Via Pop Culture Junk Mail: The online text-based version of Pong!



The brilliant Rob Cockerham has put together a monumental investigative report which has identified the common source of all those "WORK FROM HOME!" and "LOSE 40 LBS IN 40 DAYS" signs posted up all over the place. Absolutely brilliant. Rob is an alter role model. He does the things I want to encourage my friends to do.

Some of my friends already do stuff like that - I just want to encourage them.


Find the Boeing

So now I find out that we can't even be sure that an actual airplane hit the Pentagon. This guy's site is far from conclusive, but some of those pictures are unusually free of airplane-scale destruction and debris. And then there's the changing stories. The changing stories always bother me -- probably because they make visible too much of the grime surrounding the fact-reporting process. I remain unconvinced, but I'll keep my ears open for any other scurrilous rumors.

One unequivocally good thing at least, there's a link to some really gigantic jpeg's that the army provides on this website. There's something mesmerizing about scrolling across this many pixels of anything, let alone the pentagon in flames.


Tonight I've become an apprentice glass artist. I'm terribly excited about colors.


Straight Edge

I wandered over to see Fugazi Monday night at Sloss Furnaces. Not a bad show at all. One thing caught my ear, though. Everytime Mr. MacKaye stopped the music to lecture some kid about being considerate to the people around him or to lambast his detractors, there was wild cheering from the crowd. It occurred to me that a lot of people were there to be scolded. I guess if I called it a gimmick, I'd get scolded too.

By the way - Fugazi is entirely correct to gripe about Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster is terrible. It's worth avoiding them if possible.


DVD Extras

Why do we need DVD extras? Didn't all those people in the credits put all their hard work into creating a finished product? Aren't we happy enough not having to peek behind the curtain and second guess the final edit? Are we at a point where we're unwilling for any accomplishment to be left as such? Is the viewer necessarily so fascinated with the machinations of movie production?

I watched Stand By Me tonight, followed by the "making of" documentary which was basically interview clips intercut with scenes from the movie and a few production stills. It revealed very little except that everybody was very pleased and we all miss River Phoenix. During the viewing, I decided how I would change things for DVD's in general and Stand By Me in particular. Generally, I would wish to give the film itself more prominence relative to all the extras, and then maintain the clear position that the extras are for better understanding the production and context of the movie and are not in any way a part of the movie. So here are some quick suggestions:

1. No soundtrack loops, derivative artwork, cute cursor effects or animations with the menu. Just describe the selections in some ugly green-on-black DOS-type format with highlited text. Less is more. I've never seen this part of a DVD done nearly as well as the lamest actual title sequence. Ideally the movie should start automatically when you put in the disc unless you start mashing buttons to do otherwise.
2. Include searchable references as much as possible, and to the exclusion of sappy interviews. If we're so interested in the production, we'd get a lot more out of a prop list with sources and costs of every item than a warmly lit close up of Corey Feldman reminiscing about how Rob liked to mix it up on the set.
3. And... while I'm at it. Instead of interviewing the now-grown up actors of Stand By Me for a pointless self-serving documentary, wouldn't it be cooler to send them off on a little unscripted "Blair Witch" style adventure to exhume River Phoenix - let them really hash out their career frustrations and personal baggage within the same general framework as the movie? I would watch that.


I've been sorted

A couple of friends of mine are interested in the Kiersey Temperament profiles (Anybody ever tell you that you were an INTP?) Due to copyright restriction, the test is not available freely, but AdvisorTeam will give you 70 short questions and provide a half-complete result for you. According to my responses, I'm an Idealist (NF). If I paid for the full results, I could find out that I'm either a Healer (INFP), Counselor (INFJ), Champion (ENFP), or Teacher (ENFJ). I suspect that I'm an INF something, so if anyone needs healing or counseling drop me a line


Laissez les bon temps roulez

I spent this weekend in New Orleans and had a fantastic time with good friends. You can check out some pictures in my Yahoo! photo albums. Contact me for better resolution versions or other pictures.

Part of our trip was a pilgrimage to various shrines of New Orleans eating. Chuck Taggart publishes what I would imagine is the most detailed and honest compendium of Lousiana cuisine and classic cocktails. The time you spend poking around this site will be richly rewarded.


And God granted him that which he requested - I Chronicles 4:10

This disturbs me a bit.

I know that Wilkinson probably has the theology more or less right - that praying for success is inextricable from praying to serve God's purposes - but still, it's hard to deny that the anomalous success of the books is due to the apparent sanctioning of greed and selfishness. Even if there is a lesson to learn, it's far from the most important lesson of scripture.


Stunningly beautiful. (I especially like the ice.)
Another tidbit about the Attorney General: Ever since his first term as Senator from Missouri he has had his head anointed with vegetable oil, in the manner of King David, as he took office [article]. After his confirmation as Attorney General, Justice Clarence Thomas did the honors.


The Princeton Architectural Press has just published a beautiful book on The Auburn Rural Studio. The photographs are really fantastic - better than any I've seen of these projects and of the Hale County setting. It also makes the Walker Evans / William Christenberry connection that is intrinsic to my interest in the place.


Last night I watched a canned special on the History Channel called "Secrets of the Ancient World: Ancient Inventions" which ran through a half dozen or so discoveries of ancient technological apparatus and speculated on unanswered mysteries such as the construction of the pyramids and the Nazca lines.

While looking for a good link to put here, I discovered that the US Patent and Trademark Office publishes an internal newsletter called "The PTO Pulse" which is all kinds of fun to browse through. Copies going back to 1998 are on line. This issue from April of that year contains a more intelligent review of the TV special than I would have written.

Incidentally, if you want to check out the Nazca lines (the giant animal and geometric terraglyphs in Peru), I recommend you get in touch with my friend Ingrid in Lima. She wrote her thesis on responsible cultural, ecological and agricultural-based tourism in the Nazca region. I bet she could set you up with a hot-air balloon or something.



Until they figure out how to batter and deep fry pork ribs, this is the best we can do.


Sour Grapes

Some scholars of ancient semitic languages have been stealing the thunder from the more militant Imams. Here's a juicy excerpt from a Yahoo! News article discussing a radically revisionist assertion in a new book, The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran, written under the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg:

"[...]So, for example, the virgins who are supposedly awaiting good Islamic martyrs as their reward in paradise are in reality 'white raisins' of crystal clarity rather than fair maidens.[...]the famous passage about the virgins is based on the word hur, which is an adjective in the feminine plural meaning simply 'white.' Islamic tradition insists the term hur stands for 'houri,' which means virgin, but Mr. Luxenberg insists that this is a forced misreading of the text. In both ancient Aramaic and in at least one respected dictionary of early Arabic, hur means 'white raisin.'[...]Mr. Luxenberg has traced the passages dealing with paradise to a Christian text called Hymns of Paradise by a fourth-century author. Mr. Luxenberg said the word paradise was derived from the Aramaic word for garden and all the descriptions of paradise described it as a garden of flowing waters, abundant fruits and white raisins, a prized delicacy in the ancient Near East. In this context, white raisins, mentioned often as hur, Mr. Luxenberg said, makes more sense than a reward of sexual favors."

See also this article on, what else... Infidels.org.