Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In Bad Taste

John Waters has come a long way from his days as the high priest of trashy bad taste and has almost crossed over to the respectable mainstream - after all, none other than John Travolta reprises Divine's role in the Hollywood remake of the Tony-award winning Broadway musical adaptation of Waters' 1988 film Hairspray. However, fans of the "Pope of Trash" and "Prince of Puke" need not panic just yet. Though he now describes himself as a filthy elder, he is still very much the quintessential enfant terrible, maybe not quite enfant any more, but certainly still very terrible, refusing to grow up and always willing to shock and provoke outrage.

A Date with John Waters is his Valentine's Day treat for all his fans, and has been described as 'a chance to curl up on the director's couch and let him touch you a little inappropriately'. While one could complain that the eclectic and bizarre collection actually reveals impeccably good taste, much like his previous compilation A John Waters Christmas, I would say that the cover photograph alone (reclining with a very come hither look and a dirty collar - the shirt came from a thrift shop - shot by Marsha Resnick at the Dovil film festival in France, circa 1976) makes this album a must-have. And the fact that he has promised to bring us Breaking Up with John Waters if this collection sells well.

For those of you hungry for a bigger piece of him than this meager blog post has to offer, here is Waters on Fresh Air, All Songs Considered, YouTube (reading from the record's liner notes), and a song from the album, Josie Cotton's "Johnny Are You Queer". Which, incidentally, would be a rather sensible question to ask one's valentine before things could get inordinately painful and somewhat messy beyond control.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Look, Ma, no Menus

Or, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The new version of Microsoft Office has done away with menus in an effort to upgrade and overhaul the now ubiquitous interface that involves clicking, pointing, dragging, and dropping. David Pogue, who double clicks through technology for The New York Times, discusses the changes with Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition.

SI: Where are they heading with this?
DP: There have been some interesting efforts. One clue is the rise of these instant search commands in both the Macintosh, and now in Windows Vista, where you type a few letters of what you are looking for, and up pops the thing, whatever folder it's buried in. And, if you think about it, that means that we needed a cry for help here because the folder thing was getting too unwieldy.

SI: Before mouses and icons and that sort of thing, people just typed a command into a computer. Might we eventually head back toward that system now?
DP: Well, that's what's cracking me up. That's what everyone pooh-poohs as the old stone age way of using a computer by memorizing and typing commands. But this is one of the most touted and beloved features of both the latest Mac OS and the latest Windows Vista, is you can start to do things by typing out little commands again. And the old timers are saying, 'Dude, didn't we do this twenty years ago?'

And what cracks me up is how The Next Big Thing is, more often than not, the same old wine in, if one is lucky, a slightly different looking bottle; little more than a forgotten and discarded leftover from the past, albeit reheated and touched up. Hooray for the shortness of public memory!