Saturday, August 12, 2006

Robert Smigel versus the Corporate Media

Milk and Cookies says, ""Conspiracy Theory Rock" by Robert Smigel was shown on "Saturday Night Live" during the March 14, 1998 broadcast but edited out of reruns." That's true of about a third of all sketches on that show.

You may feel-- like I do-- that while it's amazingly hilarious it's almost too freaky and stunning to laugh at.

And the studio audience only laughed once, which may explain--even more than corporate censorship-- why it never played again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Some Good Energy News

Just to remind myself that human creativty isn't used only to create terror, war and lines at airports, here's two really positive stories straight off Wired News.

MIT's Energy "Manhattan Project"
Solar cells made from spinach. Algae-based biofuel fattened on greenhouse gas. Plasma-powered turbo engines. These are just some of the technologies being developed by a Manhattan Project-style research effort for new energy technologies at MIT.

All Eyes on 100 MPG Prize
Whoever wins the race to create a 100-MPG vehicle will be pocketing a few million bucks. The Automotive X-Prize, run by the same folks who gave a lift to space tourism, will go to the first company that brings a 100+ MPG vehicle to market.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sufjan is Not Boring

Stephen Thomas Erlewine made quite a stir with his article, "A Case Against Sufjan Stevens," (which I could only find cached on Google). His case was that Sufjan, hero of all indie, is basically boring, overgrown nerdy teenager. (Click here to find the song.)

His pretension -- his convoluted song titles, his cloying song about Saul Bellow, his adolescent fascination with John Wayne Gacy, Jr. -- all comes across like a precocious high school student in his senior year, where he's smug enough to want to prove that he's smarter than the rest of the school. Appropriately, his lyrics often read like the work of a gifted but sheltered high schooler, and his music sounds like a drama student's idea of a pop opera -- and it's all wrapped up on albums with stylized childish artwork, hand-drawn pictures that inadvertently wind up enforcing the impression that Stevens is an overgrown teenager.

Erlewine intertwined in his bile only one point that resonated for me:

Because, apart from the conceit of writing songs about a particular state, there isn't much connection to the sound or feel of the state in question. Stevens never taps into the musical history of a state -- never touching Chicago blues or jazz, or Michigan soul or rock.

But like everything Erlewine criticizes Sufjan for, it’s a stylistic choice.

It’s easy to say someone is no Brian Wilson, Elliott Smith or Randy Newman. But by assume that his opinion is so valid that should replace what he sees as popular consensus, Erlewine slips into the nerdish, told-you-so antics he claims ruins Sufjan’s work.

Anyway, like my old hypnosis tape always said, the critic says more about himself than that which he is criticizing.

Here, in the only real way the argument can be made, I’m going to prove that Sufjan is not boring with a song. His cover of “What Goes On” by the Beatles. To me it is the most interesting cover of a Beatles song by a non-Jazz artist that I’ve ever heard.

You Got Crowdsourced!

Actually, I would really appreciate some help.

I just got a bunch of pages of a manuscript I'm working on back from my teacher.

His biggest notes:

1. Go faster in the dull parts.

2. Amp up the love story between the two narrators, a boy, 12, and a gal, 14.

I agree with him. The love story the spine of the story and the thing everyone
wants to see played out, if done correctly.

One of my original intentions in this story was to depict that sweet pining that teens obsess over during a crush. Then ultimately the overwhelming awe
when it gets consummated or at least consummated with a kiss.

This would have been easy to write when I was teaching high school. Observing puppy love when I was smitten myself made me romantic enough to write a Bay City Rollers or Tiffany song.

Here's where you come in.

Would you

A. Share any stories from your (mostly pre-seriously libidinous) childhood about being so taken with someone that you eventually got close with. In the comments or in private?

B. Recommend movies or books that depict the magic well?

I need to be able to summon the feeling to write it.

Please help me write something that will never be read unless I become a notorious criminal or accidentally solve the Da Vinci code.

You Can't Be Strong on Security and For the War in Iraq

That's what Ned Lamont's apparent win says to me.

Every MTV Couple has Now Split

Perez Hilton reports that Travis Barker has filed for divorce from his perfect-looking blonde wife.

That mean's they're all done:

Trav and Barbie

Carmen and Dave

Nick and Jess

The Osbournes are still together but Jack has apparently split in half.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's Mean

The way this banner ad is meant to trick recovering drug addicts into thinking their PC is broken.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Fictional Encounter with a Perverse Child Psychologist

"Now, Gerald," the doctor said, like he'd known me my whole life. "When I say the phrase 'sticking things up your butt' what do you picture?"

"Ummm," I thought outloud. "Falling on tree tops?"

"Interesting," the doctor said and wrote it down. I think that meant I got it wrong.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Things that Carlos Mencia Doesn't Understand About Race

1. Why is it that when white people drink, they're sophisticated? When black people drink, they're drunks?

(WARNING: This is just from a commercial from an upcoming Mind of Mencia. There may be an actual joke based on this thought in the real show.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Clinton Begins Her Campaign for President by Challenging Rumsfeld's Incompetence

Don Rumsfeld is the kind of guy—who if life fairly appointed us to our duties—would rightly play former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in a movie. Or the bad guy in a Caddyshack sequel.

You don’t have to observe very much of him to know that he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t think he’s capable of making a bad move. He believes in himself so fully that it would be admirable if he weren’t the architect of one of the greatest strategic failures in American History.

It feels very good to see someone finally speaking to this man—this unjustly powerful and influential man—with a stubborn disregard for his pretense as a successful, well-thought-out leader. It feels very good to watch a woman tell this man that he is doing so much wrong that his list of failures seems improbable and staggering. It feels very good that Hilary Clinton had the opportunity to question our Secretary of Defense to his face with his failures.

The sucky part is that all he has to do is shrug it off with an incredulous, “My Goodness.” And still go on leading our country into more war.

If you watch this video and don’t think that Hilary Clinton will make a formidable candidate for President, I’d like to know why.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Word of the Day: Prima Facie

prima facie: adv. at first view.

and MySpace bring us

Some interesting things about her profile:

1. She's from Minnesota.
2. Her MySpace editor spelled "Favorites" as "Favourite." Fancy.