Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Red Light/Green Light: The Harrowing

Apparently, this is not unheard of in airports:

I walked from the arrival gate towards baggage claim, and when I was about halfway there, all of a sudden about a dozen or more TSA personnel and private security staff appeared, shouting STOP WHERE YOU ARE. FREEZE. DO NOT MOVE. Not just at me, but all of the travelers who happened to be wandering through the hallway at that moment.

Some of the TSA guards then backed up against walls in the hallway, and sort of barked at anyone who tried to move a few feet away from their "spot," like towards chairs to sit down or whatever.

One TSA guard jogged ahead, back towards the arrival gates (United, this was Terminal 7). At first I assumed maybe it was some weird security drill? A few of us asked what was going on, and got terse answers, like, "Security review." WTF? 5 minutes passed. 10, 15, 20. The two teen Japanese tourists about ten feet behind me looked utterly dazed -- welcome to America, guys. I was really jetlagged and cranky, wanted to move a few feet and sit down, but the TSA lady nearest me kind of snapped at me to stop and stay frozen where I was when the order went out.

After 30 minutes, the TSA people said, okay, you may leave now. And everyone unfroze, and went and got their bags. No explanation. I guess I should have pressed for an explanation, or demanded to know why we were being held without our consent and without a provided reason, but I was really tired and just wanted to get the hell out of there and go home. Perhaps I was wrong to have just walked away.

And a half-dozen commenters have similar stories. [Boing-Boing now with comment moderation by Teresa Nielsen Hayden.]
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In browsing the Idaho Governor's web site (in response to this, of course), I notice that the Republican Governor proudly displays photos from his April 2007 "Cuba Trade Mission" trip. Doesn't that seem kind of non-boycotty, especially for a Republican?
Monday, August 27, 2007
Simpsons Movie Spoiler, and Credit Where It Is Due

The 15 seconds of The Simpsons Movie that people are quoting is the "Spider-Pig" song, which I referred to earlier. Here are the complete lyrics:

Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig
Does whatever a Spider-Pig does
Can he swing from a web?
No he can't, he's a pig
Look out, he's the Spider-Pig

As the credits rolled, I saw that the "Spider-Pig parody lyrics" were credited to a group of people, at least 5 of them. There are barely 5 parodic words here. Counting "pig". Which, I admit, appears several times. ("Does" in the second line, and "he's" in the last are more like Homeric misquotations -- they should be "can" and "here comes", respectively.)

I guess 5 guys sat in a room, and this is what came out. They all helped?

(Actually, the slow a capella version of this during the closing credits is about the funniest thing in the movie.)
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"Side-effects may include..."

There must be something new in the water at the Colbert Report offices. There were a couple of points where I couldn't breathe. (Ironic, considering the content.)

Monday, August 13, 2007
Not Terribly Helpful

So if you were walking past a newsstand and briefly saw this:

don't you think there's a chance you might not get the point?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
PSAs from My Childhood

This isn't quite was I was looking for, but it's close:

Attempts to find "It's the latest, it's the greatest, it's the library" so far have failed.

UPDATE: Hear a crappy midi version here; see a copy of the sheet music's cover here (Brooklyn!); live in-library performance RIGHT HERE!

Elvis And Roone

The 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death is this week. From the NYTimes review of the 1994 Roone Arledge bio, The House That Roone Built:
On the day Elvis died in 1977, Mr. Arledge made that the lead story on the ABC evening news; the other networks led with a Washington story about the Panama Canal treaties. It may be the truest measure of Mr. Arledge's influence on television that on a comparable news day today, all the broadcasts would lead with Presley's death.
That may be overstating Arledge's particular influence, but...can you even imagine not leading with that today?
Completely Unnecessary Products

Breakfast cereal that contains bits of real granola...bars. From Nature Valley, who previously had almost exclusively made granola bars.

That's like the restaurant I was at a few months ago that made pancakes out of donuts. They bought donuts from Dunkin Donuts, ground them up, and used that as the base of their pancake mix. (It's not on their current menu, but you know, if you got 'em, link 'em.)
Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mark Evanier has a report from Frank Buxton on the first tryout of Mel Brooks' new musical version of Young Frankenstein. Note this part:
Shuler Hensley, who was the only good "Poor Jud" in Oklahoma I ever saw, assays the monster and, again the inevitable comparison to the late Peter Boyle, brings the creature to life. (Stop me before I pun again.) He can sing. The Monster can sing! And dance, too.
But, may I point out, it's even better than that. Shuler Hensley not only has experience in musicals, he also played the Frankenstein Monster in the film Van Helsing. This makes him not just perfectly qualified for his current role; it makes him the most appropriately-qualified person for a particular role, ever.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Choose Your Own Blog Adventure

If you'd like to read a discussion, which may remind some readers of an old Usenet comics thread, about whether a badly-executed team book can ever be the fault of the creators, go here.

If, instead, you'd like to read John Holbo's digression about the fact that "most Shakespearean actors, as recently as the 19th Century, were Skrulls", go here.
John Scalzi Explains Who's Going To See Stardust

Stardust, on the other hand, cobbles together its audience from various demographics. First, science fiction/fantasy fandom, almost none of whom is interested in Rush Hour 3 (and which, as anyone who looked at Serenity's grosses can tell you, is worth exactly $10 million on opening weekend). Second, older moviegoers, who may be drawn in by the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro and the novel and amusing movie idea. Third, older (that is, 30+) couples out on dates.

Then throw in, in decreasing order of importance, family audiences (it's PG-13 but that's close enough for government work), Edwardian-era-loving gays and/or Anglophiles, the comic book and/or Matthew Vaughn fans not at Rush Hour 3, moviegoers who actually read reviews to decide what they're going to see, and single, cat-loving women hoping for just one more Princess Bride experience before they die.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cruel and Unusual

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won't wear the armband in public. [Wusses!]

The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

Thursday, August 02, 2007
Some Stuff About Jekyll

I was going to do some proper writing about the BBC version of Jekyll, which starts on BBC America this Saturday having just finished its 6-episode run last week in the UK, but the usual laziness got the better of me, with the result that I can link to Alan Sepinwall for the facts of the matter, and move directly on to some extra thoughts:

-- there was a point or two where I began to entertain the possibility that Steven Moffat is Alan Moore in disguise. More than one episode of Coupling is structured around games with form, such as a split-screen sequence that takes up 2/3 of an episode, or (more than once) seeing the same events more than once from various characters' points of view. Furthermore, there are moments in Jekyll where the dialogue is so clever that it draws attention to itself, which I've always found to be a danger with Moore. Which is my excuse for quoting my favorite line, from the scene where Mrs. Tom Jackman learns about Mr. Hyde:

Claire: What are you? I thought I married a man!
Hyde: You miscounted.

As a counter to this theory, two points. One: My favorite episode of Coupling -- in fact, one of my favorite sitcom episodes ever -- "The Cupboard of Patrick's Love", is not one of those formalistic exercises. Two: Alan Moore isn't funny. When he is, he's funny like a very smart robot, or he's stealing from National Lampoon stories and/or the film made from them.

--when it comes down to it, Jekyll is oddly constructed. Alan mentions this in his review, but I'm not sure it's totally successful. By the time we get to the end, we're dealing with very different situations from the beginning, to the extent that certain characters from the earlier, more expository episodes are left wandering around, attempting to exposit on a question that never particularly held my interest, which is the precise connection between not-quite-fictional Henry Jekyll, and our hero, Dr. Tom Jackman. Ultimately, this question is resolved with at least 3 revelations, one of which earns a "was that supposed to be a surprise?", and the other two of which earn a "well, if that's the case, then why did this or that character...." -- I imagine Moffat has answers in his head, but they're not obviously on the screen.

Really, though, you wanna see James Nesbitt do some Hyde. It's a riot.

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