They Really Got Him

Kinks’ Ray Davies shot while thwarting robbery attempt
Singer-songwriter Ray Davies of the Kinks was shot in the leg while chasing thieves who snatched a purse from a woman he was with, police said Monday. He was not seriously injured.


Robot Invasion!!!

2004 promises to be the year that science fiction fans have been eagerly awaiting since, oh, the 1950s. You know, the year that humankind is conquered and then enslaved by mechanized pseudo-lifeforms. I mean, what else are we to make of the recent onslaught of media appearances by robots?

NASA rover finds Earth in Martian sky
Robot sub used in Red Sea search


Sony Introduces World’s First Running Humanoid Robot
President and CEO of Honda Motor Company Takeo Fukui is greeted by ASIMO, Honda’s intelligent humanoid robot


Will Smith stars in Alex Proyas’ “I, Robot”
Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie appear in the robots-attack-Earth film “Sky Captain”

Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, of course, but last month, Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean for president.


More Sex Please, We’re Increasing Our Hit Count

werebritish.jpgNo Sex Please, We’re American: Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven and William Friedkin can’t make erotic thrillers in Bush’s USA
Sight and Sound, January 2004
(via The Morning News)
No Sex Please, We’re Hobbits
No Sex Please, We’re Geeks
No Sex Please, We’re Too Busy
No Sex Please, We’re British Curlers
No Sex Please, We’re Married
No Sex Please, We’re Students
No Sex Please, We’re Dutch
No Sex Please, We’re Oxford
No Sex Please, We’re French Tourists
No Sex Please, We’re Costco
No Sex Please, We’re Medicated
et. cetera…


Memo to Dean: Other Americans aren’t comfortable in a milieu where the term milieu is used

yale.jpg“You know, I have grown up in the Northeast my entire life. And in the Northeast, we do not talk openly about religion. I’ve spent a lot of time in the South. I have a lot of friends from the South. In the South, people do integrate religion openly, easily into their lives, both Black Southerners and white Southerners.
“I understand that if I’m going to campaign for the presidency of the United States, I have to be comfortable in the milieu that other Americans are comfortable, not just for my own region, for everywhere else.
“I think any columnist who questions my belief is over the line. But I do believe that it is important for the president of the United States to be comfortable everywhere, and I plan to learn how to do that.”—Howard Dean at the Democratic Candidates Debate in Iowa, Jan. 4, 2004 (via CNN)


2004: the year ‘and/or’ broke

“NOTE: We are no longer using the following words: ‘desultory,’ ‘heretofore’, ‘nonesuch’, ‘ineffable’, ‘meretricious’, ‘Vietnam’, and ‘utilize’. We are also discontinuing the usage of the construction ‘and/or.'”—Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern issue 1; 1998
Out Now: McSweeney’s 12: Unpublished, Unknown, &/or Unbelievable, 2004*
*This post qualifies as part of the required seven (7) Dave Eggers-related entries-per-year as stipulated by the bylaws of International Bloggers Union (local 404).


“We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be.”

Nine men who came too late and stayed too long… Unchanged men in a changing land. Out of step, out of place and desperately out of time.The Wild Bunch
“We’re not gonna get rid of anybody. We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be. When you side with a man, you stay with him. And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal, you’re finished. We’re finished! All of us!”— Pike Bishop (William Holden)

Satirical Shallow

The Wedding Photo

Britney Jean Spears weds Jason Allen Alexander
Earlier: Jason and Britney at the Kid’s Choice Awards.


Sunday, Cranky, Sunday

Larry David with Krazee-Eyez Killa (Chris Williams)
I have a friend—let’s call him “the Other Matt”—who refuses to watch HBO‘s Curb Your Enthusiasm because it’s “too decadent.”
I guess Other Matt feels that the comedic travails of “Larry David”—the crankiest multi-millionaire in Hollywood—all revolve around the perils of money: how hard it is to give people gifts, buying a new house, or hosting a benefit party. Of course, he’s right: what Seinfeld did for venality, Curb does for profligacy.
But that’s just the TV Larry David, not the real guy. As readers of The Nation know, Larry is “a long-standing reader” and pitch person for the lefty magazine. Larry’s real-life wife, Laurie, is a committed environmental activist (which may explain why AAA was made the unlikely villain in one episode). Laurie and Larry recently came in for a Drudge-led conservative drubbing for attempting to host a benefit called the “Hate Bush 12/2 Event.” Rich Hollywood liberals? Guilty as charged. Decadent? Probably not.
Say what you will about the decadence of on screen Larry; the offscreen one is fighting the good fight. Okay, he may be trying to screw his former colleagues out of Seinfeld money, but… okay, there’s no ‘but.’ That sucks.
But my point was… what was my point? Oh, that Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the best shows around and that far from being an exercise in decadence, it’s a sly—attention HBO publicists and print-ad writers—brilliant (!) critique of wealth. The way the show skewers rich people’s house envy, trouble dealing with working people (particularly those in industries meant to make their lives easier: salespeople, parking lot attendants, cable repairmen), and the limits of their liberal guilt perfectly nails the contradictions of dumb wealth that falls right into the lap of those who seek it least yet changes their lives the most. (This is clearly an obsession for David, who explored the same theme in his feature film debut, Sour Grapes and again in the perpetually-in-turnaround Envy.)
The money not only corrupts—that’s obvious—but it also simply confuses. What is the great Susie Essman‘s character, Susie, if not completely confused by her husband, Larry’s manager, Jeff‘s money? The only sane person on the show is the one who seems most at ease with her wealth. Larry’s wife, Cheryl (played by the lovely Cheryl Hines), doesn’t feel aspiration pushing her from below and status pushing down from above. The one thing that comes naturally to Cheryl—but seems to elude all the other characters (not least of all, Larry himself)—is class, with a lowercase ‘c.’ It’s the one thing all the money in Hollywood can’t buy, and she alone seems to understand this.
Why, that makes Curb Your Enthusiasm downright radical, don’t you think, Other Matt? Did I mention it’s funny as hell?
Curb Your Enthusiasm begins its new season on HBO, Sunday night at 9:30 PM EST, following a half-hour infomercial for shoes.
Related: Alessandra Stanley unleashes her enthusiasm (within reason) in The New York Times.


Art Attack

If you thought that The Boondocks‘ Aaron McGruder was overly hostile towards Condoleeza Rice, you better not click over to the LA Weekly‘s annual Comics Issue. If you do, you can see art provocateur Robbie Conal‘s aggressively unflattering portrait of our nation’s National Security Advisor.
I should say that as unpleasant as the reproduction above is, it doesn’t do justice to the image on the LA Weekly‘s site, which comes equipped with a plug-in that lets you zoom in—way in—and see every detail.
You may have total recall of an earlier Conal piece reproduced on low culture in October. Somehow that one seems a lot less grotesque than this most recent one. Maybe that’s because in most viewers’ eyes, the earlier subject is already pretty repelant, whereas Rice is, at least aesthetically, quite appealing. Somehow I doubt this picture will be going into her scrapbook.