Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bookless Black Friday

This Thanksgiving weekend I visited my family in Philadelphia and made the mistake of driving to the King of Prussia Plaza on Black Friday. I hadn't been there in two years and it can be fun. At least it was. What a madhouse. Finding a parking spot was the biggest challenge, now they have sections of the lot blocked off for valet parkng by the big dept. stores like Neiman Marcus. Once I hiked from my spot to the main plaza, I wanted to look at the book stores. They even had a comic book store there the last time I went.

There was a mall worker at the map and he asked if he could help me. "Yes, where are the bookstores?"
"We don't have any here, sir." he said. "We burned them all down, books are Communists," he added as a joke.

"Really," I replied with surprise. "There used to be like four or five."

"Yeah, but they're all gone," he admitted dropping the humorous angle. "Sorry."

I was amazed. The Plaza is huge and one of the major shopping outlets in the country, but no bookstores. I asked about a Best Buy so I could at least look at DVDs, there was one but I would have to drive to it. There was nothing but clothes and housewares in the plaza itself. I guess it's a sign of the times, how long before you can only get your books from the Kindle or Nook. I left that godless nightmare out of Farhenheit 451 to the Barnes and Noble near my parents'. I didn't buy anything, but I liked just being there.

The next day, Jerry and I drove to Philadelphia and wandered around South Street which had several bookstores including Atomic City Comics where I bought the new I Zombie, two Supermans and a Superboy.

Before we drove to South Street, my mother told me she found a Flintstones jelly glass from when I was a kid. It had a stencil of Fred hunting while a saber-toothed tiger sneaks up behind him. I said it was probably worth $10-$20. She gave it to me. The copyright said 1964. I didn't remember the specific glass, but I recalled Fred and Wilma pushing Welch's grape jelly and juice.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Amazing Race 19--episode 9--Gratuitous Flexing, Plus Other Important TV Stuff

Phil flexes in Belgium
Happy Thanksgiving to all ten of you reading this. Or maybe it's gone up to twenty. I have much to be thankful for and I suppose I shouldn't be pissed off that my DVR did not record Work of Art last night and the fact that this seems to be the only show that Bravo does not repeat 37 times throughout the week and that the Bravo website is totally fucked so I can't watch it on my laptop--Elroy Jetson I am not, I guess. Now I will have to wait until they have a marathon. Similar fuck-ups happened last week when I tried to record Project Accessory but the high-definition version of Lifetime wasn't coming through on cable. But they repeated Accessory and I was able to catch up, on Bravo they only seem to be showing Top Chef and Real Housewives. Not as many people like Work of Art. I did enjoy Mad Fashion this week with the dog dressed up as a loaf of bread.

Back to important business--this week's Amazing Race which finally had the teams travelling to a bunch of countries and taking their clothes off. There is nothing like a million dollars to get people to submit to shameless exploitation.The producers always find a way to provide some cheap thrills for the viewers by having the teams run around in bikinis and speedos.

The action began in Copenhagen with the teams having to memorize a poem and then perform it for a bizarre wax dummy-looking guy in period clothes, supposed impersonating a drama critic. I'm a drama critic and I know that's how I always dress when I attend the theatre. Everyone did a more or less adeqaute job except Tommy of the snowboarders and he actually got a little mad when Mr. Waxworks told him he wasn't emoting enough. It was good to see this team, which always sails to first place, encounter trouble.

Then they had to drive to Legoland and put together a lego puzzle while on a spinning teacup ride. The threat of vomiting was ever present--always a fun thing. Their next destination was a train station in Hamburg. Ernie and Cindy lost their tickets and there a little tension over what would happen if they were asked to produce them. Fortunately, the European rail system is a lot looser than its American equivalent and they go off scot-free. Brussells was the final object of the leg and this is where the teams had to strip down and peform a bodybuilding posing routine in front of three hunky judges (YUMMY) and an audience of frustrated Belgian housewives. (My favorite was the handsome posing coach and when Phil took his shirt off.) The justification for this particular task is that Jean Claude Van Damme is called the Muscles from Brussells, and the fact that there is nothing else to distinguish the Belgian capital. What else would they do--eat waffles? Maybe they'll do that next week.

Everybody looked decent and had nice bodies, particularly Ernie and Jeremy. The snowboarders, being athletes, were pretty hot too, but they were having trouble executing the routine perhaps due to Young Grizzly Adams' injuries. (The only contestant that would caused me to turn away from the TV screen would have been Laurence and he was eliminated last week.) The episode ended with Marcus and Amani winning  the leg, their first, and being told the next one started right now. So episode 10 will probabaly be all in Brussells and all five will probably in it, with an elimination at the end. It really could be anybody and maybe Andy and Tommy will actually not make it to the final 3. As we have seen, it's anybody's game and even bickering Jeremy and Sandy could make it to the last episode, but they won't win. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Newt's Moment in the Sun and OWS

Doesn't that headline make you think of a lizard sunbathing on top of a rock?

Newtie with wife no. 3. I think he was sleeping with her while impeaching Clinton.
Newt Gingrich is now in the anti-Mitt Romney slot among GOP candidates. Did I call that Cain would drop down sooner or later or what? (What a jerk this Cain is, I know more about Libya than him!) This is the ultimate irony--evangelical rightists who claim their most important issues are family values and anti-government Ayn Randism now seem to supporting Gingrich, a thrice-married, ultimate Washington insider. Newt, a lobbyist for anyone who will foot his jewelry bill and pay for his European cruises, is the very definition of the one-percenters. He is small and petty--he lost control of congress during his speakership because Clinton gave him a bad seat on Air Force One, that and shutting down the government. I just saw a clip of him speaking to the faithful about Occupy Wall Street wanting to tear down this country. Let's all get in the TARDIS and go back to the late 1960s (get the Doctor Who reference?) This is the right's characterization of OCW as a radical anarchistic movement bent on destroying financial institutions and inconveniencing subway riders, just as Nixon and Agnew called student protestors bums.

As Chris Matthews pointed out both the Tea Party and OWS have legitimate concerns, but the former is fueled by anger and letting social issue cloud their message, while the latter is too diffuse and lacking in a specific list of actions they want taken.
BTW, Elizabeth Hasselback needs to get a life. You could tell she has been waiting to attack Bill Maher for a joke he made a year ago! As Bill said, you're a public figure Elizabeth, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen and go on Fox News.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Story of Mankind and Metropolis

The robot in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis"
If you follow my Facebook posts, you may recall that I used to write a mini review of every book I read and every movie I viewed. I stopped a while back because the Social Living application which allowed you to rate your books, movies, TV shows, restaruants, etc. suddenly stopped working. Everyone's virtual bookshelf and movie lists were in limbo. There was some message from Social Living saying "It's not you, it's us. We can't afford this anymore" or words to that effect. That was annoying, because rating and commenting on books and movies was so easy with that app. Doing it by blog is slightly more of a pain because if you want a nice illustration, you have to go looking for it on the web and then go to the trouble of pasting into the blog post. As Judy Tenuta would say, "I have better things to do, like stay in bed and complain." But lately, I felt the need to express my views on the meaningless crap I read and look at (I mean besides reality TV) Two people even said to me after running into them in the street and we discovered we had seen the same movie, "I look forward to reading your review on Facebook."

ANYWAY... this is a roundabout introduction to a new section on the David Desk 2. When I feel like it, I will give mini-reviews of books and movies. Maybe I'll put in an illustration, maybe I won't. That's how I roll.

So on Tues. of the week I was home sick with a cold. TCM was showing The Story of Mankind at 10AM. One of the worst movies ever made, but so bad I couldn't look away when I could have easily switched the channel to The View. The ridiculous plot imagines a celestial trial with Sir Cedric Hardwicke adjudicating the future of the human race while Vincent Price as the devil and Ronald Coleman as the spirit of Man argue both sides of the case. They go over the entire history of western civilization with grade-B stars as historical figures. Highlights include Dennis Hopper as Napoleon, Groucho Marx as Peter Minuet buying Manhattan Island, and Peter Lorre as Nero.

Later I watched the restored version of Fritz Lang's silent classic Metropolis streaming from Netflix on my TV from the computer. This featured recently found footage to the German sci-fi story featuring more views of Lang's vision of a dystopian future where the rich few play and cavort while worker toil underground to keep them in luxury. Sound familiar, 99 per centers? There were several melodramatic conventions of silent film--the hero rescuing the girl from a mad villain atop the cathedral--but it offered a weirdly fascinating vision of the 21st century as seen through a 1920s lens. So many sci-fi influences started here--the robot posing as human, the mad scientist, the massive future city (even Superman stole the name of his city from this film). There is a possible anti-Semitic flavor here with the house of Rotwang, the evil scientist decorated with what appear to be stars of David. and the nightclub full of corruption is called Yoshiwara as if to warn Germanic audiences about the evil influences of the East. But it's still an amazing picture and the missing footage takes us further into Lang's vision of a dazzling yet ambiguous future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Amazing Race 19--Episode 8--Justified Double U-Turn in Denmark

Armani and Marcus spent too much time at the airport this week
In addition to finally visiting a new city--Copenhagen--there was a second consecutive double-U turn, two firsts for the Amazing Race this week. Ernie and Cindy wised up and used it, or Cindy did at any rate while Ernie wanted to be all hearts and flowers and not use it on anyone. Cindy cold-bloodedly bitch-slapped grandparents Bill and Cathi to the curb by using the U-turn on them. They received some grief for it, but I'm sorry, it was the right move and I'm glad they did it. I'd have done the same. I'm only sorry it wasn't Andy and Tommy who had to go back and make the rabbits run.

Let's start at the beginning and try for a thorough analysis of this week's episode, something I haven't done in ages. The teams were told they had to make their way from Malawi to Copenhagen. There was a flight that would get them to the Danish capital via Amsterdam by 8 AM but they were free to find faster accomodations. Everybody did so, except for Marcus and Armani which kinda surprised me since they have this can-do spirit. Instead they snoozed at the airport while all the other teams got to the next clue several hours ahead. If not for Jeremy and Sandy's stupidity--they couldn't find the right location for the next destination--the ex-football guy and his wife would have lost for sure.

The clue lead them all to this castle where they had to don period costumes and make-up (why the make-up?, I don't think they had foundation in the 16th century) and learn three dance steps. I must admit Young Grizzly Adams looked mighty cute in his Elizabeth togs and Ernie sported some shapely gams in those white tights. While watching their teammates, Bill revealed he and Cathi met when they were 12 and 13 (the Renaissance costumes must have brought back memories for him) while Cindy confessed she first hooked up with Ernie over shots at a bar. 19-year-old Zac had trouble with the steps and his dad explained to the camera he would have picked them up quickly because he used to be in a rock band. Huh? And what was with that tall, thin guy with the beard and codpiece who looked like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space who was the partner for the third dance? All of the male contestants looked a mite uncomfortable when he was dancing with them.

The following location was a farm where there was a choice of tasks--lead a rabbit through an obstacle course or make six bricks of butter. After completing the task, Ernie and Cindi U-turned Bill and Cathi which was perfectly OK with me. The older couple was right behind them and they didn't want to lose another prize. Bill and Cathi then U-turned Lawrence and Zack. I guess they were thinking if they U-turned Andy and Tommy, whom they had just seen seconds ago, the snowboarders could still catch up with them, but if they slowed down the father and son who were way behind, they were guaranteed not being last. Ironically, the grandparents and the snowboarders were second and third and Andy and Tommy chose not to run and usurp second place from the oldsters. I guess since there was no prize or money involved, it didn't matter.

Jeremy and Sandy almost lost because of Sandy's terrible map-reading skills. You could tell Jeremy wanted to kill her when he kept mumbling about being going in the wrong direction because she didn't tell him early enough which turn to take. She kept saying "What? What?" "Nothing...nothing." Terrible communication skills. They are definitely the next to go and I think Marcus and Armani after that. While I admire their spirit, they make too many wrong decisions, like not working to find an earlier flight.

Next week looks like a can't-miss episode with everyone stripping down and flexing their muscles. All the guys, even over-60 Bill, look pretty hot.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Amazing Race 19--Episode 7--Ernie and Cindy Wimp Out

First of all, it's Nov. 6 and there are already showing too many Christmas-related commericals during this week's episode of Amazing Race.

Secondly, if I were Ernie and Cindy I would have so U-turned Andy and Tommy's white, Christian, snowboarding asses it would have made their heads spin. As soon as I heard there was a double U-turn I was praying someone would do it to Andy and Tommy who have won nearly every leg of the race. They aren't evil or nasty like Rob and Amber (I recently saw Rob on some History Channel show about travelling the world and nearly lost my cookies) and they have been extremely lucky, benefitting from the mistakes of others. It was pointed out in this week's episode they took number one three times because other teams had goofed up. They are also both very athletic and pay attention to details. So they do deserve to be in the lead, it's just so boring having the same team win all the time.

Ernie and Cindy were ahead of Tommy and Andy because they turned in their Express Pass on Lake Malawi. When they got to the Double U Turn, they could have u-turned the snowboarders and been assured first place, but Ernie said, "I don't want to be mean spirited." I would have done it in a heart beat. It was a race to the finish mat, but Dana Carvey and Young Grizzly Adams surged ahead and won $15,000. In the previews for next week, there is another U-turn and it appears Ernie and Cindy grow a pair (or two pairs) and use it. I'm going to pray all week that it's the snowboarders you get screwed. BTW, two u-turns in a row? Is this a first, and last week had better have been the last non-elimination leg.

Also this week we learned Justin is gay--surprise!--and got a treat with a shot from the Marcus'-enormous-thigh cam. Did you see that shot in the cab with Marcus and Amani where his thigh takes up almost the entire screen? I starting rooting for those two. At first I thought they had an unfair advantage with Marcus being a professional football player. I am against all pro athletes being on the show, because I think "regular" people should win. But they had come from behind and not given up.

Next week, we finally get to Europe. I predict Jeremy and Sandy, this season's bickering couple, will be the next to go. Tommy and Andy and Ernie and Cindy will definitely be in the top three, and third place could be any one of the remaining teams. Maybe it will be Bill and Cathi, the oldest couple, because they keep their heads and tend not to quarrel.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Michigan Legislature Endorses Satanism and One More Thing About Herman Cain

The Michigan state legislature recently passed an anti-bullying law, but Republicans added provisions that if you can prove you did your bullying for religious reasons, you would not be punished. HUH? I think what happened was the Repubs received pressure from evangelicals and other nutcases that there should never, ever be any law on the books that says being gay or acting gay is OK and that no one should ever be punished for teasing or assualting someone if they firmly believe they are doing the lord's work. That's absolutely crazy. You could interpret the bible to say homosexuality is a sin, BUT doesn't the good book also say love the sinner, and let he who is without sin cast the first stone--or punch or fag joke. How could you possibly interpret the bible--or any other religious text--to say that bullying and tormenting your fellow students is OK. The only religion I can think of with such a credo is Satanism. So therefore, the Michigan state legislature is endorsing Satanism.

And one more thing about Herman Cain. His sexual harassment scandal doesn't seem to be effecting his poll numbers. That really doesn't concern me too much. We don't know exactly what he is accused of--did he just make a few inappropriate jokes or did he make unwanted advances? None of the women has come forward with specifics. What troubles me is that Cain doesn't know ANYTHING about foreign policy and his supporters don't care. He doesn't know the president of Uzbekistan or that China is a nuclear power. It was stupid of him to turn the question on the reporter and ask if he knew who the president of Uzbekistan was. The reporter would have answered--"Yes I do, and even if I didn't, that's not the point. I'm not running for President." The segment of the Republican party supporting anyone but Romney wants someone as ignorant of the world as a whole as they are. They just want someone to get them a job and lower their taxes. They like that Cain is not a politician and plain and honest and unsophisticated, just like them. That's what they liked about Sarah Palin, she was just plain folks. Cain is just plain folks and that's what they want in the White House. Foreign policy, who cares about that stuff, just get me a slick of pizza.

Amazing Race, Work of Art, and Farewell Project Runway

I'm getting tired of the Snowboarders--or as I like to call them Young Grizzly Adams and Dana Carvey--always winning the Amazing Race. (But Young Girzzly Adams looks great with shirt off. So I hope they stick around for a while.) They won AGAIN this week because the brother and sister forgot to pay their driver. It really takes the fun out of the show when the same team wins all the time. They're probably gonna win the whole thing, too. Last week was one of the few times they lost and were in the middle of the pack. I like to think this is because they disrespected a different religion while reconstructing that temple thing in Bangkok and going on and on about how Christian they are. At least the bickering sister said she respected the temple and wouldn't want anyone to mix up her church if they had put it back together in order to win a cool million on a reality show. BTW, she revealed this week she's a elementary school teacher. A teacher! With a temper like that? I'd be scared of her.

Another thing I'm not lovin' about this season is the limited number of locations. We're up to episode six and we've only been in four countries--Taiwan, Indodensia, Thailand and Malawi. And it looks like next we'll we'll be stuck in Malawi still. Plus we've already used up all the non-elimination legs. Or so it seems. There have been three of them, that's got to be a record for this early in the game. One solution would be to increase the number of contestrants, but I guess they want that uncertainty of everyone not knowing if they will go home or not.
Meanwhile on Work of Art, Sucklord went into his bad boy act defending Tewz's crappy GROW planter in front of the judges (BTW, I saw the gallery owner Bill Powers on the street nust before the new season debuted. I kept thinking where have I seen that cute guy before? Was it at the office? Then I watched the first episode and realized it was him.) I liked Jerry Saltz, the New York critic telling Sucklord he would get medieval on his ass if the artist used one more Star Wars doll in his work. I really like Sucklord's vibe--a combination of nerd and tough guy. I love the way he calls everybody bums. I like Lola too. The pictures of her as a little girl with Al Pacino (whom her mother used to date) were really cute. I wonder if they are still close and if she went backstage when he was doing Merchant of Venice on Broadway.

Last week the eliminated the deaf guy which I think was a mistake. His piece wasn't especially original--referencing Jasper Johns' flag paintings--but it was better than Dusty's trash can.

This week also saw the new Project Runway epilogue to season 9 hosted by Tim Gunn followed by the new episode of Project Accessory. What's next? Project Underwear? Project Nailfile? Project Cellphone? I'm looking forward to the next season with the all-stars.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cain Not Raising

As soon as I blog about Herman Cain being the front runner, he has to go and have a sexual harassment scandal. On that topic, I don't believe this right-wing bullshit that the whole Cain thing is the result of a vast liberal conspiracy. First of all, Politico, the website which broke the story, is moderate leaning to the right. Secondly, liberals WANT Herman Cain to do well because in a match up with Obama, the Prez wins hands down.

I had earlier written that Obama is in serious trouble, but after this bunch of clowns has finished stumbling all over themselves, I feel a little better about his prospects. Perry is also down for the count after that weird performance in New Hampshire. Did you see that speech? He claims he wasn't drunk or on drugs, but just in a good mood. Mittens is keeping his mouth shut and hopes to be the only one left standing.