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Monday, February 28, 2005

"Netflix" list: The Wire plus

Wendy asked for my list. I have corporate awful Blockbuster, for the 2 free instore rentals a month; but in any case, here's my list (top 50, I have them a queue up to 115, which is dumb cause i only make it through 1-2 a week usually....

Priority # Movie Title Rating Availability Remove

The Wire: The Complete First Season - Disc 4 NR Available Now

Wire: The Complete Second Season - Discs 1-5

City of God R Long Wait

Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter PG Short Wait

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season - Discs 1-2

Balkan Runner R Available Now

Some Kind of Monster - Disc 1 NR Long Wait

Station Agent R Short Wait

Fistful of Dollars R Available Now

Last Waltz [Special Edition] PG Short Wait

Super Size Me PG13 Short Wait

Punk: The Early Years Long Wait

Chappelle's Show: Season 1 - Uncensored - Discs 1-2

Five Easy Pieces R Available Now

Kikujiro PG13 Available Now

Romany Trail: Gypsy Music in Europe NR Short Wait

Demasiado Amor NR Available Now

Angels in America - Disc 1 NR Short Wait

Story of the Weeping Camel [WS] PG Available Now

Third Man [Special Edition] NR Short Wait

Angels in America - Disc 2 NR Available Now

Calendar Girls PG13 Short Wait

Carandiru R Short Wait

Das Boot [Superbit] [2 Discs] R Short Wait

Sting PG Very Long Wait

George Washington Short Wait

Bamboozled [WS] R Short Wait

Mystic River [WS] R Short Wait

Destiny of a Man NR Available Now

Monster R Short Wait

21 Grams R Short Wait

25th Hour R Short Wait

Moulin Rouge! PG13 Short Wait

House of Sand and Fog R Short Wait

Beautiful Mind [WS Awards Edition] PG13 Short Wait

Hard Eight R Short Wait

My Fair Lady G Short Wait

Ben Stiller Show - Discs 1 -2 NR Available Now

The Ladykillers [P&S] R Short Wait

Aimee & Jaguar Short Wait

Love Actually [WS] R Short Wait

Comedian R Short Wait

School of Rock [WS]

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Better Late Than Never Part II

On the recoomendation of Andrea's aunt Karen, I finally caught Napoleon Dynamite. (Well, at least the first 40 minutes while folding laundry.) Pretty sharp, though on the level of Wes Anderson or Noi, the Icelandic teen flick from last year which I recommended back to Karen. I view Napoleon with Andrea' cousin, and Karen's son, Gabe in mind. Gabe is one of the sweetest kids ever and is in the midst of the high school confusion that even befalls captains of the football team and national honor society members.
Karen, I want more movie tips.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Better Late than Never

I'm a little late to the party in discovering The Wire. Its the best TV I've seen since the first season of Six Feet Under. Andrea and I watched 2.5 episodes from season 1 this weekend, stopping only to watch 24, which is lame by comparison.

I found a 2002 Salon interview with series co-creator David Simon. (He also did Homicide.) Here are some excerpts, that touch on the range of the show-- and speaks to the creative force that is HBO.
I'm just trying to come to the campfire with a good story that feels very real.
I think some people may have problems with ["The Wire"] because the expectation is of a cop show and of delivering either arrests or denouements at the end of every episode and basically exploring good and evil. Good and evil at this point bores the shit out of me.
The pilot of ["The Wire"] is very much the anti-pilot. The one thing it doesn't have is that sense of, "Are you gonna watch this show now? Are ya? Huh? Huh? Huh? If you don't come back we might kill this guy." That's what you have to do on network, 'cause if they don't come back, you're cancelled. On HBO it's like, "We're in it for the long haul. Tell the story in a smart way and we will bring people into the tent or we will die trying."

Do you hope, in some way, that your shows might help to reform the institutions they explore?

I'll tell you what, this would be enough for me: The next time the drug czar or Ashcroft or any of these guys stands up and declares, "With a little fine-tuning, with a few more prison cells, and a few more lawyers, a few more cops, a little better armament, and another omnibus crime bill that adds 15 more death-penalty statutes, we can win the war on drugs" -- if a slightly larger percentage of the American population looks at him and goes, "You are so full of shit" ... that would be gratifying.

I checked out the HBO Wire website, and accidently saw a photo of a key event in episode 37. As I am only on episode 6, that wasn't too cool. Right now, I'm hoping that Bubbles stays alive and tripping off of Omar.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

On Hunter S. Thompson

Wendy, my better-half's oldest (that is, since kindergarten) friend, and a wonderful writer to boot, shares her thoughts on Hunter S. Thompson:

I do believe that Hunter S. Thompson is my first, personal literary icon to die in my lifetime....I read Hell's Angels when I was fifteen...At sixteen, I moved on to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and reading this while in Catholic school in Los Angeles was more than a little mind-blowing.

James Walcott points to this post by Steve Gilliard that sites HST as a blogger ancestor. (While Wendy is a poet, Gilliard is tasting Thompson the journalist):

Thompson was lucky in that since he was never inside the tent, they could never kick him out. But most of the great heroes of journalism were and will be forced from the newsroom, because that is not a place for uncomfortable truths. There has never been a national columnist like Jack Newfield or Mike Royko or Jimmy Breslin, and never will be. Because they will never play the game, or even recognize it....

The world of the vital has escaped our fiction, to be replaced by the world of the trivial and self-involved. Why? Because that is what drives the writing program, those who write well about themselves, but without the real introspection needed to be honest....The outlets to discuss American life are now closed off because one group is afraid and the other indifferent.
Which is why blogs are so popular...It's odd to think of the outsider Thompson having won the day about what we call journalism, but blogging allows for a world of outlaw journalists, working cheap and fast ans supporting each other in ways he couldn't imagine. It's not a bad legacy.

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What the South Side kids are listening to

Radio Arte's top 20 for the week:


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Friday, February 18, 2005

Waiting and Privacy

I'm killing time before heading for my already-delayed flight at O'Hare.
I went to the doctor yesterday, and they insisted that I supply them with my SSN. I had to really fight not to give it to them.
Here's what the Privacy Rights Clearninghouse has to say about your rights to protect your SSN:

Do I have to provide my Social Security number to private businesses?

Usually you are not legally compelled to provide your Social Security number to private businesses -- including private health care providers and insurers -- unless you are involved in a transaction in which the Internal Revenue Service requires notification. (MediCal and Medicare are government health plans and can require a Social Security number.)

There is no law, however, that prevents businesses from requesting your SSN, and there are few restrictions on what businesses can do with it. But even though you are not required to disclose your SSN, the business does not have to provide you with service if you refuse to release it.

If a business insists on knowing your Social Security number when you cannot see a reason for it, speak to an administrator who may be authorized to make an exception or who may know that company policy does not require it. If the company will not allow you to use an alternate number, you may want to take your business elsewhere.

In California, a new law restricts how certain businesses can display their customers' Social Security numbers. It does not restrict the collection of SSNs, however, and it does not affect government agencies. California Civil Code 1798.85 is being phased in from 2003 to 2005. Insurance companies will not be able to print the SSN on identification cards to be carried in the wallet. Customers of banks and investment companies cannot be required to transmit the SSN over the Internet when conducting business online, unless the number is encrypted. SSNs cannot be printed on documents sent through the mail, with some exceptions. The California Office of Privacy Protection provides a guide for businesses on "recommended practices" for using SSNs. It includes a description of the new law, www.privacy.ca.gov/recommendations/ssnrecommendations.pdf. The full text of the law is found on the state's official legislative web site, www.leginfo.ca.gov.

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

FW: brooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooce!

from kim gilmore:

you're so blogging this today:
Bruce's new aucustic record will hit at the end of April, follow by a Tom Joad-ish tour.
Here's the news from Backstreets:

Springsteen's 19th album, Devils & Dust will be released on April 26....
The track listing is:

1. Devils & Dust
2. All the Way Home
3. Reno
4. Long Time Comin'
5. Black Cowboys
6. Maria's Bed
7. Silver Palomino
8. Jesus Was an Only Son
9. Leah
10. The Hitter
11. All I'm Thinkin' About
12. Matamoras Banks

Speaking to Larry McShane of the Associated Press this week about the forthcoming album, Springsteen said, "A lot of it is set in the west, in what feels like a rural setting." ...according to McShane, the album is a "quieter, more acoustic affair than The Rising... pedal steel guitar, harmonica and violin fill in the sparse, rootsy arrangements."

As for the songs: "Long Time Comin'" and "The Hitter" will be familiar to those who followed the Tom Joad solo acoustic tour a decade ago, as songs that Bruce performed live but never released. He told McShane, "I was so excited after playing on that tour, I'd get off the stage and go write. Then I put those songs on the shelf for a while, until I had a chance to revisit them." .... Thematically, Springsteen described Devils & Dust to McShane as "the individual stories of people wrestling with their demons... It's about people working through their confusions, sometimes well and sometimes tragically." Read the full Associated Press story.

[now for the good part]
The tour:
The official press release from Shore Fire Media also says that Springsteen is planning to tour to accompany the release of the album, and that "details will be announced shortly." ....According to the AP, Springsteen isn't yet sure whether he'll be playing solo or with a small band, but in either case the tour will be "an acoustic affair... targeting theaters and smaller venues." Dates are being planned in Europe as well as the U.S.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

From Jon F.: Gates over the Turtle Pond Posted by Hello

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The Band Plays On

Randy Shilts died 11years ago today.
Six days later, I attended a raucous memorial service in downtown SF that included a demonstration by anti-gay religious bigots.
Shilts authored ...And the Band Played On, an amazing history of the early days of the AIDS crisis and the heroes who fought to move the government and affected communities into action. (I sited the book when I wrote a piece in Tompaine.com criticizing US media for ignoring the subject of AIDS in Africa in 2000.) He also wrote The Mayor of Castro Street, a biography of the trailblazing martyr Harvey Milk.

I wonder what Randy would have thought of this article from the NY Times, "Gays Debate Radical Steps to Curb Unsafe Sex."

And this reminder from Tompaine.com:
Fewer than half the people around the world at risk for HIV have access to condoms.

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Grafiti de Quito

Of all the cities I have visited, Quito, Ecuador stands out for its witty, edgy and oft depressing public commentaries scrawled on walls and bridges. Here are some spreading around by email. (To translate, visit this google site.)

® 'El país estaba al borde del abismo y con Gutierrez dimos un paso adelante.'

® 'La deuda que le estoy dejando al país no es externa, es eterna.' .....

® 'Las inundaciones no se producen porque los ríos crecen, sino porque el país se hunde.'

® 'Algunos nacen con suerte, otros en Ecuador.'

® 'Gutierrez dice "prohibido robar, el gobierno no admite competencia."

® 'Este gobierno es como un bikini, nadie sabe como se sostiene pero todos quieren que se caiga.'

® 'En Ecuador tenemos los mejores legisladores... que el dinero pueda comprar.'

® 'Basta ya de realidades, queremos promesas.'

® 'La patria dejará de ser colonia o moriremos todos perfumados.'

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

America's most spiritual descendants of Woody Guthrie

The most exciting tour of 05 is coming to Chicago the first week in April, says Dave Hoekstra in the Sun Times. Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Amos Lee (a Philly singer I've never heard of who's playing Schubas tonight.)
I'm tempted to go to multiple shows.

Merle is best known for "Okie from Muscogee." Less well know is his 2003 song, That's the News, that criticized the media hype for the war in Iraq.

On his website at the time, he wrote,
As a country we need to look inward for the answers to the energy of the future. We need to bring down our demands for oil, rebuild some bridges and highways and allow the farmers to grow something that replenishes the soil. Those who don't know what that is, should do some research. The problem is not in Iraq and the answers are not in Iran. I hope were not buried alive beneath this pending financial collapse if the pipeline doesn't get through. Surely everything doesn't depend on oil!
Coupled with Steve Earle's (for The Revolution Starts...Now) and Loretta Lynn's Grammy victories, its a good week for Country.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Cool web finds finds for February

Google maps is here, and is much more fun than Yahoo or Mpaquests-- though they still need a link for public transit info.

Flickr is a fun free place for sharing photos. Here I've posted a couple of goofy finds from my time in LA last week.

Lastly, here's radio blog, a fun easy way to stream other people's playlists. This post will take you to two lists that include M.I.A.'s song Galang, the young new dancehall queen, born in Sri Lanka, raised in London, and firmly sounding brooklyn.

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Explain this...

From Red Nova

DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.

Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.

'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon.

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Big Dog on Ossie Davis

I was so moved by Clinton's address at the Ossie Davis memorial that I created this blog. It brought tears to my eyes, and even topped Harry Belafonte's eulogy. He smoothly incorporated Nina Simone. Democracy Now has video here.
Others who spoke included Burt Reynolds, Attila Shabbaz, and Alan Alda-- my bet to beat Jimmy Smits and be the next president on West Wing. I didn't know that Alda, whose awkwardness and sneery cynicism reminds me of my dad, is a lefty: "Ossie was my hero," he said.

Clinton's speech reminded me of election day 2000, when he was unleashed by the Gore campaign to rally the minority vote and called into WBAI. Amy Goodman and Gonzalo Aburto (who hosted the station's sadly-missed Alternativa Latina rock show) took the call, and Clinton answered a range of questions with astonishing aplomb. He grows annoyed and surly but can't let a good policy discussion drop.

Too bad he's such a schmuck.