oh shit, not again.

So, after the purple-luggage affair [I bought a four-piece set in July as an August birthday present; when it finally arrived in September, it was a one-piece set and the package's weight changed with whatever piece of vendor/manufacturer/UPS paperwork you looked at; once the post-mortem and the damaged-package procedure was completed -- including sending the empty box to UPS' office to examine; it's the official protocol, I guess -- a real four-piece arrived a little less than two weeks ago.] I've been a little leery of buying anything online and/or using UPS.

Then Musiciansfriend.com sent me an email that they were waiving their normal $9.99 shipping charge for oversized items. Like guitar cases. Like the Epiphone 335 case that I've been meaning to buy as a replacement for the bulky hardcase that my Harmony/Airline H77 H76 [EDIT: Jason, you fool! If you must delete your posts, delete the ones that dare to correct me first.] came with ... which never really fit and I never used and was mostly ruined by the flood anyway. Totally free shipping on a hardshell case? And they take Paypal? Sold! I bought the Epi and a half-dozen String Swing wallhangers for my guitars. Yay! They shipped the hangers and the case out the next workday, I assume in one box as they gave me only one UPS tracking number for the shipment.

I just checked the UPS tracking page; my package is on time for delivery tomorrow .... but it only weighs 2.4 pounds. Sigh. Everyone cross your fingers for what will await me with tomorrow morning's doorbell ring.

The 1226th step on the last road home.

The 1225th step on the last road home.

Morality Ends Where A Plasma Cannon Begins.

I was so excited when I heard about BioShock -- holy fucking shit, an Ayn Rand video game? I guess I don't have to wait until GRAND THEFT AUTO IV [aka "Killer App. uberfuhrer"] to buy an Xbox 360, right?

Then I asked some friends who have played it just how Randy it is. I bet there are long speeches in the cut scenes, right?

Well, no. There are almost no cut scenes and none with speeches. It has gorgeous art direction and some political agenda to be discovered in the experience, but it's more HALF LIFE than TROPICO or somesuch.

That sounds cool, but where does the Ayn Randiness come in? If not in the cut scenes, you can make long, mildly insane speeches by tapping the A [is A] button rhythmically -- like DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION or GTA: SAN ANDREAS' clubbing minigame -- where the more accurately you tap the better the speechifying, right? That caertainly sounds a lot more fun than watching a cut-scene speech. You tap out the speeches, right?

No, no speechifying anywhere in the game. You walk around in the hallways of a collapsed Randian utopia, you look at stuff, you kill mutants. The End.

This is probably for the best; if GTA4 gets pushed back much more, by the time it's finally released the 360's price will have dropped low enough for cheapskates like me to buy one without whimpering.

"These things always happen in three sets of three"

Three to-go places for movies:

Silent Era, the place to go for silent-cinema news.

The Kubrick Site, the place for Stanley Kubrick material.

Archive.org's film-noir collection, the place to go for public-domain movies to download and watch on your Treo or whatnot.

***

Three silent movies I very much would like to see again, right now:

AELITA
Yakov Protazanov's 1924 Soviet science-fantasy has a general plot like the best Chris Ware comic never drawn.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED
Lotte Reiniger's 1926 animated feature film. Yes, you read the year correctly.

BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A GREAT CITY
As AELITA is to Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS, Walter Ruttmann's 1927 cityscape montage is to Dziga Vertov's MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA in many ways.

***

And three film people I would like to know more about but probably can't:

George O'Hanlon, an indestructible character actor who was probably best known as the voice of George Jetson. What interests me is "Joe McDoakes/SO YOU WANT TO BE ..." the short-film series he starred in and co-wrote with director Richard L. Bare. [Bare, by the way, was a workhorse with a massive body of unexceptional but honorable film and TV work and one genuinely useful book on directing that seems buried in a miasma of cash-in cheapie bullshit: THE FILM DIRECTOR. I've not seen the updated edition, however.]

Susan Peters is an actress whose work I don't think I've ever seen -- it's been forever since I saw RANDOM HARVEST, and I don't remember her or anyone else from it -- but she has the most fascinating life story.

And Gus Meins, the OUR GANG director who helmed the movies in the transition from the series' artistic peak [the Farina-era talkies] to its blander commercial boom; if the Little Rascals prodco were Fleetwood Mac, Meins was its Bob Welsh and MAMA'S LITTLE PIRATE its "Hypnotized."

The 1224th step on the last road home.

Shilling shilly bang bang

The Alec Guinness Collection
This one is worth price for just THE LADYKILLERS, still a highwater mark for British film comedy. It's so indestructible a work that even that crappy Coen/Tom Hanks remake can't marr it. KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS is justly famous for Sir Alec portrayal of an entire family, but his performance never touches the transcendentally control and presence he later brought to Professor Marcus; this film is available in a superior Criterion edition, but it's the kind of movie that's worth buying twice. The other films in this set are excellent.

Ealing Studios Comedy Collection
I've not seen some of the movies in this set, but the Alexander Mackendrick-helmed ones are superb. [Mackendrick also made THE LADYKILLERS, following that up with the amazing SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS in the U.S., which should put him in your top five most underrated filmmakers.] It's a terribly clumsy description, but WHISKEY GALORE is what I imagine DUCK SOUP would be like if Leo McCarey and the Marx Brothers were British, but shot the film in the same gorgeous areas that John Ford used for HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY.

The Bava Box Set Vol. 1
Five peerless giallos from The Eccentric Grandfather [from the old country, whom your parents never wanted you to talk to at family functions] Of Horror. Uncut and uncensored! I'm lame and lazy; I like BLACK SUNDAY the most, which is like picking SEVEN SAMURAI as your favorite Kurosawa/samurai movie.

Grounded for Life - Season 1
Grounded for Life - Season 2
Grounded for Life - Season 3
Grounded for Life - Season 4
I'm not sure why I enjoy this show so much -- it's definitely a TV sitcom, but the cast is impressively balanced [only the younger children fail to hold their own, which is actually welcome in a field of nauseatingly precocious child characters] and the humor is often edgy and unsentimental [admittedly, by TV sitcom standards]. I think it's the almost surgical precision of the writing; in a show that regularly leapfrogs from one flashback scene to another to a flashback within a flashback, the viewer is never lost, bored or confused. It could easily be that GROUNDED is just a slightly above-average sitcom elevated by its bravura editing, but I still like it.

The Herzog/Kinski Collection
Unconnected to each other as the films are, I think they need to be viewed in the context of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski's relationship to be fulled appreciated. This set includes all of their collaborations, as well as a fine documentary that fails honorably to put a bow on that work; that story is clearly too big, too intimate, too everything for any film to fully embrace. I'm miffed that the English-version disk of NOSFERATU was dropped for this set, but not enough to actually buy that edition.

The 1219th step on the last road home.

Because nothing's more American than a $5 off coupon

I'm praying to Gawd that "Stephen Colbert" really does get into the Presidential race; I'd hate to see all those asshole evangelicals who literally just won't vote if given a choice between an unenthusiastically pro-choice candidate and a slightly more unenthusiastically anti-choice candidate -- never ever seeming to notice that their picks never actually do much to strike Roe V. Wade from the books -- miss out on the voting fun next year. "Stephen Colbert," like John Gibson, is clearly all about the [white] babymaking and strict vagina control, which makes him the man for their job [Job: 2.9, to be exact].

The 1214th step on the last road home.

Once again, I told youse so

Julio's corner did not answer the bell for the 9th round. I really should start betting on the fights I have a real feeling for. Go me.

Diaz v. Diaz

It's the Baby Bull in the eighth. I don't know if I like watching Juan Diaz's fights for his skills or because his mama's cute when she cries. Does that make me a bad person? It probably does.

I made a point to not find out who won in Barrera/Pacquiao II -- I'm assuming it will end the same, but sooner. Although Barrera is doing very well so far.

The 1208th step on the last road home.

The 1207th step on the last road home.

Cynical Craptacular News in a bottle

So, Al Gore is going to give his first post-Nobel press conference at 1:45 EST. But CNN just aired a "report" about Anna Nicole Smith's doctors' offices being searched by police, ending with the anchor promising us that they will bring us the investigators' press conference ... which is scheduled for 1:45 too. Gee, I wonder if they'll dump the Gore presser entirely, or do that half & half bullshit that does no one any favors. It's a shame that Smith wasn't a Democrat, then CNN could just have the same panel of GOP "strategists" talk shit over video loops from both conferences.

So, Peter won

By unanimous decision, no less. The scoring reeks, though.

Ha ha ha, best ring interviews, ever -- smooth as toast. I note with some interest that McCline got out of the ring without being asked about those steriods.

Are the other people in the ring aware that Don King is a convicted murderer? That's all I would be able to think about if I was in there with him -- like swimming in a public pool with a tiger shark.

Pugilistic closure in a bottle

I fell asleep in the 11th round of Peter-McCline, but I've picked it up on an 8pm rerun now.

McCline hasn't shown any killer instinct, like he's uncomfortable with the thought of beating the crap out of Peter. He's never seemed hurt nor does he appear to be excessively fatigued, which makes watching him lose the clear lead he earned in the first four rounds all the more annoying.

Heavyweights are great to watch live, but on television it's all too often like watching two lumbering icebergs bumping into each other, except without an iceberg's natural grace.

Julie Lederman has a remarkable volume of hair. It's more interesting than Rounds 4-10 were.

The 1203rd step on the last road home.

Matt Taibbi is fully back on the Campaign Trail.

Appropriately enough, Fred Thompson is the first to feel the burn on Taibbi's new blog, despite ROLLING STONE's crack editorial team's effort to make the text as difficult to read comfortably as they could. Regardless, shit's on.

Whoa

Peter's first knockdown. It's annoying how the announcers are noticing McCline's holding but not Peter's rabbit -- WHOA, Peter's second knockdown -- anyway, Peter's rabbit punching.

Hmm, maybe McCline actually is scared?

What's the deal with Don King's flags? There doesn't seem to be any more rhyme or reason to it than there is in how he sometimes wears a jean jacket instead of a tuxedo to his shows.

$12,000 in steriods

and McCline's not gonna comment until after the fight? He really does have a naturally scared look on his face.

boxing nerdout, 10/06/07

I wish I could place a bet on what Andrew Golota will do in the ring
tonight that's not boxing. He's oddly compelling in how easily he gets
discouraged and then goes off the rails [quitting on his stool,
cockpunching, etc.]

Samuel Peter vs. Jameel McCline -- I've never seen McCline fight, so I
have no idea how this one will play out except that Peter will
rabbitpunch the shit out of McCline's head if he can, and he will run
out of gas by the fourth and get even sloppier than he normally is. I
would pay good money to see Peter fight Shannon Briggs, who at least
has a medical condition to explain why he's so out of breath by minute
two. Anyway, Peter wins tonight, and if I had a stack of Monopoly
assets to bet, I would put Baltic and Mediterranean on a KO by round 3
and all four railroads on a split decision after 12.

[sent with and hour and seventeen before the show]

The 1201st step on the last road home.

socio-political link park

It's been a very long, hot summer.

ROLL CALL 513, H CON RES 21, or as I like to call it, the "WTF Internationalist Thought Crimes Bill 2007!?!?!?!?" I'm no fan of Ahmadinejad, but shouldn't we wait until he actually attempts an act of genocide before we file U.N. charges against him? Never mind that Iran's president doesn't have the power to commit such acts even if he really really really really really really really wants to -- the Supreme Leader controls Iran's army, not the President -- you can tell how much we're being lied to about Iran by how very very very little is ever said about Ali Khamenei in our media [the real reasons why this is must be fascinating; I hope we find them out someday]. And since when do we haul ass to stop acts of genocide until they've been humming along for a few years?

A webcast of BILL MOYERS' JOURNAL's accurately titled "Tough Talk on Impeachment."

I want a copy of the Hezbollah video game for Xmas, please. It will go swimmingly with my copy of the LEFT BEHIND shoot'emup and that Japanese Playstation WWII flyer where you get to attack Pearl Harbor and the like. You know a new medium has arrived when it can finally be used for pop propaganda. I'm surprised there aren't more games like these already.

My New Fantastic Four: Smedley Butler! Canada Lee! Zora Neale Hurston! And Dick Cavett!

Picture link park 3000

I was amused, not aroused, by this Virtual Museum of Sex, I'm a fan of Harold Lloyd's stereoscopic photography, and the VMoS features a lovely gallery of his 3-D smut. I haven't tried this method for seeing 3D images without the glasses. Stereo Diableries are spiffy too.

This is my favorite of Jan Von Holleben's "Dreams of Flying" gallery.

PHOTOS OF AN UNKNOWN FAMILY WHO PROBABLY OWNED A LIQUOR STORE, where every image looks like it was someone's last-known photograph prior to their disappearance.

pickle_pix's photos
Annie Matronic's drawings

The Iraq Names Project is the best artist response to the war I've seen.

1,026 funny/stupid images, 986 of which you've already seen all over the Internet.

Video: B3TA's revver account -- I'm still a big fan of "Hey Hey 16K" and "Beer Beer Beer" is pretty neat too.

The 1199th step on the last road home.

Dear Wikipedia, Fuck You.

So I was looking for what issues of NATIONAL COMICS had "Intellectual Amos" stories in them for a friend's birthday, and happened across the Wiki page for Amos' creator:

André LeBlanc is a fictional character, the name of a DC Comics jewelry thief.

Fictional character biography

The self-styled "world's greatest jewel thief," arrogant André LeBlanc made the international most wanted list. André LeBlanc often clashed with the Russian super-hero Leonid Kovar (who was also known as Starfire and later by the name of Red Star). André LeBlanc delighted in evading capture by the young hero.

Interpol requested that the Teen Titans team up with Starfire to safeguard the Crown Jewels of Sweden from André LeBlanc. So confident in his abilities, the bragging thief announced his crimes before they were committed. Mutual antagonism spoiled the joint efforts of the American and Soviet champions, until Starfire rescued the Titans from LeBlanc's deathtraps. Kid Flash then returned the favor by saving Starfire from death on the subway tracks, while Robin defeated LeBlanc in hand-to-hand combat.

André LeBlanc in other media

In the Teen Titans animated series, LeBlanc was briefly seen as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil in "Homecoming" Pt. 2. He officially debuted in "For Real" where he robbed a bank thinking that he'd have an opportunity since the Teen Titans were out of town...he was wrong and encountered the Titans East team (made up of Bumblebee, Speedy, Aqualad, and Más y Menos) who were watching the town while the Titans were away. Bumblebee punched Andre followed by Mas Y Menos stopping him and he was sent to jail. Watching on the TV in jail with the other prisoners, he saw the Titans East team competing in Control Freak's challenges. André LeBlanc was played by Dee Bradley Baker. He escaped and joined the Brotherhood of Evil. He, Adonis, Mammoth and Private H.I.V.E. were going to watch Robin's flash-freezing when Jericho as Cinderblock appeared carrying Pantha, Más, the Herald and Beast Boy. The four unsuspecting villains were ambushed as Cinderblock's dazed body fell to floor and Private H.I.V.E. was taken over by Jericho. Le Blanc, after seeing Adonis, Mammoth, and Private H.I.V.E. defeated within moments, tries to flee, but Beast Boy's bull form scares him so much that he faints. He returns for the final battle, wielding a grappling hook as a weapon. He was frozen still holding it. He was mostly resembles Bomb Voyage from The Incredibles.


Good god, what shitty writing. Now, I'm happy to concede that LeBlanc never had the awesome megawatt celebrity of a Paul Gustavson or a Bob Powell, but really, he's less noteworthy than some idiotic third-string Len Wein/Marv Wolfman character? I would assume that using his name for the character was affectionate -- Wein must have worked with him on a few BORIS KARLOFF TALES OF MYSTERY stories at Gold Key -- but how fucked up is it that such a dumb character has so thoroughly eclipsed such a talented artist?

musical link park

Since OLGA was taken down last year, I've been trying a series of guitar-tabulature sites. I've settled on Guitare for now, as it did the best on my "And Your Bird Can Sing"-transcription litmus test.

A surprisingly thorough and useful review of the Isley Brothers' oeuvre.

Someday, I would like to make an Ondes Martenot, even though I'd probably only play it for an afternoon before getting bored and moving on to make a theremin or a mellotron or something.

A very handy compendium of classic drum grooves and breaks that have been sampled a billion times. Speaking of which, here is CAN I GET AN AMEN?, Nate Harrison's fine documentary about the ubiquitous break sampled from the Winstons' song "Amen Brother."

ALL HAIL ED ROMAN. I love his rants about the shittier aspects of the guitar business -- this man needs his own YouTube channel immediately. It's interesting that he can call bullshit on Heritage Guitar's obvious crapping out, in every sense of the phrase, while none of the guitar mags have anything to say about the affair outside of rerunning their press releases and the occasional local report -- if they mention it at all.

Holy fucking shit, Phantom Guitarworks rules. I can't judge for sure based on the pictures, but that guy's Vox replicas are the best-looking ones I've seen. If I was completely independently wealthy, I would move to Clatskanie, OR and be an intern there. The two teardrop-shaped guitars I made were far and away the funnest ones to build, although the finished results sucked.

Some peoples don't call me often enough.

I'm curious to see often often some of my friends check this blog for new posts. The Dick Cavett Show with guests John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara (1970), to promote HUSBANDS. Also, several asswhipping live mp3s of Lightning Bolt.

The 1198th step on the last road home.

The 1196th step on the last road home.

A&E Buy One Get One Free sale at

Secret Agent A.K.A Danger Man: The Complete Collection
I've always loved the projects that showcased Patrick McGoohan's slow boil, his two-fisted auto-didacticism and his ferocious but undogmatic morality. DANGER MAN is not THE PRISONER, but nothing [no one (no #1)] is. The reason why the closest I've ever gotten to James Bond is the GOLDENEYE Nintendo64 game and a John Barry Greatest Bond Hits LP is because I know in my balls that those movies can't come close to McGoohan's spy series.

Dogfights: The Complete Season One
The ongoing series doesn't thrill me the way that the original 90-minute "pilot" still does, but they're growing on me. I'm not surprised to hear that this series has been a massive surprise hit for the History Channel -- if they could harness computer animation and editing as efficiently and compellingly as DOGFIGHTS does in all their programs, the H would be a destination for channel surfers instead of the station you settle on after running out of viewing options elsewhere.

The Kids in the Hall: Complete Series Megaset 1989-1994
I really need to rewatch the last season -- I could be mistaken, but somehow the Kids overcame the last-season bummer that hits even the best sketch-comedy shows, even Python. I'm a fan of the late-'80s Rivoli Theatre footage spread over the set's disks; you don't have to like that stuff but if you don't love the Kids, you are dead to me.

The Presidents
This is a fine, bulky overview of the 43 POTUS that somehow presents a surprisingly detailed sketch of each President, although they start fudging right around the first Prez you remember from your childhood. It's a great series to have on while you work. [If I had nothing better to do, I would write a screenplay with leads for Edward Herrmann, Penn Jillette and James Earl Jones, just so I could hear the voices of the History Channel, Comedy Central and CNN converse.]

Victory at Sea - Complete Series
I'm not big on naval war, even in WWII, but this series is amazing, albeit more as a document than as a documentary. Richard Rodgers laid down the law on how to score this kind of material; it's easy to understand why it's been repackaged and represented in so many different soundtracks/albums since.

World at War - 26 Episode Series Collection
I love this show -- it's the rarest of documentaries; one that knows how to shut up. Laurence Olivier's minimalist narration, the rare and often startling images and footage, the eyewitness interviews, the Carl Davis score and the surehanded poetic touches [like the "A Song To My Son" recitation in, I think, the "Red Star" episode], all of it adds up to a kind of vision of war that you rarely see even be attempted. As an added treat, producer Jeremy Isaacs provides short introductions to each episode that often end in him making an angry lemon face [you can almost hear him grunting "oh, fucking hell!" through gritted teeth] when he thinks the camera's been turned off. I assume those were takes where he stumbled over some comment but they, I don't know, didn't have enough film for any do-overs. Those moments make nice minute or so of respite sprinkled over hours and hours of somber, serious film.