Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blog Day Afternoon

Sesame Street Unplugged!
DVDs of the early seasons of SESAME STREET come with a warning that they may not be appropriate for small children. Because Alistair Cookie smokes a pipe. And Oscar is too grouchy and overeats. And don’t forget the Bob and Linda sex tapes. They were all on the pot back then. Protect your children.

AP, in Australia: “A Sydney man who uploaded the first known pirated copy of THE SIMPSONS MOVIE to the Internet after recording it on his cell phone was fined $888 by a magistrate Tuesday for breaching copyright.

“An international operation involving Australian Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.'s Fox movie studios, which own the rights to the blockbuster, tracked the unauthorized copy to the home of Jose Duarte, 21, who was arrested in August.

“Duarte's lawyer said Duarte tried twice to upload the movie July 26, the release date, several hours ahead of its appearance in most of the world. He thought he'd failed, said the lawyer, Ken Stewart.

"’It would appear that this young man had the sophistication of a dead fish,’ Stewart said.”

A unique defense, if ineffective.

The Future of Books?
From Anthony Grafton’s essay, “Digiitazation and Its Discontents, in the New Yorker: “Last year, Kevin Kelly, the self-styled ‘senior maverick’ of Wired, predicted, in a piece in the Times, that ‘all the books in the world’ would ‘become a single liquid fabric of interconnected words and ideas.’

Liquid fabric? Yuck.

And does a "senior maverick" have more clout than a "junior maverick?" How do they measure "maverickness" over there at Wired?

Later in Grafton’s essay, I learned that in the original telling of the Pandora story, she opened a jar, not a box. Same result though, I suspect.

Fake Brands Now Real!
NYT: “ specializes in designs relating to ‘some of the most memorable places, corporations and companies in 20th-century fiction.’ Other popular T-shirts on the site, which went up in June, include one for Tyrell (“More Human Than Human” is its motto), maker of genetic replicants in BLADE RUNNER, and Polymer Records, a music label in THIS IS SPINAL TAP.”

So now, in addition to buying tee-shirts that tout real products, we can buy tee-shirts that tout imaginary products. Oy. Bring me a Duff, will you?

Why they hate us, part XVII
From Slate: “Darkon is a LARP (live-action role-playing game) where normal people dress up in homemade armor and pretend to be inhabitants of a fantasy realm.” Not on my street, you don’t. I’ll bust a cap on your ass.

Stop shopping!
Forbes: “Suddenly, the advertising trade press is abuzz with a new concept: ‘shopper marketing.’ According to a draft study by Deloitte from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the investment in in-store advertising has doubled since 2004 and is on pace for compound annual growth of 21% through 2010.”

So the store wants to get you in the store to buy stuff, even when you’re actually IN the store buying stuff?

Slouching Towards Disneyland
I am still developing this show, dropping jokes, adding jokes, trying to stay on top of it all, and deliver a fabulous geek fest by the end of the run that I can use to conquer the world. In the course of my, um, research, my partner Joshua pointed me to a story that the Small World ride is shutting down for a year or so to re-design and re-build its boats. It seems that Americans have gained so much weight since the ride first began, that the boats bottom out and get stuck

Things I learned this week.
Rod Stewart is a model train enthusiast. Keith Richard was a boy soprano.

Can you see me now?
NYT: “Jeremy Fletcher and Alejandra Lillo, designers at Graft, an architecture and design firm based in Berlin, Beijing and Los Angeles, were working out a dialogue between voyeurism and exhibitionism, they said, when they designed the swooping, shiny white interiors of the W Downtown, a glass-walled condominium tower to be built in 2009 in Manhattan’s financial district.”

Let me get this straight. You want me to shell out close to a million bucks so people on the street can watch me brush my teeth? Throw in some curtains, pal, or I’m out of here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Aqua Blog (Recalled)

My apologies!
I have been out of the blog loop for a couple weeks, because I have been preoccupied with memorizing lines (oh that) for my new show, SLOUCHING TOWARDS DISNEYLAND. Not being a youngster any more (which I realized over the course of several performances), I have been pretty much staggering home after the rehearsals and shows, and sleeping the sleep of the just.

But my stamina is coming back, as old muscles begin to come back into play. The show is a laugh riot. And it's educational! If you live in the Bay Area, I urge you to come see it immediately, for your own good, and, yes, for mine.

We (that is composer/musician Joshua Brody and I) are the Marsh in San Francisco, Thursdays through Saturdays, through December 8. will tell you more.

Omer? Omar?
There’s a man called either Omer or Omar, according to Patty our stage manager, who shows up in a wall recess next to the Marsh. He has a mullet and a black guitar. He sets up a little busking area for himself, then sings and plays. I have seen him do Buddy Holly, the Doors (though his memory lyrics is selective), and songs of his own devising (the lyrics of one were, near as I could tell, “La la la la twenty four carats”). He also “talks” between songs. These little speeches have the cadence of between-song patter, but what he says is nonsense. Nobody ever actually stops to listen to him. Most curiously, he has two square pieces of cardboard on a bag in front of him. They are the shape and size of a CD jewel case, and have scribbles on them.

It looked to me as though Omer/Omar has an imaginary musical career, complete with imaginary audience, and imaginary CDs.

Joshua and I were observing him (and trying to sing along discreetly with his version of “That’ll be the day”), when Joshua remembered a story he’d read about a guy who called himself “Mingering Mike.”

It seems a pair of record collectors were going through stacks of vinyl at a flea market, when they came across a series of what seemed to be homemade covers, which contained a sheet of cardboard cut to look like a record, complete with fake grooves. The artist featured was Mingering Mike.

The New York Times, it turns out, had done a feature on this guy: “The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos; the inner sleeve was often a shopping bag meticulously taped together to hold a record; and some actually opened to reveal beautiful gatefold sleeves. A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.”

One of the collectors, by coincidence, was a private investigator, and tracked Mr. Mike down. He had created these “albums” when he was a teenager in DC. He didn’t want his real name used, but he had made the “records” because he couldn’t afford to record his music, except a cappella and on the fly, with his cousins. But when the day arrived that he WOULD be able to record his music properly, well, he had the covers ready to go.

Aqua Dots
I have much fodder which I sift through for my little blog, but real life and unrealistic demands for money from landlady, phone company etc. have forced my attention elsewhere, but I do want to say something about Aqua Dots.

I haven’t watched Saturday morning television in eons, but apparently Aqua Dots are advertised heavily there, and are quite popular with young children. Aqua Dots are little beads of plastic that you can arrange into pleasing patterns, which can then be displayed on the refrigerator, with the help of magnets, not provided.

Well, Aqua Dots have been recalled. The physical creation of Aqua Dots, it seems, had been outsourced to China, where a chemical was added to its composition, 1,4 butanediol, which ingested can cause unconsciousness. It is considered a"date rape" drug. Several children who swallowed the beads vomited and lapsed into comas (from which they recovered). The chemical, besides possessing its anesthetic properties, was believed to be an essential part of the “glue” that allowed the beads to stick together.

I hate to sound like a fogey, but maybe we should all go back to flour paste. You know, a little flour, a little water, and you have a glue that will bind almost anything. And my, is it tasty! If we really want to induce seizures among our children, we can always throw a little LSD into the mix.