December 2005 Archives

Ten Things I Hate About They Might Be Giants


I used one of my Christmas gift cards to buy They Got Lost, a collection of previously released "hard to find" tracks from They Might Be Giants. I haven't listened to the whole thing, but I'm already disappointed.

TMBG has been my favorite band for fifteen years. I bought Flood after watching that one Tiny Toons episode and I've never looked back. (As long ago as that was, I'm not as legit as certain people I could name, who have been devotees of the Johns since the days of Nick Rocks.) But I'm now coming to terms with what I've been willfully ignoring for the past six years: They Might Be Giants hain't what they used to be. And here are some reasons why.

1. To borrow the tagline from Something Awful, the Internet has made TMBG stupid. 1999's digital-only release of Long Tall Weekend was a bold move in the midst of Metallica's attack on Napster and the rest of Technology. But ever since then, the Giants have been producing an endless stream of crappy songs from their website. If I get one more e-mail inviting me to download a bunch of poorly recorded, uninteresting live songs about the Johns' favorite foods, I'm hitting the Spam button.

2. The Giants have become extremely weird soundtrack whores. They recorded the catchy but unremarkable Daily Show theme, the grating Malcom in the Middle theme, Dr. Evil's theme for Austin Powers, and, in what is perhaps the greatest "What the fuck?" moment in TMBG history, the entire soundtrack for Disney's straight-to-video Peter Pan sequel. It's cool when Mark Mothersbaugh does this kind of stuff, because Devo isn't around anymore.

3. They're stretching themselves way too thin in trying to cozy up to America's geek-intelligentsia. The collaborations with Homestar Runner (puppet jams aside), NPR, and McSween(e)y/ie['] are all well and good, but it's enough already. Nobody's impressed anymore.

4. Flood was an ambitious album full of quality tracks that melded together in a coherent meditation on the many ways in which mankind is powerless. That was fifteen years ago and they haven't released anything in the ballpark since.

5. The deluge of crappy mp3s and random media involvements have led the Giants to release too many collections of "rarities" to keep track of. Many of these collections are good for three or four decent tracks, along with stupid crap like radio promos and concert intros.

6. Their obsession with picking scraps up off the floor and putting them on CDs has led to an annoying habit -- beginning with 1997's Factory Showroom -- of including previously released tracks on new-release studio albums. There's a difference between things like demos, promos, and the underproduced crap from the website and thoughtful, well-made studio tracks. That distinction is being blurred, with the result that the quality of their studio albums is suffering.

7. Flansburgh's unending quest for self-glorifying media exposure has left him derelict in his duty of reining in Linnell's dadaism. As a result, Linnell's most vile nihilistic tendencies have made it into wide release under the TMBG banner. "Violin" is one of the stupidest things ever recorded. "Raincoat" is an abomination. "All Alone" made me stop listening to They Got Lost. Linnell is like the Andy Kaufman of music, intentionally pissing off his audience for his own amusement. He's also like Paul McCartnery -- when he's good, he's great, but when he's bad, he's "The Doggone Girl is Mine."

8. Related to Number 7, Linnell is also buying into the Eddie Murphy philosophy of "making crap that adults will hate but my kids will like." He somehow blackmailed Flansburgh into recording an entire children's album (NO!). There's a way to make something entertaining for children and adults at the same time (just look at Pixar), and NO! didn't do it. Although there are a handful of decent cuts, a lot of them -- mostly the Linnell tracks -- are obnoxious, condescending, and pointless.

9. Their ham-handed attempts at broader exposure while simultaneously paying lipservice to nurturing their cult fan base creates the impression that they're taking the die-hards for granted (by doing things like releasing a two-disc set consisting of three complete previously released CDs along with about eighteen previously unavailable bonus tracks, and only releasing the bonus tracks on their own after they sold enough two-disc sets to "new" fans). That's never a good sign.

10. Three of my favorite TMBG tracks are on the latest album (The Spine). Between the three of them, they encapsulate everything I like about the TMBG sound. "Experimental Film" is up-beat and satirical, "Memo to Human Resources" is dark and sarcastic, and "Museum of Idiots" is Linnell at his finest, full of conflicted and fatalistic feelings about a dysfunctional relationship. These tracks remind me that TMBG still has the capacity for greatness that they've always had, but their increasing lack of focus (and the fact that I skip past almost everything else on The Spine) makes me pessimistic about future releases.

I'm not willing to write them off yet, but if the next album is another Spine I may have to change my favorite band from "They Might Be Giants" to "Early They Might Be Giants."


Years from now when the astronauts stumble upon the tattered remains of I Fought the Law and pore over its hidden secrets to learn more about our ancient civilization, I want them to think, "Man, this Holohan guy really saw things through."

And so, for no other reason than my own vanity, I ask you to bring yourself back in time, to when the class of 2005 had not yet begun studying for the bar, and were still musing over the curious fashionability of graduation robes, and mentally undressing each other with their googly Garfield eyes.

Closure is at hand. One or two more old-skool strips and then it's headlong into the two-toned future.

Gimme Back My Sock, You Goat Bastard


Meli and the in-laws and an army pilot and I went and saw The Chronicles of Narnia today. Observations:

I never read the books as a child, since I was always more interested in Garfield and pornography. And so, I saw the movie from the perspective of someone with absolutely no familiarity with the story. That said, I really liked the movie.

The actress who plays Lucy, the youngest (and most precocious!) of the archetypal children, is pretty beyond the usual "I'm cute because I'm a small child" attractiveness. However, there's one point early in the film where she gasps in wonder at a tree or something and for the first time reveals her English teeth in all their horrid glory, at which point I let out an audible groan.

The white witch looks just like James Spader. She had a real vagina dentata thing going.

I'm really tired of movies where the centerpiece is a bloated CGI battle sequence, but I have to say that the one in this film is pretty good. The sword-fight between Peter and the white witch was rad, despite my brother-in-law's comment that "If they want me to be interested in a battle, I need something more than a ten-year-old fighting a woman."

I'll have to see it a few more times, but I'm pretty sure the lion was supposed to be Jesus.

At the end of the movie when the kids are all grown up, Peter looks like the creepy Burger King king.

Apparently you don't get to be a Knight of Narnia until you kill a fool.

Is anyone ever going to make another animated feature that isn't all CGI? And is Over the Hedge supposed to be based on the comic strip?



Today is Meli and my two-year wedding anniversary. Two years ago today, Meli and I began our married life on a rainy day in Monterey amidst a small band of well-wishers. One year ago today, we spent a half hour in the bathroom with a pair of scissors, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and a very agitated cat. And today, we're having a nice dinner after two respective long days of work, and Pepe can handle his own damn problems.

Happy anniversary!

House of Cards


I've posted another strip. Still no individual URLs, so you'll just have to use your scroll buttons. I haven't been drawing comic strips lately because I've been using my free time to read the Harry Potter books. Today I finally finished The Half-Blood Prince, so I thought I'd celebrate by pulling a strip idea out of the vault and adding some boobs to it.

Now that I've read all six published Harry Potter books, let me say this. Order of the Phoenix is probably my favorite, and The Half-Blood Prince is mostly ass. I found it to be extremely disappointing, and not just because I went in knowing the big surprise on Page 596. Let's hope J.K. turns things around in Book Seven, and keeps it up for the rest of the post-grad stories she ham-handedly set up in Book Six.

In other news, I've got like 500 business cards that I'm probably never going to use for professional purposes, or at least not for another three years or so. Anybody need a bookmark?

I'm a nerd.

It's nice to know I can now carry Cement Chorizo around in my pants-pocket.

I wonder if I can get pr0n on this thing.

On Friday when I went to Berkeley and swore, I tried to get a frame for my law school diploma. So did everyone else, apparently, since there were none to be found. On Saturday I went to the website for Ned's Bookstore and ordered one up online, since engaging in commercial transactions over the Internet is apparently the new big thing. The price was $139, the size was wrong, but I was willing to deal with it.

I received an e-mail from Ned's that same day telling me that the order would be processed within one business day, and that a second e-mail would be sent at that time confirming the order. Four business days later I hadn't heard anything, and my credit card hadn't been charged, so I replied to the e-mail and asked whether I was getting my frame or not.

A few hours later I received the following e-mail from someone at Ned's identified only as "KAP 110":

"Maybe ask Llyod[sic] about this?"

This intrigued me. Who the hell was Lloyd? And besides that, who the hell was Lloyd? I replied forthwith asking: "Who's Lloyd?" I half-expected (and hoped) I'd get a response along the lines of "Come on, you know, Lloyd. Tall guy, wears glasses. You seen him around."

But the mystery was soon solved, for an hour or so later I received a call on the telephone (a technological advancement that Ned's seems to be more comfortable with) from a man identifying himself as "Lloyd over at Ned's." He told me that my frame would be sent today. Hooray! Frame!

He followed up with "Only problem is, I don't know where you got that $139 price. We been sellin' 'em at $149 for a while." Not knowing how to approach the task of explaining his own website to him, and lacking the energy to bust out some UCC provisions entitling me to the lower price, I accepted the ten-dollar ding and hung up with him.

And if my predictions are correct, in a few days I should be the proud owner of a Haas School of Business diploma frame.

More Tinkering


As part of my ongoing uniniteresting redesign I've added some more graphical flava to this here blog. Please welcome Federollie, R-Jax, The Black Menace, and Tones. These are my favorite Supreme Court Justices for reasons that would probably not stand up on cross examination.

If anyone has any other suggestions as to how I can liven things up around here, please speak up. Lord knows I'm a writer, not a designer.

EDIT: I added Adriana Lima to the banner graphic because I couldn't think of a reason not to.

I'm going to refrain from discussing the unbelievably dick move of bundling Quicktime 7 with iTunes. For now, I'd like to tell the story of me trying to watch the trailer for X-Men 3 on my computer. Even after reinstalling Quicktime (and iTunes!), I get this:

After Googling "quicktime question mark" and reading about other poor fools with similar problems, I end up at the well-hidden Quicktime Troubleshooting page, where I find this profoundly unhelpful rectangle of fury:

From this we learn (1) Quicktime is successfully installed, (2) there's "a problem with the way [my] network is configur[ated], and (3) Apple can't be bothered to provide a direct link to the sub-area of the Quicktime support area that discusses the problem. This is probably because no such area exists.

My network never had any problems with previous versions of Quicktime. I used to play Quicktime movies like it was going out of style. In the process of updating the program and entangling it with iTunes, Apple seems to have made Quicktime incompatible with my (and presumably other people's) Inter-net provider, and is now blaming the networks. Thanks, Steve!

Why won't the movie studios release trailers for Windows Media Player? Why are we still waiting for a major competitor for the iPod? When can we finally drive Apple into the ground? How long must I wait?

In the meantime I'm consoling myself with the thought that X-Men 3 will probably be ass, since Nightcrawler doesn't seem to have returned, Storm is rumored to be the focal character, Bryan Singer is off directing Superman: The Jesus Version, and Bret "Rush Hour" Rattner has resorted to blowing up the Golden Gate Bridge to artificially enbiggen the scope of the movie (or "film"). It looks like it'll be X-Men 3: A Tedious Disaster Film Starring Kelsey Grammer as Beast. And still no love for Gambit. The whole world is against me.

Fingers Crossed


I had myself sworn in to the State Bar of California, the Northern District of California (where I'll be an employee a year from now), and the Ninth Circuit (which I will probably never see the inside of again) at Boalt. Now I'm officially a lawyer. The oath involved promising to do a bunch of things, including upholding the Constitutions of the United States and California. So if I see any of you violating either constitution, you're going to hear about it.

Meli's mother came up for the ceremony, which was fabulous. The oath administrators were Justice Werdegar of the California Supreme Court, Judge William A. "Willy" Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Thelton Henderson of the Northern District. The president of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association made the motions to have us admitted. It was a nice blend of pointless formality and casual remarks. There was so much sitting and standing that I felt like I was in church.

Funny Dean Edley quote: "A couple of days ago a friend asked me if I was considering taking the California Bar Exam. [Pause for chuckles.] Not anymore."

If you don't know why that's funny, ask a Stanford Law School student or alumnus/a.

Some Clipping May Occur


My firm's website recently underwent an overhaul, and as a result they finally got around to posting the first-year bio pages. And so, in my endless campaign of self promotion, I bring you:


It's not hyperlinked and I changed http to hxxp to fool fancy browser settings. Make with the cut-and-paste if you want to see me at my smarmiest.

I have no idea why the photo is so awkwardly cropped, but everyone's seems to be like that. Apparently the web designers failed to grasp the difference between "Resize image" and "Resize canvas." They also took out my publication, which is a little irritating. My journal note may have included a discussion about dry-humping but it was a journal note nonetheless.

A Redesign that Feels Bigger than It Is

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I just shit-canned the HTML-based Links page, and moved the links to other blogs and webcomics into the blog sidebar, conveniently located to your right. One of the drawbacks of the blog revolution is that it has essentially eliminated the phenomenon of the poorly-designed personal webpage, with awkward HTML and self-indulgent lists of links. This move is my way of becoming part of the problem.

I've also decided to stop categorizing my blog links, since, really, what's the point. As always, if I haven't linked to you and you'd like me to, let me know and I'll make with the edits. It's probably more of an oversight on my part than a conscious decision. Hell, I may not even know you have a blog. Also, if you're linking to me and I'm not linking back, please let me know, as I strive for balance.

Speaking of which, I'd like to welcome three new linkees to my linky list of links. In alphabetical order, they are: Maisnon, whom I sat next to during the three excruciating days that transformed me from a boy into a lawyer; Marie the Bee, long-lost female Squelch contributor who was the first non-family member to get me a summer job; and Velvet Winter, chronicling one man's adventures teaching English in Slovakia.

I hope these changes make your viewing experience more enjoyable. If not I can always replace the coffee-and-donut picture with a photo of a monkey riding a dog as if it were a horse.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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