Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thank You, Jesus

Is it just me, or is it impossible to go to the movies lately without seeing some Christ allegory? I was prepared for it when we saw "Chronicles of Narnia," though I did have my issues with some flaws in logic. But it came as a bit of a surprise with a couple of recent movies.

First there was "Children of Men," where I thought they laid it on pretty thick. A woman, whom we first discover inside a manger, is pregnant with a baby boy. The child is born and has to be delivered from enemy forces so that it can save mankind.

Now this last weekend, we saw "Pan's Labyrinth." In this movie, *Spoiler Warning* the child of a god is sent to the mortal realm, where it must live among humans and learn the meaning of suffering. In the end, the child must die in order to ensure man's salvation (represented by an innocent baby) and is left with blood dripping from the hands stigmata-style.

At least Pan's Labyrinth didn't rip off "The Big Lebowski"!

3-2-1...Compact!

You may have heard of this Compact thing, where a bunch of sanctimonious jerks agree to not buy anything new for a year to help the environment or something. Anyway, we thought we should get a piece of this action, but we weren't quite ready to not buy anything for a whole year. So we're going to do The Compact for one month, February. The fact that it happens to be the shortest month of the year is pure coincidence. (Apologies to Lynn, who had this idea first.)

For the next month, we're not allowed to buy anything new unless it's (a) food (b) health and safety (c) underwear. Frankly, I don't need the underwear exception. Before I met Kelly, I still had underwear from 8th grade (she made me throw them away and buy new ones, because she hates the Earth).

I'm pretty excited to get started, though I may stock up on a few items while it's still January [that pretty much defeats the purpose. -ed.].

I'm a big fan of the kind of environmentalism that overlaps with me being extremely cheap.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who Is the Worst Artist?

Yesterday Kelly and I got into an argument that THREATENED TO TEAR OUR MARRIAGE APART!!

We were discussing the comics that run in the Chronicle -- specifically, which one is the most poorly drawn. She seems to think it's "Elderberries" by Phil Frank. I said that without question it's "Rhymes with Orange" by Hilary Price.

Note: This is not about the quality of the writing in either comic. No question, "Rhymes with Orange" is better in that respect. But hello, that Hillary Price woman can't draw for crap. There's no perspective; everything is in profile. And when she tries to draw black people, she gives them the Charles Schultz "Franklin" treatment, where they get a bunch of hash marks through their faces!

Clearly, Hillary Price became a cartoonist because she had some funny ideas and figured she would get the hang of the drawing part eventually. It's akin to a lot of singer-songwriters today, who probably should just write songs for better singers. But I digress.

My point is, Phil Frank is an old hand at cartooning. And while his style may not appeal to the kids of today (or Kelly), he's obviously a more talented artist than Hilary Price.

Here are two samples, chosen at random.

Hilary Price:


And Phil Frank:


Vote for the superior artist by posting a comment!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where’s the Kinder Love?

Apparently the British supermarket chain Tesco is coming to California. This news might excite me if I had assurances that the markets would stock Kinder Eggs!

[I’m concerned that our German readers may think that headline is NAMBLA reference. –Ed.]

Fake Fake Fur

I’ve waited *far* too long to weigh in on this whole fake-fur/real-fur controversy:
Jay-Z and Diddy's design ranges of "faux fur" coats are actually made of dog fur.
Tests carried out by the Humane Society of the United States have found that coats in Diddy's Sean John label and jackets from Jay-Z's Rocawear line are made from the fur of raccoon dogs.
CEO and president of the animal rights organization, Wayne Pacelle, said: "It is abhorrent that someone purchasing what they think is 'faux fur' is actually getting fur from a type of dog that may have been skinned alive.
"False advertising and labelling of raccoon dog fur is rampant in the fashion industry, and the amount of potential consumer deception is staggering."
The Humane Society said it had informed Jay-Z and Rocawear about the problem over a week ago, but no corrective action was taken and the jackets were still featured on the fashion firm's website, being sold for $265.
But on Tuesday, a Rocawear spokesperson announced that as soon as Jay-Z was informed about the use of dog fur he had the jackets removed from his line.
The representative said: "We were not aware that our product included raccoon dog materials.
"We have immediately instructed all manufacturers and licensees that no product can be produced using this fur. In addition we have removed those items from our website."
Raccoon dog fur was also found used in a fur-trimmed coat in Diddy's Sean John clothing label, on sale at New York's Macy's department store, advertised as "imitation rabbit fur".
These garments have also now been withdrawn from sale.
Raccoon dogs are an endangered species from Asia which belong to the canine family and are being killed for their fur in China.

My favorite part about this story is that –- at least with P. Diddy’s coats -– the raccoon-dog fur was labeled raccoon fur. So you have a case of fake fur that’s actually real fur that’s supposedly raccoon fur but is actually dog fur.

One thing that confuses me is why the raccoon dogs need to be skinned alive. I’m not familiar with best practices in the fake-real-raccoon-dog-fur industry, but wouldn’t it be a lot easier to club the animal to death first?

Payback Time?

Here’s an interesting report about some guy in the Comet Club who was punched in the face (unprovoked) by two guys “with Boston accents.” Could it be that New Englanders are getting us back for beating up Yale’s a cappella group?

Is this turning into another East Coast-West Coast rivalry –- a cappella-style?

Stay tuned.

Where's Your Ticket?

Speaking of Muni, I feel like I'm encountering a lot more proof-of-payment transit agents lately (those guys who make sure you have a valid ticket). Could it be they were inspired by the appearance of a proof-of-payment agent on Fox's "24"?

If you missed the episode, Jack Bauer follows a would-be suicide bomber onto the L.A. Metro subway. Jack is watching the terrorist, trying not to arouse suspicion, when he's approached by a transit agent asking for his ticket. "He's so busted," I thought, since Jack clearly didn't buy a ticket ahead of time.

But Jack says something like, "I'm a federal agent tracking a suicide bomber," and the guy totally buys it. Moments later Jack kicks the suicide bomber out of the train -- just as the bomb explodes (natch).

So far I haven't heard anyone try this on Muni.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Malodorous Muni

I unfortunately had to work on MLK Day (though I did "stick it to the man" by not wearing a tie. "Take that, whitey!"). Anyway, the cool part is, as I was coming home tonight I got to ride the new T-Third Muni Metro line.

This is San Francisco's newest subway/streetcar line, and it connects the disadvantaged Bayview neighborhood with downtown. It's been under construction since pretty much forever, so it was very exciting to see that "T-Third" sign all lit up.

It wasn't all roses, though. I only rode for two stops, so maybe I got a skewed impression, but I have to say it was possibly the SMELLIEST subway car I've ever been on. And some guy left sunflower seeds on several of the seats, so there wasn't much room to sit.

This might not bode well.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Brrrr...

If you're in San Francisco right now, you know it's very cold. (Is it just me or does it seem like the warmer the rest of the world gets, the colder it gets here.)

The nice part is, the cold brought me a new type of drunk-homeless-guy belligerence (which is exciting, since I feel like I've already experienced most kinds of drunk-homeless-guy belligerence).

I was walking to work. A guy saw me in my suit and ran up to me. "TURN UP THE MOTHERF**KING HEAT, MAN!!"

Since we were outside, he must have thought I was very powerful.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

BuboBlog Reviews 'Next'

In my efforts to study and document all things chuman, I recently read the new Michael Crichton book "Next." The novel deals with genetic engineering and features a chuman character (sadly, Crichton opts to use the inferior term "humanzee").

I won't judge the quality of Crichton's writing, which can be hackneyed and cringe-inducing (the part where he tries to get in the mind of a skateboarding punk is not a shining moment in literature). I will say "Next" was a quick and largely enjoyable read. And I agreed with most of his conclusions at the end of the book (he lists the things you were supposed to learn, in case you were too stupid to figure it out by actually *reading* the book. Nice touch!). I think his points will be less controversial than his global-warming views, which seem a little whack.

The humanzee character doesn't appear until nearly halfway through the book. And it's not created by straight-up breeding, but rather by inserting human genes into a chimp embryo. Ah, if only I had thought of this in my basement lab. He also mentions that both Hitler and Stalin tried to create chumans (I knew about the Stalin part but not Hitler). Does that make it wrong? Hitler was also a vegetarian.

Anyway, in the story a geneticist and his family adopt the chuman boy. They give it a haircut and a baseball cap, and after that most people just think the kid is a hairy African-American. (This seems like dangerous ground for Michael Crichton to trod, but he's just like that.) As the story reaches its exciting climax, the chuman (a) throws feces at his opponents (b) bites off an ear (c) befriends a talking parrot.

If that's not going to make you want to read the book, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Inappropriate Subject to Blog About

I'm hesitant to weigh in on this story about the Yale a cappella group getting their asses kicked in San Francisco. BuboBlog doesn't want to condone them being called slurs, etc., if that's what occurred. But c'mon, isn't it everyone's dream to beat up an a cappella group? [Yes. -ed.]

I also like this quote: "The kids are scared [shitless] of coming back to San Francisco."

I'm pretty sure the last time someone made a statement like that was in 1850.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

'Children of Men' vs. 'The Big Lebowski'

Tonight we saw "Children of Men," which was an excellent movie -- especially coming from the director of the Mexican "Porky's".

But what was with Julianne Moore basically reprising her role from "The Big Lebowski," even down to where she kidnaps The Dude, roughs him up and tries to convince him to carry out her plan. Talk about typecasting!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

'Get Off the Bus'

I've had lots of fun Muni experiences, but I've never managed to videotape one. So I was excited to hear about this clip, which shows a jerk with an expired Muni pass refusing to get off a bus. The clip wasn't quite as exciting as I thought it would be, but I do like the part where (a) the cop says he's going to admonish the guy and the guy thinks the cop is calling him "immodest," and (b) when the cop asks the people on the bus to do a citizen's arrest. Huh? What's the point of a cop if he has to ask other people to do a citizen's arrest??

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

'Superman II' Made Crappier

You may remember when I blogged excitedly (is there any other kind of blogging around here?) about the release of Richard Donner's director cut of "Superman II." For those new to this story, Richard Donner shot footage for Superman I and II at the same time. But before he had a chance to finish Superman II, he was kicked off the project. Another director (Richard Lester) took over, and I think Donner feels like Lester stabbed him in the back.

There were also some complications with Marlon Brando (who played Superman's dad). He asked for too much money for the second movie, and so they got rid of him too. They already had lots of footage of Brando for Superman II, but they couldn't use it.

The new Donner version (released recently on DVD) adds back the Brando footage and reworks the movie to fit Donner's original vision.

The verdict: Uh, it kind of sucked. Gone is the cool opening scene where Superman saves Paris from a nuclear bomb and flings the bomb into space. (Thus creating the explosion that freed the three Kryptonian prisoners from their two-dimensional record-album thing.) Instead, Donner does this weird flashback to Superman I, showing the part where Superman stops the nuclear missile and sends that into space. In the Donner version, it's that missile that frees the prisoners. The problem is, it looks like a random "previously on..." thing you see on TV -- not very slick. And it's just better form to have the movie's inciting incident be something that happens in the current film, not the old one.

The Brando parts were cool (they replace the scenes were Superman talks to his dead mother in the Fortress of Solitude). But Donner changes the ending so that Superman *once again* spins around the world, setting back time and preventing the three prisoners from ever coming to Earth. Lame! You can't use the same trick twice. (In the Lester version of Superman II, Superman kisses Lois and she forgets that he's Superman.) Plus, this messes up the sequence with the new Superman movie, since Superman and Lois have to get it on, so that she can have his son.*

Donner also seems to make less effort to dress up New York as Metropolis. He has a fight scene where they smash the Statue of Liberty. Hello, there's no Statue of Liberty in Metropolis! Another problem: They didn't have all the footage they needed, so they had to use something that Donner shot as a screen test (it feels more low-budge than the rest of the movie).

And finally, there are the scenes with Superman and the bully. You probably remember this part: After Superman loses his powers, he gets his ass kicked by a guy in a diner. He then comes back at the end of the film (after restoring his powers) and returns the ass-kicking favor. I always had some issues with this, because I'm not sure Superman would be so petty. What's worse here is Superman changes the timeline, so that he never would have encountered this guy in the first place. Then he still comes back and kicks his ass at the end! What the heck? And everyone in the diner seems to recognize him from his earlier visit (which wouldn't have occurred with this timeline). It doesn't make any sense.

Donner should have left well enough alone, I say.


*That presents another problem, though, since Superman and Lois only sleep together after he gives up his powers. So wouldn't their offspring not be super?

More on Parkmerced

Parkmerced got a mention in the Sunday New York Times (in a story about the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan). Apparently Parkmerced was built by the same people as Stuyvesant Town. I didn't know that, but I remember passing by "Stuy Town" once and thinking, "This looks like the Parkmerced of New York!" (The picture to the left, by the way, is Parkmerced in the 1950s.)

From the Times story:
At the urging of both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Robert Moses, the New York public works czar, Mr. Ecker [Frederick H. Ecker, a former MetLife chairman who led the effort 60 years ago to build thousands of apartments for middle-class New Yorkers] set out to address a general housing shortage and to provide homes for returning World War II veterans. MetLife ultimately built more than 24,000 apartments in New York City and an additional 9,420 units in Alexandria, Va. (Parkfairfax), San Francisco (Parkmerced) and Los Angeles (Parklabrea).

Thanks for the tip, Guy!