class project due on february 13. i have an interveiw question(s) If uou are not chevy chase or have no relation to him please disregard this letter. send answers to [delted]@aol.com
how long have you been in this career
did you go to college?
do you have another job?
do you have any role models?
who inspired you to become a comedian?
do you like being a comedian?
if you werent a comedian what would you be
Contrary to popular belief, I am not Chevy Chase*. The kid that wrote this email obviously waited too long to start working on his assignment and he's trying to beat a deadline. So, should I cut him a break and answer the questions as Chevy? Or should I send back a polite response carefully defining the concept of "fan website"? Be sure to consider the fact that if I do answer the q's, it could result in the teacher sending me a nasty letter and/or a request to come to show and tell.
* No matter what he tells you, Armed Prophet is not, and has never been, Maury Povich.
Monday, February 09, 2004
The Butterfly Effect
I paid $8 to see The Butterfly Effect and I'm not ashamed to admit it. That's right, I stand by my decision. Yeah, you're probably sitting in front of computer, thinking to yourself, "Sheesh, what a nimrod. Why would Blog pay to see that when he could have caught Along Came Polly, the finest American film I've seen in years?" Well, I'll tell you why, slappy.
The Butterfly Effect could very well be the most unintentionally hilarious movie of all time. Every single minute of it is completely misguided. Consider the following:
- Ashton Kutcher plays a brilliant psychology student. That's right, Ashton Kutcher. He took the role to show the world his skills as a dramatic actor. During the course of the film he exhibits two facial expressions: confused and more confused.
- Ashton's college roommate is inexplicably played by a 400 lb actor covered in heavy goth makeup.
- The movie is chock full of grim imagery ranging from puppy abuse to heroin addiction. Because the movie stars Ashton Kutcher, all of this incites instantaneous giggling instead of the gasps the filmmakers were obviously shooting for.
- In one key scene, Ashton wakes up and discovers he has no arms. The expression on his face after discovering this? Priceless.
- Because of his brilliant mind, Ashton's character has the ability to transport himself back and forth through time. Rather than change things for the better, he inadvertently kills several close friends, turns into a frat boy turns his girlfriend into a junkie and blows himself up with a pipe bomb.
If you're the sort of person that considers Friends to be the finest sitcom of all time, will you find The Butterfly Effect funny? Probably not. For everyone else though, it's a one way ticket to Urinesoakedpants Town.
I am not Cornholio but I could use some TP...
Now Shanna has a blog.
This further proves Blog's theory that someday soon everything on the planet with a vertebrae will be posting their thoughts on the internet. Once this happens, young Skywalker will fall to the Dark Side, Sauron will get the one ring, the gates of hell will open, Ash and Marty won't go back to the future, Mikey won't save the Goondocks, Spinal Tap won't play "Stonehenge," Alex will keep puking every time he listens to Beethoven, the knights won't defeat the bunny, the Griswolds won't get to Wally World, the Deltas won't beat the frat boys, Jake and Elwood won't save the orphanage, Dante will get shot and robbed in an alternative ending, Jason won't beat Freddy, Taylor won't see the statue on the beach, Spock won't be reborn, the jet engine won't fall on Donnie's head and the Nazis will capture the Grail, thus allowing the armies of darkness to march all over the face of the earth.
This is my prophecy. You've all been warned.
To view Shannanigans click here or on the conveniently provided link above.
Hmmm, I think I need more sugar. The pan of brownies and liter jug of Mount Dew just aren't doing the trick.
PS: If you recognize all of those pop culture references, go read a book. No, not the one about the Hobbits!
The Pixies are getting back together?
The Pixies are getting back together. No, not the ones that fly around or the people responsible for the multi-colored sugar sticks. The Pixies.
Will Frank Black switch his name back to Black Francis? Isn't he getting too old to howl about guns, monkeys and bone machines? Isn't Kim Deal supposed to hate him? Will this whole thing last longer than the Sammy Haggar/Dave Lee Roth team up?
Meanwhile, Sonic Youth, theotherbig'80sindiebandthatinfluencedeveryonebutneversold allthatmanyrecordsjustlikethevelvetundergrounddontyouknow, have yet to announce a reunion. Oh, wait...
Friday, February 06, 2004
Finally, the cat story
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, house pets and plants, please, gather 'round. After a two day absence I give you now the legendary, oft-rumored Where the Isotopes Play. It was posted at Website only moments ago.
This delightfully tragic (yep, delightfully tragic) tale follows the adventures of three Siamese Siamese Cats as they travel to a nuclear power plant in search of steak and kidney pies. This epic tale, easily the most amibitious venture ever featured on Website, features 2 Quicktime shorts, a partial soundtrack by Cornelius, dozens of wondrous photos, exotic locales, the lowest of low production values and some of the finest puppeteering you'll ever see (honest!).
It's even fit for the whole family, especially now that I've taken out all the swear words and boob shots. Where the Isotopes Play could very well be the best story you read all day featuring a video of a Gizmo doll karate-chopping a pirate.
Prepare to be spellbound. Once you've done that, click here.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Who is this man?
A few weeks back, Flog invited you to guess the identity of a patron at the Fern Bar in Las Vegas' Mirage Hotel. Now Blog invites you to do the same with the centerpiece of February's Photo of the Month.
The photo you see above was taken outside the NYSE. This angry looking stockbroker stormed into the frame right before the shutter closed. Feel free to speculate on...
...the type of scandal he's involved in and with what company.
...favorite brand of cigarettes.
...where he got that American flag tie.
...what he's thinking about.
Chewbacca! What a Wookie! Arrr! Narrr! Rararwar!
It only took a decade or two before it dawned on me. How could so much time have passed without me noticing something so odd and so huge. Haven't others discussed this matter of utmost importance? I can't be the only one. This could, quite possibly be, the most crucial issue of the last 20 years.
HOW THE HELL DOES HAN SOLO UNDERSTAND CHEWBACCA?
Chewbacca speaks in growls. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a "raawrwrawrarwar" or a "euuuuuuuuuurghghu." Yet, Han can chat with him about everything from the dating tips to how to fix a warp drive. No one else seems to know what Chewie's babbling about. Only him. Meanwhile, Chewbacca must be fluent in English otherwise he'd just shake his head every time Han speaks.
The big question here is why doesn't Han speak in Wookie? Or Chewie in English? If the script had required to Harrison Ford to recite a few lines of "rarwarwarawrwr" that would have made the trilogy that much better.
Maybe I'll never know. *sigh*
Never any good news on the newspaper page
Don't let the URL fool you. Unlike a certain armed prophet, I don't watch news on television. While I'm big on local issues, I don't read daily newspapers or magazines. Most of my information on the state of the world comes from The Daily Show, a quick morning glance at the headlines on Yahoo News and the ravings of the homeless guy that hangs out near Ground Kontrol. I am your quintessential uninformed, apathetic American.
Today, I decided to spend a little time over at cnn.com to see what I've been missing. How much have things changed since all those free copies of the Oregonian stopped coming to my doorstep?
Senate offices closed for Ricin scare
Blair orders Iraq WMD inquiry
Kerry leads Bush in new poll
Death toll climbs in Iraq suicide blasts
Police: Camera caught abduction of girl
So what's changed in the past six months? Not much. People are still dying in Iraq and senators are still afraid of envelopes. The weapons of mass destruction haven't been found but it hardly matters at this point. The administration's official reason for the invasion (switched previously from an alleged Al Qaeda link to alleged WMDs) is now that old Vietnam chestnut: "We're Freeing These Poor People." Meanwhile a good number of democrats are backing a man that looks like Skeletor as their presidential nominee. Also: Americans still have an unhealthy obsession with kidnapped teenage girls.
Well, that was fun. I'll have to do this again sometime around November. Now back to the incredibly important topics that Blog usually obsesses over, like...Chewbacca.
The Schadenfreude begins
It's barely Febuary but the walls are already coming down.
It's a phenomenom that began in March of 1995. After an unusally high winter rainfall, slopes around west Portland began collapsing. While the banks of the Willamette River rose, the West Hills began to fall. One avalance on SW Fairmont neccisitated the evacuation of a row of houses nearby. The resulting mud flow blocked the street for over a week, much to the delight of the high schoolers that jumped around on it and to the bane of nearby residents.
Every spring since, several roads around town close down due to similiar landsldes. SW Scholls Ferry Road is notorious for its yearly barrage of mud soaked lanes and collapsing asphalt. Road crews also fight an almost yearly battle with a hill near SW Multnomah.
In the last week, the city has been hit by a series of punishing rain storms. It's a month early, but one slope overlooking the Terwilliger Curves on I-5 has already come down. On Sunday night, the northbound right lane was closed.
If this weather continues, there's no telling how much craziness will ensue once the snow pack on Mount Hood starts melting. What does all this mean? In about a month, Blog will be chock full of awesome mud slide pics. Stay tuned.
Monday, February 02, 2004
More on Janet's boob
Just a quick hop back on the soap box...
The FCC is looking to fine CBS anywhere from $27,500 to several million dollars for last night's Super Bowl halftime show. What about the football game that began with a man almost getting his nose broken?
Maybe this is a tired hippie cliche, but a culture that revels in violence but looses its mind over a single tit desperately needs to get over itself. If your children can handle the sight of 60,000 people screaming around a field full of glorified gladiators, they can handle three seconds of nudity. If you were outraged by what happened last night, get yourself a nice, big bowl of fuck and chow down, you misguided, puritanical mongoloid.
A Mike Bellotti limerick
There was once a coach named Bellotti
Who covorted with half-his-age hotties
With the divorce papers signed
At the 6th Street Grill he dined....
...OK, I can't think of a decent last line. Not much rhymes with "Bellotti." All I could come up with was "while snorting coke off the potty" and that's just the sort of reckless rumor mongering that has no place on this squeaky-clean blog.
Of all the times to NOT have the camera with me.
First off, if you haven't seen Flog's excellent Vegas photo essay, go here. The shot of Mike in full leisure suit body armor looks like something taken on another planet.
Jagermeister and Red Bull actually go well together.
Remember Matt Higgins? The guy with the communist shoes? He's in a movie, which you can buy here. There's also a trailer which contains a shot of one of the characters urinating on a certain Washington landmark.
Mr. Ruff: Why exactly were the midgets beating you?
The mighty power of a single boob
Three days from now, few of us will remember the final score. A month from now, we won't remember who played. But a year from now, we'll still remember Janet Jackson's "ripped" dress.
If you only watch one Super Bowl every five years, like I do, this was probably the one to catch. While the boob is getting more press than the game itself, there are several other bits of potential controversy being overlooked.
While the FCC is having kittens of JJ's publicity stunt, no one has said anything about Aerosmith's unintentionally funny "tribute" to the space shuttle disaster. In a cheesy film prior to the performance, the band strutted around in space gear and launched into orbit. After countless slow motion shots, the camera slammed back down to earth and "crash-landed" in Houston. If this wasn't tactless enough, paratroopers in sci-fi jumpsuits sailed down to the field while the band played.
There's also the streaker. CBS' west-coast telecast made it difficult to tell what was going on as the second half began. From the commercial break, the station faded in to a wide shot of the field where someone appeared to be dancing on the fifty yard line. Then CBS abruptly cut to a shot of one of the player's expression as the events unfolded. Apparently, the streaker dressed as a referee, snuck on the field, and tore off his clothing before being plummeted by a thousand cops and one member of the Patriots' kickoff team. He also had one of those cheesy online casino tattoos on his back.
Probably the most overlooked bit of controversy was that appalling Pepsi ad that attempts to take credit for Jimi Hendrix's musical legacy. Set in 1953, a young Hendrix is walking the streets of Seattle when he buys a soda out of a Pepsi machine. Nearby is a guitar shop. Jimi takes a sip of divine intervention and suddenly he's inspired to buy his first Stratocaster. Meanwhile, across the street there's a Coke machine...located next to an accordion shop. The "Crossroads" spot aired in the fourth quarter, right around the time my hangover came creeping back. I blame Pepsi.