Monday, September 28, 2009

SFGate Comments Comix - Vol. 4

It's been a while for SFGate Comments Comix. The recession and cut-backs at SFGate seemed to have toned down the commenters of late. There may even be a moderator of sorts, but if so, I'm sure it's an intern moderator, who can't be working every day. Vitriol will ALWAYS have its day on

Today's story is a hard-hitting expose about serial killers and the women who love them. This time around, the top-ranked comments are featured in animated form. Isn't technology grand?

SFGate Comments Comix: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3

Whip It trailer

How awesome does this look? It's like Rocky meets riot grrrl with a sprinkling of My So Called Life on the side.

Official site. Directed by Drew Barrymore. Starring Ellen Page.
Jezebel approved.

Update: I saw "Whip It" with Sue Iconoclast and let me tell you, we had a good time all the time throughout the film. Drew Barrymore is off in the background pummeling her way toward comedic lunacy. Ellen Page is very cute and scrappy in that "I'm only 17--what the hell is going on around here?" way. And Kristen Wiig deserves more film roles. Somebody get on that, quick. Everyone is having a blast in this movie, so go join them. When's the last time you saw a all-girl sports movie that was fun-filled and had a healthy take on hipster love? I'll just wait while you think...

Kansas City Bomber trailer - 1972, starring Raquel Welch

My Grandma Tocha was a roller derby fan. She'd be watching it on one of her numerous TVs when we'd come to visit her house up the street from the Cow Palace. I don't know if she ever attended one of the games..? matches..? What do you call a roller derby event? A spectacle? But they were held at the Cow Palace, along with annual rodeos, gun and doll shows, the circus, Foghat concerts and all sorts of cultural events.

As a child, I marveled at the violence and confusion associated with this "sport." Is the last woman standing (rolling) the winner? What was the point? Besides the short-shorts and cat fights? Perhaps I just answered my own question.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jeez, The Cars were really great, weren't they?

I always liked The Cars, but sometimes I'm struck by just how epic, original and perfect they sound. Also: very American; actually a combo of American driving beat with British-based deadpan cool. We were once a colony of Great Britain, right? So without further ado, I present greatness. Ben Orr, how I miss you...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's on your wall?

We've been stuck in the house while Jackson recuperates from a nasty cold. I had it too, but not as bad. And for more stir-craziness, just add a pack of squirrels, somehow living in the eaves of our rental house and scrabbling around in the walls all the live-long day. It sounds like this: chwitsch schwitchy chwitchese chihh chihh chihhhhhhh!!! Make that all caps and you get the idea. MADDENING.

So I took look around and noted all the stuff I've hung up in the past two months. I feel bad I haven't had a housewarming party since we got back to California, but it took me two months just to unpack. Then Jackson started school (VERY early in the mornings), and time just kept slipping slipping slipping into the future.

That doesn't mean we can't still have a housewarming. It just might be this winter. Which is just as well because I don't have a barbecue grill anyway. Gotta have one of those for summer housewarming parties around here. Otherwise, we'd be second-rate party hosts. And how would we ever ENTERTAIN our friends? So look forward to getting an invite to my future casserole party. Finally, a use for that can of cream-of-celery soup.

Since we've been staring at our walls, I thought I'd share some of the views. The house is white and tan inside and out and I don't see myself painting it anytime soon (just so I can paint it back to white and tan when we leave--how futile). So I've been hanging a lot of stuff up from my extensive collection of crap. All you young people, just wait until you're in your 40s. You'll have a bunch of crap to hang up too.

Everyone else: I'm asking you to send me photos of what's on YOUR walls and I don't expect anyone to answer because whenever I make a request like that I only hear echoes in cyberspace. But I have OTHER networks to pilfer, so I'll be gathering general-population wall decor for an upcoming post. This is only a small sample of what's on my wall(s).

A bunch of circus stuff I collected from this year's Tasch desk calendar. I found some scrapbook paper on sale at Michael's and mounted these. Some cheap frames complete the look.

My tasteful office decor to "get me in the mood" (for wasting time).
Aw, Jackson has an office too. Here's some of his fine work.
Obsessive as always, his self-portrait is always dressed in green shirt, blue pants, brown shoes, like he's made himself into a cartoon. While in kindergarten, everyone he drew had bulbous bodies and belly buttons (even while hiking on Mt. Hood). I guess the clothing is a developmental and artistic improvement, but I miss the belly buttons.
Super rich chocolate malted milk with egg salad sandwich (not visible due to window reflection). A former deli menu item from Western Massachusetts.
Over the piano I've hung a few record album covers. Atmospheric, aren't they?

The Burmese guy. Everyone thinks he's a girl, but he's just very pretty.
A whole bunch of stuff over the fireplace (beneath the squirrels in the walls). Reminiscent of Morocco. The photos were actually taken in Fez. The rest of the stuff gives off some faux exotic vibes while I sip my beer and watch the Giants tank this season.

Mmmm. Chocolate milk.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Guess You'll Do

My friend Sue Autrand posted this the other day. So depressing. It'll make you want to turn beatnik, man. If you aren't already.

Friday, September 18, 2009

TV Entertainment in 30 Seconds or Less

Nobody has time any more for friendship, family or television entertainment. At some point all entertainment will have to be at 30-second increments. Here's a sampling of the new Fall line-up on NBC.*

Sandwich At My Face

Crazy Tyra

I Love Lucy (re-run)

Marcia Loses Her Head

And now for a commercial break

*This is a lie. I just like making fun of NBC because they cancelled Freaks and Geeks before its single season was up. Judd Apatow movies do this too. Look for the NBC digs he and his cohorts get in throughout his film repertoire.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Radical Feminist Punk Rock Band

This one made my eyes pop out of my head. I don't know why it was so hard to put together. And then when I was finishing it, I thought XtraNormal swallowed it forever, giving me an embarrassing case of creative angst. I mean, can I mourn the passing of something so ephemeral and practically useless? I found out I can, if the amount of time put into it is exponential. Turns out it was still there in the server somewhere. What have I learned from this process? Always save your work, and don't work on stupid stuff too much.

p.s. Look for future Hot Mess music videos right here! Ahem.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Girls Singin' About Zombies

September is half over. That means Halloween is juuuuuust around the corner (sort of). Gearing up by listening to some psycho-pop girl- and semi-girl groups. Why is this subject matter strangely uplifting? It seems to energize pop groups into a colorful, perky frenzy.

Is the flip side of the belief in a heavenly after-life, the horror of the living dead on Earth? Sure, why not? Throw some cannibalism into the mix and you've got a theme worth go-go dancing about.

The Priscillas - All My Friends Are Zombies

The Creepshow - Zombies Ate Her Brain

HorrorPops - Ghouls

Manicomio - Voodoo Zombie

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll, Dead

Only 60 years old, Jim Carroll went out early, like some other punks I can remember. It's always noteworthy when someone can make sense of their chaotic existence on paper. And then if the writing works and the time is ready for it, success follows. He was raised Catholic during a time when a lot of church rules were still being followed, no matter how detrimental to a child's upbringing. Those of you who were raised Catholic then will know what I mean.

That and growing up in Manhattan during one of its rotten periods, no doubt helped shape the man. Tall and lean, with lovely red hair and a ghostly complexion, it was hard to ignore Jim Carroll, especially when he wrote about so many dark themes. I had to get rid of my copy of "Basketball Diaries"--too disturbing. I've never seen the movie. It looks dreadful. But I'm glad he gave a voice to that kind of teenage misery because that will always be with us, unfortunately. And he made it OK to admit that. He and all the punks gave us the freedom to express our unhappiness, anger, confusion and dark humor. It wasn't a completely hopeless time but it wasn't very hopeful either.

Anyway, here you go.

Jim Carroll encounter: After a book signing at City Lights, I happened to be leaving the shop when he was standing outside. I asked him what he was working on lately and he said he was collaborating on a project with Boz Scaggs. Because I am known for my tact, I told him I thought Boz Scaggs was out of commission (that's what the rumors were, anyway). He said, "No, no, he's doing good work." Then in the most interesting dismissal by a famous person I've ever encountered, he proceeded to ogle, not the hot young woman who was passing us by on the sidewalk, but her five-inch yellow polka-dotted high-heeled shoes. It was so entertaining watching his eyes follow those shoes down the hill, that I didn't even feel dissed, just amused. He couldn't help himself, I could tell.

Tasteless Detention 7-inch single that we constantly played on college radio in '83 (and that I sing to myself on a semi-regular basis to this day).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jon & Kate Talk It Out

The Gosselins discuss the state of their relationship in their own words. Sorry, but I cannot resist this animation site for dummies. You will all (all six of you) just have to suffer through my new hobby.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cure Mix Tape

Back in '83 a guy I worked with made me a Cure mix tape. He didn't bother to label it though (to show he didn't like me that much, I guess). Since I had grown up in the suburbs 30 minutes away from San Francisco, my Cure exposure was extremely limited at that time. It was in fact, nothing. So naturally this tape blew me away with its Cure awesomeness. I listened to it for years until finally it got too muddy to listen to any more.

Like the lack of information on the tape, I was thinking about how I know nearly nothing about The Cure. I know something about Robert Smith. I even know an American woman who looked, dressed and spoke in a Robert Smith accent for years. The cult of Robert Smith is quite strong to this day, though it may be waning as he (and we) reach the "golden years." The band itself still remains a mystery to me. The original line-up must have been the most ego-less band of all time and should have won a Grammy for that alone--it's so rare.

Over the years, The Cure was a kind of revolving-door band, with Robert Smith ushering members in and out of the building. Check out the early line-ups--amazing musicians all. So together and committed to that unique and haunting early vision. I'm telling you, The Cure collectively may be one of the best bands of all time. These are some of my favorites from the tape (and are still my favorite Cure songs today). That co-worker guy would go on to become my arch nemesis, which added a whole layer of complexity to listening to the mix tape.

A Forest


Fire in Cairo

Jumping Someone Else's Train

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My Doppelganger

I hate seeing myself on film so I'm having my avatar stand in for me. Here, she talks about my email doppelganger. Enjoy.

Some of my doppelganger's email links. Read 'em and weep.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Totally Go-Go's for your three-day weekend

The Go-Go's were so effortlessly charming. And Belinda, despite her awful 80s fashion sense (I can relate), was beautiful. Little interviews here about their musical influences (including JO-han Strauss), ending with a live version of my favorite Go-Go's song, This Town. As a youngster, Jane Wiedlin scammed a seat next to Davy Jones at his manager's wedding. She is my god.

More of Jane--self-proclaimed "geek girl."

Heck, it's a three-day weekend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Useless Experiments in Typeface: Helvetica

I just saw the documentary, "Helvetica" and it got me thinking about design, advertising, experimentation, art and philosophy. Not bad for a film about an ubiquitous typeface.

Helvetica is so much all around us, in corporate logos, street and public-transportation signage, advertising, and occasionally, artful design, that we don't even notice its perfection and authority. Designers have reveled in it since its beginnings in 1957 in Switzerland, and designers have rebelled against it, lamenting its lack of character and corporate coldness.

In a fit of middle-of-the-night insomnia (as opposed to my usual 5 A.M. insomnia), I got to thinking: what if I were to experiment with Helvetica? I could test its strengths and limits using my own design schema. (I don't know if you've noticed) but I'm no trained designer. But neither are some of the designers interviewed in "Helvetica" and they're some of the most interesting interview subjects because all their skills are gut-based and therefore artful.

And what is more artful than record-cover design? The big, cardboard square has always brimmed with fonts and meanings. It's marketing art and I'm going for it. Note: none of these albums are actually real and are not available at any store--probably for the best.

This looks like fun. Remember how nostalgic the 80s were for the 50s? I can't explain it. Just re-examine the extreme bigness of 50s hair and crinolines, then add pure LSD and the finest grade of cocaine and you'll come to the 80s.

Sit on it, Fonz. This sans serif look is strictly for nerds in the accounting department. And you do NOT want to party with nerds in the accounting department--if you know what I mean...

I still find spoken-word albums in thrift stores, and you know I'm on that because I can relate to someone sitting in a recording studio, speaking into the mic, then urging friends and family to buy the resulting product for hours of listening enjoyment.
I'm not feeling this Helvetica version, which has lost a certain pretentious twee-ness so essential to what I imagine fictional poetry by fictional Paul Kinsey would be like.

This has everything wrong going for it, yet is an adequate reproduction of garbled design before the advent of clean, clear type that brought nothing but clarity to the table. Let's see how it looks in Helvetica.

Kind of dry, but it almost works. As much as a ridiculous premise of a badly designed and conceived album can. I would actually buy this album at the Goodwill (for 99 cents). But I'd be more likely to notice it with a bunch of goofy, curly typefaces. I like bad design--what can I say?

Disclosure: I actually don't have Helvetica type anywhere on my computer. This was remedied by good ol' Arial, which is a reasonable stand-in for Helvetica. Typeface purists, please don't crucify me.