Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This and That

I’m still working on the stories of my days with the Furys, so that will be another week or two away. That was really a long time ago, so trying to get everything together is taking some thinking and talking. I hope it will be worth the wait.

This week, I want to get a bunch of stuff off my chest, so I thought I would do so this way. First I’m going to talk about some things that I really dislike at the moment. That will be followed by a few things that I’m enjoying.

It would be easy for me to fall into another rant about my dislike of Barack Obama and almost the whole of the Democratic Party. Or I could easily fall into screaming about that insane asylum known as the Republican Party. But I’ll keep away from politics this time around and just say that next election I’ll be voting for a third party candidate. And if that means we have to endure more Republican years, then that’s the price we have to pay to get the fool Democrats to start acting like real Democrats again. And that’s enough of that for this week.


The hysteria over Michael Jackson is really getting on my nerves. I thought this would all be over after his overblown memorial, but every time I turn on the news, it’s still full of un-newsworthy stories about Jackson and his creepy family.

Look, I know that Michael Jackson changed the face of music as we knew it. He helped make it possible for black music to make it into the mainstream. A lot of good music would have been ignored if not for his groundbreaking. But the last good music Jackson made was two decades ago. About the time his hair caught on fire during a video shoot, he fell apart, both personally and artistically. As far as I’m concerned, he died way back then and I had already come to terms with it. That Michael Jackson was replaced by some freak-of-nature, child-obsessed doppelganger who just kept pumping out the same unoriginal dreck over and over again until the world was bored by the repetition. The only attention he was able to get was when he pulled some crazy stunt, usually involving a child or two. He had become a laughing stock to the world. So then he dies in a suitable fashion and suddenly the whole world forgets history and becomes lunatic fans of his again.

I know plenty of people who have met Jackson and claim he was one of the nicest people they’ve ever met. Interestingly enough, almost all those meetings took place way back when he was an actual artist. I ran into him a few years ago while I was shopping at a local comic book store called Meltdown. I was the only customer in the store at the time, when a giant black limo pulled up. A large black man got out and walked into the store. After talking to the owner, Gaston, for a few minutes, Gaston called me over and asked me to leave. He told me that Michael Jackson was outside and wanted to come in to shop, so he didn’t want anyone else in the store. I told Gaston that if I left under those circumstances, I would never come back in again. Well, I was one of their best customers at the time, so after some talking with the large black man, who would run out to the car periodically to let the occupant know what was going on, we came to an agreement that I would stay on one side of the store (the comics side), while Jackson shopped on the other side (the toy side, which I didn’t care about). Once I left, he could come over to the side I was on and shop some more.

The large black man ran out to the car and after a few minutes, two small white boys stepped out of the car, followed by Jackson, who was wearing a surgical mask over his face. They entered the toy side of the store and the kids went wild, running around picking up toys and oohing and aahing over them. Jackson just stood there and glared at me for about 15 minutes until I finally decided to buy my comics and leave, getting away from that freak show. So all I remember of my encounter with Jackson is a creepy asshole.

I always find it interesting that when a famous person dies, thousands come out of the woodwork wanting to buy music, movies or books by that person. They always claim that they were the biggest fan of such person. But if they were, why didn’t they already own the objects they were now buying? It all actually gives me the creeps.

So enough of it already. Most of you didn’t care about Jackson for the last two decades. He died years ago. He was no longer important and it’s time to get over it.


I loved the movie, “Borat”. I thought it was one of the ten best pictures of 2006. It was a pitch perfect skewing of American bigotry and ignorance. I laughed so hard I had to see the movie twice so I catch the parts I missed through all the noise.

So I was very excited when I found out Sacha Baron Cohen was doing a movie about his gay fashion “expert”, “Bruno”. I always liked the character on his TV show and I was looking forward to a deeper comic examination of American bigotry, considering that homosexuals are the only minority these days that it’s still okay to be bigoted against.

Well, the movie’s been open for only a week now and I’m already sick of hearing about it. He really struck out on this one. Yes, there were a few funny parts that worked, but most of it is just forced and silly. It just wasn’t funny except to stereotypical straight audiences that want to laugh at the funny queer guy. I mean, come on, the guy goes camping with some Southern good-ol’-boys who are trying their best to tolerate him. Then, late at night, he shows up in one of their tents completely naked and when the guy goes berserk, that’s supposed to show the homophobia of the mass American public? I’ve got news for you; I would have gone berserk if that asshole would have shown up naked in my tent, and I’m gay. It’s quite a presumption to think you can enter anyone’s tent naked without an invitation.

This type of thing was almost throughout the whole movie and I found myself feeling sorry for the poor heterosexuals who found themselves punked in this way. I even felt sorry for Conservative chowderhead Ron Paul, and I thought that would never happen. Face it folks, Sacha Baron Cohen was shooting blanks this time. It wasn’t funny and anyone who thinks it is needs to take a good look at their mind frame and maturity level.

But then, maybe that’s exactly the message he wanted to make through this waste of celluloid.


On the other hand, I saw a movie the other day that I loved. It’s called “The Hurt Locker” and it’s just amazing. It’s directed by Kathryn Bigalow (Near Dark, Point Break, Strange Days) and is about an elite Army bomb squad unit in Iraq. It’s easily the best summer action movie playing right now. And yes, that includes the new Terminator and Transformers movies. Unlike those two dumb films, this is a thinking man’s action picture. I don’t want to say too much about it, but through most of it, you can cut the tension in the theatre with a knife. I think it stands a great chance of getting Oscar nods for best picture, director and actor. Jeremy Renner (Dahmer) puts in an amazing performance as a bomb expert with a devil-may-care attitude. Although the story takes place in Iraq, and people don’t like seeing movies about Iraq, don’t make the mistake of skipping over this because of that. It just happens to be set there. The story could take place anywhere. There is no political agenda to this movie. It’s just a superior human story that deserves a really wide and appreciative audience. This is the best movie of the year so far and I suspect it will be one of the best at the end of the year as well.

(Among other recent movies I’ve seen, I thought “Up” was brilliant; “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince” was the perfect set-up to the final chapter of the story, “Drag Me To Hell” was stupid and fun; “Iced Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” was also quite fun and deserved better than it got from the critics; “Public Enemies” was good, but got more than it deserved from the critics; “Moon” was a promising debut from director Duncan Jones; “Surveillance” was the second dull strike out for David Lynch’s daughter Jennifer; and “An Englishman in New York” had a great performance from John Hurt as Quentin Crisp, but overall felt like a rushed TV movie.)

And while were on film, I’m quite enjoying the summer TV season this year. I heartily recommend “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List”, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Rescue Me”, “Warehouse 13”, “Top Chef Masters”, “Burn Notice”, “Royal Pains”, “Eureka”, “Primeval”, “Merlin”, “True Blood”, “Hung”, and “In Plain Sight”. They all make for some great and fun television watching.

(I’m also watching “Big Brother 11” but I don’t know how long I can last with this dysfunctional group of bigoted asswipes. I think maybe its time for this show to be retired.)


I’ve had several people ask me about my cat, so I’ll take this time for a quick cat update.

As most of you know, I’ve lost two of my cats over the last two years. First my beloved Frankie, the first pet I could truly call a soul-mate, died of liver disease two summers ago. That was a traumatic death that I still haven’t completely gotten over even after all this time. Then, earlier this year, quiet and sweet little Squeek lost her life to feline hepatitis.

That left us with one cat. His name is Chuck and he was the unfriendly, skittish one of the bunch. We rarely saw him around the house (all our cats are always indoor cats) and just never saw him if anyone but us was visiting.

Well, that’s all changed now. Chuck still hides when people come over, but he tends to come out sooner than he ever did before to check visitors out. He never hides from us anymore. In fact, he wants more attention than I can sometimes give him. Fortunately, like Frankie, he’s learned what “lay down” means and when I say it he immediately lays on his pillow on the floor and leaves us alone, at least for awhile. He also sleeps curled up next to me every night, something he never did when we had all three cats. And he loves his “kitty goodies”, which I give him every other day and he goes apeshit for. He still won’t eat canned food, preferring to chomp away on dry stuff I leave down for him 24-7.

In short, he’s become quite a sweet and loving pet and I find myself growing closer to him each day. I think he’s made this turn around because he’s suddenly found himself to be the only cat in the house. I think that he’s actually lonely and misses the other cats. I know he doesn’t like it at all when we go away for any length of time. I feel bad about that, but I can’t get another cat at this time with the financial situation were in. He’s just going to have to cope and I pet him and play with him as much as I can to help. He’s getting up there in years as well, so I know I’m really going to miss him when his time comes. But I’ll enjoy his loving company until then.


I want to mention a few other things I’m enjoying at the moment.

I’ve been in contact with a folk singer named Trent Miller for a while now. He’s from Italy, but now lives in London, where he hopes it will be easier to get noticed. He’s been sending me demos on and off for a few years, but now he finally has his first real album out, credited to Trent Miller & the Skeleton Jive ( The album is called “Cerebus” and is really something quite enjoyable. Of course, the first thing that attracted me to Trent’s music was the obvious influence of Thin White Rope on him. Not so much in the music, but his singing voice is very reminiscent of TWR’s Guy Kyser. That gives his songs a wonderful blues/folk feeling. His lyrics are haunting and wonderful and I find myself slipping his CD into my computer and listening to it over and over again while I work here. Give him a listen, especially you Thin White Rope fans. I think you’ll like what you hear.

My friend, Paula Yoo, has just published her second children’s picture book. Her first was “Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story”, which told the story of the first Asian American to win a gold medal in the Olympics. This new one is “Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story”, which tells of the Chinese American’s rise as a movie star during the 1930’s. Since these are books that aim to tell a story in simple ways for children to understand, they are easy to read and illustrated with beautiful pictures, in this case by artist Lin Wang. I really feel these types of books are important for kids to read. Asian American kids will find much to inspire them in these stories, and other kids will learn that the history of America wasn’t just made by white men. Despite their simplicity, both books make for a very interesting read. If you have kids, you can do a lot worse than get them these colorful, interesting and educational books. Paula also has a young adult novel out called “Good Enough”. Despite the heroine of this book being a teenage Korean American girl, I found I really related to her story, especially her search for understanding through music. You can find out more about Paula here: There’s lots of great writing information and entertaining stories there. Check it out, especially if you’re an aspiring writer.

I think that’s as good a place as any to end this. Hopefully I’ll have something a little more structured for you next time. As always, thanks for reading.

Oh, by the way, I’m thinking about starting another blog. This one would focus on food & wine. Lots of people seemed to enjoy my short reviews of restaurants and food events. If you get the time, let me know what you think of that idea and any suggestions you may have.



  1. ML -

    I too have fond memories of Fury's, more of friendships than as a big fan of band. Smoking pot with Gregg n Jeff in their van, seeing you sing a song now & then, and the band when they were at their best. Quite frankly the only true strength of the band was Jeff's writing, and fire in the belly when he sang, as a band only so-so on a avg. day. Thanks for the memories.


  2. Anna Mae Wong was amazing!! Held back cos of her nationality, but a huge icon to many. Including Tomata du Plenty of the Screamers and moi. Great, classy, talented beauty. Wish I could have been the set photographer for "Shanghai Express" directed by my fave, Josef von Sternberg and the incomparable Marlene Dietrich (Shanghai Lil, "it took more than one man to change my name.")