30 April 2010

Something 4 The Weekend # 164

The Dream Syndicate still has a small but very loyal fanbase among GenX, and in general, the critics have been very kind to the Los Angeles band since their earliest days in the Paisley Underground movement of the mid-'80's out there in southern California.
Try as I might, "John Coltrane Stereo Blues" is the one and only Dream Syndicate song I like. It was the freshman dorms at UW, vinyl LPs were selling for $4.99 at The Den, and I was smoking alot of really good weed that was migrating up from the fourth floor.
I wasn't listening to much (or any) Jazz that year, no Coltrane on my stereo, not like I would in a couple short years from then, but I did listen to to this one cut off Medicine Show an awful awful lot, and I drank my share of wine... Glorious wine! Glorious song!
Hotcha! Hank

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27 April 2010

Tuesday's Fortune: 27 April 2010

MEAL: 1 order (8) Crab Rangoon + 1 small order Steamed Chicken with Snow Peas = $8.20 + 80¢ tip

Hotcha! Hank

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25 April 2010


My 14 Favorite 4-Letter Crossword Words

I do two online crossword puzzles every morning. One is here at USA Today, and the other is here. They're challenging enough puzzles at the Master Skill Level, and almost laughably easy on the Regular Skill Level, but either way, they're a good way to get going in the morning with my mug of coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For no other reason than because I can, here then is a list of 14 four-letter words that are used with varying frequency in the 14 crossword puzzles I do each week, ranked according to a complex equation of frequency, beauty, rarity and whim. Perhaps the most pointless HANK RANKS ever.


14: OBOE: We all know what an oboe is. This word doesn't show up in my 14 weekly crossword puzzles all that often, but it's three vowels make it a handy word for the puzzle designers to have in their arsenal.

13: AXON: Axon doesn't show up all that often either, which is kind of a shame. I've always liked this word, such a sturdy companion for dendrite. Dendrite is a very good word, and that's undeniable.

12: OLEO: Oleo is another word for margarine, and I don't allow butter substitutes in my fridge. Still, it's a four-letter word that shows up at least four or six times a week in my puzzles. "My puzzles." That sounds like something a douchy nerd would say. I guess that makes me a butter-eatin' nerdouche™.

10: (tie) IBID, IBIS: The beauty of these two words is apparent. that IBI combination is unique and therefore valuable one that shows up regularly every week. Ibid is short for the Latin word ibidem, which means "in the same place". An ibis is a tropical wading bird.

09: IBEX: An ibex is a kind of wild goat found in the middle east and around the Mediterranean. As a crossword word, all I can say is that letter X isn't used all that often in the puzzles I do regularly.

08: ESSE: Esse means "to be" in Latin. One must sign up for the free trial of Merriam-Webster Online in order to see the entry for this word. I find that funny and sad. The most central, crucial, ESSENTIAL word in our world - the first verb, the last word - and MW Online doesn't let you "see it for free". Esse is also a slang word for "gangsta" in Latino culture, but these puzzles don't use the word that way.

06: (tie) IOTA, MOTE: Tiny amounts and specks of things. Two great words that word great together. Or something.

05: OLIO: Olio is a pretty cool word that I would like to use in my everyday life, but it means hodge-podge, and when one has the circumstance and opportunity to use the word hodge-podge, one is pretty much obligated to use it. Hodge-podge shows up as a crossword word maybe six times a year by my reckoning. See also - collage.

04: ULNA: Ulna is a very boring and ugly-sounding word that is very useful in crossword puzzles, playing the oboe, and maturbating. Fuck ulna, let's move on.

03: TSAR: Tsar is the only four-letter word on this list that has three consonants, so I ranked it #3, natch. Tsar shows up in my daily crossword puzzle about 4 or 5 times a week, and it's popularity is no doubt due to that TS, a letter combo that often happens at the back end of words, but here comes front-loaded for maximum puzzle design flexibility. Of course, here in the United States, we use the czar spelling of this word, but the letter Z often proves to be a bitch to squeeze into a crossword puzzle.

02: AGUE: Ague is a four letter word you've never spoke out loud in your life. You could read that last sentence out loud and change yr life forever, and prove me wrong on yet another fact. Ague basically means a fever, like malaria, according to Merriam-Webster, and often it's crossword clue includes the word flu. Because ague is a four letter word you never spoke out loud until three sentences ago (because it's an awkward, ugly-looking word), it's #2 on this list.

01: OREO: As we all know, Oreo™ is a brand name for a sandwich cookie made by the Nabisco Division of Kraft Foods. Brand names don't show up in crossword puzzles very often, but Oreo™ is the rare exception. Except it isn't a rare crossword word. In fact, if I kept stats, Oreo™ just might be among the two or three most-used words I run across in my 14 weekly puzzles. It probably shows up at least 8-9 times per week. What can I say, we like to eat, and in the world of crosswords, three vowels out of four-letters is delicious.

Hotcha! Hank

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Things I Liked Last Week 042510

01: MOJO 198, May 2010: By far the best general interest, all-purpose music magazine in an era when the magazine is dead, MOJO is one of those rarest of magazines - still worth buying at the newstand. The current issue features a Paul Weller cover story, a deep look at Lowell George, a satisfying interview with Steve Albini, and the How To Buy column focuses on Frank Zappa this month, and while I disagree strongly with the ranking, any Zappa love is greasy goodness, and MOJO has loved Frank alot over the years. All in all, a particularly outstanding issue of a magazine that never disappoints.

02: Granada TV's Sherlock Holmes: I'm one of those Sherlock Holmes freaks that believes Jeremy Brett's portrayal of the illustrious detective is the best ever and for all time. Brett captures the bitchiness of the Holmes character, his restlessness and impatience, and plays those traits for all their worth. The Holmes we get here isn't always the most likeable of fellows, but it's a brave and faithful portrayal, I believe (he does cocaine!), and Brett makes us love the flawed man anyways. There are detractors of this version of Sherlock Holmes, of course, and they've called Brett's performance heavyhanded, ham-fisted, and the like, but I like the brashness of it all. Holmes as a drama queen. Holmes as diva, not to mention his dear Watson. And if you can't get with all that, there are still the stories themselves, and sets and locations that are quite good for a television production. Anyways, I've got the complete series on DVD, and this past week I started watching again from the very beginning, and will go through it all, all 12 discs, however long that takes. And then a year or two later, I'll start all over again at the beginning, just like road construction up and down the East Wash corridor.

03: The Informant!: Director Steve Soderbergh has made a very engaging and funny film (one might say Coenesque) about price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland in the 1990's and the whistleblower who tries to take 'em down, as played with a fine, nimble touch by Matt Damon. From the very start, we see that there's something peculiar about Mark Whitacre, as nice and likeable as he seems to be, and as the film progresses, the man simply unravels, oftentimes to absurd levels. He's seen to be a bit dumb and delusional, and it would seem a big fat liar (his delusions turned outward), but he's a genuinely nice and personable guy, and Damon makes us like him and keep on liking him, even as he fucks up over and over and over again, even as he creates spy games real and imagined, and both with heavy consequences Whitacre is all but oblivious to. Aside from Damon's excellent performance (Oscar-worthy, really), Soderbergh gets Marvin Hamlisch to do the film's score, and the music is the kind of music hall and ragtime stuff you might expect in a silent film perhaps, but works quite wonderfully here because it makes Whitacre's words and deeds just that much more comical and absurd, and the long line of lawyers and cops and accountants that he dupes looks like a bumbling collection of clowns in cheap grey suits.

04: Bunny Tracks Ice Cream: "Blue Bunny's signature flavor wins everybody over! This creamy vanilla ice cream comes loaded with plenty of your favorite goodies - chocolate-covered peanuts, peanut butter-filled chocolate bunnies, a thick chocolate fudge ribbon and a peanut butter caramel ribbon for a delicious ice cream treat!"

05: Final Draft 7: This past week I changed the working title of the screenplay I've been writing and re-writing in spurts for the past several years. The titular character is now named Scott instead of Todd, and the new title is The Legend Of Warlord Scott. Final Draft made it quick and painless to make the needed changes throughout the 11 completed scenes I've got right now in this latest version. Anyways, Scott is now the fourth name of the warlord in the history of this script, and it probably won't be the last. Ultimately, it has to be a name that was popular for 20 year old dudes in the 1980's and yet isn't a too-obvious homage/rip-off of Life Of Brian.06: Echo & The Bunnymen: "Never Stop" [mp3]: Another note about Warlord Scott - This song has found its way onto the "unofficial soundtrack" that I listen to while working on the script. It's a great song, and considering the story is set in 1984-85, I think it really captures a certain kind of sound and song that has come to generally represent the 80's two decades later - notably that big, bombastic drum sound - the gated synth snares and all that. Elsewhere, the song has synthetic strings offering propulsive stabs, a thin white metallic guitar splashing a bit of color here and there, plus a xylophone and congas. Add Ian McCulloch's dramatic voice and it's very much a song unmistakably of it's era. Stop.

07: Sydney The Shark: You are a shark. You swim and you dive and you leap in and out of the water and you eat anything and everything that crosses your path. You eat killer whales with three easy bites. You eat packs of dolphins scuba divers with less. You breach the surface and come crashing down on pirate ships and jet-skis and motorboats and yachts and helicopters...ETC... Everything explodes or gets eaten. You pull a jumbo jet out of the sky. That explodes too. This game is LOUD and FRENZIED with a bigger kick (and more reddish-brown liquid) than 128 ounces of Cherry Coke. You've been warned.

Hotcha! Hank

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24 April 2010

My Blog Would Really Really Suck Without YouTube

Cheated Sideways, Yeah!

Sometimes I think that I'm bigger than the blog.

Hotcha! Hank

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Maneuver Ted Leo Sideways

Ted Leo does a pretty faithful version of "Suspect Device", but here he is banging out Kelly Clarkson and Yeah Yeah Yeahs tunes instead.

Onward! Sideways!

Hotcha! Hank

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Stiff Little Sideways Raygun Maneuver

This video pretty well illustrates one of the uglier aspects of PUNK, and likewise, one of the greater failings of this HOT POOP blog - this idea that one history is somehow more important than any other history. Punkers are always so fucking righteous about their music and their scene, which bands are better, which bands are purer (don't I always mention "true believers"?), and we all know at least four aging, self-proclaimed punkers who likes to talk about what bands mattered first and most in their own particular city/scene, to say nothing of Punk as a monolithic thing that apparently matters. And they're always so fucking humorless about it. Perhaps you know me.

This is almost the same as being able to namecheck the most obscure band possible. For example, I'll never forget the time my band, The Nadz, opened for Finger Phil at that bonfire party out at Rudy's farm, and my cousin Chico broke his ankle trying to jump the fire. You weren't there? Oh man, you had to be there!

My nostalgia is better than your nostalgia, and I've got just enough delusions and desperation to write about it here.

But I'm not unique. My kind is not unique. Greasers. Hippies. Punks. Slackers. Hipsters. Each generation in the rock era has their douchebags.

You're soaking in it.

Hotcha! Hank

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Heavy Sideways Hagar Maneuver

You know, even though I will always refuse to recognize Van Hagar as a legitimate band, I am more than willing to admit that I really liked Sammy Hagar's solo career pretty much right up to the point he joined Eddie and his brother and that other guy who wrestled a bass shaped like a Jack Daniels bottle during his solo portion of the live act. In fact, among the 1000 or so pieces of vinyl I haven't sold over the years, I still have four or five Sammy Hagar solo LPs.

But more importantly, Taarna holds her own against the boys.

Hotcha! Hank

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Bad Sideways Scooter Maneuver

One thing you can say about Sammy Hagar, he sure does know how to write songs custom made for "road tapes". Also - television commercials and film soundtracks.

One thing you can say about me, I sure don't like driving 35 on Anderson Road. There's nothing out there but the end of the airport runway and the back back back back nine of Bridges Golf Course for fuck's sake.


Hotcha! Hank

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23 April 2010

Something 4 The Weekend # 163

No, this isn't Stiff Little Fingers doing their punk classic "Suspect Device". This is the Sammy Hagar-penned tune they blatantly ripped off for "Suspect Device".
When I was first getting into hard rock as a kid, "Space Station #5" used to actually get played on the radio (in addition to Montrose's biggest hit, "Bad Motor Scooter"), and it was one of my favorite songs. A few years later, a friend named Grace turned me on to Stiff Little Fingers, and it isn't surprising that "Suspect Device" became one of my favorite tunes.
Now, here I am 30+ years later, and both tunes still rock my world. And while it's probably not fair to Sammy Hagar and Montrose, "Suspect Device" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and certainly one of the greatest Punk songs ever.
But this week's S4TW is meant to honor Sammy Hagar, when he was still cool, writing cool tunes, and not making me hate Van Halen, and perhaps moreso, to honor Ronnie Montrose, one of the most overlooked and forgotten guitar gods of his (or any) generation.
I mean, consider this - in the years prior to this album, Ronnie Montrose was the guitar player for Van Morrison. Van Morrison! How's that for versatility? From "Tupelo Honey" to this...Amazing...
Hotcha! Hank

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22 April 2010

Maneuver Airplanes Sideways



Hotcha! Hank

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20 April 2010

Tuesday's Fortune: 20 April 2010

MEAL: 1 Roast Pork Egg Roll + 1 small order Scallops in Hot Garlic Sauce = $7.20 + $1.80 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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16 April 2010

Something 4 The Weekend # 162

The year is still young, but right now, I'd have to say Gorilla Manor by Local Natives is the best album I've heard so far in 2010.
Anyways, I'm currently floating around my flat on half a quaalude and Beefeaters, and typing is proving to be rather challenging, so I'm gonna keep this post short and sweet.
But hey, the idea that I scored a quaalude in 2010 - that's a strange and wondrous thing, I'd say. And for the record, I considered this the best album I've heard in 2010 long before this quaalude entered my life.
Hotcha! Hank

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15 April 2010

Maneuver Became Sideways

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to find any Saccharine Trust videos on YouTube, but then again, I am an ass.

Hotcha! Hank

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13 April 2010

Tuesday's Fortune: 13 April 2010

MEAL: 1 order (8) Crab Rangoon + 1 small order Boneless Spare Ribs = $8.70 + $1.30 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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09 April 2010

Something 4 The Weekend # 161

I could blather about buzz runs circa 1987...Parked and chilled out at Rabbit Ridge...Girls, green, and tape machines loaded with all sorts of shit on SST...I could say that even a Minutemen junkie like myself needed a break from San Pedro's finest from time to time, and Saccharine Trust were a quality sideways maneuver in that regard...
Hell, Mike Watt, the Minutemen's bassist, produced this album, and this is Bob Fitzer playing his own bass like he's got Jaco running right through his own hands, trying to beat Watt at his own legendary thudstaff game...
Meanwhile, Jack Brewer is singing about being hungover at church, and whatever spiritual implications that might have...At least I think that's what's happening...
It doesn't matter...I told myself I wouldn't blather...I wouldn't "vomit nostalgia" as Brewer says in this song...
I'll just say, Saccharine Trust holds up pretty damn well...Ayup.
It's kinda like Jethro Tull for GenX punks. Or Fusion for Fauxhemians.
Kinda. Whatever.
Hotcha! Hank

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06 April 2010

Tuesday's Fortune: 06 April 2010

MEAL: 1 Vegetable Spring Roll + 1 small order Curry Pork = $5.45 + $1.55 tip

Hotcha! Hank

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05 April 2010


My 1 Favorite Episode From Each Of The Simpsons' First 20 Seasons

I consider The Simpsons the greatest television show of all time, and while it isn't as consistently brilliant as it was in earlier seasons ( 8 is my favorite), it is still reliably entertaining, and still capable of a good surprise from time to time, and at least 1 or 3 episodes every season that are destined to be classics. If you say The Simpsons sucks nowadays, I'd say you're just an ingrate.

These are not my 20 favorite episodes of The Simpsons of all time. If it were that list, half of them would probably be from Season 8. No, this is a list of my favorite episode from each of the first 20 seasons of the show. It's not ranked, but simply listed in reverse chronology, so this probably shouldn't be called a HANK RANKS, but whatever.

For the record, Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment is my absolute. Favorite. Episode. Ever.


20: No Loan Again, Naturally [#LABF03 - 08Mar09] Wherein Homer takes out another home equity loan to pay for his annual Mardi Gras party, after which the Simpsons lose their house. Ned Flanders buys and then rents it back to the Simpsons, who proceed to take advantage of Ned by making him constantly make repairs at all hours of the day and night, which finally leads Ned to evict the Simpsons once again. Lenny: "Homer, I always wonder - how can you afford this party year after year?" Homer: "Because, I have this magical thing called a 'home equity loan'. I borrow all the money I want, and the house gets stuck with the bill... Hehehehe...Sucker." Lenny: "Hm? I'm not sure that's how it works." Homer: "Fine, mister sceptical, give me back your beads."

19: The Debarted [#KABF06 - 02Mar08] Wherein Principal Skinner slips a mole (voiced by Topher Grace) into Springfield Elementary to befriend and spy on the "Bart Simpson Operation" to get five steps ahead of their pranks. Bart initially suspects Milhouse is the mole, before catching on to the real culprit. Meanwhile, Homer gets a sweet ass loaner car that he doesn't want to return. Bart: "Look new kid, I'm the head hamster in this habitrail, capiche?" New Kid: "Well, maybe there's a new guinea pig in your cage. Capiche that?" Bart: "Oh, I capiche, I capiche just fine." New Kid: "Well, you just keep on capiche-ing." Classmates (in unison): "Oooooooooh!"

18: 24 Minutes [#JABF14 - 20May07] Wherein Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney plan to detonate a stinkbomb at a Springfield Elementary bake sale, and it's up to the school's Counter-Truancy Unit (CTU) to stop their dastardly plan. Starring Bart as Jack Bauer, and Lisa as Chloe O'Brien in this homage to 24. Featuring the voices of Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Marge: "If someone did eat Bart's shorts, they'd have a tummy full of pocket garbage!"

17: My Fair Laddy [#HABF05 - 26Feb06] Wherein Lisa is Henry Higgins to Groundskeeper Willie's Eliza Doolittle in The Simpsons' own warped version of My Fair Lady. Meanwhile, the company that makes Homer's blue pants no longer makes Homer's blue pants. Coach Krupt: "Today we're going to play a game that's as old as pain itself...BOMBARDMENT!" Millhouse: "I'm intrigued. What are the rules?" Coach Krupt: "Duck or die! BOMBARDMENT!!"

16: Sleeping With The Enemy [#FABF19 - 21Nov04] Wherein a disastrous party thrown for Bart leads Marge to believe she's been overmothering her children, so she turns her attentions to somebody else who might need some mothering - Nelson Muntz, who actually moves into the Simpsons' home, creating all sorts of weird dynamics and strange situations as a result. Meanwhile, Lisa has a big butt. Ralph: "Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck..." Bart: "Say 'goose' you stupid freak!" Ralph (running from room): "Waaaaaaaaaaahhhh!"

15: Diatribe Of A Mad Housewife [#FABF05 - 25Jan04] Wherein Marge writes a romance novel with thinly veiled characters who's actions suggest that she is in love with Ned Flanders, an idea that gets the whole town gossiping. Will Homer read the book and get jealous, or will his new job as an ambulance driver take up all his time? I won't say, but I will say this episode guest stars Thomas Pynchon. Homer: "Marge! I figured it out! Lee Harvey Oswald wanted to steal the Jack Ruby." Marge: "Jack Ruby was a man, not a jewel." Homer: "Ooh, I was so close."

14: How I Spent My Strummer Vacation [#DABF22 - 10Nov02] Wherein Homer (and plenty of secondary characters, as usual) goes to Mick Jagger's Rock'n'Roll Fantasy Camp, and we are served every lame Rock cliche, pun and bad joke imaginable, but there are a ton of special guests willing to make fun of themselves, so in the end it's fairly fucking epic. Homer: "Uh, Mr. Seltzer?" Brian Setzer: "It's 'Setzer'." Homer: "No, I think it's Seltzer."

13: Weekend At Burnsie's [#DABF11 - 07Apr02] Wherein Homer gets into a beef with some crows, ends up on medicial marijuana, and the remainder of the episode is, well, Homer on dope. And the stoners rejoiced! Not even an appearance by Phish could ruin gold like this. Homer: "For me, the '60's ended that day in 1978."

12: Worst Episode Ever [#CABF08 - 04Feb01] Wherein Comic Book Guy has a heart attack, which leads to Bart and Milhouse "babysitting" the Android's Dungeon until Comic Book Guy can return. While he recovers, Comic Book Guy dates Agnes Skinner, and Bart and Milhouse find his secret stash of bootleg videos, many featuring popular townsfolks in embarrassing situations. Comic Book Guy: "Is there a word in Klingon for loneliness? [looks it up in a little book] Ah, yes - Gar-dacchk!"

11: Behind The Laughter [#BABF19 - 21May00] Wherein a VH1-styled expose show called Behind The Laughter takes a raw and candid look behind the scenes of America's favorite family, The Simpsons. 10000% meta. Marge: "Nobody told us how tough it is to raise kids. They almost drove me to fortified wine." Homer: "Then we figured out we could park them in front of the TV. That's how I was raised, and I turned out TV."

10: Lard Of The Dance [#5F20 - 23Aug98] Wherein Homer (and Bart) get into the grease recycling business. Meanwhile, Lisa is chosen to introduce a new student at Springfield Elementary, and this new girl, Alex (Lisa Kudrow), quickly becomes the most popular girl in school, much to Lisa's chagrin. In the end, a massive grease explosion during a school dance makes everything right again in Lisa's world. Ralph [catching a flake of grease on his tongue]: "This snowflake tastes like fish sticks!"

09: The Cartridge Family [#5F01 - 02Nov97] Wherein Homer gets a gun, and kablammo! Ya get one of the darker episodes in Simpsons history. Lenny: "Assault weapons have gotten a lot of bad press lately, but they're manufactured for a reason: to take out today's modern super animals, such as the flying squirrel, and the electric eel."

08: Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment [#4F15 - 16Mar97] Wherein the frontpage of the Springfield Shopper screams ALCOHOL PROHIBITED IN SPRINGFIELD and Homer becomes "The Beer Baron". Homer: "To alcohol - the cause of, and the solution to, all of life's problems."

07: 22 Short Films About Springfield [#3F18 - 14Apr96] Wherein a bored Bart and Millhouse wonder if anything exciting actually ever happens in Springfield, and a subsequent series of vignettes involving a number of secondary characters answers that question in the affirmative. Mr. Burns: "Oh, Tuttle's Sunday trousers! Fear not, I'll get you to a hospital - the only way I know how. Smithers, you infernal ninny, stick your left hoof on that flange, now! Now, if you can get it through your bug-addled brain, jam that second mephitic clodhopper of yours on the right doodad! Now pump those scrawny chicken legs, you stuporous funker!"

06: Lemon Of Troy [#2F22 - 14May95] Wherein some ne'er-do-wells from Shelbyville steal Springfield's lemon tree, and Bart leads a group of friends on a recon mission into the rival town to bring it back home. Radical. Bart: "That lemon tree's a part of our town, and as kids, the backbone of our economy. We'll get it back, or choke their rivers with our dead!"

05: Homer & Apu [#1F10 - 10Feb94] Wherein Homer gets food poisoning from some expired ham (and later a 10 pound bucket of shrimp) at the Kwik-E-Mart, goes undercover for Kent Brockman's Bite Back show, which gets Apu fired, who is then replaced by actor James Woods, who is preparing for a role as a convenience store clerk. Meanwhile, Apu lives with the Simpsons, a song is sung, and Homer finally gets Apu his job back. Apu: "I have come to make amends, sir. At first, I blamed you for squealing, but then I realized, it was I who wronged you. So I have come to work off my debt. I am at your service." Homer: "You're...selling what now?" Apu: "I am selling only the concept of karmic realignment." Homer: "You can't sell that! Karma can only be portioned out by the cosmos." [slams the door] Apu: "He's got me there."

04: A Streetcar Named Marge [#8F18 - 01Oct92] Wherein Marge plays Blanche DuBois in a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Homer feels neglected and gets annoyed, and Maggie goes to Ayn Rand School For Tots in the meantime. Lionel Hutz: "Lionel Hutz, Attorney at Law. I'm filing a class-action suit against the director on behalf of everyone who was cut from the play. I also play Mitch!"

03: When Flanders Failed [#7F23 - 3Oct91] Wherein southpaw Ned Flanders quits his job and opens The Leftorium at the Springfield Mall, which fails spectacularly before Mr. Burns saves the day. As a lefty myself, I wholeheartedly echo Mr. Burn's "huzzah!" for good ol' Ned. Mr. Burns [to a tin can]: "Ah, the worm has turned, has it not my tin-plated friend? Look at you, you were once so proud. Feel the wrath of the left hand of Burns!"

02: Treehouse Of Horror (The Simpsons Halloween Special) [#7F04 - 25Oct90] The very first Treehouse Of Horror, wherein Bart and Lisa actually do tell each other scary stories in Bart's treehouse, stories about the Simpsons' night in a haunted house, the Simpsons' abduction by Kang and Kodos, and the truly classic telling of Poe's "The Raven" starring Homer. Lisa [reading crumpled message thrown through vortex from another dimension]: "Quit throwing garbage in our dimension!"

01: Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire (The Simpsons Christmas Special) [#7G08 - 17Dec89] The very first full episode of The Simpsons, wherein Bart gets a tattoo, Homer doesn't get his Christmas bonus, and a 99-to-1 longshot named Santa's Little Helper joins the family and really is the miracle that saves the Simpsons' christmas in the end. Bart: "Aw come on, Dad. This could be the miracle that saves the Simpsons' Christmas. If TV has taught me anything, it's that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it's going to happen to us!" Homer: "Well, okay, let's go. Who's Tiny Tim?"

Hotcha! Hank

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03 April 2010

HOT FIVE: Philip K Dick

05: Valis [1981] Wherein Philip K Dick himself is the narrator, telling the story of Horselover Fat, a character based on Dick...In other words, Dick's avatar. Throughout the book, Dick and Horselover Fat have conversations with each other, mostly about philosophical and spiritual matters, and how both Dick and Fat have suffered emotional/psychic wounds, with Horselover in particular starting to lose his mind, or at least believe he is losing his mind. He reveals that he's had a series of visions that has led him to believe that there is an intelligent machine of some sort (V.A.L.I.S. -or- Vast Active Living Intelligence System) orbiting the earth, and it is capable of facilitating communication between humans and extraterrestials. As the book progresses, Horselover Fat heads towards the rural estate of a famous musician (based on Brian Eno?) in hopes of contacting VALIS, and thereby acquire the necessary wisdom of life that might heal his psychic wounds. But what will happen to Dick himself, who finds himself isolated and seemingly lost while Horselover Fat is off on his quest for gnosis? I'm not telling, mostly because I don't remember.

04: The Man In The High Castle [1962] Wherein it's 1962, and the Axis Powers of Germany and Japan have won an extended World War II and the United States has been divided into thirds. The U.S., as a Nazi puppet state, now occupies only the eastern third of the country, while the western third belongs to Japan, with the middle third of the country a mostly lawless buffer zone between the two. In general, The Man In The High Castle is concerned with the daily lives of a loose collection of characters, many of whom are involved in such things as American antiques, war collectibles, banking, international trade, counterfeiting and other aspects of culture, diplomacy and economics. Themes such as personal identity, cultural identity, greed, racism, and the very nature of reality are woven throughout the various characters' stories, which are set against the larger story of a post-war Cold War between Germany and Japan, and the power struggles within the Nazi government in particular. Not so much a science fiction novel as an (obviously) alternate history, this sweeping story is nonetheless a fascinating and thought-provoking examination of chance and circumstance.

03: Ubik [1969] Wherein the then-future 1992 is so technologically advanced that civilians are able to easily travel to the moon and various parapsychology phenomena, such as ESP and telekenesis, are widely accepted as real. Our protagonist, Joe Chip, is an anti-telepath technician who works for the Runciter Corporation, and who is sent to the moon along with several other technicians to block telepaths from reading the minds of the deceased who are kept in "cold pac", and in this "half-life" state are capable of limited consciousness and telepathic communication abilities. The assignment ends up being a trap set by a radical organization of psychics, who bomb the lunar "cold pac" facility. Joe Chip and the other survivors head back to Earth, where they are able to get Glen Runciter's dead body into "half-life" to preserve his consciousness. However, they soon find their reality shifting and changing in strange, troubling ways. It seems that this group that returned from the moon must stick close together, because if any one of them strays from the group, that person dies and decomposes at a sudden and quick rate. Messages received through the television suggest that the group itself is actually suspended in "half-life". Their reality continues to warp, and time begins to shift backwards, until the group find itself in 1939, where they try to obtain a substance called UBIK, a substance that existed at every place and time in their space-time travels, and which apparently is the only way they can continue to survive while in their "half-life" state. Meanwhile, back in the real world of 1992, a living Glen Runciter finds coins with the image of Joe Chip on them. Hmmm...

02: A Scanner Darkly [1977] Wherein Agent Fred goes undercover as Bob Arctor, a drug user in a suburban house he shares with a couple other users. A house Agent Fred is spying on. Except Bob Arctor becomes addicted to Substance-D, "Slow Death", a psychoactive drug that can eventual cause one's brain to literally split into two hemispheres that function idependently, and so Agent Fred has no idea he is Bob Arctor, who has no idea he's being spied upon by himself, and is distracted anyways by his love for Donna (as played by Winona Ryder in the film). Donna's a Substance-D dealer, through whom Bob Arctor hopes to find the high-level Substance-D dealers, except Agent Fred's bosses at the police department discover Bob Arctor is addicted, and so no longer capable of working undercover. In the end, Agent Fred finds himself on a farm of the New-Path rehab clinic, emerging from his mind-splitting addiction a shell of his former selves, unsure if any of his ghostly memories are even real. Then he finds a blue flower amidst the rows of corn. A blue flower used to make Substance-D.

01: Flow My Tears, The Policeman Says [1974] Wherein genetically-enhance pop singer and television star Jason Taverner wakes up one morning to find he has no identification, and is now completely unknown to friends and fans alike, no longer a celebrity. There isn't even a record of him in the vast government databases of then-future 1988, which leads Taverner to be interrogated by Police General Felix Buckman. One thing leads to another leads to Taverner having an affair with Buckman's sister and incestuous lover, Alys. Alys is an adventurous drug user, and one of those drugs happens to be KR-3, an intense psychedelic that severely warps reality, until one becomes unbound from it and crosses over into a secondary, alternate reality. When Taverner returns from his KR-3 trip, he finds the skeleton of Alys Buckman, which freaks him out and sends him on the lam. While running from the law, he meets up with another woman on KR-3, who goes to an alternate reality where Taverner doesn't even exist. Taverner freaks again, and decides to turn himself in...All of this happens against the backdrop of a "second civil war" which has resulted in a "totalitarian democracy" in the United States. There's a heavy police surveillance state, but oddly enough, things such as drug use and pedophilia are legal. All in all, a gripping and still relevant story about identity, celebrity, genetics, the nature of reality, radical politics, power, oppression...and love.

Hotcha! Hank

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02 April 2010

Something 4 The Weekend # 160

"Now the reason we're here..."
Speaking of righteous babes, here's Chrissie Hynde, along with her three other Pretenders, laying down one of Chrissie's more earnest songs, a song about a man and woman in love, a song about a city full of other lovers, and pretty soon it's a song about all of us, about life...
"We are all of us in the gutter...Some of us are looking at the stars..."
And then it comes back around to Chrissie and her man, the music shifting from a somewhat awkward shuffle to a more urgent, confident stride. It all adds up to one of the true gems in Ms. Hynde's songbook, one that is sometimes overlooked, perhaps...
"Talk to me, darling..."
Hotcha! Hank

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Ryder Sideways!

Winona Ryder does a rare TV talkshow appearance on Conan in January of 2000.

Ayup, the most righteous babe alive.

Hotcha! Hank

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Filler, 3 AM...

Ben mentioned this Natalie Portman video in this Tuesday's Tuesday's Fortune post, so I figured I might as well post it...More filler, if nothing else...

I responded that my feelings for Ms. Portman are conflicted...

If I were ten years younger, I suppose Natalie Portman might be my Winona Ryder, you know? But I'm not, so she isn't...

Adorableness aside, I generally don't like most of Ms. Portman's more notable roles and films...I do not like Leon - The Professional...Her character in Garden State annoys me beyond belief, in a film that annoys me in general...The Star Wars films? Pffft...

But I must say, I really like Beautiful Girls quite alot, and her role as a Lolita in the film is a good one, and Portman's performance stands out in a big cast full of good actors giving good performances themselves.

Anyways, here's 7 minutes of Natalie on Letterman, being smart, being cute, being a bit snarky...

Hotcha! Hank

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Sometimes This Video Is Sideways...

...And sometimes it's upside down or at other angles, etcetera...

Hotcha! Hank

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100% Filler!