Monday, February 27, 2012

Front line tickets

Here's an article about Act of Valor, a new action movie that casts current active duty Navy SEALs as its SEAL heroes. And if the poster art is any indication, shoots them to look like T-1000 from Terminator 2.

The makers of the film seem to have their own peculiar way of remembering history.

In a Washington Times interview McCoy boasted, “The Vietnam legacy has been this fog that wouldn’t lift for 40 years. And no one had the balls in Hollywood to go the other way, to say, ‘Let’s really look at the world and the men and women serving right now.’ That’s 40 years ago. Why are we still using the same ideology, this anti-military ideology?”

That's kind of a bitter pill for me to swallow. I was in high school when Top Gun came out, the top grosser of 1986 and a movie that made it look like being a Navy flier would cause a 50% growth in your penis. And as I recall, it wasn't at all the first. There had been a steady stream of recruitment-style movies for a good three years beforehand. In other words, within a decade of Saigon falling, Hollywood was going "Vietnam syndrome? Fuck that shit!"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wacky box

I first heard about the Monome a couple of weeks ago. It's an interesting bit of musical technology. Is it a creative musical instrument or a toy that basically makes music by itself while you watch. Potentially either, I guess. It seems like something Brian Eno would like, or Bowie if he hadn't retired.

One thing that I find fascinating is that in terms of looks it resembles the Nixon era's idea of high tech. It would have had a futuristic aura when Mike and Gloria were sleeping in Archie Bunker's guest room. Now it comes with a kind of yard sale vibe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Slushy Friday Random Ten

When I got up and went to work today it was sort of snowing, looked like it was snowing, but it was all mixed with rain. Later on we were just getting rain. We've had one large snowfall this winter, and it was washed away within a few days. I guess you could say we've lost teh recipe.

1. The Cramps - The Natives are Restless
2. U2 - Zooropa
3. The Magnetic Fields - Strange Eyes
4. The Beautiful South - Have You Ever Been Away?
5. They Might Be Giants - You Don't Like Me
6. Pink Martini & Saori Yuki - Mas que Nada
7. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - Tell Me
8. R.E.M. - Auctioneer (Another Engine)
9. Jimmy Smith - I Didn't Know What Time It Was
10. Joe Jackson - Got the Time

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turkish delight

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk is very much a new book to me. In fact I hadn't read any Pamuk before this book, which I'm still reading. From the given evidence I like him, though. The book is dense and perhaps somewhat challenging, due to the multiple narrators. But it gives a fascinating view of the Medieval Ottoman Empire: placid and conservative on the surface, but containing a great degree of debate and rebellion under it.

The thing of calling Europeans "Franks" was also used by Kim Stanley Robinson in The Years of Rice and Salt, where it referred to a nearly-extinct species. Apparently it's a real thing. Kind of odd, since the actual Franks were just one of many Germanic tribes. But language is always a funny thing.

Probing questions

When power is abused, it must be challenged. Which is why I find this protest heartening. Virginia's state government is now in the grips of Tea-palooza. And in this phase, I'm not sure it's really representative of its people, especially about half of its people. In any case, it seems to be falling down on the jobs of small-r republican government. So women pushing back against trans-vaginal ultrasound is a good thing regardless of what passes or doesn't.


Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said more than 2,500 pastors and evangelical leaders have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse the mandate.

While most Protestants do not oppose contraception per se, the letter calls the mandate a violation of religious freedoms.

“This is not a Catholic issue,’’ Perkins said. “We will not tolerate any denomination having their religious freedom infringed upon by the government.’’

Perkins' authoritarian view of freedom really needs no comment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Four color freakout

So if you see the above page and think, "Hey, I bet China Miéville will be doing something like that one of these days," not only are you right, but that day is just about here. I doubt that the results will be as gloriously cheesy as they were in the old days, but I hope they keep the "created by Timmy Dubblestuff in Poughkeepsie" type notes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

PM-based Friday Random Ten

It's kind of interesting how on a lot of days I get the vast majority of work done in the last 90 minutes of the work day. It also happens the other way around sometimes, doing everything at the beginning of the day and then coasitng for six hours or so. But today was one of the days when there just wasn't a lot of work on-hand, until there was. And Fridays the building closes early, which adds an element of low-budget thriller to the whole thing.

1. Tori Amos - Father Lucifer
2. Joe Jackson - Pretty Girls
3. Sammy Davis Jr - Hey There*
4. Brian Eno - By This River
5. Tom Waits - Kiss Me
6. Beck - Emergency Exit
7. Pink Martini & Saori Yuki - Mayanaka no Bossa Nova (Midnight Bossa Nova)
8. Squirrel Nut Zippers - Meant to Be
9. The Cramps - Don't Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk
10. Jimmy Smith - Ruby

* A number from The Pajama Game, I believe written for a female character. Slightly altering the lyrics, Sammy sounds like a gay man pining after his straight friend. I don't see how this could be accidental.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Going to the Peanuts well again

Lucy certainly has her faults. Well, she's supposed to be defined by them, being Charlie Brown's antagonist figure and all. Still, she carries such passion with her - and as seen here, often a perverse joy - that she's always a welcome character. You can see why the others are friends with her, even though it must seem to them like they've just been stuck with her. Yes, I suppose you could say that is true to life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Just wanted to express my regrets and remorse for the light posting here lately. I have stuff I think I might like to write about. It's just that I go straight from "being preoccupied with other stuff" to being tired and sleepy.

But hopefully in the next couple of days I can knock some of the cobwebs out and speak up again.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where we're coming from

An interesting development in anthropology in the past couple of years* is due partly to the mapping of the human genome. Scientists have found that much of the human race - particularly those of Europea extraction - carries around Neanderthal DNA. Denisovians, Eastern cousins of the Neanderthals, made an impact in Asia, where homo sapiens in some parts also breeded with homo floresiensis. And there's an excellent chance that a still obscure species known as homo helmei worked its way into the African genome. Which is to say that we're something of a gumbo of a species. There was a melting pot millennia before there was an America.

This study delves into the ways in which the thinning population of Neanderthals contributed to the modern human race.

To address the possibility that the two groups would not have seen one another as potential mates, the researchers also examined the possible impacts of social barriers to mating in their models. They found that unless social taboos were nearly 100 percent effective, it would have not made any difference in outcomes over time as the gene pools mixed, Barton said.

"This is one of the first attempts to explicitly address the impact of various degrees of social avoidance on possible hybridization between the two groups," added Riel-Salvatore.

"Other than the fact that they disappeared, there is no evidence that Neanderthals were any less fit as hunter-gatherers of the late Pleistocene than any other human ancestor living at that time. It looks like they were as capable as anyone else," Barton said.

We might never know the details regarding this merger of the races. It doesn't help that there was no written language at the time. But I do like the idea that the social taboos were overturned here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Friday Random Ten of this Friday

I nearly forgot, almost went to sleep without posting. But this FR10 list deserves to be!

I signed for a package one of my neighbors got today, after some hesitation. I wonder if the delivery guy thought it was some ruse of mine so I could steal it. (It wasn't. Honest.)

1. Soul Coughing - The Incumbent
2. The Beautiful South - I Love You (But You're Boring)
3. Lou Rawls - You've Made Me So Very Happy
4. Pink Martini & Saori Yuki - Du Soleil Pleins les Yeux (Eyes Full of Sun)
5. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - Be Easy
6. The Cramps - Green Fuz
7. Yuka Honda - Schwaltz
8. Esquivel - Rosetta
9. The Squirrel Nut Zippers - Pince Nez
10. Jimmy Smith - I'm Just a Lucky So and So

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Things that constant Internet access exposes you to

Since I've been reading and often commenting on Comics Curmudgeon, I've also been browsing the Houston Chronicle comics section online, because it contains just about all the pertinent strips. A few months ago they merged the section with their gossip column, or something, which is basically just videos from the nightly entertainment magazines. Seeing the promos flash by is kind of alienating for me. These are all non-stories about people I aggressively don't care about. For example, some they'll be pushing a story about a singer or model's "hot bikini body." Aside from the fact that this usually means that she looks like a 12 year old boy, how is this news? It fails the test of describing something that actually happened.

What's especially off-putting about this is that my kind of indifference isn't factored in at all. The hype just assumes that everyone is going to be fascinated. Please, someone, talk to a real person.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Writers of murder mysteries - and not all mysteries involve murder, but it's a solid example that lets us get our hand around it - usually need to reveal the culprit at some point. It's better if this revelation makes some kind of sense. So they have to know before the reader who exactly done it? I suspect that the best way to do this is to write the events leading up to the murder, then the murder itself. Then bury it until it's time to show everyone.

Amnesia seems to be the same thing. If a character can't remember something crucial, the author still has to know what it is. So there's a lot of writing you have to do, and then keep mum about.

Just sort of thinking out loud here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Memorable Friday Random Ten

I found out today that a lady at work, one who sort of "outranks" me even though we're in different fields, was born after the Blizzard of '78. Just realizing that that's true of a lot of people now. Carte blanche to exaggerate, I guess.

1. Lou Rawls - Dead End Street
2. Pink Martini & Saori Yuki - Yoake No Scat (Melody For a New Dawn)
3. Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him?
4. Tom Waits - Face to the Highway
5. The Kinks - Lazy Old Sun
6. Sammy Davis, Jr - Something's Gotta Give
7. Harry Nilsson - You're Breakin' My Heart
8. Brian Eno - By This River
9. The Magnetic Fields - Love Is Like a Bottle of Gin
10. U2 - Lemon

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fun-imation from France

This is... What is it? Looks to be a combination of cut paper, stop-motion, and Flash animation. It's an enjoyably odd couple of minutes, anyway. Is that Mayor McCheese in the floral outfit?

Tailler un costume from marionette48 on Vimeo.