RJ White

*xenu saves*

Have any of you read the New Yorker piece about Paul Haggis and his dropping out of Scientology after 30+years?

It's very interesting reading and I was constantly struck by how bizarre it was to me that people could get into this and not find it strange at all.

Then, I started thinking about their cultivation (or, should I say- cult-ivation? HAR) of celebrity members, letting them act as the frontmen, while there are other layers to the pyramid doing grunt work to keep the whole shiny volcano alien operation going, year after year. It's a brilliant strategy- putting forth this wall of success and fame, using that to sell the whole operation.

But- it seems that, every time I find out someone is in Scientology, I feel disappointed. But why? Any other religion or belief- it seems as though it wouldn't matter quite as much. The end work is what matters- film, music, writing, whatever. That COS label, though, for me, casts this odd retroactive pall over their whole body of work. I guess a prime example for me is Beck. Used to enjoy the heck out of his stuff, but once he went back in there, I just have no interest. Does that make me some sort of bigot, in an odd way? I don't know the guy, I'll never meet him- I'm just a consumer of the work he produces.

Is it the work? Is there something about film and music- creative products- because they elicit such an emotional response, we feel more of a personal bond than should realistically be there? Then, you feel as though some old friend has gone a little nuts and it colors your whole response to everything they do.

What do you guys think? Should the artists' work just speak for itself, with no consideration that they avidly believe the words of a hack pulp sci-fi writer? Or, can it not be separated?
RJ White

*say nice things about detroit*

Well, the Eminem Detroit/Chrysler ad was certainly something. It was well-produced, as it should have been, considering that Chrysler spent approx. $10 million on it, all told.

$10 million to probably not influence people much in the direction to actually buy a car.

I liked it- but mainly because it did some great branding of Detroit as this aggressive survivor, willing to take anything thrown at it. I liked it because of nostalgia for my home state and for its only large city. The ad resonated with me because of the guilt I feel for leaving the state, for wanting to go back, but not sure I'd be able to find a way to make it work. Sadness for what's happening back there and hope that it can be somehow turned around or transformed into something smaller.

That's a lot of emotions for an ad, but they're all wrapped up in my own experiences and memories and the millions of other people watching those beautiful, tough two minutes of downtown Detroit aren't really going to give a whit. The point of the ad, ostensibly, was to sell cars. That's the point of advertising.

Maybe GM could write off the $10 million as a tax-deductible contribution to the Pure Michigan campaign.

If you saw it, what did you think? Particularly, folks who have no connection to Michigan, whatsoever?
RJ White

*because the rabbits are us, donnie*

Alright, to see who's still out there reading this mess, a question-

Which movies have just made you plain angry after seeing them?

By which, I mean- Which films have had you walking out of the theater a little pissed off, wondering how they got made? After seeing them on the Digital-Video-Disc, you took it out and just shook your head? You and a like-minded person working them over for days afterward, worrying the bad movie bone, dissecting each poor decision. 

And I'm not saying something that just had you shaking your head in bemusement, but had you actually feeling as though you'd been took or conned by even watching the damn thing? I'm talking real, irrational hostility, here.

(though there may be others)

- Summer of Sam
- Donnie Darko
- The Bone Collector
- Love, Actually
- Requiem for a Dream

RJ White

Still here? Hello.


It's been how long? Man.

Okay. First off, I'm still reading things over here regularly. But for posting, I've mainly been doing that over at rjwhite.tumblr.com.

So, new things? Over there. Also, the Wasted Words podcast and a few other places. The City Desk? Not so much.

Anything I do will be posted at that tumblr-matic thing. So, yeah. Thanks.
RJ White


It has been some time since I've updated here and, of course, it's to link to things that I have done elsewhere.

On the Wasted Words front-
Show 49 featured special guest lord_whimsy. We all talked about insults of old, how folks absorb music and the gangs of New York. HERE IT IS

The new one, NUMBER 50 (!), was just finished last evening. Philadelphia magazine's Victor Fiorillo stopped by to discuss his Oscar's Tavern/Maker's Mark story and Deke Zibinski came around for another informative "Ask the Bartender" segment. THAT ONE, IT IS HERE.

On the twitter, I have been contributing to the Fake AP Stylebook feed, which has "blown up," as the kids say, over the last couple of weeks.

Right now, while working, I am listening to the CBC WireTap show/podcast (showcast?) which is really rather very funny.

So- how's by you?
RJ White

*in which i go on about buying an unncessary thing*

So- they have these new video-game devices, apparently. Hadn't really considered one seriously, then the bastards called my bluff by deciding to release a Ghostbusters game, then, an awesome Batman game. Long, long ago on here, I asked after folks' advice on which system I should purchase. Still, though, it's something I kept considering and considering and considering, I'm sure to the annoyance of people who had to hear me go on about it forever. To me, it was a pretty big purchase and I didn't want to pull the trigger without thought.

It was still on the side burner, until recently, I inadvertantly sold a photo-graph to a national magazine (more on this later in the month, hopefully). I could either take the scratch, hide it away in my house for the September bank holiday (Wha? Really, conspiracy people?) or use it to get one of these newfangled devices.

I went with the PS3, for the following reasons:

- The capacity, size and power consumption of the recently-released PS3 Slim
- Inclusion of WiFi (It's an extra cost for the adapter on the XBox, or I'd have had to reworked the way I have the internet hooked up in my house)
- BluRay player (So the device can be enjoyed by the entire household. A surprisingly adjustable Netflix plan now has BluRay discs coming at the same cost as before)
- Don't need to buy gift cards every few months to use multiplayer capacity
- The RROD on the XBox (Yes, I know they've made great strides, but it's still out there- an inherent design flaw with which Microsoft still released the thing)
- Easily swappable hard drive, just in case
- No complaints with the venerable old PS2 (traded for a bottle of wine with tawdryjones) over the years

Now- the main downside is that there are many folks I know who have the other system, so I can't join them to shoot each other in the face. But, I'm happy with my purchase. It was crazy- last night, I was on a fake video game rooftop shooting and trapping ghosts with people from who the heck knows where and the other night, I was stealthily taking down goons in Arkham Asylum. I AM IN THE FUTURE. Though, it took me three days of being annoyed with the short USB controller cable before I finally realized that the controller is wireless. I AM ALSO CONFUSED BY THE FUTURE, APPARENTLY.

Also- non technologically, I am reading the book Nixonland and it is fascinating and wonderful and depressing.
  • Current Music
    Belle and Sebastian - Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
RJ White

*no, i believe that is the dubai tower*

Yesterday, we were in New York City (Twice named! Twice nice!tm) for a few hours, knocking around. We'd taken the Bolt bus up because, hey - 10 bucks and wifi - and were waiting to board the return bus in the evening.

Now- the stop is on 34th St., just a couple blocks west of Macy's, near MSG/Penn Station, etc - basically, in the heart of things. There was a pretty good crowd waiting to go back to Phila. (why? no idea.) and I heard an old gentleman ask a middle-aged woman if a certain building was the Sears Tower. Now- seems silly, but if you hadn't ever been to Chicago or New York and were oldish, you might just not know, you know? She tells him it isn't, then just sort of asks what building it is.

OKAY - Given the location that I have relayed to you. If you can imagine that corner- right at the Tick-Tock Diner, just down the street from the Hotel New Yorker, if you turn and face due east, the one building dominating your view, a few blocks down, is the Empire State Building. Which is why I said-

"Oh, that's the Empire State Building."

To which the middle-aged woman replies-

"No, I don't think so."

"Yes, it is."

"No, let me ask [a person nearby], she's a New Yorker... oh, it is the Empire State Building!"

The same woman ended up across the aisle from us and would not stop talking the whole trip. We got into some heavy traffic and she just kept asking what was going on. I leaned a bit and saw a sign on the side of the road that said 'Delays - Construction.' So, I said, just to try and get her to shut up-

"There's a sign- says 'Construction.'"

"This time of night? No."

"Well, I just read a sign that had the word 'construction' and repeated it."

She ended up getting off at the Cherry Hill, NJ stop, WHICH DID NOT SURPRISE ME IN THE LEAST.