Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Can we wrap this up?

The year is about to end. I've now completed 29 of these things, and so far, no two have been alike. Ups? Sure. Downs? You bet. But taken as a year, 2003 was another triumph. Will '04 be the year the entire world begins to know the joy of the Damian Vega$ Experience? Probably not, and that's good. Like the frivolous elitist I am, DVX should only be enjoyed by a special few. But then again, maybe I just don't think the global community should be subjected to my unique brand of delusional shenanigans. (Then why do I blog? Fuck!)

Anyway, the preceding was supposed to be an introduction (of sorts) but we see how that turned out. So let's just go to the big finish, shall we? Now, in no particular alphabetical order (ha!), I would like to thank the following people for doing their part to keep me from turning serial killer this year:

Alice, Big Steve, Boo, Chuckie, "Darth Nader," De-De, Earl, Fat Sam, "Jheri Lewis," Killa Shirl, Noodles, Ray Ray, Yolanda, and Zen Dover...

Okay, none of those people exist. You know, I thought about seriously name-checking a bunch of special people (the regular kind of special; not "exceptional"), but fuck, most of them don't know this blog exists, and the others should already know how I feel. So instead, I go with ridiculous ghetto shout-outs.

Seriously, though, 2003 was a great fucking year. 365 days without one regret; I'd say that counts as great, or at the very least, not bad. No, to hell with wishy-washy declarations. It was great. From an epic President's Day snowstorm weekend, to a fun 4th of July, to "doing the Rose" in Charm City, all the way to the J. Gardner Beef Explosion (Beef Explosion!), 2003 was a fun ride. Anybody who measures the quality of a year by the growth of their bank account or the amount of donuts punched is missing the point. (Though, those are good things, too.) Memories, friendship, family, and intellectual growth (none of it on display here, of course): that's what it's all about. Forgive the cheesy, obsequious ending, but it's heartfelt, knaamean? If you really need to offset it with something suitably absurd--keeping with this blog's theme and my general raison d'etre--re-read the whole thing in Phil Anselmo's voice. And if you don't know who that is, well, I guess you'll just have to deal with it.

So long, 2003. Welcome, 2004.

Peace and hair grease,
Damian Vega$

Monday, December 29, 2003

The Scout Walker Kama Sutra: Um, I really don't know what more to say. Sadly, I think this is how Star Wars nerds probably practiced as children. "That's not how ya vwing!"

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Christmas has come and gone, I have gone and come back (to my mom's place), and now I'm watching Teen Wolf for some reason. Had a great time with the family, and I miss them already. The kids were less terrorizing and everybody pretty much got along. Lack of dysfunction is a good thing, especially during the holidays.

A snippet of conversation (with my nephew):

Me: I don't kiss boys. Only girls.
Aaron: Ewwwww. That's disgusting.
Me: No it's not.
Aaron: 'Eyinda tried to kiss me.
Me: Who?
Aaron: Your friend.
Me: Ohhhh. Yeah, she did.
Aaron: She was crazy.

Then this:

Aaron: My winky is out.
Me: Boy, put that back!
Aaron: I can't. My shorts are too small.

That killed me. Best line of the whole trip. He always manages one hilarious one-liner whenever I go see him.

In addition to the gifts mentioned earlier (from J, J, C and C), I scored the following this year:

Two DVDs (Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown and The Muppets Take Manhattan)
Clothes (a sweater, a couple of shirts, a tie, and a couple of pairs of pants)
A couple of video games (True Crime: Streets of L.A. and Manhunt)
And the crown jewel: Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box Set

Now, some random silliness:

Mash up madness! Download "Christmas on the Block (Xmas Cash-In)" for a holiday-flavored taste of the goodness. But act soon, these things get rotated out. (via Phancy)

How to Talk to a Woman Some common sense (read: duh) stuff laced with enough humor to make it worth blogging.

To co-opt a Randal quote (from Clerks): blogging would be great if it weren't for the fucking people.

Well, Teen Wolf is wrapping up, and I should, too. I can't believe I sat through over half of that piece of dung-covered "cinema." Still, it's better than seeing it in the theater. (I saw this and the Jason Bateman vehicle/sequel in the theater. And yet, I haven't seen Godfather II at all. Hmmmm...)

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

So, Christmas is nearly here, which means I'm heading home, which for the first time is in Annapolis.

You know, I was reading something about holiday decorations, specifically what people put on their front lawn, and I was reminded of light exploring last year (just over a year to the day, actually), as well as how I really haven't seen much this year. Anyway, last year's expedition was only the second time (the first time during my freshman year of college; we rode around Georgetown) I'd actually gone out to specifically look at the way people decorated their homes. We rode around the Montgomery County area (near College Park) and checked out some of the ritzier homes. You know, it is often assumed that people of means are also people of taste. This ride shot down that myth but good. Tack-ay. Like Vegas, but crappy. Such tragic eyesores, some of those houses. Of course, the kings of all eyesores are on the Eastern Shore, near where my mother used to live. Two houses, across the street from each other, completely done up like a bunch of blind ravers hurling glowsticks into a pool of God's neon vomit. But, from what I've heard, they get donations from locals, which is given to charity. So, good with the bad.

Anyway, this will probably be the last post until the end of the week when I come back. Have yerselves a wonderful holiday, and I'll be back to regale you with tales of my banal (yet hilarious) existence. Be safe.


Monday, December 22, 2003

Sunday, December 21, 2003

And now, your weekend update.

Friday, I did...what did I do on Friday? Jebus. I got off work early, as is the tradition when we have our holiday party. Came home, chilled out, went to the gym, did a little more Christmas shopping, did my laundry and not much else.

Saturday, hoo boy. Saturday was epic. Got up and finished my Christmas shopping (at Pentagram City, which is where most of my shopping has been done this year). Then I came home and cleaned up (read: put away the clothes, vacuum, and get it looking reasonably decent) before heading back out again for Jamie's birthday celebration. This year, we (Carl, Jarod and I; Caren was illin') took Jamie to Shula's for some hardcore beef eating. Between the four of us, we threw down on 120 oz. of beef. Now that's tasty! Post-Shula's, we went back to my place, so that leftovers could be dropped off and calls could be made. (Leftovers were necessary, as Jamie wanted to go out after, and as we found out last year when we left my birthday celebration at Shula's: if we want to be able to consume some more, we cannot finish everything.) After some maxin' and relaxin', we bail out into the cold for the brief walk to the Black Cat, our usual venue for all of our drinking needs. We got there, and after a brief stint at a table, we bellied up to the bar and made ourselves at home. Ahhhhh... After about an hour or so, we were joined by the always lovely JB. We basically drank until the bar closed (though, as has been my practice since the Baltimore incident--which I just discovered I never blogged about; how can that be?--I really nursed those drinks). I bailed out of there, got a couple o' donuts at 7-11, got home, and chilled for an hour or so before calling it a night.

Today, I went over to Jamie/Jarod's to watch football. The Carl and Caren also joined, as we were doing our gift exchange today. I got a bunch of really cool gifts.

From Jarod

From Jamie: 1 2 (In the second, I didn't get the whole set, just Meatwad. Carl got Frylock and Jamie kept Master Shake.)

From Carl and Caren.

Damn my friends rock.

Now I'm home, watching football (Go Colts! Help the Dolphins get to the post-season!), and blogging.

Also, today was...nah. I'll keep that in check.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2003

For those interested, I posted my Top 25 Albums of 2003 over at my music blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dame Judi + meringue = fun? You know, she's not a bad looking bird. I bet you take 25 years off that, and it ain't half-bad.

Or else, it's really late. Jebus.

(link via Daze Reader)

FOLLOWUP: I guess I was too quick to read that article, because Daze Reader also has links to some pics of the Naked Dame. Remember people, DR is an adult site. Be careful. As for the pictures themselves: actually not too bad. Won't be replacing my Thora Birch fantasies any time soon, but good on her. She has nothing to be ashamed of.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Illustrated Complete Summary of Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" This one is for Carl. Ha! (via Traveler's Diagram)

Watching a Conan rerun. The guests: Charlie Sheen (he cool), Scarlett Johansson (she hot), and My Morning Jacket (they suck).

Ms. Johansson has a strangely deep voice for a mere 18 year old, which leads me to believe that she's been chain smoking since she was probably four. (For perspective, Drew Barrymore had her first nic fit when she was 30 months.) And it's not quite at that deep, full-bodied sexiness. Consequently, it's just a tad unsettling. Will this quell my lust for her? Of course not. Still, it's an observation worth making.

(Christ, My Morning Jacket really do suck. Conan introduced them as being from Louisville. How could the town that gave us Slint and Rodan give us this? And another thing: if you're going to be a band full of longhairs, you better fucking rock, and these clowns so do not.)

Monday, December 15, 2003

In light of recent events, and kinda the past year in general, I dedicate the following to my boys. (Keep ya pimp hand strong, fellas.)

A bitch is a bitch
So if I'm poor or rich
I talk in the exact same pitch
Now, the title bitch don't apply to all women
But all women have a little bitch in 'em.

Thank you, Ice Cube.

'Cause all the true gangstas know, Vega$ ain't never love no ho.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Here's been the weekend (so far):

Friday, after the gym, was party time. But first: pre-party drinks. Met with J&J at Union Station, where we made our way to Cap City Brewery. Cooled out there for a bit, nothing too exciting, as it was still very early and not much was happening. A beer later, and we're making our way to the party. The party is being held at the house of one of Jamie's co-workers, a girl I had met previously on my birthday (when M and I bumped into them at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring). We get there, and let me tell you, it's square city, baby! The short version: it was fat-packed with Hill rats, most in their early 20s. Dockers, everywhere. Talk about wanting to smack fools just for living. Anyway, after getting ourselves some beer, we find a spot where we plant ourselves and commence to talking and ridiculing. JG goes and talks with the host, being Mr. Socialpants, while JW and I continue with the beer and scorn. Honestly, it was just one of those things where we couldn't relate (or I couldn't; can't speak for Westy) to the people there, so why bother? That's not being cynical; more like snobbish, as I can't for the life of me imagine having one thing in common with any of them jokers. Sure, some of the girls were cute, but most of them were joined by ducks, so there's no use in trying to assert yourself there. Anyway, we're there for about an hour, chatting mostly among ourselves and with C. (JW's ex-gf) when JW decides he needs a smoke. I go out on the porch with him, partly to keep him company, and partly to keep myself from having to be social beyond my little circle there. We go back in, and a minute or so later, JG comes up and says he's not feeling well and wants to leave. Fine with us; the crowd was pretty lackluster, and JW didn't really want to be there due to exhaustion, anyway. So we bail, and that ends Friday.

Saturday can be broken down thusly: gym, burger, Xmas shopping. That's really it. Funny shopping bit: was standing in line at Kay Bee, and the woman in front of me had one of the most ghetto hauls I've ever seen. Obviously shopping for a little girl, she was buying the following: a toy nails kit (as in fingernails, yo), a toy hairstyling kit, and a toy jewelry set. BAPS, anyone?

Today, Chinese food and football. I have a mountain of laundry to start at some point, but I think that can wait until later.

Two things: I wake up this morning and I actually was able to see the snow before it melted. In the last year, when it snowed, I usually would wake up after it melted. Not always, mind you, but often. Kinda nice to see it. Winter is here.

And: We captured Saddam. This, no doubt, will be blogged to death by people far more qualified (read: smarter) to break down its significance than I, so you can seek out those people for all your analytical needs. (Hint: a few of them are on the left of my words here.)

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Ha! It appears that Strom Thurmond was someone's baby-daddy. I gotta tell ya, if this is true--and it seems to be--and this woman was conceived in a consentual tryst, it's gotta be worth a strip or two in Boondocks.

Speaking of which, I picked up the Boondocks treasury this week, and as usual, it's a laugh riot. One thing that surprised me is that the first quarter of the book is taken from old strips that are in the first two Boondocks collections. But that's a small gripe; otherwise, it's worth every penny. Pick it up.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

A bit of a follow-up:

I was checking out Gamasutra (a great, informative site for people aspiring to work in video game design and other interactive media), when I came across a small news blurb about the Take Two/GTA:VC/Haitian controversy. In it, it links to this, which they wonder may have been a catalyst in the protests that led to Take Two editing future releases of the game.

That is some really piss poor journalism. It "may be the most graphically violent" game ever? Well, sure, if you've never played games like Castle Wolfenstein or Mortal Kombat. They talk to some guy named John Difenderfer for some authoritative dissection of the game. And he is? As far as I know, he could be a mental patient. He seems to be a "hardcore gamer," which places him in the same ballpark. Racist? It's no more racist than The Sopranos, Goodfellas, or any other mob movie in the last 30 years. True, it trades on stereotypes, mostly for comic purposes, but never to ridicule or "persecute" the people they portray.

Arnold Diaz is the worst kind of hack: he takes a snippet of questionable dialogue, gives it to the director of Haitian Centers Council, and uses the subsequent frothing to vilify a game he has obviously never played. Has context become completely meaningless when it comes to speech? I mean, if I read a quote that contains several instances of the "N Word," are you going to assume right away the person who said it originally was racist? Of course not. Context. Richard Pryor says it: funny. David Duke says it: not so much. So why not apply that same principle here? The dialogue in question comes from "soldiers" in a gang war between the Cubans and the Haitians. You wipe out van loads of Cubans later under direction from a Haitian. Where is the uproar for that? You waste a bunch of French gangsters. Sacre bleu! Again, where is the outcry? For one line of dialogue, completely out of context, this game goes from crass (but entertaining) diversion to racist genocidal propoganda.

Here's something I advocate my readers to do with vigor and aplomb: kill all shoddy journalists!


For you language monkeys out there, check out Word Spy. I must say, for someone who routinely butchers language for the sake of comedy, I do love sites dedicated to all things lingual. Fun found word: zorbing.

A joke that I know--I know--I shouldn't find funny, but I just do: "When she sits around the house, she's fucking fat!" (courtesy of Dork #10, by E. Dorkin) Something about re-tooling the classics.

Overly cautious politcor, or reasonable concession?. Apparently, context is not a factor here. For those who have never played the game, the line comes from a mission where, in a war between the Haitians and the Cubans, the main character has to, well, kill all the Haitians. If you play further, you come to a part where, while working for the Haitians, you have to kill a bunch of Cubans. So, is that less offensive because the character in the game (Auntie Poulet, a voodoo practicing, Jemima-looking character that you'd think would be more offensive to the Haitian community, but what do I know; I'm not Haitian) does not explicitly say "kill all Cubans?" If people have to take offense to anything in the game, they should be offended by the over-the-top stereotypes. And even then, the stereotypes are used more for comedic purposes (overly machismo Cuban and Colombian men, the sexually-deviant politician, the voodoo-reliant Haitians) than anything malicious (think Krusty doing the "me so solly" bit for an example of a "malicious" stereotype).

So long, Andy. Not usually one to post about sports that aren't football in this blog, but I'm glad to see him out of the AL. Now if the A's have to face the Yankees again in the post-season, they might actually win.

You make the call. Which is more evil: ATF or RIAA?

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Hey...Happy Birthday to Marimba Wiggles!

Saturday, December 6, 2003

Why is it 4:30 in the morning? Why am I not asleep? Why is there all this snow on the ground? Why did Andy Richter have to leave Conan O'Brien? Why is he (Andy) acting in a movie with the Olsen Twins? (Here's a funny way to tie those last two together: watching some comedian on a Conan rerun tonight, the guy, talking about Madonna and her not-so-shocking kiss on the VMAs, said "The least she could have done is take a strap-on to the Olsen Twins." Live with THAT image.) Why do people care when celebrities get pregnant? Why am I craving a bratwurst? Who the fuck cares about Tori Spelling? Why isn't it legal to pistol-whip B-list celebrities? Why am I writing a running commentary about the stuff on my television? Why do the new Star Wars movies have to suck so badly? Why will I see the third one, anyway? Why is Nicole Ritchie famous? Why isn't she black? Wouldn't she be cooler with a big fucked up afro with a fist pick in the back? Why does Mary Tyler Moore have such a huge fucking mouth? Who buys Tom Cruise as a samurai? Why won't this fucking cough let me sleep? Why is Jessica Alba remaking Breakin'? Why won't anybody hire Adolpho "Shabba Doo" Reyes? Why do I know that fuckin' guy's name? Why doesn't somebody tell Tim Burton that Robert Smith's hairstyle is no longer fashionable? When will this stop?

And my two favorite questions:

How do they cram all that graham?


Why am I Mr. Sparkle?

Peace and hair grease, y'all.

Autobots...roll out!

The above image comes from a review of Frankenhooker!, which might just be must-see material. (link via Indie Nudes. Both the review and Indie Nudes are probably not safe for work. Be careful.)

Friday, December 5, 2003

Snow?! Fah. How long ago was it that he temperature was pushing 70? Jesus tap-dancing Christ, what is up with this weather? It's like D.C. is a bizarre, meteorological vortex and every day something different shoots out.

I bagged work today, but it was a legit sick day. I've been battling a monster cough all week, and last night it came to a crescendo. I begged off bed until about 1:30, but because of the damn cough and chest congestion, I didn't wind up actually sleeping until about 4 in the morning, as I moved between bed and futon, chugged cough syrup, and drank hot tea. So, I kept my alarm set, woke up to leave my boss a message saying I wasn't coming in, then went back to bed. Woke up just after noon and have been resting most of the day.

The only time I left my apartment was to meet my friend Ali at 5, as we had scheduled dinner tonight and I didn't want to bag. This now makes it three times I've seen her in the last month, which is a very positive trend. Until about 4 years ago, we used to spend an incredible amount of time together, mostly because we worked at the same place. But when I quit, we started a slow drift apart. Relationships (hers and mine) further interfered with our socializing, then she packed it out to the 'burbs (like every motherfucker that I know, consarn it) and, well, you get the idea. But I'm hoping this keeps up. I think all told, I'm a better person when she's a consistent part of my life. She is my best friend, after all.

Anyway, Ali and I had dinner, then we went over to Tower, where I picked up two more discs: Aerogramme's Sleep and Release (which just finished playing; we've now transitioned to Sigur Ros) and Behemoth's Zos Kia Cultus.

Talking about Ali kinda leads into something I was told by a friend of mine once: that I compartmentalize my friends/life. And this is true. Very much so, and I have no problems with that. Look, not everybody is going to be appropriate for every situation. I know a lot of people have this idealistic notion of "true" friends being there for everything, but let's be realistic: some friends are better to turn to in some situations than others. In my entire 29 years and change of existence, I have met one person--1--that I think I could go to in any mood and be totally at ease. But mostly, I like to be with certain people at certain times. I'm much better at making myself available to people when they need somebody than asking other people to be available whenever I need them. And this is not to downplay the importance of any of my friends to me. These are great people and I consider myself lucky to know them. Also, I don't want to make it sound like I only use people whenever they are convenient. I don't use people at all, because frankly, I don't think there's anything (and here's a rather cynical-sounding assessment) another person can do for me that I can't do for myself. The bottom line is this: nobody is a universal constant to me. I don't even think such a thing is normal.

Tis the season to be jolly? Cracka please. I won't be jolly until I can shake this cough, dig?

Where were we? Oh, right, we were done.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

This may be the scariest wedding photo ever.

I don't know how many of you out there (I mean, besides the usual suspects) read The Boondocks, but if you don't, you should definitely check out this week's series featuring Archbishop Don "Magic" Juan. Google the name if you don't know who that is. (And really, everybody should know who Don "Magic" Juan is.) Also, for fans of the strip, there's a new Boondocks treasury out called A Right To Be Hostile. The book includes a foreword by Michael Moore. That's about right, though, a bit of a step down as Boondocks' forewords go. How can you go from Harry Allen (The Media Assassin!) to Michael Moore? It's like going from Dick Van Patten to Kirk Van Houten. (I'm not sure why, but that analogy works for some reason. Hmmmm....)

Monday, December 1, 2003

Salutations, my slack-jawed readership. I am fresh from the shower, winding down a long f'n Monday, so what better time to blog?

And how was your Thanksgiving? Did you suitably gorge yourself on bird carcass and whipped spuds? Lord knows I did. (Note: those bland pleasantries before are just that; don't get used to be me being civil, asswipe.) Had the big meal at Big Lou's house. Nothing fancy (or Filipino, for which I'm partially thankful, but also kinda sad. I wouldn't mind having some T'giving lumpia), just turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. None of that cranberry shit. Get that out of here! How did that become a staple of this holiday, anyway? Feh. Even when it's fresh (and not plopped out of a can; I won't even get into that repugnant culinary disaster), it's awful. But I prattle on...

Had an enjoyable time with Big Lou and the kids (the niece and nephew, that is). I love those kids, but I tell you, my nephew really, really knows how to test the ol' patience. But when it was all over, I still miss him/them dearly. Came home on Friday and for some insane reason, ran all about in the rain, for no particularly good reason except for the stop at the gym. On a completely unrelated note: are adult magazines becoming extinct in this area or what?

Saturday was spent mostly with my friends Kristy and Adam, in town for Thanksgiving (Adam's family lives in Maryland). K&A are two of my closest friends from AU, who now reside in Chicago. We had lunch at Guapo's which was a treat. First discovery: Guapo's has a brunch menu. I'm sure it's been around forever, but I never get there that early (around 12:30pm), especially on the weekend. I wound up getting the steak and eggs with, by special request (wait for it)...mexican butter! I have no idea what "mexican butter" is, but it's tremendous. Those who have had the tacos al carbon there know what I'm talking about.

After that, we rode up to the AU campus and strolled around. I know I'm late on this (I haven't been on campus since that ill-fated Patriot League championship game two years ago), but there's a Chik-Fil-A and Jamba Juice in Mary Graydon Center! Only on a college campus, I tells ya, because you can't find more (traditionally) diametrically opposed eateries as those two. The former peddling chicken sammiches and lattice-cut potatoes, the latter catering to the type of cringe-inducing yuppies who spend their weekends in Crate and Barrel, no doubt fully engorged while strolling aisle after aisle of the cheesiest wares this side of the Lambaugh Field gift shop. (Ba da bing!) We graffitied a couple of chalkboards in the Ward Building, surfed the web in the library ("who checked out the book?!"), and basically gave the campus the once over. From there, we rolled to Bethesda so we could drive around the old neighborhood, wondering if our evil landlady had been recalled by Satan yet. Bethesda and AU are alike in a lot of ways. They have enough superficial changes to give the first impression that things have really changed, but once you start scrutinizing them closer, you realize that things really are not all that different. Just...shinier.

We parted ways and I came home. Actually, I went on another brief urban expedition. Another unrelated note: it's really weird to see a possibly sixty-something year old woman flipping through porno. Weird, but hilarious.

Saturday night and much of Sunday saw me slogging through Kingdom Hearts, with some football thrown in for good measure. It's a quality game, for sure, but the worlds are finished a bit too quickly. Still, the game is quite dazzling visually and the game overall is worthy of the Squaresoft name. In particular, their recreation of Halloween Town (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) is quite impressive. I still have a few worlds left to explore, but that should be over sooner than later. Next up: finishing Medal of Honor: Frontline, though, I'm tempted to start Hitman 2.

And now, an 11-hour work day later, I blog. Speaking of work, can I just say one thing, and I will leave it at this: I hate my fucking job.

Thank you and bon soir.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

If you mosey over to my music blog, you'll see that I've posted a couple of music lists (The Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time and Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1990s). To continue that trend, I present this: Lists of Bests. (via Travelers Diagram).

Monday, November 24, 2003

Johnny Hart can lick 'em.

My friend Carl told me about this at the Black Cat on Saturday night and now has it in his blog, and I am with him on this. Johnny Hart sucks. One of the unfunniest motherfuckers around. (You'll notice I take the less eloquent route; I defer to Mr. O and the smarts out there for academic tones, unless I'm discussing the brilliance of CPO Sharkey; then I'm all business.) This man wouldn't be funny in the Catskills. And it has nothing to do with his religious beliefs. My best friend from college, Mark, is a methodist pastor, yet he's not Ned Flanders. People think that religious folk are automatically saccharine. But let me tell ya, few people have made me laugh as much as Mark, and he does it all without working blue. Perhaps it's an generational thing, then. Whatever it is, I've never liked B.C.. Even the old BC game on the Commodore 64 sucked. (I still have that, FYI.) I'm willing to believe it's just his god-awful (see what I did there?) attempt at potty humor, just because that man wouldn't know funny if he was getting DPed by the Rowan and Martin while the re-animated corpse of Tiny Tim sang "O Come All Ye Faithful" with ukelele accompaniment.


Other news ("news"): my umbrella got stolen. So much for the honor system at the Y. It's my own fault, of course, but that shit ain't making me feel better. Aside from the sentimental value (it was a gift), it was also a damn good umbrella. Just compact enough to fit in my bag (only the handle stuck out), but big enough, when opened, to provide me with more than adequate coverage. Just sad, stealing a man's umbrella. Now I'm going to have to find a new one. In the meantime, it's back to the small, barely useful umbrella I had as my back up. Great. I'm sure the downpour tomorrow morning during my walk to work will be torrential.

I hope whoever stole my umbrella gets struck by lightning when he uses it. Well, not really.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

So here was Saturday:

Woke up, checked email, went to the gym. That's only significant because it was my first Saturday morning (I usually wake up too late) and because it made it my first three-days-in-a-row. I think I've become addicted to the workout.

Got home and turned on the Michigan/Ohio State game. Talk about going from peak to valley. Fucking Michigan. Just as I was getting to the point where I had come to terms with Miami being out of the National Championship picture, I get this. Poor Buckeyes. Would Maurice Clarett have been the difference? Who knows. Probably not.

After that, I pretty much just chilled. Threw on Disc 2 of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force DVD and crashed on the couch, watching and napping. Then, 'round 6:30 or so, I got the call (actually a followup call, as I got the original call earlier in the afternoon), I hear from Mr. O and we make arrangements for dinner, followed by a trip to the Black Cat for drinking a-go-go. We wound up going to Luna Grill for dinner (got me some french toast, I did) in Dupont, then walked to the BC. Get there and pull up two stools at the end of the bar, the only ones available. This is fine, as we are only expecting Caren to join us. Naturally, this proved to be incorrect, as Jarod showed up with a couple of his next door neighbors. Some spots opened up at the end of the bar near us, but there was a buffer of three people between us who would just not leave. So the evening was spent shuttling between the groups for conversation or shouting across the three clowns, not that they noticed or cared. My friend Beth also showed up with her friend Jose, but they were there for the show upstairs, so we didn't really hang out much.

Highlights: I talked to a 19-year-old au pair from Germany and a completely hammered blonde chick who wound up leaving with a guy who looked like a morph of Greg Gumbel and Jermaine Jackson, whose wingman looked like a blonde Jeff Foxworthy with a flattop. I only mention this because I was roundly mocked for having no game (I, of course, introduced my lack of game into the conversation, so it was really my own doing), particularly with the blonde, who was extremely touchy feely, as only really shitfaced women can be. I was more disappointed in the disappearance of the 19-year-old German au pair, which is the rarer occurrence in these heady times of ours. A drunk blonde at a bar? You can't swing a dead cat without hitting one. A cute 19-year-old German girl? You're more likely to find a hipster that hates Eggers in this area. Celebrity look-alikes at the bar: Matt Groening, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (thank you for that, Carl; now never speak to me again) and, as always, Mena Suvari.

Anyway, we (Carl, Caren and I) broke out of there and rolled back to my spot, where we watched a little Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Family Guy, before The O's bailed for the night 'round 3:30. In all, a solid evening.

And now I do football!

Friday, November 21, 2003

I think this may be the album cover of the year. God bless the diabolical one.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Craftster: "Crafty hipsters share clever ideas." (via Reenhead) Hate that motto, but otherwise, a pretty nifty site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I got this and this tonight. Lord help me, I may not leave the apartment for the next month.

That's all I can post now...Mooninites on my screen.

UPDATE: As you can see, everything is back in order.

NOTE: Something got fucked up with the template and it got saved before I realized it. Consequently, I had to hastily recreate it, leaving out the sidebar of links and the comments. I will restore the full version when I get home tonight. (Sorry.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Are the Beatles overrated? That's basically the argument being made in this article from the Guardian. (via Reenhead) Yeah, this should probably be posted in my music blog, but I'm not going to speak of the music so much as their seemingly untouchable status in popular culture.

For the most part, the article, though its arguments are not very original, is pretty spot on. The Beatles never rocked. Their songwriting was often simple and many times pretentiously obtuse (their psychedelic phase, basically). I think the writer underestimates their musical influence, especially when you look at some of the more recent indie psych-pop bands (take the former Elephant Six clique, for example), who minedthe psych-era Beatles catalogue every bit as much as they did Pet Sounds era Beach Boys or 70s Canterbury prog. But perhaps he was just being cheeky, trying to work in a Rutles reference. At any rate, musically speaking, while they might not have the enduring influence of Black Sabbath, for instance (possibly the most influential band in the last 30 years), it's certainly not a slim as suggested.

The preceding aside, though, the big problem isn't really with the music, but with the cult of Beatlemania. Their (pop) cultural impact has rendered all of their music bulletproof to criticism. More vexing is that nobody seems to question this. The closest any Beatle fan (both actual fans and the numerous people who believe they have to think the Beatles were the best ever, despite their actual exposure to the music, lest they be ridiculed for being a pop culture philistine) will ever admit to the Beatles being less than the rhetoric that surrounds them is when they speak of the early Beatles period. Their reasoning (or what they've been taught to believe) is that this period isn't particularly worthwhile because they had not developed their own sound yet, their music still owing too much to various rockabilly and blues artists. But that contingent is relatively small, and their rabid defense of the latter period's music (generally considered to be everything post, and sometimes including, Rubber Soul) is just as oblivious to actual musical quality as any hardcore Beatlemaniac.

Why is it like this? Well, the easy answer is that the people who came of age with the Beatles are/have been in charge of documenting that era and are doing their damnedest to make sure that history will look upon that era as being the pinnacle of culture. In short, it's shameless self-promotion. Not unique to their generation, or course, but their control of the history books comes at a time where it's easier to influence more people than ever before.

It goes beyond this, though. What about those who were born post-Beatles, who still hold the company line that the Beatles were the greatest ever? That's a tougher question to answer. Part of it, as I mentioned before, is the fear of being mocked for not agreeing with the findings of their elders. Another part, also previously stated, is that the chroniclers of that time pretty much control the media right now (not control in the conspiratorial sense; they just represent a signficant portion of the media). Therefore, even if you wanted to dig deeper than the rhetoric of "it's the Beatles, you're supposed to like them," much of the information you're going to find is going to be very favorable to maintaining that image of cultural ubersignificance.

Beyond that, there's a third reason why younger listeners are taking to the Beatles, and that's a need to feel like their part of something culturally significant. Let's face it, popular culture is letting down the youth they are allegedly serving. With less artist development than ever before, the cultural phenomenon of the Beatles could never happen today. They would have had to hit on one sound and stick with it; even if you question the quality of the music, there is no doubt that their music certainly evolved. Plus, because there is inevitable backlash against celebrities once they reach a level of media saturation (akin to Beatlemania), by the time they would have released Revolver in today's climate, they would have been pushed aside. It's a short attention span world we live in; we wouldn't have the patience for them to start taking LSD, let alone be impressed by the music they created once they were on a lysergic bend. Therefore, since today's culture is not conducive to creating any sustaining entertainment juggernaut, there isn't much for today's music fan to cling to that will match the impact (good or bad) of The Beatles. U2? REM? Pah. The early part of U2's career was way too "earnest" to appeal to the youth (not to mention that, in my own not-so-humble opinion, U2 sucks), while REM has something of a cerebral edge (they are pretty much the godfathers of that insidious genre known as "college rock") that will immediately turn away mass culture. Nirvana came closest, and could possibly followed the same evolutionary path (in pop culture terms) as The Beatles, had Kurt not eaten that shotgun. And believe me, the media tried their damnedest to make it happen. Ultimately, I think it would have fallen short, because Kurt's music was too much of a downer to really ignite a mass youth movement.

So to what do the kids who desperately want to feel part of something culturally significant turn when their current generation gives them nothing? The past, the established phenomena. And the easiest (and most obvious) phenomenon upon which you can get your wagon hitched is The Beatles.

But, I've prattled on, giving a fairly obvious and unoriginal article (about an all to obvious and semi-unoriginal band) too much thought. The bottom line is this: The Beatles music does not live up to the heaps of praise it has received. Thirty years of that rhetoric going unquestioned has only made the disparity between quality and legend more glaring. This article won't be the last to try to slay the myths of the past (particularly the 60s). Sadly, the future chroniclers of popular culture will surely do it again. If music and art are eternal, so too is the mythmaking that seems to go hand-in-hand with it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Jodi hooked me up with a couple of pictures from the Halloween party. I'm going to see if I can score the duplicates of the ones in which I appear, as well as any with Carl, Caren Jamie, or Jarod.

This is Jodi (as Wednesday Addams) and me (as Jesus Christ Superfly, or Jack Osbourne). The bearded gentleman on the left is Carl, as Dead George Plimpton.

Jarod (as a gas station attendant/hippie/shiftless layabout) and Jamie (as a priest).

Unfortunately, Caren (as Dead Joan Crawford), or Miss America 1973 for that matter, is nowhere to be found.

Site redesign has begun. Not much, really. Perhaps more soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Tomacco! (via Reenhead) I hope the guy decides to tackle hamburger earmuffs next.

Watching Waking Life at the moment. Came in at the middle, but that's okay, because I've seen it before (snowbound President's Day weekend with M) and I also own it on DVD ($10 at Barnes and Noble, and that was before the discount!). Came in right before the line "On really romantic nights of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion." That line always cracks me up.

If you're an arthouse goon and/or animation buff (as I am from time to time), this flick is definitely worth checking out. It's a Richard Linklater film, if that means anything to you. (And it should, consarn it!)

Speaking of fine cinema, I picked up Finding Nemo tonight, plus two CDs (about which I will go into further detail in my music blog at some point), One AM by Diverse and Let's Get Serious by Party Fun Action Committee. That's a nice haul.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Blogger fashions a response to this recent Onion article. (Thanks to SR for giving me the heads up on the Onion article.)

Thank you to Jarod for this. People are just plain stupid, aren't they? Though, I now pose the question: if you had to name your child after some product or brand name, what would you choose? If it's a girl, perhaps Starkist, or Dinty Moore. A boy? Panasonic or Appleby.

Third graders review "Autumn Sweater" by Yo La Tengo. (link via Slatch) There are some other kid music reviews at the top, but this is my favorite. (My own review of the song: it sucked. It sounded like YLT were trying to be U2, and nobody should want to do that. Especially bands that are superior to Little Bono and his Gang of Fools.)

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Some bits and pieces:

National Corndog Day (via Carl): This has to be done next year.

Currently watching Quick Change. I love this movie, and why not? Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Bob Elliott, Randy Quaid, Phil Hartman, Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, and Kurtwood Smith in the role he was born to play. "You goddamn straphangers are ruining Mrs. Crane's beverage service!" Gold.

I've seen the Paris Hilton tape, or at least part of it. Hot? Not particularly. Hilarious? Oh, you bet. All celebrity sex tapes seem to be, though. Except the Tonya Harding video. That was kinda dull, though, strangely titillating. Must be the trashiness of Ms. Harding. I guess I just got a thing for chicks who are comfortable in stone-washed jeans with the zipper on the back of the ankles.

The new Pink album is pretty good. I'm not feeling it as much when things slow down a bit, but overall, a satisfying listening experience. She has a good voice, too; I never realized that.

This site, as well as Musica Generica will probably get a facelift in the next few weeks.

Michael Totten takes on Ted Rall.

Also liked this line from Totten's blog: "Ted Rall isn't some anarchist punk spraying digital graffiti on Indymedia. He's a syndicated columnist. Just liked the first part of that; spot on.

Become a SCRABBLE Expert!. Saw this in the City Paper. I'm tempted to go, but really, I haven't played Scrabble in a few months. Plus, there's a chance of some paths crossing; don't know if I should take that chance. Besides, I'm more of a Boggle stud, anyway. Hoo yeah!

And for those of you who are new to this blog, I want to reiterate one of the central tenets of my belief system: monkeys are hilarious.

Also: Survivor Series is this Sunday. I haven't ordered a WWE pay-per-view in three or four months now, but I may get this one. Besides it being one of the major PPVs, there will also be a couple of old school, five-on-five elimination matches on the show, not to mention the possibility that The Undertaker may return as the old, evil Undertaker, jettisoning his more realistic biker image. I think I'd mark out for that. So, there you go. We'll see. If it turns out to be great and I don't wind up ordering it, I can always get it on DVD. The turnaround on those things are pretty amazing.

Lastly: start Sage Rosenfels!


Monday, November 10, 2003

Game Watch

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about a couple of games to which I am looking forward. These are definitely my most anticipated. However, there are a few other titles that I think also deserve mention.

True Crime: Streets of L.A.: Yet another game that is trying to grab some of the Grand Theft Auto audience. This review isn't exactly glowing, but I've read others that were more positive. Overall, it seems like it could be a lot of fun, if not exactly on the same level of GTA. (Note: this is already out, and I saw a couple of commercials for it tonight.)

Manhunt: Does Rockstar have another hit on its hands? If you're talking about the gaming community at large, the answer is probably yes. If you're asking casual gamers, the answer is probably no. Naturally, it will pull in some casual gamers based on the Rockstar name alone. But I gotta tell ya, most of the people who like the free-wheeling, smash 'em up, shoot 'em up nature of GTA, or the adrenaline rush of street racing of Midnight Club, aren't going to cotton to sneaking about in the shadows and relying on stealth to survive. I can only imagine the frustration rising, the brows furrowing, as the Doom generation gamers try to blast everything in sight and fail miserably. Let's face it, casual gamers don't care much about story lines; the gameplay ultimately pulls them in. And while that's the way it should be (gameplay should always be paramount in the design), casual players are going to be more attracted to action packed titles than they are to subtler fare. Anyway, this looks like it could be a game of the year candidate, depending on how balanced the gameplay is. It's one thing to make a game rely on stealth to be successful; it's quite another to make the game so difficult that your every move has to be perfect in order to advance.

Final Fantasy X-2: Yeah, I'm still a FF mark. Final Fantasy X, for which this game is a direct sequel (the first time this has happened in the FF universe), took a while for me to get into, but when it was all over, it turned out to be a very fun and satisfying gaming experience. However, it did not leave me looking forward to the next installment as much as previous installments had. In a way, it was like Final Fantasy VIII, with its very realistic characters, deep sidequests, and saving existence storyline (though, that last part is really in all the games). I liked that game as well, but it did not leave me expecting much more from the next in the series. Luckily, Final Fantasy IX furned out to be a great game, with an incredible story and the usual solid gameplay. Anyway, before I get too sidetracked, I am certainly looking forward to picking this one up, but hope that the story is immediately more engaging than its predecessor.

Others on the horizon are Secret Weapons Over Normandy (from LucasArts/Totally Games), Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Konami, due out November 2004 I believe), and Mafia (Take 2 Interactive/Illusion Softworks, due out January 2004). If you're a console gamer, try to check these out.

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Oi....fucking Metro.

This was today:

I woke up early (for a Saturday) today so I could shower and vacuum before my friend Mark would arrive. Sadly, I only got the former accomplished. Luckily, Mark isn't a neatnik and I just vacuumed whilst he was here. (Besides, he lived with me for a couple of years, he knows the drill.) We went out and got some chow, came back and basically gamed for the afternoon, wrapping things up with some Family Guy viewing in the evening. We left and he dropped me off at the Metro, where I went out to Galaxy Hut to meet with my friend Jackie and her husband (Dave), who I have not seen in 4 years, basically when she/they left this town for Denver. Naturally, a number of others (many of whom are part of the local indie rock community, including Dan, who was in Free Range Pilgrim with Jackie and is now in City Ghosts with Patrick, one of our bartenders at The Black Cat) were there as well. Wound up getting wedged the corner (Galaxy Hut is fucking small), so the only beer I had was the one I ordered when I first got in. Stayed there a couple of hours, which is longer than I wanted. The plan was to then go to Old Town and meet up with the crew at Bugsy's.

That didn't happen. Why? Because the Metro fucking sucks. First, I underestimated the time it would take to actually get to King Street, so I was going to be later than expected. But still, it was a 10 minute wait at Clarendon, another 5 minute wait at Rosslyn (where I had to switch to the Blue Line), and then, we get to Pentagon and we sat for like 10-15 minutes. At that point, I wasn't going to reach Bugsy's until 11:30, a good 45-60 minutes later than I initially said I would be there. Even though that's early, the other part is that I had to get up early (again, a relative term) in the morning to meet with Jackie* again, and I didn't want to put up with a long ass metro ride back at 1:30-2 in the morning. After an entire week (including last night) of about five and a half hours of sleep, I had to draw the line. So, I just came straight back. It's a shame, because I was really looking forward to seeing everybody. Oh well. At least I'm getting dinner now.

In other news, the Hurricanes lost for the second week in a row. Bye bye national championship.

And today (well, yesterday as of this writing) is when it all began a year ago.

* Jackie just finished dental school and is licensed out west, but because she is planning on moving back to the East Coast next year, she needs to get licensed over here. Therefore, she is trying to find people to test on (next month, I believe), but they have to have a certain amount of plaque or what not (look, I'm not the dentist here) before they can qualify. Tomorrow, she will check to see if I qualify.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Some more late night blogging...

[Note: I'm not going to provide links because it's late, and I'm getting sleepy and well, fuck you. You need information on anything listed here, you can just look it up your damn self. It's a Google world, dammit!]

First, the new Smackdown video game (the third for the PS2 and the fifth in the series) is one helluva game. One drawback: as in the real WWE, if you're doing career mode on Raw, the storylines are dominated by Triple H, and he will do his damnedest not to job to you. Outside of that, it's a great game. The AI is solid, the career mode is actually worth a damn, the create-a-wrestler feature is as good as ever, and the gameplay is balanced and easy to pick up, not to mention featuring more depth than ever before. Hats off to THQ; they've done it again.

Next topic: Kid Notorious. Full disclosure up front: I haven't seen The Kid Stays In The Picture and know nothing about Robert Evans except for what sites like All Movie or IMDB tell me. (Okay, I lied about the links...sorta. I know these by heart.) Anyway, the first episode was decent. Seemed to be trying too hard to push the envelope in terms of content, not to mention, slagging Hollywood is just too easy to really sustain a series, right? Well...

Episodes two and three have converted me. I really can't articulate what makes it for me, but I've actually laughed out loud several times while watching. (Especially the third episode, which aired tonight...Rummy's characterization was worth the price of admission know, if you had to pay to be admitted somewhere to watch it.) Sure, the characters are ALL stereotypes: the sleazy/megarich movie producer, the sassy, black female maid, the stuffy-but-dedicated English butler. But there's just enough outrageousness and sly twists to each archetype that they don't come off as too predictable. Plus, the shit is just plain funny. And that's always a good thing.

Anyway, that's all I have the time for. I'm actually going to bed before 2. Haven't done that since, um, last Thursday? Fuck. (It's job related...not going to get into it now.)

Monday, November 3, 2003

It's So Much Like My Dreams It's Scary

To use another Simpsons quote (this time courtesy of Prof. Frink), "That monkey is going to pay."

I shouldn't make light of this, as it's obviously a dire situation. But dammit, it's hard for me not to laugh. Monkeys are always comedy.

Saturday, November 1, 2003


Today has had an auspicious start. Woke up just before noon when Jarod's parents arrived at his spot (I crashed at Jamie and Jarod's; more on that later). Flipped on the TV and what is just about to begin? Why it's Commando! Yet another movie I have not seen before. While not as essential as either of the Terminator films, Jamie still insisted that I watch it, and I'm glad I did. For the next hour and forty-five (or however long that movie is) I was treated to one of the most appallingly bad movies I've ever seen. Of course, that made it one of the most hilarious films as well. "Let off some steam, Bennett." Total classic.

Came home, got my shower on, got my BK on, talked to moms, and now I'm killing time playing the new Smackdown video game (a review may be in the works) until I have to go back out to meet with the boys (Jamie and Jarod, at least) to see another movie I never saw when it came out, Alien. We're going to the Uptown to see it on the giant screen. (It just occurs to me that I should be linking some of these things I mention, but, you know, I can't do everything for you. Lazy bastards.)

Now, the reason I crashed with Jamie and Jarod last night is because we went to a party. The place: my friend Jodi's spot out in Arlington, a nice place she shares with two other ladies. It was, naturally, a costume party, and I did dress up. After kicking around a few ideas the last few months (Meatwad, a pirate priest), I wound up going as Jesus Christ Superfly, which is basically just a Jesus outfit with an afro. I had a goatee working as well, but it fell apart early on and I stopped wearing it. Just as well, as I couldn't really talk or drink with it on. The downside to that is that afterwards, I had a lot of people calling me Jack Osbourne. Now there's a kick in the crotch. At least this time I had a costume on. The previous two times I was just in me everyday streetwear. That's when it really hurts. The crew went as dead George Plimpton (Carl), dead Joan Crawford (Caren), a priest (Jamie), and a hippie/lumberjack/gas station attendant (Jarod). Quite an alliterative group I hang out with, eh?

The party was a lot of fun. A good number of people, a good ratio of women to men, and free hooch. What more can you want? Ahhhh, I see you thinking it. (Hey, you think that's impressive, I can hear pudding.) The more, of course, is a spirited game of backslap. I gotta tell you, I feel I came closer than I usually do to closing the deal last night. For starters, I kind of had that mindset going in. Not that I'm ever truly without that mindset these days, but there was concerted effort not to get hammered right away, or to the point where I knew I would be the braying jackass and have absolutely no shot.

So, the party is good, we're getting our drink on, I housed about a half dozen or so Jello shots over the course of the evening, a few beers, a shot of tequila (served up by a loud, drunken nun no less)...over all, feeling good. Can still maintain a decent conversation, and only drove away one person all night with my words (Rebecca Lobo....sorry Jamie). Then I start to socialize a bit more. To that point, it was basically me hovering about my crowd, striking up small conversations when questions about my costume arose. (Or with cute vampire chicas like Sherrie.) Actually...the sequence of events are a little fuzzy. Here's what I do remember, Miss 1973 (as she will be called) was there, along with a few other Miss America's (one from each decade). Seemed like a nice girl. She and the "white Nelly" were out back smoking with the crew at various points during the evening. She may have not been the brightest (caught the tail end of having the Jim Jones thing explained to her, as she didn't get an earlier reference to it), but she seemed like decent people. Anyway, wind up sitting with her on the front porch later in the evening and well, she's kinda buzzed, to say the least. Not arms folded in front of you, puking on the chest drunk, but she's certainly uninhibited. Like the male that I am, this piques my interest. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not Capt. GHB here. I'm not looking to violate women who don't know it's happening; she wasn't that hammered. So I'm being the witmonkey, cracking jokes, cozying up to her, have her bring me a drink. (Actually, she volunteered the drink, as she wanted some punch with something mixed in and insisted that I have the same.) Get the drinks, continue the chit chat, and then she goes inside. I drink a little of what she concocted (damn that was strong), spill a little, then leave it. Go inside, blah blah this, blah blah that, head to the kitchen, where she's holding a microphone she brought (you know, for the question and answer portion of the Miss America pageant), singing some song that I don't quite recall. Then she says she has to sing something from the 70s. I suggest "I Will Survive." (Why, I don't know, because I kinda hate that song.) She proceeds to sing it in this really hushed and breathy voice, while she slides all over Jesus' body. It's quite a spectacle, and we're getting some looks from the others in the kitchen. She stumbles her way to that songs conclusion (meaning she starts to forget the words and just stops) and starts to sing something else, again, I'm not remembering what exactly. I'm still being treated like a dancing pole. I break this up and go downstairs, mostly to see if she'll follow. No dice. I go back up, and she's gone from the kitchen and to the front porch, where she and white Nelly are cozying up. Now, in his defense, he had been trying with her earlier in the evening, and intermittently throughout, so it's not like he was trying to kill my game. He was just playing his. Within minutes, the game is over: they're grabbing a cab. Oh well. The next 20 minutes or so is me looking for a consolation prize, namely Jodi. She, however, is lit up and of a single mind. Unfortunately for me, that single mind is focused on finding her lost camera, and not images I would like to capture on that camera. So, after she hits rock bottom by digging through her garbage for the camera (and I am, like an idiot, holding the flashlight), I decide to concede. The crew, who were being extremely patient, were waiting on the front porch. We gather up, say goodnights, and we're off. Drop off Carl, and then return to the spot, where I snack on some chips, then call it an evening.

And that was Halloween. Overall, I can't say I'm disappointed. The party really was fun, and it's always good to be out with friends. Sure, some dirty sniz would have capped it off right, but that's like complaining that your lottery jackpot isn't big enough.

It's Alien time. (Jesus this all took a long time to write. Damn multi-tasking.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

All the Demo's in the house say "hooooo!"


If you needed a more obvious example that hip-hop culture is the dominant mainstream culture, this article is it. Black culture once again is hijacked as a source of credibility for liberal whites. It could have been worse. They could have tried to play off the more militant arm of hip-hop and have it more as a revolutionary rally instead of a party jam. Imagine Chuck D. and Paris talking about a riot going on while Bill Clinton stood in the back with a beret and sunglasses, fist raised in a black power salute. That would have been ugly. (Or hilarious if you're actually picturing it.)

The whole hipness grab just bothers me in general. Besides it being unnecessary and futile (let's face it, I'm betting at least half of the people that attended won't wind up voting in the November '04 election, because to them, this is more about being at a high-profile party than getting out the vote), the way these things play out always make me cringe, because it always comes off more like comedy ("Whoa! Culture clash! Fabulous!") than anything remotely "hip." At it's worst, it can even come off as minstrelsy. (Thank god none of the famous white folk tried to get funky), because the spotlight is always thrown upon the most shallow and easy to digest parts of the culture. The talk of Escalades and 50 Cent (okay, I'll admit it was a stroke of genius having Bill Clinton on stage while that song is being played) just makes me shake my head, when I know that there are more vital and interesting parts (not to speak of less ignorant) of hip-hop culture than what is ever portrayed in the media.

And yes, I know this isn't about hip-hop culture, but about trying to appeal to a young crowd whose vote your are courting. Fine. But is this what they really want, attaching their image to the rampant materialism and hyper-sexuality of mainstream hip-hop? Personally, as much as I am against the notion of some sort of cultural elite, I really don't like the idea of politics trying to promote itself outside of the political spectrum, because it always winds up debasing itself. In the end, these politicians make it seem like they value style over substance, a frightening notion for anybody who still places faith in the political process of this society.

Yvan eht nioj!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

EARL DITTMAN EXPOSED � Film Criticism�s Greatest Shame: I know I'm late to this, but dammit this is hilarious. The quotes are absolutely priceless. I suddenly want to be this guy. (courtesy of Mostly Weird)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

So, it is Sunday night. The Chiefs-Bills game just went to halftime. It looks like I might lose this weekend. Jesus. And I'm getting beaten by a guy who didn't start a kicker. I'm hoping the Chiefs D can take one in for six before it's all over. But that isn't bloody likely.

What else? Went to the Phillips Collection yesterday with my friend Beth. We took a tour of the permanent collection, then checked out the Modernism and Surrealism exhibit. Definitely worth checking out. (I enjoyed the Tanguy pieces especially, since he's my favorite artist.) We hit up DCCD in Adams Morgan, where I picked up Do Whatever You Want, Don't Do Whatever You Don't Want, an Acid Mothers Family Compilation. We hit the CD and Game Exchange up the block, where I was very good and didn't purchase anything. (That won't be the case the next time I go.) After that little shop stop, we parted ways. I went back home, chilled for a couple of hours, then decided to hit Tower Records, where I picked up the new Primus DVD/CD. Haven't watched all of it, but it's good stuff. The new music (the CD part, which is a 5 song EP with the original lineup) isn't very good, but the DVD is worth having. And I got it for $15 (it was on sale), so I definitely feel I got my money's worth.

Didn't do anything but play the shit out of The Simpsons: Hit and Run for the rest of the night. Which was good, because I didn't want to spend any more money, or drink.

Today, it's been football, more Simpsons, and feeding. Had weirdo dreams last night. Was in a forest of nothing but weeping willows. Is such a thing even possible? I don't think I've ever seen more than one weeping willow in any area. Anyway, it was very bizarre. The details are a bit fuzzy, but for some reason, it made me sad. I do remember seeing a monkey sleeping in one of the branches, but I have no idea what that means. (Everything comes back to monkeys with me.) Anyway, it was just bizarre.

Weeping willows are beautiful trees, by the way. I'm not sure it's healthy for a person to have a favorite tree, but I think if I did, it would be a weeping willow. They look so delicate, like they couldn't possibly survive in nature, but they are trees, right? They have to have some sort of strength. I wonder if birds are fooled by the superficial weakness of the weeping willow and refuse to build nests there. The weeping willow wouldn't be able to relate to the other trees when they talked about birds nesting and waking them up too early in the morning with birdsong. What a bummer. Still, beautiful trees.

Wow, I think I'm high.

Actually, what it is is the influence of Get In the Van by Henry Rollins. In a number of his entries, he'll go from straight recollection right into storytelling mode. And now, so have I. The dream part is true, by the way. The subsequent riff on weeping willows was all improvised. Huzzah!

Okay, nothing else to talk about. I picked up The Future and Its Enemies by Virginia Postrell. I'm going to start that as soon as I'm done with the Rollins book. Could make for an interesting juxtaposition.

Or not.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

My thanks go to Jarod for giving me the lowdown on this link: Sphincterine. Outstanding.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Random notes:

This may break my streak of not watching a reality TV series.

A lot of celebrity deaths the past week. Jack Elam, Elliott Smith, Fred "Rerun" Berry, and two others that aren't going to get the recognition they deserve: Mike "Road Warrior Hawk" Hegstrand and Stu Hart.

Now, if you are a fan of professional wrestling, then chances are, these deaths mean more to you than the other three. The Road Warriors are without question one of the most popular tag teams of all-time, while Stu Hart is on the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, with Ric Flair, Antonio Inoki, and ________. (I'll let you fill that one out; not here to spark a wrestling controversy.) Stu Hart, with his Stampede Wrestling promotion, not to mention the number of wrestlers he's trained (most of whom went on to be some of the best workers in the business), was the patriarch of a clan that might be to Canada what the Kennedys are to the United States. See, a time not as long as ago as you might think, wrestling was held in a much higher regard than it is today. Back in the days of territorial promotions, before entrance music, roided up muscleheads, and "hardcore," wrestling was a great spectator sport. In those days, hour long matches were more the rule than the exception, crowds weren't so wishy-washy in their praise/hatred of a wrestler, and those involved treated it as a sport before they treated it as entertainment. Sure, the outcomes were predetermined, but at the time, everybody behind the scenes in out in front of the cameras worked hard to maintain that it wasn't. There was enough doubt that people would be on the edge of their seats with every pinfall, screaming their heads off when their favorite wrestler was caught in an "inescapable" submission hold, trying to will him out of his predicament. And because it wasn't on television four times a week, and there were no monthly Pay-Per-Views, whenever you did get to see a match, you appreciated it even more.

Now, admittedly, despite my previous wording, I did not grow up in that era. Instead, I got into wrestling around the time the business was moving toward what it is today. Basically, I came into wrestling around the time Hulkamania was taking off. I remember when I moved to Ohio, on some Fridays, I'd spend the night at my friend Corey's house, and his mother would take he, his brother, and me to the video store. We'd usually grab a couple of kung fu movies and a wrestling tape or two (usually WWF on Coliseum home video). We'd watch matches with the likes of "The Rock" Don Muraco, Tito Santana, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Andre the Giant and countless others. Back then, TV didn't have much to offer. You had WWF Superstars on Saturdays, as well as NWA (which would eventually mutate into the now defunct WCW) on WTBS. Back then, before WWF (now WWE) would ascend to the top of the "sports entertainment" mountain, NWA was the more popular source for wrestling. While I was primarily a WWF fan, I did occasionally watch NWA. Two guys who really stood out were the Road Warriors, a larger than life tag team whose fashion sense has subsequently been hijacked by Oakland Raiders fans.

The Warriors were huge, and not just in terms of popularity. These guys were amazingly muscular, especially for a time when so few were. (Guys like Hogan and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff being a couple of notable exceptions.) Their look was unique (at least until the imitators--remember Demolition?--came out of the woodwork) and intimidating. In an era of some memorable tag teams (like the Midnight Express and The Hart Foundation, for starters), these guys were the tops in my book. So when I heard that Hawk had passed away, I got a bit nostalgic for wrestling past. When I found out that Stu Hart passed away, it felt like the closing on a memorable chapter in the sport's history. And really, it is. There will never be another like Stu Hart, and there will never be another team like The Road Warriors. Godspeed, gentlemen. And thank you for making this wrestling fan a little happier.


In less somber news, I am actually eagerly awaiting a couple of video game releases this year. The first is Medal of Honor: Rising Sun. The other, Max Payne: The Fall of Max Payne. The former is the forth installment in the very popular and very awesome Medal of Honor series. This time, the action is taking place in Japan. From everything I've read, this will set a new standard for the series, something I thought difficult to do after the brilliant Medal of Honor: Frontline. That game's opening, the Normandy Invasion, is one of the most memorable and well-done in game history. (Sadly, I still haven't finished that game, having been sidetracked by others.)

The Fall of Max Payne is the second in the series and from the looks of it, business is about to pick up. First off, the environments look much improved, the character modeling even more detailed, and the camera work once again first-rate. I love the bullet-time mechanism (introduced in the first game), where you can slow things down, Hong Kong style, while popping caps in the enemy's ass. Not only does it make things look more stylish, but it also helps when a gang of thugs start to open fire on you. I'm glad it will be back in the second.

As a matter of fact, the style of the game is what really draws me to Max Payne. Sure, the gameplay itself is solid, but the game noir look and compelling (if a tad formulaic) storyline makes it easy to get sucked into playing it. Few games have a genuinely gripping atmosphere, one of the only other significant ones coming to mind being Silent Hill. If the previews I've read/seen are any indication, I'm definitely looking forward to immersing myself in this game.

A game review! (Sorta.)

So, I picked up The Simpsons: Hit and Run this past weekend. I like it, but that�s probably to be expected. Not because Simpsons video games have been particularly good historically (quite the opposite, actually), but because this is so crammed full with references to Simpsons lore that any hardcore Simpsons-phile will enjoy playing it just to see what kinds of gags they can spot.

What about those who aren�t fanatical about the Simpsons? Will they get any enjoyment out of this game? Certainly. Because beneath all of the Simpsons trivia is a nice little game, part-platformer, part mission-based racing. It�s not the most challenging of either of those genres, but it�s not exactly child�s play, either. The races, for instance, can be downright nerve-wracking, requiring fairly mistake-free driving. The Simpsons world they�ve created is also pretty vast (much larger than the actual), giving you plenty of places to explore (usually while in search of the wasp cameras or collectible cards).

There are some complaints. I was a bit disappointed that not all characters that you come across on the street (not counting generic characters) talk to you, unless it has something to do with a mission. (Sometimes if you assault them, or are about to run over them, they�ll yell something.) Also, I don�t like the fact that you can�t play through the entire town at once. Each level takes place in one section of town, and the only way to get back to a completed section is by choosing a mission from that level. Perhaps it would have been beyond the capabilities of the hardware to have the entire city as one giant world to explore, but I�m disappointed nonetheless. But really, that�s more fan disappointment than gameplay disappointment. Overall, this is some decent fun, and a welcome addition to The Simpsons canon.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

About last night...

So, as Carl (dammit, find the link on the left, or follow an old link below) wrote in his blog, we went to the Fire Theft show at the Black Cat. It was an experience.

First, that's the first show I've ever gone to where I really paid little to no attention to the bands. Now, that's not entirely due to the bands (they didn't help, of course), but my interest was minimal from the beginning. I was there merely to hang out with the boys and to get my drink on. If that means plunking down $15 to do it, so be it. I figured The Fire Theft would be somewhat redeeming to boot.


I'll come right out with it: I've never been the biggest fan of the alleged "emo" genre, particularly the mid 90s to present garden variety bands (ha! someone will get that). Boy's Life, Braid, just about any of the Jade Tree roster...they did nothing for me. Now, that's not a uniform indictment of the genre. The first albums by The Promise Ring and Jets to Brazil are solid; ditto Knapsack's Day Three of My New Life. My personal favorite is Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime. The first four tracks off that album eviscerates 99% of the other emo bands out there, and I recommend you go pick up the 2002 reissue with all due speed. It's the closest approximation of Rites of Spring's unhinged fury you'll find.

However, those bands are the exception, not the rule. Sunny Day Real Estate, from which 3/4 of The Fire Theft come, weren't that bad, either. (Not that I own any of their albums.) But they were too perilously close to their whiny peers to do much for me. The end result was nothing but a bunch of 20-something white boys whining about this or that. It was journal entries set to pseudo-impactful music. (There's even a line in a Jets to Brazil song that sums up the emo MO: "My dear diary/it's just you and me tonight.") Needless to say, it can be VERY tedious.

Still, because I know that SDRE had been decent, I gave the Fire Theft the benefit of the doubt. It never clicked. The band wasn't terrible. They were just kinda boring. Even though I freely admit to not really being into the music before I set foot in the club, if it were worthwhile, it certainly would have grabbed me at some point. But it never happened. It was song after song of the same thing. No visceral rush, no moments of rock ecstasy where the band just opens it up and let's it all out, something you'd expect from a genre built on emotional outpouring. But I got nothing. I half-jokingly said to Carl last night that metal, which I've been listening to a lot the last few months, has ruined me for music like this, because metal is so up front and visceral that the music is almost physically tangible. But that may just be a convenient excuse. I stick by my previous assertion: the band just wasn't that good.

There are a few other things I could comment on from last night (on the non-music side of things), but it hardly seems worth it.

Also, a word of advice: when it's almost 2 in the morning, and you haven't eaten in hours, and you're getting those post-drinking munchies, try to keep it simple. For example, do not pick up some greasy food from the local ghetto chinese place and proceed to house it when you get home. It's just good sense.

The Mainstreaming of Porn? (from Pornblography)

An insightful (and frequently hilarious, which is why I'm posting it) piece about a recent NY Times article that claims porn is becoming more mainstream, using the upcoming Fox show Skin as it's primary example . Before I put in my two cents, here are some of the highlights from her post.

"Granted, I say this not having seen any episodes of the show yet - I'm basing this on knowing my own day-to-day experiences that include such spellbinding activities as deciding if I've used the term 'ass-reaming' too many times when writing boxcover pap and talking to girls about their pre-scene douching habits versus the sensationalistic Hollywood-machine scripts that Bruckheimer produces."

"If you really want to trumpet cable's acceptance of bare cheeks, thank Steven Bochco and NYPD Blue for that. Or hell, how about Harvey Keitel and Bad Lieutenant? Was anyone thanking porn for seeing his ass?...It's like comparing apples to motor oil."

"Sometimes the simulated (sex) is far sexier than seeing the spread-open pink of a porn chick being speared by a guy you wouldn't let bag your groceries."

"...I still find movies like 9 1/2 Weeks incredibly sexy. I can get off to that just as well as I can get off to Weapons of Ass Destruction."

"So while I think it'll be harder for Hollywood to shock us with sexy movies - depending on the stars and scenarios (yes, I'm still holding out for the movie that casts Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen as gay lovers and features them in a hot sex scene that has Hugh Jackman sitting in the corner, watching...) - I highly doubt that means they're done with the genre."

Actually, I don't really have anything to add to this discussion, because Carly does a pretty bang up job. I think it was just the chuckles I got from the above that made me post all of this. She's indeed correct that porn will never reach that level of cultural acceptance to call it truly mainstream, no matter how many biopics about Ron Jeremy or True Hollywood Stories on starlets there are. It seems Hollywood and the like will only let porno in as long as it generates ratings/dollars for them. If porn were allowed any kind of legitimacy (legitimacy isn't the right word, I think; I just mean unqualified and unrestricted access in popcult outlets) in the mainstream world, where would the mainstream go for that titillation/taboo factor when they need to boost interest in their cheesy wares?

Besides, the porn industry makes tons of cash already, or so it would seem. I don't think mainstream acceptance is even a priority or desired on their part.

Friday, October 17, 2003

"Every Day Without Great Football is Like Every Day in Massillon."

So, I decided to check out the ol� Tribune Chronicle (delivered with pride by Damian Vega$ many moons ago) to see what was on tap for my alma mater, football-wise, this weekend after checking their national ranking (#3, baby!) in USA Today. What I found was this.

First of all, I find this hilarious. Both the shirt and the uproar. (There's another aspect that could be hilarious, but I'm not Jamie, so I don't have carte blanche to run with it.) I wish they were doing things like this back when I was walking the halls of Warren G. Harding High School. Sure, we had school spirit, but Ms. Banks is correct when she says that it wasn't very organized. Even after winning the state championship and reaching #1 in the national polls (led by the late, great Korey Stringer) the following year, there wasn't much in terms of a collective fervor for our football team. Most of the gridiron passion in that state is reserved for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Consequently, it's nice to see something like this. The store is a nice touch (even if I did feel a bit conflicted when I first read about it), especially because it seems to be building a stronger sense of community within the school. Plus, the money they are making is being put to good use.

But back to the shirts. They're great! Look, this is sports we're talking about. As much as a lot of people like to be curmudgeonly and old-school about it, the bottom line is that trash talk is a part of the game on all levels. And this is TAME. Seriously. Go walk into a packed stadium (like the Horseshoe when the Buckeyes are playing Michigan), or even a sports bar, and just listen to the vulgarities exchanged between rivals. But, at the end of the day/game, it's all in good fun. Sure, you get the occasional drunken brawl, but more often than not, it's just a bunch of guys talking smack, trotting out their knowledge of their team and its greatness, while disparaging their rivals for being the no-talent puddingheads that they are. It's just another part of the game that makes it fun for the fans. Since they can't suit up and play, they can at least sit back and talk a mountain of trash to their opponents and the fans who support them.

Speaking of support, shame on Paul Trina and Thom Daniels for making this seem more grave than it is. If they had any spirit at all, they'd be wearing those shirts proudly on the sidelines this weekend when they play Massillon. I can understand not wanting to give your opponent a motivational edge, but at the same time, they should have a sense of humor about it. Like I said, the statement on those t-shirts is downright tame when you compare it to the scores of other crude things you can say about a rival. Their frowning upon this "incident" does nothing but paint them as uptight stiffs with no spirit.

Besides, if what this columnist says is true, Massillon has it coming to them, anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Check out my music blog for my rant on this week's Washington City Paper cover story.

Well, as expected, the Cubs lost last night. In the ALCS, the Red Sox forced a game seven, which they will probably lose, thus setting up the marquee matchup between the Yankees and the Marlins. New York vs. Florida. The state where New Yorkers are born vs. the state where New Yorkers die. I can�*yawn*�barely contain my excitement.

As for this curse thing: before the Red Sox forced a game seven, I was not terribly convinced that the Cubs or the Red Sox were cursed. To me, they were just historically shittay teams that were still bound up in past glories. Are the Clippers cursed? Are the Bengals cursed? No. And of course, people will argue that those teams don�t have the rich history that the Cubs and Red Sox have. They�ve just been fairly craptacular for their entire existence, save a brief stretch or two. (The two Super Bowl appearances for the Bengals, the Bob McAdoo days for the Clippers when they were the Buffalo Braves, for instance.) Fair enough. What about the Detroit Lions (or Tigers, for that matter) or the Cleveland Browns?

So I don�t buy the curse, or at least I didn�t. However, if the Red Sox do indeed lose game 7 against the hated Yankees, you gotta suspect that there�s some cosmic mischief afoot. Only a god with a wicked sense of humor would take these two franchises�who fancy themselves to be so historically significant that their poor performance for the last 50-odd years must be due to bad voodoo�to the brink of the promised land and have them both lose in a game 7.

One last thing: For those Cubs fans pointing to the kid who allegedly cost you the deciding game, know this. Any athlete or coach worth his salt will tell you that no series comes down to one play. The Cubs had the game before and the game after to make it to the World Series, and a fan didn�t cost them in either. They simply blew it. So leave the kid alone. He made a boneheaded mistake and owned up to it. (Not that he had much choice.) Why not go after the players who lost game 5 and game 7 instead?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Right back at me.

So, there's this: I enjoyed Kill Bill on a visceral level (oh, I am too much) while there is someone out there who bathed in all the cinema history being presented for a new audience. Is his enjoyment superior to mine? Did I experience low-art while he, looking at the exact same thing, experience some sort of high-art?

Well this is easy. Of course his enjoyment is not superior. Appreciation? Perhaps. But if we are speaking merely of the sensation of enjoyment (the visceral impact of the film, as it were), then there is no distinction to be made. Good is good. Bad is bad. Anything beyond your (not you, Carl, just generally) initial reaction exists in the realm of intellectual debate, not on the emotional plane. Now, can you derive enjoyment from knowing more about the film? Sure. But then the enjoyment is no longer about the film itself, but about your knowledge of filmmaking devices and cinematic history.

This distinction, in my opinion, is a necessary one, because increasingly, it is no longer being made. Appreciation of the craft and/or its place in the overall oeuvre has become synonymous with enjoyment of the work itself, and in some cases, supercedes it. People can yell "anti-intellectual" all they want, but the truth of the matter is this: we're over-intellectualizing everything today. Let me tell you something, folks: not every mundane subject needs gravitas. For some reason, a great number of people (many of them, I imagine, self-styled intellectuals and/or hipsters) want to revel in the minutiae of the mundane, and for no other reason than to inform everyone else what they know about a given subject. The kicker to all of this is that if you point this out, you get branded a philistine. Pointing out the futility of pointing out futility, for example (ha!), is tantamount to intellectual treason. Well fuck that nonsense. (See what I did there?) Not every little thing needs to be analyzed mercilessly. Let's just enjoy things at face value for a change. Modern critical thought seems to deem this unnecessary. Face value, it is reasoned, cannot provide adequate intellectual sustenance. We need to make sure you know why you're enjoying the things you're enjoying, or else, you're not enjoying them as much as you should be. They've completely flipped the script. In short, appreciate, then enjoy. I really think that's why I'm on such a metal run lately, because metal, almost uniformly, is totally lacking in pretense, and just wants to kick your ass.

The bottom line, Bentham was wrong, Motorhead is right, and I am spent.


Carl is ranting again. This time, it's about Kill Bill. Having just read it, here are my two cents.

First, a disclosure: I have not yet seen the film, but have read the entire script (making me one of those asshats that get made fun of in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)

A second disclosure: I also am not as learned on matters of cinema. I mean, didn�t you just read that I�in the year 2003 AD (or CE, for you non-religious nuts out there)�just saw Terminator and T2 for the first time? That said, I have seen movies, and I have even studied them a bit (on a personal academic level, and not some school assignment) when I was thinking of writing my own screenplay. So I do feel confident that I can make somewhat credible statements on film, though, they will likely be more attached to art in general, rather than film in particular.

Now, down to business.

First, I disagree that Mr. Tarantino is an obscurist. He�s just a genre-obsessive (or, film geek). That is, his world, even prior to being a filmmaker/screenwriter, revolves around movies. I�d venture to say that it�s all he really knows. Therefore, when he creates a movie of his own, it will reflect his pool of knowledge.

Let�s reframe the issue. Say you asked Don Shula to film a movie. What do you think the subject matter is going to be? If your first guess was anything other than football, you�re trying too hard and should be kicked square in the nuts. (And while I�ll concede that the man knows his way around a steak, I don�t think even he�d make a film around 100% angus cuts, knaamean?)

So, we�ve established that Shula will very likely make a movie about football. Now then, in the course of writing the script, don�t you think that there will be some football references�given his stature and longevity as a coach�that will make it into the film that only the most obsessive football fan will be able to identify? Does this make Shula an obscurist? Of course not. It�s a matter of knowing the details, details that he knows like the back of his hand. (Details that have, sadly, not reached his progeny.) What Shula would be doing is presenting as accurate a portrayal of his experience in football as he possibly can.

What does this all mean? My assertion is that the film that Tarantino made is not meant to be merely a three hour homage to his influences. Rather, I believe it to be one of the purest expressions of his point-of-view that he�s ever shown. One aspect of the film (I assume) that underscores this possibility is the film�s dialogue, or lack thereof. Honestly, from what I�ve seen and read, the story could probably be effectively told without a word being spoken. He doesn�t need to fill the void (read: keep the audience�s attention between action sequences) with pop-culture laced conversations. For once, it seems, film is being treated as a visual medium rather than a illustration for words on a page.

That, to me, is the simplest (or the least cynical/adversarial, anyway) explanation for the film�s overabundance of cinematic allusion. This isn�t �symbolism without meaning.� Rather, I believe Tarantino, instead of simply giving visual representation of what is essentially a short-story or novel, he�s trying to let the film (the visuals) tell the story itself. Consequently, in a world where the most mundane action needs some ridiculous amount of expository prose, he must rely on film �clich� to push the narrative forward. Had Tarantino taken the bold step of actually making this a non-talkie, this point would have been driven home more clearly. Of course, I don�t really think that Tarantino has the directorial skill to make an effective silent film, but that is not the point. The point is, I think he tried to take the saying �a picture is worth a thousand words� and run with it.

What I think is happening is that people (such as my friend Carl) are getting too caught up by the numerous references they don�t get, and assuming that Tarantino, because of the cult of personality that surrounds him, does it to show off his film-knowledge. And I would bet that�s not entirely untrue. But the references are incidental to the film�s higher purpose, that being pure cinematic expression. (In other words, not to be so reliant upon words in order to find �meaning� in the film.) You don�t need to know the concept of Bushido, own a Shaw Brothers movie, or masturbate to images of Pam Grier (70s style!) in order to appreciate or understand the film; therefore, why even be concerned with it? Are these same people bemoaning the genre-pastiche of Beck? Did they decry Pavement�s (in particular frontman Stephen Malkmus) encyclopedic knowledge of rock music and their willingness to throw it into their albums when they were releasing their early 90s classics? No, because Beck and Pavement are/were much more polite personalities and non-chalant about their knowledge, though I doubt they were any less enthusiastic. If Tarantino were an unassuming film-nerd (Todd Solondz, anybody?), I would bet there would be less complaints. But because he is this obnoxious loudmouth (yet genuinely talented) of a director, people tend to scrutinize his work and make assumptions about purpose that may not be there.

(Okay�now a bit of a reversal, so I can get out my own mini-rant.)

Now, let�s pretend for a moment that all of the preceding is bullflop. Let�s say that this is nothing but Tarantino showing off his knowledge of film. (�Check out the big brain on Quentin!�) Let�s just assume that there is no higher purpose to this film than making Quentin feel cooler than everybody else.

Considering all of that, I have this to say: so what?

This is the world we�ve created for ourselves in 2003, folks. Incessant allusion is the order of the day, and any artistic creation that doesn�t reference its own lineage will be less likely to gain favor among critics who have redefined their job as pseudo-journalists playing a game of �spot the influence.� In that light, Tarantino is the undisputed master of film.

And it�s not like there�s anything inherently wrong with knowing the influences of a particular work. As with anything, history gives us context. It should stop there, but it doesn�t. Instead, when you read a review of anything these days, many times you�ll find it�s less descriptive of the work than the influences upon the work. So how can anybody be upset that Tarantino, with Kill Bill, has presented a smorgasbord of cinematic nods and winks and in-jokes processed into one monstrous epic of blood and revenge? Kill Bill isn�t lazy filmmaking, it�s modern filmmaking.