Thursday, June 28, 2007
Check out this hilarious clip addressing the issue of "guest workers" from the new Comedy Central offering Lil' Bush, an animated show that imagines Dubya, Condi, Cheney and Rove as children. The writers and voice actors recreate Bush and Cheney's speech (and thought) patterns eerily well.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I was fortunate enough to catch the ridiculously talented Tim Seely perform with a full band at Spaceland this week.
I've been a fan ever since hearing his previous band, the Actual Tigers, on KCRW many years ago. Their album Gravelled and Green was recently featured on MSNBC's "top albums of the past 20 years" list. Booya. Back then, I caught their show at the Knitting Factory and lingered afterwards to pledge my allegiance and heap my praise. Unfortunately, Tim was cornered by what looked to be a record company type, so I left the building without gushing.
A bit of kismet was involved in catching his Spaceland show six years later. I'd miss his previous tour a year or so ago, to my great dismay. But this year, through random blog link chance, I happened to visit his web page the day before he played my city. But, alas again, I had a previous engagement. When my previous engagment wrapped up around 10 p.m., I was walking to my car wondering...should I take a chance he hasn't played yet and drive to Spaceland? Yes? No. No? Yes.
As soon as I was strapped into my Honda, I knew what I had to do. I drove to the club lickety split, paid to park, paid the cover and walked in just before he strummed his first chord. Nice.
The show was brilliant. As much as I love the sound on his album, his energy playing live with a full band was intoxicating. I looked around the club during the show, wondering if the people who'd just wandered in wanting to be out on a Tuesday night knew how lucky they were to see such a talented singer/songwriter/musician play.
So the show concludes and I wonder. Wait to talk to him? Chance appearing like a dork by asking him to autograph my CD? Yes? No. No? Yes.
I walked up to the merch table and wrangled a bandmate into finding my size t-shirt in their plastic bin. Then Tim walked up.
"We're actually selling merch?!" he cried out in mock shock and smiled at me.
"Would it be dorky to ask for your autograph?" I queried.
"No, I'd love it."
I walked out of Spaceland with a t-shirt, an original Seely Sharpie scrawl and a big fat smile on my face. Worth the six year wait, I'd say.
In conclusion, if you want to hear his amazing solo album Funeral Music, featuring beautiful melodies, a rusty shed stripped-down vibe and genius lyrics, wait no longer: his MySpace page will give you a tasty sampler.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sports-related foreshadowing in the youth of our Commander in Cheat is revealed in this excerpt from Graydon Carter's Editor's Letter from the February 2007 issue of Vanity Fair:
"I have always thought you could take the measure of a man by his sports manners—that is to say, the way in which he conducts himself on the playing field, or even over a game of chess or cards. Former president Bill Clinton was famous for taking a mulligan, or an extra try, on almost every shot, then playing the ball that had landed in the better spot. He essentially plays a two-man, two-ball "scramble"—but solo. A former employer of mine ensured that he won in tennis against family and underlings by always calling line shots in his own favor. And so it is with our current president, who will scratch, claw, kick, scream, move the goalposts—pretty much do anything to effect a win. He is a sore winner. And a horrible loser.
I was reminded of these traits when I reread 'The Accidental Candidate,' Gail Sheehy's prescient portrait of the future president, published in these pages in October 2000. A sampling:
When Barbara Bush took her 13-year-old son and his best friend, Doug Hannah, to play golf at her Houston club, George would start cursing if he didn't tee off well. His mother would tell him to quit it. By the third or fourth hole he would be yelling "Fuck this" until he had ensured that his mother would send him to the car.
"It fit his needs," says Hannah. "He couldn't lose."
Once, after his mother banished him from the golf course, she turned to Hannah and declared, "That boy is going to have optical rectosis." What did that mean? "She said, 'A shitty outlook on life.'"
Even if he loses, his friends say, he doesn't lose. He'll just change the score, or change the rules, or make his opponent play until he can beat him. "If you were playing basketball and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15," says Hannah, now a Dallas insurance executive. "If he wasn't winning, he would quit. He would just walk off…. It's what we called Bush Effort: If I don't like the game, I take my ball and go home. Very few people can get away with that."
Another fast friend, Roland Betts, acknowledges that it is the same in tennis. In November 1992, Bush and Betts were in Santa Fe to host a dinner party, but they had just enough time for one set of doubles. The former Yale classmates were on opposite sides of the net. "There was only one problem—my side won the first set," recalls Betts. "O.K., then we're going two out of three," Bush decreed. Bush's side takes the next set. But Betts's side is winning the third set when it starts to snow. Hard, fat flakes. The catering truck pulls up. But Bush won't let anybody quit. "He's pissed. George runs his mouth constantly," says Betts indulgently. "He's making fun of your last shot, mocking you, needling you, goading you—he never shuts up!" They continued to play tennis through a driving snowstorm.
It is something of an in-joke with Bush's friends and family. "In reality we all know who won, but George wants to go further to see what happens," says an old family friend, venture capitalist and former MGM chairman Louis "Bo" Polk Jr. "George would say, 'Play that one over,' or 'I wasn't quite ready.' The overtimes are what's fun, so you make your own. When you go that extra mile or that extra point … you go to a whole new level."
Inasmuch as I am writing this the week before Christmas, any sort of prediction is a dicey proposition, but my guess is that Bush will double-down on Iraq. He has lost, but his past would indicate that he will figure that he can have another chance if he can just keep the game going a little longer."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
An excerpt from the Amazon.com review of Al Gore's new book The Assault on Reason: "In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch."
Thanks to Pigs and Battleships' del.icio.us bookmarks, I found a terrific column by Eric Boehlert that brilliantly bristles at the way the mainstream media is proving Al Gore's book's premise. A quote from the piece:
"But such is life for Al Gore when dealing with the Beltway press, where his vociferous critics cannot be bothered with the simplest fact-checking task, while oblivious media outlets such as the Post print up the errors.
Of course the thick irony here is that Gore's book laments the state of our crumbling national dialogue, yet it's the press that often deliberately dumbs down and interrupts our 'conversation of democracy.'"
In his revised take (and related comments section) on The Prestige, the smoke and mirrors story of two magicians doomed to compete to the death, reviewer Mike D'Angelo analyzes a quote from that movie's final moments:
"Since making this post, I've also realized why the closing monologue ends with the words it does: 'Now you're looking for the secret...but you won't find it, because you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.' The first time, I assumed those words alluded to some plot twist I wasn't getting. In fact, they are deeply, grandly metaphorical—the culmination of what I now recognize is the film's exploration of the battle between materialism and spirituality."
That monologue excerpt is worth rereading:
"Now you're looking for the secret...but you won't find it, because you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled."
As Americans (sweeping generalization alert, but if the broom fits...), we don't want to work it out. We want to be fooled. We don't want to know what it truly costs to fuel our SUVs and get our Wal-Mart dollar deals. The point MD'A makes about the battle between materialism and spirituality applies ever so well to the current dilemma the world faces, too. Hello, Iraq.
The twisted genius of the Bush Administration is that it knows we want to be fooled and that has been the secret of its sleight of hand "successes," lo, these many years. Colin Powell with a glass vial is political crack. A Tony Snow job pats us on our heads and sends us off to bed. An Alberto Gonzales "I do not recall" coats, soothes, relieves.
"The American lifestyle is not negotiable," famously said Bush the Senior.
Apparently, our national naivete is not negotiable either.
Comfortably numb. Voluntarily dumb. Forrest Gump 2008.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Winner of the funniest new TV show since The Sarah Silverman Program is HBO's Flight of the Conchords, the tale of two bandmates from New Zealand trying to find love and success in New York. Their quotidian frustrations drift into deadpan music videos and back again, all the while wallowing in the wry ennui of the shrunken t-shirt community. You can watch the first 10 minutes above. The entire first episode is available on HBO.com.
Monday, June 11, 2007
My homie once told me her "gay crush" was Rufus Wainwright. In case the term needs explanation, it's when a straight girl has a crush on a gay guy. I've recently discovered my own gay crush. And his name is Scott Thompson.
Those who've watched Kids in the Hall will understand my unrequited affection, for Scott is gifted in the humor department. (My most favorite KiTH line ever was spoken by Scott. He was playing his male model character and describing his appearance in an international billboard campaign for designer jeans: "My ass was plastered all over the Middle East...and still the fighting continued.") Those who've watched The Larry Sanders Show during the Scott-as-Hank's-assistant years will also comprehend my appreciation. The guy is hilarious. And vulnerable. And charming. And handsome.
But until you've seen him live, well, you haven't seen nothing, honey. I had the thrill, honor, privilege of seeing him do a workshop performance of his upcoming autobiographical one-man show called "Scottastrophe." In it, he relays the drama and trauma that has hounded him his whole life, to his demented delight it would seem, and to great comic effect. By the end of the show, you can't help but fall in love with his big heart and twisted mind. Beam me up, Scotty. Beam me up.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
The reasons I love Garry Shandling are numerous. Watching his new DVD release, Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show, I've fallen head over heels all over again.
Like Sarah Silverman, I first "met" Garry by watching his Showtime sitcom It's Garry Shandling's Show, although I had to wait to see it rebroadcast in the early days of the Fox Network's big Sunday night line-up. It was hilarious and ground-breaking, just like The Larry Sanders Show. How one guy could pull off two such impressive entertainment feats without running away to Africa is remarkable. Garry is definitely Larry David-esque when it comes to breakthrough comedic vision and pure creative drive. In addition, their first names rhyme and include two Rs.
I had a feeling Garry was a good guy after seeing him show up to support Sarah Silverman and her show Jesus is Magic, both when it ran at a local L.A. theater and when it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. At both events, I saw him cruising the lobby crowd wearing a peaceful smile and a well-pressed suit.
After watching all the DVD extras on this latest release, I've realized Garry can be both a narcissitic vortex of neuroses and a loveable and loving mensch. Either way, he's G-D funny. Any fan of the show should do themselves a favor and rent (now on Netflix!) or buy this walk down memory lane. From an enlightening mini-documentary on the history of the show to candid cast interviews to remarkably intimate one-on-one conversations with Sharon Stone, Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Petty, this release puts the special in special features. There is also a generous helping of Garry's favorite episodes to make it a truly rewarding use of compact disc technology. Hey now.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Most recently viewed on the big-screen:
Paris, Je T'aime is a collection of 18 short films shot by 18 different directors set in 18 different neighborhoods in Paris. About halfway through I was half-sold, but by the end I was swooning in aisle four. My favorite segment by far was done by Alexander Payne and starred Margo Martindale as a postal carrier from Denver relaying her trip to Paris in her non-native French. Hilarious and heartstring-plucking. Other standouts for me: Wes Craven's surprisingly light-hearted and romantic offering starring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as an engaged couple arguing in front of Oscar Wilde's grave and Daniela Thomas' grey and touching nanny tale starring Catalina Sandino Moreno. While certain segments left me cold or irritated, as a cinematic buffet it was delightful.
Most recently listened to in headphones:
Soko: Kinda like a French Nelly McKay. Freakin' charming, friggin' cute. Favorite tracks: "I'll Kill Her" and "Sh**ty Day."
Bonde do Role: Muy loco dance masalas (with lasers!) from Brazil. Favorite tracks: "Solta o Frango" and "Geremia."
Both heard on KCRW. The former on "Open Road," the latter on "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Thanks, Gary and Nic.
Most recently watched on DVD:
Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show. One of the best comedies in the history of television. Acerbic in a good way. I heart Garry way too much.