July 30, 2004

Progressive Jackpot

I suppose I disagree with practically everything Naomi Klein has ever written. This article isn't an exception, exactly, but I think she has a well-formulated point about how "progressives" tend spin themselves into self-caricatured irrelevance when it comes to George W. Bush:

It's not that the president is dumb, which I already knew, it's that he makes us dumb.

Klein's idea is that a Kerry presidency, while "just as bad" from an anti-everything point of view, would at least free progressives from the irresistible temptation to substitute bitter, sophomoric attempts at humor that impress no one but themselves for actual argument and analysis that might stand a chance of making a dent outside the magic circle. And, who knows, it could even have a similarly salutary effect on expediency-driven Republican partisans as well. It's worth a shot, anyway.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:11 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Look, Ma, I'm quasi-famous

Thanks, Beth.

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July 28, 2004

"Must Be Tied on by a Loved One and Sealed with Rachel's Protective Energy by reciting the Ben Porat prayer (included on a card.)"

I suppose it was only a matter of time...

(via Gawker.)

UPDATE: "The power of Kabbalah abandoned poor Kimora Lee Simmons this week..."

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July 27, 2004

Dr. Frank and his Shiny Robot Monkeys

So, believe it or not, I'm playing at the Waterfront in Rotterdam, Holland on Saturday, August 28th.

Check it out: the Rotterdam Rumble, under the auspices of Stardumb Records. The Groovie Ghoulies are playing on the Friday, plus lots of other rock and roll bands like the Yum Yums, the Zatopeks, Apers, Tabascos, etc.:


My part in the affair is billed as Dr. Frank and his Shiny Robot Monkeys, because I'll be playing with a back-up band of well-maintained mechanical monkeys. Trained exhibition monkeys, essentially.

I'm also doing some solo acoustic shows (that is, without those crazy monkeys.) Here's what I know about them:

Tuesday Aug. 24: Venlo, The Netherlands

Wednesday Aug. 25: Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Radio interview plus 3 songs)

Thursday Aug. 26: Solingen, Germany

Saturday Aug. 28: The Waterfront, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Sunday Aug. 29: Rotterdam, The Netherlands (afternoon show & popquiz medley)

There may be a couple more, too, though I'm not sure. I'll post more info. when I get it.

See you in Europa.

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Britney plans a Kabbalah wedding.

But the family wants to incorporate Baptist elements into the ceremony as well, in order to "make everybody happy."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:44 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

God Bless Him, Again

I estimate that I have officially requested that God bless Ken Layne around a dozen times, and the unofficial, vague, semi-conscious nods in that direction have been even more numerous. Well, I just realized that he has started posting blog-like things on his blog again. Good stuff, God bless him.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 22, 2004

Border Incident

I generally find something new to amuse me each time I go in to a Borders. Perhaps it's the diet book that winds up in the History section because it's called The History of Flab and How to Rewrite It or something. Or perhaps it's the prominent display of Holy Blood, Holy Grail in a section called Metaphysical Studies. I've already written about the Untranslated Literature section. I can't explain why it's funny. It just is.

Today I noticed that they had put up, in the Fiction and Literature section, little signs with arrows pointing to where books by your favorite authors might be found. An arrow pointing to the left had these names:

And underneath another arrow pointing to right were these:

In other words, if you're looking for Thomas Hardy's latest, and you're not all that clear on the whole alphabetical order thing, Borders has the solution. Fiction and Literature navigation has never been so easy. Now people will know without asking: if you want to find Joyce you turn left at Kafka.

In fact, though, even if you have mastered the mysteries of the alphabet, it can still be tough to find stuff at Borders. For example, today I was pretty shocked to find no P. G. Wodehouse at all in the Fiction and Literature section. My first thought was to look under J., because it wasn't out of the question that people who like to put diet books under History when they have the word "history" in their titles might think it fun to file Fiction and Literature by the names of prominent characters occasionally. But that wasn't it.

Finally I asked the Information desk guy, and he directed me to the Games and Humor section on the fourth floor. It all worked out in the end, so I really have no grounds for complaint. But I will say that a world that banishes P. G. Wodehouse from its fancy, hifalutin Fiction and Literature section, but leaves Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch in it, is not a world of which I can whole-heartedly approve.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:56 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 16, 2004

From the World's Smartest Rock Star

It appears that Michael Moore has been publicly slagging Pete Townshend for refusing to grant permission for the use of "Won't Get Fooled Again" in Farenheit 911.

Here's Townshend's version of the story, from his online diary (i.e. blog.) He asked to see the film first, his request was denied, and that was it. "Once I had an idea of what the film was about," he adds, "I was 90% certain my song was not right for them."

I'm way more interested in the song than in the sniping or the politics of the matter, and I thought this part was interesting:

I believe that in the same email to my publisher and manager that contained this request to see the film I pointed out that WGFA is not an unconditionally anti-war song, or a song for or against revolution. It actually questions the heart of democracy: we vote heartily for leaders who we subsequently always seem to find wanting. (WGFA is a song sung by a fictional character from my 1971 script called LIFEHOUSE. The character is someone who is frightened by the slick way in which truth can be twisted by clever politicians and revolutionaries alike)...

I hadn't known about the movie script origin, if it's true. It's pretty rare, as far as I've observed, for a songwriter to be able to discuss his own songs with such clarity. Anyway, I've always seen that song as an attack on demagoguery as it comes from any "side," which is why it is so quotable when you're talking about this or that matter in contemporary politics. That Michael Moore sought to use the song for the propagation of his own demagoguery, and then to excoriate the songwriter for failing to get with his program, is, of course, rather ironic. It's an irony that isn't lost on Townshend:
I have nothing against Michael Moore personally, and I know Roger Daltrey is a friend and fan of his, but I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by him in interviews just because he didnít get what he wanted from me. It seems to me that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the powerful and wilful man at the centre of his new documentary. I wish him all the best with the movie, which I know is popular, and which I still havenít seen. But heíll have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a guitar.

(via Blog of the Hurricane.)

UPDATE: I realize this is probably old news to everyone - I've been way out of the loop because of other writing I've been working on and I haven't had much space for paying attention to The Wonderful World of Trivia.

But I just wanted to add another quote. This is from Michael Moore himself, saying that in the end he's glad that "Won't Get Fooled Again" wasn't in the film. No comment necessary, really:

In fact I don't want them [the audience] hearing a song that has the line, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Because the new boss I sincerely hope won't be the same as the old boss.

I've got to stop thinking about the complex network of ironies at work here, as it's starting to turn my brain into a pretzel.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:52 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

It will be a very interesting and metaphorical depiction

Some hilarious stuff from Ben:

(a) the Wikipedia entry for Screeching Weasel, which concludes: "...their lyrics reflected [Ben] Weasel's Maoist political orientation..." I can't wait to read the MIMs review.

and (b) these quotes from an interview with Bad Religion, where the boys are just as modest, sharp-witted, perceptive and unpretentious as ever.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:45 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 12, 2004

Note to Self et al.

Hey, the MTX is playing this Saturday (7/17) at Slim's in San Francisco. With the Dollyrots and Fenway Park. Try to make it if you can, and so will I.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:04 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

July 04, 2004

Wizard Trouble

For the love of God, can someone out there who knows explain to me how to turn off the automatic formatting and real-time correction routines in Microsoft Word for OSX? And make it stay turned off? I keep thinking I've figured it out, but there must be some counter-intuitive menu's submenu that I'm missing, because it keeps coming back angrier and crazier than before.

Turning off "grammar" and spelling correction doesn't stop it from deciding on seemingly random schemes of indentation and reformatting, capitalizing or decapitalizing random letters, etc. And sometimes the grammar "wizard" will inexplicably return. Ideally, I'd like to be able to type without an invisible hand changing anything. I want the wizards go off in a corner and talk amongst themselves and get out of my face. There must be a way, right? I would not be at all surprised if the magic switch turns out to be under "insert/picture" or something like that, but wherever it is I haven't found it yet.

And happy fourth of July, by the way.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:31 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

July 03, 2004

Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun

A solar-powered Britain sounds like a kind of joke. Along the lines of: The Jamaican bobsled team. The Kansas Naval Academy. The Salt Lake City Porn Industry. The "Welcome to France" sign at the French tourist information center. That sort of thing.

Yet, according to this, there is a proposal afoot to require every new home in Britain to be fitted with solar panels. You've got to admire the purity of that sort of optimism.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Psycadelic Revolution 1960

Matt Welch has a couple of great photo essays documenting his trip to Romania. Fascinating, and genuinely funny - I laughed out loud several times.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:08 PM | TrackBack

July 02, 2004

I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like a Complete Person came with the clouds of heaven...

There's another new, rationalized, politically-corrected "translation" of the New Testament floating around. It's called "Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures. I've been hearing a bit about it, and I finally stumbled on some stuff about it on the web. It seems to be quite funny.

It's certainly not the first, and won't be the last, attempt to bowdlerize the New Testament. This one has the distinction of having secured the apparent endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, though the dark warnings in some quarters that he may intend to replace the King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer with it are a bit laughable. He did write the foreword, however, and to judge from the excerpts I've seen, his approval rests on nothing more than a reiteration of the long-standing impulse toward rationalization and de-spiritualization of Christian tradition among liberal churchmen. Nothing new there at all; it's quite 19th-century, in a way. As a spiritual matter, and as a practical matter, it is amusing, but decidedly un-alarming. It's just another Free to Be You and Me Bible for the Intellectually Under-developed. We had one of those in CCD when I was a kid. Give the kids a Jesus they can relate to, who uses the latest slang, etc.

But as to aesthetics - well, therein lies the abomination, and the humor. (Aesthetically-speaking, they are usually the same thing, to my warped way of thinking. The abominable and the humorous, I mean.)

The most-reported feature, clearly owing to its political implications, is the purging of references to sodomy, and a new and improved St. Paul who has a groovy, gender-neutral, free'n'easy attitude about sexuality. "If you can't be with the one you love," says the Good-as-New St. Paul, "love the one you're with." OK, I made that up, but I believe it more or less captures the spirit of the thing.

Oliver Kamm quotes these parallel passages (from an article in the Times that is behind subscription for me):

Mark 1:10-11

Authorised version:

ďAnd straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from the heaven saying, Thou are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.Ē


As he was climbing up the bank again, the sun shone through a gap in the clouds. At the same time a pigeon flew down and perched on him. Jesus took this as a sign that Godís spirit was with him. A voice from overhead was heard saying, ĎThatís my boy! Youíre doing fine!í Ē

"That's my boy! You're doing fine!" "Gee, thanks, Dad, you're the best! And how 'bout that pigeon? High five!" "Dude!"

Prominent NT figures are given playful new names. Peter is "Rocky." Mary Magdelene is "Maggie." Barnabas is "Cheery." And James is Snorey, Joseph is Sleepy, and Lazarus is Bashful. OK, I'm kidding about the last three. But the others are, apparently, for real. They sound like a great bunch of pals to hang out with. Except for Cheery, actually. He sounds annoying.

Demonic possession is rationalized into mental illness, the casting out of demons apparently presented as a kind of exercise in successful Group Therapy. The Son of Man is rendered, I kid you not, "The Complete Person," probably the most historically and theologically suspect of all the book's "improvements," or, at least, of those I've come across while idly googling the topic.

"What would Christianity look like," asks the Archbishop, "what would Christian language sound like, if we really tried to screen out the stale, the technical, the unconsciously exclusive words and policies, and to hear for the first time what the Christian Scriptures were saying."

It turns out that it would look and sound an awful lot like Chicken Soup for the Soul. Who knew?

As Kamm says, the worst thing about this "translation" is that it "rewrit(es) a sacramental language to render it banal."

But that's also the best thing about it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:21 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

You've Got to Be Kidding

A Catholic lawyer has filed heresy charges against Sen. John Kerry with the Archdiocese of Boston, accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of bringing "most serious scandal to the American public" by receiving Holy Communion as a pro-choice Catholic...
So if he weighs as much as a duck, he's made of wood, and therefore...
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