Books for Soldiers

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November 30, 2004

credit where credit is due...

This "New Yorker" story is a fascinating article about the nature of plagiarism. Did the Beastie Boys do wrong with that flute track? What about the coincidence in a news report and a play? Fine lines all around.

Posted by sferrell at 6:41 PM

November 17, 2004

Cave Dweller (part 1)

The world hadn't yet recovered from the Third World War, and they weren't even calling it that yet, when he moved into the cave. If he'd been at sea-level he'd have been in the shadow of The Bomb, Los Alamos. Instead his cave was high up in the red rocks of a New Mexico cliff looking down on that radioactive remnant of U.S. strength.

"I'm removing myself from the system," he said. "I'm taking the numbers off myself--no more social security UPC code for me. I will live, alone, as a man, above man. Primitive, exultant." A two-headed lizard crawled over his shoe. He felt his knees go weak.

The sun was going down, burning the rocks an even deeper red, the shadows of the Los Alamos laboratory stretching toward him. He strung lights he had purchased from the KMart is Los Gatos, just off Route 3. They'd been on sale and had been purchased with cash, rather than credit. "The government won't follow my spending habits anymore." No credit lists. No tracking markers in twenty dollar bills. Counter-forgery-devices my ass! "I know when I'm being watched," he shouted out the mouth of the cave. From the back of the cave something growled and scrapped a heavy belly over rocks. He lowered his fist slowly and finished unpacking the electrical cord, one eye keenly peeled on the back wall.

When UPS delivered the coal burning stove and solar-panels he refused to sign for them. "I won't help you help the eye-in-the-sky track me. I'm disappearing. I'm no longer 'in' the 'system.'" He made air quotes, flick flick, in the around the words "in" and "system."

The UPS driver nodded. "That's cool and all, but you know, I can't let you have this stuff if you don't sign."

"Authority monkey!" He cackled and ran to the edge of the cliff. Beneath him was his cave, in his arms the smallest of the boxes. The cave was too far down. The box was heavy. His palms began to sweat.

"I've got somerope in the truck." UPS driver jerked his thumb toward his truck. "I could help you get that down there."

"Really? That would be awfully nice of--" he stopped as the electronic pad was raised before him. The plastic, inkless pen sitting neatly like a cigarette on an ashtray waiting for him to sign but not leave a real mark. "You know why they call you brown, don't you?"

"You're going to make a 'poop' joke aren't you?"

"No," he lied. "Poop," he thought.

The dry winter winds rustled the spruce trees outside his cave. The rope ladder was tied neatly in a spiral at the front, next to the screen door. He sat, watched a two-headed lizard get into a territorial fight with itself as he smoked what he had grown himself. "Los Alamos Yellow Cake" he called it.

"I'm out of the world," he wrote on a piece of paper, his last, and then threw it in the fire. It burned quickly, but the words hung in teh smoke coming from his pipe. A twig snapped.

Posted by sferrell at 10:02 PM

November 16, 2004

great reviews of bad movies

This entry is a great example of how entertaining a review of a bad film can be. It's the NEW YORK TIMES review of "Polar Express" starring Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks.

My favorite paragraph:

It's likely, I imagine, that most moviegoers will be more concerned by the eerie listlessness of those characters' faces and the grim vision of Santa Claus's North Pole compound, with interiors that look like a munitions factory and facades that seem conceived along the same oppressive lines as Coketown, the red-brick town of "machinery and tall chimneys" in Dickens's "Hard Times." Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum.

Posted by sferrell at 6:59 PM

Artoonic

Good news for Artoonic

From Alfio...

Hi!
Here we are back to you with the latest news about ARTOONIC.
The production of the TV series 13x5' HAS STARTED!!! We have reached a co-production agreement with RAI and Paprikaas Animation Studios. The series will be completed by the end of May 2005.
Don't hesitate to contact us for any further news at info@artoonic.com.

Alfio Balsamo - Producer

Posted by sferrell at 4:24 PM

November 15, 2004

Autobots...

... let's roll out.

Posted by sferrell at 10:13 PM

November 11, 2004

Words Words Words magazine

Please do check out the latest issue of Words Words Words which features work by a number of individuals, including myself. (sean ferrell)

Posted by sferrell at 10:59 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2004

Why, oh why, oh why-o, did I ever vote in Ohio?

Some really weird stuff happening with the votes in Ohio. Keith Olbermann has a good run-down of shennanegans on his blog.

Posted by sferrell at 3:23 PM

November 7, 2004

again with the "landslide victory?"

Republicans continue to talk about the election in terms of a mandate, landslide, etc.... but how close was this election? Take a look at the results if only 136,484 Ohio residents had voted for Kerry:

2004 Election Results:

59,287,808 for Bush (51% of the vote): 254 Electoral College Votes

56,041,503 for Kerry (48% of the popular vote): 272 Electoral College Votes

As you can see, if this small number of voters in Ohio had gone the other way we'd have President-Elect Kerry. Also note that both candidates receive the same percentage of the popular vote. A landslide would mean an impossible number of voters would have had to change their mind. Given the total number of voters in this election 136,484 doesn't seem like an incredibly high number. For the curious it is 0.11834285561629688397254016370565% of the vote (only counting the Bush and Kerry voters; it's even lower if you count all the votes for Nader and other third party-ers).

Posted by sferrell at 4:58 PM

November 5, 2004

Bush's "Broad" Victory??

President Bush said on November 3rd that, "We've worked hard and gained many new friends, and the result is now clear -- a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory." I'm sorry, but not quite. His habit of redefining reality through his language continues right off the bat, despite the fact that this election was chosen by a difference of 3% of the popular vote, after a day long process of measuring the vote in Ohio. That's not broad. It's the narrowest of margins.

What does a broad victory look like? In 1964 Barry Goldwater could tell you. He was hammered in the nation's election of LBJ. He earned all of 52 electoral votes. He lagged behind by almost 16 million votes, getting only 38% of the popular vote. Broad victory is McGovern losing to Nixon in 1972 with only 17 electoral votes (37% of the popular vote; 17,999,528 votes behind Nixon).

Bush's sqweaky win, with only 3,569,734 more votes than Kerry (a 3% difference; only 22 electoral votes ahead) isn't a "broad victory." It's not a mandate. What is it? It is a sign that the country is as divided now as it was in 2000, it's a sign that there's much work to be done to bring us together, and Bush's language is a sign that he's still not the man to do that.

"Broad victory" indeed.

Sean Ferrell

Posted by sferrell at 3:03 PM

November 2, 2004

review: Paris Hilton's "Confessions of an Heiress"

"All Ways We'll Have Paris"
by Sean Ferrell


A response to "Confessions of an Heiress" by Paris Hilton

Cecil Roethke and Mr. Smith waited in the empty warehouse. The dust kicked up by their shoes glowed in the sun shouting against the grimy eastward windows. It wasn't yet midmorning, Cecil thought, and I'm already exhausted.

"I don't get it," Mr. Smith said, his camouflaged blazer and vest making him both hard to see and dapper. "Why so close to L.A.? Shouldn't we be somewhere out of the way?"

"She's in the middle of a book tour and she's got high profile fashion shows and sporting events to hit. She could barely make time for this meeting as it was." Cecil looked at his watch. Not yet midmorning and she was almost two hours late. Right on time for her, probably.

"How come a top level assassin is writing books and starring on television and, those movies I hear about."

"Part of her cover, Smithie. Illusionists technique. Make everyone look one direction, go in the other."

Mr. Smith nodded as if understanding but Cecil knew he didn't get it. Unless there were shivs and garrotes involved Mr. Smith didn't understand anything. Cecil dabbed at some sweat building on his forehead. Not yet midmorning and it was hot as an
easy bake in the CIA's only remaining warehouse in L.A. The other warehouses had been rented out to the Immigration Dept. for "storage."

Mr. Smith asked, "She's late, right? When was she supposed to get here?" He was sweating too, Cecil could tell by the way he was walking.

As Cecil lit another cigarette a voice from the rafters answered, "We were supposed to meet ten minutes before you guys arrived. I've been waiting to make sure you weren't followed." The figure of a woman in a skin-tight, black leather catsuit, Dolce & Gabbana if Cecil knew his catsuits, descended on a nearly invisible
silver line from the ceiling. Mr. Smith already had a gun pointed and warily circled to her far side, made her the mid-point between Cecil and himself.

Cecil took a drag from his cigarette. "You keep a close eye on your appointments, Ms. Hilton."

As she ripped the leather mask from her face Paris Hilton said, "Always, when my life is on the line." She threw a hip toward the west wall creating a healthy curve on her good side. Her smile was vacant, inappropriately perfect for any occassion, Cecil thought. Her left eye squinted a little more than her right.

"Tall drink of water," Mr. Smith observed. Cecil waved him quiet and tossed his cigarette in the direction her hip pointed. Clattering sounds came from the roof. It was Fatty and Dunkirk, two more from Cecil's team, handpicked by him and "Those In The Know" in D.C. His team answered to an acronym inside an acronym. He'd long ago forgotten what the acronym's acronym was. Fatty and Dunkirk stood guard up top and amused themselves with throwing stones at pigeons.

After several odd moments of staring at Paris' impossibly thin nose Cecil croaked out, "You have the book?" Why were his cheeks so flushed, he wondered.

"Right here." She heaved a leather satchel up from her side. It was from the Gucci espionage line. It wouldn't blow up if tampered with by the wrong hands as much as revert to an out-of-fashion model when in a highly embarrassing public setting. Then it would blow up.

"How do you move so quietly?" Mr. Smith asked as he watched the book trade hands. Another rattling of stones from the roof.

"Nike Airs, 2006 model. From after Jordan's next comeback."

Mr. Smith nodded approval.

Cecil flipped calmly through page after page of "Confessions of an Heiress." One-hundred and seventy-eight pages, nearly all photos. The brilliant pink cover screamed both "Run away" and "Look at me" at the same time. The Daisy Duke pose on the back was ironically ignorant, or ignorantly ironic. Cecil's brain stopped functioning for a moment. When it unfroze he said, "Your list of 'Instructions on How to be an Heiress,' that's a little dangerous don't you think? "Number 13: Act ditzy. Always lose things." You're revealing that it's an act aren't you?"

A click and squawk from above. Fatty's high pitched giggle squealed out.

"Not a chance," Paris sighed. "It's written in such a way that people will think I'm trying, but failing, to be funny. Those who like me will love it. Those who don't will see it as unintentionally funny. They'll make fun of me for trying to make fun of myself and still being blissfully unaware."

"They won't buy it. How could they? No one is this--"

"Trite?" She laughed. "You black ops guys are so silly."
She swung her body to the other side. Now it was her good side. How is it possible to have two good sides, Cecil wondered. Or are they just equally not bad?

Paris strutted toward him. "It's all based on my show and the sex tapes. I've positioned myself to live down to the worst qualities expected: ignorant, entitled, slutty--and I've made them my strengths. There's no going up in the public's eye, but no going down either. I'm just there, constantly. And since I'm always there
I'm constantly re-suggesting myself. I'm that jingle you can't get out of your head. I'm the chain of stores that is around every corner. I'm a pop-up window. I'm spam."

Cecil was just starting to understand when two loud thuds from the roof made him jump. Mr. Smith pulled out his .357 again and Paris pulled out a gold plated Louis Vuitton semi-automatic. Pearl handle.

"That was no pigeon," Mr. Smith whispered.

From the corner came a snapping sound, a camera flash, and an evil chortle. A small man in a Nicole Ritchie mask ran across the dirty floor and dove at an open window. Leaping to the ledge he spun around, gave them the finger and shouted something meant to curl their toes, and dropped out the window. Cecil couldn't understand through the Nicole mask. He made a confused grunt.

"Huh?" Mr. Smith echoed.

Paris, shifted her weight back to her other good side and snarled, "It's the North Koreans. They've been trying to blow my cover for ever since the first sex tape."

Before Cecil could even realize that a picture of them would blow all their covers Paris sprinted across the warehouse. She hurled herself, not through the open window the spy had used, but headed for a large, dirt smeared plate glass window at the
east end. Just as the silhouette of the spy fell on the glass Paris leapt high into the air, curled upon herself and cannonballed straight through the glass.

Mr. Smith lowered his gun and said, "Is it just me, or is it getting turned on in here?"

Karate chop sounds could be heard coming through the broken window as small glass shards fell from the frame and tinkled on the ground below. Before the final piece dropped Paris re-entered through the door. She dragged the limp body of the spy with her, the Nicole mask dangling from one ear.

Paris' skin tight leather was shredded. She pulled disdainfully at it with a loud shout, removing the tatters. "Italian crap! D&C my ass." She was left in nothing but a bright pink bikini, silver dollar sized bra cups with a tortilla chip sized panty triangle at the crotch. Her hip bones pointed at the two men standing before her, each at an enticing angle matching that of her pistola.

"You boys want to put your tongues away and take care of this guy for me?"

Mr. Smith's gun dropped to the dirt. "Boss, I think I'm in love."

"We all are, Smithie. And we hate it."


See one of Cecil Roethke's earlier adventures here: http://www.uber.nu/docs/do.cgi/20040409

Posted by sferrell at 4:52 PM