Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Neil Young at the Forum - Canceled

I bought my dad tickets to see Neil Young tomorrow night at The Forum in Inglewood. I got an e-mail out of the blue from Ticketmaster tonight that said the show had been canceled. It didn't give any reasons.

After digging around the Internet for awhile, all I was able to find was this Craigslist post which talks about it. Apparently, the church that owns the Forum refuses to negotiate to with Union leader who represents the workers. Thus, the workers are on strike, and Neil will not cross the picket line. The show is going to be rescheduled. That might not be fully accurate, but it's the best I was able to find out. Now, I have to get my dad another birthday gift. Perhaps he'll be content with this video of Neil playing "After the Gold Rush."


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ciroc Obama

The man is a genius. Every time I think Diddy is going to take a rest, he one-ups himself. I've never seen anything quite like the campaign that Ciroc Obama is running in 2008. A blog a day keeps McCain away. Please make your day and watch:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Joanna Doppelganger

We all know the agony I've been in that my beloved Joanna Newsom has been dating that (smog)gy cad Bill Callahan. Her angelic voice should be whispering sweet nothings in my ears, not his, and her fingers that she spins so lovingly on the harp should be making webs in my tangled locks, but anyway.

There's a talented young lady named Abby who plays piano, accompanied by her rat Teapot and she plays "The Book of Right-On" by Joanna Newsom. You hear that, Jo? She's younger than you, too! Watch my heart beats begin to reverberate in a different direction. Don't wait up for me. She's super pro-Obama, too. Making you sweat yet, Newsom? More like Old-som!



UPDATE: Apparently, my doe-eyed seraph is no longer dating Bill Callahan, but has found sawdust and diamonds in that SNL jokester, Andy Samberg. (reference) I'm not sure what to make of this. I mean, it's a step in the right direction. He is Jewish, and we are both white guys who attempt to rap for cheap laughs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No, I am certainly not Anne Hathaway's mystery man...

Alright, you can all stop asking me. I've read all about it in People magazine. Yes, Anne Hathaway has a new mystery man. But, who on Earth could it be?

Don't look my way...I have ab-so-lute-ly no idea. Not like she leaves any tasty little clues dropping around. What's this quote? "This guy I know in L.A. is kind of doing it for me right now." Guy in L.A.? Well, that doesn't narrow it down at all. I mean there are 2 million of us strapping young gentlemen in Los Angeles. True, true, not all of them are as well-respected, authoritative, sexual and mysterious as yours truly, but you don't really think it's me, do you?

That article is rubbish anyway. Don't even bother reading it. Okay, maybe a bit more: "I happened to meet a sexy guy the other day. When I think of sexy, I think of him." Oh, Anne, you're a beast. I mean, well...that doesn't mean anything! Just because the mere thought of this person inspires the image of sexiness doesn't mean it's me!

One more quote, if that'll satisfy you vultures: "You know when sometimes you don't know someone very well – you'll probably never see them again – but you just meet them and you're like 'WOW, you really have it going on'?"

.....

I can't keep this farce up anymore. Can I help it if my animal magnetism draws in Hollywood starlets like a Bvlgari store on Christmas Eve? Is it so wrong if the sight of me in slim-fitting Adidas workout sweats sends world-famous beauties into semi-orgasmic frenzies. Don't you dare judge me! Anne Hathaway and I have a love like the sweet summer rain!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scrub his little ducky tummy

I used to have this song memorized. Probably the least educational Sesame Street bit of all time. Makes me cry with 4-year-old nostalgia. Bo-bo-bo-dee-o.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It had to happen sooner or later...

I decided to finally put up the brief "comedy" show I did many months ago. It was filmed and I just avoided making it public, but after nearly a year I'm feeling comfortable enough letting everyone see my humility.

Watch for the brief appearance by famed Bollywood star Rupak Ginn. It's also fun to listen to comments from the crowd, such as "He's getting better," and "Just roll with it." Ahh...my first hecklers.

Anyway, here it is. Be gentle:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Indirect Social Mobility in this Nonsense Economy

I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about legal disputes concerning Starbucks leases. Since Starbucks expanded so rapidly and exponentially, the sudden drop in demand for frappuccinos has caused them to default on some of their leases, inciting a few lawsuits.

This is really classic supply-demand stuff that freaks people out and causes the stock market to have hyperbolic effects on our daily lives when it really should just make us shrug. For some reason, the last ten years has seen a great demand for $4 coffee beverages. This is not really "demand," however, but perceived demand. People see a product everywhere the way a child sees a new toy and think they absolutely must have it. But, nobody actually needs a frappuccino. That's why, when we discuss supply and demand, we're not really discussing supply and need. That's where the problem really comes in. When the supply of oil goes down and the need we have in Western society for the stuff remains constant, we're in some deep water. However, if the supply of mocha powder suddenly diminished, we'd see a few 14-year-olds say "aw shucks" or they could text "superlame" or whatever to their friends, but I think they'd get along just fine.

This takes me to my "How to Save Starbucks" argument. There are three kinds of need, the way I see it.
1) Actual Need - These are things that human beings actually, totally, 100% need to survive. Water, basic food sources, and in our bustling cities, oil.
2) Fake Need - These are the things like frappuccinos that I was discussing earlier. Every day when I get to work I decide that I need coffee to function. I don't actually need it, I just really like having coffee every morning because it makes me feel better, helps me concentrate and do good work (I almost certainly would not be writing right now without it), and gives me something to do with my hands besides type. I'm very fidgity, I must bring some warm liquid to my lips every 35 seconds or so.
3) Physically non-essential but mentally necessary needs (Snazzy name pending) - These are things not terribly unlike coffee that people don't actually need to survive, but for which there will always always be demand no matter how poor we are or how bad the economy gets. These are things for which business actually gets better when our lives suck. I have boiled this down to a simple rule, namely, the rule of BHDP: Booze, Hookers, Drugs and Pornography.

I cannot think of any society, no matter how destitute, unfortunate or downtrodden, not to absolutely require these four things in varying degrees of importance. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Jonathan," (you're thinking this) "how dare you argue that human life is so base to only require the most degenerative aspects of our society!" Or, you may be thinking, "Jonathan, your list is too long. Since alcohol is a drug and pornography is just another form of prostitution, you could have theoretically shortened your list to DW, or Drugs and Whores. I don't completely disagree, but I think it's important to make the distinction among the wildly varying requirements of society. I include drugs after booze as alcohol is undoubtedly the most prominent drug in Western society and is a solid, legal industry independent of the drug trade. I realize that alcohol was illegal for a decade in the early part of this century, and I think it's ironic that we learned the lesson of that mistake but didn't learn the lesson from this 30-year-deep drug war. We just replaced Al Capone with Avon Barksdale.



Anyway, here's what I do if I'm Starbucks. Include two shots of bourbon in every frappuccino (you're already charging four dollars for the damn thing!) and pay your employees an extra two dollars an hour to work topless. It doesn't matter if they look like models or not, this is 2008, and people in this economy will take what they can get. Also, the guys have to do it, too, so there's no claiming that it's a sexist move. The pay will get so good, you'll have those jerks who work at Abercrombie & Fitch coming over for a job. I guarantee a double in sales by, oh, next week?

I'm not saying I've come up with some sort of brilliant Keynesian strategy here, I'm just using common sense. People are depressed, they can't buy an Xbox or go to the movies on Friday night anymore, but hell if they're going to be deprived of their booze and boobs! (That's a much better name, the B&B School of Economics, patent pending).

Okay, where's my Nobel?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mahalo 2.0 is here!

More than 24 hours after the push, I'm finally able to blog about the exciting new features on Mahalo.com. We've been working on this for months (and when I say "we" I mean the people who actually built the thing...I'm just an editor) and the results are pretty clear.



Our top section features the news stories of the day in all major categories, updated all day, every day.

The real innovation here is the liveblog on the right side. We have people working (almost) 24 hours a day to find the latest in gossip, politics, money and videos, and post it immediately on the liveblog.

After just one day of doing this, we've already had a great response from the press and the blogosphere. Users love to follow the latest stories and click through the tabs to the news that interests them.

We hope to have even more great developments on Mahalo in the coming weeks and months. Thanks for checking it out and stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Deerhoof - Offend Maggie

I went to Best Buy last night to pick up Tell-Tale Signs, the 8th entry in Bob Dylan's bootleg series (I was successful) and the new Deerhoof album, Offend Maggie (I was unsuccessful). Though Best Buy isn't the best place to get the new hipster rock album, they've been getting better in recent years in terms of selection.

I was surprised when I got to the store that the clerk said that they'd only received four copies and they must have sold out. I'm convinced they were just in the storage room on a cart somewhere and hadn't yet been shelved because, let's be honest, how many people are going to the Best Buy on Sawtelle to buy the new Deerhoof album the day it comes out. Maybe one other nerd and myself, that's it. But, I could be wrong. Maybe they have a larger following than I thought. Here's the title track off their new album. Sounds great.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama vs. McCain: Health Care

Listening to NPR on the way home from work, it seems the most striking difference between Barack Obama and John McCain in tonight's debate came on the issue of health care. Barack Obama said it was a right and John McCain said it was an individual responsibility.

This is a major ideological rift between myself and many Americans. Individual responsibility is important to Americans more than in any other nation. It supercedes class structure, which is a prevalent aspect of society in nearly every other Western culture, especially in Britain. The British don't believe in social mobility nearly as much as Americans. They are taught as children that, while hard work can get you a long way, you're unlikely to rise that much in the system despite your best efforts. If you're born into a working class family, you're like to remain working class throughout your life, unless your name is, perhaps, John Lennon. Americans, conversely, are convinced that if they work hard enough and have a scrappy bit of ingenuity, that they can be up there on Forbes billionaire list in a few years.

I don't want to knock the American entrepreneurial spirit. After all, it's what helped make us the richest nation in the world in the early 20th century. Without it, I would likely not be working at my current place of employment. This idea has, however, carried with it the belief that the hardest working among us are more entitled to certain benefits than the uninspired masses.

We have, as a nation, decided that certain living necessities are a right for all citizens. Here's a short list: Public schools, police and fire departments, libraries, funds for our elderly. These are things that we all pay for through our taxes and that we would likely revolt if someone tried to take away. Imagine having your house ablaze and the fire department shows up and asks you to fill out paperwork and give a down payment before they to work on saving your house. Any candidate who proposed such nonsense would be out of the raise by the end of the sentence.

The ability to see a doctor when ill is not, however, one of those rights that we as a nation feel the need to provide. We commonly, with only minor irritation, sit in emergency rooms and fill out forms, stress over our co-payments, and fight lengthy battles with our insurance company to make sure we are covered. These issues are not a problem in almost any other Western nation. Hospitals and doctors are just another thing they all decided, as morally conscious people, that they would provide regardless of the cost.

Hearing McCain say tonight that health care is a responsibility and not a right, and hearing so many American voters concur with that sentiment makes me think we really have our priorities mixed up. If a candidate in Britain, France, Canada, Sweden, Norway, etc. said "Maybe we shouldn't give health care to every single citizen" they would be out. No debate, no town hall meeting, Out!

This is one of the most important issues we face as a nation to restore our moral dignity. I can think of no logical argument against it. The only issue I see is: are we going to care for our citizens or aren't we?

Those against universal health care always say the same thing: "You can't choose your own doctor. Health care in Canada isn't like Michael Moore says. It's not perfect!"

Our public schools in America are far from perfect. I haven't heard anyone suggest we should abolish them and force all children to attend private school. Oh, your parents can't afford private school? Guess they should have tried harder then, huh.

If you think about one's health the same way one does about education and safety from fires (and of course, one's health is much more important day-to-day than these things), your only conclusion should be that we are going to unequivocally give the care we give to the richest among us to everyone.

Americans feel strongly about this issue. Disagree with me? Many do. Please leave a comment and we can have a friendly discussion in which you hopefully don't call me any names.

If you missed it, here's the full debate, courtesy of the Washington Post:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Appaloosa Review

Let's put this right out there. Appaloosa is one of the most inept, miscalculated, incompetent films I've seen a long, long time. This is a western bereft of any depth, character, intelligent dialogue, suspense or drama. It involves a simplistic premise and builds upon it to where the filmmakers must have assumed it would derive some meaning. How unfortunate.

Here we have some talented actors who must have read a very different script than the one presented on screen. It involves two lawmen, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, arriving to the town of Appaloosa to protect it from a group of bandits run by Randall Bragg. Oh good, you might think, a Seven Samurai-style premise, performed by three solid actors (Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons). Appaloosa unfortunately gives them nothing interesting to do and relies on substandard, often laughable cliches. Ed Harris seems like a wise enough guy, but he has really missed the mark on this one. He fails to recognize that stoicism does not a poignant character make. The first thing they teach you in screenwriting class is that characters in films have outward conflicts and inward conflicts. The outward conflicts are the actions presented on screen (Marshall wants to kill bandit, boy is in love with girl he can't have) and the inward conflicts are the emotional, psychological issues one must deal with in the process (Marshall tries to remain noble despite the duty he has to murder). Appaloosa gives its characters only the basest motives and makes no attempt to give insight into who these people are or why they want to do what they do.


I know, this image almost makes it look interesting.

Conflicts in this film are resolved so easily one wonders why they were included in the story to begin with. Here's an example (Spoiler Warning):

The "lovely" widow Allison French comes into town and is immediately smitten with Marshall Cole. Nobody can really say why, although Cole immediately drops his charmless demeanor and giggles like a schoolgirl around French. They fall in love and decide to build a house in town, about 12 hours after meeting. When Hitch goes to visit the house, Allison starts to kiss him uncomfortably. Alright, one thinks, now we have a love triangle that will present some real troublesome issues for these characters. Nope. Hitch pushes Allison away, says "we're both with Cole" and that's essentially the end of that conflict. No anger from Cole to Hitch, no insecurity as to the widow French's ambitions. That's pretty much it. Appaloosa is full of conflicts that go absolutely nowhere.

Let's move on to the dialogue. It's laughable. At times I actually thought it was a joke. In one scene Cole tells Hitch that the reason he's not as good a gunfighter as him is that he has feelings. "Feelings get you killed," he says. End of scene. Thanks, but that doesn't do it for me. Try not hitting me over the head with it. Or, if you do plan on hitting me over the head, do something with it for god's sake. Don't just end the scene and meander into the next inane love scene.

The action. There isn't any. A couple of gun shots that you wish were aimed at Allison French's head. The female lead is really thankless, even for Zellweger. All you have to do is watch a few scenes with Alma Garret from Deadwood to realize that women actually have more to do in the old west than play Campdown Races on the piano and scream after their man while running through endless sandstorms.

How in the world did Appaloosa get 75% on Rotten Tomatoes? See the movie and then read some of these reviews. You'll think you've watched a different film. Everyone's lost their minds. I'm sorry, but Viggo, Ed, Jeremy: I love you guys, but this is the worst film I've seen all year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bill O'Reilly on Drug Use

This is an absolute classic clip of Bill O'Reilly losing it on a guest who wrote a book about drug use. The author, Jacob Sullum, argues that drugs should be legal because it's not inherently wrong to want to alter one's perception of the world for enjoyment. It's only wrong when it affects others, as in drunk driving. Pretty simple thesis - most reasonable people agree with that.

O'Reilly totally flips out on this guy, saying he's a "libertinist" who encourages the worst parts of our society. Watch all the way to the end to where Sullum says "so you don't drink alcohol or coffee or smoke cigarettes?" and O'Reilly calls him a pinhead. Absolutely classic.