Saturday, January 31, 2004

Leroy Bach leaves Wilco

According to Wilco's official website, guitarist/keyboardist Leroy Bach has left the band. There aren't a lot of details yet, but it appears that leaving the band was Bach's decision. This seems to resemble the departure Max Johnston, the band's former banjoist/fiddler (among other things), it stands in contrast to the more recent firings of original drummer Ken Coomer and multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett, the latter of which was chronicled in the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.

Notably, Bach's departure comes as the band wraps up its as-yet-untitled new album, which is scheduled for a spring release, while Bennett's firing took place during the final stages of the production of the band's critically acclaimed last album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It seems to be a difficult feat to survive the recording of an entire album with bandleader Jeff Tweedy. Apart from bassist John Stirratt (who seems a safe bet to eventually split to concentrate full time on his side project The Autumn Defense) Tweedy is now the only original member of the band. Wilco's original lineup consisted of the members of the final incarnation of Uncle Tupelo, which dissolved with the acrimonious split between Tweedy and longtime friend and co-leader, Jay Farrar, who went on to form Son Volt.

At this point, you could pretty much form a band made up of Farrar and the guys who used to be in Wilco. It'd be basically Uncle Tupelo with Jay Bennett in place of Jeff Tweedy, and it would actually be a pretty good band. Get cracking, men.

Friday, January 23, 2004

A sneak peek at tonight's episode

I present you with the following topical monologue joke, to be aired on tonight's episode of The Peter Lynn Show:

Did you hear J-Lo got rid of that big ass of hers? That's right -- she dumped Ben Affleck.

43-Man Squamish: Now 42-Man Squamish

If you've been a 12-year-old boy anytime in the last 50 years, you may remember the name George Woodbridge. He was, of course, an illustrator for Mad magazine, which probably would have been my dream job as a kid. I learned a lot about drawing by copying pictures from Mad's pages (I distinctly recall copying pictures of Joan Collins and Linda Evans from the Dynasty spoof "Die-Nasty", albeit with less clothing than Mad had portrayed them as wearing). Mad also not only exposed me to a lot of pop culture I wouldn't have otherwise have known about -- like movies I was too young to see and TV shows on channels I didn't get -- but in sending up that pop culture, it was the first place I really encountered satire. It's not overstating the case at all to call Mad a significant formative influence on me, and Woodbridge was part of it.

Alas, Woodbridge will be helping to warp young minds no longer. Like fellow artist Dave Berg, who passed on back in May, 2002, Woodbridge has permanently left the ranks of the Usual Gang of Idiots. One of his best-loved illustrations was for the 1965 sports satire "43-Man Squamish", a team sport with completely absurd and incomprehensible rules that spurred college students across American to form teams and bravely attempt to play it. For your pleasure, the rules to this still-popular classic are reproduced here.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Ninjas Against Drugs

Triggered by the exciting but erroneous rumor that Democratic presidential candidate "Primal Scream" Howard Dean had a small speaking part in Ninja III: The Domination, I was boning up on my shadow warrior lore by reading a biography of famed ninja actor Sho Kosugi. I was pleasantly amazed to learn that Kosugi battled -- and perhaps battles still -- on behalf of young people everywhere as part of the life-affirming assassin organization NAD (Ninjas Against Drugs).

Snicker-inducing acronym aside, that may be the best time capsule of the 1980s that I've ever seen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Age 2 -- 10

I hadn't noticed this before, but while watching the Daily Show, I noticed a particularly obvious example of Bush stumbling over his words toward the end of the State of the Union:

Last month a girl in Lincoln, Rhode Island, sent me a letter. It began, "Dear George W. Bush, if there is anything you know I, Ashley Pearson, age 2" -- "age 10, can do to help anyone, please send me a letter and tell me what I can do to save our country."

What kind of idiot can't tell the difference between the numbers 2 and 10? Or maybe there isn't a difference. Considering his excessively black-and-white view of the world, it wouldn't be surprising if Bush counted according to the binary number system.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

State of the Union

I set aside the hour between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday of every week for a personal appointment with Kiefer Sutherland. The phone is unplugged, all other living beings are ushered out of the house, and the television is turned on. So I take it as a grave insult that President George W. Bush should take the grotesque action of making his State of the Union address right when 24 is scheduled to air. My loathing for him grows.

That being said, there's been some entertainment value in the address so far. As I type, he's just stumbled over his words, and not for the first time. And I notice he's developed a bit of a turkey neck over the last while. But the best part is this:

I'm sure you know how these things go. The president utters a sentence. Then most of the audience (the Republican majority in Congress) stands up and raucously applauds his profundity and statesmanship. Then he says another sentence. Then most of the audience gives him a standing ovation again. A monosyllabic dolt like Bush tends to give the audience quite a cardio workout, what with his short, choppy sentences leading to a lot of up-and-down action. (He also gives the audience at home a cardio workout as their hearts pound with rage at his falsehoods and omissions, like when he trumpets the success of his "No Child Left Behind" plan, but fails to mention that he actually cut the legs out from under this plan by chopping its funding. I also ground my teeth when he threatened a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and referred to "activist judges" who "insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people" as though judicial decisions aren't based on an extensive background in the law, but by sheer whimsy or insane royal fiat). Anyway, the point was that he says a sentence, then they applaud. Repeat. However, sometimes it takes him a couple of sentences to get to the point where they're supposed to clap.

He was building to the point that it was vital that some of his most controversial legislation be renewed when the sunset clauses started to kick in. "Key provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year," he said. But before he could continue, a small but vocal Democratic minority contingent in the audience burst into applause at this happy news. For a moment, Bush was totally caught off guard by this unexpected but polite criticism of his administration and made that startled, bewildered monkey face of his.

Up until then, I'd thought that this video would be the most laugh-out-loud hilarious thing I'd see all night. Happily, I was wrong.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Milkin' it!

Thought three (soon to be four) versions of Law and Order were enough? CBS, proving that NBC isn't the only network that knows how to beat a dead horse, has announced that a third CSI series will be aired, this one set in New York City. This ought to really please William Petersen, the star of the original CSI, who fumed about the first spinoff, CSI Miami, right from the get-go as being bad for his own show. I bet he'll be so pleased he'll use his keys to scratch a nice congratulatory note on network chairman Leslie Moonves' car out in the CBS parking lot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Ruddy Ruddy may already be a winner!

Get the exciting news of Ruddy Ruddy's ten-million dollar windfall here.

Oh, and while I'm at it, there's more on the Bush vs. Hitler debate (a phrase that conjures up the image of the two men at separate podiums, one tongue-tied and the other ranting incomprehensibly) in the Toronto Star. My favorite line:

Some refer to George W. Bush as another Hitler. This is a gross exaggeration. He has constructed no death camps and only one concentration camp — at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

I guess one concentration camp is okay. But no more, mind you!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"Ward, I think you were a little rough on the mole people."

According to The Straight Dope, there really are "mole people" living beneath New York City. Turns out there's been a couple of documentaries made about them: In Search of the Mole People and Dark Days, which was directed by one Marc Singer. It turns out that this isn't the same Marc Singer from The Beastmaster and V, which is too bad, because it would have been awesome if he'd continued his battles with the forces of darkness in real-life, documentary form.

But on the other hand, the 1956 science fiction film The Mole People starred none other than Beaver Cleaver's TV dad, Hugh Beaumont! It's actually kind of fitting that a guy who battled the mole people should be a successful authority figure for a boy named Beaver. He's like some kind of specialist in human/rodent humanoid relations.

Monday, January 12, 2004


Dash it! I did something idiotically absentminded today: I left a pot of boiling water on the stove to make soup and then went off to play online poker with Scott. It was not until later, when I was on my way back from the laundromat, that I realized what I'd done, and why the kitchen had started to smell a little odd earlier. I rushed home to find I'd boiled the pot bone-dry and that the house reeked of old bacon. Why bacon? I have no idea. I don't normally boil it in a pot, so it can't be residue on the cookware. Maybe it's residue on the burner? I don't know.

Oh, and sometime today, BlogSpeak apparently went down, owing to a suspended account on the part of the guy who runs it. So, for those of you who e-mailed me wondering where the comment boxes went, that's what happened. I guess I'll wait for a while and see if the guy gets up and running again. Until then, you can just e-mail any feedback that you might have straight to me.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Castoffs and Cutouts

I was just going through Pitchfork Media's website trying to track down the list of the best singles of 2003 that they had on their front page a while ago, and I came across this list, detailing the 50 most common used CDs found ubiquitously in used record stores, and rating whether they're worth your while or not.

I bet Jay Pinkerton will be able to guess without without jumping straight to #1 what the most widely rejected album is.

Listen, The Snow Is Falling Everywhere

Christmas is over. Heck, Greek Orthodox Christmas is even over. So why in blue blazes am I posting my picks for the ultimate Christmas mix CD right now? Well, first, it's because I started compiling one before Christmas, but you know how things are in the holidays. You get busy at work, you have all that shopping to do, there are Christmas parties to go to, and things get lost in the shuffle. So I'm finishing it now, and I can always link back to it next Christmas.

But there's actually a good reason to make a Christmas mix in early January: You're already so sick to death of Christmas music at this point that if you can come up with a collection of songs that don't make you want to claw your ears off, then you know you've put together something that works.

This compilation is something that works. It's composed mostly of stuff you haven't heard a million times before, and in fact, you can pretty much listen to it anytime of the year. And when July comes round and you're desperate for anything that might help you beat the heat, you can pop this on and reminisce fondly about that bone-aching chill back in December.

1. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
2. Ghost Reindeer In The Sky - R.E.M.
3. Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight) - The Ramones
4. The Christmas Song - Weezer
5. Bells of Christmas - The Beach Boys
6. On Christmas Day - Brian Wilson
7. Jesus Christ - Big Star
8. Christmas Time - The Chris Stamey Group (in effect, The dB's)
9. Christmas at the Zoo - The Flaming Lips
10. Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland - Grandaddy
11. The Little Drummer Boy - The Dandy Warhols
12. Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas - Eels
13. Christmas Eve - Teenage Fanclub
14. O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Belle & Sebastian
15. Blue Christmas - Low
16. Listen, the Snow Is Falling Everywhere - Galaxie 500
17. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - The Alarm
18. Christmas Time - Smashing Pumpkins
19. Every Day Is Christmas - The Webb Brothers
20. Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam
21. Thanks for Christmas - XTC
22. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues (feat. Kirsty McColl)
23. Donna and Blitzen - Badly Drawn Boy

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Bush in 30 Seconds

There's a nice little Salon article about the "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest sponsored by, in which people were encouraged to submit creative political ads aimed at getting that George W. Bush thrown out of office in November. The fact that a couple of submissions compared Bush to Hitler, creating a controversy among Republicans and Jewish groups shouldn't overshadow the fact that the entrants turned out some pretty good ads that cut right to the bone.

Is Bush Hitler? Of course not. As actor David Clennon pointed out in the process of stirring up his own controversy, "George Bush, for one thing, is not as smart as Adolf Hitler." One recent estimate of Bush's IQ -- a lowly 91 -- tends to support this theory. (Interestingly, Clinton's IQ was estimated at 182, which is exactly double Bush's score.) A more charitable ranking estimates Bush's IQ at 125, which is above average, but still lower than Hitler's purported 141. So, we can probably conclude that Clennon is right: Bush is no Hitler.

Anyway, the 15 "Bush in 30 Seconds" finalists are now online. Some are better than others, but they're all pretty good. The distressed reactions of the parents in this one was amusing, and the bit with the curtains in this one made me laugh out loud. It's just so gleefully malicious.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Shock and Awe

Here's the teaser for the top story at right now (it's not the story headline, though, so there won't be a permanent link to the headline I'm talking about, though this site has it):

'Shock and awe' at images from Mars

Scientists are expressing "shock and awe" over the spectacular quality of images the Spirit rover has sent from Mars, showing gray rocks peppering a Martian lake bed awash in its natural hues of red, pink and orange.

Shock and awe? Shock and awe? Jesus! The Americans are attacking Mars now! We should have known they were up to no good when they started launching rockets at it. Is there any desolate desert region they can resist bombing into subjugation?

Banished words revisited

I didn't pick up on it at first, but our good friend Tyler has duplicated my feat of appearing in the LSSU Banished Words list. He doesn't even remember submitting this (although he does remember writing it). Here's the relevant section:

During the height of the war last spring, Tyler King of Toronto, Ontario, told us he'd like to see all words rhyming with Iraq banished, and he sent this lovely poem:

"Lately, every news report has tried to create a rhyme about Iraq. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about the 'Attack on Iraq'! There is no turning back from an attack on Iraq to (get) that quack who likes to yak with his terrorist pack about having the knack to bring weapon inspectors back."

You know who I blame for starting this kind of rhyming Bush-related political commentary? Michael Stipe, who sang (apparently of Bush Sr.):

Smack, crack, bushwhacked.
Tie another one to the racks, baby.

Maybe Tyler's hit on something: namely, that Bush picked a fight with Iraq at least in part because the name of the country lends itself to so many catchy rhymes. If so, it's a sobering thought that the real culprit behind the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose because nothing really rhymes with "Afghanistan".

Friday, January 02, 2004

Jeepers creepers!

Because I do not drive a car, I am a longtime proponent of the bus. Coach Canada bus lines is never dull, due to its fine history of getting people from point A to point B in a rolling biohazard zone. The time two dudes got caught fellating each other just a couple of seats behind me springs to mind, but my trip back to Toronto from Kingston provided a more specifically medical example.

I was just standing beside the bus, waiting to board, the first in a line that consisted of me and some lady. The bus driver came walking out of the terminal, brandishing a large red thermos. "I'll be watching you. I've got my eyes on you," he said to me with a wink. Then he pointed at the label on the big red thermos:



"We do this all the time," he said. "Somebody's up in a hospital in Toronto waiting for eyes. Somebody donated their eyes."

Three cheers for organ donor cards and drunk drivers on New Year's Eve! I thought. How many eyes? I wondered. Two, probably, I decided. "Where do you keep them?" I asked.

"Front seat," he said. I wondered if they'd just be rolling around in the seat, ready to fly up and smash against (or through) the windshield if the bus suddenly braked once it hit the heavy holiday traffic around Bowmanville. But as it happened, traffic was light, and another employee of the bus company had the job of going along for the ride, cradling the thermos in his arms and barking over a cell phone to whoever was picking it up next about where they were supposed to meet. The bus was sweltering instead of as close to cryonically cold as possible, which is what I would have expected, so they must have had a lot of confidence in that thermos. It's strange that they'd send organs to be transplanted on the bus, though. I always pictured an ambulance or a helicopter rushing the stuff to the destination as quickly as possible. I didn't picture a bus that only leaves the station according to a set schedule. Again. much confidence in the thermos.

To find out more about eye transplants, you can check out the Eye Bank of Canada's website. (Or you can do as I did only a couple of days before my bus ride and watch the movie Jeepers Creepers. I understand that the last scene in that is pretty much how ophthalmology works.) For more on the thermos, check out the Thermos company's website or your local pre-schooler's lunch box.

In which things come full circle

What goes around comes around for Ruddy Ruddy. See here.

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