Sunday, December 31, 2006

Green Eggs and Ham

Although I've been eating ham almost nonstop since Christmas, this is particularly unappealing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw on Gerald Ford

Blatantly stolen from Jake Allen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Naughty List

The NFL custom jersey shop isn't so liberal as the stamp makers evidently, they have compiled quite the naughty list--sort of:
This rather bizarre conclusion is reached when trying to order a personalized jersey from the NFL Shop, the online merchandise site run by the league. Anyone trying to buy a jersey with the single word "GAY" or "LESBIAN" or "GAY PRIDE" on the back gets a rejection message that states: "This field should not contain a naughty word."

The wording was changed in the hours since this article first appeared and the NFL contacted. Now when you enter "GAY" and try to checkout you get the following: "The personalization entered cannot be accepted." This wording is no less offensive than "naughty" and doesn't change the issue. Especially when you can buy jerseys with "FAG" or "DYKE" or "HITLER" on them.

The project manager was showing off the functionality when it was first developed and I bet him I could get an offensive jersey order through in less than two minutes. I won the bet and it's the reason ‘smegma’ is on the list.

The mural of approved and verboten jerseys is a work of art in need of a grant!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Do You Want My Pere Noel

Merry Christmas to you too, Gunther.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

When You Can't Go Home Again...

It takes a certain amount of hubris to Photoshop your head onto the cupid from the famous U.S. Postal Service LOVE stamp and send it out into the world.

Nick Slepko, 28, a former Arlington resident, said "hubris is sort of implied" in his decision to create his own vanity postage stamp, using one of three Web sites that now offer do-it-yourself postage. The vanity stamp program was launched by the Postal Service in May 2005 and was expected to have its most business this month.

Web sites offering do-it-yourself postage, such as Nick Slepko's take on the LOVE stamp, have personalized the act of sending mail the old fashioned way.

Letter mail has been flagging, so the customized postage has been a boon for the Postal Service, said spokeswoman Joanne Veto. More than 20 million of the stamps have been sold, and the program's trial period has been extended for another two years.

Some users say the stamps have become a tiny and unlikely canvas for the kind of family animus that often pervades the holidays -- like faux-cheery holiday letters of years past.

As Slepko put it: "What better way to say dysfunction than through the post office?"

He thought putting a "LOVE ME!" plea on a sheet of stamps would be the perfect gift for his prickly mother, Tess.

"She's the most un-mom a mom could be," said a teasing Slepko, who is a consultant living in Ukraine. "She's not a big fan of children in general. I had to potty-train myself."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Animated Christmas Lights - Pixar/THX intro

Happy holidays everyone. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kochalka song makes Rolling Stone 100

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Via Newsarama:"Britney Spears didn’t make the list, but the song by James Kochalka Superstar about the pop diva was named one of the 100 best songs of 2006 by Rolling Stone magazine.

"'Britney’s Silver Can,' which imagines Spears pining for her lost love, Justin Timberlake, came in at No. 90, sandwiched between John Legend’s 'Show Me' and 'Buttons' by The Pussycat Dolls. 'Kochalka, a very funny moonlighting comic-book artist, makes the definitive tune about Britney’s rough past few years,' Rolling Stone said of the Burlington-based multimedia underground star.

"Kochalka, in an e-mail, joked that he would have ranked himself a little higher, 'but it’s amazing to be on the list at all.'"

Want more Kochalka Superstar? Fine, here's the video for "Wash Your Ass":

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Militant Anti-Christmas Terrorism, Part Deux

Al Qaeda is everywhere this year, first Sweden, now Cincinnati :
Two Christmas grinches were arrested Monday, accused of stabbing a 12-foot-tall inflatable Frosty the snowman with a screwdriver. The Hamilton County Sheriff's office said two 18-year-olds were charged with criminal damaging, and the investigation continues to snowball.
"The question I have is, 'Why me?' And why Frosty?"

* * *

In Ukraine, on Orthodox Christmas they dress up like sheep and ask for candy, but on Old New Year, they dress up like devils and steal your outhouse. I hope that pictures will be forthcoming.


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Via The Presurfer: Still not sure what to get that someone special this holiday season? How about an ordainment as a Dudeist Priest?

"As an ordained Dudeist Priest you can legally perform all varieties of religious ceremonies in most U.S. States (check with your local County Clerk first). Preside over a wedding, a funeral, a bris, a baptism, or even a pet-spaying ceremony with pride and authority!"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Spit Art

credit to John.

A new spin on Virginia Woolf

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If I had my bachelor's degree to do all over again, I would seriously consider designing an "alcohol and culture" major and taking the bulk of my classes with Eric Felten. Oh well, I can't turn back the clock but at least I can read his "How's Your Drink?" column every week. Here's an excerpt on what Kingsley Amis suggests for those who like to stay home to do their drinking:

"The English novelist Kingsley Amis liked a good drink or three and wrote a couple of books on the hobby. In On Drink, he includes a section on how to outfit a bar at home... No. 1 on Amis's list of 'Bar Kit' essentials is a refrigerator of one's own."

"'Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a claim on, even its ice-compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like food,' Amis writes."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Looking for a Last-Minute Gift?

Pick up a little nightmare-inducing-flesh-eating-super-cyborg-mutant-critter at Insect Lab. via Presurfer

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Militant Anti-Christmas Terrorism

This article from the AP is like an episode of Arrested Development.

Swedish Christmas Goat Survives Attack
Fri Dec 15, 8:14 PM ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Vandals tried to set fire to a giant straw goat in central Sweden but failed to burn down the traditional Christmas monument, which has been soaked with flame-resistant chemicals, officials said Friday. The overnight raid was the season's first attack on the 43-foot-high Christmas goat in the city of Gavle, 90 miles north of Stockholm. The goat has been burned down more than 20 times in the last 40 years in what has become a yule tradition.

"Somebody tried to set fire to the right front leg, but the flame-resistant chemical worked 100 percent," said Kurt Lagerholm, chairman of the goat committee.

"There's smell of gasoline and the ribbon is a bit smutty, but otherwise it's unhurt," he said.

Since it was first erected on Dec. 3 in 1966, the goat has been hit by flaming arrows, run over by a car and even had its legs cut off — surviving only 10 times beyond Christmas Day.

This year, officials doused the straw goat with flame-resistant chemicals and set up two 24-hour Web cams to try to protect it, but Lagerholm said the overnight attackers managed to sneak past the cameras by coming in at the only angle the cameras did not reach. The suspects were still at large Friday.

Last year's goat was burned down by vandals dressed up as Santa Claus and the Gingerbread Man. They were never caught.

Pear Trees in Demand,

Virginal Dairy Workers Not

According to a clip from ABC News, the yearly cost of the items in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" is tracked by PNC Bank (the background sound might making you lord leaping batty though):
What’s really surprising is that our index follows overall Consumer Price Index trends. To think that the cost of a partridge in a pear tree would mirror what’s going on at Target, for example, is pretty interesting.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Marc and Matt Movie Review: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

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Director Martin Scorsese is best known for such gritty street dramas as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York and The Departed. This reputation, however, tends to overshadow the breadth of his many films. He has directed such divergent films as The Age of Innocence, Kundun and The Aviator. One of these films that is atypical to the Scorsese stereotype is the 1974 film, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.


This movie stars Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt, a woman stuck in an unhappy marriage until a Coke truck accident kills her husband. Her foul-mouthed son, Tommy, is superbly played by Alfred Lutter III (of Bad News Bears fame). Alice moves across the southwest in search of a job and a man, while subconsciously yearning to reclaim her lost innocence in the town of her youth.

Country music and vampire flick icon Kris Kristofferson plays the man who she falls for, in large part because of his well-developed facial hair. Her pleading “Can I touch your beard?,” in fact, begins their rollercoaster relationship.

The movie was nominated for numerous Golden Globes, and Burstyn received an Academy Award for best actress for her performance as Alice. Hers is only one of many memorable performances in this film, though. An overlooked actor – who received no nominations but definitely stood out in this film – was Scorsese mainstay Harvey Keitel. He first appears as an unusually normal character, but in true form does his thing by mid-film. Fans of Bad Lieutenant and Reservoir Dogs will appreciate this earlier example of his dramatic talent. Laura Dern also shines in her delightful uncredited role as a girl eating an ice cream cone.

Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster also makes an appearance in this film. Long before Panic Room and Flight Plan, she showed off her tough self-sufficiency playing an alcoholic ten-year-old with a prostitute for a mother. She befriends Tommy and shows him, briefly, the wild side of life.

This movie shows a realistic, though sometimes negative, view of families. Alice is caught up in the popular social trend of the time which contends that one shouldn’t punish children physically. Tommy, in turn, is a self-centered brat with little respect for authority. Alice’s dissatisfaction with her marriage translates into her secret gladness when her husband kicks it. While the Focus on the Family crowd might not appreciate such a depiction, the movie comes across as more true to what the institution of marriage involves for many people as a result of these details.

Scorsese’s direction of this film is a bit jarring at points, and the strangeness of some of the sequences points to an unusualness that is often overlooked in day to day life. Michael Medved ignorantly states that Scorsese is “grossly overrated,” but once again with this film Scorsese shows why he is the best director of his generation. While perhaps not his finest or most thought-provoking picture, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore does succeed in reaching into what American life truly is. It is certainly a classic worthy of watching.

Pretty Walloony

What if you had a revolution and no one really cared?

For those not in the know:
Suddenly and shockingly, Belgium came to an end. State television broke into regular programming late Wednesday with an urgent bulletin: The Dutch-speaking half of the country had declared independence and the king and queen had fled. Grainy pictures from the military airport showed dark silhouettes of a royal entourage boarding a plane.
Money quote from the pedophile socialist Freemason Elio di Rupo, the Minister-President of the Walloon Region:
Never in my long political life have I seen such worry. Anguish came from around the world.
Why can't they learn to live in (complicated) harmony like the Baarle villages? Money quote:
Enclaves! Nice. Enclaves inside enclaves! Nicer.

Alan Moore on Sex, Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire

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Via Newsarama: "Sexual openness and cultural progress would seem pretty much to have walked hand in hand throughout the opening chapters of the human story in the West, and it wasn't until the advent of Christianity, or more specifically of the apostle Paul, that anybody realized we should all be thoroughly ashamed of both our bodies and those processes relating to them. Not until the Emperor Constantine had cut and pasted modern Christianity together from loose scraps of Mithraism and the solar cult of Sol Invictus, adopting the resultant theological collage as the religion of the Roman Empire, did we get to witness the effect of its ideas and doctrines when enacted on a whole society.

"If we take a traditional (and predominantly Christian) view of the collapse of Rome, then conventional wisdom tells us that Rome was destroyed by decadence, sunken beneath the rising scum-line of its orgies, of its own sexual permissiveness. The merest skim through Gibbon, on the other hand, will demonstrate that Rome had been a heaving, decadent and orgiastic fleshpot more or less since its inception. It had fornicated its way quite successfully through several centuries without showing any serious signs of harm as a result. Once Constantine had introduced compulsory Christianity to the Empire, though, it barely lasted for another hundred years."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Teenar, Girl Guitar

Teenar, The Girl Guitar - a vintage mannequin transformed into an electric guitar [helping pedophiles achieve their rockstar dreams since 1986].

via Ubergizmo.
Crazy Man Dancing In Best Buy

Butt-print artist no longer welcome at high school

Via The Obscure Store: "Monacan High School art teacher Stephen Murmer was placed on paid administrative leave recently after school administrators learned of an online video in which he's demonstrating how he paints with his buttocks.

"Murmer operates a Web site showcasing paintings he makes with his rear and genitals. The site, on which he goes by the name Stan Murmur, features his work and the video [It looks like he's taken everything down].

"School Board Chairman Marshall W. Trammell Jr. said he has seen a lot of things during his 15 years on the School Board, 'but this is probably the most unique [incident] that I've ever seen.'"

Mormons vs Chicanos

Here's the scoop on Greater Mormonia (although, if one checks the demographic trends they have largely succeeded, but with a little less California and a lot more Idaho).

Maybe they can defend us from the Conquest of Aztlan--though, as invasions go, I prefer Aztlanian food to Latter Day Saints fare...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DiCaprio wants our answers

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"Leonardo DiCaprio knows global warming is a problem, and he wants answers.

"That's why the actor posted a question on the 'Yahoo! Answers' Web site, prompting visitors to share their solutions."

He's already received some helpful tips, such as this one: "I think one of the most effective methods would be for news programs to quit asking entertainers for their political opinions. Entertainers give off a lot of hot air, even more so when they engage in political discussion. As they are generally clueless, it would be best if they just stuck to entertaining."

David Lynch (and a cow)

Via Time: "A cult movie director and a cow wait placidly on a busy Los Angeles street corner on a sunny autumn day. A giant image of Laura Dern's face printed with the words FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION looms beside them. The director delivers an encomium on cheese.

"The scene is surreal enough to be from a David Lynch movie, and it is, a two-minute film that has been downloaded more than 50,000 times on YouTube since it was posted Nov. 9. The director of Blue Velvet and 'Twin Peaks' didn't direct this one; a couple of guys named Nate and Matt recorded Lynch's street-corner Oscar campaign for Dern's performance in his new film, Inland Empire. 'The Academy members love show business,' explains Lynch. 'And this is show business, being out with the cow.'"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tatooine, Tunisia

While ruthless Hollywood knocks over the set of each movie as soon as the director shouts his final "Cut!," Tunisia, where George Lucas shot most of the "Star Wars" scenes, still keeps the original set from the '70s, protecting it from the burning sun and the evil winds of the Sahara.
As I peered inside one of the impeccably built constructions, I noticed a mattress and a small teapot on the sand floor. In a mere moment, the "owner" of the house was there: an elder Arab man dressed in a typical desert fashion.

Surprisingly, his French was perfect and he explained to me that since he had neither family nor money, he came to live in the movie set. He looks after the place, the real roof of the fake house protects him from the sandstorms, and if a tourist throws him a small coin every once in a while, he can buy some more tea and some food. And he is hardly the only one living in the Lucas-built wonderland in the middle of the Sahara.

USPS Approved

As per our discussions about DIY stamping.



Lovin' Spoonful: Misty

Texans figure out way to scare off hippie hikers

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"Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Republican from Seguin, about 30 miles east of San Antonio, has introduced a bill to exempt legally blind people from a Texas law that prohibits hunters from using laser sights or lights in hunting.

"'It gets more people in the outdoors, and gives them more pride in hunting, because it gives them a better chance of harvesting an animal,' said Kuempel, an avid hunter."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Re-dubbed

5 Holiday Mashups courtesy of 10 Zen Monkeys.

Doomed by the Damned

This of course seems congruent with their mastery of geography as their fuzzy maps indicate that Okinawa is a sufficiently forward position to Basra...

Via CNN:
Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam -- Sunni or Shiite -- Reyes answered "they are probably both," then ventured "Predominantly -- probably Shiite."
I'm sure if pressed, he would clarify his statement by identifying them as the York Rite Opus Dei branch of the Hasidic Bible and Tract Society of Latter Day Saints...

Credit: Marshall

Backwash meets science

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Via Cockeyed: "Can backwash be prevented, and are some beverage containers backwash-proof?

"One evening, we endeavored to find the truth with a simple test:

"First, we would richly color our mouth and saliva with a hearty dose of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix. Second, we would drink a bit of clear water from a test container. With our bright red saliva, it would be easy to see if saliva had made its way back into the drink."

Conclusion: "If the courteous drinker is actively working to limit his or her backwash, spit transfer can be held to an absolute minimum."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Playground Terrorism

I love the bizzaro playground architecture of Slavdom (I smell coffee table book!), but it does explain why Slavs are afraid to have children--the comments are worth a skim:

We are tough because playgrounds are usually like war zones. Even the nicest neighborhood’s playground is like a kids’ ghetto. We stick in groups and protect our playground from the kids from other streets and playgrounds. Teenagers usually bully the younger kids, but in the end everybody sticks together if “outside kids” gang up against us. It was definitely fun growing up in that atmosphere. There was always something to do with your friends, tons of games, fights and other fun stuff kids should be doing. Prepares you for the real world pretty well. Not like in US where middle-class kids grow up to be bunch of pussies.
My favorite Slavic playground though is in Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine (home of Trotsky actually):

Credit: James

Greetings from the Damned...

The Post-Rapture Post offers to deliver letters, greeting cards, and I-told-you-sos to your unsaved friends "left behind" after the rapture.


Jobbie Job: Build Me Up Buttercup

So, for my entry into the "kick-arse" Win a Chance to Write for Lonely Planet (and get a free trip to Morocco--where we're big!), I submitted Must See Eastern European Soviet Monuments:

Sure everyone flocks to see the big mall where the Berlin Wall once stood and over to Gdansk, Poland to see the birth place of Solidarity, but what about the few mementos we have left of the Evil Empire and its surrogate states?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Finally, Someone Who Understands Russia

From the Economist's Moscow correspondent:

I once asked whether their salmon was fresh; the waitress assured me that it had been fresh when it was frozen. [See, I'm impressed that he got any answer at all.]
Last winter was one of the harshest on record. For a couple of weeks it was cryogenically cold. Your nostrils froze together as soon as you stepped outside; there were daily stories about people going to hospital with mobile phones stuck to their hands, having inadvisably removed a glove to take a call. “What a shame,” old ladies were heard to mutter, “such a winter, and no war.” But even last year the winter’s hardships were easily outweighed by its curiosities and joys: crunching around forests, and along frozen rivers under clear January skies; cross-country skiing, then a shot of vodka at home.

It is impossible not to be impressed with their tenacity, and with the long-range devotion of the Armenian diaspora, whose remittances stave off ultimate ruin. Most of these come not from rich Armenians in America but from poor ones in Moscow, working on building sites and as illicit taxi drivers.
I was interviewed on a London radio station the other day and asked about the mood in Moscow over the Litvinenko affair, a thrilling (for the British press) mix of poisoning, radiation and the KGB. There wasn’t much of a mood, I tried to explain. Most Muscovites are uninterested.
This information vacuum makes journalism somewhat taxing. By way of compensation, it also makes Moscow a world capital of conspiracy theories. The theorists begin by asking a classic Russian question, “komu vigadno?” (“who profits?”), then work backwards from the answer to identify a culprit. I await the day when somebody links the Litvinenko case with the (surprise!) unsolved poisoning that disfigured and almost killed Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine two years ago―on the basis that both victims had eaten sushi, a favourite new-Russian food. Who benefits if not the kebab lobby, which discredits sushi and recovers market share?


Not expecting much of a haul this holiday season? At least you can still enjoy the pleasure of watching other people open things:

"Dozens of videos showing people unwrapping products like the new Palm Treo 680 smartphone, Microsoft Zune digital media player and the Nintendo Wii game player are appearing on YouTube, on blogs and popular technology sites. The videos are drawing thousands of viewers.

"Two Web sites devoted to box-opening videos have sprung up: and The latter promises 'vicarious thrills from opening new gear.'"

These thrills are not just for traditional techies, either. Gizmodo points out that "unboxing your wife's breast pump" is also an option.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

By request

Finally some Biz Markie on PoF - now all we need is a Biz vs. The Nuge contest.

Thanks for the link, Kilmer.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cosmic connexion

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CNES may have given up training astronauts, but that doesn't mean the French government space agency isn't still providing value to taxpayers. The agency teamed up with a French-German arts station to beam a show into space targeted toward an exterrestrial audience:

"Despite the English language title, the programme, Cosmic Connexion, as conceived by the channel Arte, assumes the aliens will have a working knowledge of German and French - the station's two working languages.

"The TV show has been conceived as an idiot's guide to humankind, or close encounters of the nude kind. The hosts will explain how the human body is created - thus justifying their own nakedness - and will tell about the main elements of daily human life.

"The station has a clear message for viewing aliens: 'We have seen your crop circles. Stop by and say hello.' Arte has also asked viewers to submit messages they would like to be broadcast into space as part of the programme. The few halfway intelligible messages on the website yesterday were rather political. 'Maxmax' from Germany wrote: 'Dear friends of the sun (or whatever) . . . George W. Bush: bullshit3 Us - music = rather not.'

"The broadcast signal will reach the star Errai in the year 2051. Arte producers say they are looking forward to receiving alien viewer feedback to their programme - in 2096."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New PoF Holiday?

Today is the Day of the Ninja.

credit to John.

Blair Witch Meets Steve Jackson

Via sigsegv:

Credit: Jason

Board Games with Scott

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Syracuse University professor of library science (and kilt aficionado) Dr. Scott Nicholson is no stranger to fun. In fact, he has his own show to prove it. In each episode of "Board Games with Scott," he presents a different game, explains it, and briefly reviews it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Danzig seeks legal immunity

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Via Blabbermouth: "Glenn Danzig is keen to take the law into his own hands after a tour truck carrying his stage equipment was stolen on Thursday night (Nov. 30).

"Danzig and his namesake band DANZIG were relaxing after a show in Los Angeles when the equipment vehicle was stolen.

"As well as asking fans for information, angry Danzig is planning his revenge on the thieves.

"'I should be able to kill somebody if they f**k with me.'"

Death to Smoochie!

"Sometimes I'm quite mortified that I'm on the side of the government on this one."

Finally, a sane 16-year old. Laurie Pycroft has formed Pro-Test an anti-anti-vivisection group. On a recent visit to a scienctific research facility:
Most of the technicians we met had always wanted to work with animals, and started off helping out in vetinary clinics and the like. They also wanted to trap us in corners and tell us about their pets again, and again....and again. I suppose if you like animals then looking after them for a job is ideal. We were really struck by the huge difference between the way animal research is actually conducted (remember that this was in the US, where the regulatory framework is not as tight as in the UK), and the way it is portrayed by anti-research groups, with their placards showing photos from work done in the former USSR in the 1960s.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

For Kids on the Naughty List

Dr. Laura Talking Action Figure.

The Sound of Mood Swings

From the National Archives on the Sound of Music:

Maria Augusta Kutschera was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1905. She was orphaned as a young child and was raised as an atheist and socialist by an abusive relative.


Though she was a caring and loving person, Maria wasn't always as sweet as the fictional Maria. She tended to erupt in angry outbursts consisting of yelling, throwing things, and slamming doors. Her feelings would immediately be relieved and good humor restored, while other family members, particularly her husband, found it less easy to recover. In her 2003 interview, the younger Maria confirmed that her stepmother "had a terrible temper. . . . And from one moment to the next, you didn't know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice."


While fame and success continued for the Trapp Family Singers, they decided to stop touring in 1955. The group consisted mostly of non-family members because many of the von Trapps wanted to pursue other endeavors, and only Maria's iron will had kept the group together for so long.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Marc and Matt Movie Review: 2 Days in the Valley

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Has Quentin Tarantino been good or bad for Hollywood? It depends on how you look at it. Sure, he broke boundaries with Pulp Fiction, but his success spawned a horde of unimaginative wannabes. John Herzfeld, the writer and director of the uninspired 2 Days in the Valley, is a good example.


This 1996 movie revolves around a period of – you guessed it – two days, and the action takes place in California’s San Fernando Valley. Eric Stolz and Jeff Daniels portray two vice cops, Danny Aiello plays an aging mobster, and James Spader attempts to come across as the “arch-villain.”

The casting is a perfect example of the Tarantino effect gone sour. Tarantino’s penchant for attempting to revive the careers of “stars” from another era should not translate into throwing together a patchwork of b-level celebrities in the hopes that together they will spark some magic on screen. Spader, for instance, seemed much more at home as an impotent voyeur in Stephen Soderbergh’s low-budget Sex, Lies and Videotape than as a homicidal maniac. As for Aiello, he would be better off sticking to the stock racist white guy in Spike Lee films. Jeff Daniels probably peaked playing opposite Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber, and he should not try to play a badass L.A. cop – ever.

As for the plot, little new ground is broken. The characters all start out in unrelated situations and in the end all come together. Once again, though, what worked for Pulp Fiction fails here. In fact, if 2 Days in the Valley serves any purpose, it is as a public service to show to aspiring young directors in the hopes that such a screening will prevent subjecting anyone else to similar tripe.

If 2 Days in the Valley is ineffective in this regard, then a slew of other films with similarly “ironic” sensibilities could do the trick. The shelves of too many video stores are littered with titles like Killing Zoe and Search and Destroy.

This brings us to a larger point about the Hollywood system, and that is that the Tarantino effect is hardly unique. Originality all too quickly flies out the window as studios rush to make a quick buck off the latest trend. Actors, in turn, cynically respond with attempts to use low-budget “indie” flicks to rejuvenate their stalled careers. The trouble is, for every Monster’s Ball there’s at least one Passion of Mind – and that’s not good for anybody.

What these filmmakers don’t realize is that what launches an otherwise small-scale film into the big time is the level of originality and quality of execution. This is certainly the case for those infected with the Tarantino curse. If you have too much irony, then it just isn’t ironic anymore. You can still watch a decades-old Scorsese film and have it be as relevant as it was at the time of its release.

It remains to be seen whether Tarantino’s films will stand the test of time in a similar manner. Indeed, the Kill Bill films are the only bright spot in Tarantino’s growing self-caricature. While the flashes of brilliance with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction cannot be denied, this is a director who still has more to prove if he aspires to greatness.

With movies such as 2 Days in the Valley, the future is far bleaker. It is merely another iteration of the old Hollywood cycle of jumping on the bandwagon and riding it until it breaks down. Watch it if you must, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Drug smuggler sub labeled "amateurish" by sub enthusiasts

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Via The Wall Street Journal: "This month, the Coast Guard detained four men who were allegedly trying to smuggle 3.5 tons of cocaine meant for the U.S. News accounts of the Nov. 16 bust, about 90 miles southwest of Costa Rica, described their unusual vessel as a 50-foot homemade fiberglass submarine.

"That caught the attention of a busy netherworld of hobbyists who build submarines in their garages.

"'The captured drug-sub appears to be amateurish in construction and not nearly as seaworthy as the subs we have seen, designed and built,' said Jon Wallace, a software engineer for Hewlett-Packard in Weare, N.H. In 1996 he cofounded the Personal Submersibles Organization, which now counts about 13,000 visitors per month to its Web site,

"'Semi-submersible at best,' sniffed another critic in a posting on the group's site.

The sub fans helpfully offered their advice for future smuggling attempts: "George Slaterpryce, 28, a software engineer in Ocala, Fla., suggested that 'a true smuggling submarine' would 'have to be something that cruises at 60 feet or so (just deep enough not to be easily noticed),' be constructed of lightweight materials and powered by a relatively silent motor and have enough air for days of submersion."

Fair (to Poor) Harvard

"... and *another* thing, Vonnegut! I'm gonna stop payment on the check!...Flunk me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips, *flunk you*! Next time I'll call Robert Ludlum!"

-- Rodney Dangerfield as Thornton Melon
Back to School (as edited for television)

From the Economist:
Students with D grades often have a tough time finding employment after graduation—that is, unless they’re D-students at some of America’s top business schools, where grade non-disclosure has become the norm. That had been the case at Harvard Business School until December 14th, when Jay Light, the acting dean, informed the school that, beginning with the class of 2008, HBS will no longer prohibit students from disclosing their grades to potential employers.