Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Heart Profanity

Man, I loves me a good curse word. Really, I do. I know the old saying that profanity is the last refuge of the unintelligent (or something), but to me, the whole idea of curse words are a grand proof of the existence of a social contract.

We have all agreed, tacitly but universally, that these words have power. Why these scant handful above others is a semantic mystery. Some are, allegedly, acronyms for crimes of passion, others acronyms for immigration status (though I suppose wop—with out papers—is more of a slur than a curse). A rather significant one is tossed off as punctuation in one culture, but carries the heft of a spiked hammer in the US.

I'm of two minds: While I like the idea of words that hold power, I don't believe that, in and of themselves, they should. As someone whose job, both day and night, revolves around words and their usage, I've always felt that no word is better or worse than another. Only right or wrong, depending on the situation.

But that's not the world we live in, and I'm okay with that. It is handy to have words that, with a little help, can dive directly to the heart of the matter. It's emotional shorthand. Personally, I don't trust people who don't use profanity—it's as if they believe themselves exempt from that social contract. (Plus, they don't understand the power of a well-placed curse. When I was a kid, I sat down with my parents to watch Bill Cosby: Himself. One of the smartest, cleanest stand-up concerts you'll ever see. But when Dr. Huxstable lets slip a perfectly timed "asshole," it makes you sit up and take notice.)

It's one of the reasons why Battlestar Galactica is such an accomplished investigation of the human condition. It realizes that people reeling from the almost complete annihiliation of the human race would, most definitely, drop a few F-bombs now and again. And, as Sci-Fi Channel publicist Lana Kim reminded me after she introduced me to Grace "Boomer" Park, frak is a four-letter word.

Okay, really, this post is just a very long excuse to say that I met Grace Park last night, while attending the US Open as a guest of the USA Network. And she's funny, charming, and stunning in real life and, as she hugged me good-bye. I couldn't help but think that if she were not a spoken-for, coast-hopping, fabulous actress and were I not a happily married, not-nearly-as-fabulous magazine editor...

Yeah, she wouldn't give me the fucking time of day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Favorite Emmy Moment

Came before the Emmys even started. During the preshow, when assbag Billy Bush caught Jeremy Piven on the red carpet, and asked him if he's ever seen Jennifer Garner's baby, or Brad Pitt's baby, or maybe even perhaps Suri Cruise, because, well, he lives in California. Piven reared back and said:

"I don't go hunting for celebrity babies. I have 116 other things to do, thank you, Billy. You need another job. I mean, you have potential as a human being. This may not be right for you. Seriously, can you focus on other things?"

Honestly, I think that's why he got the Emmy.

No Shiny Glove, No Love

I was on the train this morning, letting my iPod pick my travelling music, and I heard two songs back to back and, given the fact that I've almost 3,000 songs on the wee box, the odds of them shuffling together are pretty long. "Human Nature" and "Get On the Floor." Both by Michael Jackson. From Thriller and Off the Wall, respectively.

I haven't thought about Michael Jackson, on purpose, for years. Sure, I've averted my eyes at the whole child molestation/bankrupcy/Bahrainian emigre thing. And it's easy to look at him today, the very model of a modern eccentric white woman, and feel both revulsion and pity. He should be the poster child for How Parents Can Fuck Up Their Kids, But Good.

And yet none of that can change the fact that, for a good long while there, he was an amazing musician, a startling performer. He was a rock star that sung R&B, who had an unparalled control over both his voice and his body. He was, as we used to say, The Shit. (I never had the Thriller jacket, like so many of my friends did, but it wasn't for lack of desire. Rather, a lack of funds.) And those two songs, while neither of them as tectonic as, say, "Beat It" or "Billie Jean," are still pretty amazing little snorts of pop culture.

Listening to them got me thinking about how we, as consumers and aficianados, deal with great art by people we can no longer stand. It's a quandry that critics and historians have been wrestling with for years. Is The Birth of a Nation any less of a landmark film for being a Klan puff piece? Is Triumph of the Will not a heady, incisive look at the power of propaganda—maybe the greatest movie about marketing ever—because it's about the Nazis, commissioned by Hitler?

More recently, is The Road Warrior not awesome because Mel Gibson's a drunken anti-Semite or is Tom Cruise not revelatory in Magnolia or Legend (yeah, Legend. So?) simply because he's a misguided religious zealot? Or is Speed not a terrific thriller just because Keanu Reeves is dumb as a stump? Is Hunter any less mediocriffic knowing that Fred Dryer was, reportedly, a racsist sexist bigot? (Well, okay, you got me there.)

Our relationship with art has to be divorced from the artist, otherwise neither will be able to stand, or fail, on their own.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Man of Steel, Indeed

This, found thanks to Heidi.

Yes, the type that went along with this cover has been erased, but can you really think of the words that would've made this image okay?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

'Venture' Forth

I do this because I have nothing but love for you. For all of you.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Rump Shakur

I was in transit when most of this John Mark Karr business broke. I don't really care all that much. Sure, he looks a little Norman Bates crazy and he's got the three names that point to your classic killer dude, but JonBenet's unsolved murder wasn't keeping me up at night.

But part of me—the part that cares just a little—couldn't help but channel my inner Chris Rock and wonder: For a little white girl murdered 10 years ago, they marshall the resources to track this guy to friggin' Thailand and bring him back, but the authorities still don't know who killed Tupac...and if they are still looking, they're not looking outside of Compton.

I'm just saying...

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Nekkid Truth

Back from Jamaica. It was that wonderful sort of vacation that felt longer than it really was—and wasn't a week with the in-laws.

But if there was a maxim this vacay reinforced, a law never to be forgotten, it was this:

With the rarest of exceptions, the people you see on a nude beach
are not the people you want to see nude.

When we took the tour that eventually wound its way to our room, the lithe Jamaican guy with the carefully trimmed goatee who looked like he was more than ready to help some 40-year-old women get their respective grooves back pointed out that our room was 50 feet from one of the resort's two pools and the more secluded of the two beaches. Of course, this was the clothing-optional beach, but, hey, no problem, mon.

After my wife asked if we could get another room and was told no, we made some dinner reservations, waited for the resort to unlose our bags (our biggest complaint with the Grand Lido Negril—that's right, fuckers, I'm name-checking you right here—was the abysmal check-in experience in which we lost an entire afternoon because they misplaced our luggage and refused to take any responsibility for that, um, misplace-al), and went to a well-deserved sleep.

The next morning, we figured, hey, we're right next to the beach, and it's a nicer one than the main beach, as well as shadier. (See, my wife, she's of Irish-Scottish-British ancestry and so the only thing that would make her, genetically, less accomodating of massive amounts of sunlight is if she was also albino.) It was also less crowded and much closer to the bar. (That ancestry also leads to a prodigous constitution.) So, we set up camp.

And, it all went pretty well. Sure, there were some naked seniory dudes frolicking in the ocean and some naked seniory ladies willing to doff their housedresses and enjoy the sun's golden kiss, but they were, relatively, far away. Their crazy old-folks nakedness was far enough away to be innocuous and, with the combined distraction of good book and frosty rum-based beverages, easily forgotten. Until I got into the pool.

Nice pool, too. Never more than 6 people in it at once the entire four days we were there. They handed drinks to you from the bar so you never had to leave the water. So, Sue and I found a teensy patch of shade in the pool, cozied up with something frosty called a Purple Rain, and chilled. Then, one of these AARP newbies jiggled over, pants nowhere in sight, and decided to get in the pool. Slowly. Awkardly. Like he was ambling sideways over a very small pony.

I have now, officially, seen more old dude sac than I've ever wanted, or needed to.

And the women weren't much better. Either way too large to be seen without a velvet track suit on, or old with strange implants that rendered them oddly disporportionate, like floor lamps with brand new bulbs.

Of course, there needed to be exceptions to the rule: the trio of twentysomething black girls in town for a friend's wedding who, clearly, went to the clothing-optional beach to see who could encourage the most coronaries. (Not that I looked; remember, I had my book.) Or the young couple who I thought was European—judging by the guy's insistence on parading around like a stubbled Adonis while his girlfriend rubbed lotion into his every crevasse—but turned out to be from DC and Jersey, respectively. (And she clearly didn't take to the nude experience, fastening her top every chance she got. I think. Again, me and my book didn't notice.)

And the weirdest thing wasn't the fact that all these people were naked: It was seeing them later, dressed, at the buffet, or at dinner. Or, as it happened, on a never-ending line at the airport—that's were we "met" the DC/Jersey couple and had weird conversations in which both Sue and I had to submerge the memories of them nekkid. And those are weird conversations to have. Because you have to pretend not to have been, in a very real sense, intimate with them. You've seen them in their birthday suits, and while the atmosphere wasn't exactly sexually charged, what with the ancient testes knocking about, you've seen them in a way that usually only lovers do.

But, despite—or perversely—because of all that, we had a great time. Meet some interesting people, some of which kept their clothes on. Snorkeled, swam, drank, ate, and laughed. What more can a brother ask from a long weekend?

(Yes, more attire for the elderly, I know.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Off the Grid, Bitches

My wife and I are taking our first, ever extended vacation from the kiddies. Off to Jamaica, in fact, to soak up the Ian Fleming vibe and, hopefully, as much Red Stripe as possible (because, for those of you playing at home, it was Bond's favorite beer).

And I feel twice as nice because Adam and I finished our first draft of the first issue of our Wildstorm mini. So, put that in your bong and smoke it.

See you cats on Monday...unless I'm hostage by all the dreadlocked voodoo rastafarai gangsters that have been sitting around waiting for Hollywood to remember how awesome they were as bad guys back in 1989.

Jah love.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Artist Formerly Known As

This whole graphic novel thing was swimming along so easily. Pitched the idea to the publisher at San Diego 2005. Finished writing by the end of October 2005. Found an artist by that November. Targeted San Diego 2006 as the big debut. And then...not much.

The reason that I haven't been keeping you all abreast (heh...I said breast) of what was happening with Monster Attack Network is because nothing's been happening. And that was a problem. The work that should've been getting done wasn't. Life had a way of getting in the way. Births, deaths, paying gigs...the only thing that was missing was a wedding, and we'd officially be able to say that the Circle of Life rolled in and fucked us.

So, eight months after seeing our first character sketches—and not seeing a single page of finished art—Adam and I decided to part ways with the artist. Which really is a shame, because he's an insanely talented cat who could've made this book sing. But we'll never know.

I've still got the sheet music, though...if anyone's interested. Seriously, lemme know.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Map Quest

Is it me, or should every TV news outfit not be using Google Earth as their defacto map tool? I mean, it's cool and all, and does feel like something out of a Tom Clancy book, but there's something, I don't know, journalistically flimsy about entrusting something so important as maps to an internet doodad.

As illustrated in that great West Wing scene where CJ and Josh have an eye-opening meeting with some lobbyists who want to change the map of the world because it doesn't corroborate with reality (Africa, technically, is like 50 times bigger than the UK, but on the map, the discrepancy is much smaller, all to inflate the importance of Great Britain), maps are how we see the world. They are a reduction, of course, of what's really out there, but it's the only way we can really wrap our minds around the existence beyond our doors.

Cartography is an immense responsibility because those maps are the only reference points for current events. And for an Emmy-quality news organization to say that maps generated by out-of-date satellite photography (I know it's out of date because when I Google Earthed my house, the two cars in my driveway haven't belonged to me for years) and posted on the internet are as close to reality as possible can't be right.

Google Earth is cool, but it's a special effect. Relying on it as a source of record is like writing a thesis based on Wikipedia research. Not only should these news outlets know better, but we have to hold them to higher standards than that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Road Not Taken

EDITED: 8/9/06

Apparently, the powers that be don't want you to see what was a collection of clips from the HORRIBLE live-action Justice League pilot. Hell, if I had powers, I wouldn't want you to see it either.

'Sweet' Mother of God

I've pretty much given up on MTV. Primarily, because there's no longer any M in the TV. Secondarily, because Adam no longer works there. (Sort of. He does exec produce Nick Cannon's Wild N Out, but he's not on staff.) So I don't often find myself landing on that channel as I scour the tube for something to watch. I'm actually comfortable with the idea that MTV has passed me by, or I've passed it by. One or the other.

In truth, though, I'm hoping its MTV that changed, and not me, because I can't imagine that any of the stuff we used to watch was as unrepentently, unapologetically evil as My Super Sweet 16. If you haven't seen this show, then I encourage you to seek it out, just to marvel, slack-jawed, at how some parents have raised their little girls.

I mean, take a look at this one, Nicole, who wants to hire some local celeb rapper to play her party. For $25,000. For a sweet 16 party. That will be forgotten by all who attended within the week. I think I spent as much on my wedding. And I had a nice wedding. No C-list hip-hoppers, though.

I hope that my relationship with my children never gets so emotionally bankrupt that I have to resort to lavish, ridiculous financial gifts to make them hug me. Because, really, that's all this is: a ploy for affection. And if your kid won't say "I love you" without getting a gift first—like, say, the $40,000 BMW Nicole gets at the end of her "episode"—congratulations, you've officially raised a whore.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Two Steps Forward...

I'm not talking about that Paula Abdul song. (But, if it's stuck in your head, then that's just my present to you.)

No, I'm talking about The Sci-Fi Channel. It feels like a network with just a clear mandate as Sci-Fi (you know, just have programming that's somehow related to science fiction) shouldn't be as confused as it is. For every stellar and/or promising show like Battlestar Galactica and Eureka (which I only caught the pilot for, but I've got a couple episodes Tivo'd, including John Rogers') they do something mystifying like ECW Wrestling or, God help us, Who Wants to Be a Superhero.

Wrestling? Really? And that's science fiction, how? Yes, a bunch of those guys are probably juiced to the gills, but steroids are science science. The network isn't called Sci-Sci. And do the programming masterminds really think the core audience for sci-fi digs wrestling? These are the same geeks who got beat up in high school by the wrestling team; why revisit that world for shits and giggles? Throw in some more reruns of Firefly or Ultraviolet (the BBC mini, not the Jovovich-athon) or Alien Nation or Knight Rider or Jonny Quest or Automan or something. Quality or kitch would at least get you somewhere. But wrestling? Wrestling!?

And Who Wants to Be a Superhero doesn't even deserve to be spoken of in polite company. Let me just say this: I have watched lots of TV in my day. A whole lot of it for fun and, once it became part of my job, a whole lot more. Some of it has been terrific, some middling, and some pretty heinous.

Who Wants to Be a Superhero is the worst television program I've ever seen. Ever. Worse than American Idol, which was, until now, the worst-produced TV show on the air. The saddest part is that if Stan Lee were to die tomorrow, they'd be duty-bound to include it in his obituary.

Why can't Sci-Fi get their act together? I love the fact that they've nurtured Galactica, allowing Ron Moore, David Eick, and their crew to push the limits of televised science fiction. If only they didn't push themselves in the other direction.