Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oh I Wish I Were an Oscar Winner Blogger...

Some not quite live blogging after the Oscars (if I blogged during the Oscars I might have ended up with pizza or Barbera on the computer keyboard):

Adam Durwitz gives mad props to his favorite Simpsons character Sideshow Bob. Nice hair, Adam.

Jeremy Irons dresses like the head waiter at a Russian restaurant (it's been said that if you leave your shirt untucked, it's easier to hide the spilled borscht stains on your pants).

Note to Sean Penn: the Hollywood Den of the Cub Scouts needs you. They're a stick short to make a fire, so if you could just take the one out of your ass....

Who says the movie industry is out of touch? Clint Eastwood refers to Warren Beatty in his acceptance speech--that's the most love the Left has got from the Right since Bush smooched Lieberman. Oh, wait, Lieberman is as left as Oscar nominated Best Songs are good music.

So was Beyonce supposed to sing the Motorcycle Diaries song, too, but when at the last moment they learned she doesn't know Spanish, they called up Antonio Banderas, and he came to the theater without time to wash his hair?

Thanks to the formula "the Oscar goes to..." they're are no losers tonight. Well, except Michael Medved. But he's a loser every night.

And it's flat-out not true that this show means we can now in good conscience advocate assisted suicide for Marty Scorsese's Oscar hopes. (A bit of advice for Scorsese: if you never won an award directing DeNiro, the only thing you get directing DiCaprio is a name with the same sort of structure. Find a grown-up to direct.)

Please note I got through of all this without including my favorite bad joke of the night: "I can't see how Jamie Foxx can lose tonight."

Friday, February 25, 2005

We'll, All of Us, Have Paris

Poor (did I just write that?) Paris Hilton. IMDB quotes her as saying the following about the recent hacking of her cell phone: "It's scary that someone out there can get into your private device."

And I thought the whole point of there being a Paris Hilton was for people to get into her private device.

You know, it's sad for the fish, when the bullet holes drain all the water out.

Oh Come On

Isn't this a delicious, well, you know what I mean, story? "Man Can Sue Woman For Sperm Theft Distress"

It's not true the judge found the case hard to swallow. And not to get too-Dave Barry, but Sperm Theft Distress would be a great name for a band.

There need to be more court rulings that have to claim things like a person "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff's sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences."

And just imagine orthodox sperm, complete with little yarmulkes. Just don't make them work on the sabbath!

I Left My Greyhounds in San Francisco Bay

For Dog Blog Friday: Even with the gorgeous pups in the foreground, this picture just wouldn't be the same with a viaduct behind them. Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Notoriously Spellbound

I can't wait to see Hitch--I usually don't like bio pics, but I really have to see Will Smith play the Master of Suspense.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wanna Blight a Bridge?

It's not really a big surprise that California is in trouble when its governor, the star of such cinematic classics as Jingle All the Way, Twins and Red Sonja, ends up in charge of aesthetic decisions. But it seems Arnold wants the new east section of the Bay Bridge--which has to be replaced to keep it from killing more people in the next earthquake--to be a simple, make that simply ugly, viaduct.

What's worse is even Democrats seem on-board the "freeway on stilts" express. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported:

What the bridge will look like, however, is taking a back seat to how much less it could cost to build, and how long changing the design might delay its opening.

Oakland mayor's opinion

In the late '90s, the charge for a signature span was led in part by Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. "When we rebuild the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, " he wrote in a 1998 Chronicle opinion piece, "we must create a spectacular structure that expresses the daring of human ingenuity and symbolizes the splendor of Oakland and the East Bay.''

And now?

Brown will settle for anything, "as long as it's something that will stand up in an earthquake,'' said his press secretary, Gil Duran. "It's not about style anymore; it's about substance. Haggling about a pretty bridge--that time is over.''

Then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was another loud voice against Caltrans' original "freeway on stilts" design. He and other politicians even got four cities to pass advisory measures calling for the span to be made strong and wide enough to allow for rail, advice Caltrans ignored.

San Francisco's current mayor, Gavin Newsom, has indicated little interest in the new span's design. Last week, he didn't return calls seeking comment.

Haggling? Haggling is what you do in a Monty Python skit. We're talking San Francisco here, folks. My guess is most people don't know that the phrase Golden Gate refers to the actual cut from the Bay to the Pacific--for most of the the U.S., probably the world, the Golden Gate is that picturesque bridge.

Bridges are never just transportation, they are metaphor, dream, humankind's ability to overcome air with big heavy things. For a long time. Imagine Florence without the Ponte Vecchio, London without Tower Bridge, the Tacoma Narrows without...oops, well, that just goes to show how important bridges are. When they fail, it's news for over 60 years.

To stress the myopia in Sacramento, it's important to hear what State Transportation Secretary (AKA Arnold appointee) Sunne Wright McPeak tells the Sacramento Bee: "The skyway allows one who is driving to see the beautiful vistas of the bay. You get gorgeous views. You still have the vistas."

If you're on the bridge.

But we don't think about the views from bridges, we think about how bridges add to the view. The view from the Golden Gate, a full suspension bridge, is just as lovely with some cables in the way, which even do some framing (which makes things "arty," which might be too girlie man for Arnold). But imagine there was merely a viaduct over Fort Point into Sausalito. It might as well be the highway off-ramp to nowhere.

The kicker, of course, is it's not even clear if switching bridge design plans now will save money or time, as the original design--a viaduct leading into a soaring, self-anchored suspension section close to Yerba Buena Island--is already in progress and a complete viaduct will mean sinking supports into the deepest part of the bay, a possible seismic and ecological risk.

Still, Schwarzenegger, both Browns, and Newsom really need to re-think this one. Public beauty matters or we will just keep getting politicians who are as debased as the world we must live in. That which is ennobling, challenging, the evidence of how artfully we can overcome challenges--it all gets pushed out of our lives as we get to accomplish little of value, buy much too much to make up for the utter pettiness of our lives and ways of making "livings," and turn to TV for conversation-fodder, comfort, companionship, and the cues as to what we must buy to get by.

Oh, so that's their plan....

Batteries Not Included

After the election I couldn’t quite laugh at, although I needed to laugh at something. Instead I just turned up the volume on Drive-By Truckers. I do feel blue, though, that I don’t get their NASCAR song.

And now there's this from Reuters via the CNN Money site (odd, but then not odd): "The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a constitutional challenge to an Alabama law that makes it a crime to sell sex toys. "

That's right, maybe Alabama is red in the face as its pink is dildon't.

I mean, Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court and the justices can't give a shout-out for masturbatory aids? If someone sells Bill O'Reilly a loofah in Mobile, can they go to jail?

And you have to love (but not love) this qualification: the law exempted sales of sexual devices "for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose." If you can't make up a good excuse with all those possibilities, you don't deserve to play with yourself in the first place (or the second place). I have to admit I'm stumped (no pun intended) what the law enforcement purpose of a vibrator might be. Although I am afraid folks at Abu Ghraib have ideas.

Put Your Smithers in a Dither

As you've probably heard, Patty from The Simpsons came out (!) on national TV (!!) on Sunday(!!!). She even tried to get married, but luckily her intended turned out to be a man pretending to be a lesbian, and so she didn't get married (geez, she almost married a man!).

Not surprisingly, the culture wars have seized this episode as battleground, for nothing proves our nation's moral fiber more than its cartoons. The usual suspects made the usual clucking, including L Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, who said: "At a time when the public mood is overwhelmingly against gay marriage, any show that promotes gay marriage is deliberately bucking the public mood."

He further said, "And I know the public mood because I own a public mood ring, and it never is a rainbow color. To be honest, I've never even seen it turn a saucy teal."

As for First Amendment protections of freedom of speech, Bozell claimed, "Sure the creators of The Simpsons have the right to advocate Godless, sinful unions. But the majority of this country also has the right to stand up for what's moral and find where these 'creative' people live and stone them. That's free speech, too."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I went to a rave and this damn war broke out.... The Guardian reports that "American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares."

Better yet, if you read to the bottom of the story you get to a description of the experiment, which claims, "The existing drug-assisted therapy sessions last up to eight hours, during music [sic] is played."

Let's sure hope it's the right music. Bobby Vinton on "E"=Empty.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sweeping Generalizations Are Decadent and Depraved

So even people I would usually agree with (James Wolcott, Steve Gilliard) are mis-using the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson. But to act as if Gonzo Journalism was just blogging without the internet is a huge misperception. You can only see Gonzo in the context of New Journalism, and yes that means one more exhumation of the 60s. But what Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese and Michael Herr and Ellen Willis and so many others accomplished was a breaking of the form of objectivity, or better, a realization that writing is never objective, as all writing is choice. So, if it's not un-angled, why not make the angle a part of the story? For Wolfe that became his easily parodied but poorly mimicked amphetamine style of caps and exclamation points, for Didion it became an obsession with the breakdown of the self (which is why her later writing is really better than her more acclaimed early writing--she's not so self-obsessed). For Thompson it became the sense that Big T Truth wasn't always found along the path of small t truth. When he writes about Fish Meat Village or the Brown Suburban Motel, you know of what he speaks, for he speaks American. Plus, he wanted to make us laugh, and I'd at least like to hold that American patois is rooted in humor, from Clemens and Mencken to Vowell and Sedaris.

The saddest part of the HST tale is that he's really been dead for years. The old rumor was he was one of 5 people who read the full Iran-Contra hearings report, but really his writing was over by The Great Shark Hunt, a great collection to start with if you need catching up (and if you haven't read him, you do need catching up). It became clearer and clearer that all the drug consumption you assumed he exaggerated he probably somehow did do.

Still, there's something like Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, that nails Nixon, Muskie and our sorry electoral state years before it got truly sorry. There's real genius in the way he makes things up to nail the things we only wish could be made up.

But we can't romance him too much, and I say this as someone who watercolored "Bad Craziness" over his dorm room door as a freshman in college. Yeah, there's no way that the voices in the wilderness ever make it into the Big Tent, but that's sort of true by definition, isn't it? And while it's true plenty of fiction is personal, for Steve Gilliard to blame it all on the writing workshop is to buy into one more cultural bugaboo as prominent and phoney as Hillary Clinton, World's Biggest Lefty. Yes, I did go to a writing workshop, but that's not the point. The point is that by Gilliard's claims, all fiction, to be valuable, must address world themes. If that's true, we need to dump petty personal fiction writers like Chekhov and the Joyce of Dubliners, just for a start, and I'm not ready to do that.

Not to mention that suggests that there aren't contemporary fiction writers hunting huge themes--what about Colson Whitehead and Paul Beatty, to name just two. And to suggest that fiction can really handle "politics" all that well. And to suggest that all nonfiction writers empowered by the initial rush of New Journalism give us sweeping vistas on the world's soul (then we'd have to throw all of the recent memoir craze into the trashbin, even the good stuff like Mary Karr and Nancy Mairs). And to suggest that the personal isn't the political, and do we really have to keep fighting that fight?

One of the saddest things is that Hunter will get most remembered for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which mostly gets read as a wild time just beyond the bounds of your average frat boy. Instead it's one of the highlights of the great American tradition of writing about Vegas far more interesting than Vegas itself--while Vegas busily copies all of the world in its harried parodies of Paris, New York, Venice, Charlton Heston's Ben-Hur's Caesar's Rome, writers did it one better, elevating it to a national mirror of our greedy dreams.

But ultimately there's one last thing--bloggers are no Hunter S. Thompsons. Keep hitting that next blog link on Blogger and you'll see 90% of what's there is journals made public, where all of you is Dear Diary and everyone's thrown away the key. Then one of the ads pops up. That's the real clue something is different. Thompson never struck it rich cause he never learned the art of the journalistic blow job, as it's so ungraciously put. Nope, he wanted to rename Aspen Fat City to kill all the marketing deals.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Mind Your Ps and Js

If you make a nothing into everything, you just might squeeze the big nothings out.

What do I mean, you ask? Well, get obsessed trying to become the lunch critic for a local website, when whoever "wins" the job will mostly be decided by which reviewer has the most friends vote for him or her (one more lesson, alas, in the ways democracy and meritocracy are antonyms). Not that the job is anything truly prime, just fun, and of course the pay is negligible as that's the only kind of thing I can ever do (I was a teacher once, for what I at least liked to call a living).

The granddaddy of these mountanious molehills, for me, is the Village Voice Pazz & Jop. P&J is a poll of the nation's rock critics, and I've been lucky enough to get to be a voter off and on for 15 years. But voting is one thing, getting quoted is absolutely another. For in addition to listing your favorite CDs and singles, you get to write comments about the year that was. And then you wait, and hope. This year 793 critics sent in their Top Tens, and only the poor music interns at the Voice know how many of us include jots and scribbles (bytes and bauds just doesn't have the same ring) that get sorted through.

Of course it becomes crucial for me to get quoted. It's not much more than a letter to the editor (and they do edit--rarely does a written comment make it unscathed to print), but it has to happen. Does it help me get a job, get access to bands, get CDs? Naw. But my feeble ego NEEDS.

Living out here in CA, I actually subscribe to the Voice, despite feeling bitter I pay for what is a free newspaper. Somehow like The Nation--and so I assume it's some inabilty for lefties to get their subscriptions to run on time, or maybe an insistence they morally can't, for that would be borderline fascist--the Voice arrives irregularly, despite being published weekly. I might get two issues within four days, then nothing for 8 days, then an issue arrives, cover torn, that is dated before the previous two that got shipped. It's Feb. 20, but this year's P&J, published in New York on Feb. 7, has yet to arrive.

But the check came yesterday. The Voice is kind enough to pay a minimal fee ($10--it's been $10 since 1989) per quote. My check was for $30. So I instantly hit the web and hunted myself down. (That I couldn't have done that beforehand attests to my weirdnesses and fears.) Not only do I get three quotes that you can go read in a section they entitled "Alien Nation," they even took a phrase from one of them to subhead the section. I am humbled and honored and not humble at all.

There's a kicker, of course, as I actually get quoted a fourth time. There's a section that appears only on the web, not in the print Voice, called "Personals" and my quickie Robert Quine eulogy is there. And I wonder--the Voice can't spring the bucks to pay for web-content, too?

If I were grateful I might someday be content.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Say It Is Joe, Joe

Maybe it just means I'm old and lack a teenager, but when I hear about a musician named JoJo, I think of Jonathan Richman, not the next thirteen-year-old chick singer. (Of course, it might just mean I have taste.) Still, there's something about the image of Jonathan Richman belting out "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" at one of the Inaugural Balls (preferably the one Mary Cheney attended--they did let her go to one, didn't they?) that I want to hold dear.

Ah, but I've already sidetracked the feeble rails of my mental freight train. What I wanted to write about was the news. Here's hoping that this story is true, so if you drink this new product, you end up breaking even. I don't like eating liver, particularly my own.

Why O-Wyeth

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigelina's World. Well, if you imagine he's looking up the hill. And not moving. And that there's a house up there. Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Ah, IMDB, you always provide grist for my mill:

French actress Juliette Binoche has had her 1996 Best Supporting Actress Oscar touched up by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences after the statuette lost its sheen. The English Patient star became sad when the award started peeling as her young son played with it, but was thrilled when she learned that a perk of winning is the ability to get the little man repaired for free.

That's right, in Hollywood even inanimate objects get face lifts.

I'm not sure if it's modest and refreshing that her kid plays with her Academy Award or if it shows contempt. Or if Binoche realizes she didn't deserve the award (then again, Debbie Reynolds didn't even get nominated for the ultimate Mother that year, so what do I know). Or maybe she's just cheap, and won't buy her son toys. Or maybe her son thinks Blaine isn't the right doll for Barbie and given Oscar is just as anatomically incorrect....

Kurious Oranj

On this date in 1713 the French invaded Curaçao under Jacques Cassard. As you may recall, 1713 was the year of the Triple Sec's Gone Dry Scare, and the French had to do something for cocktails requiring orange liqueur. These were primitive days in the history of mixology, and chemists' failed experiments concocting the lime of the ancient grand marnier hung like albatross about their necks. Even in France properly pronouncing Cointreau was too tricky, and with the Euro not creaming the dollar in those days, since the Euro wasn't even a twinkle in a Pean's eye, it was too expensive to justify its use for mixing.

Over such things, history and wars are made. In fact, there's little doubt many a martini was consumed by some folks in our very government leading up to the days of the Iraq War. (Tea-totaler Bush, we know, is just drunk on God.)

I Never Metaphor I Wasn't Against

I keep thinking how listening to President Bush try to make his way through a press conference sentence is like watching Cat Power trying to finish one of her songs in concert--you just never know.

Of course, I end up rooting for Chan Marshall. And she can't end the world with dumb decisions, so she's easier to like.

And now this blog has reached new levels of arcanity (a neologism chosen as it rhymes with insanity). (OK, and a Google led me to learn I got beaten to my neologism by a computer game. How sad.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Magnificently Mookie!

Since I missed Dog Blog Friday (and not because we only take photos of the dogs): Who says you can't get greyhounds to sit? Posted by Hello

Social Security--You Break It, You Own It

So, beyond telling African Americans they shouldn't be keen on Social Security since they die too soon to take advantage of it (our President always looks on the bright side of life), I'm wondering if President Bush has used the phrase "ownership society" when talking to African American groups. After all, the last time the U.S. had an "ownership society" it didn't work out too well for them.

Feel a Whole Lot Better When I'm Gone

All apologies for leaving you bereft of the wit and wisdom you've come to depend upon pointing your browser at this blog. I was out of town for a few days, celebrating my bro-in-law's 40th birthday (Happy Birthday Ken!) and visiting one of the neatest places in the world, Anderson Valley. I really shouldn't tell you about it, because one of the joys of the area is people rarely make it further north than Sonoma and Napa, but if you do go, you can bring the dogs and stay at a restful place like this and eat amazing food at places like this (delicious duck!) and this (a sturgeon that might be my last meal request, not that I really want a say in the matter).

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Faith of Our Fathers

It's match the quote with the speaker game!

A) "...the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time."

B) "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize....What have been [Christianity's] fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."

C) "Do I think faith will be an important part of being a good president? Yes, I do....When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the savior, it changes your heart."

D) "A man compounded of law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion and then destroy them under color of law."

1) Michael Moore
2) George W. Bush
3) Thomas Jefferson
4) John Wayne Gacy
5) Benjamin Franklin
6) Hillary Clinton
7) James Madison
8) Lee Harvey Oswald
9) Jason Voorhees

For the answers, you need to check out the fascinating article "Our ____ Constitution" by Brooke Allen in The Nation. (Hate to be coy with the blank, but I don't want to give the answers away.) Oh, and the quote you probably do recognize is found here.

And into the Tape Spool I'll Be Fed

Amy and I are not going to have children, so we don't have to worry about ever losing our teenager. Still, it seems the world has gone off the deep end when we treat teens as if they're shopping carts we want to keep from wandering off the Ralph's parking lot. Today there's this story from a rural town near Sacramento:

Parents of elementary and middle school students in a small California town are protesting a tracking program their school recently launched, which requires students to wear identification badges embedded with radio frequency, or RFID, chips.

It seems odd they don't just embed the chips directly into the teenagers--perhaps even in a permanent piercing. That would probably make it OK with most of them. Sure it's a horrible invasion of privacy, but it looks so cool!

A different story about the same issue also claims, "Principal Earnie Graham hopes to eventually add bar codes to the existing ID's so that students can use them to pay for cafeteria meals and check out library books." And to think for all these years I laughed off the Bar Code Conspiracists as loons akin to the Black Helicopter Fetishists.

Luckily, there is a Porky's angle to all of this Gitmo from the high school get-go, for the AP story asserts, "Graham also asked to have a chip reader installed in locker room bathrooms to reduce vandalism, although that reader is not functional yet."

Heh heh, to reduce vandalism.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

All in All, Just Another Jesus in the Wall

NORML is sure to have a field day with this one: Jesus is now found on a brick.

As the good book says, Let he who is without Jesus build the first fireplace.

Self-Portrait in a Sideways Mirror

And just as there are no words for the surface, that is,
No words to say what it really is, that it is not
Superficial but a visible core, then there is
No way out of the problem of pathos vs. experience.
You will stay on, restive, serene in
Your gesture which is neither embrace nor warning
But which holds something of both in pure
Affirmation that doesn’t affirm anything.
--John Ashbery

I’ve been meaning to write something about Sideways for months—ever since I saw it and loved it like so many others. Full disclosure is necessary here: I live in Santa Barbara, have been going to our county’s wine futures sales all ten years that I’ve lived here and have tasted my way around the beautiful back roads many a weekend. It’s one of the things I like best about living here, even if my expanding waistband might not always agree. Even better, the wine production is small enough that you can even get to know the winemakers (OK, make “know” “meet”), so it has that farmers’ market feel to it. I really value the idea of knowing where the grapes are from and who turned them into wine and that land and science and art all have to meet in a bottle. (And one of my running jokes is that Disney’s California Adventure park needs to open a wine ride called the Tower of Terroir….when you crash to the basement you end up in Temecula covered with glassy winged sharpshooters.)

Sure the film is far from perfect. The montage sequences are almost too Tourism Bureau approved (are they meant to be parodies of the ones from the 1970s, and if so, why?). No one keeps his wedding rings in his wallet; Jack doesn’t even need them on the trip, except to give the film its final act. The film romances alcoholism a tad, too, but I suppose no one is going to think Miles is such an appealing character that you should be like him, even if he has enough good sense to dump the spit bucket on himself at the tourist trap Frass Canyon (which is actually Fess Parker Winery, land of bus tours, mediocre wines, coonskin cap wine toppers, and a too-rich owner who continually tries to force projects way too big onto the Santa Barbara waterfront).

Of course, I personally have a tender spot for a 40 year old man who realizes that a mediocre, regular life is the best he can hope for and thereby develops a cultish knowledge of wine to justify drinking so much of it. Jeez, I went to grad school years ago with dreams of writing the next “Sunday Morning” and now I write a blog. ("Sunday Morning" by Stevens, not Velvets—my lack of musical talent is a whole ’nother kettle I’ll have to put to the metal sometime.) Luckily I have a good marriage and don't drink quite as much as Miles, but still it's easy to find poignancy in a guy who has to call his impossible novel The Day after Yesterday because Today is too uncomfortable.

Then there’s A.O. Scott’s backlash piece on the film. His theory is that film critic dweebs (a group I’m not even quite part of, so that makes me a wannadweeb?) read themselves into Miles and therefore over-praise the film as it suggests they could land Virginia Madsen (and even her casting is a kind of coup for that, as I'm sure there are critics who felt all along she had a Maya in her while she did all those B pictures).

But if that's true, shouldn't critics love The Brown Bunny too? I mean, Victor Gallo is obnoxious and pretentious like many critics, and what critic wouldn't want to project himself into that scene with Chloe Sevigny?

Oh well. See the film, drink Santa Barbara wines, and don’t be jealous that I actually own 4 magnums of Hitching Post pinot noir (only because I go into a sort of fugue state at silent auctions for good causes). This NPR story on the phenomenom of the movie is quite good, and that Frank Ostini is a really nice guy who makes killer wines and killer grilled artichokes.

If you’re interested in other fine SB County wines not in the film, be on the hunt for Au Bon Climat, Qupé, Longoria, Palmina, Stolpman, Jaffurs as a start.

And remember, don’t drink and blog: take the computer keys out of the slobbering one’s hands and offer to be a designated blogger. You don’t want to post anything you’ll regret in the morning, since the cyber-walk of shame is a painful one.

Sure To Raise a Stink

My favorite headline of the day, courtesy of IMDB:

Sarah Jessica Parker To Launch Fragrance

Heck, I just get a dirty look from Amy when I launch a fragrance.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


The New York Times looks over the President's proposed budget and writes:

One year ago, when he [President Bush] first pledged to cut the deficit in half by the 2009 fiscal year, the White House predicted that the budget deficit would decline to $364 billion in 2005 and $268 billion in 2006.

Now, the White House is predicting that the budget deficit will rise to $427 billion in 2005, the current fiscal year, and decline to only $390 billion in 2006.

Oh what's $63 billion between friends?

It's My Mom and It's My Life

A little story that smacks of of maternal caring.

And to think I couldn't even get my mom to drive me to the methadone clinic....

No Language in Their Lungs

I never got around to dealing with the joys of this story from the AP that perhaps should have been titled "No Child Left with a Brain":

When told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

Can't imagine that such results have anything to do with these kids' formative teen years all occurring during the W. presidency.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Sick Sense

President Bush's budget is out and it's so scary it could leave Haley Joel Osment saying, "I see dead programs." Here's a particularly ugly factoid from the New York Times:

Mr. Bush seeks a $38 million increase in programs promoting sexual abstinence, which would bring the total to $192.5 million in 2006, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2004.

Now, President Bush is supposed to be a conservative, and I always thought one of their mantras was "you can't fix education by throwing money at it." Evidently they believe you can keep teens virgins by throwing money at them, and I can only imagine that Health and Human Services is currently working on a strict testing standard to be sure all the so-called virgins are really, truly still flowered.

And for Bush's sake he better hope the Eagle Forum and that hunka-hunka burning babe Phyllis Schlafly (if she doesn't want feminism she shouldn't bitch about a bit of objectification) don't get wind of his plans. After all just last August she wrote, "The liberals' solution is always to throw more money at the problem" of education in a screed against the National Education Association, a threat to America right up there with Osama Been Forgotten. After all, if a single teacher is bad, a bunch organized can only be worse.

Schlafly opens this attack (a conservative's intro is any words before they drag out Hillary Clinton to say BOO--it takes Schafly 528 words) with the following that should serve as a diagnostic tool for one's ability to reason--if you agree with her, you can't:

The NEA's lobbying goals for public schools include federal funding for public school child care, early childhood programs that are school-based, before- and after-school programs, big spending for school counselors, school-based health care for children, and of course increased federal spending for education.

The NEA's non-education-related lobbying goals include funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, a national universal health care system, reparations to African Americans, statehood for the District of Columbia, taxpayer funding of federal elections, and a national holiday for Cesar Chavez.

She doesn't like these things. She and people like her are in charge. To illustrate the true ugliness of the world we live in, let's reverse just the second paragraph above as a sort of experiment:

The Eagle Forum's non-education-related lobbying goals include severely limiting the amount of arts that are created and presented in the United States, making sure only the rich can have adequate health care, pretending that slavery never happened, keeping those upty Democratic black folk in D.C. disenfranchised, defending the right of only the richest Americans to run for office, and demonizing Latinos, especially those who stand up for themselves and make us feel guilty about eating grapes.

To that lovely list Schlafly and Co. can add "and no condoms. For that we'll pay a lot of money."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Like Houses for Hotels

Dontcha kinda wish that Boston/New England could trade two Super Bowl wins and one World Series win for a Massachusetts' Senator to be elected president? Heck, then the Red Sox wouldn't have to pass along the insufferable loser mantle to the Cubs, who cinched that for at least a few more years by turning an admittedly Slammin-Soon-into-the-Wall Sammy Sosa into lame-at-low-altitudes Jeromy Burnitz.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Preaching to the Perverted

On Wednesday President Bush said the following about Social Security:

"I will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer."

Then we have this nugget from a news story in the Houston Chronicle about what Josh Marshall has called the Bamboozlepalooza Tour:

In keeping with White House procedures, the audience in Fargo was solidly pro-Bush, and conversation participants on stage with the president already support his plan for private accounts.

It was a scripted environment, but at one point during the event, a woman in a headscarf approached the stage.

"You're from Iraq?" Bush asked, apparently startled.

The woman clasped her hands and addressed the president, saying, "Thank you, thank you." The crowd roared to its feet.

So, he'll listen to anyone who will tell him what he wants to hear (no surprise, as we watch the West Wing door hit Colin Powell, who only appears reasonable in comparison to the rest of this disastrous crew, on the backside). It was bad enough when Bush did this exclusionary thing when he was campaigning, but what does it mean when the President of the United States can only appear before those ga-ga about him? Does he begin such an appearance by saying, "Hi, y'all. Tell the folks protesting outside that I'm a uniter, not a divider," followed by the smirk that got him into all those frat parties in his Yale days?

And Rove & Co. will keep milking the Iraqi sympathy angle, even to push their Social Security boondoogle. (Of course this Iraqi woman doesn't have to live in Iraq while we occupy it and kill 100,000 of her people, so it's a bit easier for her to be effusive.)

It's impossible to even be witty about this kind of duplicity and unscrupulousness. If you see someone cursing for twenty minutes, don't bother to say hi, for I'm too worked up right now.

Because There's 40 Different Shades of Greyhound

Dog Blog Friday: It's hard to stay snarky and cynical with these two around. Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Messiah

From INOTBB's ongoing series "religious nutsos and the human interest stories that love them" we have this report of Jesus' image on a frying pan. Frankly I'm shocked, because I always pictured the Prince of Peace as more of an Anolon than a Teflon guy, but then again, I haven't gone to church regularly in a couple of decades. I might have missed the Papal Bull on cookware coating. And no one can fling the bull like a papal.

Rumor has it that not only does this house have the Son of God Frying Pan, but it's soup pot also called the kettle black. What's more, the kettle whistled at the image of Mary Magdalene, still hot after all these years, that's ever-so-slightly apparent in the sauciest of sauce pans. Or maybe that's just Barbara Hershey.

Does That Make Him a Dickalope?

From the state that gave us Dick Cheney comes this news:

If the state congress has its way, the jackalope will be listed as the state’s official mythical creature. Wyoming’s House of Representatives approved the measure 45-12. Now the legislation heads to the senate.

State motto: Wyoming--Leading the Country in Things You Can't Believe

Sherry Darling

Just go read this story.

I guess that gives a whole new meaning to "Bottoms up!"

If Your Life Sucks...

...celebrate Create a Vacuum Day! (AKA Scare Jittery Household Pets Day) Believe it or not, February 4 is just that. It seems people have nothing better to do than give days capital-D Days--for instance, Saturday the odds are 50/50 it will be Weatherpersons Day, but since it falls on a weekend this year, it's Substitute Weatherpersons Day, which means anyone with OK enough legs and a short enough skirt, meteorological degree be damned, gets honored.

Meanwhile back to sucking, I would have thought we had enough of a vacuum created when Bush gave his State of the Union Address, but it seems there's more--you can even suck an egg into a bottle and throw a party for that special moment. I'll let you all go see for yourselves, but I'm not sure I advocate anything that involves playing with matches, unless you invite me over.

And for those of you who were wondering (this means you, curious person in the back there, no, the other curioser person), vacuum is one of 5 words in English with back-to-back "U"s. Here's a sentence that uses the other four, and you'll see why three of the words aren't used often:

"On the continuum of weirdness, taking a triduum to discover a menstruum that doesn't leave residuum is way up there."

I Have the Stomach for It

Dear readers (both of you)--

It's that time again, as my latest lunch review is up on Santa Barbara's premier e-coffee klatsch Edhat. I did the eating; I did the writing; now you do the voting. All it takes is a few taps of the old keyboard and a click of the mouse. I had to do all the digesting. So you have it easy.

Thanks! And when I'm a famous restaurant reviewer, I will burp and think of all of you.


Tis the Plug for Los Straitjackets

Let me just say that if you've never heard "Sing Sing Sing" played surf-style by four very talented guys wearing Mexican wrestling masks, you have not lived.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sheet Music? Song of the South

IMDB is reporting that Disney may at long last be releasing Song of the South on video/DVD, despite years of objections that the film perpetuates racial stereotypes. As Patricia A. Turner has written: "Disney's version [as opposed to the source material by Joel Chandler Harris] seems to take place during a surreal time when Blacks lived on slave quarters on a plantation, worked diligently for no visible reward and considered Atlanta a viable place for an old Black man to set out for."

Disney, however, claims it merely wants to survive as a corproate entity in the Age of Bush and please the very Red South. Tentative release date for the DVD is Martin Luther King Day, 2006.

Disney did say that to soften the possibly offensive subtext of the film, it would ask for a viewer of the DVD to end the experience as follows:

1) hold hands in the air above your head;
2) scream;
3) toss a glass of water into your face.

Our Voices Raised in a Collective Woody

When the mighty foursome of Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Guy Clark and Joe Ely closed their very fine show last night with a hearty rendition of "This Land Is Your Land" it got me thinking. Here's a way to make all sorts of people happy, since Carlos Delgado, Steve Goldman of the Pinstriped Blog and me seem a pretty diverse set to make a sort.

Let's dump that seventh innning stretch singing of "God Bless America," especially if that means dumping every Irish tenor who isn't singing in a pub and hasn't bought the house a round of Jameson.

Let's sing, instead, Woody Guthrie's patriotic chestnut. And, let's get beyond the Boy Scout, what do we do after "Kumbaya" one verse version. Let's be sure to sing these two, as Hiatt and Lovett did last night:

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tresspassin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Take me out to that whole new ballgame. Oh, and Lyle, did you sing that verse when you performed for Bush at one of his coronation balls? Or is Texas blood thicker than humanist water?
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