You're Jamming Me

Americans don't exist until they have appeared on television. I've come to this philosophic conclusion based off of years of studying the Today's shows weather segments, commericals for local news, and reality TV shows. (I've also learned that Al Roker sometimes unintentionally channels Daffy Duck, professional actors pretending to be loyal local news viewers value "truth" and "ackerate" forecasts (sic), and that our country is younger and more attractive than one's own observations would suggest.)

Anyway, prompted by Joel's comment about The Capture of Bigfoot in response to Quid Pro Quo below, I thought I'd catalog the ways in which I might exist. (The following list omits the few times I was actually on film/video in favor the times I might have been.)

There is a possibility that I am included in the movies Major League (1989) and Mr. 3000 (2004), as I was in the stands of County Stadium and Miller Park, respectively, as parts of each were filmed.

Damien, son of Satan, runs down my grandfather's Lake Geneva boat dock in Damien: The Omen II (1978). His military school was played by St. John's Academy, just one division over from Nana and Papa's summer house. (These are my Mom's parents; my Dad's parents lived in Alexandria, Minn., a small town that Bob Dylan exhorts Bono to visit in order to see the "Real America" in Chronicles: Volume One. I'm not so sure, as Wikipedia shows that as of 2000 A.D. the town was 97.94% white -- probably not very emblematic of the nation.)

The documentary Man in the Sand(1999) includes footage of aNew York City concert by Billy Bragg that I attended at Irving Plaza when he was just starting his Woody Guthrie project. Although I doubt anyone else could, I can hear myself laugh during the premeire of the song "Ingrid Bergman." There's also footage from the Governor's Island Guiness Fleadh -- I was there, too.

Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

I bought the boys The World's Cutest Lil' Batman.

I resisted temptation until I saw the close up of his widdle face:
We share the same smirk.
Yes, you can come over to play. No, you may not touch the Batman.


Quid Pro Quo

Since we've instituted the 8pm kinder-bedtime, Mrs. Townblog and myself have been availing ourselves of Netflix, with only moderate success. The last thing we watched -- "Dreamgirls" -- was a huge disappointment, and it seems like it's been awhile since I've seen something that really grabbed me.

So, in the interests that you will recommend things to me, I am going to recommend five movies to you. If you are anything like the the potlatch-practicing indigenous peoples of our country's northwest (or any other culture that might create a gift economy), you will endeavor to make your recommendations superior in quality to mine. And together, we will become better people. Or at least people who see better movies.

My Recommendations:
  • Little Children. A movie based on the book by Tom Perrotta, this is a really well-done investigation into modern suburban hypocrisy.
  • The Comedians of Comedy (The Movie). This is available, I believe, only from Netflix. It follows several young(er), edgy comedians on tour, and was fun to watch to see comics when they are "on" and, even more interestingly, when they aren't. To me, this movie neatly travels a line that almost (almost) illustrates the subtle difference between the comedian and the madman.
  • In the Realms of the Unreal. A documentary about outsider artist Henry Darger, with some interesting ways of presenting (and animating) Darger's work. This is especially good if you don't know a whole lot about Darger, as I didn't, because of the sudden and shocking way a certain facet of his art is revealed. For reasons I don't want to explain, I would recommend viewing it in tandem with...
  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Another great and moving documentary, this one focusing on outsider recording artist Daniel Johnston. As with the Darger movie, things develop within the film that are as riveting and suspenseful as any Hollywood psycho-drama, if not more so.
  • Yellow Brick Road. This movie documents a Long Island organization's attempt to stage a version of The Wizard of Oz with a cast made up of people with physical and/or mental disabilities. Truly powerful, and quite moving.

As I look at this list, it occurs to me that four (and arguably five) of these movies have to do with mental illness (or madness) in one form or another. I guess that's always been an area of interest (and a fear and an aversion) for me. If nothing else, these movies will make your life seem calm and carefree in comparison.

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

Since my last posting, my mother has sent me several pictures of Philip Michael Thomas to contest the computer-assisted comparision proect. Alongside the photos, my mother writes -- in the erudite Anglo-romantic prose for which she is known -- "Definitely not Will Smith. Pooh."

So in fairness, and because her point of view is so well argued, here's a picture of the cast of the two leads of Miami Vice:

Grudgingly, I'll admit to seeing Caleb in the fellow on the left. Suprisingly, though, I also find that Sam resembles Don Johnson. Look:

I figured I would test the My Heritage celebrity-recognition system to see if perhaps their definition of "celebrity" had somehow passed over Phil Mike (as he's become known locally). So I tested a picture of him against the software, to see if he looked like himself. The totally unfabricated results seem poetically apt for Mom.

Caleb = Phil Mike. Phil Mike = Sundance Kid. Thusly, Caleb = Sundance Kid.


The Right Profile

My mom tells people that Caleb looks like Phillip Michael Thomas of Miami Vice fame. Wrong, mom. According to space-age celebrity recognition software, Caleb looks like two-thirds of Will Smith (unless I misunterstand how this program uses percentages). He actually was 75% of Oprah, but I put that up to their shared exuberance and moved on to match #4.

Hmm, perhaps this software's not yet been perfected. (Other matches for Sam included Olympic speed skater and Dancing with the Stars winner Apolo Anton Ohno and the19th century German physicist Gustav Kirchoff.)

In any case, I've now got this great idea for a screenplay in which Will Smith and Vince Vaughn play twin brothers.


Fake Empire

Toddler Property Laws
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours!
>provided by our daycare center, although also appearing all over the internets.
Apparantly, toddlers are also setting United States foreign policy, wartime strategy, and environmental law.


Vagaries of Summer


First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
-- Adrienne Rich, from Diving Into the Wreck


The War on Terra

The Washington Post reveals how George W. Bush makes little girls cry.


I don't know Butchie instead

Why is this man smiling?
Some Things I Know and Some Things I Don't:
  • John From Cincinnati is a really great show. I do miss Deadwood, but this has the same great dialog, colorful language, and beautiful vulgarity as David Milch's previous show. Like Deadwood, there are times where the show is so brilliantly written and performed that you laugh in delight -- not because of humor but because they are just getting it right. Particularly fun is Ed O'Neill as a retired Imperial Beach policeman who may be suffering from dementia. I got my eye on you.
  • Michael Chertoff needs a groin punch something fierce, eh? Can we all come together as Americans and decide that we're not going to put up with the manipulation of security concerns for the purposes of politics? Can we at least limit our fears to threats that have actual evidence or, like, substance behind them? Also, is it Chertoff's physical similarity to John Waters that has me wondering about his sexual preference?
  • A parenting question: how do you discourage a child from excessive whining while avoiding any positive or negative reinforcement of that same whining? That is, if one gives into the whining, the child learns that if he whines, he gets his way. On the other had, if you don't give into the whining, this brings on more whining. (I hope this is just a pre-language phase that won't last much longer!)
  • Storm the Bastille!


The BLURST of times?

I continue to remain literate!

Yesterday I worked on two stories, one of which has existed in scant notes for about a year and another one which came back to me from the mid-nineties. I had to search through old notebooks in the attic to find a draft of it.


By the way, regarding the Infinite Monkey Theorem:

In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Sulawesi Crested Macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website. One researcher, Mike Phillips, defended the expenditure as being cheaper than reality TV and still "very stimulating and fascinating viewing".[24]

Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages[25] consisting largely of the letter S, the lead male began by "bashing the hell out of" the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it. The zoo's scientific officer remarked that the experiment had "little scientific value, except to show that the 'infinite monkey' theory is flawed".[24][26]

Take your pick or contribute your own:

A) Oddly enough, these same results occured when the experiment was attempted with Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Neil Boortz, and Michael Savage.

B) In a second attempt, the monkeys wrote the majority opinons on Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 and Federal Election Comm’n v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.


I watched Live Earth so that you don't have to.

Genesis, the first act at Wembley Stadium, was a prog-rock trio who peaked in the seventies but had hit pop songs in the 80's. Their lead singer is small and balding, but suprisingly spry. He wore a tight black t-shirt to show off his cagey little phsyique. The other two members of his group seemed sort of awkward and beside the point.

The Police, the last act to play the New Jersey Meadowlands, was a prog-rock trio who peaked in the seventies but had hit pop songs in the 80's. Their lead signer is small and balding, but suprisingly spry. He wore a tight black t-shirt to show off his cagey little physieque. The other two members of his group seemed sort of awkward and beside the point.


For Owen

I'm sorry that I never did meet you, and sorry too that my children have lost a friend they didn't know they had. I'm sorry that there's nothing that can be done or said to ease the pain of your parents, and sorry that the good fortune in the world can't be shared in a way that undoes your horrible circumstance.

As Percy Byshe Shelley wrote in a dirge, with tears in vain and a grief too sad for song, we wail because the world is wrong.

My family will carry you with us as best we can and we will continue to miss you.