Conjuring Political, Cinematic, Cultural, and Athletic Arcana since 1999


"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."
- Ernest Hemingway





Struggles for Justice, Alan Dawley

Recent Tomes
The Cultural Front, Michael Denning
The Color of the Law, Gail Williams O'Brien
Irrigated Eden, Mark Fiege
Hammer and Hoe, Robyn Kelley
Voices of Protest, Alan Brinkley
Running Steel, Running America, Judith Stein
The Power Broker, Robert Caro
The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, Gary Gerstle/Steve Fraser
The Subtle Knife, Phillip Pullman


Y Tu Mama Tambien (9/10)

Visions Past
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring [x5] (10/10)
Blade 2: Bloodhunt (8.5/10)
In the Bedroom (9.5/10)
Amelie (8.5/10)


Elvis Costello, When I Was Cruel

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

4/19/02 - It is a gift! Let us USE it. The Boromir 2002 Calendar, perfect for figuring out when the World of Man will fall (and your City to ruin.) Via Quiddity.

In a promising sign for the future, the South African government changes its stance on AIDS drugs.

While the GOP plays tax games, Dems save the Arctic.

Natalie Portman weighs in on the Middle East. The guy she was debating sounds like a total jackass: "Yesterday the 25-year-old Chaudhry speculated that the Crimson published the letter only because Portman is a movie star." Um, hello? It's the Crimson, not the New York Times. They publish lousy pieces by undergrads daily (back in the day, mine included.) Ms. Herschlag's response is definitely well above the mean of most Crimson commentary.

The Madness of King George, part deux. Rumors say Lucas now wants to digitally insert Jimmy Smits into A New Hope.

By the way, if you don't want to know the end of Episode II, don't look here. I mean it - megaspoiler.

The penultimate Farscape of the third season is tonight ("Into the Lion's Den, Pt. II: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"), and it promises to be a doozy.

4/18/02 - The playoffs don't start until Saturday, and it's already madness. VC and Iverson out, Johnny Starks and Avery Johnson get left off the rosters, and, to top it off, Marv (and the Czar) got in a car wreck. Fortunately, the voice of the NBA seems to be ok, but unfortunately we now have to put up with Bob "I jock Kobe like he's going out of style" Costas this weekend.

Kevin Smith on Spiderman, Via Garth: "One kid asked if he saw Spiderman yet and if he [Kevin Smith] thought it was good, to which he would only respond 'Yes, I saw Spiderman.' The kid asked again if he thought it was good, to which he replied once more, 'Yes, I saw Spiderman.'"

My goodness...just when it seemed the Knicks had the lock on being the most disappointing team in the NBA, the Bucks implode. (Or in other words, the Bucks stop here. Thanks, I'll be here all night, be sure to tip your waiters.) I had 'em as the odds-on favorite to win the East at the beginning of the year too, which should prevent me from making playoff picks. Nevertheless...

New Jersey vs. Indiana: Reggie may think they have upset potential, but they're just lucky to be in the playoffs. Nets in 4.
Detroit vs. Toronto: Same story. Toronto's recent 12-2 run sans Vinsanity has added another note to the Ewing Theory. But Detroit's gonna walk. Pistons in 3.
Boston vs. Philadelphia: If a top-seed in the East will flame out, it'll more than likely be the run-n-gun, no-d-playing, 3-jacking Celts. But I've always thought Philly was overhyped, particularly with the Answer less than 100%. Celtics in 5.
Orlando vs. Charlotte: This should be a tough, exciting matchup. But, after dismantling the Heat in 3 last year, Charlotte has lost the edge of surprise. That being said, they play great on the road (particularly since, being in mid-move, they don't really have a home.) Nevertheless, I can't front on T-Mac, and, when in doubt, I still root for Patrick. Orlando in 4.

Utah vs. Sacramento: It's always risky to bet against Stockton-to-Malone in a 5-game series, but my feeling is that Utah's dynamic duo have finally hit the wall. Return to sender. Kings in 4.
Seattle vs. San Antonio: I love the Glove, he's the best point guard in the West. But you can't teach height...Duncan romps. Spurs in 3.
Los Angeles vs. Portland: I'm really tempted to pick an upset here, if only because LA's best chance of losing their threepeat will be in the first round. Oh heck, why not? Portland in 5.
Dallas vs. Minnesota: I feel for Garnett, I do. It'd be nice to see him and Payton on the same team. But, once again for the T-wolves, it's one and out. Dallas in 3.

New Jersey vs. Orlando: With Milwaukee gone, this could've been the East finals matchup. As expected, T-Mac will put Orlando on his back, but Kidd's assist machine will prevail. New Jersey in 6.
Boston vs. Detroit: Whackhouse and 'Toine will both be throwing up ill-advised shots, but defensive player of the year Ben Wallace is going to kill Boston on the boards. Detroit in 5.

Sacramento vs. Dallas: This should be a great series with scores in the 100s every game. C-Webb's tendency to falsify in the playoffs may rear its ugly head here, and a Nick-n-Nash backcourt is a truly frightening thing. But, I'll give it to Sac. Kings in 7.
Portland vs San Antonio: Fresh from knocking off LA, Portland has the big 'mo...but San Antonio sees the path to the rings open and finishes them. Spurs in 5.

New Jersey vs. Detroit: The Pistons have overachieved. Kidd is hungry. Despite an ill-advised 1-game suspension for Kenyon Martin, Nets take it. NJ in 6.
Sacramento vs. San Antonio: Another great matchup, offense vs. defense. Kings have more options, though. Sac in 7

FINALS: New Jersey vs. Sacramento: Exciting ball all around, and I'd love to see the East notch a win here. But the Kings'll take it (and if not them, Dallas...and if not them...(sigh) ok, there's a chance the Lake Show might be playing in this game too.) Kings (West) in 6.

4/16/02 - Wow. It was hot today, but I didn't realize it was that hot.

Starting today, there's a new (old) paper in town, the New York Sun. Don't update your bookmarks yet - the site is still very weak.

The next Harry Potter book gets indefinitely postponed. My advice to Mrs. Rowling - just give up micromanaging the weak, unsalvageable Chris Columbus films and get to writing.

Black to the future - In a long over-due move, NASA looks to recruit more African-American astrophysicists.

Doh. The GOP discover they can't use Senate webspace for partisan purposes.

Things have changed. Bobby Dylan gets the cabaret treatment from singer Barb Jungr.

In praise of Law and Order. (Via Q.)

Is the tide turning on the death penalty debate? E.J. Dionne thinks so.

Mystery still surrounds the recently discovered Bondwoman's Narrative, which according to the article is now the earliest African-American novel in US History and the only one written by a former slave. If it's real, it's quite a find, both historically and financially...perhaps I should be spending more time in the archives.

A brief history of mods, a Salon article which gives due props to Day of Defeat.

4/15/02 - According to this, I'm a left-liberal. Well, to be honest, I'm a progressive, but close enough. (By way of Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Whaddaya know? (and what did you expect?) Republicans are scared to go on Crossfire, now that Carville and Begala are ruling the roost. Well, fellas, there's always FOX.

Gore returns. It ain't Groundhog Day, bud. Please return to your hole.

Matt and Foggy of Daredevil. I must admit, Affleck looks better than I thought he would.

In related news, early word on Spiderman is effusive. I had low expectations for this one...should I raise them?

The NBA playoffs, my favorite sporting event with the possible exception of the World Cup, start this weekend. I'll post predictions once the slate is set.

Oh No! Cornel West jumps from Harvard to Princeton. The media's been taking pot shots at the guy for months now, but, really, it's Harvard's loss. Say what you will about his alleged ego, at least he seemed to care about teaching undergrads.

Chris, meet April. April, meet Chris. Chris loves U2. April hates U2. I'm a fan of both blogs and of U2. Nevertheless, agree or disagree, April's anti-Bono screed was hell'za funny. (Yes, I know, I'm instigating.) Given y'all's musical tastes and notwithstanding the U2 controversy, though, I think you should get along swimmingly (I mean, she's got a pic of her and Billy Bragg up, for goodness' sake.)

Caught two movies on DVD this weekend: Moulin Rouge, which, to be honest, I was quite disappointed by after all the hype. For one, the songs were unmemorable. Really unmemorable. I thought the only decent ones were written by other people, like Queen, Madonna, and the Police, to take just three examples. "Come What May" was bloody awful. For another, the principals (Nicole and Ewan) couldn't sing. I thought M. McGregor, whom I'm normally quite fond of, was particularly lousy. Every time he couldn't hit a high note (which was often), he'd get LOUDER to approximate it. And what was John Leguizamo's accent about? It was terrible. The film had its moments, to be sure, and Jim Broadbent ("snip snip, slice slice") and Richard Roxburgh (former boyfriend of Eowyn, mmm...Eowyn) were quite good. But, all in all, it reminded me of the one scene in Romeo + Juliet, a movie I otherwise like quite a bit, which I can't stand: the party scene. I wanted to like it, but alas.

That being said, given my underwhelmed state after Moulin Rouge, I was blindsided by the second half of my Friday double-feature, The Wicker Man. A great entry in the "strange things afoot in a little English (well, Scottish) village" genre that the Brits do so well (Hammer, Avengers, Prisoner, Dr. Who), and with Christopher Lee to boot. Definitely worth a look.

Defeat. Shameful, Ignominious. (Via Tomb of Horrors.)

Happy belated birthday to my sister Gillian, who turned 23 last Thursday.

How good was Farscape on Friday? An excellent return to form for my current favorite show. The whole bit on Scorpy's Command Carrier was like outtakes from The Empire Strikes Back spliced with Blake's 7. Once again, I'm hooked.


The Washington Post looks into ghosts in the machine. (Via Screenshot.) My feeling is, the readership of my writing goes WAY up when I write in someone else's name. How can I complain about that?

It was an eventful weekend for Berkeley, who was jumped by a pit bull at the dog park Sunday and is now recovering from three deep puncture wounds and a damaged ear. The owner of the pit bull in question was a bratty 12-year-old gangsta wannabe, who with his friends kept terrorizing this confused mutt into aggressiveness. When they released the hound and he immediately lunged for Berk, I managed to grab his collar and hand him back to the owner. Then the little punk kid (who, for this reason, I later had to restrain myself from punching in his tubby %@#% face) let go of his dog and said "Get 'em!" Of course, when the dog clamped on Berk's neck and wouldn't let go, these chump changes had NO idea what to do. They apparently hadn't gotten that far in their dogfight training regime. Encouraged in its innate attack mode, the dog wouldn't release, and, eventually, when Berk's eyes went bloodshot and his white coat started staining red, I got behind the pitbull, grabbed it by the privates, and twisted until it let loose. (To my mind, it was either that or dropkick the thing, which I was seriously inclined to do.) I then spent the next ten minutes bellowing at these dumb-ass kids, who clearly thought it'd be cool to initiate a dog-fight until they actually saw one go down.

At any rate, after an emergency vet trip, Berk seems alright, if a bit shaven and traumatized. And the kids seemed suitably chagrined/scared out of their wits. That being said, for a moment there, when Berk was shrieking and my instincts were kicking in, I was seriously contemplating violence on that goddamned dog and this gaggle of dimwits. Not a pretty scene.

Which reminds me, besides being Tax Day, today marks the second anniversary of the night I inadvertently smashed my face in. Still ranks as one of my life's lowest points, and one I'm reminded of to this day by the considerable scar across my nose. Ah, well. Adds color to my countenance, I suppose.

4/10/02 - Telecom takes another hit.

Scientists try to explain a new form of matter. Perhaps they should use an amber spyglass.

Goldmember lives! Apparently, MGM found Never Say Member Again even more irritating and dropped their lawsuit. Despite this reversal, the chances of me paying NYC ticket prices to sit through another lame Bond movie (Die Another Day) are still remarkably slim.

With Ewing making arguably his last appearance at the Garden last night, the history book speculation begins anew for New York's long-suffering center. Regarding the championship situation, I still blame Starks for going 2-18 in Game 7 in '94 (and Riley for not pulling him.)

The Dead sing Dylan on Postcards of the Hanging, a new compilation.

4/9/02 - Is Patrick Ewing finished?

Bizarre film anime-tions (including, at left, Old Salieri from Amadeus), by way of Quiddity.

Along somewhat-related lines, celebrities with telephones (Via Footprints.)

I forgot to note earlier the strange time dilation I experienced on Saturday. That morning, I ran into my high school friend Erme at the Columbia Activism Conference, whom I hadn't seen in ten years. (The fact that I've known anyone that long over the course of my "adult" life was a bit distressing to me.) Then, that evening, I ended up chatting up a young woman at The West End who, as it turns out, I raced against five years ago. (She was the Columbia coxswain in '97.) Since I've rarely reflected on any time but the present of late, both chance meetings were definitely food for thought.

One month after Congress passed comprehensive campaign finance reform, the House GOP start trying to dismantle it.

Just spent the past hour or so clearing out all of the dead blogs from the portal, since I don't much feel like reading about steel right now but have drunk too much Mountain Dew Code Red not to do something at least quasi-productive. It's a bit depressing to read so many variations of "I'm giving this up because..." It's a transient business we're in.

Star Pets, by way of My Dog Wants to Be on the Radio. You know, I've got a dog and a not-insubstantial Star Wars collection, but if I ever dress up Berk like Darth Maul I want somebody to come over to my apartment and kick my ass.

I want to believe. Christopher Walken's weblog, or not. (Via LinkMachineGo.)

James Fallows and Todd Gitlin on media saturation.

The Queen Mum and Ali G? Who knew? Respec. (Via Plasticbag.)

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