Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tuesday's Quasi-Hiatus Storyboards

What is there to say about this one? Or any of these really? It's all about the animate and inanimate, coming together to share in the joy of amazing music. Music videos, dudes. Also, someone mentioned the Pixar lamp from yesterday's post. Well yeah, that's the Pixar lamp in the middle. It's one of the lamps I know how to draw because I used to have one.

Here's another instance of a guy in the band rocking with an appliance. Vem and Tony, (the Klasfeld proteges who directed this thing), were throwing out ideas for human/appliance interaction. I wrote down the ideas they agreed were board-worthy, sketched them out for their approval, then I went home and drew it up purty like this into the wee hours. I don't know how this toaster thing came out in the video, but it reads pretty well in the form of a drawing. All right. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Week-Long Quasi-Hiatus

Hope everyone had an excellent weekend. Sure enough, it rained all day Saturday. Again. Thanks Atlanta weather. Also, for anyone who's wondering, Friday night's Goizueta Business School prom went fine. I just followed my wife around the room as she said hi to people I'd either never met or had met before only briefly, making sure to smile pleasantly when necessary, even to laugh when it looked like someone had just finished saying something funny, even if I couldn't really hear them. And since the DJ never once played a slow song (can you really call a dance without slow songs a "prom"?), I was relieved of my duty to dance a few. So it went off much better than I had any reason to expect.

At any rate, I'm doing a week-long hiatus this week. Not because I'm so swamped or anything, but just to try and recharge the blog-part of my brain a little. Now, I know that often (if not all the time) I've posted up blog entries that required almost nothing at all in the way of thought or effort, in essence a day's hiatus, I've decided that instead of a full-on dead-blog hiatus, I'll just post up a storyboard each day (I've got tons of them), maybe accompanied by a brief comment, or maybe not. So, like a mini-blog break for me, but still something to look at for you folks when you check back here.

So this week I'm posting up a storyboards from an Alien Ant Farm video I did way back in 2003 called "Glow". I never saw this video, so post up a comment if this looks familiar to you -- I'd like to know how the video came out. The concept behind this one (BTW, not a Marc Klasfeld-directed video) is that Alien Ant Farm is rocking out with a bunch of household appliances. The appliances get into the music and the performance begins to feature some familiar elements from wild, teenager-filled concerts. So, here's Monday's storyboard: one of the Ant Farmers head-banging alongside a lamp. Brilliance.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Dog Who Strangles Itself Against Its Chain Without a Sound. Just one of Many Strange Goings On in a Gated Community Called Canaan Cove

This is a thumbnail for an illustration I'm planning to do one day for my novel, or, as I call it these days, just "Book". Even if my planned illustrations, most of which exist only in my head, amount to nothing more than "value-adders" for my own vanity press edition, that's fine. Illustrations in books are cool. Something very nineteenth-century about them that I like. Anyway, this is an image from a new element I added into the first half. The protagonist's odious next-door neighbor is, among other things, the caretaker of an unusual dog who appears only in the hours between nightfall and sunrise, during which time it works tirelessly (not to mention silently) to free itself from its chain. I added a couple of scenes involving the dog because I needed to foreshadow certain elements of the second half, and this new section helped me do that. Though this image was intended as a sketch for some other more finished-looking version, I kind of like the rough version.

Anyway, it's Friday and I'm going to a prom tonight with Peggy. Yes, Emory's business school has a prom. I thought I was done with this sort of stuff after the wedding. Oh well. Peggy got a new dress and everything. So I guess I'm going to get totally wasted at this bacchanal and cut a lil' rug 'till the wee hours. Or was I just going to sit at a table cramming hors d'oeuvres while watching business-dorks dance? I forget. One of the two.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Couple Pages From the Last Thing I Read

With some of my Christmas book-cash, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the Acme Novelty Library Vol. 16, written and drawn by the oft-discussed graphic novelist, Chris Ware. I've been reading Ware's stuff each week in the New York Times Magazine -- late last year they started publishing a page each week of a series called Building Stories. The story in the Acme Novelty Library is like the Building Stories: depressing, hyper-realistic, usually told in real-time about crushingly regular people having bad times that may likely strike the reader as eerily familiar. Anyway, in ANLVol.16 (what a goofy title), Chris Ware puts himself into the story. In interviews he talks about the perception that he draws depressing comics, and insists that depressing people is not his aim. He addresses this perception very neatly in (deep breath) Acme Novelty Library Vol. 16 in these two pages. The punchline is, for me, hilarious. See what you think.

(Also: any opinions or notes on whether or not my posting this copyrighted material on my blog is illegal or not? It feels kind of illegal. I mean, what's stopping me from scanning in the whole thing and posting it, right? Is an attributed, 2-page sample constitute copyright violation? Does anyone have any info on this subject?)

All right. Tomorrow be Friday. More then.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Other Genius Show on HBO: David Simon's "The Wire"

When I was laid up with my broken leg, I did a lot of video game playing, a lot of writing, and a lot of TV watching. One of the shows I discovered laying in bed those many weeks, was HBO's The Wire. It's a fantastic show and, in my opinion, as brilliant and well-done in its way as The Sopranos. It was into its third season when I found it, and I got really sucked into it. It's hard not to. Does anyone remember the short-lived ABC series written by Stephen King called Kingdom Hospital? In doing the press for that show, Stephen King talked about wanting to do a "novel made for television". Well, Kingdom Hospital wasn't that, it turned out to be just more bad TV, but The Wire is the real deal -- TV with the breadth and depth of great, sweeping novels. Not creaky, "classic" literature, but the good stuff you don't mind reading. A while back, Peggy got the first season of The Wire from a colleague and for all that time, it's been sitting on my bookshelf in the cellophane, just sitting there. I unwrapped it a couple weeks ago and have been watching episode after episode ever since. Addictive stuff. I'm on episode 9 now, and I'm starting to think that as good as that third season was, and it was fantastic, the first season is even better.

The first season of The Wire follows a unit of detectives assigned to bring down Baltimore's newest drug lord, a kingpin from the projects named Avon Barksdale. Det. McNulty is the homicide detective who's most driven to bust Barksdale and put a crimp in the drug trade in the projects of Baltimore. At least for a while. The show is from the same guys who did the NBC show, Homicide, which was also brilliant and groundbreaking for its time. But when your show's on HBO, you can go all the way with the realism. On HBO, the writers (like David Simon, the exec. producer of the show) can put real (read: profanity-laced) street dialogue in the mouths of their street characters, and real (read: same) cop dialogue in the mouths of their cop characters, and if there's a show that needs that level of authenticity, it's this one. Far from the glamourized, cartoonish world of CSI where titillating violence is perpetrated and investigated by beautiful people, where clues appear magically, and suspects confess about 50% of the time, the writers' aim with The Wire is much bigger -- this show's intent is to depict the inner workings of law enforcement in a big, drug-corrupted city with a realism and a seriousness of purpose never before attempted on TV. With airtime divided equally between the cops and the criminals, this show is about the on-the-ground reality of the so-called "War on Drugs", and it's pretty clear we're not winning.

The Wire shows how law enforcement works in the real world. We watch cops building, methodically, step-by-tedious-step, a case the DA's can prosecute and win. We go through the procedure to tap pay phones, clone pagers, the hours of sitting around and watching nothing much going on, the lies they tell to cover each other's ass. Though it's the nitty gritty of police work we're seeing, not a second of it is boring. The Baltimore of The Wire is a place where homicide detectives call each other "murder police", where their superiors are happy with them if they solve just eight murders in a year, and where, if a suspect gets too mouthy in an interrogation room, he will be beaten by cops.

And in great news, HBO's bringing The Wire back for a fourth season. Should start filming soon, and airing later this year. Oh, HBO. How I wish you were free.

Anyway, it's great, great stuff, and I reccomend ya'll check it out if you have the time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Remember Math?

Does anyone remember math? Not the practical kind you use in real life, like figuring 15% for a tip at Longhorn Steakhouse, but the useless high-school kind? I've been doing a few practice GRE math questions today and I'm a little shocked at how very little of that stuff I do actually remember. Did you know that all of the exterior angles of a figure always add up to 360 degrees? I sure didn't. I'm not sure I ever knew that. I don't even remember how to multiply fractions anymore. So doing these practice GRE math questions has been an exercise in humility. I know so very very little. When I go in tomorrow for a "practice" test at a Kaplan testing center, I'm fully expecting to embarrass myself on the quantitative section. Here's an example of a question that I took a good look at, and then straight up gave up on. (I'm choosing the hardest one I've seen so far just to keep everyone on their toes):

17.) Jane must select three different items for each dinner she will serve. The items are to be chosen from among 5 different vegetarian and 4 different meat selections. If at least one of the selections must be vegetarian, how many different dinners could Jane create?
a) 30
b) 40
c) 60
d) 70
e) 80

The explanation in the back of the book made my mind hurt. I encourage you to give it a shot. 1 in 5 of you will get it right. Or will you? Or are those odds? I don't know odds, and 1 in 5 of you probably won't get it. 1 in 10? Less than that? Peggy?

Anyway, if anyone is interested, I'll post up the answer and the explanation tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Schnauzers and Addictive Flash Games

The weekend is over, though you wouldn't know it by the weather. It's been raining for the past 3 weekends here in Georgia, and Glenn Burns, our ABC-affiliate weather-dude, says we're looking good to make it four. It's raining again today.

Though not all was dismal over the past couple of days. Over the rainy weekend, Peggy's folks took home not one, but TWO Schnauzer puppies. They are named Frodo (the gray one, because he looks slightly more strung-out), and Sam (the black one). Pat and Mike brought the wee ones by the apartment on their way back home so we got to say hola, and Sam got to piddle on the carpet. It was adorable. We didn't let Venkman meet them. He gets fed enough. We'll wait 'till they're bigger and can defend themselves against a feline berzerker barrage.

Also, I found a games website that kept me from doing a number of things I'd planned on doing today. Not that it takes much, but check out Teagames.com. A lot of you have probably already seen this site, but I thought I'd mention it for the uninitiated. Most of them get old pretty quick, but they're all simple and there are lots to choose from. I spent too much time on the one called Blueprint. Eagle Eye's fun, too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Because It's Friday, Here's More Gratuitous Senior-Citizen Nudity. You Know You Like It.

I thought I'd finish out the week with yet another bit o' artwork.

In October of last year I posted up a drawing I did in white pencil on black paper of an old naked dude. In that post, I mentioned this woman and talked about how I'd wondered about her motivations for doing this sort of work, i.e. posing naked for community college drawing classes. Turns out I did maybe two good drawings from that class: the one I posted in October, and this one. Though I'd share it with all of you.

In other news, Harry Whittington, the dude Cheney shot in the face last Saturday, apologized to Cheney for getting in the way of all of that birdshot. Kind of hard to believe. Maybe that's just what old-fashioned hunting accident-victims say to the shooter when they recuperate. Outstanding questions that have, to date, never been answered about the incident are: Who were Cheney and Whittington with? How far from Cheny was Whittington when Cheney fired, really? (90 feet is generally accepted as laughable). And, most importantly, was Dick drunk? We may never find out. The county where the shooting took place has about 400 people living in it (it's actually one of the least populous counties in the entire country), and Armstrong, the owner of the ranch, "draws a lot of water" in town, to quote Big Lebowski, and the local police aren't going to risk pissing her off by getting to the bottom of things. We'll likely never find out what happened.

Anyway, have a good Friday evening, and a great weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Your Thursday Inanity: A Drawing of the Missus

Peggy read in the comments that a particular Inanity reader wanted to see some family-friendly drawings of this blogger's wife. She thought this sounded like a good idea, (and one that wouldn't require hours to compose), and so, this Thursday evening, I present this heavily cropped drawing of my lovely wife, Peggy.

I drew this from a photograph taken at Sushi on Brand. I cropped myself way the hell out of it because, well, I look freakish in it. The closer you look, the more apparent it becomes that I drew myself... incorrectly. Because Peggy likes the drawing (even the vaguely humanoid version of myself in it), I don't want to post it up because it would (rightly) be mocked and maligned in the comments, and, because Peggy is attached to the drawing, she wouldn't like my friends to make fun of it. So I'm posting up the successful part of the drawing: Peggy. Though the likeness isn't dead-on, it's close enough that I definitely recognize my wife in it, and am not embarrassed to show this SECTION of the drawing off. Most of my attempts at drawing her end up on page after page of botched attempts, not terribly unlike the page of caricatures I posted yesterday, though the source material is obviously much better-looking and actually worthy of rendering. Anyway, so here's a drawing of Peggy which we both like.

(And for reference, I'm including here the source photograph. Ain't she purty?)

All right. Now is the time when we catch up on Lost episodes. (Shout out to Mom-in-law Pat Ethier for taping all of them for us! Totally awesome!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I've Already Shown You Most of The Good Stuff I Can Fit On My Scanner. This Is What's Left. Enjoy the Inanity.

I haven't really posted up any artwork for awhile, so I thought I'd flip through the old sketchbook and see what I could find. This stuff is about the freshest "art" I got. I make no promises about the quality of this stuff, just that I drew it, and it's not a rant about Cheney. I get tired of thinking about that stuff, too, so I thought I'd give you folks a break from having to read it.

On with the show! The first image is of my brother, Patrick. I drew this with a Sharpie from a photo from one of the photo romans we had to do our first year. In my opinion, this is probably the funniest photo I've ever seen, and certainly the funniest I've ever taken. He must have been about 11 or 12 at the time. (The other actor in this brilliant roman, incidentally, was my sister). This shot is of the pushy trick o' treater demanding more candy than my sister gave him. He's pointing into his bag of candy as though to helpfully show where additional treats might be placed. The photo roman concludes with Shannon slipping a razor blade into a full-size 3 Musketeers and then giving it to him. It's one of the best things I did in film school. I thought my sibs did good work for me.

Later, Patrick proceeded from a punk-kid actor (as shown) into a brooding adolescent actor, starring in high-school plays and a 7-(or so) hour PSA about drunk driving. He was really good in it, actually. I actually believed he'd driven drunk and plowed into a car filled with teenagers. That it happened on a football field didn't affect my suspension of disbelief in the slightest. Man, did he kill a lot of teenagers.

Anyway. This next image is of a model from the JCrew catalog. I just drew the face because that was the hard part, and I would have just wasted a lot of pencil lead drawing out her boring suit thing. For some reason I imagine the JCrew models, after the photo shoots at rustic (but never "dirty") upstate farms, retiring to tastefully-decorated Brooklyn apartments where just the right amount of sunlight shines through clean windows in which they lay across overstuffed armchairs reading books people think they're too pretty to understand. You know, like The Devil Wears Prada. They also come off as kind of cold. This may be one of those things that says more about the interpreter than about the interpreted. Let's move on before I reveal too much.

This final image is yet another testament to my narcissism. A whole page of self-caricatures. I did these in Sharpie also. Before you start thinking I'm hopelessly self-involved ("start?") I should say that I was going through photographs trying to draw something up that I could use as my little avatar picture for this blog. I settled on the thing I posted up a little while back of me in the funny hat, but these were the rejects. The one in the center cracks me up. I made myself look so fiercely Down's.

In other news, my grandmother Jean got married for the 2nd time in her life today to a Georgia Tech grad, former NASA employee, and generally cool old-timer, Ted Taylor. They got married at my aunt's house in Cypress in a small ceremony. Congratulations to them.

At any rate, more blog action tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Far-Out Theory About The Cheney Shooting

Michael Moore hinted at something interesting on his website. Could the guy Cheney shot, Harry Whittington, be dead already?

What if Cheney killed him outright, or injured him badly enough that he died within hours of the shooting? That might explain why there was an 18-hour delay in telling ANYONE.

In this theory, it takes Armstrong 18 hours to alert the Corpus-Christi paper because Karl Rove needs all the time he can get to firm up everyone's story and present a united front to a press corps already skeptical of almost everything this White House tells them. Armstrong, the owner of the ranch on which the shooting occured, said Whittington "got peppered pretty good" by Cheney's gun. Which caused Jon Stewart to quip that Whittington had been "seasoned to within an inch of his life."

At any rate, it's now very clear Whittington's injuries are worse than the White House make them sound. Cheney hasn't made a public appearance or said anything to anyone about it. If this was just a mishap resulting in no serious injury, then it seems natural that Cheney would have popped up to quell rising suspicion. Or what about a bedside interview with the injured Whittington, alert and smiling in his hospital bed, a little bloodied up, but altogether all right? Nothing.

The shot supposedly came from 30 yards away and entered into Whittington's right side. Pellets punctured his heart which caused him to have a heart-attack this morning. According to hospital officials, he's been moved back into the ICU today after his heart-attack. The human heart's on the left side of the body. For birdshot pellets to go all the way through a hunter's protective gear, his clothes, break the skin, burrow halfway through the meat of his torso, and then embed themselves deep into one's heart, 90 feet would seem a little far for these injuries to be plausible. I dunno. Not a doctor or a hunter, but it doesn't sound like we know the whole story.

I'm not saying it's likely that Whittington's dead and this is some massive cover-up, but if Whitting does die sometime this week while in his Secret Service-guarded hospital room, this whacko conspiracy theory would suddenly become a little more respectable. I mean, c'mon. It's Dick Cheney we're talking about. Can we really put anything past this guy? Even this?

At any rate, conspiracy theories are fun.

Batman, Having Officially Run Out of Fictional Super-Villains To Beat Up And Turn In To The Police, Turns to the Real Thing.

Hope everyone's having a good Valentine's Day.

The Cheney thing continues to unravel -- some folks are wondering if maybe Cheney was slightly inebriated when he did the deed -- but I'm thinking Cheney shotgunning other old people is not so hot a topic with the Inanity faithful, so I'll switch to something that may skew closer to our hearts, namely Batman.

Who doesn't love Batman? I know I do. (Here he is kicking Superman's ass -- because sometimes Supes needs Batman to set him straight.) So whenever Batman makes it into the mainstream media, I'm interested. So here's the story: Frank Miller's next Batman story is called Holy Terror, Batman! and in it, "Batman kicks al Quaeda's ass". I actually read this story originally over at Aintitcool the other day, thought it was kinda cool, but not THAT cool given how bad the sequel to the Dark Knight Returns looked, but now all of the major news organizations have picked it up. I think this story appeals to them because it a) features two names recognized worldwide whom one wouldn't necessarily expect to hear uttered in the same breath, and b) the idea of an American icon meeting the great villain of the day to exact some righteous justice feels homespun, timely, and kind of edgy all at the same time. Provided Miller's style doesn't slide too much further into the abstract, strictly representational style he's evolved into, this sounds like it could be pretty fun.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dick Cheney Hunts With Big-Time Donor. Cheney Wants Cash. Donor Says He'll Have to Think About It. Donor Gets Shot in the Face.

Well, I was going to write up a blog about seeing Jay McInerney give a reading at the Margaret Mitchell House tonight, but when we got there we discovered the event was cancelled due to his being snowed in by that nor'easter that dumped all the snow on New York. Would have been nice to get an email or something. Oh well.

I did want to mention a couple news items. First, as you've all heard about by now, Cheney shot a guy in the face over the weekend. The official White House version of events has the old-timer Texas attorney and big-time GOP donor Harry Whittington getting a face full of birdshot because he stepped into the wrong place at the wrong time. What's weird (and these days, what isn't weird about most things the Vice-President does?), is that there was an 18-hour gap between when the accident happened, and when the press was informed. Why the delay? And why was the owner of the ranch, another big-time Bush donor named Katherine Armstrong who is, so far, the only eyewitness who's been cleared to speak to the press, the one to actually inform the press (the press in this case being that august paper of record, the Corpus-Christi Caller-Times), and not the Office of the Vice-President? Maybe there's nothing to this, maybe this is what it appears to be and nothing more. But then again, these people lie a lot.

Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo, one of the very few legitimate news blogs, has a link to this tidbit, that has none other than "the architect" himself, Karl Rove, on the phone with Ms. Armstrong within 90 MINUTES OF THE SHOOTING. For the next 16 and a half hours, he sure didn't tell anybody about it. Did they think they might just be able to keep it quiet?

Then, also from Talking Points Memo, former-Crossfire-combatant, America-hurter, Democratic hack, and generally affable Clintonista Paul Begala offers his take on what may have happened. Begala hunts quail in Texas frequently, and finds the macho, back-slapping euphemisms being bandied about by the White House a little misleading. Begala says that when a person is fired on at that range with that sort of gun, they have not been "sprayed" or "peppered" as has oft been reported in the largely administration-friendly press, they have actually been "shot". And though the official line is that even older-man Whittington was at fault and not Cheney, Begala hint that, under the circumstances, Cheney was himself negligent.

Finally, if you click on only one link in this post, click on this one. It's a fun one. The Press Secretary and NBC's David Gregory get into a shouting match during a press conference. Man, I want C-SPAN, and I want it now. Ok. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Is Netflix Evil? If They Aren't Yet, They're Working On It

This is an article anyone who either has or is considering subscribing to Netflix needs to read. In January 2005, 4 months after a subscriber filed suit against them, Netflix admitted to systematically delaying shipment of movies to subscribers who rented more than 9 movies in a given month, even though all Netflix subscriptions are supposed to be (and advertised as) "unlimited" rentals, the only variable being the number of movies a user is paying to rent at one time. This practice is called "throttling", and I think this sucks. I always thought Blockbuster were the bad guys in the video rental market, using deceptive statements in their advertising to lure unsuspecting customers, like "no late fees" for example. Now, it's Netflix. Netflix says they do "throttling" to protect their profit margins, and that's fine, $0.78 an envelope can add up, but don't resort to deceptive advertising and say your rental plans provide "unlimited" DVD rentals.

Why does it seem like absolutely everyone on the planet is either lying outright or just shaving the inconvenient bits off of the truth? Anyway. Today is Friday and that is good news indeed. Have an awesome, truth-telling weekend.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Michael Crichton Wants You To Calm Down And Enjoy These Warm January Temps

This is Michael Crichton. You may remember -- a couple weeks ago I blabbed about bits of homophobia I found sprinkled throughout his early, possibly first novel, entitled The Terminal Man. Even then he seemed to have something in common with the right-wing of this country. Now, as I see in the New York Times, he's receiving a journalism award from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists for his NOVEL State of Fear, in which he completely undermines the idea that global warming is a real threat. The article is brief, and you can read it here. James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, likes State of Fear. According to the NYTimes, Inhofe calls global warming, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

Crichton seems to agree with that assessment. In a retort to those critics who said the premise of State of Fear was predicated on boneheaded science, he gave this lecture in coordination with the Smithsonian (if, by chance, you DO click on the link, you'll find the right link beneath the covers of all of his books). I read through a bunch of it and Crichton sounds a little like an avuncular Ian Malcolm (the character Jeff Goldblum played in Jurassic Park), but instead of talking about 'chaos theory', he's going on about 'complex systems'. He says in the lecture, essentially, that at one point we were all afraid of something called 'global cooling', and Y2K, and the 'population bomb'. He posits that global warming is just another one of these silly faddish things that people are getting freaked out about for no reason other than the news tells us to get freaked out about it. In one respect, he's saying what Michael Moore said in Bowling For Columbine -- that part of the reason we're afraid of each other (and why there's so much gun buying and gun violence in the US), is because of the way we get our information: the news. Crichton concludes his lecture by asking how we can be so arrogant as to think we humans can bring stability to our planet's atmosphere when it hasn't been stable in the history of Earth?

Is global warming just another Y2K? I don't think so, but I went to film-school. So what's a guy like me with no background in science to do in the face of Michael Crichton telling me to relax, that it's all going to be okay? I look to people in the field who do know about it. So when you have a phalanx of world-renowned, Nobel-prize winning scientists and climatologists who all believe global warming is real, that we're contributing to it, and that we can and should do something to stop it, I listen to them. And when a guy who writes heavily-researched, fun-to-read, but generally dopey techno-thrillers says global warming's essentially a hoax, I'll go ahead and take that with a grain of salt.

Tomorrow is Friday. I'll have some more Inanity for you then. I'm out.

Craig Moorhead Has a Blog You Should Visit

Producer, screenwriter, musician, and fellow graduate of the School of Filmmaking, Class of '99, Craig Moorhead started a blog a few days ago. He, like me, is of the belief that time not spent on-line is time misspent. The blog's young but it's pretty awesome. Ya'll should go visit, leave comments. Craig was smart with his blog. It's called 'Craig Moorhead's Website' and is located at craigmoorhead.blogspot.com. Anyone can find it. Easy to remember. And a lot more fun to type than 'cranesinanities'.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My Fat, Old, Bald, White Male Governor's the One on the Right

I saw the governor of Georgia today. I was picking up my wife at school and I saw him and an aide walk across the little road between the business school and the student dormitories and get into a giant black GMC SUV. At first I thought he was going to go INTO what looked to be the girls' wing of the dormitory, but at the last minute he opened the GMC's back door for his aide, and then jumped into the passenger seat, and they drove away. HAD he gone in, I would have been a little concerned. Anyway, I liked the relative lack of ostentation with the governor's in-state travel arrangements. No giant entourage. No bodyguards. Just the governor, a driver, and some other white guy. Too bad so many people want to kill the president all the time, otherwise he (or she) could one day be similarly low-key.

Sonny Purdue (the governor) had just finished speaking to my wife's business school about ethics and leadership. The irony is so heavy here it's actually hurting me. Sonny Purdue, after all, is the guy who, in the election that put him into the governor's mansion, came out for keeping the stars and bars on the state flag (which were only incorporated into the state flag in the 50's as the trend towards desegregation was starting to bear down on the South). He got elected Governor because the incumbent, Roy Barnes, had taken a principled stand against the confederate flag and wanted the symbol removed from the flag. So Sonny got the racist vote, got into office, and then reneged on his original promise. That's playing politics smart and dirty (the Karl Rove way) but what it sure isn't is ethical.

Peggy told me he spoke for an hour and managed to say not a single thing.

Anyway. That's all I got today. More, as always, tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Did Stephen King 'Phone It In" With His Latest Novel, Cell? One Fan's Humble Opinion

And now, a review of Stephen King's new novel, Cell:

is Stephen King on horror novel auto-pilot. Cell is self-parody. This is not King's triumphant return to full throttle horror, as some fan-boys have said. This is King writing a first draft, chucking it in a FedEx pouch the instant 'The End" appeared on his computer screen, and then putting it right the hell out of his head so he can start work cranking out his next book. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I worship the guy, but this is one book he should have kept in a drawer.

Cell is the story of a graphic novelist named Clay who's in Boston selling his first graphic novel. He's in line at an ice-cream truck (which happens all the time, right?) when the girl and the woman in front of him answer their cell phones at the same time. The "people" calling aren't actually people at all, but rather a zombie-making "pulse" of unknown origin simultaneously sent out to all cell phones and turning anyone who answers into a frickin' lunatic. The first 50 pages of Cell are not only readable, they're actually pretty good. This would have made a great short story or novella. Has the feel of King's apocalyptic classics like "The Mist" and The Stand. These opening scenes that take place in a world where nothing is known, nothing is certain, and anything could kill you, is shot through with what feels like the genuine panic of impending apocalypse. For 50 pages, Cell manages to be frenetic and even scary.

But with the other 300 pages, however, King's laid out for himself the thankless task of explaining what happens to graphic-novelist Clay and his ever-changing band of New England-area survivors. It didn't take 300 pages for me to figure out that I didn't really care what happened to them. Anyway, those who didn't have cell phones and weren't affected by 'the pulse', are having to survive against a ravening (and much larger) contingent of zombies (or "phoners") who, at least at first, will tear any living they see limb from limb. Each successive plot twist becomes more unbelievable than the last. In order to anchor the rising level of gory goofiness in something that at least has the feel of reality, King has his heroes meet up with a barely-teenage computer nerd named Jordan who essentially intuits what's going on behind the scenes with the rapidly evolving "flocks" of "phoners". There's really no way for this kid to know what's going on, no matter how good King says he is with computers, and yet he does know it, and proceeds to recite paragraph upon paragraph of clunky exposition. Every baffling, completely unsupported-by-the-evidence thing he says, turns out, of course, to be true. It's a slog to get through.

Cell's a little like eating at Waffle House. It goes down fast and easy, but after you're done, you feel oogy, kinda guilty, and worse for the experience. And then, to make sure everyone leaves with a bad taste in their mouth, King goes down the well-trod slacker route he travelled in Desperation, The Shining, and The Stand, and has his heroes emerge victorious by setting off a well-placed, well-timed, giant explosion. King is no stranger to deus ex machina, but he kills us with it here. It's an appropriately lazy climax for this lazy, lazy book. I'm under no illusions any of you Inanity-readers were for one second considering picking this thing up and reading it, but on the off-chance you were, stop it.

King can be a very good writer. Anyone who's read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption knows this. Same goes for Misery, Pet Sematary, The Shining, or even The Tommyknockers. Cell represents a shift for King. No, not from good writing to bad, but from horror to a more "literary" kind of fiction in the vein of his New Yorker fiction. His last non-Dark Tower "horror" novel was called From a Buick Eight -- his second "possessed car" novel. It was not a horror novel, but rather a somber mystery story with an ending that featured both sci-fi and "weird" fiction elements. The book wasn't bad (nor was it particularly good), but it wasn't horror either. I think what Cell represents, (for all of you still reading this post), is the official end of King's involvement with horror novels. He's moved on. After finishing the sub-par Cell, it becomes very clear why: his heart's just not in it anymore. All right, that's it. More tomorrow.

[Note: His next book, due out this November, is called Lisey's Story. It is not in any way a horror novel.]

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday's Inanity = Wildfires, Cowboys, Super Bowl, Macon, GA

Happy Monday! It's cold and rainy here in Georgia today, so I hope the rest of you are experiencing better weather. To my California homies: the local news says you can see the smoke from an Orange County wildfire from where you are in Los Angeles -- is that true? Ah, wildfires. I remember the time, back when Peggy and I lived in Glendale, a brush-fire climbed over the top of the ridgeline and down into our part of the San Fernando Valley. It was nighttime and Peter, Josh, Matt, David were over and we were standing out on my apartment balcony. We could see a wide cut of fire blazing in the darkness, hemmed in by the flashing red lights of fire trucks. At times the fire only smoldered darkly, so low you could almost make out the scrub bushes silhouetted black against the deep red, but then, for no apparent reason, the fire would flare up and become a big yellow scar reaching from one side of the mountain to the other. Struck by the dramatic visuals, I said aloud to myself, to everyone, more than once, and because I was literally helpless not to, "The fires of Mordor," trying hard to put that special Gandalf-ian rolling on the first 'r' in Mordor. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I am a mega-dork. Ah, memories.

Anyway. Peggy and I went to a club/bar called Cowboys on Saturday night. One of Peggy's business-school friends was having a birthday get-together of sorts there, so we drove out to rural-leaning Kennesaw and joined in. If you're wanting to drink, holler, line-dance, and find someone slightly drunker than you to go home with, this is the place for you. Late in their set, after we'd been there for a few hours, the house band announced to a rapt and inebriated audience, "If any of ya'll ain't drinkin', you're in the wrong place." I could only nod. Cowboys is kind of a big deal in Georgia. One of the few country stars I've actually heard of, Dwight Yoakam (AKA Raoul), is going to be there on the 24th of next month. I'd consider going if I thought I'd have any reasonable expectation of having my copy of Panic Room signed, but I kinda doubt he'd do it. I bet he's going to come all this way just to play music. Oh well.

And on Sunday was the Super Bowl. The game itself was a massive snore though it had in it the potential to be good. But every time there was an opportunity for it to get interesting, in marched the refs to blow a call that didn't need calling in the first place. I'm not sure the Seahawks were robbed exactly, but the viewers were for damn sure robbed of a good game thanks to those boneheads. More importantly, the commercials were pretty lame. The one bright spot, I thought, was a commercial I haven't yet heard mentioned in the roundups of the best commercials from last night. It was a Nextel spot, and, for my money, featured some of the funniest phone-to-face action I've ever seen. I like violence. I also kind of laughed at the Caveman FedEx commercial. I really liked the way the Jon Heder-like "employee" caveman gestured to his "boss" caveman as he grunted, "But FedEx doesn't exist!" He seemed both desperately frustrated and hopelessly stupid all at once -- brilliance.

And finally, I wanted to include this. I spent a bit of my childhood growing up in 3 different houses in Macon, so I'm glad to see an institution as august and influential as The Onion sit up, take notice, and make fun of it. John Rocker, Janet Reno, and Patrick Crane, all born in Macon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sidewalk Art That Will Destroy Your Mind

Stumbled over this and was pretty impressed. This seems like the sort of thing that's already made the rounds through annoying email forwards, but I've never seen it, so I'm posting it up here on the odd-chance some of you haven't either. This guy's name is Julian Beever and he's done these things on sidewalks all over the world. It's like spontaneous trompe l'oeil and it's really amazing. I guess he draws these things mostly through the viewfinder on his tripod-mounted camera. The link to a whole series of them is here. Because these drawings only work from one angle, it's very interesting to see what one looks like from the wrong angle. Near the bottom is a photo of one of the chalk drawings from just such a wrong angle. Very interesting. I know it's Saturday, but I thought I'd share this one.

Blogger Problems

I don't know what's up with Blogger right now. At first the comments for my Friday post couldn't be seen by anyone, then this morning I reposted all of the comments from emails I get and shortened the title to "Danny and Newt", but now Blogger's changed my title back and deleted all the comments I reconstituted. I'm not sure if it's just the one post on Friday or what, so I'm posting this no-frills post to see if it will accept comments. I've read all of your comments, and if this works without problem, I'll repost them in the comments section of this post for everyone else to enjoy.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What Newt Would Have Looked Like Had She Not Died in the Crash; What Danny Torrance Would Have Looked Like 26 Years After He Escaped From the Maze

I mentioned a couple of posts ago how awesome it would be to see what the little girl who played Newt in Aliens looks like today (her name is Carrie Henn), and even more so, what the boy who played Danny Torrance in The Shining looks like as a young man (his name is Danny Lloyd). Heath posted a link in the comments to a current Carrie Henn picture, and suggested the most mind-bogglingly obvious method to procure the photos I was looking for: Google Images. Which happens to be exactly how I get most of the pictures I post up on this thing. So I type in Carrie Henn and Danny Lloyd, and I got what I was after. I share them today, with you. First image is Danny Lloyd as he appeared in The Shining. The second is Danny all growed up. The third image is Carrie Henn as she appeared in Aliens. The fourth image is Carrie all growed up with someone I presume to be her husband. I ccouldn't be bothered to do actual research, so we'll all just have to suppose. Anyway, here they are. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Two Caricatures of Me Wearing a Wicked Awesome Hat: My Profile Image Blown Up To Full Size (Yeah, I know it's weak, but today I got nothing.)

What up, Inanity-ers? I've been at a loss all day for a good subject for today's post, so I'm going to do this lame one in the last remaining moments of February 2nd, otherwise known as Groundhog Day. (By the way, 6 more weeks of winter. Big whoop. Did it snow anywhere in the country in the month of January? The news says it was mild all over the place.) Anyway, this first image is the enlarged scan of the self-caricature I did for my blog profile. Originally, my teeth looked as though I'd sharpened them to points (kind of like that dude in Robocop) so I fixed it in Photoshop and this is the result. I know. I'm as excited about it as you are.

This second image is the original photo I drew it from. I think I've already posted a photo from this "series" of photos of me looking completely learning disabled, but I thought it was funny and ripe for a good caricature. Though I made myself look fatter in the drawing than I was in this photograph, I wasn't near as mean as I wanted to be, meanness being the point of caricatures after all. I must have focused on the wrong things because the more I emphasize what I think are my most overstated facial features, it stops looking like me. It used to be an oversized helmet of hair really sold it, but that's not how things are anymore. Not sure. Practice, and narcissism to spare, however, make perfect.

Finally, this third image is the very first draft of the caricature. This version didn't work, I think, because it doesn't really look like me (at least I don't think it does), but I do like how fiercely stupid he looks. Something about the eyes. Hmmm.

Well, it's 11:50PM here on the East coast. Time for bed. If you're after a little more blog-action, head over to Literary Smackdown. Hinesy posted a story, Heath posted an unserious joke-story, and I have one up there, too, like it or not. They're all pretty short, so, if you're of a mind, check it out and kill some time. You can vote and everything!

Anyway, in seven minutes, it'll be Friday. Aren't Friday's great? Okay, I'm done. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stephanie Tanner Returns, Joel Coen May or May Not Direct Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men", and Sandwiches! What a Good News Wednesday!

Dudes. This is Jodie Sweetin, AKA: Stephanie Tanner from Full House! Can you believe she's 24 now? She came on Good Morning America this morning to discuss her recent troubles with the drogas. Turns out she used to be a meth addict. She's getting a divorce from her cop husband whom she married 4 years ago, which is kind of sad. I admit it: I used to watch Full House all the time, so to finally see the only member of the Tanner household who's gone underground since the show went off, kind of makes me grin. She wasn't too cute on the show, but she looks all right now. Good for her. Now, if anyone can dig up a current picture of either the kid who played Danny Torrance in The Shining or the girl who played Newt in Aliens, then I'll be very pleased, and I'll post it up on the Inanities (which may actually be a disincentive).

Other news. No Country for Old Men, a novel by Cormac McCarthy that I talked about on this thing before, is being adapted by the Coen brothers. My suspicion is the Coen brothers are going to both write and direct this thing, though the article says they're going to let Scott Rudin direct. I think the article's wrong. Rudin's a producer. That's all he's ever done. I doubt he'd try and cut his teeth on something like this. (Also, on IMDB it shows that Rudin's producing The Corrections for a 2007 release, and it's got Robert Zemeckis attached to direct. Doesn't this seem weird? Corrections is hardly Polar Express or What Lies Beneath. Maybe this is BS, too.)

And finally, sandwiches. Aren't they good? Here's a question: is it a geography thing when some people see a hamburger and call it a sandwich? For me, they are two totally different things, but perhaps for others, they are just two different forms of the same thing. What's the deal? (said in a Seinfeld voice) A good BLT is one of the best sandwiches you can get (and they're usually pretty cheap if you get one in a restaurant), especially when the bacon is a little on the undercooked side, but I also like a good club with a lot of mayo, smeared right on the tomato slices. Best club sandwich I ever had was at a place in Burbank called the Elephant Bar. I know it's a chain, which makes this claim suspect, but, honestly, never had one better. Chicken salad, egg salad, I'm a sandwich slut. Put it between two slices of bread and get your mind out of the gutter and I'll eat it.

By the way, thanks for all the comments yesterday. I wasn't expecting so many on a downer political post. Me likey. I'm also interested to find out the true identity of "full flavor johnny blaze". I'm pretty sure it's not John Carcieri. The most recent post Johnny Blaze made was posted by, I confess, me. Thinking Heath was the real culprit (which I still kinda do), I was trying to draw him out into the open, which I did, sort of. The answer to Johnny Blaze's true identity may lie in this question: which School of Filmmaking alum currently resides in or around Norco, CA? It's out by Chino Hills and Corona. Way the hell out in the 909. Riddle me that, Batman. I'm out. More tomorrow.