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Friday, April 20, 2007

Left? Or Right?
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Dept. of It's a Funny World: According to Christopher Hitchens, many of France's Communist Party members have defected -- straight over to Jean-Marie Le Pen's extreme right-wing National Front party. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 20, 2007 | perma-link | (9) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Amazing what miracles a cheapo computer paint program can be made to perform. * CyndiF links to some tasty foodblogs. * Michael Bierut raves about the new typeface documentary "Helvetica," and recalls those long-ago days when civilians knew nothing about fonts. * Alan Little observes how yoga people dress, and thinks yogis need to beware of inexperienced yoga teachers. A lovely -- and sensible -- passage: I've been though a lot of challenges and changes in [the decade during which I've studied yoga], and my yoga practice has been a thread of continuity and sanity through all of them. I've been content and inwardly at peace with myself for the first time ever in my life, largely due to the yoga. Why on earth would I consider trusting my valuable practice time to somebody who hasn't themself been through something at least vaguely similar? * Robert Nagle is one serious fan of sitcoms. * Those addicted-to (or just befuddled by) libertarianism -- and isn't it astonishing how much space libertarianism takes up online? -- won't want to miss this interview with Llewellyn Rockwell. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 20, 2007 | perma-link | (3) comments

A New Class of Writing Tools for the Mac
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- There isn't much that'll prod me into acting all unpleasant and snobby, but a few minutes with Microsoft Word will do the trick. All due respect to those who like it as well as to those who have no choice but to use it, of course. Still: what an unhelpful beast I find it to be. The picky writer in me is beyond-offended. I rise up and say, huffily: "Why, that's not a tool for real writers. It's a program for the creation of" -- patooie -- "business documents." To be fair, my dislike of Word has a lot to do with the word processor category generally. I wrote back here about how much I dislike conventional word processors. (I notice that I cracked a few decent jokes and ventured a couple of potentially-amusing thoughts about writing too.) Short version: I find word processors to be unsatisfying compromises. Half text-slinging tools, half page-layout programs, they aren't particularly good at either task. And Microsoft Word compounds the basic conceptual problem with the usual Microsoft featuritis. God ... Word really does make me turn up my nose. In my previous posting, I extolled a couple of non-word-processor writing tools that I was then finding helpful in a sympathetic-to-real-writing kind of way. That was a few years ago, though, and those tools have since been superseded by yet better writer's tools -- by a whole new class of software, in fact. Since many people may not be aware of these new and newish programs, why not yak about 'em a bit and pass along a few links? My taste in writer's tools has first to do with something very basic and rooted in temperament. For some people, pulling together a piece of to-be-published material is a matter of integrating imagery, graphics, words, and editorial concepts. That's where they start, juggling all those different media elements. Dave Eggers and Chip Kidd, for example, are famous for composing their books -- right from the outset -- in page-layout programs. This approach makes sense for Eggers and Kidd because layout and design are so integral to how they think and work, as well as to what they want to produce. The Wife is someone else who likes seeing her writing in a page-layout sense as she's composing. She says it helps her bring her writing to life. I'm not like that. I'm a words-first kinda guy. Incidentally, this isn't to put people who aren't words-firsty down. I often I wish I shared their kind of talent-set and temperament-set. I love artist's notebooks and sketchbooks, for instance -- they're some of my favorite books. The combo of jotting, sketching, notes-to-self, captions, diary entries, watercolors, etc., can make my head spin in pleasure. I feel like I'm experiencing someone else's perceptual apparatus, and in a nice way. Unfortunately, working in such a way doesn't seem to be in the cards for me. No, when I want to pull together a piece of... posted by Michael at April 20, 2007 | perma-link | (13) comments

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Computer-Writing Bliss
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Here's a great deal on some first-class writing tools: For the rest of today, Mariner Software is selling Avenir and MacJournal together for just $49.95. That's a fabulous price for two programs that I can recommend enthusiastically. MacJournal is a convenient way to maintain diaries and logs: I keep track of exercise in one journal, and of day-to-day activities, such as they are, in another. ("Monday: Blogged some. Tuesday: Blogged some more ...") But MacJournal will support many, many different journals. If you picture it as enabling you to create a bookshelf full of notebooks, you're in the ballpark. Avenir (brilliantly designed and constructed by Todd Ransom) is far more ambitious -- a suite of writing tools sleekly bundled together into one consistent and easy-to-understand environment. It's for determined writers undertaking larger-scaled writing projects: stories, articles, screenplays, books. Stash your research in it, develop your characters in it, fiddle with your outlines, keep heaps of notes, and do the actual writing in it too. (At the end of the process, you'll probably want to export the results to a word processor or page-layout program for final visual styling.) Given the rich array of functions it offers, Avenir is amazingly usable -- I was up and running in about 20 minutes. It's quite a treat to be able to manage an entire writing project in one program, and in one file. Compare that to the way writers usually get by: jumping between multiple programs, clicking between files-within-folders-within-folders ... In any case, writers with sizable projects may find, as I have, that Avenir represents as big a step forward over word processors as word processors did over typewriters. I'll be returning to the topic of writing suites in a bit; there are a number of other good ones out there in addition to Avenir. But I didn't want to let this opportunity at a bargain slip by without letting other people know about it. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 19, 2007 | perma-link | (4) comments

According to Alan Rich ...
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The promising -- and much-needed -- new blog FineArtsLA interviews the classical music critic Alan Rich. At 82, Rich is in a what-have-I-got-to-lose? mood. LA is on its way up, New York ought to tear down Avery Fisher Hall (right on!), academics are too infatuated by Theory, and classical music may only have a few good years left in it. (Link thanks to George Wallace.) Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 19, 2007 | perma-link | (6) comments

For Altman Buffs
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Although the film director Robert Altman died a short while ago, Altman fans have a few new (or new-old, or newish) Altman treats in store anyway. * Altman's 1974 "Thieves Like Us" (from a first-class novel by Edward Anderson) has just become available on DVD. One of the least well-known of Altman's movies from his great '70s period, "Thieves" is small-scale, atmospheric, and gorgeous. (It's also one of my all-time favorite movies.) Although a Depression-era-set gangster movie, in feeling, tone and approach it has more in common with such patient, unwinding-naturally-through-time neorealist works as Jean Renoir's "Toni" and Satyajit Ray's "Pather Panchali" than it does with anything pile-driving and hard-hitting like "Little Caesar" or "Scarface." I once took a young friend to see "Thieves Like Us" at a New York revival in the 1980s; he was amazed that such a quiet, rich, and unhurried movie had ever been made in America. Carradine and Duvall inhabit the rural South The film has always been hard to find. Despite good reviews, it received a very small-scale initial release, and by the 1980s it had been all but forgotten. Over the years a few editions of the movie came and went, barely-noticed, on videocassette. But this is the first time that it has been issued on DVD. (I think it is, anyway. Please correct me if I'm wrong.) Though I'm sorry to see that the disc seems to have no extras, the price on it is very good. "Thieves Like Us" is a wonderful and very sensual movie, featuring an inspired (as well as an appropriately raw-boned and eccentric) cast of Altman finds and regulars: Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Louise Fletcher, Bert Remsen, and John Schuck. Gould emerges from the Pacific in "The Long Goodbye" * On the occasion of a revival of Altman's 1973 "The Long Goodbye" at New York's Film Forum, the Village Voice's J. Hoberman recalls the early '70s years when Elliott Gould was king. (Altman's movie was a series of essayistic riffs on Raymond Chandler's luscious late-period detective novel, starring Gould as a very unlikely Philip Marlowe.) Although Hoberman spoke with Gould (who is now almost 70) for his piece, what he wrote is more nostalgic film criticism than a feature article. Still, it's also a vivid flash back to a very different movie era. I confess that I was such an unworldly rube at the time that I barely registered that Gould was/is Jewish. Hoberman makes Gould's Jewishness the backbone of his article, though, even referring to the era (during which Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, and Mel Brooks also emerged) as Hollywood's "Jew Wave." Interesting to read too that working with Ingmar Bergman on "The Touch" nearly drove Gould crazy. Literally crazy: He didn't work for 18 months after filming "The Touch," and when his name was floated for "The Long Goodbye" the studio demanded proof from docs that Gould was sane before they let him be hired. Those who can't make... posted by Michael at April 19, 2007 | perma-link | (17) comments

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crime Writing
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Bruce Grossman raves about novels by Charles Willeford, David Goodis, and Elmore Leonard. All three are among my own crime-writing favorites. Folks who casually assume that genre writing doesn't offer a lot of brilliance or much writin'-writing pleasure are in for some surprises if they try these guys. Between you and me, in my personal art-cosmos all three rate as entertainer/artists on a par with Duke Ellington, Ruth Brown, Count Basie, the Cord automobile, Robert Siodmak, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cary Grant, Margaret Sullavan, and the Chrysler Building. Ie., they're among the very best that American culture has to offer. But let's keep that between us, OK? I wouldn't want the wrath of the Official Lit Set descending on me. Best, Michael UPDATE: Thanks to jult52 for linking to this great Elmore Leonard 10 Rules of Writing. Read; memorize. You can now skip creative-writing school.... posted by Michael at April 18, 2007 | perma-link | (7) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Steve Sailer links to a daring and frank piece about race, sports, and politics by AOL's Jason Whitlock. Whitlock's column starts with "I'm calling for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the president and vice president of Black America, to step down" -- and then it gets even better. * Yahmdallah enjoyed "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Nice quote: "But then I like self-referential movies that break the fourth wall. When it's done well, as it is here, it actually sinks me deeper into the movie because it feels like I'm in on the joke." * Cubs fans (and visual-arts fans) have a treat in store: Tim Souers' Cubby Blue, a mostly-visual blog by a gifted illustrator who loves his Chicago ball team. I think what I like best about Tim's art (and blog) is the way he makes the high-spirited, the sweet-natured, and the mischievous coexist. That's fandom at its best, IMHO. * Book-writers (and book-writer wannbes) owe it to themselves to read this NYTimes snapshot of the London Book Fair. That's book publishing, kids. * Have you ever wondered how tall female sex symbols and male daredevils tend to be? Agnostic has done the research. * John Massengale argues that -- while the chic set is enraptured with Theory -- the New Urbanism has arisen out of a respect for experience. * Kellogg, Idaho native Raymond Pert crafts a list asking "How Kellogg are you?" It's very evocative. I liked #13 best: "If you ever got to go to a big city, you explored it by going bowling." * Although ChelseaGirl and the b.f. have reached a bit of an impasse, CG will be reading some of her brainy and sexy prose tonight at Rachel Kramer Bussell's "In the Flesh" reading series. * Patrick Buchanan looks beyond the Wolfowitz scandals and calls for the World Bank to be shut down. Nice passage: Why, when the government is deeper in debt than ever in our history, is this Congress borrowing billions every year to send to the least competent, most corrupt regimes on earth? Why has the World Bank not been shut down, its 10,000 overpaid employees dismissed -- or the whole thing deeded over to Beijing or Tokyo? Let them play world banker to deadbeat nations. They've got the money. We don't anymore. * Two scholars are doing their impressive best to turn public debate into something as undignified as a pro wrestling match. * There isn't much that's more amusing than inadvertent sexual humor pulled from old comic book panels. Batman and Robin always seem to be prominent in these collections, don't they? * A new study concludes that women in traditional marriages are happier than women in modern-style marriages. Mark Richardson comments. * There must be a movie in this. * Tom Philpott thinks that ethanol is one big scam. What could our elites be up to, Tom asks, "beyond rigging public policy (and raiding the public purse) to generate huge... posted by Michael at April 18, 2007 | perma-link | (7) comments

Warhol and Worthiness
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The Wife and I recently spent a few days in Pittsburgh where -- with the help of a group of talented and rowdy local actors -- we presented some of our co-written erotic fiction. The reading went well, thanks, and it was a treat meeting and comparing notes with some of Pittsburgh's young-and-creative set. The Wife and I were both struck by what a cool city Pittsburgh has become. (The locals tell us that this turnaround has taken place very recently -- in only the last five or six years.) The old-industrial-powerhouse basics of the city are great: lots of working-class brawniness and pride, and some impressively quiet and spacious, old-tycoonish stretches too. The city is blessed with mucho in the way of geographical variety -- hills, rivers, cliffs -- and is crammed with tons of character-filled neighborhoods, and an amazing stock of gorgeous old commercial buildings and houses. As well as -- of particular interest to Offbeat Us -- a couple of fizzy boho neighborhoods. It's great that housing prices are modest too. An offbeat, slacker-ish person, in other words, could lead a swell life in Pittsburgh. Small musing: As The Wife and I have visited cities in our quest for world erotic-fiction domination, we've often been struck by a big difference between now and when we were setting out. Back in the day, there simply weren't many American cities with lively boho and creative scenes. If that was the kind of life you wanted to lead, you had a very restricted set of places where you might settle. These days, wowee. The damnedest cities turn out to be home to crackling scenes inhabited by sweetly nutty people you can have crazy-fun conversations with. This is a great development, of course -- may a thousand flowers bloom. Do we owe it entirely to the decentralizing effects of the internet? I blogged here about how wonderful it is that we're beginning to see young films and young film-talent arising from places like, well, Pittsburgh. But this discovery has also left The Wife and me stealing shy glances at each other. After all, if it's possible to lead a rewarding creative life in a cheap and friendly place like Pittsburgh -- where people are welcoming, where the scale is human, and where intellectual pretentions don't weigh as heavily as they do in NYC -- then why are the two of us putting up with the trials of life in the Really, Really Big City? Maybe the time has come to move. Too bad I still have a few years to go before I can cash in the micro-pension I've worked so long for ... Anyway, a couple of highlights of our Pittsburgh trip occurred during a pilgramage to the Andy Warhol Museum. Worth doing, I guess, though I say that without much enthusiasm. (I blogged about Warhol here.) Surrounded by his paintings, what mostly struck me was how Warhol's art turns a gallery or a... posted by Michael at April 18, 2007 | perma-link | (18) comments

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Picturing Carmel
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- About a year ago in my post Carmel Has Gone to the Dogs I poked fun at Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Dogs aside, Carmel is an interesting place to visit. Or even live, if you can spare more than a million bucks to buy a house. It has been an artist colony for the last century (Robinson Jeffers, Edward Weston, auteur Clint Eastwood, etc.) and these days seems to have almost as many art galleries as it does pooches. To atone for my doggie post, I offer you the following photo essay on Carmel. Gallery Although Carmel is already almost terminally quaint, with a little strolling you can stumble across buildings that represent quaintness-on-steroids: "storybook style" architecture. Even dwellings can be pretty quaint, though not many equal these. Ah Carmel! Interesting tree. Silver Bentley (parked curbside, no less -- brave owner!). And the KRML radio studio. It's all-jazz, befitting this jazz-festival-holding neck of the woods. Carmel can be whimsical, too. This shows a sign above the entrance to an underground parking garage. And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we bid a fond farewell to quaint little Carmel-by-the-Sea, its charmingly affluent natives and the dogs they worship. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at April 17, 2007 | perma-link | (5) comments

What Kind of Helicopter?
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A few irresistable YouTube links courtesy of Charlton Griffin: * Here's a very endearing blooper. Nice to know that the MSNBC gal-reporter was enjoying a pleasant on-the-job daydream ... * Young men will perfect the most amazing -- and amazingly useless -- skills, won't they? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 17, 2007 | perma-link | (1) comments

Movie Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A couple of lifts from the excellent Anne Thompson: * Here's an interesting Variety article about how the craft of movie acting is being affected by the changeover to digital technology. Short version: Some people believe we're witnessing the biggest shift in movie acting since the deveopment of The Method in the 1940s and '50s. I wrote a blogposting about The Method back here. * We all know what an absurd enterprise feature-film-making often is. Still, it can be startling to encounter hard facts. This L.A. Times piece by Glenn Bunting about the making of 2005's "Sahara" -- one of the biggest commercial disasters ever (it has lost around $100 million) -- made even my jaded old eyebrows raise a bit. $2 million for a plane-crash scene that wasn't included in the finished movie. An $8 million paycheck to Michael McConaughey. A cast-and-crew totaling 1000 people. A screenwriter-roster of ten people -- fun to see that David S. ("The Sting") Ward was among them. A bribery budget -- Morocco, you know -- of almost a quarter of a million dollars. The article's best detail is saved for last: "The production firm owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz got $20.4 million in government incentives to film and edit parts of 'Sahara' in Europe." Talk about government subsidies to the arts! * I kinda enjoyed Mel Gibson's 1997 film "Payback." Adapted from the same Donald Westlake novel that inspired 1969's legendary John Boorman / Lee Marvin "Point Blank," it was no-nonsense action absurdism with a gritty look, a lot of twisty velocity, and a cast of juicy actors playing brutal, far-out, sexy, and hard-bitten characters. DVD Spin Doctor brings news that "Payback" was in fact a tampered-with film. The studio took it away from its director (Brian Helgeland), subjected it to reshoots, and gave it a different third act than what Gibson and Helgeland had intended. DVD Spin Doctor also reports that a Mel-and-Brian-approved Director's Cut of the film has just been released on DVD. I'll be renting it. * I raved about Donald Westlake (and many others) back here. To be honest, I think Westlake isn't just one of the best book-fiction writers alive, I think he's a genius. Newsweek's Malcolm Jones reports that Irish lit-fict eminence John Banville considers Westlake one of the "great writers of the 20th century." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 17, 2007 | perma-link | (4) comments

England R.I.P.?
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Steve Sailer reviews a new Bryan Sykes book that -- using genetic evidence -- claims that the British Isles have been far more racially homogeneous than is usually thought, and for at least 6000 years. * It appears that 85% of London's gun-crime suspects are black. * Meanwhile, a recent study shows that nearly half of all black children in England are now being raised by single parents. * Tony Blair has gotten people in a tizzy because he has blamed a lot of crime on aspects of black culture. According to the Guardian, Blair "said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped 'by pretending it is not young black kids doing it'." * Is the England of Olde already dead? John Derbyshire and Rick Darby both think so. My own musing: When will our silly, trendy elites finally learn that "diversity" isn't everywhere, always, and automatically a good thing? Incidentally, I like the fact that the world is a racially / ethnically / whateverly diverse place. Cool! Fun! I also like living in a diverse neck of the woods myself, a lot of bother though it often is. But I can't for the life of me understand why any of that should mean that all our micro-institutions and micro-places should be put under moral and political pressure to be as racially diverse as the world itself is. Boring! Not to mention "granting far much too much credence and authority to the diversity-crats." Besides, wouldn't such a policy pursued to its conclusion in fact ensure homogeneity, not diversity? Should Tibet, for example, be made as "diverse" as England's elites seem to want England to be? If the diversity crowd had their way, no matter where you'd go you'd find the same humanity-slush. So what I finally find myself wondering is: Do the propagandists for diversity in fact want to destroy real diversity? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 17, 2007 | perma-link | (61) comments

Monday, April 16, 2007

Are Captions Harmful?
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Boston's Isabella Stuart Gardner (1840-1924) could be eccentric and opinionated. But she easily got away with it because she had gobs of money. Her legacy is the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum (also see here) in the Fenway area not far from the Museum of Fine Arts. Gardner was able to ironclad (how's that for making a verb from an adjective, folks!) things so that all works had to remain placed as she had dictated. Moreover, if a work had no caption, no future captioning would be allowed. I can't find a link to support this (sorry!), but I did read someplace that Gardner believed that captions could distract from the viewing and appreciation experience. So, while most works have information plaques, some do not in order to force viewers to appreciate art unaided. I was ignorant of this when I visited the museum a few years ago. I became puzzled and a little frustrated when I couldn't even find out who painted a painting and when it was done. [Pause for reflection] In theory I'm inclined to agree with her. When I'm zipping through the Louvre or any museum with more than half a dozen galleries, I tend to glance at the caption plaques to catch the name of the artist. So if I see "Umbriago"* rather than "Tiepolo," I'm likely to keep on zipping. It's brand-consiousness: an Aston-Martin versus Daewoo thing. (What I just described does not mean that I never pay attention to works by artists I'm not familiar with. A really stunning painting can indeed grab my attention. But it does have to be literally "stunning.") If Gardner thought this focus on the artist distracted from focusing on the merits of the work, then she was right if my behavior is any guide. On the other hand, when there is nothing said about a painting and it's one that I think merits further attention, I would have no way of discovering more unless a museum guard or gallery guide was there to help. Frustrating! (Did I mention that I hate frustration?) So I think there ought to be a caption for each work with name-rank-serial number type stuff: basic facts. Or, failing that, a small guide sheet listing what's on each gallery wall for reference. What can be safely dispensed with are extended captions -- especially interpretive ones. These run a strong risk of imposing invalid concepts in the minds of viewers. This potential for danger is more acute nowadays than in the past thanks to the politicization of the arts and intellectual fads such as deconstructionism in art criticism. See Roger Kimball's The Rape of the Masters for examples of this. Such styles of criticism tend to impute meanings to paintings that might never have occurred to the artist. Not that the artist even needed to know. After all, he was little more than an puppet of the culture and power structure of his time, the theories usually contend. I... posted by Donald at April 16, 2007 | perma-link | (6) comments

Moleskine Videos
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Showing off what you've done in your Moleskine sketchbook seems to have become a YouTube genre of its own. This guy has some serious drawing chops. I love this guy's illustration-style images. I wish I could draw like this guy, or paint like this gal. MattiasA is quite a talent. Here's his blog; it's a sketchbook in its own right, and it's full of whimsy and sophistication. His visit to a fondue restaurant gave me a good case of the giggles. Buy your own Moleskine notebooks here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 16, 2007 | perma-link | (0) comments

The Hunting and Gathering Instinct, New-Media Edition
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I'm a little bleary today from too much time spent surfing YouTube last night. Sigh: The male instinct to track down and drag home game is a powerful force that drives us to do a lot of dumb things. Still, I made a few finds! * Leaping shampoo! * Gay dolphins! * Kinky kitty! * The subtext of car-dealership TV ads finally rises to the surface! (NSFW for language.) Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 16, 2007 | perma-link | (1) comments

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Symmetry Preferences
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Hey gang! It's personality-testing time here at 2Blowhards!! I have no idea whether psychologists, pop or otherwise, have done such a thing as I'm proposing below. Moreover, I don't care. Since this is an arts (among other things) blog, I've concocted a visual test. All I ask is that you introspect briefly and decide if you prefer symmetrical architecture to asymmetrical or vice-versa. Here are examples: Symmetrical Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park. Asymmetrical Hill House, Scotland by Mackintosh. Okay? Figured it out? Because we live in an esteem-building, non-threatening age while at the same time favor free expression and candor, I offer the following: If you lean towards Symmetry, you are either... solidly-grounded and organized rigidly compulsive If you prefer Asymmetry, you are either... flexible and open-minded a disorganized mess So there you are! Happy to be of service. Enough fun. I imagine most readers really do have a general preference, though I have no idea if the root is personality or something else -- it's difficult to tease out and probably not very important. I happen to prefer asymmetrical architecture. Symmetry and classical, axis-based planning schemes strike me as being slightly cold. Or perhaps unnatural. I think that, in general, asymmetric shapes better reflect the functions of interior rooms better than symmetrical buildings where interiors are more likely to be contrived to conform to the exterior. And from an evolutionary standpoint, aside from living things that move about, the appearance of symmetry is essentially absent. Therefore I suspect that, down deep, we feel something is "wrong" when confronted by symmetrical, non-movable objects such as buildings. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at April 15, 2007 | perma-link | (14) comments

Duke / Imus
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Imus ... The Duke case ... There's something that's just too damn coincidental about it all, isn't there? Fred Wickham solves the mystery. Doug Anderson brings a distinctive p-o-v to bear on the Imus brouhaha. Fine passage: I am raising a black son with my black significant other. I would hope that if, 11 or 12 years from now, he is a football player for a college ball team and some radio jock calls his team "a bunch of nappy-headed pimps" I would hope that my son would not go on national television, weepy and mournful, and saying that the comments will hurt and scar him for the rest of his life. I would feel like a failure as a father. I would hope that my son would laugh at the stupid shock-jock and scold his listeners for emulating such a jerk to a place of prominence in American media life. I think Doug may mean "elevating" instead of "emulating," but he's still making a great point. Interesting to learn from the AP that some legal experts think that the wrongfully-accused Duke lacrosse players may be allowed to bring suit against asshole Durham County DA Mike Nifong. Best, Michael UPDATE: Michelle Malkin compares Imus' faux pas with the lyrics of today's three top rap songs.... posted by Michael at April 15, 2007 | perma-link | (14) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Whisky Prajer considers the case of geezer-rockers. * Dr. Weevil gives a class on the gruesome ancient-Athenian practice of "planking." * YouTube star Lasse Gjertson goes interactive. * The week's best movie premise. * I love the droll nonchalance of this Berkeley a capella singing group. (NSFW for language.) * On her 63rd birthday, Mary Lee Fowler hears her father's voice for the very first time. * Cowtown Pattie tells a tale of when her dad was a cop. It's a sad-sweet-funny charmer, as Pattie's tales so often are. But in this case an extra-special Bloggy goes out to her for using the word "hoosegow." More bloggers ought to use the word "hoosegow." * Pattie's story appears on a new blog organized by "elderblogger" Ronni Bennett. Ronni has had the wonderful idea of creating a place where people over 50 can come and swap stories. Go and enjoy. Ronni does her own blogging here. * Here's a handy new web tool: Mux. Have you just watched a webvideo that you'd like to save a personal copy of? Paste its URL into Mux, and it'll convert the file for you. * Jon Hastings enjoyed John le Carre's recent spy thriller "Absolute Friends" but wasn't crazy about Robert De Niro's movie "The Good Shepherd." * Baltimore Snacker is a person who loves to eat, but he's also a person who loves movies about zombies who love to eat people. Life can be funny. * Architect Philip Bess lists 50 reasons why ballparks built in the early 20th century are / were better than today's ballparks. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 15, 2007 | perma-link | (2) comments