I saw this fascinating movie,

I saw this fascinating movie, by director Todd Solondz, last night.
It was not without some trepedition that I rented it as, when I saw his film Happiness, I was appropriately depressed for two solid days. Solondz, for me, is able to cut to the very quick of the banality of our conversations, the simplicity of our lives, and the hollowness of contemporary culture. The worst scene in Storytelling, and the most horrifying for me, was watching an all-too knowing audience laugh at or with a documentary film made about the actual characters, a Jewish family in NJ, within the film.
Solondz, a not very attractive Jewish male who grew up in my very general neck of the woods, bleeds you to death with his coolly pointed ability to point out how shallow our feelings are. All the characters in his movies move from one feeling to the next at the drop of a hat: angry to sexy, mournful to gleeful, sorry to sad. In another scene in Storytelling, the documentary film director wants to get “audience feedback” about his crappy little film, exploiting on top of the exploitation of the film.
One could say that it’s easy to make fun of the foibles of suburbia. And it is, as the audience laughing at the documentary shows us. Solondz, the director, gets off this hook by setting up, within the movie, the “documentarian” as a strawman. So we see Solondz as a brilliant director pointing out the foibles of others pointing out others’ foibles. Too smart.
One last thing: the director very smartly cast Mike Schank in the same role as the latter played in American Movie. Mike is a clutzy but lovable idiot too easy to laugh at, and we don’t know where fiction and nonfiction meet with him. Is he an ubu-character — a heavyset doofus that is more knowing of life than he lets on? The movie also references another smartly cool movie, American Beauty; all of this makes all of this all too, too American.
Todd Solondz: Storytelling

Ah, while the world turns:

Ah, while the world turns: In the bookstore today with my daughter, we were looking for a pop-up book and lo and behold, this is the one for her (now 6 months).
Hop on Pop
It’s an amazing little book that shows, among other things, a little boy popping out of a pool and 2 little kids hopping on top of their dad’s stomach. Anyway, the baby adores it and so will you. It’s the animation of the book that is fascinating — pop-up books have a fairly long history but they receive little credit from us adults.
Here is my wishlist for pop-up books for adults: Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, The Book of Job, anything by Rudyard Kipling, and anything ghost-written for a politician. Maybe we could start with a book by Al Gore, like his Earth in the Balance.

While the stock market continues

While the stock market continues to tank (it’s down nearly 400 points today, a record of sorts), I keep reading articles about Sony’s EverQuest and Microsoft’s strategy to deliver online gaming. Wired, Business 2.0, the New York Times . . . Apparently, there are (like) millions of online gamers and 40% of the US has a game console in the home.
Moreover, subsidiaries like EverQuest make something like 40% margins on these games — basically because all they do is hire cheap programmers and half-good game designers, and lease a bunch of fast computers in a warehouse in Kansas.
The market plunged today but the only reaction I see are plunging necklines on Xena-like characters.
-Andy Rooney.

This is very strange stuff,

This is very strange stuff, and it made no headlines or banner news in the past 48 hours from what I can see.
What does Spain think it’s doing? Is the country bored with its new currency and desiring a little imperial action? Where is King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella? (FYI, these are the good folks that expelled both the Moors and the Jews in 1492 from Spain. And they sponsored C. Columbus.) The two countries could actually go to war because of this, but analysts differ. The island, by the way, is “uninhabited” according to the New York Sun’s report today.
Yahoo! News – Spain waits for Morocco’s next move in island crisis

I just finished redesigning (but

I just finished redesigning (but not yet tweaking) The Site at MANOVERBOARD. Note that it’s now located at http://www.manoverboard.NET instead of COM.
Some people have asked why I continue to call it The Site at … and not just MANOVERBOARD.net. I don’t have a good answer. I like the play of the pun on “site” and I guess I am attracted to longer names rather than shorter ones. If my name was Ig Pop, maybe I’d feel differently.
I hope you enjoy the new work on The Site by artist extraordinaire Susan Graham. I absolutely adore these photographs.

These two fonts for the

These two fonts for the Web were produced by the good folks at Microsoft a few years ago. Both were designed by Matthew Carter – the intention being to create beautiful alternatives to the hegemony of Web fonts — Arial and Times New Roman. Smart.
Now it appears that Microsoft, in releasing a new browser (5.2 for Mac, has used a Tasman rendering engine and OS X’s new Quartz technology to round out both “newer” fonts. SOO, Verdana looks, to me, like Arial on my monitor. And Georgia looks, to me, like Times New Roman.
Believe me, this is nothing with nothing. But designing text and reading text on the Web sure has become slightly more dull. You can *turn off* Quartz text smoothing in the preferences panel of IE. But I wonder what Mr. Carter thinks about all this.

A few hours after posting

A few hours after posting my Yo La Tengo post, the same friend, actually doing his research (and unlike me), found a review of what the song, called “Nuclear War,” that YLT played Friday night in Brooklyn. The song was originally a Sun Ra song. Sun Ra, as you probably know, was a character from outer space, a black man who wore brilliant costumes and played eerily strange music replete with African folk music, free jazz, and rock parody.
In any case, YLT was singing his song. If, in the beginning, however, they would have identified (in other words, given credit where credit is due) to Mr. Ra, I would feel differently about YLT. But they essentially kind of ripped the song off without giving any context and the song itself was so over-the-top that left me reeling from their insensitivity and poor judgement. Alas, I don’t think every song, every artwork must be “contextualized.” I hate when museums put up a single painting with a text panel twice the size of the artwork. Alas, here is an excerpt of the review:
Nuclear War
With all his other accomplishments — futuristic space music visionary, African heritage and Egyptology propagator, electronics and synthesizers pioneer and big jazz band and swing preservationist — it turns out that Sun Ra was an early rapper as well.
At least the title track on this 1982 reissues preserves an anti-nuclear rap that Ra and the Arkestra were chanting once the leader heard about the potential meltdown at Three Mile Island, which was pretty close to the band’s Philadelphia home base. Ra, in fact, thought so much of his composition that he tried to interest Columbia Records in releasing it as single. Uncomfortable with a tune that used “motherfucker” in the lyrics Columbia passed, but Britain’s Y records eventually did release the single and a subsequent album.
Unsurprisingly, in the year of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, “Nuclear War” didn’t become a hit. But now you can hear the entire eight track LP on CD and find out what the fuss was about. In the time before parental advisory stickers the lyrics may have seemed beyond the pale. Take:
Nuclear war, nuclear war
Talking about nuclear war
It’s a motherfucker don’t you know
If they push that button yo’ ass gotta go.
Nuclear War is another entry for Sun Ra and the Arkestra that spent no weeks on the Hot 100. Instead it exists for us to enjoy for the ages.
— Ken Waxman

Yahoo! News – Dow Falls

Yahoo! News – Dow Falls 403; 6-Day Loss Near 1,100
A sad day for everyone. While the only people really going to get hurt are the poor and the pensioners, this Fall is not going to help morale in the US. The Government, in its infinite corporate wisdom, decided that companies would be allowed to essentially create two tiers for accounting — the Joe Schmos like me and the Joseph Schmogekko III who lives 1.5 miles from here. Where is Mr. Bush today?

The street on which I

The street on which I live in Brooklyn is packed with flags (see earlier post), in part because so many firemen live here, most across from our apartment. I have no desire to denigrate anything that those people did for New Yorkers, risking their lives and giving their lives for people they did not know.
But in looking at all of the SUVs in the area that are displaying flags, one popped out today. The small decal on the side of a humongous GM SUV read “American Pride.” I understand union workers displaying such patriotism, or government workers, or many others. But on the side of this SUV, the decal looked like it was manufactured in China, and I realized this: On September 11, 2001, the US was humiliated. We’re all suffering from feeling and sharing that humiliation — the populace is recovering, the President is floundering, the market is squealing, we as individuals are still discussing. I’ve never seen this admitted (by the left or the right). And pride? Pride in failure? We were humiliated – by a bunch of thugs, cowards, and relatively intelligent international structures. It’s painful to say this out loud. I wonder if we all will someday.