Fri 24 March 2006
High School of the Damned: Owl Theater
When I was in late high school and college, mostly during the summers, I used to stay up and watch something called Owl Theater, but it didn't have a sexy hostess. It was just cheesy horror movies, and sometimes teensploitation from the 60s, or Avengers episodes, shown with lots of long commercial breaks, so that I would usually fall asleep during one of the commercial breaks.
Of course, the Owl Theater hostess is based on Elvira, who is based on Vampira, who is based on Morticia, who is based on, kind of, one of the vampire chicks in the original Dracula movie.
Yes, that's some pretty incredible cleavage she's got going on there. It's all done with bustiers and padding, you know.
Well, in this case, it's done with Photoshop, but you know what I mean.
That's true about teenagers being
naturally nocturnal, although it wasn't known in 1983, when this story is set.
Although you'd think adults would remember it from when they were teenagers.
Except — I get this weird feeling — that somehow having teenagers
of your own automatically erases all memory of ever having been one.
After much inner debate, I decided to set the HSD storyline very definitely
in a particular time period, that is, the autumn of my senior year in high school.
Which makes it 1983. So I've been researching 1983, and I've discovered two
1. Scrolling past too much microfilm makes me motion sick, and
2. Mainstream fashions of the 80s — not punk or new wave or any of that,
just, the things normal people wore — were a lot dumber looking than I
Oh, the fun we'll have.
Permalink : High School of the Damned: Owl Theater
Fri 24 March 2006
Nocturnal cuteness missing from cute overload: adorable
bat "wallpaper". This is not because bats aren't cute, of course, it's
because photographing them isn't easy for amateurs.
It's cool that this company wants to make a big deal out of offering mixed-race
or same-sex figurines to top wedding cakes. But I'm not sure how necessary
it is. The last time I looked at wedding-cake toppers, they were sold individually,
so you could mix-n-match brides and grooms at will.
Speaking of gay marriage, a recent poll finds opposition
declining from almost two-thirds (63%) to approximately one half (51%),
in the two years since February 2004.
Guess what? Ritalin
Dr. Kate Gelperin, an FDA drug-safety specialist, described the case of a 12-year-old girl who said insects were crawling under her skin. Another child was found by his parents crawling on the ground and complaining that he was surrounded by cockroaches.
In both cases, the hallucinations disappeared after drug therapy was stopped. The boy's doctor persuaded his parents to give him stimulants again, and his hallucinations reappeared.
Once again, young
people seem confused by the fact that if you put something online in a
public forum anyone can look at it. Including your parents. Including
University officials who want to bust you for underage drinking.
So it goes like this: The Washington Post hires right wing blogger
Ben Domenech, founder of redstate.com, because heaven knows you can never
have too much naked right wing bias to counter alleged left wing bias.
(And you can never have too much pointless blogging, either. Although they
did have this op-ed about the Bush Administration with the killer opening
President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show
host?", which is about how Bush talks about the failures of government
with a vaguely perplexed "outsider" air like he's not the one in charge
of it. I guess to offset that clarity of thought you need a real redstater,
you know, the sort of person who can, without a trace of irony, claim that
eating cake and strumming the guitar while New Orleans drowns constitutes
great leadership, but it doesn't matter because attending to national disasters
isn't his job anyway.)
Then it turns out that, as a student writer, Domenech engaged in blatant
plagarism of diverse sources. And, lest you be tempted to excuse this
as college shenanigans, post-college, in June 2002, he is on record as having
simply made up a quote by "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert.
Perhaps that's all because, as a new study suggests, annoying,
whiny children grow up to be conservatives. Yes, I'm oversimplifying.
But in your heart you know it's true. You just know that Rush Limbaugh
and Bill O'Reilly were sniveling tattletales in nursery school.
Speaking of crazy South Dakotans
, an example of how they think from a recent NewsHour
with Jim Lehrer. (Warning, explicit content. Right wingers have filthy minds.):
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.
BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Now, tell me again how your opposition to abortion is about saving the poor
widdle babies, and not about trying to punish horrible "loose" women
and their potential offspring.
Speak up. I'm not convinced.
Oh, and I just ran into this article from 2000 with anecdotes from physicians about pro-lifers having abortions and not changing their anti-abortion stance. You know, going in for an abortion and telling the staff that she thinks they're all murderers. This lends credence to my theory that, while anti-abortion activists say they think it's murder, they don't actually. They actually think it's on a moral par about with adultery, which helps explain the otherwise inexplicable "sodomized virgins" exception quoted above.
The reason I link to this syndicated
column about Laura Bush isn't because I care about Mrs. George W. Bush,
except to point out once again that she killed
a classmate with her car when she was a teenager, which is only notable
because of how the right wing would always be harping on it if Hillary had
done such a thing, and also to point out that the media has been unusually
respectful of Bush family privacy, given that not only does the FLOTUS have
a grisly death in her past, but also the Bush
twins Jenna and Barbara have a criminal record. No, I am fascinated by
trolls, particularly "big R" and "spirit" who are always among the first
to attach their childishly inflammatory comments to anything in the PI that
could remotely be considered partisan. Who are these people? Fourteen
year-old-boys without girlfriends? Paid agitators? Authentic crazy people?
The mystery tantalizes.
But not that much.
There are two deep flaws in the premise of this USA Today article by Phillip Longman, in which he reiterates the marching morons theory by claiming right-wingers try to take over by out-breeding more progressive populations
This first flaw is that the only thing children reliably inherit from their parents is DNA and neuroses.
Longman sort of acknowledges this, but imagines a future consisting of isolated, lonely rebels looking around their "red states" for "fellow travelers" and not finding them.
Which brings me to the second flaw: big cities, with their tendency to foster liberalism, aren't densely populated because people there have a million kids. Cities are densely populated with people who moved there from somewhere else.
In fact, this tendency of freely-moving Americans to self-sort based on inclination is one reason we have such increasing political polarization.
But, Longman isn't exactly an unbiased observer of social trends: he's a fellow at the New America Foundation and author of The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It. So, being alarmed at falling birthrates is his deal, and I can't help but feel he's trying to trick me into thinking I need to want kids when I actually don't. Oh, no! I'd better reproduce so there will be people in the next generation who share my values!
Better yet, I'll corrupt them with literature.
Permalink : Zeitgeist 060324
Wed 22 March 2006
Goths. A credit to any community.
Two different articles based on the same UK study, by Sussex University's Dunja Brill, with the SHOCKING conclusion that teenage goths are non-violent, non-destructive, and likely to stay in school and grow up to be well-educated adults with professional or artistic careers. And, while their adult looks tend to be less extreme, they are generally, more or less, still goths.
"They won't like me saying it, but their lifestyle, unlike the punk scene, is a middle-class sub culture," says Dunja Brill, who carried out the study.
Brill insists that goth is a non-violent subculture. "They're like hippies. I don't know any goths who are into graveyard destruction or cat slaughtering. They like their graveyards and they love their cats."
Of course, this study was done in the UK, but it's obviously true here as well -- for the most part. The thing is, people tend to become goths because they're interested in art, history, architecture, and so on. It's primarily an aesthetic movement. And aesthetes have a long history of shocking bourgeois society, while at the same time being fundamentally good and responsible citizens. Think Oscar Wilde.
Also, to anyone who knows any goths, the notion of them doing harm to cemeteries or cats seems the height of absurdity. I mean, if there's anything that all goths like, it's cats and cemeteries.
Permalink : Goths. A credit to any community.
Tue 21 March 2006
Thomas Kinkade is the devil
See, I was right all along. Thomas
Kincade is the devil.(select quotes from LA Times article follow.)
In litigation and interviews with the Los Angeles Times, some former gallery owners depict Kinkade, 48, as a ruthless businessman who drove them to financial ruin at the same time he was fattening his business associates' bank accounts and feathering his nest with tens of millions of dollars.
Last month a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Assn. ordered his company to pay $860,000 for defrauding the former owners of two failed Virginia galleries.
Though the panel did not single out the artist in its fraud finding, it wrote that he and other Media Arts Group executives had created "a certain religious environment designed to instill a special relationship of trust" with the couple, who have since divorced. The company, communicating through Kinkade and the others, often used terms such as "partner," "trust," "Christian" and "God" to convey a sense of "higher calling," the panel wrote.
The arbitration panel found that the company and Barnett, who ran a training program for prospective gallery owners known as Thomas Kinkade University, "painted an unrealistic and misleading picture of the prospects for success" and never warned potential investors of the inherent risks.
Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior also belies the wholesome image.
In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.
In testimony and interviews with The Times, Sheppard and other former employees said they often went with Kinkade to strip clubs and bars, where he frequently became intoxicated and out of control.
He is also accused of "ritual territory marking" outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. He declined to be interviewed for the article, but claimed the accounts of his behavior were "ridiculous" and "crazy allegations" driven by disgruntled ex-employees and lawyer-happy art dealers.
Even if I didn't hate his art almost beyond the power of words to describe, I would hate Kinkade the phenomenon:
Critics have described Kinkade's works — with titles such as "Sunset on Lamplight Lane" and "The Garden of Prayer" — as little more than mass-produced kitsch. But that has not deterred the multitudes who pay from a few hundred dollars for paper prints to $10,000 or more for canvas editions he has signed and retouched.
People pay $10,000 for prints? Are they insane? (Note: you
can pay me $10,000 and I'll paint pictures on every wall of your whole house.
"It's mainstream art, not art you have to look at to try to understand, or have an art degree to know whether it's good or not," said Mike Koligman, a longtime fan who with his wife owns Kinkade galleries in San Diego and Utah.
No, I don't need an art degree to recognize both soul-sucking badness
and cynical materialistic exploitation made all the more infuriating by the
fake and self-conscious glow of Christian "wholesomeness." What exactly makes
his work so "Christian"? That little fishie in the corner? The fact
that he's always blathering on about how "Christian" he is? Well,
that's the same logic that gets people to give GW Bush credit for being Mr.
Super-Christian, and I don't buy it there, either. But, even if I thought Kinkade
was the most righteous Christian dude since Martin Luther King Jr., it still
wouldn't make his art any better.
Kinkade isn't one hundred percent without painting skill, I suppose. He has
an ability to make things look fuzzy and light-filled, but -- okay, the best
way to do this is to go and look at a painter I actually like who specializes
in fuzzy and light-filled:J.M.W.
Turner, "Keelmen Heaving Coals by Moonlight". And we'll compare a typical
Kinkade offering, also alleged to take place at moonlight, "Moonlight
Cottage." I'm assuming most people with eyes will instantly spot
why Kinkade is a hack compared to Turner, but just because I like ranting, I
will go on a bit. Kinkade's work, frankly, doesn't convince. The light
is wrong, the colors are wrong, the angles are wrong, the depth of focus is
wrong -- it doesn't look like anything. The more you look at it, the
less real it seems. What kind of flowers are those? What time of year is it?
Why is the sky that color when it's supposed to be night? Where is the vanishing
point of the cottage? (Look closely at all his buildings: he simply doesn't
do vanishing point perspective and covers it up by putting plants in
the way.) His worlds are little theatrical sets without depth or context. They
are fantasies. And that could be all right, in itself -- I like fantasies. But
most fantasies exist to show us something fantastic, something that doesn't
exist -- compare this painting
of pretty dinosaurs which is, in color and misty feel, reminiscent of some
of Kinkade's paintings. (Although it's a much more convincing landscape.) So,
if Kinkade's work is best understood as fantasy, the question becomes, what
is the fantasy?
It's a dead world defined mostly by what it lacks: people, animals, movement, conflict, meaning. It's soulless and spiritually void, which makes it ironic, yet typical, that he would be embraced by mainstream evangelical types. They really do want to enter the world of Kinkade's paintings: where it's just you and, presumably, God, where everything is peaceful and mellow and conflict-free because a neutron bomb has killed everyone else.
Okay, maybe the neutron bomb isn't a necessary part of the narrative.
Anyway, Kinkade is a soulless, virtually talentless, cravenly materialistic, hack. If you like him anyway, I want to be able to say, de gustibus non est disputandum, but I can't. You're incorrect. You don't like Kinkade. You have been brainwashed by marketing and will someday come to your senses and realize that what you thought was artistic enjoyment was simply your brain responding to a carefully placed hypnotic suggestion.
PS: I'm so sad that I missed this exhibit at Roq la Rue, PAINTERS OF BLIGHT:
Renowned and beloved as the "Painter of Light," Thomas Kinkade is
America's best-selling fine artist. One who purchases a reproduction of one
of Mr. Kinkade's paintings may elect to have their purchase brought to life
by a Kinkade-trained Master Highlighter, who adds color and definition with
oil paint, truly bringing the lithographs to "light." In that spirit, artists
Jim Blanchard, Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley, Robert Hardgrave, Claire Johnson, Charles
Krafft, Pat Moriarity, Erin Norlin, Marion Peck, Benton Peugh, Robert Rini,
Bonni Reid, and Kipling West have highlighted pages from the Thomas Kinkade
Painter of Light© with Scripture: 2004 Deluxe Wall Calendar, in their own
Permalink : Thomas Kinkade is the devil
Fri 17 March 2006
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta
A movie based on a classic Alan Moore comic that is actually -- really good!
Stylish like a comic book, great cast, emotionally overwhelming in the right places, and a truly amazing script. It preserves nearly all the great moments from the original story, even keeping actual (brilliant) dialogue intact.
While the broad strokes of the story are fairly simple (strange freedom fighter in oppressive fascist state seeks to inspire the people to reclaim their country) the story and the characters and their relationships and their morality are all complex, and the movie script resists the urge to simplify them overmuch in order to leave time for more action scenes.
The time period of the story is updated with great effectiveness -- when written, it was the future of the 80s (Moore specifically references triumphant Thatcherism in his intro) and the movie is the future of now. The final push toward British fascism was a killer virus rather a limited nuclear war, and ubiquitous radio broadcasts have given way to ubiquitous television broadcasts. The "Voice of Fate" is now a blustering TV scold hilariously reminiscent of an English Bill O'Reilly.
There are a few minor missteps here and there, but really, it doesn't matter: this is a brave and thought-provoking movie about how, under certain horrific circumstances, it takes a villain to be a hero.
If you stick around for the credits, you will notice something odd: the movie is based on the DC comic drawn by David Lloyd. No mention of Alan Moore. And no, this is not because Alan Moore saw the completed film, said, "this is rubbish!"* and demanded that his name be removed. This is because Alan Moore has severed his relationship with DC comics This is because Alan Moore, in disgust after how his work was treated by film companies**, decided to have nothing more to do with film companies -- ever. If he owns the rights, no movie will be made. If he does not own the rights, his name must not be in the credits. It's ironic that V for Vendetta, the first film based on his work to come out after this, is the best and most faithful adaptation so far.
*although he did, sort of, based on a shooting script, claiming plot holes and excessive Americanization of minor details. He seemed particularly outraged over the movie's implication that English people eat something called "eggy in a basket" for breakfast. Apparently they do not and never have.
**not the general terribleness of the movies made from them, either. A couple of moviemakers sued 20th Century Fox, alleging that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen plagiarized their script entitled Cast of Characters. According to Moore, "they seemed to believe that the head of 20th Century Fox called me up and persuaded me to steal this screenplay, turning it into a comic book which they could then adapt back into a movie, to camouflage petty larceny." Moore gave a ten-hour deposition, and surmised he would have been better treated had he "molested and murdered a busload of children after giving them heroin." Fox's settlement of the case insulted Moore, who interpreted it as an admission of guilt. Further, Moore broke with DC altogether over V for Vendetta -- producer Joel Silver sent out a press release claiming of Moore "he was very excited about what Larry had to say and Larry sent the script." Moore objected, since this wasn't true, and having his endorsement used as a selling point for the movie was specifically why he didn't want his name used in movie credits. Moore requested a retraction, clarification and apology, with a similar weight to the original press release, something along the lines of, "Due to a misunderstanding, Alan Moore does not wish to be associated with the 'V For Vendetta' movie." Moore gave DC two weeks. Although Silver's words were removed from the movie's Web site, DC was unable to get corporate compliance with his request, and, Moore dumped 'em.
From Comic Book Resources.
Permalink : V for Vendetta
Fri 17 March 2006
Apparently clothing merchants have finally realized two screamingly obvious facts: one, that women over forty do not look good in the same tight, clingy, brief, outfits that 15 year old girls can, er, get away with wearing, although truthfully, most teenagers don't look so hot in them either, in fact, "lumpy sausage" has been the dominant fashion silhouette for the past several years.
Two, that women over forty often have, you know, money to spend on fashion.
Oh, and babyboomers.
I also suspect something else is going on here -- the fashion industry requires novelty, always -- something that feels "new" to bring people inside and coax them to pull out their credit cards. And they really had pushed the lumpy sausage look as far as it could go. Fashion is at the peak of ugly shapelessness, which means the thing that looks really fresh, really sharp and surprising, is tailoring. You know, a-line skirts and so on.
I totally mis-identified this headline, "Rice in Indonesia." I thought it was about the food item. It's actually about our fashionable, yet psycho, Secretary of State. Although in this article she comes across as fairly normal.
Rice held up Indonesia as an example of tolerance, making an implicit contrast with extremist Muslim ideology and Islamic terrorism.
"I don't think there's any disagreement that we need to fight this common enemy," Rice said. Terrorists have struck in Bali and Jakarta in recent years, including a fatal blast at the downtown hotel where Rice's party stayed.
Keeping up with natural disasters:
This is pretty hilarious. In a sad way. Alaska wants to change its image. Governor Frank Murkowski wants the state to hire a public relations firm to change the perception of Alaska as "greedy for federal dollars and all too willing to plunder the environment for profit." He wants to change this perception in order to sway public opinion in favor of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Think about that for a few moments.
Naomi Wolf finds Jesus, but not in an Anne Rice sort of way. Naomi Wolf finds a very personal and still-Jewish version of Jesus. Which I appreciate, really, because it's guaranteed to annoy everyone, and therefore has that ring of sincerity.
Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, has quit South Park for religious reasons. Matt Stone said he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."
Seattle is a "hotbed of vegetarian goodness," according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Even so, Seattle is only the second most vegetarian friendly city in the country.
Number one is Portland. I assume only cities of a certain size were considered, because otherwise I suspect Bellingham would be up there.
"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
-- Jamie Raskin, testifying March 1, 2006 before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in response to a question from Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs about whether marriage discrimination against gay people is required by "God's Law."
Permalink : Zeitgeist 060317
Mon 13 March 2006
"I want to cook the mushrooms before they deliquesce, is that the word?"
"The word for what?"
"What mushrooms do if you leave them in a plastic bag for too long, where
they turn to slime."
Yes it is, and it is pronounced dell-ih-KWESS. It turns out it is from
the Latin inchoative form of liquēre, to be liquid. And apparently
the inchoative is a sort of old fashioned verb form indicating an action
that is about to take place. Oh, and the line over that "e" is called a
macron. And outré is pronounced oo-TRAY.
Feeling sad? Try a cute
. Adorable bunnies, hamsters, two-toed sloths, pandas, and even
hedgehogs. The web site that makes you say, "awww...." in spite
So, now there is video proof that Bush was warned about Katrina before it hit. On August 28 he participated in a video conference (Bush was on vacation at the time, remember). During that conference he was warned that the levees might fail and that the Superdome might be inadequate as emergency shelter. Bush's response?
"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property. And we pray for no loss of life, of course."
Michael Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job") is pointing to this tape as evidence that he was a scapegoat -- because he did warn the administration ahead of time. However, the whiny and clueless e-mail that Brown sent during the disaster kind of proves that he was every bit the incompetent screw-up he was made out to be.
(You know the ones. "Thanks for update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?" "Can I quit now? Can I come home?" "I'm trapped now, please rescue me." "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god." They make him sound not only mind-bogglingly incompetent, but actually kind of insane.)
It's a pattern -- the same pattern that marked the other major touchstones
of this presidency, 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. The pattern goes like this:
1. Receive warnings from people who know what they're talking about, assuring
them that you've got everything under control.
2. Ignore warnings. Keep doing, or not doing, whatever you were planning
to do anyway.
3. When disaster strikes, claim that nobody had any idea that such a thing
could possibly happen.
4. Make promises about future improvements.
5. Ignore promises. Keep doing, or not doing, whatever you were planning
to do anyway.
The Bush administration -- every last one of them, from Bush down to "Brownie"
-- are acting just like people who got hired for important positions based
on fake resumes, and are trying desperately to cover up their fundamental
lack of suitability for the job. It's like a sitcom. A very black-comedy sitcom,
where people actually die and have their lives destroyed. Like, one where
the surgeons aren't really surgeons, or a fourteen year old kid drives a semi
through a shopping mall.
Although, to be fair, it's possible that Bush wasn't technically lying
when he said that nobody could have anticipated the breach of the levees.
Maybe he wasn't even paying attention during the briefing on August 28, and
Permalink : Zeitgeist 060313
Sun 12 March 2006
High School of the Damned -- Ongoing
There's not a lot to say about this little prologue, except that I took way
too long creating the title image -- I drew the kids, and the words, but thought
that it looked too empty. So figuring what to put in the rest of it was the
time consuming part. Strangely, trial and error and messing about takes longer
than just knowing what I want to do and then doing it.
It's meant to look like teensploitation from the early 60s.
Permalink : High School of the Damned
Thu 09 March 2006
Take Ambien -- sleep drive!. (Note: Ambien is a prescription sleeping pill which is a sedative type medication, as opposed to over the counter sleeping medication which is usually just antihistamines being marketed to exploit a side effect. But you shouldn't drive after taking those, either.)
So the city of Seattle is rounding up feral rabbits from Woodland Park Zoo. If you want to adopt one or donate to the cause, there are links at the bottom of the article. If you want to make one into dinner, you are out of luck. Anyway, it's the zoo -- don't they have lots of big predators that would love to have a bunny snack? Seems like kind of a waste. Bunnies...they're not just cute like everyone supposes...
I could have written most of this rant about repeating Republican talking points about Democrats.
if you are going to write against Clinton, do so in a way that Republicans never would. Good arguments would include her being too hawkish, too insider, too centrist.
I am not going to come within several miles of working or supporting Hillary Clinton in the primaries, but I will not, ever, repeat Republican arguments about a fellow Democrat, especially when such talking points are designed to tear down Democratic leaders. We might as well just start saying that Howard Dean is an incredibly angry member of the far left who will say anything that comes to his mind, or that Al Gore is a pathological liar with no personality and nearly insane.
Note that his point is not that you have to like H.Clinton, or Dean, or Gore -- just, don't express your objections using the Republican talking points. And behold how the comments below it completely fail to grasp his point, and instead act like he is trying to claim all Democrats should celebrate Hillary's candidacy.
At last they seem to have gotten that thing about whether coffee causes heart attacks worked out. It turns out that if you have a genetic variant for processing caffeine slowly, you are more likely to have a heart attack. Otherwise, coffee is good for you!
And, we are one step closer to a world where you can run your DNA through the sequencer at the local drugstore and get a little risk profile about how dangerous smoking or fatty foods will be for you. Which is both cool and scary -- there's a lot of misuse potential
On a vaguely related note, I think a good "smoking ban" compromise would be: bars and restaurants default to being nonsmoking, but they can get smoking permits much the same way they now have to get liquor permits. Not that anybody cares what I think.
You know that gate in Jerusalem called "the eye of the needle" that they told you about in Sunday school? It doesn't exist. Seriously. That bit in Matthew about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven? It means just what it looks like it means. "Camel passing through the eye of a needle" is a figure of speech meaning a really unlikely or impossible thing. Sorry if that disturbs anybody's faith or anything. Maybe The Heyward Foundation will make it better.
Permalink : Zeitgeist 060309
Mon 06 March 2006
Academy Awards Show 2006
(slightly out of chronological order, because I wasn't taking notes at the time)
I enter this one feeling a bit out of touch. The nominees all seem to be sober, adult dramas. Therefore I haven't seen them. The only best picture nominee I have seen is Good Night, and Good Luck, and I have to admit I found it...a little...dull. I mean, David Strathairn is terrific always, and the visual recreation of the 50s is stunning, and the topic is fascinating, but it kind of ends up lacking a story. I mean, I thought the reason you made a regular fiction type movie, instead of a documentary, was so you were free to impose narrative on real events.
The show opens with a funny opening montage of past show hosts turning down the gig. So far so good. But Jon Stewart's monologue seems kind of awkward, inspiring an "Uma -- Oprah" style of uncomfortable tittering as he makes sort of politically oriented jokes that just don't quite seem to work...because they're not funny enough, or wrong for the crowd, or something. I don't know, I just know I find myself wincing for him when he delivers the joke about the Oscars being a rare "place where you can watch all your favorite stars without having to donate any money to the Democratic Party," immediately followed by the one about how the Academy must be happy to be able to "finally vote for a winner." I know he's funnier than this. Is that two people walking out? Who are they? Or are they just going to the bathroom?
Anyway, by the end of it he's starting to get his host legs a bit and has made an actual funny joke that goes over well:
"Björk could not be here. She was trying on her Oscars dress and Dick Cheney shot her."
Stewart does contribute one thing that is hysterically funny, a bit later in the show: parodies of political attack ads. They are for the best actress nominees. So you get things like Keira Knightley's cheekbones are "sprinkled with God dust," or "Judi Dench...not a dame! She put out my eye in a bar fight!" And then they're "paid for by a shadow organization which is absolutely not Felicity Huffman* for best actress," or "paid for by Reese Witherspoons's* mother."
*I can't remember exactly which "paid for" went with which actress.
Also, Stewart introduces a hilarious montage showing just how...gay...many classic cowboy movies look.
Overall, he ends up feeling like a funny guy, but a bad fit. Even his funniest (to me) jokes don't seem to get the live audience laughing. A couple of them flop so badly I expect to see tumbleweeds rolling across the stage.
Nicole Kidman is first presenter. I don't like her with blonde hair. I don't know what it is with redheaded actresses that they all have to go blonde eventually. Red is better! Anyway, her hair, skin, and dress are all the same vague shade of beige, and she seems to have passed the point of no return with regard to the plastic: the Michelle Pfeifer point where a formerly good actress becomes a stiff, botoxed approximation of the features that made her famous, incapable of moving sufficiently to ever really act again. It's sad. But at least she's already done Moulin Rouge!.
George Clooney wins best supporting actor for Syriana. I haven't seen it. But his speech is really good, and since it plays off one of Stewart's less successful jokes in the opening monologue, I'm tempted to think it's purely extemporaneous. Which would make Clooney kind of a genius.
Ben Stiller comes out in a green bodysuit. The joke is that he thinks he's being green-screened, so that he will appear to the home audience, and on the monitor, as a floating head. Of course, he's not. He's just wearing a dumb-looking green bodysuit. Paul observes that Stiller is missing the shame gene. I opine that this is probably beneficial in a comedian. However, the schtick seems to go on too long.
This is one of those things that perpetually bugs me -- they are SO QUICK to start gong-showing the award winners off the stage, and yet they let the presenters just go on....and on....and on. Anyway, the award for special effects goes to King Kong. Which, it had really good FX, even though I was kind of bored, so it probably deserves them. They were better than the ones in Narnia, anyway.
Reese Witherspoon comes out as a presenter, also in beige, but a livelier design. And she's still young and her face is mobile. Actually, she's a great actress, I love her. But I used to like Nicole Kidman, too. Let Nicole's stony visage be a lesson to all of today's talented Hollywood ingenues: all the plastic surgery isn't really worth it if it destroys your ability to act.
But we'll see. She has lots of upcoming features -- we'll see if they're as bad as Bewitched. Maybe she's just stiff because she doesn't like presenting awards. Or because her dress is too tight.
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit wins for animated feature. I haven't seen it. The only nominee I have seen in this category is Corpse Bride. The Wallace & Gromit guys are wearing giant dorky bow ties, which is cute, and they have little bow ties which they affix to their statuettes. Also cute. They thank Helena Bonham Carter. I am confused and ask Paul if she ALSO did voice talent for THEIR movie. Paul says, no, she just smooched them when they went up. Paul says, "Poor Tim Burton."
I say, "He's dating Helena Bonham-Carter, he's doing all right."
I appreciate the vivid colors of her silky blue outfit and his bright red shirt
when they show them in the audience. Later, it will turn out that the Oscar
pundits hate HBC's dress. I'm not sure what their problem is. One online quote:
"It looks like something a gaudy guest would wear to a wedding. In the '80s.
In New Jersey." It just seems way out of line to me. I'm guessing the style
pundits got the beige memo (see below).
Dolly Parton sings her
nominated song for Transamerica.
She sounds pretty good singing it. I say, "You know, for as much plastic surgery
as she must've had, she looks pretty good. Except for the Melanie
Griffith lips." Paul says, "She was old when I was a kid." I say, "That's
what I mean. And she looks as tacky as ever, but her tacky has kept up with
the times. That's not easy to do. Ya gotta admire the woman." Paul nods. The
song is okay. I don't hate it, but, I can't remember it later.
Commercial break. Time to cut up the blue shropshire and the d'anjou pear, and put the frozen edame pods in the microwave.
Naomi Watts presents. In beige. Was there a memo? There must've been a memo. Pale blondes, wear a shade virtually identical to your skin and hair!
Her version has shaggy whatnots on the front, which Paul observes are in exactly the same shape as Björk's swan dress. Somehow, this doesn't make me like it any better. I find myself agreeing with the style pundits on this one.
Jennifer Aniston presents in...black? Dark grey? Not sure. At least it isn't beige. But, overall, there's something kind of dispiriting about her dress. The style pundits seem to like it, though. I'm convinced style pundits like things nice and dull.
Memoirs of a Geisha wins a costume award. I love the costume award. Costume sketches are beautiful, an art form in themselves. I'm still not really interested in seeing the movie. I don't know why. I just get a distinct lack of excitement when I contemplate watching it.
Will Ferrell and Steve Carell give the best make up award to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They are pretty funny, with their bad makeup. Again, comedians benefit from not having a dignity gene. But they give the presenters soooo much time compared to the winners. This just isn't right.
Okay, now I'm getting tired of all the annotating -- you know, links and everything -- so from now on if you want to see the IMDB entry, you just have to look it up for yourself.
Rachel Weisz wins best actress in a supporting role. She is pregnant and has chosen a lovely empire-waisted black gown in light of that. Also, I get a kick out of the fact that the ponderous announcer voice has to say her previous movies are The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Go Rachel.
Lauren Bacall introduces a montage of film noir. She seems to be having trouble
with the teleprompters, which makes me feel horribly embarrassed for...not her,
she still has her dignity, embarrassed for whoever was arranging her appearence
and didn't check that out ahead of time. The montage leaves me feeling like
I need to see more film noir. But I wonder about the relevance. Were they just
looking for something for Lauren Bacall to do?
Charlize Theron comes out as a presenter. Her dress really doesn't work. Weird giant shoulder bow and random criss-crossing ribbons, all in a sad kind of greyish-green color. This is one where I actually agree with the style pundits. Her hair looks nice though.
March of the Penguins wins best documentary. Is anyone surprised? It was the clear audience favorite. The guys accepting are French and their English isn't so good, so they make do with a few words, and lots of cuddling of giant stuffed penguins. Paul wonders how they got such large items past security, and speculates they might be inflatable.
Jennifer Lopez makes a presentation while wearing her grandmother's curtains.
The problem isn't really the cut (soft and flouncy) or even the color (somewhere
between light olive and dark chartreuse) -- it's just that it doesn't quite
work on her. Somehow it looks like she's wearing someone else's dress by mistake.
Plus, she is obviously having trouble taking a full step -- why is a dress that
flouncy so hard to walk in? Seems like poor engineering to me. The style pundits
like this dress.
Addendum: Entertainment Weekly had Lopez in a list of unfortunate makeup choices,
as having used too much artificial bronzer. This could explain why the dress
color doesn't look righ, if she picked it out with different makup.
Performance of a song from Crash. Boring song, cool-looking performance art with burning cars and zombies and stuff. Pundits will later make fun of this production number, which I really don't understand, since -- would they enjoy this boring song more without flaming cars and zombies in the background? I doubt it.
Selma Hayak comes out. I almost love her dress. I love the rich blue color, the shimmery fabric, and the cut from the waist down. However, it has a weird sort of "pull my breasts over to one side" thing going on from the waist up. Still, the overall effect is that she looks hotly gorgeous rather than constipated/emaciated, which is a big plus. The original score oscar she is presenting is given to a guy from Argentina for Brokeback Mountain. He beats John Williams...twice! The Brokeback theme is the most instantly catchy as played by Itzhak Perlman, but that's all I know.
Jessica Alba presents sound mixing with Eric Bana. She got the beige memo. And it's not a good beige for her, it clashes with her tan. She's wearing one of those super-dropped square necklines that always looks awkward to me -- you know, like your breasts are trying to drop down to your waist. Those seem popular this year. Good thing she's so cute. King Kong wins.
Ludacris (in a spiffy black velvet jacket that makes him look like a 19th century romantic poet) introduces the performance of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow. Huh. I remember when "Blame Canada" was considered controversial. It's a fairly catchy song musicwise, the lyrics are awfully repetitive, but -- I don't know, I'm just not comfortable with the whole mainstreaming of pimp imagery. And faux-prostitutes dancing about on stage. And when the lead female sings "witches jumping ship" I'm pretty sure that's not the original lyric.
Then it wins. Okay, whatever. Maybe it's social progress of a kind. I'm just glad I don't have any kids I have to explain this to. Still, the guys accepting are fun. Really excited, and they both get bleeped and talk about Jesus. And presenter Queen Latifah looks lovely in her strapless black gown with tiers of ruffles.
The In Memorium montage always makes me cry. I'm a sucker. But -- no James Doohan? What's up with that?
At some point the president of the Academy comes out and gives a speech introducing what will become a minor recurring theme: "watch movies in the theater -- not on your TV!" But when he mentions "watching movies with a bunch of strangers," I have to add, "who won't shut up." As if Hollywood makes no money from DVDs, anyway. They're just greedy. They want to make all that money from DVDs, then make just as much as they used to make from theaters, even though theaters are shrinking, overpriced, and subject me to annoying ads.
Jennifer Garner trips as she walks out, which is moderately exciting. She got the beige memo. At first I think she might be pregnant -- empire waist, cleavage falling out of her dress -- but I don't see an actual bump. Turns out she is no longer pregnant. She has recently given birth.
There seems to be a pattern emerging. Kong gets the technical Oscars (Visual Effects, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing). Geisha gets the pretty things oscars (Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design).
Robert Altman gets a special award, presented by Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep. This is the best presentation of the night -- a strangely scripted faux randomness, or real randomness (who can tell?) meant to be reminiscent of Altman films. It manages to be really compelling, the actresses prove they can, wow, can they act, and they are still cute without that whole "I can't move my face" look. Paul observes that the only thing missing, is that they don't make out. Maybe off camera. A man can dream.
We discuss Altman's films. Paul likes them more than I do. The ones I think are okay, he thinks are good, the ones I think are pretty good, he thinks are really good. We agree that The Player is brilliant, and that Nashville is boring. Altman's work in the 70s is exactly what I don't like (in general) about 70s films. The soundtracks are muddy, the palettes are muddy, the pacing is leaden, and the themes are so stonily serious that even the comedies are sort of humorless.
Paul likes everything about the 70s more than I do.
Ziyi Zhang presents the award for Best Film Editing to Crash. She is the cutest presenter of the evening so far. Her top is black and glittery and she has great hair. Maybe I do have to see Memoirs of a Geisha.
Hilary Swank comes out. She is wearing the same shade of dispiriting grayish black as Jennifer Aniston, and looks half-starved, in that way that actresses do. I heard that she was giving up her Chuckanut Bay house out there in the used-to-be-wilderness where gigantic houses are owned by rich people and you can't take the trail down to the bay anymore.
At some point in here is a montage of "socially aware" Hollywood pictures -- you know, things like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. At least this montage is relevant, but it comes when everybody's sort of montaged out. I mean, I like seeing montages of movies, just because...I like movie clips! But most of the time I don't feel any more enlightened afterward -- Oscar empty calories -- and wonder if we need quite so many of these montage things, and maybe we could give the winners a little more speech time? You know?
Philip Seymour Hoffman wins best actor for Capote. All the performances in the clips look good. The only one I've seen is Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line.
Reese Witherspoon wins best actress for Walk the Line. I have seen that movie, and she was good in it, so I can't complain.
Brokeback Mountain wins for best adapted screenplay. I notice that all the best picture nominees seem to be adapted from something. There seems to be some confusion -- it is introduced as though the screenplay is based on a short story by Annie Proulx that has only been published in The New Yorker, but Larry McMurtry talks glowingly about, I think, bookstores in his portion of the acceptance speech. Partner Diana Ossana is clutching her Oscar with visibly white knuckles while he speaks.
Uma Thurman got the beige memo. Crash wins for original screenplay. director & co-writer Paul Haggis wins cool points for quoting Bertolt Brecht.
Ang Lee gets best director for Brokeback Mountain. Ang Lee was a very good director before he made The Hulk, and I am willing to believe he is a very good director again.
Crash wins best picture. I'm surprised it didn't go to Brokeback, given Lee's directorial win. Maybe everyone was seized with the same desire to spread out the awards. A little here, a little there. No big sweeps or anything. People who thought Brokeback was the better movie instantly suspect Academy homophobia, which doesn't explain why it won three of its eight nominations.
Great gaffe: Crash producer Cathy Schulman, thanking “my husband and my wife” as the gong show music drowns her out. I assume it was a misspeak caused by panic, but maybe she's poly. You never know.
All in all, kind of a disappointing evening. Stewart didn't blow me away as host, nobody wore anything excitingly strange, nobody did anything off-script, and I didn't like any of the songs.
The shropshire cheese was really good.
Permalink : Academy Awards Show 2006
Thu 02 March 2006
George Will -- mister happy!
George Will, on happy conservatives. I have mixed feelings about the Pew study (which actually shows a stronger correlation between party identification and happiness, rather than relative conservatism and happiness). On the one hand, it could be interpreted as an indictment of Democrats and Independents (your views don't even make you happy!) On the other hand, happy people are really annoying. And Republicans are annoying. So it's kind of what I would have expected.
Will's take on it is, predictably, smug and somewhat off the mark. He uses it to advance a favorite pet theory, that conservatives are more pessimistic/realistic, which has the somewhat paradoxical effect of making them happier.
First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events.
(Sure -- just like the Bush administration!)
Second, when they are wrong they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.
I suppose it is to be expected that he attributes to other, hypothetical conservatives more sophisticated philosophy than I would. That is, when Will is describing "what conservatives think" he is describing what he thinks, and explaining why he considers himself to be a conservative. But does he consider himself to be "very happy"? He doesn't actually say.
He does recognize that right wingers don't exactly act happy nowadays, and is quick to distance himself from those frothing-at-the mouth pundits.
Nevertheless, normal conservatives -- never mind the gladiators of talk radio; they are professionally angry -- are less angry than liberals.
See? In spite of their popularity -- and the fact that they pretty much define the public face of conservatism in the modern era -- Limbaugh and his ilk are not normal conservatives. Normal conservatives aren't angry like liberals are!
You know, it's funny how much being told I'm irrationally angry makes me...angry. But I think that's sort of the expected response, isn't it? Give it a try. Walk up to some random person and say, "Why are you so angry all the time?" and see how they react.
But no matter how often I'm told that "liberals" or "lefties" or "Democrats" are the perpetually angry ones, I just don't see the evidence for it. I think liberals are pretty outraged, nowadays, but, you know, we have reasons. I suppose you could say, one side's justified outrage is the other side's irrational anger.
But compare Michael Moore to Ann Coulter. They're not really very much alike, but they were seen as equivalent enough to be both engaged by USA Today to give perspective on the 2004 political conventions -- Coulter for the Democrats, Moore for the Republicans. Moore's columns were all published, Coulter's were not. The official statement from Brian Gallagher, editor of the editorial page, was that "We had a disagreement over editing. We worked diligently to resolve the differences and couldn't, so we decided to part ways." The column had "basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable." (They replaced her with the equally annoying, but less violence-prone, Jonah Goldberg.) Anyway, my point is that Moore -- whether you think he's full of baloney or not -- has never threatened conservatives with violence, accused them of treason simply for being conservatives, opined that conservatives should be put in camps, called for Timothy McVeigh to bomb the building where National Review is published, or suggested that more conservative Supreme Court justices should be poisoned while Clinton was still president to ensure a relatively liberal replacement. Moore is angry about a lot of things, but he expresses his anger mostly through humor. He seems like a pretty genial guy -- you know, a good guy to have lunch with. I would be nervous to even have Coulter in the same room with me. She seems kind of psycho. Maybe it's an act, but I think it's a Hamlet kind of act -- you know, she's pretending to by psycho to cover up the fact that she actually is psycho.
But if you asked them how happy they were, what would they say? Would the one with a more pleasant demeanor be the one who claimed to be happier?
Liberals have made this the era of surly automobile bumpers
Um...I'm sorry, George, but you're simply incorrect. Liberals have no monopoly on surly bumper stickers. Or do you suppose that the "Keep honking -- I'm reloading!" old chestnut is a liberal favorite? Or how about bumper stickers demanding "US out of the UN"? "Earth First -- we'll log the other planets later!" "Don't like the way I drive? Stay off the sidewalk!" "Wife and dog missing. Reward for dog" "Kerry is scary" "Boycott Hollywood" "Hippies suck" "I love my country -- but fear my government" "Welcome to America -- now learn English!" "Anyone but Hillary" "Everyone is entitled to my opinion" "Guns don't kill people -- I do" "I see dumb people" "Welcome to Washington State -- now go home!"
Much bumper-sticker surliness has no particular political affiliation, really. Although Will seems a little confused on that point, because his actual example of a "surly" liberal bumper sticker is:
millions of them, still defiantly adorned with Kerry-Edwards and even Gore-Lieberman bumper stickers, faded and frayed like flags preserved as relics of failed crusades.
I hate to break it to you, George, but there is nothing inherently surly about favoring the Democratic candidate. Nice poetic imagery there, though my own observation is somewhat different -- just the other day I remarked to Paul, "doesn't it seem like people's Kerry bumper stickers are looking awfully fresh and shiny? Almost like they're replacing them. You know, sort of a 'don't blame me, I voted for Kerry' with extra cred?"
Of course, my personal observations aren't statistically significant. But then, neither are Will's.
To preserve these mementos of dashed dreams, many liberals may be forgoing the pleasures of buying new cars -- another delight sacrificed on the altar of liberalism.
Okay, that's just silly, and I suspect Will knows it. Nobody avoids buying a new car because they don't want to lose their collection of bumper stickers. Or at least, I have never met such a person, nor have I heard credible anecdotal evidence that such a person exists. Maybe liberals are less likely to buy new cars, for environmental or economic reasons, but I don't know if you'd call that "foregoing pleasure." I don't want a new car. They're expensive, and shopping for them is annoying. I would prefer to have our Honda Civic last forever and ever. I know that's not going to happen, but it's what would give me more pleasure. Plus, new car smell makes me want to vomit. I hate new car smell. The only smell I hate more than new car smell is the smell of those markers which are alleged to smell like blueberries and cinnamon.
Undoubtedly, were I a conservative, I would enjoy new car smell.
But, then, conscientious liberals cannot enjoy autos because there is global warming to worry about, and the perils of corporate-driven consumerism, which is the handmaiden of bourgeoisie materialism. And high-powered cars (how many liberals drive Corvettes?) are metaphors (for America's reckless foreign policy, for machismo rampant, etc.).
I'm not sure I know what he's talking about here. Are liberals miserable because they are aware of possible negative consequences of their actions? And conservatives aren't? Is that even a good thing? And aren't conservatives always harping on "personal responsibility"? So it's conservative to not enjoy sex because of potential negative consequences, but this makes them happier than liberals who can't enjoy automobiles because of potential negative consequences?
Or is he making an assumption here -- one Will actually makes a lot -- that all liberals are deadly serious lefty academic types, unable to take anything at face value and seemingly congenitally unable to enjoy anything? It kind of fits with his view that all conservatives are also academic types -- defenders of tradition and traditional pleasures, such as Shakespeare and cigars. (As opposed to crazy survivalists who paint anti-government slogans on their barns.)
Will, I hate to break it to you, but most people are not academics. Period.
Liberalism is a complicated and exacting, not to say grim and scolding, creed -- not one conducive to happiness.
Complicated? So liberalism is complicated...does that make conservatism simple? And if it does, does that make conservatives...simpleminded? And if they are, does that mean that their happiness is the happiness of the clueless and ignorant? You know, the kind of happiness that comes from sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la-la-la I can't hear you!"
The Pew survey shows that 50% of respondents consider themselves "pretty happy," 34% "very happy," and 15% "not too happy." Which makes "very happy" people a definite minority to start with. (Interestingly, 34% is also Bush's current approval rating.) So I have to wonder...is being "very happy" really the human norm?
See, there's kind of a problem if Will wants conservatives to "own" happiness -- it means they have to give up most of the great thinkers and artists, not to mention nearly every comedian, and Jesus. They didn't call him the "man of sorrows" for nothing.
Which is kind of ironic, since people who go to church more often report being happier than those who do not.
Permalink : George Will -- mister happy!
Thu 02 March 2006
The Bill of Rights
In the interests of public service, since people are more likely to know the American Idol judges than their First Amendment rights, here is the entire Bill of Rights (first ten amendments to the Constitution) in order:
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
- No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
- The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
- In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Permalink : The Bill of Rights
Wed 01 March 2006
Thoughts on architecture, from somebody who spends most of her time in buildings
What a surprise -- an architecture critic hates big box stores.
Enthusiasts of big-box shopping will retort that this is so much elitist prattle. We're not interested in architectural delight; we want that $999 plasma TV -- and any niceties that raise the store's overhead are unnecessary and even unwelcome.
I think he's right about the architectural horrors of the big box, but I think he's off the mark by buying into the assumption that stores like Costco or Wal-Mart look that way because aesthetic "niceties" would raise the operating overhead. Look at the enormous parking lots of these places -- real estate is pricier than designers. No, the monumental inhuman ugliness is a deliberately engineered part of the big-box shopping experience. What stores are big and boxlike? Stores that purport to offer bargains. It's the same psychological trick that causes packaging on "generic" and store brands to be ugly. What, did you think they looked like that because puke green ink is cheaper than a nice burgundy color?
The innate unpleasantness of the experience is reassurance that you're getting the best possible price. You're making sacrifices, to get a bargain!
Oh, and speaking of architecture, I like the EMP, and hate the new Seattle Library. Which puts me in a small minority of...I don't know. Maybe five people?
But I have my reasons. My reasons for liking the EMP: it's completely weird, not even trying to be a normal building, and I respect that. It's made up of interesting curvy shapes and pretty colors. In spite of the weirdness, the interior seems fairly functional, and I feel comfortable when I'm inside it. That's pretty much all you can ask of a building.
My reasons for disliking the new library: it looks like any other mid-size office building, except more angular and hostile. The signature colors are all hot and insane. There were portions of my library experience where I felt completely swallowed by the color. Maybe I'm oversensitive, but I don't really want to get inside an elevator interior made entirely of pulsing yellow-green reminiscent of radioactive pus, or walk down a narrow hallway of lurid tomato-vomit red. Also, the actual books in the new library seem not merely an afterthought, but actually horribly out of place. Their rough earth tones clash with the color scheme, jarring against all the slick designer shapes, like an embarrassing and smelly old uncle crashing a hip New York loft party. It's a post-book library, a library for the Fahrenheit 451 dystopia.
There is no comfortable space in the interior -- nowhere to sit, work, or even stand. I felt anxious and alienated the entire time I was inside it, and after I had seen everything, I left immediately.
On a final note: I have finally decided that I would rather own a Craftsman than a Victorian, should I ever be in a position to purchase a house.
Permalink : Thoughts on architecture