Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vive le Tour.


You can't say it better than this: Big pictures really are awesome. Add into the mix all the pictures being of the Tour de France, and, well, you can't go wrong.

Above, a spectator known as Didi, dressed as the tour devil, jumps beside a pack of riders during the fifth stage of the 95th Tour de France cycling race between Cholet and Chateauroux, July 9, 2008. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel). Did began dressing as the devil years ago, after one commenter called the lantern rouge the "devil's lantern" and the last kilometer the "devil's kilometer." True story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

DC

Pictures are up from Caitlin's and my trip to DC yesterday. Fun day.

They look kinda weird because I took all of them with my iPhone. Since my camera is still broken.

Revenge is a dish best served bronzed

LET ME tell you about King Kamehameha. No, not the Dragon Ball Z variety.

King Kamehameha (AKA Kamehameha I and Kamehameha the Great) was the first monarch of the kingdom of Hawai'i (he conquered the Hawai'ian islands and established his reign in 1810).

Now I really don't want to tell you about Hawai'i or his reign. Partially because most of it is probably pretty standard stuff. Partially because I don't want to have to research it.

I want to talk to you about statues. In the US Capitol, every state in the union is allowed to submit for approval two statues to be housed somewhere in the country's legislative heart. Many statues stand in the old House of Representatives room (National Hall of Statues, now). They can only fit about 30 (I think the guide said 37) in the hall, though -- any more and the foundation would crumble under the weight.

You see, there are only two criteria for the statues: They must be someone from your state, and they must be made of either marble or bronze. (I know there's a copper Ike, but I think he's just an aberration).

So Hawai'i is its own happy little island kingdom until the US comes in, wipes out the dynasty and declares the archipelago annexed.

Fast forward to today (well, you know what I mean) and Hawaii sends this bronze statue of Kamehameha to be placed in the US Capitol.

Well, they tried. The first statue was so heavy it sank the ship carrying it across the Pacific to California. The second statue they sent during hurricane season. Winds broke its restraining ropes, the statue slid to one side of the boat and the whole ship promptly tipped over. Third time's the charm, because there is a statue in the Capitol of Kamehameha I.

And here is where our story gets interesting. Kamehameha is the heaviest statue in the Capitol (beside, I'm assuming, Lady Liberty). He weighs about 37 tons. They put him in the hall of statues, only to find he began crumbling the foundation under him. So they tried various spots around the room, all with the same result.

He's now in the hall behind some columns, shoved against a wall, where really no one can see him. And here he waits quietly eroding the building's foundation.

They put him against that wall because it was structurally the most stable spot. They found a couple years ago the foundation under him is still crumbling, and had to drill out the wall behind him and put in a steel rod.

Kamehameha the Great, after more than 150 years, is enacting the revenge of his people, the Hawai'ians, on the imperial forces that took his homeland and almost wiped out his people.

I can see it now. "Conquer us and make us into an 'annex' will you? We shall present you with a Trojan horse that will crumble the very foundations of your legislative body. (Evil laughs here.)"

Long live the king.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cahones

WHEN your airplane burns itself into a smoldering pile of goopy fiberglas-and-sheet metal on the tarmac, what do you do? I mean, OK, let's say the passengers all got out. The last one slid off the inflatable ramp 30 seconds ago.

Go.

Taiwanese airway China Airlines' answer? Send out some lackey to immediate white wash from the wreckage your logo.

Step two: sit back and say "I don't know what you're talking about."

As the article to which I linked says, that's chutzpah.

If they'd gotten away with it, I can see this working in their favor... PR-wise. But they weren't quite fast enough, and instead of being able to disown the disaster, they have tons of pictures of some dude with white spray paint trying to efface their role.

That's some well-handled crisis PR, if you ask me...

Indirect discourse, now only 99 cents

I LIKE the way this dude talks about my obsessionsociété du fond.

•••

I like crosswords. But I can never wake up early and do one over a cup of OJ, because I'm cheap and the paper that employs me is an afternoon daily. So I get my crossword at about 10/10:15 a.m., and can't work on it until 4 p.m. (at the earliest).

Woe is me.

I've thought about watching Wordplay, but I don't really like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video (although I have a card for Hollywood... I might as well use it...). They're both completely out of my way, and I'd only have to travel back out there to drop off the movie after watching it. Who watches a rented movie more than once, anyway? (OK, I think I watched Gattaca about seven times before returning it, but that's different.)

I could buy it on iTunes, but that's like $10 and although it's a critically acclaimed documentary, it's a documentary. About crossword puzzles. I dunno 'bout that one.

•••

The more I interact with "society," the more I find I really am a child of the Web (even if, the first time my dad showed me "the Internet," I dismissed it as boring). I prefer to order clothing online -- the salespeople annoy me and make me uncomfortable... but not in a weird agoraphobic kind of way. I order music, movies and television shows online.

I'll probably order pizza online next time I need delivery, just to test it out and see if its faster than staying on hold for 10 minutes.

I do all my research online, for places I want to visit, things about which I want to know more. I converse with everyone online. I can't remember the last time (thank-you notes and cards nonwithstanding) I wrote someone a letter.

I order books online. I'll go so far as to visit Barnes and Noble, copy down an ISBN, and then go home and look up the book online, to find a hardcover edition, or a non-movie-tie-in edition, or a first edition.

I read all my news online. Aside from my own paper (and The Post and The Times here at work), I don't even give newsprint a second glance. I like to look at papers' designs, but I don't think flipping through one for my daily news is for me. It's much easier to click the "News" bookmark folder I have, and read things that way.

You see, computers don't annoy me. They don't get in front of my in the grocery store and walk really slow. They don't cut me off and then drive like they're drunk. They don't smell. They don't say uncouth things. They don't like NASCAR. Or country music. Or western music.

Does that make me a bad person?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

All hail the chairman's stupid idea

CHINA next month will enact a law prohibiting Buddhists from re-incarnating without government permission. Not approval. permission.

Money quote:
In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.
This is a country hosting the 2008 Olympics? A country on the UN Security Council? A permanent member of the UN? FUCK NO.

I'm sorry for the profanity, folks. But seriously. This is what's wrong with the world.

An important point I think to make, that no one else has mentioned (that I've seen, anyway), is how, exactly, do Chinese police intend to stop monks from reincarnating? Is this like Ghosbusters? Do they have particle-accelerator proton packs strapped to their backs, and when a monk dies, they zap his soul into submission?

Are they going to charge monks' temples when monks reincarnate without permission? How do they know when someone reincarnates? Do they have a meter somewhere? Or do they just have a Christmas tree, and every time a bell rings, they look through their list of "approved reincarnations" for discrepancies?

Seriously, what the heck were they thinking??

Friday, August 17, 2007

!

MAN I want to be able to write like this:
Long and lanky, Mr. Cera moves like one of those teenagers whose body hasn’t yet fully caught up to his newly reached height. With his wide-open face and smile, he looks absolutely amazed by what he can see from a higher elevation (the world!). But of course he looks surprised: he’s the top half of the exclamation point to the spherical Mr. Hill’s rolling big dot.
(From Manohla Dargis' review of Superbad). Plus that's a great description of Michael Cera. Damn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bertolucci, Kirosawa, Carmina--Burana

ANYONE not overwhelmed with the liberal media, and interested in film, should pick up a copy of The New York Times today, or head over to their Web site.

They have up twin glory obits on Antonioni and Bergman. Why would I post those links? Who cares? Well, the obits are written by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, respectively.

I always love to see those not in my industry write. I was amazed a couple months ago when an Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post ran with Sean Connery's byline.

I haven't read them yet, but I'm sure both are excellent pieces.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mao hear this

YOU KNOW, as much as I love the olympics, I'm really torn about the "08-08-08" (marketing people love having fun with numbers) games. Maybe China will start the games at 8:08 and 8 seconds? Of course, that'd be China-time. Because everything is China. China is the best. China is good. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Or the thousands dying in Darfur at his feet. Or the entire culture of a proud and peaceful "region" of the country. China is happy. Did someone say lead paint in kids' toys? Nonsense. It's all Snowball's fault.

All I know is, if I wasn't so cynical, I might consider boycotting watching them.

I really don't know what China is. By the time Guns 'N Roses finally releases Chinese Democracy, the country might actually be a democracy. Or so they will tell the world. The People's Republic of China (lies in name: two, to steal from Jon Stewart) will always be communist. No amount of bleach will ever get the red out of their flag.

Or off their hands.

I really wish I could reprint columns we run in our paper. There was an excellent one by Nat Hentoff a couple months ago about why the UN is defunct. But there's also a great one in today about a Rose Bowl float supporting China.

The country's relationship with Sudan almost directly contributes to the genocide in Darfur. But that's Pop humanitarianism talk. Darfur's all the rage, so fire up the bleeding heart machine and we'll get these buggers to understand it's bad.

What about Tibet? Since the '50s, China has "assumed autonomous control" of "their region" of Xijiang, or whatever they want to call it. The PROC brought with it a "call to reunite" former Chinese lands to "preserve the brotherhood" or some bullshit. Yeah, go attack a bunch of monks who mind their own business. You think they'll fight back? They're freaking monks you communist pigs.

Good for you, you've conquered monks. That's like Italy trying to invade Ethiopia in WWII. Only the Italians failed at even that. But Monks don't use even spears and shields. So congratulations, you've "reunited lost brothers in communism." What do the monks get? Well since a principle part of their belief structure revolves around their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, dying in Tibet (which does not exist anymore), you've fucked them over. Royally. Every time a Dalai Lama dies, Buddhists must now search the whole world for his reincarnation.

And, while we're at it, let's make it an even three strikes.

Question: you have what some might refer to as one of the natural wonders of the world -- three magnificent gorges, teeming with life, history and people. What do you do with it? Oh you're also hard up for cash.

A). Preserve it and offer tours to visitors from around the world?
B). Preserve it and let no one see it. Filthy un-communists do not deserve to lay eyes on its beauties
C). Leave it alone. What does the chairman care about some trees?

Of course you choose secret option D! Build the largest dam in the world against the engineering advice of the US and Germany and who knows who else! Displace hundreds of your citizens and ruin an ancient ecosystem to provide power to your cities! What do the Western dogs know about building dams anyway? It will be fine! Long live China!

For these and many reasons, China should not be trusted with -- or championed for -- presenting the ancient tradition of world cooperation and competition that is the Olympic Games. Get your own house in order before you try and present yourself as a unified front to the world, China.