28 December 2007

If everyone could see the things that I hear

But the eye is irreducibly complex!!!!

The tongue, an organ of taste and touch, may seem like an unlikely substitute for the eyes. After all, it's usually hidden inside the mouth, insensitive to light, and not connected to optic nerves. However, a growing body of research indicates that the tongue may in fact be the second-best place on the body for receiving visual information from the world and transmitting it to the brain.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-­Madison are developing this tongue-stimulating system, which translates images detected by a camera into a pattern of electric pulses that trigger touch receptors. The scientists say that volunteers testing the prototype soon lose awareness of on-the-tongue sensations. They then perceive the stimulation as shapes and features in space. Their tongue becomes a surrogate eye.
Don't worry. I'm sure the Creationistas will come up with some way of pooh-poohing this research. It's all in Gawd's plan or something.

Tangentially (and mostly because I love this song,) Sean A. Day's got a link to The Bobs' "Synaesthesia". Enjoy.

via Freakonomics

I slept with all of the "Friends"

There's video above, FeedReader
Just me vid-jacking Deadspin. This is a clip from the woulda-been Joe Buck Show, featuring Paul Rudd. I like the structure - a talk show filmed in the back of a cab with the cabbie as co-host - and I love the seriousness with which Paul Rudd answers Joe's questions.

Why You Don't Need An Education To Be A Screenwriter

Or: What I Didn't Learn in Film School
by Unnamed Successful Screenwriter.

Nikki Finke's rumor-porting on the Worldwide Pants/WGA side deal includes some anonymous griping from screenwriters, one of whom said "I'm going back to work." He continues to show an extreme ignorance, of the sort I'd normally only associate with glass sorters and George Bush supporters:

"I have gotten five phone calls tonight from feature writers and every single one of them has said some variation on, 'Bullshit on this. Why am I looking at staying out of work until April when these guys are going to start picking up paychecks on Tuesdays?'"

The writer continued: "All you're doing every time a movie or TV star goes on Letterman is making money for a member of the AMPTP. If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM. You don't say, 'We're going to give a waiver to the guys making pickup trucks because they're really good guys.'" You don't maintain solidarity by letting a handful of guys go back to work. So what's next: Lorne's people go back to work? Then Colbert's people go back to work?
That's right, nimrod. "If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM." I know it's tough to grasp, but the AMPTP is an association, nay an alliance of producers. Since the jackhole brought in the auto analogy, let's run with it.

Let's posit a mythical alliance of GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Panoz, and Tesla* illegally colluding to negotiate with the UAW. If my boys in Georgia decide they want to get back to work sooner and break from the alliance to make their own deal with the UAW, they have every right (and every legal obligation) to do so. No one would begrudge labor returning to work with a valid, viable contract. And no one would confuse a separate corporation for a fucking pickup division. Then again, auto workers are smarter than this retard.

Go back to work. We're all dying to see your magnum opus, the latest Uwe Boll movie. Sorry. That's cruel. Uwe wouldn't hire someone this FUCKING RETARDED to write one of his movies.

A member organization in the AMPTP broke ranks and negotiated a deal with the WGA. The first of many? Maybe, maybe not. What is sure is that a separate corporate entity with independent fiduciary responsibilities negotiated a deal with labor independent of the colluding alliance of which it is a member.

* Actually, I don't think Panoz or Tesla are union shops, but that reality would ruin my analogy.

26 December 2007

What's new Buenes Aires?

Hand of God is gonna slap Diego.

Argentine Jewish newspaper Iton Gadol has received hundreds of emails slamming soccer legend Diego Maradona for his comments in praise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Agentine Jewish news service reported Wednesday.

21 December 2007

Latkes and Lo Mein

There's video above, FeedReader
via SteveG

Ensign Crusher vs. Captain Kirk

Wil Wheaton has done such a great job reinventing himself, I sometimes forget where he comes from. He blogs that he and his son Nolan were watching ST:TOS and...well, Wil's incredibly self-deprecating:

We saw some other things that made us laugh and cringe, but people who fall over white barriers and crush plants shouldn't cast stones at white paper labels on the captain's chair, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

20 December 2007

On the bottom, boys. You have to be on the bottom.

Brace yourselves. This is going to be the most misogynistic thing you're likely ever to read from me.

Now I understand why Governor Huckabee was so very anxious to get Wayne Dumond out of prison. He was just paying it forward. The only way his boys are ever getting any is the Dumond way.

Exsqrabblization: Cheating your way to the podium

John Hodgman. John Oliver. Scrabble.

Need I say much more? Alright, I guess I do. 826NYC (modeled after 826 Valencia in SF,) is holding a charity Scrabble tourney. Wait. It's a charity Scrabble for Cheaters tourney. Donate money to a worthwhile cause - "a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write" - by buying cheats for the team of your choice. Those cheats get used in-game, and will guide your chosen recipient on to an ill-deserved victory.

No victory tastes as sweet as one bought and paid for. Fair play is for losers.

Panda Fur...go ahead and fuck it

There's video above, FeedReader

There's been a lot of talk about the moguls' motivations, that they're greedy beyond greednitutedesnous, but the other point that needs to be stressed is that they are totally banoonoos. They have left the reservation. They have so much, they have forgotten the concept of human need. That's why this vid is a true vid, even if the sound is a little spotty.
via Joss hisself

For *really* long orgasms...

Be sure to use silicon nanowires!

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers.
That's right guys and gals, a ten-fold improvement in battery life! Also, increased durability and longevity of the batteries themselves of course, due to the stable nature of the nanotubes.

19 December 2007

Trudy, Trudy, Trudy

While 30 Rock has become the funniest, most consistent show on the air - the Seinfeld or Arrested Development of the latter naughts - my heart still belongs to How I Met Your Mother. Despite some painful misfires early in this third season, HIMYM still brings the funny with heart each Monday.1 I think it's that heart - worn on the sleeve or as a fetching codpiece - the gives HIMYM a slight edge over Tina Fey's chaos-fest over on the PeaCORK.

The other thing creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas bring to the table is an OCD-sufferer's attention to continuity. It doesn't matter if a throwaway joke is three years old; Bays and Thomas won't forget it. I was reminded of this in a round-about way this morning which I'll quickly share (to demonstrate how much of a continuity wank I can be as well.)

I was driving to work and saw a Trans-Am. That made me think about Knight Rider. That made me think about how they're using a Mustang instead of a Trans-Am in the new version NBC is airing in January. But, I thought, that's okay. In the original pilot, the Trans-Am was actually Michael Long's car that Knight Industries updated while The Hoff was recovering from his gunshot to the face. So it only makes sense that the Knight Industries Three Thousand (yes, they thought that was a clever name this go-round) would be whatever car it happened to be.

Aha! says I! When KARR appeared (that's the evil supercar Knight Industries built before KITT) it was also a Black Trans-Am! Horrible continuity error. If only everyone could be like Bays and Thomas. But wait...at the end of "The Pineapple Incident", didn't future-Ted say "I left Trudy a message but she never called me back." And didn't Trudy show up again this season on "Third Wheel"??? So maybe these aren't the exemplars of...

That was my train of thought this morning. It's not an original complaint. Back when episode 3.3 aired, lots of people noted that Bays and Thomas had slipped up. Although technically the Dad had said she never called, the implication was that Ted and Trudy had never seen again. This was an unusually big continuity glitch for the show. Then it occurred to me that maybe the kings of continuity wanking had pulled a fast one.

Trudy was played by the adorable, hilarious, awesome actress slash role model slash math whiz2 Danica McKellar. Danica's no virgin stranger to continuity dust-ups.

Kevin and Winnie...did they? Depends. Do you believe the narration in the pilot of The Wonder Years, or what happened in the series finale? That's an epic gaffe. It's one every writer and producer who cares about continuity remembers. It's one that cont-wanks like Bays and Thomas surely remembered as they cast Danica.

I now believe that HIMYM pulled a fast one, a meta-gag on the fans of the show. "We're so obsessive about continuity that we'll intentionally tweak it and cast Winnie goddam Cooper in the role!"

Or, you know, they screwed up.

1 This is obviously not true right now, as Les and Pals WON'T NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH!!!)
2 If you've got a school-age girl, buy her Danica's book Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail.

17 December 2007

The force behind the AMPTP

Besides the Big 6, who else is in the AMPTP?

Then there are the real powers behind the alliance: HSUS, DSF, and Menno-Hof. What, you’ve never heard of these puppet masters? They are, respectively, the Humane Society of the United States (“the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization”), the Disciples Seminary Foundation (“a unique, cooperative institution that collaborates with seminaries, churches, regions, and conferences on the Pacific Slope to provide exceptional theological education and resources for growth in faith”), and last but not least, the Mennonite Anabaptist Information Center (“a non-profit information center that teaches visitors about the faith and life of Amish and Mennonites, located in Shipshewana, Indiana”). That’s right, the Amish. We’re doomed. They don’t care if the strike ever ends... they don’t own TVs.
Of course, it's not like Nick Counter's spoken to the Amish. Or most of the other 350+ companies in the Alliance. I exaggerate. Nicky-boy has talked to...
Albemarle Productions, Allenford Productions, Appleton Productions, Arlington Productions, Ashland Productions, Auckland Productions, Belleville Productions, BOT Productions, Canterbury Productions, Corsica Productions, CPT Holdings, Floresta Productions, Garden Films, Glenhill Productions, GPEC, Halberd Productions, Highway 61, Hillard Productions, Hudson Productions, La Mesa Productions, Lafitte Productions, Llamame Loco Producciones, Madison Productions, McFarlane Productions, Montrose Productions, October Holdings, Quadra Productions, Rosecrans Productions, Salamander Film Productions, San Vicente Productions, SCFV Development, Seneca Productions, Topanga Productions, Trackdown Productions, Vasanta Productions, Westholme Productions, Woodridge Productions, and Wooster Productions
all of which are owned by Sony. And that's just a sampling of the "independent" producers of today's Hollywood.

Gibbons on the set

Holy crap! Dave Gibbons is happy! Dave Gibbons is happy!

I think...nope. Not gonna jinx it. I'll leave it at: Dave Gibbons is happy!

We need to get insurance on the f***ing writer over here

There's video above, FeedReader

A few weeks back, Bob Kushell wrote and co-starred in one of the best strike videos. Great, funny stuff with Christina Applegate playing his wife. Here's a link.

Well, the video was so successful - bringing about an end to the strike and all - that we now get to see the making-of video. Beware: there's some really raw stuff in here. Passionate, angry stuff. I mean, "I Heart Huckabees"-level stuff if you know what I mean. Also included are some of the auditions for the role of "wife". Interesting to think of the other ways this groundbreaking work could have gone, sort of like the mythical casting of Ronald Reagan in Casablanca.

The Demon Composer

Day-am! Sondheim went to town on Sweeney Todd. I expect the movie will be great, but I've got my doubts that I'll be picking up a copy of the soundtrack.

I'm also a little nervous how it'll all play out without the framing of the story within the opening and closing portions of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd". I think it's appropriate to cut its other incarnations during the film (and the opening that I posted a week or so ago with the ballad remaining in the score worked,) but I'm probably going to miss the final curtain-call version. Then again, anyone who isn't a devotee would probably be confused and taken out of the immersive experience by that massive breaking of the fourth wall.

Uh, and I just thought about something I'd not considered before. Toby's being played by a child in the film. Not a man-child, and not a dimwitted teenager. Will he still "pat it and prick it and mark it with a B"?

14 December 2007

So pure, he can ride a unicorn!

Crap! This was supposed to come out this month. Looks like it's been pushed back until spring. Alas. At least I can see the newer, raunchier, R-rated trailer with more, much more NPH!

There's video above, FeedReader

"...clam out"???

Yep. That's raunchier.

via Inner88

What are you doing this weekend Brian?

Brian. Poor kid really should consider a legal name change. That, or a career in Bond villainy. He could kill with his trumpet/coronet. Shoot poison darts or something. We expect our Bond villains to have...unusual names.

via Deadspin

11 December 2007

Pushing Buffy

There's video above, FeedReader

The problem here is that Ned can't just touch himself and come back to life. Hence all the rigmarole. That, and I don't think Kristin Chenowith is going to be breaking out into song during the movie.


I've got very little to say about this other than:

  • great business idea, wish I'd thought of it first
  • great gift idea for your foodie friends and family
  • and damn, that's some really high quality printing for that price point

10 December 2007

"Shoot first, translate later."

There's an adlink above, FeedReader

I've been meaning to watch this movie forever, but I kept putting off ordering from Amazon. However, thanks to our friends at the AMPTP, I figured the easiest way to keep up the boycott of American DVDs was to Buy Canadian™. So it worked out all around.

Alex Epstein co-wrote the screenplay, and I was really looking forward to seeing how his works translate to the screen (because I do NOT have a bootleg copy of Charlie Jade downloaded from a torrent and have never seen Naked Josh.) I've learned a lot from his blog and books; here was a chance to see his craft(y) in action.

So Sunday afternoon I'm finishing up an upgrade of my desktop OS. I come out to the family room and TheWife's got a schmaltzy, feel-good holiday movie running on the Disney Channel. Turns out, it really was schmaltz: Full-Court Miracle. Really bad movie. But...TheWife likes her bad movies and when I sat down, it was two seconds before my buddy Dan Willmott's all-too brief scene. So I was invested. Damn you, Dan!

Suffice it to say, the oil in the backup generator lasted longer than expected and the little Maccabees had time to pull off their miraculous comeback against the crosstown Warriors. Yes. It was a Hanukkah miracle. Oy.

Okay. Enough schmaltz. I needed to cleanse my palette with a pair of mismatched buddies, some vulgarity, brief nudity, and lots of blood. Woohoo! Bon Cop Bad Cop into the DVD player!

First, my one and only complaint. While I can't discount the possibility that my tuner or speaker setup is to blame, for I do have this problem to a lesser extent with other discs, the audio mix on this disc sucked. Music and FX so loud they rattled the windows with the volume turned up appropriately for dialog. And no, I don't stand on my porch screaming at the kids to turn down their music. This mix was bad.

Okay, now on to the good.

And boy howdy was it good. The movie's much, much funnier than I expected. On a continuum from 48 Hours to Beverly Hills Cop I was expecting this to fall to closer to Nolte and Murphy. Instead, it shocked me and landed a lot closer to Reinhold and Murphy. And that's a good thing.

Any movie that can give me a dead body torn in half by a couple of bickering cops in the first 15 minutes is going to be high on my list. Higher still when they bicker in two languages!!! Unfortunately my French is as rusty as something or another made of iron that's been allowed to oxidize for a really long time, so I was compelled to leave on the English subtitles*, but the bilingualism is so central, so important to the movie that I was happy to be awash in the competing tongues.

One of my favorite scenes has our heroes - uptight Ontario detective Martin Ward (Colm Feore) and rogue Quebecois detective David Bouchard (Patrick Huard, who also wrote the story) discussing the forms, uses, and conjugation of a French word (I'll need to watch again to catch it and confirm, but it was one of the more colorful 'fuck's, I believe) all while beating a suspect to get him to fit in the trunk of Bouchard's car. Y'all should know how I feel: any linguistic humor is gold. Coupled with Stooge-level physical abuse like here, and I'm in heaven.

As this is a Canadian production, you know there has to be maple syrup, mounties, and hockey. It's a legal requirement. At least it is to get any government funding. That's what Epstein and Jim Henshaw and Dennis McGrath seem to imply, anyway. So it was with no small sense of mirth that syrup was poured on french toast, the buddies were only thrown together in order to keep the RCMP from taking over the initial murder (complex jurisdiction, what with the victim being impaled on a road sign between the provinces,) and the murders are all about hockey. Maybe I read too much into those things, but it felt like a thumb in Ontario's eye.

Get the movie. Seriously. Click above, buy a copy, and laugh your ass off. Assuming you find blood, bullets, and bilingual barbs amusing.

Oh yeah. Why did I bring up the bad holiday basketball movie when I started this review? Because it too was a Canadian production. So Martin Ward's teen-age son was also one of the mini-Maccabees. Such tonally (and quality-wise) different movies back to back, sharing an actor (albeit in two small roles) boned my funny tickler.

* There are three ways to watch the movie on the DVD: with English subtitles; with French subtitles; and with no subtitles.


There's video above, FeedReader

The artistry of beauty of these "Speechless" videos is reaching a new high.

09 December 2007

The Inner Light

Flipping through the channels this evening I saw the the G4 network was airing "The Inner Light", the finest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Originally airing the end of May '92, I don't think I've seen it but twice, both in that same season, 15 long years ago. And still it lingers in my memory. In that the episode is a contemplation on life, love, death, and memory, it is fitting it should sit so deeply in mine.

The episode is as touching and wrenching today as it was in '92, a testament to some fine performances and the quality of the screenplay by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allan Fields (from a story by Gendel.) A very spare score, relying more on the mournful diegesis of a flute than the usual orchestral bombast of ST:TNG, sets the contemplative mood. I cried when I saw it back then, and I damn well cried again tonight when the probe launched, and at the episode's close while Picard played his flute one last time.

As the AMPTP shucks and jives and tries to kill its golden goose to save a few sous, I'm happy to be reminded that magic only happens because of writers. There's a reason this is the greatest of all ST:TNG episodes: the story.

07 December 2007

Christmas Untraditions

I'd never seen John Scalzi's list of unsuccessful holiday specials before. Fortunately he linked to it again. If you've never read it, do click here. I promise it's not "a quiescently glistening cherem of pus."

There's Michael Ironside drunk on cannibalism, Ayn Rand drunk on reheated Nietzsche, and Dorothy Parker drunk. Good stuff.

05 December 2007

Rapists heart Huckabee

Mike Huckabee's surging in the polls. His compassionate, caring spiel is apparently wowing them in the heartland. Very compassionate, Huckabee is. At least to killers and rapists.

In an effort to preempt scrutiny of the Dumond case, Huckabee has said that if the issue were to be raised during the '08 race, it would be because his rivals for the nomination feel threatened by his campaign. "Suddenly I seem to be in the cross hairs of every predator who is out there," Huckabee told reporters recently. "To me that seems to be a good sign of life."
Funny. I think the only ones in the "cross hairs of every predator who is out there" are the women who must worry who else Huckabee will fight and scrap, haggle and wrangle to free from prison.

04 December 2007


There's video above, FeedReader

Grr Arg!

Inbred Bible Thumpers

There's video above, FeedReader

First off, I wouldn't watch the video above unless you have a very, very strong stomach. It's Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church doing a music video. Very disgusting people, very disgusting song.

Now, I'm not allowed to refine castor beans and use them on these people because why? And where the FUCK is CPS to take the children away from these monsters?

via Warren Ellis

The elusive prey

Andrea Grimes at the Dallas Observer does a little anthropological fieldwork.

After weeks of painstaking research and late-night expeditions that had turned up next to nothing, I was finally on the verge of a breakthrough. I found myself standing, nearly motionless, in the dark, warm environment that I'd identified as the native habitat of the creature I'd been trying so hard to track down: Homo sapiens douchebagus, a hard-partying bipedal primate indigenous to Dallas.

Many people know this creature better by its common name: the $30,000 millionaire. The name is derived from their distinctive behavioral pattern of spending more money than they make in an attempt to appear wealthy and desirable. A clever creature, adept at camouflage, Homo sapiens douchebagus is a peculiar species, and evidence of its existence is largely anecdotal. I hoped to capture one in the wild.
This is the kind of hard-driving research we should be seeing more of, from both our scientists and our journalists. I commend Ms. Grimes for her dedication and efforts.

Apparently, his mother's vagina was...a pussy?

There's video above, FeedReader


via Beckylooo

Shoot me! I'm not afraid to die

There's video above, FeedReader

Note to the AMPTP: this is "promotional use". Not a full episode streamed online, not a series of webisodes with original content, and not whatever other hare-brained ideas your accountants and lawyers tell you can be pulled off. This promotes the show; it is not itself the show.

There's video above, FeedReader

Then again, it's BSG. It doesn't really need any promotion. The end is nigh.

via A Mike Life

30 November 2007

A Bubbly short film

Heh. Scorsese makes an ad and mocks himself, and all the while he's *still* a genius.

The Key to Reserva

28 November 2007

She's dumb...but I love her!

There's video above FeedReader

This could be the funniest strike video I've seen. If nothing else, the d-bags running the congloms are making the writers into bigger stars. That really might bite them on the asses when they've got to pay even more money to keep them around.

Attend the clips of...

Blog-buddy Tosy found this treasure trove of Sweeney clips on IESB. That's nine clips from the movie, three featurettes, and two clips of behind-the-scenes footage.

The clips are decent, with a few snips of musical numbers we haven't heard from the movie before. I'm really interested in the way it seems Tim Burton's decided to film "A Little Priest", letting Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett spy on people, imagining them as pies. This is one of the ways the film can really differentiate itself from the stage productions. Also, as Tosy points out in his quick notes, film let's actors be quiet. I think we're going to see a lot of depth in the acting here that often is lost on stage.

We're losing quite a bit of the power with Johnny singing, so it's good we're getting something valuable in return. Oh, and Helena Bonham Carter? Sweet, sweet voice. Sometimes, hiring nephews works out.

We're now in the weeks portion of the countdown; soon we'll be in days to go!

Steve Perry does sound like a soprano

There's video above, FeedReader
I am *so* angry with Edie Falco! How dare she not finish her thought! I put in 24 seconds watching this video, waiting through all the delays and "hiatuses" and this is how it ends!?!?! That's bull!

via United Hollywood

26 November 2007

The Impossible Deuce

♪ Little poop, little poop
'Neath the cinnamon tree

Don't blame me. I didn't invent the caganer and I don't sell 'em. But I really do like that Quixote above. Better than the Bush, and better than the Pau Gasol.

via 100% Injury Rate

Hey Runt! I see you walking down the street!

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. Maybe it can't be done as a film (with the rumored simultaneously released DVDs of "Black Freighter", Hollis Mason pimping "Under the Hood", and whatever else Zack Snyder's got planned.) Maybe it is too dense and rich to be anything less than a mini-series. Still? Looking at these shots of the sets? Zack's going to give it a goddamn good try.

21 November 2007

There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza...

Stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyonddddddddd to pick up a couple of things for feast day. I was grabbing a new pair of kitchen shears when I spotted this. I was sorely tempted to buy it but was afraid I wouldn't be able to open the packaging. If only I had something to cut through blister packs...

And a pony!

As if those d-bags in Beantown hadn't already ruined "Sweet Caroline" just by their incessant caterwauling, now...The Truth Can Be Told! Neil Diamond's inspiration?

Seems wrong, doesn't it?

That's right, Neil's a fan of the Kennedy clan.

via Deadspin

Watchmen Extras?

This sounds like great Watchmen news, except Zack Snyder would either have to scab out the work, or perpetuate the rift between screenwriters of animated fare and non-animated fare.

Let's hope an agreement can be made soon so this can all come to pass...the right way.

She rides like the wind, if the wind rode Trek

We haven't checked in with Kathryn Bertine in quite a long while. Here's part the sixth, in which our mighty warrior focuses her laser-like intensity on becoming a Cat2 rider and qualifying for nationals.

And here's part the seventh, the nationals.

She's my goddamn hero. But when you finish the latter episode, you might fear the WWL a bit more. Too much power for an itty-bitty cable sports channel with such a small corporate parent.

20 November 2007

Basque in the glow of his shitty writing

Wow. As I've mentioned before, McSweeney's is hit or miss. Usually I find the authors have tried so hard to be clever they've missed the mark on humor. And then there's today's piece: "Other Ways Terrorists Win" by Justin Paul Villegas.

I haven't been this offended since...hell, I don't know when.

Oh, haha. I get it. People with Muslim names like to blow other people up. Nobody else does that.

I mean, it's not like someone with the last name of Villegas could be a terrorist. Right? No one in the ETA named Villegas. I'm sure of that.


Better than Tetris

Heh. Usually, xkcd doesn't do much for me...this one made me smile.

Arsenic and Old Lifeforms

Interesting piece by Paul Davies in the latest Scientific American. Davies discusses the search for biota that might have arisen in separate biogenesis events here on Earth, the current searches for extremophiles one obvious example of that. However, none of the extremophiles found to date indicate a separate origin.

Some of the more interesting inquiries are looking at indicators of organisms too small to bear ribosomes:

In 1990 Robert Folk of the University of Texas at Austin drew attention to tiny spheroidal and ovoid objects in sedimentary rocks found in hot springs in Viterbo, Italy. Folk proposed that the objects were fossilized “nannobacteria” (a spelling he preferred), the calcified remains of organisms as small as 30 nanometers across. More recently, Philippa Uwins of the University of Queensland has discovered similar structures in rock samples from a deep-ocean borehole off the coast of Western Australia.
Also of great, geeky interest are hypotheses of life forming on an early Earth with arsenic standing in lieu of phosphorus. Phosphorus is central to our biology - DNA's backbone, the energy cycle, the very membranes of our cells all rely on humble P. How very alien would life be if big brother As played those roles.

via Carl Zimmer

Neither snow nor rain nor...exploding HAIL?!?

I don't want to find this funny. I mean, there's death and dismemberment, pain, anxiety, and chaos. Ah hell. Who am I kidding. I find all those things amusing. Still, it's almost as though the mighty hand of YHWH is wiping South Lebanon clean. Maybe it's a blessing and not a curse.

A hailstorm has caused hundreds of cluster bombs, dropped by the Israel Defense Forces in the Second Lebanon War last summer, to explode in south Lebanon, the Lebanese National News Agency said on Tuesday.

The hailstones, as big as walnuts, fell in a number of valleys in south Lebanon, the agency said.
I've never seen exploding hail. I wonder how the scantily-clad local weather girls would report that?

19 November 2007

We all deserve to die...

There's video above, FeedReader

Here's a clip of Johnny as Sweeney. I'm not really impressed with how he sounds here, but the boy can act. I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic.

My idiot boss

My boss apparently doesn't understand the concept of a test site. She also doesn't understand that I don't work in operations. She sent an email on Sunday about a problem one of her friends had with the site, which I promptly addressed and resolved on Monday morning. Bug found, new release pushed to the test server. All done.

Then came the whining.

Idiot Boss *Sigh* I'm out there working all the time. I was trying to sell advertising for the site. It's got to be up all the time.
CoyoteSqrl It's a test site. It's up solely for your friends to hit, and then provide us feedback on features. Which, by the way, they never do.
IB Well, you got some feedback. They couldn't use it.
CS Actually, your friend just couldn't register. The site was still available for anonymous browsing. And, you'll note, the bug's been fixed.
IB Well, I can't have the site be down like that. All of you need to come up with a plan so we can monitor the site 24/7.
CS So this is no longer a test site? Because this prototype has never been properly tested, there are no backup plans in place, there's no dedicated error logging built in...
IB *Sigh* Fine. Then I just won't sell until we're in production.

I exaggerate the above conversation. First off, she comes off as much less insane here. I could let her go on and on about how hard she works, how she never takes even a moment off. I could let her go on about how a spelling-challenged former VP told her all about the conspiracy to force UHC down the unsuspecting throats of Americans, only to tell doctors to change their specialties. I could let her go on about...whatever inanity is important to her today.

Secondly, this was a much longer conversation, involving several other people. Some of them also attempted to point out the flaws in her reasoning. She's not bright enough to pick those up.

I am regularly impressed that people as stupid as she are capable of tying their own shoes, let alone walking, talking, and not drooling.

All praise the PHX software scene!!!

17 November 2007

Anansi Boys audio

It's only up for the next week, but here's a nice adaptation of Anansi Boys done by Mike Walker for the Beeb.

BSG Razor Webisode the last

Well, I've got a better idea how important Adama is to the Cylons. I also think I know why the first Cylon War ended. And I still feel dirty for having watched this "new media".

Not something you see every day...back of your own head

There's video above, FeedReader

Celery, cricket-wear, and a sonic screwdriver, all in the same Tardis control room? At the same time? That's gotta be a paradox!

16 November 2007

You saw a revolution and a war? Wow, that's wild.

Marjane Satrapi's film of her graphic novel Persepolis has garnered all kinds of awards. The trailer's available on Yahoo, here and it looks awesome.

I'm a little embarrassed I've not read the novels, so I'll be picking those up in short order. Review forthcoming.

For now, check out the trailer, check out the site, and be as excited as I am (and if you're lucky enough to be in LA or NY, happy that you can see this when it opens on December 25 for Oscar consideration.)

Bad job, sad job

Eyes sere, lids heavy
Morpheus grasps, I resist
To sleep is to wake

14 November 2007

He's a little bit rock and roll

Mitt Romney scores a crucial endorsement.

This should help wrap up the purple-sock-wearing crowd as well as the five Mormons who were sitting on the fence.

Oh no he di-n't

Oh yeah I di'. I said the Mormons are going to vote as a bloc. A big bloc of magic-underwear-wearin', golden-tablet-worshippin', many-wives-lovin' crazy people.

It's not going to help HelmetHead, but it's something.

13 November 2007

Prose exercise

Jenny lies in bed, her eyes slightly slit watching the narrow band of light at the foot of the door, waiting. The walls creak and windows croak as the wind increases. A shadow crosses the threshold. She shallows her breathing.

A warm, yellow crack opens in the wall. Light tears at night, opening the crack wide. A body occludes the light then quickly fills the crack with darkness again. Lemon, vanilla, and fresh rain give way to sweat, yeast, and stale tobacco as a shadow slides toward her bed.

"Jenny? You awake baby?" asks the shadow.

Jenny focuses on breathing. Keeping a steady rhythm. Inhale, eight seconds. Hold, three seconds. Exhale, 10 seconds. Repeat. In, hold, out. Repeat.

"It's okay, sweetie. Daddy's here."

* * *

Jenny stands up quickly and the room spins. Her shoulder aches and her hand trembles. Finally, she lets go of the knife. Gravity acts strangely in this new world. The wet, sticky blade falls for minutes, hours, months as Jenny relives every horrible moment of the past year. It lands, piercing the inert body one final time and for the first time since the man had come to live with her and mother, Jenny smiles.

World without Writers

There's video above, FeedReader

via Alex Epstein

If they're going to demand the moon, this train won't even get off the tracks

Studio Reader Stan chimes in on the strike.

HE is awake and HE is pissed

Far be it from me to give, or give a shit, about Star Trek XI rumors. My days of nerdy trials and Tribblations are long past. However, this...this is possibly the funniest thing I've read all week (it is only Tuesday.)

You'll remember that Moriarty at Ain't It Cool broke big news about the plot of Trek XI, especially about how the movie concerns a group of time traveling Romulans headed to the past to wipe out James T Kirk before he ever became a thorn in their side. One of the rumors IESB is running concerns how the Romulans get back in time - they use the time portal from the classic Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever"1. You know, the one where Kirk lets his girlfriend get hit by a car. I usually just don't return their phone calls when I want to break up, but then I'm not half the man Kirk is.
See, I didn't know about that rumor before or I could have told them about the shit-storm that was coming.

HE is awake.

Dudes, he's got a solo title card on Terminator because he was able to convince a judge that it was based on his Outer Limits episodes "Demon with a Glass Hand"2 and "Soldier". I've seen both of those multiple times, I have copies of both the short story "Soldier" and the screenplay, and I love HE. Hell, you can't know how very depressed I was that the rumored "Demon..." tie-in never happened on Babylon 5. All that said, and I've still never been completely convinced the similarities aren't coincidental.

But City? The single greatest episode of ST:TOS to be crafted? Even after Roddenberry's tweaks watered down the story, it was still good enough for HE not to give it the Cordwainer Bird. The lyrical quality of that episode would not be matched until "The Inner Light" 25 years later.

Iff3 Star Trek XI really does utilize the guardians, or the city, or anything of Ellison's, Paramount is fucked. There's no hedging on this one. No arguing that the sf tropes in use are common. That's blatant thievery. He'll kick their asses.

1 WGA Award for Best Written Dramatic Episode, 1966.
2 WGA Award for TV Anthology, Any Length, 1963.
3 Yes, I'm a logic geek.

12 November 2007

Watch the change before your eyes!

There's video above, FeedReader
via Carl Zimmer

quarterlife: Episode 1 thoughts

Herskovitz and Zwick's quarterlife has premiered. I first have to say that I've never been a huge fan of their work. I like My So-called Life well enough, but never got into thirtysomething or much of their other work. I like to keep my more petulant, whiny side bottled up (the better to unload it in big splashes on TheWife,) so seeing a lot of that on screen rarely appeals to me. It's not that I don't recognize the quality of the material, it's that I wish the characters would just grow up.

So I went into quarterlife with certain expectations. I expect to be annoyed by the characters, but drawn in by the writing.

Sure enough, episode one lived up to my expectations. It's well-written, has a clever meta-narrative aspect - when you consider that quarterlife, the website, is very much the site Dylan (Bitsie Tulloch) blogs on in the show. So you go to quarterlife (the site) to watch quarterlife (the show) in which the lead blogs on quarterlife (the site-within-show). The performances were solid, the production qualities were broadcast-ready, and the direction was excellent.

I just wish I didn't hate the characters.

There's also one *very* played out trope. Dylan, who wants to be a writer and is hiply sloppy, works as an editorial associate at a magazine called "Women's Attitude". She has a little Barbie Doll co-worker named Britney. Guess what happens when Dylan tells her about her new, hip, alternative idea.

I say watch. Excluding the cliché plot thread at the magazine, this is pretty interesting and innovative stuff. It'll help a lot if you're not old and crusty like me. But even I found the first episode view-worthy and will probably watch a few more. Maybe I'll even grow to like these characters (or mail them Prozac.)

10 November 2007

Theater review: Dog Sees God

The theater again. Two weeks running. Scary.

I was going to just list the good and bad, but it started to get unruly early on as I started to gush about one of the actors; instead, I'll try for a more traditional post/review.

First, I'd say the Times review I linked to in my earlier post was pretty spot on about the play itself. Here's that link again. Obviously, we didn't have the benefit of the B-list young cast, but I doubt they were able to smooth over the weaknesses in story, characterization, and dialog that are glaring in the script any better than this PHX cast. There are some cute moments, and some schmaltzy, melodramatic moments, but only one or two scenes of real emotion. The parody is cute, that's all.

Quick notes to Bert V. Royal on how to improve the play:

  • Marcy should be the hotter Heather, Tricia the sidekick. Once you've made the decision to change characters' personalities both subtly and broadly for effect, you might as well take it to its logical extent.
  • Great line you've given Beethoven re: how great heaven is. You pretty obviously originally wrote it for Van but realized you had to move it. Well, it doesn't fit Beethoven anymore than it fits your pothead Van. I know you want it. Tough. Toss it.
  • More goddamn Lucy.
I noted earlier that this production wouldn't have Eliza Dushku for eye candy. It didn't. Playing "Van's sister" (Lucy Van Pelt) was Amber Gildersleeve. Hotter and more talented than Eliza. No joke. We'll get back to Gildersleeve in a moment. First, let me go off on a short tangent and bitch some more.
* * *
I acted in three plays while I was in college. Well, I did three plays at UConn and one community theater production. Not bad for a physics major who was on the three-year plan. Anyway, I was in two productions on the main stage for the same director - as a spearcarrier/chorus member in Man of La Mancha and as Rowley in The School for Scandal. In the latter, I got the only bad review of the cast which...well let me tell you this: don't ever read a bad review right before pulling on your tights and stippling up your face. You won't be calm come curtain time. Holy crap, I was much worse that day than on normal, bland days.

Why do I bring this up? To point out that I'm a mediocre actor? No. To point out that I know what it's like to work with a set-oriented director. We had a *ton* of set moves in both those plays, many of them part of our blocking. So much time was spent choreographing the moves that the director didn't focus much on performance. For the MFA candidates comprising the majority of the cast, and the undergrad acting majors the rest, this wasn't a huge problem. For me it proved to be. Restoration Comedy requires a certain light touch and frothiness that I never found on my own.
* * *
There were a lot of set moves in tonight's performance.

Director Marcos D. Voss blocked the play beautifully. The sets were minimalist but clever. The lighting was better than I'd expected considering the little auditorium had utilized some exposed plumbing for part of its light rigging.

He didn't seem to do much with the actors, however.

No one was terrible, though I was pretty disappointed by Eric Zaklukiewicz as CB (Charlie Brown). I don't know if there was a jammin' after-party, or if he'd downed a Big Gulp before the show and needed to pee, but he blew through his lines way too fast. There were a few places where it was appropriate and a few places where he did manage to slow down, but for the most part he rushed.

Beyond that, the biggest problem was that the actors were performing at different levels. Joel Dauten as Van (Linus) was good, but he was way more energetic than everyone else. It was as though he'd dropped in from another play. Similarly, Jannese Davidson and Emily Pelzer as Marcy and Tricia (Peppermint Patty, natch) were in a higher energy orbit than, say, Sam Wilkes as Beethoven (Schroeder).

Part of the problem lies in Royal's sloppy script - exposition-rich and too concerned with cheap laughs and cheap tears than actual characterizations. Most of the problem lies with Voss's direction. It's a director's responsibility to get all his actors performing compatibly. If you're going to let Dauten play the pothead *big* (he reminded me a small bit of Matthew Lillard) you've got to get everyone else over the top as well. Conversely, give him some actual weed to smoke on stage to get really mellow.

To be clear, my problem was with the (lack of) direction and not the actors. It's a very special actor how can modulate her performance appropriate to her co-stars.

A special actress like Amber Gildersleeve.

Here are some highlights from her CV:
  • West Side Story, Maria.
  • Beauty and the Beast, Belle.
  • My Fair Lady, Eliza.
  • Gypsy, Gypsy Rose Lee
  • Proof, Catherine
Do you see the trend? If there's a production in the valley, Gildersleeve gets the lead. Unfortunately I didn't get to hear her sing tonight, but we'll be looking for her plays going forward. This girl's got talent with a capital "T" that rhymes with "G" that stands for "Get out of Phoenix while you can."

The play is running Thursdays through Sundays until November 17. I...recommend it, if only for Amber Gildersleeve.

Is Net Neutrality bad for the WGA?

There are many things I believe in. I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curve...wait, that's Crash Davis. Lemme try again.

  • I believe in the equitable - not even - distribution of wealth. The old Ben & Jerry's model - where no employee earns more than five times any other - should be a requirement for all corporations. Sumner Redstone would be paying writers like goddamn rock stars if that were the case.
  • I believe Stewart Brand was a genius.
  • I believe Mickey Fucking Mouse should have entered the public domain about 30 years ago.
What else?

I believe in the WGA. I do so for selfish reasons: someday I'm going to get those residual checks for my scripts and I'd like them to be big and juicy. And I do so for moral reasons: labor should be well-compensated and management should do what it does best and shut the fuck up.

I also believe in Net Neutrality. Bits is bits. Doesn't matter if I'm streaming porn or writing a blog post on crappy theater. All bits are created equal. And whether those bits come from Hulu or Joe's Video Shack they should be treated the same. Without Net Neutrality, conglomerates will take control of the web in the same way they've overrun TV, film, radio, and newspapers. The cacophony and din we've all grown to love will be silenced by the dull, monotonous droning of Viacom, Time-Warner, and Disney.

Right now, as y'all know, the WGA is striking for residuals on new media, amongst other things. They're standing tall and proud and brave, and thanks to the nobility of the show runners (writers themselves) have begun the shutdown of production weeks and months earlier than the studios expected. I fully expect the WGA to win fair concessions from the D-bags at the AMPTP, though it may take months.

How is it that the WGA can be so effective?

Big Labor is most effective when it can shut down Big Capital.

With six major players, the 12,000 striking members can easily target their picket lines. This applies pressure to the producers. It also limits the outlets for the writers. It sounds cruel, but when labor has nowhere to go it stays united. The more sources of capital there are, the more likely some of them will be non-union shops. Work for writers during a strike puts food on the table, but it doesn't put residuals in the Internet.

What Net Neutrality provides is the potential for any content provider to be big. It allows for brand new startups like Herskowitz and Zwick's quarterlife to create a new outlet for original content. Sounds great, right? Except who forces the new outlets to negotiate with the WGA? Do they operate in concert with other outlets like the AMPTP, or do they all negotiate their own writers' contracts?

How much power does organized labor have against dis-organized management?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but they'll need to be asked and answered in the years ahead.

Another weekend, another play in PHX

I must be a masochist. Going to a play* here in PHX again tonight. I'll let y'all know how bad it is later.

* This production won't even have Eliza Dushku for eye candy.

BSG Razor Webisode + Strike = ?

Um, so I don't know what to do about webisode #6. I've provided links to the previous five, but I feel too dirty to do that this week. Not too dirty to watch it, but too dirty to link to it. I can only hope Ron Moore negotiated pay for those outside the bounds of the expired contract. Then again, they're just "promotional".

Picture yourself in a boat on a river...

I started a long post about an interview I have scheduled for Monday morning at my office. We're all to be meeting with a "branding expert". For our unlaunched company with a crappy, crappy name. I'd gone on at length about the inanity of the exercise, but hadn't made it to my thesis. So I'm saving you all the grief of reading my whingeing and cutting to the chase.

BrandMasters Inc.1 sent an exercise we're supposed to perform before showing up for our interviews. Mine is scheduled for 8am. The email arrived this afternoon.2

And what am I supposed to do before I show up?

Please gather 6 to 8 images/photographs you see as visually expressing your views in answer to the following question — What are your feelings about remainder of question redacted to very slightly protect my company's identity?

With one exception, images you select may be from any source - newspapers, magazines, personal photographs, or other sources. We ask that you NOT select images printed out from the Internet. Take the time to instead look through, for example, a variety of magazines for your selections.
Uh huh.
  1. I don't read newspapers or magazines anymore. Internet killed the printing press star.
  2. I don't have personal photos. Unusual, but not unheard of.
  3. I don't have "feelings" about the ambiguously worded question.
  4. I'm a goddamn software engineer.3
When I first read the late-arriving instructions I was a little irritated. But after a few moments of calm reflection I realized I was a lot irritated.4

Earlier this very day, I'd read a great, short post over at PsyBlog on the false consensus bias. This exercise is a perfect example of that phenomenon.

I am not a visual person. I'm a language guy. It's all about rhythm and meter and pacing and dialect and accent and...there are a lot of ands. When I read, I hear voices in my head. When I read a script, I hear performances in my head. When I write, the same applies.

So I complain to my coworkers. They are also irritated by the prospect, but only at the short-notice. Turns out they are all far more visual than I.

Then the debates start. Not smart debates. Our web designer - good at his job but not a serious thinker - argues that the web is an inherently visual medium. I point him to Craigslist. "That's visual, too. See, it's laid out on the screen..." He continues by saying books are inherently visual. Oy vey. Sure, I agree, typography and page design enhance a book, but it is primarily linguistic. No no, says he. Totally visual. He sees it all in his head.

Okay, but I don't. I hear it all in my head. He tells me I'm wrong a few times before we talk him down from the ledge.

I ask about a book of poetry. Is that visual as well? (My example was "Sonnets from the Portuguese", a hoary old classic, but definitely not a book of cleverly visual word pictures.) Absolutely says he and his partner. There's really no debating with someone who thinks iambic pentameter is visual.

So back to it: I can't perform this exercise. I'd like to help out and will do the best I can, but any images I did manage to bring in would be lies. I'll do my level best to explain that to Mayor McBrand on Monday, but he is, after all, just a marketing guy. The odds of him understanding complex concepts like: "not everyone reads only picture books"5 are pretty slim.

1 Name changed to protect the incompetent.
2 (= 4:25MST on Friday.)
3 Yes, I'm also an aspiring writer, but they pay me for the former.
4 That clam's still fresh enough to use, right?
5 Yes. That's right. I do read comic books. And usually I just read comic books and glance at the graphics. I'm not what Shane Smith would call visually illiterate, but it doesn't come naturally or easily to me.

09 November 2007

Joss Whedon on the strike

Joss strike-blogs over on Whedonesque:

Two very different experiences today that I’d like to share with y’all. Last one first: Entertainment Weekly joins the New York Times in fair and balanced writer-bashing. Their cover story on the strike kind of stunned me. They’ve always been really sweet about my shows and I’ve read a lot of interesting stuff in there but holy boy are they missing the point. Their reporter has fallen into every cliched journalistic trap the congloms have ever set. I realize his magazine is owned by one of them, but I expected better. Let’s go in for a closer look.

(By the way, I’m fully aware that I have turned into Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce at the end of the movie when he’s all strung out and not funny and just reading legal briefs during his stand-up, but further down I make this really awesome joke you’re gonna wanna tell all your friends, just wait.)

08 November 2007


Feel like supporting the strikers but you're not close to LA or NY? Beyond the petition which everyone should sign, there's now a great resource for those of us who'd like to help from afar: fans4writers.

Grab a banner, grab an icon, grab a picket sign, or give a few bucks for pizza.

via Whedonesque

Separated at birth: Stern and Counter

Wow. Usually it's pretty easy to tell who's the biggest jackhole when you put photos side-by-side like that. Normally, Stern would get the nod over anyone but maybe Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, or Lars Ulrich. This week, one would expect Nick Counter would take the Prix de Booby. And he was. Miles and miles ahead of Stern.

Looks like the commish had a problem with that.

NBA commissioner David Stern warned Thursday that if the SuperSonics leave Seattle he sees no way the league would ever return to the city.

"I'd love to find a way to keep the team there," he said, "because if the team moves, there's not going to be another team there, not in any conceivable future plan that I could envision, and that would be too bad."

At a news conference following his announcement that the 2009 All-Star Game would be held in Phoenix, Stern criticized the city of Seattle and the Washington legislature for its handling of the issue of funding a replacement for Key Arena.

Stern repeated earlier criticism of the mayor and city council for promoting a measure, overwhelmingly passed by voters, that requires any funds to help build an arena earn money at the same rate as a treasury bill.
C'mon people! First those bastard writers demand pennies in residuals and then a billionaire can't get taxpayers to pony up for an arena? Bunch o' goddamn commies! Don't you people get it?
  1. Trickle-up all your money to the wealthiest .001%

  2. Profit

Guy Fawkes Instructable

Huh. A few days ago I posted a picture of an Origami Guy Fawkes mask. Well here's an Instructable for making it!

United Hollywood petition

If you support the writers, sign the United Hollywood petition. If you don't support the writers, I'm sure there'll be a new episode of Big Brother or America's Next Top Douchebag on soon.

Scenes from the WGA Strike


A mob of dirty hippies in red shirts marches in front of FOX Studios in an attempt to interrupt its lawful operation. They threaten onlookers and employees alike, swinging their signs about wildly and chanting like cultists. From the lot comes a lone, brave figure to confront the restless, blood-thirsty horde.

Worst. Assembly. Ever. You people are less organized than the New Yorkers in Superman II who foolishly attempted to rise up against Zod. However, as insane as they were to think they could stand up against three Kryptonians, they had more hope of success than you.

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Free Enterprise has got to go!

How ironic you should mention Enterprise. You redshirts are as expendable as Starfleet security officers.

What are you doing here, scab? You should be standing with us, not with the studios!

The studio pays me a handsome salary, for which I perform my labors. You might try the same instead of this futile battle against your employers.

We're striking for you too, man. If we roll over now, the SAG won't stand a chance.

While parts of my personage might indeed sag, I am not a member of the Screen Actors' Guild. I do not believe in guilds, other than the Fighter's and Mage's Guilds to which I belong.

So there's nothing you care about? Nothing our sacrifices mean to you?

I would not say that. The longer the strike lasts, the more quickly Brian K. Vaughan will be able to return to writing "Y: The Last Man". Jeph Loeb will also have more free time to devote to his more important, sequential art work.

From the lot another figure approaches, silhouetted against two criss-crossing spot lights and accompanied by trumpet fanfare. PETER GRIFFIN reaches the crowd and takes an iPhone from his pocket.

Who wants an iPhone? Who wants an iPhone? You?

PETER holds the delicate object of affection high in the air above one of the writers. The writer tries to reach the phone, jumping and coming up short several times. PETER's taunting is merciless and his cackle pierces the din.

Dance, writer-man, dance!

PETER throws the iPhone into the street and a handful of writers jump in front of a bus in a fatal attempt to retrieve it.

Man! They sure left a lot of residual on the grill of that bus. (BEAT) Come on, they're serving baby seal at the commissary. I want to get there before Vince Vaughn bogarts it all.


07 November 2007

In case there was any doubt...

There's video above, FeedReader

...where this lefty writer's sentiments lie, those who visit will be pummeled by the cherry red header on the page for the foreseeable future.

Support the WGA!

via...many, many places but I'm giving the credit to Beckylooo.

How they got here: Is Josh Jewish?

In my continuing quest to put up meta-posts about site traffic, here's this evening's winner for best Google search to land on my blog:

josh's mom's vagina

Oh yeah. That's right, baby! Someone's (maybe) got the hot's for Josh's mom. That, or there are questions of mot-hood.

How they got here: Buffy the Mohel

It's pretty rare I do this, but I must say this is one of the most awesomest Google searches to hit my little corner of the web in quite a while. From St. Louis, Missouri:

nick brendon circumcised

Really? That's what raises their Spirits in St. Louis? Their over-Arching concern? I'd have the Blues if that were on my mind. Frankly, it should be a Cardinal sin.

Ouch. I'm really sorry. I'm clearly pundrunk.

Poor Xander.

06 November 2007

My shit job

I was out sick yesterday but vaguely productive. I managed a complete rewrite of my HIMYM spec (though this morning I'm very unhappy with the new direction and I need to revisit it again.) Today, I'm back at work. Hence my need to vent. Already.

My boss is...it's like working for my mother, except my mother is smart enough to know to shut her fucking mouth and let me make the technology decisions.

There should be some sort of licensing process before they allow people onto the Web. There certainly should be one before they allow people to build Web companies.

Gosh, I love living in PHX.

05 November 2007


There's video above, FeedReader
The Mosby Boys and the Peanut Butter Bandit.

Horatio wishes he were as cool as Ted Mosby.

Origami Guy

Don't go blowin' no buildins' up, ya hear?

Seek wisdom of constitutional intelligence or you die EVIL

I'm home sick today but trying to be productive nonetheless, doing a page one rewrite on my HIMYM spec because, well, it wasn't good enough for Disney-ABC. After that, it's time to finally stop delaying on my 30 Rock and just break the shit out of that story. I have about two-thirds of that floating about in my head and really just need to get some act breaks in order to pound it out.

However, I've been meaning to blog on this book and its proposals for awhile, so I thought I'd drop a short post out here and let people savor the Time Cube aspects of what Larry J. Sabato has to say. In particular, please check out his "23 Proposals to Revitalize the US Constitution" and comment away. I'll have more to say in the next day or two.

It shouldn't take anyone very long to figure out all the ways in which "the founder and director of the renowned Center for Politics at the University of Virginia" doesn't frakin' understand the American system. It also shouldn't be difficult to determine why it's both apropos and absolutely insane that he be at UV.

Bonus points to anyone who can guess three of my favorite five founding fathers and why. Ah hell. That's too tough. Here's my list:

  • John Adams
  • Aaron Burr
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • James Madison
  • John Marshall
Franklin only barely doesn't make it. If I had to pull one of the others off for Franklin's benefit, it would be Burr. And yes. It bothers me. Franklin was the only one to tell Congress to bite his shiny, metal ass if they wouldn't outlaw slavery. He was a hero. Not to mention the fact that without his keen diplomatic abilities getting us French assistance, that hack of a General from Virginia would have lost the whole affair for us.

ID Testing, redux

For those of you who've never looked at the GData api for Blogger, I envy you. It is a poorly documented beyatch. Hence, all the fits and starts here with comments on, comments off, comments disappearing, etc. Jon Fox over at ID is probably going to end up institutionalized by the time he finally makes sense of it.

Today we're back to my regular ID account, as opposed to the test account I'm using for import tests. Older ID comments are currently gone, gone, gone, but they might reappear at some point in the next day or two (no telling) if Jon does a restore for me. I'll probably bounce back and forth a few more times, though I might hold off until the weekend to do so. Haven't decided.

What that means is...comment if you want, but it might again disappear into the ether.

That is all.

03 November 2007

ID Testing

There will be a little shakiness around here for the weekend as I'm bouncing in and out of Intense Debate, moving comments around, and doing a few other things. Old comments added through ID will be missing, any comments that get added this weekend will likely disappear come Monday, and who knows what else might happen.

I'm playing the role of test monkey for ID.

Second Sweeney Trailer

I was going to embed this trailer, but the versions out on YouTube have crappy audio quality, and I can't figure out how to stop the WB embedded version from autoplaying. Alas. Here it is. This one lacks any singing, but it's got Sweeney's theme woven throughout. I'm embarrassed that I'm now very excited.

He literally jumped a shark

The "Tempo staff"* at the Chigago Tribune have compiled a list of the 25 worst TV shows of all time. I could go through this item by item and point out how the staff is right or wrong to include a show on the list, but there's little point. Such lists are subjective anyway.

However, I do have to point out their serious lack of understanding of TV history. In discussing Joanie Loves Chachi - truly deserving of list-membership - they say "Scott Baio's addition to Happy Days was a classic jump-the-shark moment". No. See, when Fonz jumped the frakin' shark, that was when they jumped the shark!!!

* "Tempo staff"? What the hell is that? The interns who normally do donut runs get to put out an advertising supplement-slash-weekend entertainment guide? Of is that the Trib's TV Guide section?

David Tennant animated

There's video above, FeedReader

Uh, yah. This is weird, but interesting to see ASH as a giant, armored freak seeking to destroy the Earth. There are more parts, as well.

via Bully

PHX: Where dreams go to die

We went to the "theater" last night. A small theater group really stretching to the utmost of their meager abilities.

Space 55 Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to producing new, unpublished and rarely seen works. We are committed to concentrating on the process of improvisation through ensemble, creation of new work, and the ongoing investigation of the process of creating theatre. We aim to develop a new "writer’s theatre" in Phoenix by nurturing new playwrights and continuing the crosspollination of artists from different genres. It is extremely important to us to build new audiences for the modern stage by creating a comfortable, affordable and open atmosphere in order to make the theatre experience accessible to all.*
Used to be I thought just people came to PHX to die. Now I know it's art and hope and dreams.

What the fuck? They're "nurturing new playwrights"? Let me tell you about the absolute SHIT that is the PHX "art" scene.

First off, there was nowhere to park. This is neither the fault of this little theater, nor directly related to their suckitude, but I bring it up to comment on the overall "art" scene in PHX. It was First Friday. Which in this town means a lot of posers smoking clove cigarettes, hemp clothing impregnated with patchouli, and people hawking bad art. No matter. We're going to see an interesting show so we can put up with that, right?

The show in question sounds promising: a "10 Minute Play Showcase, a one-of-a-kind theatrical event for the Valley. That’s six new plays, each ten minutes in duration, written by Phoenix-based playwrights". I expect there will be some chaff in the mix, but surely at least one lovely kernel.

The first piece is high-school existentialism at its most base. See, there's a dead guy talking to the man who helped him off himself. The dead guy's angry. The dead guy's seen everything, knows everything. He's seen God's grave. He's taken notes. The only thing truly notable was the crappy blocking. The aide-de-kill is upstage almost the entire piece forcing dead-guy to turn his head too much.

Then there's the promise of some humor...a message is projected and read aloud. Two-weeks after the deadline for submissions had passed, somebody sent a message to the theater's MySpace page suggesting 10 minutes of...a purple dragon, a man comes in, no one talks, and maybe there's a cat. I wish I could do it justice. My description might be more lucid than the very short idea sent in and that's the problem. Imagine what I wrote, but slowed down and dragged out by excessive pot use. So the theater's going to have some fun with this and do four variations on the theme. Here comes part the first: doesn't live up to the setup.

I hate to pick too hard on the next piece which felt very personal, so we'll leave it at saying I'm sure someone gave a shit about the story of the schizophrenic mother with breast cancer and her daughter (who might have inherited the disease) becoming a mother herself at 27. Someone really might have cared. Not the theater-goers, but someone.

Purple dragon variation #2. Makes the first look like genius. In this one, they eschew any attempt at comedy and go for drama. Yah. It doesn't fuckin' work.

Now, the meat of the evening. This is the play people will be talking about for years to come. This is the play Hollywood will be turning into a movie soon, I guarantee that. As long at the WGA strikes, this play is gold. "How to Count to 1000". Two men - the playwright Bob Fisher, who puts the ham in a Hormel factory farm, and his co-star - settle on stage. They clean up a bit, bring out two chairs and a Coleman, and...

Y'all know the story about Helena Modjeska, the Polish-born actress? At dinners, she'd sometimes do short dramatic scenes in Polish. Her performances were heart-wrenching. One time, it is said, she recited the Polish alphabet. Brought the crowd to tears. It is most likely apocryphal, but believable due to her immense talent.

Bob Fisher is not immensely talented. Yet he and his unfortunate co-star spent 10 minutes strutting, pouting, yelling, and weeping their way in fits and starts from one to 1000. "Time constraints" thrust upon them by the stage manager required them to break out of their strict incremental performance and there were a few out-of-sequence values. All part of the brilliant play Bob wrote. Remember above, the description of Space 55? It's a "writer's theater". (I was going to leave it be, but...it's only a theater for one writer? It's not a writers' theater?)

Hollywood should take heed of Bob's masterful plan. When the scripts have all dried up, I expect to see phonebooks read by Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer, encyclopedias by the cast of The Office, and take-out menus printed on late-night cue cards (actually, that might be funnier than Leno's monologue.)

Another purple dragon variation that *could* have been mildly amusing. A large girl in a purple dress is the "dragon". She readjusts her ample bosom. A silly English ka-nig-it with drawn broadsword enters. There is a protracted battle. Music rises. They tango. And if it had been that fast or if the fight had been choreographed it would have amused.

Our final "real" play. "Salt". It seemed pretty decent, but you'll have to remember what came before. Having a Capri Sun straw shoved in my eye would have seemed decent in comparison. Some talking heads. A passionate, sad wail about the death of dreams and the conformity of life. Whatevs.

The final purple dragon variation was a bit of interpretive "dance". I'm no fan of dance, but I don't think that's why I disliked this. This looked a bit more like Madonna voguing in slow-motion.

This was a bad, bad night at the "theater". Then I got home. And heard some really good news for an acquaintance. Good news for her which indicated bad news for me. So here in the desert I stay, my hopes and dreams slowly dessicating in the sun. Fuck. I couldn't even be a PHX playwright. I try to use actual words to actually entertain. I don't write juvenile pastiches of Beckett or sequences of numbers. I have no hope, here.

But that's okay. I can remain a software engineer, right? I mean, when you think high-tech Mecca, you think PHX, right?

Fuck. I'm going to see if someone will help me kill myself so I can piss on God's grave.

* Huh. Didn't notice the first time. They use the British-English spelling of "theatre". So not only are they untalented clods who'd better spend their time painting desert sunsets and making kitschy cactus souvenirs, they're über-pretentious.

All this has happened before and it will happen again

Webisode #5: a quiet exercise in rising tension and anxiety.

02 November 2007

Bell, Bikini, Brunette?

Veronica Mars will be wearing the slave-Leia bikini? I'll be there on opening day.

And your next movie, coming out in January, is Fanboys. How big of a Star Wars fan were you before this?
I mean, I liked the movies, but I certainly wasn’t as big of a fan as some of the people I’ve met shooting the movie. I liked it very much, but everyone was so knowledgeable and the boys would always throw in all these crazy references a lot more. I’ve added “scruffy nerf herder” to my road rage vocabulary.
Now I know why her non-PI job on the show was working at "Java the Hut".

01 November 2007

Artistes are Emotional

Just because I'm in a shitty mood this evening, I think I'm going to take a few swings at Doug Wood of the law firm Reed Smith. For some reason known only to Gary Gentile1, he gets quoted in this article about the WGA strike.

"The industry negotiates form [sic] logic, and the creative community negotiates from emotion," he said. "Trying to understand those differences on both sides of the table is a big challenge in any of these negotiations."
I'm supposed to believe Doug Wood, esq.'s opinion is worth more than anyone else's. I mean, Gary-baby closed his piece with it, right?

So if I got this right, the writers - the creative types - are a bunch of weepy sallys who think with their hearts, unlike the cool, calculating machines running the studios. The ones with talent, the ones who have degrees in emotional fields such as computer science, physics, and mathematics operate on "emotion". Unlike the coke-sniffing, trust-fund burnouts who "studied" communications and landed jobs as development execs who operate on "logic".

Or, perhaps like the drunken pieces of pigshit that 99 44100% of lawyers are.2 What the fuck do you think with, Doug? Your mottled, engorged liver or your mottled, shriveled dick? Fuck you, douchebag. You want logic? How about: labor wants to get paid for its efforts instead of fucked over payments. Do you understand that, or is it too complicated for your tiny little monkey brain?

Nothing is fucking worth less than a worthless lawyer. Oh wait...there's still studio management.

"Oh, poor us. You'll need to give us time to figure out if there's is any way at all we can make money off this confusing series of pipes."

Well bitches, if there's no money in it, you won't mind changing that DVD formula and applying it to new media, right? I mean, if there's no money in it for you, just offer to give all that money to the "emotional" creative-types.

I hate that the writers had to strike. It wounds me deeply. I'd say it wounds me personally, but I'm several years out (if ever) from breaking in.3 However, if strike they must, I hope they bankrupt the entertainment divisions of these multinationals and those fuckers sell off the studios at pennies on the dollar. Let Hollywood be run by movie people again.

1 Really? Gentile? You want to go with that name? Do I really need to say what I'm thinking?
2 It should be noted that TheWife is neither a drunk, nor a piece of pigshit. She is one of the 56100%.
3 And after this diatribe I may never be able to break in.