Tuesday, August 14, 2007



and me "Simpsonized"!!

So 20 years ago I was living in an apartment, watching the Tracy Ullman show with friends, especially the 3 minute animated shorts. When we heard that they were going to expand these shorts into a half-hour show starting in 1989, I commented that I didn't think they could sustain the comedy for a half-hour.
And here it is, 20 years, 18 seasons, and one movie later. I think they sustained.

If you love or like the Simpsons, you'll love the movie. Otherwise, you might not get it. Despite the PG-13 rating, they didn't go over the top with the jokes and innuendo. Oh, they did get away with stuff they can't on T.V.: Homer flipping the double-bird to the town, Marge using a G-D it, and Otto tokin' on a bong (U.S. Bong, if I saw correctly).
Basically, it is what it is: a 30 minute episode stretched out to an hour and a half. And that's good enough for me.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hail to the Garbage Man

Once a week, every week, he deftly arranges the buckets, grabs the correct one, lifts and empties. And never, ever scratches my Pathfinder.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scientology on the BBC

The BBC did a documentary on this cult; check it out on youtube:

Part 1

And part 2:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut and David Halberstam

When I was in the 8th grade, we had to choose a book and write a book report on it. I looked in my dad's bookcase, and chose "Breakfast of Champions", simply because of the cover. The book follows the travels of Kilgore Trout, which some say is Vonnegut's alter-ego. A bit of science-fiction, and really deadpan humor made this one of my favorites, and I wrote the report on it. And then found more of Vonnegut's work.

Kurt Vonnegut and David Halberstam both died recently. Two of my favorite writers, with two completely different styles of writing.

Vonnegut writes mostly semi-fiction (he sort of mirrors his life, and attitudes in his story lines and characters). His most famous being Slaughterhouse-Five, deals with the events at Dresden towards the end of World War Two. Vonnegut was taken prisoner in that city, and the Allies decided to bomb the hell out of the city to bring the war to an end. They covered the city in bombs and fire, taking many, many civilian casualties, including many Allied POW's. Vonnegut somehow survived, and wrote this "fictional" account, fictional because it involves time travel, some sci-fi, and, of course, Kilgore Trout.

Halberstam writes non-fiction, mostly on sports, and history. The first book of his that I read was "Summer of '49", about the American League pennant race, particularly the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Sox held a 12 game lead into August only to blow it, losing the pennant on the final game of the season. The last book of his I read was "Bill Belichick: The Education of a Coach", about the best coach in the game today.
In between there's his historical books, including "The best and the brightest" about the men who helped the nation sink deeper into Vietnam...and "War in a time of Peace", about Bush, Clinton, and the military.
He not only knew how to write, but he knew how to speak, how to convey his thoughts, how to explain and inform without reporting to cliches, and without putting the reader to sleep.

Coincidentally, last month I picked up what turned out to be Vonnegut's last book, "A man without a country". Short, sharp, simple, it's a book of his musings and ramblings. In one chapter, in a paragraph, he writes about Dresden, telling how, while sitting in the celler, being bombed from above, a fellow prisoner says that he felt like a duchess in a mansion on a cold and rainy night, "I wonder what the poor poeple are doing tonight". He writes that no one laughed, but the absurdity of it made them feel glad to be alive.

And it almost reads like an epitaph.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pet food, and the Planet of the Apes

So recently, there's been a rash of poisoned pet food, mainly dog and cat food, resulting in deaths across the country. The scary part of it is that the movie series "Planet of the Apes" predicted this years ago.

Remember how the apes took control of the Earth...there was a virus, a disease that spread across the planet that affected all dogs and cats. The people wound up burning the corpses of the animals, for fear of the disease spreading to humans. Having no pets, the people turned to apes and monkeys for companionship (for reasons I'll never understand. Having a monkey or chimp as a pet would be like having kid lite).
Over time, they teach the apes tasks such as house keeping, waiters and waitresses, janitorial duties. Basically the jobs that most people don't want to do. (I'm assuming they've run out of illegal immigrants). The apes revolt, and thus create the planet of the same name.

Of course, according to "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes", this was all supposed to happen by 1991, which, in our life, has come and gone.

Maybe they just had the dates wrong.

Some trivia: The novel "Planet of the Apes" is more like the 2001 version than the 1968 one, as the astronaut takes off from the Planet de Apes, and, after travelling through time, crash-lands back on Earth, in Paris, which is now ruled and occupied by the apes.
I'm guessing the French rolled over yet again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Coast to Coast

Another cross-country trip last week, this time to teach a seminar for Latin American distributors. In the past year, I've crossed the country 11 times.
This time I flew into Manchester. And I made the mistake of flying out the day before the session began, not leaving me time to recoup from the flight.

I guess I chose the wrong time to travel. Either that, or luck was against me. But I should have known better, because March is one of those months that can turn on a whim, from 50's and 60's, to an ice storm. Which is what I ran into.

Wednesday and Thursday was the former, temps up into the 70's at one point. Which is why I brought only my leather jacket. But Friday was a blizzard, a nor'easter. I spent Friday outside cutting and hauling in the snow, mismatched gloves, aforementioned leather jacket and casual business shoes the only protection against the weather.
Friday night and Saturday morning I shoveled. Again and again. The snowblower was inactive, not having gas nor oil in it. I don't know why. My snowlbower was always at the ready, gassed, oiled, poised in the garage like a starving pitbull. If the mower doesn't work, I could always put off cutting the lawn. But if the snowblower is inactive, then you still have to shovel. Scooping up cold, heavy snow. Back-breaking motions. And as I type this, a week later, my back still feels like theres a vice grip squeezing the base of my spine. Wish I had saved some Vicodin.

Of course, the glass is always half full. My flight, while delayed, still got me home only 3 hours late. Which is better than most flying out of the North East.

11 times in the past 10 months, I've crossed the country. And I'm not done quite yet. The house still sits, closer to the market, but still not ready.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ned Flanders and Michael Medved

Is Ned Flanders really Michael Medved animated?
They both have obsene religious leanings, although Ned is a born-again Christian, and Medved is Jewish.
But listen closely to their voices....when Medved speaks, imagine a "diddly" after his diatribe. You'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sacramento, CA

So here I sit in the Super 8 motel, off the 80 freeway west of Sacramento. The town of Dixon is flat, and barren, with only the usual roadside stores and restaurants. I'm surprised I can't find a Stucky's. Or a Waffle House, because that's the type of area this is.
But, it's the only, or one of the only places near the campus of UC Davis. So it's the place where I get to spend the night, complete with the sounds of the highway trucks in the distance.