Burb Rocking
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
  Chronicles of Amber

It was as if I stood at the end of the world, the end of the universe, the end of everything. But far, far out from where I stood, something hovered on a mount of sheerest black―a blackness itself, but edged and tempered with barely perceptible flashes of light. I could not guess at its size, for distance, depth, perspective, were absent here. A single edifice? A group? A city? Or simply a place? The outline varied each time that it fell upon my retina. Now faint and misty sheets drifted slowly between us, twisting, as if long strands of gauze were buoyed by heated air. The mandala ceased its turning when it had exactly reversed itself. The colors were behind me now, and imperceptible unless I turned my head, an action I had no desire to take. It was pleasant standing there, staring at the formlessness from which all things eventually emerged . . . .

~The Hand of Oberon, Chapter 6

The quote above is from the fourth book of The Chronicles of Amber. While the image opening this post is from the fifth and final book (of the original Corwin Cycle, anyway). Have some thoughts on this amazing series, but no time right now to record them. So just the excerpt above and a few images borrowed from here and there. More later...

(Meanwhile, fans of Zelazny's Amber, a quiz for you.)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
  President Stephen Colbert? Why not?
Gods, how I suck at the blogging. And haven't a whole lot to say at the moment. Big dry spell going on here (could you tell?). But it bugs me that two videos start up the moment you hit this site (due to my own sad failings in the realm of hypertext). More posts needed! (Recommended: Pause the Samantha Bee item from the Huffington Post, two posts down, immediately after landing here. The Green Day video, on the other hand, if it kicks in, just let it roll - awesome tune, great video!)

First things first. To finally put the Samantha Bee does Al Jazeera thing to bed once and for all, The Daily Show now has its own site, and it features the Samantha Bee piece which has been so elusive for so long here. Meaning people bitching and moaning about its unavailability - people like me - now at last must just shut up and move on.

Moving on...

Stephen Colbert has declared his candidacy for the presidency in his home state of South Carolina. Running as a "favorite son." More power to this guy, and anyone else willing to mount an off-the-wall assault on the White House. More of "the same old same old" is just what we don't need. Inspired leadership, anyone? Even comedians? Anyone else at all? No? Then Godspeed, Stephen Colbert!

I'd suggest running anyone - anyone - besides the current crop being offered by the two major parties. Including fictional/imaginary characters at this point. Personally, I think Dumbledore would have made an excellent candidate. But, having been recently outed by his creator, he's no longer viable. America will not support an imaginary presidential candidate if he is gay.

Anyone else out there who might be better than those kicking around in the lackluster field we're looking at now? Forget imaginary or fictional characters, dead people, etc. Is there anyone alive today who you'd like to see in the White House come 2008?

Here's what I'm thinking. It should be someone with good name recognition. And it should be someone with strong views on what they expect for - and from - America. No wishy-washy types need apply. And, ideally, it shouldn't be a career politician. Dodd has been shockingly rational, principled and lucid in his statements about what the next presidency should set out to achieve (and I say that while swallowing a signifigant amount of crow, being one of the many who for so long have found Dodd too smug, entitled, and - most of all - annoying to be taken seriously). So there can always be exceptions. There aren't really any rules here, as it's really an open question: Isn't there anyone else?

My better half proposed Reese Witherspoon and Bruce Springsteen. Is there a sports hero out there, or a television icon, or even a writer or radio personality? Is it Howard Stern you want, America? Because even Howard would be okay by me. Anyone other than the clowns we're being offered this time around. I mean anyone. Porn stars? Sure. Just keep the clothes on and tell America what you think - what you think the problems are, what you think people want, need, and are most worried about, what you think might work to get this country back to where it was before the current gang of crooks and liars took over. I will support you! With my vote, with money, with sign-carrying, with whatever I can give!

Springsteen? Witherspoon? Colbert? [fill in the blank]?

I am strongly tempted to run my cat, Kaz, as a write-in candidate. (Don't laugh, his chances aren't all that bad: he's already had his sculpture added to the memorial in South Dakota - see below.) This nightmare pantomime of democracy is only a year away - we'll see...

Rock-steady as she goes, Kaz!
Sunday, October 07, 2007
  Newsweak: Al Jazeera's Makeover by Samantha Bee (again)
Daily Show does Al Jazeera English

Spotted on the Syria News Wire (Making Al Jazeera sexy). Though it will be gone before you know it, what with the vigilance of those charged with enforcing copyright-related "No Trespassing" warnings and all, here it is again, and in full: Samantha Bee's Makeover of Al Jazeera English. Come on, Comedy Central, make this classic available through your own video archive! We'll all feel a lot better about playing this segment on our computers. Not only will the twinge of guilt be gone, but so will the anxiety about the imminent disappearance of the download.

Since the material at the YouTube link will be going away any hour now, The Third Path: Daily Show reviews Al Jazeera English has the transcript. Copied below:

Jon Stewart: The Holocaust conference [in Tehran, Iran] probably won't do wonders for American perceptions of the Middle East, but one institution is working to make a difference. Samantha Bee reports.

["Newsweak," produced by Miles Kahn, edited by Mark Paone]

Samantha Bee (voiceover): Al Jazeera: the Arab-language news network has swept the Middle East, and they've got plenty of fans over here.

Donald Rumsfeld (archival footage): What Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable....

Bee (v.o.): So it's no surprise they've launched an English-language network.

Ghida Fakhry: Hello again. The top story on Al Jazeera tonight ...

Bee: But how many people are watching in the U.S.? Al Ja-zero! Who's with me? Folks? Everyone's so fucking serious around here.

Bee (v.o.): U.S. cable companies have refused to carry the new network. It's as if they've confused Al Jazeera English with Al Jazeera.

Will Stebbins (Bureau Chief, Al Jazeera English): We're looking to produce a journalistically quality product.

Bee: Aren't you trying to appeal to an American audience?

Stebbins: The principle behind the structure of Al Jazeera English is the recognition that geography and culture clearly affects one's view of the world.

Bee: Congratulations. Your mom and dad are watching; I get it.

Bee (v.o.): It was clear that Johnnie Prep-school didn't know the first thing about the news game so I studied their programming.

Sir David Frost (Frost over the World): You're such an expert on the worlds of terror and spies and ...

Bee: Oh my god, he is so old!

Riz Khan (Riz Khan): I started out mentioning you were a high-school dropout, picked up the guitar —

Riz Khan's guest: Yeah, thanks for that.

Shahnaz Pakravan (Everywoman): I'm Shahnaz Pakravan; thanks for joining me.

Bee: Does this thing have picture-in-picture? Anyone?

Richard Gizbert (Listening Post): If you don't like the angle on a story, you can report it your way.

Bee: [inhaling from what appears to be a joint] Oh no, this just makes it go slower.

Ethan Zuckerman (guest webcam commentary on Listening Post): American and Chinese companies, in providing a search engine...

Bee (v.o.): If they were going to succeed in American television, I'd have to become their Al Ja-hero, so I took a look under the hood.

Bee: Where are all your graphics?

Al Jazeera staffer: We usually put graphics at the end of the news hour.

Bee: Whoa, whoa, whoa — news hour?

Bee (v.o.): [over the Al Jazeera News theme] And that music ain't helpin', either.

Bee: [starts synthesized beat loop] Okay, what's that the sound of? [rhythmically, to the beat] People, working, in an office. [pause] Fingers, clacking on a keyboard. What's gonna happen in the world today? Oh no! Something terrible. Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera.

[skip material contained on the Huffington Post video posted here previously]

Stewart: Samantha Bee; we'll be right back.

Marash: Welcome to Al Jazeera television; I'm Dave Marash.

Bee: You're as dry as a biscuit! Give me some feeling. Get your pinky up America's bum and massage the prostate. Let's go, one more time.

(Only half a year between posts - maybe more are coming, who knows?)

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