Friday, November 24, 2006

Robert, Ruth and Randomness

The last week saw the deaths of both Robert Altman and Ruth Brown. I don't really have much to say about Robert Altman. I probably haven't seen a third of the guy's films, but anyone who can make The Long Goodbye, Nashville and The Player is alright in my book (I'll admit, I can't quite get past the misogyny in MASH). I had no idea so many people had covered the theme from MASH.

As for Ruth Brown, one of the important rock n roll artists of the early 50's, check out her 1953 hit "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean." This version is a little faster than the record, but she makes the same squeak with her voice, and you can see her great showmanship in that expressive face.

Ruth also appeared as Motormouth Maybelle in John Waters' last great movie, Hairspary.

On to the positive, a great thing to wake up to on Thanksgiving morning: EW talking to Joss Whedon about his upcoming Buffy "season 8" comic! There's even some drawings (which that good). So how's Buffy going to be enjoying the newfound freedom of not being the one and only Slayer?

''Not so much with the freedom,'' quips Whedon. ''Not that everything is dire and angsty and season six-y, But she's dealing with the consequences of having empowered thousands of girls around the world. She may have closed the Hellmouth under Sunnydale and defeated The First. But evil? Still rampant!''

Yes, Joss still talks in that cadence that's clever and snappy when characters do it on his shows, and kind of annoying when a writer does it in an interview. First issue of the 25-30 issue run is due in March, which means we might see it before the end of 2008. He also says he's still trying to nail the Wonder Woman script, so no solid dates for that yet.

Andrew Sullivan's search for the best and worst 80's videos has uncovered something I've long been curious about: Tori Amos' hair-metal band, Y Kant Tori Read. Although, now that I've seen it, it's not really "hair metal"--more like the kind of 80's pop that Sheena Easton or Kim Carnes or Bonnie Tyler made, I think (OK, most hair metal wasn't really metal or even hard rock, but I think even Bon Jovi or Winger were more rock than that). Still, incredibly cheesy.

If you missed it when The Tofu Hut posted J. Walter Negro and the Loose Jointz's early proto-hip hop single "Shoot The Pump," you have a second chance at redemption! Locust Street (the best mp3 blog on the web) has posted this 80's masterpiece! Get it while you can!

Dig that poster!

On a political note, can you believe this asshole that Bush has appointed to oversee Title X family planning programs?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Scenes from the Doo Dah Parade

From the 30th annual Pasadena Doo Dah Parade last Sunday. A fine showing by the StandUp Academy Marching Grouchos Troop.

It was rough hanging around for about 3 hours before the parade started, but it was a blast once we got going. We had taken up a position near the back of the line, so we actually saw some of the folks at the front of the parade going back to their cars before we started moving.

The Orange County chapter of NORML was right in front of us, along with the Highland Park Supper Club, who had all taken electronic kids' toys (like Speak-n-Spells and toy guitars) and rewired and customized them with effects switches so that they were all making a crazy cacaphony. Behind us was a young guy who was running for mayor. Here's the Li'l Angels Pug Rescue, hanging out in the park:

PUGS!!! I took some pictures also of the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin's procession, but they have disapeared mysteriously. They had a customized hearse with "Arlington Cemetary or Bust" on the back, big posters of Lee Marvin with BSOL written on them in what seemed to be a parody of the TSOL logo, and they were all dressed like cowboys.

I did get a photo of the Raelian flying saucer, though:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. 15

This Sunday, look for us in The Doo-Dah Parade in Pasadena. I'll be leading the StandUp Academy procession of Marching Grouchos. Come out and get wacky!

The Oxy library had their annual book sale yesterday (it's open to the public today, in the library at Occidental College). For $5.50, I got a falling-apart copy of Pauline Kael's 5001 Nights at the Movies, Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet, a couple Orson Welles biographies that I'll probably never read (Peter Noble's The Fabulous Orson Welles and Charles Higham's Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall of an American Genius), a couple Dahiel Hammett novels (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse), Garma C.C. Chang's The Practice of Zen, a replacement for my long-lost copy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and Aspects of Alice, a collection of essays about Alice in Wonderland (Freudian, Jungian, biographical, psychedelic, and so on), which I flipped through a few times in my college library while I should have been doing research on subjects that I had no interest in at the time.

What the Dem's should do now:

Instead of dwelling on what’s gone wrong, Democrats should focus on what to do right. For example:

-Cut the Alternative Minimum Tax so it doesn’t slam the middle class, and roll back the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

-Open Medicare to every American who needs affordable health insurance, and use Medicare’s resulting huge bargaining clout to reduce drug prices.

-Bar companies from deducting from their corporate income taxes any executive pay in excess of $1 million a year.

-Raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation.

-Reform Social Security by eliminating the ceiling on payments so people earning over $100,000 a year pay the same percent of their income as everyone else.

-Raise fuel economy standards, eliminate subsidies to the oil companies, and use the money instead for basic R&D in non-carbon based energy.

-Renegotiate the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gas emissions.

-And while we’re at it, reaffirm the Geneva Conventions.

I agree with all of that, but I might add that first the Dems might want to figure out how to sell that stuff to America, so we don't end up losing in 2008. It shouldn't be that hard to convince the 99% of the population that this stuff benefits that these are good ideas, should it?

In the "can't believe it took this long to happen" category: The Nugs Report! (Why did they wait 'til I stopped smoking?)

Yeah, this happens to me all the time.

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)

Last Friday, I played hookie from work, and George and I caught the afternoon screening of Guillermo Del Toro's new film Pan's Labyrinth at the AFI Festival. I'm pretty behind on my movie watching, but I can't imagine that I will see a better movie than this this year. It's such a beautiful, original, and yet simple film that I find myself at a loss to say much about it (I'll probably have a review up on The Fake Life next month, closer to the release). As a work of fantasy, it can stand next to any of Miyazaki's work, it's visuals rival any of Gilliam's films (and it makes me want to catch Tideland just to compare the two), and in many ways it reminds me of Heavenly Creatures, one of my favorite films of all time.

And, OK, that thing, The Pale Man? He looks pretty fuckin' creepy in that picture, but it doesn't give you any indication of how goddamn scary it is to see him in motion.

Del Toro spoke after the screening, and he gives a great speech. He said that he was trying to bring fairy tales back to their roots with this movie. "Fairy tales now are so sanitized and castrated. If you read the original Hansel and Gretel, it took place during a famine, and it has murder and incest and eye-gouging." He refered to a book called The Science of Fairy Tales, which he used as a primary source while doing research for the film.

I'll skip the spoiler that lead to the following rant, but he was speaking about the logic of fantasy. "If they were making Warner Bros. cartoons in Hollywood today, there would be some executive standing there saying 'Why does the Coyote use a rocket?' 'Because that's what the Coyote does!' 'Well, why don't we have a scene where the Coyote flashes back to his childhood, and we see his father using a rocket...'" He also mentioned that he was giving a talk at a film school, and one of the students asked him "What was the target audience for this film?" "I said, 'shut the fuck up! Why are you asking about that when you're a film student?'" Speaking of which, for some reason, someone asked him what his favorite English word was, and he said "Fuck," then went on a five-minute routine about all the different usages of fuck, while the moderator kept trying to call on someone to ask another question.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Comedy Showcase Monday

Monday, November 13, 8:00 pm at The Ice House Mainroom!
StandUp Academy showcase featuring headliner Bobbie Oliver, MC Sally Mullins, and the up and coming comedy stars of tomorrow!
24 N. Mentor Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106

$12 in advance
$15 at the door
+2 drink Minimum

I'll be in the back of the room working the camera. Come say "hi!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Greatest Menu Ever!

From Zombie Village in Oakland. OK, first of all, just the fact that there was a restaurant named Zombie Village is incredibly cool (I imagine opening up the menu, and all it says is BRAAAAAINS!!!!), but that image, with the hot Polynesian girl, and the big Evil Tiki Budha in the background (that kinda reminds me of the statue on the cover of the old Players Handbook), that's just beyond the valley of awesome. Could this have been the inspiration for Club Zombie in The Big Nowhere? Incidentally, the previous champion was, of course, the Zamboanga menu:

On a related note, here's a menu from Frances Langford's Outrigger Restaurant in Jensen Beach, Fla. I grew up 2 or 3 miles from this place, and probably rode past it several times a week, but never went there (that I can remember).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Election

Obviously, I'm very happy. We have a decisive majority in the house, and we can pretty much assume we have the senate. Donald Rumsfeld has stepped down, which I take as a signal that Bush is finally going to seriously start changing course in Iraq. He won't admit that that's what he's doing, but I'm more concerned with actions than words.

I'm not fooling myself. I would love to be able to say that the American people want to roll back the tax cuts on the ruling class, raise the minimum wage, and institute universal health care, but it's obviously not the case. Nor did Republicans get tired of the gay-bashing, science-bashing, American Taliban running their party. I don't even think it's a question of conservatives upset by the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans. The Democrats managed to squeak by entirely on the Republicans fucking up Iraq, and the corruption in congress. And if it weren't for Mark Foley, they still probably wouldn't have taken it (I just realized last night, incidentally, that Foley was the representative for my home town district. And even with Foley's name on the ballot, the Democrat only managed to win by one percentage point. BRIMMING WITH PRIDE!). So Democrats have two years to win people over to their side. I worry about Iraq, because no matter what we do now, Iraq is going to end up a disaster. Whosever (?) plan we go with, they'll probably end up being blamed for it.

In California, I can't say I'm too surprised about Schwarzenegger winning, considering the lame-even-by-Democrat-standards campaign Angelides ran. I really think Steve Westley would have stood a ghost of a chance at least. Oh well. Since his sound defeat in the special elections, Schwarzenegger has been governing from about as far right as Bill Clinton. Republicans have picked up some more offices statewide, probably because of low Dem turnout because everyone knew that Angelides would lose. Oh well.

I was disapointed but hardly surprised by Prop 87 failing. A vote for higher gas prices just isn't going to go over in this environment, and when you have the oil companies spending a fortune against it, it's not likely to pass. I'm amazed that it was as close as it was. But there's no reason we can't still have a very progressive energy policy in this state. We're one of the bluest states in the country, and we have a governor who claims to be committed to the environment. Let's see if he can put his money where his mouth is.

Prop 90, which I think is a really dishonest bill, passed, but at least it might put a curb on abuse of Eminent Domain, an important issue which Democrats really ought to take a more active role in addressing, since it embodies all the worst nightmares conservatives have about liberal government.

Maybe the most encouraging news comes from Arizona, where an anti-gay marriage initiative failed to be passed! It's sad that that has to be a sign of progress, but I guess this is a long view game. The anti-gay crowd is really on the wrong side of history: in 20 years, not only will gay marriage be a universally-accepted legal institution, but people will look at the people who were against it the same way they look at the segregationists. I can't believe these people never learn any lessons.

AFI Fest and More

AFI Fest is in full swing, baby. Check out my reviews of the Korean creature feature The Host and the documentary on the international graffiti movement, Next: A Primer on Urban Painting. I had bought two tickets to The Host, then Bobbie realized she needed to be working on her thesis paper instead of going there, so I sold her ticket to someone in the rush line, and took the money to buy a ticket to Next. The Host was sold out and overflowing. There were about 7 people there for Next. Anyway, I already have my ticket to Pan's Labyrinth this Friday (Gawd, I'm psyched for that!), and I might catch a couple more this weekend. Thanks to TACO for pointing out Next. I wouldn't have noticed it otherwise.

Elsewhere: NPR has a profile of New Yorker cartoonist and Addams Family creator Charles Addams, The Treatment has an awesome interview with Hedwig the Angry Inch and Shortbus writer/director John Cameron Mitchell.

Here's a great one! Alice Cooper's From the Inside is not a great album--I mean, I guess "I Wish I Was Born In Beverly Hills" and "Serious" are decent rock tunes, and "Millie and Billie" is a funny song--but it has possibly the coolest album cover of the 70's (the blogger in question disagrees with me--I'm more of a hard rock fan, don't really go in for the Bernie Taupin stuff). But the thing I'm most interested in is the comic book (Marvel Premiere #50) that came out with it. I remember this coming out, but I didn't know what Alice Cooper was at the time. I've been curious about it for years. Way Out Junk has a .pdf of it, and mp3's of the album. Also, this is too late, but OfficeNaps has some cool Halloween-themed 60's Garage Rock 45's. And this movie sounds cool.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Comedy Tonight

StandUp Academy Showcase in The Ice House mainroom!
Tonight, Monday 11/6, at 8 p.m.
$12 in advance/$15 at the door + 2 Drink Minimum!
Featuring headliner Bobbie Oliver and MC Sally Mullins, plus the hot up and coming comics of tomorrow!

Come out and support live comedy! I'll be the drunk in the back of the room running the camera! Your support means I continue to post useless entertainment here!

Also next week (11/13)!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vote on November 7th

Here's the short version: vote Democrat, if for no other reason than to strengthen the party nationally. Every Republican in office in California increases the chances of a Republican redistricting over the next two years that could take California out of the solidly blue category for the 2008 presidential election. Conversely, a Democrat-controlled redistricting could (as slimy as this sounds) result in Democrats picking up 2 to 6 congressional seats in 2008 and 2010 elections. The current Republican administration deserves to be definitively repudiated, even in the case of individual politicians whom you may like.

Vote yes on 87, and get us moving toward oil independence. Vote yes on 89, a flawed but necessary first step toward cleaning up California's political system (and in L.A., vote yes on measure R). Vote no on prop 90, which does nothing to protect property owners from misuse of eminent domain, but is a scam to increase the money taxpayers have to pay for government-acquired property.

I'm voting yes on 1A through 1E, 84, and measures H and J. No on 86, just because I think it's a pussy move--either cigarettes are illegal, or their not. I hate this idea that we'll keep cigarettes legal, but make them cost $75 a pack and not let them advertise their product. As of this moment, I'm on the fence (leaning toward no) on 83, 85, and 88. If you want to peruade me on any of this, leave a comment.

Friday, November 03, 2006


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A leading evangelist and outspoken opponent of gay marriage has given up his post as president of the National Association of Evangelicals while a church panel investigates allegations he paid a man for sex. (the link goes to Andrew Sullivan's blog, because he supplies a little background on who this guy is and how big he is in the nutjob community)


But in all serious, I have to say...HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!