Saturday, September 30, 2006

Adventures at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo

I just got back from Ontario, whose convention center hosted the Podcast and Portable Media Expo. Impressions follow.

  1. Lots of free food. There was a lounge, as depicted to the left, where an eternally filled bowl of fresh fruit waited, along with coffee and soda. I quickly realized that to buy a sandwich in the back of the hall would be sheer folly. Additionally you could pick up candy at almost every booth, plus blueberry mini-muffins at one location. And the press room had catered sandwiches. The poorly-guarded press room, heh heh heh.
  2. I met Soccergirl and Ryan! Soccergirl was participating in a live 'cast with Dan Klass and a few others I haven't heard of, and I got the opportunity to introduce myself and admit that Soccergirl had the first podcast I'd ever subscribed to. I didn't add that all my favorite people are women with poor impulse control.
  3. The Boys and Red Bar Radio, who called me over to interview on their show, said I looked like an accountant with a band.
  4. I crossed paths several times with Joanne Colan, the queen of Rocketboom. She is gorgeous in person, and as you can see, there is no way to take a bad picture of her.
  5. If I learned anything, it's this: it is almost impossible to monetize a podcast. But it's really easy to monetize your ability to do a podcast for something else.

Friday, September 29, 2006

For the Record, Re Hannity


Okay, you have our attention!

Since the posting on your site about the Sean Hannity show, we have
received hundreds of emails, phone calls, etc., with your opinions.

To clarify, we didn’t hire Mr. Hannity as a spokesperson and he is not
receiving compensation from GM for this promotion. What we are doing is
running a promotion on his show where Mr. Hannity is featuring three of
our newest products every week and listeners can register to win their
choice of the three vehicles.

As the head of Sales and Marketing for GM, my job is not to create
political controversy but preferably to create interest in our
world-class lineup of vehicles. Looks like we are doing a bit of both
with this promotion.

GM is the biggest advertiser in America and to tell our story we
advertise across a tremendously wide array of media trying to connect
with all Americans irrespective of ethnic, religious or political
affiliations. We just want folks to experience our products.

We want to reach you on the shows you listen to. Below is my email
address. Please let me know the shows where you would like to hear or
see our advertising - perhaps even a similar promotion to the one
currently being run on Hannity. We may already be on many of the
programs that you enjoy. If not, we will sure look at them. Also, if
you are interested in hearing more about any of our new products or our
business turnaround, we will be happy to address that as well.

I appreciate your views and I welcome your suggestions.

Mark LaNeve
GM Vice President Sales and Marketing
Phone number: (313) 665-1357
email address:

Grabbing the Line Before Letterman Gets It

I just read that GM is hiring Sean Hannity to be their spokesman. They just introduced a new feature on all their cars - if you are driving straight down the road, the blinker keeps telling you you're making a far left turn.
Hannity will advertise GM cars - Colmes just signed with Razor scooters.
GM is having a wheel-balance issue, and they need Hannity to convince people that there isn't one.
It's actually a very liberal company... from the head shot, they thought they were hiring Nathan Lane.
GM... making great choices since the early seventies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

China Used To Be The Most Repressive Place In the World


BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- A Chinese culture ministry official has denounced a university professor who stripped naked in front of students and teachers during an art class, a Chinese newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Mo Xiaoxin, a 56-year-old assistant professor at a university in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangsu province, shocked students by stripping during a lecture on "body art" to emphasize the "power" of the body and to "challenge taboos," the Beijing News said.
"There are no taboos in the field of research, but to do this directly in the course of teaching is obviously not appropriate," the paper quoted Tian Junting, a culture ministry official, as saying.
The lecture was part of a course within a newly established "human body art and culture" research institute -- China's first -- at Jiangsu Teachers University of Technology, the paper said. Mo arranged for four other models, including a man and woman in their 70s or 80s, and a younger couple, to strip naked in front of the class while he lectured, the paper said.
During the nearly hour-long class, Mo also invited students to take their clothes off.
Yes, he was badmouthed by the culture minister. But compare that to this:, FRISCO, Texas -- An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job.
The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew
Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.
The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset.
The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum.
The parents had signed permission slips allowing their children to take part in the field trip.
McGee's lawyer said the principal at Fisher Elementary School admonished her after a parent complained that a student had seen nude art.
McGee said the principal had urged her to take the students to the museum.
Now, McGee, who was honored with a Star Teacher Award two years ago, is on paid administrative leave until her contract with the school district expires in March.
Thanks to for the links. So what do you think? They say that economically this will be the century of China, with the yen replacing the dollar as the international currency of note. Don't they deserve it?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oprah Is Just All Right With Me

I have been thinking about Oprah Winfrey the last couple of days - there are reports that her lawyers insisted that someone take down the OPRAH '08 website that suggested she run for president, and Oprah called them off.
It occurs to me that for a long time, Oprah has been the most powerful woman in the world. God knows she knows how to sell a book. Perhaps one day Hillary Clinton will be more powerful, but she's so controversial that any real power will be blocked by opponents. Oprah, as far as I can tell, has no opponents. Oprah has absolute power.
Except it doesn't seem to have corrupted her at all. You almost never hear of Oprah abusing anyone. There was that shopping story a few months back (Oprah made us open the shop an hour early and then insulted everyone!) but it was such a aberration that you have to assume it was something the shop did. And Oprah has been on the scene forever. After a while stories get out, especially if you've stepped on people.
Beef farmers complain about Oprah's remarks about beef? Oprah meets with them, makes nice and does a week of shows from Texas. And the remarks were TRUE. Oprah pushes a book from a guy who turns out to have made up most of his life story? Oprah apologizes for pushing the book, then makes him come back on the show and apologize for writing it.
The more I think about it, the more I want to BEG Oprah to run for President -- and I don't even know her party affiliation. Whatever it is, I bet she'd be fair. And the first thing she'd do is make George Allen apologize for the racist talk. Then she'd make John Kerry apologize for being so weaselly. Probably the first two years in office would be forced apologies from the House and Senate, and from then on a golden age.
2008 is still two years away, and Oprah doesn't need to raise money. Let's get this party started!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Got Spine?

I think there is no denying that the Chris Wallace/Bill Clinton dustup on Fox News Sunday this last weekend provided raw material enough to satisfy anybody. Fox News got something it could use - footage of Bill Clinton seemingly out of control with anger. They have been running clips of that crazy moonbat Clinton since before the interview even aired.
We the Democrats got what we wanted, the exact same thing. For my part I have been yearning to see Clinton drop the statesmanlike equanimity and fight back. His failure to do that made his book especially disappointing to me. So to see him inside the belly of the beast, punching at the stomach lining and spitting poison as a terrified Chris Wallace attempted to blend with a studio background as black as Rupert Murdoch's heart, was cathartic as hell. I think the former prez prevented that second heart attack.
I cruised on over to NO LEFT TURNS, a polite and intelligent right-wing blog that I frequent, and there was an opinion expressed that Clinton was faking his anger. I love this. Either way. If he wasn't, he had every right to be angry - the terms of the interview allowed for the first part to be about the charity Clinton was pushing, and the second part was to be about anything Fox wanted. It wasn't only an ambush, it was a needless ambush. I think Wallace did it out of force of habit.
If Clinton was faking his anger, even better - he sucker-punched Fox News!
In either event, it signals the arrival of the angry left. We have permission now to call Republicans idiots, to slap them down. We are no longer expected to make excuses for George Allen. We can use "you are a liar" in place of "you must be mistaken." And finally we can gang up on Ann Coulter. Whatever happens, this should mean that Meet The Press (if they book any liberals for a change) should be a lot more interesting for the next few months.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rock & Roll, Epilog

I am an enormous Rupert Holmes fan, but I have to admit that the footage I saw of him once - gamely struggling to appear casual while miming ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG) on a German music show in the mid-seventies - made tme think that I would never see anything more awkward and painful.
Thanks to Bedazzled, I am proven wrong.
Click on this...
...and enjoy the sad spectacle of Gary Glitter in his prime. Incredibly, he's only a nominally sadder spectacle now that he's up on child molestation charges. You didn't need all that plastic surgery, Gary - you haven't changed a bit in 30 years.

Yeas and Nays: Thursday, Sept. 21 -

Harry Shearer, perennially embittered non-winner of the MacArthur genius grant and host of LeShow, picks up a few extra bucks by penning a very short piece about which politicians most resemble Simpsons characters he plays. Dumb idea, so-so execution.

Yeas and Nays: Thursday, Sept. 21 -

But whatever, Harry is God.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Inside Bill O'Reilly

I'm almost speechless about this interview with Bill O'Reilly. When you read quotes like...

"And Cronkite, to me, was a surprise because I grew up watching him," he said. "I thought he was fair. And then he comes out of the closet as this real radical left guy. And I am going, 'Whoa, Walter, where have you been all these years?'"


"(Dick Cheney's) afraid to come on the program. … For the same reason that Hillary won't," he said. "He is gonna sit in the chair, and I am gonna go, 'Hey.' And he doesn't want that." can't help but be reminded of that time in high school that you first tried to read the lyrics of your favorite band as if they were poetry. Maybe not your favorite band. Maybe it was Paperlace or Redbone or Kiki Dee. Point is, it really doesn't play well on paper.

Your move, Franken.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paypal Invests in Eternal Life

Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, is bestowing a $3.5 million gift to the Methuselah Foundation, a research facility which has the goal of curing every age-related disease and thus allowing eternal life. Good idea because it's a much-needed tax deduction. Bad idea because eternal life is just, when you go into it a little, hell on Earth.
All the wisdom in the world isn't going to make you a good enough person to compensate for the space you're taking up. And speaking of space, we'll have to colonize other planets - we're barely able to support ourselves on this one now. And if you think college girls have trouble fending off the advances of lecherous old dudes now, imagine a world which is mostly lecherous old dudes.
Imagine a world without hope - hope that you'll outlive Kevin Costner.
When they develop the cure for aging, and everyone is lined up, I'll be at the beach. Have fun you kids.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Speaking Of Paul Verhoeven

Looking for links in the previous post brought me to an essay about STARSHIP TROOPERS which I had to respond to. I don't think people recognize that TOTAL RECALL mostly takes place in the mind of a man who has had a psychotic break; that ROBOCOP is a spoof of the disconnected emotional state of movie police, that SHOWGIRLS is meant to show what your standard backstage musical would look like if it involved REAL performers. People, you don't get Paul Verhoeven!
But honestly, I cannot for the life of me explain HOLLOW MAN.

Ungrateful Bastards

The first successful penis transplant has failed. The operation was a success - the blood supply was fine and the patient was even urinating normally after only 10 days. The patient was 44 years old and the donor organ was from a 22 year old, and I think we can all agree that that would be every 44-year-old's dream. However, the patient (and his wife) asked that the transplant be removed, finding it too creepy. Probably as creepy as you've found this paragraph.
The Guardian reports that the operation took place in China on a man whose penis had been reduced to a 1 inch stump by an unspecified accident. Left without the ability to urinate, have sexual intercourse, or write a rock musical about the experience, he agreed to the experimental surgery.
It would be difficult to lose a penis but perhaps even more difficult to know that your johnson is at once the thing you most identify with and yet completely alien to you. Mid-life crisis is bad enough without THAT.
Still, if you remember THE HANDS OF ORLOFF you know the potential this situation has for a movie. If you know Paul Verhoeven, please please please talk him out of it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's A Bad Idea To Procrastinate

Anybody who's known me in the last five years knows that when I was a theatre manager, the one thing I said more than anything else was "I hate this job". That's why when they finally kicked me out, I wasn't exactly disappointed. If anything I was disappointed that they didn't just drop me with a severance package instead of keeping me on at that firetrap in Simi Valley.
Anyway, I'm in receipt of THE BOOK OF THE RIO, the multi-volume set of formerly blank books that employees of that single-screen house used to while away their copious free time. I started poking at it this morning, and there, about 5 pages in, all the way from 1984, I recognized my own handwriting:

I gotta get out of this job. I wonder what a shoe salesman makes?

And I made good on it too! It took maybe 20 years more than it should have, but results are results.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

John Hodgman, My Hero

I ran across this interview with John Hodgman, the Daily Show correspondant, former literary editor, Jonathan Coulton co-conspirator, Apple Computer pitchman and author. He is brilliant. The interview barely works, however - it's mostly useful for the links.
Hodgman seems to me one of the few Daily Show correspondants who gets it. He has a perfect deadpan; the laughs come not from how he says it, but from what he says. That is as it should be. It's okay for John Stewart to break character, but the rest of those guys should look at Brian Unger, Vance DeGeneres and Hodgman and learn something. Or Tom Brokaw - he had a perfect deadpan and held it for 30 years. That's devotion to comedy.

Learn to Love Crooks and Liars

Yes it's partisan and yes it has a bias, but you gotta admit that having an easy-to-reference website that cheerfully coughs up the clips of politicians saying the very things they now deny they ever said is extremely useful. Below is just one example, but this happens at least once a week. In fact, flat-out deniability of recorded statements seems to be a Rove strategy - I can't imagine why they're still holding on to it. It would be like Clinton insisting that he told us he'd had sex with that woman.

Crooks and Liars » Jimmy Carter smacks Lieberman–Lieberman’s camp calls him a liar

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Path To 9/11 Is A Nowhere Road

It was gratifying to see that ABC's partisan docudrama, THE PATH TO 9/11, didn't do better than to tie CBS's twice-aired 9/11 documentary, which was hamstrung but some local stations failing to carry it due to dangerous bad language.
However what really comforts me was seeing that both programs were handily beaten by Sunday Night Football on NBC. As Dick Cheney so often says, "I really think we've turned a corner here."

Nice Guys Give Blood Samples

I went in this morning for a blood test (annual checkup, nothing serious) and was struck by my male nurse's comments. He kept telling me what a nice guy I was. And I am a nice guy but it seemed to really stand out to this guy. I'll add that he found my shy vein in a matter of seconds, so I was especially pleased with his work - usually it takes half an hour and four entry points to get blood outta me.
Conclusions one can reach:

  1. People are unpleasant when they give blood.
  2. People are unpleasant when they've been fasting.
  3. People are unpleasant at that hour of the morning.
  4. There is something about this guy that pisses people off.
  5. I'm unusually cheerful because of the raise and the community theatre gig.
  6. Walking to the hospital instead of driving makes me less cranky.
  7. He was coming on to me.
  8. His thick Cuban accent brings out the racist in many people.
  9. I'm grateful to only be bleeding from one area, and it shows.
  10. I'm just nicer than the average person.

Regardless, it's great that the bloodletting was such a nice experience. A week from now when they tell me that my cholesterol is thicker than molasses and my heart must be taken out and reamed with pipe cleaners, I might be a little more unpleasant. Right now I'm riding high.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Runnin' Up That Hill

Dark Meat was difficult this weekend! For some reason it would take all day to download to iTunes, then once it did, I played it back and heard a problem to my horror. A bizarre technical problem resulted in every other song faded down to zero. I had to fix that and re-upload, and I just hope I didn't lose any listeners.
And now I find out that a group I played called rotflmao, which cites Rickie Lee Jones and the Squirrel Nut Zippers as their influences, comprises Rickie Lee Jones and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I thought that vocalist sounded familiar, but I assumed she was trying to. I had no idea she couldn't help it.
Tonight's Boxoffice podcast was also going to be easier than it is. Since my rehearsals are going to be on Tuesdays, I decided to try recording everything except the TV ratings segment last night, but I didn't have time to write the show at work, so I tried going off the top of my head for the commentary.
Train wreck.
So I'm going to redo the last half of the show tonight and then upload. And we're all richer for it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Me, Giggling Like a Schoolgirl

So for a guy who gave up all showbiz concerns a few years back, I'm doing an awful lot of acting this month.
Tomorrow I'll be appearing at one of Rookie McPherson's Super Singles Parties. This is a much-loved occasional gig of mine, in which I impersonate "Mr. Wrong", a character who chats up the guests in an effort to get them out of their shells. I myself have a shell as thick as a bank vault door, so going to a party and getting to be someone else (with the added bonus that when I go home alone, it's a GOOD thing!) is almost irresistible. Sad anecdote about these parties - the number one complaint I hear at these parties from men is that all the women are over 40, and they wish there were more hotties. From women, the same thing in reverse. Love the one you're with people!
A couple of nights ago I auditioned for a community theatre production of HERE LIES JEREMY TROY, a 3 act bedroom farce being put on by the Conejo Players in Thousand Oaks. I'm in! We open in mid-November. I'm not the lead, but the lead's kooky best friend, the part played by Darrin McGavin in the Broadway production. The text calls for someone 25-35. A couple of weeks ago I tried out for another bedroom farce playing a man 40-45, but my freakishly boyish features thwarted the attempt.
So I'm going to be rehearsing 3 nights a week, out among PEOPLE instead of skulking in my home office. Can't wait to see how THAT works out.
Oh, and I got the raise I asked for at work.
Some weeks are indeed better than others.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hello Kitty Proves My Genius

I was reading this post on Gizmodo, about an exhaust pipe shaped like Hello Kitty. The reviewer admitted to not getting Hello Kitty, and my response surprised even me, so with your permission I will quote myself.

Hello Kitty is a tabula rasa upon which we write our hopes and fears; and you can no more escape her than you can your own shadow. Embrace Hello Kitty!

I admit it may not be me at all, but HK speaking through me. So be it. As long as its not Karoppi. That thing is just nuts.

Kat On A Hot Tin Roof

The very first words I heard when I woke up today were "Katherine Harris has won the Florida Republican primary." Because I was disoriented my first thought was oh no, it's finally happening - they don't care about plausible election stealing any more.
But I've had coffee now and a chance to calm down, and I'm feeling pretty good. First there is a good possibility that she won fairly. After all, we elected Arnold S. for his entertainment value, and Ms. Harris is nothing if not a good show. I had heard she was polling badly, but that may have been against the Democratic challenger, not the Republican.
On the other hand, if she did fix the election, that's great too. Because her side wanted her out! Now she has a couple more months to make Republicans look even worse! Wonkette is sitting in the catbird seat. Between her and Santorum and the President, it should be a cakewalk to clear the entire senate and congress of all Republicans.
Democrats will still find a way to screw this up. I bet nothing changes in the balance of power this November. I wish I could say otherwise but based on the previous ten years there is obviously something fundamentally wrong in this country and it's gonna get worse before it gets better. I'm movin' to France, everybody! Who's with me?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All Hail Gormenghast

I finally caught up with Gormenghast, the 4-part BBC miniseries. Don't you hate it when you see part of a miniseries, then miss the rest, and BBC America never runs it again? Me too.
Gormenghast is based on a series of novels published in the 50's by Mervyn Peake, and it's kind of a fairy tale. It feels like one anyway, all bright colors, cartoonish exaggerated characters and castle-y architecture. But there is no monster, no talking animals. And in place of the simple comfort of modern fairy tales, there is the creepy dread of the brothers Grimm. In this fairy tale, the kind is driven mad and allows himself to be pecked to death by owls.
The story concerns a lowly kitchen boy, Steerpike, who wishes to advance his station in life. And I mean lowly. The kitchen is a hellish basement run by a brutal pig of a man who'd just as soon beat his staff to death as eat breakfast. Steerpike, who is clever, escapes. Surveying his new surroundings, he realizes that the kingdom of Gormenghast is ancient, corrupt and decaying and that it won't take much to game the system to his advantage. Steerpike is played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who has carved a niche for himself playing amoral social climbers in movies like HEDWIG AND AND ANGRY INCH and MATCH POINT.
Oh forget it... I don't want to go into too much detail except to say that the thing gets under your skin and may produce the best nightmares you'll ever have. It's a fairy tale produced by a man who had toured the Nazi ovens at Belsen just a few years earlier. Rent it today.