Bring Out Your Dead

Posted in Whatever Else on December 29th, 2006 by bill
12m.gif A dashing young Don Knotts.

So this is the time when we traditionally honor those who have passed away during the year. There was a long-ass list in the Chronicle today, including some surprises — for instance Don Knotts, d. 2/24/06. You'd think I would have known about that one. Also, Desmond Dekker died on May 25, and nobody told me. The death of Jack Palance took me by surprise, mostly because I was pretty sure he'd died years ago. Likewise, it came as a shock to see composer György Ligeti among the list of this year's decedents. I had always assumed he was a figure from the 18th or 19th century, probably because his music appears on the 2001 soundtrack alongside such luminaries as Richard and Johann Strauss. In a continuing surprise, Abe Vigoda did not die again this year. Among the younger actors that he outlived this time were Chris Penn, Bruno Kirby, Mike Evans (the original Lionel Jefferson and co-creator of Good Times), and the amazing Jack Warden, whose 154 film and TV credits include From Here to Eternity, Brian's Song, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, ...And Justice for All, and Being There. Some of the real big deaths came along late in the year. Earlier this month we lost comedy titan (and quite capable dramatic actor, and John Lennon drinking buddy) Peter Boyle, about whom Cecil wrote a pithy memorial poem. Then on Christmas Day came the departure of James Brown. (At one point in the day I was told that George Clinton had died, and I thought we were in the middle of some kind of funk apocalypse. Turned out I was misinformed.) My compatriot MC Haiku eulogizes the Godfather today on Sun Pop Blue. And then finally on the 27th we had the death of Gerald Ford, which immediately put me in mind of a brilliant SNL sketch with Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw. Brokaw is about to go on a long vacation, and as a precaution his producer has him record a series of increasingly absurd versions of Ford's demise. (The choice of Ford is fairly random, prompted by the fact that hearing Carvey slur "Gerald Ford" in the Brokaw accent is a delight in itself.) For today, at least, you can see it here: It's all gold, but the highlight may be this exchange:
Brokaw: Gerald Ford was shot dead today age 83. Producer: Add the word "senseless." Brokaw: Gerald Ford was shot dead today at the senseless age of 83.
In fact, Ford made it to the senseless age of 93. We should all be so lucky.

On the Top of Edge

Posted in Spam, wonderful spam on December 20th, 2006 by bill

Perfect for Five Seconds

Posted in Whatever Else on December 16th, 2006 by bill
"You were perfect for five seconds," she said. I think in the far future, after everyone's famous for fifteen minutes, they will be perfect for five seconds. Which, if you think about it, is long enough. Because in those five seconds you will be a transcendent being, encompassing all possibilities and outside of time and space. So this is great news for everyone. Everyone except me, of course. Cause I've already had mine. Dammit.

Back in Black

Posted in Dancing about architecture on December 10th, 2006 by bill
ACD133~Women-s-AC-DC-Back-in-Black-Posters.jpg Like most people, I owned AC/DC's Back in Black on vinyl back in the day. Then, at some point, I decided that AC/DC was not cool and sold it. I'm here today to tell you that I made a terrible mistake. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I found a copy of the CD laying around at my dad's place, and I made a duplicate for my own use, in clear violation of all the relevant laws and statutes. I've been listening to it and let me just say: Back in Black, like, rules. I am embarrassed with myself for saying that. But there's something about listening to AC/DC that sharply reduces your IQ in a most enjoyable way, like nitrous oxide or a frontal lobotomy. Over the years they perfected a formula that bypasses all the higher brain functions and speaks directly to the reptile brain, awakening the slumbering Sleestak that lurks deep within us all. (Or at least those of us with a Y chromosome. I can't speak for the species' better half.) Generally speaking, I'm more a proponent of the Bon Scott years — "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll)" may be the greatest rock song ever recorded — but there's simply no denying the Brontosaurean power of this album. It kicks off with the grinding intro to "Hell's Bells," a riff of gothic majesty worthy of the Sisters of Mercy. (Right now I am imagining a parallel universe in which Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch was tapped to replace Mr. Scott when he drank himself into an early grave; but never mind.) Then, of course, Brian Johnson starts singing. I've always found Johnson's voice problematic. On the one hand, it is so unlike a human singing voice that it almost becomes another instrument, adding some interesting textures to the music. On the other hand, it often falls into the Diamanda Galas/Jon Anderson category of "Sure, it's amazing that you can sing like that, but why would you want to?" Johnson's lyrics are also a problem. It's hard to defend something like "Givin' the Dog a Bone," which is so crude it can only be called single entendre. Bon Scott's lyrics were equally sexist and vulgar ("Big Balls," anyone?), but he had an impish quality that made it all work somehow. Johnson sounds like he really means this stuff, and sometimes the results are cringeworthy. Then again, he did add the phrase "Knockin' me out with those American thighs" to the lexicon, so I have to give him some amount of credit. In any case, what makes Back in Black such an enduring pillar of Rawk is the music. AC/DC's precision-jackhammer attack* — with Angus and Malcolm Young on lead and rhythm guitar, ably assisted by underrated rhythm section Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams — is operating at peak efficiency here, stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another. You can't argue with a song like the title track, or the mighty "Rock'n'Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." There's just no point. Resistance is useless. But the real revelation this time around was "You Shook Me All Night Long." In the 80s I got really sick of this song because I heard it blasting out of one too many pickup trucks owned by one too many unpleasant people. But taken on its own terms, this is a towering piece of rock'n'roll sculpture. It's so high you can't get over it, so wide you can't get around it, and as heavy as an elephant that just quit smoking. I find that in writing about AC/DC, one finds oneself constantly returning to adjectives such as "powerful" and "heavy." Partly, again, it's the brain damage, but also the band's powerful heaviosity renders all other adjectives unnecessary. When my time comes, I want to listen to an AC/DC mix starting with "Highway to Hell," including "Noise Pollution," "You Shook Me," "Girl's Got Rhythm," and a few others, and concluding with the one-two punch of "It's a Long Way to the Top" and "High Voltage." Then I want you to throw that fuckin' radio into the tub with me. .
* Sports writers are a kind of rude and brainless sub-culture of fascist drunks whose only real function is to publicize & sell whatever the sports editor sends them out to cover. . . Which is a nice way to make a living, because it keeps a man busy and requires no thought at all. The two keys to success as a sports writer are: (1) A blind willingness to believe anything you’re told by the coaches, flaks, hustlers, and other “official spokesman” for the team-owners who provide the free booze . . . and: (2) A Roget’s Thesaurus, in order to avoid using the same verbs and adjectives twice in the same paragraph. Even a sports editor, for instance, might notice something wrong with a lead that said, “The precision-jackhammer attack of the Miami Dolphins stomped the balls off the Washington Redskins today by stomping and hammering with one precise jack-thrust after another up the middle, mixed with pinpoint-precision passes into the flat and numerous hammer-jack stomps around both ends… —Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72)

Son of Poetic Spam

Posted in Spam, wonderful spam on December 6th, 2006 by bill
Taken individually, the various elements of this bit of text — which accompanied an unwanted stock tip from someone called "Hoskins" — are rather prosaic. But put them together, and you get a powerful artistic statement about the banality of modern life. Or something.

make bomb Renaissance The condo has three bedrooms, three baths plus a powder room, overlooks Granada Golf Course and is walking distance to Miracle Mile. But just when the industry was starting to get comfortable with the idea of two competing formats, now along comes a third. This turned out to be a nightmare. Come watch people do stupid things, funny animals and much much more. Come watch people do stupid things, funny animals and much much more. The Bridges Golf Course, the state's only Arnold Palmer Golf Course, opened last month and the Bridges Grill is under renovation and will open later this year. All performers and airshow guests stay in Washington County hotels and many visit local restaurants, golf courses and health clubs during the week they are in. IT innovators trying to create huge disruptions would do well to constantly remind themselves of the megatrends, the big picture. It would afford him an opportunity to play golf in North Carolina with his great friend Marty Schottenheimer. The company will send the entire corporate image to the employee over a VPN connection, or at worst, on a single DVD. Somehow they convinced my boss to have me reconfigure our Linux DHCP server. Animation behavior is also imported. The British investor also developed the Abaco Club on Winding Bay in the Bahamas, which is now managed by Ritz-Carlton; several golf resorts in the Carolinas . The new version includes a VRML parser, support for NURBS geometry, and more options for using OpenGL textures through the new TextureProperties node. Come watch people do stupid things, funny animals and much much more. I remember hearing the same promises during the heyday of thin-client computing, and that technology largely failed. I remember hearing the same promises during the heyday of thin-client computing, and that technology largely failed. I remember hearing the same promises during the heyday of thin-client computing, and that technology largely failed. More generally, the communication framework of ABNet provides an asynchronous low-latency publish and subscribe environment using XML messages. Or at least that's how it is at West Salem's Maple Grove country Club, and the European Union. The days when office documents are synonymous with Microsoft may be drawing to a close. Or at least that's how it is at West Salem's Maple Grove Country Club. When the employee logs out, the entire image is forgotten, with the exception of the stored data. We looked at several systems before finally deciding on a vendor. It also has full Open Sound Control support, allowing scenes to be manipulated in real time. With China developing its own standards and ODF enjoying increasing popularity. But my boss decided it was worth paying them the money just to get the system working.

You can’t make this stuff up

Posted in Whatever Else on December 5th, 2006 by bill
I found this item from today's paper simply priceless. It has a real Monty Python quality — absurd down to its last detail, including cameos by a Phil Collins and the Yoko Ono.
Prize goes to art that means nothing LONDON — German-born abstract painter Tomma Abts on Monday became the first female painter to land the Turner Prize in the 22-year history of one of the art world's most controversial awards. Abts, 38, who has lived in London for 12 years, has said that she begins every piece — they all measure exactly 18.9 inches by 15 inches — with no idea what she is about to paint and that they symbolize nothing at all. The $49,000 prize was presented by Yoko Ono during a ceremony at London's Tate Britain gallery. London artist Rebecca Warren had been the favorite to take the prize; she specializes in sculptures of large cartoon women with what the judges called "humongous knobbly breasts and enormous bobbly buttocks." Work by Glasgow video artist Phil Collins, another contender, includes a video of nine people who believe their lives have been ruined by reality TV. Last year's winner was Simon Starling, who turned a shed into a boat, then back into a shed.

A few words of seasonal relevance

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 4th, 2006 by bill
Every existence in nature, every existence in the human world, every cultural work that we create, is something which was given, or is being given to us, relatively speaking. But as everything is originally one, we are, in actuality, giving out everything. Moment after moment we are creating something, and this is the joy of our life. But this "I" which is creating and always giving out something is not the "small I"; it is the "big I." Even though you do not realize the oneness of this "big I" with everything, when you give something you feel good, because at that time you feel at one with what you are giving. This is why it feels better to give than to take. —Shunryu Suzuki

If I’d Done It

Posted in Whatever Else on December 1st, 2006 by bill
glove3.jpg If O.J. had done it, he would have planted a bloody glove that was too small for him at the scene.

You won't find many people willing to admit in public to being disappointed that O.J. Simpson's book, If I Did It, will never see the light of day. But I am one of them. Think about it; now we will never know the answer to that most vexing of questions: If O.J. had killed his wife and her friend Ronald Goldman, how would he have done it? Certainly not the way the crime was actually done, with a knife, brutally, just outside Nicole Simpson's apartment. No, O.J. is far too clever for that. An O.J.-devised murder plan would surely have involved international intrigue, multiple red herrings, Nazis, doppelgangers, and Polonium 210. And this is what we will be missing by never getting to read If I Did It: a work of imaginative fiction rivaling The DaVinci Code or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for sheer creative breadth. What's more, I was looking forward to publisher Judith Regan using the success of O.J.'s book to launch a whole series of related titles. For instance, who wouldn't want to read Bill Clinton's If I'd Had Sex with That Woman, Here's How I Would Have Done It. Or how about this one, dictated by the late Richard Nixon through a spirit medium: I Was Not a Crook, but If I Had Been, Here Are the Illegal Things I Would Have Done. Still, I think that even without the book's being published, O.J. has accomplished his real purpose, which had nothing to do with money, or with receiving belated credit for his crimes. What O.J. really wanted was for each one of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, if I had killed Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, how would I have done it? For me, the answer is easy: I would have done it with the Candlestick, in the Billiard Room. And I would have been Colonel Mustard at the time. How about you?