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Thursday, September 30, 2004
So, uh, like, who won?
So did the zombie or the chimp come out on top? As Armed Prophet points out, who can tell? It may take a few days of sifting through the rubble to know for sure. After flipping through all the news channels though, the winner, for the time being at least, seems to be Kerry. Of course, both sides were laying claim to victory before the candidates even took the stage. Anyway, a quick run down on all the "important stuff":
BEST REACTION SHOTS: Bush, by far. In those 90 minutes he ran through a plethora of emotions: bewildered, angry, disdainful, smug, a deer in headlights, near tears, total drama queen, etc. Kerry, on the other hand, kept his eyes on the podium and seemed to scribble on a notepad while he wasn't speaking.
BEST EFFORT TO TUG AT THE HEART STRINGS OF AMERICA: Bush fighting back tears as he ran through an anecdote about praying with the wife of a fallen soldier.
BEST LINE OF THE NIGHT: Kerry, when asked how Bush has botched the war in Iraq: "Where do you want me to begin?"
WORST FLUB: Oh so obvious: Bush's "Of course we're after Hussein, er, Osama." This one is going to be run ad nauseum in the coming weeks. It's as good as the "he voted for the war before he voted against it" line that has been thrown, over and over again, at Kerry for months now. There's no reason why the Democratic campaign can't make good use of it.
BEST BITCH-SLAP: For Bush: his rigorous slamming of Kerry's alleged "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time" stance on Iraq and "mixed messages." For Kerry, North Korea. Bush had nothing he could throw at that but wishy-washy assumptions and, well, complete bullshit.
WEIRDEST ANALOGY: Kerry's Pottery Barn analogy of Iraq. Huh?
BEST EFFORT TO GET LEHER'S ATTENTION: For Kerry, the raised finger, as if he was hailing a cab. For Bush, the "Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!"
BEST IMPERSONATION OF AN OVERSTIMULATED CHIMP: C'mon.
BEST IMPERSONATION OF AN EXTRA IN SHAUN OF THE DEAD: C'mon.
If anyone won "the whatever," it was Kerry. Despite Bush's best efforts to make him look like a, *ahem*, pussy, Kerry fought back, clearly outlining his stance on Iraq, and why he "flip-flopped" while drawing attention to Bush's lack of attention devoted to nuclear proliferation in North Korea. Even the media will probably/eventually/hopefully toss him this bone. Kerry ran circles around Bush but were all those swing voters paying attention?
Whew! Thus we have reached the conclusion of Welcome to Blog's coverage of "the whatever." OK, so I've got a pint of Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale ("Brewed in Yorkshire, tempered over burning witches") in front of me and a copy of that new Star Wars documentary. Enough with 'ze politics, it's time for time for geeky self-indulgence.
KERRY: "I defended this war as a young man and I will defend it as president." Plans for homeland security, reaching out to the world, building strong alliances. "I believe America's best days are ahead of us." "Responsible leadership we deserve. God bless America."
Bush, playing the fear card in his final remarks. "That won't happen while I'm president." Vaguely refered to draft, he's apparently all up for keeping the military strictly volunteer. "I believe in the transformational power of liberty." Sounding like a preacher. Oh, God. Mountain analogy. 'I have climbed the mountain." Come on, may as well break out a "hallelujah!" or "brothers in sisters, praise the Lord."
And it's over. Whew! The candidates shake hands, Bush does all the talking and pats Kerry on the back.
Blogger is running slow. Everyone rushing to their keyboards. KPTV immediately cuts to local issues. Measure 36, lawn signs, women kissing. Commentator Andy Gobeil in DC, going the cautious route. "Who won, Andy?" "Uhhhhh, I don't know."
Pretty calm guy
Kerry going back to North Korea. Bush with a look of disdain, almost as if he's humoring Kerry.
BUSH: "You know my position on North Korea. I can say it any more plainly. I'm a pretty calm guy."
Oh, God. "Saddam is a grave threat."
KERRY: "This is isn't the issue. It's what you do with [the inteligence]. This is not what the American people voted for."
Kerry goes first with coin toss. Bush will get the final word. Uh-oh.
KERRY: "We're serious about ending nuclear profliferation. In four years." Talking about first JFK. Bush calling him on it, "Funding was increased by 35% to end nuclear proliferation." Somehow, GW doesn't trip over that: "nuc-lear prolifer-ation." Good job, Mr. Bush.
Bush, again hammering talks with Korea.
Uh-oh, last question. ABOUT RUSSIA? HUH?!!! WHA...?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Wow, this thing is rolling to the end and it took me over an hour to rely on a comic book reference.
Sudan, African Union, rainy season...zzzzzz...
BUSH: "Wooo! That's a loaded question. I admire Kerry's service to our country. I apprciate that his daughter's have been so kind to my daughters (???) I won't hold against him that he went to Yale." Audience audible mumbles among themselves.
Bush, again hammering home Kerry's mixed-messages. For God's sake, JFK, when you get a chance to speak, attack this cheap trick.
KERRY: "I appreciate the personal comments....he's done it more than I have." Cue the Beavis and Butthead laughter. "I've learned not do..." Damn, missed that part.
"It's one thing to be certain but it's one thing to be certain and WRONG." Good line.
Bush again, blinking, licking lips, looking quizically back and forth. "You can't wilt under that kind of pressure."
KERRY: "I've never wittled in my life." Again, attacking Bush's plan on Iraq, ignoring UN. "We did not need to rush to war."
KERRY: "Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation." Hammer it home.
Pass a global test
Bush defending not joining various international organizations. Kerry smiling like a loon, eager to respond. Lifts his finger like he's flagging down a waiter. Bush gets another question. Damn!
Bush: "Korean per-nen-sula."
Rolling into the third act of the whatever. So far, I've flipped Bush the bird three times. Hey, it's interactive TV!
Kerry, calm, collect, rolling through the facts. Bush doing nothing on Korea, ignoring their weapons program. "We knew where the nuclear rods were." The president reversing Powell on Korea. "Today there are four to seven nuclear weapons in Korea's hand. This happened under the president's watch." EXCELLENT! Good job Kerry. Bush gulping, hands crossed. Kerry proposing talks with Korean government.
Bush: "The talks will unwind." Well, how about doing SOMETHING about Korea then, Slappy? Bush is raising his voice, may Hulk-out at any second. "Facts make Bush angry. BUSH SMASH!"
Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!
Nice one, Mr. Bush. "Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!" Like an eager child to respond to one of Kerry's points. "The world is a better place without Saddam. We would rue the day if he were still in power."
KERRY: "Saddam Hussein did not attack us. Osama attacked us." Tora Bora. The Bush administration dropping the ball on Bin Laden. Shifting the responsibility to local warlords? Uhhh, really, Kerry? News to me but maybe I'm not paying enough attention.
Calling for resolutions, inspections. Ummm, that didn't work throughout the '90s, John. I'll even concede that to the Bush administration. Inspections didn't accomplish much. On the other hand, where were those WMDs and chem plants?
BUSH: "Er...um...I know Saddam didn't attack us."
Crocodile tears? Pottery barn?
Kerry, overusing "misleding."
Fox News: endless reaction shots of Bush looking like a cartoon character. Weird faces, sneering and grinning. Bush throwing back "misleading." "As the politics have changed, his position has change. This is not how a Commander in Chief acts." Throwing back quotes at Kerry, lending support for Iraq, a quote from 2003 calling Saddam a threat.
KERRY: "There was a right way and a wrong way to disarm Iraq. The president choose the wrong way."
Bush just throwing back the "flip-flop thing at him." Bush "fighting tears" as he talks about a woman's husband dying overseas. "After we...prayed and laughed some, I told her husband's sacrifice was worth it." Repeating "Saddam was a threat." Now he's throwing out liberty, liberty, liberty. Empashizing those words: "liberty," "free" "freedom." "We did our duty."
Kerry's response? Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. Ugh. "Four words about the presidents plan: More. Of. The. Same." Good line.
Endless reaction shots of Bush/Kerry. Kerry looking down, writing. Bush looking skeptical.
Why is Kerry comparing Iraq to the Pottery Barn?!!!!
BUSH: "We will not achieve our objectivities while sending mixed signals."
KERRY: "Mixed mesages, Iran has nuclear weapons. How is that for a mixed mesage?"
Roundhouse punches, back and forth
BUSH: "You better have a president that can chase down these terrorist." Straight at the camera, raising his voice. Playing the fear card, ignoring the issue. Ugh. Thanking the troops, prattling on about "a free Iraq being essential to America's safety."
This is more vicious than any boxing match.
"These troops said, we need you over there. Our troops only guarded the oil ministry. We will get the job done right"
BUSH: "Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. That's not what a commander in chief says to his troops." Again, "voting for before voting against." Kryptonite,
Kerry's fumbling, invoking Vietnam, explaining his position on the war. "He said 'We will plan, we will proceed cautiously. They ignored advice. Like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico." Another good line. Bush looking confused, then irritated and slightly amused as Kerry rambles.
Bush's response: "That's absurd. My opponent says we don't have an allies in this war, what do you call Tony Blair? I deal with these people all the time. They're not going to follow anyone who says this is a wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time."
BUSH: "Actually, he forgot Poland. I don't appreciate when a canidate degenerates (?) our allies."
18 minutes in.
KERRY: "Rushed to war without a plan for peace. That isn't something the president of the US should do. You don't send troops to war without the body armor they need. Some of them got armor for a birthday present. This president, I don't know if he can see what's going on over there."
Of course, GW breaks out the flip-flop. All he can fight back with. "Voting for the war before he voted against it." That %$@#! thing is like Kryptonite.
KERRY: "What kind of message does it send to send funds for cops in Iraq but doesn't support cops here. Firehouses in America are closing to build them in Iraq. Ports are not being inspected. The cargo hold of planes are not being x-rayed. Does that make you feel safer, America. I'm going to focus on homeland security. An enormous, undone job to protect the country's nuclear materials."
Bush, full monkey boy, shaking his head. "I don't know how he's going to pay for all these promises. Uhhhh, anyway."
%@#!@$!#!@!, GW! How about diverting some cash from your skirmishes overseas. [Me smacks head]. "The Patriot Act is VITAL." Ugh. I want to vomit.
Bush's response to this?
"The world is safer without Saddam Hussien."
Yawn, that old line.
"We've got the capability of doing both."
Oh, God, Weapons of Mass Destruction. Sheesh, is it still 2002, GW?
"Of course we're after Hussien, er, Osama."
There is your soundbite, liberal media machine. Run it. Over and over again.
Kerry on the attack
Kerry: "Well, where do you want to begin?" Good line.
CNN is showing reaction shots. They aren't supposed to be doing that, right? GW has a full-on Curious George going right now.
Young soldiers dying, ignoring the UN, $200 billion dollars, wasted money that should be going to health care and domestic issues, we're not focusing on Afghanistan, inadvertantly supporting opium production, post-poned elections, diverting troops from Afghanistan to Iraq, ignoring Osama for Hussien.
"Bitch slap" should apply here. Kerry is pulling out the rope-a-dope.
Hooray! Kerry has washed of all the Fake and Bake. He's back to his pale, zombie-like tone.
So the Bush campaign pushed for those weird little light displays attached to the microphones. Well, that makes sense. Bush no doubt loves shiny, blinking lights. If one candidate rambles on too long three times, they'll be blasted by a buzzer.
Yes, this may as well be The Gong Show.
Earlier today, Bush's support staff "startled" him with the buzzer. Fox News: "he's going to do anything to avoid getting hit by the buzzer. He's going to stay within the time limits."
30 seconds in, after thanking the university, what's the first thing out of Bush's mouth? 9/11, of course! Is that on the Tribune's drinking game?
So, with two minutes to the whatever* what is KPDX showing? A feed from CNN? Their news team's thoughts on the event? Nope, local personality Daria promoting Fear Factor (isn't that a show on rival KGW?) and a website where viewers can purchase candy suckers with bugs in the center.
From there, they cut to an old episode of Malcom in the Middle.
Excellent work, guys!
* From here on out, since no one could decide on what this debate is exactly, I'm going to refer to it as a "whatever." Is it a debate? A forum? An ice cream social?
Welcome to Blog's coverage of the...
...presidential debate/forum/whatever begins....
No, wait, hold on....
To prepare, I've spent the better part of the afternoon sipping Pina Coladas and sitting in a hammock. Watch CNN's coverage? No way. Flip through the New York Times or the AP? *yawn* Read what Wonkette has to say? Bah! October is fast approaching and nice days in Oregon are becoming few and far between.
If Kerry comes strolling out with his face looking more fluorescent than a UCLA sorority girl's, he's sunk. This could very well be the first election in US history to be determined by a few bottles of "Fake and Bake." Word on Fox News is that he spent a portion of the afternoon getting a manicure.
A manicure?! So much for trying to toughen up his image and ridding himself of the wussy, flip-floper label. As O'Reily pointed out, the first thing everyone is going to look at his hands. Maybe it's all an attempt to divert attention from the after-effects of Suntan in a Can.
25 minutes to showtime...
T-minus 5.5 hours
Your citrus-like pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis. Is GW's lead actually stretching? Or is it your imagination, hmmm? And consider this dismaying observation: you'll be on that stage with him for over an hour. Which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way to smash his everyman appeal! Of course, there's always my way. Mwahahahahahah!
Tonight, the first of three presidential debates/forums/whatevers will clog all the networks, including Fox, which means KPDX's syndicated rerun of the Simpsons will be pre-empted. I guess this means I'll have no other choice but to watch. As such, I'll be blogging, live, during "the match" with a running commentary. Armed Prophet will also be offering his own more mature analysis throughout the evening, which will no doubt be better informed and free from grammatical errors, weird Disneyland analogies and cheap jokes about Bush's mouth-breathing.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Portland vs. George Walker Bush pt. 5
A stack of these were sitting in Escape From New York Pizza a few weeks back:
The New Rock Snoozefest
Why do I always have to be right about these things?
In May, KRNK canned its morning show after the hosts made a cracked wise over the beheading of Nick Berg by Iraqi militants. The management took the opportunity to reasses the station's format, which had slowly turned 94.7 FM into a hard-rock outlet.
Local music fans rejoiced as the station returned to its alt-rock roots in June and began mixing The Strokes, The Killers and other "the" bands into its rotation along with critical darlings like Radiohead and the Pixies. As the summer went on, the higher-ups further tweaked the format, trying to find the perfect mix of safe, major-lable acts, the occassional indie off-shot and even local bands. Slowly, Portland's very own KRNK was coming one of the best corporate-owned radio stations in the country. Was this too good to last? Of course.
In recent weeks, bands like Oasis, Coldplay and U2 have been tossed into heavy-rotation. Day by day, KNRK seems to be mutating into a clone of the Beat and other bland ,"nostalgia rock" stations much in the same way it turned into a carbon copy of KUFO a few years back. 1997's sappy "Sunscreen" novelty track has even begun making the occassional appearance as bands like the Offspring have begun to replace more critically-acclaimed acts.
To make matters worse, management has finally cobbled together a morning show that makes the cheerful stalwarts on KISN look like the hyperactive Stern-wannabes on Jammin' 95.5. With voices that sound more animatronic than human, the emotionless DJS, one female, one male, pop in every few minutes to name songs and station promotions in what sounds like canned voice-overs recorded in an east-coast studio. Their lack of charisma even rivals the monotone delivery of NPR's talking heads.
KRNK endlessly runs self-aggrandizing promos by GM Mark Hamilton calling attention to their efforts to build a better radio station. For a month or so the station had a good thing going but maybe ratings started to sag, thus the more recent changes. "It's differnet here"? No, sorry, it's starting to sound like more of the same.
Monday, September 27, 2004
Wholesome, all-American fun? Not in this town.
Portland is filled with fuddy-duddies.
For those that missed the article in Saturday's edition of The Oregonian, the Safari Showclub* on 30th and Powell arranged an event billed "Bikes, Babes and Brawls." It was expected to draw up to 6,000 people to a fenced-lot outside of the club for a day-to-evening frenzy of no-holds-barred cage matches, heavy metal bands, flying motorcycles and scantily-clad women covered in soap bubbles. News of the event, which was reportedly aimed at "outlaw biker gangs," put PPD and everyone within a two-miles radius on edge. Every on-duty officer in the city was put on-call in case the event dissolved into a melee.
Now how could I miss something like this? A practically guaranteed, NC-17 biker riot in the heart of calm, placid, oh-so liberal Portland? With camera in tow, I drove out to the Safari Showclub, expecting my vehicle to be swarmed by leather-clad maniacs with tire irons. Instead, here's what I found:
All together now, BOR-ING!
Yeah, this should come as no surprise. Fearing they would immediately lose their liquor license and be run out of town by locals bearing pitchforks and torches on Sunday morning, the organizers canned the event. All-day Saturday, workers dissembled the steel-cage as dancers like "Asia Voo" lamented the purchase of $650 worth of motorcycle socks.
After even suggesting an event like this in Portland, the Safari Showclub's days are inevitably numbered. If there's anything the OLCC doesn't approve of, it's rampant hedonism.
Supposedly, the club itself has an elaborate tropical theme and a 4,000-gallon piranha tank on display. If you don't mind a no-doubt excessive cover charge, nipples and bouncers with little patience for anyone not covered in body hair or flaunting rolls of cash, you may want to plan a visit in the near future. For daring to take these pictures I was nearly chased off the property by a guy that looked like Butterbean. This place evidentally has a zero tolerance policy for scrawny bloggers.
OK, fine, I should be counting my blessing since I wasn't curb-stomped.
* Not to be confused with the indomitable lounge in Estacada.
Last Starfighter: The Musical
I thought I was the only person in the world that still remembers The Last Starfighter, the 1984 sci-fi movie starring Lance Guest and Robert Preston. Now that it's set to re-debut as an off-Broadway musical, I must not be the only one.
Starfighter was my favorite film OAT until the still-reigning champ took its place in the summer of 1985. Shifty aliens, acerbic robots, and a young protagonist that manages to topple an empire bent on intergalactic conquest? OK, fine, it's a low-budget Star Wars knock-off with outer-space Cadillacs and trailer parks tossed in the mix. But for a kid killing time between preschool and He-Man it was the best thing ever.
Come on, spew! Make with the magma! You call yourself a volcano?!! Boooo!
For obvious reasons I can't remember the first time Mt. St. Helens blew its top. Now that the still active volcano is once again being hit with a familiar rumbling in its tummy, I can't wait. A natural disaster that I can safely watch, live, from the vantage of Council Crest? If ever there was an excuse to call in sick from work, this would be it.
Unfortunately, my longings for nihilistic voyeurism are unlikely to come to fruition any time soon. Despite the hundreds of small-scale earthquakes that have been rattling St. Helens in the past week, the chances of another big-scale explosion to rival its infamous conniption fit in 1980 is small. At this point, scientists are unable to determine if the recent activity is related to steam explosion from recent rains or a sign that the gods are indeed angry and on the prowl for Tom Hanks or, more likely, virgins.
The next angry mountain I come across will be the next time TNT airs Dante's Peak. I guess I could build one of those science project Play-Doh volcanos but it's just not the same, you know?
Another round of life lessons
Things I learned last night:
- Homeless men dressed like jesters bearing a strong resemblance Gandalf the Grey have no respect for mundane traffic laws. They'll march down the middle of a busy avenue, completely indifferent to your 2,000 pound motor vehicle hurtling down a busy avenue at 30 MPH. If confronted with this sort of individual you'll inevitably have to yield the right of way or risk being turned into a toad.
- Pooeyhoo isn't the only one infatuated with Princess Maker II. There are others out there like him. On a related note, Shanna's destiny doing voice acting for Cartoon Network imports is one step closer. Well, kinda.
- Searching for an open gas station in Albany at 11:30 on a Sunday night...sucks. The town's "scent" (the whole place reeks of wet barkdust) doesn't help matters.
- There is no such thing as too much edamame.
- A 40 oz. bottle of Steel Reserve, when dropped* a mere 6 inches onto a soft carpet, will suddenly become the malt liquor equivalent of a firehose, dousing the drinker and the surrounding 12 square-feet of carpet. Such an incident will inevitably ruin an entire evening.
- There is at least one man in this world with the name "Virgil Rocks."
* I didn't do it. Honest.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Bush has this one in the (trick or treat) bag
USA Today, Gallup's and Time? Yawn. If you really want to know the winner of the presidential election a month early you have to pay attention to the sales for Halloween masks. The poll, organized by buycostumes.com, was reportedly based on the sales number for five different companies over the years. Have a look:
The winners have sold the most masks in every election since 1980. So how are Bush and Kerry's masks doing? Drumroll...
"Sales stats as of 9/25/04:
Maybe that Gallup poll that made headlines last weekend wasn't so far off. Sheesh, a 12% lead! But, come on, isn't the mask for GW a wee bit more flattering? Kerry's is hideous and looks like the sort of thing that would strapped to the head of an extra in a Troma film. And what part does the Dean mask play in all of this?
I smell a conspiracy.
Given this site's namesake, I'm pretty much required to post this:
Yeah, that's supposed to be Laura and isn't that thing 15 times more frightening than those old Freddy Krueger masks? Really, it's the stuff of nightmares.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Worst. Post title. Ever.
Anyway, Jack White apparently has a cameo on Beck's next album. Welcome back, Mr. Hanson. All has been forgiven...as long as you've truly left the teary-eyed warbling to Cat Powers. As far as I'm concerned, this is the musical equivalent of Superman teaming up with Batman. A lame, off-the-mark analogy? You decide. While you're at it, which one is which?
Working titles for songs on the album, which is rumored to be a return to his days as hip-hop/country/electronica/thrift store maestro, include "Guero," "E-Pro," "Scarecrow" (maybe that analogy isn't inapplicable after all) and "Chain Reaction." The Dust Brothers are even involved as co-producers. The release date? Early 2005.
So, as I often do, I was driving home last night, keeping the beat to "Fire Water Burn" when something darted out in front of my car.
So what was it? A raccoon? A small child? A possum purusing a solo career? No, it was a...wait for it....A COYOTE!
Sadly, he/she was not comically strapped to a pair of rocket shoes. Instead, the coyote jumped out of the forested area on SW Terwilliger in front of an SUV, narrowly avoided its front bumper and then, in a display of gumption that would make any extreme-sport fetishist proud, immediately proceeded jump in front of my car. I would have felt sorry for the coyote if I hadn't spotted it my rear-view mirror exchanging high-5's with a group of skaters.
Coyotes, which I always assumed prefered lingering on the arrid outskirts of cowboy campfires, inexplicably pop up occassionally in Portland's West Hills. When they made their first appearance in the mid-90s, the local news media had a field day sending local cat owners into paranoid hysterics. Several friends with outdoor felines kept them inside for months and, if memory serves, the coyotes...mostly stuck to rumaging through trash cans and those yellow recycling bins.
So the coyotes are back in town and I imagine they have a crashpad up by OHSU, which doesn't make a lot of sense. While the West Hills has plenty of forested areas, the trash cans in Northwest would provide better eats and easy access to spacious Forest Park, a virtual paradise for wayward quad-peds. After a night of slinking around the dumpsters behind Escape From New York and Pastini Pastaria, they could jump on the Max Line up Sylvan if they're feeling lazy.
But where's the bat-a-rangs and invisible jets?
Empty this little vial of magic into a hot drink or food, wait about 10 minutes, then stand back. The natural herb contained in this potent elixir causes major, and uncontrollable "natural gas" eruptions to emanate from your mark. No matter how hard your mark ties to hold back, there's no stopping these embarrassing eruptions. A perfect way to give the arrogant a lesson in humility, -- especially when applied at a serious social setting. Warning: Not to be used on others without their consent. $9.95
For this, and other fun products and half-hearted legal disclaimers, have a look at spymall.com, if only for the peculiar Brandon Enterprises logo. It's nice to see my first name finally associated with rampant testosterone after years being dragged through pop cultural emasculation. Think of other famous "Brandons." What springs to mind? I'm willing to bet it's Jason Priestley’s baby blues on Beverly Hills 90210 or Punky Brewster's adorable mutt.
Self-effacing, "I'm bored and stuck at work on a Saturday" digressions aside, if James Bond included flatuence drops in his arsenal I'd run out to Best Buy and snatch all those Xbox 007 games. Spy Mall, which is news to me but has apparently been around for years, has an extensive selection up for grabs in its downright scary but simultaneously oh-so-cool "revenge" department. If making your victim fart uncontrollably isn't your cup of napalm tea, how about a wrong number generator, a concoction that will supposedly make them feel like they're being attacked by fire ants or..."The Evacuator." Here's the description, which, well, read it for yourself.
The "Evacuator" is made from a unique natural bark which is then ground into a fine powder. When mixed into a marks food or drink, the active ingredient will cause total, uncontrollable, "evacuation" via the natural route. (The term "Evacuation" means that this chemical causes the victims bowels to purge or empty...) Stand CLEAR! Warning: Not to be used on others without their consent. $12.95
Are these devices actually for real or just the survivalist-equivalent of Spanish Fly? Meh, I'm willing to put all my chips on the later.
Along with these incredibly cruel toys, the site offers an extensive selection of body armor and "ANY GUN! Just 10% over dealer's cost." Spy Mall's "automotive division" pitches custom-install for anit-ballistics, battering rams and oil-slick systems.
Maybe it's that I grew up in the bosom of one of America's most liberal, anti-gun cities but I'm still half-convinced the site is a joke. I went through the process of purchasing a pair of Russian army night vision goggles (on sale for $399!), expecting the gag to finally reveal itself. Instead, Spy Mall prompted me for a credit card number and my mailing address.
I guess it's nice to know there are places like this out there...and that my name is stamped all over it. I am Brandon, hear me roar!
Friday, September 24, 2004
Further proof that God is voting for Kerry
You've probably seen this already. It's been making the rounds all week. If not, here you go.
Strange, I always figured the Almighty was a member of the GOP. After all, they're huge fans of God, especially His controversial early days as a hardcore smite-r.
Watching TV so you don't have to
Dave "God Among Mere Comedy Mortals" Chappelle recently appeared in a Showtime comedy special. Did you hear about it? Me neither. The cable network usually leaves stand-up to HBO, which has provided a podium for everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to George Carlin, who has appeared in less than 10 of them over the years. Apparently, the special, Dave Chapelle: For What It's Worth, originally aired on August 28th.
So was it any good? Well, the act seemed rushed, as if Chapelle jotted down the whole thing during a flight delay. Plus, it was shot in a tiny theater somewhere in San Francisco, a far cry from the riotous concert halls that Carlin fills. The topics ranged from Oakland vs. San Fran to a "biological attack" on a NYC bus ride. While the whole thing feels like a toss-off, Chapelle has the magical ability to make anything funny. As tired as crack jokes and gags about Michael Jackson are, in his hands, they're hilarious.
Because the special was missed by most it won't be quoted to death ala his now beyond infamous Rick James sketch. When For What It's Worth inevitably makes it to DVD, watch out. The bus ride and goldfish bits will be beaten into the ground faster than you can say "cocaine is a hell of a drug."
PS: That image was "borrowed" from an online collection of movie stubs. The webmaster has an entire site devoted to them. Have a look, if you dare.
Well, lookie here
Aside from contending with the occasional blast of an ongoing 1/3-life crisis that no amount of Sealab 2021 episodes seems able to offset, I spent yesterday afternoon making a few changes to the site. On the right you'll notice the addition of tiny pictures to compliment the features list. Also, underneath Arnie you'll find a link to POTMA, an "all new few fun thing."
Well, not really. It's just an archive for all the Photos of the Month that have appeared on Welcome to Blog since it debuted almost a year ago. Each includes an explination and there's an accompanying series of other "highlights" to go along with them. It's like a greatest hits album but without the hits...or the album.
Oh, sure, if you like pictures of street musicians that work live possums into their act.
Really, possums. No joke. Check out October '03.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
This post positively reeks of sincerity
OK, it's diatribe time.
Some people have mid-life crisis once in their lives. I'm on my twenty-seventh. Four of those occurred in one day in 2002. This latest was spurred by a trip to the dentist. Consider the following conversation:
DENTIST: "So are you going to school?"
ME: "That's what I want to be doing. I'm still working at ______."
DENTIST: "Oh, well, but you probably have a lot of friends in the same boat."
ME (thinking): "Well, two of them are in law school. Another turned down Harvard for the University of Michigan. Several other people I know are working as political journalists and attended the Republican National Convention. Someone I went to school with spent a year dodging suicide bombers in the Middle East and now works for the New York Times. These days he uses his press credentials to sneak into SNL wrap parties."
ME (what I actually said): "Umm, yeah. Sure."
I graduated from college in 2001 and have been bumbling around the real world ever since. I've submitted applications for countless internships in the media, I tried to join the Peace Core in 2002, I spent a month recklessly pursuing work as an English teacher overseas, I worked as a hotel clerk in Yellowstone for six weeks and even applied for a job at internet porn company in Tigard. I've tried my hand at many ridiculous but inevitably rewarding career paths and I've either been turned down for or have bungled every single one. In a cabinet I have a growing collection of about 75 rejection letters but I've been turned down for the well over 400 jobs I've applied for since August of 2001.
Yeah, so what? The economy has been fledgling, especially in Portland, since the turn of the century and there are countless people out there in situations that make my own seem like the ultimate American dream success story. My job pays well enough, I can afford to purchase my weight in Indiana Jones collectible glasses and take the occasional trip overseas. So what's the problem?
I'm two years into a career in a call center. Enough said?
My average work day is ten-hours long and consists of me contending with bored senior citizens and Welfare cheats eager to use me as a scratching post for their frustrations. They call me names and gripe endlessly about my company along with
everything from the rising cost of prescription drugs to the high-pitched voice of the current announcer on the Price is Right ("he sounds like a girl, a girl!"). I deal with things that make just about anyone wince before laughing hysterically at the absurdity. Annually, I receive a pay raise of around 30 cents. My job is a joke. Unfortunately, it's not a very funny one...at least for me it isn't and now it's starting too look like I'm going to be stuck here for life.
Most people would rank working in a call center between "janitor at a dog track" and "retail clerk at Baby Gap". No one wants to work in a place like this, no matter how adequately it pays. If you actually got a look at what I may an hour you'd probably lower it several rungs from "adequate" to "pathetic." I'd rather do something I enjoy and get paid next to nothing for it than continue talking on the phone to sociopaths. This isn't what I wasted four years and $20K of my own money to achieve. Worse yet, with each passing day my options are becoming increasingly more limited.
If I stay in my current position indefinitely, I'll never be able to afford my own home, purchase a computer that doesn't take 15 minutes to start-up or replace my vehicle, parts of which is currently being held together with electrical tape. This would all be a much easier pill to swallow if everyone around me weren't beating the odds and steadily working their towards doing what they love and making a decent salary doing it.
So what does this have to do with this blog? Well, it's days may be short. It may not look like it but I'm currently investing a positively stupid amount of time each week into this thing, both at work and at home. These blurbs about national politics and reviews of Beastie Boys concerts take a good deal of time to write and no one even reads them. This could be time better spent looking for another job, trying to find a way to con my way back into college or clawing my way off the phones and up the corporate ladder. Goofing around on blogger.com isn't going to earn me a promotion anytime soon. If I'm destined to a career working in a place I despise, wouldn't my free time be better spent drinking heavily or going into a videogame coma every night instead of slaving over 4,000-word articles about Nike fun-runs?
Somewhere along the line this thing changed from a way to kill time at work to something 10-25% serious. I became convinced that Welcome to Blog might work as business card that could land me a job somewhere, anywhere in the media. Surely someone out there would notice the 500+ original photos on this site, my feeble attempts at writing leisure articles and offer me a gig of some sort. After all, it's worked for others. The Willamette Week review in July only cemented this naive assumption.
In August I received a series of incredibly painful rejection letters and, given my style of writing, I deserved them. It's pretty obvious, at this point, that I'll never be paid to scribble, take pictures, talk on the radio or even take calls for personal ads. Conventional tactics like applying for internships, beating paths and submitting story ideas hasn't worked and neither has this route. I can't even land a volunteer time slot on KPSU.
Blogs aren't a dime a dozen, they're not even a peso a dozen. There are even dogs out there with them and most of those dogs are better at this than I am. Now that b!x, the author of the Portland Communique, is two short months away from hanging up his hat, it's finally beginning to dawn on me that trying to use blogging as a stepping stone to a career in the media is a complete waste of time. If he can't pay his bills with his devotion to serious journalism and regional politics, I don't stand a chance with my stories overloaded with first-person narrative and anecdotal digressions. Whatever it takes to make it in this business, I don't have it (it's a combination of talent, experience, networking and an understanding of how the industry works, right?)
Long-shot daydreams aside, this isn't the only reason why I do this. It's a happy little labor or love and I enjoy sharing ridiculous stories from around town and pictures of overseas condom shops (why can't I score the job I want? Hmmm...).
If Welcome to Blog's days are numbered, it'll make to it to at least the first day of 2005. I've got about a dozen feature-length stories in the pipeline that I'm not about to let fester on my hard drive. It would be a shame to come this far and not devote a 2000-word article to Seattle's futuristic public toilets, or another to the panda robots at the Tokyo Tower.
This isn't the end but it's not even the beginning of the end but it's starting to smell like the beginning of the end.
Now, if you got through all of that, you deserve a prize. Here's a link to a picture of rubber duckies dressed like pirates.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
"And then he mutates and becomes The Bear"
The British sitcom, Spaced, is airing on Trio all week at 7 and 10 PM PST/EST. Why should you care? Because the same team that produced and acted in this will be appearing in the new zombie movie everyone's creaming their jeans over, Shaun of the Dead. If you subscribe to digital cable, get it free from your employer or have the smarts to steal it, switch your dial on over.
It's been a cult hit overseas since '99 but this is pretty much the first time Spaced has become available in the states. I watched the premiere and the second episode last night. It's pretty gosh darn good. The premise centers around a comic book artist and a would-be journalist. After he's dumped by his long-time girlfriend, they move into an apartment building on a whim and subject themselves to various, wacky adventures. The place is populated by an abstract artist, raver kids, a suspicious landlord and evil Girl Scouts.
Who cares if the main characters best friend is an obvious rip of Walter "Mark It Zero, Dude" Sobchak? The references to '80s geek culture are endless (the two loaf around a dull party while listening to "The Power of Love" in the second episode) and the whole thing plays like a live-action web comic drenched in hash smoke and funny accents. For fans of Penny Arcade, endlessly quotable dialog and British comedy, this could be another bit of pop-culture worth obsessing over.
The Belmont Laudromat o' Doom
If you've ever driven by it after dark, you know what I'm taking about. On SE Belmont, near Peacock Lane, there's a 24-hour Laundromat. After the sun goes down, shifty people hang around outside chain-smoking and...generally acting shifty.
So did I go there on a dare? Naw. I was out of socks and didn't want to waste a Sunday waiting for clothes to dry. Laundromats are almost a thing of the past in Portland and finding one open after hours is almost impossible.
So on cold, dark Saturday night I parked up the street and headed in with an overflowing hamper filled with all the stinky clothing I hauled back from Japan. The inside of the laundromat is much like the outside, beaten down and dirty. Ancient green machines pitching soap linger among surprisingly new washers. The tiles were covered in grime, the garbage can was overflowing and as I loaded my ironic Mexican wrestling t-shirts into a washer, a florescent bulb overhead buzzed on and off. It looked like the set of a gritty Levis commercial.
There were only four other people in the place, a pair of bicyclists waiting for their stuff to dry and a couple covered in flannel that looked like extras from Drugstore Cowboy. Her: off-duty cashier working at a bowling alley (?). Him: truck driver (?). While waiting, I noticed the back of the "24-hour" sign in the window. It's covered in graffiti and bizarre drawings of free-floating heads. Like everything else in the place, I was afraid to get too close.
15-minutes later, the bicyclists left and the couple started making out in the corner. Every once and while, the guy turned and glared, pissed that I wouldn't abandon my stuff so he could move on to second base. With my clothing locked in the machine, I had no other choice but to wait. I could have taken a walk over to Walgreen's but, when I came back, I would have had to awkwardly gather my clothing while ignoring all that flabby, pale flesh flopping around in the corner. There's no way they were going to leave but no way they were going to get it on with me sitting there. Instead of fleeing, I hid my head in the Living section of a three day old Oregonian.
Fortunately, they kept their clothing on. The second the machine stopped spinning, I threw my stuff in the hamper, stupidly not going over every last millimeter of cotton for wayward hypodermic needles. Sensing my quick departure, they started picking up the pace.
Will I be visiting Belmont's Laundromat o' Doom anytime soon? To do laundry, no. To score more pointless anecdotes or gawk at nauseating displays of public affection? No, no and, yup, more no.
Ride, Captain, ride, upon your mystery ship
Don't get me wrong, the movie is good. The breathtaking shots of zeppelins docking on the Empire State Building are breathtaking and the cool aerial aircraft carriers are cool. But is Sky Captain on par with Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Roger Ebert claims?
The biggest problem with the film is not the wooden acting, a questionable cameo by Laurence Olivier's CGI ghost or the cheesy dialog. Sky Captain is a movie that's in a tremendous hurry, like a professor that rushes through a lecture because his Herb-Lax just kicked in. Spectacular images of a ghostly Radio City Hall, robot fisticuffs and ocean graveyards loaded with King Kong references blaze past so quickly it's impossible to enjoy any of them. The movie has too much to cover in too little time, it's bursting at the seams and...well, I'll avoid the obvious fecal metaphor.
Unlike Universal's new Mummy movies, which are all eye-candy, the mastermind behind this thing stops to give his characters a decent plotline to travel down and a few human quirks. Jude Law chugs Milk of Magnesia between flights as Paltrow frets over the dwindling amount of film in her camera. Is any of this on the level with "it's not the years, it's the mileage"? No, it's better than anything you'll find in a Michael Bay movie.
So is Sky Captain a Raiders for the 21st century? Sadly, no, at least not for anyone over the age of 10. Who knows? In another few years it could become a beloved classic for people born after the OJ Simpson trail. But if it's box office reciepts are any indication...
Wired or tired?
One minute, he's admitting he has "no problem" with gay marriage, the next he's lambasting "girlie men" Democrats in a California mall. He signs bills supporting the sale of hypodermic needles in drug stores on the heels of lending his support for GW at the national convention.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: social liberal, fiscal conservative. The new face of American politics? Wired seems to think so.
In their September feature, Rage Against the Machine, the magazine examines the changing face of the spectrum in light of Arnie, blogging, Howard Dean's presidential campaign and websites like Move On. The editors speculate that we're mere years away from three or more party system, the dissolution of the electoral college, candidates sliding towards the middle and elections being decided by push of online partisan efforts.
And flying cars and Meal Pills are still a short decade away, right?
Political prophesizing in a magazine devoted to techno-lust? Have a look for yourself. While you're at it, check out the article on "Holodeck" military training facilities and another on the evolution of Japanese anime.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Wooo-eeeeee! (The Beasite Boys at the Key Arena - 9/19/04)
When they played Lollapalooza in 1994 everyone went but me. When they hit the Rose Garden in 1998 everyone went but me. Finally, in the year 2004 it happened: I finally attended a Beasite Boys concert.
I am now a man.
So was the Sunday's show at Seattle's Key Arena worth a 6-hour roundtrip, car ride a $150 speeding ticket (more on this later) and a subsequent night of no sleep?
I arrived at the arena in time for the opening act, a Las Vegas dog show. To the tune of "Eye of the Tiger," the host dressed in a glittery tux bounced on stage with a dozen canines in tow. The dogs walked backwards across tight ropes, jumped in and out of hollow trash cans and repeatedly jump-kicked him. The action was fast and frantic. A sheep dog tackled the high-wire as a tiny cohort jumped off a ten foot ladder into the host's arms. It was fifteen minutes of mutts frantically running around in all directions to the tune of "There's No Business Like Show Business." For obvious reasons, this probably the best opening act I've ever seen. Bravo.
Later, the lights went down and the video screens lit up with the image of Mix Master Mike standing at a souvenier stand. A cameraman followed him as he wandered the Key Arena collecting the Beasites and slowly making his way to the stage.
Say what you will about the band. Their early records were rooted in jr high-level hedonism, their lyrics are goofy, they're white and yet they dare to rhyme, they're the Weird Al Yankovics of rap, etc. Regardless of their transgressions, name another act that has transcended the genre with live instrumentation, helped usher in both sampling and rap metal while finding time to draw attention to the Tibetan freedom fight and bounce toilets off the heads of giant robots in a video.
Dressed in a Emerald green in honor of the local NBA franchise, the Beasite kicked off with "Triple Trouble" and spent the next two hours running through their back catalog while whipping everyone in general admission into a frenzy. For "Ill Communication" they divided the crowd into three for a call-and-response contest. Mixed in amongst "Root Down," "Sure Shot," and "Eggman" were video clips of kung-fu fighting kitties, female boxers in training, Sean Kemp power dunks and footage lifted from Atari 1200 games. During transitions, the screens lit up with Will Ferrell dressed as George Bush and cursing madly during a mock commercial shoot outside a Texas ranch. "2 million jobs lost? Hell, those people get to stay home and watch quality TV programs like The Jeffersons."
This wasn't the only bit of political commentary they dished out. After a 45-minute set, the Beasties ran off stage and returned in tuxedos atop a mobile prom stage outfitted with party lights, announcing that this wasn't a concert, it was a "pageant." After rolling through a few instrumentals and a quick "we aren't going to let Bush win, are we," "Something's Got to Give" adopted a 2004 elections twist as a video screen behind the stage lit up with blue lines.
Later, the Besties returned in red t-shirts for a final run, blazing through the likes of "Jimmy James" and a "Paul Revere" sing-along. The floor nearly dissolved into chaos as the three rushed off stage and suddenly appeared on the opposite end of the arena on a tiny stage. Fans in the 100 and 200 levels bum rushed the lower level as they cut into "Intergalactic." Afterwards, it took a full five minutes for them to get back to the main stage for the encore. The final song of the night, "Sabotage" dedicated to GW, caused a large group of shirtless fratboys to start slam-dancing.
The show wasn't without the occasional snag. Mike D forgot the lyrics to "High Plains Drifter" and a quip about a certain Seattle tourist attraction earned them an auditorium of boos. "We've got to catch the last monorail out of here." Dark humor? Or maybe they didn't hear the news.
The energy level of the show, despite the venue, was more like a club. Maybe I've been spending too of much time at emo shows but the crowd went bonkers for two hours, on their feet, dancing and shouting out lyrics in the tiny space allotted to them. I was hiding in the 100-level and couldn't get a full perspective on what was happening down below but the Beasite at one point stopped to encourage everyone to calm down.
A Dionysian frenzy? Sure, but a PG-rated one.
And now, a few other bits:
- The Key Arena isn't the best venue. It's roughly half the size of Portland's Rose Garden and its tiny corridors become clogged and unbearable near the beer gardens. The epic-sized fountain out front that plays Latin salsa is pretty nifty though.
- Two bleach-blonde women were sitting in front of me. During the course of the show, three large, muscle-bound bald guys taped them on the shoulder. At one point, I swear, I heard them say "see you at work."
- Also nearby: a guy dressed in mesh hat and a hunters vest, mid 30s. With him, a lady around the same age, dressed in flannel with her hair tied back with a bandana. They danced nonstop in a weird combination of Texas two-step and "throw your hands in the air." It was a sight to behold.
- Next to me: two males, three females, one pregnant. A single song into the Beasite's set, two of them suddenly stood up and abruptly explained, "We're female. We have to pee CONSTANTLY." They quickly left and didn't return. One of the men, dressed like Fred Durst, spent the majority of the show staring forlornly at their empty seats. Next to him? The pregnant girl who spent the whole time chugging water.
With any luck, the Beasite Boys will return to the Northwest at some point to do it all over again. Hopefully, there won't another six years between tour dates.
Tomorrow my favorite movie of all time will be released on DVD. Now I could like and say it's really Ingmar Bergman's Persona or La Dolce Vita but it would be an outright and obvious lie. No matter what anyone tells you, viewers don't love those films, they merely respect and/or fear them. Favorite movies OAV tend to be campy, cheesy and unhealthy, the cinematic equivalent of Spaghetti O's.
Ask around. If the question is directed at someone born after 1970, honest answers will yield the likes of Logan's Run, the Princess Bride, Evil Dead 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark or (gasp!) Dirty Dancing. There are a billion of websites out there devoted to The Rocky Horror Picture show and plenty of fans that claim to have seen it 500 million times. I dare you track down a devotee of something like Amadeus that's actually sat through more than three viewings or a site that examines every minute nuance.
I'm proud to announce that my #1 movie is not something like Endurance or The Godfather, it's The Empire Strikes Back.
Laugh all you want. I could prattle on about how the themes in George Lucas' space opera are on the same level as anything in Shakespeare's or Coppola's catalog sans the drag of iambic pentameter and ultra-confusing mafia hierarchies. After all, Hamlet and the original Star Wars trilogy have the exact same premise. In both, a young protagonists struggles to come to terms with his identity and whether or not to kill a father-figure with a mad lust for power. If you want, feel free to stretch the analogy to the Godfather but toss out the patricide.
Enough with the tired ENG. 201-level analysis. The Star Wars trilogy is finally being released on DVD tomorrow and I may be the only male under the age of 30 in this country that won't be rushing out to by it. The box set is currently sitting at the crest of Amazon's top sellers list and A&E and Vh1 have been promoting the set all week long in various TV specials. The release is being hyped like a major film release and I've never been one to resist the overpowering influence of consumer-culture hype.
If Lucas had the common sense to release the set ala Spielberg’s ET with both the original and updated versions in tact, this would be an easy sell. Along with the alterations made in the 1997 "Special Edition" re-release, the director has made another slew of changes, including:
- Temura Morrison, who played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones, now voices Boba Fett.
- The "Celebration Scene" that closes Jedi features a shot of Gungans dancing on the rooftops of Naboo, one of them while shouting, "Weesa free!"
- Greedo and Han now shoot at the same time.
- And, yeah, there's this:
Then, on the other hand, the set includes a fourth disc includes a 2.5 hour documentary and footage of an Ewok smoking a cigar along with Kurt a portion of Kurt Russell's audition tape for the role of Han Solo. As a child of the 1980s, how can I resist the lure of a two-second shot of an Ewok smoking a cigar?
Ugh. For some megalomaniacal sci-fi icons there's no such thing as leaving well enough alone. And for some bloggers there's no such thing as beating a dead horse. Curse you and your reverse perfectionism, George Lucas!
Saturday, September 18, 2004
It's not on the same level as the Mercury's Beastie bungle on Wednesday but this is still worth a look. From the Key Arena's official site:
New album entitled 'HELLO NASTY' released July 14th includes their hit new single 'Intergalactic.' The Beastie Boys are back!
If only the Colesium rumor were true. The drive back tomorrow night is going to be a #$!@! nightmare. Stupid $#!@! real world responsibilities.
They're going on stage downtown as I type this, aren't they? $#!@*?
Regarding Medulla: An Open Letter to Bjork
Dear Ms. Gudmundsdottir,
What happened here? Has it really been seven years since Homogenic?
My, what a difference 84 months make. Since 1997 you've starred in a crazy Danish musical, bopped around the Oscars in a dead swan dress, performed at the Olympics, sang a duet with Thom Yorke and recorded three albums...which is why I'm writing to you this afternoon.
Vespertine was OK. Fine, whatever, you had to work a little "serious" creative energy out, track down an Greenland choir and fill 45-minutes of air with wistful, Enya-inspired daydreaming. With that out of the way, your next album should have been something at least a little more upbeat. Instead, you've bestowed Medulla, which is more of the same sans musical instruments.
That's not to say there is some good material here. "Oceania" and "Desired Constellation" have a certain appeal, in an Annie Lennox sort of way. "Where is the Line?" and "Triumph of a Heart," with its kitty-cat boom box backbeat, are stripped-down throwbacks to the good ol' days of Post. However, even with the later two, the lyrics are banal and uninspired. Consider the chorus for another track, "Who Is It?":
Who is it? Who is it?
Who is it - that never lets you down?
Who is it - that gave you back your crown?
Congratulations, you've recorded a track that lyrically and even musically is tailor-made for adult contemporary radio. Say it isn't so, Bjork. Sure, you're getting older but you still a year or two shy of forty, when most respectable pop acts (U2, ahem) start toning things down so they can sell their music to car commercials. The reviews of Medulla have called it "daring" and "challenging" but, if you over look all the cantankerous vocal arrangements and the track where you and a backup vocalists have an orgasm for two minutes, it's not much different from the KD Lang's latest offering.
What little criticism of the album I've seen focuses on Medulla's eccentricities. If anything, it isn't weird enough. The lyrics are bland and the music itself is barebones fluff with random, peculiar samples dropped in here and there. Where's the thrasing techno beats and electric violins? The "irritating noises of dinosaurs"? The accompanying videos where you turn into a cartoon character, blow up an art museum or find yourself wrapped in a nipple cocoon? How about another Thai airport smackdowns? Maybe your "Hyperballad" days are long gone but I'd like to think you have at least one more crazy dance album in you.
Don't calm down, Bjork. Beck did that a few years back and he's been boring the hell out of everyone ever since.
Brains, it's what's for dinner
What's with all the freakin' zombies lately? I thought I was the last person in the world that enjoyed the shenanigans of these kooky, brain-chomping corpses. Then 28 Days Later was released last summer and now everyone's cuckoo for the undead. Consider the evidence:
- A remake of the best horror movie ever made, Dawn of the Dead (don't argue, it's a scientific fact), was released last March. It cruised to a hearty $59 million theatrical take and is burning up the DVD sales charts as we speak. While a solid effort, it lacked the panache of the original, a problem that a few Hare Krishna zombies would have easily solved.
- Milla Jovovich is back on screen re-killing the undead while dressed in shorts too small for most preschoolers. Box office so far for Resident Evil: Apocalypse? $23 million in its first week alone.
- The British rom-zom-com, Shaun of the Dead is set for a release here in the US on September 24th. It's been getting great reviews and was a big hit in the UK. No word yet on whether or not Hare Krishna zombies are involved. There was a screening last night at Pioneer Place but I didn't find about until two hours ago. Now I'll have to wait at least a week for the answer. Blast!
- Portland's very own Bill Plympton recently finished work on a zombie animated feature called Hair High. It debuted last month at the Crystal Ballroom.
- In an effort to bring attention to the substandard treatment of the city's non-living residents, a Mercury writer recently covered himself in latex for a cover story that appears in this week's Zombie Issue. One of his goals was to purchase a kitten or at least a hermit crab from the Scamp's store at Lloyd Center. Did he succeed or did the proprietors 86 him? Click here to find out.
- Anchor Bay, bless their little black hearts, released a four disc set a few weeks back for the original Dawn of the Dead. Along with three separate cuts of the feature (US original, director's cut, European), there's commentary tracks from all the key players, a lengthy documentary on the filming, radio spots, trailers and enough overall zombie goodness to keep fans of the dead-people-in-shopping-mall genre busy for many an hour. Why is this the finest zombie film ever made if not the best horror film of all time? Well, along with the aforementioned Hare Krishna zombie, there's several hillbilly zombies, an overweight zombie in a bathing suit and even ice-skating zombies.
- Perhaps best of all, George Romano's long-rumored Land of the Dead has been greenlit and is set for a October 21st 2005 release. Dennis Hopper is slated to star.
So with all these reanimated corpses running amuck in American pop-culture, I should be happy, right? Well, actually, I'm bummed. It's like when your favorite band signs to a major label, hits it big and starts showing up on Total Request Live while high on airplane glue. Now that everyone loves zombies they've somehow boring and banal. I may have to move on to werewolves soon. No one cares about them and I heart those Ginger Snaps movies are pretty decent.
Well, everyone is doing it so I was as well indulge. Time for a little Saturday afternoon Schadenfreude. Last night, this happened and, yes, it's very, very funny. I guess this routine traffic stop explains those perpetual Droopy Dog eyes of his. *sniff* They grow up so fast, don't they?
Still, a small bag of marijuana and few prescription pills is pretty weak in comparison to the coke-snorting heydays of Corey Feldman and, uh, the other Corey. Since Mac's comeback floundered with the low box office receipts of Party Monster, maybe it's time to do what every other child star does when he's down and out with no place left to go.
Chris Burke did it. Jason Schwartzman did it. Dustin Diamond, and Feldman are still doing it. That's right, it's high time Macaulay Culkin started a band.
But what to call it? Mac & Me? The Macaulay Culkin Truth Movement? John Cougar Hughes Concentration Camp? The I Threw Bricks at Joe Pesci's Head and All He Did Was Mumble and Shake His Fist-ers?
Or maybe he should hook up with one of the others. Diamond's band could probably use a wildman drummer with a healthy appetite for Xanex. I just hope someone has the good sense to grab a camera when Mac, after downing five gallons of peach-flavored Schnapps, starts tossing furniture into a hotel pool.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Beware the terror of George-zilla!
Sho passed along this link to pantsonfire.net. Funded by one of the founders of Ben and Jerry's, it's a grass-roots effort to draw attention to the alleged evils of the Bush administration. So are they printing up pamphlets? No. Are they knocking on doors? Naw. What are they doing? Something far more interesting: seeking volunteers to drive a 12' tall GW statue in a pair of flaming pants around their hometowns.
So far "George," who comes with a flat bed trailer and an American sedan covered in flags, has visited parts of Texas, Florida, New York and has even made a pit stop at (surprise!) the Burning Man Festival. The statue began a tour of Portland on the 12th and is scheduled to buzz around town until the 25th.
I haven't spotted it yet but I did "fire-off" (groan) an email and an application in a too little, too late effort to get behind the wheel. In town with plenty of liberals with plenty of axes to grind, I'm sure the organizers received similar inquires from no less than 50,000,000 potential volunteers.
Let's say I had been selected to do a tour-of-duty with this 30-foot long showboat. Rides down Hawthorne and 21st would have been akin to Jesus strolling into Jerusalem. Local residents would have likely thrown down flower petals for George...and are probably doing just that right now as some other lucky schmuck hauls him down these streets.
Would I have taken the statue to all the Kerry-friendly spots around the city? Sure, but only until I worked up enough courage to drive down SE Foster and through parts of Gresham. A trip out to the Newberg Drive-In would have yielded plenty of anecdotes. After tours of Texas, I'm sure the organizers finally figured out a way to make him bulletproof.
Would I have had to wear kevlar and risk my life? Sure. Would I have had to spring for gas? Possibly. Would driving George around PDX have been super-duper fun? No doubt. *sigh*
Lame Office Meeting Doodle Fun Thing # 5
It's been almost two months since the last Lame Office Metting Etc. was posted. Making up for lost time, here's a double dose.
Yes, those are cars. At a drive-in. Watching a XXX movie staring a...car. Take note of the disco ball and the raised hood.
Not funny? Well, it was when I drew while stuck in the middle of a two-hour seminar.
Beware the terror of Gozu!
Hmmm...I've been gone for two weeks. What should I post first? I know, a review of the incredibly offensive Gozu!
If you haven't heard of Takashi Miike, best known stateside for the cringe inducing "Audition," you must not be a fan of obscure overseas exploitation flicks. Commonly referred to on geek movie websites as "the hardest working man in the film industry," the director regularly cranks out no less than three movies a year. When compared to his American equivalents, David Lynch and Cronenberg he makes them look like loafers. Lynch's last film, Mulholland Drive, was released almost two years ago. In that same period of time, Miike has released eight feature films.
Miike's work runs the gamut, ranging from outright horror films to comedies to Yakuza crime dramas. In the case of Gozu, which just finished a one-week run at the Clinton Street Cinema, all three of these genres are thrown together.
Minami is your average, everyday low-level mobster. When his mentor, Ozaki, kills a Chihuahua in a fit of delusional rage, their crime boss deems him a threat and orders him put to death. Minami is left with the task and drives him out to a remote location dubbed "The Dump." Before they make it there, Ozaki mysteriously dies en route and his corpse disappears when Minami stops at a diner to make a phone call.
From here, the film delves into the darkest corners of Lynch territory as Minami finds himself trapped in a small town populated by lactating innkeepers, old men obsessed with the weather and a drooling cow demon dressed in tighty-whities.
Miike's films are usually endurance tests. This is my fourth to date and, much like the others, it's a seemingly normal film until it suddenly and abruptly veers off course. Halfway into a screening of Audition at the Cinemas 21 a few years back, I remember half the audience walking out. The film was an innocent romantic drama until a key scene sent everyone scrambling for the exits. Much like that film, Gozu is a standard crime drama until a pivotal moment in a hotel room.
Gozu's reputation steams from the final, gag-inducing ten minutes. I won't give away what happens here but it would even make Todd Solondz wince and (probably) outdoes anything John Waters has put on screen.
Wait, why shouldn't I give away the ending? Gozu is obscure and no one reading this will be able to track it down. Are you in the mood to feel your stomach churn? Then just highlight the text below but don't say I didn't warn you.
After Minami suffers through a dream sequence involving the cow demon and repeatedly turns down the advances of the elderly innkeeper, she mentions her brother is able to speak to the dead. In a darkly comic scene, she beats the brother with a bamboo cane while he pleads for her stop. The ceremony works and Ozaki comes back to life as a young woman. Minami is skeptical but she breaks out a series of personal anecdotes, including the time Ozaki gave him a pair of crotchless panties as a birthday gift. Together, they track down the crime boss and she seduces him. He has a fetish for metal ladles and, before they can kill him, he slips and impales himself on it.
With vengeance out of the way, she turns her attention to Minami. They hop in bed together and he suddenly finds himself "stuck." He struggles to escape and even drags her across the room but he's hopelessly caught in her grip. In a sequence that had everyone in the audience covering their eyes, a hand suddenly pops out between her legs. It finally lets go and she suddenly gives birth to a full-grown man. It's Ozaki. The film's final line:
"We put the girl in a bath and she was fine."
Cut to a shot of the three of them laughing and walking to a cafe. In a 600-level film class somewhere in Osaka, students are no doubt going over the subtext of all this craziness.
For everyone that says that it's all been done, there's always Miike.
Monday, September 13, 2004
I did not turn Jap-o-nees-a
I'm back in the US. Not because I want to be, mind you. I was hoping to score a job as a male prostitute over there but it didn't work out. I checked the listings at a job center near the Imperial Palace and, would you believe it, there wasn't a single posting for an international gigolo of mystery.
So, yeah, I really did go to Tokyo but I didn't head straight there. I sat out the rest of the GOP convention in Los Angeles where news from NYC was easy to ignore amidst all the roller coasters, palm trees and rampant street crime they have down there. Bush's speech? I'm drawing a blank. Cheney's inevitable tirade? I couldn't tell you a thing about it. I was buzzing around Bel-Air during the Main Event, completely obvious to the nightmarish prospect of "Four more years!" pouring out of Madison Square Garden. I had bigger things to worry about that night: tracking down the Fresh Prince's old digs and finding a route back to Sunset Boulevard.
Anyway, I lived in a media-free bubble for a fortnight and, let me tell ya', ignorance is bliss. So I was feeling great until I got back to the states on Saturday at dawn and was greeted by this little snippet.
If "Walker, Texas Mangler" is re-elected on November 2nd I'll be on the next plane back to Narita. If necessary, I'll live like a troll in the forests surrounding the Meiji Shrine.
That said, I spent all of last speak honing my debate skills at the Kabukicho branch of the Bill O'Reily Political Discourse World Learning Center (or BRPDWLC for short). I put my new skills to the test during a field trip to Tokyo Disneyland. See below.
Tim drops by occasionally to lambaste my political leanings and...just about everything else in Welcome to Blog's talkback boards. Why should I calmly and coolly debate him when I can fight back with a barrage of "shut up!"s? Or, even better, a quick "fuck you, Tim"? My instructor gave me an A for taking O'Reily's teachings to the next level. I passed the one-week seminar with flying colors. In a few short weeks, I may have my on talk show on Fox News. Here's another one:
On a different but somehow still the same topic, here's a picture of a store in the Kabukicho district that sold nothing but contraceptives. Take note of the happy neon cartoon condom guy hanging over the door.
Go ahead, say that four times fast: "happy neon cartoon condom guy"..."happy neon cartoon condom guy"..."happy neon cartoon condom guy"..."happy neon barpoon"...dammmit!
And here's a picture of a banjo video game in Shibuya's five-story Sony arcade. I couldn't make it past the first level. As a Nihongo "GAME OVER" spelled out in twigs rolled on the screen, the game's overall-clad raccoons ridiculed me.
I'll be start regularly posting the usual nonsense later this week when I'm back to sleeping regularly (%#%! jet lag) and no longer overstimulated ($#@!#! streets lined with 10-story neon signs). These shots are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. I snapped around 950 pictures in the last two weeks and have enough fodder stored on various memory cards to fuel a half-dozen features ranging from ridiculous Japanese advertisements to carnival rides at the Santa Monica pier to infiltrating the New York Skybar (Bill Murray made it look so easy. It ain't). If Shanna passes along any of the 600 she took, the tagline for this blog will officially become "Tokyo. J-Pop. Poly-tics."
Until then, there is links.
Would you like to see what a $92,000 Hello Kitty figurine looks like? Click here.
What is "Comike"? What are the rules? Whatever it is, here are the rejected contestants.
'70s-era Disney costumes? Click here.
Johnny Knoxville and grin king Seann William Scott may or may not be jumping into the General Lee for a Dukes of Hazzard movie. Who will play Daisy Duke? The studio is eager to sign Jessica Simpson. Boss Hogg? Maybe Burt Reynolds.
Must sleep now.
Wait, I'm at work.
Must sleep now.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Late night malaise
It's late and I apologize in advance. Tonight's highlights from the RNC are replaying on a TV in the background. Governor Schwarzenegger is praising the president's "unflinching leadership." Thousands of people in suits are cheering and waving "Arnold" signs.
Think about those words: "Governor Schwarzenegger." Five years ago, the mere concept would have been ludicrous. In the year 2004, such a thing is boring, drab, everyday...even bland. Even stranger, he wasn't kicked out of office in five minutes flat. Many wonks are even praising his leadership.
Jesus Christ, what a difference a few years make.
He's going to win- that C-averaging, Vietnam dodging, former cokehead. You can throw anything you want at Bush Jr's administration: allegations of energy scandals, a misguided, foolish military effort in the Middle East with $100 billion and climbing price tag. Incompetence, corruption, prison torture, complete and utter disdain for the American people. His efforts to ban stem cell research and outlaw abortion, foolhardy moon missions, tax cuts for the rich, smug hints about privatizing social security- they all slide right off him. He looks like a monkey, speaks about as well as one, can't even eat pretzels but nothing sticks. George Walker Bush is ten feet tall and bulletproof as the old saying goes. Whatever negative things you toss at him, it bounces off and clings to you forever. He could pull his face off, revealing an V-style reptilian face, down a hamster on live television and he'd still be ahead in the polls.
Imagine if an organization like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were launching attack ads at Bush. Would anyone besides the "liberal" media care? The man was caught flip-flopping in the past few days, an accusation constantly launched at his opponent. Will anyone remember in a week? Now Nader's name is being added to ballots around the country and Kerry is dropping in the polls. Can this country really handle four more years of this? After another 48 months of GW, will there be anything left worth protecting from all those terrorist cells and WMDs?
Cheesy Orwell and Oz analogies spring to mind, words and phrases like "tyranny," "we've always been at war against Oceania" and "nevermind that man behind the curtain." Is the president a proxy for private interests? Does he even know what he's doing? Should I go and grab a "Bushit" button and start knocking on doors?
I agree with that first statement from a few days back, Mr. Bush: the war on terror cannot be won. Perfect. It's a whole different kind of conflict for a brand new age, never ending and vague. You can conquer a country but can't conquer a noun. This thing could go longer than the 100 Year War and the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. On the west coast, new terror alerts are fodder for mocking, yet another thing for John Stewart to sink his teeth into. Besides here and the Comedy Central's studios I imagine it's a whole different ballgame. And this is why Bush will win in November.
It's as simple as that. Lame? Michael Moore-esque embellishment? Late night rambling brought on by too much MSNBC? Everyone I've talked to that's voting for him, ranging in ages from 20 to 77, it's the first thing out their mouths. Despite everything GW has done and is planning to do: "I don't think John Kerry will protect our country."
When all those little old ladies and parents with small children and voters turned off by the fact that John F. Kerry looks like a zombie march into a voting booth or send off their ballots, do honestly think they'll checkmark J-F-K instead of G-W-B? Show Americans a boogy-man and they'll do your bidding. Iraq 2.0 was bad but it wasn't nearly bad enough. Nixon won in a landslide in '72, when the streets were filled with screaming hippies and thousands were heading home in body bags.
The British, federal fees on our tea, the Germans, the Japanese, the Cubans, the Red Chinese, communism, fascism, socialism, anarchism and everything else I'm forgetting; terrorism is a nice little amalgamation of them all. Scary, without any real ties to a government on Earth. In caves, in the desert, in the backseat kicking the elbow rest- everywhere, more all-seeing and all-knowing than the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and God combined. Yet I still I ponder why Arnie is sitting in a mansion in Sacramento right now.
Look at that dress. They're all partying like it's 1949. On the TV now Laura Bush, this blog's namesake, is smiling so sweetly behind a podium, telling us everything is going to be a-ok if we vote for her husband, a leader of the free world that doesn't even read newspapers. Elizabeth Dole is on CNN, doing the same and telling us all that Americans want to roll the clock back fifty years to when women didn't have the right to choose and gays didn't color-coordinate, let alone speak up for themselves. Maybe even further along in the Wayback Machine. To hell with that rotten old bat, smiling like a grandmother as 18th century Puritan-brand hate drips from her teeth.
If you can honestly support George W. Bush without doubt, without even the slightest drop of criticism, give me whatever you're having.
No, wait. Don't.
"Cheney Due to Lash Into Kerry in Speech"
"First Lady promotes her husband as a warrior"
"To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: 'Don't be economic girlie men.'"
"It's great to be here," said Barbara. "We love Arnold. Isn't he awesome?"
"Looking over at their grandmother, Jenna had a joke at her expense: 'She thinks Sex and the City is something married people do but never talk about.'"
It's all enough to make a freedom loving American want to get as far away from America as possible.
I've had my fill of US politics and a nation of citizens that want to believe so badly in a leader like GW. I've got to get out of this country, at least until this godforsaken convention is over. That does it, I'm leaving.
But where to go? Hmmmmm....cold fish, clogged subways, Blade Runner streets with no names, an indecipherable language with a thousand characters, an outdated monarchy and incredibly rigid social norms all look like a blast in comparison to this.
Fuck it, I'm going to Tokyo.
Oh, wait, the banned Xmas episode of Futurama is on in 10 minutes. I'll go later. Oh, yeah, since I'm fleeing to the other side of the planet shortly, I won't be able to stick around until noon tomorrow. The Temple of Doom picture is way ahead in the poll. I'm calling this one early. It wins.
Who needs the Quickie Mart?
OK, so it's 1:06 AM and I can't sleep.
I pulled into the Plaid Pantry on Multnomah and 45th tonight hoping they might have postage stamps for sale. Three cop cars were sitting atop eight parking spots as an ancient Ford truck was being hauled away. I recognized the guy from Handy Andy's, the same one that came in every night to brag about how much he was making in the business. I wanted to say hello but didn't.
The cops couldn't decide which squad car to toss their perp in, a thin man in a flannel shirt screaming about racism. They pushed his head down into one, stopping halfway before hauling him over to the second vehicle. He was worried they were about to shoot him.
Inside, the cashier was shaking his head and cleaning up a mess.
"I'll take these too."
"People seem to love those things. Buy them all the time."
"That's because they put nicotine in them."
"Should I ask what happened out there?"
"Couple of people having a crack party."
"Say no more. I used to work here. Good luck."
Ah, crackheads. That takes me back. I wonder if anyone has stolen three cases of beer from him yet or had the gumption to masturbate in the store. If you're ever in search of macabre personal anecdotes, try a summer job at the local convenience mart.