They don’t want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something.

Comedian Mitch Hedberg died last night, reportedly of a heroin overdose. I heard him last on the Howard Stern show just a couple of weeks ago. He also frequently showed up on XM’s comedy channels.

His comedy stuff featured a weird deadpan voice and delivery, sort of like Norm MacDonald. Unlike MacDonald, Hedberg was pretty funny, and I would have liked to have seen him live.

List of Schindler Supporters Sold

Continuing our extremely minimal Terry Schaivo coverage, Schaivo’s parents are taking the list of people that have expressed support for their completely extralegal campaign to keep their daughter alive–well, as alive as a cucumber, anyway–and selling it to a direct marketing firm.

This is a pusbag move, and for the Schindlers to have done it means they don’t understand what will happen with this list (it’ll be entitled MAUDLIN HAYSEED SENTIMENTALISTS and resold to every porcelain figurine firm and second-rate Church of Whatever operation in the world); or they know this but just don’t care about the quality of life of their supporters; or they’re in dire financial straits. The latter might be true, but if so they should ask for donations instead providing grist for the direct-marketing mill. I’m sure Tom DeLay would be happy to chair a charity drive for them once he gets done reconciling his asinine demonization of Michael Schaivo for pulling the tube with the tube in DeLay’s own father being pulled in similar fashion, and for similar reasons, in 1988.

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

Breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not a Titanic sequel.

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Above: Who’s your daddy?

It’s true that a daughter’s first love is her father. There’s a primal bond there that’s instantly formed at birth that never goes away, but is ultimately replaced by a lover as she grows older. But what happens when a father isolates his daughter from the world so much so that she can only survive on his love exclusively? Written and directed by Rebecca Miller (daughter of the late Arthur Miller), The Ballad of Jack and Rose is an intriguing yet flawed character study of an obsessively intimate relationship between a father and daughter. Continue reading “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

How to Avoid Cheeto Fingers

I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out. I love cheesy snack foods, but I always end up with orangey residues underneath my fingernails. The worst is when I’m chomping on the “Flaming Hot” stuff (that red dye lingers for weeks at a time.) But no longer will I suffer the embarassment of being called “Cheeto-fingers.”

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The solution? Eat the snacks with chopsticks. They’re like an extension of your fingers anyway, and when you’re done, you just toss the stained sticks in the trash. Problem solved.

OmniFi DMS1 Digital Media Streamer

I picked one of these up a week ago when it appeared as woot.com’s daily deal, and it arrived this week while I was sitting around the haus recuperating from surgery. Yesterday I felt well enough and bored enough to hook it up, so I did.

DMS1
Homestyle mp3 goodness.

The DMS1 is a component that goes in your stereo cabinet and hooks up to your stereo and TV. You install the server, which is included on a CD, on any computer on your network that has mp3s on it, and then you hook the DMS1 up to the network and it streams mp3s to your stereo for you. I was disappointed that I missed an earlier woot.com deal which bundled the DMS1 with the car equivalent, which included a hard drive and allowed you to sync the music on your PC with the music in your car wirelessly, but since I’ve been having so many problems with the PVR computer I’ve been occasionally trying to get working, I could use the home unit functionality too.

I quickly ran into trouble with the install because woot.com included the wireless adapter needed to make the DMS1 talk to an 802.11b network, but the firmware on the DMS1 itself can’t talk to the wireless adapter without an upgrade. Here’s what I ended up needing to do:

  1. Hook up the DMS1 in the front room to my stereo.
  2. Install the server on my PC and update it to the latest version.
  3. Point the server in the direction of my mp3s.
  4. Hook up the DMS1 to my router using the included Ethernet adapter and a long Cat-5 cable.
  5. From my PC, instruct the server to update the firmware on the DMS1, which it will do through the network. (I had to register the product to get the firmware upgrade)
  6. Disconnect the wired connection from the DMS1 and connect the wireless adapter in its place.

At that point the DMS1 was smart enough to find my wireless network, make the connection, and start streaming media immediately. The above process reads like a pain in the ass, but it only took about 15 minutes.

This is a pretty cool little box. It works much like most other mp3 player appliances of this type–you can listen to songs by artist, album, genre, etc. (This depends on your having accurate id3 tags for your mp3s, which I don’t in many cases. Oh well.) It sounded to me like I was listening to the CD itself, and there were no skips or stutters during my testing. The interface is pretty intuitive.

Positives:

  • I can finally listen to my mp3s from the front room.
  • It supports wireless, so you can connect to your network from anywhere within range.
  • Audio quality and responsiveness seem good.
  • The unit supports but doesn’t require a TV hookup–you can do everything through the quite-readable three-line display on the front of the DMS1.
  • It was only $70–w00t!

Negatives:

  • I’m a sucker for anything like Winamp or Windows Media Player’s visualization functions, which display cool computer graphics, and I wish the DMS1 could do this on my TV. Even Music Choice‘s artist info and album cover would be better than what you get.
  • It’s a bit of a pain in the ass to navigate through hundreds of albums without being able to skip around by first letter, at least–though maybe I just haven’t found that function yet.
  • Since the DMS1 has no internal storage, the computer with the mp3 server on it has to be up and running to listen to music.

dot the i

I’ve been on a bit of a lucky streak this week. I won two DVD giveaways ((Being Julia and Dolls), both of which I’ll view and post reviews of at a later date) and I also won tickets for a free advanced screening of dot the i, from which Jeff and I have just returned.

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Oh Gael, where were you during my bachelorette party?

It’s hard for me to review dot the i without spoiling it so I’ll just keep it short and sweet. Carmen (Natalia Verbeke, a visual hybrid of Jennifer Lopez and Monica Bellucci with Penelope Cruz’s voice) has a dark past and is engaged to Barnaby (James D’Arcy), who is wealthy and British. Days before her wedding, Carmen has a “hen party” (read: bachelorette party) where the maitre’d insists it’s tradition for the bride-to-be to engage in one last liplock with a stranger before the big day. Of course, who should come waltzing through the doors, but sexy, struggling Brazilian actor Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal of Amorres Perros and Y tu Mama fame in his English language debut) who’s filming with his buddies. Carmen and Kit kiss passionately, sparks are ignited, and she’s doubting whether or not she should wed Barnaby after all. Kit pursues her, videocamera in tow because he explains “Moments don’t last.” and initially she resists but eventually they’re meeting on the sly. However, this love triangle is more than meets the eye and evolves (or is it devolves) into a thriller halfway into the film.

It was enjoyable. I liked how the director intercut the different video footages. Most of the time we’re seeing the polished footage, sometimes we’re seeing footage from Kit’s handheld camera, and other times we’re seeing grainy footage from an unknown source. And the humor jived with me, especially the references to other movies. The leads were good particularly Bernal (hubba, hubba), but I found I just wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters. I know the director wanted to perpetually keep the viewers on their toes. Whatever we thought about the characters in the beginning, wherever we thought the movie was heading, he wanted to prove us wrong. And he did in my case, but I felt the ending was just a tad over the top and a bit ridiculous. Nevertheless, the journey there was an entertaining one.

As a bonus, the writer/director of the film, Matthew Parkhill was at the screening and held a Q & A afterwards. He seemed like a really cool guy. He was a former teacher, having taught English and History for 6 years to bratty rich kids, who always dreamed of making films. On the side, he wrote novels and short stories and in 2000, his script for dot the i got picked up, so he quit teaching and became a filmmaker. So I admire that about him. He’s living his dream now and for a directorial debut, it’s not too shabby. I’d be interested in seeing what he comes up with in his future projects.

As far as the movie goes, it’s a solid romantic thriller that will keep you guessing til the end. I would’ve given it a 2.5, but since I hate the half Pochacco and Matthew Parkhill autographed my program (“To Paet, Best Wishes”) I’ve gotta bump it up to a 3. Did I mention the fact that Matthew Parkhill swore during the Q & A? And that he’s British? Rawrrrrr. That right there deserves the extra half Pochacco.

(out of a possible 5)

I totally promised Matt that I would prostitute his movie for him so here goes. dot the i comes out this Friday, March 25th at the Ken. Restore my faith in the intelligence of the American movie going public and go see it instead of Miss Congeniality 2. Please.

fux0red

The Mars Volta’s San Diego show must have sold out quickly–Phet and I independently tried to get tickets this weekend and failed.

Although I haven’t really mentioned them much around here (at least until lately), I’ve been talking about these guys like a total fanboy since I got Deloused in early 2004. I’m pretty much going to have to get some tickets off ebay now.

Oh Danny Boy, I Love You So.

As a kid, I didn’t watch the news, I watched Dan Rather. My parents were always CBS people, so starting with the local news, through PM Magazine, through Biff and Skippy, through Hudson and Bauer, we stuck with Channel 8 all night. And the highlight, though I thought nothing of it at the time, was the goofy Texan in the shirt and tie.

Dan signed off this week and though I stopped watching the evening news a long time ago, I felt compelled to tune in. It was a sad goodbye, an early end to a controversial career. He went out the way he always was, though, strongheaded and gutsy. Getting nailed on the faked National Guards records was a bad mistake, but when you weigh that against 40 years of reporting, I still stick with him. I wish he’d left on top, instead of slinking out under a cloud, but it seemed fitting that at least he made a stir on his way out the door.

Every time something big happened, I always turned to Dan. He got me through elections, wars, attacks, disasters. Even after I became a more hungry news consumer, using the radio, newspaper and Internet, I still went back to him when I needed a comforing voice to explain what’d happened.

To me, Dan Rather wasn’t just reading the news, parroting back “sources said” and “reports indicate.” What he said _was_ the definitive news– it was true because he told me. I know a little bit more now about how to cut through all the spin and agendas that work their way through all kinds of news, but with Dan, it always felt like I could trust him.

Now the conservatives like to howl at him because they thought he was too liberal. Perhaps he was in some ways, going easier on Clinton than he did on Nixon and the Bushes. But let’s see, Nixon had to resign under threat of impeachment, Bush 41 got laughed out of town for being a crummy president and his son’s even worse. So maybe it’s not a surprise that Rather didn’t dummy up for them. Sure, there were harsh things to be said about Clinton and as a newsman, he should have hit Bill, too. But just because you ask tough questions of presidents who stood on questionable moral ground doesn’t mean you have no character.

And the funny thing, if you read the conservative blogs or listen to them lather up on the radio, is that once you get that liberal label, everything you do is because you’re biased. Just like Michael Moore and Linda Ronstadt’s weight are clearly a sign of their hedonistic excesses (which are clearly not shared by the svelte and trim Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh), everything Rather did got linked to his supposed bias. If he went into the field, then Gunga Dan was clearly just grandstanding. If he used a weird expression to describe the election, it was a liberal code word.

For crying out loud, the conservatives even begrudge him for getting beaten up by some psycho asking Kenneth what the frequency was. Like somehow he brought it on himself, like he deserved to get attacked by a guy who later turned out to be a murderer. Sure, it was a pretty weird occurence, one that somehow seemed apt for a guy who talked about frogs carrying guns in their pockets, but I really don’t see how you can attack a guy because he had the misfortune to get slapped around when he was out for a stroll.

As for the final words, where he harkened back to his abandoned coda of “Courage,” I thought that was perfect. In an eloquent, if slightly long, way, he brought out the one way he could both thumb his nose and keep the high ground. Sort of a “yeah, if you thought Courage was goofy before, wait til you get a load of this, sucker!” While it hurt to see him go, that brought a big smile to my face.

And then he was gone. So long Dan, thanks for explaining the world to me all those years.

They Know. They Just Do.

The cab of Henry D.’s towtruck was so much nicer than the Pasadena heat. He eased it through the parking lot, threading a needle past parked Pontiacs and under a low overhang with the huge Ford F-350 and its dragged cargo. One hand on the wheel, the other on his cellphone, he cheerfully told the dispatcher to go do several obscene things and kept talking. I had an eerie feeling that I’d be getting awful familiar with the passenger seat of trucks like that.

“See, it’s just like an old girlfriend,” he observed. “You get a new one, the old one finds out and she gets pissed off at you. So now you’re paying.”

Now I was paying. I’ve owned Honey for coming up on four years and not once have I had a bit of trouble with her. I’ve done some awful things to her engine, pushing it hard cold to make that light from Sepulveda to the 405 N when I was late in the morning. I’ve ground those gears like teeth in the mouth of an adulterer, let the power steering fluid get so low she’d scream. Until last week, the windshield wipers groaned so loudly that I preferred to drive with them off and just let the rain build up. And yet, she forgave me.

Until the day I bought that Mustang.

She knew it, she knew it was only a matter of time before she was washed, waxed, polished and prepped for sale. She’d heard me talking about my new automobile and she decided to go out kicking and scratching. So when I was out in a Kaiser parking lot, fresh off an interview, anxious to get back to have lunch and file, she refused to start.

“You oughtta sell her to me,” Henry D. told me, just before he very casually hit the concrete post next to the parking kiosk. “See, I told you so, fucker!”

That was for Leo, the parking attendent who’d directed us into the post. Henry D. reversed course and eased the heavy truck over, now missing the post by inches.

“Yeah, sell her to me, I’ll give her to a poor Mexican.”

And this poor Mexican, he explained, was his daughter. He had four, but two were already married and thus no longer fell under his automotive responsibility. The 26-year-old needed a new ride, something he could watch her on before he bought her something for keeps. As he drove, steering with one knee and balancing his phone on the other, he wrote out his name and number on a business card belonging to someone named Charlie.

Now despite the fact that my car had just died on me in a very inconvenient place, I was not thrilled with the idea of selling her off to be someone’s test driver. She’s not a starter car, she’s one for keeps. At least for someone besides me, I say with a twinge of guilt. She needs someone who’d appreciate what she has to offer.

“So this Mustang you got, what kind?” Henry D. continued. “’66? Hardtop? Manual transmission? Oh yeah, those are nice. You know, I was just saying to a friend the other day, live every day like your last. He wanted me to invest in my house, I said, ‘Invest? Like for ten years from now?’ Hey, man, I might not be here in ten years. I might get hit by a bus. So yeah, that was good you got what you wanted. Those are good cars, strong cars.”

He learned about the color of my new ride; I learned about how he’d given himself the shining cross tattooed on the webbing of his left thumb with a needle, ink and thread. He also threw in his personal history, a mention of his two marriages, his weekend plans and the fact that like a waiter, he could accept tips. I didn’t tip him, because I didn’t feel like parting with my $20 bill. So to make it right, I’ll call him and offer him the car for $4,500 instead of $5,000. It would have been smarter to part with the $20.

He hauled me to a nearby garage, where he accosted the young guy with glasses who manned the office.

“This man’s a doctor,” Henry D. proclaimed loudly, pointing at me. “You let him use the phone, ’cause he needs to talk to his patients.”

The kid looked impressed and frightened and all but threw the phone at me.

“You don’t even have to dial 9,” he said. “Just call wherever you need to.”

I called my editor and let him know I wouldn’t be returning soon. And then I went to sit, to watch telenovelas and look at Stuff magazine. It was actually so stomach-wrenchingly bad, I couldn’t get through it. In lieu of an article, they had a picture of lions attacking a hippopotamus, followed by several insightful pages on Nicky Hilton’s unappreciated genius.

Figuring I needed something to do, I told the mechanic, who called me Greg and didn’t bother to introduce himself, that I was going to the corner bookshop.

“Oh no you’re not,” he said. “I found an ignition modulator. It’s not good– I should replace the whole distributor, but you said get it running, so I got it running. Maybe it lasts four years, maybe it dies tomorrow, I don’t know. But you can get back to your buddy’s shop if I can start it again.”

And he could.

“I could put in a new distributor, but that’s $225. You seem like a nice guy, you’re not from around here, so I don’t want you to think Pasadena’s a bad place. I’ll charge you $85, including labor, so you can get back where you’re going.”

I thanked him and got ready to collect the car. He was delayed by a huffy looking man with glasses and thinning hair. The guy wore hipster jeans, sandals and some sort of ironic t-shirt and his red Civic hatchback needed more work than he wanted to pay for.

“Goddammit,” the mechanic growled to me later. “They think just because they bring the car in, that we’re like gods. Like we can just look at the car, no matter how bad it is, how dirty, how much they didn’t take care of it, and it’ll work. Like magic.”

“Like you can just lay your hands on it and it’ll get better,” I said. “Like that’s all it takes.”

“Yeah!” he nodded. “Fuck.”

With that erudite exchange behind us, he gave me the paperwork and fired her up. Sounded just like new and he kept the engine running as his assistant laid on his back and stuck his head under the running engine to zip-tie the splash plate back on. Everything wanted to break that day.

So I paid, thanked him and waved goodbye to Henry D. The 110 was clear until downtown, when it slowed to earthworm pace. I roasted in the sunlight and listened to the radio all the way ’til the 10, when I could throttle up and push toward Santa Monica. Soon I was sitting across from Bill, who knows that car inside and out. He’s maintainted her since she rolled out of Santa Monica Acura in 1993 and he stroked his samurai goatee thoughtfully as I hipped him to what’d happened.

Bill owns a minivan that he converted into a drivable pink elephant named Ganesh and he’s the most honest guy in the world. If he wanted to, he could probably build a nuclear reactor out of a Mr. Coffee and a pencil sharpener. He wears Elvis sunglasses at times, lets his hair hang long and pulled back into a bun, pretty different then he looked when he was in the Airborne. When he told me he could keep working on my Ford in his Honda-only shop, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.

“Hey, do you believe in karma?” I asked him, figuring I already knew the answer.

“Yeah,” he said. “I do.”

“Do you believe that cars have personalities?”

“No, I don’t think they do.”

“Well, I never had any problems with that car until the day I decided to sell her.”

“Oh sure,” he grinned. “That makes sense. She’s probably mad at you.”

Sorry, baby, I still love you. But I this is something I’ve wanted to do since I was just a little boy and now I finally have. No hard feelings, alright?

Last Life in the Universe

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A masterpiece from Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang. This film has been compared to Lost in Translation because they share the themes of isolation, loneliness, and despair but I found Last Life in the Universe to be the superior film. Anyhow, Kenji (Asano Tadanobu) is a Japanese expatriate living in Thailand. He’s a librarian with OCD. When he’s not filing books or reading in his fastidiously ordered apartment, he’s contemplating various ways to commit suicide.

One day, his life is interrupted by his Yakuza brother (played by Takashi Miike) and friend and something terrible happens. Similarly, he meets Noi (the beautiful Sinitta Boonyasack), a native Thai, under a tragic set of circumstances. They are polar opposites. He’s a neat freak while she’s a complete slob. He’s meek and reserved while she’s abrasive and uncouth. He doesn’t dance while she’s a pro at the Dance Dance Revolution. He doesn’t speak much Thai, and she’s learning Japanese, but she’s not fluent in it either. Somehow though, they manage to get along. It’s touching to see how these two interact and overcome their communication barrier, conversing back and forth between bits of Thai, Japanese, and broken English. And the rest of the movie revolves around their relationship as they come to terms with and gradually realize their own need for love and understanding.

The languid pacing is hypnotic. I found it to be slow but never boring. The cinematography is top notch. Along the way, there are some magical sequences thrown in, which I found to be effective. Watching this film was akin to being in a dream. And you know that feeling you get when you’re in the midst of a good dream, and you’re jarred awake unexpectedly? I felt the same way when the credits rolled. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave these characters. I didn’t want to wake up.

Out on DVD now. Go rent it!

(out of a possible 5)

Million Dollar Baby

Deb and I caught this late last night, which caused me to not get enough sleep, which was probably a contributing factor to something stupid I did while driving this morning which caused a blown out tire, a bent-ass auto jack, and collateral damage to a short wall next to my driveway. That’s probably a JesusH post in and of itself, though, so no more about that here.

Not much more about Million Dollar Baby either. If the plot hasn’t been revealed to you yet, you’re doing better than I, who read about much of the third act inadvertantly before seeing it. I hate it when that happens.

This was an excellent movie, and Hilary Swank is the most scary talented and hottest chick in Hollywood. She was great in Boys Don’t Cry, and she was great in M$B too. She’s like the new Sandra Bullock, only with more talent and less Hope Floats.


“Why yes, I’d love to hear more about The Net 2.”

I’m a great fan of Unforgiven and A Perfect World, but after some really awful missteps (spoiler I don’t mind throwing out there: yes, somehow it turned out that Jeff Daniels, the only other guy in the whole plot, was the surprise bumbling-sidekick-who-turns-out-to-be-as-crazy-as-Hunter-Thompson bad guy in Blood Work) not too long ago, Eastwood has made his two best films in a row with Mystic River and M$B. I’m proud of the kid. He’s doing a good job.

(out of a possible 5)

Tag Your Man

Things have been getting downright highbrow up in here, what with all the talk of Hunter S. Thompson and Bambi and shit, so I am going to keep it real and tell you about my new favorite show: Dance 360. Sandwiched between two episodes of Elimidate on UPN, it was only a matter of time before Vivan discovered it. And boy am I glad she did. Very few days go so badly that i don’t feel better after a nice helping of the three-six-ohhhhhhh from my wannabe Tivo. There’s no show that I miss more when I’m out of the country.

“DANCE 360 is a fresh new daily show for teens, featuring original hip hop music and the most amazing dance moves on tv,” says the Paramount website. Is it ever! Dance 360 is the real-life version of You Got Served, an instant classic movie that exposed the underground world of street dance battles in which urban dance gangs settle their differences through dope choreography. If the movie whet your appetite for dance battles, Dance 360 “Serves” up plenty more. Contestants dance for respect and a cool $360.

Dance 360
Left to Right: Fredro, K-Sly, and Kel host this fresh partay.

Okay, so first, you got the party people. The party people are people just like you and me, people who like to party. They make up the studio “audience”, but they’re so much more. As the theme music starts, they dance in synch, like Electric Slide ’05. The party people are the heart of this machine. Hosts Fredro, Kel, and DJ K-Sly select six party people to come out and show their stuff. After that, it’s a danceocracy. The format is this: one party person does their thing for 10 or 15 second, then DJ K-Sly scratches and the party people know it’s time to

“Tag Your Man, Tag Your Man,” chant the party people! It should be noted that in a danceocracy, “Man” is a gender-nuetral designation. The first dancer then chooses an opponent from the remaining five people, WWF tag-team style. The second dancer struts their stuff, trying to show up the first dancer. That’s when it really gets exciting. K-Sly scratches again, letting the party people know it’s time for

“Head to Head! Head to Head!” The excitement from the crowd is palpable, as the chanting builds to a crescendo. This is what it’s all about. This is why they came here. This is why we watch. The two dancers go, that’s right, head to head, meaning they dance at the same time! Sometimes, they just get chest to chest like a baseball manager and an umpire and just start shaking. Brilliant.

So how do we know who wins? In a danceocracy, the party people decide. But this is 2005, yo, and a big budget production, so technology plays a role too. Through the use of a scientifical Noise Meter, we learn who the party people have chosen. And just like that we go from six contestants to three, each of whose expected value is now $120.

But the party people aren’t done yet. Fredro and Kel select three party people from the audience to show their best original move. These moves, of course, have names. Good names, great names, like “The Monkey” and “The Thinker.” Each of the remaining contestants must then Master the Move. The party people must then decide which dancer best mastered their move. The contestant with the least noisest reception from the party people is eliminated. But that’s ok, because they get to return to the party.

The final battle between the top two dancers is just like first elimination round, only with higher stakes. The party people choose, winner goes home with nearly a year’s supply of dollars (limit one per day), and the loser got served. The party is on five days per week (and receives one dancing Pochacco per day, for those keeping score), check your local listings.

(out of a possible 5)

Owning a Car in Los Angeles

My Acura and I have the ultimate love-hate relationship. I spend around 30 or 40 minutes in her each morning, then another hour or so driving home at night. Lately, I’ve been trying to get out of the office during the day, adding several hundred miles this week alone. I’ve been to Long Beach, Fontana, Fillmore and Santa Clarita, all in the span of a few days, all of it wedged into her bucket seat.

When you spend that much time in your automobile, you come to appreciate all its strengths. She’s got a nice little engine and being so low to the ground, she can turn like a fighting kite. If I feel like changing lanes in a hurry, I go from fifth to third directly and it’s done. When some jackass isn’t paying attention and comes to a smoking halt in front of me, I tap the breaks and effortlessly slow to a stop. I love that car like a sister and she’s never let me down.

But when you spend two hours ka-chunk, ka-chunking the 23 miles home, as I recently did in the rain, you become intensely aware of each little flaw. The driver’s side speaker’s fuzzing out a little, especially in the pitch humans speak in, making the news excruciating. There’s a leak in the trunk seal, creating a moldy smell that hangs around a few minutes whenever I open the door. The windshield wipers squeak, the power steering’s acting up and the seat just can’t accomodate my aching back. Each time it rains, I fight an ongoing temperature equalization battle that never quite balances the interior and exterior, fogging up the windows. It makes me want to scream.

And I often do, loudly, irritably, using words not mentioned in polite society.

When I told my Dad recently that I wanted to buy an old car, he looked at me like I told him I wanted to adopt a rhinoceros.

“For someone who drives as much as you do, it’s just not practical,” he said, being eminently sensible. “You want a car you don’t have to think about.”

He’s absolutely right, but since he lives in a different driving city, he’ll never fully get what it’s like here. In LA, no matter how much your car’s quirks get on your nerves, it’s more than just your transportation. It’s your partner– you’re in it together. When you find a new alley that might shave off thirty seconds, the two of you are suddenly screaming down it like high school kids ditching math class, running hand in hand, mad with romantic excitement. A challenge from some spoiled kid racing away his parents’ money in a souped up Civic is a challenge to your integrity. Yeah right, junior, see what we’re gonna do to you now, when she waxes you like a lifeguard’s chest. Or when she nods her head and lets you sail off like a wild cannonball, knowing she could have destroyed you with an 8 Grand redline scream.

I don’t want to get rid of my car, who acquired the name Honey for reasons I forget, but I think it may be time for us to start seeing other people. We’ve had some great adventures together, like the time we aced out Evan and the Silver Bullet on the Sunset Blvd. offramp on the way back from Barone’s. Or that time she ended up pictured in the paper by accident, parked in front of a news assignment at 7-Eleven. I love her and for all her damn faults, I’d pick her over any other modern wheels.

But I’ve got this crazy dream that I’m just busting to act on. So Honey, you’ve served me well and I’ll cherish those times, but I think it’s time someone else got to enjoy everything you’ve got to offer. And they’d better appreciate what they’ve got on their hands. You’ll knock ’em on their ass if they don’t…

Not Fawning Over Bambi

So I went and bought the newly remastered Bambi yesterday at Best Buy for $15.99 and I got a free stuffed Thumper in the deal. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it and here are my thoughts:

1) It’s really short, which surprised me but in fact turned out to be a blessing.
2) It’s steeped in cuteness. The animals are so ridiculously over the top as far as adorableness, sweetness, and lovable antics are concerned that they could have been playing caricatures of themselves and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. With the doe eyed characters and speech impaired kids’ voices behind them, Bambi makes the comic strip, The Family Circus seem macho in comparison. Yes, the molasses is spread so thickly, that for the first half of the movie, all I wanted to do was down some iodized salt straight from the shaker but I doubt doing so would have been able to counterbalance it, and this is coming from a self-professed Pochacco enthusiast.
3) There’s no plot.
4) What was the deal with Flower? First I thought he was female, then I realized he’s just flamboyantly girly, and at the end, he ends up with a skanky skunk.
5) Thumper was on crack, and ends up with an even hornier rabbit.
6) The much hoopla-ed death of you know who ended up to be underwhelming. For a scene that’s known to have traumatized kids and adults the world over, I found myself emotionally uninvolved. I cried more during the screening of Dude, where’s my car? (but for a different reason.)
7) Bambi’s dad definitely had screen presence. I have respect for “The Great Prince.”
8) The sequence where Bambi and another deer duel for the doe in distress (gotta love the alliteration) was the most electrifying scene in the whole movie.
9) Um, the colors were pretty.
10) In conclusion, Bambi is just another tranquilizing, vomit-inducing, cutefest masquerading as something meaningful and poignant. Proves that just because something’s considered a “classic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good.

(out of a possible 5)

From Jeff’s Drafts: Space Shuttle Blowed Up

Hi. This is Jeff. I don’t really have anything to say at the moment. However I thought it might be fun to just go ahead and post some of my unfinished drafts from long, long, ago. Hence, the Space Shuttle Post…

So I hear the Space Shuttle Columbia blowed up recently. I’ve been trying to figure how that sort of thing scales relative to other disasters (the media seems to think it’s a big deal, so I suppose I should too) so I can gauge how bent out of shape to get over this.

A Brief Aside

I’ve come to the conclusion that there should be a common scale we can use to measure how freaked out we should be in any given circumstance to save us the agonizing (and potentially embarassing) soul searching necessary to reach a personal judgement on such things. This, I introduce the Quiet Riot Popular Pandemonium Scale, or Riot Indexx(tm) for short. The Riot Indexx(tm), as I see it, would be one of those logarithmic scales, like the Richter scale, or… well, just the Richter scale. Thus, every major “point” on the Riot Indexx(tm) will cause you to go twice as apeshit as the one before. With that thought in mind, here is a quick rundown of where I think the salient points should lie:

Quiet Riot Popular Pandemonium Scale
0 – Lovely Brunch with David Carradine
1 – Fall into a vat of delicious, buttery mashed potatoes
2 – Sonny Bono runs into tree and dies
3 – Strep throat
4 – Gravy spilled on best pants
5 – Forced to watch Milli Vanilli being interviewed by Charlie Rose
6 – Arm caught in garbage disposal
7 – World Trade Center falls over
8 – Coast to coast road trip with Crispin Glover
9 – Child stolen by dingoes
10 – Vigo the Carpathian is resurrected; Earth overrun by hordes of undead, yet talkative, Andie MacDowall clones.

Thus, it becomes evident that the recent shuttle disaster is really only cause for somewhere around a 3.2 on the Riot Indexx(TM).

Multiple Spouse Wounds

Frances the Mute, by The Mars Volta (who have an irritating flash-based site), was just released today. I’m sure you have all bought your copies by now.

But if you haven’t, Best Buy is selling the album for $6.99, and including a free Napster download of an unreleased live version of The Widow in the deal. List price for the album is only $10. One thing I like about The Mars Volta is that their music is cheap.

I opened one of my copies of the album when I got back to my desk from lunch this afternoon and ripped it to mp3 so I could listen on the iShuffle, and when the card for the Napster download fell out of the case I decided to give that a try too.

It turns out Napster doesn’t do mp3s anymore–like everyone else, they’re chilling out on the DRM bandwagon, so you’ve got to download music in heavily-protected wma format. Napster also has a very iTunes-ish desire to be the heart of your digital media library, snaking itself throughout your file associations and making it either very hard or impossible to get to your music with another application.

This is wack. I want the track I downloaded available as an mp3 so I can play it everywhere, so here’s what I ended up doing:

  1. download and install Napster
  2. bypass credit card screen
  3. enter my promo code for The Widow that I got from the CD and download the song
  4. look around for the file Napster downloaded and fail to find it
  5. burn the file to a CD using Napster (yes, it thinks it’s a CD burner, too)
  6. uninstall Napster
  7. Rip the CD to mp3 using Audiograbber
  8. Profit!

Total cost of end-arounding annoying restricted-use file format was about 10 minutes of time and one CD blank.

As far as Frances the Mute goes, upon first listen it makes Deloused in the Comatorium seem accessible. I’ll probably end up loving it.

The Simple Genius of Jack Johnson


“It sure seems the same yet with a different name” – Never Know (Track 2)

The quote above adequately sums up my impression of Jack Johnson’s newest album, In Between Dreams. It’s more of his simple chords, sensitively poetic lyrics, and soothing voice. Which isn’t a bad thing if you enjoyed Brushfire Fairytales and On and On. After a couple of listens (the album only clocks in at 41 mins,) I find it surpasses On and On and parallels Brushfire Fairytales in catchy hooks, toe-tapping rhythms, and general awesomeness. It speaks volumes of Jack Johnson that his minimalistic (it’s just him and an acoustic guitar) albums can hold your attention and draw you into his world without the gimmicks of more poppish acoustic rock. From start to finish, the album makes me want to pick up the guitar, drive to a beach, and just chill.

Gah, picking a favorite song on this album is like having to pick your favorite child–you just can’t because you love ’em all. But I suppose if I had to choose one, it would have to be “Breakdown.” I would also suggest you listen to “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing,” “Good People,” “Better Together,” “Never Know,” “Staple Together,” and “Crying Shame.” He also sings in French (tres sexy) on the uber short ballad “Belle.” Just get the album already. It will change your world.

If you’re still skeptic and wary of purchasing an album without listening to it first, http://www.netscape.com/music is offering a “Full album listening party” for it, for a limited time. Also, here’s a link to the “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” video. Enjoy!

(out of a possible 5)