Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
      ( 2/07/2006 01:50:00 PM ) Bill S.  

24-ING – So Sean Astin's Lynn McGill has a strung-out sister who is willing to set him up for a quick afternoon's mugging? Is there anyone on this show in a position of authority who doesn't have a majorly fucked-up family member that'd betray 'em in an L.A. minute?
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      ( 2/07/2006 09:06:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"I'LL FEEL MUCH BETTER ON THE OTHER SIDE" – Speaking of being shotloose, I need to belatedly draw your attention to Blog This Pal Gordon Dymowski's January appreciation of Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks, an album I've also rhapsodized about in the past, and his more recent plug for the Love anthology, Love Story. Both are, as Gordon calls 'em, Records You Should Own, though if you can't afford the two-disc Love set, a good copy of Forever Changes (which I discuss on my Favorite Rhinos page) is a fine place to start.
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      ( 2/07/2006 08:05:00 AM ) Bill S.  

A BRIEF STATEMENT OF POLITICAL INTENT – One of the more dubious rhetorical ploys finding common currency on the blogosphere is the "Why Aren't You Talking About This?" tack, wherein one writer attempts to deflate another's writings by writing in comments or an email something like, "If you're so into [blank one], then why haven't you also commented on [blank two]?" with the latter supposedly being an equivalent example of criticism-worthy behavior conducted by the attacked writer's peers or political buddies or something like that. Recently came upon a good example of this approach on Mark Evanier's web blog, wherein a reader attempted to prick Mark with the fact that he hadn't discussed the Danish cartoon controversy even though he allegedly had defended "Doonesbury" and "The Boondocks" from conservative criticisms in the past. Mark's response was much more civil than I personally thought he needed to be, especially since the reader had apparently imagined ME's earlier defense of Trudeau & Macgruder.

While I have nowhere near the audience that Mark's excellent blog possesses, I've decided it's time to be proactive and state here for the record:
If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge – it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.
Thank you.
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Monday, February 06, 2006
      ( 2/06/2006 12:18:00 PM ) Bill S.  

AND WHAT ABOUT THAT WILL EISNER GUY SWIPING FRANK MILLER, HUH? – Recommended reading: click through the ad to read Douglas Wolk’s well-wrought Salon review of Jaime Hernandez's new Ghost of Hoppers collection: it catches much of what Locas fans love about Jaime's work, even if the tagline Salon chose to highlight it ("pure eye candy") is more than a little inapt. (A depressing observation: first letter that Salon received for this piece wonders out loud if the Maggie/Hopey relationship was influenced by Terry Moore's Stranger in Paradise. That's just sad for too many reasons . . .)

And for the record, my review of Hernandez's previous entry in the Hoppers chronology, Dicks And Deedees, can be found here.
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      ( 2/06/2006 09:08:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"EVELYN, A DOG, HAVING UNDERGONE FURTHER MODIFICATION . . ." – Our plans for Super Bowl Sunday were abandoned suddenly when I discovered to my dismay that the drains in the basement had backed up while we were doing laundry. I subsequently spent much of my afternoon roto-rooting in the basement: the joys of home ownership. While I was getting rust stains on my sweatshirt and muck on my fingers, Becky turned the teevee to Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl," so when I'd come up to take a short break, I'd sit and watch for a few minutes. Watching one of the larger pups steal toys from a punier retriever mix, I was reminded that much of what we consider amusing puppy play are also displays of learning dominance and aggression. How cute! . . .
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Sunday, February 05, 2006
      ( 2/05/2006 10:34:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"YOU'VE GOT YOUR PRIDE AND A BLUE-STEEL 45!" – The Old 97's are moaning about an angry cuckolded husband waiting for the other shoe to fall, so it must be time for some bullet points:
  • It's Super-Bowl Sunday and yours truly plans, as usual, to be somewhere else. Last year, we actually spent some time watching Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl" (four hours of puppies doin' their thing in a pen cheesily designed to look like a football stadium), but now that we've got our own one-pup bowl we'll probably do some movies. As for my Bowl pick, why, I'm for whichever team is located nearest to me, of course!

  • Josh Marshall has some smart words about the Muslim cartoon controversy in Denmark. Looking at the 'toons themselves, the secular Unitarian in me can't help wondering what the deal is – but then in my younger rabble-rousing days, I once drew a cartoon during the Easter season featuring the Easter Bunny on a cross, so clearly I'm plenty unreliable on this matter. Like Josh, I also bring memories of the fatwa pronounced against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses (a book I've read a couple of times and which strikes me as a darn good fantasy novel), and I suspect he's right when he notes that the essential conflict – Liberalism vs. Authoritarianism, Modernity vs. Theocracy – will become more prominent in the years ahead. When you've got the president of a Baptist seminary in the Midwest not so nonchalantly hinting an evangelical movie company might get firebombed for hiring a gay actor (Gay actors in the movie biz! Who knew?), it's clear the danger ahead is not just gonna be from so-called "Islamofascists."

  • Speakin' of which, am I the only one who reacts badly to that made-up word? Every time I come across it in the blogosphere, I find myself much less willing to go along with anything else its user claims, simply because the word's so grating. I say this as a writer who has plopped more than his share of ill-advised fabricated portmanteaus into this blog, but, man, "Islamofascist" is an unwieldy construction. Just try saying it out and hear how clunky it sounds. Sounds like the kind of double-talk that Professor Irwin Corey might've rejected . . .

  • But back to controversial cartoons for a moment: in particular, Tom Toles' panel which reportedly prompted cries from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Looking at this 'un, I can see why an administration that has attempted to hide the visual of soldiers' coffins would take umbrage at Toles' upfront image, though I find the cartoon fairly tame compared to some of the stuff that came out of the underground comix movement in the Vietnam Era. Greg Irons, more memorably, once did a faux Time magazine cover showing a limbless and very battle-scarred soldier in a wheelchair (wish I could find a copy on the web) with a title recalling Dalton Trumbo's grueling anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Now that was a nasty image . . .

  • Moving away from politics, I've been replaying Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine quite a lot over the past few weeks. Though I continue to hold out hopes for a full edition of the Jon Brion version to someday surface – much like the un-Spectorized Let It Be was ultimately released – I grow more in tune with the current model's pleasures, even though the first thing to hook me on Apple's last collab with Brion was the jazzy orchestrated hook he gave to "On the Bound." Favorite track from Machine to date, both lyrically and musically: "Window," an I've-caught-you-cheating number where the singer can't decide if she even wants to acknowledge what she's seen. Makes for a good contrast with that Old 97's song (where the cheated party has, in the best country tradition, already decided to do something dire to the cheaters) which I used to open up this round o' bullet pointing. But if anyone wants to claim this contrast is a Venus/Mars dichotomy, I'll quickly refer 'em to the recorded oeuvre of Jo Walston and the Meat Purveyors . . .

  • On the movie front, I caught two low-budget flicks over the weekend. First up, Saw (from Showtime's Video-on-Demand), a movie that requires us to accept that its psychopathic serial killer is capable of staying totally motionless for two hours when I can't sit still for more than two minutes. (Nope, sorry, couldn't believe it . . .) Then there's Trey Parker's Orgazmo (taped off of the Sundance Channel), a much more enjoyable bad-taste romp starring the writer/director as a Mormon who inadvertently becomes a part of the porn industry and a reluctant crime fighter ("I'm not a superhero; I'm a Latter Day Saint!") Caught elements of the Farrelly Brothers' Kingpin in this flick – which apparently was lensed the same year as the first season of South Park – while I know the voice that Parker's hero uses when he's portraying the title superhero is one he's also pulled out for SPark. Some very funny raunchy moments in this rascal plus the sight of Ron Jeremy's face getting kicked in – what's not to like?
More later . . .

Background Music for This Round: Old 97's, Wreck Your Life.

UPDATE: As Captain Spaulding notes in the Comments section and Tegan also indicates on her blog, it's likely that the reaction against the Danish cartoons discussed in bullet point two is due less to the original twelve commissioned cartoons and more to three much more tauntingly offensive forgeries that were produced anonymously to inflame true believers. Boing Boing has the original twelve plus the three forgeries on its site – along with a series of progressively more inflamatory cartoons that have since been produced in the wake of the controversy.

UPDATE II: Roy Edroso expresses his solidarity with the Danish cartoonists . . .
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Saturday, February 04, 2006
      ( 2/04/2006 06:11:00 PM ) Bill S.  

I LIKE BOTH THEME SONGS, ACTUALLY – A decent self-reflexive joke from this week's Monk: our hero, feeling the financial pinch because the San Fran P.D. hasn't called him in as a consultant on a recent homicide, has been weakly pressuring Captain Leland Stottlemeyer to be put on retainer. At story's end, Stottlemeyer reveals that he has permission to put Monk on contract – to work on sixteen homicides over the next two years. What about the next year? Monk worriedly asks. We'll see, the police captain tells him. It's the show's best in-joke since an earlier ep made winking indirect reference to the season two shift (from light acoustic rag to broader, fully orchestrated Randy Newman ragtime) in opening theme songs . . .
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Friday, February 03, 2006
      ( 2/03/2006 02:07:00 PM ) Bill S.  

ALWAYS REMEMBER – Okay, just one more . . .

Image hosting by Photobucket

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      ( 2/03/2006 06:31:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"JUST TO HAVE SOME COMPANY/TO SHARE A CUP OF TEA WITH ME!" - Meet Kyan, the latest member of the OakHaus menagerie. A labrador/golden retriever mix, the pup was born on the day after Thanksgiving and came into our home last weekend. It's our hope to train him as an assistance dog to help with Becky's mobility difficulties, but for now he's mainly just bein' a puppy.

Image hosting by Photobucket

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Thursday, February 02, 2006
      ( 2/02/2006 11:29:00 AM ) Bill S.  

BLOGROLLIN' – A hectic day at work, but I wanted to note a couple additions to the blogroll I've made over lunch. From Aaron Neathery, I was recently directed to John McElwee's Greenbriar Picture Shows, which appears to primarily focus on promo and publicity material from the studio days of Hollywood. I was immediately won over a series of stills from Boris Karloff at Home. (Particularly like the shot of the horror great holding his dogs in his arms.) From John's blog, I was also encouraged to add Tim Lucas' Video Watchblog into the mix, especially once I noted that Tim has his own list of Masters of Horror entries rated from bottom to top appended to his review of "Haeckel's Tale" – plus a big ugly pic of John Lydon posted on the occasion of the old sod's fiftieth birthday. Now that's some truly Scary Shit . . .
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
      ( 2/01/2006 06:54:00 AM ) Bill S.  

WHAT I WATCHED IN PLACE OF THE SOTU ADDRESS – Supernatural (A killer truck! – in a lotta ways, this series is turning more into a WB gloss on The Night Stalker than the dead-and-buried official remake) and The Shield (This really is starting to feel like the show's last season, with Vic taking off the gloves and acting the out-and-out villain). Will probably scan the transcript of Bush's address in the next day, but I've really gotten to the point where I actively can't watch or listen to the man for more than a sound byte.

I had a similar problem with Clinton but for different reasons: where Bill was so obviously in love with the sound of his own voice that he usually spoke long past my short attention span, Bush's half panicky/half condescending iteration of broad-stroke talking points both unnerve and irritate me as a listener. Some Chief Executives have the gift (think Reagan) for conveying the message that they're in control of everything even when (again, think Reagan) they're not. Though he's gotten incrementally better at standing up and delivering his message, Bush does not have that knack. Even with the sound off, watching Bush speechify makes me nervous about the state of the union in ways I know are unintended . . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

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