Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quantum of... Gonzales?

The curse of the clunker title has once again struck someone involved in the production of the new James Bond movie. Or so I’d like to think.

I read yesterday that Quantum of Solace’s theme song will be performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys. This makes me very happy, as I loved Chris Cornell’s performance of the Casino Royale theme, especially in conjunction with the visual effects, which, would sound terrible on paper — “It’s a war between these different card suits, and this one gets shot with a spade and then spills out all these hearts” — but on the screen looked amazing. And I don’t even like Chris Cornell.

However, thinking of Jack White and Alicia Keys singing the Quantum of Solace theme, I’m amused by the difficulties of rhyming the word “solace” with anything. I tried making a short list of possible rhymes and came up with this:
  • ball us
  • brawl us
  • maul us
  • call us
  • Gonzales
  • Paul, us
  • stall us
  • thawless
  • Cialis (as a stretch)
And some others that were even worse. Of course, Cornell’s song was titled “You Know My Name” and not “Casino Royale,” breaking the tradition of most Bond themes having the same name of the movie they’re attached to.

Here, by the way, is that Casino Royale intro:

Monsters Walking Across the Floor

"Hi. Is this Leslie Feist? Hi, Leslie. I'm a producer at Sesame Street and I was wondering if you'd like to make a guest appearance on an upcoming episode... Hmm? What's that? Well, you know your song '1234'? We like it too, but we were thinking that it might be even better if it was re-written to be about counting to four. Oh, I don't know. Chickens and stuff?"

And the rest was history. I suppose it's better that Sesame Street didn't use the version of the song where Feist counts 1-2-3-4-5-6-9-10, as that would have doubtlessly confused the children. The children!

Of course, Feist is not the first female singer with indie cred to sing alongside muppets. Just recently, I also saw this on a blog I read: Debbie Harry singing a duet of "The Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog.

And since we're on the subject, the last two weeks have seen a handful of Muppet-central take-offs on classical music. Like the author of this blog, I have no idea whether these are new or old. I've certainly never seen them before.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sanity Melts Like Lemon Drops

I like whippets. And I like any animal made to exhibit human qualities. "Like," however, doesn't get anywhere near my thoughts on the below video of a whippet eerily singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

I can only hope the the person who made this did so specifically to disturb the people tricked into watching it and not because he or she actually thought the above video would actually induce happiness. Now it's your problem, I suppose. Let's cross our fingers and hope that the dreams that we dare to dream do not, in fact, come true.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Land of Plenty, Land of Fun

I decided to clean out my Google bookmark stash. Some merit their own blog posts. Others will be dumped here.
And finally this video, Army of Lovers' 1991 dance hit "Crucified," which is awful-amazing in an overwhelming way.

Part of me wonders how such a pop culture abomination could have escaped my notice for so long. But then I remember. "Oh, yes. It's terrible."

Seriously Uncuil

According to supposed Google killer Cuil, my nearly six-year-old, nearly-3,000-post-long blog doesn't exist. That is neat. Is this because my blog and all Blogger blogs are affiliated with Google? Also, Fritinancy and Bradshaw of the Future have some interesting perspectives on the product's strange name.

Don't Be a Clamhead All Your Life

My blog, or at least what it looks like today, according to Wordle:

[ Wordle, via Dr. Johnson's Cat ]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Langdon Alger

Search terms that led to this blog and, likely, put frowny faces on the people that entered them.
  1. A number one hit, though I now think it should be spelled "taardvark."
  2. This actually makes sense as a search term, if you imagine someone is searching for streaming video of the film The Shining. They probably were. But what did they get? Lyrics from Hair. Ha.
  3. Alas, hope is just as useless in grammar as it is in real life.
  4. Jan. Jan the Mermaid.
  5. If you need etymology to help you figure out the origin of the term "doggy style," then you understand nothing of sexuality, human or canine. You are terrible.
  6. If you had time to Google this, you're probably fine.
  7. If you want to know so badly, just convert already.


My office sponsored a booze cruise on Friday night. I have chosen not to elaborate on the matter, aside from the fact that part of the three-hour tour of the Santa Barbara harbor area included a good look at a boat that has been overtaken by seals. Basically, it was the pinniped version of a hobo camp. I'm surprised that these animals could have mustered the energy to conquer anything, much less some family's boat. Based on what I saw during the cruise, I feel like the seals the laziest animals I've seen in recent memory. And I've seen sloths. Also, I'm surprised they could jump onto the boat deck, given that their bodies look like sleek sacks of fat. Do they get squatters rights?

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Also, there was one seagull. Also, Paul was there, presumably taking better photos than what you see above.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

Maria's friends and associated audition to replace her as star of The Maria Bamford Show.

A highlight: clothespin fingernails.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fart Date

Apparently my old roommate Tristan lets the Washington Post write about dates he goes on with legislative assistants who are one year older than he is.

Proper Terminology for Scabby-Mouthed Sheep

Word of the week, being presented a few hours later than normal. This week's pick has limited use, but is fun to say and, quite possibly, the kind of word that can prove handy in a match of Scrabble.

orf (pronounced like you'd think) — noun: a sheep-born disease that causes red, oozing sores around the mouth.
This word might seem out-of-place in a book like Depraved and Insulting English, which is where I found it, but this word's potential use in mockery is alluded to in book's example sentence: "Jamie wasn't going to let a little thing like a case of orf keep him from attending the shepherd's ball." Yes, in fact, orf can be transmitted to humans, as the Wikipedia article on the subject notes. But while human-ovine love could certainly be one means of inter-species infection, less salacious interactions between the wooly ones and their non-wooly caretakers can also result in the disease spreading. Still funny, though. The next time you see someone with a scab, suggest that it could be orf.

The biological aspects of orf weren't what led me to pick it, however. Simply put, it was short, unfamiliar and looked like it would be fun to say. (On that third count: It totally is, especially repeatedly and in rapidly.) Most dictionaries don't feature this word, but Wikipedia suggests that orf means "rough" in Old English. I would have supposed that the our word rough also came from the Old English orf, with the letters "O" and "R" being transposed for the same reasons that the Middle English brid became our word "bird." But that doesn't seem to be the case here, as the American Heritage Dictionary ruh. Shows what I know.

Previously celebrated words-o'-the-week:
And now that I look at the list, I notice that three of the words picked so far refer to illnesses of some sort. The pattern is accidental, I swear, but perhaps I should just rename this feature "Disease Words of the Week." Notable candidates for such a series: the adorable-sounding pica, the tropical-sounding framboesia, and the downright strange-sounding maple syrup urine disease.

The Lady in Green

Because I’m determined to make a habit of documenting name goings-on with Nintendo characters, that’s why.

This fall, Nintendo will release a new Wario game: Wario Land: Shake It!, which features the morbidly obese anti-hero venturing off to find treasure and, to a lesser extent, rescue a damsel. Given the title and the fact that the game is controlled with the Wiimote, it should surprise no one that the gameplay involves super fiesta maraca-like waggling action. Initially, the game’s new damsel character was presented to the world, she bore her Japanese name — or, at least, an English approximation of her Japanese name, Melfull. Which means nothing in English, though it could be some strange way of saying “full of honey” in the same way that the name Melissa refers to honey. But it probably doesn’t. Even worse, the name can be also be translated as Merfle, which sounds downright un-queenly.

here she is — little miss problematically named

More recently, Nintendo began advertising the game to English-speaking audiences and, in doing so, has presented a new Anglo-friendly name for this woman: Merelda, which probably isn’t a translation of either Melfull or Merfle but at least sounds enough like it that it shouldn’t be confusing for the people with reason to discuss proper names in the game’s English and Japanese versions. (Me, basically.) After a moment, I realized that the name was either a shortened variation on the name Esmeralda — which means “emerald” and which is appropriate, given the character’s profound greenness — or just a variation on the world emerald itself. This keeps her in line with the Mario universe tradition of naming female characters after things that are small, pretty, or sweet. (Case in point: Peach, Daisy, Rosetta (Rosalina’s Japanese name), Syrup, Tiaramisu (which counts for two and surely must be the name of a drag queen somewhere), Shokora (whose name is Japanese for “chocolate”), Eclair, and a whole lot of others.) Her profile here also notes one more of her names: Königin Midori, which the Germans shall call her and which oddly uses a Japanese word — midori, meaning green and surely familiar to most of us as the melon liqueur.

My take: Call Melfull, Merelda, Midori or her whatever you like, but I can’t help but to think of the minor Tiny Toons character and Marvin the Martian offspring Marcia the Martian every time I see her.

Am I the only one who sees it? Mentally switch all the pink and purple to green.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Giving New Meaning to "Green Greens"


Some context: The above video combines the video game track "Gourmet Race," which has appeared in most installments of Nintendo's Kirby series with Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot." Not sure how much either song's tempo had to be adjusted for this mash-up, but they both sound more or less like I remember them. They synch up beautifully. Think of this as a sequel to that Bob Fosse "Mexican Breakfast" mash-up.

[ YTMND, via Food Party ]

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Talula Brings Shame to Tiny Island Country

A happy sign that people in other countries also make terrible parenting decisions: A New Zealand man and woman has lost custody of their daughter because they named her Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, according to CNN and virtually every other website reporting news of the weird. My understanding is that the girl is only temporarily becoming a ward of the court so that the it can legally change her name. The girl apparently so hated her name that she simply went by “K,” thought I wonder why “Tallie” was never a viable option.

The ruling judge in the case opined that saddling kids with rotten names can set them up for a fall — or at least fill their lives with more hurdles than their more typically named counterparts would face. (I have to argue, however, that theoretically acceptable names like “Ethyline” and “Mortimer” would prove nearly as difficult as “Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii.”) Among other names dinged by Judge Rob Murfitt: “twins named Benson and Hedges — after a brand of cigarettes; Violence; and Number 16 Bus Shelter.” The CNN article also mentions that the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages — of New Zealand, I'd guess — had rejected other odd names, including “Fish and Chips,” “Yeah Detroit,” “Stallion,” “Twisty Poi” (a staple food in Polynesian cuisine), and “Sex Fruit.” How the Kiwi moniker administrators rejected these and accepted “Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii” is beyond me. “Stallion” isn't even that bad, comparatively.

“Murfitt,” by the way, is kind of a terrible last name. I can only imagine how his school chums would have mocked it during his playground days.

Hailey and Hagley Winters — Real! And Chinese!

Of course, I accept any reason to re-post the Amy Adams "Mirror Image" sketch. In fact, I'll do so right now.

With this sketch in mind, consider this news item, about the so-called "robot restaurant" in Yiwu, China, at which the husband-and-wife owner-managers seemed to work 21 hours a day. Upon being interviewed by a Daily Times reporter, however, they revealed their ruse: the restaurant is actually owned by a pair of identical twin brothers who married identical twin sisters. Literally, twins who pretended to be the same person in order to make that person seem like a ridiculously high achiever. Odd how no one thought to ask these people what was up until the reporter came along, though I would have vastly preferred the trick being revealed as a result of one of the couples getting really fat.

No Need to Watch It Now

Apparently at a loss for anything better to do, I was watching reruns of Tales From the Darkside on the Scifi Channel this weekend. Wanting to see exactly how much time I'd be wasting, I pushed the button that gives the episode synopsis. For whatever reason, the synopsis when read in conjunction with the episode title struck me as accidentally hilarious. I took a photo.

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Direct to the point of being spoilery — but not exactly unexpected, given the nature of the show. Also, randomly, IMDb says Jodie Foster directed this particular episode.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Bother the Big Snake

The snake is actually quite frightening, I think. I look forward to hearing your reactions.

[ From Nothing to Do With Arborath, via Bits & Pieces, via Scribal Terror, via Neatorama ]

Not a Hedgehog, But Close

Things that looked like hedgehogs but, upon close inspection, were not: this thing, which fell from a tree. I'm actually not sure what the proper term would be, but "spiky thing full of blowy seeds" gets to the heart of the matter, I think.

spiky seed thing looks like a hedgehog

spiky seed thing looks like a hedgehog 2

The lesson: Be wary of hedgehog mimics.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Can I Call Ewe?

Easily the best email forward I've ever received from my mother: Some insightful artist has seen fit to construct sheep out of old telephones.


Apparently these telesheep became minor internet celebrities two years ago, but they're new to me. Mad genius Jean-Luc Cornec made the sculptures for Frankfurt's Museum of Telecommunication, which, of course, sounds like a blast, telesheep notwithstanding.

Tell your friends!

Who Killed Bill?

Posts both recent and from long ago should prove that I adore Kill Bill, both as entertainment and a piece of pop culture whose components seem artistically and deliberately arranged. Entertaining, deliberate, artistic — anything that can boast these three qualities, by the way, qualifies as “good” in my book.

I was talking about Quentin Tarantino movies recently — because that’s what people who do when they lack the skills to discuss what everybody else is going on about — when my friend, Jesse, said he liked Pulp Fiction best. I like Kill Bill. (And, yes, for the purposes of my conversation and this post, I’m considering Kill Bill one movie, not two.) I have my reasons for liking it, though I’m quick to admit that my pick isn’t perfect and that Pulp Fiction and, to a lesser extent, Jackie Brown both have their merits and their reasons for being important to cinema in general. Jesse, however, found fault with Kill Bill, particularly with certain plot points. And when I asked him to say what specifically bothered him, he stopped me dead in my tracks.

A paraphrase:

“Something that was really irritating for me about Kill Bill was that the way it initially withheld Beatrix Kiddo’s name was pointless. It didn’t do anything to further the plot.”

I suddenly realized that Jesse was right: I can think of interesting implications of not telling the viewers Kiddo’s name, and I can think of just as many ways in which her name, once revealed, adds to the meaning of the film. However, pressed to say what logic prompted Tarantino to initially withhold the name but to ultimately reveal it, I could come up with no good reason — only sloppy writing or perhaps that Tarantino saw the virtues in giving and not giving the name and ultimately opted to do both.

why do we know this woman's name?

My thoughts on the subject, beginning with the pluses of not stating the name:

On a subtle level, Kiddo’s initial lack of a name helps to set her up as an idealized mother figure. Viewers learn at the end of Volume One that Kiddo gave birth to a daughter whom Bill has raised. This moment carries a lot of weight in the film because it changes Kiddo from a mere angry woman to an angry mother — one who eventually reconfigures the typical daddy-mommy-baby family set-up by getting rid of Bill altogether and raising her daughter on her own. So, for the period that Beatrix is still nameless, the viewer can hold her up as the epitome of motherhood and the bad-ass action film mother since Linda Hamilton played Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. However, any grand ideas Tarantino may be attempting to convey about the structure of families in general get changes when, partway through Volume Two, a character finally speaks Kiddo’s full name, arguably making her less of an everywomen or everymother and more of a specific person. That’s how I view it, anyway — in short, an effective naming strategy that manages to direct the viewers attention until it’s completely undone.

Once we know Beatrix’s full name, however, we can work with that and look at how that revelation lends the movie a deeper meaning.

Giving the character a name also adds a few somethings, though all of them work independently from the two points I just described. First off, the name “Beatrix” calls to mind the idealized woman from The Divine Comedy, Beatrice. (Hands down, however, any name respelled with an “x” becomes ten times cooler than the version spelled without, Roman numeral puns notwithstanding.) The main difference between the two is the fact that Beatrice causes Dante’s journey to happen — she asks God to allow Dante to go on the grand tour of the afterlife — and Beatrix is the one who actually goes on the quest, crisscrossing the globe and figuratively going though hell in her search.

Keeping in mind that the daughter’s name turns out to be “B.B.,” Beatrix’s name seems significant in that her “B” name and Bill’s “B” name produce a child that represents those two initial letters and, thus, equal parts of mom and dad. (“B.B.” also calls to mind the small, rather harmless bullet beloved by underage sharpshooters. Given that her parents work as assassins, that itself is notable — and cute, in an awful way.) And this wordplay adds meaning to the notion of Beatrix hacking apart the mommy-daddy-baby relationship, even though even her daughter’s name would seem to suggest that traditional family set-up.

Finally, once the viewer knows Beatrix’s full name, he or she can look back on lines delivered by other characters in a new context. In the first scene, for example, Bill repeatedly calls Beatrix “Kiddo.” Anyone unaware that Kiddo is actually her last name might interpret this as only a pet name, but it’s not, necessarily. (The guy clearly has affection for her, but that first “Kiddo”-strewn scene ends with Bill shooting Beatrix in the head, so perhaps it’s not the lovey-dovey appellation it might seem to be.) Also, in Volume One’s “House of Blue Leaves” chapter, O-Ren Ishii delivers a line that initially seems nonsensical: “Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids.” Upon seeing Volume Two, one might realize that the line could actually be a jab at Kiddo’s full name, as the recited cereal slogan includes both “tricks” and “kids,” two words that make up the majority of Beatrix Kiddo’s name. It’s a small point to make, I know, but it is one that develops a deeper meaning in light of the revelation of the name later in the show.

In Jesse’s opinion — and now mine, too, I guess, since Jesse put the thought in my head, the jerk — these arguments in favor or against Beatrix’s name don’t add up to enough of a justification for withholding the name, building up suspense, and then revealing it, for no reason. A good reason for doing so, I guess, would be to eventually reveal something that drastically changes the outcome of the plot. Theoretically speaking, had the film eventually reveals that the protagonist’s name was actually “Bill,” then that might have merited the initial reluctance to say it aloud at the beginning. But that would have been retarded. Also, if Tarantino truly wanted his protagonist to lack a name, he could have easily have written the film so that no one speaks it — or at least not have written it so that characters speak it but then have it bleeped out, as if it were some obscenity or some bit of information that would have somehow lessened their enjoyment of the film. As its stands now, the bleeps only call attention to the fact that her name is some big secret and build suspense around something that never pays off. (Not unlike how some critics might view the two volumes of Kill Bill — huge build-up with a let-down at the end.) For when it’s finally spoken, sans bleeps, the plot more or less proceeds as normal.

So then, I put the matter to you all, Back of the Cereal Box readers and good people of the internet: Jesse and I can’t be the only people who have discuss this apparent failing. Does anybody else know why Beatrix’s name was initially withheld, only to be eventually revealed?

Previous Kill Billery:
EDIT: Okay, so I kind of biffed this one, at least initially. I may have said some things about Beatrix and the Man With No Name that turned out to be less than correct. Guess it's what I get for going on about movies that I haven't seen recently enough. I took it all out, mostly because I was wrong, but also because it didn't have much to do with what I was trying to do with this post: Find out if anybody can explain this one aspect of Kill Bill.

Monday, July 21, 2008

All Glory to the Hypnotoad

(See post headline for all relevant information. Then click here.)

Ride the Tiger Down River Euphrates

I’ve already put up two posts with photos from my weekend at home: one biker-related and one puppy-related. Here’s a third, sort of a catch-all for other strange photos I felt compelled to take.

liquor store mural

Randomly Aztec-themed mural on the side of a liquor store.


Billboard that seemed relevant at the time.

tennis courts in the middle of nowhere 3

Tennis courts in the middle of nowhere. (And, yes, the house on the hill is the creepy, pseudo-Moesko Island one from this post.)

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Tennis courts, again.

strange figurine shrine

House with strange McDonald’s action figure shrine in front. This thing has to be seen to be believed. I may go back and take more pictures at a later date.


Wires, sky, and alleyway.


Inside of the church that had the motorcycles parked on the lawn, from this post.

grandma at the pool

Grandma — cold but nonetheless standing by the pool.


Milkweed, lookin’ all weird.

weird growth in pine tree

And a weird growth on a mostly dead pine tree. I feel like the needles that aren’t growing on the rest of the tree chose to instead grow in this one clump.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Toad’s Piranha Plant-Controlling Cousin?

Hello. Every now and then, I test the power of this blog and the reach of the internet to determine if a thing I have back in the recesses of my memory actually existed or if I just made it up then forgot I made it up and continued life thinking said thing was real. I did it a few years ago with George and the Star, which, it turned out, was real. I’m hoping I’ll find luck with this one as well.

Way back when — between 1993 and 1996, I’d guess — I was a regular reader of a video game magazine called Diehard Gamefan. I loved it. They reported on games with a certain style that other magazines didn’t, and they often focused on obscure stuff, much of which would never see the light of day in the United States. I distinctly remember one day reading about an aborted Mario game that, unless I’m mistaken, would have been released on the CD-ROM attachment Nintendo had initially planned for the Super Nintendo. (That attachment never came, of course, and a lot of titles planned for it were either scrapped or changed into Super Nintendo titles. This was the case for Secret of Mana.) This game was a sequel, of sorts, in the regular Mario franchise, but had some significant differences — mainly lots of playable characters, including some who could “talk” their way out of a fight and one in particular who was described as “Toad’s Piranha Plant-controlling cousin,” or something to that effect. In retrospect, it would seem like Gamefan was describing some early iteration of a Mario RPG. Who knows if this project was eventually mutated, bit by bit, into other Nintendo games.

I no longer have the magazine where I first read this. I’ve Googled it and found nothing. The only three unreleased or cancelled Mario games I can find any information about are Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds, Super Mario 64 2 and Super Mario 128. So now I’m posting it here in hopes that others may be looking for it too, may find this site and may tell me once and for all that I didn’t hallucinate all this.

I Don't Feel Good When You're Talking

In preparation for her move from Duluth to Los Angeles, the Bammer's friends and family attempt to desensitize her to heckling, which caused her psychotic break in the first place.

I may ask my loved ones to do the same. "Bitches ain't shit." Indeed.

This is the antepenultimate episode. Now there's a word I don't get to use often enough. "Antepenultimate." Isn't that a fun word to say?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Will You Give Me Back My Dime?

If you have a Verizon cell phone and send a text message to “LEILA” — as in those letters, in that order, in lieu of a phone number — it goes to the woman who keeps the blog The Leila Texts. Her name is Leila, yet she’s not the intended recipient of these texts. This alone amuses me. Wrong numbers and incorrectly sent mail usually makes your day more interesting. Yet this Leila actually posts the texts and guesses why the messages were sent and what kind of relationships these other Leilas might have with the people trying to contact them.

Previously Known as a “Snooty Chunk”

Earlier this year, I was talking to a co-worker — let’s call her Leona — about her impending marriage. I ask her if she planned to take her husband’s name and keep her own. She didn’t know. I asked her what her soon-to-be-husband’s name was, and Leona answered with “van Something Something.” (I’m not trying to protect Leona’s privacy here. I honestly can’t remember what followed the “Van,” but it sounded nice, believe me.) Me: “Leona, you have to take his name. I mean, the name you have now is great and all, but Leona van Something Something — that’s a name. Leona Van Something Something owns a yacht.”

In the end, she didn’t take his name, but I maintain that Van Something Something or any other surname beginning in “van” has an air of aristocracy to it.

This brings us to this weeks’ word of the week, which is technically two words, but they function to convey one specific meaning. So this week’s word is a compound word. (Forgive me.) But I think it’s a good one.
nobiliary particle — noun: one of those prefixes such as “de” or “von” which, before a personal name, indicate noble ancestry.
The Superior Person’s Third Book of Well-Bred Words notes that this otherwise insignificant chunks of word are remarkably useful when booking a room at a London hotel. I don’t know if that’s true, but I feel they do add something — and that thing I suddenly felt missing from my life when I found out that my mom’s family dropped its “von” upon arriving in the United States. Of course, living in Santa Barbara, the power of the “von” in particular has been diminished by a certain person that I'd rather not mention on my blog, though I'll note that mention of his proper name frequently draws the joke “von (of physiology).” It's really funny, in certain circles.

And that now you too know the term for this neat little grammatical function, you can accuse people of having inserted fraudulent nobiliary particles in their name just to sound all cool and stuff.

Less snooty but nonetheless notable words-o'-the-week:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shut the Fuck Up, Katherine Heigl

Long ago, I read a post about stay-at-home model Jenny Shimizu and her tendency to bring up the fact that she had an affair with or at least has committed a sex act upon a then-unfamous and then-more bisexual Angelina Jolie around the time that the two appeared in the movie Foxfire. The post was titled “Shut the Fuck Up, Jenny Shimizu” and dinged its subject for recalling the relationship in the manner that, for example, an obnoxious friend might when his or her associates come to the conclusion that a certain restaurant is good. “I totally knew it was good way before you all. I totally called it.” The post, which I can’t find now, tragically, made a good point, I suppose, in that Shimizu opened herself up to the criticism that she was attempting increase her own visibility by mentioning a bygone relationship with someone had since enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame. It was a valid criticism, even if having scored with Angelina is exactly the kind of personal triumph that one might talk about for the rest of one’s life. (Personally, I feel like Shimizu would have had more to write home about — and to everyone else’s home about — if she had gotten lucky with a pre-Rilo Kiley Jenny Lewis, who also appeared in Foxfire. And a Jenny Shimizu-Hedy Burress hook-up would be too hilarious to not talk about.) But this post isn’t about Jenny Shimizu so much as someone else who could benefit from keeping her mouth shut.

Katherine Heigl — best known as the girl who settled for Seth Rogen in Knocked Up but who will always be more familiar to me as Izzy from Roswell — decided to tell the world recently that she took herself out of the running for an Emmy this year because she felt her character on Grey’s Anatomy had received the quality of writing she’d hoped for. (Coincidentally, Heigl’s character on Grey’s is also named Izzie. You’d think someone who got her big break from a show about aliens would be more humble.) Heigl actually made the decision to withdraw last spring, but news of it arose again recently when Grey’s showrunner Shonda Rhimes was asked about the matter during a panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Those asking the questions seems eager for retaliatory sniping, especially in light of the fact that Grey’s didn’t garner as many Emmy nominations this year as it did last year. For what it’s worth, Rhimes handled the questions in a classy manner, according to this article at Quoth the Rhimes:
When I was told about it, I have to say I found it surprising… I actually have a really wonderful working relationship with Katherine. I love and respect her as an actress and I love Izzie as a character… I don't know that she was necessarily insulting the writers per se… I didn't feel insulted.
I however, can’t see Hiegl’s statement as anything but a jab at the people who write for her character. I’m a writer, though not one for TV, and I feel that if someone disagreed with the direction I took his or her character and chose to quietly withdraw from the Emmy race or any other such awards competition, that would be his or her choice. That’s not what Heigl did. Instead, she said the following instead:
I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention… In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.
First of all, wouldn’t it be the mark of a good actor to work straw into gold? To breath life into what would be dull dialogue in another actor’s hands? Or couldn’t she just leave the show or beg for her contract to be terminated so she can find better writing and more meaningful work elsewhere? Like in that amazing movie she was in, 27 Dresses, which generated all that Oscar buzz for her? And thirdly, what, exactly, does she hope to achieve in publicly complaining, aside from giving a chance for an Emmy to be won by an actress on a show I actually enjoy? For the record, two other Grey’s actresses, Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson, managed to get nods in spite of allegedly subpar writing. Perhaps Heigl only faults her own character’s development, but I wonder it crossed her mind that being nice and complimenting the people that make her job possible would improve her story arcs for the show’s next season.

At the panel at which Rhimes spoke, Ugly Betty bigwig Silvio Horta jokingly suggested that Heigl’s character be put into a coma next season. Rhimes laughed that off, saying that she has an “unbelievable” turn of events planned for Izzie. And while she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who’d use this earth-shattering turn of events as a means for revenge, I am that kind of person. I will conclude this post with a list of possible plots that could really give a whinebag actor something to work with.
  • Izzie becomes trapped in a silo full of manure. No one else on the show notices. She spends the next season slowly drowning in it.
  • Izzie buys a pet macaque, which rides around on her shoulders for the remainder of the her character’s existence on the show. The macaque is foul-tempered and badly trained, but Izzie must learn to rise above it all and find a light in the darkness that is her life.
  • A cannibal patient at the hospital eats Izzie’s face. She survives. (The eaten face make-up would take hours to apply.)
  • Izzie develops chronic flatulence. It complicates her love life.
  • Izzie gets a pixie cut.
  • Izzie’s life proceeds as normal, but everyone else in the hospital develops the odd compulsion to pop her in the teeth. (Could generate suspense with fans. “Who will hit her this week?” “When is it going to happen?” During sweeps, she gets smacked after every commercial break.)
  • A gypsy curse on Izzie makes her grow more and more warts in every episode. However, ever the feminist, her character decides to avoid the surgery that could eliminate her problem, as the she wants to be loved for who she is on the inside.
  • Izzie’s character falls in love in Kid Rock, and each Grey’s episode has a one-minute cut away to her increasingly tragic life on the road with him.
  • Izzie is demoted to the position of orderly and only appears in the background, mopping up blood and vomit and muttering incoherently.
  • News of Izzie’s long-ago one-night-stand with Jenny Shimizu arises. Izzie is scandalized. Shimizu follows her around the hospital, blabbing on about it in the background of every scene.
Yes, by the way, I do have aspirations of writing my own TV show.

See No Batman, Hear No Batman

Wish I could report to you all on my verdict on The Dark Knight, but I can't. Though I think the movie was good, I made the mistake of catching a midnight show at the Arlington, which has dismal sound and which prevented me from understanding about twenty minutes of dialogue. Worse, I ended up sitting behind a man with a head shaped like Frank Black's. It actually could have been Frank Black, for all I know. No amount of leaning or craning ever allowed me to see much of the screen. As a result, there were a good dozen points throughout the film where I just had to guess what was going on or why it was happening. I suppose, then, that I should have just asked Frank Black for his autograph, as I couldn't follow the movie. The point in which Harvey Dent is revealed as Two-Face — and no, that's not a spoiler, and if you think that is, you know nothing of this mannish bat fellow — was even lost on me, because Frank Black was blocking the side of the screen that I think displayed the mangled half of Dent's face. Again, I'm only guessing. I feel like there were some stunned reactions around me that didn't happen when I first saw Two-Face in his full, partial glory.

So seeing as how the two senses that movies can appeal to — sight and hearing — were seriously impaired, I think I'll have to see The Dark Knight again. In a new theater. With stadium seating. Without any human candy apples sitting in front of me.


The 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is well underway only a few miles to the south of where I live, but I must enjoy the news of upcoming video games through the magic of blogs. I’m fine with it. Fewer lines this way.

Easily the best news I’ve heard so far relates to a game that I will never play, as it seems to be a Playstation 3 exclusive and, therefore, beyond the reach of this Nintendo loyalist. But the premise alone merits a mention: Sixteen miniature soldiers play a violent version of Capture the Flag in an effort to evade sixteen miniature rival soldiers and reclaim a kidnapped princess. The princess, however, has been force-fed food to the point of being unable to walk on her own and, thus, must be carried or rolled to safety. The game, amazingly, is called Fat Princess.

Here is a video.

In a move that was surely intended to delight specifically me, the various battlefields have food-themed titles like “Black Forest,” but this overall cuteness belies the fact that the game also gleefully spills buckets of blood as the big-headed fighters slash and stab their way to their corpulent damsels. Case in point:

courtesy VE3D

What can I say? I like being catered to.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Some Folk'll Never Eat a Skunk

My obsession with names prompted me to look into the long list of kids claimed by The Simpsons characters Cletus and Brandine Spuckler.

The children, and their names, are as follows:
  • First a big group of fashionably named hicklings introduced in the episode "Marge Simpson in 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'":
    • Tiffany
    • Heather
    • Cody
    • Dylan
    • Dermot
    • Jordan
    • Taylor
    • Brittany
    • Wesley
    • Rumer
    • Scout
    • Cassidy
    • Zoe, pronounced to rhyme with "blow"
    • Chloe, also pronounced to rhyme with "blow"
    • Max
    • Hunter
    • Kendall
    • Caitlin
    • Noah
    • Sasha
    • Morgan
    • Kyra
    • Ian
    • Lauren
    • Q-Bert, for some reason
    • and Phil
  • Condoleezza Marie (from "Barting Over")
  • Rubella Scabies (from "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can")
  • Gummy Sue (from "Helter Shelter")
  • An unnamed child Brandine is giving birth to in Cletus's truck in "Lost Our Lisa")
  • A group of kids introduced in "Yokel Chords," though Brandine claims Cletus is the father of only two of them:
    • Birthday
    • Crystal Meth
    • Dubya
    • Incest
    • International Harvester
    • Jitney
    • and Witney
  • A kid whom Brandine births and for whom she asks Cletus to "cut the umbrellical cord"
  • Children described in "Marge Gamer" by Cletus with the following sentence: "I have sired a dumb-dumb, a mush-head, a whatsit, a dogboy, and something with a human face and fish body what we called Kevin. But my young'uns is not dirty players!"
  • And, finally, in "Apocalypse Cow," two more — Marry Westlemania Spuckler and Stabbed in Jail Spuckler.
So, then, if you only count two from "Yokel Cords" and suppose that the ones named in "Marge Gamer" as being kids already listed, Cletus has 36 strikingly named children.

My work is complete.

More Simpsons:

Is She Promised to the Night?

I should have gone home on the Thursday before the Fourth of July. Or, technically speaking, I had intended to do so. The Gap Fire destroyed these plans, however, and I spent that weekend and that whole Fourth of July Friday posting stories about the wildfire that, at the time, was edging ever closer toward Goleta neighborhoods. Rationalizing my unfortunate circumstances later, I decided that the timing actually worked out well. You see, The Fourth of July in my hometown is usually ruined by the Independence Rally, a celebration of a overblown motorcycle invasion that inspired that Marlon Brando movie The Wild One, even though it shouldn’t have. (It’s a long story.) With good reason or not, the event brings thousands and thousands of bike enthusiasts to Hollister — and not the neo-hippie variety that I’m more used to seeing nowadays in Santa Barbara.

You could imagine then how surprised I was to find that, upon arriving in Hollister, that this year was the first that the city arranged for the bikers to show up the weekend after July 4 — or, in other words, the same time I planned to be there. Nonetheless, my cousin and I went out to look at the rally, which this year brought more sweaty, leathery, leather-clad moto-nuts than any previous rally that I witnessed. And their old ladies. In a way, it was nice to see that many people seem to be having a good time on the typically windblown streets of my hometown — even if it was for an event that celebrates awkward clothes and the kind of personalities that make my mother uncomfortable.

I took pictures. These are those pictures.

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Johnny's mural

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Above: The cousin, in the beer garden, looking a little more in place than I felt the entire afternoon. Seriously, I think I may have been the only guy wearing flip-flops in the entire downtown area. They carry more of a stigma than I expected.

sad little stage

The performance stage, which was empty when I took this photo. I thought I should record, however, the fact that anyone in the beer garden was separated from the stage by yards of pavement and a chain link fence, which kind of made me feel like I was in some kind of oddly themed refugee camp.

wall of death

The wall of death, which cousin and I survived by not attending.

She has a tail

I wondered at first why I took this picture. Then I realized that the featured girl has a tail. For the record, that is no way to build a resume.

biker church

On biker weekend, even the churches pretend they like bikers!

biker rally 2

Not every religious person does, however. Above, see the poor man’s televangelist, who walked the streets extolling the virtues of Jesus. “There’s a lot of sinners here,” he said as I walked by. Me: “No shit. You’re at a biker rally.”

melissa with her new friend

Some people were very friendly, such as this beefy gentleman, whose freakish Popeye biceps encouraged both me and my cousin to enlist. She’s holding his elbow as that is all he’d permit the public to touch.

Walking around downtown also afforded me a few opportunities to observe the strangeness that pervades the Hollister business community.

pet store...

For example: Raven’s Pet Safari, whose logo features not a raven but an iguana. It’s hard to see in the store windows in this shot, but know that no animals were to be seen.

suspicious sushi sign

Or the sushi place, whose placement of the American flag in their logo leads me to think they know nothing of raw fish cuisine.

bad name

“Toxic Ink Clothing,” huh? Because there’s nothing I want to think about when surrounded by tattooed throngs than the possibility of those tattoos infecting them all with crazy-inducing toxins.

biker rally 3

And then there’s poor city planning decisions — like stationing the port-a-crappers to block the pretty mural of blossoming fruit trees. Classy move, Hollister.

horrifying mannequin

We found the mannequin horrifying, for reasons I can’t explain now.

confusing sign

This sign completely baffled me. Is the specialness of the events an illusion? Or the events themselves? And what the hell is with “Sweet XV”? Did someone miscount the Roman numeral for “Sweet Sixteen”? Or did they simply balk at writing the world “Quinceañera” or its lower-class cousin “Quince” on the sign?

luxury RV model

Eventually, cousin and I made our way to the luxury RV show — which, for some reason, existed. The RVs on display were bigger than most of the apartments I have ever lived in. My cousin, in the above photo, displays a natural photogenic quality that I can only dream of.

Also: a previous attempt at photodocumenting the Hollister Independence Rally.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Box Full of Puppies

You remember that bygone, misfit TGIF sitcom Dinosaurs, right? It should stand out because it was performed by people in dinosaur suits instead of people not in dinosaur suits. Hmm? What’s that? No, you’re thinking of Boy Meets World. This is Dinosaurs, a show that I can’t believe actually aired as long as it did, much less on the most mainstream night of TV that ABC ever slapped together. Weird though it was, the show offered some interesting cultural criticism. In one episode, family patriarch Earl became the head of a TV network, for some reason, and made shows so blandly appealing that they began to make viewers incredibly stupid — terrible things like The Happy Colors Show, which featured squares that would flash different shades, or Box Full of Puppies, which featured just that: squirming, yipping baby dogs. It’s hard to argue against the inherent entertainment value.

I experienced the Box Full of Puppies phenomenon this weekend. In a harmonic convergence the likes of which have previously inspired astrologers of yore and The 5th Dimension, I happened to be at my parents’ house while my cousins were watching over not one but nine Border Collie puppies. If you know me at all, you would understand that this amounts to heaven, or at least as close as I’ll ever get in this life. Of course, the puppies instantly reduced me to a googooing idiot who was entertained by their mere raising of single paw. And they raised their paws several times, at least. Total permagrin. I can’t tell if the experience made me stupider or not, but I suppose the new stupid me might not be able to appreciate the lowered intelligence. I guess for the moment we’ll have to assume the Dinosaur writers were not, in fact, prophets, though I think the Pet Channel actually now airs a show that’s not all that unlike Box Full of Puppies.

So I say we should do an experiment. I took some photos of all nine of the puppies — though I was rarely fortunate enough to get all of them in one frame — and I’d like you all to take a look and tell me if you feel stupider.

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If you like, you can see the complete puppy collection here.

And if that weren’t enough, the cousins — whose house has always been a sort of dog playground — now own a four-month-old Irish Water Spaniel, who’s equally wonderful and kind of resembles the singing dog from those Nestle’s commercials. (I know, I know — this post is weirdly heavy on puppet references.)

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Finally, here’s one of the dog I spent the most time with. He’s not a puppy, but that only means he’s able to fit more love inside him. Also, I have to give him credit: He has years of experience being a Border Collie that the puppies just can’t compete with.

guilty-looking border collie

So, stupider yet?