BMX is coming….

….to the 2008 Summer Olympics games. Woo hoo!

’bout fucking time!

Shit! BMX was around before snowboarding and that got in like 10 years ago. Not that I’ve got anything against snowboarding. I just can’t do it. I did some skateboarding in my time, though. Totally goofy footing it.

Anyhoo… Bicycling mag has a cool article  about it.

And apparently the track they’ll be riding is pretty wicked.

According to the Bicycling mag article:

When the start gate drops in Beijing on August 20th, the eight riders who survived the qualifying rounds will plunge down a starting ramp about 25 feet high, about the same as dropping off a third-floor balcony. They’ll hit the bottom at close to 40 mph, then rocket off a double jump and into Olympic history.

And:

BMX is the first action sport to make the Summer Games, where big air has historically meant pole–vaulting and platform diving. Ten years after snowboarding rejuvenated the Winter Games, BMX is poised to do the same to the older and more tradition-bound Summer Olympics, which sometimes seems popular mainly among shut-ins and 12-year-old -aspiring -gymnasts. “Instead of watching people run around the track in a circle,” says Bubba Harris, the 2005 BMX world champion, “they’re gonna see us bomb down a 40-foot hill, go off a jump, hit each other in midair and crash.”

Here’s some trials footage:

Here’s the schedule of events from ESPN.

BMX Schedule
Date/Time Event
Aug 19 9:00 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Seeding phase run 2
Aug 19 9:45 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Seeding run 1
Aug 19 11:00 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Seeding run 2
Aug 19 11:40 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Quarterfinal 1
Aug 20 12:05 AM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Quarterfinal 2
Aug 20 12:32 AM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Quarterfinal 3
Aug 20 9:00 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Semifinal 1
Aug 20 9:08 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Semifinal 1
Aug 20 9:30 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Semifinal 2
Aug 20 9:38 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Semifinal 2
Aug 20 10:00 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Semifinal 3
Aug 20 10:08 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Semifinal 3
Aug 20 10:30 PM ET BMX – Women’s BMX – Final
Aug 20 10:40 PM ET BMX – Men’s BMX – Final

CBS Sunday Morning report on bicycles

http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=4297826n

Sorry. I couldn’t manage to embed video. But check it out. I especially dig the part about the mayor of Portland, Oregon, the 2nd most bike friendly city in the world, behind Amerstadam, I think, won on a bicycle format.

Jack’s take on The New Yorker’s Obama cover

Yeah. I know. It’s pretty much old news by now. But I always find Jack Lessenberry’s take on things interesting. And in the same column that he discusses Rep Bart Stupak taking on oil speculators, he discusses the Obama cover of The New Yorker.

Jack writes:

What I suspect strongly is this: The New Yorker staff is probably kinda like most of the people in my social circle in Ann Arbor. Nobody knows anybody who isn’t for Obama (although there are rumors that this one guy’s uncle is a Republican).

They thought the cover was clever satire, when in fact it almost certainly will be used by the slick haters who want to tap into our deep fears that maybe the first black nominee just can’t be trusted after all.

That may be so, but I hardly think it is a reason to not publish such a cover, not that Jack seems to be suggesting that. I do agreed with his suggestion for a sort of title for the cover, however:

What the New Yorker should have done was put a little scroll at the top, saying “The Politics of the Paranoid,” or words to that effect. Instead, they managed to leave a wrong impression and create an unnecessary fuss, which could easily have been avoided had editor David Remnick spent a few hours talking to white voters at some place like K-9 pet supply in Warren.

The last bit of this quote, about K-9 pet supply in Warren, may confuse some. Not me. I grew up in Warren and I get it.

Before reading this column I hadn’t realized that some other cartoonist had satirized the Obama New Yoker cover:

And I agree with Jack that it is better satire:

The cover was, however, brilliantly satirized by David Horsey, the cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His version was a National Review cover with a drooling John McCain in a wheelchair, mumbling “bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran.” His wife Cindy, wearing a glazed-over expression, is showering him with pills. “Here, John, take some of my meds to get you through the inaugural parade!” In this version, Dick Cheney’s portrait is over the mantel and the Constitution is burning in the fireplace.

“Know what the difference is?” an editor said to me. “This one is actually funny,” because it is easier to imagine it as being true.

Maybe The New Yorker cover was a blunder. But I am hanging onto my copy. If nothing else, it could be worth some cash some day. And, being an American, that’s really what’s it’s all about anyway.

Gas prices continue to drop….

…at least around Metro Detroit.

I saw gas priced at $3.69/gal, and I actually got excited about it. Now just how fucking sad is that. In any case, gas has slowing going down every since 4th July. And my question is, why?

One theory I have is that Skinner likes dog food, but of course that has nothing to do with gas prices. Or does it?

Anyhoo…I can’t help wondering if travel commerce over the 4th of July weekend was horrible that pressure was put on the oil/gas companies to bring the price down, get people driving again. There is a point at which people just say, Fuck it! And decide not to drive.

Another factor could be the congressional investigations into oil futures speculating. Led by Michigan’s own Bart Stupak. Jack Lessenberry, who, among other things, writes a weekly column for The Metro Times, a free weekly tabloid paper for the Metro Detroit area. A recent column of Jack’s has the low down on Stupak’s crusade, dare I call it.

Another thought that has ocurred to me has to do with alternative power sources, such as wind and solar and biofuels. Is it possible that the oil/gas companies are getting nervous, feeling threatened by an increase in alternative power sources? Not to mention people increasinlgy utilzing alternate modes of transportation, such as bicycles, scooters and moped, motorcycles, and public transport and carpooling. Could lowering their prices be a ploy to change people’s psychology, perhaps get them believing again that gas isn’t that expensive anymore or at least won’t be if things continue in the direction they going? And as result get people to stop being conservation-minded and go back to guzzling gas? Is that just cynical?

How to be EMO

I thought this was pretty damn funny.

My impression is that EMO is a Millennial thing. Generation X had something that I suppose was akin to it — Goth. But I knew some Goths and they weren’t whiney. It was a subculture that had a lot to do with a certain type of music — Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, The Cure, etc — and perhaps an interest in horror fiction/film etc, especially vampires, all that Ann Rice stuff. But I’m not expert.

In any case, it is encouraging to see that there are Millennials with a critical eye aimed at their own generation and utilize it in a creative and entertaining way.

Metro Detroiters getting on the bike commuter trolley.

Article in todays Freep reports that more and more Metro Detroiters are riding bikes to work. Not only are some bike shops having a hard time keeping bikes and equipment and accessories in stock, they’re reporting that natioinal distributors are low on stock, if not out entirely. Scooters, mopeds and motorcyle sales are up as well.

This is all to the good. Saves on gas, lessen this country’s dependancy on oil, reduces pollution, and makes you healthier.

Thanks to my wife, Colleen, for bringing this article to my attentiong. We are planning on going bike shopping for her this week. Although she works in Livonia and won’t bike commuting any time soon. But biking on the weekends an in the evening is gas-free fun. Plus, the bike is available for trip into downtown Birmingham for whatever.

The Road – the movie

I’ve been searching pretty regularly on the web for info about the movie being made of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulizter Prize winning novel, The Road. I don’t know how missed this NY Times article. It’s from May.

It includes a couple of pics, which seem to be rare. I certainly cannot find a trailer yet. I’m really geeked about this movie, even more so than I was for No Country for Old Men, even though I knew, just knew, that the Coen brothers were a perfect fit for that novel.

Did find this image of a movie poster for The Road.

Looks like about what I imagined, reading the book.

The movie was largely shot in Pennsylvania. First, because it is one of the states that gives tax breaks to movie productions for shooting on location in the state. Also, apparently Penn afforded a variety of post-apocaplyptic locations that suited the story, including a stretch of abandon highway. Some shooting was also done in New Orleans, for obvious reasons.

The article also gives praise to the child actor that plays the 10-year-old boy in the movie. Kodi Smit-McPhee. Good news. The wrong child actor, and there are plenty of them, would have totally fucked this movie. I would have been even more pissed than I was at the crap movie that was made from McCarthy’s early, National Book Award winning novel, All the Pretty Horses. Stupid Billy Bob Thorton.

Release date for The Road is set for November 26, 2008. Ah, the perfect Thanksgiving movie — with characters that wander homeless are virtually always on the brink of starvation, and let’s not forget the caniabalism, even of infants. Somehow, I get the feeing that I’ll be going to see this one on my own. And I will gladly, as long as I don’t have to walk home from the theater alone in the dark. Eep!

Although Nov. 26 is the general US release date. It premieres at the Toronto Film Festival on, of course, Sept 11th.

Wargames – 25th Anniversary. Can you fucking believe it?

Damn, I felt old when I read this article in Wired magazine about the 25h Anniversary of the movie WarGames, one of my all time favorite 80s movies. It’s got everything I dig in a movie. First, it is at some level a teen angst movie, focusing on David Lightman (played by a 21-year-old Mathew Broderick), a teenage underachiever who is a hacker before anyone knew what a hacker really was. And, it is about the threat of nuclear war, something I worried a lot about when I was teenager. I think a lot of GenXers did. Also, at the time, I really wanted a computer, but they were so fucking expensive. I can recall mooning over an early Apple system in a computer store that was going to run me about $5,000. I tried saving up for it but it was just too much money. I always thought it was strange that even though my dad wanted me to major in computer science at the time he would not foot the bill for a computer. Of course, I understand better now that I am an adult who has to work to pay the bills. $5,000 is a lot of cash. And I had 4 other siblings. Finally, WarGames, had Ally Sheedy who is just damn cute for words in this movie.

What I really dig about this article is that tracks the evolution of the movie. From the original idea to what it eventually became, following how it changed along the way. I don’t know about other people, but I’m interested in that sort of thing. Where the idea for a movie came from? How the script came about? And how it changed over time? Fascinating stuff.

Coincidentally, a few weeks before I’d been talking about WarGames with a woman that works at the library where I also work. She and I are about the same age. And she was saying how she wanted to watch it with her kids. I’d be interested to know what Millennials and even the younger generation thinks about that movie. This colleague pointed out that we did not have a copy of the movie at our library and that she had to inter-library loan it. It also ended up being on cable for some reason about a week after that conversation. I happen to catch it, and I think that it still holds up. Something you can’t say about a lot of 80s movies. Ugh.

This movie looks pretty damn cool!

Reading slate.com this morning, I came across this article about what looks to me like pretty damn cool movie. It’s called Baghead.

Looks pretty damn scary, doesn’t it. And funny too. At some level it supposed to be a kind of spoof of movies like Blair Witch Project.

It’s by these guys who made a movie called The Puffy Chair, which sounds vaguely familiar.

What I’m reading

I never finished reading White Noise, by Don Dellilo. I could have but just didn’t. I didn’t really lose interest, just patience. I liked it. It was interesting. But there were other things that I wanted to read and it was taking too long to finish Whie Noise. I know when I’m done with a book. Sometimes I’ll persist to the end, but not this time. Sorry.

I’m still reading Slackonomics, and I’m still really digging it. Not only is it intelligent, but it’s funny too. That’s sexy.

I started reading a new novel, Real World, by Natsuo Kirino.

Dig that cover. Very cool.

Kirino is a Japanese author and she’s had two other novels translated into English. She’s writes a kind of noir that focuses on Japanese women. Real World is specifically about teenage girls:

In a suburb on the outskirts of Tokyo, four teenage girls become suspicious of a neighbor’s teenage son when his father is found brutally murdered and the young man disappears, unaware that all four of them will become caught up in the crime. (description from library catalog record)

Here’s the product description from Amazon.com, which dubs it feminist noir:

A stunning new work of the feminist noir that Natsuo Kirino defined and made her own in her novels Out and Grotesque.

In a crowded residential suburb on the outskirts of Tokyo, four teenage girls indifferently wade their way through a hot, smoggy summer and endless “cram school” sessions meant to ensure entry into good colleges. There’s Toshi, the dependable one; Terauchi, the great student; Yuzan, the sad one, grieving over the death of her mother—and trying to hide her sexual orientation from her friends; and Kirarin, the sweet one, whose late nights and reckless behavior remain a secret from those around her. When Toshi’s next-door neighbor is found brutally murdered, the girls suspect the killer is the neighbor’s son, a high school boy they nickname Worm. But when he flees, taking Toshi’s bike and cell phone with him, the four girls get caught up in a tempest of dangers—dangers they never could have even imagined—that rises from within them as well as from the world around them.

Psychologically intricate and astute, dark and unflinching, Real World is a searing, eye-opening portrait of teenage life in Japan unlike any we have seen before.

I am familiar with her previous novels, but have not read them. I like noir and I like stories about teenagers so I thought I’d give Real World a try. So far I’m digging it. It has a kind of Brett Easton Ellis kind of quality to it. There’s a brutal murder of a woman and the narrator in the first part seem alternately terrified by and indifferent to it.