Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making Coffee

Opportunistic Fern in Ballard

fern fern 
Some folks try to grow ferns with elaborate humidity controlled environments and felicitous soil combinations. Sometimes the ferns Just Happen.

Cat Watching for Moles

Given the number of molehills that have appeared in the last several weeks, I don't think this cat has accomplished much on the mole front.
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Happy Halloween!

Tarzan, the Ape Man

Although the frank sexual dynamics of this movie are what make it interesting (as well as the genesis of the Tarzan yodel), the amazing thing is that it was written by Ivor Novello. Surprisingly well-preserved, the action is good although the cottonwoods on some California ranch sure get a workout.
The costumes for the great apes are not one whit less believable than those used in 2001: a Space Odyssey. They even use a chimp for a baby great ape.
It's probably addressed satisfactorily somewhere, but why is the chimp named Cheetah? Is there a cheetah somewhere named Chimp? And when Tarzan calls for Cheetah, why don't cheetahs respond?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wag the Dog

I usually find Dustin Hoffman's performances off-putting but he nailed this one. Robert de Niro is as good as always although I am not sure he put quite enough behind it. But his not-enough is more than you can get from almost anybody. Woody Harrelson shows up just long enough to do his crazy maniac schtick to the detriment of the movie which needed a better third act. It's hard to trump A Face in the Crowd or Network, but one should make the effort. Filmed in 29 days, which is as it should be.
As to the message. Yeah, people are stupid.

Yet more doodles

From New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Dear Frankie

I'm not sure how this sensitive tale got on my queue. I gave it a try but there was a song interlude instead of an introduction which really put me off. Then they started talking and it was so genuine and whatnot I had to turn it off.

Couldn't Sleep So Here Are Some More Drawings

From New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Seattle Mayor Looks Like 19th Century President

OK, I know this is completely unworthy and petty, but this picture of Greg Nickels looks like it was taken somewhere in the vicinity of Tammany Hall.
I lost the link to the news story but he's talking to someone who is trying to pick my pocket. Probably.

He should find out who cut Chester A. Arthur's suits.

Update, take two, do over.
It's not right to mock Nickels because he's overweight, that's just wrong. However this picture is telling a story. And the story goes like this: Sharp money guy with true predator instincts, assesses bumpkin mayor who looks like a used car salesman manager (is that a tally book deforming his coat? Could the tie yell out "The undercoat saves you money in the long term," any louder?). Lean as any cheetah, the fellow on the left, when he steps out -- no strides out -- of frame is as likely to pop a Homburg on his head (I think I see a hat crease in his conservative haircut. Greg, note this guy's hair.) on his way back to Zurich as Greg is to pop a cheeseburger in his mouth. It'll be a Dick's cheeseburger and that makes it a little bit more OK. It's like Max von Sydow and Sean Astin ran into each other at a screening of City of Ember.

Cheney-esque non pareil

Palin's corruptibility is turtles all the way down.
(Why is there no such thing as a pre-emptive impeachment?)

Pumpkin video

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dwarf vs Orcs

New Album 10/24/08 8:00 PM

It seems odd that Lego was not the official Lord of the Rings constructible toy concessioneer but they weren't.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inequality in major U.S. cities rivals Africa: U.N.

Sorry, that was a cheap shot. The headline is sensational, the study apparently includes reasonable context.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hang 'Em High

Laughable attempt at spaghetti western's je ne sais quoi comes up a day late and a thousand lira short. Dennis Hopper has an enormous credit at the beginning but is on screen for maybe 20 seconds. The great Ben Johnson is killed off-screen, at which point the abbreviated TV mini-series aspirations of the screenplay start to poke through. At one point Clint Eastwood heaves a disgusted sigh and one can only sympathize. There is a sufficiency of fun moments, but I defy anyone not to yell out "Skipper! Skipper!" when Alan Hale Jr. appears.

Laugh, Clown, Laugh

Lon Chaney's best movie. There are several scenes, although as contrived as all get-out, are effective nonetheless. Has an alternate happy, i.e. stupid, ending.

Ace of Hearts

Energetically directed morality tale has proto-noir elements. Surprisingly natural considering the era. Lon Chaney never stops moving, but in a good way. His hair is a source of fascination: Franz Liszt would have envied it.


Obvious dependencies on Cabaret and Chorus Line notwithstanding, this show has a lot going for it. The scenes are stuffed with side-action but focus is maintained.
Again, I am dumbfounded by Catherine Zeta-Jones's hands. They could strangle an ox.

Bunny Lake Is Missing

Mood piece disguised as a Hitchcock-like thriller. Mostly preposterous but with nicely restrained performed throughout except for Noel Coward who was completely off the leash. Counter-sense score was grating and possibly genius but certainly distracting. If I had seen this before working with a variety of English-folk I would have assumed that the deadpan, off-putting, rabbity milieu was some kind of stagy put-on. Now I know better and certain parts of the show come off a bit like documentary.


From New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Monday, October 13, 2008

NYT Review of City of Ember Misses the Point

I almost ducked out of a birthday party screening of City of Ember based on an inaccurate review from the NYT.
Damningly, Stephen Holden describes what is plainly a giant star-nosed mole as "an unscary monster that suggests a giant, riled-up rooster on speed" which is wrong on all points touching on anatomy, scale and apparition. The movie is no Hidden Fortress, granted, but then it's not expected to be. Not finding politically sharp commentary in this movie is like not finding a bicycle bell in the blue cheese dressing.

Potato Jedi

Friday, October 10, 2008

Carter Criticizes Bush Economic Policies

Unfortunately, the end of Episode VI is a generation in the future.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

This is pretty much the Tommy Lee Jones one-man show. Directs, stars, produces and provides some of the scenery from his own ranch. Also his own cows. Mostly brilliant although I think the penitent was drawn with too broad a brush. No one can play weary and sad like Tommy Lee Jones. I enjoyed the ending very much with its uninterpretable aspect.
The music was good, too. Here's a featurette about the music from composer Marco Beltrami.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue

What if Jesus was a cranky, middle-aged gold miner in the American west at the beginning of the twentieth century? Yep. No crucifixes or even much in the way of a Judas (Jesus shot him in the gut.) but it's pretty clear who the Chosen One is. Jason Robards.
Touching score by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Shop Around the Corner

Remade many times, including the lamentable When Harry Met Sally, this comedy is not great literature but is a lot of fun. Frank Morgan has a peculiar habit of looking away from the other actors' faces.

The Hidden Fortress

Yeah, yeah, George Lucas lifted elements from Hidden Fortress for Star Wars. Lets never hear that chestnut again. Not in the same league as Seven Samurai but a really fine entertainment. If you are going to steal, steal from the best.

Seven Samurai

I always forget that this movie is over three hours long. It just doesn't seem like it. A great, great movie.

The Deer Hunter

I have avoided this movie for 30 years because I knew that it would be wrenching to watch. I was right. One of my most painful movie-watching experiences. There are lots of movies with more shocking sequences and more harrowing premises (although not too many ...) and deeper relationships, but this one has all of that and maintains it from start to finish. Really good but I will probably never watch it again.
This is not a Beowulf / Grendel tale but a clear-cut instance of the Gilgamesh / Enkidu story. Even ends the same way.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pecked Ball

I had tucked this over-sized badminton birdie into a nook in a tree. Birds have been at it in the meantime. That must have been frustrating for them. Boing!

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Bowl shaped mushroom, palm-sized:

Same, from steeper angle:

Another of the same type:

Ant's POV
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Could be worse, we could be Iceland

Caught in financial crisis, Iceland tries to tap Russia : "... (Iceland) whose estimated lending is equivalent to almost 12 times the size of the national economy ... " That seems like a really bad thing.

The names of affected institutions, in reverse order of hilarity: Landsbanki, Kaupthing, Icebank and Glitnir. It is worth noting that Glitnir is a hall of one of the Norse gods. Its pillars are gold and the roof is of silver. In an irony-aware culture like Iceland's, you'd think someone would have nixed naming a bank after it and thereby almost guaranteeing disaster.

I don't speak that there Viking talk, but I think it's safe to assume that the 'glit' in Glitnir is the same as in 'glitter' as in all that does isn't gold.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Response from Senator Murray

I'm happy to get a response to my complaint about her yea vote on the bailout. My thesis was basically 'haste makes waste'. I may have used the word 'dupe' but not in the sense of duplicate.

My shenanigans radar is still detecting a large slow-moving mass somewhere in the area between New York and DC (aside from the persistent vortex of malfeasance that is located there.)

PS. I am not a crank.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 12:42 PM
Subject: Response from Senator Murray

Dear Mr. Beatty:

Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue. The U.S. Senate voted to pass this bill by a margin of 74-25 on Wednesday, October 1, 2008. On Friday, October 3, 2008, the bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed into law by President Bush.

As you know, in communities across America today, people are finding it increasingly difficult to fill up their tanks, pay for health care, and afford college tuition. Now, all Americans, even those who have paid their bills on time and have excellent credit, are at risk of being severely affected by the current credit freeze on Wall Street.

People want to know if this crisis is real. I have asked the same question of Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. I have spoken with economic experts and Washington state business leaders. Companies like Weyerhaeuser and Microsoft have made it clear that something must be done. Power utilities such as Avista and the farm groups such as the Farm Bureau have told me that the government's proposal to stabilize our financial markets is critically needed. Throughout various sectors of our economy, there is deep and genuine concern about market collapse and the potential impact on jobs, credit and pensions.

We have already experienced a slowdown in home sales and construction. Our home state bank, Washington Mutual, was unable to withstand the crisis and was acquired by another institution. Millions of Americans have tried to obtain a loan or refinance their mortgage, but have found it increasingly difficult to find a willing line of credit and in many cases have been unable to do so at all. If this crisis worsens, credit could freeze completely for consumers and companies who use credit to pay their employees or run their business operations. The bottom line is that without a steady stream of credit, American businesses will not be able to pay their workers and Americans will lose their jobs. Because of the impact the financial crisis could have on all Americans, from layoffs to access to credit, I supported the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

I understand the frustration of people who want those on Wall Street to be held accountable for their actions and shoulder the consequences of their own misdeeds. Americans are being confronted with two undesirable options. Either do nothing and let the crisis worsen, or take action and use taxpayer dollars to solve a problem they did not create. Americans are rightfully angry. However, those who created the problem will not be those who are hurt most if the government does not act. My top priority is to do what is best for the people of Washington State and the nation, and that is why I believe government action is urgently needed in this situation.

The original plan presented to Congress by President Bush and Secretary Paulson was a non-starter. Congress rightly refused to give Secretary Paulson a blank check to spend hundreds of billions of dollars without oversight. Congress refused to allow executives of failing companies to walk away with millions of dollars in severance packages while taxpayers paid for their mistakes. This legislation is a more prudent agreement to anchor taxpayer dollars to strict Congressional oversight and scrutiny by independent economic experts. We added assistance for responsible borrowers hit by the foreclosure crisis and plans to recoup money from any institutions which use government money and then see a profit. In the future, it is possible that most, if not all, of the taxpayer money invested will be returned once this crisis comes to a close.

Congress has to be vigilant in our oversight of how this law is implemented. I fought to ensure that every transaction that takes place regarding this funding will be on the Internet for all Americans to see. In addition, I strongly support the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) and other state and federal agencies' investigation into the wrongdoing related to the current crisis on Wall Street. If fraud and criminal activity are uncovered, the individuals responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Congress must take a hard look at the factors that brought us to this point and seriously address them. Congress will be holding ongoing hearings into the causes of this crisis and the regulation reform that is desperately needed and has been missing throughout the duration of the Bush Administration. The next administration has to work with Congress to pass and implement new regulatory measures so that taxpayers are never put in this position again.

It will take both investment and honesty to get our economy back on track. The next administration will inherit this economic crisis along with many other serious challenges. I hope our new President is honest with the American people about where we stand and what it will take to move America forward.

I believe that to move America forward, we need to invest in the infrastructure and education that create economic growth and jobs. We have to invest in our workforce and find a way to make health care affordable and accessible. We have to increase funding for research and development and reward innovation. We have to implement a smart, forward-looking energy policy that ends our addiction to foreign oil. It is time to put America's families first and restore their faith that government works for, not against them.

I grew up with a country at my back - one that when my own father got sick and could no longer work was there with Pell Grants and student loans and even food stamps when my family needed them. I will always remember that. I supported this legislation because the American dream of owning a home or going to college is simply too important to take a back seat to politics or to be put at risk by the misdeeds of Wall Street.

As Congress continues to work to restore our economy, I will continue to stand up for our state and listen to your concerns. Thank you for contacting me, and please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.

I hope all is well in Seattle.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Apricot Stones Have Seeds Inside of 'Em ...

... and so on ad infinitum.

Maureen Dowd Piles On Palin

Hey, if SP can hunt from a helicopter, MD can take pot-shots from wherever it is that Maureen Dowd is.

Palin's Pom Pom Palaver

Also in today's paper, the Maverick family of Texas, you know, the original Mavericks, are unamused by McCain/Palin, being not only the Mavericks in maverick but Democrats of long history.

Wasilla Frost Skank

The description of the species, found among Prof. W.'s effects, is sketchy.
"... indicates readiness to mate (which it does early and often) by winking. Curiously, the beast cannot blink. May be be some defect in its neurology. Judged by quantity of dead fauna in habitat the beast is carnivorous, but discovered that it will eat anything. Kills more than it can eat, a disgusting, wasteful habit in any animal. Furriers will be disappointed that the pelt, although attractive at first glance, has a loathsome oily sheen that taints everything it touches."

Taliban said to be furious over US missile strike

Taliban said to be furious over US missile strike

Maybe I missed the memo about the new happy Taliban. And how is it news that anyone is furious about a missile strike. Missile strikes are frequently infuriating unless 'missile strike' is the new slang for 'chocolate chip cookies.' Because that would be more newsworthy.

Exercise for incompetent copywriter apologists: find a similar headline from WWII. Something along the lines of 'Fuhrer Verklemmt Over Firebombing.'

Friday, October 03, 2008

More Republican Idiocy and Shame

"Palinese? Sarah-phonics? What Is This?"

I'm embarrassed for McCain, the GOP, Alaska, the US, Anglophones, brunettes, women and all democracies - right back to Athens - for this debacle. I feel real pain for Joe Biden having to deal with her as if she is some kind of peer.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

early October sketches

New Album 10/2/08 11:05 AM

Cool Ditch Digger

This nifty ditch digger was parked outside Starbuck's. I especially like the treads.

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Lake City Taco Del Mar Closed

I ate here a couple of times. It's only about ten square feet larger than a taco stand because of the weird triangular lot. The second hand store (where I found a ukulele!) has moved across the street. If it wasn't for the current economy, I'd say Lake City was due for another tedious condo development.

The sign says, "thanks for ten years," which is a good run for any restaurant.

The little orange sticker is from the company that leased the dishwasher and it's basically a plea not to trash their stuff.

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