Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We've got to get ourselves back to the blog

Get YOURSELF back to the garden, it was your idea.
Been away from this blog for a few weeks, writing a Woodstock radio documentary, WOODSTOCK: 40 YEARS ON, hosted by David Dye from World Cafe. Listen for it in August on an NPR station near you. On it you will hear Pete Townshend clocking Abbie Hoffman! If you don’t know what that means, well, you’re probably not a baby boomer. Lucky you.

Animal moments
Outside Macy’s, after lunch with my daughter, we spotted a beggar on the street with a hound dog sleeping, and a cat sleeping on the hound dog. Many cell phone cameras from tourists and passersby took pictures of the phenomenon, mine among them.

And the Ominous Other and I were at a yard sale a few weekends back. One of the tables was “manned” by a sixty-ish woman in capris pants. A card on her table had her occupation as “Creativity Consultant.” She had a little dog, a chihuahua mix, that she had trained to scoot on a skateboard. The little dog actually performed this activity for the benefit of onlookers. It was pretty cool, but the coolness was offset by the rather frightened look the dog had on its face while scooting. It seemed to be thinking, “Must scoot, else I will be scourged.” Of course, that is anthropomorphism on my part, but I’ll still stand by that judgment.

Those who believe that President Obama was actually born in Kenya, and not Hawaii, now have a name. They are called “birthers.”

The main branch of Shi’ia Muslims are called “Twelvers.” Apparently, many of them believe that there is an Imam among us who is invisible, or hiding, and has been around since 872 AD. Maybe Obama is that guy? Just asking.

Amazon Woman on the Moon
Amazon took heat in July for recalling copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and ANIMAL FARM from its popular Kindle device. Apparently this was a result of a dispute with the book’s publisher, but it did generate a certain amount of controversy. The incident could be perceived as being “Orwellian,” after all.

Here's the message I'm getting. Once a book appears on line, it is no longer a book. It is now a service. If you purchase a book for your Kindle, you don’t own it. Amazon has just leased reading rights to you. You can’t pass the book on to somebody else when you’re done with it. And Amazon can snatch it back any time it feels like.

And here’s another thing….
James Wolcott in VANITY FAIR wonders what will happen when physical magazines, books, records, and movies finally disappear?

He writes, “As all this space opens up—as the tokens of our cultural snobbery or keen connoisseurship… recede into the hideaway shelves and flash drives—what will refill it?”

And whither the collector? Whither the snob? Whither the geekboy?

NYT: “In the short term, the industry that may have the most to gain from augmented reality is gaming. Although video games have traditionally pulled players out of the real world and into a virtual one, augmented-reality games have the potential to ‘engage people in the real world in a different way,’ said Daniel Sánchez-Crespo, a project leader at Novarama, a game developer based in Barcelona. ‘It finds a new meaning for space. Your kitchen counter is not just where you prepare dinner; it can be a virtual racetrack for a car game.’”

And: “’The real world is way too boring for many people,’ Mr. Sánchez-Crespo said with a laugh. ‘By making the real world a playground for the virtual world, we can make the real world much more interesting.’”

There you have it. In the boring world to come, vision itself will become a pay-as-you-go service.

News from other lands
Reuters: “German prosecutors in Nuremberg have launched an investigation into whether an artist's gold-coloured gnome giving a stiff-armed Hitler salute violates the country's strict laws against the use of Nazi symbols.”

I have seen this gnome. It appears to me that he is more wave-y than salute-y, but I am not as familiar with the fascist lawn gnome trope as I probably should be.

State fair news!
The butter sculpture of Michael Jackson at the Iowa State Fair has been banned. The State Fair’s people issued a statement which read in part, “Conservatives and traditionalists find themselves opposed to Jackson’s depiction in butter. The allegations of paedophilia and blatant bizarre behaviour are simply too much for them. Then we have PETA, which often goes to the extreme left to make its point. Both factions are likely voting as fast as they can to keep Jackson out of the exhibit for different reasons.”

Just so they leave the pork tent alone.

More MJ
The latest rumor has it that Michael Jackson, at the time of his death, no longer had a nose.

Brent Bozell III, ladies and gentlemen!
His July 22 column chides liberals for being too mean to Rush Limbaugh.

And Wesley Pruden!
He has a blog! On Al Franken: “…the way he got to Washington, and the easy acceptance of fraud, will be remembered as typical of the times, an era when avarice reigned, and the clever swindle was a joke to be played by a clown.” Al Franken stole the election from Norm Coleman, it seems.

Not so sound like a conservative or anything, but….
Sacha Baron Cohen once again invades America with his sneaky persona-driven confrontations. This time around he’s masquerading as gay Austrian eurotrash, and I gather he confronts typical American janes and joes around homophobia and such.

Much has already been written about whether there’s really a satirical point to all this – he’s playing a flaming stereotypical queen being all in-your-face to folks who view gay men as flaming stereotypical queens. What, exactly, is being mocked?

As far as I know, Mr. Cohen was never beaten up or shot in the course of his pranks here. I wonder how his antics would play out in Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Afghanistan? Just asking.

Anthony Lane, in the NEW YORKER: “BRUNO ends appallingly, with a musical montage of Sting, Bono, Elton John, and other well-meaners assisting mein Host in a sing-along. Here’s the deal, apparently: if celebrities aren’t famous enough for your liking (Ron Paul, Paula Abdul), or seem insufficiently schooled in irony, you make vicious sport of them, but if they’re A-listers, insanely keen to be in on the joke, they can join your congregation.”

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
What was THAT all about? A professor was inconvenienced. The nation erupts in… something.

Judith Warner has a blog with the New York Times: “The clash in Cambridge about ID and racial profiling, about identity and expectation and respect was just a snippet of our culture’s ongoing meta-narrative about race.”

Can we stop having “meta-narratives” now, please? And that goes for meta-narrative snippets as well. Thank you.


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