Thursday, April 27, 2006

Did We All Have That Haircut In The 80s?

I am off for several days to visit some Nator fam, including my oh-so-cute and brilliant niece and nephew. I'm sure y'all will pine for me, so I'll leave you with a bit of entertainment.

Bust a move, Lady L...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

That’s Frahnk-en-shteen.

I’ve been pondering why I feel so drawn to yet repulsed by the videos I posted yesterday, and I think I’ve got it. I feel drawn to them because they are just so darn cool. I mean, just the fact that humans can make moving representations of creatures and people that are so eerily lifelike is amazing, but add to that the fact that I have always been fascinated with simple mechanical devices and robotics and it’s a good fit for me. Admittedly, my knowledge of engineering may be barely past a basic understanding of gears, but that didn’t stop me from repeatedly drawing doodles of weird, one-cylinder vehicles when I was a kid, once I learned a little bit about how a combustion engine works.

This fascination extends in several directions, including a love of intricate, Rube Goldberg-esque machines and an attraction to early devices like Da Vinci’s flying machines and various automata. I’m not sure where this all started – multiple school trips to The Franklin Institute? Seeing Rowland Emett’s whacky devices in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the crazy mechanisms in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts (you know, the ones with that great Roland Scott theme “Powerhouse” in the background)? Heck, maybe it was playing Mouse Trap. Whatever it was, intricate machines tickle me, but add the whimsical feature of making them look like creatures, and it’s a whole different ballgame.

I mean, let’s face it, what demonstrates mankind’s god-like powers more than being able to simulate life? If you can do that, you must have serious skillz. The problem with it is, it really is supposed to be the work of God (gods, higher beings, whatever). It seems wrong, somehow – presumptuous. And it’s never quite right. It’s always – almost, but not quite alive, and that’s disturbing. Think of baby dolls whose eyes open automatically*. Furbies. Or, to get more meta, zombies. Heck, how about Frankenstein’s monster? Even those damn Billy Bass things are a little bit freaky.

But while full-on robots are disturbing in that they make you think man’s AI children are going to kill us all and take over the world (which would not be so bad, if they looked like Number Six), robots that look like disembodied parts of living creatures are just plain horrifying. Because clearly, brainless parts of things should not be alive, nor appear to be so. That, my friends, is The Devil’s Work. Unnatural. And probably the last thing you’ll ever see.

So, that explains why I keep watching those damn videos over and over even though they give me the serious willies. But afterwards, perhaps I can cleanse my brain with some less anthropomorphic, yet equally fascinating mechanical wonders. To this end, I give you videos of Goldbergian creations from the Japanese children's educational television show ピタゴラスイッチ ("Pitagora Suicchi", or "Pythagorean Switch") and the artier and much larger scale German production Der Lauf Der Dinge (“The Way Things Go”). Enjoy!

*Incidentally, I had a baby doll with opening eyes that someone gave me when I was a kid. I hated that thing, and hid it in my closet, burying it under layers of crap. I already avoided looking into the closet because I was convinced it was home to 1.) a vampire and/or 2.) a headless woman. Nevertheless, I had to get clothes, sometimes, and somehow, every once and a while, I’d open the door and it would be sitting up, looking at me and nearly causing me to wet my freakin’ pants. Neither of my siblings admits to setting this up to this day, so my only suspects are the vampire, the headless woman, or the doll itself, which makes this story All. The. More. Chilling!

Gym Bunny

Thoughts regarding recent workouts:

1. Ow, my goddamn shoulders!

2. Why can’t I stop listening to Kanye West’s The New Workout Plan? It is completely misogynistic. But so very funny. And the beat works for everything from crunches to the elliptical machine!

3. After a couple months of seeing almost no visible results, this morning I accidentally ironed the wrong pair of pants, which I hadn’t been able to squeeze into since before I herniated my neck, and put. Them. On. They are a little tighter than I’d prefer, but still. Feeling stronger and more energetic is great, but this? I can really get behind.

4. Great, only five or six sizes to go…! (plotz.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Am I supposed to be excited that David Blaine will be setting up shop in an aquarium right outside my office next week? Because, not so much.

You might assume that as a fan of magic I would be all a-twitter, but I'm not. That's because I'm a fan of magic, not endurance stunts. Blaine was interesting when he did street magic, but what's the point, now? Are we all supposed to go along with him on some kind of Zen minimalist journey? We already know that people can live in hardship for long periods of time, and it's not like he's doing it for a political cause. It's just a stunt, without even any major skill involved, except perhaps staying calm and the breath-holding at the end. Houdini would be bored.

Scuttlebutt has it that Blaine cooks up these isolationist bits partly because he just doesn't like speaking with people. So? When am I going to get fame and big bucks for sitting in my office oubliette, eating lunch at my desk and avoiding phone calls? Because I could do that for far more than a week straight.


Cheesiest poster ever?


Christ in a hatchback, this "president" drives me into inexpressible, apoplectic rage! Now that his war and reach-arounds for the oil industry have driven up gas prices enough to threaten his party's mid-term election results, one of his bright solutions is to "temporarily" lower EPA clean-air standards for fuel.

Is anyone willing to join me in a plan to have him mauled to death by endangered species? What if WE are the endangered species?

More intelligent analysis here.

Futureworld, Present Tense

I am almost creeped out beyond words. I just read a post on and viewed a video of a robot on And I Am Not Lying, For Real. The video should be innocuous - it merely shows testing of a four-legged robot to see how well it navigates uneven surfaces. The thing is, the way this robot moves? Brrrr. It is just waaaay too life-like. Honestly, it looks like a headless animal. The testers even kick it, and it staggers just like a dog.

Jeff at I Am Not Lying explains the disturbing nature of this video excellently, and you should go check his thoughts out for yourself. Honestly, I don't think I've been quite so squicked out by an animatronic figure since Herbie Hancock's Rockit video. Heck, that one still makes me scream a little when I see it. The question is, why am I so fascinated that I can't stop subjecting myself to these videos over and over again, even though they make me a little queasy and dizzy every time? Perhaps they are sort of a safer version of an adrenal gland-stimulating trip through Castle Dracula? Or perhaps they just invoke the specter of man-as-machine by being too lifelike, giving one a sort of spooky uncertainty about how to distinguish life from death, consciousness from physical manipulation? Freaky, freaky stuff...

Although I am almost loathe to display them here, you be the judge...

The DogBot


Yikes. The doglike 'bot turns out, by the way, to be aptly named "BigDog", and you can see more about it and other slightly less scary robots at Boston Dynamics. Oh, and the Rockit video was directed by Godley & Creme, formerly of 10cc, who directed quite a few groundbreaking videos back in the day.

One last note - in pondering this I somehow accessed a horrifying scene from my early childhood. I was watching some program, and it involved a person's face coming off to reveal that they were actually a robot. In retrospect, I'm sure the effects were rudimentary, this being the early 70s, but it left a huge impression on me at the time (nightmares about my parents being robots and whatnot). I've been scouring the internets trying to figure out what it was, but I can't figure out if it was even a movie or a television show. The closest things I can find are references to a film called Futureworld, although I can't be sure it wasn't an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. I'm pretty sure the robot, however, was a woman. If you have any idea what show this might have been, I'd love to know!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Not A G'Day

Well, mate, I'll just put anothah shrimp on the barbie and... Holy Mary, mother of God!

Say hello to Monica, a category 5 cyclone approaching the northern coast of Australia at this very moment. That's category 5 as in currently packing winds of up to 217 mph. Remind you of anything?

Actually, it looks a little more impressive than the shot of hurricane Katrina above. And guess what? This comes only about a month after Larry, another category 5 cyclone hit North Queensland. Meterologists are saying these two cyclones are two of the biggest ever seen.

Hmm, isn't it interesting that Australia and the US are the only two major developed countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, thus insuring continued environmental damage that can lead to global warming and worse storms? Aah, but what could that have to do with anything? After all, New Orleans has Mardi Gras and Australia has Gay Mardi Gras (not to mention Kylie Minogue). God must just be sending these storms to smite the faggots!

But seriously, the Northern Territory is one of the least populated areas of Australia, but it's also relatively financially poor. It's populated by more indigenous Australians ("aborigines") than anywhere else. This means that once again the poor, brown people are in the path of the natural disaster. Be sure to send them your thoughts, good energy or prayers, and let's keep an eye on this story.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Your Humour Style Is: Lemming

Everybody else is taking this test, why not me?
Your humor style is:
the Cutting Edge
(61% dark, 42% spontaneous, 31% vulgar)
your humor style:

Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery, or are seriously over-the-top.

Your type is the most likely to appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person dancing.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 73% on darkness
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 40% on spontaneity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 43% on vulgarity
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Somehow I think I'm slightly more vulgar than that, but whate'er. I'm glad I still have a sense of humour today, what with being such a big, fat softie that I've been completely devastated by Loaner Cat going home.

Sigh. So a dyke walks into a bar with a cat on her head...

Friday, April 21, 2006

I Am So Gay

I just spent a good half hour searching for Real Life on Limewire. Then? Rebbie Jackson.

So. Very. Gay.

Fare Thee Well, Fine Feline Friend

Boo and hoo! Loaner Cat is leaving. His real person finally got a new place, so we are bringing him back to her this Sunday. Alas! We got accustomed to his face, if not his chronic indigestion. We'll miss his goofy, gangly, adolescent ways - with the playing and the annoying the other cats, knocking things over and continually looking perplexed. Queen Bitch Cat must've lost at least a pound or two on the Pure Hatred Diet™, thanks to him. He has bumbled and snuggled his way into our hearts.

It was perhaps fotunate I was home sick, today. We shared some excellent farewell cuddling, and he showered me with affection, purrs, and fur - lots of it. Take good care and thanks for visiting, our sweet, spotted bandito. We hope you don't get too bored with no other kitties to harass. Don't forget to write!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Joan Osborne at Southpaw

It’s about time she was back on the scene again, ‘cause the lady can blow. It had been five or six years since we saw her last, at Irving Plaza, and it was evident last night that she had matured as a musician. I mean, she was terrific back then, but to see her in the intimate setting of Southpaw with the band hanging off her every word and motion just proved she’s not been lying fallow. If anything, she’s gained more control over her soulful voice and more mastery of leading a band. If her early recordings sounded like Janis Joplin with more vocal depth and less pain and drugs, her current vocals contain a lot more Etta James, with patches of Patsy Cline restraint and hints of the Qawwali music style she learned from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.*

The Patsy Cline influence was most obvious last night, with a few nods to Dolly and Loretta, as she and her band used the audience as “guinea pigs” to test a new set of country-style tunes. Mrs. Nator and I had been musing during the country-flavoured pre-show music that Osborne might be moving toward this style - which is not surprising, considering her southern roots - and agreed that her voice could easily fit a country-soul mode. We were not disappointed. Taking the stage in a simple white cotton dress, Osborne called to mind a shy 50s housewife at a VFW dinner who suddenly busted out with serious talent (“Hey, y’all know Ellie Sue can sing? Git up there on the stage, Ellie Sue, and show them what you can do!” “Aw, no, I couldn’t… I’ve got to serve up the pie, now. Welll-l-l, o-kay…” Ka-POW!). Despite the unfamiliarity of the material, the audience ate it up, and each song was CD-perfect, tight. One of my particular favourites, not surprisingly, was a country-western lesbian love ballad to one “Jane”. Alas, Ms. Osborne is, as far as I’ve heard, all hetero, but that didn’t stop her from imbuing the piece with the sincerity of a consummate performer. Don’t make me stalk you, Joan.

Despite our advancing age, Mrs. Nator and I probably fell in the mid-range of the audience spectrum, proving Osborne’s wide appeal. We were, no doubt, not the only ones out past our bedtime – and Mrs. Nator with a bum knee, no less – but it was well worth it to stay for through the end of the set and into the encore. Despite protesting that her some of new band didn’t know her old songs well, Osborne treated us to stomping renditions of “Spider Web” and “St. Teresa” that had almost everyone out of their seats and pressed toward the stage. Although the set could easily have stood on its own without the old material, it was a satisfying coda that left everybody energized and smiling.

All in all, the best show I’ve been to in some time, and well worth dragging my sorry ass out on a Wednesday night. I certainly do hope that the material Osborne’s been shopping around for the last year or two finally gets released, and the songs she did last night do get recorded in Nashville soon, as she is planning. It’s sadly unsurprising in this candy-pop, hip-hop world that a singer of such old-school skill and substance can go unreleased and unpromoted for such a long period of time, but that doesn’t make it any less of a crime.

*Note: I didn't just have that memorized because I really am a stalker - I just read it on her bio this morning. Besides, Mrs. Nator frowns heavily on stalking, unless it's related to ridiculous kitty hijinks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Completely Unfabulous?

Yuck. I just took a look at the site for the upcoming movie adaption of The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green. It looks... nothing like the comic. And possibly quite lame. Apparently, Eric Orner has given his blessing, and it's even got Meredith Baxter in it, which must indicate at least some camp value. But I'm a fan of the cartoon series from way back - I actually much prefer the earlier, hand-drawn episodes - so I have been prepared to be disappointed. It's just that, now that I've seen the site? I am convinced I will be.

If anyone's seen this, let me know what you thought. Otherwise, I will continue to wallow in narrow-minded pre-judgement, as per usual.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eat It, Bitches

Because I am going to two, that’s two fabulous concerts. Tomorrow night Mrs. Nator and I are going to see the very talented songstress Joan Osborne at the little old Southpaw, and in June we will finally be able to see the “D-List” goddess herself, Kathy Griffin, live in NYC. Although we will be in ye gods for that show, I am excited enough to start squeeeeee!-ing, already. I’ll just have to bring binoculars (and pep pills for the next morning, because I am too old for all this hullabaloo on work nights, let me tell ya).

And now, just because, here is a video of Kathy Griffin dressed as a giant rat.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Link Lives!

Heh. Some people have way too much time on their hands. Of course, I'm one of them.

Feng Shui My Blog

I’ve been getting complaints about my red type again, and I’ve been generally itchy over the layout and name of this blog, lately. I think the basic colours and graphic suit my personality, and the name worked as tongue-in-cheek for a while, but perhaps it’s time to move on. I have some ideas for redesigns and names, but my limited Blogger coding skillz may slow down the project. Still, if y’all have any suggestions, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll be in a dark room trying to channel the spirit of Saul Bass.

How To Celebrate The Holidays

1. Pesach: Have a little Popcorn on Passover, by listening to Gershon Kingsley’s Moog synthesized operetta for the Seder.

2. Easter: Celebrate great moments in Rock n' Roll history with Peeps.

Have A Gurney Standing By

I have my first session with Big Black Sex Trainer tomorrow. He seems like a really nice guy, and I’m sure he’ll basically be evaluating my fitness to start, but I’m still intimidated. I’ve been really pooped and not working out much the past couple weeks, so I feel like I’m slipping back into gelatinous blob mode. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Heel For You, I Think I Love You

According to the NY Times, super-high heeled shoes are going to be all the fashion this spring and summer. I suppose I should not be surprised, as Mrs. Nator, who seems to always just be slightly ahead of the trends, sent me a picture of some terribly tall Steve Maddens she simply had to order yesterday. Mind you, this is a woman who went through embarrassment and excruciating pain after breaking her foot in a fall down a hill from towering platform shoes several years back, but who am I to judge? She does have great gams to show off, and I can’t say that some of the hairdos I wore in my stylish past (yes, I had one) couldn’t be life-threatening.

The thing is, even more than I worry for women’s feet and about submission to the patriarchy (because P-Funk reunions aside, how many men do you think will be sporting stacked heels anytime soon?), I’m afraid Mrs. Nator won’t be able to even hear me anymore. She is an unusually tall woman to begin with, and with these types of shoes she may border on altitudinous. It might fit in with her plans to feel big and strong, but I still subscribe, for several reasons, to the tradition of being a woman in comfortable shoes, and I’m not sure how it will affect the relationship if I am continually at crotch licking level while standing up. Although that might fit in with her plans, too, come to think of it.

Does anyone know where I can take stilt-walking lessons?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I Didn’t Know It Was Actually Pronounced “Oops!”

This past Christmas, I got a video iPod. I’d heard that they scratch easily, so I ordered a nifty case online right away. Here is where my heartache began.

It turns out that, although it did not indicate this anywhere on the store site, the case I had selected was not yet available. So, several weeks later, having received nothing, I emailed the store. I got no response for a few days, so I called them, and got someone who put me on hold forever and then told me that the only person there who knew about email orders was out indefinitely. I wrote again. I got no response until I finally saw they had posted something on my account page rather than emailing me. The note said the case was expected within a month or so. I considered cancelling or exchanging the order, but I figured that with all the trouble already, I might as well just wait until the unique case I really wanted arrived.

So I waited, and every month or so I emailed, to no response, and the occasional update on the store site saying the case wouldn't come in for another (X) weeks, after all. I had given up, until one day a couple weeks ago when I finally saw a UPS sticky on my front door with my name on it. This was annoying, not only because I hadn’t been notified, but because the package had been sent to my home address when I specifically requested it be sent to my office (why don’t most service providers and sellers realize that most people cannot be home between 9 and 5 to wait breathlessly for the UPS/Cable guy/meter reader?). Having experienced that mistake before, however, I thought I’d just call UPS, request a change of shipping address and get the package. I was wrong.

Instead, the package was sent back to the store, with no explanation. I had to call UPS and complain, and then call the store to have it re-sent. Again, I indicated it should go to my work address. Again, several days later, I got a UPS sticky on my home door. Again I called with the work address.

But wait, there’s more!

The package disappeared. Poof - no word for several days. When I looked it up today, the tracking said “delivered”. Um, no? So I called UPS again. Oh, it was delivered, alright. To a completely random person at an entirely unrelated address.


Let’s just say I wasn’t as full of sunshine-y goodness when speaking with the UPS people this time. I did get put through to a supervisor. Who then managed to put me on hold and disconnect me (“accidentally”?).

May I just ask, how exactly does this sort of thing happen? It’s not like I screamed at anyone at UPS or the store and thus deserved some spit in my lemonade. I was somewhat terse and annoyed, but that’s it. The only thing I can think of is that the whole mess was due to just plain incompetence. You’d think that by now, with my dim and pessimistic view of the human race, in general, I’d be used to this sort of thing – and I am. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me pop a vein, now and then. I mean, it’s no moral outrage or anything, but it’s the type of occurrence that makes me want to write personal letters to each an every creationist outlining this chain of events and asking “so, tell me why it is, again, that you think that humans are too majestic to be evolved from apes? Once you’re done picking the ticks off your brother, that is - take your time.”

I finally, after calling again, got transferred to a “special department that can make outside calls to track packages” (ooh, the freedom! And just what did they do to earn those privileges? Are the rest of the phone reps in lockdown?). There a somewhat bumbling, if seemingly well-meaning lad (he messed up my name twice and my address four times) claimed to have contacted whoever it was who signed for the package at whatever location, confirm it could be picked up there and let me know it would then be sent to my work address. Supposedly.

Nearly five months after my order, I look forward to finally getting my fancy iPod case, which now has more miles on it than John Madden’s bus. I also look forward to putting it on my iPod, which now has so many scratches I have to hold it at different angles depending on the time of day to be able to see anything on the screen.

The moral of the story? Humans are stupid, though we can make tools. Next time, I’ll make me a case out of Saran wrap and duct tape.

Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’

Do you think that my heavily-muscled potential new personal trainer might be offended that Mrs. Nator and I have started referring to him as “Big Black Sex Trainer,” in homage to Keith on Six Feet Under? It’s well-meant, and certainly more flattering than the nicknames we have for other regulars in the gym, such as “The Guy With The Neck,” “Yami Guy,” “The Dour Lesbians” or “That Lesbian You Hate”.

Perhaps all this should be filed under “things I should never have admitted to,” along with “wanting to see that new Antonio Banderas where he teaches ballroom dancing”… whoops!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

O Happy Day

I am a complete lightweight. I had one measly glass of wine last night, and woke up this morning with a terrible hangover.

I was roused to consciousness by the desperate voices of 9/11 victims on recordings of their last calls for help, thanks to NPR news.

I now have to go to the interminable weekly departmental meeting. These usually last over an hour, in which nothing that has anything to do with my job is addressed.

I have to go to the dentist this afternoon. It’s likely he will have to drill.

I have concluded that today must be perfect day to buy a Mega Millions ticket.

Monday, April 10, 2006

But Tell Me What You Really Think

I tried an interesting series of little online exercises recently, called Implicit Association Tests. Designed by scientists at Harvard, they are meant to determine what one's underlying preferences or attitudes are about certain subjects. For example, in the test for determining if you have a preference for black people's faces or white people's, as explained on the BBC News site:
  • Users put positive and negative words, such as "failure", "glorious", "wonderful" and "nasty" into categories of "good" and "bad", then do the same with images of black and white faces.
  • By responding to the prompts as quickly as possible, the test aims to side-step what's known as "cognitive control" - the brief, but significant, time lapse we need to give an "acceptable" answer rather than a truly honest one.
  • Depending on the magnitude of the result, respondents are judged to have either "little or no bias" or a bias rated as "slight", "moderate" or "strong".

Personally, the test results or me indicated that I have "implicit" preferences for gay people over straight people, black people over white people and Richard Nixon over G.W. Bush (now there's a case of weighing two evils if I ever saw one). None of this overly surprised me, considering my political beliefs and background. I was a little bit surprised at my slight bias in favour of black people at first, since I'm convinced white racism is so prevalent in United States society that we must all internalize it by default, but not overly so, considering both my upbringing with a semi-radical black stepfather and a general aversion to, as they say, The Man.

It does seem, however, that a lot of people are surprised by their results, and this has touched off a lot of dialogue and self-examination, particuarly regarding the race test results. Of course, as even the designers of the test admit, the results may not be entirely accurate. The methodology of the tests have been questioned by other scientists, naturally, and taking a quick online quiz based on reaction times is not exactly an exhaustive, controlled analysis. But, even if you don't necessarily believe the tests to be completely accurate or comprehensive, as I don't, they do make for good conversation pieces and tools for confronting one's own attitudes.

Try them yourself here, and let me know what you think.

Via: Cooper King's blog

Friday, April 07, 2006

Go Orange For The ASPCA

Don't forget to "go orange" in support of the ASPCA's 140th anniversary on Monday, and send a donation while you're at it.

Do y'all think Queen Bitch Cat would slice n' dice me if I Manic-Panicked her a construction cone hue?

Comments On The Fritz

Please stand by... for some reason I am receiving comment emails but they are not appearing on the blog, nor am I able to respond to them. It may be a wonky side-effect of the template I tweaked, but it's been working for a while, so it could be a blogger thang. I hope to get it fixed, soon.

Update: OK, it seems the comments code I have doesn't want to take links, which was the problem. Unfortunately, I don't have time to muck with it and figure out why, just now. Carry on.

Dear New York Times

I hate your new online layout. I can't find shit, anymore. Whose bright idea was this, anyway?

Also, I hate that damn freaky Ralph Lauren flash ad with the spooky little blonde girl all I-see-no-I-AM-dead-people floating around over a flashing sky and "quaint house". Please make it go away NOW.

Thank you.

I'm Baaa-aaack!


I Wish I Knew How To Make Everybody QUIT IT

Okay, seriously - is this Brokeback Mountain reference thing going to go on forever? I mean, I think it's great so many people have seen a film about homos - oh, wait, not homos, queer love... no, oops, it's just about love, silly me - so sorry! Actually, can we just say it's about queers? Because, although everybody's cooing that it's about universal love and how it should be celebrated no matter what genders it's between, blah bling blah, the fact is that the central theme of the movie is how the characters can't express that love because they are, in fact, queer. I'm not going to get into debate over labels and were they gay, bi, just in love with each other, whatever, because the fact of the matter is that if you fall in sexual love with someone of the same sex you are officially queer. Thank you.

Anyway, I thought it was a pretty good film, with great cinematography, some excellent moments and a nice adherance to the exquisitely written original story. I have to say I can't tell you exactly how good I think it was, because, quite frankly, all the hype clouded my perceptions to the point that I can't decide whether I really liked it or not. But I do know that I'm sick of that hype. The fact is, Brokeback Mountain has become some sort of cutesy shorthand for being gay, and it's really tired.

For example, back in February my friend at Life Below The Line was reporting the annoying prevalence of straight men using Brokeback Mountain to tease each other. You know how it goes, one guy expresses some kind of emotion and the other "jokes" something like "Hey, don't get all Brokeback Mountain on me, here." This may be mildly amusing the first several times, but at this point it's just being used to reinforce the same stereotypes that any other fag jokes do, except just replacing the word "fag" with the hipper version, "Brokeback Mountain." It also allows the straight jokester to deflect any protests to his or her joke by alluding that if they are sensitive and liberal enough to have seen BBM, or even just heard of it (which... who hasn't?), then they can't really be bigoted and offensive. Right.

At the same time, even homages within the gay and gay-friendly world can be tiresome. As Joe.My.God reported, among other things, BBM catchphrases are showing up in both romance and retaliation between gay men. Elsewhere, several sites on the Web have been chuckling over an ice-skating routine done by men dressed as cowboys (did the creators know it was gay? Was it produced before or after BBM? How gay would it be on the scale of gay dependant on that fine point?). Meanwhile, here in NYC, Jacques Torres is selling chocolate Brokeback Bunnies for Easter. Is it an adorable homage, or a passé marketing ploy? Looks like both to me.

Which all boils down to: listen, people, enough's enough. It's just not cute anymore, and it's certainly not fashionable. Yes, even I indulged in references up until several weeks ago, but it has reached its saturation point. So quit it. Because much further and we'll be out of Montana and into Macarena territory.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Da Amazing Natori

You may not like me when I'm angry, but you'll like me when I'm magical! I've been into magic since I was a kid. I remember getting one of those 20-something-in-one magic trick kits when I was about six and playing with it endlessly. Not that I really learned anything, because I was a) too unimpressed with some of the really hokey, plastic tricks that were painfully obvious in execution and b) too lazy to do anything hard. Mind you, that didn't stop me from bragging to my first grade teacher for months that I was learning magic, until she put me on the spot and asked me to just come in tomorrow and show the class a trick, already. I don't remember if I even tried to learn anything that night or just blanked out in a cold sweat, but the next day I did a coin-from-the-ear penny palming trick that was about the worst ever (I made it up on the spot). To her credit, Ms. Rain oohed and ahhed over it, perhaps saving my cute little face, but I still felt shame within.

Popular magic shows - besides the Harry Potter movie variety - seem to have taken a much more "street" turn of late, what with the rise of David Blaine, Criss Angel and their like. I will forever bemoan the loss of Siegfried and Roy's extravaganza before I could see it, but it kind of makes sense. Street magic is much more appealing for the ironic/skeptical hipster youth of today, and also often both cheaper to produce and more convincing, when done properly.

Recently, however, I happened to see newly popular "experimentalist", Gerard Senehi, on the Ellen show and was intrigued. Senehi seems to use some of the more modern street magic effects while maintaining the "mysterious mentalist" demeanor (and suited dress code) of more innocent times. It's a pretty good combination, and more reminiscent of a more understated Uri Geller than the in-your-face hijinks of Blaine or Angel. Like them, however, Senehi's techniques are impressive enough to get many in his audience to wonder if his tricks are actual psychic/telekinetic phenomena, and he's taking his spoon-beinding skillz to the bank (although in his case, there's talk that his profits are mainly going to a creepy cult run by a less benign charlatan).

All of this led me to fondly recall my childhood love of magic and wonder, could I learn any of these tricks? Back then, magicians carefully guarded most of their secrets, and only revealed them to a select, interested few via magic-shop gatherings and writings. However, now we've got the Web, and guess what? For a certain price, it is entirely possible for anybody to get DVDs that will teach them to melt forks or levitate themselves like the pros.

So, the answer is, yes, I can learn them. And I'm definitely adding some of these goods to my birthday list, so I can entertain friends and party guests. But it's a little sad to know that modern magic is not only far less glam, but available to easily buy. Maybe, if I want a little fun, I should just drop the spoon-bending instructions and get me one of these.

Betrayed With A Kiss

I am utterly fascinated with the authentification of yet another early Christian text, the Gospel of Judas. It is very intriguing, indeed, to see how early Christian texts and sects were approved or condemned to form the bible and churches we have today. It's a great illustration of how politics, power and religion influence each other throughout history.

There are, however, two downsides to all this. One is still having to deal with the continual insistance by religious groups that their particular text and interpretation is the only true word of God(s), despite the evidence of tampering and fabrication over the centuries. The other downside is, of course, dreading the time when Dan Brown hops on the bandwagon.

Captured and Captivating

The online-only American Museum of Photography has some great exhibits up on Pulp/Noir photos and Photomontage, but it's their historical exhibits that get me every time. Viewing the AMP may not be as cool as a trip to the International Center of Photography, but it's worth checking out now and then.


If you haven't seen Ask A Ninja yet, check it out posthaste. Very funny stuff, as you may witness by this example.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dear U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving

No, no, no, no, no.

I may be a little behind the times here, but the new ten dollar bill? Fugly. I mean, I thought the $20 was bad. But this? Wow.

Listen. Are you listening to me? Okay. Dark green and light orange do not go together. Ever. I understand you want the new bills to be all safe and secure and whatnot, but stop it. I can deal with the changed bust sizes, the watermarks, the security tape, even the new images. But the changing ink colours were pushing it (are we paying for groceries or attending a rave?) and the tiny 10s or 20s all over the new bills look like nothing so much as a contagious pox. And now this.

I understand that a lot of people have been really wedded to the old green and black bills. I know change is hard. But if you're going to do it, don't go all half-assed and try to appease the traditionalists, foil the forgers and get arty about it. If you're going to change the bills to several colours, just make them a brighter mix and be done with it. Hell, even red, white and blue would be an improvement. Or, even better, make it a practically a painting. I'm particularly fond of Tahiti's tender, for example.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter,

Da Nator

What Do The Rockefeller Laws Indicate For This?

When I got home from the gym this morning, I glanced into the kitchen and stopped short. At first, I couldn't really tell what the substance was on the floor. One cat was yowling at me for breakfast in his usual manner, but then... all three other cats were writhing on the linoleum. Queen Bitch cat, in fact, was rolling drunkenly not one foot from both Loaner Cat and The Little One, both of whom she is normally trying to draw and quarter. Yes, the substance on the floor was, indeed, a copious amount of catnip.

It seems that somebody managed to squeeze his or her little paw into a small, inadvertant opening in The Forbidden Drawer, haul out the entire bag of nippage and rip it to shreds, dragging it as he or she went. I suspect Loaner Cat, since he's young, curious and an unknown factor. Also, he was trying to swallow the plastic nip bag when I came in.

The Little One made herself scarce, but not before I saw she was practically bedazzled with herbal flakes. The others were all the same, with Queen Bitch perhaps the most dishabille, three sheets to the wind and close to farting pixies. If they'd have managed to have the Dead playing on the boom box and the lava lamps on, I would not have been surprised.

It took some time cleaning up, between the hysterical laughter and unwrapping eleven pounds of Loaner Cat from the broom every few seconds. The stumper is, did we have this coming, as we were clearly depriving the children, or do they deserve some sort of punishment? Do felines get hangovers?

Weighty questions, indeed. I, however, received my 'awa in the mail today. So, I suspect between that and celebrating Mrs. Nator's landing of a large grant for work, I may spend the better part of the evening butt-waxing the lino, myself.