Monday, May 28, 2007


Despite the general air of efficiency over here at Maison Toner, the Missus and I still haven't decided on a name for our impending bundle of joy. Here, not really in any order, are some strong contenders and some obvious choices:

1. Tonerito
2. Theoden
3. Life's-not-a-party (said in a loud voice, with index finger pointing to the lad)
4. Riboflavin
5. Percival James Palfrey Maypother IV
6. Mini-Tone

Doctor Lao once told me ages ago that if he ever had a child, he would name it Quezax or Zarkon or something like that, since in the future EVERYONE will have those kinds of names, so we'll all have to start naming our offspring with such monikers at some point and he'd be glad to volunteer first.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Greetings! La Gringa here, posting to Toner Low as we have been sorta exiled from our own blog for a while. (Maybe forever. We haven't decided.) But in the meantime, Mr. Low has been so gracious as to invite La Gringa to get her link-dump on over here, so her head doesn't explode from all the Internet crap she wants to pass along to helpless friends.

This one is for the three women who probably read this blog: Eight simple rules for chicks to survive in sci-fi!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Last night at dinner with La Gringa, Cosmogirl, and Hikender*, I brought up the subject of using "-gasm" as a suffix, to indicate... a moment of exuberance relating to the modified word. I believe this started with "foodgasm," the sensation that follows a great meal. I asked if "-gasm" would work with pretty much any word, and "workgasm" was submitted as clear proof that it doesn't, though Hikender suggested that a workgasm was the relief that follows the completion of an onerous, time-consuming project--he was looking forward to such a happy ending at his own job. Gringa submitted a negative example that proved the limits of this newly-christened suffix: Cheneygasm.

*I've used their noms de blog to protect them from google-happy co-workers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


You can heap all the bile you want on Jerry Falwell; perhaps it was his 9/11 comments that bothered you (though they subverted the classic red-state complaint that it's the liberals that always blame America for the world's problems), or perhaps it was his homophobia, or his early pro-segregation stance, or his violation of the law. I have to say that my general contempt for the public leads me to regard Falwell with a touch of affection, the same way I admire anyone who draws the same rubes that he fleeced back to put flowers on his tombstone. Myths and tall tales about Falwell already abound, the biggest one being that his Moral Majority helped get Reagan elected; over at Newsweek, Jonathan Alter neatly deflates that one. The embarassing truth is that Falwell was never the most powerful or influential Christian conservative, and that he did a far better job galvanizing his enemies than supporting his friends. He unwittingly helped re-establish the legality of free speech when he went to the mat with Larry Flynt (who, by the way, wins this year's Take The High Road Award for his kind comments about his former legal opponent).
Yet for all his blundering, Falwell was a sui generis American bad boy, beyond anything any leather-clad, tattooed poser could hope to be. He was endlessly, professionally offensive, and the media showered him with invitations. Presidential contenders strove to win his favor. The Anti-Defamation League praised him despite his anti-semetic (or were they?) remarks. And, oh, the vitriol from the self-righteous, who couldn't stand HIS self-righteousness. NewsBusters, reporting on how liberal blogs were spewing hate at the news of his death, displayed a rare example on their part of accurate journalism.
Some say he belongs in our prayers, and some say he belongs in his own circle in Hell, but where he really belongs is in the same class as Anton LeVay, P. T. Barnum, and a certain Battlefield Earth author. Mark Twain knew that the hucksters and the con artists are this country's golden originals, its masterpieces, and with that in mind, I tip my hat to this monumental figure.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The Human Cannonball and I were discussing BATTLESTAR GALACTICA tie-ins. I said it would be best if it were with products that had no relation to BSG. The packages would not have any pictures of the cast, pun in-jokes, or anything... other than what you'd normally see on those products. This is the list we came up with. They would only exist to perplex customers.

1. charcoal

2. cheddar

3. sensible men's footwear

4. apple juice

5. spaghetti sauce

6. dental floss

7. pool noodles

8. tongs

9. thumbtacks

10. kitty litter

11. flour

12. shoe polish

13. auto wax

14. throat lozenges

Also, here's a link to a story of how the paths of Sammy Davis and Kurt Vonnegut, saints both, crossed.

My browser is being naughty, so cut and paste it. A nice, quick read.


I thought I could get my review of Spider-Man 3 in before Dr. Lao's. What was I thinking.

As Mainstream Culture (MC) continues to disregard the artifacts of High Culture (HC) and gather its signature works from the world of Fringe Culture (FC), I continue to see fantasias from my childhood become the entertainment fare of millions of adults across the globe. I suppose this is how the whores of Argentina felt after World War I, watching the tango move out of the local brothels and into the dance halls of the moneyed classes.

I made the mistake of seeing the Spider-Man 3 1) in Manhattan and 2) on an Imax screen; the effect was one of overdone spectacle. People in the audience shared their opinions with characters on the screen, as they will, and while I shouldn't have minded, it definitely killed the quieter, more dramatic moments of the movie for me--moments that, as complete suckbag Anthony Lane puts it, "would not pass muster in a TV soap." (I normally disagree with every single world Lane writes, including articles and pronouns, but I have to admit he wasn't too far off with this review).

All was not lost. Rosemary Harris saved the dramatic scenes she was in. Thomas Hayden Church and Bryce Dallas Howard are styled so perfectly as Sandman and Gwen Stacey, respectively, that their makeovers were almost worth eight bucks to see right there (coincidentally, Gwen's signature look, the good-girl bangs, the hairband, and the high boots, have returned as a fashionable look in NYC these days.) Some good action, some good humor (I though the "bad Peter" montage with the funk soundtrack was pretty funny), great f/x, good casting on the character roles. The multiple bad guys didn't upset me, although from what I understand, adding Venom was an afterthought: Raimi had his script ready to go, and Marvel insisted that he put a modern villain in.

But damn if I didn't leave the theater unsatisfied. The action sequences were frequently overdone, and occasionally came close to CGI'd Wrestlemania. And the movie suffers from the "red kryptonite" cliche--in this case, not ONE but TWO characters reverse their personalities, going from good to evil to good or vice-versa. With characters pinballing across the ethical spectrum, coherent drama goes out the window, and actors Maguire and Franco are left with the unenviable option of playing the ridiculous changes for laughs or soldiering on in all seriousness. This conceit hardly seems fresh, since Smallville has done it to death recently on the small screen. Major plot points and character decisions are revealed in unintentionally hillarious scenes (such as Harry Osborne's butler revealing that he knew all about Norman Osborne being the Green Goblin--he just never got around to mentioning this to anyone). Lots of closeups of actors crying kill the fun.

To me, Spider-Man 2 was the best of its kind--exciting action, a playfulness that operated in near-perfect harmony with the more adult drama, characters in sympathetic crises, and a clear awareness of the director recognizing larger cinematic ideas in his story, yet not being bogged down with them. Somehow, the balance is off this time around, and we're left with something like X-Men 3--great special effects, a crowded script, and little reason to care about any of it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Disturbia was #2 at the box office.
Yes, "Spider-Man 3" was destined to be #1, but the real surprise of this weekend was discovering that Disturbia, which has already been out for three weeks, only fell to the #2 spot, beating the other newcomer, Lucky You (which came in at #6). Here's why:

-There's no other movie like it. Except for Rear Window.

-Even straight men are attracted to Shia LeBeouf. He's dreamy.

-The title is an incredibly clever combination of "Distribution" and "Suburbia".

-When it was announced that the film won't be out on DVD until spring of 2010,
Shia's fans realized that they have to see it now.

-The film contains a hope-filled message about how teens
should always be believed no matter how outlandish their
claims are. After all, teens never have a reason to lie.

-The film contains a hope-filled message about how
creepy neighbors are always murderers.

-The film contains a hope-filled message about how brutal
murder in the suburbs is inevitable.

-The film supports the universal truth that voyeurism is fun and a great way to meet young, hot members of the
opposite sex.

-The film has a crowd-pleasing Marxist Communism outlook.

-It's the perfect film to watch while waiting for the Queen
to come visit your part of the United States.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


While it's all good and well that the New York Times has seen fit to pronounce Phil Dick an established mainstream writer and no longer a pulp hack, I find it a little annoying the way the gatekeepers of Literature occasionally select someone who's been popular in cult circles for years and decide that the poor overlooked soul has at last arrived, so masses, take note. They do this to Lovecraft with a regularity that makes me cringe (often around Halloween). I imagine that at some point even the sci-fi porn novels of Andrew Offutt will be raised to worthy belle lettres status, because Chip McGrath or whoever says so. Noble arbiters of textual quality, do not soil the hems of your gleaming white robes whilst you go slumming for diamonds in the rough.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?