Monday, November 13, 2006

Oh god, no!
Someone just used the most egregious, most horrendous, most apallingly atrocious corporate bullshit phrase ever. To describe a meeting where the point was filling people in on status of a project, the term used was "on-boarding."


No, no, no! Not a word. Not even close to a word. Bad, bad, bad.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Lion Becomes the Lamb
Dorothy L. Sayers, best known as the author of the wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey series of mystery novels in the 1930's, was also a noted writer on religion. In her essay "Creed or Chaos," she points out a fact about the life of Jesus that I have always found to be wonderful in provoking both thoughts and arguments:

"The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore. On the contrary; they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild," and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggested a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand. True, he was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before Heaven; but he insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites; he referred to King Herod as "that fox"; he went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a "gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"; he assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple; he drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations; he cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people¹s pigs and property; he showed no proper deference for wealth or social position; when con-fronted with neat dialectical traps, he displayed a paradoxical humor that affronted serious-minded people, and he retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb."

What I love about this philosophy, is that it brings up a point that most so-called Christians would rather forget. Namely that Jesus (whether real, fictional, or a combination of both), was a troublemaker. And yet Christians of today never question the status quo, and would be shocked at the suggestion that Jesus (disclaimer again) was anything less than the perfect "Lamb of God." Interesting....

Monday, October 30, 2006

Political websites that suck
The headline says it all. Check this out if you have time to spare. They are universally awful. I'm not sure if my "favorite" is the candidate who has a margarita recipe or the one who says that his oponent was born under the same sign as Hitler.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Oh, grow up
Wonderful article by Michael Bywater about how it's time to adults to stop whining and just grow up.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Colour in action!
This ad for Sony Brava TV is a wonderful little snippet of lunacy. And yes, they really did this. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Only in Kenya
I cannot begin to tell you how happy this little clip makes me. The tune is infectiously silly, the lyrics insane, the animation too cute for words. I love this!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This short film has a powerful message. Please watch it. Then let it inspire you to do something.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Shake up in the cosmos
Well, it's official, Pluto is no longer a planet. For some reason, this upsets me. In a world full of change and chaos, the planets were a constant. Remember "My Very Extravagent Mother Just Spent Uncle Ned's Pay?" (A memnotic for remembering the planets.) Now Uncle Ned is unemployed and will get no pay.

Sure, the universe changes. Technology makes it possible to explore even further into the galaxy and new celestial bodies appear, but it seems so sad, downgrading a planet to a "dwarf planet." Poor, maligned, Pluto. I may start a petition. Save Pluto!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Way to go Exxon?
Not sure if this is true or not, but if it's hilariously scary.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oldest Ever Pro Baseball Player
This story made me smile.

94-year old John "Buck" O'Neil, one of the stars of the great Negro Leagues, played in a minor league All-Star game on Tuesday night. He lead off the top of the first inning for the West (a walk), and then a mid-inning trade had him starting off the bottom of the inning as well. Horray!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Giant geese and other oddities
Just when you get that "ok, the web is as odd as it can be" feeling, along comes your discovery of the Large Canadian Roadside Attractions website. And once again, life is happily surreal.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I love eggs!
Oh my, there are no words. Crank up the music for this lovely song. Odd with a capital "huh?"

Friday, June 30, 2006

There is no intelligent life... the U.S. Senate. Check out this discussion of the Internet by the senior senator from Alaska. God help us...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's big brother calling...
I find this article very disturbing.

Apparently AT&T have instituted a new policy that says they -- not their customers -- own customer's confidential information and can use it "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

In addition to tracking viewing habits of customers of its new video service (which, apparently, cable companies aren't allowed to do), they apparently think nothing of providing warrantless access to customers' e-mail and web browsing.

This, to put it mildly, is unacceptable. We will be shopping for a new DSL provider this weekend.

Monday, June 19, 2006

On newsstands now!
Hot off the presses is the July, 2006 issue of DownBeat magazine featuring not one, but two pieces by that fabulous jazz critic (and my beloved husband), Forrest Dylan Bryant. On page 22 and 25 you'll find two pieces -- one a review of a concert by the SF Jazz Collective and the other a profile of Marcus Shelby. Go, Forrest, go!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Warning...terrifying commercial ahead
I have no words.... Check out this commercial for Folger's coffee. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Design is dead
I know that's been said throughout the ages, but the the American Institute of Architects have announced the Best Buildings of the Year and they all, without fail, suck. They are cold, dismal, and completely without style, grace, or charm. Help us.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Musical joy!
The new release from jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut is just that...pure joy. Called Genuine Chestnut this CD is just fabulously fun. It's solidly played, life-affirming, wonderful, light happiness for the ear. Buy this one, you'll love it!

Friday, June 09, 2006

There's a magazine for everything...
Forget Practical Horseman or The Doors Collectors magazine. If you want specific, check out Church Production magazine. Billed as the "Educational Magazine for Houses of Worship Covering Audio, Video, and Lighting Technologies," this seems to be geared towards those scary Baptist mega-churches with congregations the size of towns.

The ads in this magazine are obviously specialized for the audience. Audio mixing boards with headlines that read "Expand your Ministry," (of course, when I think preaching I think sound systems worthy of Madison Square Garden). One video system has the header "Talk about intelligent design..." (no comment). How about "is your praise music getting more complaints than praise?" or "it takes more than faith to hold up a top quality projector."

Wow...I had no idea.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In praise of creative pranks
This prank is hilarous. Complicated, complex, and something of a sociological experiment at well. But definitely interesting. Bravo!

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's time to fight again
Bush and his cronies have renewed their fight to write into the constitution an amendment banning gay marriage. All I can say is, fight it. It's ludicrous that so-called celebrities should be allowed to be married for 2-days while loving couples with a 25-year relationship have to fight to get health benefits. It's wrong, and it must be stopped.

Write your elected officials telling them not to buy into this form of legalized hatred. Donate money to causes that are fighting for equal rights (my two favorites are theHuman Rights Campaign and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund).

Whatever you do, don't just sit back and hope for the best. It's time to fight again!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Who is fabulous?
The fabulous Jonathan Spencer, a dear friend and the current Jeopardy champion. He won last night's episode with his lethal knowledge of playwrights.

I cannot wait for tonight to see if he can repeat. It was tremendous fun to see such a truly wonderful person do something so cool. Go, Jon, go! (But I must admit, in spite of the fact that we were convinced he was going to win -- it was tremendously nerve-wracking to watch.) Tonight I must fortify myself with wine for the ordeal. We are so proud of him!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is glamour dead?
In a wonderful article on glamour by Carina Chocano in the LA Times she explores how our definition of the word has changed over the years. By comparing the golden days of Hollywood to cardboard mini-stars like Paris Hilton, she demonstrates how we've lost all sense of what used to be glamourous.

My favorite line, "The contrast between what is glamorous now and what was glamorous in the days of Cary Grant and Norma Shearer says much about how American society has changed. Glamour used to present an idealized version of adulthood. Now it presents an idealized version of adolescence."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Do you argue?
Do you and your significant other argue? My husband and I don't really, except when I'm insane with PMS and he's trying to be nice and I accuse him of pretty much everything under the sun. (I honestly don't know why he puts up with me!)
However, if you and your sweetie argue, chances are you'll find this amusing. And even if you don't argue, it's still danged funny.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's superhero day
First the stunning revalation about Batwoman and now this! The folks at 1000 words have once again come up with a great idea. This time it's superheroes and old masters. Great stuff.
Oh the humanity!
Hello Kitty goes iPod. And the world collectively drops about 10 IQ points.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Guy lit
As an alternative to "chick lit" there's now guy lit, apparently about immature losers who hate their jobs, drink too much, can't find a girlfriend, and don't really care. My favorite line from this article: "Women won't read these books unless there is some hope of redemption, some effort these guys make to change. And men won't read them because, well, real men don't read."
All I want is a plot, people!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fun with endless photos
This is cool. It's a crazy ass, never-ending photo mosaic thing. Just keep clicking, it just goes on and on and on....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Glaucoma Hymn!
Sometimes something comes along that makes me so happy I'm giddy. The Glaucoma Hymn is one of those things. It's so awful that I love it. Happy, happy, happy, that's what I am. The entire website it atrocious, and was voted one of the worst of 2005. You can check out the other winners...uh....losers as voted by Web Pages That Suck. Trust me, every one is a dirty, stinking gem. I love the one from the Vatican especially.

Happy, happy, happy!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Love the chintz!
I know that your home "makes a statement." Whether that statement is "I'm so rich I can afford to make my house look like a crumbling Tuscan ruin" or whether it's "look! I have no taste!" is a mystery only your visitors can unlock. But this book review made me laugh. I'm not a "house whore" (though given the ability to buy a house I'd become a total decor addict), but I know people like this.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Songs that make you go "Ack!"
Well, CNN voters have chimed in on the worst songs of all time. I must say, they certainly picked some winners....uh....I mean losers. Number 1 is the apalling "You're Having My Baby" by Paul Anka. Is your least favorite on the list?

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Fourth Bad Writing Contest has been won (or lost, as the case may be). Check out the atrocious winner here.
Yes, finally Christians are fighting fire with fire. Check out these wonderful ads from Faith in America urging people to stop hating homosexuals in the name of religion. The are fabulous, and very much needed.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Name that tune
Everything you ever wanted to know about Muzak. Actually, this story is quite interesting. More so than their music...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Aw, those poor, persecuted Christians
Imagine how terrible they feel. Being picked on and maligned. According to them, Tom DeLay was ousted as majority leader not because he broke the law, but becaust he is a Christian.

While reading this article, I swear I could feel my blood pressure rising. I must be one of those who "despise the cause of Christ" because I don't do the whole god thing. Never mind that you don't need religion to give you a moral backbone (Thou shalt not kill. Duh!), never mind that I believe in the whole Golden Rule thing and I also believe everyone has the right to worship (or not) in their own way. Never mind that I am a member of the ACLU, which is dedicated to protecting the Constitution and, especially, the Bill of Rights (remember Freedom of Religion folks?). Nope, I am the enemy.

Poor things, I feel so sorry for them. So sorry that I feel the need to give a bit extra this month to the Human Rights Campaign which actually understands so-called "Christian" concepts like, compassion, acceptance and, above all, love.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dream trip
Oh to be filthy rich! This article on seeing the Northern Lights as a dream trip has me totally jealous. I wanna go!

Friday, March 03, 2006

What he said...
Why do I love Jon Carroll? (In a perfectly platonic way, tinged only by a huge case of writer's envy.) Because he says what I think. Read this.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Code breakers
As someone who has always been fascinated by the role cryptology played in WWII, I found this article to be of great interest.

It seems that someone decided to harness the Internet and the power of volunteered, idling compuers, to try and track the remianing Nazi "Enigma" codes that hadn't been broken by the genius codebreakers of Bletchley Park. They've succeeded in deciphering one of them...there are more to go. Cool!
And speaking of hate...
In support of my post (below) about the Southern Poverty Law Center, I present this horrifying story. Thirteen-year-old white supremicist twin singers. Their story and their comments, frankly, make me nauseous.

While I realize the chances of any of those types of people reading this are slim, I nevertheless need to take this opportunity to vent.

These people seem to think they are superior, by virtue of having been born white. And they believe that anyone of African descent is, therefore, inferior. In fact their lives are so distorted by hate, they view African-Americans as so far inferior as to be undeserving of civil liberties, equal rights, or basic human respect.

To them I say that, with that attitude, you will never be as wise as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You will never have the capacity to spread joy of Louis Armstrong. You will never have the courage of Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, or Frederick Douglass. You will never have enough depth of feeling to create anything as beautiful as works by James Baldwin, Duke Ellington, Maya Angelou, or Thelonious Monk. You will never bring light and humor in the way that Bill Cosby or Whoopi Goldberg can. You will never fire people with inspiration like Malcom X , Muhammad Ali, or the Little Rock Nine. You will never travel into space like Mae Jemmison, contribute to medical research like Percy Lavon Jullian, or make international discoveries, like George Washington Carver. You will not make the world a better place, like Nelson Mandela. You will never be as important as Colin Powell, W.E.B. Du Bois, or Jackie Robinson.

And all this is as it should be. Because the best thing for people like you is to be forgotten.
Worth your support
If you don't know the Southern Poverty Law Center, you should. It began as a small Civil Rights law firm back in the "separate but equal" days, and since become inernationally known for its tolerance education.

As long-time supporters of the SPLC, we receive their regular journal, which is designed to terrify and anger those of us who have crazy ideas like "all men are created equal." This month's journal focuses on white supremacist organizations, angry anti-immigration activists, and various other upsetting groups and individuals. There's also an article on this lunatic "scientist" whose homophobic "research" while having been soundly denounced by experts, is still touted as an authority on why homosexuality is evil. (My favorite of his outrageous "facts" is this: according to him, lesbians are 300% more likely to die in a car accident than heterosexual women!)

If any of you have a little extra cash (and I know money is tight for us all), they're a great group that you might want to consider supporting. And even if you can't spare the cash, check out their website for more information on how you can get involved in the fight against intolerance and bigotry.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Into Olympics withdrawal
Well, the winter Olympics are over, and I'm already into withdrawal. Screw the "Olympics? What Olpymics?" attitude that apparently most of America had. I and my sweetie were glued to the TV for two weeks, completely caught up in Olympic fever.

And while I couldn't care less about the over-hyped, under-achieving Bode Miller, and found the equally ballyhooed women's figure skating to be thoroughly dull, I must admit that my revelation for the games is this:

Biathalon rules! What a cool sport. OK, on paper the concept of cross-country skiing yourself into exhaustion, only to stop and shoot at a target, seems like a ridiculous waste of time and energy. But oh my goodness, does it make for compelling TV viewing. (No, I'm not kidding!)

What I loved about it is how quickly the lead could change. Some guy skiis to the first shooting stage a full minute ahead the rest of the crew, misses two out of five shots, has to ski a 150 meter penalty loop, and suddenly some unknown from Latvia is in the lead. I lost track of just how many times that happened...the favorite totally implodes at a shoot, someone back in the pack shoots clean, and all of a sudden you've got a new leader. It's fascinating. Plus, at the end, there's frequently a crazy dash for the finish line that cannot help but get you screaming "go! go!' for that one guy from Finland that you just want to win.

Totally addicting.

On a side not, it's official, I think Apolo Anton Ohno is cool. I like how gracious and genuine he is in the face of both victory and defeat. He and the generosity of Joey Cheek completely redeemed the otherwise vaguely dull and, times, cringe-worthy American team (a tiara? on a ski helmet?).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scary food!
OK, be prepared to laugh so hard you'll give yourself a seizure. This is the funniest thing I've seen in ages. The captions are hilarious...whoever wrote them is a genius.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sick of X-sports at the Olympics?
Yeah, me too. That's why I loved this opinion piece from the LA Times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

While researching love poetry for an upcoming radio show, I came across this, which was too wonderful not to share.

by Carl Sandburg

I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me,
what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands
of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile, as though I
was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Des Plaines
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their
women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.
And gay people are an abomination?
This I can't believe.

Anti-gay crusader and all around asshole Fred Phelps and his band of inbred loonies are now going around to military funerals and holding protests. According to this genius, American deaths in Iraq are "divine punishment" for a country that "harbors homosexuals." So these idiots go to funerals carrying signs thanking god for explosives. And these people think they're Christian?!?

Enter a group of bikers who are going to the same funerals with flags and doing what they can to shield the grieving families from the taunts of the Reverend and his Klan of renown.

The CNN article is, frankly, both hilarious and terrifying. I mean how can people think like that? How can they believe that it's ok to make someone's sorrow worse by mocking their funeral, but that it's not OK for two adults who love each other to get married?

You know, there's just nothing I can say...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cute overload
Your head just might explode, but here's a site with the cutest animal photos ever.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

And speaking of the Olympics
Am I the only one in America who'd rather see the one Kenyan bobsledder actually make his run than hear yet another story about the over-rated, over-inflated Bode Miller? No, I thought not.

More random thoughts about the Olympics:
- Why, oh why, are all Olympic mascots so terrifying? The ice cube and snowball from hell characters above? Creepy! Nightmare-inducing, creepy. Hold me.
- Memo to the snowboarding broadcasters: What language were you speaking? Oh, and "podium" is not a verb. Never has been. Learn, people, learn.
- So many athletes. So many iPods. Oh the humanity!
- The Russian speedskating uniforms are an abomination unto us all.
- The opening ceremonies Let's see, we'll get a Ferrari, some skaters with jet packs, a guy with an anvil, and Yoko Ono. Yup, got all we need. Pass the popcorn.
- Why does everyone sound like they're yelling the same languge in curling? Someone hurls a rock and instantly gets incomprehensible. Whether it's Danish, Finnish, or English, it all sounds exactly the same.
- Why don't those poor non-winter sports countries who want an Olympic team put together a curling squad? Infinitely safer than having some poor hapless African guy strap himself to a bobsled and roll off to his doom.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Don't buy that!
The Compact is a Bay Area group fed up with rampant consumerism. They've taken a pledge not to buy anything new in 2006, except for food, health item,s and underwear. Everything else must come from thrift shops, friends, or other outlets. It's an intriguing idea. I'm already a huge fan of thrift shops and used book and record stores....and I'm not a shopaholic. But I'm not sure if I could do this. Could you?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No more frying pans!

NOTE: Since posting this, I noticed CNN has changed the headline to "Bush urges end to violence over cartoons." I guess I'm not the only one who had visions of the RoadRunner.

This article on deals with the escalating violence over the cartoon in Denmark. President Bush, always one for turning the other cheek (kidding) has urged that things just settle down. OK, nice sentiment but doubt it'll have any effect at all.

But what cracks me up is the headline of the article reads "Bush urges end to cartoon violence." Wile E. Coyote can no longer go "boom" via an Acme bomb? No more getting hit in the face with a frying pan to that satisfying "boooiiiinnnng" noise? No more Elmer Fudd trying to shoot Bugs Bunny and having the gun explode in his face?

How sad....Saturday mornings will seem so dull compared to the local jihad.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thank you, Mrs. King
For as long as I can recall, at every place I've worked, I've written a quote for the day on a whiteboard. Even if I was the only one who ever bothered to read it, at least I could count on starting every morning with something inspiring, quirky, bitchy, or just plain smart-assed.

Often my quotes are relevant to my situation at work, current affairs, or commemorating a specific date.

Today's quote is "Hatred is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated," which was said by the late Coretta Scott King. And underneath today's quote I wrote "Thank you, Mrs. King."

While leaving my office to go get some water, a random person asked what I was thanking Mrs. King for. It rather took me aback. I replied that I was thanking her for spending her life as a champion of civil rights. That she'd never, even in the past few years, given up being an activist for equal rights for all.

And this guy asked, "is there still a fight for civil rights?"

Wow. What a question. I guess being a straight white guy in the rarified liberal climate of Northern California probably makes it seem like there's no longer any fight left, but I had to say that yes, there is still a fight.

That was my short answer. What I wanted to say was that until my gay friends can marry, then civil rights is still an issue. Until groups like the Aryan Brotherhood and the Klan stop recruiting people to hate others, then yes, civil rights is still an issue.

If you look at civil rights as the "rights" to live in a "civilized" society, then the battle is far from over. We may not have apartheid as an institution, but there is still a negative division between the majority of African Americans and the majority of European Americans. We may have the separation of church and state, but we have politicians who want to push a Christian agenda onto everyone through the teaching of so-called "Intelligent Design." Homosexuality may not be illegal, but it is also not exactly legal either. Especially when so-called "Christians" preach the gospel according to Saint Everyone is Wrong But Me and announce, with no logic whatsoever, that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of straight marriage. We may have freedom of speech on paper, but disagreeing with the current administration gets you labeled as a traitor. We may preach that America is the land of the free, and the great melting-pot, but those with Arabic-sounding names have come under criticism and hostility for nothing more than their ethnicity and their faith.

Dr. and Mrs. King did so much for the United States, and for the world as a whole. But the fight is far from over. If we've learned nothing from their commitment to equality, let us at least take away the message that the fight will be long and hard. In a world of cardboard heroes whose only claim to fame is being famous, it's good to be reminded of what real heroes and heroines are like. I can never claim to have the wisdom, the courage, or the strength of the Kings...but I can honestly say that I desire to be worthy of the legacy they gave to us all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Long live Zookeeper!
The seriously cool online playlist keeper/database/goodie bag at KZSU, Stanford. In case you want to see what I've been playing, read some of my reviews, or otherwise check up on the sound of At the Cafe Bohemian, check out my page in the DJ Zone.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who knew?
Who knew that Mussolini had a jazz-playing son? Romano Mussolini has died in Italy at the age of 79. He was apparently a high-respected jazz pianist who played with, among others, Dizzie Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Chet Baker.

What an odd world it is.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oh the humanity!
It's bad. It's culturally offensive. It's hilarious. It's David Hasselhoff and he's Hooked on a Feeling!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Two more Caravaggios!
Perhaps only those of us who studied Art History will be at all excited by this, but two paintings discovered in a French church have just been declared to be by Caravaggio.

The bad boy of the Renaissance is one of my all-time favorite artists (what can I say? I'm a sucker for someone who realizes that wandering around the holy lands in the time of Christ would probably lead to dirty feet and torn clothes -- rather than white robes and golden halos).

Any day that delivers two unexpected Caravaggios to the world has to be considered a good day!
R.I.P. Fayard Nicholas
I love the Nicholas Brothers. Fayard and Harold Nicholas were two of the most charismatic dancers ever captured on film. Made Astaire look like a super-sophisticated hack too cool to break a sweat.

From way back in 1934 when Samuel Goldwyn cast them in Kid Millions with Eddie Cantor, to their last movie in 1948 (The Pirate with Gene Kelly). Those two with their flawless style, unbridled energy, and trademark splits made every scene they were in truly memorable.

Fayard Nicholas died today at the age of 91. They were both irreplacable. Luckily, I have his autograph.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We regret the error...
How often have you seen that phrase, buried on page 7 of a newspaper that has to grovelingly report that they misidentified someone in a photo or made a claim in one of their stories that was, well, just plain wrong? Thanks fo Jon Carroll (my favorite columnist) I now know about Regret the Error a website of retractions -- many of them really odd and/or really funny.

Monday, January 23, 2006

What? Survivor contestants cheating???
Oooh, breaking news! Apparently an ex-Survivor contestent is claiming some of the contestants cheat.

Um...and this is surprising why? Let me see if I get this's a "contest" where the winner seems to be the person who can lie and backstab well enough to get everyone else on his or her side, and we're supposed to be apalled that perhaps people aren't exactly honest about how they play the game?

People, please, find something else to get upset about. Like, oh, perhaps a war?

Friday, January 20, 2006

The power of punctuation
As an editor-type person, I have a fondness for punctuation. I just came across this example of how punctuation can completely change the meaning of a phrase:

1. A woman, without her man, is nothing.
2. A woman: without her, man is nothing

That's all.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Remembering Poe
I love this story. For the past 57 years, a mystery mourner has left roses and abottle of cognac on the grave of Edgar Allan Poe to mark his January 19th birthday. This year was no exception. I love cool things like this...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Does the Pope like acrobats?
I don't know why, perhaps lack of caffeine, but this photo struck me as being highly surreal. The caption from the BBC website where I found this reads: Pope Benedict XVI watches Italian circus artists perform during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

I always thought "an audience with the Pope" meant that you got to see the Pope....not that the Pope was the audience and you had to entertain him.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Forget Columbus Day!
We may have to start celebrating Zheng He Day. A 1763 Chinese map that claims to be a copy of an original map drawn in 1418 shows Africa and the Americas. Although the story is controversial, it's been a long-held belief that Chinese mariners did, in fact, sail to America long before that upstart Columbus.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Kipling speaks!
And so does Tennyson, Yeats, and Langston Hughes. Plus dozens of contemporary English-language poets. It's the Poetry Archive and, best of all, you can listen for free!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ironic...and sick
There's always at least one headline on that makes me go "huh." Today's stumper is Mummified body found in front of TV which in itself sounds like an ironically fitting commentary on American society.

Apparently this woman died over two years ago, and left instructions that she didn't want to be buried. However, in the third paragraph is a link to a video which I cannot bring myself to follow. It seems that this woman had a caretaker, and CNN urges us to "watch why the caregiver thought body parts grew back." To which I can only say "no, I do not wish to watch why this woman's caregiver thought body parts grew back."

I'm sure the explanation is twistedly fascinating, but I also have no desire to find out just exactly why someone would think this.

It's a weird world.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Another case of "who the f**k?"
On is this earth-shattering headline Scott Stapp announces engagement. Oh good. Who the hell is he and why should we care. Is this a plea for fondue sets? Will CNN also publish the couple's "save the date" cards?

Why, oh why has the American media made it its goal to publicize every tiny detail of every pitiful life of every no-talent hack in the world?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Book Report: The Barbary Plague

It's easy to think of the Bubonic Plague as a medieval affliction only, but it's still around. Cases are reported every year in many countries around the world, including the US. Thankfully, most outbreaks are isolated, and nothing like the what was experienced in San Francisco in the first years of the 20th century.

Starting in 1900 with an outbreak in Chinatown that terrified and terrorized the inhabitants, and reaching its height in the aftermath of the great earthquake and fire or 1906, the Plague was a major threat to public health in the city by the bay.

In The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco,author Marilyn Chase details the history of the outbreak in SF, shows how political in-fighting and back-room shenanigans almost derailed the efforts to protect the city, and explores the lives of those who risked their own health to help protect others.

It's a well-researched and well-written book, which should be a good read for those with an interest in the history of SF, the history of medicine, or looking for examples of how public policy was formed. It's especially intriguing for the glimpse at the racism the Chinese of San Francisco faced in the new century.

I found many of the individuals in the book to be fascinating, including Joseph Kinyoun, a doctor whose lack of political tact led to his being nearly railroaded out of the city, in spite of the fact he was sincere in his efforts to stop the spread of the disease. Another compelling character, about whom I'd like to know more, is "Boss" Abe Reuf, one of those larger-than-life types that make early San Francisco history read like something from a Preston Sturgis film. After placing a hand-picked candidate in as mayor, and accepting payoffs from nearly everyone in town, he was eventually indicted on something like 65 counts of taking bribes.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Who the F**K is Ryan Seacrest???

Ok, I know I'm so far out of touch with popular culture that I couldn't reach it with a map and a dead albatross, but could somebody please tell me who the hell Ryan Seacrest is and why he's famous?

As far as I can tell, he's famous for being famous.

He's not an actor. Or a singer. I think he may "host" a reality TV show or something. He may also do the odd celebrity interview before major awards shows, or something equally useless. But really...why?

He's not attractive, his...well, sort of moist and doghy. He's entirely artificial (Ryan Seacrest? Yeah, that's your real name.), completely without charisma as far as I can tell, and all-around a bad idea.

Does anybody remember when you had to actually be well-known to be a "star?" I find it hilarious how I'll pick up a People magazine at the hairdressers and flip through pages of people I've never heard of, under headlines like "Superstar Prisccilla Pointless Bares it All at Cannes!" Ooh....goodie. Who is that? And why does her nose look like it fell off and was stuck back on with Superglue?

In today's disposible culture of fame, apparently it takes nothing more than having 3 out of 5 people think you're attractive in order to become a celebrity.

Which still doesn't explain who the hell Ryan Seacrest is and why we should care.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Attack of the J-Pop
And speaking of KZSU...

Last night, being the first Tuesday of the month, I was joined on my show by DJ Cho-beri-ba for another edition of "Tokyo Radio Tsumami." As usual, I played an hour of new world music (that's music that is both new and world...not "new world" music which sounds all "oh, we have found the new world"-ish). Then we (Ok, he) played 2-hours of hyper-caffeinated Japanese pop music from artists such as Porno Graffiti, B'z, and the ever-bubbly Morning Masume.

During the evening we spoke a bit about the Red & White Singing Festival (see below), and found that, once again, our tastes are completely different. While I was screaming in hilarity over the surreality of artists such as Gorie and whoever it was who had dancing Darth Vaders and Stormtroopers as part of their act, he was hitting the fast-forward button in order to watch his favorite artists actually sing.

Honestly, some people just don't get it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Broaden your musical horizons in 2006
Entertainment Weekly, that bible for the "tell me what to think" crowd has released its dull and pointless list of the best music of 2005. No offense to list-sitters Fiona Apple, Kanye West and others, but I would like to suggest that if you aren't already musically adventurous, that you strike out some new territory for a new year.

I don't really want to make a list of the best, because there were so many amazing releases in 2005...nor do I claim that my suggestions are better than EW's....just a bit more interesting because so few people know about them.

Some of my highlights for the year:

Up and Down by the Palm Wine Boys. This SF Bay Area-based band released a quiet, fun little album that quickly became one of my favorites of the year. It's melodic folk/pop/West African Palm Wine music that cannot help but improve your mood. Honest. Trust me.

Chavez Ravine by Ry Cooder. This concept album about the destruction of a Latino neighborhood to make way for LA's Dodger Stadium is a musical buffet. A wide variety of musical styles, all of them played with flair and panache, make for a truly varied and engaging listen.

Celtic Crossroads, yet another wonderful Putumayo compilation. This one features glorious vocal harmonies, tight playing, and a sweet and captivating selection of music. And speaking of compilations...

Swing Around the World, also from Putumayo, is a fun, funky, hip-shaking, grin-inducing gas. You'll smile, you'll dance around the kitchen, you'll have a fine old time. Truly one of the most joyful, playful releases in ages.

Prototyp by Hurdy-Gurdy. Two members of Nordic superbands Garmarna and Hedningarna team up for a crazy, delicious, original selection of instrumental songs all created by morphing sounds of hurdy-gurdies into a sort of ancient/modern synth mix. Too hard to describe, just listen.

I know, that's only five...but I have work to do.

Monday, January 02, 2006

P-E-C-O-R-I Night!
So how was your New Year's Eve?

One of the traditions Forrest and I have for that evening is our annual viewing of the NHK Red & White Singing Festival, courtesy of KTSF in San Francisco. It's a 56-year old festival that is, apparently, the most watched annual TV event in Japan and it is truly, truly odd.

Teams of male (the white team) performers alternate with female (the red team) to perform everything from hyper-caffeinated J-pop to tear-wrangling ballads....and everything in between. The costuming and set designs are (you must read this with a hugely affected drag queen accent) faaabulous! Dancing cartoon characters. Women in break-away dresses. The Japanese Simon & Garfunkel on acoustic folk, followed by hoards of 13-year old look-alike girls with cheesy Dance Fever choreography.

This year's highlight, though, had to be Gorie, a female impersonator (competing for the women's team) dressed like a cheerleader, surrounded by blinding dozens of other cheerleaders, and go-teaming his/her way through a Japanese version of that epic 70s classic Saturday Night. (Remember the Bay City Rollers?) This version (called Pecori Night) was a veritable feast for the senses and only slightly terrifying. Gorie (that's the famous Gorie, above) was on the losing team, but did bring me nearly to tears with laughter.

Happy new year, everyone. May 2006 be as surreal as a Gorie cheer.