Friday, November 30, 2012

Lunch on the boss

It's too early to tell yet if I'm going to like my new job, I've only been there for a month. But I can't help but think it's a good sign that I've gone out for lunch or drinks more often in one month at this job than in the entire three years I was at my previous full-time job. Today I went to lunch with my fellow team-member and our manager - on our manger's tab - and then on the way back our manager showed us, on a well-hidden, dead-end street, under the 7 train, a wonderland of street art.

There's my team-member (taking a photo with his iPhone) and our manager in the first picture, and the artwork they were looking at in the second picture.

I'd give that way more than 5POINTZ. You can click on the images to see them better.

You can't tell from my photo, but both guys are well over six feet tall - I feel like I'm down in the Grand Canyon when I walk between them.

This free street art is all over PS 1 and its so called Kraftwerk "music" festival.

UPDATE: oh - apparently 5Pointz has a web site. It's an actual thing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where are you Jill?

I'm now only one month shy of being in this apartment for three years. And I am still getting mail for the prior resident, Jill.

Jill appears to have cleared out without leaving a forwarding address. Which isn't so bad when you're trying to outrun your creditors - and I got plenty of mail from them for Jill in the first year I lived here. But I figured after a couple of years it would stop. But I still get the occasional junk mail for Jill.

And Christmas cards.

How sad is that, when someone who feels close enough to send you a Christmas card hasn't been informed that you moved out - three years ago? I got another one for Jill just today.

In the past I've always chucked Jill's Christmas cards, figuring it was none of my business - and she didn't give me a forwarding address either. But now in the third year I feel like this family in Great Falls Montana deserves some kind of notification. I opened their Christmas card this year - and it's one of those cards made up of photos of the people sending the card - not even a bland generic card, but a small family album that's been sent, poignantly, to the wrong address.

I guess what I'll have to do this year is send them a Christmas card myself and let them know the situation. Maybe they can track her down on Facebook...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another musical mystery solved

Before taking this course in music theory, I knew bits and pieces about the formal structure of music  but thanks to this course it's all coming together in an organized, satisfying way.

I've always been more into playing piano than guitar so knew even less about guitar-related conventions - like guitar chord charts, which always confused me because unlike piano music, where the notes were just plonked down on the staff and you had to figure out the "chord" being played, the guitar chords would be labeled like this:

Eventually I learned that dim = diminished - but what did "diminished" mean? Well, mystery solved. It's all about the intervals.

And we even did some solfège singing in class today, which was fun in spite of the fact that my voice is crap.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the worst logo in the world

Am I the only one who is disturbed by the logo used by the New York Neo-Futurists? That's a rhetorical question - of course I am. I'm sure that the mere fact that I find a logo that portrays the face of a child in pain disturbing automatically sets me apart from the hipsters who are unfazed by visions of cruelty, because being unfazed by cruelty is a sign of how manly macho postmodern you are. And that's the way to be in theater. You know, all cutting edge and pushing those boundaries blah blah blah, what every theater company mission statement claims it does.

The letters of the logo stand for "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" which is apparently the name the Neo-Futurists use for what their web site describes as
...written and performed with an eight-person ensemble and billed as “an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 Plays in 60 Minutes.” The show promised an emotional and intellectual roller-coaster of ideas and images ridden at break-neck speed by a participating audience. Greg Allen created the formula for Too Much Light... from an amalgam of different influences. In typical postmodern fashion, a theory was borrowed from here, a form was stolen from there...
Ah, yes, "postmodern." How fabulous. 

Nowhere on the web site does it explain why they named the show "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind." My assumption is that whatever the reason the title was chosen, it wasn't because there was originally a play about a baby being blinded by excessive light. Although if it's meant metaphorically, well it's a pretty lousy metaphor, since light usually indicates understanding as in "more heat than light" or sudden insight as represented by a cartoon light bulb. Unless maybe you're referring to being cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night, since Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun Oh, but Mama, that's where the fun is.*

But just in case you might think that being blinded by the light could be fun, there's that logo to remind you that in fact it isn't fun. This isn't some abstract representation of The Theater with the traditional comedy/tragedy masks, it's very specifically a depiction of  pain. And whether it meant something at one time is irrelevant - it means nothing, now,  except to groove on the hiptitude of being unphased by a depiction of horrible torment. It's emotional deadening in the grandest postmodern tradition. 

But I stand corrected about the mission statement thing - the Neo-Futurists don't mention the usual cutting-edge-pushing-boundaries thing. I didn't think it was possible, but their mission statement is even more obnoxious than that - so kudos, Neo-Futurists, you truly are cutting edge. Here's what it says:
Embracing a form of non-illusory theater in order to present our lives and ideas as directly as possible. All of our plays are set on the stage in front of the audience. All of our characters are ourselves. All of our stories really happened. All of our tasks are actual challenges. We do not aim to “suspend the audience’s disbelief,” but to create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life.
Wow, the stage is a continuation of daily life. Just what I always wanted. Because daily life is just so interesting that I want to see it on stage - and pay for it too.

And of course it's entirely bullshit, as all postmodern manifestos are - in fact bullshit is usually a leading indicator of postmodernism. They don't actually "create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life" - no more so than any other theatrical experience, as you can see in this page of their videos. And if this video page is any indication, the New York Neo-Futurists are male-dominated, which is also standard theater group practice.

Perhaps you aren't supposed to take their claims literally though - maybe only their hideous logo is a literal representation of anything. 

Although OK, to be fair, the face isn't literally a baby's - it's more like a four-year-old boy in anguish over losing his eyesight.

* I should mention that "Blinded by the Light" has a couple of my all-time favorite lines: 
Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground asked him which was the way back home -
He said, "Take a right at the light, keep on straight until night, and then boy you're on your own."

Monday, November 26, 2012

More sexual harassment mirth

This cartoon is from a 1953 issue of the New Yorker. Done by Gardner Rea, who did the other "humorous" sexual harassment cartoon posted here a little while ago.

One thing that's changed big time in offices is that there are no secretaries any more. Everybody does their own typing on computers now. So there is no longer a job category for women that comes with the understanding that this is the person it's OK to sexually harass. And of course anti-harassment laws.

Which doesn't mean harassment has completely ended, unfortunately: Vito Lopez Sexual Harassment Case Cost Taxpayers Yet More Money.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The only Woody Allen movie I can still bear to watch...

 What's Up Tiger Lily? Is still ridiculously funny. And you can see the entire movie on Youtube... at least for now.

Most memorable quote:
"It's Wing Fool, you fat - I mean Wing Fat, you fool!"
But this one always makes me laugh, including right now:

High Macha Of Rashpur[displaying a printed floor plan] This is Shepherd Wong's home.
Phil Moscowitz: He lives in that piece of paper?
     High Macha Of Rashpur: No, you idiot. This is a map of his house.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

James Spader again

I've talked about two James Spader movies on this blog in the past month and now here's the third - Spader did a great job in Lincoln, in a great role as one of the three men tasked with trying to win votes for the 13th Amendment through offering patronage jobs. Spader gets many of the best laughs in the movie - which has a surprising number of laughs for this sort of movie.

There's a good interview with Spader in this week's New York Magazine.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Lincoln - Thanksgiving connection

We went to see the movie Lincoln after Thanksgiving dinner. It's a good movie, I highly recommend it. I knew it was going to be good early on when there's a scene in which it is established that the reason the Confederacy went to war was to preserve slavery. Full stop. None of this "well there were other circumstances" stuff.

And the movie makes it clear at the end too - when Lincoln is meeting with the Confederate representatives who were looking to figure out a peace accord, the Confederates suggest that they would join the Union again only if it would give the slave states a chance to prevent ratification of the just-passed 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

When Lincoln points out to them that two or three of the Confederate states were likely to ratify - enough for it to become law - it's clear that the Confederacy will fight to the bitter end. Because they loved slavery so much.

Turns out it is especially appropriate to see a movie about Lincoln on Thanksgiving because he was responsible for making it a national holiday:
Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.[25] Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America's refusal to recognize Lincoln's authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

the Concorde-Connections irony

So I'm re-watching the James Burke series Connections, first produced in the late 1970s with benefit of almost 40 years worth of hindsight, and because of that, noticed an irony in episode six. The episode, "Thunder in the Skies" recounts all the technological innovations required to create the internal combustion engine leading to cars and airplanes.

At the end of the episode, James Burke recounts the efforts of Wilhelm Kress to create an airplane. Burke explains that thanks to debris in its path, the Kress plane crashed.

Interesting to note that the Wikipedia article on Kress cite's the book version of Connections as its only reference.

The episode ends with James Burke on top of the Concorde which was in commercial service by 1976, so the new exciting thing in air travel when the episode was filmed.

The Concorde was taken out of service in in 2003 due to low passenger numbers as a direct result of the crash of flight 4590 in 2000.

Burke recounts  Kress's failure in a humorous, mocking way:
In 1901 Kress launched his contraption, and, massive engine (too massive) chugging, he spluttered along, far too slow to skip over some debris he suddenly saw, floating in his path. Ah, the rewards of genius. 
(Sound of a crash) 
Still other people did take up the idea of using an engine the way Kress had - well, not quite. It was to be another 30 years or so before the gasoline motorcar engine was dropped in favor of another one, and even then the new one still used Mayboch's fuel system and the scent spray idea. The latest versions of that engine cruise along, carrying hundreds of people at speeds that Kress could never have thought possible. They cross the oceans of the world without a thought for floating debris... so that's where this trail of events has brought us... the direct modern descendent... of Wilhelm Kress's failure is this - the Concorde.  (shot of Burke on the Concorde) The modern jet aircraft and all that implies. Because what Wilhelm Kress was trying to do was to get a sea plane off the water of the lake in Austria. And had he done so he would have beaten the Wright brothers' first flight by two years. And instead of a couple of American bicycle mechanics, all the glory - or the blame - would have gone to an Austrian piano-maker who dreamed he could fly.
The episode ends at that point with a model of Kress's airplane behind the credits.

But apparently it wasn't only Kress who was beaten by the debris-at-take-off problem... according to Wikipedia's entry on the Concorde:
According to the official investigation conducted by the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA), the (2000 flight 4590) crash was caused by a titanium strip that fell from a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off minutes earlier. This metal fragment punctured a tyre on Concorde's left main wheel bogie during takeoff. The tyre exploded, a piece of rubber hit the fuel tank, and while the fuel tank was not punctured, the impact caused a shock-wave which caused one of the fuel valves in the wing to burst open. This caused a major fuel leak from the tank, which then ignited due to sparking electrical landing gear wiring severed by another piece of the same tyre. The crew shut down engine number 2 in response to a fire warning, and with engine number 1 surging and producing little power, the aircraft was unable to gain height or speed. The aircraft entered a rapid pitch-up then a violent descent, rolling left and crashing tail-low into the Hotelissimo Hotel in Gonesse.[135] On 6 December 2010, Continental Airlines and John Taylor, one of their mechanics, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.[136]
I guess Kress has the last, bitter laugh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plato vs. Duke Ellington


Another fascinating music theory class Tuesday night, this time focusing on different musical modes, specifically of the diatonic scale, which was the order of the day, prior to the chromatic scale of the "common practice period" - or as most people call the music of the common practice period, "classical."

I came home and read up via Wikipedia on the subject and got into the entry on the Music of Ancient Greece. And found this:

...Plato complained about the new music:
Our music was once divided into its proper forms...It was not permitted to exchange the melodic styles of these established forms and others. Knowledge and informed judgment penalized disobedience. There were no whistles, unmusical mob-noises, or clapping for applause. The rule was to listen silently and learn; boys, teachers, and the crowd were kept in order by threat of the stick. . . . But later, an unmusical anarchy was led by poets who had natural talent, but were ignorant of the laws of music...Through foolishness they deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong way in music, that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave. By their works and their theories they infected the masses with the presumption to think themselves adequate judges. So our theatres, once silent, grew vocal, and aristocracy of music gave way to a pernicious theatrocracy...the criterion was not music, but a reputation for promiscuous cleverness and a spirit of law-breaking.
Boy, things never really do change, do they? Some old guy complaining about the horrible music of the kids these days. I quoted Duke Ellington's famous line about music "if it sounds good, it is good" a few days ago on this blog. Clearly Plato did not agree:
They deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong way in music, that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave.
Now get off Plato's lawn, you hippies!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Connections: The Trigger Effect

I don't think it's possible to over-estimate the importance of James Burke's televisions series - Connections and The Day the Universe Change - on my intellectual development. His approach to the development of technology has the one-thing-leads-to-another approach of anthropologist Marvin Harris in his books on anthropology. And the focus on the ways that technology shapes human culture.

The entire Connections series is now available free online. The video embed above is the first of the series (in five video segments) and it's fascinating to watch all these years after the first time I saw it in the early 1980s. I could watch this kind of thing for hours on end - it's mental catnip.

An interesting note about this episode is that the opening segment is James Burke walking outside and inside of the World Trade Center. At 0:41 we can see The Sphere, a sculpture that was beat up during the collapse of the WTC. It is now on display in Battery Park- I didn't realize it until I took a walk one day during lunch hour when I was working near Wall Street this summer, and happened on it in the Park:

Monday, November 19, 2012


Well here I was waiting around for disco to come back when it already done did come back - it's called Nu-Disco and it's been around since 2002 and non-hipster Nancy G only finds out about it in this week's Sunday New York Times:

Disco’s New Big Band Era

“One of the things that I think is cool about disco was that disco is American urban music and in a lot of ways New York music,” Mr. Russom said. “Something about disco supported the coexistence of Latin sounds, white sounds, African sounds, African-American sounds, gay sounds, straight sounds, all these different things. All those distinctions got kind of melted away.”
Here is Crystal Ark Party Machine's cover of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. Love it.

This will go down as the music of the 2010s I believe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Taliban must be destroyed

Has there been any organization since the Nazis as evil as the Taliban?  I was not at all surprised that the Taliban was connected to the 9-11 attacks.

And now they are shooting girls in the head for wanting an education.

But they already consider human females lower than animals - as this Wikipedia article notes, the Taliban engage in sex slavery/human trafficking. In addition to systematic mass murder.

The wonderful thing is that Malala Yousafzai is pulling through the horrific execution attempt. Or as it says in this social media posting:

But they will keep perpetrating monstrosities as long as they exist. One way or the other, the Taliban, a cancer on humanity, must be removed. 

Friday, November 16, 2012


Damn I was starting to think J and White Jay were never going to get it on! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


MoMa PS1 is right down the street from where I work and really one of the only serious cultural institutions in Long Island City. I never had any desire to go there though, since as they admit:
MoMA PS1 is one of the largest and oldest institutions in the United States dedicated solely to contemporary art. 
And on their web site it is revealed that they held a Kraftwerk Music Festival. That's right, I said it. A Kraftwerk Music Festival.

But their building is in a fascinating bizarre architectural style. I couldn't help taking a photo on Wednesday.

You can listen to Kraftwerk's 1974 song Autobahn on Youtube here. It's 22 minutes long and I think it uses maybe one chord. I couldn't stand more than ten minutes myself.

Here are the lyrics:
Wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der autobahn 
Vor uns liegt ein weites tal 
Die sonne scheint mit glitzerstrahl 
Die fahrbahn ist ein graues band 
Weisse streifen, gruener rand 
Jetzt schalte n wir das radio an 
Aus dem lautsprecher klingt es dann 
Wir fahr'n auf der autobahn
Which mean in English
We are driving driving driving on the Autobahn  
In front of us is a wide valley  
The sun is shining with glittering rays 
The driving strip is a grey track
White stripes, green edge 
We are switching the radio on 
From the speaker it sounds: 
We are driving on the Autobahn

I find it very amusing that there is a single word that means "glittering rays" in German: glitzerstrahl.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just intonation

Well I learned some more fascinating facts in my Music Theory class on Tuesday night, and I can't believe I didn't know about this before: Equal temperament  vs. Just intonation. As Wiki notes:
Just intonation can be contrasted and compared with equal temperament, which dominates Western instruments of fixed pitch and default MIDI tuning. In equal temperament, all notes are defined as multiples of the same basic interval. Two notes separated by the same number of steps always have exactly the same frequency ratio. However, except for doubled frequencies (octaves), no other intervals are exact ratios of integers. Each just interval differs a different amount from its analogous, equally tempered interval.
According to my teacher, the spoiler here is the piano, which uses the equal temperament, but when singers or string quartets get together without a piano in the mix they sometimes use Just intonation rather than Equal temperament, which is now the standard. 

And now for something completely different - I admit I LOL'd when I suddenly saw this on the news stand at the deli:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My voice-over debut

Hurricane Sandy - and the Nor'easter a week later both screwed up so many of my plans so it's no surprise that the recording of the October Play of the Month would also be thwarted thanks to the weather. I had an actor coming in from LA to do the voice of "Boy" in this recording, but her flight was cancelled. So I had to fill in, there was no time to find someone else and match their schedule to Bruce's. I think I did OK though - I only had to do a little post-recording auditory alterations to my voice, which is better than I feared.

Monday, November 12, 2012

head-up display

While researching film clips on Youtube to possibly use for the NYCPlaywrights October Play of the Month production - obviously I'm late on it - I came across a clip from Terminator 2, the scene where the now good-guy Terminator comes back from the future (again) and needs clothing. He goes into a biker bar and mayhem ensues.

The text that shows up when you see the world through the Terminator's POV is always interesting, but it goes by so fast that you can't read most of it unless you pause it. With Youtube it's extremely easy to pause.

The screen shot here is of the biker whose clothes are deemed a suitable fit (0.99 fit probability it said on screen) by the Terminator. The biker blows smoke at the Terminator and what we see on the screen here is the Terminator "threat assessment" of the cigarette smoke coming at him. I thought it was pretty funny that the cigarette smoke was labeled "carcinogenic vapor" but also in the analysis section the Terminator determines that there was no particulate damage - which there wouldn't be, because it's just smoke.

Predictably there is a Terminator wiki with a post devoted to the Terminator POV screen display, called a "head-up display."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

theories of music

There's a surprisingly thorough, free web site devoted to music theory at  - sure they are also selling products, but they are giving alot of information away. But as a technical writer, my theory of information is always "information wants to be free."

But there's nothing like attending a music theory class like the one I've been taking in Brooklyn the past month. Unfortunately class was cancelled in the last two weeks thanks to a. Hurricane Sandy and b. the Election. I'm looking forward to going back this Tuesday.

I do think that the most important aspect of music, though, is emotion, and that's something that's not part of music theory classes. I'm not suggesting that knowledge of pitch, scale, rhythm, etc. are not essential for understanding how music works - but it's the impact on human emotions that is what makes music so valuable to people.

Once I started playing with the fantastic free application Garageband, which comes with all recent Macintosh laptops, I had that insight - that what music is really about is emotion. And once I realized this, I was able to compose music. Prior to the insight I approached music mechanistically - I thought that if I experimented long enough with enough note combinations I would find a good melody. But once I approached music emotionally I found that the melody would appear on its own in response to emotional evocation. Here is the first, Garage-band-loops-aided piece I created, Cinco de Mayo:

A bit repetitive but still, pretty catchy I think.

And I was able to get the emotional evocation going by combining Garageband loops. But although I was initially dependent on Garageband loops for composition, eventually I was able to make the leap to creating a song from scratch. My Jane Eyre Waltz, created for the production of my play Jane Eyre, is the first time I created a piece of music from scratch.

One of my inspirations for Jane Eyre Waltz was the Who's Baba O'Riley (aka "Teenage Wasteland") - the majestic F-major piano chords at the opening - F-C-Bb - in particular, which is why my waltz is in F-major. Here it is - I'm not the best pianist so it's not a great rendition, but I still do like it as a collection of melodies:

 I gave Baba O'Riley a shout-out in the middle of the piece, at minute 2:47 to be exact, where I quote the part that's sung "don't cry, don't raise your eyes, it's only teenage wasteland."

While the music of the Who seems to be very distant from Jane Eyre, it should be noted that Jane is a teenager technically - 19 years old - when the events of the novel (and my play) occur.

But the best music theory I've heard yet is attributed to Duke Ellington:
If it sounds good, it is good.

Here's the studio version of Baba O'Riley...

Friday, November 09, 2012

Avalanche on Bullshit Mountain!

Jon Stewart is loving it. 

Best quote:
"This footage (of Karl Rove's Fox News meltdown) will live forever."

Wait - this is the best quote:
"'Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better' is a much better slogan for Fox than the one they have now."

No wait! This is it!
"Fox lost because last night minorities, who feel entitled to things, came and took the country away from the self-sufficient white Medicare retirees and upper-class tax avoidance experts, or as they're also known - your audience."
And then Nate Silver gets to take a victory lap - nice.

But did I understand that correctly? Washington State and Colorado both legalized marijuana??? I know where my ex-husband is moving next.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

What happened to Autumn?

I want Autumn back - what's this with the Winter encroachment?

That's better...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Nate Silver nails it

The much-abused Nate Silver called every single state correctly (we can safely assume Alaska will turn red as predicted.) Now I can breathe again. So glad my $300+ worth of compulsive campaign contributions were not in vain!

Now it can be shown...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Social Realism inspired "art" of Jon McNaughton

To get an idea of how truly deranged and hate-filled the Right is in this country, you need to know about the "art" of Jon McNaughton - I just learned about his work via Bill Maher making a reference to him during one of his shows. In this painting McNaughton presents Obama and Democrats/liberals in general as evil - you can see FDR and Clinton among others applauding Obama standing on the Constitution.

On seeing McNaughton's work, I was reminded of the "social realism" agit-prop paintings of authoritarian regimes. Here is an example from the Soviet Union.

Here's an example from Communist China

There is always a lot of hand gestures in this style of painting, although the communist painters have more restraint and taste than McNaughton.

Monday, November 05, 2012

the funny side of sexual harassment

Here is a cartoon from a 1955 issue of the New Yorker I happened to come across yesterday. The theme of sexual harassment is persistent in that magazine - and many other magazines - from the mid 1940s through the early 1970s.

I recently stopped working on theater projects with a playwright because he personally invited me to sit through three short plays of his, two of which were what I'm sure he considers a brave stand against the "political correctness" of sexual harassment policies. I had some sense that he had retro attitudes about gender, and on top of that he is not a very good playwright, but I was going through a phase of trying to be accommodating and politically non-judgmental. Serves me right: this guy's plays were so incredibly offensive I wanted to puke. His attitude is basically that everything was just fine in the good old days (this guy is in his 60s) until prudes came along and ruined everybody's fun.

Now the New Yorker cartoonists of the period didn't have any ethical qualms about sexual harassment, but as this cartoon indicates, even they were aware that the good times were more fun for some people than others.

It's men of that 60-something age-group that are so enraged about everything these days, because they remember how incredibly sweet it was to be a white man - once upon a time the world belonged to you thanks to your ethnicity and gender. But in the past 40 years that privilege has been chipped away. And like David Mamet, many of them focus their rage on Obama. And as David Mamet's OLEANNA indicates, that generation of men still doesn't quite get the problem of sexual harassment - Mamet's play is basically a cautionary tale of what can happen when "The Group" runs rampant, trying to destroy innocent men with their blackmail and false rape charges. Because you know, that happens all the time. Well, like Obama's alleged kenyan-muslim-atheist-socialism, it doesn't have to be real - their paranoid fevered resentment is all that matters to them.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Delayed Sandy effects

I guess I have no room to complain - Astoria was hardly impacted at all by Hurricane Sandy  - not even the tiniest of power outages. But it is inconvenient that Time Warner cable has outage in Astoria tonight. It's no fun blogging from my iPhone.

Anyway, the fact that David Mamet supports Romney should surprise nobody - he started down the path to full wingnut five years ago at least. Although I still maintain that part of the issue is that he's showing signs of dementia too. His paranoia is becoming increasingly obvious.

Borowitz on the election

Unfortunately I can't embed this video clip of Andy Borowitz at the 92nd Street Y so you'll just have to follow the link to the New Yorker site. It's well worth it.

I only became aware of Borowitz in the past couple of years, thanks to Facebook and Twitter - he is the master of the funny Twitter riposte, as I said back in March. But also he's a very good public speaker. And he can write longer comedy bits too - this "Three Things to Do When Clarence Thomas’s Wife Calls You" is genius.

I have to agree with the stranger in the subway, which he mentions at the top of the clip - he really should think about a nose job - he'd be really cute except for his nose is severely messed up. Although he's in his mid-50s and married so you could make the case that there isn't all that much to be gained at this point.

UPDATE: I finally bothered to read his bio on Wiki - turns out he created the series "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." And here I am thinking Twitter is his big claim to fame.

Here he is at a different 92nd St. Y event.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

This explains sooooo much...

Poll: Most Republicans believe in demonic possession

Less than one week away from the election, a terrifying new poll reveals that more than two-thirds of registered Republican voters believe that people can be possessed by demons. 
A staggering 68 percent of registered Republican voters stated that they believe demonic possession is real. Meanwhile, only 48 percent of self-identified Republicans believe in another equally if not more scary natural phenomenon: climate change.
But what I found most unbelievable was at the end of the article:

The poll also revealed that zombies are considered to be the scariest monster, another issue that has not been raised at all on the campaign trail.

Oh come on! Have they never heard of the Alien from the movie? How about your run-of-the-mill vampire even? Zombies are only a danger if you're in some enclosed space and/or really dumb. They must not read Cracked...

7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)

#7. They Have Too Many Natural Predators 
Do you know why we, as humans, are at the top of the current food chain? Not because we're hard to kill (well, with the exception of Steven Seagal). We're not; we're little more than tasty flesh bags waiting for an errant horn or claw to spill our guts like a meat pinata. No, we're on top simply because we are so absurdly good at killing things ourselves. A good offense, as they say, is the best de-LOOK THERE'S A DUCK! MURDER IT! 
We are simply too smart and too well-armed for any wild animal to hunt. Now consider the poor zombie. It lacks every single advantage that has kept humanity from being eaten to extinction. It wanders around in the open, it can't use weapons, it can't think or use strategy. It doesn't even have the sense of self preservation to run and hide when it's in danger. And, it's made entirely out of food. It's easy prey for any animal that wants it. 
If you're saying, "Sure, but it's not like my city is full of bears that can come eat all the zombies," you need to think smaller. Insects are a major pain in the ass for living humans, and in some cases, being able to swat away flies and having an immune system is the only thing keeping us from having our eyes and tongues eaten out by maggots. Zombies in any part of the world with a fly problem are going to be swarming with maggots in short order, meaning that most of their soft tissues will be infested, and their eyes will be very quickly useless.

Even more reasons at the site...

I still haven't started my play about a zombie outbreak, which I mentioned two years ago:
So in my play there is a zombie invasion, but the biggest problem is how to dispose of all the zombie carcasses in the most sanitary yet environmentally friendly way.
Gotta get on that soon...

Friday, November 02, 2012

White Palace

Thinking about "Sex Lies and Videotape" got me thinking about a movie that James Spader made a couple of years after "White Palace." I saw this movie in the theater when it was first released. It's not a great movie but it stars Spader and Susan Sarandon, two great actors and this scene here demonstrates their skills

The characters, Nora and Max had met briefly when Max returned to Nora's White Palace, where she works as a cashier. He was bitchy to her because he didn't get the burgers he paid for and she was bitchy back at him. In this scene it's later the same night and they both happen to be in the same bar. He doesn't recognize her at first but she recognizes him and offers to buy him a drink as a way to "'pass the peace pipe." She then tries to seduce him, with no success. At one point he says to her "why don't you get your hand off my thigh" and she says "my hand's not on your thigh."

It took me years to figure out what her hand was on. I know, it seems obvious now, but somehow I was baffled by this when I first saw it - "how could she think her hand is on his thigh when it isn't? What's wrong with her? Is this supposed to indicate how drunk she is?" I asked myself, idiotically.

I went to see the movie because I wanted to see the beautiful James Spader again and I was intrigued by the older woman - younger man scenario, although at the time I was right around Max's age. In a later scene Nora tells Max her age: "I'm 43, I'll be 44 in December." And I was like "wow 43 - do people still have sex at that advanced age?" Well, not exactly but practically.

This movie was made before the term "cougar" was invented, so it was just weird and rare for a 43 year old woman to get together with a 27 year old man. And that's a big part of the plot, although it's also a class issue as well - he has an office job in an ad agency and she's a waitress at a "White Castle" like diner.

During her attempted seduction Nora deduces that Max is "feeling sorry for himself" which he denies, but it's exactly what his friend, played by Jason Alexander, said to him a few scenes earlier.

Fun fact: Spader and Alexander would reunite on Seinfeld when Spader played "an angry recovering alcoholic who refuses to apologize to George for making fun of him."

Just as Max is leaving the bar, Nora gets him to admit that he's still in mourning for his dead wife Janey and then she reveals she has a dead child and they bond briefly over this, which sets up their eventual getting together.

But it is disturbing that Max and Nora's first sexual encounter happens while he's sleeping off a drunk on her sofa and she decides to fellate him while he's unconscious. Although once he regains consciousness he allows her to continue, it's still an uncomfortably rapey way to start off.

The script is weak at times, although it does have a decent denouement. I hate the soundtrack though - crass, on the nose and often just incredibly loud.

The most satisfying aspect of the movie is the couple's eventual commitment to stay together in spite of their differences and in spite of Max's idealization of his dead wife. Nora is so different from Janey that it helps him get over his idealization and he discovers that sometimes the person who is right for you doesn't match your ideal.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

I know from cool

Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side was played on top 40 AM radio when it was released in 1972. I know this because I distinctly remember hearing it on the radio when I was driving with my mother to the super market, and my mother certainly didn't listen to anything but top 40 AM radio.

And I remember suddenly being aware: "this is cool."

I don't mean I thought it was cool, I mean I realized that what I was hearing would be properly classified as "cool" although at that age I don't know what possible use I could have had for the concept of cool. But I knew it was.

And of course it is the very epitome of cool.

And I had no idea what the lyrics were about. The term "colored girls" was retro, since at that time the proper term for African-Americans was "black" but somehow I understood "colored girls" was being used ironically. And I surely did know that him saying "and the colored girls go do, do do, do do, do do" - and then having  the colored girls actually go do, do do, do do was without a doubt coolness.

The slow deliberate rhythm of the thumpy bass and jazzy drums dripped with coolness and Lou Reed's voice was unlike anything I had ever heard - his singing was closer to talking so it was more like poetry than a pop song.

And then the saxophone fade-out - clearly this was coolness.

Wiki notes:
The song received wide radio coverage, despite its touching on taboo topics such as transsexuality, drugs, male prostitutes and oral sex. In the United States, RCA released an edited version of the song as a single which eliminated the song's reference to oral sex.

I was years away from knowing what "giving head" meant anyway.

Eventually I came to understand that the song is about associates of Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, but only in the past day or so of reading up do I really know the deal with the lyrics. But first here are the lyrics:
Holly came from Miami FLA.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows along the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
Candy came from out on the island
in the backroom she was everybody's darling
But she never lost her head even when she was giving head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
and the coloured girls go
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo etc.
Little Joe never once gave it away
everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York city is the place where they said
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side
Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets
lookin' for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo you should have seen him go go go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
all right,
Jackie is just speeding away
thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
valium would have helped that  bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
and the coloured girls say
Doo, doo, doo, doo etc.
Holly refers to Holly Woodlawn a trandgender Warhol actor. My favorite item in her bio:
Woodlawn created a stir when she was arrested in New York City after impersonating the wife of the French Ambassador to the United Nations.

Candy Darling was also a transsexual and the island she came from was Long Island, Massapequa to be exact. She died in 1974 of lymphoma.

Little Joe Dallesandro was a male hustler, although he's bisexual not gay. He was an amazingly beautiful man in 1967. Wow. It's his crotch on the cover of the Rolling Stone's Sticky Fingers.

Sugar Plum Fairy is identified as Joe Campbell. He doesn't have his own Wiki page but this web page claims he was a lover of Harvey Milk and he died of AIDS.

Jackie Curtis was a transvestite and was a playwright as well as an actor. He died of a heroin overdose at 38.