Sunday, December 31, 2006

Leave the Cannoli, Take the DVD

Last night I watched THE GODFATHER on DVD. I've seen the movie before, on cable TV, and in bits and pieces; and frankly, when I first saw it, I was too young to understand it much beyond the sex and violence. This time, I got to see a nice quality print, in widescreen, on a big TV, so it was a rough analogue to watching it on the big screen.

I was struck by how much of a sea change it was in cinema. I can't imagine a movie like this being made in any decade before the seventies; and the look and feeling of it is mirrored in many subsequent films and TV series. An important aspect of the movie is that Coppola and his crew made everything look so damn good. That's probably why mass audiences were willing to put up with the ugliness, in regard to both violence and human nature. That, and America's everlasting love of its monsters.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wi-Fi Watering Hole Wandering

I'm currently writing this post from Cafe Balcony, one of my favorite wi-fi watering holes, located in Santa Monica. I'm sitting in a slightly-uncomfortable chair at a slightly-too-small marble -topped table in the window, savoring a nonfat green tea latte and clicking away.

Why do I like WFWHs? They allow me to perform computer-required tasks -- both work-related and entertainment-related (like this post) -- but let me get out of the house to do them. Plus, the people-watching can be fun.

To help fellow WFWH fans, I've added a wi-fi hotspot directory at the bottom of my blog. If you're on a laptop, you can insert your location and find the WFWH's in the vicinity.

I was tempted to add my tips for creating a superior WFWH. But the folks at JiWire have published this article, which echoes most of my recommendations. One thing I'd add: I am turned off by signs that set forth time restrictions on wi-fi use, or those that ask users to spend a certain amount for food or drink for every hour that they are present. The reason to offer wi-fi is to encourage folks to set at your establishment long-term, with the idea that while they're there they will buy food and beverages. If you have a problem with folks lingering, perhaps you shouldn't offer wi-fi.

The Silver Screen

Fox's teaser trailer for FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER is online. I am well pleased.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Notable passings recently:

-- Gerald Ford (today). I didn't grow up with a huge respect for the presidency. Part of that was growing up in a Democratic house while Nixon and then Ford dominated it. (I was too young to really perceive Johnson, who was president when I was born.) I certainly had little cause to respect Ford, who, along with his vice-president Nelson Rockefeller, were the first un-elected presidential duo in history. Nor did he quite distinguish himself in retirement; he had a golf tournament named after him, and his wife's clinic made more of a splash than he did. Still, he was president.

-- James Brown (yesterday). An example of how those who make great art are also those capable of despicable acts -- in particular, his domestic violence and his armed rampage. But he made music that captured joy and fire and pride and fun.

-- Shirley Walker (back on November 30, but her obituary appeared today): Not as well known as the first two, but certainly important. She was a pioneering female composer who toiled in the all-man's-land of action scores. She orchestrated Danny Elfman's comic-book scores (Batman, Dick Tracy), and then moved on to craft and supervise the fantastic scores for Batman: The Animated Series and the other series it spawned in the '90's. Her booming, minor-key and heroic scores for those series mirrored the noir/deco mood and look of the art.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Surfing in Silver

When TERMINATOR 2 came out in the early '90's, it was obvious to comic book fans that the technology used to create the liquid-metal T-1000 would likely be used one day to replicate one of Jack Kirby's most visually striking creations: The Silver Surfer. This weekend, the teaser trailer for FANTASTIC FOUR: THE RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER is playing in theatres with NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM; and the image above, from the movie, makes evident that the movie's version of Norrin Radd is indeed the descendant of the T-1000.

Although the comics have always described the Surfer as wearing a silver-metal coating, the comics have been inconsistent on depicting him that way. Kirby drew him as sort of a gun-metal color, rather than with a mirror-silver finish; he had a metallic glint, but was not reflective. And John Buscema, who drew him in his late-sixties-early-seventies series (which, as the panels above show, depicted him as the universe's most philosophical whiner), essentially drew him as high-gloss white. Only when the Surfer's series was resurrected in the mid-eighties, by the team of writer Steve Engelhart and artist Marshall Rogers, did Rogers finally draw the Surfer as shiny silver.

As I blogged last year, I liked the first FF movie (though many didn't), and based on the trailer description I'm looking forward to this sequel.

The images above are copyrighted by Marvel Entertainment.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holidays Can be Happy

A recent "Character Counts" commentary by Michael Josephson echoes some of my thoughts about those who rage about the greeting "Happy Holidays" as if it is a knife thrusting at the heart of Christmas. Josephson notes he received militant letters from readers when he signed a recent mass e-mail, "Happy Holidays."

"One militant note said: 'This is the Christmas season, not the Holiday season' and closed by wishing me a Merry Christmas.

"In my reply, I accepted his Christmas wish with grace and gratitude, but I pointed out that though Christians own Christmas, they don’t own December. Since I and my family celebrate Hanukkah during this same period, wishing me a Happy Hanukkah would have been even more appreciated.

"I agree with concerns that the true meaning of Christmas is often diluted and demeaned in a commercialized fervor to celebrate giving and getting gifts. It’s disgraceful when Santa and his bag of toys play a more prominent role than Jesus and his teachings.

"This troubling trend, however, isn’t caused by using a generic holiday greeting, especially when it’s intended to be inclusive and respectful of a diverse audience. And using moral coercion to induce everyone to wish everyone else a Merry Christmas would only transform the greeting into a hollow, insincere ritual.

"Among Christianity’s great gifts to the world is the Christmas spirit, a way of thinking and being that reflects transcendent values taught by Jesus, especially love, unity, acceptance, and forgiveness. These values uplift and inspire Christians and non-Christians to care more for others and live better lives. We shouldn’t allow this spirit to be hijacked in a misguided zeal for orthodoxy."

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Animating Actor

When a reunion special for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" ran a couple of years ago, I was nonplussed by a short segment where Rob Petrie showed off to his wife a silly computer animation of Dick Van Dyke dancing. It was the sort of story-stopping cute bit that I generally loathe. It had nothing to do with the character or the show, and I couldn't figure out why they would include it.

Well, in this sidebar to the (negative) review of Van Dyke's new movie, "Night at the Museum," the explanation becomes clear: Dick Van Dyke himself created the animation. Turns out that the actor has a fascination with animation and special effects that stretches back to "Mary Poppins"; and as a hobby he creates computer animation -- including segments of a younger version of himself dancing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Riverdale Makeover

Archie Comics has been experimenting with the house style it's used to draw its teen characters for, oh, about the last 50 years. (The Archie comics had a different look in the '40's.) It recently published the adventures of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in a pseudo-manga style. Now it has recruited Steve Butler, super-hero artist, to draw slightly more realistic versions of the dual goddesses of the Archie pantheon, Betty and Veronica.

Frankly, I don't see much purpose in it. The Archie line is one of the few lines to sell steadily from the "Golden Age" of comics through the present -- even seizing the most valuable real estate for a periodical, the rack by the checkout in supermarkets, where a parent can easily grab an Archie digest to quiet a squalling kid. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

ME Hannah-Barbara-Colored Memories

Starting before the death of Joseph Barbara (of Hannah-Barbara fame) earlier this week, and intensifying afterward, Mark Evanier has been posting memories on his blog of Barbara -- of the man himself, of Evanier's experiences working at H-B, and of young Evanier's experiences with early H-B shows. Here's an especially evocative memory of watching the first episode of THE JETSONS on a neighbor's color TV set.

Hallow, Hallow

The title of the final Harry Potter book has been revealed: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.

Since this book will likely tug along with it the combined readership of all the previous HP novels, it will likely be one of the best-selling books ever, propelling its author -- already a billionaire -- into another stratosphere of wealth.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Th-th-that's Propaganda, Folks!

I am fascinated by the propaganda animated shorts that Warner Brothers Studios turned out solely for U.S. Armed Forces consumption during World War II. These are like weird dream versions of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons -- you have the same directors, the same gags, the same voices (Mel Blanc and others) -- but you also get swearing, sex and bathroom humor. Mark Evanier has been featuring some of the PRIVATE SNAFU cartoons on his blog, and these have been available on home video (albeit not-well-publicized home video) pretty much since home video began. But here, he features a MR. HOOK short, the parallel series made for the Navy. Purportedly, Dr. Seuss was involved in writing the PRIVATE SNAFU cartoons, and Hank Ketchum (later known for DENNIS THE MENACE) worked on the Mr. Hook ones.

Warning: For those not up on their history, this short came out while the U.S. was at war with Japan; and racial stereotypes of Japanese people were not only acceptable, but a mark of patriotism. Thus, this cartoon features quite blatant and offensive stereotypes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Itunes Hosannas and Dirges?

Two stories augering the future of the Itunes online music service -- one positive, one negative.

On the positive side, Fortune Magazine reports that Apple may be on the verge of obtaining the holy grail for a music service: The Beatles catalog. (Of course, Apple Computers and Apple Corps. would have to work out that chronic litigation between them over the Apple business name.)

On the negative side, conflicting stories about the volume of downloads from Itunes in 2006 caused turmoil with Apple stock. One analyst said that the number of downloads dipped 65% this year from last. Other analysts quickly jumped in and opined that Itunes had far more downloads in this last quarter than the same time last year.

In any event, Itunes still remains the juggernaut of the music industry today -- tied into the Ipod, with its dominance of the MP3-player market.

The Royale Treatment

I had intended to read CASINO ROYALE, Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, before watching the movie version that came out last month. I didn't succeed, but I did pick up and read the book after seeing the movie.

A good chunk of the book made it into the movie, which is unusual in light of the later Fleming adaptations (like THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) which only retained the title, and sometimes characters, from the source material. The major additions were the Bond-as-neophyte subplot, the update from the cold war to the war against terror, and the action sequences. In the novel, Bond doesn't beat anyone up. He survives an assassination attempt only because the attempt self-destructs (literally) through incompetence; he gets out of another tight spot basically by falling on his opponent; and the one time he tries to fight someone, he fairly quickly gets his Union Jack kicked.

Another update was the change of the card game from Baccarat to Texas Hold-em Poker. The change is predictable, in part because of Hold-em's insane popularity these days, and in part because explaining Baccarat might take the audience out of the picture (although the novel provides a fairly compact, comprehensible explanation of the game's simple rules). But Baccarat, as Amy commented to me, is the perfect game for spies, because faces are meaningless.

The scene that is most directly taken from the novel is the torture scene, which had movie critics whining that it was too upsetting for a PG-13 movie. (Like a torture scene isn't supposed to be upsetting.) Bond's witty-under-pressure repartee is unique to the movie, however; in the book, Bond doesn't say much during torture except the occasional screams of pain.

Parallel-World THUNDERBALL Titles

THUNDERBALL was the James Bond movie released the year I was born (1965). It was the first Bond movie to feature the trademark opening titles, with silhouettes of nude women performing graceful ballets and gymnastic routines based on the movie's theme (here, the movie's underwater-battle climax).

The movie was released with Tom Jones singing the swaggering opening theme. But the theme originally intended for the opening titles was a James Barry written theme called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" -- named after the Japanese nickname for Bond -- sung by Dionne Warwick. The main titles were synched to that song, and the melody reappears as a motif throughout the movie's score. But the song itself is nowhere to be found in the movie. (It has been released on one or more anthologies of Bond music.)

Both songs have the same basic message: how cool Bond is. MKKBB is -- as you might imagine -- more slinky about it.

MKKBB has some clever lyrics, but does feature one of those strained attempts at rhyme that always hit a false note with me: "He'll soothe you like vanilla/The gentleman's a killah." Sort of like the Turtles rhyming "et cetera" and "bettah" in "Eleanor Really," or Sting rhyming "jail ya" and "failure" in "Spirits in the Material World."

Somebody with too much time on their hands has edited MKKBB into the THUNDERBALL main titles. The results are below.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Penny-Wise and Hobbit-Foolish

As you'll recall, Peter Jackson's movie versions of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy made mountains of money, swept the Oscars for the last film, and will probably continue generating capital via DVDs for as long as people watch movies. Those who know the source material will also recall that there is a prequel, THE HOBBIT, which has been adapted to the stage and to an animated special, but which is still ripe to be translated into film. The ideal situation would be for Jackson to make a HOBBIT film, with Ian McKellan as Gandalf and some other members of the LOTR cast who are in the earlier story, and make everyone involved a dragon's hoard more money.

But alas, pending litigation looks to prevent it. Jackson and New Line pictures are in the courts, with Jackson disputing the cut of merchandising ducats paid him and seeking an accounting. New Line purportedly refuses, although the suit's been through an attempt at mediation. Meanwhile, New Line's option on the property is set to expire around 2008, so if the company doesn't make a movie it will forever lose out.

Logically, New Line should pay Jackson the money he seeks -- regardless of whether it thinks it will ultimately prevail -- so that it can get Jackson working on a movie that will make it far more money. There is no incentive for Jackson to back down; he may want to make this one, but if he doesn't he's got the original trilogy and KING KONG too. And although he may have enough money now to buy all of New Zealand and part of Antarctica, I can see him sticking to his guns if he believes New Line went back on a deal.

So the question is which will win out in the eternal battle of he two strongest motivating forces in show biz --pride and greed.

Car-veat Emptor

Cousin Sam Barer's blog FOUR WHEEL DRIFT offers a comprehensive guide to shopping for a new vehicle.

Yet Another Family Business

Various cousins have commented in their blogs recently that the "family businesses" for my family include law, writing, and scrap metal. Apparently a burgeoning addition is the rag trade -- er, the garment industry. Cousin Linda Woods's "I Am Art" shirts have become trendy among gluestick users nationwide; and now her brother Tod has struck back with his own line of shirts, tops, and hoodies. All use a portmanteau he coined that merges an Anglo-Saxon word that begins with "F" and a currently-frowned-upon term for those with an adult IQ of 70 or below. Since I generally don't use such words in this blog without substituting inane, futile asterisks for internal letters, I won't repeat the word here; but if you don't mind being barred from Carrow's and Chuck E. Cheese restaurants nationwide, you might want to buy one -- or gift one to a friend who isn't easily offended (or one you want to offend).

Mart Nodell, R.I.P.

A comic book creator who came up with one of the best superhero concepts in history has passed away at the age of 91.

Back in the '40's, Mart Nodell hit on the concept of a hero who had a magic ring that generated a light beam that could do just about everything. Since this was the age of electronics, the mystic ring was recharged with a mystic battery -- in the shape of a green lantern. He incongruously clad his blond hero in a red tunic, and called him Green Lantern.

About 15 years later, editor Julius Schwartz, artist Gil Kane, and writer John Broome would retool and streamline the character, introducing a more science-fiction based Green Lantern (this time in a green-and-grey suit) modeled after the E.E. Smith LENSMAN novels. Via DC's then-popular parallel-world scheme (in which the adventures of DC's 1940's heroes took place on an alternate earth, Earth-2), the two Green Lanterns often teamed up.

Between the two of them, these heroes must have had thousands of kids donning cheap vending-machine rings, touching them to batteries, and uttering sacred oaths -- wishing that they could gain the power to make their dreams reality cast in emerald light.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It Was the Weekend that Was

Another lazy weekend.

On Friday, Amy was working late, so I headed over to Santa Monica's Unurban Coffee House to watch and listen to Open Mic Night. Friday nights at the Unurban are one of the best entertainment deals in town. For no cover charge (except a couple bucks for a drink or a brownie) you get to hear an eclectic night full of surprisingly talented performers. Within the space of a couple hours, I heard not only the stereotypical skinny blonde 20-something guitar strummers, but also 60-something blues artists, a string quartet of guitars and mandolins, a country-western singer who kept singing about her friends ("Oh yes, he was a friend of miiine . . . "), and two young women singing Japanese songs in perfect harmony.

On Saturday, after I missed the UCLA-USC game on TV (I couldn't stand to see my team creamed once again. Little did I know . . . .) we scored passes to an event at UCLA: "Marvel Then and Now," an onstage conversation between filmmaker/comics writer Kevin Smith, Marvel legend Stan Lee, and current Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, with cameos from BET head/comics writer Reggie Hudlen and X-Men movie producer Tom DeSanto. Smith was as scatological as always ("Only a bunch of f***in' comics nerds," he greeted us, "would come see this on the night of the biggest f***in' game of the year"); Stan was energetic, if a bit confused (unable to see in the spotlights, he would face Smith when Quesada was talking, and vice versa); and Quesada unfortunately found that his verbal talents could not match the others.

On Sunday, we drove up to Santa Maria to attend a holiday party held by friends. We stayed at the ravishingly beautiful Historic Santa Maria Inn. Unfortunately, the Inn's service was not the equivalent of its looks. We were awakened at around 1 a.m. by the sound of a key in the lock, followed by a loud pounding on the door. It turned out that was a security guard; according to the front desk, the staff had somehow listed the room they rented us as "empty." We woke up quite bleary-eyed that morning for our drive back to LA.

Los in Los Angeles

Our photos from the 2006 Loscon (held over Thanksgiving Weekend) are up. Here's one of them: A photo of master comics artist Bernie Wrightson holding a piece from my collection -- a page of his pencils from the early '70's SWAMP THING comic book.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dave Cockrum, R.I.P

A perusal of the Web this evening brought the sad news that comic book creator Dave Cockrum passed away in his sleep this morning.

Cockrum was born in Pendleton, Oregon, not far from my hometown of Walla Walla, Washington. Cockrum first came to fans' attention in the early seventies, when he drew the teen superhero team comic LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. In the process, he designed new costumes and looks for many of the characters; and some of those costumes can be seen on the Sat-Am animated LEGION series on the CW these days. But his biggest claim to fame -- and the one that eventually made several folks in both New York and Hollywood much richer -- was co-creating THE NEW X-MEN with writer Len Wein and editor Roy Thomas, just over 30 years ago. Cockrum created the visuals for such characters as Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Phoenix. He drew the series from 1975 to 1977 (collaborating with writer Chris Claremont after Wein left); and then, after fan-favorite penciller John Byrne left, did a second stint from 1981-1983. His innovative, exciting, and fun style will be missed.

San Francisco: Ghosts and Story

From the 15th to the 17th, I was in San Francisco for a work-related conference. At the conference, I was lucky enough to attend a keynote speech given by Story Musgrave. Musgrave must be one of the most accomplished human beings alive, reminiscent of fictional heroes like Doc Savage or Buckaroo Banzai. How do you match a fellow who has advanced degrees ranging from medicine to literary criticism, and yet never finished high school? How about an astronaut who is the only man to have flown on all five space shuttles; an engineer who designed key aspects of shuttle equipment and the Hubble Telescope; a mechanic who actually changed the mirror in Hubble, in orbit; a poet and a professional landscaper? A meeting with him is guaranteed to make you feel somewhat inadequate about your own accomplishments.

I also participated in a fun "ghost hunt" tour of Pacific Heights, which started from the amazing Queen Anne Hotel. The hotel is decked out in Victorian decor (though not completely authentic; I don't think they had animated holiday statues of children in that era). Led by a chatty tour guide who wore a leather Van Helsing type duster and a top hat (and who also practiced a little sleight of hand along the way), the tour was a fun way to see a city that I lived in for three years. (I must say that the Mark Hopkins Hotel, where I stayed during the conference, offered a far nicer view of the city than my three years in the Tenderloin.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

When Black Friday Comes

Since I live within walking distance of a SoCal mall, I dropped by this morning to witness the "Black Friday" orgy of consumerism. I got over there at 9:45 a.m., by which time the initial frenzy appeared to be over. I saw a lot of deals that made me reach for my wallet, then stop and think: "Do I really need this? Does anyone I know really need this? Where would I put it?" One purchase I could not resist: boxed sets of the MONK TV series for about $16 each at Suncoast, marked down from $60 each. I walked away with the first four seasons. (Not that I'm likely to watch them any sooner than our boxed sets of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, or the other DVDs sitting around our collection waiting to be watched . . . .)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fictional Funds

Forbes magazine has promulgated its annual list of the top 15 richest fictional characters. Number one is that paternal embodiment of the military-industrial complex, Daddy Warbucks. Other top folks include Mr. Burns from the Simpsons (#2), Uncle Scrooge McDuck (#3), real estate magnate and SEC nemesis Mr. Monopoly (#6), comic book tycoons Bruce Wayne (#7) and Tony Stark (#8), and new member Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria, familiar to all recipients of e-mail spam (#9). Lucius Malfoy, Harry Potter's foe, has advanced to #12 as increasing gold prices have benefitted his galleon holdings.

Happy Thanksgiving

As we rise with a groan from our groaning boards, let's give thanks for the food we have, the good things in our lives, and the good things to come.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Placement -- Product Placement

We saw CASINO ROYALE yesterday afternoon at The Bridge. Overall, I really enjoyed it. The action sequences were sharp (particularly the first chase, which brought to mind the agile athleticism of the best Jackie Chan routines), the "origin" touches were effective (my favorite was the use of the trademark "down the gun barrel" shot in the pre-credit sequence), and Daniel Craig provided electric charisma as Bond. The romance aspects fell flat for me, alas.

But the most distracting aspect of the movie was the rampant product placement. CR was the first Bond movie made by Sony (and possibly the last, as it's likely to lose its controlling interest in MGM/UA), and the movie apparently takes place in a world where everyone uses Sony computers, Sony laptops, Sony cameras, and Sony electronic equipment. (Considering that the movie debuted the same day as the Playstation 3, I wouldn't have been surprised if Bond had challenged Le Chiffre to a few video games. "You're the best Madden player on the service, 007 . . . .")

The worst was the in-movie commercial for Bond's Omega watch. ("Your watch. Rolex?" "Omega." "Beautiful.") Product placement is nothing new for Bond movies -- GOLDFINGER moved a lot of Aston-Martin DB5s, and subsequent movies plugged everything from Playboy to BMWs. But in this movie, the placement is exactly the sort of "blunt instrument" M accuses Bond of being.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Sin of the Rings

Those who saw Elijah Wood in "Sin City" might have wondered if this is what too much exposure to The One Ring would do to an actor.

The linked video takes that thought one step further.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Too Much Air in the Cappucino?

According to this article in Fortune Magazine, Starbucks' stock may be trading at a Venti price despite a Doppo value. Apparently, following General Accounting Principles, 'Bucks exempts the cost of its stores' leases from the debt portion of the balance sheet. Those add up to $2.7 billion, or 10% of the company's net worth. They're probably not in actual trouble (at least as long as they avoid Krispy Kreme type expansion mistakes), but this news might make investors wake up and, well, you know . . . .

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Comic Book Angle on Jack Palance

Although yesterday's LA Times carried a fine obituary for Jack Palance, it did not mention Mr. Palance's importance to comic books of the 1970's. Specifically, two prominent comic book villains were visually modeled on Mr. Palance.

I was aware that Palance's portrayal of Dracula in a TV movie inspired artist Gene Colan's portrayal of the vampire in the long-running comic book "Tomb of Dracula." But Jack Kirby scholar Mark Evanier's blog yesterday revealed that comics great Jack Kirby based the visage of the New Gods baddie, Darkseid, on Palance's face.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And on a Lighter Note -- Kitties!

No Longer Kids -- But Still All Right

Last night, Amy and I experienced a slice of rock-and-roll heaven when we took the shuttle bus up to the Hollywood Bowl and spent a couple of hours with The Who. It was simply one of the best concerts I've ever attended.

True, there's a certain amount of spectacle appeal to watching an over-sixty Pete Townshend still windmilling his guitar and doing the occasional scissor-kick; or the similarly-aged Roger Daltrey whirling his mic cord like a nunchaku and, yes, giving that primal scream near the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again." (I wondered how he could sing that song for 30+ years and still have vocal cords left.) But that wasn't what brought the crowd to its feet again and again; it was the consumate skill of two men who have been doing what they do about as well as it can be done, and have been doing it long enough to draw on a reservoir of experience and wisdom.

One doubts that a younger Townshend could -- without a scrap of sarcasm -- explain how the title music of television shows had become comforting to him, and then sing an ode to Mike Post, composer of the theme to Hill Street Blues and innumerable other shows. (He threw in a tossed-off reference to CSI -- apt since they performed, at various times during the show, the themes to all three CSI series.)

This show was different from those in the last couple of decades, because as posted below The Who came out with a new album, THE ENDLESS WIRE, last week, and they performed a good chunk of the songs from it -- including the (what else) mini-opera from would have been Side 2 had it been an LP. The new songs sounded great, but several in the crowd were less than receptive to them -- during one of them, a boor near me shouted out, "Play some music!"

Those who came expecting a live version of one of The Who's innumerable greatest hits album did not come away disappointed. They started with one of their earliest hits -- the proto-punk sandpaper guitar riffs of "Can't Explain" -- and worked their way through lots of songs from "My Generation" (oh, the irony!) through "You Better You Bet" and "Eminence Front." (About the only disappointment for me was no songs from QUADROPHRENIA. They had some terrific video backgrounds on screens (a medley from TOMMY was accompanied by scenes of a silver ball flying through the air and gliding through the skylines of New York, Seattle, LA, and other cities), particularly for the new songs.

Some of the most memorable moments for me, however, were the songs from the new album that just involved Pete accompanying Roger on accoustic guitar. The other band members (which included Ringo's son Zack Starkey on drums, and Pete's brother Simon Townshend on guitar and backing vocals -- not to mention their keyboard tech, who stepped in at the last moment to play the boards when the official player had to tend to his sick wife) left the stage; and the entire huge Bowl stage shrunk down to spotlight two old mates who had survived the decades, doing what they did best -- standing side by side, and making wonderful music together.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Shred, Don't Rip

Here's a chilling article about how at least one credit card company believes it is legally obligated to entertain (and, apparently, issue a card to) even a torn-up-and-taped-back-together credit card application. Not to mention how meth-addled junkies obsessively spend their sleepless nights taping together torn-up financial documents for identity theft purposes.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

PMX 2006 photos

My photos from last weekend's Pacific Media Expo 2006 (albeit only Sunday) are up on Photobucket.

The Endless Wire

When the last studio album by The Who came out, vinyl records still dominated music stores, with their gigantic vistas of jacket art; CDs were an audiophile's plaything (if they were yet sold); and DVDs were unheard of -- Laserdiscs were the high-end video of the future.

Now The Who's album "Endless Wire" is being sold either as an ITunes download, or as a CD with a live-performance DVD inserted. Both download and DVD feature a science-fiction like cover with a man made of pixel-like forms climbing a staircase, with birds on one side and pixel-boxes on the other. And with both, the cover art is tiny.

As for the music: Well, it's pretty damn good. There's nothing with the pop hooks that make songs like "Squeezebox," "5:15," "Who Are You," or "Baba O'Reilly" songs that play on radios and TV throughout the decades; but they're at least as good as the non-hit songs on the albums where those songs appeared.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing The Who tomorrow at the Hollywood Bowl.

Laptop Liability

Today's Los Angeles Times has a startling story for folks who travel overseas with laptops: U.S. Customs officials believe they have the right to boot up your laptop, look at every file and photo thereon, seize it, and, yes, prosecute you based on the laptop's contents -- all without warrant, probable cause, or even the reasonable suspicion required for a pat-down search on the street.

According to the article, this erosion of 4th amendment protection is currently being questioned in the central district court here in L.A.

It's true that the 4th amendment search and seizure restrictions have been interpreted to grant border officers more leeway in searches, because of the interest in preventing smuggling (of both inanimate objects and humans) and cross-border contamination. But as the article points out, this is an intrusiveness that goes beyond simply looking inside luggage -- particularly since business laptops can contain proprietary information. And in a balancing test, the importance of searching laptops to interdict contraband is questionable; with the Internet, it's probably easier to move information via e-mail and ftp sites than to load it onto laptops. We'll see how this turns out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Wrist of the Story

Well, the broken bone in my wrist should now be officially healed, according to what the doctor told me. It's been a little over a week since he took the cast off me, and yesterday I stopped wearing the splint. As the photo shows, my wrist is still pretty swollen. I get shots of pain on the left and right sides when I reach in certain ways, or even when I yawn and stretch. Per the doctor, the ligaments in the wrist might take another 3 or 4 months to heal. I'll know I'm healed when I stop getting the zings of pain in the wrist.

The Hidden Goldberg

For a look at author (and cousin) Tod Goldberg that's a bit more serious than his satirical blog, follow the link to an insightful interview at

Saturday, October 28, 2006

LA Coffee

This week, the LA Times food section published a bunch of articles about coffee, including the review of standout local coffeehouses linked above. It includes two of my favorites, wi-fi watering hole Cafe Balcony and Culver City's Conservatory.

Because of a medication I was taking until a few days ago, I couldn't drink any caffeine. Freed of that restriction, I've been hitting some java. This morning I had breakfast at one of the places listed in the article, Cafe Luxxe in Santa Monica. I had a cappucino and an espresso that were unbelievably smooth. The photo is of the cappucino -- one sip down.

Satan Speaks Like the Sub-Mariner

Marvel's "Essential" series is a terrific set of phone-book-sized paperback collections of various series, reprinted in black and white on cheap paper, with the result that a 500 plus page reprint goes for $16.99. One of the most recent volumes features the 1970's adventures of the Satan siblings: Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan, and his sis Satana. Yes, Satan was a Marvel Comics character. (In the 80's, the Reagan era, Marvel got cold feet and announced that this guy was a demon "posing" as Satan; but in these comics he's portrayed as the one and only, Prince of Lies, Morning Star, Nick Scratch, Mephistopheles, etc.) The back story goes that back in the fifties a woman fell for a handsome guy, albeit with pointed ears and arched eyebrows (no, not Leonard Nimoy), married him, and bore him a son and a daughter. Only later did she learn that she was -- dum dum dum -- The Bride of Satan! The site of her hub in all his infernalness drove her instantly insane. Meanwhile, Satan split with the little girl, and the son grew up and studied to be a priest. He eventually discovered his mother's diary and found out he was -- dum dum dum -- The Son of Satan! As with many children of divorces, he had severe father issues, and vowed to oppose Ol' Scratch. This being the mid-seventies, he took up the profession of exorcism, for which he'd wear a "ceremonial garb" of tight pants and a cloak. No shirt. (What an incentive to keep fit. Don't want that Satanic Six-Pack to sag.)

When Satan appeared in the comic, Marvel didn't exactly get subtle. He manifested either as a muscular sillhouette covered with flame lines, a la the Human Torch, or as a muscular bald guy with a bald head and horns. Oh, and he wore a Speedo made of flames. (Sounds like an oath -- "Satan's Flaming Speedo!" Or a comic book title -- "The Savage Speedo of Satan!")

What was most amusing to me was that Marvel's version of Satan tended to talk like another one of its arrogant monarch characters -- Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Thus, Satan has lines like, "No more do you face sniveling demons -- you face SATAN, THE MASTER, PRINCE OF HELL, LORD OF DARKNESS -- you face your DOOM!"

SOS had a long run in Marvel Spotlight, and then was given his own series, which lasted only eight issues. He did better than his sis Satana (who couldn't quite go around bare-chested, but compensated by wearing a leotard with front cut-outs, in the manner that J-Lo would make famous 30 years later), who appeared in a few scattered stories in various places, did bad stuff, developed daddy issues too, and died heroically.

I suspect part of the problem with these characters' long-term prospects was the lack of merchandising opportunity -- not much market for Hellmobiles, or Son of Satan Underoos. (Though I believe Daimon did have a Slurpee cup to himself.) The stories did, however, feature some nice artwork by veterans like Gene Colan, John Romita and Sal Buscema; and stories by such then up and coming writers as Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, and Steve Gerber.

Pirates of the Backyard

Got 20 grand burning a hole in your (very large) pocket? Costco wants to sell you a "pirate-themed club house." It was supposedly built by "thrifty pirates" -- and they'd better be thrifty to afford $18,500 to Costco plus a contractor to unload the thing with a forklift and put it together (including pouring a rebar-reinforced concrete foundation). Costco turns on the hardsell, encouraging homeowners to buy the clubhouse for "curb appeal" whether or not they actually have children.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This is a Dirty Little Neighborhood, Stranger -- And We Like It That Way!

I spent the last three years of the 80's living in the San Francisco neighborhood known as The Tenderloin. No, I wasn't down and out; that's where both my law school (Hastings) and the school housing were located. (It was also adjacent to Van Ness, with the War Memorial Opera House, City Hall, the California Supreme Court, etc. -- and a short walk in another direction would take you to the majestic Ninth Circuit federal building, near the Greyhound station. A walk toward the Embarcadero would bring you to Union Square and the Financial District. Downtown SF is tiny.) Those three years were enough to embitter me against ever living in the foggy city by the bay. Besides the weather (which I did not prefer to sunny SoCal), I had quite enough of a neighborhood of prostitutes, drug dealers, petty criminals, passed-out drunks, singing drunks (loud enough that I could hear them up on the 12th floor -- at 3 a.m.), public urination, aggressive panhandlers who followed people around yelling at them, and mentally ill folks walking around with their equipment exposed. (And that was just near the school!)

Now it turns out that a Tenderloin resident is trying to beautify the area a bit by planting trees -- and angry residents are protesting. Turns out they like the neighborhood seedy. One went so far as to put up "wanted" posters of the would-be beautifier.

I guess even people in Hell can enjoy the dancing flames.

A Hodgepodge of Popular Culture in One Appellate Opinion

Not often do you get a California appellate opinion that mentions anime, comics, a Sega "Dance Dance Revolution" type video game, and "Lady Miss Kier" Kirby, former lead singer of the one-hit-wonder band Deee-Lite. Read all about it in Kirby v. Sega, published today by our own Second District Court of Appeal in L.A.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cast Party, Casting Call -- Write Your Own Stupid Cast Pun Here

Tomorrow, I get the cast I've worn for about 3 weeks off. I then go back to the splint, and start therapy to get my functioning wrist back. My wrist must be sensing its impending freedom, because it's twanging like a guitar string.

The cast has left its mark on our computer hutch's keyboard drawer -- there's a dent in the wrist guard next to the trackball.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Divine MADness

Mark Evanier reports on the Comics Arts Professional Society awards given to two cartoonists whose work will be familiar to anyone who grew up in the sixties through the eighties, Jack Davis and Sergio Aragones. Davis drew the first story in the first issue of MAD magazine; and his work has appeared in advertisements, movie posters, book illustrations, and everywhere a funny illustration would seem appropriate. Aragones, the world's fastest cartoonist, began in MAD a year before I was born; and his work still appears in every issue. That's in addition to his animated cartoons, acting, comic books, etc.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No, This is Not an SNL Skit

Los Angeles area Boy Scouts have the chance to earn an activity badge that was jointly created by the Scouts and the MPAA: The "Respect Copyright" badge.

Coming soon: The "Don't Shoplift" badge and the "Don't Knock Over Liquor Stores" badge.

(I'd post the Associated Press photo here. But that would be a little too ironic.)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Chronicles of Fire

My cousins Linda Woods and Karen Dinino appeared on THE VIEW yesterday, and were utterly charming (albeit often drowned out by Rosie O'Donnell, who was so enthusiastic about their book VISUAL CHRONICLES that she insisted on teaching the "how to" bits about visual journaling herself). Rosie began the segment by insisting that the book "is the only book you need" for scrapbooking. Although she never even mentioned Linda or Karen's last names, her recommendation is bearing fruit; VC is currently #65 on's sales ranking list, and apparently broke into the low 30's a short time ago. That's among all the gazillion books Amazon sells. Sounds like Linda and Karen have a genuine bestseller on the stands.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Christopher Glenn, R.I.P.

Earlier this year, I ran a post about Christopher Glen's retirement from CBS News, and expressed relief that the post wasn't an obituary. Alas, I spoke too soon: Mr. Glenn has passed away from liver cancer.

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of Saturday Morning TV, and fondly remember the IN THE NEWS interstitials Glenn narrated, tiny snippets of current events geared to kids. Glenn did about 5,000 of these segments, over a 15-year period. More recently, he was the voice of CBS Radio's WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP.

We can always use more professionals who can tell us of the world's ills in a soothing manner.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Who Knew

The episode of the new Dr. Who series that aired on Sci Fi Channel Friday night featured two British actors whom I've seen in person. One was Anthony Head, late of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whom we saw (with his family) at a showing of Princess Mononoke at a Santa Monica theatre in the late 90's. The other was Elizabeth Sladen, who played my favorite of the Doctor's "companions," Sarah Jane Smith, back in the mid-seventies. I met Ms. Sladen in 2001 at a signing held at Ambrosia, the science fiction/comics store that was a few blocks from our house until it went out of business last year. Sladen reprised her role as Sarah Jane on the show, albeit as a woman of a certain age, which was certainly bittersweet; she had some wonderful moments with the Doctor (then played by Tom Baker, now in his latest regeneration played by David Tennant) and with his current companion Rose (as Rose's friend Mick put it, "Oh, mate, the missus and the ex. Welcome to every man's worst nightmare! "). This gave us a chance to see what happens to the companions the Doctor leaves behind -- as he must with all companions, since their lives are so much shorter than his -- particularly one whose feelings for him were obviously stronger than friendship.

Oh, and K-9 came back too.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yougle Tube

Google, the company that owns Blogger (this blog's host), has purchased YouTube -- a company until recently housed in an office above a San Mateo Pizzaria -- for an eye-popping $1.65 billion. Apparently one of the keystones for the new relationship has been YouTube's approaches to various copyright holders in an attempt to still the waters of litigation.

YouTube has certainly captured the imagination of Web surfers -- to the degree that even staunch supporters of copyright have posted copyright-infringing snippets on their blogs.

To celebrate the union between Google and You Tube, here is an utterly silly clip of two Asian girls dancing to the tune of my favorite anime TV series, Cat's Eye. Magic-play is dancing.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Fickle Finger of Blame

It didn't take long after Mark Foley's resignation for conservative pundits to theorize -- based on little more than speculation -- that (a) sinister, provocative underage pages lured a poor, innocent congressman into flirting with them; (b) sinister, provocative democratic "operatives" set Foley up, using the pages as bait; or (c) all of the above.

I don't know if anyone has condemned the pages for wearing those shameless Brooks Brothers coats and ties, but that's probably coming soon.

Terror for Tower

A store chain that has been central to the history of rock in Los Angeles, Tower Records, is going out of business. The chain has been in and out of Chapter 11 a couple times in the last few years; in August, major labels stopped shipping to them because of payment problems; and this past week, the company that bought Tower's assets announced plans to close all of the stores and sell the assets to pay off creditors.

I've certainly enjoyed the Tower stores in Westwood, Santa Monica, and particularly Marina Del Rey over the years. (I only went to the iconic store on the Sunset Strip a few times.) The Marina Del Rey store was my favorite place to line up for Ticketmaster-supplied tix to concerts. That's something you just can't do at Itunes or

Harry Potter's Lonely Hearts Club Banned

In this age of war, turmoil, and intolerance, it's almost refreshingly quaint that this person has petitioned the United States Government and the United Nations to ban Harry Potter books. To quote the petitioner:

"But what lurks behind those pages, it more evil then Harry Potter himself. Please help us band harry potter and read some of the comments made by children who have read these dreadful books."

Yep, kids can learn nasty stuff from the Potter books -- like how to proofread, spell, capitalize, and include necessary verbs.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Doodles of the Past

As the saying (and if it isn't one, it should be) goes, I can't draw, but I can doodle. Further, I used to be able to doodle much better than I can now.
Here's one I did about 20 years ago, while I was working at the now-defunct Graphitti comic book store in Westwood. I drew it on the back of a convention flyer.
Not quite in the same league as JFK doodling the word "Vietnam" over and over again (as shown in a recent LA Times article), but it shows what was on my mind my senior year of college.

Mis-spent Advertising Dollars?

Last night, I saw something that flabbergasted me: A TV commercial for Tito's Tacos. For those who don't live in the environs, Tito's is a landmark storefront Mexican restaurant in Culver City which literally has customers swarming the place -- and standing in line -- all day, every day. If there was ever a business that didn't need advertising, it's this one.

Fast Break

A terrific way to break your Yom Kippur fast -- the Monday Lire Dinner at Anna's Italian Restaurant. For $12.95, you get salad, prosciutto with cheese (I gave Amy the prosciutto), chicken marsala with pasta, the best cappucino ice cream I've ever tasted, and an espresso. I usually get the cheaper seafood risotto special ($10.95), but eating shellfish right after Yom Kippur just didn't seem right.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Wi-fi Watering Holes: Interactive Cafe

This cafe (where I am sitting as I post this) is one of the most stylish and attractive wi-fi watering holes I've seen. On Broadway in Santa Monica, a block from the Third Street Promenade and a couple blocks from the beach, this former art gallery features an alfresco patio, round tables with chairs adorned with wrought iron grapes, some large half-oval pleather booths, cases of baked goods and ice cream, a row of pc kiosks in the back, and lots of art -- including an architectual-looking installation on the black ceiling, a gigantic tiffany-style vase, and a Pollack-looking painting that seems to stretch 20 feet across the west wall.

You'd expect haute cuisine in such a setting; but the fare consists of simple sandwiches, salads and soups (plus the expected coffee and espresso bar). There are also shelves of international magazines and greeting cards, which leads me to think this is primarily aimed at tourists and travelers. (It's around the corner from one major hotel, and within walking distance of others.)

Something else this WFWH offers that few do: printers. Two of the PC kiosks offer printer access, for a fee (something like $1.00 for each 10 minutes). There are two printers.

One disadvantage is the lack of (evident) electrical outlets around the tables and booths (although there was an extension cord at the seats near the computer kiosks, with multiple plugs). Otherwise, it's a nice location to grab a sandwich and some high-caffeine drink while getting some work done.

Robert Downey Jr. = Shellhead

Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, may have started out as essentially Howard Hughes with a Clark Gable face; but newly-formed studio Marvel Entertainment may have made an inspired choice for the upcoming Iron Man movie by casting Robert Downey Jr. as ol' Shellhead. (Comics fans may recall Stan Lee's fondness for coming up with nicknames for his characters that included the word "head" -- e.g., Webhead (Spider-Man), Winghead (Captain America), Hornhead (Daredevil). For some reason, though, he never called Thor "Godhead" . . . .)

Stark's original weakness was a piece of shrapnel lodged close to his heart, requiring him to wear his chest armor/iron lung 24 hours a day (fortunately, it could be recharged from wall sockets or car cigarette lighters -- no joke). Eventually, the shrapnel was removed; so to find a new problem for the Golden Avenger, Marvel turned to substance abuse. Beset by stress he couldn't do away with by punching something, Stark turned to the bottle; and he's occasionally relapsed into it since. Substance abuse is definitely something Downey knows about.

The recreation of the "Demon in a Bottle" cover is copyright by Marvel. Downey's picture is probably copyrighted by someone, but I don't know who.

Family View

My cousins Linda Woods and Karen Dinino continue to conquer the world of arts and crafts books. They are scheduled to appear on the weekday morning staple THE VIEW next month.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Hey Kids! Free Comics!

Here's a treat for fans of comics writer/artist Colleen Doran. When she started self-publishing her signature series A DISTANT SOIL (her Aria Press was the third publisher of the material, after WaRP Graphics and Donning/Starblaze), she included a backup prequel story, "Seasons of Spring." After only a couple of installments, she discontinued it. Now, she is reprinting the existing pages of the story on her blog and her Website; and may continue it there. Further, the art looks especially nice on the Web, since it's apparently photographed from her original art.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wi-Fi Watering Hole: Small Town Coffee Company in Kapaa, Hawaii

This was one of two wi-fi coffee places within walking distance of our resort in downtown Kapaa on Kauai; but it was the one that had (a) better drinks; (b) better hours; and (c) free wi-fi.

We never ended up using the wi-fi, because our resort room had a high-speed connection (and later in the vacation my wrist prevented me from picking up the laptop and taking it there); but it was good to know it was there.

In addition to terrific espresso drinks, it featured a "fou fou steamer": Steamed milk with syrup flavoring. I didn't have one, but Amy and Helen did, and pronounced them delicious.

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Plus, the place had that cool bohemian coffee place vibe -- as shown by the floors, carpeted with old Japanese newspapers:

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Wrist Update

I had an MRI of my broken wrist early this morning. This involved my laying on my stomach while the tech manacled my right hand to a sliding board; then being motored around in a tight tube, from my shoulders up, for about 20 minutes, with knocks, loud buzzes, and Star Trek sounds going off around me. (The tech gave me earplugs; but the plug came out of my left ear -- the exposed one. )

Anyway, the good news is the MRI revealed that I had not fractured one of the small bones in my wrist that is hard to heal, as the orthopedist had feared. The bad news is that the fracture I did sustain (to the distal radius) requires that I go to the doctor next week and trade my splint for a cast.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kauai Vacation: The Wrap-up

Here's what happened the rest of the vacation: Tuesday evening, a luau ("Kauai's Best Luau!" -- the official name of the company); Wednesday morning, horseriding (and my nosedive off my horse -- followed by clinic, x-ray, and Long's Drugs); Thursday, a Catamaran ride to the Na Pali Coast (and snorkeling for folks except for me, laid up with the busted flipper); and Friday, my favorite tour: The overpriced, but extremely fun, Kauai Movie Tour -- in which two smart-mouthed guides took us to settings all over the island where movies, tv shows and music videos were filmed, allowing us to see the movie clips on the in-bus monitor as the real thing showed up outside our windows.

The photos from the Na Pali Coast tour aren't here yet -- they were taken with a real film camera. But here's the best of the rest.

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Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
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Part of the koi pond on the grounds of the resort.
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The beach in back of the resort.
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The Hanalei Pier, shown in numerous movies filmed on Kauai. One of the destinations of the Kauai movie tour. Note the splint on my right wrist.
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This (and the next two photos) is the Coconut Palms Resort, where "Blue Hawaii" was filmed. Hurricane Iniki wrecked it in 1992. It's scheduled to be demolished next month, and then rebuilt to original specifications. The Kauai movie tour took us here.
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This beach is where Lee Marvin landed in "Donovan's Reef." Courtesy of the Movie Tour.
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This and the next four photos were taken during our horse ride/hike -- before my fall.
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Me on my horse, Makei, in happier times. Yes, it's a long way from the horse's back to the ground. Fortunately, I fell in tall grass.
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Luau time!

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Shark" Chum

How can a production company and network shell out big bucks to hire James Woods as a star, and Spike Lee to direct the pilot episode -- and yet use a writer who either fails to research, or doesn't care, that:

1. The County of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles are separate governments.

2. The mayor of Los Angeles does not control the DA's office, much less have the power to create an elite prosecution unit within it. The DA controls that office; and the DA answers to the County Board of Supervisors, not the city government.

3. Ergo, ADAs are not city attorneys.

4. Felony prosecutions in California are not entitled "County of Los Angeles v. So-and-so." The State prosecutes felonies. The cases are entitled "The People v. So and so."

5. When felonies are tried downtown, they are generally tried in the Clara Foltz Criminal Courts Building. The courthouse shown in an establishing shot was the Stanley Mosk Courthouse -- which generally tries civil trials. The courtroom shown in the episode did not look like any courtroom I've ever seen in the Mosk courthouse.

6. When a prosecutor asks multiple argumentative questions, defense attorneys generally object-- more than a couple times.

7. A prosecutor who commits such misconduct as bribing bailiffs to obtain inside information about jurors (who somehow, strangely, were chosen before trial) is simply sowing the seeds for reversal on appeal.

8. Lawyers generally, y'know, practice law. There wasn't more than a thimbleful of law in this episode.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kauai Giveth; Kauai Taketh Away

A mishap occurred in our Kauai vacation yesterday, when a delightful horseride/hike resulted in injury to Your Humble Servant. My saddle slipped down one side (due, according to the stable master, to my not being centered -- I knew I shoulda taken those meditation classes); the horse bucked and galloped; and I went airborne. Fortunately, I did not share Christopher Reeve's fate. My only injury was my right wrist, which sustained what the radiologist called a "subtle" fracture of the radius head. I can still type (obviously) but I'm wearing a splint.

Second mishap occurred this morning. I went out on a catamaran with Amy and her sister, Helen (who's staying with us in the condo) to the Na Pali coast (but alas, not to snorkle as planned, due to the wrist). As we raced over the waves, the wind snatched up the baseball cap I bought iin Kona on the Big Island in 1999, and returned it to Hawaiian Islands, albeit the watery portion.

More photos soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chicks, Rainbows, and Sunrises in Kauai

More vacation photos. The sunrise photos were taken earlier this morning. The hen and chicks showed up on our backporch yesterday. The rainbow photo was taken with my cellphone camera on Monday.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Mr. Barer and the Tropical Stack

Two background facts:

-- When I was a kid, my parents went to Hawaii. They brought back a can of coconut syrup, which sat in the fridge for several months. My images of Hawaii were shaped by Hawaii 5-0, pineapple commercials, and that can of coconut syrup. I imagined that Hawaii had to smell of pineapples and coconut syrup.

-- Earlier this summer, I read Lee Goldberg's second MONK novel, MR. MONK GOES TO HAWAII. In the novel, which takes place on Kauai, Monk's assistant Natalie eats macadamia nut pancakes for practically every meal. It strained suspension of disbelief to the breaking point that Natalie would remain the so-slight-she's-almost-not-there blond shown on the TV show after ingesting that many pancakes, but hey, that's artistic license.

Last night, we observed the ritual of grabbing a couple of maitais (at the Olympic Cafe in Kapaa.) This morning, I informed Amy that we had to have some mac-nut pancakes. So we sauntered to the Ono Family diner, and each ordered the tropical stack (mine with bananas, Amy's without). The fully-loaded tropical stack mixes mac nuts, bananas, and coconut into the batter, and tops the stack with each of those treats. Plus, the diner served a hot pitcher of -- yes -- coconut syrup, with shreds floating in it. Holy Frappuchino, that was marvelous. By the time I was done, I was so full of carbs you could bag me, twist-tie me, and put me on the bakery shelf.

Afterward, I went swimming in the pool, unconcerned when a tropical rain started falling. No rain, no rainbows.
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