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I wasn't really away long enough to send postcards, or buy people gifts, but I did have a few Royal Mail moments. So - I saw these, and thought of:

tizzle_b: I came across the first (and only) anthology of The Boondocks whilst browsing the sort of bookshop we just don't have over here: friendly wooden floors and jumbled, crammed shelves, but airy and modern, and located in a trendy downtown mall. There was even a coffee area crammed into a few square meters in the corner. Anyway, I don't know if you've ever read it, and I don't know what you'd make of the current incarnation (The Boondocks is a strip that's changed dramatically in the four or so years since its birth, becoming increasingly focused on American politics), but I think you'd get a kick out of the early strips. I'll bring the anthology with me on Saturday. In the meantime, here's a recent favourite:

cleanskies: You know those long walkways you get in airports? The ones in Miami look like this:

The nifty thing is, it comes with sound effects. It's apparently an 'urban musical instrument' designed by one Christopher Janney, and there are sensors and speakers at various intervals down the corridor. As you pass each one, it chimes. With a bunch of people all going in different directions, you get interestingly (if quietly) chaotic ambient noise..

xsabx: This one's more about sharing the pain. It was in the Miami Herald on Sunday:
If California's recent gubernatorial recall election struck you as alarmingly like an episode of American Idol, brace yourself: A Hollywood producer is pitching a show called American Candidate on which 100 contestants vie to become a ''people's candidate'' for president next year.

American Candidate? Ouch.

The article is also an overview of political TV in America more generally. It rather wonderfully describes The West Wing as a 'policy opera', then suggests this:
''Even taken in the most modest doses, you're likely to get diabetes from The West Wing,'' says Ben Stein, an actor and screenwriter who was also a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford. ``It's the fluff candy of drama ...I love [West Wing star] Martin Sheen -- he's my neighbor in Malibu, a fine guy -- but you need massive doses of insulin to watch his show.''
History tells us that people are interested in big powerful forces in their lives: police, law, medicine. At first, the shows are reverential: Dr. Kildare. Then you get St. Elsewhere. Or Perry Mason and, later, L.A. Law ...Eventually, people get ready to see how things are instead of how they'd like things to be.''

I've always seen the idealism in The West Wing as one of its main attractions, personally. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I have a warm flat again. Woohoo!

And whilst I'm here: I apologise to not responding to other folks' versions of the me-meme. As brassyn has pointed out, this one takes time...
...thanks for the gift :D

I can see the point: mutual appreciation is pretty endemic in the US, and as a result there are moments it's easier just to overlook the reality and replace it with something more palatable. I heard someone say on a 5Live show whilst you were away that the UK could never produce a show like West Wing because we just don't regard politics as being that important a subject, people just don't care. I think, at least for three seasons, Sorkin made it fashionable to be politically astute, but anyone with a brain and a grounding in genuine politics would probably tell you straight off the bat that what you saw on screen was anything but realistic. Grounded in fact, perhaps, but not realistic, something happened along the way...

It is my considered opinion that people only seem to care (in the US, at least) if their politics is sexy, glitzy, full of celebrities and lacking in both truths and reality, and that's why American Candidate is just a brilliant idea. I believe I mentioned in my journal earlier this year... :D

We all know that there is a big difference between idealism and realism: somewhere, where those two concepts meet, you could have stuck TWW, at least for the first three years.
I have a feeling the bookshop you're talking about is the one on Lincoln Road (near Gap?) ... wasn't it lovely? :-)
Your psychic powers are strong today!

But yes, it was great. And playing Coldplay. I had a whole conversation about that with the guy running the place, who wanted to know what the second album was like...
Heh. Must buy it, actually.
Possibly you have the first collection. It's not the only one though, ya dink. There are three, counting the recently released treasury (collecting just about every strip made). I've seen that in Gosh! and I've ver' ver' tempted.
I've got the treasury, which says things like 'for the first time, the complete Boondocks' on the cover. I should have known better, admittedly.
Well, it is the complete Boondocks for the first time.
Ta very much, Mr RM.

I am not all about the homies, tho. Gots to stop the hatin'.

Anyway - why the hell didn't I see nice & fancy Miami airport when I flew out? I just got boring airport-style airport. Boring!
1. It's always struck me as funny the fascination with the cafe bookshop - for me, the combination of lost novelty and the real problem of annoying crumbs and stains in fresh books from piggish people has put me off the concept. I quite like stuffing my face with the knowledge in books, I just don't acquire the same level of concentration when food is around.

2. American Candidate - yeah, I heard that polled many months ago - honestly, nothing shocks me anymore. The current iteration of 'Joe Millionaire' aimed at fooling European women to the guy's actual poverty is well in the dregs of television. I suppose I should be thankful I'm largely off television now.

3. West Wing - speaking for myself, I find the show's idealism both its primary attraction, and deterrent. I just think it is too important for the electorate to avoid the siren call and distraction of television's fictional politics and instead concentrate and stay angry about the real thing. "Opiate of the masses" indeed.

It's a special kind of mental illness, I find, when so many get caught up with some fictional plot when there are literally hundreds of people, and countrymen, dying in conflict. And yes, I do acknowledge the silliness of my position, given my sci-fi interests ... but the very political nature of that fictional series makes me mind a great deal. I just can't shake the sense that efforts as these promote political lethargy, ironically enough.

4. Welcome back to a warm flat! Ra!

I am *extremely* jelous of your warm flat! And don't forget you promised to lend me the West Wing dvd's one of these days...
Haven't forgotten, and I've got the whole of season 1 together now...So next time I see you, it's all yours. :)
Occasionally I get these moments when I think, "wow, I *am* living in the future" and responsive spaces do trigger for that (enlivened environments)... some of his other projects look even better:

Touch my building

"Occasionally a "ghost" residing in the building "plays" the piece at whim. If the curious pedestrian can find the riddle on the building, decipher it and play the pattern stated, the "ghost" will also respond."
For great lighting, easy movement - I have always been pleasantly surprised by Amsterdam's Schipol.

For monumentalism - I was much impressed by Kuala Lampur's new airport...even with duty free Gold market eh. ;-)


Makes me wonder if and when Heathrow will be overhauled.

There is actually a possibility that "American Candidate" could be a good show. Read this article:

I dunno...considering the source, they would talk it up.
I dunno...considering the source, they would talk it up.

Incidentally, I find this sort of show ironically funny on a personal level - I've generally been a proponent of referenda and other forms of direct democracy, but readily acknowledged that in the event of direct democracy, the real power would shift not from the political bodies to the people, but to the media.

A show like this just fits all-too-perfectly into that conspiratorial mould. ;-)

how things are instead of how they'd like things to be (http://www.yes-minister.com/)

-- Tom