I visited a local financial institution. The place has a wide area where customers wait for the next teller. The decor is mostly beige and mauve. It probably hasn't changed since the late 1980s, and it has the eerie serenity of a quiet hospital ward. In line with me were at least ten people of various races and ethnic groups. Two women tellers were working, and a third one was rifling through a celebrity magazine published in a southeast Asian language. She threw it away and left her post. All of the people in line were men. The PA system, which is quite clear, was tuned to a rock station. The song? Dire Straits' "Sultans Of Swing."
March 28, 2002 at 13:24 | Permalink
Washington Post movie critic Stephen Hunter is one of those guys who thinks he's snarky pop-aware hipster, but he's really just a cranky old guy in training. Still, once or twice a year he produces a real hum-dinger. Witness his take on "Blade II," which I've been promising to see ever since Katherine and I caught the trailer a few weeks ago. Although I haven't seen the flick, I'd say Hunter's comments about director Guillermo del Toro are probably spot-on. Del Toro's "Mimic" apparently got chopped down a lot by its American studio -- the bigwigs apparently didn't like all his attention to religious metaphors. Sounds like "Blade II" has a similar man vs. mutant theme (or is it man vs. freak vs. bio-freak?), so it makes sense that del Toro would know what to do with it.
March 22, 2002 at 17:11 | Permalink
First, the news report:
LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) -- British supermodel Kate Moss, one of the world's most photographed women, has revealed she is pregnant with her first child. Moss, who has been dating 30-year-old publisher Jefferson Hack for the last 15 months, told Friday's Mirror tabloid: "It's true. I am pregnant." "The baby is due in October and I couldn't be more delighted," said the 28-year-old catwalk queen.
Now, my gag:
"The uber-waify Moss also said she would be spending the next nine months in a vat of cocoa butter to avoid turning into one gigantic stretch mark."
March 21, 2002 at 22:33 | Permalink
Might as well continue with the keeping-it-real for today. AllHipHop.com reports: NBC recently finished taping a hip-hop version of their hit show, "The Weakest Link." The show features Nate Dogg, Xzibit, Jermaine Dupri, B-Real, Rev Run, Da Brat, Young MC and DJ Quik. "That show just goes to prove it doesn't matter if you're a school kid or a famous rapper, nobody likes a know-it-all," Quik said in a statement. The show will air Sunday, April 28. I hope Nate Dogg is forced to sing his answers in that pimp-songy voice of his.
March 21, 2002 at 20:40 | Permalink
I have two assistants: One for my bitch slapping, and one for my pimp slapping. And they get paid like 40, 50 grand a year. But I don't have enough people for them to slap for all the money they're making, so I'm going to adjust their salaries. -- "All About the Benjamins" star Ice Cube, in Maxim magazine.
March 21, 2002 at 15:35 | Permalink
I suppose that if I were more active in Catholicism, I might be utterly outraged by revelations that the Church has been less-than-forthcoming about the extent of its pedophilia problem. But I only feel sad, bordering on ambivalent. I had almost daily interactions with priests for the first 18 years of my life, in school and in my home parish. They never made any illegal or undignified advances toward me, but some of them could be total pricks when they wanted to. There's big difference between being a nasty, self-important moral watchdog and being a sexual predator, so I probably have relatively little to complain about. After all, part of a priest's job is to make sure people are following the Church's rules. The current scandal is only a reminder that in a free society, the administration of religion must face the same scrutiny as politics-as-usual. And right now, the Church isn't holding up. There are intelligent, wise people at the top, but it's obvious that many of them have been afraid of the truth. If the people in charge have so much to hide, how can they possibly be trusted -- or expect to earn the open-heartedness of others? Columnist Michael Kelly calls it "the systematic corruption of an institution." All in all, I suppose a little Christian forgiveness is in order, but it should be contingent on results.
March 20, 2002 at 15:04 | Permalink
MIT's Technology Review understands science's place in the First World: The ubergeeks, the business brahmins and the politicos are more snuggly than three sorority girls in a sleeping bag. The April 2002 issue has a few excellent, no-nonsense pieces about the Pentagon's plans for a missile defense system. After reading them, It's hard for me to feel ambivalent about it anymore. If there were 100 Theodore Postols in Congress, our democracy would be very different, indeed.
March 19, 2002 at 18:28 | Permalink
Those of us who eat at Taco Bell about once a month know of its dangers. It's something we all accept: Any highly processed mishmash of animal flesh, refried beans and sour cream is a potential gastrointestinal minefield. So I extend my sympathy to the eternal Rob D, who found himself on the bad end of the deal Saturday night. In a followup e-mail, his term for the experience was "otherworldly." For the record, I composed a poem about the subject back in 1993. On the less artistic end of the spectrum, typing in the terms "Taco Bell" and "sick" into Google gets this totally friggin' gross analysis from the urban-legends experts at About.com. In defense of the Bell, all those cockroach-egg stories appear to be false.
March 18, 2002 at 17:14 | Permalink
I blame last night's rant on the aftermath of an encounter with the Wook and his Hammer. Didn't drink too much with them, but I kept going when I got home. Bad, bad decision. At least I got some freestyle babble out of it. Wook mentioned that he digs my fascination with Rep. Jim Traficant, and so I submit the photo of the week of everybody's favorite allegedly shady lawmaker. Dude can dress. Gotta like the denim suit jacket. Apparently his trial has featured at least one shouting match with the judge, and plenty of other hijinks.
March 15, 2002 at 17:05 | Permalink
Bobby Bobby Bobby yeh. Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory. Gotta hate the Sutter Home, might as well be Thunderbird. here's where the obligatory Top Gun reference comes in -- NOT ME, BRO. I'm an american original, cut from exact patterns, tested patterns, brutally stoopid patterns. My predictability is a sammich: Meat on the inside, bread on the outside. Publishing this fact seems anticlimactic. But there's a bit of Ben Franklin in my seed: Not the presbyopia or the syphilis, but the balding insight, the withering wit, the parchment sagacity, the silly rawk. I break 'em off something in the sense that many religious ceremonies involve sharing. I taste the testing, I test the tasting, I give flavor. I rock words. I monkey-rock. I primate-style. I equinox stone-lift. rock-lift. One-man apoplexy in the noosphere. Acknowledgements, graciousness, dinner parties, phooey. Elite kissasses ride the jock with all fear, grab the saddle to preserve life. Seen the sports track minister run in the Exorcist. Surrounded by high-rise dorms now. Probably was back then, too. Cinematography. Chromatography. Both artistic practice and scientific/forensic device. Parse the colors, represent the chemicals, taste the revelation. I rock lift. I stone-break. I crackify.
March 15, 2002 at 04:09 | Permalink
This is why psychologists should not be permitted to prescribe drugs, as some states are considering. You wouldn't want a rock critic or literary maven setting your dosage of Prozac, so there's no reason why a professional therapist/analyst should be doing it, either. Let 'em stick to parsing our daydreams, with all due insight and intelligence. I like psychology, but sometimes it's even more pompous than the so-called high-literary-art tradition. Postscript: this guy should've been a therapist.
March 13, 2002 at 18:26 | Permalink
Robert Walpole, a nuclear weapons expert from the CIA, had this to say Monday to the Senate Government Affairs International Security Subcommittee:
I don't know if I mentioned this to this committee two years ago, but North Korea has the advantage -- I mean we all know the earth rotates -- but because of the rotation of the earth, North Korea is launched in a direction that they get the benefit of that rotation to strike the United States. Iran would be launching over the Pole and they don't get that benefit. So a 10,000 kilometer range missile would go -- it almost sounds silly -- but it would go longer launched from North Korea to the United States than it would from Iran. But I think it would still be able to reach parts of the United States.Walpole said it probably would be about a decade before either nation could build the right kind of ICBMs to reach the U.S.
March 12, 2002 at 17:50 | Permalink
Saturday night Katherine passed out next to me on the couch, and I started to hear a low-pitched howling/wheezing noise. First I thought it was the bloodhound down the street. The big dog likes to bark at passersby. I did my bloodhound yowl, which usually gets him to respond. No answer. Then I put my ear up to Katherine's face to make sure she wasn't snoring in some cartoony way. Nope -- sound asleep. So I stood up and looked toward our open balcony door, where Blakey was staring out through the screen. Lo and behold, there was an orange tabby about six inches away, staring directly at my cat. Blakey was the one making the noise, which was a rumbling, whining sound that stopped short of a growl or a hiss. I crouched down, and Blakey -- pupils completely dilated -- briefly looked up at me. After acknowledging my presence, he then returned to his staring match. I wanted to nudge him away from the sliding door so I could close it, so I put my fist near his belly, thinking that he would know it was me. Bad move. The Blizz snarled, yowled and latched onto my forearm, digging his fangs into the back of my hand and opening several scratches on my wrist. He was totally tweaked & fuzzy after that -- Katherine couldn't get near him, and with blood and Neosporin dripping down my arm, I used a mop handle from the kitchen to keep him at bay as we closed the balcony door. It took him about a half-hour to settle down. He was fine on Sunday, but my hand was still pretty sore. No infection, though, which is a good thing.
March 11, 2002 at 16:34 | Permalink
There's a film on the way about Nick Drake, but there's no footage of him playing, because nobody ever filmed any while he was alive. I'd love to see Wes "Rushmore" Anderson direct his own Nick Drake documentary. The guy obviously adores mysterious folkies, so it would interesting to see him drop the smart/snarky attitude for awhile and simply do some creative reporting.
March 08, 2002 at 16:12 | Permalink
It hit me tonight that with an impending wedding & honeymoon, I won't have too many frivolous nights out this spring and summer, because I can't afford to be blowin' a stray c-note when there are bigger parties to plan for. But then again, what the hell did I do when I was pullin' down $19k a year as a rookie scribe in the burbage? I ate cheaply, saw low-rent shows and generally ran around the city too late and too alone. So it's all one big cosmic trade off, and it's time to rely on those long-dormant skillz for cutting loose on a bone-dry bank account. And I'll admit it, Sheena and I haven't done too much cutting loose in general, but we do know how to drop a Benjamin when we could easily think a little harder about how to get our freak on. Confusion! (Cue Public Enemy's "Can't Truss It." Dunno why. Just sounds funny.) And speaking of droppin' Benjamins, I dig the fact that the Vatican is coining its own euros with Da Pope's visage on one side. They didn't even have to put his name on it. Now that's fame, motherfuckers. That's fame indeed.
March 08, 2002 at 01:09 | Permalink
The New York Times offers further proof that the music industry's ruling class is no less creepy and untrustworthy than anybody in Washington. Michael Greene has all the flair of the folks who were arguing on both sides of the Tauzin-Dingell telecommunications bill, which provided some of the most brutally simplistic and misleading political commercials in quite some time. I feel icky.
March 07, 2002 at 20:14 | Permalink
Didn't get a chance to write about this yesterday: The footage that CNN had of Operation Anaconda was jaw-droppingly good at certain instances. The anonymous troops sounded like they were talking about work, not war, although their concern for their own safety was obvious. The network's analysts made the point to remind viewers that much of the ground fighting now is being done by twentysomething men who haven't seen combat before. These are elite, young soldiers who are far less grizzled than the bearded, long-haired U.S. special-ops dudes who jumped in first. The attitude displayed on CNN is noticeably different from what I remember seeing and reading in interviews with troops during the Balkans mobilization a half-decade ago. Those folks were rightly scared, and their job was dangerous, but if memory serves me correctly they didn't seem as intense, probably because their tasks were completely different -- it was hardcore police work, complete with minefields everywhere, but there wasn't much offensive action. In Bosnia, there was nothing like the cave-by-cave takeouts that have become necessary in Afghanistan. And CNN's clips of that action showed just how eerie the setting is. Seeing that moonscape, I can understand how a guy would rely on his training to block out the idea that he's in the middle of a high-altitude desert, a world away from home. A friend spent much time in Bosnia, so I'm sure he'll take issue with what I said here, but I hope I explained my lameass TV observances smartly.
March 07, 2002 at 15:57 | Permalink
Dunno what happened over the winter, but the street freaks must've gotten plenty of rest. And in DC, the whackos aren't necessarily the typical unintelligible doomsday types -- they're verbal and news-aware, to an extent. So a sunshiny morning and relatively mild temperatures meant that harassment was the sport of the day around the Foggy Bottom Metro. One dude asked two K Street types for some change, and when they ignored him, he shouted, "YEAH? AT LEAST I'M NOT AN EMBEZZLER!" Across the street in Washington Circle, another guy was looking down at a piece of cardboard and speaking into a piece of beef jerky as if it were some sort of spy microphone. Last night, an Asian homeless man started yelling "I COME TO LOOK YOU UP!" after a couple of GWU kids dropped a sizeable chunk of pocket change into his cup. Can't wait to see what Foggy Bottom offers tonite.
March 06, 2002 at 16:23 | Permalink
It's sad to see Be Inc. throw itself in the crapper, but I guess the tiny company never truly figured out a way to get BeOS noticed beyond the techie world. I installed BeOS on my Gateway once, and I thought it ran pretty cleanly. But the machine unfortunately had a winmodem, and Be didn't have drivers for winmodems at the time. So I never fully committed myself to BeOS, and I was too cheap to go out and buy another modem. The main reason I tried BeOS in the first place was Neal Stephenson's book about operating systems. Tres geeky! Stephenson, a big Unix and Linux aficionado, wrote the book before Apple came out with its Unix-core OSX. Dunno what he would say now. I still have that Gateway, by the way. I'm hoping to get a full ten years out of Windows 98. Sure, right.
March 05, 2002 at 15:00 | Permalink
The surprise hit of the weekend was a nonprofit jazz club on 14th Street that sells brewskis, coffee and soul food from a bingo-hall-style snack counter. The inimitable J.Solo was in town from Boston, and he and I plowed through three games of chess at the club while a trumpet-led quartet filled the place with hot sounds. I lost two out of three, but came to the realization that I don't like playing defensively -- I always try to attack my way out of bad situations. Analyze that however you want to. The rest of the weekend was a ton of Vietnamese food (restaurant-style on Friday, lively pho on Saturday), too much Maker's Mark, and an eggs-and-scrapple breakfast at Johnny's on Sunday morning, combined with lots of killin' on the PS2.
March 04, 2002 at 16:50 | Permalink
Word has it that ABC is trying to lure David Letterman to take over the "Nightline" spot because the news show's viewers are too old, and thus the network can't make enough money putting Ted Koppel on at 11:30 every night. Screw the so-called greatest generation or the baby boomers -- the most influential demographic in America right now is the 18-to-34 segment, not that any of we whippersnappers really know it. What does this mean, long term? Well, if I had a sizeable fortune, I'd create the Old Farts Programming Network, and stock it with inexpensive magazine shows that appeal primarily to news-aware boomers. If the mainstream networks don't see them as a necessary audience, hell, then the OFPN would have a gold mine in the selling ads only to companies that dig the geriatric set. It's targeting -- it's common sense, like getting 4-year-olds hooked on pop music before they're old enough to look at themselves in the mirror and say, "my life is a sham." ADDENDUM: If you think my OFPN idea sounds exactly like CNN, you're wrong. CNN's problem is that it's still trying to cater to da youth wif da ducats. Keep it simple, boring and old-farty, I say, and reap that retirement cash.
March 01, 2002 at 16:24 | Permalink