Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Sneer!

You can't really celebrate New Year's Eve without either:

1) staying in, feeling morose and re-reading Lester Bangs' acidic essay "New Year's Eve" from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, or;
2) going out, having cocktails, and eventually feeling morose. But at least you're with friends.

We're having folks here (it's 90 minutes before 20 people!), so, of course, I'm blogging out the old. And offering you a cocktail recipe:

The Poughkeepsie
(So named because it's somewhat a variation of a Bronx Cocktail, and therefore, proximate, plus Amy was born in Poughkeepsie)

recipe serves 2 (after all, you aren't drinking alone, are you? well, drink two!)

3 shots Gin (Bombay Sapphire recommended)
2 shots freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 shot Cointreau

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a swirl of blood orange rind.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Extinctions, Schedules of

Not to turn this into "Obits R Us"--and by the way, thanks to the ever-wonderful and witty TBogg for the link the other day, plus the one from Barry at Bloggy, about the Sontag post--but words must be said about the recently deceased Eddie Layton, who played the organ at Yankee Stadium for over 35 years.

As regular readers know, I tend to give the Yankees hell in here, simply because rooting for them is like rooting for the Pentagon, and all the years of Mets stinkiness often left me more a Yankee-hater than a Mets-lover; I mean, I wouldn't trade my Craig Swan baseball card even up for a mint Goose Gossage. But we're talking a baseball stadium organist here, so it's very important we pause and lament.

For as the organists go, so goes one kind of baseball experience. The one where contemplation is a virtue, and the game itself has a sound and not just an imposed oldies rock 'n' roll soundtrack played to make cute kids and bodacious babes bop on the Jumbotron while ex-glee club flunkies run about the field bazooka-ing cheaply made t-shirts into the upper deck.

Besides, think of the rapidly vanishing habitat of the organist--roller rinks, film palaces, churches. It was a simpler, larger world accompanied by keys and pedals. Now we roller blade along to our own Ipod, put up with tiny theaters with much too big sound (but at least it comes at us from all directions), and the 1970s abomination of the folk mass probably helped drive more people from church-going in their formative years than anything else.

So I have become Grandpa Simpson. At least as I drift in my reverie of the good old days, I will hear Jane Jarvis, long-time Shea Stadium organist, welcoming me to the park with the cheery, silly tones of that old classic "Meet the Mets." As for Eddie Layton, here's hoping that if there's a heaven, it has the Mightiest Wurlitzer of all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

This Is Pop?

Without comment (there will be some eventually, promise), here are INOTBB's Top Ten Albums of 2004:
  1. Drive-By Truckers, The Dirty South
  2. Futureheads, s/t
  3. Neko Case, The Tigers Have Spoken
  4. Magnetic Fields, i
  5. Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous
  6. Thelonious Monster, California Clam Chowder
  7. Modest Mouse, Goods News for People Who Love Bad News
  8. Jon Langford, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds
  9. Lambchop, No You C'mon
  10. Old 97's, Drag It Up

And the Top Ten Songs of 2004, in alphabetical order by artist:

  1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "There She Goes, My Beautiful World"
  2. Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"
  3. Franz Ferdinand, "Take Me Out"
  4. Magnetic Fields, "It's Only Time"
  5. Modest Mouse, "Float On"
  6. Old 97's, "Won't Be Home"
  7. The Reputation, "Face It"
  8. Rilo Kiley, "It's a Hit"
  9. Rilo Kiley, "Portions for Foxes"
  10. Zutons, "Pressure Point"

There's No Love Like Buddy Love

In case you missed it, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced yesterday his annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant motion pictures to the Registry.

One of the films named this year was Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor.

So I guess that means to be significant, you only need to meet one of the three criteria.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag as Metaphor

Here's some of what Susan Sontag had to say after 9/11, words she was instantly pilloried for, an attack from right wing lapdogs that really only proved her more wise, of course:

Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.

Of course, it's only gotten worse in three plus years. If only America could figure out what else it has to be. Instead we have murderously bumbled into and over Iraq; we have turned our trust over to people who proclaim hatred for people they most certainly are not is a moral value; and we are now planning the end of Social Security, and to hell with the old who are poor.

And now Sontag is dead and will not help us find our way to what we might be. Not that we listened to her enough before she pissed off much of the country by saying we helped bring 9/11 on ourselves. Even the people who liked her work often found it hard; in his terrific essay Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me Craig Seligman opens with "I revere Sontag. I love Kael," and pretty much nails the Sontag style with the description "as colorless, as odorless, as tasteless, and as intoxicating as vodka." (Full disclosure: as a gin man, myself, I tend to side with Kael. But I see the purpose of vodka, too, and Sontag even moreso.)

Not that this is a country for thought. Sontag was often thought of as European, and clearly anyone who smacks of the intellectual risks putting his or her Americaness on the line. Even John Kerry got vilified as French, of all things, not just as a way to slander his patriotism but to make clear that he actually could see nuance, a word that not only means there's more than good and bad (impossible! cry the moralists), but also a word with roots in Old French (the language, not as in old Europe). We have given up public intellectuals in trivial pursuits, for why else would the country be so involved in the victorious ways of Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings (beyond the money, of course)? A vast accumulation of facts is no more true wisdom than a pile of wood is a building or a draft of words, alas, an essay.

Here's to hoping we can somehow remember that strength isn't certitude, but the grace of reflection, the will to change, the gumption to bridge that gap. That we can learn from Sontag, that her words can teach us how to read as we read. That their very difficulty slow us down, remind us that when we think easy our thoughts are facile. That we can live the way she suggests in the following, from a talk she gave this April:

To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention.

When we make moral judgments, we are not just saying that this is better than that. Even more fundamentally, we are saying that this is more important than that. It is to order the overwhelming spread and simultaneity of everything, at the price of ignoring or turning our backs on most of what is happening in the world.

The nature of moral judgments depends on our capacity for paying attention—a capacity that, inevitably, has its limits, but whose limits can be stretched.

But perhaps the beginning of wisdom, and humility, is to bow one's head before the thought, the devastating thought, of the simultaneity of everything and the incapacity of our moral understanding—which is also the understanding of the novelist—to take this in.

Drink Up, Dreamers, You're Running Dry

Here comes the flood, indeed, especially if you're already one of the poor and screwed in the world. For as the Voice of America calmly tells us in its article on tsunami warning systems, which do exist in Japan and Hawaii:

Experts say if a warning system for the Indian Ocean had been in place, lives might have been saved.

Jan Egeland, the United Nations disaster relief coordinator, warns that installing a warning system will be a huge undertaking.

"The problem with the tsunamis is that it takes hours or minutes for this wall of water to come," said Jan Egeland. "There's just very little time. This is something we have to look into. I think it would be a massive undertaking to have a full-fledged tsunami warning system that would really be effective in many of these places."

Much of the affected region is poor and lacks the infrastructure for such a system.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Students Get Diddly in Their Stockings

While trying to get elected, President Bush during the October 14 presidential debate said:

Got four more years, I've got more to do to continue to raise standards, to continue to reward teachers and school districts that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms, to continue to expand Pell Grants to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma.

Meanwhile, now that he's back!, a story from the New York Times last week reports:

College students in virtually every state will be required to shoulder more of the cost of their education under new federal rules that govern most of the nation's financial aid.

Because of the changes, which take effect next fall and are expected to save the government $300 million in the 2005-6 academic year, at least 1.3 million students will receive smaller Pell Grants, the nation's primary scholarship for those of low income, according to two analyses of the new rules.

It sure is a good thing he's got four more years. Here's hoping most of us survive.

US Puts the No in Noel

Where are O'Reilly and the "Secularists Are Trying to Stop Christmas from Coming!" crew on this story?

From MSNBC, it seems not only have we not brought peace on earth to Iraq, we've put Iraqi Christians in danger:

While Iraq’s estimated 650,000 Christians, some 3 percent of the population, had little power under former dictator Saddam Hussein, they were free to worship without the threat of sectarian violence.

With Iraq’s government struggling to stop the bombings, murders and kidnappings that have scarred Iraq for the past 18 months, Christians say the small size of their community makes them feel particularly vulnerable.

With that in mind, the community, mostly from the early Assyrian and Chaldean churches, have kept celebrations low-key.

I guess they're saving shooting their guns aimlessly, joyfully up in the air for New Year's.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

We Double Dog Dare You Not to Have a Good Christmas (pt. II)

You'd be a bit blurry too, if they made you wear these stupid antlers. Posted by Hello

We Double Dog Dare You Not to Have a Good Christmas (pt. I)

Nigel waits for the Christmas angel, hoping it's made of liver treats. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tort Reform? I Thought You Said Torture Reform

It's not really a surprise, given what Seymour Hersh and others have been trying to tell us as we scapegoated our way around truly understanding the systematic ugliness of the Gitmo and Abu Ghraib prison scandals, but today the ACLU, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request (somehow Bush & Co. are still letting a few of those get approved), has revealed:

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

So, Bush himself decided that torture is an American value. Of course the moral equivocators of the right like Michelle Malkin and others will claim torture is necessary as that's the only way to fight evil. After all, the terrorists killed lots of innocents on 9/11. The only way to buy such an argument, however, is to agree with both of the following problematic, if not outright stupid assumptions:

1) Every person arrested is guilty and therefore worthy of torture.
2) If a person is tortured, he or she inevitably tells the truth.

But the problems with the "Bush signs off on torture" story are richer and deeper, and tell us more than that Michelle Malkin is an idiot. After all, we knew that already. First, what the hell was the Kerry campaign doing? There was no way to turn Abu Ghraib and Gitmo into an issue without looking soft? Really!? So a candidate is either pro-torture or a push-over for terrorists?

Second, what makes America great? That in its best moments, which, alas, are too often theoretical, it offers more freedom than any other nation on Earth. There's nothing more hopeful than that--that this country was based on the belief that letting people speak out, assemble, print opinions, vote would lead to goodness, of all things. Instead it has led to arrests for no cause other than looking Arabic, indefinite jail terms without sentencing or counsel, and the unspeakable things we have all seen in photos (and Hersh and others insist we've only viewed a miniscule amount of those). Osama Bin Laden isn't hiding, folks, he's clear to see in the heart at the black heart of the White House.

If Money Is Criminal, Only Criminals Will Have Money

Ricky Gervais, writer and star of BBC's The Office, says the following: "The money being offered was criminal. But I am not interested in money. I'm interested in doing something I am proud of. Money gives me the creeps. I hate it when people print how much I'm getting paid. It's not guilt. It's embarrassing enough being an actor for a living - it's a worthless, pointless job. But when people know you earn a thousand times what a nurse earns it's f**king embarrassing. I am not proud of my earnings. I'm proud of my work. I've probably turned down £10 million."

I've probably gained 10 million pounds, but that's because of the Christmas cookies.

Gervais is never going to make it in Hollywood. Oh, wait, he doesn't want to be part of Hollywood.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Egg Noggin on Heaven's Door

You've probably heard that Bill O'Reilly, among others, is on a rampage. He's very worried he might not get a new loofah in his Christmas stocking this year, because the Secularists are trying to steal Christmas! You know the Secularists, don't you? Be very careful, there might even be one sitting next to you at work. (There' won't be one sitting next to you on the subway or bus if you're on Bill O'Reilly's side, because you know enough to avoid public transportation. And good for you.)

What's more, doing away with Christmas is just the sneaky start of the Secularists perfidious plans. And they do plan, so much so it makes the dastardly folks behind the Gay Agenda seem like slackers, but they probably are because they are so busy thinking about sex, which a good religious person like Bill O'Reilly never gets sued, I mean, thinks about. First those Secularists dump the Christ child, and next, every woman has to have an abortion to commemorate no more Christ child. It will be a law. Even with the Republicans controlling the House, Senate, White House and Supreme Court. Boy, those Secularists are good. (In fact, one will soon come take me to task for writing "Boy" to start that gender-specific, non-secular sentence.) As Bill so bluntly put it in his syndicated column:

The secular-progressive movement knows that it is organized religion, most specifically Christianity and Judaism, that stands in the way of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, legalized narcotics, euthanasia and many other secular causes. If religion can be de-emphasized, a brave new progressive society can be achieved.

Now, perhaps O'Reilly has to watch his phrase-making, as his passing nod to Aldous Huxley at the end isn't particularly felicitious; after all, Huxley claimed, "At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols."

But he certainly tells it like it is, if you know what is is. Not only do the Secularists want abortions, they want to wait till that last trimester, just to make the unborn hurt even more. And of course they're pro-narcotics, since they don't have religion to be the opiate of their masses. And of course they believe in euthanasia, because they are most likely against the death penalty, too. (That is logic, isn't it?)

The good news is there are people re-affirming the true spirits of Christmas, emphasis on spirits, in New Zealand. I only wish there was videotape. And then there's this touching display in Germany; I always thought sweet baby Jesus hid some water wings under those swaddling clothes.

And so I've heard this from the Secularists: "If Bill O'Reilly doesn't like us getting rid of Christmas, he can go live in an aquarium in Speyer." And I'm looking forward to the videotape of that, too.

I'll Be Your Mirror

From Gawker we get this parallel universe tidbit:

Tina [Brown] tapped columnist Nicholas Kristof to distill everyone's favorite Russian, Vladimir Putin. Kristof deconstructed Putin's goals for a "free market" where "he controls the business interests, one in which there is no free media" and "everybody would bow before him." Kristof said in Russia there is a "deep yearning" for strong leadership and economic growth and voters picked "hope over experience" in choosing Putin.

Remember last June, when Mr Bush surprised the world by declaring after a meeting with Mr Putin in Slovenia: "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul"?

It turns out that the quote was misreported. It should have been, "I looked into the mirrors of his eyes. I was able to get a sense of my soul."

Aren't you glad to have that one cleared up?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Da-Mook Run Run Run, Da-Mook Run Run

I think he's having fun. (Photo: Jill Horton) Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Missiles Never Failed to Rise in Clinton's Day

The New York Times reports:

An important test of the United States' fledgling missile defense system ended in failure early Wednesday as an interceptor rocket failed to launch on cue from the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon said.

Richard A. Lehner a spokesperson for the Missile Defense Agency said that despite the disappointment, Wednesday's event was not a total failure. He said "quite a bit" had been learned from the aborted test, which he called "a very good training exercise." He said the rocket that failed to rise could be used later. The target splashed down in the ocean some 3,000 miles from Kodiak, he said....

...luckily missing the last family of Kodiak bears that has avoided extinction. Alaskans want to be sure those bears make it till hunting season, after all.

What good news! "Quite a bit" has been learned, indeed. Like the U.S. has blown $80 billion for nothing! And we've also learned that in case we ever need the missile defense shield to function, we can re-use all the interceptor rockets that fail to launch. That is, if anyone is left to try to launch them, since the missile shield, which costs billions of dollars, works as much as Bernie Kerik's "nanny" did. Still, it's good to see the federal government actively buying into the reuse/recycle mindset.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

George Will Make Facile, Boneheaded Arguments

Read this gem from the latest George Will:

Liberalism’s problem with the Moore/MoveOn faction is similar to conservatism’s 1960s embarrassment from the claimed kinship of the John Birch Society, whose leader called President Eisenhower a Kremlin agent.

Oops, forgot to tell you to move any breakable, throwable objects out of arm’s reach first. After all, as part of that “Moore/MoveOn” faction of liberalism—and I am quite aware of Will’s sneaky elision from straw man to straw organization, the very kind of duplicity I’m sure he accuses Michael Moore of in his work—I don’t particularly appreciate becoming part of an analogy that equates my beliefs with those of the John Birch Society, which was racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic, even if looked at kindly (and to do that you need to peek behind the sheets some of them wore).

The joke, of course, is Will has much more in common with the JBS than any liberal. The JBS was famous for its “US out of the UN” program in the 1960s; George Will wrote, “The United Nations is not a good idea badly implemented, it is a bad idea” in March 2003. (BTW, Mr. Oxford and Princeton, you want a semi-colon and not a comma between the two independent clauses in that sentence.)

Of course I’m playing a bit of an intellectual game myself, for his point is that the JBS is as extreme as MoveOn is extreme. Still, it’s tarring the progressive left in a mean-spirited, emotionally dishonest (and sadly too often very effective) way.

I could let this moment pass if any the rest of Will’s recent column really made sense, but this quote merely is the lowest blow in what Will passes off as well-thought brilliance but is nothing but intellectual cage match wrestling with foreign objects allowed. He attacks by association with the line, “When Moore sat in Jimmy Carter’s box at the 2004 Democratic convention, voters drew conclusions about the party’s sobriety,” even though Tom Tomorrow has explained what really happened that day: “The mundane truth, if anyone’s in the least interested, is that we were on the skybox level of the Fleet Center because Michael had just done O’Reilly’s show in the Fox booth, and we were making our way down the hallway and Michael was getting mobbed, and one of the Carters happened to see us and invited us to take refuge in their skybox.” Despite Will's claim, it wasn’t voters who drew conclusions, but rather rightwing pundits like Will who don’t bother to get all the facts, or ignore them when they are inconvenient (no wonder the Bush White House is so loved by them).

Then there’s this passage, when he first quotes, then takes on, Robert Kuttner:

Bill Clinton won election by declaring, as a matter of values, that people who work hard and play by the rules should not be poor. Middle America forgave him for treating gays as people.

Ponder that second sentence. Kuttner could not resist a spasm of moral vanity. He had to disparage “middle America,” which means most of America, as so bigoted it denies the humanity of gays.

Beyond Will’s odd diction (I guess for conservatives, any time a liberal gets close to the word “moral” some perverted sexual twist needs to be evinced), and his quick and sloppy equation of middle and most, Will (and Kuttner, alas) seems to forget that Clinton was pro-gay, as long as you didn’t ask and he didn’t have to tell. Then there’s that Defense of Marriage Act Clinton had no problem signing. Then there’s this trail of broken syllogisms that Will might want to, um, ponder. (What a pretentious prick! Oops, too close to spasm….):
1) Humans love each other.
2) As an expression of their love, humans believe in committing themselves to life-long relationships.
3) Therefore, only straight people can get married.

Like the Energizer Bunny, and with a head just as stuffed with fluff, Will doesn’t let up. He attacks the left for its anti-interventionist stand, claiming, “Responsible Democrats believe that, as Sen. Joe Biden says, there is an ‘overwhelming obligation’ to use ‘the full measure of our power’ against radical Islam.” Of course for Will this means the war in Iraq is Good, and ignores that no matter how terrible, Saddam Hussein did not have WMDs, could not threaten the U.S., was not connected to 9/11, and, in fact, was distrusted by Osama Bin Laden for being a secular (that means not radically Islamic enough) leader.

Ultimately Will claims the Democrats have to "excommunicate" (those rightwingers just can't keep religion out of their politics, can they?) the Moore/MoveOn wing of the party, and particularly any anti-war notions, to succeed. What he doesn't point out is that means they will finally succeed in becoming the Republicans.

I guess what saddens me most (beyond having to share a first name with him and W.—how could my parents have done that to me?) is George Will is universally considered the reasonable, rational rightwing columnist. Please. Logic and truth value are as impossible to find in his work as it is impossible to find WMDs in Iraq, a sober Bush daughter after 11 pm, or Clarence Thomas’ pre-Justice days’ thoughts about abortion.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

I might not be crazy about my job, but at least I've never had to dust someone's porn collection for fingerprints. Thank you, job gods.

What's even more striking is that I don't even have to mention this porn collection belongs to the King of Pop (which has a whole new meaning now, doesn't it?) for there to be a joke. Thank you, joke gods.

There's No Business Like Take-Over Business

The AP reports:
Oracle Corp. finally scooped up bitter rival PeopleSoft Inc. after 18 months of legal and verbal strife, ending a nasty feud with a $10.3 billion deal that promises to shake up the business software industry...."A lot of people compared us to Don Quixote tilting at windmills, but finally we now have PeopleSoft," Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said yesterday....
...while wipping away a trickle of blood on his chin from the latest infant he devoured. He continued, "PeopleSoft, but Oracle hard." He then punctuated the conference call with a hearty chortle from a mad scientist he subsumed into his being after a hostile take-over earlier this month.
Oracle eventually hopes to buy other tech companies, but won't consider other acquisitions until PeopleSoft is fully digested, Ellison said...

...not even bothering to make air quotes when saying "digested." Ellison burped loudly and tossed some bones into the former shark tanks outside Oracle's Redwood City headquarters. (It really is the former site of Marine World.)

Heavenly Wrest

Belated Dog Blog Friday (or really early, depending upon whether the Internet is half full or half empty): It's Bipedal Greyhound Wrestling! or, Cool, When We Do This, Our Shadows Look Like Poodles! Posted by Hello

Monday, December 13, 2004

Shea It Is So

So if you're the Mets, how do you become the World Champions? Pick off the Red Sox 2004 Edition one by one. It might work if Fred Wilpon feels like he has an extra $134 million to spare over the next four years or so.

Just be sure to stop when you dial the number of Derek Lowe's agent, Omar!

We'll Find Out He Was Doing the Nanny, Too

So how do you look like this and have two lovers and a wife at the same time?

Good thing he didn't wind up the head of Homeland Security--he couldn't even intercept a letter in a love nest. And I don't want to spend too much time imagining what his affair with a corrections officer might have been like, but I can't help but hear Philip Stone rolling his r's.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Makes Me Want to Shout

Sorry for the dearth of posts, but Friday was Staff Day Out at work and I'm still trying to recover from all the fun.

And besides, I just got back from a dinner party where I got to give martini-making tips to Otter from Animal House. Seriously, Tim Matheson was there--things like this happen in Santa Barbara--and I tried to sell him on the delights of Junipero gin (and Noilly Prat and orange bitters, of course--two olives). He is a very engaging and pleasant man. Now I get to think about the 15 year-old me watching the antics of Animal House in some theater in New Jersey, clueless as to the life I might someday lead. But laughing, just in case.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Plot Sickens (And the Dialogue Doesn't Speak to Me, Either)

Query Letters I Love is too good merely to reference in an entry--it gets blogrolled. My favorite might be the pitch for Survival, but I wish the writer made suggestions for casting (or would it be a reality celeb snuff movie? how exciting!).

And here's one query I wish someone had written:

Bloggerphilia is a wildly sexy love story on the Internet as directed by Dario Argento. Is that regular commenter a sensual stalker or a crazed killer...or just a insane woman with a very strict sense of plagiarism? Full of the joys of keyboarding, the rigors of grammar and deliciously vicious quoting.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A-Wax in a Manger

"Warward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy religious right."

Get a load of this celebrity nativity scene at Madame Tussauds in London. Ah, those whacky British. Let us count the reasons why:

1) They go to wax museums in the first place. (Isn't plastic surgery enough for them?)
2) They come up with the idea of updating the nativity with some star power, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph weren't enough for them.
3) They can pretend a former Spice Girl is a Virgin. (And I think I've been sacrilegious.)
4) They make the wax Hugh Grant hold the sheep but don't make the wax Graham Norton look jealous.
5) They think someone who co-starred in Bio-Dome with Pauly Shore can be an angel.
6) They put Samuel L. Jackson in there at all. I know he quoted Ezekiel in a movie once, but that's a pretty slim connection.
7) They think it's funny to make Bush a Wise Man.

Oh wait, that is funny.

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Go Here and You'll Never Make It to the R 'n' R Hall of Fame

It seems that The History of Contraception Museum is the latest addition to the Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. True, entrance is only permitted occasionally, but it is quite a place! The AP reports: "More than 650 items make up what is described as the only collection of its kind in the world, representing the often creative practices and products devised in the hope of preventing unwanted pregnancies." One of the most creative displays, titled "Joey Prays Real Hard and Raids the Kitchen," is sponsored by Saran Wrap.

The AP story continues: "Where items are not available for show, words explain. In ancient Egypt, crocodile dung was employed as a suppository before intercourse. Beaver-testicle tea was brewed by Canadian women, interested in prevention." Two thoughts come to mind: 1) Crocdungbung certainly would keep me from having intercourse, so that's one darn good contraceptive; and, 2) now I understand the term tea-bagging.

A press release from the White House honoring the museum's opening included this quote from President Bush, "Speaking for both myself and those devoted to morality who overwhelmingly voted me into office, I am pleased there is a place that will commemorate contraception, which will soon be a thing only for museums. I also am proposing a law that no child under 18 can visit the museum without parental notification."

He Kilt That Crowd

IMDB, treasure trove of the meaningless for those mindless at work, reports:

"Scotsman Craig Ferguson has been named to succeed Craig Kilborn as permanent host of CBS's The Late Late Show, the network announced today. Ferguson is best known in the U.S. as the boss on ABC's The Drew Carey Show."

In other news, runner-up for the host position Michael Ian Black has a call in to VH-1 requesting that they start taping his "so ironic it hurts" commentary for I Love the Early Aughts.

I Couldn't Have Ranted It Better Myself

Gary Huckabay, from Baseball Prospectus yesterday:

We have federal agents hanging out in Burlingame trying to track down people like Bill Romanowski and other athletes for acquiring or using drugs that really only represent a threat to themselves? Are you f***ing kidding me? Did we catch Osama Bin Laden over the weekend? Have these agents already finished working with the chemical and energy industries to harden soft terrorist targets like refineries and chemical plants? My tax dollars are being spent to go after people like Victor Conte, rather than building new schools or paying down the debt? Again, I'm forced to ask, are you f%^&ing kidding me?

Now if you're a baseball fan, why aren't you subscribing to BP?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Keep A Stiff Upper Jesus

I'm not a believer. That's not the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich (what if she were eaten by someone named Joseph! 2000 years of Christianity befouled.) Jesus hasn't loaned his image to a fishstick (unless the owner accidentally bought St. Peter & Paul's instead of Mrs. Paul's fishsticks; motto: "I will make you convenience food for men"). And Mother Theresa's got better things to do than come back as a sticky bun, what with having to shoot cancer-zapping beams of light out from her pictures, to silence Christopher Hitchens, when he's not busy supporting George Bush's war in Iraq, if nothing else.

But this story I might believe. Here's hoping Jesus wears that lead robe Mary made for him centuries ago.

As for the story's end--"By the way, the patient's exam was perfect"--well, one would assume that holy omnipotence covers two dental exams a year.

Of course it's always possible that Product Placement Saviour could just be Mel Gibson's sneaky way to run an Oscar publicity campaign. All he has to do is keep His Holiness of the Haddock in the news and then he doesn't have to shill for Academy Award consideration. Imagine the excitement at the Kodak Theater this March when someone opens the envelope to gush, "The Oscar for Best Picture goes to The Passion of the Fish Stick."

Crabs? Merde!

After reading this story, all I could think was, "Gee, I didn't even read that Paris Hilton was in Canada recently!"

A Cabinet Is a Terrible Thing to Taste

As you've probably already heard, Tommy Thompson, who resigned Friday as Secretary of Health and Human Services (rumored to renamed Inhuman Services during Bush's second term as the White House is tired of carping that it's not honest, and as Republicans make sure reproductive rights erode, they also like the idea of the acronym HIS, too) made the following claim/advice to those who hate the U.S.: "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do. We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Somehwere, Bill O'Reilly cried, "No! Keep your hands off my falafel!...You, honey, can keep your hands on my felafel, I meant the terrorists!"

Meanwhile President Bush downplayed Thompson's worries, insisting that America was such a terrific country that everyone could have food tasters just like the ones he has. And at that news, two more members of his cabinet resigned. Nonetheless Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, one of the few Cabinet secretaries remaining from President Bush's first term, declared, "I'm man enough to swallow anything."

Friday, December 03, 2004

We Can All Feel Safe, Like Sharon Tate

Bernard Kerik, President Bush’s choice to replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Director, is an obvious choice given he was the Police Commissioner of NYC on 9/11 (nothing like a bit of revenge for motivation in Bushworld). It also turns out that Bernie can bloviate with the best of them; check out this editorial he penned for the Wall Street Journal a little over a year ago. Most striking is that he was officially the Interim Minister of the Interior in Iraq but in this op-ed he acts as if he was just a “senior policy advisor” on the trip to be nice. But why get caught up in nomenclature when there are out and out facts Kerik bungles?

There are his inconsistencies, like when he writes, “New Yorkers will remember that it took the Giuliani administration eight years to create the safest large city in the world,” but doesn’t explain why he devoted a measly four months to the job of getting an new Iraq police force up and running if the job needs so much devotion. (Let’s be kind and not belabor that the U.S. plan is to hold elections in less than a month.)

There’s the naïve beauty of the claim, “Like it or not, building a country from scratch takes time and money,” as that line seems to act as if Iraq failed to exist before we got there and that we didn’t “shock and awe” much of what was there into rubble.

There’s this bit, “My job was to assist in setting up this force again, with proper training, new values, a respect for human rights. The latter phrase—‘human rights’—has been absent from Iraq’s vocabulary for decades,” which must be hard for Iraqis to swallow knowing what went on at Abu Ghraib.

And that old phrase “what a difference a year makes” bites his argument’s ass when he insists, “And to those critics who think the answer is the deployment of more U.S. troops, I say: Caution!” After all, we had the announcement just yesterday of more troops heading off to the war, bringing the number of U.S. forces to an all-time high. Unless Kerik considers the Pentagon one of “those critics,” he got things a tad wrong with that claim.

And you have to loath the U.S.-centric bluster of lines like, “History has taught us that there’s always a cost for freedom. On 9/11 we learned that we'll pay now or we’ll pay later.” Beyond linking, yet again, Iraq and 9/11, and not really making sense—it seems we paid when the WTC came down and pay each time a soldier falls, too—the first-person plural here clearly excludes the people of Iraq. We pay the cost for their freedom.

Ultimately there’s this—Kerik says don’t criticize, just clap your hands and believe that the Tinkerbell Iraqi police forces will come to life. Or you could look at it like the Center for American Progress did in March of 2004:

The Bush administration has been forced to accelerate the “Iraqization” of the security forces. Over the past six months the United States has placed 150,000 Iraqis in newly reconstituted army, police, civil defense, and border forces. But in their rush to establish these forces, the United States has provided only minimal training. The insurgents have killed more than 600 Iraqi police and other security forces since the beginning of the U.S. occupation.

More importantly, the United States has not had adequate time to do the necessary background checks on the candidates. This has enabled the insurgents to infiltrate these organizations. On March 9, 2004, four members of the newly trained Iraqi police killed two American civilians who were working for the coalition authority. Because of the lack of confidence in the American-trained security forces, the Kurds and three Shiite factions have continued to rely on their own militias and refused to blend them into the American-established Iraqi forces. This could lay the groundwork for a civil war between these militias when sovereignty is turned over to the Iraqis.

Dog Blog Blue (Even Nigel Has One)

For Dog Blog Friday, Nigel shows his calmer, more introspective side. Or simply ponders why he doesn't have unlimited Greenies to eat. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Dreck the Halls

So Jessica Simpson and Nick Not Mr. Simpson had their cheesy Christmas special last night and even video-exhumed Bing Crosby to sing with them (as if it isn't enough we have that real-time odd Crosby-Bowie duet, not to mention a Bob Mould-Craig Kilborn parody of that).

In the tradition of ridiculous holiday broadcasts, the very clever site Whatever offers its Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time.

My nominees:
It's an Abu Ghraib Christmas, Charlie Brown! with special guest Lynndie England.

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer Meets Godzilla.

And who could forget: Pink Lady and Jeff Do Christmas, the legendary un-aired episode that features the Japanese singing- and short-shorts wearing- sensations hilariously mis-performing "Deck the Halls" in a way later to be made famous in A Christmas Story. Plus, Santa, the girls, Jeff and Cheap Trick in a hot tub!

Oh, H Double Hockey Sticks

Today is the 80th birthday of smart guy John Backus, inventor of FORTRAN (which itself turns 50 this year), the first successful HLL. Don't worry, I don't really know what much of that sentence means, either. I think it does have a lot to do with computer programming and high level language and base-8, which sounds to me like someone trying to score twice on a homerun, but what do I know. If you do a web search you find out that those crazy programmers have something called octal humor. I still find it easier to stick to rectal, myself (no pun intended).

It did hit me that it might be funny to consider what would have happened if beloved actor Jim Backus invented FORTRAN. It might go like this...After being a quite ineffectual, dithering dad to a rebellious youth, he threw away that silly apron and got quite rich thanks to his computer breakthrough. He married a Lovey but became increasingly isolated--some said he was on his own island. Eventually all that time at the computer made him go blind.

Catch As Catch Canis

A news report claims that the first coyotes have come to Washington D.C. They could be there after hearing the town is now a Republican stronghold; after all, one report states "the bulk of the coyote's diet consists of rodents."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Reid It and Weep

Maybe I'm just slow, but how come we didn't hear more about this when Nevada Senator Harry Reid became the new Tom Daschle, just as depressing as the old Tom Daschle?

"Reid scores 29% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record."
source: On The Issues

So that's the guy who is supposed to fight the good fight for Democrats? We just keep losing this election over and over.

Gramm-it, No!

Molly Ivins' column this week about the possibility that Phil Gramm might get named Secretary of the Treasury got me thinking about the Ashcroft Rule: "Old politicians never die, even when they lose to the dead." (You know, politicians are sort of like major league baseball managers--as long as you've been one once you will be considered for every job opening henceforth, no matter your record. Call it the Jeff Torborg Rule.)

You'd think that no one could seriously consider Gramm for anything beyond dogcatcher (maybe not even that--I like dogs), because, among all his other faults, he snuck the deregulation of energy futures into an omnibus spending bill, thereby greasing the rails for the worst excesses of Enron (who so very coincidentally was one of his major campaign contributors). But he is from Texas, so that's probably good enough for Bush, who likes Kenny-Boy Lay and his money enough, too.

Still, do a quick Google on Gramm and see what you can dig up. My favorites come from an Austin Chronicle story when he retired from the Senate:

Consider his memorable attacks on social services, and on the poor themselves: 'This is the only country in the world where all the poor people are fat.' Remember his assaults on Social Security, and his tender justification for eliminating minimum benefits for the elderly: 'They are 80-year-olds. Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them.' Contemplate his (successful) response to health care and insurance reform: 'We have to blow up this train and the rails and trestle and kill everyone on board.'

Just the sort of compassionate conservative to oversee our financial policy and the further weakening of the dollar.

It's Primitive as Can Be

Part of being early-middle-aged is the joy of falling asleep on the couch in the evening. With the remote in hand. Amy says I can even channel surf while asleep. Last evening, I made my own odd tv program, flipping, snoozing, dreaming up connections. Emeril cooked his goose. Two new casts played at Gilligan's Island, thereby, at last, bringing the lamest of sitcoms together with reality programming for classic television from which no viewer gets to be a survivor. Poor Rachel "Stacy's Mom" Hunter and Nicole Eggert and some millionaires don't have enough to eat but it's ok because their staged hunger means they are on television. I awake again to an LA news broadcast covering the recent cold snap and the crowding at homeless shelters. One person getting ready to bed down says, "On the construction site where I work, even with two pairs of gloves my hands are so cold."
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