Monday, January 31, 2005


Happy Birthday Philip Glass
Happy happy happy happy
birthday birthday birthday birthday
Happy Birthday Philip Glass
happ-ity happ-ity happ-ity happ-ity happ-ity

(Conceptual humor on this blog sponsored by Campbell Soup--"We take no responsiblity for Warhol or any art after 1950--all our soup was made by then, anyway.")

Privatization on Parade

The always eye-opening Josh Marshall has posted a PDF of the Saving Social Security playbook that the Republicans developed. It's fascinating to peruse, from the very perceptive heading "Democrats and Liberals on Social Security" (they know there's a difference!) to the tips on "messaging techniques" ( a little more to the right...closer to the shoulder...ahh).

One favorite tip for right wingers trying to end Social Security as we know it:

“Personalization” not “privatization”: Personalization suggests increased personal ownership and control. Privatization connotes the total corporate takeover of Social Security; this is inaccurate and thoroughly turns off listeners, who are very concerned about corporate wrongdoing.

Note that although listeners are turned off by corporate wrongdoing, the corporations doing wrong are our friends and biggest financial supporters. Please tread a fine line here. Don't try to remind them how well retirement turned out for the folks at Enron.

Besides, people like the personals: "MWF seeks mutual fund for possible LTR and walks on the beach. No playing with my annuity unless you mean business." See, Social Security reform can be downright sexy.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Consonant Craving

New York Mets acquire 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and cash from Boston Red Sox for 1B Ian Bladergroen.

Go Mets! They win the trade by a vowel (they won't even have to use the cash to buy one).

Eyes Wide Shut

Dog Blog Friday: The greyhound dilemma: tear about the backyard, nap on the couch, tear about the backyard, nap on the couch. Mookie's elegant solution: dream about running while sleeping on something comfy. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I Like Ice

So I've been busy trying to negotiate an end to the NHL lockout. I really don't know anything about hockey, can't even explain what "icing" is, or even why you should be penalized for something that is so tasty on a cake. But after over 700 missed games (c'mon, they were missed by someone)(Canadian are too someones), the owners and union decided they needed a fresh perspective. And no one's fresher than me.

My suggestion was for the league to play all their games outdoors. Don't laugh--they played one outside back in November 2003. In Edmonton. At night. It was a teeth-rattling, scrotum-tightening -1°F at game time. The good news is that hockey players don't have teeth. The bad news was discovered by the players' wives, which led to the briefly popular joke in Alberta, "Is that a popsicle, or are you just cross-checking me outdoors, eh?"

How would playing outdoors help end the owner-woes (it's not labor woes--the players got locked out)? Well, I'm not sure, but it sounds ridiculous enough to be fun. And besides, you want to see those drunk on Molson's and donuts fans lined up with their shirts off and O-I-L-E-R-S written across their naked chests. After the game, when washing off the paint, it's likely their nipples would just shatter.

In the meantime get in your Zamboni and get to where the ice is for cocktails, the way God meant it to be (you do know that in the original draft of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, God is handing Adam a martini; God rested on the seventh day with one mean hangover).

Agen-duh? My Ass

"Nothing is more threatening to the foundation of our country than the radical homosexual agenda and its assault on marriage and the family," said Sadie Fields, president of the Georgia Christian Coalition. (quote from Village Voice)

Oh, really? Let's go out on a limb and assume that the Constitution is the foundation of our country. Which part should we test to see how much it's at risk thanks to the perfidious radical homosexual agenda? (I'm guessing that Fields uses "radical" for emphasis, and not to distinguish 2 separate homosexual agendas, like a Lieberman-wing versus a Boxer-wing of Democrats, say.)

Here's the Preamble, if you don't still recall it from when they made you memorize it in fifth grade:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

OK, so Fields might have us on that "people of the United States" phrase, given our Founding Fathers thought some of us were 60% people and all of us were men (at least for voting). Let's risk she might agree people=homo sapiens, if that doesn't give her probably anti-Darwinist brain the willies.

"A more perfect union." Hmm, that's about striving for improvement, and anyone can do that, supposed sinners even moreso. Seems we're OK here. As long as her mind doesn't immediately run to sexual union, and my money is that it's butt-sex that has most Christians freaked-out about gays, anyway. After all, in Georgia you're only supposed to do that to barnyard animals or Ned Beatty.

"Establish justice." Homosexuals seems pretty just to me, even if some can be horribly cutting about breeders' fashion sense.

"Insure domestic tranquility." Fields might be onto something here. After all, it's the very existence of homosexuals that lead non-homosexuals to beat them up. But I'm going to say that gay-bashers might decide to beat up someone else if homosexuals weren't around.

"Promote the general welfare." Oh-so liberal Bill Clinton was the one who "changed welfare as we know it." Bill Clinton is not gay. Therefore all gays promote welfare.

"Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves...." And who cares more for the liberty to just be left alone than gay people?

"...and our posterity." Unless Fields really assumes gays want everyone to be gay (and then how special would that be?), and thereby merely play with posteriors so there can be no posterity, she doesn't have a leg to stand on here.

"Ordain." Where better than the Catholic priesthood to shelter homosexuals? C'mon, Sadie. (Of course, as a leader of the Georgia Christian Coalition, she probably rates Catholics somewhere between library-users and homosexuals.)

So, add it all up, even without running through the Bill of Rights (yes, there are more than that second one), it seems that homosexuals are very little threat to the Constitution, the foundation of our country. The defense rests its posterity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Send in the Clowns

Has-been impressionist Rich Little, proving perhaps that he should go by the stage name Dick Little, or at the least Little Brains, emceed one of the Inaugural Balls. (Sorry for the redundancy of "has-been impressionist." Is there a lamer show biz creation? "Look, I can be almost like some other personality that really isn't important, either!") And according to the Washington Post he cracked up the crowd with this witty repartee, while imitating Ronald Reagan:

"You know, somebody asked me, 'Do you think the war on poverty is over?' I said, 'Yes, the poor lost.' "

That's why the Republicans win, folks. They know the poor are funny.

Love Vigilantes

There's an infamous New Order show from back in the 1980s when the band, which was due on stage at 8 pm, didn't come on until close to 1 am. Upon taking the stage, a clearly drunken Peter Hook grabs the mic and says, "You paid for it, you waited for it, and now you're fucked." Needless to say, it wasn't a stellar performance.

That's America under Bush, term two, I'm afraid.

In that Reuters article I linked to in the last entry, we have this line:

Bush, after the vote, said Rice will be "a great secretary of state ... I'm honored to be working with her. And I look forward to spreading freedom and peace."

Yes, he said still somehow thinks his war is spreading peace, even as we have this headline around the internets: "Deadliest day for U.S. in Iraq war." The CNN article gets to this sad, sad line, "Wednesday's incidents brought the U.S. death toll in the war to 1,418."

Meanwhile, be sure to go back to the homepage of CNN to see how that bastion of the so-called liberal media is reporting today's news. Sure, they've posted the story about the deadliest day in Iraq, but the lead is about the train crash in Glendale. Even Fox News (I refuse to link, sorry) gives the two stories equivalent size play. The CNN editors are probably depressed that Scott Peterson didn't have something to do with it. (Not to mention they have video of the train crash, which you can see, too, if you purchase their premium content for all the best news-porn.)


Of course Condoleeza Rice just got the big thumb's up from the Senate, but the 85-13 vote is the closest vote ever for confirming a new Secretary of State. Reuters reports:

Despite her comfortable margin, Rice drew more opposition than any secretary of state in recent history. The only other recent secretaries of state to draw significant opposition were Henry Kissinger with seven no votes in 1973 and Alexander Haig with six no votes in 1981, according to the Senate Historian.

Now that's what you call a great step forward for Affirmative Action. Getting pushed to the head of the Kissinger and Haig class--Bush and Rice certainly have the right to be proud.

Even though I doubt we'll ever see Christopher Hitchens pen The Trial of Condoleeza Rice.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fear Is a Man's Best Freedom

Why is it so easy to feel Bush rang as hollow and broken as the Liberty Bell when he went on and on about freedom with no context attached in his Inauguration speech? Let's run through four consecutive stories on NPR's All Thing Considered on Monday and discover exactly what freedoms we do have:

Story 1
Guantanamo Detainees Attempted Mass Suicide in 2003
"The U.S. military confirms that 23 terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay attempted a mass suicide in 2003. The detainees tried to hang or strangle themselves between Aug. 18 and Aug. 26 that year."

Our Freedom #1
When detained without charges and without hopes of a real trial, we are allowed to attempt suicide.

Do note that the Southern Military Command will then say "23 detainees demonstrated self-injurious behavior in a coordinated effort to disrupt camp operations and challenge a new group of security guards from the just-completed unit rotation." They will not say people despair. After all, those rounded-up are so guilty they will even try to kill themselves to cause problems for the rest of us. (Iknow I know--suicide bombers are terrorists. But they usually aren't jailed.)

Story 2
Supreme Court Upholds Dog Sniffs at Traffic Stops
"The Supreme Court rules that police may have drug-sniffing dogs check out motorists stopped for traffic offenses, even if police have no reason to suspect the driver is transporting drugs."

Freedom #2
You are free to prove to us you don't do drugs and never have had any drugs in your car. You are also free to carry no money, or a wallet that ever contained money. After all, some studies have shown that up to 80% of all U.S. currency contains traces of drugs.

Story 3
School Counselors Grapple with Military Recruitment
It turns out that the much heralded, much underfunded No Child Left Behind Act features a provision requiring public secondary schools to provide military recruiters not only with access to facilities, but also with contact information for every student, including names, addresses and phone numbers--or face a cutoff of all federal aid.

Freedom 3
You are free to get up to a high school education. We are free to get you to sign up and go to Iraq before you know any better.

Story 4
Pentagon Moves In on CIA Territory
Actually an editorial by Daniel Schorr commenting on the revelation that the Pentagon has deployed its own battlefield intelligence teams for tasks normally handled by the CIA, noting that this schism conflicts with the Sept. 11 Commission's recommendation for greater unification of intelligence operations.

Freedom 4
You are free to watch Donald Rumsfeld and Porter Goss battle out whose got the bigger swinging dick. You are free to die when different agencies don't communicate and thereby fail to prevent terorrist attacks. You are free to cry, privately in your homes, when the U.S. attacks Iran, hoping that a losing war on a new front will distract folks from the mess in Iraq.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Not Enough Shroom to Swing a Cat

You really just have to check out this story for yourselves. I'm beginning to think wire service editors are desperately trying to keep delivering blogger fodder with a headline like this one. I mean, can Josuat-Verges be sure it was 35 days, or did time just expand?

Note he says he didn't eat the mushrooms. (snicker snicker)

And as a former member of the American Federation of Teachers, I proudly point out the positive influence teachers' unions can have. They save lives.

You Think the Whole Jesus Is Your Oyster?

We've moved beyond the Grilled Cheese Virgin Mary, folks. Now we're up to the Lord of Bivalves, according to this report from Switzerland (and where do the oysters come from in a land-locked country? unless they are heavenly oysters):

After the revelation of a grilled sandwich allegedly bearing an image of the Virgin Mary in Florida last year, a bar manager in Switzerland says he is ready to sell a Christ-like oyster shell.

The owner told a newspaper: "This piece is unique. It is the work of nature. It is neither grilled nor cooked. I shall try my luck over the Internet."

Indeed, oysters are best raw. And it is easiest to get lucky over the Internet. The article also claims the man ate the oyster flesh, and if what they say is true about oysters as aphrodisiacs, and it really is a Jesus oyster and therefore omnipotent, Matteo Brandi, who runs a bar in the Swiss village of Roche, better clear his social calendar for the next 100 years or so.

Ballots Over Baghdad

You have to think the U.S., I mean, the Iraqi Provisional Government, is going to regret planning election day on the bye-week prior to the Super Bowl. (One can assume they picked a Sunday for elections because they thought Iraqis would just vote while at church. I mean, isn't Ann Coulter over there converting them all to Christianity?) If they just pushed things back a week, then America would be too stupified by bad beer, chips and dip and the premieres of colossally expensive and stupid new commercials to be concerned about any violence beyond that taking place in Jacksonville.

For just now we get this comment from Madeleine Haeringer, a producer for MSNBC who was on two media flights from Jordan to Baghdad that had to return to Amman:

All of Iraq right now, even some of the most populated areas, are unsafe and considered too dangerous to vote.

She then goes on to question if we can ever find out what will happen Sunday:

How the media is going to get the real story of the Iraqi elections; it is going to be very difficult to cover. The security within the country is going to be very tight, the polling stations are only being revealed at the last moment, they are shutting down roads around the polling stations, they are taking a lot of security measures such as cutting off cell phones. It’s very difficult to get around Baghdad and Iraq now and it’s going to be even more so during the election. It’s going to be very challenging to get a very accurate overview of how the elections are going.

The good news is that Iraqis have been told not to put slips of paper that say "Press" in their headwear, so they will get through safely to vote. The bad news is that somewhere deep in the basement of the West Wing, Karl Rove and Co. are already creating an Iraqi Daily News that will make whatever happens seem like an election that Ohioans could only dream about having someday.

Friday, January 21, 2005

As Skewed as the News

Media Matters has the scoop on our so-called liberal media. They watched the coverage of the coronation/homage to freedom as a non-contextualized idea fest yesterday on CNN, FOX and MSNBC and tallied the political leanings of the guest commentators. The Republicans surely got a mandate here, winning 42-10.

That the Republicans dominate cable, with FOX leading the way, is no big surprise. But checking the list of guests does lead to some questions. For in addition to the usual slimy suspects like Dick, er, Rick Santorum and David “Axis of Weasels” Frum, there are Don King, Tony Orlando and Tommy Lasorda.

Don King had to be there as Armstrong Williams’ contract expired and King is the only black person who will say nice things about Bush who has never held a Cabinet position (and with Colin Powell contemplating 7-figure book deals, Powell might not be nice for long).

Tony Orlando must have had an off night from giving retirees without enough money to get all the way to Vegas their cheap thrills in Branson.

But Tommy Lasorda? You want to know what a good Sinatra album is, you ask Lasorda. You want to know the best pasta joint in LA, you ask Lasorda. You want to know how to get bowled over at an All-Star Game like a defective Weeble, you ask Lasorda.

But if you want to know something about politics, don’t ask any baseball player, manager, icon, young-arm shredder. And if you really have to, go for some balance and bring on Carlos Delgado, so he can say why he won’t be on the field for the milked-to-death “God Bless America” seventh-inning stretch moment. Here’s what Delgado has said about that:

It's a very terrible thing that happened on Sept. 11. It's (also) a terrible thing that happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war.

But I think it's the stupidest war ever. Who are you fighting against? You're just getting ambushed now. We have more people dead now after the war than during the war. I don't support what they do. It's just stupid.

I’m hoping the Mets sign him just for that.

Trip the Dog Fan-tastic

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel waits for the royalty checks to come in for that pillow he posed for. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 20, 2005

One Morning I Shot a Wild Hog in My Pajamas

I figured I needed to go find things more ridiculous than the events going on in Washington today. And thanks to the internets, I came upon this from the Australian Herald Sun:

Australian game hunters are logging on to a website that invites its users to shoot live animals with the click of a mouse....Video cameras will be connected to rifles with sensors that can be controlled by computer users anywhere in the world. The rifle range overlooks a reserve where deer, antelope and wild hogs roam. Paying members will be able to take aim, shoot, then ship their kill to their home, stuffed and mounted as a trophy.

It's truly wonderful to discover as you read the piece that this brilliance was created by a Texan.

The article goes on to say:

Rod Drew, of Field and Game Australia [editor's note: "Australia’s leading volunteer organisation in Wetland Conservation, Hunting and Shotgun Target Shooting," in case you didn't know, and isn't that clever how the hide the bad news in the middle], said the website was known within the shooting fraternity but he would not endorse it.

"That's not what the hunting experience is about," he said. "It's about understanding the outdoors, the species and its habitat."

And then, of course, blowing said species out of its habitat with as much firepower as possible.

One can only imagine it's merely a matter of time, especially with Cal-ee-fornya leading the execution hit parade (and wasn't killing prisoners high on W.'s resume from his governator days?), that some enterprising, ever-in-the-red state opts to let people pay to kill via website those on its Death Row. Heck, why not even work in a corporate sponsor--"Fry a Criminal from Fry's Day! All it takes is a couple thousand dollars, a well-developed mouse finger and a dream!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Natural's Not In It

It was January 1981 and I boarded the bus from Baltimore to D.C. and didn't know any better. Just 17, and a college freshman (you can probably fill in the rest). But we were headed for the Inauguration, just to be there, as witnesses, not even protesters.

Not that we got near anything. We had heard on the radio about the hostages in Iran getting freed, but our minds were as far away from October Surprise theories as we were from the action. Way down the Mall, we could see the Capitol and could imagine what was going on, but we were so close/so far and it seemed mostly unreal. Soon, everyone was leaving, a kind of exodus like one I might imagine a disaster might cause. We tried to cross the Mall, thinking that was our best way out, but mounted police, their helmet's visors drawn so they were faceless, simply pranced their very high horses in front of us. What a powerful silent No.

I didn't know enough to be political yet. I did know I had a huge crush on the woman I went to DC with, and even bought her a NOW bumper-sticker as a way of flirting. Just a week or so prior I opted not to go with her and others to see the Gang of Four in D.C. (a band at the time I liked more to shock others than to get), and I didn't miss this chance. She would be my inaugural college love several months later, when I managed to steal her away from a friend, who the night of the election ran about campus in a straightjacket as a joke about the world gone mad.

Thus dawned the Age of Reagan.

Save It for Later

It seems even if he manages to change the Constitution just for him, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will never make it as a true blue (uh, red?) Republican. I mean, he executes the mentally impaired just like the bane of every Republican's existence, Bill Clinton.

Oh, and don't tell me Clinton wasn't really liberal. (I know that.) (I am also sad a lot.)

This Humor Is a Little Dry

If you've never looked at Transaction Oracle, here's why you should--this great joke about the Devil Rays' (who else's?) signing of Roberto Alomar.

Nothing can kill a Hall of Fame career like coming to the Mets. Right, Mr. Piazza?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Aaron-ing Things Out

Catching up on Sunday's LA Times, I find what is at-first a surprisingly astute article by the ever-questionable Bill Plaschke (who so loves ragging on Paul DePodesta because he's young and uses a computer), holding up Hank Aaron as the hero he is. After all, Aaron got thousands of hate mail letters when he broke Ruth's record. Imagine thinking you're so angry that an African-American man is going to break Ruth's record that you: 1) get pen, 2) get paper, 3) sit down, 4) write a letter fulminating with your hatred, 5) seal the letter in an envelope, 6) figure out Aaron's address, 7) mail the letter. How do you get through all the steps and not realize you're an ass? I mean, it was 1974!

So, it's fine Plaschke is on Aaron's side.

But, Plaschke being Plaschke, has to use Aaron to bludgeon Barry Bonds. He captures a vignette when Aaron is autographing photos from his playing days for kids. And Plaschke points out that the Aaron in the photos has no muscles. (Of course he should say no over-defined muscles, for a non-muscular 42-year-old wouldn't still be playing, let alone adding to his Major League record. And Aaron played in the days before much weight-training, too.)

Then Plaschke writes: "Bonds is all edges, tight smile, sharp movements, a bundle of bulges that seem pereptually on the verge of rage."

Let's take this accusation masked as description one phrase at a time. It seems impossible for one to be both "all edges" and a "bundle of bulges." As for the "tight smile," everyone wants to picture Bonds as joyless, and if he remains without a World Series ring, that image might stick, but when he does light up, he lights up--think of some of those post-game press conferences during his 73-homer season when he was holding one of his children. The "sharp movements" phrase is just silly--what's smoother and quicker than that swing of his?

Finally, there's "perpetually on the verge of rage." Well, Bonds might be on the verge of rage answering questions from Hack-schke in the clubhouse, but that doesn't mean he has a bad temper, that means he has good sense. Seriously, all Plaschke wants to do is turn him into a steroid-driven monster. But where are the incidents in Bonds' career like those in Albert Belle's or Milton Bradley's? There are none. Randy Johnson has done worse things before even throwing a pitch for the Yanks.

Somebody at the Times needs to tell Plaschke to stop trying to scare the children.

And, of course, as we leave MLK Day weekend (thank god no major department chain holds a white sale), it is possible that Plaschke has just come up with one more variation on the good-black man, bad-black man scenario. Aaron gets to be MLK, Bonds get to be Malcolm X. And to show how petty a sports reporter can be, the reason the two get categorized this way it simple: one will speak to Plaschke and one won't.

Mad I'm Not One to Blog in the Fog

Sorry for the dearth of posts, but I just got back from a long weekend in San Francisco (and boy are my jokes tired).

Plus I caught a cold, because it's just not vacation time if you're fully healthy.

Friday, January 14, 2005

High Dogs and Green Grass

For Dog Blog Friday: These are sighthounds who cannot be seen. Sort of. Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Beat on the Bart

The first Simpsons episode aired 15 years ago this Friday. That’s a year before the first time we went after Iraq. The term World Wide Web was as yet a few months from being coined. A Bush was president. I guess the more things change….

You do have to hand it to Matt Groening (and hand it and hand it—what a terrifically rich man he must be by now) and company, for the show still works after all these years. Sure, they’ve had to focus on Moe and Apu and secondary characters a bit too much, but unlike most cultural touchstones that tend to tank after too many years (think Saturday Night Live or the Rolling Stones or Michael Jackson since he’s had the number 5 after his name or the sad non-career of Mickey Rourke past Diner or Tucker Carlson's new MSNBC show--I know it hasn't aired yet, I just wanted to be the first), The Simpsons can still be funny and get in a satirical lick or two, and even manages to bite the Fox hand that feeds.

Besides, Homer gave me a motto: “Trying is just the first step to failure.”

So pop a Duff this weekend to a family that never gets old.

Have You Voted for Me for Anything in the Past 12 Hours?

Stormin' Norman Mailer's got nothing on me--with this blog thing, everything can be an advertisement for myself. In addition to all the other asks I've made, I need your help becoming a food critic. Go tell the good people at Edhat how much you like my review. Keep me from being voted out of the lunchroom!

And, I'm also thinking I need to be voted Discovery Channel and AOL's "Greatest American." I mean, if I do the test Sarah Vowell has come up with--"are there piles of skulls?"--I have to admit even my worst mistake has been many a bone short of a Pol Pot. Besides, you know some people are voting for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush right now. A silly vote for me won't sully your conscience, at least.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Pimp My Hide

Not only is it an Internet award, it's named after a baseball player. I gotta have one. You have to help.

Vote for I'm Not One to Blog, But... over at Wampum. Now I'm nominated in two Koufax Awards categories (I feel like Meryl Streep in a good year, but who am I kidding, I'm a butcher with accents):

Best New Blog (although I was hoping for Best Borrowed and Blue Blog)

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition (although I have been proud that since the holidays most people have failed to recognize that I'm wider)

Your vote is greatly appreciated. I'd do the same for you. It will only take you a few moments. Every time you vote, an angel gets his wings.

Do you feel guilty yet?

We Gathered Wool, Not Intelligence

Led by Charles P. Blahous, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the U.S. force that claimed Social Security was sure to fail -- cited by President Bush as justification for privatization of Social Security and billions more dollars added to the national debt -- has admitted that social security was actually a good thing, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

"I felt like we would find that the cost of keeping Social Security solvent today would be $10.4 trillion ... like many -- many here in the United States, many around the world," Bush told ABC's Barbara Walters, according to excerpts from an interview airing on Friday. "After all, that's what I've been telling them to think."

Bush said "we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering," and that the scuttling of the program that helped kept many elderly from poverty was "absolutely" worth it.

(Sort of from Reuters. From the future.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Whiff of BO

It's pretty fascinating to read the final 2004 Domestic Box Office reports and pretend they tell us something about our nation. Mel Gibson's splatter movie came in third, behind Shrek 2 and Spider-Man 2, which probably means theaters will be jam-packed for Jesus: The Second Coming. Fahrenheit 9/11 might have captured a zeitgeist, but we all know Germany is old Europe. Michael Moore's film was only the 16th most popular for the year, even behind an amnesiac Drew Barrymore and the Adam Sandler that loves her (note they passed on the title 50 One Nighters--there is still some restraint in this world)(if not on this blog).

Somehow the recent People's Choice Awards didn't simply name the box office champ the people's choice. As you probably heard, both Gibson and Moore got awards, but afterward only one of them said this: "What the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."

Give you two guesses to figure out who, and here's a clue: his dad moved the family from the U.S. so his sons wouldn't get drafted and shipped to Vietnam. (Or so one rumor goes.)

Rock Did Roll

Today the Disney Corporation announced it was buying land near Malibu to open a new Disneyland. To celebrate the event, Imagineers have already installed the Indiana Jones ride on Topanga Canyon Road. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

Beyond the Power of Your Cloud

Every X year out of 10 in Southern California, we get the rain that failed to fall every non-X year. What's more, X year lasts about a week. That's the wet where we're living in now.

Without a doubt I'll be getting check-in calls from both my divorced parents in New Jersey. I used to think it was because California vastness confounds East Coast congestion, and they were Rand McNally-challenged, befuddled by our host of Sans and Santas. But I've come to realize there's a different distance they're worried about, and so we talk in code, whether or not the weather has really affected me at all.

Porn Yesterday

Following this link, from an as usual spot-on Tbogg commentary, this time about a Congressman who has his ideas about evolution screwy (sorry to hear about your mom, Tbogg), I wound up fascinated by the ad from American Family Filter (rejected logo: that sucking sound is us as we skim your moral scum), and the Mom saying, "Pornography will NOT be on our computer again."

If you follow the link you find out why--it seems studies show that it has become too easy for teenage boys to get pornography. Thanks to the internets, no fifteen-year-old has to develop the wiles to sneak dad's Playboy out of the closet and back without getting caught or leaving the pages sticky. No longer does a resourceful teen have to develop the gall to try and buy some porn mag at the local Snack 'n' Whack Shop, hoping that the no more than a year-older counter-worker doesn't bust his chops for ID or that some mom from the church group won't pop in to buy her Weekly World News and some beef jerky, only to point said-jerky at soon to be jerking boy and say, "Wait till you mother finds out."

I mean, when I was growing up I had to walk five miles uphill in the snow both ways to the Quickie Mart to buy a Playboy, shaking with fear the whole way, knowing I was going to end up in hell wth the priest who touched other boys from our parish. Kids these days....

Pile Like an Egyptian

In today's London Times (link via Tom Tomorrow):

A lawyer defending Specialist Charles Graner, who is accused of being a ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, argued that piling naked prisoners in pyramids was a valid form of prisoner control.

"Don’t cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" said Guy Womack, Sergeant Graner’s lawyer, in opening arguments to the ten-member military jury at the reservist’s court martial.

It's so not torture...I mean, making them do it naked means they even have more toe- and finger-holds!

Mississippi (The Joke)

Jon Stewart is in hot water according to Yahoo and the AP: "Library officials in two southern Mississippi counties have banned Jon Stewart's best-selling America (The Book) over the satirical textbook's nude depictions of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices."

Color me surprised--I didn't know they had libraries in Mississippi.

Or is it that there's no surprise because of color--after all, the photo of Clarence Thomas isn't how Mississippians like to see black men hung.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

That's Just Perfect

Generally I don't get off on listening to a perfect voice in music, anymore than I spend too much time looking directly into the sun. Even the female voices I like the best, however bell-toned, artlessly angelic, or sweetly sexy, hide some fatal flaw (which, of course, only makes them more lovely for they need to be loved):

Exhibit A: Sally Timms, with a voice that always hints at something dissolute (too much ache, not enough care, unwilling to care to ache that much).

Exhibit B: Syd Straw, who gets gets caught repeating phrases, a compulsive-obsessive moment many of her songs come to, as if singing a phrase just right might bring the pieces of a love, a life back together. Her voice worries over words till they’re worn down, almost free of meaning, shiny jewels, beauty that’s arrived too late on the scene.

Exhibit C: Neko Case, who flits between genres as a way to be free, all-too-willing to let the discovery be something beyond what her "mere" voice can bring to a cut--what a great unknown Shangri-La's tune, how we forgot Loretta Lynn rocked before she met Jack White, who knew that Case herself would become such a good songwriter?

So tonight I saw k.d. lang live for the first time. Blinded by the voice, I was. On record she tends to be too much for me--or should I say not enough, for perfection is a kind of emptiness--, but with her goofy dance moves and clever asides, live she's something else. And you see that voice come out of her. It's the very thing lost on our lip-synching divas, nowadays, and some words of advice, Ashlee, Lindsay: if you’re going to lip-synch, you might as well find someone more talented to sing for you in the first place.

Bent half over to reach low for a note on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," that old war horse that's survived Cohen himself, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, and even Scrubs using the John Cale version as unrelenting emotional blackmail (how else is a silly sitcom going make you cry?), lang unearthed something. She connected with the stage, and the wet California ground and rumbling shocks ran back to Canada or wherever Cohen keeps himself these days. If there's such a thing as owning a song, it was her throw away the key moment. Not that any of us can be locked there, for memory is more fragile than voice, and even now just mere hours after, I'm stuck making things up, adding words to words when I should be trying simply to sound.

I'm Not One to Beg, But...

Sure you could be like everyone else and vote for James Wolcott, but why not dare to be different? After all, it's only American to refuse to vote for the best candidate.

If I get 5 votes, I hear someone will do a free line drawing of me, too.

So please vote for me for Best New Blog over at Wampum.

(And this is just the beginning of a wild week of self-promotion. How did people get anywhere before the Internet?)

Friday, January 07, 2005

As Good As Goldman

Generally I would compare shilling for anything Yankee-esque right up there with vasectomy via weedwhacker--ugly pain about the most painful of subjects. But Steven Goldman is such a witty writer, so able to make wrong-angled connections seem so right, that I can't help but point you to his The Pinstriped Blog.

After all, my allegiances to writing over-rule my allegiance to sports teams. I mean, rumor has it that James Joyce didn't even like baseball, despite his great collection The Doubleners. (Maybe that joke's funnier in the original Gaelic?)

Alberto VO5 -- Greasy AG Stuff

Look I'm not a lawyer, and I never played one on TV. I really don't even watch all the legal shows on TV. But the Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings seem like law-gone-a-whack to me. There's a terrific piece on Slate by Chris Suellentrop you should read, but in the meantime, let's examine the heart of Gonzales' defense in the hot seat: he repeatedly claimed he couldn't discuss the authorization of torture, since the U.S. didn't do torture, so therefore the questions were hypothetical.

1A) Didn't this guy go to law school? Aren't hypotheticals how they teach the law in law school? Why does he act like a hypothetical is a spitting cobra, then? A Google search on "hypotheticals and the law" turns up over 45,000 entries, mostly from exercises from law schools. Maybe someone needs to vet Gonzales more closely and make sure he didn't get his degree from the same institution from which poet Quincy Troupe and football coach George O'Leary graduated.

1B) Oh, yeah, Gonzales does the vetting. When asked about the Bernie Kerik two-do, as it were, he first said, "It was an announcement of an intent to nominate," not a nomination. That's sort of like saying "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." Then Gonzales remembered an even better way out--since Kerik was no longer a proto-nominee, he didn't have to act like he ever was a nominee. Bernie Kerik is hypothetical! (We wish.)

2) The U.S. doesn't torture people? Excuse me but there are pictures, Al! How much evidence do you need?

3) And then there's the part that made it clear why Gonzales was nominated as part of this Cabinet whose main qualification is fealty: "This president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances, and therefore that portion of the opinion was unnecessary and was the reason that we asked that that portion be withdrawn."

Or, if W. says it, it is. Perhaps that's why God speaks through Bush, so Bush can finish the job of creation. You shudder first.

Waiting for the End of the Dog

For Dog Blog Friday (a week late): Here's hoping you had a beautiful end to 2004! Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Here's Looking at Myself, Twin

How fitting that it's a palindromic 131 years since the death of Chang and Eng, the twosome that put the Siamese into Siamese Twins. Truly duo-nique (think about it) characters, these two were brought from their village along the Mekong River to America by their manager Abel Coffin (read: Col. Tom Parker of the 19th century, with a bit of slave trader thrown in) after he discovered them swimming, no doubt doing the double-breast stroke, and thereby also starting a men's fashion craze. After retiring from showbusiness, they became North Carolina farmers and looked for wives, since the farmer has to take a wife, even if one has to be so close to one's in-laws that one probably ends up breaking a few laws. That is, if incest is against the law in the South. (To this day we know that voting for an intelligent being for president is against the law in the South.) Imagine the reality show they might have starred in if TV were invented--"Double Date, and How!" or "My Skinny Obnoxious Twin" or "I Know You Are, But What Si-Am?"

So, they did get married, to sisters (this is twisted, isn't it)(no not Dee Snyder, silly)--Chang married Adelaide Yates, and Eng married Sarah Anne. Over the next thirty-one years the brothers fathered a total of twenty-one children; it is rumored that Adelaide and Sarah thought "Chang and Eng" was Thai for "yummy." (You have to know the stupid tagline from Panda Express commercials to get that one.--the Editor)

The twins died within hours of each other. Chang went first, and Eng passed away supposedly of fright--the burial of Chang would have been rather unpleasant.

Beyond their legacy, the twins' fused liver remains, in the altogether most bizarre museum in the world, the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia. So their legacy livers on.

Don't be bilious, be like Chang the drinker of the two (for which Eng, liver-sharer, I'm sure was grateful), and find some friends to have a Happy Hour with tomorrow. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rotten to the

CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) will be honoring Karl Rove at its Martin Luther King dinner.

In other news, Al Sharpton will be the honoree at the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan "Between the Sheets" Soiree and the song stylings of John Ashcroft will grace the yearly ACLU dinner, this year themed "Let the Eagles Soar."

What's more, General Tommy Franks, former CIA Director George Tenet and former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer all will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

[a muffled voice can barely be heard off-blog]

No, you're kidding....I thought I was making shit up.

Pay No Attention to the Arte Behind the Orange Curtain

Neil deMause, over at the ever-brilliant Baseball Prospectus (alas, the story is on the subscription side of things) offers this nugget about the Rand McNally-challenged name change for the Angels, no longer tied to deMickey:

If "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" is a mouthful for English speakers (I fully expect Ralph Kiner to require hospitalization during at least one out-of-town score recap this season), the Spanish translation is an even bigger mess: Try saying "Los Angeles de Los Angeles del Anaheim" three times fast without breaking into a giggle fit.

Word has it that the French will simply translate the new name as "merde."

Bono-fide Drafts

Alternate U2 album titles:

How to Navigate a Rugby Scrum
I Could Lay Your Still Hot Mom
How to Dismantle Drang und Sturm

How to Sell Out to Apple with Aplomb
I Have Lunch with Kofi Annan

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Let's Take This Baby for a Spin

In an attempt at marketing synergy that will make the Fox folks look as lame as they are for giving the best World Series tickets to dweebs who star in their programs so they can then spot these demi-stars in the crowd, I will be making a rare radio appearance this Thursday to shill for my department's upcoming screenings of The End of the Century - The Story of the Ramones, among other events (Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Los Lobos, and maybe a sideways peek at Mission of Burma, since Roger Miller is coming with Alloy Orchestra).

Having given up radio in the summer of 1988 after seven glorious years of playing what I wanted, the public be damned (and, at times, Damned, when I wanted to be a sensible captain), I still long for it, at times, and what's more, even, still, awake from the occasional fevered dream that I can't cue up LPs in time and risk dreaded dead air. Yes, I DJed in the days when one played about as much vinyl as those shiny CDs.

Thanks to Ted Coe at KCSB for having me on during his air time. I've been in studios since, and they have computers now, not just hamsters churning in their wheels to power up the 10 watts.

And you can even listen on your computer, wherever you are, so here's the details:
Thursday, January 6
1-2 pm (Pacific)
KCSB webcast

If you're local, that frequency is 91.9 FM, left of the dial, as some group had it. Here's hoping I can avoid the following analogy-- George Now:Paul Westerberg::George Then:Replacements.

Some Algebra Down Argentine Way

So we tend to look down our noses at a country like Argentina, what with its collapsed economy and being in South America and all. But have you seen the stories about the Argentinean reaction to the nightclub fire in Buenos Aires, where 183 people died? Thousands have taken to the streets, calling for the mayor to step down, claiming he's ultimately the one at fault for not regulating nightclub safety. Here's one quote from one of those stories:

"How could so many young people have died?" asked a 51-year-old protester, Jose Fuentes. "This tragedy is the product of political corruption that looks the other way and lets the clubs function without meeting even minimum norms for security."

Now go change the number of dead from 183 to 1340. Replace the word "clubs" with "military vehicles."

Why don't we also switch the word "mayor" with the phrase "Secretary of Defense," while we're at it?

Monday, January 03, 2005

I'm Ready for My Close-up

At first I thought that this new magazine would be right up my alley, what with a muddler one of my prize Christmas presents. Then I checked it out, on line at least, and it wasn't as funny as I hoped. So maybe what they say about alcohol is true.

I'll just have to keep up my experiments and see for myself, I guess.

Food Fight!

I am hereby inviting all of you to come to lunch with me, at least through the magic of words and these newfangled "internets." I am one of 12 contestants trying to get a gig as an on-line restaurant reviewer. You can check out my initial entry over at by clicking on the link cleverly called "Lunch with George." If I win, I will lobby to change the name to Gorging with George, or perhaps G is for Gnaw.

At some point when it's time I hope you will go to the site and vote for me (I'll let you know when). And every time I have a free lunch--after all, words are cheap, but a good sandwich lasts till dinner--I will think of each one of you. Individually and collectively.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Waiter, There's a Horse Feather in My Duck Soup

So if anybody asks me what bowl game I watched yesterday (pause for you to ask), I'd reply:

"Huxley v. Darwin."

You see, since Christmas I am the lucky owner (thanks, Amy) of The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection. Save up or use your gift certificates but run out and buy it, or have a birthday soon and ask. It's probably too big to shoplift, and I wouldn't suggest such a thing anyway, unless you have a coat like Harpo's that holds candles lit at both ends and swords and fishes.

What will you get? Endless laughter in the form of The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers (the wonderful send-up of college life, mostly about sex and football, of course, that we watched Jan. 1) and Duck Soup.

If Groucho isn't the great American comic character of the 20th century, I don't know who is--fast-talking, odd-walking, so in love with his own voice it keeps talking after it does him any good; he is America, in a way. And as for the sublime silliness of Duck Soup, now it reads like prophecy. Bet even S.J. Perelman never saw a politican like George W. coming.
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