Browsing all 196 posts in Collected Thoughts.

Collected Thoughts 03-01-12

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Collected Thoughts 03-01-12

Kickin’ it CGT Old School with a collected thoughts post! There were numerous items this week that deserve their own posts. Alas, I cannot give it them. This will have to suffice. The spice must flow.

My Internet Information Feedhole Has Been Suckling on These Succulent Things

What say you?
My Internet Information Feedhole Has Been Suckling on These Succulent Things

Internet happiness is increased by the culling of RSS feeds one routinely ignores and the addition of new sources. Here’s some stuff on the internet I’ve loved as of late:

When You Motor Away – This is the last music blog I’ll ever need. It’s the post-nuclear apopcalypse orbital refugee camp for rockist rebels laying in wait to spill the blood of poptimist usurpers and take back the sundered earth. Its contributors are broadcasting the blog I always wished I had the musical knowledge to make. Godspeed, you black prophets.

The Anonymous Production Assistant’s Blog – A very down-to-earth, in the Hollywood trenches blog. Refreshing sincerity in a blog genre usually poisoned with Nikki Finke-style snark.

Benjamin Hoste’s Blog – Hoste is an old show buddy of mine, and one-time photo contributor to CGT. He left LA for grad school in Mizzuruh. I’m not a photography guy, but I don’t like a lot of photography from my age cohort. So much of it seems to say “Look at this thing I found. Here’s what I think about it.” Ben’s photos, to me, seem to ask questions instead. They’re curious; they don’t pose answers. That’s more of where I’m at these days.

Our Valued Customers – Caricatures of actual comic store geeks with their actual quotes said inside a real comic book store. Sometimes, I really fucking hate geek culture. OVC just savages it.

Terrible Minds – Chuck Wendig is a published writer who is more or less the professional writer I wish I was. I find his blog, often times about writing itself, extremely entertaining.

Wax – 13 Unlucky Numbers – You forgot about this one, didn’t you? Thank me later.

I need to update my links page, badly.

Collected Thoughts 04-14-10

1 Comment
  • I had a blast going on the Si’mon Quey! radio show. I’ll do a post on the podcast by next week.
  • Did you miss Admiral Radley at the Bootleg? Get the podcast here. I loved it. After the show, I heard Jason Lytle sound really upset about his performance. As a longtime Grandaddy fan who never saw Lytle until that night, I was mesmerized. Anxiously awaiting the record.
  • I listened to “Lisztomania” for the first time since… probably the first time I listened to it. Dudes, Phoenix will not age well. What a perfectly mediocre song.
  • Scott McDonald, writing for An Aquarium Drunkard, loved the Dum Dum Girls record. I’m more in line with Web In Front’s take.

    I’ve listened to I Will Be a lot in the last month. Still, there’s only one or two really great songs on there, and those are the songs we’ve had versions of for over a year.

    And truthfully? Dum Dum Girls’ interpretation of 60’s girl groups is no more authentic than Vivian Girls; they’re both aiming to replicate a formula from over forty years ago. To boot, I’d argue Vivian Girls’ music is a little more exciting because they knew less about that stuff than Dum Dum Girls. In some ways, I think Vivian Girls thought they were doing something new. But Dum Dum Girls’ immitation is 100% conscious every fraction of a second. It’s cooler because they’re older and more disaffected, but beneath the attitude and mystique is something pretty so-so.

    (Though “Jail La La,” old or not, is one of the best songs of the year.)

    And you know what? I’d prefer a cleaner sound. Fuzz for fuzz sake isn’t doing it for me these days.

  • The Thing remake / prequel has a lot of promise. Believe me, I too feel The Thing is sacred ground. But it was a remake itself. We’ll see.

  • Conan to TBS is genius on TBS’ part. If it works, could be a new model for cable stations.

    Oprah is getting her own network. Increasingly, the genre of a station is irrelevant (Sci-fi doing game shows, History doing reality programs, Cartoon Network doing live-action) but if cable networks can lure major flagship talent and brand themselves by that name, there’s no reason they can’t beat the pants off the broadcast nets.

    As Mother Jones put it: “On the web, the name on the marquee is all that counts. If you have a brand—or are a brand—you can transcend the entity that hosts you.”

  • Grand Theft Auto IV and coke.

    I totally relate to that article. (Not the coke part.)

    One of my good friends and I routinely play GTA IV together. I love hitting rich old ladies with baseball bats until the cops come, and then mowing the officers down with an uzi. I get a thrill from driving recklessly, destroying everything in my path. It makes me feel alive.

    America affords us Americans a lot of freedom, but I sometimes feel like we’re in a zero-sum game and that every freedom has its own uniquely shaped cage. In that game I can punish institutional society for all the things about it I loathe. I get to destroy my cage.

    I’d never dream of hurting a real life police officer and, at the end of the day, I’m fortunate that the licensed gang bangers in blue are on my side. But the same thing that causes me to relate to films like American Beauty and Magnolia revels in the juvenile delinquency of a good GTA rampage.

  • The PS3 Natal (Wiz-bang-wow!) will probably not live-up to its hype. Bet your ass its successors will.
  • In 1969, what they imaged the internet to be like:

  • There’s been some debate on the iPad and whether or not it encourages or restricts independent artists, developers, geeks, whatever. Warren Ellis had some thoughts on Marvel’s ap. They go in-line with my own thoughts on why we shouldn’t be so quick to worship the brick-and-mortar.

    Look folks, in this future we’re building, every single person’s desktop, laptop, or cellular phone is a storefront for whatever product / art / idea you are selling. That is a fundamental improvement over brick-and-mortar stores, if you’re either an artist or enthusiast. You don’t need a store to find or spend time with people like you.

  • The science of morality.

    My own personal belief is that morality is derived from knowledge. Specifically, our capacity to recognize in another his / her / its own individual conscious mind that is unique from, but not entirely unlike, our own individual selves. In this way I think morality improves and / or increases with a greater understanding of our universe. This is why I regard thinking that restricts the pursuit of scientific knowledge as amoral.

Collected Thoughts 03-18-10


OKAY. Here’s a huge-ass post. I have some more Five Questions posts, but I’m gonna save ’em for a bit. This muther should keep you busy for days.

  • (Thanks to Web In Front for this) A Bay Area journo described Shadow Shadow Shade thusly: “The group is equal parts Edward Sharpe, Queen, Polyphonic Spree and Arcade Fire – yet not as good as any of those. In other words, they sound exactly like Matchbook 20. But, really, you probably already figured that out.”


  • I lolled:

  • I enjoyed reading Nitsuh Abebe’s essay on Pitchfork. I didn’t care for the bulk of the essay, the teeth-gnashing existential crisis of marginalized, burned-out hipsters. But this quote was insightful: “Because once the web brings everyone in a niche like this into constant contact, well: Where does the discussion go? Instead of figuring out your taste in relation to the world, you start figuring it out in relation to your immediate peers– which sometimes means distinguishing yourself from them over smaller and smaller differences.”

    The internet media has left the wild west and entered the industrial age. The freedom and innovation has been consolidated into overly powerful entities: content mills like Demand Media or monolithic, myopic institutions like Pitchfork. Abebe uses the editorial-royal we a lot in that essay. I suspect most people still measure their taste against the rest of the world. The insulated Pitchfork writer (and perhaps the marginally less insulated local music scene blogger) does not.

    I think the filter system needs to be redesigned. Publicity firms are part of the problem. A revolutionary online music magazine would refuse to accept submissions or invitations and instead send-out emissaries to scope-out live music based on their own independent inquiries and research. The word-of-mouth vine has been corrupted. Abebe smells the rot but can’t locate its source. As long as sites like Pitchfork continue to be spoon-fed their content, they’ll continue to ask the same asinine questions.

  • Here’s a statistical analysis of Pitchfork’s numerical scale in the past year. I’m surprised by how few low scores they actually hand-out. My own (apparently incorrect) observation / assumption was that they gave out way more low scores. What’d I’d really be interested in is a word analysis of the negative / positive comments in a review relative to the numerical score. Sometimes an reviewer glows but the number doesn’t reflect it. (I’ve heard, annecdotally, that the editor often shifts the numerical score to his liking / needs.)
  • Rachel Nichols cast in Conan. Red Sonya, maybe? Probably not, based on the character breakdowns for the film.

    I really wish they were doing a film or series of films based on actual stories from the canon. I’d do a film of young Conan-to-thief-to-barbarian king, a film where Conan loses his crown, and a third film where Conan reclaims his throne as an older man. There’s plenty of dramatically compelling stuff in the canon, no need to make-up characters.

  • Related: Now that nobody else wants Bryan Singer for everything, he’s crawling back to Fox to do more X-Men movies. I think X2 is the best movie based on a comic book ever made. But I am still terribly bitter at Singer for abandoning a Perfect X-Men Trilogy to make Superman Returns. I hate Supes; make mine Marvel. Not sure if I’m ready to forgive.
  • This dog hates the Law and Order theme:

  • This is right out of a William Gibson novel.
  • For a hundred grand, a jetpack can be yours! Between jetpacks, the Segway, the balloon boy debacle, this thing, and some other things I’ve seen… I wonder if private transport isn’t a big part of future consumer culture.
  • This Time article on Demand Media is about exactly why I decided pursuing a career is music bloggery was folly. I don’t want to spend my youth in a content mill.
  • We’ve talked about this before: ants rule the earth. Were they able to inhabit our bodies and colonize our flesh, they would. I proudly step on the six-legged terrors whenever I can.

    (wait for it…)

  • A central element of my liberal core is compassion for the imprisoned. “Locking up” people doesn’t address any of the causes of crime, and therefore only improves society on a cosmetic level. That we turn a blind eye to prison rape says more about the content of America’s character than just about anything.

Collected Thoughts 02-17-10 (MASSIVE)

What say you?
  • Web In Front reports that The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra have changed their name to Walking Sleep. I understand the challenges of being in a band called The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra, but in a day when so many bands have the same words in their names (and “sleep” is one of those words), I thought FTO had a marvelously distinctive moniker.

  • Ya’ll know I don’t like Radiohead. In that link Tjinder Singh of Cornershop perfectly articulates the things I’ve been trying to say. When talking about Dark Side of the Moon: “Lyrically, it’s banal and doesn’t say anything beyond “greed is bad”. Radiohead are the 21st-century Floyd, which says it all really.”

    That’s it. Thom Yorke is always observing, always muttering wistfully. He never prescribes a cure, he never makes a call to action.

  • In my ears…

    Ted Leo & The Pharmacists –The Brutalist Bricks. I’m going to do a full-on dedicated review, so you know that means I love it.

    Lots of Steve Earle (again) lately.

    I can’t stop listening to Bee Thousand.

    A lot of Lifter Puller.

  • Spider-Man as directed by Wes Anderson:


  • Nikki ran a two parter on the lack of women in “The Industry”.

    The stats are the stats. I can’t dispute them. But anecdotally, I’d say the discrepancy is not universal.

    In my four years of working “serious” entertainment jobs, every single one of my immediate superiors was either a woman or a gay man, and only a couple higher-ups were typical males. I’ve had every unfair advantage in the world, but I’ll say that I’ve had a small glimpse of what it might be like to be a woman in the workplace; I was often sexually harassed and I never felt I had a professional role model that I could completely identify with. I get that completely, and it’s helped me to really sympathize with the plight of professional women. (Though my last two bosses at ET were absolutely marvelous, wonderful role models and totally nurturing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think your role models need to be Just Like You, but it does make it that much easier.)

  • Have you used chat roulette?

    Crazy. In ten minutes I got three dudes jerking off, two instances of copulation, two DJ sets, and about fifty guys who looked about my age and demographic who appeared to be sad and or bored. Women were in groups four out of five times. I don’t think Chat Roulette is a window into our world or our souls, but it certainly puts a new, meaningful visual to the same personality of the internet.

  • I’m a bit of a veteran at internet dating. I’ve had mixed results, overall. This study suggests that women are especially picky about height.

    This is absolutely true in my experience.

    Internet dating makes rigid standards easier. If you, for example, only want to date true brunettes then you are still likely to still be tempted by the bottle-blonde with the cool shoes at Spaceland if you’re two beers into the night. But on the internet, you’re never tempted to fudge Your Rules.

    A man’s height is for The Generalized Woman what a thin waistline is for The Generalized Man. In my six months of, I can not tell you how many kickass-sounding girls I did not even message because their height requirement was a single inch higher than my own. And I know that if we’d been in a group conversation, we’d have hit it off.

  • Horror of Horrors!

  • UGH. Vampire ANYTHING can DIE IN A FIRE.

  • Die, bloodsucker, die!

  • Truly, all those links and vids should convince you that the ocean is a terrible place.
  • Okay, read this quote: “America has in fact transformed journalism from what it once was, the periodical expression of the thought of the time, the opportune record of the questions and answers of contemporary life, into an agency for collecting, condensing and assimilating the trivialities of the entire human existence, […] the frantic haste with which we bolt everything we take, seconded by the eager wish of the journalist not to be a day behind his competitor, abolishes deliberation from judgment and sound digestion from our mental constitutions. We have no time to go below surfaces, and as a general thing no disposition.”

    It’s all about the ills of our hyper-digital social media messaging culture, right? NOPE, it’s about the telegraph. This is why I don’t take nostalgic anti-digital positions seriously. Same as it ever was…

  • For those keeping score with CGT’s Cyberpunkification of Humanity game, more Augmented Reality ideas. AR + 3D is the future of interface — with the real world.
  • Here’s an AR-themed short film:

  • Using brain scans, doctors are communicating with human vegetables. Being in a state like that frightens me more than anything. I am no more relieved to learn that the people inside those bodies really do know what is going on. If it ever happens to me, unplug me.
  • Oh hey, segue! YES!

  • I’ve not dropped the Prosecute Torture banner. Sullivan has another great take on the issue.

Collected Thoughts 02-03-09

  • I hate Taylor Swift. I don’t care if she’s a total sweetheart. I hate that after all the social progress, after all the societal changes, after the Obama presidency, after all of the democratization of culture brought-on by the internet, the poster child for popular American music culture hasn’t changed at all.

    If America today were to send one musical artist to alien cultures to represent what this country is about, they’d send Taylor Swift, and it would be a gross misrepresentation. I guess I don’t “hate” Taylor Swift, but I resent the shit out of her.

  • (Inspired by SOS) I will now call all My Bloody Valentine rip-offs “Fruits of the Loomer“.
  • Afternoons (a pretty terrific band) has become Shadow Shadow Shade (a pretty terrible band name).

    I would have gone with “Shadow Shade” myself. Or Laughternoons. Crafter Tunes? After Dubloons. Master Goons. Plaster Dunes. Past Her Dues. Fast Harpoons. Jasper Swoons. Alabaster Ruins. Asp Baboons. Grasp Balloons. Pastor Grooms. Blaster Moons. Azur Blooms.

    Or some such thing.

  • I listened to that Surfer Blood album on LaLa.

    I like it just fine. But if this is the must-have album of First Quarter 2010 then we’re in trouble.

    Ian Cohen’s review of Astro Coast on Pitchfork is I think, for the most part, is completely fair and accurate. It is a pretty good guitar record. It has poppy elements, but so do Ted Leo songs, and I’m pleased that some new indie rock is getting praise. That’s a positive development.

    But nearly every song on this album sounds like something else, and I don’t mean “sounds like Pavement” or “sounds like Guided by Voices”. Well, both those things are true, but more so, “Twin Peaks” sounds like a crunchy Shins song, “Take It Easy” sounds like Vampire Weekend done right, and the whole thing just sounds like a hodgepodge of garagey bands I’ve been seeing at Pehrspace and The Smell for the last two years. “Sounds like X one-hit blog wonder” for forty minutes is a problem. That’s not celebrating reheated leftovers, it’s celebrating reheated microwave dinner leftovers.

    Oddly enough, my biggest problem is the pretty vocals. I wish the guy was talk-singing. With the rad guitar bits I want a singer who sounds like a slacker.

    “Fat Jabroni” and “Slow Jabroni” are wicked tracks and I wish the whole album sounded like that. I might buy Astro Coast anyway. Also, Surfer Blood is the perfect name for a band that makes this music.

  • I’m probably done buying things related to Star Wars (like, forever) but Adidas’ Star Wars kicks are pretty sweet. I’m loving the X-Wing and Dagobah ones. I think the Rebel Alliance hightops are the most rad, but I could never pull that off.
  • This is an awesome account of how an every-day guy used the internet and his iPhone’s tools to track down and punish a phone thief. It reads like an indie thriller, almost.
  • Mindfuck:

  • Micro-Horror:

Corynactis viridis from MORPHOLOGIC on Vimeo.

  • Make no mistake, when dolphins evolve, the rapist water mammals will pull this shit on us. Those things are some crafty mutherfuckers:

  • Yes! THIS is the kind of reckless genetic manipulation we should be involving ourselves in!

    If we’re going to be poking around in DNA, I want dinosaurs riding woolly mammoths and snakes crossed with bats and shit.

  • (Side-note: A.I. was slammed by my peers when it came out because Steven Spielberg isn’t Stanley Kubrick. That’s an absurd reason to hate a film. More and more, the combined visions of Kubrick and Spielberg that produced A.I. are startling prescient. And I will defend the ending of that film to the grave.)
  • Kids these days:

  • I really relate to this post on Warren Ellis’ blog. It’s in part about the digital tools some of us use to connect to society, and how we have to choose those tools. The moneyquote:

    “I miss/missed the old feeling of being half-embedded in the informational flow, of being more present in both halves of the world. That’s what leads to my thinking better, and what leads to better writing. And that’s what the first couple of hours of my day has to be about.”

    Some of you will think that’s sad. I don’t. It’s beautiful.

  • Another nifty use for Augmented Reality:

  • How Children Dream. It’s interesting how the Mind’s Program unpacks itself between birth and adulthood.
  • I know I offend my readership with this, (and half my good friends) but I am a smoking Nazi and I am thrilled about the outdoor ban. I hope it expands, for purely selfish reasons. The most stressful part of my day is any time I have to cross past a Smoker’s Cloud on my way into a coffee shop, restaurant, etc.

    There’s all kinds of cuckoo reasons for my aversion to cigarettes, stuff that goes back to childhood trauma. (If I look directly at an ashtray or a burning cigarette, I involuntarily dry-heave.) It’s not my fault I am this way! Still, I would list “fewer smokers” in my top 5 reasons I love Los Angeles. I am cruel and perverse in my hatred of the perfectly normal, defensible habit.

    Besides, in fifty years people will look at cigarette smoking the same way we look at asbestos-laden, “germ free” baby nursery paint today.

  • Lolstrailia. The first worlds’ justice systems still don’t know how to create sensible laws pertaining to sexuality.
  • I’m on a “make gay marriage legal” kick again. I have a friend in Chicago, Tom, whom I absolutely adore as an intellectual superior. Tom is gay. Every time I think of Tom, and how society can’t let him marry a man he might love one day, I feel like my country is shooting itself in the foot. It’s so embarrassing.

    Fallows wrote, I think, the ultimate takedown of the opposition.

Collected Thoughts 01-20-09

What say you?
  • Incredible human drama from Haiti:

  • Ann Powers’ take on the Coachella bill is (naturally) terrific. My thoughts…

    1. This is the second year in a row I’ve actively liked every top-billed headliner.
    2. The B-list on this bill is outstanding.
    3. Friday has the fewest acts that interest me (Jay-Z, The Specials, Echo and the Bunnymen, Public Image Ltd., LCD Soundsystem, Wale) and the most acts that make me spit (Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, She and Him, Yeasayer, The Whitest Boy Alive)
    4. Yes, I will go see Coheed and Cambria. You can stop reading this blog now, if you want to.
    5. If Sly and the Family Stone actually follow through with their commitment to play then I will eat my underpants.
    6. A big, huge congratulations to Local Natives for making the bill. I first saw them a year ago. Great musicians, incredibly friendly folks, worthy of the praise.
    7. I still maintain that The Happy Hollows and / or The Henry Clay People would absolutely win a tent crowd at Coachella. I’m always astonished at how a handful of lesser-known Brooklyn bands always get a nod while the Echo / Spaceland breeding ground, so close to the polo fields, gets little love. I wish Goldenvoice would take a chance on one of those bands, even for a noon slot.
    8. I have lots of time to make (and constantly revise) my Ten Most Excited to See lists. Next Collected Thoughts post, perhaps.
  • OK Go wrote an open letter to their fans. I downloaded a couple OK Go songs in 2002, and that’s about the extent of my interest in the band. But that letter reveals something I did not know: the reason major labels won’t let you embed music videos is because embedded plays don’t go toward their share of the YouTube ad dollars.

    (It’s funny to read the guys from OK Go rationalize their position. “Guys, we love our fans and we really think we deserve to be rich for being musicians, so, um, damn the man, right?!”)

  • We Listen For You nails the new Spoon record.

    I’ve always felt Spoon was over-rated. You don’t “know” the people in Spoon the way I feel like I “know” Malkmus or Karen O or Mac McCaughan. Transference again fails to connect with me.

  • Little Round Mirrors is a new blog where John King, the author, is revisiting and reviewing every film in his DVD collection. Put it in your feed.

    King was my editor at the Ball State Daily News and is the guy who gave me a column in that paper, a little column that was called Classical Geek Theatre.

  • The new Spider-Man film will be directed by Mark Webb (500 Days of Summer) and is allegedly budgeted at $80 million.

    They say they’re going off the Ultimate continuity (fine) and that the story will focus on a high school boy with the secret he could have stopped his uncle’s death (also fine). But I don’t want a Marvel Smallville, either. Unlike many superheroes, who Spider-Man is when he wears the mask is compelling. Raimi missed it and I fear Webb will miss it too, albeit in a different way.

  • The movie trailer for Tekken, a film based on the arcade fighter, is out. It looks like the best-ever film adaptation of a fighter videogame. I know that’s not saying much, but consider that fighting games have virtually no plot and nearly all character background is loosely implied. (Please not I am not saying it looks good.)

  • YES.

  • GQ ran an investigative report on former Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison.

    I named my cat after Marvin Harrison.

    If true, the report is heartbreaking. It’s also fascinating. Most pro athletes that commit violent crimes have a trail. Drug use, previous convictions on illegal gun possession, a few assault spats… but Marvin, despite his family history, apparently avoided any kind of entanglement like this up until the incident. No matter who you believe, not matter what you think happened, it’s weird.

    Even if he did it I hope they retire his number.

  • I’m curious to see if the Republicans in the Senate will continue their Oppose Anything Agenda now that the mythical super-majority is ended. I say “mythical” because it was never a “Liberals can pass anything” majority with senators like Bayh and (spit) Lieberman.

    I hope history records that they offered virtually no ideas to save America from the financial crisis. They offered virtually no ideas to push-back health insurers to get Americans care. They prevented Obama’s administration from being effective by blocking an astonishing number of nominees (who were not extremely liberal) for no reason other than spite.

    I maintain the opinion that Obama, Pelosi, and few others (not absence of Harry Reid) are the only people in Washington serious about governance in the period that is in most need of governance since I’ve been alive. “Obama missed the main issue?” He saved the autos, the banks are paying back their bailouts, and the stimulus indisputably has saved us from recession (even if it could have done more).

    The Massachusetts special election not a referendum on Obama so much as it is an illustration of how Obama can’t get his message or tangible facts above the cable news cycle din. I don’t think we can look to the constitution to fix this governing problem; for all their incredible foresight, a cyberpunk future was never in the wildest dreams of the most imaginative deist colonist revolutionary.

    I wish I could use my power as a citizen to hit-back at the mega-media conglomerates whose corporations determine our government’s behavior. Protests won’t do it. I already stopped watching their television, opting for YouTube excerpts. I’m not sure how a single voter (or millions of voters) can fit in a corporately-governed United States.

Collected Thoughts 01-12-09

What say you?
  • Benjamin Hoste launched This Aint a Scene yesterday. Presumably named for the Henry Clay People song, his new site presents interviews and photos of local artists in a magazine format. If e-readers take off then Hoste will be ahead of the curve. I think his first “issue” (with Aaron Kyle of Le Switch) is pretty impressive.

    In the interview Aaron Kyle says his band has moved from a “New Orleans style” to a more rock-oriented style. That’s exactly what I observed when I last saw them and I am really, really excited for their new record.

  • Apparently I am the only one who doesn’t think the new Spoon album is all that great. It’s fine. I don’t know when I’d want to listen to such a thing. Most of my music needs to be heard blasting out of the car windows in the sunshine, or soundtracking a late night drive down the 101 as I return home. Transference satisfies neither of those needs.
  • I love this song:

  • Spider-Man 4 is canceled. Raimi, Maguire, et al are gone. Sony is going with a reboot set to come out in 2012.

    I always defended the first two Spider-Man flicks more than most fanboys. (The third one was just awful. Too many villains. Sandman was perfect, Green Goblin II was mishandled, and Venom was an abomination.) I never minded Raimi’s deviations from the source. But maybe this time they can really get it right. Spider-Man needs to be a lot funnier. He should be constantly yapping and bantering when he has the suit-on, maybe even breaking the fourth wall. Gwen Stacy should be the object of his affections well before MJ steps into the picture. We’ll see. I think Jud Apatow could be a marvelous, unconventional choice for director.

  • Bacterial Horror of Horrors! Serveral things about that TED talk send chills down my spine:

    1. 90% of the DNA in or on our bodies is bacterial. Our brains become our mind when they meld with our body. So we think of ourselves as singular entities, but were really a mobile cellular circus of all manner of awful things.

    2. All that bacteria talks to each other. All these little independent critters are speaking in chemical language, with their own kind and their cousin bacteria. There is a global network of microscopic horror in league with each other as they seek biological domination. This has radically altered how I perceive the universe.
    3. More now than ever I am convinced we must firebomb the ocean.
  • Colts, Chargers, Vikings, Cardinals.
  • Sarah Palin signed a contract with Fox News. Can you imagine if Al Gore had signed a contract with CNN in 2002? There would be Outrage! Sadly, it’s not surprising. The wall between the political establishment and the fourth estate is in ruins already.
  • There are a lot of reasons I’d like Harry Reid to step-down. Being “racist” isn’t one of them. His use of the term “Negro” is really unfortunate and insensitive to a mind-numbing degree, but the thought he was articulating was a cynical comment on the way of the electorate, not a judgment on Obama’s character based on his skin color. What Reid said shares no common ancestry with Lott’s frequent endorsement of a political campaign whose slogan was “Segregation Forever!”

Collected Thoughts 01-11-09

What say you?
  • So, this Ke$ha person.

    I’m so disconnected these days. The first I heard of Ke$ha was last week, but she’s prominent enough that Ann Powers saw fit to write about her. Apparently she’s a pop artist who lived in Echo Park. She’s also got music industry family (who were the host family for The Simple Life), has appeared in all kinds of minor shows and videos, has engaged in publicity stunts like sneaking into Prince’s home, and seems to be generally well-connected. I’m sure she’s made it in music because of grit and determination.

    In an interview with the LA Times, Ke$ha said this regarding being a pop artist in living Echo Park: “I saw pretension everywhere and wanted to fight against it. Certain songs on the album are serious, but people really need to take themselves less seriously in pop music.”

    This is savvy marketing, positioning herself and her fans against Those Pretentious Freaks Who Listen To Music We’ve Never Heard Of, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense otherwise. When I lived in Echo Park, most of the people I encountered weren’t pretentious hipsters, they were regular hispanic families. I can’t imagine that Ke$ha felt surrounded by haters every time she walked down the street. (Blame also in part August Wilson for calling the area “Knives-out in terms of music snobbery,” which also rings inauthentic to me.) Perhaps she felt surrounded by pretension because the people she encountered cared about her creative sensibilities, not her industry connections. Just a wild guess.

    Anyways, I don’t find Ke$sha particularly interesting. All RCA has done is give Mickey Avalon a vagina. This idea is about two or three years too late.

  • The Dungeon Masters trailer:

Trailer for The Dungeon Masters from Dungeon Masters Movie on Vimeo.

  • It looks entertaining. I’m always frustrated by how paper-and-dice gaming is portrayed in documentary. I fully understand why, especially for documentary, you want to find the most interesting and compelling people to be your characters.

    I’d love a D&D-oriented documentary that didn’t include a costumed freak, though. In the five regular gaming groups I’ve had since high school I’ve never played with a person even remotely interested in wearing a costume. A lot of gamers aren’t trying to “be someone else” like an actor, they’re trying to “tell a story” like a writer or “solve a problem” like a detective or “win a battle” like a general. I like the character creation and storytelling, myself. There are a lot of differing motivations for gamers and it seems like the escapists always get the attention.

    Whenever I’ve tried to explain why, as a full-grown adult, I continue to play this children’s game, I almost always answer thusly: it’s one of the few times I can truly, whole-heartedly laugh. I find that good D&D roleplaying is almost always hysterical. The game can just explode with dramatic irony. My enjoyment has nothing to do with feeling like a social outcast or never knowing the touch of a woman. I’ve never dreamed of being my characters, in fact, most of my characters are total misanthropes.

  • My birthday is in March. Following that, expect to see me wearing these at Spaceland. I am deadly serious.
  • had an interesting article on how the Colts deploy technology to prepare for games. I think it’s pretty wild that by the time players get on the plane to go home from one game they can already have tape of their next opponents downloaded onto their smart phones.
  • Well, the first three Wild Card Weekend games were duds. I was most disappointed in the Patriots. I love to hate that abominable collection of rogues and brigands, and I loved seeing Brady tarnish his playoff legacy with two INTs and a fumble in the first quarter, but a rivalry is most enjoyable when both teams are excellent. I hope the Pats bounce-back because it’s only fun to whoop on New England when they are at their best.

    As for the Packers-Cards game, that was great. I love how the predominantly offense game was settled by a big defensive play in over time. And I love Kurt Warner, always happy to see him play well.

Collected Thoughts 01-08-09

What say you?
  • Illegal downloaders buy more music than non-downloaders? It follows with me.

    I used to think “music is free, now and forever”. I don’t anymore. But I do think music has been re-valued to a price that is more acceptable to every day folks.

    I also believe in Platonic ideals and that sounds are discovered, not “invented,” so that colors my viewpoint. Ultimately, I think ideas and even documentations of ideas should belong to the public, at the very least much sooner than they do.

    I don’t download illegally much. Here’s my own personal code:

    1. I don’t download the latest album from an artist if they are on an indie label, unless I actively despise the band and wish to do harm to them.
    2. I don’t download the latest album from an artist that is on a major label if I ever think I’d be willing to trade money for it. I’d never think of stealing the most recent Weezer. (Which would still be paying too much.)
    3. I’ll download back catalogs of a band if the catalogs are too hard to find in stores and if the artist is old and filthy rich.
    4. I’m will occasionally break the code if I don’t expect to “use” the album much, but I feel the need to hear it for context or to write about.

    That’s all silly because it’s still stealing. But the sum total is this: of all the music I listen to more than twice, probably 35% was sent to me by the band or reps, 55% was purchased, and 10% was stolen. I’m trying to teach myself to never steal music, but as a product of the Napster Golden Age, that’s hard to do.

  • I really loved Chuck Klosterman’s new book Eating the Dinosaur. He’s gone from being a trendy, hyper-ironic magazine writer to a really thoughtful, talented personal essayist. The book has an excellent essay on the conservative-liberal contradiction in the nature of football. I also really enjoyed his essay on the Unabomber. Worth a read.
  • I also recently read Story by Robert McKee. I wish I’d been required to read it in college. I’d only read passages before. There’s really nothing in there I especially disagree with.
  • I think Kick-Ass looks lame. It looks like they’re just trying to raise the target age of Spy Kids. I’ve not read the book, but the only purpose of telling a story about “regular Joe superheroes” is either to 1) lampoon them (The Tick) or 2) show how we’re all perverts. (Watchmen) I’m not seeing it.
  • The reason newspapers are failing is ultimately a matter of medium. I think propping-up the papers, at this point, would be like propping-up the telegraph companies.
  • It occurs to me I haven’t chimed-in on my Colts in forever.

    Well, it goes without saying, I hated the call to pull the starters when they were undefeated and leading the Jets. I was so angry I slammed my fist on my dad’s coffee table. My dad’s coffee table was covered in newspapers; I didn’t notice the section bellow my fist was glass until I heard it shatter. So that’s about how I felt about that.

    I’m fine with protecting the players. What I’m not fine with is protecting the players from half a game at home, giving up on Perfection, then playing players for half a game in a blizzard the following week in order to get Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne some personal records. It was hypocritical and mean to do to the fans. The fans, by the way, are the point of the game. The fans pay the players and the coaches and the GMs.

    Anyways, I love the Colts’ chances going into the playoffs. I love them against the Bengals and the Jets, and I like them a lot against the Ravens. I think Indy would beat Sandy Eggo at home (they’re due to win one over the Chargers anyway) and I think New England is limp without Wes Welker, whose shredded knee is a good case for resting your starters.

    Predictions: Jets, Ravens, Cowboys, Packers.

  • I’ve grown to hate Peggy Noonan, a writer whom I used to enjoy. Her NYT column has gotten so unbearably wistful and embarrassingly disconnected from the problems of people who make $150,000 a year or less. (Nevermind poor, she even mis-reads much of the middle class!) Anyways, here is a proper takedown of Noonan by Sullivan.
  • The cable news seems to have gotten even worse in the last year. These days it just feels like rich media guys hanging out with their rich political friends on camera. Nobody on MSNBC, Fox, or CNN (or in the Washington Post) dares challenge the assertions of their guests unless it’s to score ratings. There are no facts left.
  • In my hometown of Indianapolis there is a controversy over the local government selling advertising space on fire extinguishers to KFC.

    Let’s suppose this relationship works out. Everyone likes the arrangement. They love it so much that they expand on the idea. Soon KFC is putting its ads on squad cars, ambulances, and in the yards of public schools. In fact, KFC is dumping money into the city government. Then hard times hit. The city is dependent on those ad dollars.

    Then let’s say KFC comes along and says “Oh, by the way, we’d like a contract to sell fried chicken lunches in Indianapolis Public Schools.” And the government says “Gee, I don’t know…” and then KFC says “Gosh, we’d hate to spoil this relationship and pull our ads…”

    This is the problem with central government making deals with corporations. The government is us, the people. The corporations are not people. The government exists in part to protect us from the power that is accumulated when large sums of money are gathered into a single place. This is a lesson that many fiscal conservatives just don’t see, that corporate government is a very real thing, a very real threat, and needs to be checked-and-balanced just like congress, the courts, and the presidents.

    I’m of the opinion that saying as much is not communist or socialist and very much in line with how the founding fathers conceived of democratic government. They never foresaw business entities as having human rights, and they’d have insisted on checks and balances if they could have known.

  • I fear these kinds of videos may become a trend. I just can’t get over them.