torsdag, januari 27, 2005

[psy] Things I Owe Comic Books

The All-New All-Different Howling Curmudgeons: "in a large part, I owe a certain cast of mind to comic books. Specifically, the difference between myself and my friend when discussing hyperspatial relationships, to use but one example from our conversation.

I was discussing how a box could be larger on the inside than the outside, and the very idea seemed to burn his brain a little, which I found amusing. Sure, there are plenty of ways I could have been exposed to this idea.. Dr. Who comes to mind... but the fact is, the first time I came across it was in an old Gardner Fox comic. Same thing with parallel universes, time travel and causal violations... all of these good tropes of weird mind-bending SF, the kind of stuff I would come to love from writers like Tim Powers or Borges, I was first introduced to in comic books."

[TV] From The Moderate Voice: Johnny Carson 1925-2005: An Appreciation

link: IknowIknow, wasn't this last week's news? But I do feel compelled to make at least one entry here --pay tribune and all that-- and this linked appreciation ended on such an eloquent note...

"And in the end, he maintained his classy attitude even when NBC passed over the person he reportedly wanted to replace him (David Letterman: some reports now say Carson helped Letterman with jokes in his final months).

Entertainers are shaped by what they watch and the context of the era of show business in which they performed. Carson's was the era of Benny, Hope, Lucille Ball and others.

It's an era that's largely gone, displaced by ironic humor and comedians that surfaced by going through the comedy club farm system.

Jay's or David's couch is nice...but it's not Johnny's couch.

And since Carson left, it has been evident that an important piece of furniture -- and a beloved fixture -- have been missing from the room."

I commented, "Carson was a powerhouse, but I've appreciate him doing a couple shows now and then since he officially left the Tonight Show, if only I could then compare him to Leno and Letterman et. al. in the context of our time, now.

Benny and Hope were *way* old-school, black-and-white celluloid, not easy for me to get into; and Carson belongs with that group? For now I'm gonna just call him Carson, thank you.

(OT: And wow, so many links here! My blog has maybe one now, & nothing in Technorati. I feel so green...)" Well, that is how I feel.

[Iraq] Speech Bush Should Have Given, And Question of When to Go to War

Informed Comment (Juan Cole), linked by Baghdad Burning: "A war against Iraq will be expensive. It will cost you, the taxpayer, about $300 billion over five years. I (President Bush) know Wolfowitz is telling you Iraq's oil revenues will pay for it all, but that's ridiculous. Iraq only pumps about $10 billion a year worth of oil, and it's going to need that just to run the new government we're putting in. No, we're going to have to pay for it, ourselves."

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? I think he could've given some indication of that. Wolfowitz's assertion was pretty ridiculous, and he (W., Wolf) must have known it. *sigh*

And from Unqualified Offerings, more on the when to go to war question. Excerpt:

Before I get started, let me start some ground rules: I am trying to establish ground rules for when it is appropriate to go to war, not to retroactively determine the rightness or wrongness of the Iraq war. While I don't think that's a dead issue by any stretch, it seems far more important at this point to establish the rules for initiating future conflict rather than trying to justify or undermine past decisions.

I agree with this, with the proviso that I find the question of Iraq, from 1990 until now, tragically informative on the question of what to do in the future. The hard cases for the American anti-interventionist are the American Civil War and WWII. The hard questions for American interventionists are most of the others. It's the rare neo-imperialist (Tacitus has been one) who can work up a moral fervor in favor WWI or Wilson and Roosevelt's martial hijinks South of the Border.

[Iraq] Water Anxiety & School Explosion Trauma. More Happy Notes Today from Baghdad Burning

Baghdad Burning: "I almost didn't sleep last night. I kept worrying the water would be cut off again. I actually crept downstairs at 4 a.m. to see if it was still there and found E. standing in the bathroom doorway doing the same. My mother is calling the syndrome 'water anxiety'. We were hoping the flow would grow stronger at night but apparently the water pressure is really low. E. and I rose early this morning because we decided last night that should the water continue to flow, we'd attempt to fill up the big water tank on the roof. The water from this tank goes directly to the electric water heater but since we haven't been using that for a while now, we decided to close up the tank and use it as a sort of secondary storage. We cannot get caught off-guard again. Drinking water rose to almost 1,000 Dinars a liter this last week.

E. and I spent the day carrying up buckets of water. The water flow is so weak, it takes about 17 minutes to fill up a 10 liter plastic pail (I was timing it). We've carried up about 10 buckets until now. The water still doesn't reach the kitchen faucets so we've managed to move the dirty dishes to the bathroom and are washing them there.

Unfortunately, the electricity situation has deteriorated. We're getting about four hours for every twenty hours in our area- I'm not quite sure what's going on in the other areas. It feels like we're almost cut off from each other.

Baghdad has been unstable these last few days. We had several explosions this last week and although the number of explosions wasn't surprising, the force of a couple of them had us wincing. There's a real fear of the coming elections and what they might bring. I don't like the idea that they've selected schools as election sites. School is out right now, but the security threat is obvious- elections sites are most likely going to be bombed. Schools are having a difficult time as it is getting things fixed and replaced, they don't need the added trauma of an explosion. It's just a bad idea. "

Good Morning Note to President Bush: Don't use schools for the elections. They'll get bombed. And please help relieve the water anxiety. Thank you.

[activism] From the Excellent Blog, Baghdad Burning: "Iraq's Nuclear Mirage" Author

Baghdad Burning: "Remember Imad Khadduri? He's the Iraqi nuclear scientist who wrote the book 'Iraq's Nuclear Mirage' which is a must-read. He's finally blogging. Check out his site, 'Free Iraq'- 'Free Iraq' being more of a command and not a description of the current state of the country...

He links a lot of interesting articles and always has commentary in English (plus some of the stuff he writes in Arabic). "

[activism] [TV] Committee to Protect Bloggers: LA TIMES ARTICLE ON IRANIAN BLOGGERS

link: And I responded, "Let's torture 'em [back] with our barbed wit. That'll show 'em. I know a couple o' stingers, learned 'em from Johnny himself. Well, from watching the tape anyway.

If Johnny were alive and working today I'm sure he'd make this ridiculous imprisonment and detainment of Iranian bloggers a topic of his monologue. And in so doing awaken the general populace to these harrowing inequities still going on around the globe.

Thanks for the good blog, CpB. Keep the flame burnin'."

[activism] Committee to Protect Bloggers: BUTTON BANNERS AVAILABLE

link: So I responded, "The links seem useful but perhaps you have something more serious in endeavor than reportage on an American Blogger?

Also, I'm not sure we're allowed to do something like that; not sure where I read it, sounds silly even as I type this.

I'd consider putting it up on my blog if I have a better idea what you and your staff are actually doing to alleviate this censorous madness, and that it could somehow truly make a difference...

I don't see how, though. Button banners are a nice gesture, but I doubt they'll free any prisoners in Iran or even Venezuela. Sorry.

Keep up your good work -- don't listen to me with my rueful outlook. Keep your flame burnin'. Cheers."

[AA] The Oscar Noms and the Eternal Consistency of Obtuse Minds

link: "The morning the Academy Award nominations are announced provides a welcome opportunity for spiritual reflection, meditating on justice and injustice and on the eternal consistency of obtuse minds. We turn our thoughts to other, bigger disasters -- social and natural -- and in this way find the distance to contemplate how, for example, Paul Giamatti could be overlooked for his performance in "Sideways" and Leonardo DiCaprio nominated for "The Aviator."

Or how insipid twaddle like "Finding Neverland" could get a best picture nomination while "Hotel Rwanda" could be slighted.

The nominations for the 77th annual Academy Awards program, which will air on Feb. 27, are the usual mix of confounding and reasonable choices. "The Aviator," Martin Scorsese's likable, well-made, perfectly entertaining and perfectly empty film biography of Howard Hughes, led the pack with 11 nominations. Tied for second place with seven nominations were "Finding Neverland," a fact-based fantasy about the writing of James Barrie's "Peter Pan," and "Million Dollar Baby," Clint Eastwood's elegiac fable of a female boxer. Meanwhile, "Sideways," which swept most critics' awards, got only five.

Historically, the best picture category has always been one of the weakest, a place for safe, sentimental and artistically conservative choices. The Academy lived down to its reputation this year, nominating The Aviator" (please), "Ray" (come on) and "Finding Neverland" (tell me they're kidding). As if at a loss to find anything else with the right combination of grandiloquence and schmaltz, the Academy condescended to nominate two genuinely impeccable movies: "Sideways" and "Million Dollar Baby."

The Academy has always tended to be more adventurous in the acting categories, and, again, this year followed the usual pattern. Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda," Eastwood in "Million Dollar Baby" and Jamie Foxx in "Ray" all belong there. In a friendly frame of mind, one might also say the same for DiCaprio in "The Aviator." The only laugher in the group is Johnny Depp for "Finding Neverland."

Just a few years ago, it was hard to find enough important performances to fill the best actress category. Not in recent years. Annette Bening ("Being Julia"), "Hilary Swank ("Million Dollar Baby") and Catalina Sandino Moreno ("Maria Full of Grace") were nominated for top-notch work, while Imelda Staunton was nominated for smiling for an hour and then sobbing for another hour in "Vera Drake." The nomination of Kate Winslet for "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is something of a surprise, though justifiable. However, if Academy members wanted to nominate an actress in a romantic comedy, they might have looked to Julie Delpy's powerhouse performance in "Before Sunset."

The supporting actress category is traditional the weakest, because the supporting players in most films tend to be men. But this year, supporting actress is the strongest category: Cate Blanchett ("The Aviator"), Laura Linney ("Kinsey"), Virginia Madsen ("Sideways"), Sophie Okonedo ("Hotel Rwanda") and Natalie Portman ("Closer"). A case could be made for any one of them.

Supporting actor is almost as strong: Foxx was superb in "Collateral," but he was actually the star of that movie; Tom Cruise as the assassin was really the supporting role. Thomas Haden Church did some very specific and delightful character work in "Sideways." Morgan Freeman was the aching soul of "Million Dollar Baby," and Clive Owen was the best thing in "Closer." As for Alan Alda in "The Aviator," his nomination (for his performance as a corrupt senator) will remind everyone he was in the picture. That's nice.

Best director will be a contest between Martin Scorsese ("The Aviator"), Eastwood ("Million Dollar Baby"), Taylor Hackford ("Ray"), Alexander Payne ("Sideways") and Mike Leigh ("Vera Drake").

Michael Moore, who won best documentary for "Bowling for Columbine," made a calculated effort to secure a best picture nomination for "Fahrenheit 911." He didn't succeed in crashing that gate and then found himself shut out of the best documentary category. Moore had two obstacles he couldn't surmount: Republicans weren't going to vote for him in the first place, and Democrats, after the election, were too heartsick to put his DVD into the machine. As soon as Bush won the election, it would have been smart to switch strategies and aim for best documentary. As it stands, the only widely known film nominated for best documentary this year is "Super Size Me."

In the unnecessary category of best animated film, "The Incredibles," "Shark Tale" and "Shrek 2" got the nod. Surprisingly, "The Polar Express" didn't make the cut. It really should have.

So what do we take from this year's Oscar nominations? We're presented with the usual triumph of bloat, as represented by "The Aviator." In this case, the bloat isn't obnoxious. That makes it a good year, almost. We're also presented with the less palatable triumph of false sentiment in the form of "Finding Neverland." In and of itself, that's also nothing to grieve over, either, except that it robs the atmosphere of box office oxygen that might have sustained "Hotel Rwanda" -- a movie of intense and genuine emotion.

"Hotel Rwanda" is a hard sell. Ask people if they'd like to see a movie about the Rwandan genocide and most will say, "Oh, uh, maybe, but I think I may have to get my teeth cleaned that day." They don't know they're going to love it until they're watching it.

The case of Giamatti and "Sideways" is also sad, in that he gave hands down one of the year's best performances, while Depp gave one of the year's worst. Call me paranoid, but I can't help suspecting that Giamatti's momentum was stopped by A.O. Scott's New York Times piece, which basically said that "Sideways" is a good not great film and that the fuss over it was overblown. Scott is entitled to his opinion, and his article made an excellent case. But what should be remembered -- and what I'm afraid won't be remembered -- is that a similar good-not-great argument could be made against every work of art since cavemen started finger painting. I've heard similar arguments made about Chaplin's "City Lights," "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather" and "Casablanca."

The real truth is that there is no perfect work of art. Our perception of greatness often depends on our perceiving a work from a specific flattering angle. And the seductive power of an art work is in the way it makes us want to look at it from its best side. Greatness is not greatness but rather a mixture of near greatness and near-perfect seduction ...

But enough whining. At least Cheadle got nominated.

[TV] SpongeBob Ain't Gay (Tho Barney, Totally) Just Hermaphroditic (having both sexes in one)

Tim Goodman link: "What is it with religious conservatives and children's television? Remember when Jerry Falwell was all upset about allegedly gay Teletubbies? Now another group, Focus on the Family, is suggesting that SpongeBob SquarePants might be gay, or is at the least promoting gay acceptance through his actions. You know, like holding hands with other male cartoon characters. And here we thought that the dark ages of outing the likes of Bert and Ernie and Peppermint Patty and Robin and Barney were over. Apparently not.

(Oh, dude -- Barney. Totally gay. And it's not just the purple.)

Maybe Focus on the Family ought to focus on something truly vile, like daytime talk shows or televangelist hucksters or the kind of people who have enough time on their hands that they can find homosexual tendencies in an animated sponge. Focus on your own family, pal. Besides, Michael Powell is quitting, or didn't you hear. Witch hunts are sooooo 2004...

You know, if Elisabeth Rohm's character on 'Law & Order' can announce her lesbianism as an afterthought, maybe SpongeBob really is gay. Shame on Dick Wolf -- who is on record a thousand times over as saying he never deals with his characters' personal lives because the show is about their work, period -- for tossing that line in. It was a cheap stunt by 'Law & Order,' but here's why it didn't work: Anyone who knows anything about gay people knows that no lesbian could ever be that bad of an actress."

UPDATE: I have to do this last note on sponges (indirectly from Unqualified Offerings):

Most sponges are hermaphroditic (having both sexes in one), but produce only one type of gamete per spawn. (i.e. some play the male role and the other plays the female role, even though they are both capable of playing either role). The sperm is released into the water column by the "male" sponge and finds its way to the "female" sponges, where fertilization occurs internally. Eventually, the planktonic larvae are released from the female sponge and float around in the water column as plankton for only a few days. They then settle down and start growing. The next time the sponges reproduce, they may change sexual roles.


So I posted that to Celebrity Smack!, and then added this advisory, tee-hee, more or less:

DISCLAIMER: That comment above, however Sponge-worthy, may well be all gossip, hearsay, speculation, and/or just my warped opinion about spongysex. U don't gotta love it. [playing off their disclaimer & last line, "Gotta love it."]

[rant] Crazy, Crazy for You (But I Knew I was Crazy)

From Jon Carroll:
"Once I was crazy, but my ace in the hole was that I knew that I was crazy." -- Paul Simon

So the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. has issued a fun new bear in time for Valentine's Day. It's the usual cuddle-uddle bundle of fur, only this time it's in a notional straitjacket. The tag on the bear reads "Crazy for You."

Well, you would have thought they'd started executing cheerleaders behind the factory. Statements were issued; pundits were alarmed; up was roared. The governor of Vermont opined: "Mental health is very serious. We should not stigmatize it further with these marketing efforts."

Well, yes, mental health is serious. Life is serious -- everyone dies at the end. Weddings are serious too, and broken hips, and bar exams, and paraplegia, and animal husbandry. It's all a serious business; we're surviving every day, striving for happiness, experiencing pain and loss, inhaling toxic chemicals, going to bed with the wrong people -- Lord, it's a wonder we get up in the morning.

But things are also not serious. Things are also funny and cute and ecstatic and silly and odd and amazing. Most things in the world are serious and funny at the same time. Doctor: "You have inoperable brain cancer." Patient: "I'd like a second opinion." Doctor: "OK, you're ugly." This is a very old joke.
Ugly isn't funny. Brain cancer certainly isn't funny. And yet, people laugh. Obviously, there is context. You would not tell a brain cancer joke to the relatives of a man who recently died of brain cancer. On the other hand, you might very well tell a brain cancer joke to someone who has brain cancer. In fact, it's probably a good idea; most dying people hate visitors acting as though the funeral had already started. Hey, cheer up; I've got three days to live; let's try to make them moderately amusing. And open the damn curtains.

And "crazy" is a perfectly good word. People who know they're crazy use it all the time. People who don't know they're crazy -- well, they're pretty hard to offend with the word "crazy."

There is a slow but sure return to the common vernacular, a move away from bureaucratic euphemisms. Queers have taken back the word "queer" and made it affirmative; cripples are beginning to take back the word "cripple." "Fat" is slowly coming back into vogue among the fat; "old" is now frequently heard on the lips of the old. They're perfectly good words that describe perfectly ordinary states of being. If you think there's shame attached to being queer or crippled or fat or old -- the shame is on you.

Are we going to lose "crazy"? "Inappropriately emotional," sings Patsy Cline, "I'm inappropriately emotional with disempowering feelings of loss for you." Van Morrison sings:
"She gives me love, love, love, pathologically dissociative love."

And what's this about "we should not stigmatize it further with marketing efforts?" How does having a teddy bear with a mental condition stigmatize the condition? Seems to have quite the opposite effect -- the message is that mental patients are cuddly. Probably not true, but not stigmatizing either. Why shouldn't there be Bipolar Barbie? High-Functioning Ken? OCD Oscar? Heck, dolls get married and fight wars and urinate; why shouldn't they also have a few problems?

Besides, most of the Vermont Teddy Bears are bought by adult men around Valentine's Day -- that's why we're hearing about the fuss right now. It's not actually a kid thing. And there are certainly men I know who have been driven crazy by love. You ever have someone stop returning your phone calls for no reason? You ever have a woman start dating some biker guy who treats her badly while you, the guy who always treated her with respect, is left to eat Top Ramen and listen to Patsy Cline records?

So, why not a bear to commemorate despair? Is that so crazy?

**************** *******************
Don't you love living in a world where a teddy bear can become the focus of a national debate? It's not too late to have an opinion!

[song] "Sometimes I Wish the Mother Bear will Find Me"

In the lateness of the night I am bopping along tothe new Green Day classic in my head, only it's not coming out right. It's like I'm at Safeway, on the "Shopping Cart of Pork n' Beans."
nO: it's the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Oh heavens. Wrong, wrong misheard lyrics: "Sometimes I wish someone would pillow fight me." Corrected lyrics, now: "Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me. "

[song] "On the Shopping Cart of Pork n' Beans I Wore Cologne I Wore Cologne"

Boulevard of Broken Dreams
I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me
And I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one
And I walk alone

I walk alone. I walk alone
I walk alone. I walk a...

My shadow's the only one
That walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only
Thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out
There will find me
Til then I walk alone

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the borderline of the edge
And where I walk alone
Read between the lines of what's
F--ked up and everything's alright
Check my vital signs to know I'm still alive
And I walk alone

I walk alone. I walk alone
I walk alone. I walk a...

My shadow's the only one
That walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only
Thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out
There will find me
Til then I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk a

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one
And I walk a

My shadow's the only one
That walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only
Thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out
There will find me
Til then I walk alone
ETA. The bloody link agin: Boulevard of Broken Dreams fanlisting at, as if yow couldn't figir' out from title-link at top o' post, wanker! Oy! "I Wore Cologne I Swore Cologne!" And still it stay rooted, my #1 shallo' heartsong o' da ye'r! "Me Shoopin' Cart o' Pook n' Beans!" Discounted at Costco that never sleeps, no limit! ("Sometimes I'd see if echoica'd found me/ Til then I Blog Alone I Blog Alone!")

onsdag, januari 26, 2005

[search] Dear Google Video Search: add Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive

Internet Archive: Moving Image Archive Yeah we know you're new, but how could you have missed this?

[movies] Knight at the Movies: 2004’s Best Movies

link: Criticism, I am always quick to remind, is a subjective art. So my choices for the best movies of 2004 may not reflect yours—and certainly not my other colleagues. In fact, my “Best Of” list is sure to change. I generally have space to write about two movies a week ( give or take ) in this column and that leaves a lot of potentially great stuff out there waiting to be discerned ( I have yet to see Sideways and Bad Education, for example ) . I’m the first to admit that I haven’t seen everything—and critical responsibilities aside—I hate seeing any movie when I’m not in the mood for it. For example, it took me six months after Halle Berry won the Oscar to finally get interested in Monster’s Ball one late night on cable. Seeing it immediately changed my “Best Of” list for 2001, however, but I didn’t know that until late in 2002.

So, at the moment, in looking back over 2004, these are some of the films that have had a great impression on me. Documentaries and biopics seemed to be the two film genres of choice this year with a slew of both filling theaters. Certainly, the opening night last summer of Michael Moore’s indictment of the Bush administration, Fahrenheit 9/11, was the single most thrilling cinema experience of the year from an audience perspective. It was galvanizing to see the hordes of people camped out, standing in line for hours at the Landmark Century to see a DOCUMENTARY. The movie has become the highest grossing documentary of all time and had the effect of kick starting the election into high gear. This is also Moore’s strongest film yet ( aided by his decision to keep his appearance in the movie to a minimum ) .

Another documentary, The Corporation, had an even stronger effect on me. The work of two Canadian filmmakers, the movie begins by revealing the little-known fact that legally a corporation has the same rights as an individual. Once that bizarre idea sinks in, the filmmakers examine what such a person, were they to exist, would be like. The answer, not surprisingly, is that of a psychopath—a really bad one. The film, which resembles a long Frontline episode, quietly lays out the ever-increasing powers of this nameless, faceless entity. This was documentary as car wreck—fascinating but horrific—a really hot subject that calls for a follow-up.

When it comes to biopics the year was packed with them. Though Kinsey gets an honorable mention for its subject matter and Ray for its powerful leading performance by Jamie Foxx, Finding Neverland—the story of playwright J.M. Barrie’s creation of “Peter Pan”—and The Aviator—Scorcese’s take on the early life of billionaire industrialist and film producer Howard Hughes—were the best. Director Marc Foster, in his follow-up to Monster’s Ball, pulls off an amazing feat, showing us the simultaneous positive and negative aspects of the power of the imagination. A second screening has convinced me that this is my favorite film of 2004 with The Aviator not far behind. Though I contend that Leonardo DiCaprio’s teenage physicality is wrong for the leading role, it doesn’t stop Scorcese’s film from soaring almost as high as Hughes did.

Though Colin Farrell’s bid for male action hero badly failed with the much-anticipated, and justly derided, Alexander, his multifaceted work in the earlier A Home at the End of the World shouldn’t be overlooked. This little-seen relationship film was for me the “gay movie” of the year ( if there is such a thing ) and also contains assured, delicately shaded performances from Robin Wright-Penn, Sissy Spacek and newcomers Dallas Roberts and Erik Smith. The other would be Tarnation, in which a gay man fights not just his own battle with mental illness but his mother’s as well. Jonathan Caouette’s searing documentary would be too painful without the hopeful ending while his creative assemblage of photos, videotapes and archival material on his boyfriend’s iMac movie software to edit for a little over $200 was justly touted.

The hilarious black comedy Saved! which takes place in a Christian high school and features a virginal teenager ( named Mary, natch ) trying to save her gay boyfriend from the flames of Hell and Damnation ( “You’re born again, not born a gay” she is reminded ) was also somewhat overlooked. The film cast a group of sharp, funny actors who obviously relished the biting material. They included Jena Malone, Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin—who, between his droll paraplegic here and out-of-control-club-kid in Party Monster—is making a nice little second career for himself with interesting role choices.

Other movies I liked a lot this year ( in no particular order ) :
1. Shall We Dance? ( a true, old-fashioned audience pleaser that I wrongly thought would be a big hit—but it may find a wider audience on DVD ) .
2. Harry Potter 3 ( director Alfonso Cuarón nicely put the emphasis back on magic and mystery in the series ) .
3. Broadway: The Golden Age ( Rick McKay’s one-man documentary is an embarrassment of riches for any self-respecting theater aficionado ) .
4. The Incredibles ( Pixar’s digital animation just keeps getting better and better and creatively trumped two new hybrids of the genre: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and The Polar Express ) .
5. Troy ( the movie with the most gay subtext of the year—and not a bad action picture, either ) .

[search] So I could access this article only indirectly through Yahoo! Search

Yahoo! Search Results for Knight at the Movies: 2004's Best Movies and Straight-Jacket
And it's from Jan. 5 this year. I wonder if I should just upload it unto my blog. Then it may get better tracking. Yeah, let's do that now, but delete Straight-Jacket, because it's stupid.

Celebrity Smack!: Ellen & Portia Shack Up

Celebrity Smack!: Ellen & Portia Shack Up:1.20.2005
Ellen & Portia Shack Up
Yes, those two blonde kitties have snuggled up and moved in together. The pair recently attended the Golden Globe 'after parties' and were holding hands and swapping saliva. Meow!

"Pink Poppy Talked Smack...
Hello! I am here on behalf of the membership of The Poppy Club. We appreciate the fabulosity of your blog and congratulate you on your recent success in The Best of Blogs Award competition. We are hosting a party to celebrate you and your fellow finalists and would be honored if you would join us to walk the Red Carpet and greet your fans:

Friday, Saturday and Sunday--January 21-23
The Tall Poppy Diaries

Attire: Black Tie
Red Carpet Opens at 12:01 on Friday, January 21

We hope that you and your friends can join us. And again, please accept our congratulations and best wishes for a very successful and happy 2005.
11:18 PM
August Arrived, alas Talked Smack...
Oh sure, black-tie at a blog! Tee-hee.

And the blonde kitties Ellen & Portia are apparently 4 real. Not another PR stunt. MMm, yum."

How did I got so lost, time-wise? Oh, hoho, right

: " Attention Procrastinators: Quick, Easy Costume Ideas
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Can people cheat this system?
When reading other member blogs you will be given credit for each blog you visit. There is a surfbar that counts down and tells you how to get the credit for each blog you visit. We realize there will be certain members that will not want to look at other blogs and just get traffic to their blog. The BlogExplosion anti-cheating scripts are very advanced and have been designed to create quality visitors to your blog each time.

There are many types of cheating software available in the market to automate viewing but over 4 years old in the making BlogExplosion anti-cheat scripts catches anyone trying to cheat the system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) -

Who is behind BlogExplosion?
BlogExplosion is not new at generating internet traffic. We realized that beyond linking to other blogs with reciprocal links and posting on other blogs in general, generating daily traffic your blog can be very challenging. With Blogexplosion we provide all bloggers big and small the opportunity to generate hundreds or even thousands of visits to your blog every month!

As mentioned earlier we also own and operate three other general traffic exchanges. With over 200,000 members and serving tens of millions of pages each month the people behind BlogExplosion know how to generate real website traffic.

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Is it really FREE to use?
Yes BlogExplosion is 100% free to use. All features are available to all members and we do not even offer premium or paid memberships here. We want to keep BlogExplosion a free resource for everyone to enjoy!

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How does it work?
The concept is very simple but it works! You look at other member blogs and in return other people view your blog. By visiting a few other interesting blogs you yourself are generating traffic to your own blog at as the same time.

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How does Blog Explosion benefit the blogging community?
BlogExplosion understands a general blog culture exists with concerns of blog commmercialization and changing the nature of why people blog in the first place. Blogexplosion wants to respect the blog community and build an online community that provides all members a quality blog resource to utilize.

Abandoned blogs—We feel that many bloggers get discouraged when they don’t have people coming to read it. Blogexplosion offers everyone big and small to generate hundreds of visitors every day to their Blog. It also means more bloggers will make more content updates if they know they have an audience. Members are also able to rate each other’s blogs and provide feedback to improving their blog. For this aspect alone we feel BlogExplosion can create interactivity between members, generate open discussion and provide sharing of ideas.

[reply] SpongeBob is biologically asexual. But Barney is Very Gay. My silly very gay friend. Smack!

Celebrity Smack!: "1.23.2005
Smack the Haters!
We love Spongebob Squarepants whether he is gay or straight! "

I reply: "SpongeBob SquarePants could not, biologically speaking, be homosexual. Sponges are asexual!

Barney, however: very Gay. Even without that puro-purple suit!

Not that there's anything wrong with that, tee-hee."


Blogspotting: "1Celebrity Smack! - Laying the smack down to those deserving celebrites! Recent news, gossip & nipple slips! GET SMACKED!
Category: Entertainment VISITORS TODAY 27 AVERAGE 32.00
2Panzo Blog - Slightly left of off center.
Category: Personal 19 31.00
3BlogPatrol - Free site stats for bloggers
Category: Blog Resources 11 7.25
4Iraq Today - Stories of life in today's Iraq by Ibrahim Khalil
Category: Current Events 5 6.50
5Diary of an eccentric marketer.. - A sometimes eccentric view of life, web design and oh yes internet marketing too...
Category: Internet & Software VISITORS TODAY 3 AVERAGE 4.75"

BlogPatrol has stealth mode

BlogPatrol: " (Stealth Mode)"

Dear Please refine your BlogIt tool! (And pronto, please)

I'm trying to copy the links from the preceding article onto BlogIt. Keep getting it wrong. Can't copy onto Comment, hmm. OK, here they are:

post on Bleeding Edge, the example of ea_spouse is offered up as a symbol of the potential for blogs to serve as a nexus for workplace activism. The wife of an employee of game-maker EA uses the blog to “describe the outrageous working hours her partner and his co-workers are forced to endure on a regular basis and the effect on their health and well-being.”
The post also points to an article in The Guardian

BLOGS/ Workplace politics from workplace-focused blogs, comments from the drones

link: "Blogs: The new workplace militancy?
Workers represent one of the constituencies that make up the �social audience.� Employing blogs, workers are beginning to shine the light on business practices that might otherwise go unreported. In a post on Bleeding Edge, the example of ea_spouse is offered up as a symbol of the potential for blogs to serve as a nexus for workplace activism. The wife of an employee of game-maker EA uses the blog to "describe the outrageous working hours her partner and his co-workers are forced to endure on a regular basis and the effect on their health and well-being."
The post also points to an article in The Guardian about workplace-focused blogs, which asks, �Could (blogs) be the way people in modern information businesses rediscover traditional ideas of worker solidarity and even reinvent workplace politics?�
Thanks to Corporate Engagement for the link. "

BLOG / TiVocasting!!

a shel of my former self: "Video to follow podcasting
It shouldn�t surprise anyone that a rudimentary application, Vogbrowser, is already available to offer video feeds to subscribers via RSS. It�s the logical evolution from the podcasting phase, according to a Wired News item.
'We think of it internally as TiVocasting,� said Scott Rafer, president and chief executive of the blog search engine Feedster, which has begun offering video feeds through a dedicated site, FeedsterTV. �Video stuff is now coming into play. It�s one thing to have a bunch of video files dumped into a folder on your desktop. The interesting future is when it is put into a TiVo-style mechanism.'
The uses to which such a network could be put are huge, including the promotion of original video productions. Count this article as a must-read. "

Google Search: Scott Rafer, chief executive for Feedster

Link off Google: "Startups seek new ways to Google the net
... Last week, Feedster LLC, a Newton Centre, Mass., search engine for online ... best at
our kind of search in order to survive,' said Chief Executive Scott Rafer. ... "

This article is from Feb. of 2004.

BLOGS / Corporate competition and (inevitably) consolidation

Link: "The popularity of blogs has also given rise to a mini-industry centered on making money from the boom. Companies, many based in the Bay Area, offer software, advertising and services based on a technology called RSS, which allows fans of blogs to conveniently get postings from several blogs on a single Web page.
Among the biggest stories in the blog business recently is the consolidation of the two largest independent blog software companies. Six Apart, in San Francisco, bought Portland's Danga Interactive for an undisclosed amount earlier this month.
At the same time, some of the Internet's giants, America Online and Google, want a piece of blogging. Microsoft's MSN Web portal introduced a new service in December. "

BLOGS / Glossary

Link: "Here is a glossary of some common terms in the world of blogging:
Blog: Short for Web log, a blog is a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; (verb) to write a Web log.
Blogger: A person who owns or writes for a Web log.
Blogosphere: The world of blogs.
Blogroll: A list of links in the sidebar of a blog, often linking to other blogs.
Blurker: One who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of himself such as comments behind.
Comment spam: When someone posts off-topic commercial remarks with links in a blog's comment section.
Flame: To make a hostile, intemperate remark, usually of a personal nature.
Group blog: A blog with more than one regular contributing writer.
MSM: Acronym for mainstream media.
Moblog: A blog maintained via mobile hardware, typically a mobile phone with a built-in digital camera. Moblogs are usually photo journals rather than text intensive (though this varies).
RSS: Acronym for really simple syndication. It allows users to get free, automatic feeds to a single Web page from such sources as blogs and news services.
Vlog: Video blog. A blog used to display various forms of video.
(Source:, Merriam-Webster, Chronicle research.) "

BLOGS / Resources

Link: "-- What to read
The volume and variety of blogs can be overwhelming. Here are some links to the more popular blogs by category:
-- How to start a blog
A number of companies offer blogging software, either free or for a fee (usually with some extras):
-- (user can create up to three different blogs; only one person can make entries)
-- ($49.95 per year for basic service)
-- ($39.95 per year)
-- ($69.95 per year; user can create an unlimited number of different blogs; up to five people can make entries)
Source: Chronicle research "

BLOGS / Web logs come of age as source of news

Link: "Before the southern Asian tsunami hit, the PunditGuy blog was an Internet unknown. But after its owner posted video clips of waves turning buildings into splinters, the Web site's modest traffic leaped 500-fold.

Without really intending to, Bill Nienhuis, a.k.a. PunditGuy, found himself in the middle of an emerging trend in how people get news. Over the past year, these online journals have gained clout as an important source of information, occasionally beating the mainstream media.

"No one was showing these videos on television news," Nienhuis said. "I posted them online Monday night, and I didn't start seeing them on TV -- reported as breaking news -- until Thursday."

But it's not just the tsunami coverage. Bloggers -- those who create the Web logs -- broke the CBS "Memogate" story involving President Bush's National Guard service. They also fed political junkies an ample diet of campaign grist, reporting alongside veteran journalists covering the party conventions and literally dissecting Bush down to the spittle in the corner of his mouth during one of the debates.

"Every year has been the biggest year in blogs, and this year will be the same," said Dave Winer, one of the grandfathers of blogging, who now edits his own blog about technology, called Scripting News. "I don't think we've even realized their potential."

An estimated 8 million Americans have blogs, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. A far greater number, 32 million, said in November that they had read a blog, up 58 percent from just 10 months earlier.

People are clearly intrigued by the phenomenon, if not confused. Merriam- Webster, the dictionary, designated "blog" its word of the year for 2004 based on the number of people who looked up a definition of the term online.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are online journals in which people share their thoughts and ideas on certain topics, from the serious to the mundane. The blogs, which can include photo, video and audio files, are usually updated frequently and presented in reverse chronological order. In many cases, blogs allow readers to add comments
and review archived entries...

Some blogs feature photographs and entries from people using mobile phones and are sometimes called "moblogs." The small number that consist mainly of video clips are known as "vlogs."

Blogs have given rise to the idea of grassroots journalism, in which average citizens can report without the huge overhead of a printing press. Which Web sites actually qualify as journalism is debatable...

Scott Rafer, chief executive for Feedster, a San Francisco search engine for blog entries, foresees a day when more people make money from their blogs. In an era of one-newspaper towns, readers want more voices, he said.

"There's no reason why blogging won't go the same direction as eBay," Rafer said. "Right now, we're five or six years into eBay, and there are thousands of people depending on that system for their income."

tisdag, januari 25, 2005

[search] Google search limit raised to 32 words

Zmarties: Google search limit raised to 32 words: "Google appears to have silently raised the number of words it permits in its search query from 10 to 32 words.

This is great news - whilst the casual user wont notice the difference, the power searcher was often hitting this limit. Now it's possible to do much more targeted searches, using the - operator much more to exclude words you know are of no interest. There's a whole bunch of other applications that benefit from raising the limit, and plenty of partial workarounds that are now redundant - a Google search shows many of them.

The support for the new limit is somewhat patchy :-

the 32 word limit is used on the main search engine, image search, Froogle, and via the Google search API
the 10 word limit is still in force for Google groups, news

The only other mention I've seen of this new limit is at ResearchBuzz - there is no mention of it yet on the Google site."

Previously, to get around the limit, there are lil' tricks and hacks:

Use the asterisk character within a quoted query. It would not count against the 10-word limit. A query like "this is * example" would only consist of 3 words counting against the limit.

Use the numrange operator to query many numbers at once, like 12..200. This also would not count against the limit.

When looking for quotes, you could restrict yourself to more "exotic" passages which would contain less common words.

[criticism] Who Else Do We Loathe?: Everyone who Got Together to Watch the Final Episode of “Friends”

The BEAST: Buffalo's Best Fiend: "Watching TV together is not a bonding experience; it is a distancing experience, a way in which people can cohabit a room without actually having to engage each other or connect personally. Whoever's ultimately responsible for the "watch 'Friends' or the terrorists win" meme should have a special room reserved for him in the bad section of hell."

Oh, that's actually a bit harsh. Like we'd rather watch a whole season of Masterpiece Theatre!

[criticism] The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2004

The BEAST: Buffalo's Best Fiend: Whoa! Extremely abrasive, laugh-out-loud critique of the current political and cultural scene. I don't know who this guy is -- the piece appears unsigned -- but this is one righteous cynic, who also happens to be downright hilarious.

His stinging venom crushes your balloons, burgheons your sacred cows. I've never heard of this mag before; it's called The Beast, and the current Issue #66 features "The fifty Most Loathsome People in America" from last year. You could Download Entire issue (3.6mb PDF).

No prominent figure seem to escape, not even, ahem, vitriolic columnist Ann Coulter, though now a mere #50 as she "slips into irrelevence" as our progressive "outrage slowly giving way to a baffled 'I can't believe I used to go out with you' feeling".

Not Clay Aiken (#49, "rode to stardom on a racist backlash" when he didn't become American Idol).

The skull-crushing list moves on to the usual suspects in Washington, in the White House. And oh, there's Dick Cheney (#6, "the kind of guy who starts talking cannibalism the minute he steps on the lifeboat"), and Donald Rumsfeld (#2, "carries himself in press conferences like a cranky grandfather who is sick of hearing his daughters whine about how he molested them every now and then). You'd have to click in to see who makes his #1 Loathe. Tee-hee. My grade: A

----------Oh I couldn't resist: here are a couple more excerpts------

"18. Mel Gibson
Crimes: As with any religious nut, expects people to take his delusional bullshit seriously. Is obsessed with pain and suffering, as can be observed in the numerous Hulk Hogan style �now I�m really mad� scenes in nearly all of his movies, in which he endures medically impossible levels of bodily punishment before rising to vanquish his cartoonish foes. This is such a routine motif in Gibson�s work that we half expected Jesus to jump off the cross and start kicking Jewish ass in The Passion of the Christ. More historically revisionist than Oliver Stone.

Smoking Gun: Shot about 11 times in the climax of Lethal Weapon II, yet still saunters off with his partner as the credits roll, apparently not in need of medical attention.

Punishment: Neurodegenerative illness that could have been cured through stem cell research.

23. Jerry Bruckheimer
Crimes: “Producer” really just means “guy with the money” in Hollywood. Master of the incoherent action sequence, full of unnecessary cuts and jittery close-ups. His rapidly multiplying CBS cop show empire is replete with ridiculously beautiful cops and scientists (and murderers and victims and witnesses) and impossibly stylish interiors. The “CSI” franchise perfectly fulfills the viewing needs of a fat, lazy nation: no running, no car chases, just sitting around, talking, and playing with gadgets. The real crimes, however, are the movies, including Kangaroo Jack, Coyote Ugly, Bad Boys, Bad Boys 2, Days of Thunder, Gone in 60 Seconds, and the so-stupid-it’s-funny Armageddon. Imagine what else could have been done with that money.

Smoking Gun: Who brings a fucking Gatling gun to an asteroid?

Punishment: Made into shoes for Martin Scorsese.

25. Dr. Phil
Crimes: Not a doctor. Not wise. Offers troubled souls nothing but the sweet feeling of surrendering control. Only reason for prominence is that Oprah just couldn’t support her show by herself anymore. Offers troubled simpletons meaningless slogans that resonate for a maximum of five days before they realize they already knew that shit and they still can’t stop whatever compulsive behavior got them onto his show in the first place. Is almost certainly regularly involved in some unspeakable depravity that he can’t stop and which caused him to fabricate his public persona in a frantic attempt to convince us he’s normal.

Smoking Gun: Both presidential candidates were forced to submit to his pedantic bullshit in some bizarre new soft focus emasculation ritual to get slack-jawed housewives to vote for them.

Punishment: A lifetime of guest spots on Springer."

(blogs) Latest fave blog updates, courtesy blo(dot)gs

My favorites
Today, 9:40amBoing Boing
Today, 5:54amSlashdot
Today, 5:40amJeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report
Today, 5:07amA List Apart, for people who make websites
Monday, 7:33pmThoughts From Eric
Monday, 2:17pmHow to Save the World
January 23, 3:08pmSimpleBits
January 22, 1:37pmAsterisk
January 21, 3:07amwebgraphics
January 20, 9:33ammezzoblue
January 20, 7:44amSimon Willison's Weblog
January 17, 3:27pmStopdesign
January 14, 9:36amWhat Do I Know
December 19 2004Google Weblog
April 24 2004textism

#1dive into mark
#2A Whole Lotta Nothing
#3Joel on Software
#4 MetaFilter
#5Anil Dash
#6Dunstan's blog
#7Scripting News
#9Daring Fireball
#11phil ringnalda dot com
#15Photo Matt
#16Six Log
#17 Antipixel
#18Aaron Swartz: The Weblog
#19Doc Searls Weblog
#20Sam Ruby

[AA] OSCAR Nominee List is out! - 77th Annual Academy Awards - Nominees: Nominee List (*=AA prediction)

* THE AVIATOR and gonna win the big award; and it is very good, though not excellent
FINDING NEVERLAND amazing this soap could float this high! H'wood loves sap, alas
MILLION DOLLAR BABY Clint time; it holds up well in my memory
RAY mostly because of Jamie Foxx and that miraculous impersonation, from the inside
SIDEWAYS the critics' darling; road-trips to CA wine country will definitely go up now!

* THE INCREDIBLES of course, the AA to come
SHARK TALE oh fer heaven's sake, get reeeaaaaal
SHREK 2 fun, fun enough

AS IT IS IN HEAVEN - at least it's not fatuous?
THE CHORUS - mixed review on RoeBert; doesn't look interesting enough
DOWNFALL - oh blah, if you want downbeat go for Dogville!
THE SEA INSIDE - the only one out playing here, and not truly good, sorry
YESTERDAY - at least it's got a Beatlesque title

* THE AVIATOR Scorsese's gonna win too
MILLION DOLLAR BABY Clint as runner-up
RAY hmm... really?
SIDEWAYS Alexander Payne enters the regular voters' consciousness
VERA DRAKE again, oh really? Mike Leigh is interesting, but in the pantheon?

BEFORE SUNSET of course, Linkletter at his best is truly sumptuous
FINDING NEVERLAND sorry, really?
MILLION DOLLAR BABY I remember EZ Streets, even that Michael (?) Hayes with the CSI: Miami guy
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES pre-Marx pinko period, that's pretty smart
* SIDEWAYS oh yeah, don't get drunk now

* ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND Charlie Kaufman gets his due
THE INCREDIBLES - the magic was really in the script

Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
* Jamie Foxx - RAY

Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
Jamie Foxx - COLLATERAL - hey, Jamie!! double up!
* Morgan Freeman - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Clive Owen - CLOSER

Annette Bening - BEING JULIA - the other fav, time for rematch with Swank!
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE - surprise unknown
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE - for the abortionist role
* Hilary Swank - MILLION DOLLAR BABY - she's gonna win
Kate Winslet - ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND - I know, not my choice as best

* Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR - aaand dah winnahh!
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER


* HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS -- Finally we see its name! Shd be Best Pic





*THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST - consolation prize

THE VILLAGE - there was music there?

MUSIC (SONG) - Not one of which anybody'd recognize!
"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS


SPIDER-MAN 2 - yet again! Go Spidey!