All articles, tagged with “retina of the mind's eye”

duty now for the future

As I’ve previously noted, one of the occupational hazards of working at a media company is that there are televisions in the office, and their strange noise emissions occasionally penetrate my carefully maintained wall of obliviousness.

Today, it was a commercial. For a dustmop/paper towel hybrid thing called a “Swiffer.” In and of itself, an innocuous invention — I even own one. The problem was that the commercial, and the new tagline to the product, were set to music. A tune that was once kinda popular, by a band that one or two people remember. Which tune, which band? I want to emphasize that I am not making this up:

when you’ve got a dirty floor
you need swiffer!
under table, stove and door
you need swiffer!
it never is a chore
with the swiffer!

the swiffer!
place looks great!
it’s not too late!
to swiff-it!
and swiff it good!
Yes, you read that right: household goods ubercompany Proctor and Gamble is using DEVO as their new advertising jingle. And the truly insane part? It’s not a studio band doing the singing: It actually is DEVO.

I guess we can expect the AAMR‘s next Public Service Announcement spot to use “Mongoloid” as the soundtrack. Are we not men?

why this, oh lord?

You know, it’s kinda funny: I’m basically completely uninterested in professional sports. I grew up in the midwest, and absorbed the obsession with college and pro football that’s basically part of the elementary school curriculum there, but the older I’ve gotten, the less time it’s been allowed in my life, and really since moving to New York five years ago, that’s been none at all: I found out that the Yankees had won the 1999 world series because there was a ticker-tape parade outside my office, and that’s been about typical.

Which is not, for the record, to turn my nose up at them, or at people who follow them. The athletes themselves are beautiful mutants, operating on a totally different physical plane than the rest of us mortals, and I can completely see how that’s compelling to watch. Ballet or the NBA, it’s just a matter of specialization. And as much as I reflexively poke fun at, say, obsessive baseball stat memorizers, I figure that as someone who can still, after years of deliberately trying to erase the ability with copious consumption of illegal drugs and alcohol, rattle off obscure british sci-fi television trivia in my sleep, I don’t actually have any real grounds from which to scoff. Compulsive consumption of serial entertainment and its peripheral metadata? Guilty as charged, just a different branch of the industry. I just happened to fall off the athletic fan wagon a while back and never bothered to get back on.

Anyway, I bring this all up only to highlight the irony of the fact that as long as I’ve been keeping this little notebook here, I believe I’ve mentioned professional sports exactly once, and it was in relation to a sport that of all the professional sports out there, is probably the one that interests me least of all. And that includes curling, bowling, hurling, cricket, X-TREME rock lifting, professional bodybuilding, ice dancing, midget tossing and synchronized swimming: I speak, of course, of golf.

And now, I’m going to mention it again. I’d make disclaimers that you shouldn’t construe this as, you know, interest, but looking at the evidence, I gotta wonder who I’m kidding. This is probably some sort of posthumous genetic revenge from my maternal grandparents for years of my annoying lifestyle: somewhere, out there, there’s a plastic visor, a pair of monstrously bad nylon pants, some dorky shoes and an 8 A.M. tee time with my name on it. Hell, I already like martinis. I’m obviously doomed.

Anyway, all that prologue for: this. Still disappointed that Annika Sorenstam didn’t make the cut in her attempt to crash the PGA tour? Well, you’ll be happy to know that the mad scientists at Gifted Prodigy Labs, Inc., have already turned out the new model: she’s six feet tall, can drive a golf ball 300 yards and shoot 6 under par. Oh, and she’s 13 years old. Fear her, a lot.

please pass the gay

So I’ve been watching “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, and much to my chagrin, enjoying the hell out of it. This officially makes me a complete fucking hypocrite, because I have long sworn loudly and profanely that I Don’t Watch “Reality” Television, but (a) pride goeth before a fall and all that, and (b) apparently our new robot overlords have decided that for every citizen, there shall be at least one Reality TV show that they shall watch, and damned if their unholy army of demographic consultants, market researchers, brand identity experts and feng shui geomancers didn’t come up with one that was almost perfectly pitched to my sense of humor…

…mine, and apparently several million others’. I’d like to think that at least we get cut some slack for watching a “reality” show on Bravo of all places, but as George Bernard Shaw said, we’re just quibbling on price at this point. I’ll admit it: I’m not just a whore, I’m a cheap, replaceable whore.


One of the constant low-level amusements of the show is observing how so many things which, at rock bottom, have zilch, zip, nada to do with men having sex with men have somehow become incorporated into this gestalt we call, with apologies to Jon Stewart (and JEFFK), the gay. Does possessing a “queer eye” automatically give you a tropism toward muted earth tones, graceful table arrangements, well-tailored clothes and expensive kitchen gadgets? Of course not, but there it is anyway. In some ways, it doesn’t seem so much that being “gay” leads you to these things, as that these things possess some “gay” quality of their own.

Following this line of alleged thought leads to some profoundly silly (and stupid) places. Kind of like the old “¿Quien es mas macho: lightbulb o schoolbus?” question posed by Laurie Anderson, you find yourself asking: What’s more gay? Oakley sunglasses or Bed, Bath and Beyond? 2xist underwear or Ralph Lauren paints? Eyebrow waxing or Dean and DeLuca?

I mention this all because this very morning, in my Amazon gold box, I found an item which I believe is the trump card, the checkmate, the FUEL-AIR EXPLOSIVE of the ¿Quien es mas homo? game.

Assume for the sake of argument that we’re ignoring the ontologically problematic nature of the idea that things can have a queer identity. (That means: “Play along here, kids.”) Okay, that being the case, we can probably all pretty much agree that high-end kitchen appliances are classically gay. Even moreso if they come in a carefully finished primary color that adds nothing to their function except the ability to blend asthetically with your other kitchen gadgets. Better yet if they come in a metallic finish.

So it pretty much follows that a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer is pretty gay, right? And my “Empire Red” one is, hands-down, gayer than my mom’s old plain white one. And likewise, a matte-finish chrome Kitchen-Aid is yet again substantially gayer than mine. (My only excuse: the chrome version was not available in 1999.)

But lets say that you have, in fact, bought the chrome Kitchen-Aid, and while it has brought you many months or years of mixing and kneading pleasure (aside to Lou Sheldon: this involves making bread and please get your mind out of the gutter), you’re somehow troubled. Perhaps it is…not gay enough? Surely there’s something out there a little…gayer?

Well, do our clever Teutonic friends have just the thing for you! Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present: The Gayest Kitchen Appliance Ever.


Please note that this is an original, unretouched image, so yes, that really is a stainless steel, modular mixer/blender/processor, and it really is going for the low, low price of:


Good thing that Amazon offers easy payment plans, eh? Let’s get a closeup on this thing:


Is it a kitchen convenience, or the secret superweapon of a James Bond villian? No, Mister Bond. I expect you to frappé. If you peel away Arnold Schwartzenegger’s face, I’m pretty sure this thing is what you see. Mix with me if you want to live.

If the “queer eye” actually had some sort of intrinsic “gaze”, this thing would be a 10,000-watt klieg light, shining down on the corner of Christopher and Grove Streets, and directly into our (presumtively brow-waxed) eyes. It’s a pride parade in your kitchen. It probably runs OS X.

And the kicker is…Lou Sheldon probably owns one. We know how he is about killer robots.

p.s. To anyone who got into this post expecting it to lead to trenchent, informed social commetary and not cheap jokes, I humbly apologize.

p.p.s. I will marry the first person who buys me one of these.

fair warning

So this weekend, Miranda and I (along with Anne and spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at Central Park’s Summerstage, seeing a free concert featuring De La Soul. Well, more accurately, De La Soul Minus Prince Paul Who Kinda Has His Own Much More Profitable Thing Right Now, but whatever: they played about an 80-minute set which was a good mix of early and late material, and did their damndest to work up a crowd that had been kinda beat down by the interminable opening acts.

Ah, the opening acts. To start with, there were three of them, which was just a little too much for a crowd that had been standing on line for in some cases 2-3 hours before getting to the ampitheatre. The second and third openers (a funk ensemble called Breakestra and an acoustic canadian hip-hop act called K-OS) were both actually pretty good, but the first one…

Ladies and gentlemen, how much do you have to suck to be booed off the stage at a free concert?

The answer, it turns out, is: you have to suck at least as much as Jonzi D.

Jonzi D was introduced by an optimistic-sounding intern as a rapper/singer/dancer/poet/performance artist from London. What this turned out to mean in practice was that he would, in order: recite a bit of slam-style (but not terribly good) poetry, then dance a little bit as his DJ looped some uninspired beats, then launch into an incomprehensible 10-line political monologue, then pause to tell the crowd how honored he was to be in the home of hip-hop. Rinse, repeat. The DJ wasn’t spinning anything except during his little breaks, so the whole thing came off as stilted, pretentious and un-rehearsed all at once. Pretty much the entire audience was looking around in embarrassed horror, and then the poor guy’s mic started cutting out every other word. That was when the booing began, and about 5 minutes later he basically slunk off the stage.

I’ve seen some bad shows in my time, in many genres of music, but this was hands-down the poorest performance I’ve ever seen at a live concert. The technical problems pushed it over the top, but even the unmolested parts of ths show we heard were so bad that I have to consider the broken mic to be a blessing. So this is a warning to all of my friends, especially the British ones: this guy is still out there, somewhere. Be alert. Be on guard. The eardrums you save could be your own.

my, what a big…machete you have.

Proof that my subconscious is out to get me: ideas like this one keep popping up unbidden…

Freddy vs Jason?

how about…

Freddy / Jason!

I’m sure it’s out there, somewhere. But I refuse to look.

If you’ll pardon me, I need to go floss out my brain with barbed wire now.

I am such a geek.

A small observation about The Matrix Reloaded:

Neo isn’t The One…

…he’s Number Six.

a small postscript…

…in lieu of an actual review of Reloaded, a bit of practical advice for anyone trying to see it this weekend:

Buy tickets in advance, line up early, and if necessary trample small children to get a seat at least halfway back in the theater. There is action in every corner of the frame, even in a lot of the establishing shots, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it continually annoying and distracting to have to physically scan from side to side of the screen to take it all in, especially during the fight scenes.

For this reason, I’m probably gonna ignore the threatened IMAX release.

apres matrix

For some reason this approach to movie reportage continues to amuse me, so forthwith, my up-to-the-moment, indispensible reviews of…the trailers preceeding The Matrix Reloaded. Beware, it’s a pretty ugly sight:

  • Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde — Remember the famous scene in “A Clockwork Orange”, where Malcolm McDowell is strapped into a chair with his eyelids pried open with calipers, and one of the doctors is carefully dripping saline solution into them from an eyedropper to make sure they didn’t dry out? Well, replace the saline solution with paint thinner, and you’ve got a rough idea of what watching this was like. Granted that I am about as far removed from the target audience of this film as it’s possible to be while still living in this country, but who, exactly, thought that “Ms. Barbie Goes to Washington” was a concept worth paying $30 Million to execute? When the trailer (which contained multiple seperate shots of Luke Wilson looking Supportive And Earnest in his role as The Supportive And Earnest Boyfriend) was over, the entire row in front of us broke out into boos…and then the rest of the audience applauded the booers.

  • LXG: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — That weird, almost-inaudible keening sound you hear coming from over the Atlantic ocean? That’s Alan Moore, screaming, as yet another of his brilliant, whimsical and detailed graphic novels is turned into unwatchable dreck. Sean Connery, I’m convinced, is on some unstated mission to avenge his treatment in The Avengers (wherein he was cast as a weather-controlling supervillian who liked to dress up in a day-glo teddy bear suit, and I am not making that up) by playing that same character in every movie since then.

  • Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines — Managed the seemingly impossible feat of making this movie seem even less interesting than the previous trailers; this was probably compounded by the fact that it was running in advance of an action/sci-fi movie about a dystopian future ruled by machines that people actually wanted to see. The really scary part? T3 was part of a two-picture deal: unless this film completely tanks, we’re locked into a T4: Boy Howdy There’s A Lot of Terminators Here. But that “unless” is looking less and less unlikely: the audience was visibly bored. So was I.

  • Kill Bill — The downside: same exact trailer as Miramax released two months ago. The upside: it’s a damn good trailer. Not sure if I buy Lucy Liu as a martial artist (someone please tell me that Michelle Yeoh was tragically unavailable?), but whatever: I can’t pretend that they don’t have my money already on this one.

  • 2 Fast, 2 Furious — Every single last shot in this trailer had something in it to remind you that this film was EXTREME! And TO THE LIMIT! And WICKED! And OVER THE TOP! So why was it so BORING, GENERIC, and UNINVOLVING? I swear to god I heard crickets chirping in the back rows. A direct-to-video sequel that somehow escaped its VHS containment cell.

  • Freddy vs JasonThis of all things got the best reaction from the audience, and I can’t really blame them. Sometimes a concept just sells itself, and normal laws of taste, consideration and basic sanity stop applying. Sure, it’s stupid, completely unnecessary, gratuitous and at its shriveled little heart, kinda lame… but it’s Freddy…versus Jason. Like that reunion tour of the original KISS lineup, its position as a signifier of adolescent glory for a certain time and a certain place completely overwhelms any niggling questions about whether it’s a good idea. Not, mind you, that there’s a chance in hell I’m paying money to see this.

  • The Last SamuraiMene, mene, tekel uparshin… Remember in The Producers, the shot of the entire audience with their jaws in their laps after the “Springtime for Hitler” number? Yeah, like that. While I realize that there is no force in this universe that can break Tom Cruise’s satanic contract for guaranteed box office success, if there were any justice at all, this helping of warmed-over James Clavell nonsense would do it.

Oh, and there was that damned Powerade Matrix commercial, which I’m a little embarrassed to admit I found amusing. Yeah, tacky to prepend a film with one of its own commerical tie-ins, but sometimes a good deadpan is enough to make me giggle.

And there was a movie, that I might comment on later.

looking like an idiot on line, all for you

I am happy to announce that X2, with or without its goofy tagline (“X-Men United”, or not, depending on which ad you see), would have been worth it even if I’d had to pay for it.

It’s not perfect, but much like Spider-Man, all of its problematic bits are clustered near the end of the last act, so they’re pretty easy to forgive. Of the at least three climaxes, there’s one that’s a little too obviously there just to set up X3 (“X-Men Unplugged?” “X-Men Undressed?”) and make the old-time fans feel tended to, and as a result its setpiece effect of a bursting dam feels completely arbitrary. (And it’s telegraphed so far in advance that this can’t count as spoilage.)

But none of that is fatal, and there are plenty of distinct improvements from the first picture, notably in the acting department: Halle Berry (mostly) no longer reads her lines like she’s auditioning for a Hammer Horror film, and Famke Janssen, largely no longer saddled with the first movie’s spotty dialogue, is surprisingly compelling. Singer has made ample use of the extra time and money he got to make the sequel: there’s better balancing of screen time between the assorted characters, and the big effects sequences fit better into the movie’s flow. Poor James Marsden still has nothing to do, but you can’t have everything.

And the fight choreography is substantially better than, say, Bulletproof Monk. Not that that’s a surprise or anything.

Geeks, go forth with confidence.

Wasting my time so you don’t have to.

When it comes to Kung Fu films, there is One Law, and only One:

The fights must not suck.
Everything else is negotiable. Cringe-inducing dialogue? Fine. Plot written by an autistic 7-year-old? No problem. Camera shots, characters and entire scenes stolen from other movies? Sure. Acting that’s beyond “wooden” and well into petrified? Not an issue…as long as the fights don’t suck.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bulletproof Monk has terrible dialogue. A worse plot. Scenes, characters and camera angles ripped off from other films. Acting that would have failed to pass muster in my high school’s drama club…

…and the fight choreography completely, totally sucks.

I could go into some detail about all the ways the movie was annoying, but it’s pointless: a chopsocky film stands or falls on its fight work, and there’s just nothing to see here. There’s a couple of interesting visual ideas (notably a fight on a glass platform that keeps getting smaller as its sub-panels are shattered), but none of them are executed with any grace. Every fight is a jittery, impossible-to-follow mess of jumpcuts: there’s practically not a single shot in any of the fights that’s held long enough to see a single move start and finish, and it’s impossible to tell whether this is just out of directorial incompetance or because they were trying to cover up the fact that none of the lead actors are actually martial artists.

I’m glad Chow Yun Fat is getting paid good money in America, but I really, really wish that someone could come up with better work for him than this crap.