Friday, March 28, 2008


n. priest, votary or attendant of Cybele, ancient goddess of nature. corybantic, a. pertaining to wild and noisy rites performed by these; n. wild, frenzied dance.

I just couldn't let that go. That's a good word. Rhymes with romantic, frantic, gigantic, pedantic, semantic, atlantic, sycophantic, byzantic - okay, I made that last one up... but, think about it - byzantic and corybantic? How could that not be a good thing?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Toujours gai, kid

When I was little, my grandmother gave me a little yellow and black tattered paperback called Archy & Mehitabel, by Don Marquis. Archy, the cockroach, is a re-incarnated free-verse poet, and Mehitabel, the cat, has the soul of Cleopatra. C'mon. A poet cockroach and a world-weary cat, from the 1920s? That's cool.

Archy, because "expression is the need of my soul," sneaks into the copy room of The Evening Sun at night and labors furiously at the typewriter, producing sheets of verse. He jumps from key to key - there's no working the Shift key for Archy, so no capital letters and some fairly creative punctuation (when there is any).

He had a lot to say, that Archy did. And Mehitabel, well you can only imagine, with the soul of Cleopatra, she wasn't precisely shy, "i have had adventures but i have never been an adventuress."

The lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


(oh, as for "toujours gai, kid, toujours gai"? That's Mehitabel's epitaph, motto and sign-off - all in one short phrase. She had style, that one:
cage me and i d go frantic
my life is so romantic

capricious and corybantic

and i m toujours gai toujours gai)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Short and sweet

Have I told you guys about the Very Short List? My friend and erstwhile roommate told me about it ages ago...

a free, daily e-mail that points to excellent new (and sometimes vintage) entertainment and media that haven’t been hyped to within an inch of their lives.

I particularly like their "always clickable" Venn diagram - that's nifty. I've never posted one of their finds here before... that seems like cheating, dontcha think? But I can't resist posting this one.

To be fair, I posted the awesome Hema product page weeks before they sent it out. So there.

Switcheroo for you

First, reel them in. Then, presto change-o. That'll teach those dangnabbit bandwidth bandits.

Hot this and then see what happens?

The internet metes out its own brand of justice... and hotlinking bandits had best be careful...

As one hoster put it:

A little Photoshop here, a little filename change there, and poof! -- a Metallica fan becomes a Britney Spears fan.

Wanna link directly to an image hosted by someone else? Well, guess who controls "img123.jpg" - which may well have been a smoking cool Metallica logo when you jacked it last week? Not you, pal, not you.

Hot this!

In the realm of things you think people know and then are shocked, SHOCKED, that they don't, let me add "hotlinking" to the list of things you'd think I would know about, but had no clue.

Actually, let me start here - if you know what "hotlinking" is and can't believe I don't - now you know how I feel when I wittily respond "Peek Freans are a very serious cookie," to someone's over-serious use of the word "serious" -- and receive a sad, blank stare and a little pat on the back, "it's okay. Not everyone can be funny." Not everyone can be the treasure trove of useless pop culture that breeds in the petri dish I call a brain, you mean.

Hotlinking evidently is a big no-no on the internet - whereby you place an image on your site/blog/page/web presence from the gods, linked directly to someone else's file on their site/blog/page/web presence from the gods.

I have to say - doing this never once crossed my mind. Literally, it just never even occurred to me it was possible. And I've done plenty of image fishing recently, trust me. But you know, it seemed pretty clear to me how it worked -- find, save, upload? (Not to mention, cite, source or reference --or, like I did here, just link to the place from whence the image sprang. Case closed.)

But, you know, like always, there's a nefarious method to every madness. Hotlinking is blogging piracy. It's bandwidth theft. And that's not nice, folks. So don't do it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

If you need some inspiration

My dad forwarded this to me this morning. And by the way, along with some really, and I do mean really, lame jokes (though, to be fair, some pretty funny ones too), my parents send me the greatest things... go Mom and Dad!

My dad said he had nothing to add to the video. I, on the other hand...

Sometimes things come across the transom at such the exact right time that you've got to wonder who's managing things in the karmic post office. This is one of those times.

Are you going to be a Tigger or an Eeyore? Seriously, is that not the fundamental question? You can boil every day, every choice, every action down to that... Tigger/Eeyore? Tigger/Eeyore? Yup - that's it. And it gets pretty gloomy over in Eeyoreville, lemme tell ya -- not a lot of dreams there. Like I said, this video was scary timely.

I also watched the original lecture this guy gave at Carnegie Mellon. Different and the same. Love that.

Oh, my dad did have this to say in his email: "wow." I think that sums it up nicely.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I was just wondering...

It was touch and go today... what I was going to write about, that is. Sorry to say it was slow going for me the last 24 hours...a lot of work and not too much outside world.

I could write about the Villanova coach whose technical foul started an 11-3 point run for the other team. I'm not even a basketball fan and I can tell you that's not cool. Or about the new REM single that's floating around the net from their new album - you can get it, of course, on the Slovakian fan site. Where else?

Then I read the story about the hypnotic hold-up artist, the mesmerizing supermarket robber. Sometimes you wonder why we even bother with fiction.

Italian police have issued video footage of a man who has been hypnotizing supermarket checkout staff and getting them to hand over the cash.
In every case, according to reports, the last thing staff remember is a man leaning over and saying 'Look into my eyes' before suddenly finding the till is empty.

To top it off, the robber "bears an uncanny resemblance to Rasputin and Saddam Hussein."

I wish I had something to add to that. But I don't.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lovemark may redeem top tier status

Lovemark, you ask? What's a lovemark? Did she make it up - you know, like "revynopsis?"

Nope - not I. Not this time. Kevin Roberts, of Saatchi and Saatchi fame (well.., fame to some, infame to others) has that honor. Wrote the book, started the website, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

Put simply, Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason

Ah, Starbucks...

Are you going to the Starbucks there?
Coffee, tea, chai latte and time
Remember me to one who lives there,
For she once was a true love of mine.

So the coffee (and the chai tea latte, for that matter) is better at Peets. So the Ultimate Blended at Coffee Bean kicks Frappuccino's butt. So there are more Starbucks than there should be - except when you really want one. I walked a mile in New York City once - I kid you not, a mile on the Upper West Side, without passing a single Starbucks. I thought I'd walked into a time warp.

Regardless -- Starbucks was first. Starbucks is old reliable. Starbucks is omnipresent - and thank goodness, or we'd be stuck drinking coffee at McDonald's in Tokyo. I mean really. Starbucks is there when you need it -- comforting, familiar, always ready with the New York Times (Peets and CBTL can't say that). But... I have to admit that lately, I have fallen out of love. I'm talking serious lovemark status slippage.

One, and it's almost too horrible to talk about - can we discuss airport Starbucks? Where to start? With the 3 pastry selections? Excuse me, the 3 dessicated pastry selections that look like they were delivered last month after being rejected by the corner deli? How about with the "sorry, we're out of... soy milk, chai syrup, honey, water?" (Okay, they've never actually been out of water... yet.)

Two, the wait. It used to be that going to Starbucks was like going to the Barista Magic Show. Wham Bam Presto Espresso Ma'am. Now it's more like taking the short bus to school - oh, you mean you wanted that latte today? And let me tell you, in the morning, before I've had my first cup of coffee is so not the time to make me wait for it. Kind of a bummer catch-22 for that poor dude behind the counter, but get on the stick and give me my coffee. Now. Before I kill you by shoving a stir stick in your ear.

Three, the coffee really is not that good. Sometimes it's kind of like drinking the top of a really good charred steak. Which would be tasty on a plate - but in a mug?

So, you're asking - what's changed? Whassup that Starbucks might be making a comeback in the Lovemark book of g? (That's me.) Well, it's not any change in the airport Starbucks -they still pretty much suck. But I have noticed that the short bus isn't stopping at my neighborhood S'bux so much anymore... nice not to have to worry anymore about being the first to use the "I hadn't had my venti extra-hot half-caf soy dry latte with an extra shot" defense in a homicide case. Not to mention it's nice to get my morning cup of joe in a timely fashion.

And... get this... for those of you who carry around a Starbucks card (like I) - well, starting in April, your upgrades - that vanilla syrup (not my thing - but if you like it, go for it), that soy milk (now that is my thing) - are yours at no charge. That's right folks. Use your Starbucks loyalty card and get your upgrade free. Doesn't that seem like just the way to build brand loyalty? Sure does to me.

Seems as though Mr. Schultz (Howard Schultz, CEO) made this announcement at the end of the last annual meeting:

We somehow evolved from a culture of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation to a culture of, in a way, mediocrity and bureaucracy.

That's a pretty ballsy thing to say at your annual meeting. Unless you intend to actually do something about it. (For the rest of what Howie intends to do to combat mediocrity and bureaucracy in Gotham, I mean Seattle, read Kevin Coupe's stellar cliff notes.)

Starbucks, my lovemark. Sigh.

Can you say Mpemba?

You'd think I shot the purple cow or something.

Look people, I don't make this stuff up. I just report it.

Hot water can freeze faster than cold.

Don't like it? Go talk to Erasto B. Mpemba, or the physicists in the Physics Department at Southern Illinois University. Or someone. Don't yell at me for crying out loud... You know - don't shoot the messenger? Come on, give me a break. Do I look like a physicist?

Hey, I'm with ya. It doesn't make any sense. And I fought the fight, really I did, for a good long time. But sometimes you just gotta know when to give in, give up, give over, give it a rest. This is one of those times. You want to pick up the gauntlet, more power to you. I'm done.

As Gillette Burgess ultimately wrote:

Ah, yes. I wrote the Purple Cow
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Those old wives may have been on to something...

This argument goes back over 20 years - though maybe that's just for me. And Connie.

That would be the same Connie who stole CDs out of my dorm room after being subjected to hours, days and weeks of the same song over and over and over and over again. And the Connie who taught me how to drive. And to knit. The Connie who can complete the line "It's possible..." and knows why the phrase "for no apparent reason" is really funny.

Well, that Connie also insisted for years that hot water freezes faster than cold water. And I, as you can imagine, insisted she was wrong. Crazy. Flat out block-headed. I mean, really, water has to get to 32 degrees to freeze -- so of course water that's closer to that temperature is going to get there faster than water that's further away. Duh.

I even found a reason why once upon a time this oddball theory held water (sorry, couldn't resist), actually, my mom came up with this: back in the days before self-defrosting freezers, if you filled your metal ice-cube tray with hot water, it would melt the frost on the freezing element, bringing the tray closer to the element, and thus the water in the tray would actually freeze faster.

Well, to be fair, I owe a big fat apology to Connie. According to today's New York Times, hot water does indeed freeze faster than cold - something to do with hot water having less mass so it needs less energy. The "Mpemba effect" - which I can't even pronounce, let alone understand. But I understand that Connie was right all along and I was wrong. Consider this a public retraction, Con.

I still get to stand by this one though - cold water does NOT boil faster than hot water. Thank goodness some things are still self-evident. Although you still should use only cold water from the tap for cooking, drinking - and BOILING. Even if it does take longer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not enough hours in the day...

Although Heidi's cooking blog does live on my right hand wall of fame, I thought I'd actually write a bit more about it today, as I was procrastinating. Shocking!, I know, but it happens. (Not often, of course, for all you clients out there reading this, but occasionally. And it never happens, of course, when I'm working on your project, but it does occasionally happen.)

There are two basic ways I procrastinate - either very productively on something entirely unrelated to what I need to get done right now today this minute, or dreaming and fantasizing and researching feverishly about something (or things) I'd much rather be doing than what I need to get done right now today this minute.

And quite often, the latter involves food, and cooking. I love to cook. I dream about cooking. I yearn to cook. I have a prodigious collection of cookbooks, from many of which I have yet to make one, single, solitary recipe. Not one. I have an old-fangled (for all you loyal readers out there, you'll get it... for you newbies, search the blog and it'll all come together nicely, I promise) egg-box crammed with recipes from newspapers (I love you, Mark Bittman, Nigella Lawson, Amanda Hesser...), magazines, cans and other oddball sources, like the little card that's about 2 inches square from the restaurant BLT on east 57th St. in New York with a recipe for Yorkshire Pudding. It's in that box, I'm sure of it. Come to think of it - I've actually made that recipe, and it's quite yummy.

So periodically, when I really, and I mean REALLY, should be doing something else, I find myself sneaking over to and reading up on what she's been cooking up lately - her premise is that she is going to go through her prodigious collection of cookbooks and actually cook from them. What a concept.

I did make a pretty darn good garbage pasta carbonara the other night - given that I had no peas, I made it with spinach. And I have never actually made a real carbonara, but this one had soft sauteed onions, scrambled eggs, ricotta cheese, whole wheat pasta, wilted spinach - all topped with crumbled bacon I made ahead of time in the oven. It really was tasty. But it didn't come out of a single cookbook. Oh well.

We figured it out... but for the rest of you...

Have a wedding to go to? Just feeling particularly natty this morning? It's Ralph to the rescue (doesn't he always come to the rescue?)

Good ol' Ralph... What would we do without him?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Social notworking

I recently, and I have to admit, rather blithely, created a Facebook account - at the behest of one of my oldest friends. In the interest of networking, I wanted the email address of another friend, but no!, to get it, she said, I had to join Facebook, and then I could go to her page and see him, or add him, or befriend him, or message him, or do some Facebook thing, and anyway, then and only then would I get what I wanted.

Fine. She's my oldest friend. Whatever.

I signed up. (And as it turned out, I never did email the friend I thought I wanted to contact - I got busy. Funny how that happens.)

And now what? I mean really... I have 17 email addresses already. A cell phone that rings and texts and PINs and BBMs and practically irons my sheets (actually, it doesn't, but wouldn't that be nice?). Why on earth do I need another place on-line to go to talk to people? That is isolated and separate from everything else I do? Every other method of communication is going out of its way to work together - blogs, podcasts, media outlets, email, newsletters - I can even listen to satellite radio on the internet for crying out loud. But MySpace and FaceBook build frickin' brick walls around themselves that you can't get through with a wish. Can I say pain in the you-know-what?

The only reason I keep my MySpace account is to read Diablo Cody's blog - and I love her - you all know I think she's the cat's ironed pajamas, but I wish to blazes she would blog anywhere else I could get a live feed from. Seriously. I mean WTF?! Sorry, but really. Every other blog on the planet, with the exception of that other peerless example of idiotic interface and non-utility, FaceBook, offers 16 ways to Sunday to get to its content. But MySpace? Oh no - you can only read her blog on the MySpace site. They don't believe in RSS. Do you hear echoes of the music labels shrieking and moaning about downloading music? I cannot tell you how long I spent trying to figure out how to get an RSS feed out of a MySpace blog until I finally understood that IT CANNOT BE DONE. THEY DO NOT ALLOW IT. Wow. That simple. And stupid. Unreal.

So I'm stuck with MySpace, but frankly, I can't remember the last time I logged onto my Facebook page... and now I discover that to terminate my Facebook existence will be quite an ordeal. Great. These sites are like flypaper from the 50s. I'm stuck, stuck, stuck. And not at all happy about it. Do I go through the hassle of unsticking (deleting, arguing, emailing, etc.) - or do I just leave my Facebook page languishing up in the ether for all eternity, and all my "data" residing not-so-happily on Facebook's servers? Decisions, decisions. You know, networking may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You wish there wasn't a need

My mom sent this link to me a while ago... a "global display of terrorism and other suspicious events." It's a map from the . Definitely one of those things I really wish didn't have to exist. But it does. And here it is. Brought to us in living color - map or satellite or hybrid. What did we do before Google?

The map flickers with a disturbing array of reports, such as:

  • "Strange odor from mail shuts down one of governor's offices"
  • "Pipe bomb found under car in Dublin"
  • "Turkish police foil ‘plot’ to bomb US companies"
  • "Colombia hotel blast leaves 1 dead, 2 injured"
  • "Venezuela dares U.S. to put it on terror list"
  • "Tibetans try to storm Chinese embassy in India's national capital"

The map supposedly reloads itself every 310 seconds. Which I actually find a bit odd. 310 seconds? Three hundred and ten? I mean, 5 minutes would be 300 seconds... Doesn't it make you feel like there's some hidden meaning in that 310 somehow? What's with the extra 10 seconds? I'm just asking...

Couldn't stop reading this one

This is why I love the internet.

You go surfing around, from link to link, the way you're supposed to, the way nature (or Al Gore) intended, and sometimes you find the coolest things. Like the day I found Or today, when I stumbled on She puts it best herself:

Georgia Getz is an acclaimed essayist, novelist, screenwriter, and director. No wait – that’s Nora Ephron. But Georgia Getz dreamed of one day becoming these things and more – just as soon as she finished college. At the age of thirty-five.

In the meantime she wrote several un-acclaimed essays, TV pilots, and screenplays – and raised two children and one humor blog: I am bossy.

You’ll find Getz’s name featured on the cover of the finest magazines – right on the subscription tag. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, ice hockey, and surfing. No wait – that’s John Cusack. Either way, Getz lives in the burbs where she primps for the eventual photo shoot.

I just read her review, or was it a synopsis - a revynopsis? - of Stagecoach, complete with visual aids. Now, for my friend Steve, and perhaps my dad, this revynopsis (get used to that word - I like it) may count as heresy of the first order, and I understand and respect that perspective, I do. I'm with her though, I gotta say. I think it's the character actors that really cinched the deal for me. So she goes on my right hand wall of fame for a little while.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ode to Jason

Oh, Jason, we barely know ye.

Not that we don't love the way you play that Limey, smarter-than-the-average-bear criminal. We do. I do. I really do. And you were more brains than brawn this time around in The Bank Job (RT: 78) - but still...

Crank (RT: 61)
Cellular (RT: 54)
The Transporter (RT: 54)
The Italian Job (RT: 73)
Snatch (RT: 73)

Handsome Rob, over and over and over again.

To be fair, I'm not really, truly lodging a complaint. After all, I love Handsome Rob. I'm just saying it'd be nice to see you try something else on for size. I bet it'd fit. Handsomely.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Show off, do good

The better your vocabulary, the more rice these guys donate through the UN World Food Program.

Don't ask me how or why - but tell all your prolix, sesquipedalian friends about it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

For the last time, it's District B-13

Looking for a good meaty plot? This is not the movie. Character development? Go somewhere else. Clever dialogue? Sorry. If, however, you've recently been dumped, fired or lost your pet, this is most definitely the movie you want to see. Trust me.

This is an action movie that's all-action, all the time. Non-stop, start to finish, take you by the throat and never let you go, breathless, breath-taking, heart-pounding, new-fangled, old-fashioned, awesomely edited, action with a capital A. And not the high-falutin' let's shoot a helicopter with a car action (though that's cool too) - this is human beings doing things you'd swear human beings couldn't do, whoo-ee, did you see that?!, action.

This movie's a ride - you get on and hang on. For dear life. An adrenaline rush from start to finish. There's no plot, and the dang thing is in French anyway, but it doesn't matter. It's the two performances, and I don't mean the acting, that are mesmerizing. Don't get me wrong - I don't know if these guys can act or not. Maybe they can. Maybe they can't. That's not really the point. And this really isn't the movie that's going to tell you.

It's so not about the acting - it's about the running, swooping, sliding, swerving, curving, slipping, gliding, skidding, coasting, soaring, jumping and flat-out kyrotechnics these two entertain you with.

The movie isn't even 90 minutes long. I swear I lost 5 lbs just watching the thing. Like Deak said in Broken Arrow, "God-damn! What a rush!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Exactly so...

Speaking of the rules is the rules - The Spiderwick Chronicles (RT Score: 80) gets that, and more, quite right. I haven't read the book series (heresy! I know, but what can I say? A girl only has so much time in a day) - I can't tell you what harm or foul the movie makers did or didn't do to the books, but I'm betting not much. It appears they turned five books into one movie, so perhaps some favorites got lost, some plot twists straightened, some magical creatures abandoned, but I'd venture to say that the Spiderwick spirit was hale and hearty.

I like kids' movies. I like kids' books. Maybe I'm a kid at heart. And maybe kids' books are just better. I don't know. Like I said, I'm an easy audience. Look, I dragged my best friend and my mom to see Madea's Family Reunion (RT score: 28) - and we were the only three honkies in that theater, trust me. But we all laughed. We honestly did. That movie was funny.

Back to kids' movies. The Journey of Natty Gann (RT: 88)? Fly Away Home (RT: 84)? Toy Story (RT: 100!!)? Shrek (RT: 89)? The Black Stallion (RT: 86)? I'm just saying... I don't care if I'm the oldest one in the theater with no tot in tow - I'm happy to be seeing a good movie. And by the way, does anyone know why we go to see a movie in the theater, but we watch one at home? Just wondering.

As for the Spiderwick Chronicles. Of course, I am quite predisposed to like any movie whose first scene centers on David Strathairn and whose second scene features Mary Louise Parker. And may I just say, if that's a kids movie, kids are a lot tougher these days than in my day. I'm, well, I'm old enough, and I was scared spitless. Good plot. Good pace. Good acting. Throw in Nick Nolte and Martin Short (haven't seen them together since The Three Fugitives, RT:8), some nifty effects and what more do you want from a movie. I mean, really?

Oh, and by the way, John Sayles co-wrote the screenplay. You know? He wrote Lone Star (RT: 92)? Eight Men Out (RT: 88)? Matewan (RT: 100)? The Return of the Secaucus Seven (RT: 85)? Not to mention, he wrote one of my favorite movies ever, Passion Fish (RT: 100), which also happened to star David Strathairn... fancy that.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Some rules are not meant to be broken

The truth is, I'm a pretty easy audience as far as the movies go. I like movies. I want to be entertained. If you want me to believe the hero can fly, I'll bite. That time travel is possible, sure. That you can surgically swap faces and voices to change identities, okay. That POTUS is honest, smart, good-looking, and has integrity - I'm in. I WANT to believe.

But, the way it works is - the rules is the rules.

You can make them up. But then you gotta stick to them. This is not rocket science - even when the rules are about rocket science.

Look, suspension of disbelief is a delicate thing. To make it work, you have to remember, the rules is the rules. If you say that only inanimate objects can go back through time, because the way this particular time wormhole that we stumbled upon works is to wreak havoc with electrical impulses, then don't go sending a human being through the thing, for crying out loud, who by all rights should turn up in the past blackened and smoking like one of Emeril's blue-plate specials.

If it takes a multi-million dollar machine the size of a small building to send a human hurtling 650 years into the past, don't give him a little clicker that hangs around his neck like the one the old lady wears in those ads - you know, "I've fallen and I can't get up"? - that can send him back to the present at the push of the button - what about all that machinery??

Time travel in the movies is tricky, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Hello - we're talking about positing that time travel is possible? I seem to remember thinking Frequency (RT Score: 70) did a nice job. And Back to the Future (RT Score: 95)

And this is the movies - you're going to tell the story you want to tell. Don't you ever wonder that? As you watch the opening scene, don't you ever wonder, why this guy? This story? That car? What if he'd turned left? Or not picked up the phone? But this is the movies - and the writer gets to say, "go left, there, not right" "pick up the phone," "get in the car with the innocuous looking man," "forget to turn off the stove," "kiss her." The writer gets to say, "our three heroes travel back in time." She gets to say it. But then she damn well better live up to it.

It's not just about science - though that's a biggie. It's about consistency - hello? McFly? That's all a rule is - you know "as a rule?" Nothing kills a movie faster than "and all of a sudden..." (unless, of course, the whole movie is about "all-of-a-suddens," but that's a whole 'nother kettle of worms).

The bestest thing about the movies (okay, and books - but this whole treatise holds just as true for books as it does for movies, so quit your yammering) is that anything is possible. Anything can happen. You can rewrite history. Imagine the future. You can create smart-aleck pregnant sixteen year-olds with an answer for everything. Emerald cities with horses of a different color. Tall dark and handsome gentlemen who don't give a damn. Mesmerizing serial killers with a taste for fava beans. Homesick aliens with a taste for Reese's Pieces. That's the movies. That's the magic.

And great movie-makers? They know that the rules is the rules.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pandora's box

Funny the things you assume everyone knows about, and then you find out that they don't.
How does that happen?

You think everyone knows that Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio's conscience, until you're talking to someone one day and casually drop the Jiminy Cricket reference into your conversation, and they look at you like your nose is growing too large for your face.

You think everyone has heard the commercial jingle "Peak Freens are a very serious cookie. Cookie." Until you realize that you can't even find this anywhere on the internet and that anyone who didn't grow up on the east coast thinks you're a freak-teen for thinking this is common knowledge.

You think everyone can sing Conjunction Junction, until you realize you're just damn old and only your friends from 1st grade have a clue what you're talking about.

Which is a real shame, by the by, as Conjunction Junction rocks. And everyone should know it, if only to be able to sing it. Let alone that they should actually know the part of speech the "conjunction."

Regardless, I thought everyone knew about Pandora - an internet site that basically lets you create your own radio station formats. In honor of a good friend, I have a station called "female suicide music" as well as a "mellow to my toes" station (not in honor of anyone - except maybe my toes, which are actually pretty cute, and possibly quite worth honoring).

If you don't know about it, and you like music, it's worth checking out. Create a station, many stations. Add artists, add songs. You know, that you like. Pandora plays music all day long related to your selections. The part I love is that you can give the ol' thumbs up or down to songs as they play. Can't stand that new Plain White Tees song? Thumbs down and it'll NEVER show up again. What radio station can say that?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don't hold back...

What other problems do you have besides being unemployed, a moron and a dork?
---John McEnroe (to a spectator in the stands)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane...'s a "primacaucus."


Q: Why does Texas do it this way?

A: They do everything in their own unique way. They're sort of like the violent special-ed kid of the whole country.

Gotta love Texas. Gotta love the American political system - just as clear as Mudd.

Disirregardless of what anyone thinks...

Another fury, or flurry, ensues. Who knew one word was such a sore spot? Irregardless, "irregardless" is, indeed, a word. To be found in dictionaries and all. Evidently it is also a source of not infrequent debate, in the real and the e-world.

Last October, Tim Moynihan, who blogs on the Crave blog on CNET (CNET of all places - not exactly your "go-to" site for in-depth debates on language, but there you go - clearly this is a matter that crosses all boundaries, joining nerds and geeks of all stripes), got some feedback from his readers for using the word. He had some pithy words to say in response in defense of the word, let me tell you, including:

It's the only word where attaching the "ir-" prefix to the root word has the exact same meaning as the root word: Throwing an "ir-" in front of normal, less bad-ass words that begin with "R" changes the meaning to the opposite of the word. Irrefutable. Irreverent. Irrelevant. Irresponsible. Not "irregardless." It doesn't care what the rules of grammar are. It means exactly the same thing as "regardless," and that's the way it likes it.

He goes on, in depth, to discuss the following (very fine) points - which I urge you to read in full (he's funny, really, he is):

  1. Against all odds, against all logic, and (ir)regardless of everyone hating it, it has achieved official word status
  2. Even though it's a word, Merriam-Webster says you shouldn't use it
  3. It simultaneously makes sense and doesn't make sense
  4. It practices what it preaches
  5. If you think about it long enough, it will blow your mind

I wish I could say any of that better myself, but having stumbled on Tim's magnificent defense, I am left somewhat at a loss for words. What can I add to a diatribe that includes the sentence "It is a text-based Chuck Norris, roundhouse-kicking everything else in the dictionary into submission." Nothing. He's said it all.

I can, however, provide some "authorities" on the topic.


Irregardless is a word that many people mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. The word was coined in the United States in the early 20th century, probably from a blend of irrespective and regardless. Perhaps this is why some critics insist that there is “no such word” as irregardless, a charge they would not think of leveling at a nonstandard word with a longer history, such as ain’t. Since people use irregardless, it is undoubtedly a word. But it has never been accepted in Standard English and is usually changed by editors to regardless before getting into print.


nonstandard : regardless
usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that there is no such word. There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Did you know this? The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate. Huh.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Columns and rows



It's your privilege. Your obligation. Your right. Your power. Your voice.

There's a lot that may not be right in this country. With our government. With the political system. No doubt. But there's a fair amount that's pretty good. Even if sometimes that's hard to remember.

Either way - if you don't participate in the process, you pretty much lose your standing to complain about it.

I'm just thinking about this because, well,

a) tomorrow is Second Super Tuesday, and it's kind of a nail biter - when was the last time that happened?


b) I stumbled on this chart that lays out the candidates' positions on issues. It's simple and simplified, yes, but that doesn't make it useless. It doesn't make it the last word, either, for sure.

Look, I'm not saying to use it to choose your candidate, but it's interesting, nonetheless. It gets you thinking, doesn't it?

So - get thinking. Make a choice. And vote.

I could drive you crazy

Every now and then I stumble on a song I will listen to incessantly. Truly. Over and over and over and over again. To the point that my friends have stolen CDs out of my room, never, ever to be returned. (Connie - I forgive you. Honest.)

I don't think the list of songs like this is all that long. And I don't really remember them once I'm over them. I'm kinda fickle that way. Though sometimes the experience does stick - remember the song by Des'ree, "You Gotta Be"? I'm pretty sure my roommate at the time was aching to pitch me out the window in front of an oncoming crosstown bus. Or truck. Or cab. I'm sure any moving vehicle would've satisfied her.

I can go months, years even, without a song that I have to hear constantly. And then WHAM! POW! Holy melody & lyrics, Batman!

So, these days it's "You're the World To Me" by David Gray.

"You don't have to turn the sound up
Babe I want you from the ground up
Baby baby you're the world to me"

Over and over and over and over again. What can I tell you? I'm pathetic.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

and they say women change their minds...

Did you know that since the first ever Academy Awards, in 1929 (for the year ending August 1, 1928 - because we all know the year ends in August), the writing awards have gone through 14 iterations to get to the current two - "Original Screenplay" and "Adapted Screenplay"?

In fact, those two categories have only been around since 2002. For the 10 years before that, we were watching scribes win for these mouthfuls: "Screenplay written directly for the screen" and "Screenplay based on material previously produced or published." Clearly the people in charge at that point hadn't fully absorbed the "less is more" credo.

In the first 26 years, the category changed eight times. One award, two, three, back to two, it was a free-for-all, I'm telling you.

The very first year, 1927/1928, the Academy handed out awards for Writing (Adaptation), Writing (Original Story) and Writing (Title Writing), which was not awarded for any particular film - this was for writing all the dialogue "titles" that appeared on screen between scenes in the movies, which, you know, were all silent back then. That year, the Academy also saw fit to bestow a special award on Charlie Chaplin for "The Circus" as explained in this letter

'The Academy Board of Judges on merit awards for individual achievements in motion picture arts during the year ending August 1, 1928, unanimously decided that your name should be removed from the competitive classes, and that a special first award be conferred upon you for writing, acting, directing and producing 'The Circus.' The collective accomplishments thus displayed place you in a class by yourself.' (Letter from the Academy to Mr. Chaplin, dated February 19, 1929.)

I love that - "place you in a class by yourself." He was, wasn't he?

At the 2nd and 3rd Academy Awards, there was just one writing award given, "Writing - Screenplay." And, by the by, it was Frances Marion, a female screenwriter force of nature who wrote over 200 movies, who took home the statue at the 3rd Academy Awards for her movie "The Big House" - a down and dirty prison movie, which was directed by George W. Hill. It wasn't some weepy, woman's movie. Or some lovey-dovey woman's movie. It was a cell doors clanking, prisoners suffering, grimy movie. I'm just saying.

Then, for a few years, two awards were given - for "Adaptation" and "Original Story." Then these were changed to "Screenplay" and "Original Story."

It was after that that things started to get interesting. Ready? Follow me, now...
1940-41: "Original Screenplay," "Original Story," and "Screenplay"

"Original Screenplay," "Screenplay," and "Original Motion Picture Story"

"Motion Picture Story," "Original Screenplay," and "Screenplay"

1948: "Motion Picture Story" and "Screenplay"

1949-55: "Motion Picture Story," "Screenplay," and "Story & Screenplay"

"Motion Picture Story," "Original Screenplay," and "Adapted Screenplay"

1957 - 68:
"Story & screenplay written directly for the screen" and "Screenplay based on material from another medium"

"Story & screenplay based on factual material or material not previously published or produced" and "Screenplay based on material from another medium"

"Original Screenplay" and "Screenplay adapted from other material"

"Screenplay written directly for the screen" and Screenplay based on material from another medium"

"Screenplay written directly for the screen" and Screenplay based on material previously produced or published"

and, finally, we come to

"Original Screenplay" and "Adapted Screenplay"

Until they change their minds. Again.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is anyone funnier?

This really needed a post of its own.

"18 fockin' times!"

Kills me every time.