The Best Video Ever

Sure, there are other candidates — Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” and the Beastie Boys’ immortal “Sabotage” — but since Spike Jonze did ’em all, it’s sort of moot. His latest bit, a video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice,” is essentially a three-minute dance piece by Christopher Walken.

Yes, that Christopher Walken.

Bonus question: find the science fiction reference in the song lyrics!

American Gods

If you’re really geeky, you probably already know about the forthcoming novel by Neil Gaiman. His publishing journal – weblog/diary, really – is pretty neat reading even if you never read Sandman.

I’d like to thank Arkansas…

…for making sure that we in the South continue to look like a bunch of ignorant, slack-jawed, inbreeding yokels.

This time around, it’s evolution they’re after — again. A bill in the Arkansas House would bar the topic of evolution or radio-carbon dating of animal and plant fossils from state-funded textbooks. Additionally, teachers would be required to instruct students to mark references to evolution or carbon dating as “false evidence” or “theory” in the margins of books already in use.

Paging Mr. Scopes, Mr. John T. Scopes…

How many Finns you got?

This is an index of graphic files showing the relative density of particular (eponymous) national heritages by county in the U.S.

What those two hotspots of Canadian activity are in Texas I’d love to know. Is one of them Tarrant County, i.e. Ft. Worth?

Rock On, Dude

One afternoon in 1986, a crew of independent filmmakers visited the parking lot of a Maryland auditorium in the hours before a Judas Priest concert. The results are at once compelling and repellant, in particular if you ever owned or wore anything in a zebra print.

Just Like a Yankee

Mark Strauss over at Slate seems to think he’s funny in his latest tirade, a call for Northern secession in an effort to gerrymander the U.S. into a nation more likely to elect presidents with politics more closely resembling his own. Strauss blames us for Dubya’s ersatz victory, but fails to note how many of us voted against Bush even in states viewed as GOP strongholds. In his altogether wrongheaded burst of screed, he paints Southerners as slack-jawed NASCAR addicts too stupid to the political light of day — which boils down to an ad hominem attack on millions of people, many of whom voted the same way he did. I’ve seen broad-brush attacks before, but never one quite so wide and quite so absurd.

Strauss, of course, fails to note that neither side of the Mason-Dixon line corners the market on either NASCAR devotees or PBS supporters, and overlooks the role of the South in the cultural development of the the U.S. Most glaringly, he ignores the millions of voters in the South who voted for someone other than Bush last November. Sure, 150 years ago there was a wrongheaded war about, among other things, slavery. But since then the South has reinvigorated itself socially and economically; cities like Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Houston, and Austin have huge high-tech economies. Southern writers and artists make tremendous contributions to our national cultural ledger. Andwhere would America be without the Blues, Jazz, and Rock and Roll? Barbecue? Mardi Gras? SEC football?

Strauss notes — and is clearly alarmed by — Northern migration to the South and its implications in electoral voting (hint: we get more votes next time — and this troubles him). We can only hope that he continues to believe us all to be drooling evolutionary throwbacks and stays up North — either that, or he comes to visit and meets a crowd of people who don’t take kindly to his high-handed babbling in general — and his barbs about Earnhardt in particular.

Next Stop: Soma.

Apparently running out of maladies to cure, Eli Lilly has created a new one. Actually, they’re just calling good old-fashioned PMS “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder,” and are giving their “new” remedy a marketing full-court press.

The kicker? This new wonder drug — “Sarafem” — is actually just Prozac, i.e., fluoxetine hydrochloride. Oh, what a Brave New World in which we live…

Check it out at Plastic.

March 13

Today is my birthday. According to a whole mess of sites I’m too lazy to link in here, I share it with:

  • Percival Lowell, astronomer, 1855
  • Hugh Walpole, writer, 1884
  • L. Ron Hubbard, “entrepreneur,” 1911
  • William J. Casey, crooked Iran-Contra uberspook, 1913
  • Al Jaffee, MAD Magazine artist, 1921
  • Clarence Nash, voice of Donald Duck, 1936
  • Neil Sedaka, singer, 1939
  • William H. Macy, darned good actor, 1950
  • Dana Delaney, acceptable actor, 1956
  • Adam Clayton, U2, 1960

It is my sincere hope that the inclusion of Clayton, Macy, Jaffee, and a few others compensates for Casey and Hubbard. Hope hope hope.

“It’s not the government’s money…”

Thomas Friedman has a great column in today’s New York Times. My favorite line, in re: the GOP’s rampant desire to spend a surplus that doesn’t yet exist: “I suppose all this won’t hit home until the Republican Party realizes that, without the surplus, there won’t be any more federal buildings to name after Ronald Reagan.”


NASDAQ Bubbles and Comic Book Heros

If there’s any such thing as comic book heros, they don’t wear capes and fight crime per se; they’re the men and women who created comics as we know them the middle part of the 20th century. These people — like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — invented many of the motifs and themes we all not recognize as cannonical comic elements. Lee created or co-created characters like Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and (perhaps most notably) the wildly successful X-Men. Instead of artificial heros in made-up cities, Lee and Kirby gave us real people with unreal abilities who lived in real places and dealt with the rent, pain-in-the-ass bosses, and in general exhibited a level of humanity not seen before in the medium.

Lee, though, never really saw the kind of money you’d think appropriate for someone with his resume. For all his years at Marvel, he was an employee — by his own description, a well compensated employee, but an employee nevertheless. With the rise of the Internet, he saw an opportunity to work his magic again, but with a new medium — and as an owner. A pretty gutsy move for a guy in his seventies, but after all, substantially less robust business plans appeared work, right?

The Standard is running a feature about the sad collapse of Stan Lee Media – done in not so much by the now-infamous dot-com bubble, but by unsavory partners and a lack of business savvy. It’s a damn shame. Excelsior anyway, Stan.

One Year Ago

Ah, the heady days of early spring 2000! Yahoo was trading at $178, and Microsoft was over a c-note. P/E ratios for billion-dollar-market-cap firms involved division by zero. In short, the good old days. If, like me, you’ve had a “near-wealth experience,” you might shudder when you read CNet’s recap of the bubble’s rupture one year ago this week — last March 10, the NASDAQ reached its peak, 5,048.60.

No, I don’t know what it is today. No, don’t tell me.

Seismic Art

You know those sand-pendulum desk geegaws you can buy in office/gift shops? Apparently, this one created a pretty cool pattern during the Washington earthquake last week. Neato.

Breakthrough Breakfast Technology

General Mills can now free you from the tyranny of pre-selected cereal components. Create your own at It remains to be seen if this is an actual moneymaker, even if it is General Mills. In the current plunging-NASDAQ environment, it’s pretty obvious that the notion of custom cereal via the Internet is more a dot-com punchline than a business plan.

Because Each Fan Is Special

You might think that I’m making fun of a certain group of people by calling attention to a page like “NASCAR Poems by Trish!.”

Well, you’d be absolutely right. But with lines like “Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and a guy they call DJ / Show the true meaning of FORD , when they race, / on every race Sunday / Jeremy Mayfield, Jeff Burton and don’t forget Awesome Bill / They race with all their hearts and souls and a very eager will,” how can you not?

You Must Read This

Even though, if you’re like me, it’ll give you a really bad feeling. Greg Palast, an American working for the Observer of London, explains why there was zero coverage of Jeb Bush’s illegal purge of 64,000 mostly black voters in Florida in the months before the election. This evidence of a larger problem in the American press is chilling.

Action Figures, Part II

If those Matrix figures aren’t enough for you, try these. I really want the one of the Pope, complete with Holy Cross Kali Stick and Walther PPK and wearing the “blood red Vatican Assault Uniform.”