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One thing I really like about the show King of the Hill is the clever use of names. For example, the massive, oppressive Walmart equivalent on the show is the Mega Lo Mart. This works both at the character level — you can imagine the owners talking about how their prices are not just low, but mega-low — and also at the audience level, by evoking megalomania. (Are there technical names for those two levels?)

The other day, Adult Swim re-ran one of my favorite episodes, “A Beer Can Named Desire”, in which the B plot is a Tennessee Williams pastiche involving Hank’s friend and neighbor, perennial loser Bill Dauterive, visiting his family in Louisiana.

What I just now realized is that the name of the Dauterive estate — Chateau D’Haute Rive — while being a plausible source for the name Dauterive (and literally meaning “house on the high river”), also evokes the words cat, hot, and roof.

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Today I was poking around in Google’s archives of rec.arts.sf.fandom, the Usenet group where I spent most of my online time back before blogging took off. I was looking for a thread from October 2000 in which one poster had asked anti-Bush people to make some predictions of what sort of negative consequences would follow a Bush victory. (Yeah, lots of politics in rec.arts.sf.fandom.) Not many actual predictions were made, and of course nobody came close to what’s actually happened. If I could post backwards in time and tell people “Well, it’s 2005, and the World Trade Center is rubble, and we’re bogged down in a hopeless war in Iraq, and New Orleans pretty much doesn’t exist anymore, and the government now has the authority to imprison American citizens without charging them with a crime” nobody would believe me, except maybe for the bit about Iraq.

I did find a post of my own in that thread, with a prediction that came true:
I'm just waiting for TV to die and be replaced by high-bandwidth video downloads. No more discovering a good show with the fifth episode and having to wait six months for them to rerun the first four. No more having to choose among the three things you want to watch that are being shown at the same time.
(Yeah, lots of topic drift in rec.arts.sf.fandom.) I pretty much nailed that one. [livejournal.com profile] mamishka just recommended a new show, Charlie Jade, that’s not showing in the US yet, but Google found me some BitTorrent hosts carrying episodes.
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Google Video: Search recent TV programs online. (Set your ZIP code in the preferences.)
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Jon Stewart being interview by Ken Auletta on C-SPAN, and then answering questions from a bunch of media people. RealMedia stream, about an hour.
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I’m missing the Obama-Keyes debate on CSpan2!

Update

Sep. 30th, 2004 11:33 pm
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Whuf. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I want to write now, but I’m too tired. My father had bypass surgery today, and I was up at 4:30 AM to accompany my parents to the hospital. The surgery went well, and he’s doing about as well as you’d expect some to be doing who’s had that kind of surgery.

I made a point of seeing tonight’s debate, ’cause I learned four years ago that you can’t trust the post-debate media spin. The first ten or fifteen minutes were just painful — I felt like I hated both candidates. They both stayed so relentlessly on-message that I wanted Jim Lehrer to start demanding that they actually answer the questions he’d asked. Kerry got better as the night went on, and I think he articulated the North Korean Nukes story pretty well. Bush seemed to get more and more defensive, and seemed positively desperate every time he mentioned talking with other world leaders — Really, I talk to these guys, honest!

I can’t believe Bush is actually campaigning on the claim that he’s a clear and coherent speaker. “Mexed missages”.

Speeches

Sep. 11th, 2004 06:38 pm
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I watched the first half of Zell Miller’s speech at the GOP convention before I couldn’t take anymore, and not just because the compression of the video stream made it seem like the turncoat was being applauded by an army of giant alien insects. Then, minutes ago at the pizza parlor, I heard a bit of an old speech by some al Qaeda bigwig, and I wondered: Is someone else’s rousing rhetoric always creepy?

King’s “I have a dream” speech — surely one of the most stirring pieces of political rhetoric in the modern English language — must sound like a nightmare to a racial separatist. I guess Objectivists and anarchists must find Kennedy’s “Ask not” inaugural address pretty creepy.
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So there was this TV show, right? A pretty blonde California girl has special powers. Her father has departed before the series starts, but her mother’s still around. And a sister who unexpectedly turns up later. Mostly she gets by with the help of her goofy male friend, who’s too brother-like to be a romantic interest, and an older mentor character, played by Anthony Stewart Head (he’s actually her second mentor, after the first got killed), with links to a secretive order of some kind.

VR-5 ran for nine episodes on broadcast TV back in 1995. There were a few more made that didn’t get shown till the Sci-Fi Channel ran it, but I somehow missed that. The pilot sucked, so I didn’t bother to watch the first episode, but I caught the second because I was bored and nothing else interesting was on, and damn! If you pretended that the technology was all magic (because it was totally implausible otherwise) it was really good. Lots of clever twists and playing against viewer expectations.

It came up in conversation with one of my coworkers today. A quick Amazon check turns up a DVD edition, four years out of print. I can’t even find out if it’s got all 13 episodes, or only the originally broadcast nine. There’s one copy going on eBay for like $50. Feh.
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BoingBoing linked to this great article examining the economic underpinnings of Gilligan’s Island, “The Monetary Economics of Thurston Howell III”. Along the way, the author passes along this bizarre observation:
After the invasion of Iraq, there was no more central bank printing dinars and no more Iraqi government to put the fiat behind its fiat currency. The American military started handing out US$20 bills and expected the Dinar to fade from existence. Instead, to the chagrin of the occupation force, the Dinar's value doubled against the Dollar in two weeks. Statues of Saddam Hussein were being toppled, but his face was still on the preferred currency, and gaining in popularity. Some saw this as patriotism: a silent protest by the occupied population against the invading force. But we need only look further north, to the Kurd-controlled areas, to find a more economic explanation.

After the first Gulf War, Iraq changed its currency from the so-called Swiss Dinar to the more recent Saddam Dinar. When a government changes its fiat currency, it announces a transition period during which the old bills can be brought in and exchanged for the new. After the window closes, the old notes are declared worthless.

To no one's surprise, the rebel Kurds did not visit the Iraqi government to make such an exchange. They just kept using the old money. It was familiar, hard to counterfeit, and in its post-fiat status, it was no longer inflationary: that is to say, the relatively fixed supply of notes made the currency a better store of value than the new Saddam dinars being printed (and printed and printed) further south.
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Trying to calibrate my laptop’s battery by running it all the way down. The indicator’s been showing a tiny sliver of red for like half an hour now, and I got the shutting down in a few minutes if you don’t plug me in message like ten minutes ago, but it’s still going.

And here’s a link to the Videos page for the Democratic Convention, if you want to watch any of the speeches.
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I’m watching the Democratic Convention. Missed it last night, so I didn’t get to see Clinton and Gore.

Howard Dean seemed a bit lackluster; I was hoping for more fire. I got the fire from Barack Obama, an assemblyman a state senator from Illinois who’s running for the Senate. Man, what a speaker! I’m not the only one who’s impressed; his campaign website’s just gone down, presumably under the load of millions of people checking him out at the same time right after his keynote speech. Here’s a taste:
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

(And yeah, that’s Obama.)

If you missed it, here’s a RealPlayer stream.
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I’m way behind on my Hugo reading, and with the deadline at the end of this month, I dunno if I’m gonna make it, not all the novels and the short fiction. But on my most recent visit to Barnes & Noble I saw that Charlie Stross’s Singularity Sky is out in mass-market paper, and snatched it up. I really ought to read the other Best Novel nominees too (except the Robert J. Sawyer; I feel pretty confident predicting that I wouldn’t like it, though I suppose I might hate one of the others more), but a book that contains the line “the brightly colored sporks of revolution” has a definite leg up.

If I see 28 Days After I’ll have seen all the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) nominees; out of the other four I’m leaning towards Pirates of the Caribbean for first, X2 for second.

The Dramatic Short Form I’ll probably just skip. I’ve only seen one out of the five, and don’t consider that one award-worthy, and seeing the others would likely be a pain in the ass, unless someone wants to lend me a Firefly DVD.

Note to self: Nominate PNH, TNH, Jim Henley, and John M Ford for Best Fan Writer next year. Langford’ll take the award anyway, but maybe one of ’em’ll get on the ballot.
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[ some guy ]This guy over here? He was walking past the Starbucks right next to Yuka while I was sitting there sketching yesterday, while waiting for the other folks to show up for [livejournal.com profile] feiran’s short-notice stuff-yourself-full-o-shushi fest. We had fifteen people, clearly a larger group than the restaurant was used to dealing with, and wound up around a series of tables strung together leaving us with two groups of all-you-can-eat people placing separate orders, and the waitresses bring one group’s stuff to the other end of the table, and vice-versa, somehow leading to everyone eating more than they’d intended. But anyway, doesn’t that guy have a great face? One that cries out to be sketched?

Afterward a bunch of us headed off to [livejournal.com profile] bigscary’s place to watch his Farscape DVDs. Bigscary has hit upon a novel way of avoiding having to organize and store his DVD collection, by having me borrow most of it. The first four Farscape disks have joined the pile.


[ Melorne as a kid ]Oh, note to self: Y’know how you keep putting off clearing off your drawing table during the day, in favor of going out and doing daytime stuff, figuring you can do it in the evening, and then when evening rolls ’round, putting it off to the next day? Well, you’ve been doing this since Friday, and the table ain’t getting any cleared-off-er. Just sayin’.

Today’s waste of time was sitting in Ground, reading more of Mason & Dixon (which continues to be way drolly humorous) and doing still more sketching while putting off actually starting a web comic or a submission for SPX. (Also, see above about drawing table.) On the up side, I am getting the hang of that Japanese brush-pen, and I almost like how Melorne’s jacket came out in the sketch below.

Big, color Melorne sketch )
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“Man, that must be the world’s toughest sofa.”
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Somewhere among all the myriad parallel universes and alternate timelines, there’s one where The Muppet Show was still being produced into the ’90s. Yesterday, during the CthulhuPunk game, someone from that universe got hold of a thought projector and inserted into my brain the video of Miss Piggy’s performance of Brittney Spears’s “(Hit Me) Baby One More Time”.
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Anyone remember when the first issue of Preacher (Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon) came out? It came to me this afternoon that Cassidy bears some resemblence as a character to early Spike from Buffy. Not physical, but in general personality and outlook. If you gave quick summaries of their characters, one or two sentences, they could easily come out the same except one’s Irish and the other English. Hm, and Cassidy’s probably too much of a fuck-up ever to kill a Slayer.
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Y’know what that Angel episode needed?

Counting.
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A pair of news links from Electrolite:

Winston Churchill’s parrot, known for squawking obscenities about Hitler, is still alive at the age of 104.

The Russian army has joined the effort to rescue ten tons of beer trapped beneath an iced-over Siberian river.

Also, CNN has apparently shown Bush’s State of the Union proper respect:
[ Chimp Gone Wild! ]
(via Escahton)

Kitties!

Jan. 5th, 2004 02:04 am
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One: You’ll need Windows Media Player for this video file, probably taken from some funny home videos TV show, of cats being accidentally amusing. Enjoy your inter-species schadenfreude, with your oh-so-superior opposable thumbs! (Via Ampersand)

Two: No video software needed for Scott McCloud’s latest Morning Improv strip: A Bucket Full O’ Kittens!

Now for some sleep!
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Ten Ads America Won’t See, from AdAge.com. Some are just JPEGs, like the cover of a Filipino skin magazine that admits it doesn’t know why it bothers putting any text in. Others are videos, like the amusing beer ad about a man explaining sex to a four-year-old using a sausage, or a woman who’s been reincarnated as a cockroach, or the world’s worst Nativity play.

The videos are ASF files; my old copy of VLC media player didn’t play the sound, but the latest version works pretty well.

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