Screedy reponse to this twaddle can be found at the bottom of this bleat; first, the good stuff. And we do have good stuff. Nine miles of scans and clips below, AND a new Jim "Jimmy" Lileks episode at at noon today. My twin brother does not know squattage about Star Wars, and proves it at the Science Museum exhibit hosting the "Science of Star Wars" show. He reads off trivia questions about Star Wars he got off the internet. Or so he thinks. I fed them to him.

I hate everything in my iTunes collection. Well, no. There’s stuff in there I don’t know at all; every so often I’ll go on a binge and hoover up genres or eras – buy some Cds, rip and forget, content that it’s there. But when I listen to some styles or artists that piqued me a year or two ago, I think: that’s nice, but is there something else I could be listening to? And that’s the problem with iTunes: there’s always something else. If a song isn’t doing it for you right now, you can move along. Once you get used to skipping around for the thing that really sets the hook, you’re not really enjoying the music as it comes – you’re searching for something perfect.

I have 13,320 songs in the iTunes library. Right now I’m listening to the XMRadio online 40s channel.

I did buy a song on iTunes the other day, because I had to prove to myself I hadn’t hallucinated something Friday afternoon. I took the afternoon off and went to see the Iron Man movie. It’s as good as they say, and it gently eased aside Spider-Man 2 as my second favorite superhero movie. (“Batman Begins” sits atop the list, still. Tie-breaking point: the score. Oy, that score.) The theater was almost empty, although there were two ladies in their late fifties behind me, and two more in their late fifties in front of me. A single female in her twenties off to the left. Another guy playing hookey; otherwise we were outnumbered. Who knew this was a chick flick? Everyone had a good seat; with no crying kids or idiots carrying on a conversation or stranger playing elbow-bump for the armrest, it was like we all had our private giant theater, with the illusion interrupted only when all seven of us laughed at once when Stark fell through the patio, the piano, and the car.  

Here’s what made me grin. Once again I present the opening credits of the craptacular cartoon show:

Here’s an excerpt of the background music played in the casino where Tony’s rolling dice:


I know everyone was waiting for the Black Sabbath version, which is an Iron Man Song because Ozzie croaks “I am Iron Man,” but otherwise has little to do with the swank and swagger of the main character. But this is the real secret Iron Man song. Tony would approve.

On an unrelated note: you want to define parental responsibility? The movie ended at 3:40. (G)Nat had a summer-camp-choir performance at 4 PM, and experience taught me that the church was about 15 minutes from the suburban theater, by surface streets. (As opposed to the Jetson Skylanes above, of course.) Factor time getting to the car, and I had to leave the minute the movie ended. I could not sit through the credits. I could not wait for the scene that came when the last credit rolled.

But YouTube has it:

Having recently seen Samuel L. in “Jumpers,” his appearance does not inspire the sort of frisson-de-cool it did once upon a time, and I can think of better actors from the role. On the other hand, who cares? We’re seeing the culture of the final wave of the boomers replacing the ur-boomer culture, and I couldn’t be happier. Oh, I’m sorry, you liked your Batman campy? You want another movie about the Summer of Love? That’s nice. Here. Have some mush.

As long as we’re on TV themes: there’s a show I loved as a kid that’s come out on DVD, and I watched the pilot the other night. The opening scenes had some bizarre set decoration choices. Here’s a shot of the newsie who gives the hero the daily paper:


Eh?  What is this, FDR’s third term?  Radioland magazine? The old Time cover style?  The next shot shows our hero:


I don’t think that magazine existed. Like the others, it was taken from the prop department, and used with the confident knowledge that no one would notice anything wrong – what, are people going to use magic wands to stop the picture and some magic camera to take a picture and some magic machine to put the picture up on a world wide computer network? Well, it’s possible. Yeah, well, maybe, but we’ll all be retired in Palm Springs by then if not dead, and besides, if someone notices we used old magazines and some fake ones, who cares?

Granted. But the shots of the old mags were followed by images of the Most Modern Ultra-Office Ever Yet, which had the unmistakable sign of the punch-card future: blaring white overhead lighting.

The modern office: grey steel desks, one phone. I had to pause this and snap a pic, because that was my dad’s desk. He had a battleship-grey Steelcase with the same chair, and I can still recall the way the seat felt – it was stiff but yielding, eventually, and cracked after a few years. But it had a solid feel few other chairs can ever equal.

What’s the show? We will let the inestimable rumbling voice of joseph Campenella tell you who we’re talking about:


I used to use a version of this tune as bumper music on the radio Diner; it’s by Lalo Schiffrin, and it’s better than the “Mission: Impossible” theme. Below is the version I recall from childhood, complete with the Mannix-gives-the-hot-toast-a-karate-chop sequence.

As long as we’re on TV themes – did I say that? Yes – a YouTuber has performed an extraordinary public service that makes my search complete. Literally. You have suffered for years as I trotted out “Search,” twice a year, as a great show I loved as a kid and HENCE MUST HAVE BEEN AWESOME. I’m sure it wasn’t all that, all the time, but what is? I watched two “Torchwood” episodes this weekend, and one was just brain-cleavingly bad (Borg-like cybernetically upgraded woman in conveniently revealing metal bikini stares unblinklingly and wreaks havoc) and one was spooky and almost touching (it concerned that perennial British preoccupation, fairies). It’s always hit and miss. All I really need to remember  and revisit is the themes; the themes said it all.

Someone found the opening credits sequences for Search.



And for the TV movie on which it was based, Probe.



This week we’ll be featuring ads from the Popular Mechanics magazines, in addition to all the other upgrades. And there are many: Saturday afternoon, while I had some time to kill, I updated the Florida pages for the motel site. There are 34 pages, and the addition of Street View on Google means I can embed current views of the sites on the page. That’s coming on Thursday.

Today's ads: some things never change. The Vacumatic and the Diamond Fuelizer - all quashed by Big Oil and General Motors!

Get into the Windcharger Business!

Don't forget: new episode of the Jim "Jimmy" Lileks Show at at noon. It's a Star Wars trivia extravaganza.



Another day, another shipment from the claptrap factory. AP story:


That’s the headline. First line:

Is everything spinning out of control?

No. But they go on:

Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

Previous generations rolled up their sleeves and swam out there and saved those polar bears. As for “abysmal” home values, it depends where you are; I’ll admit that people who sank everything in Miami condo markets are finding their psyches chipped and dinged, but A) lower home prices mean people who want to buy one but couldn’t afford it now are sitting better – B) the authors can take heart in this story about San Francisco being unaffordable for the middle class. Thank God! There’s hope!

Cue the obligatory heartland can’t-do fella with busted bootstraps:

"It is pretty scary," said Charles Truxal, 64, a retired corporate manager in Rochester, Minn. "People are thinking things are going to get better, and they haven't been. And then you go hide in your basement because tornadoes are coming through. If you think about things, you have very little power to make it change.

Rochester has had zero tornados this year, if I recall correctly. Even if they do get one, it probably won't be as bad as the 1883 example, which was bad enough to have its own wikipedia page. But again: what has happened to America that your optimism is insufficient to turn away rotating clouds? In the old days, by jiminey-crackers, we’d hold up pictures of Roosevelt and the twisters would just melt away.

The guy’s 64 years old, and he hasn’t figured out that some things get better, some things get worse, some things stay the same, and some things to which no one’s paying attention will shape the news much more than the panic du jour in the news today? He’s 64, and can’t figure out that grown men don’t say “scary” unless describing how they felt about the Wolfman when they were nine?

It is amusing, really – after sticking people’s heads in the muck every day for years, promoting every faddish scare, fluffing the pillow beneath every yuppie worry, swapping the straight-forward adult approach to news with presenters who emote the copy with the sad face of a day-care worker telling the children that Barney is dead – in short, after decades of presenting the world through the peculiar prism that finds in every day more evidence of our rot and our failures, they wonder why people are depressed. Hang the banner, guys: Mission Accomplished.

Of course, not everyone feels this way; I’d guess that people who watch television news are more inclined to pessimism. But there’s another side to this: the pessimism among some may not stem from some impotent feeling that one is a cork toss’d in a sea of cruel destiny, that you can’t do anything, that nothing will get better – no, the pessimism may arise from the suspicion that there’s something abroad in the land that’s had a good hardy larf about “Horatio Alger” and all the other manifestations of individual initiative for 30 years. The cool kids and the clever set have always smirked at that sort of stuff. You can get them going if you make a speech about our ability to solve things, but you’d better phrase it in the form of a government initiative, or brows furrow: well, then, how do you propose to do it?

The bottom of the page says “Average rating: two out of five stars.” Our confidence in the media to undermine our happiness is being chipped away, too. We’re in worse shape than we thought.  

New Matchbook, here. Blogging all day at See you there!

Jeez, this would be enough for a week, wouldn't it? But we're just getting started.