December 2006 Archives

Akron vs Loyola-Marymount: A photoessay

I posted a photoessay at Bobcat Attack of my visit to Akron last night.

Go read it.

Gerald Ford dead at 93

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Stunning news from Yorba Linda today, as Richard Nixon's corpse climbed out of his grave and strangled Gerald Ford to death.

Sweet, found a screen cap. Dana Carvey should have never left SNL.

I have a bed!

Ever since moving here in July, I've not had a bed. I realize that may sound a bit strange. I didn't have time or the resources to get people and a truck together and once you get used to sleeping on the floor... well, you get stuck that way. The Hot Dog Man is in town, so we finally went to the vaunted Storage Garage of Death (I hadn't been back since the lawsuit) and moved everything to my new storage garage here in Pinellas, across the street from my house.

And I finally got my bed. I can start dating now!

I think Mouse is more excited about the bed than I am. Still, it will be nice to get my first decent night's sleep in months.

It's A Wonderful Life? | SNL rocks my world

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Aside: SNL's Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig just started the show with a kickass "Santa's My Boyfriend" bit. They sounded great, looked great (even without Hottest Woman Ever Tina Fey, the current cast of SNL is unbelievably hot female-wise) and it was the sort of thing they do on Studio 60 that I wish they had more of on the real thing. The "Chipmunks Song" bit of Timberlake's monologue was clever and well-done, too. "Cup Of Soup," not so much.)

Aside #2: "Cock In A Box" is better than anything I could ever come up with for my twisted Christmas songs. I should just retire now. OH SH*T IT'S THE BARRY GIBB SHOW... THEY BROUGHT BACK JIMMY FALLON

My mother collects those Bedford Falls Village models, buys a new one every year. They go on top of the piano and are part of her elaborate holiday decorations, along with an enormous Advent wreath on the lawn (that lights another candle each Sunday), the sentry angel in the foyer, and myriad decorations I can't even begin to describe. She is not Christmas-psycho, like the Lindsay Brothers, but she really embraces the season, and I can respect that. I like Christmas, too, even if in Florida, it Don't Feel Like Christmas At All.

While Holiday Inn is the holiday flick of choice in my parents' household, I do make it a point to watch the annual presentation of It's A Wonderful Life on NBC. Tonight, with a crowd of ten in our small Clearwater household, a dead man in my kitchen, his car in my garage, I escaped the party to run back to my room every few minutes for the Frank Capra classic.

I started thinking tonight that there aren't a lot of lessons to be learned from this film. The American Film Institute has dubbed Life the "Most Inspiring Film" of all time. I disagree. I'm sure other critics have probably written books about the subject, but here's my major issues:

1. Evil does not get its comeuppance.

As I've learned in my research of film history, the "Code" in place during the 1940's put significant creative limits on directors; curse words, nudity, extended kisses, and unsavory behavior were all verboten. So, too, was the portrayal of evil or crime without the perpetrator receiving his or her just desserts. Why, then, does Mr. Potter get away with stealing the $8,000 ($82,000 in today's dollars)? He even gets in a snide "Happy New Year -- in JAIL" remark at the end. The Code would suggest an outcome for Mr. Potter: perhaps he dies of syphilis or is found to have attended Communist Party meetings and is sent to re-education camp. Either way, he stays rich, and considering his already strong position in the financial community, he'll probably be the man the black woman goes to when she finally does need that divorce.

Also, how many small towns in New York in the 1940's had black people?

2. George is a failure.

George is a driven man; he is a man with a goal, and any proper protagonist (especially in a film deemed the Most Inspiring Ever) ought to have the agency to achieve his goal. We are reminded throughout the film of his goal: to travel and see the world. Alas, he is burdened by his ideology and is prevented from achieving his goal by a major character flaw: personal ethics.

He's also now in debt to everyone in town, so he can forget about his tab at Mancini's Bar; Guido's only taking cash now. Can you imagine what his friends and neighbors would say if he finally took that trip around the world? "That bastard," they'd say, "He still owes me $17.50 but he can afford to go to Rome? Son of a bitch."

George, given his characterization throughout the first half of the film, wants this single goal. He doesn't get it. He fails.


What, then, are the most inspiring films? Let's break that gerund down.

M-W suggests "inspire" means to move or motivate by some non-physical force. "Influence" is the core derivation. Certainly, I can't see anyone being inspired to do anything after watching It's A Wonderful Life (except maybe to steal $80,000 since you'll clearly get away with it). Movies that are actually inspiring:

Wonder Boys (Michael Douglas' portrayal of a pot-smoking professor who hits on his students is a major reason I'm in academia)
Super-Size Me (put a long stop to my fast-food eating)
The Biggest Loser (not a movie, but actually inspires people to put a long stop to their fast-food eating)
Rudy (lead to a spike in applications to Notre Dame, in one actually quantifiable example of inspiration)
The Birth Of A Nation (essentially resurrected the Ku Klux Klan)
Saturday Night Fever (the soundtrack itself changed music for four years and kept decent bands like Queen from being the mega-bands they ought to have been)

I will still watch It's A Wonderful Life every year. Donna Reed is amazingly hot and Capra's direction is outstanding. I just disagree that it's an inspriring film.

I'm like Yossarian

There's a dead man in my house, and it's creeping me out.

He's been here since yesterday, and I'm just a bit unsettled every time I go into the living room and see him in there. Sure, he's... considerably smaller than he used to be, and in an ornate cermic urn, but he's still a dead man.

Perhaps more unsettling is the amount of estrogen flooding this household. We're currently housing not only my roommate Jennifer, but her mother, her aunts, and her cousin, all from Connecticut. It's nice to have a little Yankee around here, and they're delightful people. It's just weird to have so many women in the house.

I am in the crowd that would, too, like to be cremated -- as are my parents. I see no point in spending money to put my bones underground. I think that's just what they are... bones. The soul is really what it's all about, but I don't want people carrying me around with them in a bowl. Nay, I want to be cast back to the earth from which I came. So scatter me on College Green, scatter me in the Maumee River, scatter me at Tropicana Field. That might be a bit weird.

But most certainly do not make me stick around, as a dead man in your house. The dead man drove Yossarian to madness, albeit still a degree of madness that was sanity compared to his colleagues. It's just unsettling, I guess.

I had a crazy dream last night. It was a dream that transcended the usual mind ability to warp time and space. It was epic, and it kept me asleep until two in the afternoon. Among events I can remember from the dream, I:

1. Started an enormous fire by spray-painting a microwave oven green. (I put it out with an enormous fire extinguisher.

2. Interrupted some kind of dice game in a casino.

3. Performed a comedy set to gangsters (not gangstas, I've already DONE that).

4. Made out with someone, though I cannot remember whom.

5. Oh yeah! It was my ex-girlfriend.

6. Changed my clothes about ten times, because "I needed to" though that need was never really expressed to me.

7. Drank from a keg with my college friend Justin.

Bernie & The Boomer!!! Finished!

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If you lived in Ohio during the late '80s, this song will make sense to you. If you didn't, but are a football fan, it will make sense to you. I just played it for five women from Connecticut and they looked at me like I was an alien.

Bernie & The Boomer sit together for a meal...

Bernie & The Boomer - mp3 (3:18)
Bernie & The Boomer - m4a (3:18)

The only thing left to do for the Holiday EP is record the new vocals for Single Christmas 2006. Then we can get to drawing the cards... and getting them in the mail. I have to grade 60 finals at some point, too.

"They could agree on just one hero: the mighty Mr. Paul Brown."

Jennifer and I have an on-and-off ritual of watching reality television programs on the DVR on Tuesday and Thursday -- depending on what time of year it is and what show is currently on our radar. This year, the day was Thursday and the show was the third edition of The Biggest Loser.

Of course, the season finale was on last night which meant we were watching it today. Erik, the unbearably fat man, won the $250,000 prize by losing more than half of his original 400+ elbees. Impressive, certainly. The dude lost 52% of his body weight and can still ambulate.

Jennifer and I get into arguments on the show, and regularly set up prop bets to see who will lose, who will win, and who will fall below the "yellow line." I hate the yellow line. It means nothing. They just as easily could say "Stay out of the bottom two," but instead they use the yellow line terminology. It drives me crazy and Jennifer laughs at me.

Also, I have a nomination for California's representative to The Biggest Loser 4: Caroline Rhea. Seriously, who thought she'd be a good idea to host a show about losing weight? Caroline Rhea hosting The Biggest Loser is like if Jeopardy! replaced the retiring Alex Trebek with, say, K-Fed.

Seriously, folks. Let's look at Caroline Rhea ten years ago:

And now:

Jennifer informs me Caroline Rhea "used to be fat." Used to be?

Anyway, I like Caroline Rhea. She's not why I hate the show. I hate the show because it's based on a faulty premise: that losing weight is what makes a person healthy.

The entire game is based on who can lose the most weight, when weight loss is only one half of a person's overall fitness health. Indeed, contestants like Wylie who were fat not because of genetics but because of being lazy were at a disadvantage in the game -- he started building muscle which made him look all sorts of great but actually kept him from losing enough weight to win in the end.

Compare this to just hugely fat f*ck Erik, the winner, who clearly has a family history of being fat f*cks. I do not mean to slight Erik. When they announced how much weight he'd lost, I balled my eyes out. Actually, I don't want to admit to that, but Jennifer made it a point to make me promise to post on my blog that I cried at the end of The Biggest Loser. Thanks, Jenn. You're a great roommate.

Anyway, if the show wanted to be legitimate in my eyes, they'd measure not weight but body fat percentage. It's not an issue as much for the women as it is for the men; Wylie was victimized most by it, but final castoff Jaron was a true tragedy of the nature. He couldn't stay above the vaunted YELLOW LINE because he kept building MUSCLE. Which WEIGHS MORE THAN FAT. AND IS MORE HEALTHY.

So that's why I hate The Biggest Loser. Also, the chick trainer on there looks just like Lesbian Bartender and that kind of creeps me out. I hope their next edition features body fat percentage, if not exclusively than as part of a formula. I think Erik would have still won -- he clearly built some muscle in the process, did you see him from the back while hugging Kai? Dude has LATISSIMUS DORSI.

Two to go!

We've finished recording on all but two songs -- Bernie and The Boomer and Christmas in Bavaria. We just finished mixing This Christmas, and as far as I can tell, it sounds great!

This Christmas - mp3 - 3:13
This Christmas - m4a - 3:13
This Christmas - WAV - 3:13

OK FINE THE REST OF THE STORY

It's Tuesday morning, 7:00am. I have to be on campus even earlier than usual, so I'm headed out to my car and it's barely warm enough so that I don't see my breath, and I'm angry, because I wish it was.

Something catches my eye, sitting in the middle of my driveway.

It's a cheap cassette tape, unlabeled, the kind you'd get three of at the dollar store.

I throw much junk in the car, grab the tape, and put it in the deck as I head screaming down Northfield Lane.

It takes about two seconds for me to recognize what it is.

It's a tape I haven't seen in at least ten years. It didn't fall out of my car, because I lost track of this tape long before I even bought this car six years ago. I don't know where it came from, or how I got it back.

Here it is, in handy flash-player format.

Or download it. (mp3).

That would be the earliest-known original recording of yours truly. Actually, it's myself, Sicky (now married), Progman (now married), and Barry (now married) in my parents' basement, sometime in fall 1995 or spring 1996. I'm playing the beatbox, I think, and singing. Sicky is playing guitar, though you can only hear him at the beginning and end. I'm not sure what Progman and Barry are doing, but I definitely remember them being there.

That song, the "Ich bin also blau Polka," was written that afternoon. I wanted to see if I could write a polka in 12-bar blues. It's also the only song I know to have actually been on the radio... once... on the Napoleon Sunday afternoon polka show. It might have only made it halfway through before the deejay (also known as my mom) yanked it.

The first verse really is the German version of the English second verse, just badly translated and worse-ly pronounced. I still, internally, refer to my car keys as "meine autotasten."

Anyway, it's a bit of a miracle, because I haven't the slightest idea where this tape came from, and I think it's hilarious, especially my line after the song's over. There's other stuff on the tape I'll record when I have time; a B-side metal version of the same song, and a duet of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Sicky and I -- and neither of us know the words. Very strange. Very old.

Very old.

Never check your RSS reader before bed. You'll never GET to bed.

From about 1999 to 2003, I was a Wired subscriber. Then I moved to Florida, and I let my subscription expire because I didn't have the time or inspiration to really read it anymore. Wired felt tired to me; my increasing attention to blogs rendered most of the news in there useless -- not to mention I had a backlog of two banker's boxes-full of magazines, all of them unread. Most of them are still unread. (I use Devil Ray games to catch up on my reading.)

Anyway, it's while reading Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson's blog The Long Tail (related to his excellent book of the same name) that I recognized a photo that seemed to be a non-sequitur in his post about taste and YouTube -- but no, it was completely appropriate, because it was a photo of Jessica Rose, the actress that stars in the Lonelygirl15 series which I'm sure is still going on... somewhere.

See, Wired made Lonelygirl15 their cover story this month, and have fortunately put the entire article online.

Welcome to the set of Lonelygirl15, the breakout Web hit that, in September, was unmasked by fans as a work of fiction. What nearly a million people thought was the room of a sweet, charismatic teen named Bree

I dunno if I'd call myself a fan. Devotee, perhaps. And saying that a million people were somehow hoodwinked by Lonelygirl15 is really inaccurate. The reason the majority of us were interested in the story is the very point that we knew it was fake.

Regarding the fact the show is filmed in Flinders' bedroom:

Now, three months into the project and with hundreds of thousands of regular viewers, he doesn't bother. It's too much work, even though it has blown some great opportunities for him. Last week, he spotted his neighbors – two Playboy playmates – and invited them in. They glanced at his room, got suspicious, and quickly left.

Is Flinders a loser? Click the jump to see our detailed loser-nalysis.

Sometimes, it just all works out

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I've just returned home from an amazing evening with a young woman I'm very interested in seeing again. Yes, I realize I owe many of you a story I previewed Tuesday. I cannot finish the story until I locate a working cassette deck. I think my roommate's stereo has one, but it's in her room. And she's sleeping. So that will have to wait.

Anyway, the afternoon started with a performance of the latest Jobsite show at the Performing Arts Center, which is a performance of Jean Claude van Itallie's The Serpent. It was considerably different than Jobsite's usual fare, but it provided a lot of opportunite for discussion afterward. We then wandered through downtown Tampa in search of food, but finding all of downtown closed (being Sunday evening and all) we invariably ended up on Harbour Island, and we wandered into Jackson's Bistro which is perhaps better known for being a weekend hotspot. This evening, things were considerably more low-key. That's a good thing.

We ate alongside the river -- I had the swordfish and she had chicken Napoleon. The food was fantastic and the view was unspeakably gorgeous.

I haven't had very many nights like this in Tampa, but today was pretty fantastic. Plus the Bobcats won. I have to get back to writing a paper, but sometimes you just have to write about nice things in your life. Today was a nice thing.

TRACK ONE IS HERE!!!!

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I know it's your favorite part of the holiday season.

Track one of the 2006 Timothy Burke Annual Holiday EP is in the can. Get psyched! Get ready! It's here!

An Anarchism Christmas (2:22, mp3, other formats coming)

Oh, and the story I promised you yesterday is on its way too.

A truly astounding discovery

This morning, at 7:00, I walked out to my car to leave for class and found quite an interesting object laying there in the middle of my driveway. I can't begin to describe how bizarre and wonderful this discovery is, from out of nowhere, laying in the middle of my driveway.

The rest of the story in the afternoon.

More YouTube | Comments work again

Kevin Triskett is one of my favorite students, ever. There's a video here, I've noticed my RSS feed doesn't render it, so go to the actual page, eh? Not necessarily for this video (of Jamie Gilbert, Paul Porter, Michelle Calka, Becky Gropp, Kevin Triskett, and I pregaming for OSU vs Michigan while in San Antonio) but for the one I posted last night, of Tina and I at Halloween. And comments finally work again. I accidentally tagged something with the .pl extension instead of .cgi which is what I've decided to stick with on my install. They work now, and I should stop getting >300 spam posts a day now.

Jiminy jeez was I drunk?

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