Alphabet Meme: Film Titles

16 November, 2008 at 5:03 pm (film, webjunk)

Glenn Kenny compells me to do a lot of things. I miss Premiere magazine, a periodical with which he was involved that first introduced me to the idea of Film as compared to Movies, the writing of David Foster Wallace, auteur theory, the realization that entertainment was a business, and that hype was as well. His memories of The Feelies got me to finally watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller, in a charmingly banal coincidence. I don’t know the man, but he’s a writer, and I do like the way he strings words together.

So, when he blogs about being tagged to participate in an internet meme (after having started his own), I’m inclined for reasons passing understanding to jump on board.

The rules are as follows: 1. Pick one film to represent each letter of the alphabet.

And that’s basically it. There are actually more rules than that, but they’re about propagating the meme, and how to do with spelling and title conventions, and blah blah blah. The meme is, Pick 26 movies, one for each letter, put them in order, you have no additional guidelines as to what you should pick. So my limiter, self-imposed, is going to be my DVD collection. Anything in grey is something I don’t actually own. Here we go.

Alphabet Meme: Charade, The Incredibles, The Philadelphia Story, A Very Long EngagementThe Apartment (1960), Billy Wilder
Broadcast News (1987), James L. Brooks
Charade (1963), Stanley Donen
Dangerous Liaisons (1989), Stephen Frears
Edward Scissorhands (1990), Tim Burton
The Fisher King (1991), Terry Gilliam
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), George Armitage
Heist (2001), David Mamet
The Incredibles (2003), Brad Bird
The January Man (1989), Pat O’Connor
Kicking & Screaming (1995), Noah Baumbach
Little Man Tate (1991), Jodie Foster
M*A*S*H (1969), Robert Altman
North By Northwest (1959), Alfred Hitchcock
Out of Sight (1998), Steven Soderbergh
The Philadelphia Story (1940), George Cukor
Quiz Show (1994), Robert Redford
Rushmore (1999), Wes Anderson
Strange Brew (1984), Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Norman Jewison
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), Philip Kaufman
A Very Long Engagement (2004), Jean-Pierre Jeunet
What’s Up, Doc? (1972), Peter Bogdanovich
The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), Rob Bowman
Young Frankenstein (1974), Mel Brooks
Zodiac (2007), David Fincher

Going through my DVDs for this, I could have easily constructed two more lists, one just for classic films, and one for commercial pleasures. There were more than twce as many films as I listed that I regretted having to leave out. I don’t remember having this much trouble selecting my top twenty films over at YMDB. But the list that remains is still a valid reflection of my tastes over time and my history as an audience… there’s nothing here that I don’t have vivid memories of or a particular connection with. And while I refuse to tag five people to spread this meme, particularly when I know full well there aren’t that many people who read this, I hope someone feels the urge to at least mentally run down one’s own list of twenty-six, with whichever selection criterion feels appropriate…

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For Candidate For President For America

2 November, 2008 at 11:30 am (webjunk)

Tim Calhoun on Weekend Update

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Phenomena (Doot Doo Do Doo Doo!)

12 January, 2008 at 9:39 pm (muppets, music, webjunk)

It’s 4:30pm, and the sun ain’t set yet. You winter people can complain about the rain and the fog and the fifty degree days and the other things that are melting and destroying your precious, precious snow. I got news for you: the days are getting noticeably longer again. The end is near.

Mahna Mahna and the Snowths on the Muppet ShowSure, not near enough that we won’t have to suffer through a frigid couple of weeks after this annual January thaw (read: “tease”) and the bleakness of February, the longest month of the year… but it’s acomin’. Be sure of that.

In other news, the ever popular Mahna Mahna phenomena is actually from the soundtrack to an Italian sex travelogue of Sweden. God love the Muppets. And god love the A.V. Club, who provided me with this particular fact.

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RETRO: Catalogue Card Creator

14 March, 2007 at 5:24 pm (library, webjunk)

Cackles of Compassion catalogue card

Made with the Catalog Card Generator, and the assistance of the Library of Congress and the Library Corporation. In-jokes made incomprehensible without any assistance whatsoever.

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RETRO: Shaping Tools, Minds

8 February, 2007 at 12:38 am (literary, webjunk)

Can’t remember what got me started on this line of thought, but I was trying to come up with a concise list of the authors who had the most influence upon my personal prose style. My speech and writing patterns are aberrant, I know this, but it still comes as a bit of as shock when I find that my personal communication can be, as they say, a complete impediment to understanding. So perhaps it was simply to be able to have a list so that I would better know what outdated sources are so far from the common mind made my personal sphere of cognition so particular. Not to be able to better indoctrinate those who don’t understand me, but to recognize the sources as the spring to my lips, so that I might be able to choose another frame of reference. As I say, I don’t quite recall.

Regardless, this led me down a winding path to also forming a list of those matériel that were essential in forming my worldview. Why do I think the way that I do?

I have an old audiocassette taped, presumably, from the radio broadcast of the Columbia Broadcast System’s media version of Marshall McLuhan’s influential work The Medium is the Message. I’ve not read the book, although I have a copy of another bizarre multimedia version of it, a slim volume that alternates each page of text with a full-page photograph that was reproduced in miniature, like a printer’s mark, at the bottom of the previous page. I have, however, listened to this tape at least once a year since I was eleven or twelve and the cassette had been given to me as a birthday present.

Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan in ANNIE HALLIt’s unusual to find reference to McLuhan — outside of his famous appearance in Annie Hall — in today’s society. I tend to think that this is largely due to the universal honesty of his observations. He has the dubious honor of having stated that which had never been expressed before, but which was immediately true and almost self-evident. To some degree, I think this meant that much of his insight was enveloped into public perception with automatic speed, rendering talking about it and its author almost… superfluous. Now, none of that is entirely true, of course, as I recognize that McLuhan was not without controversy, but… he’s just not on the radar anymore! How does that happen? We still talk about Freud, but not McLuhan?

Which is why, all copyright issues aside, that I was amazed and gratified to find this website, which allows the visitor to download MP3s of the recording that I have listened to and cherished for such a long time. Cut and mixed with a frenetic, Laugh-In sensibility, the recording is able to jam in dozens of moments that will make you laugh alongside pithy epigrams that belie their pensive disquiet. Go, download. This document made me who I am today.

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Bandwagon Leapfrog

3 February, 2007 at 11:36 pm (webjunk)

FLICKR: originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat James Henry, who I don’t know, is helping out Neil Gaiman, who he knows, pull a net-based prank on Penn Jillette, who he in turn knows. James Henry doesn’t know Penn Jillette, nor do I, but I did live in his hometown for a couple of years — Penn’s, not James’ — and while I don’t know Neil, I do know Kelly Sue, who he thanked in the acknowledgments to American Gods. That’s right, I’m a hanger on.

So while this may not mean anything to you, it will hopefully help contribute in some magical electronic interweb way to the entertaining content that Penn provides us weekdaily. Except that my hosting is screwed up just now, so this isn’t likely to add to the web-algorhythmics that Neil is probably trying to create. I don’t know, I’m just speculating. After all, since I don’t know any of the players in this equation, I’m not in the inner circle. But I know someone who knows someone who… Or so a friend of a friend told me.

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I’m Not

28 September, 2006 at 12:56 pm (webjunk)

From, the people that brought you the motivational satire posters, there is now DIY Despair, which allows you to accompany your favourite images with bold, forthright, depressing statements. Make Your Own motivational posters are not a new concept. The Star Trek ones have made the rounds, and many are quite amusing, regardless of whether you have a passing familiarity with Trek and its ilk.

Diversity: 'Yes. We're All IndividualsBut while it’s not a new idea, it is a handy and a timely one. Scant hours before parents arrived at school for “Back to School Night” — a quaint and fearsome colloquialism for Parent/Teacher Night that has few virtues aside from the fact that it avoids looking like the title for some truly unfortunate slashfic — a liberal dose of posters extolling the virtues of individuality and ethnic diversity were plastered over the walls. The actual ethnic makeup of the school lacks spectra, and the posters were more the highlighting of an intellectual ideal than they were a reflection of population or tolerance, and this was made more clear by the Motivational Style formatting of the posters, as if black borders and bold white typesetting would somehow inspire us to discover untold phenotypes within ourselves. The obvious clash between the actual students and the happy rainbow of model-bright smiles they were walking past inspired me to conceptualize another diversity poster for the walls.

And now the online toolset of has made it happen. Thanks!

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Do What You Wanado

20 December, 2005 at 10:33 pm (clerical, webjunk)

Stellarium iconSo a couple of weeks ago I discovered the free Mac astronomy simulator Stellarium and immediately set about developing a computer representation of the view outside my window, well aware that any virtual depiction would be far cooler — and far more customizable — than reality. After all, reality has light pollution and doesn’t have labels on the important stellar objects.

And it only has the lovely grid lines when the Matrix glitches and reminds us that we’re all inhabiting a fabricated consentual illusion.

the view out my kitchen window

Anyway… my immediate impulse was to blog about this lovely little tool, but after having just posted about some cartographic instance or another, and having typed with glee about maps a couple of times before that, it occurred to me that had I hosted my mental peregrinations on TypePad instead of Blogger, then I would be able to set up and institute categories for my posts. This ability to give greater shape and accessability to my various ramblings is the major reason I’ve considered porting the site over to TypePad in the past, and it’s only the fact that I would then be increasingly responsible for the successful implementation for the back end of the site that has prevented me from doing it. My HTML knowledge is still very 1998, and most of what you see here is bolstered by 21st century coding that I really don’t comprehend.

I then discovered a sweet little potential compromise: on Steven M. Cohen’s Library Stuff blog, he dropped a line about a web app that allowed a blogger to apply post tagging. And well, tagging is near-as-damnit as created keywords or categories for web-content and I did what I am usually loathe to do when it comes to the inertnet: I jumped in with both feet.

m3lbatoast tag cloud for all posts during 2005And, well, rediscovered why it is that I am usually a little tentative about such things: it didn’t really work. The app is called Wanado and while it did allow me to add tags, the tags didn’t like the heirarchal structure of Blogger, and tags put on an individual entry page would not be visible from the main page or the archive page, as they show up only with reference to a specific URL. Additionally, one couldn’t delete mistyped tags, nor could one incorporate the tag cloud into one’s site. I fired off a couple of helpful suggestions to the creator and sadly deleted all presence of Wanado code from my site.

However, the lure of the rough equivalent of categories proved too strong, and after an announcement that informed me that Wanado’s creator Ericson Smith had heard my and other’s and met them accordingly, I decided to try implementing it again. After three days of tweaking, I have finally arranged everything in some semblance of success. The ability to add tags can only be found on an individual post’s page, but the tag cloud now sits merrily on the right-hand infocolumn, allowing browsers to click-through any of the forty-two visible keywords that piques their fancy.

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1 December, 2005 at 11:06 pm (benjamin, webjunk)

Threadless wishes m3lbatoast a happy birthday!

So a few months ago I noticed that when one went to, the main menu would wish one of the many community members a happy birthday. And, since I wasn’t doing anything better with the evening of my 30th birthday, I hit reload an enormous number of times until it finally said mine. I had no idea so many other t-shirt purchasers and I shared the same birthdate. Of particular surprise was a Ben from St. Louis also uses the site and is born on the same day. Also, belated birthday wishes to ExcellentRaptor, VampireCatBoy, MunkeyFlingsPoo, MrSaturn, EverydayAnonymous, DurinSavesTheday, and Organs.

If you didn’t get me anything for my birthday, feel free to order a t-shirt while the $10 sale is still on, and give me the referral credits that will allow me to order still more t-shirts in the future.

On a different note, few things make me happier these days than the magnificent Channel Frederator, which downloads itself to my iTunes podcast menu every Tuesday morning. This Tuesday was particularly pleasant, though, because of Tim Farrel‘s cartoon “E-mail!!” The exclamation marks are his, not mine, but simply because they are part of the title and not the sort of over-exuberance I usually employ in my writing should not indicate that I don’t think this is the cleverest, funniest cartoon I’ve seen since 2003. Download the cartoon directly (10.9 MB .mpg file), and if that won’t convince you to subscribe to Frederator, then I’m not sure what can.

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22 September, 2005 at 7:42 pm (literary, webjunk)

Snippets of manuscript by (from top to bottom) Carroll, Austen, and Da Vinci.Continuing my recent literary fixation, another post about books. Sorry. But when one finds that one’s studies to be a librarian aren’t as bibliophiliac as one anticipated, this stuff is bound to boil up in other aspects of one’s life.

The Library of Congress is a vaguely disappointing tourist attraction. When I visited there in 1998 I think I expected to be able to wander through the concentric research desks and check out where Robert Redford sat in Three Days of the Condor. I had forgotten, if I ever knew, that it was not actually an open stack library, nor a national library. However, there was a curious exhibit of assorted works on display in an area open to the public. There was a rather awe-inspiring letter from Edith Wharton, who had the most divine, refined handwriting I had ever seen. I made me despair of my own haphazard scrawl… but it also reminded me that the only D I ever got in school was in fourth grade handwriting, and that such elegant curves were probably a dream I shouldn’t bother to germinate.

However, as compelling as that letter was, I must say that the most amazing thing in the exhibit was a page of original art from Walt Kelly’s “Who Stole The Tarts”, an “Alice in Wonderland meets Joe McCarthy” pastiche from The Pogo Stepmother Goose. It was amazing to see Kelly’s careful penwork, and a surprise to learn that he did his pencils completely in non-photo blue.

Speaking of Alice’s Adventures, The BBC issued a technology press release today about the addition of the manuscript copy of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground to the British Library’s “Turning the Pages” collection, digital representations of browsable original works that are too valuable and/or fragile to be visited in person. Alice joins thirteen other works, including “the Diamond Sutra, Jane Austen’s History of England, the Leonardo Notebook, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Mercator Atlas of Europe…” The fact that these are manuscripts and not first editions means that one can attempt to peer into the heart of the writer through his or her handwriting. The samples to the right demonstrate Lewis Carroll’s neat, legible text — almost certainly restrained and refined so that it could be read by Alice Liddell — Jane Austen’s loose student script, and Da Vinci’s famous backwards rebus.

By the way, the above selection of Da Vinci is translated as follows: “.yadretsey aet revo tuoba em gnillet saw sumadartsoN gnuoy taht nworB naD tawt sselkcef siht ekil hcum …seil syawla droc eno no dednepsus ydob a fo ytivarg fo ertnec ehT”

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