Saturday, January 31, 2009

When it was announced that there would be a Hellboy movie a couple of years ago, I just couldn't see it working. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with the idea, but the two things that always made that book so strong for me were Mike Mignola's amazing art and the way old folktales and myths were incorporated into the story. I figured that those two characteristics would at best just help to shape the story.

I was very wrong. Obviously, Mignola's art was an influence as well as the mythos. But I hadn't counted on Guillermo Del Toro. the first movie was much better than I expected. But the second movie, which I just finished watching, was fucking fantastic. It might be my current mood or whatever, but it ranks among my favorite movie of 2008. Sure, there was completely misplaced pop songs that showed up randomly, and Seth McFarlane's voice can be distracting. But then Dark Knight was a half hour too long, and I haven't seen a single Oscar nominee*, so there you go. This movie was funny, smart, imaginative, and featured an abundance of Tecate and kittens. Also, I now have a weird crush developing on Selma Blair. and Ron Perlman. Yikes.

No, it wasn't completely loyal to the comic, but I've yet to see (or really want to see) a comic book movie that is. So yeah, there's an official HDF endorsement. Although, if you're already of the mindset that you won't like this movie, you probably won't. But I hope you do.

*I refuse to watch since they seem to be by and large the most depressing group of movies ever assembled. I WILL watch Slulmdog Millionaire sometime in a few days, but I'll leave the rest of that shit for the commitees.

Friday, January 30, 2009

note the painting in the background

by Joel Aron
(via Riotclitshave)

check out these pictures of siege-era Stalingrad superimposed over modern-day St. Petersburg. Some of these aren't for the squeamish, but they're all quite beautiful own their own way.

I really need to stop using "quite". Makes me feel like I'm British.

-via EnglishRussia

Google maps kills a deer

HOLY SHIT. Check out picture 3. Someone put some paper eyes on that thing!
As some of you might know, I'm a fan of the Moleskines. Typically, I use the little paper bastards, because they're cheap, slim, and flexible*. Anyway, you can buy some awesome PVC Moleskines over here at Yumfactory featuring the art of Attaboy. This is pretty ideal for someone like me that likes to decorate the exterior of these things, but has no artistic ability to speak of. Anyway, they've stopped making them because burning the plastic makes mother Earth cry or something, so if you want one, get to it.

*I know there's a joke there, I'm just not making it. See how much I've grown up since yesterday?

Paper Eyes!

Check out this kickass gigapan shot of the inauguration.

Question: Is Clarence Thomas looking humple or asleep? Also, what's up with Bush I's hat?

(and yes, this site will eat up HOURS of your workday. I've been scanning through pictures of Pittsburgh for way too long already.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Best NYT headline EVER

Study Pinpoints the Main Source of Asia’s Brown Cloud

Yes, I am a 5 year old. Can I have some juice?
Dear Scientists,
Can we stop people from throwing the goat yet? I just saw a picture of David Spade doing it while giving money to a homeless person.

PS You can go ahead and kill yourself now, metal.

Best compaint letter EVER

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see image 1, above].

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in: [see image 2, above].

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this: [see image 3, above].

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: [see image 4, above].

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on: [see image 5, above].

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel: [see image 6, above].

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations: [see image 7, above].

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincerely

[name withheld]

The last college game ever at the Spectrum. It did not end well for me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Awesome: Sixers to return to their old uniforms

When I was 13, the Philadelphia 76ers changed their uniforms and logo. It was bad enough that they were changing the uniform, which had been the same for all of my life and to me was pretty iconic. The logo, which will always be among my favorites in sports history, was wiped and the uniforms replaced with what can only be surprised as the ugliest uniform EVER. Seriously:

ugh. And you wonder why Barkley spat on a young girl and wanted to be traded.

Anyway, since that season, we flirted once with going back to classic-looking uniforms (remember the Weatherspoon years? Or a pre-cornrows Iverson?), but for the most part have punished our players and fans with some hysterically ugly uniforms and logos. Well, the dark days are over! I personally think that all of our teams should revert back to their late-70s, early 80s uniforms. Maroon and powder blue for the Phils! Kelly green for the Eagles! Orange and black for the...nevermind*.

Anyway, it's a happy day for me, because I've always hated the current uniforms. It isn't that I want to deny the Iverson years, but I can certainly forget the current uniforms. Who goes from red, white and blue to red, black and blue, anyway? Man, I'm surprised more people didn't freak out about that.

Well, that time is over, and I'm happy to see that our boys will look like basketball players again. I personally would've preferred the old Wilt-era PHILA jerseys (not the ones with the red band around the waist), but I'll take these with a smile.

*in their defense, the Flyers have stood by their classic logo and uniforms with little variation (these abominable concept jerseys notwithstanding). Hockey teams tend to have the best logos to me, and the Flyers have always had one of the best. Good for them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today's playlist:

I'm really late with making a mix I was working on, but maybe this weekend will allow me to catch up on stuff. So here's what I set up for myself today:

Tenacious D - s/t*
Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
The Who - Meat Beaty Big and Bouncy
Charlie Haden - Rambling Boy
Various Artists - James Brown's Original Funky Divas
Mother Mother - O My Heart

*This stems entirely from my waking up with the line "Oh shit there's a bear" from the song "Friendship" superglued to my brain.

My inagural drink

So, the other night after watching the inauguration stuff, I decided to make myself a celebratory cocktail. Using what I had, I came up with the

Obama Sunrise

-2-3 parts 1800 tequila
-2 parts Orangina
-1 Part freshly squeezed grapefruit juice


I really, really don't like tequila, but this drink is just that good. Probably the best thing I've ever come up with, and I didn't even name it after myself.

Seriously, try one out. Take it for a spin. Tell me how right I am later.

Congratulations, New York

Andrew Cuomo is not your new senator.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lately, I've very seriously been thinking about renaming this thing. To what has been the eight dollar question. So many different directions to take it.

My current favorite is Puffy Pants Tax.
Obama bans turture.

I still find it astounding that I'm even typing that. That the U.S. President banned torture. In 2009.

Nonetheless, I take great comfort from that. Thank you, Barack.
Dear scientists,
Have you really not figured out a way to kill Howie Mandel yet?

My new desktop

found on that abandoned places blog

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's 3:27 on a Monday morning and I can't sleep. I tried for an hour and just kept staring at the ceiling. Which isn't that new. But I talked to Carrie, then I watched a great movie*, I listened to some speeches, and I'm still up, thinking about the fact that tomorrow there isn't going to be a Bush administration when I go to sleep again.

I never really cared about politics until the 2000 recount. I mean, I guess I cared about politics, but only in a past tense, with history on my side. Which is a fantastic advantage when you think about it. But I guess the politics of history will always be as fought over as the politics of the present, so it's not like they're completely different. Anyway, I never really thought about it in high school. I followed the Lewinsky thing, but I couldn't have found Bosnia on a map if you gave me an atlas. I held a firm belief of disinterest and distrust in all things pertaining to the government, thanks largely due to interest in conspiracy theories and bullshit counterculture movements from previous generations.

But that recount. It was such absurdity from the start. Kathrine Harris and butterfly ballots... I remember the news room at school and everyone laughing about how ridiculous it was. It was almost funny how out of hand things had gotten, and I still think that the main reason the press was so easy on Bush at first because they were just standing there slack-jawed trying to figure out if he was for real or not. Politics was fun again, and not like that cheapass intern scandal or "I didn't inhale", this was like some good old-fashioned craziness. Obviously, they were give several key opportunities to make things worse. and worse. and worse.

Eight years later, and I've tried to keep as up to speed on politics as I can. I read all sorts of useless blathering; will leave C-span on and actually listen to it. I listen to shitty podcasts until I think I've got at least two opinions on the matter at hand. But I've always had something to be completely entertained by. I mean, if you break it down, there was at least one noteworthy scandal for every three months of the Bush White House. I mean, say what you will about the guy, but he's given us plenty to talk about. I'm worried that with the Obama administration I'll be so overwhelmed with uneasy complacency that I'll be reduced to attending town hall meetings and complaining aggressively about the damn music in the kids' cars these days.

So tomorrow we get a new president. I know it's supposed to be the biggest occasion of the decade, that we're electing a black president and he's going to save us all and blah blah blah...
and I can truly appreciate all of that. But what it boils down to for me mostly is that for now, for right now, we're going to have this current administration gone. For me, that's enough of a celebration for me.

And it's not like I don't have hope for Obama. I want to root for this guy with everything I got. But right now he's still got a relatively clean slate with me. I like his prior voting record okay enough, and I think he's got the right approach to a lot of our problems, but until he's sworn in, I can't form any sort of opinion. Just gotta hope for the best and be thankful that this clown isn't representing my country anymore.

To be truthful, I'd be enjoying this repose even if McCain had won and I don't think I'm alone. Of course I'm happy that Obama won. But for the time being at least, let me relish in that. I look forward to being able to raise my standard of governmental expectations in coming weeks, but right now I just want to close the door. Take a deep breath or two. And just be glad that we finally got that out of the way.

Thank the patron saint of second chances, and let's walk into this thing with fresh eyes, everybody.

*Let the Right One In. I've been meaning to get around to it forever, and am now kicking myself for not watching it sooner.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Since I know for a fact that I'm the only one here watching Battlestar Galactica, I've done you the favor of presenting to you my audible responses to the new episode tonight, the beginning of the end of the series:

"So they're space hobos. On planet Earth. Wait, why am I still watching this?"
"Oh, well that's really nice, to -OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL? OOOOOH WHY?"
"Where did all those fistfights come from?"
"Wait, so he's making it with a robot now?"
"Seriously. where do they keep getting all this booze in space?"
"this is aggressive and disturbing."
"I need to know about this. Are they drinking space gasoline? It looks like scotch or something, but I cannot see any way how they could distill in that environment. Plus, these guys are all too drunk to gather the ingredients."
"oh yeah, these two."
"I'm trying to think of another show that's as depressing as this one. M*A*S*H? Mama's Family?
"Even in the future, an eyepatch is an eyepatch".
"There is absolutely no way that we see this happening in this show"

So there you go.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth R.I.P.

Andrew Wyeth is dead.

I'm not going to pretend I know a lot about art here. Largely because I don't know anything at all. I like what I like and I've managed to get this far on that. But I can say without hesitation that since I was a kid I've always liked the Wyeths. I've written about this before on here, though I can't seem to find it right now. Their paintings have always done a great deal to define Autumn and Winter for me, so you can imagine my enjoyment at seeing this quote attributed to Andrew while a the Brandywine River Museum a few years ago:

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show".

It's a beautiful line, and I've often wished I'd come up with it myself. But then I've always wished I could paint, too.

Anyways, this is a big hit for the Art world, Maine and Pennsylvania, and most of all to the Wyeth family. I wish them my condolences.

From top: Sea Boots, That Gentleman, Night Hauling, Dr. Syn, Jack-Be-Nimble
No nautical theme intended.

It's a really strange thing to say, but Andrew Wyeth could paint rural, colonial-era buildings better than anyone I've ever seen. It seems simple, and maybe it is. Maybe it's the benefit of having a location where there are so many to use as models. It's certainly a specific talent, but it's one that has always managed to impress me with each viewing.

Location: The "ghetto" grocery store, which to me is more of a Sanitarium with slightly fresher produce than a ghetto, but what do I know.

Time: approx: 1:45 PM today

I'm looking through the fruit, trying to select myself some good apples (so long, scurvy!) when I hear a guy whistling. Apparently, several people hear him whistling, because a few cellow customers also look up at the same time. Which in itself isn't that big a deal. People whistle in public all the time, no big deal.
But he is whistling "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Which of course causes the stares to linger a bit longer, intent on figuring out just what the hell is going on*. Well, the guy gets to the "you would even say it glows" part before looking around and realizing that he's getting stared at.
Now, the look on his face is priceless enough. That "oh shit, was I doing that out loud?" type of face. But he goes and does it one better by stopping for a split second, then trying to WHISTLE HIS WAY OUT OF THIS MESS! He starts changing up the tune, as if he was singing some other song that just happened to have the same opening 8 bars or whatever as the one of the most famous songs in the world and it's your damned fault for not already knowing this lost classic.
Well, being an overgrown child I start laughing hysterically, looking around to see if everyone else caught that, but they're all looking at my with a slightly more concerned expression than they just sized that guy up with. The guy, meanwhile, has walked off somewhere else and left me holding the crazy bag.

This is waaaaay too common an occurrence for me.

*Now I'm not one of those people that freak out about this sort of thing. In a given year, I'm stopped at least 10 times between January and October and told that I'm wearing "Christmas colors", and forgo the explanation that I just like red and green. I've been known to blast "Sweet Baby Boy" by James Brown or "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" throughout the year without discomfort. But I think it's common courtesy to lay off the Christmas songs for at least 2 months after the holiday is over. Maybe reserve them only for the holiday season and a possible Christmas in July? Don't look at me for answers, that's your call.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dear makers of the film Push,
Thanks for letting Dakota Fanning go through an awkward prepubescence without having to appear in international films.

Someone needs to destroy VH1.

These reality shows are just disgusting. While I am by no means certain and refuse to do the research, but I don't think any of them has ever accomplished a contestant finding true love, sobriety, etc... the only thing I can be positive was gained in the process of filming these shows is a whale-sized tank of venereal disease.

Ewwww, think about what would happen if you were the one that rented the mansion after one of those shows was filmed there. Turning a blacklight on the place would probably just tear a whole in the space-time continuum.

11 Toxins found in our drinking water

Scary shit right here.

100 ft. Crossword Puzzle on Building

People of Lvov city in Ukraine decided to add another attraction for the visitors of their city. According to the artistic project it was decided to place a giant 100 feet (30 meters) tall at the wall of the one of the multi-stored residential houses.

There is one interesting detail about the design of the puzzle. It looks like an empty puzzle during the day-light, but at night when special lights are on the words in the puzzle become visible with a lightly-glowing fluorescent color.

The questions for this crossword puzzle are located in different point of interests of the city, like monuments, theaters, fountains etc. So people while walking around the city can try to answer the questions and writing down the answers. When the night comes to the city they can meet at this house and check their degree of intelligence.

stolen from English Russia

My favorite site of the day: Abandoned Places. This is probably as predictable as I can get, but what can I say, I enjoy rust, overgrowth and uninhabitance. Anyway, it was nice to see some local sights on there. Also, this Magnetic Mansion thing is completely crazy, though I have no idea if any of it's true:
"Zack Heikel buys on a whim an old abandoned mansion and after moving in, he stumbles upon an enormous vault hidden in a secret room in the basement. After using an acetylene torch to gain entry, he finds four million dollars in cash, along with journal records from illegal rackets in the Chicago and Detroit areas in the 1930's. More surprising was a jar of formaldehyde containing nine severed human fingers, three of which wore a very unusual silver signet ring. An ancient manuscript found among the rubble in an upstairs library explains the rings and also spoke of an order of men from biblical times calling themselves "The Knights of Zion." Zack spends years trying to find answers to these mysteries woven into the old mansion as well as why it was built the way it was and who is the old hunchback caretaker that still lives in a shack on the rear of the property. Stranger still, who were the nine bodies buried in the woods behind the mansion and what exactly was the secret elevator shaft that enabled a phantom observer to spy on guests in various parts of the house? Zack finally meets an old time gangster at the hunchback's funeral who is all too familiar with the interior of the mansion. He gives Zack several answers to the mysteries surrounding the old place because he was once a prisoner in the basement dungeon".

Okay, so maybe none of it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

MSNBC's 2008 in pitcures

Here's some of my favorites:

I find the fireworks one especially interesting, since it looks so fake that I thought it was a staged installation until I read the caption.

See the rest here
Somali pirates drown with their ransom money.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Joe Biden and I attend the same movie theater.
Only I got the juice to get into the sold out theaters.

Fact: I do not.


Here's some pictures of an abandoned Russian ICBM*silo in Kazakhstan. I'm obsessed with stuff like this, and would love to track down some of these in the US if I weren't so completely terrified by them.

*Inter Continental Ballistic Missile, for those who haven't seen Spies Like Us too many times.

There's a big trend in things to do with these old things, including such illustrious purposes as LSD lab and living space. I'm kinda partial to the latter, if you convince me its location wasn't pre-programmed into some ancient Soviet missile that's been in the hands of some idiot warlord for a decade.
Still, that would be such a kickass place to live. I would set mine up so people would thing I was this really passive and friendly Bond villain. I mean, check out this dude! It's like living in the not-too-distant future! WHO'S WITH ME!!???

Here's a list of missile base coordinates within the US, including a nifty little package you can install on your neato Google Earth. Look up one near you and set my ass up a room in it!

PS I will not move to Kazakhstan.
I made a promise to myself that after the election, I'd treat myself to a news embargo for a few weeks. Of course, thanks to the Minnesota Senate recount, I'm still waiting on that. In light of the devastating situation in Gaza*, I sort of wish I was. In any case, the recount has ended (for now) and it looks like Franken won with a margin of 225 votes, which ensures that this shit will not be settled for some time. I wanted to post Franken's comments about the results, though, because they're among the classiest things I've read in politics in awhile:

"It has been a remarkable couple of months. Our recount brought national attention to Minnesota, and what Americans saw is that we take our democracy seriously. Our recount process was long, it was fair, and it was thorough. We should all be proud of our state, and we should all be grateful for the incredible hard work and dedication of all of our elections officials, from the state canvassing board and the Secretary of State's office to the officials in the cities and counties and precincts of Minnesota.

"After 62 days, after the careful and painstaking hand inspection of nearly 3 million ballots, after hours and hours of hard work by elections officials and volunteers across the state, I am proud and humbled to stand before you as the next Senator from Minnesota.

"This victory is incredibly humbling - not just because it was so narrow, but because of the tremendous responsibility it gives me on behalf of the people of Minnesota.

"While the recount process played out, the challenges facing our state and our nation have only grown. With tensions in the Middle East reaching the boiling point, our economy facing its worst crisis since the 1930s, and Minnesota's middle class families being squeezed harder than ever, it's clear that we have a lot of important work to do.

"I want you all to know that I'm ready to go to Washington and get to work just as soon as possible. And I look forward to joining President-Elect Obama and Senator Klobuchar in getting our country moving in the right direction again.

"I know this is not an easy day for Norm Coleman and his family, and I know that because Franni and I and the kids have had plenty of time over the past two months to contemplate the possibility that this election would turn out differently. Norm has worked hard for this state and this country, and I hope to ask for his help to ensure that Minnesotans can continue to count on receiving excellent constituent services from their two Senators without interruption.

"I also know that this was a hard-fought victory, and that I didn't win the support of every Minnesotan. I'm going to have to earn it by being a Senator who fights for every Minnesotan, whether you voted for me or not. And I want every Minnesotan to hear me say: I work for you now. And I will work hard to earn your confidence.

"There may still be additional legal proceedings related to our recount. But I'm now in the business of serving the people of Minnesota. And the best way I can serve the people of Minnesota right now is to focus all my attention and all my energies on getting to work for them on the issues we'll be facing together.

"I would like to close by doing something I wish I'd gotten a chance to do properly on Election Night, and that is to thank some people. My amazing staff and supporters across the state who made this victory possible and stuck with us this whole way. All the volunteers who woke up the morning after Election Day and got right back to work to help our recount effort. Our state's dedicated elections officials, our tremendous congressional delegation, and our fantastic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, who continues to be a mentor and an inspiration. And, of course, my beautiful wife Franni and our amazing family.

"For our state, today marked the end of a long process that will forever be a part of Minnesota history. But today is also a beginning. The history of our country will be forever altered by what we do together to address the challenges we face together. So, with tremendous gratitude for the victory we have won, I'm ready to get to work.

"Thank you."

Al Franken, classy guy.

*I'm too horrified at the moment to even think about what to say about this here. Turning the news only shows me more and more destruction and I just can't let my mind rest on it long enough to write about it without getting very, very depressed. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have plenty of time to voice my opinions on it, but i actually pray that this is resolved in the right way as soon as possible.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Just in time for the passing of Dock Ellis

“I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?”
-George Hunter White, fucking nut job.
There are few chapters in American history as dark or reprehensible as Operation: Midnight Climax. While I was as inclined as you to assume that this was some B-skin flick from the late 70s, turns out it was an actual CIA project involving a devious bastard named George Hunter White, a hard-drinking, kinky-sex addicted sociopath who was given tens of thousands of hits of LSD by the American government to drop on unsuspecting prostitutes, artists, writers and friends. Including one who had her infant daughter with her.
There are some great stories about White, and I can only imagine what we'd have learned if the bulk of his notes and reports hadn't been destroyed years ago. One can only imagine what they made of the drug, dosing co-workers as practical jokes or political opponents before they speak in front of a crowd*. that said, though, I'm sure it was an interesting sociology experiment, to say the least.
Anyway, there's a great article here (there are several pages, click "continue of you want to keep reading them) about the the whole thing, which took place in 3 cities and was under the umbrella of the infamous MKULTRA** designation. Also, I liked this article from the SF Sentinel that contained this nugget of a quote about White from one of his former lieutenants:
“White was a son of a bitch, but he was a great cop. He made that fruitcake Hoover look like Nancy Drew. The LSD, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Write this down. Espionage. Assassinations. Dirty tricks. Drug experiments. Sexual encounters and the study of prostitutes for clandestine use. That’s what I was doing when I worked for George White and the CIA.”
My favorite part? "Write this down". Of course.

*I can't even imagine seeing someone running for office give a speech on acid. The very thought chills my bones.
**The project, not the Vanderslice band. Or the several other bands of that name.

Not sure if you all saw this the other day or not, but last week the Wall Street Journal featured an article about a Russian academic and analyst that predicted the downfall of the United States in 2010 and the eventual sectioning off of different sections to various world powers.
It's a pretty terrifying idea, not to mention a pretty unlikely one, but think of the fan fiction* if could produce...
or the bad movies.

*Can reality -even proposed reality- have fan fiction? or even fans?

Ugh, brought to you by the New York Times

True to its mania for secrecy, the Bush administration is leaving behind vast gaps in the most sensitive White House e-mail records, and with lawyers and public interest groups in hot pursuit of information that deserves to be part of the permanent historical record.

E-mail messages that have gone suspiciously missing are estimated to number in the millions. These could illuminate some of the administration’s darker moments, including the lead-up to the Iraq war, when intelligence was distorted, the destruction of videotapes of C.I.A. torture interrogations, and the vindictive outing of the C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

The deep-sixed history also includes improper business conducted by more than 50 White House appointees via e-mail at the Republican Party headquarters. Historians and archivists are suing the administration. We should be grateful for their efforts. Entire days of e-mail records have turned up conveniently blank at the offices of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Cheney, of course, retreats from sunshine with the wariness of Alucard; he is fighting to the last the transfer of his records to the National Archives, as required by law. He recently argued in court that he “alone may determine what constitutes vice presidential records or personal records.” As in: L’etat c’est Dick.

Modern administrations from Ronald Reagan’s to Bill Clinton’s typically tried to evade at least some disclosure obligations under the public archives law. But the Bush team, from day one, has flouted the requirement to preserve a truthful record, ignoring repeated warnings from the National Archives. In government agencies, the public’s freedom-of-information rights have been maliciously hobbled.

The National Archives is further burdened by the steady and inevitable growth in digital records — a mass 50 times larger than that left eight years ago by the Clinton administration. It will take years to ingest before historians can truly get a handle on what is missing.

History is truly the poorer for the Bush administration. President-elect Barack Obama must quickly undo the damage by ordering that records be shielded from political interference, by repairing the freedom-of-information process, and by ending the abuse of the classification process to cloak the truths of the presidency.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009

Probably the quietest NYE I've ever had, watching movies and having a modest glass of champagne. It was wonderful. Nothing great to post, but I hope everyone's 2009 is better than their 2008.

In other news, this will hopefully be the last New Years that we have to see those year-shaped glasses. Yeah, I know they can put that 1 over the nose and... damnit. We're never gonna end this, are we?