Thursday, February 15, 2007

Best. Band Name. Ever.

Lez Zeppelin.

Chicks who play Zep covers. They're a bit coy about whether the "Lez", ah, means anything, but who cares?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Black Bird Is Missing

Maltese Falcon stolen from restaurant:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Where's Sam Spade when you need him?

Thieves have stolen a copy of the bird statue at the heart of 'The Maltese Falcon' from the San Francisco restaurant used as a setting for the 1941 film classic starring Humphrey Bogart as the rough-and-tumble private detective.

The small, black figure was swiped over the weekend along with 20 vintage books, including copies of the 1930 Dashiell Hammett novel on which the film is based.

John Konstin, whose restaurant John's Grill bills itself as the 'Home of the Maltese Falcon,' said the thief broke into the case displaying the statue over the weekend. Konstin is offering a $25,000 reward for the replica's return.

While the statute is not the original movie prop, Konstin said he was offering such a big reward because this copy of the Maltese Falcon was signed by a cast member from the Bogart film.

'We want it back because of the historical and literary significance,' Konstin said in a telephone interview. 'It means a lot to us.'"

"Well, sir, you might say it belonged to the King of Spain, but I don't see how you can honestly grant anybody else clear title to it, except by right of article of that value that has passed from hand to hand by such means is clearly the property of whoever can get hold of it." -Caspar Gutman

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

TV Thought For the Day

There are some who say we have to torture suspected terrorists to keep something awful from happening, like a political assassination or a nuclear bomb attack.

But that Jack Bauer guy on "24" tortures people right and left and the show's already lost one President, hundreds of civilians to nerve gas attacks, and a chunk of California to terrorist nukes.

The lesson of "24" seems to be: torture doesn't keep us safe.

Monday, February 12, 2007

GO CHICKS! Five for Five!

There's a lot of sex in music these days, but not enough passion. Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks for the honors paid to a very passionate record.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm Really Starting To Like This Guy

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Barack Obama:

"If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats."

Now, some candidates might take forever to respond, then come up with some weak-ass response about how this was uncalled for or not helpful, or something equally limp. But this is how Obama's campaign responded:

"If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," he said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

I love it. This is how this campaign will be won, if it's to be won at all. Some right wing loony throws some crap out about how you support terrorists, you counter punch right for the goddamn throat. I haven't picked a candidate yet, but Obama just moved up the list.

Oh, I'm sure the right wingers will have their panties in a bunch tomorrow about "insulting a valued ally." We'll probably have a few days of "is Obama bigoted against Australians".

To the right wing noise machine, no sin is as great as fighting back against a slur. If they don't punish that, then OMFG, everyone will do it.

But hopefully people will take note. Talk smack against Barack, he'll talk it right back.

Hey, that's pretty good. Somebody give me a beat!

'Toon Terror

Latest Newspaper Column

I begin this week's column with a correction.

In last week's column about Fox News' gullibility in picking up and running with a dubious tale about how U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois supposedly attended a radical Muslim "madrassa" as a youth in Indonesia, I noted that at the time Obama would have been there, "Indonesia's radical Muslim movement had been brutally suppressed by the Suharto government."

In fact, the Darul Islamist movement had been broken up by Suharto's predecessor, President Sukarno. Suharto was no contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, mind you, but I do like to get my brutal Asian dictators right.

Anyway, on to this weeks' question, which is: What the heck is wrong with Boston? Don't get me wrong, I've got good friends in Boston. It's a lovely place. But they seem to be a little quick on the panic button up there. Last week, the whole city practically went into lockdown over a bunch of boxes with cartoon characters on them.

To explain this story, first we have to delve into the weird and wacky world of modern animated entertainment.

It seems that Cartoon Network has a wildly popular show called "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." ATHF, as it's known, doesn't have much to do with water or teenagers. It features -- get this -- talking food. One of the characters is a meatball with arms. Another is a floating box of French fries with a goatee. A third is a human-sized milkshake.

I looked up some clips from this show online, and I have to tell you, it's really, really weird. And you're talking to someone with a high threshold of weird. Have I mentioned that researching this column made me feel extremely old?

Anyway, among the characters on the show are little villainous critters called Mooninites who are, as the name implies, from the moon. They're crudely drawn, two-dimensional and blocky. They look, in fact, like something from one of the earliest Atari video games. They smoke cigarettes, make rude gestures, and steal stuff because, they explain, they're too advanced for human rules.

I know, I didn't get it either. But I'm thinking that you and I are not in ATHF's target demographic. Me, I'm a more of a Roadrunner/Bugs Bunny kind of guy.

Turner Broadcasting, which owns Cartoon Network, decided it would be fun to promote the show by putting Mooninites in public places. So they cobbled together a bunch of little black boxes with blinking LED's that make a picture of a Mooninite making a rude gesture. Actually, they look like those Lite-Brite toys I used to see all the time as a kid.

The boxes were strategically placed in public spaces in a number of cities, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco. But it was in Boston that all hell broke loose, about three weeks after the campaign began. Someone noticed one of the Mooninite boxes under a bridge. They called in the bomb squad to destroy one of the devices with a water cannon. Several streets and highways, and even part of the Charles River, were shut down.

Eventually, however, it began to dawn on the good people running the city that if Islamist terrorists were going to place explosive devices in public places, they most likely wouldn't call attention to them by encasing them in brightly lit boxes with cartoon characters giving the finger. Or maybe one of the bomb squad guys was an "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" fan.

In any event, they figured out that the whole thing was, not a foreign strike on U.S. soil, but instead that most of American of operations: an advertising campaign.

Now, some city governments might have been embarrassed at being pranked like this, especially considering the fact that all of the other major cities hadn't even reacted to the Mooninite "invasion." Some might have shrugged and moved on, or tried to push the whole thing under the rug.

Not Boston. Like a school principal who's just discovered a whoopee cushion in his office chair, the mayor and city government vowed to get whoever was responsible. And so they did. The two twenty-something "guerilla marketing" guys who placed the boxes were arrested and charged with "placing a hoax device" and "disorderly conduct."

After the city put pressure on Turner Broadcasting, the company agreed to cough up $2 million to compensate Boston for going nuts. I bet New York, Chicago, Atlanta, et al., were just kicking themselves. If they'd only been a little more paranoid, they might have cashed in, too.

If you look on the bright side, though, it's pretty much a win all around. Boston got a cool $2 million. Turner and the producers of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" got more nationwide publicity than they could normally buy for that kind of money.

Of course, there is a downside. Terrorists now know that they don't have to go to all the trouble to collect nuclear material or germ warfare agents to scare us to death. All they need is boxes with blinky lights.

At least in Boston.