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I posted this over at this new Weblog thing that seems to be going nowheresville. It was nice to be wrong about Pete Sampras. On the other hand, I'm predicting an exchange of weapons of mass destruction in the mideast in the very near future. I can stand being wrong.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

US OPEN, World's Worst Cable Channel and Bin Laden Enterprise

MY DAVENPORT FANTASY: I certainly like watching the women who grunt and moan and run in the US Women. In fact, there isn't a single girl I don't like, in a sick and intimate way. I have a wonderful Lindsey Davenport fantasy where she roughs me up and forces me to do all kinds of terrible things to her. Those Eastern European players are all hot. I guess the big story is Serena's form fitting Lycra. Some people think her muscular Klingon body is unattractive, but not me. In fact, she's all woman. She's so much woman that I'm beginning to think that she'll burst out of her clothes. And oh her marvelous majestic thighs. I wonder if she's trying to impress that Lennox Lewis fellow. Well, it's working. With me, not necessarily Lennox Lewis, who cares what he thinks.

As far as the actual tennis itself, it's a little boring on the women's side. The alpha females seem to dominate more than the alpha males. But the man's game is just different. It takes both more endurance and power. Personally, I think that the men's tour should bring back coaching, some version of the boxer's corner. But the women's matchups will get better as they get further into the draw. I'm not really sure if anybody can beat Venus or Serena, other than each other. The American men are probably toast. I root for Pete and Andre, but they're probably beyond their time and this new class will never reach the apex of Sampras/Chang/Courier/Agassi. Both Roddick and Blake are about a year away but I'll root for them.

WORST CABLE CHANNEL EVER: Aside from my twisted dream involving Lindsay Davenport's long athletic legs, my cable experience on the whole is slightly dissappointing. The music channels are a huge dissappointment and I know some are in dire creative and financial straits. I have three country stations but I don't really like country. I have three to five religious stations, but I'm an athiest. I like the BET on Jazz and VH1 Classic stations, but the jazz channel is having financial problems and shows nothing but repeats and classic VH1 shows the same videos over and over again. It's gotten so bad that I'm sick of videos I like from such artists as David Bowie and Echo and the Bunnyman. Some of my requests have made it through: Big Audio Dynamite, the Jack Rubies, early Bjork with the Sugarcubes, but these bright spots are few and far between. These days I just kind of watch without the sound on and I listen to Netscape Radio, which is much much better. I highly recommend the fusion station and alt 80s.

But the worst station that I've ever seen has to be New Urban Entertainment. It's a new music channel. It has just two, possibly three shows. One of those shows is a forgettable Showtime series about basketball. Then there are two or three 1 hour music videos that show 10 year old videos. That's it. Nothing else is on. Try to imagine CBS if it was Murder She Wrote and two or three old episodes of 60 Minutes 24 hours a day. What a joke. For this, you pay almost 80 bucks a month? Sad. When will we get universal broadband and those thousands of channels that I'm dreaming about? Sigh. I wish the future would hurry up and get here.

BIN LADEN ENTERPRISE EPISODE: Funny episode of Enterprise tonight. They get sucked up into a civil war and the guy they're siding with, against the very bad imperialist oppressors who run the planet, is a charismatic desert leader. I think he even wore a turban. One of the pleasant things about watching Enterprise is figuring out why they created a Federation of Planets, why they created First Contact protocols and how did Earth become the quadrant power (The answer to the latter seems to be that Earther's are a curious, emotionally smart bunch who are better at exploration than our caretaker race: The Vulcans. The Vulcans here don't say "Fascinating" and seem to be bored with the very idea of exploration.) I get the impression that this Bin Laden guy will turn up later and reflect upon Earth in a negative way. Or maybe, it was just a way to show how an objective alien species might look at our world. The Vulcans might have sympathy for the so-called "terrorists..."

Philip Shropshire

posted by Steelydan at 12:29 AM Comments (0) (link)

Style to Be Inspired About this week is Thomas Pynchon:

Because it's hard to get over the wonder of finding that Earth is a living critter, after all these years of thinking about a big dumb rock to find a body and psyche, he feels like a child again, he knows that in theory he must not attach himself, but still he is in love with his sense of wonder, with having found it again, even this late, even knowing he must soon let it go. . . . To find that Gravity, taken so for granted, is really something eerie, Messianic, extrasensory in Earth's mindbody . . . having hugged to its holy center the wastes of dead species, gathered, packed, transmuted, realigned, and rewoven molecules to be taken up again by the coal-tar Kabbalists of the other side, the ones Bland on his voyages has noted, taken boiled off, teased apart, explicated to every last permutation of useful magic, centuries past exhaustion still finding new molecular pieces, combining and recombining them into new synthetics -- "Forget them, they are no better than the Qlippoth, the shells of the dead, you must not waste your time with them...."

May 13th, 2002:

It's about 10 pm and I'm waiting for the next showing of the Jon  Stewart show. Meanwhile, I'm kind of clicking around and I'm watching this debate on CSpan about whether or not to invade Iraq. On the other channel there's a show about the Consumer Federation of America. CSpan is the only station that plays stuff like this, or even allowing what might be called the traditional left even a perfunctory hearing. God knows there's nothing like a Fox News for the left. Please see this week's Tom Tomorrow Cartoon for an explanation of this view.

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And now for something completely different:

In my attempt to change the often boring playlist on VH1 Classic I've posted my request about what to play during their June request weekend:

Okay. Here’s my weekend request list:

“Pretty Pink Rose”/ Adrian Belew , featuring David Bowie
“Black Metallic”/ The Catherine Wheel
“Cold Sweat” / Sugarcubes
“Peaches En Regalia” / Frank Zappa, often played on Ben Sidran’s old Jazz VH1 New Visions Show
“Be With You” / The Jack Rubies
“80s” / The Killing Joke
“Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” / Traffic
“Never Let Me Down” / Depeche Mode
“Deluxe” / Lush
“The Hallejulah Man” / Love and Money
“Downtown” / Lloyd Cole

This Might Take Some Effort: MTV Did A Concert with the Sugarcubes, Living Color and the Godfathers. Both the Sugarcubes and Living Color turned in good sets, but I just want one song from the Sugarcubes:


Plus all my old yet unplayed requests with the exception of China Crisis. I saw their videos videos on Launch and I wasn’t impressed.

Philip Shropshire


April 23-24:

I haven't really had much time to watch tv lately. I did catch Buffy and I can see why it's a popular show. It does things with symbolism and below the surface stuff that seems to add to the lighthearted zombie/vampire/demon carnage that dominates the Obvious Plotline. Take one of those characters from the Scooby gang, that one who's trying to "kick" her hard Magic habit. That probably gets it about right. I especially liked the past episodes about the "magic" dens that sure did look like some witchcraft version of a shooting gallery. ("N-Need a hit of that pentagram mojo man, p-please, just one hit...")Those kinds of scenes give the show a bit more of an edge than your average Bewitched moment. Still, I don't think it's as important as Enterprise, but it's a fun watch.

I also had a chance to watch Smallville tonight but I turned it off because it was another Kryptonite mutie story. I guess that makes sense: The green stuff hurts Clark and creates a whole slew of villains for him to fight.  It just gets a little tired. I'm still waiting for an appearance of the young Bruce Wayne, who no doubt hangs around in the same circles as the very smooth Lex Luther. Ah well, back to work...

Style I will try to rip off this week: How about rock critic Lester Bangs?

Lester Bangs, From Better Than the Beatles

- That's right. All those stupid bands were so stupid they plumb went out and learned to play their instruments, a process as ineluctable as the putrefaction of a corpse. Teach 'em a chord or two, then just watch those little bastards practice till they can switch off, back and forth between those two chords (then three, then four . . . never shoulda learned even one!) deft as Al DiMeola if he wanted to play that which he probably will soon! Damn!- - Which is why the only hope for rock'n'roll, aside from everybody playing nothing but shrieking atonal noise through arbitor distorters, is women. Balls are what ruined both rock and politics in the first place, and I demand the world be turned over to the female sex immediately. Only hope. Valerie Solanas was so much greater a prophet than Warhol that I can only pray she might consent to lead the group I'm forming. The absolute best rock'n'roll anywhere today is being played by women: the other night I saw God in the form of the Au Pairs, the Slits are stupendous, the Raincoats are better than London Calling or anything by Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde doesn't count, Joan Jett deserves her place in the sun if not reparations, Lydia Lunch is the Female Role Model for the '80s besides being one of the greatest guitarists in the world . . . the list is endless. (Patti, come home!)


April 16th 2002

Over the weekend MTV played their most controversial videos uncut and uncensored over and over again. I had never seen that Nine Inch Nails "Closer" without it being bleeped or without the nude female or vagina or two. I have to admit I liked it better with bad words and the disturbing imagery. In fact, I never realized how many breasts and buttocks were being censored until I had seen these videos in their original form. If I didn't know any better I'd say this was MTV's effort at a trial balloon: Would you watch more videos if we included the nudity and violence? Well, after watching those controversial videos, I'd have to say yes. I mean, I never knew Bjork did a topless video. I found it entertaining. I also applauded the Supreme Court's decision on virtual porn. I have no soul and don't see a future in the afterlife....


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Right now, Tuesday night, I'm watching a special on Coltrane on BET on Jazz.  They must show several clips of his soloing on "My Favorite Things" and I have to say they're pretty impressive. If you go to the official Coltrane site the flash opening includes a song by Coltrane...I'm making the assumption that they rotate tunes around...They're also showing a documentary about Miles Davis and his electric period. It not only features a rare sighting of my favorite guitarist/composer John McLaughlin, but shows Keith Jarrett on keyboards with a Miles electric band, looks to be early 70s (Did they ever record that Miles Davis Isle of Wight concert because I've seen it with what looks to be Corea and Jarrett on electric keyboards)...boy it sure would be cool to hear Jarrett experiment with electric keyboards again...


April 13/14 2002

I've just entirely given up on Andromeda. I think it's doomed to just be a kind of so so show. I guess that's my opinion of Hercules as well. But Saturday Night Live has become sort of must watching again. They had that wrestler guy the Rock hosting it again. He's actually not bad. He has a presence and his characters seem, well, proficient. One of the things that I've learned from that Tough Enough (Love that hinted of lesbo relationship between Anni and Jessi by the way...you see Jessi stroke those thighs mmm nice...)



Were they getting it on? Because that's all right with me....


show on MTV (I do watch those shows even though I realize whenever I watch this is why they don't play interesting music anymore at all for any substantial amount of time...I have seen the enemy and he is me...) that these are real athletes and real actors. They just dumped their best athlete and it was kind of sad to see him cry. But these people are talented and it is real, or at least real in the sense that you can seriously get hurt wrestling professionally. I guess I still find the premise just bone dead wrong: Athletes who injure themselves over fixed results. I wish somebody with some talent would promote Ultimate Fighting, which is a real sport. Some say it's dangerous, but the injuries seem to be less than what boxers go through, and perhaps even less than what professional wrestlers go through...anyway, it was kind of a C Minus show. But Tina Fey was great. The news segment is now the best part of the show...That music act was bizarre. I can't remember this guy's name but he's being promoted as the Next Big Thing, but he struck me as average. And why so many guitarists? The guy had three guitarists and one piano player...was he lonely up there? What was happening...?


Dr. Phlox wants to find a cure for their disease, but the cure may be worse...
(picture owned by Paramount by the way, you don't want those boys on your case.)

By the way, they repeated Enterprise on Saturday, an episode called "Dear Doctor", just one of the many excellent episodes of this series. I'll never understand that Nation piece that said this was a right wing show. I think it clearly trends left and like a lot of great art rises above ideology quite a bit. The questions it asks don't simply revolve around a Ted Kennedy or Jesse Helms perspective. Take this show for example: You have a planet with two different species. The dominant species is dying out and the Enterprise could offer a cure. But the other species, kind of like slave labor pets, has more evolutionary potential, that won't be arrived at unless the other species dies off...Just watching Captain Archer mess around with the idea of needing some kind of, I dunno, "directive" out here was worth the price of admission...But the show offered other highlights as well. One of the interesting things about Star Trek is that for us to go into space and meet other species, as opposed to killing them I guess and then rationalizing the mass graves and the media expulsion--forgive me, I thought I was debating the pro Israeli war bloggers for a moment--we have to learn the idea of tolerance. But how much do we tolerate? Do we accept slavery? Or hostile sexist Matriarchies? These are tough interesting questions. Other great moments include Dr. Phlox casually mentioning that he has three wives and stating "Evolution is a fact", period. He should teach in American schools...of course, once we get out in space we might conclude that a kind of benevolent seeding has gone on, not necessarily from "God", but just some aliens with kind of a Johnny Appleseed mentality and who were into evolutionary biology...let's make sure that ape like thing touches the monolith, that should give them a spark and that bone will morph into a shuttle in no time flat...

April 11, 2002

Welp, in between updating my websites, attacking the warbloggers and attempting to get some reading done, I watch television like I always seem to do. I usually watch the video music channels and while they're unwatchable in large doses if you switch constantly you will find something worthwhile. I guess I kind of like Classic VH 1 because they play all those moody, atmospheric vids that I watched in the 80s. I'm really impressed by the Fixx and Traffic videos. In fact, I've gone on the VH-1 message boards and asked that they simply rerun old 120 Minutes episodes where I saw just great music from Big Audio Dynamite, Bjork and the Sugarcubes, The Fall, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, REM, Lush, and other videos that they just never never play but I always thought was of a higher quality than that corporate rock dreck that they played during their regular hours.

Personally, it's my honest god felt opinion that the American bands, especially of the 80s, suck horribly. Truly, American corporate rock is the Devil's work. Whenever Classic VH1 plays Bon Jovi or Poison or Ratt or that musical Axis of Evil Journey, Styx and Reo Speedwagon I have to change channels. Not that the other stations have much to offer. Only MTV2 has veejays at all, but it's pretty clear that they just intro stuff and have no say over the playlist. The other stations aren't much better. Here in Pittsburgh we get MTV Extreme, VH1 Soul, Much Music and BET ON Jazz, which I also watch a lot. They all suffer from horrible rotations in music. (If I hear one more song from Creed or J. Lo I will strangle someone...)

Classic did play some of my requests: China Crisis, which turned out to be horrible, but the BAD (Big Audio) E=MC2 was surreal, powerful. They also played two in a row from the Sugarcubes, Birthday and Motor Crash--inspired by the Ballard novel I think--and that was impressive. Then it was back to Bon Jovi. Had to switch channels.

Need More Bjork (mmmm good) on Classic VH-1...

I spend a lot of time at BET On Jazz as well, but they haven't produced anything new for almost a year now. Curious as hell I contacted BET on Jazz sometime host Willard Jenkins via email and he told me that the channel has to operate profitably before any new programs are added. (*The station was bought by Viacom and that was one of the orders apparently...) That's a shame because there are so many good concerts that they have, if only they were organized differently. What I asked Willard, now that BET on Jazz is now owned by Viacom is why they don't simply rerun the old and fantastic jazz show New Visions hosted by Ben Sidran.

Why Can't BET ON Jazz, now owned by Viacom, play the old Ben Sidran show Jazz Visions, which featured many a Zappa Video including "Peaches En Regalia"? Viacom also owns VH-1 New Visions, they're just sittin' there, hello?...

It not only featured my hero Frank Zappa, but  a lot of guys who have also since passed away like Sun Ra and Don Pullen. Willard likes that show too but he thinks its a rights thing. Sigh. There's over 150 hours of that show and quite frankly Sidran had a wider range of jazz. BET on Jazz could almost be called Republican Crouch/Marsalis Jazz. It's clear to me that they should be pushing Acid, instead I get Diana Krall and Diana Reeves over and over again...It's not like that's a profitable way out, why not acid mixed in with trad? Geez.


(Written Back in 2000)

Quickie Reviews of Andromeda, Farscape, and Earth Final Conflict:

I have to say I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen of the first few episodes of Andromeda. True, it has its faults. The show’s look, apart from the now perfunctory cool computer generated space scenes which even Babylon 5 got right those many years ago, is kind of bad. The costumes are terrible. I now appreciate Harlan’s job of coming up with costumes and fashion for Babylon much more now. The actors aren’t that talented or interesting, with the exception of the Rev guy. Then again, they probably don’t have that $1 million per episode budget that Farscape has.

But as everyone knows, or at least someone who watches science fiction shows, they always take some time to gell. You don’t really know what kind of show its going to be until episode 11 or so. Still, I like the way the show is going.

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Farscape just keeps getting better and better. It just looks better than any science fiction show I’ve seen, at least on television. Chiana isn’t just blue, but she’s a cool looking blue. It’s not particularily grounded in the science aspect, but it keeps coming up with spectacular ideas, which is what science fiction is all about. The idea that the bad guy in black (can’t remember his name) has cloned a duplicate consciousness and placed it in our hero’s brain, which then helps him survive, is remarkable. And that other notion, shown in that epic three parter, where once you know your child’s DNA, you can extrapolate the child’s growth and characteristics as a hologram…just stunning stuff. I can’t wait for episodes to start up again this January.

A surprise this year for me is Earth: Final Conflict. As some other critic noted, this is a show that can be great and horrible within the same episode. The first couple of episodes of the first season have been very very good. Comics hero Howie Chaykin appears to be gone and judging from the quality of last season that might not be such a bad thing. All of the shows this year have been outstanding and tightly edited.

There have been some science fiction shows that I haven’t seen, such as the one on Fox, or the double bill on UPN which does look pretty interesting. This is what happens when you occasionally work for a living. 

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Impression of Dune: 

I thought that the Dune miniseries was pretty good. But I haven’t read those books since high school so some of the plot points lost me. I can’t actually remember which of this stuff actually happened. I can’t remember whether Duke Leto’s first son was killed in Dune. I don’t believe it was great necessarily, because it seemed to take a lot of its story boarding from the first film. Also, what happened to the sound weapons? The Weirding Way makes an appearance, but no weirding modules? Are there no black people or other "minorities" in the Dune future? Just Europeans and Americans? Even the Palestinian-like Fremen seems to have been played by Brits..though I kind of liked the evil open homosexuality of Baron Harkonen, who looked like he was being serviced by one of his slave boys in one of the scenes. Guess we’ll see that in the European versions.

One significant change is the emphasis on the war like aspects of the fight and that many would have to die to achieve victory. In the Lynch movie, it was all mighty Messianic war. Here people die.  All those dreams of Paul standing amidst a concentric wave of bloody bodies...War is hell. The politics is kind of interesting too. Seems to resonate with a pro Palestinian message, although its clear that the oppressors are nazis not jews..Still, it makes you wonder..

I hear the director has been given the go ahead to do the second book. I look forward to that. If I remember the book correctly, all the principals are slowly killed off. Jessica, the sister, if I recall correctly, are history. Am much enthused about the future episodes.



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