Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Simpson's "See My Vest": 70% 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, 30% Beauty and the Beast

One of the primary reasons I love the Simpsons is for the show's numerous and loving homages to thousands of classic films, both well known and obscure. Here are three Youtube clips that illustrate the references that appear to have shaped Mr. Burn's "See My Vest" song and dance sequence.



Friday, November 03, 2006

prescient foreign policy analysis from...The Onion

"What exactly is our endgame here? Do we really believe that we can install Gen. Tommy Franks as the ruler of Iraq? Is our arrogance and hubris so great that we actually believe that a U.S. provisional military regime will be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people? Democracy cannot possibly thrive under coercion. To take over a country and impose one's own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy. And it is doomed to fail. A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster."
The Onion, March 2003.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Car Crashes Into Swork

Swork, at the corner of Eagle Rock and Colorado Boulevards, is one of my favorite coffeehouses. Today I drove past and saw that the glass front doors appeared to be broken and were being boarded up. Watching the news tonight (I haven't found anything on the web yet), I learned that a driver leaving the gas station across the street somehow stepped on the accelerator (it was suggested that the driver might have had a seizure), hit another car, and ended up plowing into Swork's front door. Six people were hospitalized for their injuries.

Get well, fellow Swork patrons. I look forward to again eavesdropping on your interesting conversations while enjoying free wi-fi and excellent coffee...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Bunny Museum

How is it possible that I've never been to Pasadena's Bunny Museum? Sounds perfect for Huell Howser...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Killer Squirrels Out For Blood

Yesterday my girlfriend and I were debating the relative appeal of squirrels and rats. They are both similarly sized rodents, and both can carry disease, yet squirrels are loved by all and have become a symbol of bucolic suburbia while rats are universally loathed. I suggested that merely having a thick, bushy tail was to blame for the wildly divergent opinions about the similar creatures, while my girlfriend argued that squirrels are cute, and rats are gross.

Well, here's an article that may start to reverse the tide of pro-squirrel propaganda.

From the San Francisco Gate:

Boy Attacked By Squirrel In Mtn. View Park

A fierce squirrel attacked a 4-year-old boy at Mountain View's Cuesta Park last week as the rodent tried to wrestle a muffin out of the boy's hands, leaving him with scratch and bite marks that prompted a series of precautionary rabies shots.

The skirmish wasn't the first time the park's numerous tree squirrels targeted picnickers.

Mountain View Community Services Director David Muela said today that as many as six people have been bitten or scratched by squirrels since May, and that the attacks have become more ferocious in the last month. One squirrel even went so far as to jump into a child's stroller.

Full article here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

healthy ladles of thick gravy

I'm a big fan of Canadian culture, so when I spotted this goofy, endearing ad in the Pasadena Weekly about 6 months ago I knew I had to check this place out. My girlfriend and I went there for breakfast, and it was actually quite good.

Friday, September 22, 2006

not a good week for mainstream film

It's been a depressing week for mainstream films. Not a single one of the top five films at the box office this week had a "fresh" rating (60%+ positive reviews) at Rotten Tomatoes.

Yet another reason to enjoy some alternative cinema or go to the New Beverly instead of the multiplex.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

get well, Richard Hammond

Richard Hammond, one of the presenters on BBC's Top Gear (quite possibly the greatest TV show of all time), was injured yesterday when he crashed a jet-powered car while attempting to break a British land speed record for a segment on the show. According to most reports, he crashed at around 280 miles an hour, and was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition. He's been upgraded to "stable" now, and hopefully he will make a full and speedy recovery. Richard, get well soon!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Darwin foiled again

Man drunkenly climbs into panda enclosure, tries to hug panda, is bitten, bites the panda back, only to survive when zookeepers come to his rescue.

From CNN:

The Beijing Youth Daily quoted Zhang, a father of two who was visiting Beijing for the first time, as saying that he had seen pandas on television and "they seemed to get along well with people."

"No one ever said they would bite people," Zhang said. "I just wanted to touch it. I was so dizzy from the beer. I don't remember much."

More goodness in the CNN article.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Vol. 1

It's a good thing I'm not hugely wealthy, because then I'd have to grapple with choices such as whether or not to drive a Bugatti Veyron, currently the fastest street-legal car ever built. You can buy one for a mere $1.4 million, or lease one from Putnam Leasing.

Here are the numbers for the lease:
Down Payment: $400,000
Monthly Payment: $23,595 x 60 months
Total cost of lease over 5 years: $1,815,700

Of course, you're only allowed to drive the Veyron 2,500 miles a year, which is less than 10 hours of driving at the Veyron's top speed of 253mph. Jesus.

Perhaps in a future entry I'll ponder fantasy plane purchases, many of which are a bargain in comparison.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mohammed Ellroy-Baradei?

Is it just me, or were author James Ellroy and IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei separated at birth?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

two picnics, two classic films, one amazing concert

Occasionally I'll have a glorious weekend that could only happen in Los Angeles, the kind of weekend that makes you realize that the smog and the traffic and headaches are worth it. This was one of those weekends.

On Saturday night, I went to Hollywood Forever Cemetery with my girlfriend and my good friend John. We enjoyed a sunset picnic dinner, and watched The Apartment as the moon rose over the mausoleum. The Apartment is one of my all time favorite movies, and it was an absolute treat to see it in a perfect setting with good company. After several years of frequent attendance, this season I've mostly avoided Cinespia's cemetery screenings because the crowds have been so massive as to make the whole experience a logistical nightmare, but this Saturday the event was well managed and it seemed less crowded.

Sunday afternoon, Anne and I went to the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo to see The Kid Brother, starring Harold Lloyd and written by my great-grandfather. The Old Town Music Hall is probably my second favorite theater in L.A., after the New Beverly--one of those places that is staggering far away from the superficial veneer that most people think of when "L.A." comes to mind. It's a small theater in El Segundo that plays primarily silent films and very early musicals. All films are preceded by a short concert played on a massive Wurlitzer organ, which takes up the entire front of the theater. After the concert, there's a sing-along, usually of songs that were popular the year the movie that you're there to see was released. In our case, that would be 1927...and most of our fellow moviegoers were old enough to have seen the film as a new release. If you haven't been to the Old Town Music Hall, break out of your Pacific-Mann-AMC-Regal rut and GO NOW, it's always an interesting experience.

After the Kid Brother, we stopped by home briefly to pick up our picnic kit, and headed directly to the Hollywood Bowl to see Neko Case, Ryan Adams and Willie Nelson. We were primarily there to see Neko, and the sound her massive voice filling the Bowl gave me the chills. Ryan Adams was mediocre, but Willie was utterly amazing. Neither Anne nor I had ever taken anything more than a casual interest in Willie Nelson, but he absolutely blew us away. Amazing songwriting, staggering musicianship from him and his band, wonderful voice. Top notch on every level.

This morning Neko performed live on KCRW. Do yourself a favor and listen to her performance here.

how do you ruin the mystique of a one of a kind, 500hp concept motorcycle?

White legs and no socks, that's how.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

behold the genius of loudon wainwright III

I never knew much about Loudon Wainwright until I researched him after seeing him as an actor on Undeclared. Fortunately, the Undeclared box-set includes a filmed Loudon Wainwright concert that serves as a great introduction to the man and his songs.

domain disappointment

The last thing I need is another domain name, yet discovering that is already registered saddened me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Amazon's food categories need some work. However, I'm tickled by the idea of user ratings for instant noodles.


Enough salt to kill a healthy person., April 25, 2006
Reviewer:PeytonPlace - See all my reviews
If you need to cut down on salt, only eat this stuff while ALREADY waiting in the emergency room!

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:

SOOOOOOO much SALT!, February 23, 2006
Reviewer:J. Arena (Williamsburg, VA) - See all my reviews
I used to eat this stuff all the time and thought it was the greatest cheap meal in the world. Then, I found out my blood pressure was a little high. After cutting down on extra salt for quite some time, I tried to eat ramen noodles again! Holy cow! It was like up-ending the salt shaker directly into my cake-hole!
If you've ever thought you should cut down on salt, BEWARE

Unfortunately, no one has reviewed pure MSG yet.

On Magazines*

Currently Amazon is having a sale on magazine subscriptions, which started me thinking about the gazillions of magazine subscriptions I've held through the years. Here is an incomplete list. Current subscriptions are in bold.

Ranger Rick (as a kid)
World (as a kid)
A/V Multimedia Video Producer (Siggraph freebie)
Computer Graphics World
Animation Magazine (should be known as "Animation Press Release Magazine")
Wired (always interesting, but I still never read it)
Time (rarely had time to read, and started getting news on the web instead)
Newsweek (Booo-ring)
U.S. News & World Report (freebie, cancelled when I found out it was Time for right wing apologist hacks)
World War II
Military History (consistently fascinating)
Popular Mechanics (written for fourth graders)
Popular Science
Entertainment Weekly (high school conversational cheat sheet)
Budget Travel (surprisingly useful)
Aviation History
Auto Week (freebie, not a bad way to spend 10 minutes)
Road & Track (the same crap as the other car mags, but with better photography)
Motor Trend (yawn)
Plane & Pilot
Car & Driver
Sport Compact Car
The Atlantic
The New Yorker (brilliant, but I don't read it as often as I'd like to)
Mac Home Journal (back in the day!)
Air & Space
National Geographic Adventure

Obviously, I love magazines, and am unable to resist subscribing to them. The problem is that, since the internet has become my primary source of up-to-date information, I rarely read most of the magazines that I receive. However, I do relish the IDEA of having numerous fresh magazines around to read at any given moment, should the need arise.

So tonight I've taken the only logical action, and have just ordered subscriptions to Mental Floss, Smithsonian, and Military History.

Beats television.

* Update- Frighteningly, these magazine subscriptions are my twenty-sixth order from so far this year. Not items...orders.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Los Angeles plays itself

One of the small pleasures of life in Los Angeles comes from watching nearly any film or television show and recognizing some tiny detail in the background of a scene filmed on location and figuring out exactly where it was shot. Despite the fact that Los Angeles locations frequently stand in for some other city, or are geographically inconsistent in any number of ways, it still adds a certain frisson to the movie and television watching experience to imagine that you inhabit the same universe as the characters.

As an example of this, tonight I was watching the first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and noticed that Larry David was walking between two restaurants on Brand in Glendale, about two blocks from my office.

He leaves the first restaurant (Byzantine, then Yulie's Taverna, currently the spectacularly named "Fantasia") to avoid someone he doesn't wish to talk to...

...and walks down the street to use the restroom at Don Cuco's. Smart choice. Using the restroom in Don Cuco's is far more pleasant than actually eating there.

could there actually be a few good movies around the corner?

Could it be? Are there actually new movies coming out that I might like to see in the theater??

The Prestige
Zen Noir
The Last King of Scotland
Night at the Museum
The Hoax
Al Franken: God Spoke

I am guardedly optimistic for a change...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

At 2:30am, as I was finishing up at the computer and was about to retire to bed, I noticed a small tingling sensation around my toes. When I looked down, the entire floor around my workstation was writhing with ants. After a moment to ponder potential non-violent solutions, I realized that decisive action was necessary. Wielding a bottle of lethal Simple Green in one hand and a wailing Dustbuster in the other, I mercilessly inflicted thousands upon thousands of casualties upon the invading ant armies, stopping only to quote the Bhagavad-gita (and, famously, Robert Oppenheimer) while simultaneously channeling the combined destructive power of Tom DeLay, Dale Gribble, and Curt LeMay. It was like a zombie movie, but on a very, very small scale.

Let battle commence!

Dear Best Buy "Customer Care",

This week I purchased two DVD box sets via your website, and checked the supposedly time saving "pick up in-store" option. Upon receiving a confirmation e-mail tonight, I drove to my nearest Best Buy to pick up my purchases. I naively assumed that there might be a dedicated desk where I would be able to pick up my small purchase in a timely fashion, as is implied on the website, but upon entering the store I was directed to stand in a dozens-deep line of dissatisfied customers in the "Returns/Exchanges" line. I've long considered your retail establishments to be the Auschwitz of Retail, and every time I've set foot in one of your stores this impression has proved to be well founded. Tonight I waited 35 goddamn minutes to pick up my DVDs, due to the endless, unnecessary lines and dimwitted employees found in every one of your retail locations. I have never had a positive experience at any Best Buy, on any level, except for the time I threw an optical mouse at a stack of software in frustration after thirty minutes of trying to get someones attention, and I can assure you I won't patronize your establishments ever again, except for the inevitable liquidation auction in five years.

yours truly,