On Davis
Jan 29th, 2009 by Dr Karma

davisIt has been brought to my attention that the only full-time “real” doll repairman hails from my current hometown:

Does that say something about my quiet little burg?  I’d like to think so.  I’ve often spoken lovingly of my liberal Mayberry.  I won’t go on and on about how cool it is, I’ll just give you some facts and you can make up your own mind.

1.  We apparently have a plan in place to start giving the squirrels birth control because there are too many of them.

2.  We have a vital, vibrant downtown that’s walking distance from campus.

3.  We will soon have the world’s only “green” target.

4.  We apparently abhor billboards, high signs, and excess night light–there are laws in place to keep our skies visible.

5.  We have been on The Daily Show multiple times.  We have been made fun of for having a professor study (and create) Asian male centered porn, for our whiny Republicans on campus having their own “coming out” day (they feel oppressed!), and for our toad crossing (which didn’t work until it was redesigned).

6.  We have also been in national news for the gang of wild turkeys who loiter in the graveyard (which is my backyard) and for a neighbor calling the police on another neighbor for disturbing the peace by snoring too loud.  The latter, by the way, was a weird piece of performance art, designed to make fun of what makes national news.  The snorer was not in on it and was terribly embarrassed.

7.  We have a really cool university with amazing faculty, but maybe the best thing is that we have one of the few wine making degrees in the world.

8.  Our tallest building is nine stories.

9.  We usually can’t feel the earthquakes that happen around us.

10.  Our schools are really good (because our housing costs are atrocious).  Most of the parents of children in this system have higher education degrees, so we’re demanding, too.

11.  There are no traffic jams, but we’re close enough to big cities like Sacramento and San Francisco to go right to them if we miss being angry drivers.

12.  We have almost as many bikes per capita as China.

13.  We have the only running London double-decker buses in the world now that London doesn’t use them anymore.

14.  We have a great micro-brewery.

15.  Julie, Julie was filmed here.

Finally, of course, I live here, as do many of my friends.  And while it’s great to be in Davis, I have to admit that I’m kind of bitchy today because it looks like I might not get my workload class for this Spring (as I didn’t this Winter) and thus I have to have income loss-induced panic attacks.

Warning: they're all driven by UCD students!

Warning: they're all driven by UCD students!

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News this week
Jan 28th, 2009 by Dr Karma

A few things. 

1. My new matchflick column is out:  I order you to see 11 fabulous performance (stand-up) films.

2. Obama is doing well so far.  I think his interview with the Arab channel went well, even though the networks here seemed jealous.  Thrilled that Guantanamo is closing.  I’ve never understood how we still have that place (or why Cheney thinks it’s not under U.S. dominion when it totally is).  Finally, Obama has rescinded the global gag rule.  For those who don’t know, the gag rule keeps us from giving aid (including by paying part of our U.N. dues) to any health agency that might mention abortion.  I understand people’s feelings about abortion, but refusing to give aid is, to use a cliche, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  It doesn’t assure that any one abortion will be stopped, but it does insure that those children who are born will get less aid, less medication, etc.  And yes, you might not like your tax dollars going to a humanitarian organization that might use the “a” word, but I pay taxes for shit that you like and I think is offensive and abysmal.

3.  John Updike died yesterday.  I haven’t read as much of his work as I should, so I don’t have any brilliant analysis to give you here, but we’ll miss him.

Lisa the Drama Queen
Jan 26th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Lisa & JulietDespite what comic book guy (aka Jeff Anderson) says, this Sunday’s couch gag was one of the best. If that box isn’t for sale already, it should be.

The main plot of this episode: Lisa gets a best friend. It’s sad from the beginning–we know it won’t last; this is a sitcom. Still, the story is sweet and funny.

The best bits: Lisa’s friend, Juliet, has an “academic” father who’s obsessed with his research subject: John Grisham.

Lisa and Juliet (who have a star-crossed love) are obsessed with Josh Groban. (I’m not saying their love is gay–it’s just homosocial, the way young girls’ friendships are.)

Homer nonchalantly drinks out of a coffee mug clearly labelled “NED.”

The girls write a book–a fantasy utopia. Feminist utopias are actually a subgenre of their own.

We learn that Groundskeeper Willie was Dr. William MacDougal before he went through Ellis Island.

Apparently, they make a cream just for peaches.  I wonder if there’s one just for strawberries in Springfield.

Apparently, Lisa and Juliet are the two brightest writers this side of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (said workshop is thrilled to have been mentioned).

Finally, as Homer says, “Writing is hard.”

(By the way, I don’t see what was so awesome about the Fall Out Boy credit song.  It’s not that different from Greenday’s.)

excommunication isn’t about popularity or sanity, right?
Jan 26th, 2009 by Dr Karma

The Pope just re-communicated four bishops who were excommunicated in the 1980s. Richard Williamson, one of the four, is a holocaust denier and thinks 9/11 was a zionist plot. While he’s been vocal about these things for years, since he gave an anti-semitic talk this week, people are upset about the timing of the re-communication (know a better term? I don’t).

First: this has nothing to do with timing. He’s been a bigot and an idiot 24/7 for years. If the issue is his belief about Jews, then what week he gets reinstated shouldn’t have anything to do with the complaints against the church now.

Second: but, his excommunication didn’t have anything to do with his beliefs about the Jews. It was because he saw the church as becoming too liberal and he joined a splinter group of traditionalists. Now that we have a very traditional Pope, it makes sense for him to be brought back in.

Third: after all, you can be a bigot and an idiot and be a Catholic; you just aren’t supposed to go against whatever they’re for at the moment.

Theoretically, excommunication comes if you’re a heretic. To be a heretic (by the way, that word comes from the Greek for choice), you have to have a member of the Church tell you what to believe and then refuse to believe it. This is what distinguishes it from paganism, etc.

As far as I know, Catholics still have the choice to not believe in the holocaust. Has there been an official position on that?

P.S.  I’m not defending this guy; I’m just questioning the logic of the complaints.  If I got to design hell, he would be in it, along with a bunch of other stupid/evil people.

Slumdog Millionaire
Jan 25th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Finally saw Slumdog Millionaire.  I have to agree with the prevailing opinion–I liked it. 

I’ve heard two major criticisms of the film.  One is the people are bored with the “hooker with a heart of gold theme”; unfortunately, I think that for people born into the world of the characters, women are either going to have hearts of gold or be heartless.  Are there spaces in between–probably.  But don’t think for a minute that the women won’t be hookers.  Seen Born Into Brothels yet?

The other debate raging is whether Slumdog is “mainstream.”  Who cares?  Well, someone, I guess, but genre debates don’t do anything for me.  It seems like the only people who would get really worked up about this are those who decide whether they like a film based on those categories of “indie” and “mainstream.”

The film was touching and smart.  Can I believe in a happy ending under the circumstances like those in the film?  No, but I routinely engage in the suspension of disbelief in my media. 

I enjoyed every minute, except those few when the director thought we needed to see a shot we’d just seen again.


I kept thinking, though, about what this film would look like if it were an American movie–a boy from the ghetto gets on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  As he nears the pinnacle, people suspect him of cheating.  We learn about his horrible, wretched life as we learn about how he knew the answers on the show.

Would this be a story of The American Dream?  Would this be about how if you’re just good and if you work hard enough, you’ll get the millions and the girl (and revenge on the people who waterboarded you)?  Probably.

I’m really glad that this isn’t that movie.  There may be a dream in Mumbai, but it isn’t constructed the same way ours is.  This movie is really great in that it teaches us about the slums of India, but I like it for the mirror it shows.

There are slums here, too.

TV I recommend for tonight (1/25)
Jan 25th, 2009 by Dr Karma

gotta love faux 70s

gotta love faux 70s

Look Around You

–this is a quirky British thing that’s showing on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. They’re showing two episodes tonight and hopefully they’ll show more. Basically, the show is a parody of those awful films you used to have to watch in middle school about various subjects, but with that British . . . something.

The Simpsons–duh (review of said new episode will be forthcoming tomorrow)

Flight of the Conchords–even if you’ve never seen one, you’ll be fine. One of the best shows ever. Even the minds behind Spaced say so (you’d know this if you’d watch their q&a on the dvd, like I did).

PBS has a documentary on Haiti. Unless you’re Tiffany, you don’t know enough about Haiti, but you really should. This is especially true if you want to know anything about the U.S., because we have shaped Haiti in almost unimaginable ways. If you want to see a piece of that, watch this.

this pic works on so many levels for me

this pic works on so many levels for me

Jan 24th, 2009 by Dr Karma


MacHomer, my absolute favorite blending of Shakespeare and Simpsons, is getting a New York run. I’ve seen the play twice (and it’s amazing–pee in your pants funny). It’s postmodern, fun, cultural, and political (some of the jokes change each week).
Readers: have you seen it, do you want to see it, if you’re in New York, how are you going to thank me for telling you to go see it?

Check out the website here:  If you go to the main page, you can see clips of the show!

Why You Shouldn’t Read All the Sookie Stackhouse Novels at Once
Jan 23rd, 2009 by Dr Karma

Harris NovelsI read Dead Until Dark before HBO made the fabulous True Blood series.  When the series ended its season, I had a Sookie Stackhouse orgy.  I consumed too much, I admit, but when you bite into something you like, it’s hard to stop.

I recommend the novels if you want some light reading.  I recommend the series more (think about that–I’m arguing for a tv adaptation over a book original–that means they’re doing something right).  As the show is not limited to Sookie’s point of view, you get to see a fuller world and more fleshed out characters–there’s blood in all of them.  Also, I don’t always like Sookie’s point of view.  She tries a bit too hard to be a small town girl.  And I certainly don’t share her opinion that a real man is one who keeps duct tape in his truck (yes–it has to be a truck–Charlene Harris has a type.)

Recommendation aside, here are reasons why you shouldn’t read them all at once:

1.  The books will give you the false impression that all men, once you get to see them naked, are perfectly formed and well endowed, which will lead to disappointment in real life.

2.  Harris has to work a certain amount of exposition into her texts.  As the number of the novels increases, the amount of necessary exposition increases (as we must assume that not all readers will have read or remembered the previous novels).  If you read quickly, you will be annoyed by the clumsy and repetitive moves.

3.  You will also start to resent the fact that Harris constantly has Sookie taking a shower or brushing her teeth after a particularly grueling and gruesome day and always remarks that she feels “almost human” after cleaning up a bit.  It’s not that funny the first time, and definitely not funny any time thereafter.

4.  At one point, the novels start to lose coherence, which is why Harris (or her publisher) finally hired a continuity specialist.  If you read them sparingly, you may just think that you’ve forgotten something (as opposed to realizing Harris has).

5.  The books are light weight reads.  They are for vampire/fantasy fans, not for mystery fans.  Harris does, however, write mystery novels (I haven’t read them).  She includes at least one murder mystery per novel, but the mystery genre is not upheld (nor cleverly subverted) here, and thus, the attempts at it prove frustrating.  The mysteries seem unimportant, unresolved, and unsolvable in some cases.  The “discovery” scenes are merely set up as confessions, often without the pleasure of having any “clues” dropped beforehand for the careful reader to pick up on.  I mean, you can still guess who did it (it’s not the butler, but close), but you can’t deduce/induce it.

There are a few things the books show us, though.

First, we are attracted to the idea that there is something more than we can see in our world.  Even though it may be dangerous, we want to be a part of it.

Second, any exchange of body fluids, be they vaginal, seminal, or arterial (I’m not sure that that’s a word, but respect the parallelism), involves a power play–so be careful (but take a few chances).

Sookie and Bill

What will Cheney do now?
Jan 22nd, 2009 by Dr Karma

My friend Afzal asked me yesterday what I thought Cheney might do now.  Here are my top five ideas:

1. He will retire to an undisclosed location to ponder whether his nickname is unfortunate, if fitting.

2. He will start construction on the third Death Star.

3. He will hide in his man-size safe to wait out the racial civil war my mother assures me is coming.

4. He will wait for someone to ask him who to hire for a powerful job and then nominate himself.

5. After taking off his human camouflage, he will return to his planet of Predators a failure.  While he hunted the most dangerous game–man–he did not get a kill shot.It's true--there is no good part of him anymore.  Tell your sister you fucked up.

On watching the inaugeration via CNN
Jan 20th, 2009 by Dr Karma

1. I was not impressed when Wolf Blitzer told me that they could show me what the Mall would look like if I were watching the inaugeration from a plane overhead. Methinks CNN believes random technology is a replacement for coverage.

2. I was happy that they did not have that stupid crawl on today. The crawl started right after 9/11, when there was news other than 9/11, but we couldn’t talk about anything else. 9/11 is over and there isn’t usually enough news in the day (that the American press will cover), so they need to get rid of the words at the bottom of the screen. I get distracted from what they’re saying because I see ” . . . Madonna’s elbow” and then I have to wait until it comes around again.

3. I can’t help but think that Justice Roberts was trying to ruin Obama’s mojo on purpose.

4. Great music, which is why Wolf Blitzer needed to shut up about the “president at noon” thing. He said that about every fifteen minutes.

5. The preachers did a great job. And I say that as a woman who doesn’t generally believe what they do.

6. I liked Obama’s nomination acceptance speech better than this one–the former was longer and more specific.

7. Obama said “forebearers” instead of “forefathers.” Right on!

8. Am glad that Obama mentioned that some people didn’t have faith (a shout out to the atheists), but he only mentioned a couple of the “major” religions. Would be pissed if I were Hindu.

9. Atheists need to come out of the closet. When Julia Sweeney “lost” her faith, her father said he wishes she’d come out as lesbian instead, because that was “socially acceptable.” We need to fight for the right to be a humanist/naturalist (even if we aren’t–we need to fight for the rights of others in the land of the free.)

10. Bush looked a little pissed when Obama said some things that went against Bush’s policies.

11. Obama is President! Woohoo!

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