Poetic Spam Reunion Special

Posted in Spam, wonderful spam on March 25th, 2008 by bill

I’ve pretty much gotten off the whole spam-as-accidental-art trip, partly because it got old, partly because spam doesn’t seem so cute these days. When I’m having a dull, dull day at the office, seeing new messages pop up in my inbox is a cause for great excitement. But when these messages turn out to be subject lined “Best pills for sex from Canada” or “Add up to 4 inches to y%ou$rs peni(s yv7bmy,” the happiness turns to disappointment and then to rage.

I also get a lot of junk comments on this blog. For some reason the entry titled “Bauhaus, Back from the Dead” seems to be a particular spam magnet. Today it drew the following comment which, although rather prosaic, struck me somehow. It seems like a commentary on modern economic realities, with a surreal, sinister twist at the end. (Note: Line breaks are mine.)

Hi all!

Home equity
Lines of credit cheap
Life insurance online car insurance
Bay Area car donation
Debt free home equity rate
Smokey mountain knife


Another winter bites the dust

Posted in Whatever Else on March 20th, 2008 by bill

So, yes, here we are. The first day of spring, finally, no thanks to the goddamn groundhog. Also Purim and the first day of March Madness. I am reminded of the old rhyme:

The spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where
The flowers is?

Although, actually, I know exactly where the flowers is: all over the back yard, thanks to the diligent Leila, who has also somehow found the time to take up blogging. Want to read some amusing anecdotes about Dear Abby, road signs, anxiety, and cheese? Then click here.

Go Away White

Posted in Dancing about architecture on March 10th, 2008 by bill


It is with no small amount of anticipation that I have awaited the release of Go Away White, the first Bauhaus album to come out since I started listening to them circa 1985, two years after they broke up. This is my first ever chance, then, to hear newly released material by one of my favorite bands. The CD arrived from Amazon yesterday and is sitting now on my desk, shrinkwrapped. I am a little scared of it. My expectations are sky-high; nothing less than a transcendent experience will do, and that’s just setting yourself up for disappointment, isn’t it?

It sure looks good. In contrast to the old Bauhaus albums, all of which were predominantly black, it is almost entirely white. The cover image is some kind of angel (or devil) (something with wings, anyway) with its back turned. All the text is in white as well—the embossed title on the front is easy to read, the song titles on the back much less so. But with some squinting I can make them out: The first song is called “Too Much 21st Century,” the last song “Zikir.” Further study reveals that in the songwriting credits David J. is using his last name, Haskins, for the first time.

I find this change in art direction interesting given that the last song on the last original Bauhaus album, “Hope,” was uncharacteristically uplifting for a band whose modus operandi was to live on the dark side. Will this album pick up from there and be all inspirational-like? The song titles “Black Stone Heart” and “Endless Summer of the Damned” indicate otherwise.

Alright, time to stop pussyfooting around. It’s 10:22 and the shrinkwrap is coming off.
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Yes, there is no justice

Posted in The sacred box on March 6th, 2008 by bill

I am still recovering from last night’s season finale of “Project Runway.” (There was a time when that last sentence would have embarrassed me, but I have evolved past feeling any shame over being addicted to a reality show about fashion designers.) The result, if you ask me, was a travesty. The annoying Christian — an arrogant little guttersnipe who can’t stop saying the word “fierce” — triumphed over the humble and talented Rami, and I just don’t think it’s right.

I don’t consider myself much of a judge of fashion, but I thought Christian’s stuff was weak. It was somehow both over the top and monotonous, not to mention profoundly unsexy, looking more like battle armor than clothing. Rami’s work was subtle, sleek, and classy, and on the whole he just deserved it more. But why should I care so much? I need to take a deep breath and get on with my day.

All Hail Ambassador Magma

Posted in The sacred box on March 4th, 2008 by bill


You can’t turn over a rock anywhere in cyberspace without finding a whole universe underneath. In an idle moment today I happened to think of a Japanese TV show from when I was very young about giant humanoid robots who could also turn into rocketships. About all I could remember was that there was a character called “Goldar” and that he was the patriarch of a family of these creatures that I probably cannot legally refer to as “transformers.”

Three minutes later I was in possession of the following facts:

• Goldar’s wife was named “Silvar” and his son was named “Gam.”

• The show was called “Space Giants” in the U.S., but in Japan both it and the Goldar character were named “Ambassador Magma” (for fun, say that aloud to yourself in your best Dr. Evil voice).

• “Ambassador Magma, despite his robot-like appearance, is not a robot, but actually, a living giant forged from gold.” (says Wikipedia)

• Far from being forgotten, as I would have thought, “Space Giants” is currently at the center of a trademark dispute between Powerslam Productions and one Bernard Schulman. Powerslam gives their side of the story at some length here. For some legal reason they are no longer selling the (11-volume!) DVD set but “giving it away” when you buy an autographed “Space Giants” comic book. Even so the price is more than my idle curiosity tinged with nostalgia warrants spending, and anyway I don’t need 11 more DVDs cluttering up my living room. But I’m glad to know it’s out there.

Rock Star + Hell’s Angels + Assassination Plot + Time = Slapstick

Posted in Something about the Beatles on March 3rd, 2008 by bill


Getting a lot of play today is a report, via the BBC, that the Hell’s Angels plotted to kill Mick Jagger in 1969, I guess as revenge for his bad-mouthing them over Altamont. The relevant passage goes as follows:

Gang members hatched a plan to kill Jagger at his holiday home in Long Island, New York, the BBC claimed.

“The Hells Angels were so angered by Jagger’s treatment of them that they decided to kill him,” Tom Mangold, the presenter of the program, was quoted as telling Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

He said the plan was disclosed during an interview with Mark Young, a former FBI officer, for the BBC’s “The FBI at 100” documentary.

Mangold said the men tried to reach Jagger by sea. “The boat was hit by a storm and all of the men were thrown overboard,” he was quoted as saying. They all survived but made no other attempt on his life, Mangold said.

As several comments I’ve read online have already noted, there’s a lovely slapstick element to this. Just picture a group of Angels, loaded to the gills on beer and speed, rowing a dinghy across Long Island Sound on their way to snuff Jagger. The boat springs a leak and a bearded 6-foot-5 biker named “Tiny” jams his thumb in the hole while dandling his old lady on his knee and chugging Jack Daniels with the other hand. But when the wind whips up they’re swamped by a wave and tossed into the surf, where they struggle and sputter for air, comically out of their element in full-dress leather. Were I an animator, I would make this into a short cartoon for your amusement. Instead, I’m going to have to ask you to close your eyes and imagine it for yourself. You may want to add Hunter Thompson looking on coolly from a nearby cigarette boat, as Jerry Garcia and Ken Kesey giggle hysterically on the deck of a Mississippi paddleboat painted psychedelic purple and green. Suddenly the Beatles surface in their yellow submarine, mercifully pull the Angels from the drink, and are gone again as quickly as they came. The last shot is of Yoko, clad in Nazi regalia á la The Rutles, swimming for shore with a knife clenched in her teeth. Or you can picture it however you want; it’s your head, after all.