Saturday, December 31, 2005

Welcome to Our New Readers

(This entry will stick on top until Jan. 1)

If you're just peeking at Blognabbit for the first time, welcome!

Bookmark this site. Come back often, or, if you're a technological adept of the the 21st century, add us to your RSS aggregator. Here you can keep up to date with Chris, Christa, Tim, Deirdre and offspring as they get in shape for various feats of athletic endurance, wrestle their professional demons, and travel to far off locales.

Actually, none of that shows up here. Mostly you just get to peek at our links du jour.

<how about we add a end-of-the-year holiday report here?>

<...can't we post a link to some more funny videos, instead?...>

< about the dancing badgers?...>

<...oh. That's soooo two years ago.>

We thought about adding a FAQ here, but no one ever asks us any questions about this blog. So feel free to ask questions via the comment section, and then check back soon for answers.

K vanden Heuvel: Small victories in 2005

A list of stories of a few steps forward from around the US. Civil rights, labor rights, the environment and more.
Vermont, New Jersey, Hawaii, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin vote to raise state minimum wages. Meanwhile, the national minimum wage has remained stagnant for nine years...

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Bug's Eye View

Liam and Ronan each received a plastic prism for the holidays, the kind where you hold it up to your eye and you see multiple images of whatever you pointed at. Turns out, it works with a digital camera, too. dragonfly boy

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A quoi ça sert l'amour?

Breezy animated romance
set to music by Edith Piaf & Theo Sarapo
(4 minutes)

I Wanna Love You Tender

[via Apollo Pony]

1980s Finnish pop music video.
It's good. The Apple good.

Seeking the best of the best of

It's that time of year when I start craving top ten lists. Or best of lists. Of any category. I've already read the NYTimes film critic lists. They failed to satisfy.

Would anyone care to offer anything?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

SNL Rap video hits the internet big time

The New York Times is surprisingly quick at picking up this story, about the internet success of new SNL cast member Adam Sandberg, who got his job at SNL after being an internet success.

Complete with geeky picture of the Lonely Island boys.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wish List: No More Books!

Joe Queenan's NYT essay on the dangers of lent and gifted books.
Several years ago, I calculated how many books I could read if I lived to my actuarially expected age. The answer was 2,138.... In principle, there would be enough time to read 500 masterpieces, 500 minor classics, 500 overlooked works of genius, 500 oddities and 138 examples of high-class trash. Nowhere in this utopian future would there be time for [Steve Allen's] "Hi-Ho, Steverino!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Torturing Barbie

BARBIE, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found. The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.
I wonder whether these researchers would point to Christa's practice of giving her Barbies custom "Dorothy Hamill" haircuts.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cranky Bugs: The One Boy Show

The boy has started doing a dramatic interp version of the Thomas the Tank story "Cranky Bugs." He practices constantly: in the car or just walking around the house.

This is the original text:

Thomas and Percy love working at the docks. They enjoy the sea air and the sound of the gulls. But today the friends are hot and bothered. A crane is causing trouble. His name is Cranky and this is his first day at the docks.

And this is his interpretation:


He's also currently working on a version of "Salty's Secret."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Greetings from Idiot America

Charlie Pierce of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me writes an article in Esquire on Idiot America-- our national culture of trusting our gut instinct and being suspicious of learning, fact, and reason.

...the rise of Idiot America today represents -- for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power -- the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they're talking about.

Pierce explains why intellectually dubious enterprises, such as intelligent design, the invasion of Iraq, and the Federal Government's response to Hurricane Katrina, are shrugged off if and when they are seen to be mistakes. We're now a nation with a collective gut, instead of a collective mind.

Angela Shelton's Survivor Manual: what videoblogging was created for

Angela Shelton is a filmmaker and a survivor of abuse. Her film, Searching for Angela Shelton that chronicled the survival story of herself and 47 others women was lauded at multiple film festivals and was featured on CBS' 48 Hours and Oprah.

Haven't seen the film, but I discovered her brand new videoblog, in which she is documenting her ongoing healing process.

First step: addressing her lifelong asthma. By episode 6/day 10 she's seeing some real results with the aid of an NMT (Neuro Modulation Technique) practitioner. By episode 7 (The Beetle Story) she's already attempting singing lessons.

Shelton is an onscreen natural, and the camera work and editing are crisp. It helps that she is aided by an actual *crew*, so she's freed up to be the main character/host.

But even in moments when a piece feels like a moment from a reality TV show, it feels more appropriate to the videoblogging medium (short, serial episodes).

And while I subscribe to several videoblogs, most are mundane moments or random visual or auditory bits done in a style that makes me want to see what the person comes up with next.

But here's a use of the medium that makes me want to subscribe to find out what *happens* next. Where's Shelton's story going from here?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

TV Stardom on $20 a Day

The NYT does videoblogging. Again.
This time in the Television section of the paper.
(Previously it was featured in Technology)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Postcards from Buster . Whitesburg, Kentucky

This morning, Buster meets two "old timey" secret agents, who fiddle, square dance, clog, and apparently need the latest Spy Kids gear to do it. Liam is spellbound.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Jon Carroll: On living in a bubble

"Is it any wonder real estate prices are so high? People want to leave, but they can't. Out There, people smoke in restaurants! OK, I'll pay a million-five for that hovel; just don't make me eat at a Denny's in Houston."

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Just a goddamned piece of paper"

From the world of alternative capitol hill reporting, this charming report of a president...a tad ambivalent about his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Pinter's Nobel lecture


It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Project Bandaloop

I've never seen San Francisco dance company Project Bandaloop live, but I still think their dance is fabulous. Maybe it's that they dance on location.

Well, more specifically, it's that their locations are three stories, or seven stories, or ten stories in the air. On the side of a building. Dangling from the Space Needle. You know, just to play with our conventional notions of "up" and "down."

Of course, dancing in Yosemite is breathtaking, too, and not just for the scenery. It might have something to do with the two thousand vertical feet of air between the dancers and valley floor.

Nice CBS Sunday morning featurette here.

Wasabi Funyuns

Lowbrow and small time, underachieving and unpopular, Funyuns are the Roger Clinton of the Frito-Lay family.

Tastes better with Holiday Spice Pepsi!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Goodbye, Moon

An Op-ed in the NYT on HarperCollins' decision to digitally remove the cigarette from Clement Hurd's photograph in the latest edition of GOODNIGHT MOON.
A fire blazing in the fireplace while Bunny sleeps? Suggested change: Get rid of it. At the very least, digitally add a fire extinguisher to the wall. And hello? Where are the smoke detectors?

New Colors for Old Paint Factory

To answer your occasional questions about what do I do all day: here's my latest web page. I get to create these occasionally for my work. Sorry about the Jurassic federal government style. (Imagine: using 'federal government' and 'style' in the same sentence. A first!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Yacht Rock

From, five episodes from the violent and melodramatic history of smooth pop music.
See! Michael McDonald join forces with Kenny Loggins
See! McDonald & Loggins take on Hall & Oates in a back alley fight
See! Steve Perry teach Loggins how to rock
Hear! Smooth music!

Winner, Best Show and Best Editing,
Channel 101 "Channy" Awards


Staging 101

Jon Carroll's observations on the real estate staging phenomenon.

So what is this staging, the staging that adds the bucks to the bottom line? One word: throws. There are bloody throws everywhere. There must be huge throw warehouse somewhere; truckloads must disappear into the real estate universe every week.

No books are permitted in a staged house, except tasteful coffee-table volumes on Impressionist painters or architects of the early 20th century. And the books are rarely placed on a bookshelf. In the house across the street, one set was put on an ottoman -- and then partially covered with a throw.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

This Season's War Cry: Commercialize Christmas, or Else - New York Times

Christa and I were just talking about this today, before I came across this. Although I was unaware of the pro-retail angle.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Michael Wolf | Hong Kong | Architecture of Density

A photo exhibition of urban population density. Most buildings photographed without any sky or ground visible.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Most confusing AP headline of the day...

"Food Critic Wins Bad Sex In Fiction Prize"

So what does the runner up get?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fritolaysia Cuts Off Chiplomatic Relations With Snakistan

"Preparing for a long and grueling war of nutrition, Fritolaysia imposed trade snacktions and set up a blockade of Snakistan's major ports, cutting off their commerce with Yumen, Mmmmadagascar, and the Chex Republic."

Recruiting My Kids for the GOP

I figure reading this book to my kids every night before bed is the one sure way of coverting them to the far-right wing of the Republican party. Was it ghost-written by Ralph Reed?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Bright Future in Sales

Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales. In today's NYTimes.

Kids Gone Wild

"We use kids like Prozac," he said. "People don't necessarily feel great about their spouse or their job but the kids are the bright spot in their day. They don't want to muck up that one moment by getting yelled at. They don't want to hurt. They don't want to feel bad. They want to get satisfaction from their kids. They're so precious to us - maybe more than to any generation previously. What gets thrown out the window is limits. It's a lot easier to pick their towel up off the floor than to get them away from the PlayStation to do it."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Learning the Constellations

During the week of warm November weather two weeks ago, we took the boys outside to look at the stars, the moon, and Venus.

"Maybe we can see Bryan The Hunter," says L.

Must. not. laugh.

So I say, "You mean, O'Brien the Hunter?"

"Yeah, Bryan the Hunter."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Jones Soda 2005 Holiday Pack

Five flavors: Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey & Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie.

0 calories each. (Sweetened with Splenda brand sucralose!)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cases Of Glitter Lung On The Rise Among Elementary-School Art Teachers

From the sidebar:

"Glitter deposits cause scarring, inflammation, and twinkliness of the lungs, leading to bedazzlemia--a condition in which alveoli are so sparkly that oxygen molecules are reflected away from the bloodstream."

Chris Christmas Rodriguez: Vote him to replace Santa this year

Video of unknown origin, via Rocketboom.

Includes an astonishing and painful sight gag. It's late and I don't want to wake up Ben, but I'm screaming on the inside.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Junior Senior-Move Your Feet

Pixelicious! music video.
Plus the song's pretty catchy.

Table for 10, please. Yes, I'm dining alone.

Taking My Personal Demons Out To Lunch At The Olive Garden.

By Andy Braaksma in McSweeneys.

And... the locked door video


Rockin' Christmas Lights

Over-the-top synchronized light show.
No information on whether this is real or an edited sequence of stills.

I'd bet money on the latter.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Doh! Locked doors thwart W's escape

Having surrendered all hope of inheriting the mantle of Ronald Reagan, Bush sets his sights on that of Charlie Callas.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Videoblogs at Anthology Film Archives

A nice promo about videoblogging, cut together to promote a series of screenings at Anthology Film Archives in NYC.

David Cross gets cross with Fox's Marketing Dept

Not sure where this originated; I picked it up on one of my video podcast feeds.

NSFSB (Not safe for small boys)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Buy More Foil

On the Effectiveness of Aluminum Foil Helmets: An Emperical Study


Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

Courtesy of John Beach.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

when first we practice to deceive

"The primary focus in the aftermath of Bob Woodward's Plame bombshell seems to be on the deserved destruction of Woodward's last bits of credibility as a journalist."

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.... plus a damn good conspiracy theory. Courtesy of Glenn Greenwald.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Snapea Copy

The copy on the back of the bag of "Snapea Crisps" (ingredients: green peas, corn oil, rice, salt) is jaw-droppingly bad, yet somehow also quite poignant. The tone seems inspired by an inter-departmental memo crossed with congressional resolution crossed with a 1940s newsreel.

"The pea has played an important role in dietary life and culture since the dawn of recorded history, and because of its nutritional value it has great potential for our dietary lives in the future. We are expecting to see the continuing development of "Snapea Crisps" as a delicate and tasty product which has taken advantage of the pea's original goodness, and we propose this product as a new type of snack."

The quality of the copywriting did not, however, keep me from eating two-thirds of the bag in a single sitting.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hadley Equivocates

I so love the Yahoo! News photo editor who picked this shot.

Plus there's the context of the press conference, in which Stephen Hadley admits that when the President said "We do not torture," he meant to add "...all that often."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Emerging Video: Chin Puppets

YouTube is a Web site that lets you post, tag, and share videos online, sort of like Flickr but for video.

And it appears that part of the collective unconscious of teenagers with video cameras is that drawing faces on your chins and filming them upside down is funny.

There's numerous lip synch versions: samaolah's "I Just Wanna Live" and tantan's "Chin Karaoke" explore bubblegum pop (skip 'em both), stormheaven's more successful metal anthem "The Chins" (on page two of the results), and the accomplished taytay2k3's "Taylor the Chin" (two props: one for choosing opera, and the other for actually knowing the words to lip synch to-- although I'll confess at 4:50 its too long to sustain the joke). If you haven't seen enough, the out of focus work of groovy1 features Motown ("Chins").

Both NumSkullz's "Chin Man Episode #2" and ekarma's "Chinny Chin Chin" find that chin puppets swearing is hilariously funny-- I beg to disagree, but at least NumSkullz tried to give his puppet a character and create a sketch.

With just these few examples, there's enough body of work to begin to define a bold aesthetic of amateur chin puppetry:
1) Lip synched work requires choreography.
2) Live singing hasn't been explored-- it would be powerful.
3) Random face movement are funny in their randomness, but no one has connected these motions to character yet... what we are seeing so far are not puppets but proto-puppets, mere automatons.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Christopher Walken: Still Dancing

Okay, so I've seen that Saturday Night Live now has a "Best of Christopher Walken" DVD available. But how did I miss this?

From 2001, the Grammy award winning and 6 MTV award winning Fatboy Slim music video "Weapon of Choice." Directed by Spike Jonze, and featuring the dancing feet of Mr. Walken.

Jay Rosen: After Miller Let There Be Light | The Huffington Post

Reflection on the Judith Miller mess, and how she's done little to help any of us understand.
Judith Miller may be the only investigative reporter alive who doesn't care if you understand, because she does.

'Arrested Development' gets the ax


We'll always have DVD.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sony Super Ball commercial

I've seen a 30-second version of this on tv, but the two and a half minute extended edit is, all right, I'll say it:


Monday, November 07, 2005

5ives Nails It, Again

Don't know how I missed this one. Got to fix my RSS reader.
Five rules from the NPR drinking game
October 13th, 2005
Nina Totenberg reads a transcript (1 drink)
oboe is heard (2 drinks)
Malcolm Gladwell reference (1 drink)
Scott Simon cracks himself up (1 drink)
Daniel Schorr mentions Watergate (3 drinks)

12 Songs

It may very well be, as Newsweek suggest, Neil Diamond's best album in thirty years.

The stripped down, intimate recording of Neil actually playing his own guitar while singing his own songs, all new compositions, was Rick Rubin's idea.

And while this model has worked for Rubin before, I have to say, to my ear, it just proves that Neil Diamond is no Johnny Cash.

Oh, and the link? It's to Neil's MySpace page.

I reserve the right to change my mind. I've only heard 8 tracks, and Neil's batting .250 right now.

More great TV that no one watches

Just to add to our cherished list of great TV that no one else seems to watch, check out Classic Arts Showcase on channel 32. Commercial-free, foundation-sponsored. Clips from decades of dance, theatre, music, opera. To watch the difference over the years in how classic vocal standards are interpreted is surprising. Also amazing: the agelessness of anything Balanchine. Think of it as radio on your TV. MTV as it should be.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mike Brown's emails

Two days after Katrina hit, Marty Bahamonde, one of the only FEMA employees in New Orleans, wrote to Brown that "the situation is past critical" and listed problems including many people near death and food and water running out at the Superdome.

Brown's entire response was: "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

New Albert Brooks movie

It may be that the trailer is comprised of the funniest moments in this movie. Still, it looks promising.

Friday, October 28, 2005

'05 Annual Performance Review: Albert Einstein

That's '05 as in 1905, of course.
This is a patent office, Albert. Your job is to transform written patent applications into clear and precise language, and to study applications and pick out the new ideas of an invention. These are the priorities. Where does it say that your priorities are rewriting the rules of the Universe, unifying space and time, unifying radiation and matter, or demonstrating the existence of atoms?

Brought to you by Peter Norvig, he of the Gettysburg Address PowerPoint Presentation fame.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Everybody Hates Harriet

Before the name Harriet Miers fades from your memory, take a moment to savor the eyeliner in this caricature.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Truth, Lies, and Statistics

American armed forces lost in the Iraq conflict have now reached 2,000. Chris Bowers reflects on the numbers:

Iraq Body Count currently records the number of Iraqi civilian fatalities as at least 26,690, and as many as 30,051.
As of this writing, at least 3,450 Iraqi security forces have been killed since the start of the insurgency.
In addition to Iraqi and American fatalities, coalition forces in Iraq have suffered at least 199 fatalities, including 97 from Britain.
At least 272 contractors have been killed.
At least 58 journalists have been killed.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Across Laos on One Wheel

My storytelling colleague, Megumi, specializes in Japanese and Japanese-American stories. She once told me she was married to a man who's hobby was Mountain Unicycling. Like Mountain biking, but with one wheel.

Now she, her husband, and her 13 year old son are taking a trip to Laos.

And they're bringing their unicycles.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bathtime in Clerkenwell

Kickass animated music video of a song by The Real Tuesday Weld,
itself a resample from a Mills Brothers track.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You Know That Whole Valerie Plame Thing

If you've been having trouble following the Valerie Plame ins and outs of who's a source and who's going to be indicted and for what, Adam Felber ("Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me") puts it in a context that even a 6th grader could understand:
See, someone told Judy that Valerie (you know, Joe’s Valerie?) worked for the CIA. At first everyone was all, like, it’s gotta be Scooter who said it, or maybe Karl or even Dick, but Judy wasn’t telling and she got in like really big trouble for that, you know? Pat got REALLY angry about it and sent Judy away....

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Feeling the news at you

From Stephen Colbert's debut news hour:

Did you know that you have more nerve endings in your stomach than in your head? Look it up. Now, somebody's gonna say `I did look that up and it's wrong'. Well, Mister, that's because you looked it up in a book. Next time, try looking it up in your gut. I did. And my gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.

Monday, October 17, 2005

WikiPedia: Made-up words in The Simpsons

Flunjers, Capdabblers, Smendlers

Saturday, October 15, 2005

How Bob Iger Saved Network TV

Gazillionaire blogger/NBA owner/blogger Mark Cuban suggests that the video iPod --and specifically, the $1.99 download via iTunes-- will turn the revenue model for network TV on its head.
Even the worst primetime television shows have on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox get millions of viewers. If the network can convert a couple percentage points of viewers into downloaders, it can turn into decent money. 2 bucks a pop. 50k downloads per eps. Thats more money than a hit reality show like Survivor earns in syndication.

He also suggests that this revenue stream will make up for the loss of revenue as TiVo owners block out commercials and drive down the cost of advertising.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

For President Under Duress, Body Language Speaks Volumes

Wishing i could watch this clip (NBC's video is Internet Explorer 6-only), but Dana Milbank's description might be funnier than the reality.
When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was "trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression," Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Liam held the snake today

Originally uploaded by andipantz.
"We have a snake at school and his name is Picnic.

And the story is: when they got it, I wasn't there. It was about as
big as a pencil.
It used to be close to its tail and they bring it to church one day
and it went into Lloyd's shirt and it came out his sleeve. Lloyd has a
daughter and when she was a baby she tried to say "Pink Snake" and
Lloyd thought she said "Picnic" so he named him that because it was a
funny name.

He stays there when school is not open.

He is a corn snake.

He has a bowl of water and a piece of log, I think when he is tired.
And this is the first time the corn snake has ever been to Lloyd's
house. Lloyd is a teacher at my new school-- I already started it.

And also when I was not there they had a kitty that brought in
presents-- not like Santa's presents-- one day it brought in a mouse.
Its claws were too sharp and the little mousie died and they buried
it. And they have the skeleton of the mouse."

The Blognabbit Special Election Challenge

Finding decent blog postings and smart op/ed pieces on state issues is more difficult than National ones, I think.
How many can we find before November ?

Link goes to UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, for background on the ballot measures.

For finding the snappy blog entries, you're on your own.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Best Gizmo You Don't Have

Videochatting is becoming a notable part of Ben's life.
Right after we end a videochat with Pete & Judy he asks to talk to Nana.
Right after we end a videochat with Nana he asks to talk with Ro-Ro and Liam.

Follow the link to Mark Morford's column this past Friday. Practically a love letter to apple's isight camera and ichat.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Carol Lloyd: Buyer Beware

I stopped reading the Real Estate pages about a month after we moved in. I never liked the listings anyway. I always read the trends, the how-tos, the market predictions. I even read Carol Lloyd ("Surreal Estate" in the Chron).

Read her again today.

Now I'm going to have Nightmares. Even though we didn't waive any inspections.


(from Barry's Arts Blog and Update)

Barry Hessenius, former California Arts Council Director (back when it had actual funding from the state budget), used to send out weekly emails from his office. I was never impressed with his weekly emails, and so when I heard he was starting a blog, I shrugged. BUT:

"The Hessenius Group," a take-off on The McLaughlin Group television show, is a brilliant use of his blog. He assembles a team of top mover, shakers, and thinkers in arts administration, and fires off questions. Being online, it's not as fiery or as spirited as McLaughlin's show, but still, it's like being set down at an arts administration conference post keynote hallway conversation.

Okay, you really have to be interested in arts policy and nonprofit management to enjoy this... but the model is impressive. Well, after one episode, anyway.

This panel discusses the effect of a possible repeal of the Estate tax on the arts world.

And more interesting is the question: "ARE we seeing the precipitous decline in the presentation and support for alternative arts performances?"

In addition to suggesting that the term alternative means a zillion different things, the panelists suggest several factors, all of which I find fascinating:
1) the cultural conservatism of the last 20 years has shrank the audience for art;
2) the economics of art, especially of the last 20 years, is making it harder to produce art;
3) co-option of edgy art by for-profit which is actually making edgy material a mainstream source of revenue (i.e. HBO, Sundance) in broadcast media;
4) the arts funders have neglected the distribution channels of niche art forms
5) the Web is providing a new distribution channel and outlet for alternative voices and providing direct competition with previous forms of art-- not only for distribution-- but competing with the "values" of live art ("Digital media can be expected to challenge increasingly each of the special powers and values of live art (sensory immediacy, stagecraft, the communal experience, etc.) increasingly."

Thomas the Earworm

I was suffering a kind of Chinese water torture today as the Thomas the Tank Engine And Friends theme song sloshed around my head like a washing machine stuck on 'rinse'. Hoping to purge the earworm by indulging it, I googled one of the offending phrases and discovered someone else blogging about being driving crazy by that same song. Sub sole nihil nove est.

The power of the virus is mighty:

They're two, they're four, they're six, they're eight.
Shunting cars and hauling freight.
Red and green and brown and blue,
They're the Really Useful crew!
All with different roles to play,
'round Tidmouth sheds or far away.
Down the hills and 'round the bend,
Thomas and his friends!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


This is sooo 2003. But for some reason, this Honda commercial popped into my mind today, so I thought I'd check to see if it was still around.
By the way, it's two continuous shots. Can you find the cut?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

W's jaw twitch

Is the W robot malfunctioning? What is happening here?

Posted by Harry Shearer on the Huffington Post.

Wal-Mart's Commitment to Our Communities

Blogger Bill in Portland ME recounts a high school teacher, Selina Jarvis, who:

assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says. One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. ..."

According to Jarvis, the student, ... was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent.

But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect. An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service. On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.

"At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster," Jarvis says. "I didn't believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn't there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others." She says the student was upset.

1918 Influenza virus was Bird Flu

Quick summary by Gina Kolata, author of FLU, the scary book I read about the 1918 epidemic.
"This is huge, huge, huge," said John Oxford, a professor of virology at London Hospital Medical College, who was not part of the research team. "It's a huge breakthrough to be able to put a searchlight on a virus that killed 50 million people. I can't think of anything bigger that's happened in virology for many years."

Monday, October 03, 2005

US car exports booming--in Iraq

From the Boston Globe:
The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering that some of the vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq...were probably stolen in the United States.

Friday, September 30, 2005


Boingboing calls it "infringoriffic!"

Thursday, September 29, 2005

It's ---- Hammertime

There was much wild dancing around our kitchen when the Hammer came down. 'Course none of it was by Tim or the kiddos, so I had to make up for their sitting on the sidelines.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Paul Wellstone Memorial

A memorial was recently dedicated to Senator Paul Wellstone and those that died with him in a plane crash in 2002. The memorial is in Evelyth, MN, near where the plane went down.

Reading about the memorial reminded me what a terrible loss this was. I sure do wish he were still around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Future Governor of Michigan: The Nuge

Ted Nugent is not an evolution guy.

This became apparent recently when Mr. Nugent, the 57-year-old rocker, huntsman and N.R.A. board member, brandished a blood-drenched liver he had just pulled from a freshly slain deer. ...

"Big bangs don't make this," Mr. Nugent said, musing on the steaming organ he held before him. "That's not a big bang. God made that. That's a liver. That's mystical. You and I can't make livers. Things banging don't make livers. This is mystical stuff. This is magic. This is perfection."

Read on about debut of The Nuge's second reality series (who knew there was a first?) and his all-too-serious political aspirations.

Well, well, well...

The NYT reports today that WellPoint is buying WellChoice in a deal for $6.5 million.

What does this mean for the future of WellNext, WellCom, WellTech and WellPro*?

Are consumers are rapidly losing freedom of choice in the Well-plus-intracap market?

* all actual companies

Monday, September 26, 2005

New twist on Iraq aid: U.S. seeks donations

Iraq needs your help in the reconstruction of its country.
It was recently invaded, you see, and continues to suffer attacks from a myriad of insurgents with competing agendas, plus additional destruction at the hands of the occupying force as it demolishes towns every few months to spite eliminate the insurgent forces.

From the U.S. perspective, though, it's better than taxes: it's TAX-DEDUCTIBLE.

Maybe we can convert things like the EPA and FDA to this kind of funding model...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Strategic Attempts to Deflect Attention


By Jay Dyckman in McSweeneys.

Welfare Schmelfare. Put'em on TV.

Tim Goodman gives a hearty endorsement today to the new reality show "Three Wishes." His comment makes me wonder if Bush's faith-based Initiatives could be replaced with network-based initiatives where product placement and advertising revenue fund social programs.

"Listen: If, for the forces of good to triumph -- helping people in real need, paying medical bills, building homes, pushing through adoptions, getting surgeries performed -- that good has to be done on a reality show that manipulates viewer reaction for maximum tears, is filled with gratuitous product placements and is hosted by Amy Grant, so be it."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Never Pay Retail

So who was the financial guy at the NY Times that thought of this business model?

They put Dowd, Friedman, Krugman behind a subscription wall, thinking that'll be a cash cow?

What it's going to do is drive bloggers to post links to the syndicated columns in other papers, increasing eyeballs and thus ad revenue for those papers web sites (instead of the NYTimes).

John Tabin has already set up a blog tracking down the columns and posting links (to the Raleigh-Durham News Observer, Minneapolis St.Paul Star Tribune, etc). Sure, they're a day or two behind the NYTimes, but they are free.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


We will be spending our anniversary this year at Paris-Las Vegas, in the front row at the new live show "We Will Rock You":

On Planet Mall, all musical instruments are banned. The Company Computers generate the tunes and the kids download them. It’s an age of boy bands and of girl bands. Of boy and girl bands. Of girl bands with a couple of boys in them that look like girls anyway. Nothing is left to chance. Hits are scheduled years in advance. Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. But resistance is growing. Underneath the gleaming cities, down in the lower depths live the Bohemians. Rebels who believe that there was once a Golden Age when the kids formed their own bands and wrote their own songs. They call that time The Rhapsody. Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see. Legend persists that somewhere on Planet Mall instruments still exist. Somewhere, the mighty axe of a great and hairy guitar god lies buried deep in the rock. The Bohemians need a hero to find this axe and draw it from the stone. Is the one who calls himself Galileo that man? He’s just a poor boy. From a poor family.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bill O'Reilly's continuing obsession with inter-species marriages

O'REILLY: The secular progressive movement would like to have marriage abolished, in my opinion. They don't want it, because it is not diverse enough. You know, that's what this gay marriage thing is all about. But now, you know, the poly-amorphous marriage, whatever they call it, you can marry 18 people, you can marry a duck, I mean --

LIS WIEHL (co-host): A duck? Quack, quack.

O'REILLY: Well, why, you know, if you're in love with the duck, who is the society to tell you you can't do that?

(Note: Goats evidently are an at-risk population as well.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bill Maher: Letter to the President

"On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

You don't really need to click on the link. That's the best line.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Soviet Monkey Space Pants on eBay

The monkey's "space pants" are designed with many clasps to fit bigger or smaller monkey.

Minnesota Fifth Graders Whip It Good

An elementary school project: remake Devo's "Whip It" music video.

Can we send Ben to *that* school?

Googlewhacking for fun and profit

I recently heard Dave Gorman interviewed on the radio and he's quite funny. Here's his account of how Googlewhacking became the impetus of a world travel adventure, a book, and a great way to NOT write a novel. Besides writing this book, he is also a solo performer based in the UK.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


From a recent speech by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), born the same year as my dad (and JFK too, for that matter):

"Who among us did not shrink in dread from the specter of our fellow citizens' bodies floating in the murky flood waters or stacked in hospital stairwells for want of anywhere else to house them? Could this be happening in a major American city? Could we be so inept at dealing with this tragedy? The events of the past several days seem to have reduced our much touted American know-how and technology to little more than children's toys, strangely impotent in a real crisis. I know that many Americans cringed, as I did, at the vision of callous neglect of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens which flashed around the world, making the United States appear to be a nation unmindful of its own, a nation unable to handle a disaster about which it had ample notice, a country loudly touting our form of government to the world, while failing to provide even the most basic protections to our own citizens."

Yeah, maybe more often than not these guys sound like blowhards, but... give me this kind of old-fashioned blowhard any day over, say, Rick Santorum.

The Byrd bio:

Bob Dylan's Minnesota Backroads

The article didn't necessarily wow me, but I really liked the audio slide show that acccompanies it.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

L called a meeting of all the Space toys

space circle
Originally uploaded by ereneta.
Clockwise, starting with the chimpanzee: Driver Jumpy, Workspace, Driver Joe, Orbit Space Shuttle, Lunky Potato, Driver Funky, Space Capsule Launchy, Floaty Air, Erky Worky Work, Launch Baunchy, Blahblibla Blahblahblahbli, Explorer, Worky, Driver Fonky

Friday, September 09, 2005

NBC to get San Francisco tower up and running

Well, we might finally be able to get NBC on a non-rainy day for the first time in three years.

Too bad there's absolutely nothing on NBC worth watching anymore.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Got Pork?

Why the Army Corps of Engineers can't prioritize spending: it's Congress' 24-hour pork buffet. The Washington Post looks at how federal water projects, and flood control projects in particular, are largely determined by which congresspeople are first in line for the pork.

"[M]ore than any other federal agency, the Corps is controlled by Congress; its $4.7 billion civil works budget consists almost entirely of "earmarks" inserted by individual legislators."

The Post asserts that there was no shortage of money appropriated to Louisiana for its water projects in recent years. Problem was, were those projects the right ones?

"But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large."


"Yesterday, congressional defenders of the Corps said they hoped the fallout from Hurricane Katrina would pave the way for billions of dollars of additional spending on water projects. Steve Ellis, a Corps critic with Taxpayers for Common Sense, called their push 'the legislative equivalent of looting.' "

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Firefighters. To distribute flyers.

1,000 firefighters called to Atlanta for training.

In flyering and disseminating phone numbers.

To people who don't have phone lines.

Katrina Timeline

Must vomit now.

Ouch. Just ouch.

Geography: an elective in Alaska schools

Alaska's distinguished senators explain the Gulf's disaster response.

Mysterious Mike Leigh

From The Guardian

The buzz at the National Theatre in London is over a new show that is sold out without anyone knowing what the play will be about. one but Mike Leigh and his actors know what his first stage play for 12 years is about. But that has not hindered its performance at the box office. The new production, which is currently going by the intuitive title of A New Play by Mike Leigh, has already sold out after theatregoers snapped up more than 16,000 advance tickets.

Sure, there's a celebrity factor. But Leigh's first stage production in 12 years?!?!

This one has arts administrators shaking their heads. Cal Performances commissions new works when they have the money, from big arts names like Mark Morris or Pina Bausch. And they'll book in Laurie Anderson or Robert LePage based on the name draw alone. They'll even book these when the shows aren't finished yet. But at the very least, they expect to have a description of what the show is about in their season program.

After the shock, the schlock.

I'm confident enough about myself* that I can admit I kind of have a thing for Oprah. She who gave birth to Dr. Phil. But she's walking a fine line these days. And teetering over the edge a little bit.

This week she's in New Orleans, accompanied by the Angel Network. Maybe not the whole network, but plenty of the seraphim, including Matthew McConaughey and Dr Oz. (By the way, do any of you know who he is? Celebrity heart surgeon is what I'm assuming.)

Anyway, that's all well and good, except when Oprah tours the Houston Astrodome, and of course plenty of shellshocked survivors are rushing up to her and giving her forlorn hugs. One older woman is sobbing and hugging her, and Oprah holds her head a little apart from the woman, insisting, "You're going to be fine you're going to be fine you're going to be fine," a little too crisply and firmly, with the subtext to the camera guy, "Get this woman off me and go find me a child under six years old, please."

But props to Oprah for just letting her hair go natural for once. Keepin' it real, Oprah.

Anyway, it was getting a little smarmy for me so I had to turn it off before Faith Hill showed up.

Today's show features Network cherubim John Travolta and Julia Roberts.** You can be sure I'll be faithfully monitoring the situation for you, dear Blognabbit readers, from the triage center that is my living room. On account of my kid being home sick today.

If you scroll through this link you'll see a photo of Matthew M. sporting his Erika Badhu look.

*Actually, I'm insecure enough that I can only acknowledge this fact in the privacy of my very own blog. Never at work, say. Or at a party.

**The word cherub (cherubim is the Hebrew masculine plural) is a word borrowed from the Assyrian kirubu, from karâbu, "to be near", hence it means near ones, familiars, personal servants, bodyguards, courtiers. It was commonly used of those heavenly spirits, who closely surrounded the Majesty of God and paid Him intimate service.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Barbara Bush sees the upside

Barbara Bush while visiting refugees at the Astrodome:

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush told American Public Media's "Marketplace" program, before returning to her multi-million dollar Houston home.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Landrieu's turn to quit being polite

From the NY Times:
"If one person criticizes [the local authorities] or says one more thing - including the president of the United States - he will hear from me," she said on the ABC program "This Week." "One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."

Not only did he run the Arabian horse org; he was FIRED from it


Friday, September 02, 2005

Federal Flood Relief Arrives --- And It's More Tax Cuts!

Sen. Bill Frist will move forward with a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax next week. Given sudden dire needs for increased federal revenues and charitable contributions, one questions his timing. Or wait -- maybe this will be the perfect time to hide the provision 200 pages deep in some emergency flood control bill that would surely pass unanimously.

The Clueless-in-Chief

Says Markos Moulitsas, the following transcript of the President's visit to Biloxi reads like a Saturday Night Live skit.

Anderson Cooper lays into Landrieu

Video of CNN's Anderson Cooper talking with Sen. Mary Landrieu, who's "not angry at anyone."
COOPER: Senator, I’m sorry… for the last four days, I have been seeing dead bodies here in the streets of Mississippi and to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other — I have to tell you, there are people here who are very upset and angry, and when they hear politicians thanking one another, it just, you know, it cuts them the wrong way right now, because there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman has been laying in the street for 48 hours, and there is not enough facilities to get her up.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush's Obscene Tirades Rattle White House Aides

Um, ok. I was in no mood for this either.

I'm still not.

I don't know these Capitol Hill Blue people, so I can't vouch for their access to "white house aides."

Maybe: how 'bout you don't click on the link and go to sleep easier.

Where the Bible Belt came unbuckled

Part elegy for a lost city, part screed about the preznit's fiddling while Rome burns: catch Howell Raines' special report in The Guardian.


Almost as unbelievable as Katrina itself is the fact that the leader of the free world has been outshone by the elected leaders of a region renowned for governmental ineptitude.


The populism of Huey Long was financially corrupt, but when it came to the welfare of people, it was caring. The church-going cultural populism of George Bush has given the United States an administration that worries about the house of Saud and the welfare of oil companies while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die on foreign deserts.


Feeling Good Is Understood

Crossing the Bay Bridge the other day, I was driving along side a white PT Cruiser painted with flashy pink signage that read "Larry Jr. - Certified Massage Therapist" and included, among other things, a URL. I simply could not resist going to

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

OK Go: A Million Ways

Perhaps you've seen this music video online already. Perhaps you heard Robert Siegel's interview yesterday with the lead singer and choreographer and then watched the video on npr's site.

But then, perhaps you haven't. In which case.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Show Me the Science

From a NYT Op-Ed by Daniel C. Dennett, author of Darwin's Dangerous Idea:

[T]he proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach.

Note that the trick is content-free. You can use it on any topic. "Smith's work in geology supports my argument that the earth is flat," you say, misrepresenting Smith's work. When Smith responds with a denunciation of your misuse of her work, you respond, saying something like: "See what a controversy we have here? Professor Smith and I are locked in a titanic scientific debate. We should teach the controversy in the classrooms." And here is the delicious part: you can often exploit the very technicality of the issues to your own advantage, counting on most of us to miss the point in all the difficult details.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Promise you won't rip off my idea for your blog?

I don't think the link I'm providing is date-specific. Look for Doonesbury, Monday August 29.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Memoirs of a Music Man

David Segal, former pop music critic at the Washington Post, reflects on his search for a spontaneous moment in a world of musical theatre (the rock concert). A fun read about the quest for authenticity by a 41 year old in a world of adolescent expression.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chop Suey!

The song ("Chop Suey!") is by System of a Down.
I have no idea who these guys are.

This is a .wmv file requiring Windows Media Player.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Out of the Office

The company for which I'm contracting set me up with my own webmail account to which I receive not only messages sent to me but also anything addressed to the entire office. Many of these emails have prompted me to reflect (mostly happily) on my decision to leave a full time office job.

Email subject lines that make me glad to be freelancing:

MANDATORY: New Oracle Expense System Training
Reminder: Personal Development Goals Due 8/30
Workshop: Developing Personal Development Goals

Email subject lines that make me think about an office job again:

Massage appointments available
Wednesday's lunch menu**

**Describes catered lunch brought in to office. Included "Roasted Pork Loin with Blue Cheese and Pear Chutney."

Thursday, August 25, 2005


from Creek Running North

I read Chris Clarke's ode to summer by the Bay this week, and then, I saw the Glacier, and I was happy to have a word for it.

I am just having a meal

One of Jon Carroll's columns that reminds me that he can be brilliant when not writing about cats or the Bay Bridge toll plaza.
I do not dispute the validity of the concerns. I'm just saying: The only way I can really live softly on the land is to die, and I reject that option. What I'm left with is a series of compromises.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Beowulf


Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary ("Pulp Fiction") have written a screenplay for Beowulf. Gaiman is quite amused at how the entertainment press don't know the story or understand how the special effects will work. His favorite version of these is intended as satire, but Gaiman says it's not far from what the real news outlets are writing:
Inspired by their success playing a husband-and-wife team of hired killers in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have agreed to star as Mr. & Mrs. Beowulf in the big-budget thriller of the same name.
(Postcards from the Pug Bus)

This is not the Stellan Skaarsgard-Sarah Polley movie filmed in Iceland debuting in Toronto (Beowulf and Grendel)

But the part about Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Castaway," etc) directing: no joke. And he really has cast Angelina Jolie (along with Anthony Hopkins). To which The Independent wrote: "But the star casting by the director Robert Zemeckis, whose previous films include The Polar Express and Cast Away, is set to give Old English poetry a buzz to surpass even the excitement caused by the Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney's translation of the work in 1999."

The House of Cosbys

The original pilot. Back online.

St. Clair Shores, MI

A winter walking tour of a Detroit suburb, from the Human Dog Laboratories (i.e. Chris Weagel).

He's the funny video blogger.

Monday, August 22, 2005

My day in the OR

Meet daVinci, the world's only surgical robot, which I had the opportunity to test drive last week.

Harbin Winter Festival

I've seen amazing photographs of ice festivals in Minnesota, Canada, and Norway, but egad.

This festival in Heilongjian Province in China has them beat all to hell.

This photographer also has pictures from the 2003 Festival.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


via BeastBlog

Berkeley Police incidents plotted on Google maps. Looks like this week we're in a crime free zone.

Grandpa Jay's Obituary: KCRW

KCRW's Final Curtain, a radio obituary program/podcast, interviews Auntie Roselyn about Grandpa Jay's groundbreaking Navy career. (June 7, 2005)

9 minute podcast, Grandpa Jay about 2/3 in, after Kay Walsh obituary.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What They Did Last Summer

Paul Krugman lays out the evidence for nationwide election fraud from the 2000 election to the present. As perpetrators go unpunished, no disincentives protect voters from future malfeasance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

5ives makes my week. Again.

Five terrible fake ideas for a retro TV comeback

1. James at 42
2. Joanie Swears Out a Restraining Order on Chachi
3. Saved by the Bell: The Middle-Management Years
4. Holmes and Yo-Yo Babies
5. Charlie’s Caregivers

Holmes and Yo-Yo Babies. ROTFLMAO.

Theory of Gravity Replaced by New Theory of 'Intelligent Falling'

The Onion:

KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

The Ministry of Reshelving

Support the Ministry of Reshelving's quest to relocate one thousand nine hundred eighty-four copies of 1984 to the appropriate section of the nation's bookstores. The Ministry requires strict allegience to a set of ten rules.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Good, Crisp Decisions

In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush's Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading. "I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy," he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. "And part of my being is to be outside exercising."

Who Moved My Ability to Reason

"Herewith are 'The Five Essential Principles of Business Success Books,' conveniently condensed for consumption in five minutes or less." (courtesty of Barbara Ehrenreich)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Rock Swings

Paul Anka covers Nirvana, REM, Oasis, the Cure.

George Bush's Accountability Moment

No knowing if she can draw blood where no one has drawn blood before. But Cindy Sheehan is powerfully articulate.
When my son was killed, I had to face the fact that I was somehow also responsible for what happened. Every American that allows this to continue has, to some extent, blood on their hands. Some of us have a little bit, and some of us are soaked in it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Photoshop Actions

From McSweeney's:

Tools or Actions in Photoshop That, Were They Applicable to Real Life, Would Prove Useful at Various Stages of a Relationship.
by Michael Lascarides

Inner Glow
Make Path From Selection
History Brush
New Adjustment Layer
Sharpen More
Find Edges
Difference Clouds
Add Noise
Blur More

More lists

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

America Supports You Freedom Walk

"The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an unusual announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing yesterday. 'This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports You Freedom Walk,' Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of 'the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation.'

" 'The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on 9/11, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black."

Writes James Wolcott:
"But it also strikes as incredibly...pathetic. Lame. Desperate. Even the name--America Supports You Freedom Walk--sounds tonedeaf and klutzy, like a bad charity fundraising walkathon through the park. "

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Mussel Shell, School House Beach

Mussel Shell, School House Beach (north of Bodega Bay, California). August 7, 2005. Photo copyright John Beach, who now owns a digital camera and is making the most of it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Who Else Loves Trains?

The "enchanting resort town of Holland, Michigan" is home to not only a model train shop, but the corporate headquarters of TM Books/Videos which produces not only the "I Love Big Trains" three volume set but the million selling 12 volume "I Love Toy Trains" collection.

So why does their blurb on the VHS tape jacket note that in addition to these series, their credits include "The Celebrity Series, featuring the layouts of Frank Sinatra, Tom Snyder, and Mandy Patinkin?"

As Deirdre put it, what is the intersection of the set of people who watch toy train videos and the set of people who enjoy the work of Mandy Patinkin?

(Answer: one. Although I have to say Mr. Patinkin's work is vastly more enjoyable than the model train videos).

I'm not sure what a layout is, and I'm not sure I want to see Tom Snyder's, let alone Mandy Patinkin's.

Turns out that when they say Celebrity Layout they mean the celebrities' train layouts. Available on video or DVD!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Breaking news from Anoka County

Overheard exiting the Coon Rapids Wal*Mart:
"Ok, so now we'll go to Costco.
And then we'll go to Petco."

Maybe that's not news.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Wait -- free ice? I accept!

I guess the economy really is improving. Today is the first day in years that I got to my office and found an email from a headhunter asking me to submit my resume. Well.... ok, it got sent to all federal employees. Even though it says that families and children cannot accompany the employee on the assignment, it says right here in black and white that ice is provided. Along with the food and water. And I don't even have to share a bedroom!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Wiggly Wiggly Wild Side

I don't know how. I don't know why. But the Wiggles went and covered Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side."

via Copy, Right? and probably not there for very long.


I also scour the Web for blog entries from economists, ministers, artists, arts administrators, scientists, teachers, journalists, and storytellers. But you know, some weeks, the funny video clips and songs just rise to the top. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Martha and Cookie

In an effort to revive the flagging stock price of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ms. Stewart invites Cookie Monster to guest on her show.

Cookie, I'll give him credit, is working hard. He's in a tight spot. Martha as host, is the "straight man" and is feeding him plenty. But it's not his show, and he's there not for a three minute segment but apparently the whole show. And he's improvising off whatever Martha gives him.

This is a gig from hell.

Especially as Martha feeds him his cue line to go off too early.

Martha also can't treat him like a three year old, but can't treat him like an adult.

It's not a train wreck, but I can't help but think a gaggle of writers would've kept this to four minutes, tops.

Monday, July 25, 2005

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

Virtuoso Jake Shimaburo plays George Harrison.
(Quicktime movie)

Harrison played the banjolele and the ukulele, often for his friends, rarely recorded (although he's got two songs on his last album, Brainwashed). Shimaburo though... he plays the uke better than anyone. Better than Tiny Tim, better than George Formby, better than George Harrison. When Jake plays, it sounds like a musical instrument, and not a toy.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Breaking news from Anoka

Some of our number is stationed this week in Anoka, MN to cover breaking news there. Blognabbit expects updated coverage soon on an emerging story in the Anoka County Union involving resident Muriel Pederson:

Muriel Pederson has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon at the age of 86.

Between her visits to the Coon Rapids Senior Center, being a member of the Red Hat Society, volunteering and spending time at the flower shop -- Pederson Floral Co. and Greenhouse -- she says she enjoys staying busy.

"I can't just sit around. I have to be doing something," Muriel said.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Indoor Childhood

I've always known that kids were moving from playing outdoors to playing video games. Heck, Chris and I were in the first wave of those kids. But the rate of decline in outdoor activities for kids in the past ten years is astonishing...

In 1995, 68% of children ages 7 to 11 rode a bike at least six times a year. Last year, only 47% did.

Six times. Half the kids in this country didn't get on their bikes more than six times.

Art of Science Competition

Members of the Princeton academic community were invited to submit images connecting science and visual arts. Observe many beautiful results, including "Wake of a Pitching Plate", described by James Buchholz and Alexander Smits:

These images contain top and side views of the wake produced by a rigid plate pitching about its leading edge in a uniform flow (flowing left to right). The leading edge of the plate is hinged to the trailing edge of a stationary symmetric airfoil. The wake is visualized using fluorescent dyes that are introduced through a series of holes on each side of the airfoil support. Twice in each flapping cycle, a horseshoe-shaped vortex is shed from the top, bottom, and trailing edges. The vortices become entangled to form the chain-like structure shown here. Studying such wakes is believed to be important for understanding the mechanisms of thrust production in fish-like swimming.

Never In My Wildest Dreams Did I Think I'd Get Bored Watching Robots Fight

From The Onion:
Who doesn't love robots? They're scary, they're powerful, and they're intelligent. They're frickin' cool, is the long and short of it. And robots fighting?! That's off the charts, as they say.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Treasury of Photography

Abridged from the NYT "Amassing a Treasury of Photography"

The George Eastman House in Rochester and the International Center of Photography in Midtown (NYC) have begun a web-based collaboration to contain some of the world's best-known photographs and photographers. The Web site -, now active only as a test site, with a smattering of images - is expected to include almost 200,000 photographs when it is completed in the fall of 2006, and as both institutions work out agreements with estates and living photographers, the intention is to add tens of thousands more pictures.

While there are now dozens of growing digital databases of photography on the Web, many - like Corbis and Getty Images - are commercial sites that do not allow the public unfettered access to their collections. The Photomuse site will join others, like the digital collections of the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford, England, that are beginning to create what amounts to a huge, free, virtual photography museum on the Web.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Cellphone catapult

Nothing to do today? Performance art group Monochrom issues you an invitation: "... [M]onochrom would like to initiate a competition. We invite interested persons to design and build a catapult capable of hurling a cell phone or a PDA unit the greatest possible distance. "

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Storytelling in Oklahoma City

Tim is in Oklahoma City this week for the National Storytelling Conference. Why Ok City? Conference memorializes the personal stories of those who suffered in the blast at the federal building ten years ago. Including:

Bud Welch, who lost his 23-year-old daughter Julie in the Oklahoma City bombing, will share his story of moving on from wanting execution for bomber Timothy McVeigh to becoming a leading opponent of the death penalty: how vengeance and rage turned into reconciliation and even sympathy for Timothy’s father Bill McVeigh.

Riding the waves with Chummy McSharkbait

To quote Roddy McCorley, "Who went and filled our [White House] press corp with actual reporters???? And why do they hate America?"

An excerpt:

Q Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Democrats: Here Do We Go From Where?

I'm terribly afraid, oh so afraid, that this post will go away in a few days. I don't know if it's possible to keep certain content up if it is planned to have a short shelf life, specifically, this content by Ian Frazier in New

If you know how to keep it forever fresh and alive, like with formaldehyde or mothballs or something, please please do something now before it's too late.

Otherwise, read it fast.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"Scott, this is ridiculous."

Below, a series of questions to White House press secretary Scott McClellan regarding Karl Rove's involvement in exposing the identity offormer CIA operative Valerie Plame. Since the recent indictment of NYT reporter Judith Miller, I've tried to read a coherent explanation of why Miller was jailed while commentator Robert Novak walked. I found no account which was both clear and neutral. However, I found a different sort of pot o' gold in today's pile-on by the White House press corps.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

SFGate: Culture Blog!

The Chronicle staff now has a collaborative blog on arts and culture, broadly defined. Burritos, Tom and Katie, Karl Rove.

Add another feed to the list. (I'm rapidly approaching 50 feeds at my Bloglines account, which is, in fact, too many to keep up with).


"It was inevitable. Some nutcase would eventually create a comprehensive online directory of San Francisco taquerias.

It would feature a wealth of information on over 150 local (SF only) burrito shops and trucks.

Its listings would be sortable by name, neighborhood, how it had fared at the hands of a ruthless 12-category rating system, and the number of times it had undergone this terrible onslaught of scrutiny.

Each taqueria would have its own page on the site, complete with an original, subjective description. It would note any pertinent issues regarding its appearance and clientele (if any), whether it’s take-out only, whether their menu features breakfast items, whether they’re open late (or real late), whether there’s a gumball machine on the premises, and whether there’s some dude behind the counter making a racket with a meat cleaver on a giant cutting board.

These pages would also include a street address, telephone number, pricing information, and photograph for each taqueria, as well as links to both a Google map and the SF Department of Public Health’s page for the burritoeatery in question...."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Motorcycle Instructions

Our beloved caregiver, Davien, gave Ronan a 3-wheeled battery-powered motorcycle manufactured in China. It came on his first birthday, and he could barely perch on it, let alone drive it. Liam wasted no time in cruising back and forth along the 25 feet or so of available driving space from front door to back door. To ease the boredom of this daily commute, one could press a button which played a tinny pop anthem to a driving beat: "I wanna dance dance dance til the sun don't shine woah! woah!" Soon the battery died an early and blessed death. We explained to the boys that the motorcycle is broken and we don't know how to fix it.

From the operating instructions:

"Thank you for purchase our electromrtive [sic] three-wheeled motorcycle. When you own this perfect vehicle, you can find that it will give your child a wonderful childhood."
"Avoid riding at street or somewhere which near the waterhead because the child's eyeshot is limited."
"The vehicle equip with the annunciator, which can whistle and glitter when you push the button of it, and if you release the button the whistle and glitter will stop."

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thinking Outside the Lunchbox

(from the Center for Ecoliteracy)

"But I Am a Child Who Does" (like Spinach). Sandra Steingraber muses on her kids' eating preferences without a television, and with the help of an organic farm and a grocery co-op.

Deirdre and I have been talking about the amount of refined sugar in the snacks we give the kids, and ourselves. The other day, when I ran out of cookies to bring to work, I brought grapes and mini-carrots. My sweet tooth didn't notice a difference.

Other Thinking Outside the Lunchbox essays

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Jester 3.0

This has been around since 1999 at least, but I just stumbled across it. Collaborative filtering, applied to a database of jokes.
Rate 15 jokes, and it serves you up ones it thinks you'll like.
The more you rate, the better it gets (although I don't know the size of the database.... I got some clunkers... either diminishing returns, or maybe the set of people who respond to a web site like this (created as a research project at Cal's School of Information Management and Systems).
in any case, you get some jokes out of it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Wizbang Blog Standalone Trackback Pinger

As far as I can tell, you can't ping a trackback on another blog from Blogger, so the Wizbang Blog Standalone Trackback Pinger can do it for you.

The safest family car, a holistic approach

The only thing I can tell about Gary Bloom is that he's a member of the Bayosphere, the Citizen Journalism site for the Bay Area started by Dan Gillmor. This appears to be his only blog entry, so far, but it's a good one: an in-depth look at what makes a vehicle safe-- safe from a personal point of view, safe from a public point of view.

Food for thought. Our mechanic is convinced that we could run our 97 Civic into the ground sometime around 2017, but we'll probably get another car before then. An Accord? A hybrid? With our surplus of electricity, a souped up golf cart would be cool, but only as a second car. (I know some Prius owners are hacking their batteries to run a power cord from the house... but that's a bad idea... the Prius batteries aren't made to do that).

Thursday, June 30, 2005

NPR's got the report

You know, the one Kenneth Tomlinson commissioned to have Frederick Mann watch NOW and quantify the liberal content. The one he won't show to the CPB board, to the public, or anyone else.

Somebody's been up to mischief in the copy room, though, and fed the report to NPR.

PDF downloads and everything.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Marzipan's Answering Machine (version 12.2)

Crying... laughing... so... hard...
Can't... breathe...

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Death of Republicanism

One of the things that has mystified me more than anything else about the Bush administration has been its ability to keep traditional conservatives within its party ranks.

Here's an eloquent reflection by a Goldwater Republican who's bailing at last.

This is a guy I'd have railed against in the 1980s as the enemy, who now I realize is just someone who differs with me, but with whom I could engage on critical issues.

His elegy for the Republican party has somehow made me very sad.

Friday, June 24, 2005

1510 AM = KPIG

Coming in July: Goodbye, Sinatra. Hello, KPIG!

Honeybee Waggle Dance Reviews

Science humor from Mcsweeneys.

Reminds me of the SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quick! Radio!

K-Mozart, 1510 AM, broadcasting out of Piedmont, is no longer classical. It switched to Oldies. Or, at that's what it was playing last week. Today it's a nostalgia station: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Sergio Mendes, Ella & Louis. Actually, on the 20 minute ride into the city this morning with the boys, we heard three Sinatra tunes. On the way back to Berkeley they even repeated the same one.

At first I thought someone at corporate headquarters wasn't paying attention to the shuffle button.

Then I realized there's actually someone programming this, because, at the top of the hour, they play "Piggies," by the Beatles. Go figure.

Also, no commercials. And the only voice between songs says "1510 AM."

Testimony of a lifeguard/excavator/bartender

Man, I wish I'd been at this Senate hearing. Maybe I can catch a rerun on C-Span later this week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Chalets: Feel the Machine Video

Don't know the band, don't know their work. But I think they're very, very talented.

Or, at least they know who to hire to make their music videos.

The Onion 2056

This week the Onion is being beamed back to us from fifty years in the future. Warning: contains audio.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 Welcome Speech

Christa and I have watched this a half dozen times this week, and are now sneaking Homestar Runner voices into nearly every book we read to the Boy.

It's dot COM!!!


Monday, June 20, 2005

Grift Away

So with all of the excitement surrounding Coingate and the rest of Ohio's state pension nightmares, you may not have been following the real estate shenanigans of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-San Diego, CA).

But the foofaraw sure is inconveniencing his neighbors.
Another neighbor, who lives across the street from Cunningham's home, came out to chastise the group [of citizens protesting outside his house], saying she had a party starting soon and her guests would need places to park.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Matchbook Films: The Blog

The new Matchbook Films is LIVE.
Hoping to post at least one video a week.

Please bug me if I get behind.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Terry Moran vs. Scott McClellan

ABC's Terry Moran steps up to the plate and swings freely at Scott McClellan's head over the question of whether the Iraqi insurgency is indeed in the "last throes."

Too bad he wasn't questioning Cheney directly.

Monday, June 13, 2005


There once was a randy young abbot/
who thought he might entice a rabbit/
to experience his hype/
so with Movable Type/
he feverishly updated his blognabbit--

blognabbit blognabbit blognabbit

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Summer blockbusters

Adam Felber of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me predicts the boffo news stories of summer 2005.

Toys of Our Lives

A sixth grade video blogger creates a Bratz n Barbie soap opera.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I forgot all about StrongBad

I'd seen this site back in 2000 or 2001, and forgot all about it.

How could I have forgotten about StrongBad?

There is so much crunchy Flash goodness to enjoy. Hours and hours.

The main attraction is StrongBad's responses to visitors' emails.

StrongBad makes the rest of the internets a waste of your freaking time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Web = San Francisco circa 2001

A rumination on why dotcoms failed, and on what the future might bring.

Here was a city cross-hatched by freeways that each felt just a little too dangerous to walk under. Coupled with a lack of decent public transportation, it meant there were loads of communities slightly too small to support really big stores or specialist shops. I was seeing, in short, a city in which home delivery made a ton of sense: pet supplies, groceries, late night snacks...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Live from the National Spelling Bee

Mr. Sun, blogger and Spelling Bee fan, live blogs from the National Spelling Bee. He appears to be not so much a rabid fan of spelling bees, as of a devoted fan of North Carolina's spelling bee champs, so his coverage is extremely partisan.

Bee Buzz starts
Day 1
Color Commentary
Day 2
Wrap Up

Clip Party Fodder

Casshern hasn't been released in English yet, but it's slated for a 2005 release in English, I guess. Link

Greencine has it. I'll check Reel, but actually, I don't have any interest in watchng the whole movie. The Quicktime trailer itself is clipworthy, especially sans subtitles, because it looks gorgeous and at the same time virtually incomprehensible.

The ultimate in local weather reports

Because StormTracker 9000 is, like, so yesterday.

Poaching. In your dishwasher.

Hey. It's no dumber than acid-washed jeans.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Moyers: The Progressive Story of America

One of my favorites of Moyers' speeches.
From the same conference, two years ago.

As he requests, I am passing it on.

Moyers on the American Dream

From this past week's "Take Back America" conference.

I'm printing it out and taking it with me to read over lunch.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

It's a girl!

(via Boing Boing)

Magician Penn Jilette has named his first born daughter "Moxie CrimeFighter."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The New Yorker on "Intelligent Design"

A more in-depth look at the "scientific" argument for Intelligent Design than I've read previously, explicating the theories of biochemist Michael Behe and mathematician William Dembski.

I might be inspired to read more about it, but the whole thing still just makes me so mad.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Mike D'As Cannes Wrapup

Written for the Nashville Scene, part of the family of alt-weeklies that includes LA Weekly and the Village Voice.

Because his Esquire columns are only available online if you're a subscriber. Which, good luck with that.

Chicken couture

[From BoingBoing]

An Austrian/Japanese design team has launched a line of clothing for chickens.

Clothing. For chickens.

Today's podcast: Lessig and Tweedy

Although fully listenable without an iPod.

A conversation on Free Culture with cyber-copyright law professor Lawrence Lessig and faux-humble megalomaniac rock star Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, as moderated by Steven Johnson, author of the new Everything Good is Bad for You.

Best to download during the evening hours, when bandwidth competition is lower. Or, figure out that whole audio torrent thing.

Or, wait. There's also a Quicktime video feed. So you can actually see Lessig's Keynote presentation.

As with most first posts

This one has little in the way of content. 'swhat it is.