Some Beatles Links

Don’t ask me why, but I went on a Beatles bender the other day and found some great links.
The first is Alan W. Pollack’s Notes On series, in which every Beatles song has been pulled apart and examined from the view of a music academic. Far from dry (well, okay, some of the stuff is pretty dry, and it helps to know music), Pollack’s analysis makes some connections–mostly between the early songs and the later–that haven’t been pointed out before.
For an even more in-depth analysis, Ian Hammond makes a pretty convincing argument that Revolution 9 is actually a coherent and structured piece and not just John Lennon assing about with magnetic tape. Even if you don’t agree, Mr. Hammond has bloody good ears–he has uncovered several layers of sound and things to look out for (a carnival barker calling our “thirty!” not once but twice) and identified some of the sources of the classical music heard in the piece.
Then there’s Joseph Brennan’s page on Songs the Beatles Didn’t Do including the songs they wrote for others and the ones that they never put out (such as the mythical “Carnival of Light”).
Finally, because there’s many different versions of each Beatles song (mono, stereo, remixes, etc.), Brennan has also maintained the excellent list of Beatles Recording Variations.
Apart from that, you could just listen to the music…

Kurds Captured Saddam, U.S. Grabbed the Publicity

Well, it was pretty close to the theory that two of his own men did it. But it does explain why Saddam “chose” such a small hidey hole.

Hussein Was Held by Kurds Before U.S. Capture
Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) — Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops only after being held prisoner by Kurdish forces, who had had drugged and abandoned him, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a Sunday Express newspaper report.
The Kurdish Patriotic Front, which fought alongside U.S. forces during the Iraq war, held Hussien until it negotiated for more political advantage in the Middle East, AFP said, citing the paper, which quoted an unidentified Iraqi intelligence officer.
Hussein, who had been in hiding since April, was captured a week ago about 9 miles south of his hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said at a press conference then.

Was Saddam Being Held For Ransom?

Oy! Already with the conspiracy theories! But it’s not like we haven’t seen this tactic in a hundred suspense thrillers: Kidnappers negotiate reward, the police/army/FBI bust in unawares and get the hostage and the kidnappers and keep the money.
Boy, if I was those two “unidentified men,” I’d be pissed. Still, you should know we’re America, dammit, and we don’t play by the rules.

DEBKAfile – Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive
Indications Saddam Was Not in Hiding But a Captive
DEBKAfile Special Report
December 14, 2003, 6:55 PM (GMT+02:00)
A number of questions are raised by the incredibly bedraggled, tired and crushed condition of this once savage, dapper and pampered ruler who was discovered in a hole in the ground on Saturday, December 13:
1. The length and state of his hair indicated he had not seen a barber or even had a shampoo for several weeks.
2. The wild state of his beard indicated he had not shaved for the same period
3. The hole dug in the floor of a cellar in a farm compound near Tikrit was primitive indeed

Pinball Madness!

Apparently, they now have emulation programs for pinball machines, going all the way back to the 1950s. Unfortunately, it’s only for Windows, but I’m sure somebody somewhere is figuring out a Mac port. I came of game-playing age at the beginning of the video game era, so pinball was endlessly fascinating to me. You just had to compare the graphics and hands-on feel of a machine to the early Pong and space games to figure out why I preferred pinball originally.
VPinMAME
IRPinball
From Boing Boing, of course.

James Howard Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month

A terrific site linked off Kunstler’s main page in which he rips new ones in the backside of ass-backwards American architecture. Because of bad web design, it’s better you start at the most recent entry and work backwards. The man’s loathing and disgust at suburbia and bad civic planning tickles me, and while reading it, I was sure he was in his 30s. Turns out he’s in his late 50s, which is in a way cooler.
Eyesore of the Month by James Howard Kunstler
Kunstler’s main page offers links to his books and blog.
By way of Boing Boing

Saddam Down in the Ditch

Holy December Surprise! They done captured Saddam! And he looks like Karl Marx! Expect the trial to show Saddam giving shout outs to all his former homeys, including Donald Rumsfeld and Bush Sr. “Long time no see! Thanks for the poison gas!”
There’s already fiery discussion over at Daily Kos about the reports. Some points:
Will they send in an Iraqi Jack Ruby to take Saddam out?
Will the U.S. allow a transparent international trial?
Will they schedule it till after the election?
Will Saddam be taught what to say by Karl Rove?
Will the U.S. now have a viable exit strategy?
Will the attacks on the troops stop or will they continue?
Will Bush continue to be the worst, most destructive proto-fascist president ever?
Some of these questions are rhetorical, by the way…

Sydney’s Secret: Jennifer McGregor Brings Special Xmas Concert to Music Academy

nla
Here’s a secret about the Sydney Opera House: the famed space that was designed to host opera and built for optimum acoustic brilliance—on the photos, the larger of the two cones—has never been used for operas.

“After they completed it, ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Company) decided that it would rather use the space for broadcasting and performing symphonies.” The voice telling me this is Jennifer McGregor, famed soprano whose career started at the Sydney Opera Company.

So the opera company got shifted to the symphony’s original space, in the smaller cone. For decades the company has performed right next to, but never in, the space originally promised. “Not that it’s a bad place to sing,” she adds, “I have so many memories there.”

Read More

We make the Gossip Columns

Hey folks, apparently somebody chatted to actor Bob Lesser, who starred in the commercial I shot with Jon Crow for the MoveOn.org “Bush in 30 Seconds” commercial before Thanksgiving. My friend Maury called me this morning to tell me I was in the News-Press. “I’m always in the News-Press,” I told him, “I write for ’em!” No, he said, I was in “The Dish” section:

“EQUAL TIME: Robert Lesser, Ensemble Theatre Company star and journalist Annie Bardach’s hubby, just completed a commercial for MoveOn.org, the Web site committed to unseating George W. Bush. Ted Mills (free-lance writer for the News-Press) directed the commercial, shot at the Pepper Tree Inn, in which Robert plays a dysfunctional CEO. The 30-second spot competes against hundreds of others — the winner will air around Bush’s January State of the Union address. … “

Apart from failing to mention the other director who is not a local boy, we’re chuffed to see the publicity. More info on the commercial when we know.

Honey

Dir: Bille Woodruff
2003
Yesterday I chuckled over a recent (?) Boondocks cartoon where Riley is asked to write a “what I did for my summer vacation” essay for school.
He turns in a page of paper completely covered by one phrase: “I KEPT IT REAL!”
“Honey” is all about keeping it real, but not as funny as Boondocks. In fact, the film treats its cliches with a straight face.
While it often feels like Jessica Alba is trying to channel Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, I couldn’t believe I was seeing a third act twist straight out of a Little Rascals or Andy Hardy film from the 1930s: Lets raise money for the youth center by putting on a show! Mmm, smell the mothballs on that one.
I also felt that a lot of what we were seeing was warmed over sentiments from the last 20 Jennifer Lopez videos. Never has a pop star sung so often about “keeping it real” and being just “Jenny from the Block” and other self-aggrandizing platitudes as Lopez, so much that I suspect she either a) absolutely doesn’t believe it and it’s just her “image,” or b) she has an incredible guilt complex about being so rich and famous.
That’s the sense on display here. Honey barely has time to sell out and be mean to her friends–she skips out on a friend’s birthday trip for a black tie party, but we’re shown that she didn’t know this going in–so we’re never worried about her not “keeping it real.”
Anyway, the previews show Alba all hoochied out with the midriff and lip gloss and this and the that, so is there a lot of that, really, for the furtive overcoat brigade? Nope, only at the beginning, then New York gets chilly and Honey wraps up.
Any other reason to see it? Well, Missy Elliot has a funny one-and-a-half scenes, but the preview shows 80 percent of that. The smallest of Honey’s young charges is also cute as the dickens and we get to see him try to dance. Honey also has a pug, but we get no pug reaction shots. Surely we could have had some pug head-cocking, maybe when Mekhi Phifer is trying to get his groove on (Mekhi Phifer is an appealing actor though, more than Alba, who doesn’t really invite us into her character). And the sleazebag video director guy who winds up getting bitch-slapped for wanting a “taste of honey” hurh hurh hurh, is called Michael Ellis, which I desperately want to be some scriptwriter’s reference to the similarly named Monty Python skit.
So, you get some early midriff, some 1930’s “save the schoolhouse” malarkey, a whole lotta product placement, a cute friend (Joy Bryant) who wears less than Alba, a righteous Mrs. Honey who wants her daughter to travel and broaden her horizons, but who also wears some frightful necklaces. But best of all, nearly everybody in this film, save Mr. Ellis, KEEPS IT REAL.
Addendum: There’s a silly part in the film where Honey finds choreographic inspiration from watching basketball players and girls playing jumprope. With the intensest look that Alba can muster, Honey starts trying out her versions of dribbling and jumping for the upcoming dance. “Hey!” the film says, “This is how artists work!” I am now annoying the wife by studying her mundane movements (chin in hand and the other hand using the mouse) and coming up with my own hip-hop choreography.
Also: If you follow the link to www.jessica-alba.com, you wind up at the Dennis Kucinich campaign site. Ewwww.