Don’t Panic

Posted in Whatever Else on April 23rd, 2008 by bill
dont-panic.png The wise words of Douglas Adams are always worth keeping in mind, but especially so now, because the entire MediaJunkie family of blogs — which includes The Philter — will soon be going offline for a server upgrade. The outage will begin pretty much any time now and last for about a week. I know that many of you can't begin your day without my invaluable guidance, but one of these mornings you're going to wake up and find this site gone. When that happens, you'll want to throw yourself off the roof of the nearest tall building, but please, I beg you, don't. Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. I'll see you again in the brighter and bigger world of next week.

Word of the day

Posted in Whatever Else on April 21st, 2008 by bill
I just randomly came across this word in the dictionary (Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition). I swear I am not making this up.
pinchcock: a clamp used on a flexible tube to control the flow of fluid through it
In a word: ouch.

Also, Your Holiness’s ride is totally bitchin’

Posted in Whatever Else on April 18th, 2008 by bill
s-BUSH-AND-BENEDICT-large.jpg
While we're at it, can anyone tell me why they appear to be standing in front of a Confederate flag?

I really thought I was over being amazed at what a doofus our Commander-in-Chief is. I mean, it's old news, right? But every once in a while, I see something that gets me shaking my head all over again. For instance, a couple days ago, Pope Benedict was giving a speech at the White House. Not necessarily my favorite person, the Pope; but still, this is a very important figure on the world stage, the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of people. When the speech is over, George W. walks up to him, and here's what our beloved leader has to say: "Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech." Awesome speech. I...ugh. Never mind. It'll all be over with soon enough.

Talking at cross-purposes

Posted in Whatever Else on April 13th, 2008 by bill
Overheard at Trader Joe's: Dad to approximately four-year-old son: We need to get some bananas. Want to help me pick out some bananas? Boy: I'm an apatosaurus.

And now for something completely…

Posted in Whatever Else on April 9th, 2008 by bill
cleese.jpg According to news reports, John Cleese has offered to write jokes for Barack Obama if (when) he becomes the Democratic nominee for president.
Monty Python legend John Cleese is to offer his services as a speechwriter to Barack Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination to become US president, he told a British newspaper out Tuesday. The British comedian, who lives in California, told the Western Daily Press regional paper that his jokes could help the Illinois senator get into the White House.
Call me cynical, but it doesn't take a genius to see this for what it really is: a shameless, transparent ploy for an appointment to head the Ministry of Silly Walks in an Obama administration.

When Elvis Met Steve

Posted in Gurn Blanston, Read it in books on April 8th, 2008 by bill
stevem.jpgelvis-presley-songs-album.jpg Among the things I learned from Born Standing Up: The picture of Steve Martin on the left is not a gag devised for the cover of The Steve Martin Brothers, as I'd always assumed. It was how Steve actually looked in the late 60s.

This week's reading has been Steve Martin's memoir Born Standing Up. On the whole, a surprisingly dry read, though of course loaded with interesting tidbits for the Martin aficionado. Some of these have to do with the development of his comedy, though a lot of that I already knew from one place or another. Others had to do with Steve's interactions with other famous persons. For instance, Linda Ronstadt:
One week I opened the show for Linda Ronstadt; she sang barefoot on a raised stage and wore a silver lamé dress that stopped a millimeter below her panties, causing the floor of the Troubadour to be slick with drool. Linda and I saw each other for a while, but I was so intimidated by her talent and street smarts that, after the ninth date, she finally said, "Steve, do you often date girls and not try to sleep with them?"
Or Martin Mull:
Martin's wit was Sahara-dry; he performed onstage sitting on living room furniture and sang his own comic songs with titles like "Noses Run in My Family," "I'm Everyone I've Ever Loved," "(How Could I Not Miss) A Girl Your Size," and "Jesus Christ, Football Star." On opening night at the Great Southeast Music Hall, we were both nervous about meeting each other. I was sitting in my open dressing room when Martin walked by, carrying his stage clothes on a hanger. Unsure whether to say something to me, he kept going. After a few steps, I called out, "Nice meeting you, too." We've been friends ever since.
Or, last but not least, The Elvis Presley:
I got a welcome job in 1971 with Ann-Margret, five weeks opening the show for her at the International Hotel in Vegas, a huge, unfunny barn with sculptured pink cherubs hanging from the corners of the proscenium. Laughter in these poorly designed places rose a few feet into the air and dissipated like steam, always giving me the feeling I was bombing. One night, from my dressing room, I saw a vision in white gliding down the hall—a tall, striking woman, moving like an apparition along the backstage corridor. It turned out to be Priscilla Presley, coming to visit Ann-Margret backstage after having seen the show. When she turned the corner, she revealed an even more indelible presence walking behind her. Elvis. Dressed in white. Jet-black hair. A diamond-studded buckle.

When Priscilla revealed Elvis to me, I was also revealed to him. I'm sure he noticed that this twenty-five-year-old stick figure was frozen firmly to the ground. About to pass me by, Elvis stopped, looked at me, and said in his beautiful Mississippi drawl: "Son, you have an ob-leek sense of humor."

Dancing about architecture

Posted in Dancing about architecture, Gurn Blanston on April 4th, 2008 by bill
snl_costello.jpgmull.jpg The name of the music section of this blog — "Dancing about architecture" — is inspired by the oft-quoted line "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." In my description of the category I attributed this quote to Elvis Costello, but with something less than 100% confidence, because I was pretty sure I'd seen it attributed to others over the years. Today I ran across a Web page that credited Steve Martin, and so I decided to investigate. Turns out there is no definitive answer to the question of who first uttered this pithy phrase. A very informative brief put together by one Alan P. Scott — which you can see here — dissects the matter in some detail. As Scott notes, in addition to Costello and Martin, the line has at one time or another been attributed to each of the following people: - Laurie Anderson - William S. Burroughs - David Byrne - John Cage - George Carlin - Miles Davis - Nick Lowe - Charles Mingus - Thelonious Monk - Mark Mothersbaugh - Martin Mull - Frank Lloyd Wright - Frank Zappa It's quite a diverse and accomplished group, and I think that it must be a very great distinction to have the saying attributed to you. With any luck, some confused Web surfer of the future will honor yours truly in this way. On balance, the most likely suspects seem to be Costello and Mull. Scott cites an interview with Costello in a 1983 issue of Musician magazine in which he is quoted thusly:
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture — it's a really stupid thing to want to do.
This does not firmly establish, however, that he was the first to say it. Several sources — including, apparently, Costello himself — name Martin Mull as the originator of the phrase. I find this especially interesting in light of the Steve Martin connection, S. Martin and Martin M. being always linked in my mind as groundbreaking ironic/musical comics who went on to become noted Hollywood art lovers with increasingly undistinguished acting careers. Since I'm a Mull fan, and I think he never gets the credit he deserves as the author of such classic tunes as "Santa Doesn't Cop Out on Dope" and "Licks Off of Records," I'm going to go ahead and award the prize to him. Let it be so noted.