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


"It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive."
- Mark Twain


Steppin' Out.

Whachutalkinbout, Willis?


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


Attack of the Clones [x2] (6/10)

Visions Past
Spiderman (9/10)
Y Tu Mama Tambien (9/10)
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring [x5] (10/10)
Blade 2: Bloodhunt (7.5/10)
In the Bedroom (9.5/10)


Elvis Costello, When I Was Cruel

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

5/15/02 - Make yourself in Lego. (Via Looka.)

The new trailer for Martin Scorsese's long-awaited Gangs of New York is available here. The accents are clearly going to take some getting used to. Update: That's the old trailer, which I apparently missed some time ago. This is the new trailer. Sorry about that.

MIT researchers create a new means of falsifying speech that might eventually force radical changes in what constitutes evidence (and that should help character assassins the world over.)

Would we call him Boss or Senator? Bruce Springsteen may be drafted for Congress. The Senate's definitely an institution that could use a little haunting by the ghost of Tom Joad.

The NY Times reviews Monday's ABT gala: "A highlight was the performance of Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes in George Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux." They have wiped away the sappy, wrong-headed Romantic style that others in the company give to this piece and perform it with an attack that restores its showpiece quality." Saw Caroline Kennedy there, but I missed Cal Ripkin. Gill also gets a good write-up in the Post.

The GOP hit the jackpot, raising $33 million in one evening. Not to defend Republicans or anything, but I really don't see a problem with the 9-11 photo they're trying to push on donors. It's not like it's Dubya's face superimposed over the towers or anything, and at least they didn't use that disgraceful moment when little George was scampering about the wreckage of the WTC like a fifth-grader on a field trip. Finally, Gore really shouldn't stick his neck out on issues like this - the guy's got zero credibility on the matter.

Episode II at midnight tonight. Strange to think that only 3 years ago, at the Episode I premiere, I had a fiancee, no dog, 20 more pounds, and a job in DC. I wonder what the experience of Episode III will offer. At any rate, I know it's being universally derided as lame, but here's hoping Lucas found some of the old magic on a shelf somewhere.

One down, innumerable others to go. Napster nears bankruptcy. Might have to download some stuff on Kazaa today just for the hell of it.

Spurs collapse again, and now the Lakers will face the Kings, which is the matchup everyone's been waiting for. Go Sacramento...

Also with Ep. 2 tonight is the new Matrix trailer, which will make it online at midnight EST.

5/13/02 - Not green cheese, but not just cold rock either. Scientists probe the Moon in hopes of discovering a heart of molten lava.

With my feet in the air and my head on the ground, I'm "Where is My Mind?" What Pixies song are you? (Via Triptych Cryptic.) I wouldn't have minded being "Wave of Mutilation" either, but apparently it wasn't one of the choices.

Hoo boy. The setup for Farscape season 4 sounds schweet. If you're looking to climb aboard, Sci-Fi's having a 24 hour Farscape marathon on Memorial Day...genre fans (Buffy people, this means you) should definitely take a look-see.

Gill and ABT's summer Met season starts tonight, and I'll be there. Wait, Dubya's not coming, is he? Update: Ah, doubtful...he's stumping in Illinois.

Speaking of which, what happened to Dubya's gun control agenda? Two guesses, and the first one doesn't count.

Werewolves among us - TNR reviews medieval historian Caroline Walker Bynum's new book.

In the universe according to string theory, the Big Bang ain't so big anymore. This is quite interesting.

Salon posts yet another State of the Blog article.

Primary Colors' Joe Klein rips into Bob Shrum.

Disgruntled Columbia students make the NY Observer. It just amazes me the extent to which whining is considered fashionable around here. Perhaps it goes part and parcel with graduate school, but there are any number of folks roaming these halls who act like reading for a living is a more grievous burden than digging ditches. For the love of Pete, let's have some perspective, people. (That being said, of course, some of these low blows did cut pretty close to the bone.)

In a contest of mavericks, it's McCain vs. Spartacus. My money's on the former.

5/12/02 - Can CNN's Pat Mitchell save PBS?

The NY Times questions Karl Rove's role in Dubya's foreign policy. Looks like Powell, for one, has had enough. Mark Hanna redux...or is it Richard Nixon? (Via 20-20 Hindsight.)

Ulysses S. Grant gets a makeover.

Vin Diesel as The Flash? I like Vin Diesel, I like the Flash. I'm not sure if I see the two together, but you could probably sell me on it.

Also in fanboy casting news via IGN, Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock, From Hell) will play Dr. Jekyll in the film version of Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He joins Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain, Stuart Townsend as Dorian Gray, Shane West as Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer?!), and, possibly, Monica Bellucci as Mina Harker.

Historian Jack Rakove (and these people) question Ashcroft's view of the Second Amendment.

Many, many Episode 2 reviews have been released, and almost all of them are pretty ho-hum. Then again, everyone says it's better than Phantom Menace, so we'll see. My expectations are pretty low at this point.

Berkeley's adventures in the Big City continue. Fresh after recovering from the pit bull bite described last month (4/15), Berk decided he wanted to try bungee-jumping. We were passing over the bridge to the right here (Ramble Arch in Central Park) when he took a leap over the stone wall. (I assume this wasn't a cry for help, but rather that he thought there was a plane he could walk on on the other side of the wall.) At any rate, I managed to stop the retractable leash before he picked up enough speed to hang himself, then lower him down until he could drop safely. And, somehow he navigated the middle ground between neck-snapping and leg-breaking and landed remarkably unharmed. (In fact, he looked like he wanted to do it again.) Worse damage was probably done to the gaggle of small children below who began screaming at the flailing, suicidal sheltie careening through the air.

A requiem for the victimless economy.

Under the principle of not keeping all your eggs in one basket, NASA looks for life-friendly planets.

Death Star, indeed. Guess what, folks? Energy companies are shady. Enron documents reveal a smoking gun in the California power crisis.

The Drug War Clock, via Footprints. See where your tax dollars are going, a second at a time.

Day of Defeat 2.1 has been released, featuring the return of Koln and Cherbourg (from 1.3). If you're into online FPS gaming (or WWII history) at all, you should definitely check this out.

The Gallerie l'Arte du'Tolkien, featuring works such as Vincent Van Gogh's Gandalf at Isengard and Renee Magritte's Stars at Varda. Spoilers for those who haven't read the trilogy.

5/7/02 - The World RPS Society (Via Breaching the Web.) Without a doubt the best means of arbitration going.

More Civ 3 on the way. Might as well just go ahead and write off six weeks of my life right now.

A panel finds what most visitors already know. The Smithsonian American History museum needs a makeover. Let's face it, Mr. Roger's sweater just ain't gonna cut it anymore.

Senator John Edwards tests the tax cut repeal waters on Meet the Press.

Pepsi Blue? Hope it's better than Crystal Pepsi.

Will Ferrell leaves SNL. Might be time for another complete revamp.

The Einstein files - Albert Einstein joins the swollen ranks of people spied on by J. Edgar.

Surprise, surprise. Ashcroft reverses decades of Justice Dept. policy on the Second Amendment.

The never-ending tour continues...Bob Dylan announces his August dates in US and Canada.

Some unconfirmed Farscape season 4 spoilers. We've met the two on the right, but who's the redhead? All I know is the new big bad in the middle really couldn't look any more like Servalan.

Time offers pictures and spoiler-filled commentary for the next two Matrix films.

From Cinescape, Fincher's on for MI:3, and Doc Ock looks to be hunting the wallcraller in Spiderman 2. (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, anyone?) As for the original Spidey, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, Sam Raimi and Willem Defoe screwed up the Green Goblin pretty severely, but the take on Peter Parker's origin was basically perfect. And it was nice to see so many classic comic poses thrown in, from hanging upside down to (Spoilers: Highlight to Reveal) Spidey losing half his mask, which seemed to happen every few issues or so. The spider-sense scene and the final montage were great fun too. All in all, an excellent summer film, better than any I can remember from the past two miserable summer seasons. And, while box office makes for a lousy indicator of worth, I'm quite glad the webhead beat the stuffing out of the DOA Harry Potter film and the stale Mummy flicks.

It begins. The RNC (and the California Democrats) challenge the soft money ban in McCain-Feingold.

The Two Towers preview trailer. Still as flickery as the version I posted a month ago, but still worth downloading if you haven't gotten to it yet. May it be a light for you, when all other lights have gone out.

5/3/02 - Kidd took over Millertime in the best NBA playoff game so far. Ah, it always brings a smile to my face (and those of most other Knicks fans, I'd suspect) to see Reggie get eliminated from the playoffs.

Tom Hanks and Uma Thurman get goofy for upcoming films, Stephen Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill respectively.

Face it, tiger, you hit the jackpot. Sam Raimi's Spiderman (and the summer movie season) opens today.

Also attached to film about funny red and blue bug man is teaser for Hulk. Hulk smash!

5/1/02 - Remote-controlled rats...was that the secret of NIMH? This technology may work on lab rats, but let's see how it does on the homegrown NYC behemoths. Then I'll be impressed.

The official (and recently revamped) Star Wars site posts all their Episode II ads. Some new footage interspersed among them, featuring all-new wooden dialogue. Y'know, I never thought I'd be this underwhelmed with only two weeks to go.

Hubble 2.0 shows off the goods (Via Lotta.)

NASA looks at new shuttle ideas.

"Innocent fun?" What a freak show.

This week at Slate, James Fallows and Ralph Nader share the breakfast table.

Also in the 2000 also-ran dept., Lieberman discusses 2004.

Yaoza! The best Chinese basketball player ever (and the Knicks' dream pick) wows the NBA at his first official workout.

And Yao Ming wasn't the only Chinese fellow getting the once-over today. Dubya met with Hu Jintao, the Chinese heir apparent.

May Day Mayday! Caught a lousy break this morning, when the researching/ghostwriting job I've been on hold for for two months fell through, meaning that (a) I now have to scramble like mad to find alternate sources of remuneration and (b) more than likely, I'm going to have to work more than one job to get by. The summer is now officially busted. Ah well, I guess living la vida ramen is an integral part of the grad school experience.

4/28/02 - Hmmm...well, this might be trouble. (Via Looka.)

Weblogs hit NBC - By sheer happenstance, I caught the Law and Order: Criminal Intent season finale, and it was definitely based on the Kaycee imbroglio. Quite bizarre. No worries, though...Vincent D'Onofrio, using his particular blend of ESP and "Oh, just one more thing" detective intuition, got to the bottom of it all much faster than the blog nation did.

On another strange programming note, the NBC affiliate here inexplicably used the same voiceover guy from the Miller High Life ads to push their in-depth news special on priestly pedophilia. Jarring, to say the least.

Columbia gets the Dinkins papers.

"Without Sanctuary," the noted lynching exhibit that opened in New York two years ago after Atlanta balked, returns to the scene of the crime.

Taking a lesson from Bradley's 2000 primary thrashing in Iowa, Dem hopefuls keep silent on Ethanol.

The LA Times remembers the riots ten years later.

My friend Mark tests his poker sense against the Sports Guy.

In a strange rash of celebrity car crashes, Left-Eye and Lebed pass on. If I were Lenny Kravitz, Lenny Wilkens, or Leo DiCaprio, I'd be worried.

The Green Party makes a push in Massachusetts. To paraphrase Frank, If they can't make it there, they can't make it anywhere.

The NRA takes credit for Dubya's win. Yeah, I'll buy that.

With Mark Shuttleworth in orbit, the queue lines up for space tourist #3. If I had the cash, I'd be there.

Spin City? Karen Hughes' possible replacement, 30-year-old Daniel Bartlett, looks to be Stephanopoulos redux.

4/25/02 - Hulk smash!

Booyah. Lake Effect returns.

Is there a fatal flaw in McCain-Feingold? Mickey Kaus thinks so, and is exceedingly proud of himself for having discovered it.

Whoa. I was in a class when this happened downtown, and had no sense of it until I came home and got online.

In Washington, as you might expect, imitation may not be the sincerest form of flattery. My feeling is, if the GOP is scoring their press conferences to Milli Vanilli, they're getting desperate.

Billy Bob Thornton and Geoffrey Rush join Intolerable Cruelty (with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones), the Coen Brothers' next.

True to its history of being used for evil purposes, the One Ring bails out AOL-TW.

Showtime at the Apollo. I actually passed this on my way home from the subway last night and wondered what was going on. I dunno...the memory of Gore doing his "Mr. Black People"-schtick (a la Jerry Maguire) at the Apollo Gore-Bradley debate still rankles.

The Episode II "Across the Stars" video. If you don't cringe during that lame, stilted Mouse cameo at the beginning, you're a better man than I.

I know I've been stealing a lot of links from Quiddity lately (in this case, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), but this is pretty cool. You can now play Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide online. I was most emphatically an Infocom kid growing up. I definitely used to nitfol the occasional cube and follow George after the will, and I was there when Floyd made the ultimate sacrifice. In the case of Hitchhiker's, I spent entirely too much time trying to get past that frelling know-it-all door on the Heart of Gold...Hint: It helps to have no tea. Almost two years ago, I spent $21 bucks to download all the games online, and it's still paying dividends. Along with replaying all the old classics (My favorites are still a toss-up between Trinity and the Enchanter trilogy), there're a few I never played back in the day (For example, Sherlock Holmes and the Riddle of the Crown Jewels, which kept me busy for much of March.) You can also download a number of them for your Palm Pilot.

As if the weather weren't bad enough. Michigan guts the Fourth Amendment.

4/24/02 - Cannes announces its 2002 lineup, which includes entries by Paul Thomas Anderson (bleah) and David Cronenberg.

While the NBA playoffs have been going swimmingly so far (four 1-1 splits to date), a definite low point was Detroit booing the Canadian anthem. Have a modicum of class, people...and save that heckling for when Kobe comes to town.

Robert Kuttner argues against a Gore candidacy.

Political pollsters make their midterm predictions.

In related news, Bush sets up for a fight in Daschle's home state.

Will playwright (and Brazil cowriter) Tom Stoppard pen Indy 4? Interesting...Also in the Cinescape fanboy dept., Blade 3 starts, Episode IV revisions are confirmed, and Fellowship does well by MTV.

Weimar France. Not a good scene.

Karen Hughes leaves the White House...well, ain't that just a crying shame.

Glimpses of power - More of the LBJ tapes are released (as is the new volume by Robert Caro), and celebrities remember Nixon.

Happy belated birthday to my sister Tessa, who turned 15 yesterday.

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