Saturday, November 19, 2005

This is rich

It seems that another porn-obsessed white guy has found a new threat the the nations youths: iPorn.

Yes, little Johnny and Jenny aren't just using that iPod to get parent approved tunes on there, they're downloading "Debbie Does Dallas".

He writes However, the ability of parents to monitor is seriously undermined if their children quickly can download adult content onto their iPods and then take it away from the home for easy viewing elsewhere

Currently, the only thing you can download to the iPod is from the iTunes music store. Access to the store can be limited by parents. If little Johnny has figured out how to rip a DVD and stuff it onto his iPod, by-passing DRM's and coding it so it will actually play, well, you have one problem with him watching porn, but then again, he is ready for M.I.T.. So that's something.

He continues Yet, iPods are becoming so ubiquitous and are so small, they are an easy vehicle for bringing pornography into the workplace. Employees discreetly could try to view pornography away from the watch of others.

Only by people who are seriously looking to get fired. Most companies are more interested in what you are putting on thier machines, not yours. That's why they block you from downloading or attaching practically anything. If I turn off my computer I have to have IT come and re-attach my CDRW drive that I use for work.

He makes the point that parents should closely monitor what kids put on their pods. I'm not a parent, but I think of little Johnny got it together to purchase himself a $300 iPod (because the most he'd get from cheapo Pansy is a Shuffle), he's adult enough to be trusted not to have stuff he shouldn't on there. Or at least discreet enough to keep it to himself.

Maybe it's best I'm not a parent. I'd be more disturbed by little Johnny wanting a copy of "Carmaggedon" or "Grand Theft Auto" than video of people boinking.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And now for something that's not a big fat whinge

two posts in one night? Christmas in November!

On my way home today, I got off the bus at the Pacific Design Center to see the exhibition of William Haines furniture. Really beautiful stuff- Billy Haines practically created the whole Hollywood Moderne thing, but his undeniable talent and 50 year career as a decorator is only part of the story.

Movie star Billy Haines was to the 20's what, well I don't know who is to the present. He was huge. He was one of MGM's biggest male stars, specialising in roles that played up his boyish. althletic, all-American image. During one of his movies, he fell in love with his stand-in, Jimmy Shelds. They moved in together in 1923. Despite pressure from the studio, he refused to cover up his homosexuality by getting married, even though his friend Joan Crawford offered. Finally, in the early 30's. Studio boss Louis Mayer gave Haines an ultimatum: he could give up Jimmy, or give up Metro. Billy told him in no uncertian terms: "I'll leave Jimmy if you leave your wife"

Can you imagine the stones? Never mind doing it in 2004, with at least some semblance of civil rights, equal protection under the law (at least for now), and some states allowing gay marriage- this was seventy years ago. Being killed for this "sin" was not exactly looked upon as a bad thing.

Imagine a big Hollywood star today walking away from that....

Luckily, Billy had his side business. He and Jimmy had bought an antique shop in 1930 and had made some money; their customers went from just buying the furniture to asking advice on how to decorate. His friend Joan Crawford was one of the first to hire him to decorate her Brentwood house. He redecorated it over the years and they remained the best of friends; she was known to quip "the happiest marriage I've seen in Hollywood is Billy Haines and Jimmy Shields".

Billy designed homes for Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Marion Davies, Bette Davis, George Cukor, Lionel Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Ronald Reagan, and Jack Warner (if not Louis Mayer). They also designed the London home of the US ambassador Walter Annenberg, Winfield House.

Haines died in 1973 of cancer, Jimmy, unable to live without him, took his own life a few months later.

Sometimes in these days when people are able to pretty much (at least here in the US {for now}, as opposed to Iran) able to live our lives with a some sense of freedom from persecution, we forget that some people made the simple act of being true to themselves a courageous act.

Some of you (all five of you...) know that I am really into cars. REALLY into them. Not so much that I clip pictures and paste them up in my cubicle, but enough that I peruse all of the car mags and several of the websites. For some reason this has landed me on several mailing lists that have allowed me to go off to various events and drive some serious iron: Mercedes and Cadillac have both invited me to drive their best, and at one GM event (sparsely attended because of a morning downpour) I got to drive a new Corvette with the following instructions from the GM guy in the seat next to me: "Keep it in first and stand on the gas until I tell you to brake. If you wreck it, I'll take responsibility"

Is there more of a way to release the inner 5 year old?

Of course, I'd never buy one of those things- I'm just too cheap. I grind my teeth writing the check to the insurance company as it is, and I don't want to give up the feeling of smug superiority that using 8 gallons to go 200-odd miles gives you (cheap and smug, how does he remain single?)

Having said that I wrestled the LA Times to the ground last Thursday and saw that the public was being invited to preview the 2007 Escalade at it's premier at the 2 Rodeo mall in Beverly Hills. Usually, I hate SUV's: I find it the epitome of irony that Boomers railed against their parent's giant gas-guzzling chrome laden dinosaurs now drive something that makes a '79 Chevy look like a Honda, but I have an soft spot for Cadillacs. Especially the new ones. Their fractal styling I find refreshing after years of jellybean cars, and the roadster one I drove made me wish for Lotto winnings.

So, I wandered over to take a look.

Well, it was a gorgeous SUV. Really pretty and looked well put together. Makes the old one look like a Model T. Not for me, but I'm sure it'll sell.

But where they really dropped the ball was the whole "event" One Escalade (white and gorgeous) was merely parked at the end of the fake street that bisects the 2 Rodeo mall. No signs, nobody from Cadillac nearby to tell people about it, no nothing. There were people all over the car, even though it looked as if the Valet had just parked it there by mistake and
wandered off to Il Fornaio for a coffee. Would it have killed them to have someone there, at least to direct people to the storefont down Rodeo where the other cars were? Guess so. At first I thought it was because I got there at the very start of the event, so I decided to drop back later. Same deal.

Walking down the street, you got to a storefront. The window has a gorgeous XLR-V in it, and the store has been christened "Chrome Couture" (how cute). There was a woman outside in a black suit, who I think may have been from GM, but since she was staring off into space, I wan't sure. But then I remembered seeing her earlier at ten AM, so unless she was comatose, she worked there. She certainly wasn't making eye contact with anyone, or smiling. I went in. There was a BHPD officer in a chair chatting with someone else in a black suit next to the (stunning-really stunning) XLR-V roadster. There was another black suit standing by a desk by the door. None of them remotely noted my existence.

The thing that came to mind was "why'd they bother?" The only thing I could think of was that thay had the
store for a whole week, so at the last minute, they decided to "invite" the public. Invite them, but treat them like worse-than-D-list. I mean, I realise that I'm not Kanye West or Paris Hilton so I can't be invited to the cool-kids party, but I was there. Isn't that the point?

Granted, I'm not an MBA or a marketing genius, but if the people you are paying to host this event in your name and
represent your company (and may even work for you) cannot pretend to be excited enough about your new cars to actually greet someone who came in to your "store", or at least not act so very put out that they are forced to interact with the hoi-polloi when they were so recently rubbing shoulders with Tara Reid, then why the hell should I get excited about them?

What a freaking waste.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not so little boxes....

This is an image posted by a friend who moved to
Western Pennsylvania. She may have thought that she was getting away from the Mansionization capital of the universe, but nooooooooooo, it just was a little slower to get to her.

Firstly, I will never for the life of me understand people that feel the need to move to a certain area only to totally wipe out any vestige of that area's original appeal. I've seen it all over the US. What little sense it may make in beautiful Beverly Hills to move into a neighborhood filled with gorgeous little story-book cottages so dripping with cuteness and original detail that you have an urge to burp them, (I guess if you dropped 2 million on the place, you might want more than 2 bedrooms and "original charm" ends at 1927 wiring) only to shoehorn in some huge box that usually has all the grace, style and architectural significance of your local strip-mall, I can't get why people feel the need to go out into the woods, clear cut a few acres, slap up a thyroidal monster in that ever present mish-mash of neo-Colonial French country and Meditterrifyingly bad hash that looks just as ridiculously stage-set-like whether it's in Boise, Bel Air of Bala Cynwyd.

What is it that caused this shift in tastes? (He types, getting out his grumpy old man trousers) What happened that seemingly everybody in America feels that it's not only their right, but their duty to have a two-story foyer, "Great Room" and separate bath for the pets? Why on earth would someone move to say, Scottsdale, which has some of the most glorious desert terrain imaginable, and slap up a faux Ante-Bellum with an acre or rolling lawn and some live Oaks? Why not just move to the South if you just have to go home to Tara every night? Why move into a heavily forested country area, plow the ground flat and do the same thing? Just so you can have two extra bathrooms, a sub-zero and enough room to dock your giant Ford ExxonValdez?

Do we need these houses, really? I wonder what's going to happen when tastes shift back (and what with the price of heating oil doubling this year, I think tastes may shift back faster than anybody thinks..). Since they are nothing even remotely specal architecturally, and the ones I've been in have all the quality of construction of a '78 Cordoba, I see a huge glut coming of ugly, big-ass houses that won't sell at half the original price...

Friday, November 04, 2005

I know I haven't posted much lately- I'll correct that soon.

In the mean time..

I just got back from a screening of "Brokeback Mountain". Having read and love the short story in the New Yorker, I didn't quite know what to expect. I like Ang Lee, but didn't really know whether he was the man for the job.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The film is a masterpiece. It will be remembered for years. The cast is uniformly excellent; and if Heath Ledger isn't nominated for an Oscar, the Academy is asleep at the switch.

I urge you to go see this- but bring Kleenex.

adding on

24 hours later and this movie is still hovering over me like a fog. I spoke to my friend who invited me to the screening and she's having much the same delayed reaction. While I didn't react much during the screening, stone-hearted me actually had a bit of a weep- especially after I re-read the short story upon which the movie was based. I was so moved by the infinite sadness of the thwarted lovers (even if the movie could be construed as presenting the relationship as more sexual obsession than true love) and the sadness of the women whose lives they touched that I feel, well, upset is the best word. That could be the fact that this is the first movie I've seen in quite a few decades that actually stayed with me for more than about three minutes after the lights came up, but I don't think so. I think the movie speaks to a universal truth- even if you might never have experienced that one perfect moment of pure happiness with another human being, it's something that we spend our lives looking for. To have found it and to have society, or fear, or happenstance or age take it away is that saddest thing imaginable. For me, this movie taps that like a keyboard.