Monday, August 24, 2009

Scotland and the Lockerbie bomber

No blood for oil, eh?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Linda Linda lyrics

I'm going to a box karaoke bar this weekend and I needed to brush up on my repertoire. Couldn't find any decent phonetic transcriptions of "Linda Linda" by the Blue Hearts so I drew this up.

Dobu nezumi mitai ni
Utsukushiku naritai
Shashin no ni wa utsuranai
Utshukushi saa ga aru kara

Moshi mo boku ga itsuka
Kimi to de ai hanashi au nara
Sonna toki wa dou ka ai no
Imi o shitte kudasai

Dobu nezumi mitai ni
Dare yori mo yasashi
Dobu nezumi mitai ni
Nani yori mo atatakaku

Moshi mo boku ga itsuka
kimi to de ai hanashi au nara
Sonna toki wa dou ka ai no
Imi o shitte kudasai

Ai jaa na kutemo koi jaa na kutemo
kimi o hanashi wa shinai
Keshite makenai
Tsuyoi chikara o
Boku wa hitotsu dake motsu

Media gets it all wrong on Clinton

Bill Clinton had nothing to do with the release of captured journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. George Bush Jr. or Sr. could have done. Jimmy Carter could have done it. Ronald Reagan or Gerald Ford could have done it if either one was still alive. The only requirement was that somebody with the stature of an ex-president visit N. Korea and treat with Kim Jong Il. Once on the ground Clinton and Kim could have talked about golf, the virtues of the Big Mac or whatever else they wanted to for 30 minutes and it wouldn't have had any effect on the end result.

The North Korean regime is playing the game of international diplomacy. Anybody with half a brain and any knowledge of how these things work would have predicted that the N. Koreans would give up Ling and Lee given the proper payoff. The payoff here was an ex-president and with him the inevitable suggestion of legitimacy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watchmen in trouble?

The weekend box office gross was lower than expected. There are reports of audiences walking out on the movie. And now the screen writer is begging fanboys to go see the movie again this weekend.

Alan Moore said that the comic book was unfilmable, and maybe he was right. What happens when you take a great comic book and slavishly transcribe it to film? You get a great comic book and a mediocre movie. The common complaint among the critics is that the movie is so faithful to the source material that it's embalmed. One of the great joys of the comic book was that it made no attempt to explain itself to the reader--instead it deliberately confused you and gradually revealed itself over the course of 12 issues. Compressing that into a movie, even one with a running time of three hours, is probably impossible.

I've always argued that there's no point in releasing a cover for a song if it sounds exactly like the original. What's the point?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Shintaro Kago

You've got to love teh intertubes--more great free stuff. Some humanitarian has translated and posted up Shintaro Kago comics.

Shintaro Kago comics

Warning: NSFW, unless you happen to work someplace cool.

Wall-E can suck my balls, or how the Japanese do Bambi

How is it that Pixar somehow became the gold standard for American animation when their product is so uniformly mediocre? I read the reviews for "Wall-E", bought a ticket and spent two hours being thoroughly bored. I couldn't even sit through the first fifteen minutes of "Ratatouille". The animation's competently done but it's also bland and sterile and the writing's not even that good. It's a shame that Pixar, with a budget of millions, consistently produces work which is so flavorless. Compare their movies to the classic Warner Brothers shorts, with their swagger and startling cynicism. The best American animation being produced right now is "The Venture Brothers", which has got a fraction of the budget of a Pixar film and exponentially more creativity and life.

Part of the problem is that Pixar makes children's films and in America today that translates to bland and safe. It wasn't always that way--"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" wasn't afraid to tackle issues like failure and end on a downbeat note. And there's always foreign animation, produced in foreign lands where the population is not necessarily convinced that shielding kids from the more unpleasant aspects of life is such a good idea. Somebody's posted up "Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube. Hurry up and watch it before it vanishes to see a cartoon that doesn't dumb itself down just because its target audience is children.

"Chirin no Suzu" on YouTube

Somebody's also posted up "La Maison en Petit Cubes", which is convenient since I can't figure out if its available in iTunes or not.

"La Maison en Petit Cubes" on YouTube

Friday, February 27, 2009

More Heresy Department

Dambisa Moyo in the NY Times: Stop all aid to Africa, Bono's an idiot and nobody feels sorry for the Chinese.

I've always wondered why an ability to sing makes somebody an expert on foreign policy. Maybe in the future "American Idol" contestants will give five minute oral presentations on George Kennan. My guess is that it's part of the same American idiocy that bestows sainthood on the relatives of people unlucky enough to be in a building when it was hit by an airplane. That makes about as much sense as appointing me to head GM's car safety division because I got in a fender bender, or worse yet my relatives and friends. For some of those friends the solution would be to install bongs in every car, because everybody knows that when you're stoned you drive really, really slow.

Related note: it's been brought up over and over that Africa and Asia were in the same boat in terms of being rural economies facing the challenge of industrialization in the 20th century, but that Asia was able to claw its way into the first world while Africa is still mired in the third. I wonder what the state of the literature is in detailing the differences the approaches countries on the two continents went through in modernizing themselves. One story I heard on NPR a few years ago speculated that part of the difference was in educational spending: Asian countries invested in primary education (termed in the US as "K-12") while African countries invested in high prestige universities.

Interestingly enough, isn't affirmative action in the US simply a transplanted version of the inferior, repudiated African model? What's the point of getting disadvantaged kids to college if the primary schools they came from are wrecks which are incapable of providing the basic education their students will presumably need to succeed in a higher education setting?

Finally, could it be that nobody feels sorry for the Chinese because they talk funny and play an inferior variant of checkers?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holy Crap!

I'm old, I'm jaded and I don't startle easily. That said I experienced a moment of genuine surprise today. The occasion?

Mission of Burma's available as a download pack for Rock Band!

Now if only "Academy Fight Song" was available as a download my life would be complete.

BTW, it's a novel experience playing Rock Band with people who are much younger (read poorer) than you. The little savages have no taste in music. "Waaaah, waaaah!" they'd cry. "We want to play something that's not the Pixies. The Pixies suck!"

Fortunately since I'm older and wiser I was able to set them straight. I'm the guy that owns the console and the game, so it's my vicarious fantasies of rock stardom that we're going to be living out. And those fantasies have nothing to do with Bobby Spears or whatever her name is.

And the Pixies rock.

Mmm Mmm Good, Part Deux

Brewed with water from an underground stream, for even more deliciousness than normal.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Betty Boop, Betty Boop

I ended up watching a lot of animation for some reason this weekend, catching both "Coraline" and the program of Oscar nominated shorts. "Coraline" may have its deficiencies in the story department but the movie itself was clearly a labor of love, and I enjoyed the quality of its stop motion animation. The giant nerd glasses the theater handed out for the movie's 3D effects didn't hurt either.

On the other hand the Oscar nominated shorts were a terrible disappointment. If that's the best the world of short animation can offer these days the genre needs to be put out of its misery with a bullet in its head. The program swung back and forth between sentimental treacle ("Lavatory Love Story") and inferior rip-offs of old Warner Brothers cartoons (some Pixar piece of crap about a rabbit and a magician). Pixar, if you can't beat the work of underpaid, overworked factory slaves from 60 years ago when you've got a $100,000,000 budget, what's the point of even trying?

The sole exception was a short piece from Japan, "La Maison en Petits Cubes". (I guess "Tsumiki no Ie" wasn't good enough.) I found it to be beautiful, sad and understated which means it'll probably lose to some mediocre crap about a hungry rabbit refusing to do magic tricks.

Mmm Mmm Good