21 Dog Years returns to Seattle for an engagement at the Intiman.
Good Slate article on why recordable DVDs won't last.
A public service announcement on the nature of a new $1 delivery charge at Domino's. An informed public is a healthy public!
This is the sound of me not gloating.
Quote of the Day:
"I am turgid with jealousy. I yearn to visit Japan, to see the Akihabara, to wander the alleys of Tokyo Disneyland, to buy a square watermelon from a vending machine."
Followup to the Star Wars post the other day, John writes in to say:
The most interesting screenwriter in all this was Leigh Brackett, who worked on EMPIRE.
In 1946 she wrote the script to THE BIG SLEEP, starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by Howard Hawks. Her co-writer was William Faulkner. Fans of the Coen Brothers' film BARTON FINK will recognize the highly fictionalized adventures of Faulkner & Brackett on that project.
Her script for Robert Altman's 1973 THE LONG GOODBYE was also terrific work, in a largely overlooked film.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was her last script.
Apparently, not all of Europe stands against the US.
Dumpster Diving: The Advanced Course. I just love that there is now a Basic and Advanced Course...I'm holding out for a BA course in it from the New School.
Brite Yellow, Sanford Peel-Off� China Markers
simple calendars that have no theme
talking about hydrogen and neon
linens with a high thread count
smiling at an ugly person
Let's Not Support:
Holding out for hydrogen as an alternative to oil
coarse clothing that irritates your skin
a bad moisturizer that leaves your skin flaky and dry
Interesting article here in the Washington Post on the realities of grade inflation at college campuses. This was a serious problem when I was in school in the early 90's, and it appears to be only getting worse--apparently it is now anathema to assign a student a 'C', since graduate schools will knock you out of contention for having such a low score, even though once a 'C' was simply average. Of particular interest are these comments on Slashdot, mostly from folks recounting their own college experiences...it includes both students, professors and administrators from all over.
Some Star Wars info cribbed from Slashdot:
Lucas wrote ANH on his own, but Empire (usually regarded as the best of the series) was primarily written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Lucas only "wrote" a small story treatment (that was several dozen pages long), which was dramatically changed and fleshed out by the real writers. The only reason GL even got credit was because it was "his" film, so he wrote the credits. His contribution was similar to James Cameron's contribution to the recent Spider Man film (all that remained from JC's treatment was the organic webshooters, incidentally).
Jedi, which uncoincidentally is usually rated between Empire and ANH, was done similarly although with only Lawrence Kasdan. Lucas basically phoned in a concept, and Kasdan pulled it off. Most importantly, it was Lucas who insisted on the introduction of the god-awful Ewoks [as opposed to Kasdan who wanted to have Kashyyk, the homeworld of the wookies - Lucas didn't think they were "cute" enough, given our experience with Chewbacca].
Unsurprisingly, the "new" trilogy is written solely by Lucas. He no longer is tempered by good writing, and so we have the largely panned films "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones".
John Warner's lament that the New Yorker engages in elitist bullshit is a little prdictable, but I am awfully glad he said it.
Somebody with a sordid past on Joe Millionaire? No!
Your computer could be killing you. I just can't believe we're going to call it "e-thrombosis".
Christ on a cracker. That is a lot of missing plutonium.
Music professors and racing engines.
"It has completely taken over my life," admits Jessica. "But in a good way. You get to be in all these Sex and the City plotlines without ever having to put on shoes that hurt."
Mr. Tynes has left the building. Here is the last dispatch from his visit here, which means I will have to blog for myself from here on out.
We miss John already--he fits in very well here.
The Ladies of Madison, Wisconsin.
Elf or Putin? You be the judge.
Apple, apple, apple. Business Week has a fair assessment of the current Apple niche strategy, which is refreshing for a change from the relentless drumbeat of doom that some pundits have for the company...no one expects BMW to take over the market, but with computers there is definitely a "winner take all" belief system at work--this might be true when there are no differences between the computer makers (i.e. Dell, Compaq, etc.) but not so in the case of Apple.
While I'm waxing long on the topic, check out this interview with Steve Jobs from 1996. This is in his post-Apple, post-NEXT days, and while he's a little bitter his analysis of how the next ten years of computing will shape up is insightful and paints a very balanced portrait of the man.
For the tech oriented, I rather enjoyed this nuts and bolts tech analysis of the original Macintosh.
Finally, there are big price drops on Apple displays and new model PowerMacs out today...check them out at the obvious place.
What a weekend it has been! Right now snow is falling over New York City, and I am snug in my warm home after a couple of hours of actual work. This is quite an achievement: like most writers, I often spend more time than we'd care to admit rearranging my hard drive, sharpening pencils and staring out of windows. It's part and parcel of the trade.
Nevertheless, there comes a point when suddenly the deadlines loom and real work actually commences--and if you've done enough window-gazing and hard-drive-rearranging, the words flow out. Maybe not in a fine mist, or a terrible geyser...today mine's been moving in fits and starts, the way that my water pressure has been ever since the Italian lumbers came by and hacked it, trying to get it to stop leaking by twisting, pulling and turning everything they could see. I kept thinking if this is what they do to their wives...may God give them the strength to carry on.
Pressure usually brings out the best in me, and this weekend extra pressure was created by the arrival of John Tynes, my friend, coconspirator and confidant from my old stomping ground, Seattle. Jean-Michele arranged for him to show up and surprise the hell out of me, and if you peruse his blog you can get the 411 on those events. Basically Friday turned from a drinky social affair with chic and class into a sprawling party filled with karaoke, spilled beer and hot Australian action. My manager and my editor both displayed excellent singing ability, though sadly my literary agent begged off with a head cold--he won't escape in the future!
Saturday we spent at BAM, seeing the Sam Mendes' Donmar Warehouse productions of Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya. This is the productions that share casts, with Simon Russell Beale and Emily Watson in both shows. I would comment at more length, as these were really textured and interesting pieces of theater, but others have done so at length AND I need to get back to work--so I will simple link to a quick Googling and call it done.
That was 6 hours of theater on one day, after which we had a ceremonial viewing of The Office a wonderful BBC series that traces the hopeless life of a cube farm at a paper merchants in Slough, England. I've seen it before, and while it has a different sensibility than the show I'm creating, it is always very instructive to see comedy done well, especially when working with some of the same material. If you get a chance, definitely see it.
So that was something like 8 hours of drinking and singing, a brief nap, then 6 hours of high drama, junk food, 3 hours of dark comedy...when we went to bed we slept for 12 hours. Waking up today I felt bleary, confused...
...and oddly enlightened as to where my work needs to go. So we had a great meal at Katz's, after which I headed to my favorite haunts for writing. When JM and John meet me back at home we will finish off the evening at a great little bar here in Brooklyn, then to bed.
This weekend, with its excesses, pitfalls and deadlines has reminded me of a great many things I had nearly forgotten, and foremost amongst them is that I am grateful, so grateful, to be able to live here. I have so many great friends, wonderful colleagues and interesting opportunities here that really couldn't have happened in Seattle...and I hadn't recently reflected that my life is in a great spot.
Strangely, as soon as I appreciated that my heart lifted and suddenly I was ahead of the game.
Check out the woman who takes these photos at moxie.nu
My friend Ginger offers this most excellent story of her New York haircut experience. I've linked to it before, but I am terribly fond of it.
Coming up next: MikeDaisey.mil! For them's that are interested, the complex .mil registration process can be found here. The Register has the original story on the terrible security at work.
Note: unless you want to get into a domain dispute with Homeland Security, I would suggest adopting a "look but don't touch" attitude toward registering restricted military domains.
Bank of America ATMs Disrupted by Virus. Please...we pay these damn banks enough--you can't have a secure network?
What a terrifying and glorious evening of drinking, talking, dancing and debauchery--a fitting tribute to the bloated corpse of my last decade.
Follow this link to discover what insanity has taken hold of my weekend!
I am wealthy indeed, to have such a demented wife and sexy friend.
(Adjectives may be transposed.)
I'm a Mac partisan, and this is a known fact, but I don't go on about it as much as some--I'm all for choice, unlike some monopolies. I do feel compelled to link to this article at the Royal Gazette, since it points out how clearly an ad campaign that can be implemented inventively by one company can be ripped-off and executed in a soulless, retarded manner by another.
Some great ruminations on masculinity by Lileks, one of my regular reads of the day. It's writing like his that makes me excited about blogging.
Brent and Steve, two insanely great guys, have composed this song on the occasion of my birthday. Guys, I don't even know what to say.
No, really. I have no idea.
Parents shocked after scout camp features Nazis chasing Jews.
Can a Human Being Fit on an iPod? The answer is yes.
Nice NYT article on the absence of purely literary houses in publishing. Being something of a populist, I have never found this to be such a bad thing--I often feel at odds with other folks in the literary circles. I mean, it takes both V.S. Naipaul and Anne Rice to make the world go round, and frankly since I am engaged in an ongoing feud with Mr. Naipaul, as frequent readers may recall, I am actually inclined to feel more warmly about Ms. Rice's work.
I do hate it when the lit circles say smug shit like:
"For instance, Ms. Moldow publishes Don DeLillo. More need not be said about her sensibilities."
What? What does that mean? You mean if you like DeLillo you must have received the cultural imprimatur?
Does the fact that I use the word "imprimatur" correctly mean that I can get a fucking blue ribbon, too?
My friend Neal has an exceptionally lucid and enjoyable diary this week in Slate. Neal and I have a literary relationship, which means it began with me telling him how much I hated him and his writing in a six page letter, and ended with me getting stoned out of mind on pot laced with ecstasy and becoming one of his confidants. Life is funny.
Last night's birthday went outstandingly--Jean-Michele took me to see La Boheme, the Puccini opera playing on Broadway that was conceived and directed by Baz Luhrman.
You can get the skinny with the NYT review which I think is right on the money. While certainly not an opera fanatic, I have loved opera for years, and the blending of cinema, theater and opera in Luhrmann's work here is exquisite--I found it moving, thrilling and more human than any opera I have ever seen previously.
As if this were not enough, it features a midget, explosions of light and set pieces torn from Moulin Rouge but integrated seamlessly into a theatrical happening. I loved the way you could see the scene changes take shape, watch the different actors take their places and change coats--it was a very special event. I would highly recommend this piece, and I spent a lot of the show with my mouth open, thrilled when I thought of another person whom I wanted to take to see it.
Afterward we went to one of my favorite restaurants, The Grange Hall, which sits right next to the Cherry Lane, where 21DY ran for six months last year. They remember us there, and we had a magnificent dinner...I'd been craving their wild boar sausage for a number of weeks, and it was wonderful.
Giftwise I made out like a very practical bandit: I got gloves, a hat and a scarf to keep me from freezing to death outside, a very nice silver ring to placehold for my missing wedding band and this book full of short stories from Maine.
MikeDaisey.com's provider is undergoing a series of DoS attacks today--it's like a low-rent version of a Bruce Sterling novel!
(For them's that don't get that, it means some kids are enslaving a bunch of computers they've hacked and flooding my ISP with traffic, thus causing a DoS, or Denial of Service, for others trying to get in.)
Well, I am off on my birthday extravaganza surprise, organized by my wife...what horrors and wonders await me?
In a follow-up news story to Robbie Williams acknowleding that filesharing is inevitable, an idiot talking head in Britain tells us that sharing mp3s supports terrorism and world crime. Oh yes. Many crime syndicates make their cash for world conquest by sharing their files for free. In fact, we should hope that they do--it'd be easier to track down Al Qaeda if they were running on the Gnutella network.
From the It-Sucks-But-What-You-Gonna-Do? Department, 11-Digit Local Dialing Starts in New York City on Feb. 1 I still cannot parse what is and is not local calling versus toll calling on my phone bill--I suspect this will further muddy the issue.
Today is my 30th birthday. It's is 5:30 AM right now, and colder than a witch's tit--outside the sun has not risen. The heat just came on from the radiators, turned on by the landlady upstairs as she gets ready for Tuesday--they are hissing and burbling like uncomfortable dragons in front of me, as I sit in the dark of the living room, lit up only by the laptop.
30. I'm a little surprised to be here, but I feel ready for my 3rd decade. I have a wonderful wife, a stable home and the freedom to work on interesting and compelling projects...it is in many ways an unimaginable distance from where I was at 25, though at 20 I wouldn't have been surprised to be here, as I was cocky and unbowed by the world at 20.
I'm working full-bore on the HBO project right now, and it is very exciting--it's been hard, with the holidays and then with food poisoning, to get the momentum I craved, and I have to admit that it has been a struggle. I think the silence in this blog over the last month or so has been due to that tension between my creative life's need for quiet and my own need to simply get shit done--they aren't always congruent, as most times art and commerce are not.
Still, it feels good to write here, and to commit to work, and to have the ability and the drive and the opportunity...not everyone is so lucky, if you can call the luck you make yourself 'luck'. Enough of it is happenstance that I think that totally qualifies.
With all that said, I will return to writing--I have a book that is starting to reveal itself, a script that is almost overdue, and a stack of correspondence and schmoozing that requires my attention. However, I will do what I can to return here more often, not just in the form of short quips and songs about cheese.
I mean, I'll keep that stuff in as well. I'll just try to open up the dialogue a little bit.
Black People Love Us!
Redneck Neighbor. This is the best website I have seen in quite some time--a simple accounting of the trials and tribulations of living nextdoor to a crazy neighbor. I enjoy the slightly bored, straightforward quality of the commentary.
Libyan Elected Head of U.N. Rights Panel No, that isn't a joke.
Ween wrote a song for Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut didn't like it. Ween considered it one of the best things they did last year, and so they've placed it on their website. Now you can listen to Where'd the Cheese Go? in the comfort of your own home.
Robbie Williams gets it.
Absolutely no comment.
Brilliant toilet design.
THE REMAINS OF THE DAY: a collage of things left behind after avid evironmentalists went home from their peace rally yesterday in Washington D.C.
According to this report by Drudge, Bloomberg tried to get the Stones arrested for smoking during their concert.
Look, I'm not fond of smoking--I've never had the habit, and I'll admit that when the SMOKING BAN goes into effect in NYC on March 30th I'll have an easier time going out. But I don't like legislating solutions, especially ones that curtail rights...and the idea that my mayor is sending cops to arrest SMOKING ROCK STARS is disturbing. It's the Stones, for chrissake. We're really lucky that they weren't shooting heroin or formeldahyde into their necks during the fucking performance, as they are all over sixty now.
I have lunch today at the United Nations.
(I have always wanted to be able to say that. It is even true!)
My good friend John writes about getting to see a professional magician's secret shop, biker gunfights, exotic benches and an unexpected winfall via comic book. He has some great chops as a writer, and better than that he's also an excellent human being--give him a read, if any of that sounds enticing.
Over at his website, Wil Wheaton writes about auditioning for ON THE ROAD. Wil's an inveterate geek and an actor, a combination not nearly as rare as you'd think...I often enjoy his first-person accounts of auditions, as they generally echo my own experiences. This one is particularly on-target.
This freaky scale model of a Sixties boy's bedroom is the essence of attention to detail.
What is more terrifying: IRN-BRU, the fact that THE BEVERAGE NETWORK exists, or that folks actually log on and vote?
Spam of the Week:
Subject: URGENT special arrangement
FROM: GRIMHELM WORMTONGUE
Dear sir and/or madame,
Salutations, I am GRIMHELM WORMTONGUE, The son of late Counsellor Grima Wormtongue of the Kingdom of Rohan.
My father was Chief Counsellor [equivalent to Prime Minister] to late lamented king Theoden of Rohan. In his position my father altogether legally and correctly acquired significant assets throughout Rohan in order to protect the Kingdom from enemy forces within and without.
In the course of lamentable events succeeding, my father was illegally deprived of office and expelled from the Kingdom. Before this he had with foresight already entirely legally deposited the sum of M.500,000,000,000 in gold with the Bank of Gondor (Minas Tirith).
While in exile in the north he was assaulted and murdered by a band of northern pigmies. His family was obliged to seek refuge in northern Dunland among some of our sympathisers.
My father left to me all documents necessary to retrieve the sum of gold aforesaid from the Bank of Gondor (Minas Tirith). However, in the current political circumstances my solicitor believes it unwise for me to attempt to make the trip from Dunland to Minas Tirith, and has recommended that I seek a trustworthy foreign business partner into whose account this money could be tranferred. This appears to be the best option as we are unable to open an account in Dunland. Therefore we are seeking your trustworthy assistance and cooperation.
You will provide information about your account that will enable a deposit to be made in your name. I will contact the Bank of Gondor (Minas Tirith) and inform them that the money is to be placed into your account. Upon completion of the transaction your share of the proceeds will be 15% net following deduction of all transfer fees, that is M.75,000,000,000. If the transaction goes well we also look forward to maintaining you as a profitable business partner for future ventures.
It goes without saying that I can expect your complete confidence and secrecy in keeping this matter under wraps prefatory to completion.
Thank you and ERU bless.
MR. GRIMHELM WORMTONGUE
Michael Moore rejected as commencement speaker. One student chimed in that the speaker should be Chris Rock: "I'd be happy with a comedian, just not a comedian who poses as a journalist."
Some dudes in Finland turn their Saab into a very small sauna.
"How do you get Catherine Keener to do a bukkake scene?" asks the director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Now you can turn your WiFi card into a theremin. How cool is that?
Commentary on the Eldred decision from Glenn Reynolds' new sell-out MSN site. Bah! Funny to have someone I respect talkin' media issues immediately after diluting his seminal blog by hosting the meaty content with Microsoft. If he were still savvy, he'd at least mention his new bias and co-opt criticism by owning it first.
Saddam Hussein Pictures. Oh, that crazy guy...get them while he's still in power!
New short story by Cory Doctorow, someone who I respect very much as a visionary, acquaintance and writer...and not in that order. It's also all about WiFi and Indian reservations, which is pretty neat. Read Liberation Spectrum over at Salon.
If you missed it, Cory's last story in Salon was the even more freaky 0wnz0red, which I enjoyed more as crunchy ideacandy, but I think Spectrum is a better piece of work.
Ice skating on a pond
Mr. Show being available on DVD
Making a lunch and bringing it to work
Badly Drawn Boy
The Olive Garden in Times Square
Let's Not Support:
Chocolate bars that taste waxy
1-chip DV cameras
Well, well, well. Bad move.
Excellent cryptography perspective piece by Whitfield Diffie.
The Museum of Beverage Containers
Oh yes. They have sections for Beer, Soda and Other.
Due to a sanitation dispute, the streets of Brooklyn have an unreasonable number of these. A little sad to some, but I'm actually enjoying the dead wood piling up.
Assigned Reading: American Civil Liberties Union : Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society A little long at 24 pages, but it is breezy, dark and all-too accurate.
In my salad days I performed in out-of-the-way spaces in Seattle, including the Odd Duck Studio, where an event is happening called, optimistically, PROSTITUTE YOUR GENIUS. I bring this up only because I think I have finally found a practice worse than dinner theatre:
This will be a "Ching Ching & Bling Bling" event, which means that after you have left the stage, the audience will be invited to THROW CHANGE! You keep the money (usually $5.00 or so.) If you want to make more money, bring more people to the show!!!
Times may be hard, things may change for me and my colleagues but I promise you this: if I am ever in a position where I am spare changing on stage, I will simply pack it in and go back to temping.
Both interesting, unnerving and strangely reassuring: Police Detainment of a Patient Following Treatment With Radioactive Iodine I guess they are keeping an eye on the subways for dirty bombs.
Want to share your iTunes libraries with all of your friends online? Of course you do. Then you'll need to check out iCommune, a killer idea running in beta right now. Brillant leveraging of the base that Apple has built here.
Brussels Street Bellies. Yes, this is a website filled with three+ years of an obsessive collection: pictures of bare bellies on the streets of Brussels. Please, do not ask for whom the belly...oh, forget it.
I wish I was listening to this, but sadly I have not yet picked up a copy. Instead I am finishing up 36 fabulous hours of food sickness, which still remains the best illness for questioning God's existence through suffering but then mercifully leaving you alive and unharmed a day later. Faster and more relevatory than cancer or plague.
New Years Countups
Macworld Expo in San Francisco
International Toy Expo
the intense politics of Woodrow Wilson
jars of black ink
Let's Not Support:
New Years Countdowns
getting robbed by someone holding a gun
a president that dies in office