Saturday, July 29, 2006

The "Aim to Please" Semi-Hiatus

Tired of the heat and surprising humdity of late in Santa Barbara, I'm off to New Jersey for a week for what I'm sure will be better weather. Plus see my family, check in on my mom, and probably not blog a lot--can you say dial-up?

But I'll try, because I know you all await more non-nude non-pictures of Monica Bellucci and Salam (why do they all spell it Salam when they Google?) Hayek's butt. And King Tut. And bipedal greyhounds?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Disco of the Living Dead

I have to admit I'm not always dying to keep up with the latest trends, and it seems I would actually have to die to keep up with one of them--zombie dance parties! I know those of you who have actually seen me dance probably assume I could dance as well as the next dead person, but no, to be a really good zombie, you not only have to dance, you have to get arrested as a terrorist. At least that's the news from a part of Minnesota that Garrison Keillor never talks about, but might help explain that Jesse Ventura, Governor thing:

Six friends spruced up in fake blood and tattered clothing were arrested in downtown Minneapolis on suspicion of toting "simulated weapons of mass destruction."

Police said the group were allegedly carrying bags with wires sticking out, making it look like a bomb, while meandering and dancing to music as part of a "zombie dance party" Saturday night.

You owe it to yourself to follow the link and see photos of the terrorist zombies. I so hope that Homeland Security is on top of this situation.

Syd and Spin

It's 1992 give or take a year and while visiting friends in Baltimore there's a double bill of some one-time golden pals o' mine Peter Blegvad and Syd Straw that's too good to pass up at Max's on Broadway in Fells Point (the neighborhood where I learned to drink while in college, but that's a different story, isn't it). We wander about the neighborhood early, as it's meant for wandering, and we also decide to eat at a place called Al Pacino's Pizza, fearlessly flying in the face of lawsuits. As we eat, who also comes in to eat but Syd Straw and Peter Blegvad. Blegvad is a bit more retiring, if pleasant, but Syd is just as friendly as you might imagine in a goofy, endearing way. We and a few other folks also headed to the concert chat a tiny bit with the stars who probably don't get picked out of crowds too often, even despite Blegvad being 6' 6" and wearing very plaid pants, but mostly let them be.

Then, during the show, between songs Straw--who kind of free-form monologues between tunes (so much so at a much more recent gig she even halted songs to chat and blurted out, "Oh my god, this is turning into a Cat Power show!")--suddenly opted to shout out to her new friends from Serpico's down the street, as she called it, and named all of 8 of us she met earlier in the evening. I'd never been name-checked from the stage before (or since, come to think of it).

Sure enough I managed to snag the set-list and she'd actually written all our names there, in a far too neat pen. I've got that setlist someplace, and not just in the warm spot in my memory.

Pup My Ride

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel rides in a car--or is it the same cheesy rear-projection that Hitchcock used for Marnie? You decide. (Bonus points if you spot the other greyhound.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Mertz Is as Good as a Mile

Friday would be the birthday of Vivian Vance, who made TV-land safe for female sidekicks (with due props to the silver screen's top second banana Eve Arden, who went on to prove that film is better than TV when she moved up the ranks and got her own supporting star Kay Ballard for the small screen's The Mothers-in-Law--oddly enough directed by Desi Arnaz). For let's face it, Lucy and Ethel were a lot more interesting a pair than Lucy and Ricky, which suggests a fascinating Cagney & Lacey episode. They got into trouble together, while Ricky only got to say "you've got some 'splaining to do" and pretend he was as cool as Xavier Cugat, and no one's cooler than a guy with a name that begins with "X."

What's weirdest, to me at least and I'm writing, you're reading, so you're stuck (don't look away!), is that Vivan Vance is from the same small town in Kansas as Louise Brooks and they played together as children. Yep, Ethel and LuLu. Now what if they changed roles? First, Fred would be dead, and by your sly smile I think you know why. Second, no one would remember who G.W. Pabst was. (OK, I can tell by your blank look you don't know who he is anyway, and it has nothing to do with the beer.)

Fountain of Youth

Something in honor of Mick Jagger's birthday yesterday and Marcel Duchamp's birthday tomorrow. I'll let you decide who has aged better. (P.S. I know Duchamp is dead.)

The Incredibly Strange Columnist Who Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-Up Zombie

Ragging on the LA Times' Bill Plaschke is a bit like drawing attention to the drool trails left behind by the village idiot, but IAOTBM (I Am One to Be Mean). Yesterday his advice for Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti was to trade away prospects to win this year, but don't trade any of the good ones, but be sure to get a Soriano or Zito. He left out the part about how to sneak the stoopid pills into the watercoolers in DC or Oakland. I mean, it's one thing when a rube makes a call in to some sports radio show and says, "Why don't the Dodgers trade Kenny Lofton for Miguel Cabrera?" but I don't see why a major newspaper has to pay somebody to make such high-grade analysis. Plus the Times is already carrying T.J. Simmers.

Therefore it was fun to read Plaschke's column today, in which his level of writing even managed to match his level of baseball acumen. Writing about the Brad Penny-Kenny Lofton near tussle yesterday, he got to this gem of a line: "These players have enough folks pointing fingers at them — all 10 of mine are outstretched — without pointing them at each other."

Let's make a mental image of what the ten-fingered monster that is Plaschke might look like. OK, so who hired the grasping zombie for the LA Times? At least it's easy to imagine him desperately crying, "More brains!!"

Crush Krill Destroy!

It seems that all I've been doing with these magic live music grace moments (no, not necessarily best performances, just memorable fragments from a concert-going life) is romancing the past, as if I hadn't seen a show since I grew out of my knee britches (but I have to admit, that Aaron Burr Experience really rocked Fraunces Tavern back in the day!). So here's one from last fall, just to show I'm hep with the kidz.

It's late in a fine set by The Decemberists, aided and abeted by Petra Haden (who opened the evening with a gorgeous two-ways chorus of women singing The Who Sells Out a cappella in its entirety) on violin and vocals, and everyone could probably go home happy if it would not turn out to be their horrible fate to be eaten by a leviathan. That's because, before heading into the crazed tarantella of "The Mariner's Revenge Song" (no summary required), we are coached as to our role in the performance: when the band's guitarist comes across the stage operating two very paper and therefore not too menacing whale jaws, we are all to scream as if krill.

How often are you given license to yell your head off as if you're dying? What does it mean that it's fun?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I Fought McCaw and McCaw Won?

Dear Wendy McCaw of the Santa Barbara News-Press is at it again, writing plenty without saying much (because if she actually talked about details, she'd turn into the same pile of dust her arguments are made from). You can go read her latest entire missive--emphasis on the miss--over at LA Observed, and while there linger over the irony that SB must be observed from the distance of LA since McCaw doesn't want any stories about her paper in her paper. My favorite line comes from near the end:

One of the basic tenets of good reporting is that there are always two sides to every story.

Uh, that's one of the basic misunderstandings of journalism, Wendy. Some stories have many sides, and when we reduce them to simply two, like, oh, say the self-righteously-defensive Israel vs. the terrible-terroristic Hezbollah, then we not only perform a disservice to journalism, but we also help prevent any real understanding of the world itself. Of course there are also some stories that really, truly do have only one side, but to prove one's journalistic "objectivity" one's forced to find the one crackpot scientist who doesn't believe in evolution or global warming or to interview a single counter-protester at the protest of thousands who think something else. That's not balance, that's insanity. There is something called truth. Too bad too many journalists don't help us see what truth is in most cases.

Not that you care about truth, of course, for if you can keep writing, "There is no place for personal opinion or agendas in news coverage," and not look in the mirror and scream, you're either an idiot or a hypocrite. Perhaps it's telling at the end you echo Tricky Dick of all people with your belief in the quiet/silent majority. And I don't mind telling you I look forward to the day you--just like Nixon--have to resign.

The Mekons Shall Inherit the Earth

It's summer 1991, and a hot summer back before we knew what hot really was. I mean, this was prior to Al Gore inventing Global Warming. But it's a free show in Central Park and the double bill is Yo La Tengo and the Mekons, as if I got to program the darn thing in the first place. YLT as usual choose a setlist to match the mood, and cruise through the unbearably wistfully catchy "The Summer" and roil through a lengthy float along the heatwaves with "Sunsquashed."

To be honest, I don't remember too much of the Mekons set, specifically, except for it being the usual energetic-sloppy-lovable and that since it was close to the 4th, Sally Timms opted to show her patriotism in a red, white and blue tube top. But the moment is between set and encore, and it's already immortalized, for there I am on the back cover of the I [Heart] Mekons CD. Sure, you can't really pick me out of the blurred photo, and it's possible I'm not even in the cropping of the crowd. But I was one of the 2000 people who did what Jon Langford asked, and gave him a hearty middle-finger salute as he snapped all of our pictures from the stage. Now that's [heart].

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Men from Israel Stopped Eatin' Cars and Eatin' Bars

Reuters reports:

An Israeli air raid in south Lebanon killed four U.N. military observers on Tuesday in an attack which United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan described as "apparently intentional."

Talk about Israel sucking up to make all the U.S. right-wingers like them even more--it's not just end times, but the UN gets it pre-Rapture.

Then Comes Marriage, But Only If You're Pushing a Baby Carriage

It's good I read a lot of news, because if I didn't I might not have discovered that Amy and I are both gay, or at least we would be if we lived in Ohio. It seems a Christian home school headmaster named Gary Lankford, the Ohio Republican Party's newly hired "social conservative coordinator," has sent out an email letting people know the truth about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland, who happens to be an ordained Methodist minister, but that doesn't seem to matter. According to the Toledo Blade (hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister):

Mr. Lankford's e-mail to social conservatives linked to a blog entry at that called Mr. and Mrs. Strickland's relationship "bizarre" and claimed a Blade article about their decision not to have children implies "the Stricklands are both gay."

I didn't realize that not wanting to have kids means I'm just repressing my own homosexuality! After all, gay people never have or want children! If only I could be as smart as the Republicans in Ohio, who certainly know how to elect paragons of upright morality.

Then again, maybe it's the whole Midwest that's the problem, I mean, that's good at pointing out how gay Amy and I really are. For during the debates about the anti-gay marriage amendment last week, INOTBB's favorite congressman
Todd Akin (R-Mo.) asserted, "Marriage is not about love; it's about a love that can bear children." I'd write more, but I better get working on that divorce--if it's even necessary since my marriage is clearly such a sham--and get some man-on-man personals posted somewhere right away.

Sweet Solos Are Made of This

Ok, I admit it, I went to a Eurythmics show once, and what's more, I liked it. This is 1983 or something, back before most of you and the internets and perhaps even Monica Bellucci was born, and I had a series subscription to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which was once Frank Gehry's hot concert spot and one of the shows was the Eurythmics, perhaps even with Howard Jones and his mime (I shit you not) as opening act. The '80s were a simpler time--we even thought then there'd never be a president worse than Reagan.

But I digress, as this is about a great concert, and not just the part when one of my fellow DJs from WJHU--all 10 watts of it, then--got to be one of the madly dancing people on stage with Annie Lennox, despite being a long-haired post-hippie freak whose radio show featured nothing more normal than the Residents.

But I digress again. The moment, the perfect grace moment, was a guitar solo by Dave Stewart. Yep, with all the vocal firepower and stage presence Lennox brings to a concert, what I remember most is Stewart winding and holding and no doubt pressing some magic pedals through a closing solo to "Jennifer" that was the epitome of soaring, something that rises up your spine and then takes your spine with it and everything lifts and grows and it's a darn good thing it's an outdoor concert.

Monday, July 24, 2006

No. Not This Dem

Dear Bill Clinton--

Today you went to Connecticut and stood by Joe Lieberman and reminded me why I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, as much of a mistake as that turned out to be (not as much for my vote in California, but...). How is anyone supposed to believe in Democratic leadership when we hear the following from the AP report:

Democrats "don't agree on everything. We don't agree on Iraq," Clinton said, calling the conflict the "pink elephant in the living room."

But "the real issue is, whether you were for it or against it, what are we going to do now. And let me tell you something, no Democrat is responsible for the mistakes that have been made since the fall of Saddam Hussein that have brought us to this point."

No, every Democrat is partially responsible. What has the party done to stop everything Bush has "accomplished"? How many times have the Dems rolled over? How is Lieberman's quote from December--“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.”--not a threat to those of us to the left of Lieberman just to shut the fuck up?

But while reasonable non-Bush-kissers might disagree about how to get out of Iraq, Lieberman seems to believe the only thing to do is stay the course. And while you, Bill, see pink elephants in a living room, I see lots of dead Iraqis, dead American soldiers, brutality I can't even begin to fathom--there's nothing pink or pachydermic about it. Plus it's not our living room--it belongs to the poor Iraqis, who get saved from Saddam only to be left in a mess so ugly that they're sewing dog's heads on young girl's bodies and we can't even decide if it's officially a civil (ha) war yet.

Spare me, Bill, or better yet, let's try to spare some Iraqis and stop defending people like Lieberman who allow the atrocity to happen. I could give a damn about your semen on a blue dress, but the blood on your hands is on all of America's hands and you're just helping it go on.

I'm Not One to Be This Pissed Off, But

390 Degrees of Simulated Blogging

Today we kick off a week of great grace moments from live shows INOTBB has had the good fortune to see over the years, which is now a lot of fortune and a lot of years (like seeing Sonny Rollins once in the '80s, once in the '90s, and once in the '00s--life can be good for 2 hour stretches).

Let's board the concert time machine back to 1988 and the Metro in Chicago and Pere Ubu is back together (as they seem to do when David Thomas--no, not the Wendy's guy--seems interested). They've blasted through two hot songs already (memory wants to put "Non-Alignment Pact" as one of those, although it might actually come later in the set), powered by double drummers Soctt Krauss and Chris Cutler, both hitting about not on the beat so no one thinks the band has got too normal, which no matter the complaints, it could never be with a frontman who once went by the name of Crocus Behemoth. Plus Allen Ravenstine on EML synthesizer, a contraption out of a sci-fi movie as it's as much about patch cords and knobs as a keyboard, and therefore as much about whooping swoops of noise as tinkly-plinks or, well, music for that matter.

The crowd is worked up, there's a pause, Thomas goes over to the side of the stage, comes back with his squeezebox strapped on and says, "And you're not really having a good time until someone breaks out an accordion..." as the band kicks into "Miss You," which has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones and that's all for the good.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another Year Older, Another Tape More Confused

Just in time for a Friday Non-Random Top Ten (+15), but way late to actually celebrate my birth, I got around to making my annual birthday mixed tape last night. (For why I make mixed cassettes and avoid that darn digital technology that probably has something to do with a series of tubes, go read an earlier excuse. I would link to one, but I'm having trouble finding it.) Freakily, this list means I will have mentioned Mott the Hoople two entries in a row.

This Is How It Works
You're Young until You're Not

side A
Neko Case "At Last"
Peter Blegvad "Meantime"
The Decemberists "Angel, Won't You Call Me?"
Fountains of Wayne "These Days"
Regina Spektor "On the Radio"
Andrew Bird "Fake Palindromes"
New Pornographers "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism"
Granddaddy "Elevate Myself"
Minus 5 "With a Gun"
Silver Jews "Punks in the Beerlight"
Drive-by Truckers "Easy on Yourself"
Built to Spill "Conventional Wisdom"

side B
Howe Gelb "Hey Man"
Mott the Hoople "Ballad of Mott the Hoople (March 26, 1972--Zurich)"
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins "Rise Up with Your Fists!"
Rico Bell & the Snake Handlers "The Rose from Your Garden"
T Bone Burnett "Shut It Tight"
Deadstring Brothers "Get Up Jake"
Jon Langford "Little Bit of Help"
Rockpile "Wrong Again (Let's Face It)"
Graham Parker & the Figgs "Did Everybody Just Get Old?"
Tom Verlaine "Shingaling"
Brian Eno & David Byrne "Very, Very Hungry"
Nouvelle Vague "Making Plans for Nigel"
Shout Out Louds "The Comeback"

Hey, George, Do Your Chores

Sure all the hip kids* knew about Daniel Johnston already, but when K. McCarty's Dead Dog's Eyeball came out in 1994, it really helped spread the word of the wonderfully weird and troublingly troubled (how are we supposed to react to his clear pyschosis, a kind of madman minstrel show?) singer-songwriter.

All that said, and all the implications unsaid, McCarty's CD is a gem, still a bit indie-sloppy, it's not like her group Glass Eye was ever super-polished, but her voice is better than Daniel's, and that proves he could actually write tunes, none better than the deceptively simple "Living Life." And that gets us to our moment of the day, the fantastically forced rhyme of the I guess you have to call it a couplet: "Though people say we're an unlikely couple / Doris Day, and Mott the Hoople."

Sure it's pronounced hoop--like basketball--ull, not hop--like what makes beer good--ull, in the real world, but we're in Daniel Johnston's world here and Ian Hunter can walk off into a romantic Austin sunset with Doris Day if that's what he wants.

*After all, Yo La Tengo beat McCarty by 4 years with their cover of "Speeding Motorcycle" on the indispensible Fakebook, plus there's the version on the Here Comes My Baby promo only CDEP that YLT sold at their shows on which they back Johnston, who's on the phone but doing anything but calling in his performance, which he ends with "Are we done?"

Are You Making Fun of Me?

For Dog Blog Friday: With a bit of help, Mookie pretends he's a rabbit. (AKA, the third straight week with Amy's arms in the picture.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kill Bull, Vol. I

Friday is the 145th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, not that they knew it was just the first one, and the South called it the Battle of Manassas anyway, but they lost (please pass the word to the people in Alabama and Georgia, they're still not sure), so we can call it what we want. It was the first real engagement of the Civil War after the heavy petting without commtiment at Ft. Sumter, and it might be called Bull Run because the Union soldiers kind of treated it like the festivities in Pamplona--they figured it was easy to drink a bunch and win over the dumber "animals." Of course, many got gored, as the South won the battle, particularly thanks to the steadfastness of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who got back just in time from the gay riots in Greenwich Village. It's also worth noting that the wealthy elite of D.C. thought that war might be a good excuse for a picnic in the country, so they followed the Union troops and held the first tailgate parties on their wagons (mostly served by black slaves, no doubt, who wouldn't be freed until Lincoln needed the Emancipation Proclamation two years later to help turn the war around). When the battle went south for the North, the partiers fled, but the roads got blocked, and many soiled undergarments as well as their tablecloths, even if the Confederate troops were too disorganized to take advantage. It's good to know that today the rich in D.C no longer love to root war on as sport.

Noir Way Out

UCLA has a great film series coming up, the 13th Festival of Film Preservation (read about it in my new local paper the Los Angeles Times this morning) and one of the featured films will be The Big Combo a tasty, brutal film noir that's a B-film putting on its A-game. Since it's a B-movie, I figure it can count as a grace note moment on the larger history of cinema. You want a truly nasy bad guy? Richard Conte's your man, offering up torture via hearing aid and the classic line, "First is first, second is nobody." You want gorgeous black and white cinematography of non-gorgeous things? Ace d.p. John Alton gives you that, in a film that's truly BLACK & white and striking all over.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Akin To Be

True, we're talking about a Congressman who once said, "Sociologists, psychologists, and other experts can give us all sorts of technical explanations, but we all know from experience that kids are best off when they have a mom and a dad," thereby asserting that anecdotal evidence is much stronger than rigorous scientific study. So Todd Akin might be a few plumes shy of a full feather duster when it comes to intellectually cleaning up. That might just be because he represents a magazine in the House--really, according to Wikipedia he's from Town and Country, Missouri.

Akin was one of the brave Republicans facing the most grave dangers threatening the world in the past few weeks. While small minds like Al Gore worry about environmental peril, and no one at all bothers with petty issues like the Taliban taking back Afghanistan region by region or the civil war eve that exists in Iraq or the ever-burgeoning national debt (Condi Rice will worry about Israel v. Hezbollah after a week more of bombing, we're told), Congressional Republicans have done crucial work defending America by censuring the New York Times, making sure the symbol of our country is more important than the liberties for which it flies, protecting embryos from ever becoming science experiments, hoping to amend the Bill of Rights so that it would take away the rights of gays, and now making sure the country remains "under God," which would seem to go without saying if he's really omnipresent and all--that makes us all the prepositions God, doesn't it? The Republicans argue that a Pledge of Allegiance without God in it would be like an Iraq without Allah. We'll let the Shia and Sunnis decide which version of Allah--that's freedom of religion, and the last person left alive in Iraq will have that someday, thanks to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Todd Akin said today, "We're creating a fence. The fence goes around the federal judiciary. We're doing that because we don't trust them."

He went on to say, "First, let me make it clear this isn't like the fence we need to put up to keep out illegal immigrants--this one doesn't need to be electrified, no matter what my good colleague from Iowa says. True, a Republican president appoints the judiciary and we get to approve many of them, but how can we really trust that process?"

OK, I made the last paragraph up. But Akin really did once say this about the Democrats in Congress: "Yet, today, we see what is becoming a constitutional crisis which is completely unprecedented, and that is the use of the filibuster to basically stop the confirmation process both for circuit court and Supreme Court nominations. " So it goes like this--if Republicans rein in judges, who they appoint and approve, that's dandy. If the Democrats think they have a say in anything, that's a constitutional crisis.

Snowflakes That Stay White as My Asses

President Bush finally found the thing to which he had to just say no. He has, as expected, vetoed additional federal money for stem cell research because Nancy Reagan bugs even him.

Seriously, he did it because he feels embryonic stem cell research "crosses a moral boundary" he doesn't want to breach. To which I wonder, who knew he had moral boundaries?

The best part is he had his little photo op with the SnowflakeTM babies. Yep, the term is actually trademarked, just like Kleenex and Dumpster, which can both be related to the Snowflakes, but I won't go there. Nightlight Christian Adoptions started the whole Snowflake thing, and like most good Christians, they want credit for their good works. Of course, they insist the name refers to the embryos having been frozen, and for the resulting children being as unique as snowflakes.

They leave out the part they tend to be white as snowflakes, too.

For perhaps that's what this really is all about--how can we get the supply of white adoptable babies up? You can check the stats with the U.S. Census Bureau and discover "16% percent of adopted children under 18 are black. Additionally, 7 percent are Asian and 2 percent are American Indian and Alaska native. Adopted children are more likely to be of these race groups than are biological children or stepchildren."

But not if Nightlight has a say in it, which is mighty white of them, if you ask me. Now we have 99 Snowflakes with 400,000 frozen embryos waiting for their happy womb thaw. As for the 30,000 Americans with Lou Gehrig's Disease, the 4,000,000-5,000,000 Americans with Parkinson's, the 4,000,000 Americans with Alzheimer's, the 388,571 Americans with M.S., etc. etc., well, they don't make as nice a photo op, do they? BushCo. and Nightlight care about the pre-born, but the pre-dead might as well just get rid of that pre-.

Banned Camp

Billed as the movie with something to offend everyone when released in 1965, The Loved One just goes to show how far our national outrage has been goosed loose in 40 years--the Whispering Glades funeral home in this movie adapted from Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel wouldn't even be near the neighborhood of South Park.

That said, there's Rod Steiger as Mr. Joyboy. And until you've seen Steiger, in an apron, preparing dinner singing "Momma's little Joyboy loves lobster, lobster..." you don't really know what camp is. (And what a supporting cast: Milton Berle, Roddy MacDowall, Paul Williams--creepy even as a teen--, Liberace, Tab Hunter, Jamie Farr, Bernie Koppel, Alan Napier and even Chick Hearn!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Nyms Are Psuedo

Here are three ideas for re-naming the blog, in case I ever need to go undercover:

1. (No) Nude Pictures of Monica Bellucci

It's amazing how the whole world congregates at this blog thinking Ms. Bellucci is here without her clothes. She's never stopped by, dressed or otherwise, but I am sure to mention her every few months just to keep the hits up. I hope folks aren't too disappointed by the photos of Mookie and Nigel they will find here, but I hope they are disappointed enough that they don't do what they might have done if they found Monica Bellucci photos. Ick.

2. (No) Nude Pictures of Give Me an "O" Oprah with Gayle King

Don't you just love when people have to come out and say they're not coming out? Those announcements always end with the disclaimer, "The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you, because there's nothing wrong with being gay," but let's face it, aren't we all glad we're not gay? All that said, it's so nice Winfrey states, "Something about this relationship feels otherworldly to me, like it was designed by a power and a hand greater than my own. Whatever this friendship is, it's been a very fun ride." But let's face it, the greater hand doesn't belong to and the very fun ride isn't on Gayle.

3. #&$!#$*!#&@@!!

That's for when I decide to stop writing the occasional pointlessly silly entry and focus solely on the latest outrage of the day from George W. Bush, and thereby end up merely frothing at the mouth. In just the last two days he's: said shit on mic, acted like a stupid shit (over-simplified the Israel-Lebanon problem, doesn't know world geographical distances), improperly touched the female leader of a nation, had his lapdog AG admit he was the one to order justice not be done when it comes to the NSA wire-taps, made it clear he will use his first veto in 6 years to stop medical science from curing debilitating diseases, and chewed a roll with his mouth open.

Or maybe I'll only post about Sarge beating up on Beetle Bailey.

Piss Poor Politicians Peter Pander

In its article about the House rejecting the ban of gay marriage, a bill refered to in the Republican caucus as "I'll trade your civil rights for a vote for me," the AP writes:

Rep. Barney Frank , D-Mass., one of just a few openly gay members of Congress, said he took the proposal personally.

Emphasis mine--but why, oh why is the AP holding out on us?

It's certainly better than wondering why this language got by editors:

The vote was 236-187 with one member voting "present," a slight improvement over the last House vote just before the 2004 election but still 46 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment.

You Can Take the Boy Out of Hoboken...

If someone held my CD collection over the abyss and threatened to heave-ho unless I named one perfect pop recording, I'd have to go with Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" from Songs for Swinging Lovers (Capitol, of course, 1956). Years before the Batman theme was a glimmer in Nelson Riddle's baton he whipped up some of the best charts ever for these recording sessions, so much so if the album was instrumental it would still be worth buying.

Of course, the album most decidedly isn't instrumental, as it's got Sinatra at the top of his game. Anybody who thinks he's over-rated has to listen to this disc (among others, but it's a fine place to start), but you have to listen. Sinatra had that ease thing Cary Grant had in his best moments that led both to be devalued as nearly un-American (I know, I know, Grant wasn't American-born, but call him English at your own risk), for you never see them working.

On "I've Got You" Sinatra swings right along with the orchestra, letting it amp him up and ramp him down--it's a classic build song, with all the release in a horn-y burst of a bridge. Still, there are little moments when the nonchalance slips a tad, even if he can sell Cole Porter's "use your mentality, wake up to reality" reach for a rhyme better than anyone. In particular, there's the line, "I've said to myself this affair never will go so well," with a pause after the affair, but Sinatra does more than pause, he kinda swallows "affair," the "r" off to ritzy neighborhoods he can't quite negotiate his Jersey boy self through. Of course, it's only when he says something to himself that the mask slips a bit. That's singing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Will You Be My Baby?

And they say too much borscht leads to bad dreams....

The Sound of Ideologies Clashing

Now I don't have any answers, either, but I'm not an international policy expert, or world leader, or mystical peace-maker, whatever is needed. But there's got to be some way to stop things like this, from today's Los Angeles Times:

"When they fire a rocket from my orange grove, I want to ask them, 'Why don't you just aim it at me instead?' " said Bassam Daoud, a farmer in northern Gaza, referring to the Hamas fighters. "I will pay the price for what they do."

Of course perhaps a big part of the problem is that even this LA Times' analysis first spends much time weighing out the strategic reasons Israel might be over-reaching, namely they are helping unite the generally opposed Hezbollah and Hamas. After thinking that through some the article finally says, "A second major risk involves civilian casualties."

Perhaps we need to get past the civilian casualty after-thought phase of foreign policy.

Lousy with Your Kept Time

It's practically five songs in four minutes, "The Bleeding Heart Show" by the New Pornographers, building, building to practically choirs of heavenly angels, or at the least, Neko Case, and one of the catchiest "hey-la, hey-la" parts ever recorded. All that vocal wonderment might make you miss that the song doesn't get beyond the valley of the Dahle, drummer Kurt Dahle, that is, who motors along thwacking and crashing like he's trying to get the whole unruly band to that bleeding heart show on time.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Let's Get Cool in the Pool...Wearing Something Ghoul-ish

Monica Bellucci or Uma Thurman wouldn't be caught sexy dead in one of these wonderful WholesomeWear suits that put the whole in the suit. Sure, if you actually swam in one you might pull an Ophelia, but if that's the price to pay to keep your firm young flesh out of the hands of any mad Danes, so be it.

Besides, this way you leave everything to the imagination, and what could be more exciting to a man than that? At least some men, after all, can imagine the Cubs winning a World Series. Just be sure, like all the WholesomeWear models, to grow your hair long so there's no confusion as to your gender since nary a feminine curve will be in sight.

But wait, there are three monstrosities, uh, models to choose from. The Culotte promises a "looser fitting taslan scoop-necked romper outer garment [that] gives a stylish modest look." You do know there's nothing more stylish than modesty. The muu-muu look is all the rage in Milan. Milan, Michigan, that is, a town so impressive it cannot be constrained--it's in both Monroe and Washtenaw Counties. Based on the design of its website, this vibrant suburban center knows all about beauty.

The Skirted Swimmer features a skirt (how's that for truth in advertising? all those bikini ads lie to you and your vanity) that "snaps between the legs for in the water and unsnaps for playing on the beach or going to town without changing." The unsaid, of course, is you never know when those between the legs snaps might come in handy. There are rumors WholesomeWear is in product development for teen sizes that feature snaps with combo locks that parents can set. Won't little Billy be surprised at that next pool party-sleep over when he finds out that Daddy's little girl was taking that Purity Ball very seriously (and how could she not when your sweet dear is choking up on your dangling tie! go see that picture!).

Finally, there's the Slimming Swimmer, as if all these seductively shapeless suits didn't allow you to hide a Bible or box of See's Candy or the fact that you're pregnant, my god, he's going to kill you when he finds out you didn't figure out the rhythm method properly a fifth time, you poor dear, put on this suit and he won't go near you again.

It's Like Dyslexic, Dental Wim Wenders

Today's moment that matters, from the newly discovered and deeply treasured and seriously deranged dashblankdash. Go see them all and buy yourself a souvenir t-shirt. It's Friday, and you're worth it.

"I'm Not Trying to Look Cute, I Just Am"

For Dog Blog Friday: One from the archives, because we all need an adorable puppy every now and then.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

What's the Matter, Hon?

This Day of His Stories....

On this day in 1834 Anna McNeill Whistler gave birth to a son, James Abbott McNeill Whistler. She figured she might want her portrait painted some day, but unfortunately spent all her money buying names for James and couldn't afford to purchase him any color paint.

On this day in 1857 Frederick Maytag was born, and although he didn't really invent the washing machine, it was his family that really cleaned up by manufacturing them. Not to mention they gave Jesse White quite a career in doing nothing.

It's also the 83rd birthday of former President Gerald R. Frdddd...sorry, I tripped over the keys there.

In 1865 people first began to line-up for the Matterhorn, so long ago that Tommorowland was Main Street U.S.A. then. Oh, wait, there's another Matterhorn? Not just at Disney World?

In 1916 St. Louis Brown Ernie Koob pitched all 17 innings in a 0-0 tie. That's funny--his name is Koob.

It's also the 23rd anniversary of Illinois Rep. Dan Crane admitting he had sex with a female intern. It seems the former dentist just couldn't stop filling cavities, for even when he tried to take his mind off sex, he would just bend over the pages of the book he was reading not to lose his place.

It's News to Me

Wendy McCaw, the millionairess (I guess that's the millionaire version of blonde, no?) owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, a paper she's driving into the ground, has opted to take a page out of the Rove playbook. Today she writes a Note to Readers that accuses the six editors and one long-time columnist who left the paper of the very thing she and her gang of henchmen fiance Arthur and .23 blood alcohol level Travis have been doing:

When news articles became opinion pieces, reporting went unchecked and the paper was used as a personal arena to air petty infighting by the editors, these goals were not met.

Some of the people who lost sight of these goals and appeared to use the News-Press for their own agendas decided to leave when it was clear they no longer would be permitted to flavor the news with their personal opinions.

Some disgruntled employees and their allies (commercial and political) are now sniping at this paper and spreading agenda driven misinformation to other media.

That's almost as good as making the war hero's Vietnam record look bad when you're the one who went AWOL from a cushy National Guard appointment daddy got you.

Wendy, or should I say Mein Fuhrer McCaw, we aren't sniping. We want the paper to tell the truth. If it can't do so about itself, how can we trust it about anything else?

To get more of the real story, read what UCSB's Daily Nexus managed to do, even though they don't put out papers during the summer session. Perhaps the Nexus should be the town's major daily now?

A Terrible State of Chassis

Can't help but think of the Groucho line, "Hey you big bully, stop beating up on that little bully," as I read the news about Israel in a war (at what point do hostilities become war?) on two fronts. Of course, it's often hard to tell who is the big bully and who is the little bully. The saddest part is based on all the brilliant diplomatic decisions they've made so far, it's hard to assume what BushCo does in response will be the right thing.


Of course, there's also the civil war we so kindly left in the open Iraqi box, who knows where the train bombings in India will take the distrustful nuclear neighbors of India and Pakistan, Iran and North Korea flex their nuclear muscles in their own unique's easy to imagine a World War III which isn't side v. side but all v. all.

Today's Moment that Slays Me

Grrrr. Arrgh.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Sky's Not Falling, You're Just Getting Taller

"I know I said I was going to sock you in the chin and in the gut, but I've decided to punch you only in the stomach. Isn't that good news?"

"But before you entered my life, I wasn't going to get punched at all!"


That little scene is from what I would like to call the Bush Deficit Players Theater. Let's run the history tape, shall we?

September 27, 2000
Web posted at: 4:51 p.m. EDT (2051 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton announced Wednesday that the federal budget surplus for fiscal year 2000 amounted to at least $230 billion, making it the largest in U.S. history and topping last year's record surplus of $122.7 billion.


In June, the administration predicted the surplus would be $211 billion, and would increase by as much as $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

"The key to fiscal discipline is maintaining these results year after year. We need to put our priorities in order," Clinton said.

While yesterday we got this exciting news from a positively crowing President Bush, in what should be year 6 on the way to that trillion dollar surplus that won't be:

A strong economy, driven by solid corporate profits and capital gains, played the key role in reducing this year's federal budget deficit from a projected $423 billion in February to the $296 billion announced by the White House Tuesday.

Somehow Bush finds all of this rosy, even when the story includes this kicker:

As for the deficit's direction, the White House Office of Management and Budget said the deficit would go back up again in fiscal 2007, which begins Oct. 1, to an estimated $339 billion.

I guess he's happy since in July of 2007 he can say, "The deficit is only $275 billion--way less than we predicted." And somewhere George H.W. and Barbara are thinking, "When he was in Yale, didn't he always tell us he was going to fail, then beam ear-to-ear when he got all those C's?"

Blog No Illusions and You're Worldly Wise

Today I opt to step back and point to a conceptual moment, if it's ok that I can presume the intentions of an artist, and I know just enough of theory to see where my mistakes in doing so might lie.

But I'm talking three minute pop songs here, so given the amount of thinking that must take, let's assume all of that cognitive power is right there on the surface because someone meant it to be there. To tell the truth, many of these songs clock in at 2:39, but perfect little 2:39s.

Our artifact under discussion -- Marshall Crenshaw by Marshall Crenshaw (ah, what elegance, and don't even begin to think to call it eponymous, as that's way too fancy). As a set of 12 songs it's pretty much faultless, catchy, just clever enough without showing even a hint of strain. And what gets me the most? He never writes a third verse.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Blast at the Past

If his subject were the mindlessness of John Hinderaker or the meanness of Michelle Malkin or the mindless meanness of Ann Coulter, I'd never question the savvy and snarky TBogg, but then tonight he opted to write about baseball and how much better the All-Stars were way back when in 1965. When they played the game uphill in the snow in both halves of the inning.

Sure, that's one terrific 1965 NL team. Sure, this year Mark Redman is an All-Star, and he might not last as the Mets fifth starter, and the Mets have tried Jose Lima twice in that role and he always pitched so badly you had to assume it's because he really wanted to get back into the arms, or something, of his wife.

But even on that '65 NL club, there's Ed Kranepool, whose claim to fame is he was an original Met, which is kind of like saying you were one of the original engineers on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge project. The AL team from '65 has even more dead weight, some of it starting: Earl Battey and Felix Mantilla aren't exactly Hall of Famers, plus Battey would have just given Chris Berman one more chance to come up with one of his stupid nicknames.

Currently baseball is in a transitional period, as one era of stars might not be putting up the first half numbers that seem to get one to the All-Star game anymore (I'm looking at you, Gary Matthews, Jr.). That means sure HoF'ers like Mike Piazza, Greg Maddux, Barry Bonds (you can be in the HoF and indicted, no?), Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Frank Thomas and Roger Clemens weren't in Pittsburgh tonight. Who can say for sure that a David Wright or Johan Santana or even an Albert Pujols will make it to the Hall? Someone can always go Dwight Gooden or Tony Oliva on you and be worth less than a box of their own Topps cards.

It's just in general the "golden days of your yore" thinking always drives me nuts. I'd like to think there's something to look forward to, and I'm the one not having kids partially because the world's future depresses me so.

Not to mention I figure if you take away the 1965 team's greenies, who knows how good they would be?

I Got It, I Got It, I Ain't Got It

This morning's moment comes from the me I used to be peering forward into the I that I am. (That has to be the single most pretentious sentence I've ever written. Wow.)

As a teen in the '70s it was hard to avoid the cultural pull of Mel Brooks, since his humor seemed to say you could stay adolescent forever and have a rollicking good time. Sure one could love Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles, but already building my arcana-loving cred, I found High Anxiety the apex of his low humor, and at that point I didn't even get half the Hitchcock references (knowing me, thinking I had something to learn was what made me like the Brooks' parody even more).

Of all things, what sticks in my mind most about the film might be the delicious lounge-singer turn Brooks takes, doing his best Sinatra on the title tune itself. There are actually two moments in this performance, the one where he semi-scats a silly "ooh-ziety" into the tune, and the other when he cracks the long mic chord into the floor with a hearty, clearly FX whipsnap and there's a quick cutaway to the delightful Madeline Kahn, who oohs with pleasure and blushes all in one funny reaction.

Speaking of the brilliant Kahn...of course in the '70s I thought What's Up Doc? was the height of humor, too, without knowing there was this thing called Bringing Up Baby and that replacing Hepburn and Grant with Streisand and O'Neal is like replacing Washington and Adams with Bush and Cheney (if a lot less evil). That said, I'd take Austin Pendleton over any of the Bush Cabinet....

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's an Insane Day in the Neighborhood

If you're a baseball fan, I bet you can't wait for tomorrow night's All-Star game, especially since you now know Kenny Rogers will start for the American League! Free chicken for everyone!

Oh, not that Kenny Rogers? I guess I need to learn when to fold a joke.

Since the real joke is this quote from AL Manager Ozzie Guillen, who probably will be forced to undergo drug testing for saying, "He's the best pitcher right now in the American League. That's why he's there."

Ozzie Guillen, may I introduce to you Johan Santana. That is if you want to take the long view and discuss the best AL pitcher of the past 3 years. If you want to talk about the hottest pitcher, Ozzie, you need to meet Francisco Liriano, whom you just named to the All-Star squad because Jose Contreras pitched too much on Sunday. Oh, and I know that's why Rogers is starting, because many All-Stars just pitched and need a rest, but that isn't what Ozzie said. And we're not talking about a man with a reputation for being nice for nice's sake.

C'mon, Rogers isn't even the best pitcher on his own club, he's just the one for whom the Tigers score the most runs (he's 4th in the entire AL at 7.3 runs of support per 9 innings). Give me Justin Verlander or Jeremy Bonderman, or even Joel Zumaya, since I should name one guy not on my fantasy baseball team to sound somewhat impartial.

Don't Dilly-Dally at Dali's Deli

If I'm choosing movies named Spellbound, I'm going with the moving documentary about the spelling bee kids (makes me all misty-eyed for a hopeful America, it does) and not Hitchcock's over-heated and under-cooked take on psychiatry, even with the Dali-designed dream sequences that contain none of the magic of Un Chien Andalou (you'd never get the Pixies to sing about the Hitch movie).

That said, it contains one of my favorite one-word lines in film, and therefore is worthy of today's moment of cultural grace. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman are out on a picnic, and when he asks her what kind of sandwich she would like, there's a close-up of her purse snapping shut. Oh wait, that's a different spot in the movie that takes it's Freudianism very symbolically. The killer line? It's all in the delivery, as Bergman lays on the extra relish as she says, "Liverwurst." 10-20 % pork liver, plus assorted meats, fat and some other organs never sounded so lascivious.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Free Press--If You've Got a Spare $450 Million

A Los Angeles Times story includes the lines:

"We are really limping along right now. We are not doing all the reporting and stories we would like to be doing," said one reporter, who asked not to be identified out of fear of being disciplined.

So, where is this paper? Baghdad? The Gaza Strip? Some college paper yearning to breathe free?

Nope--it's the Santa Barbara News-Press. Even before media consolidation was an evil glimmer in Ben Bagdikian's eye, it just seemed to anyone reasonable that it would be better for local interests to own a local newspaper. Alas, that also assumes that the local interest would be someone reasonable--enter Wendy McCaw, who scored $450 million after divorcing her husband in 1995 (who knew cell phone licenses could be so valuable?). She bought the local Santa Barbara daily the News-Press in 2000 from the New York Times Company, and everyone seemed happy, at least until her peculiarities became more peculiar, and eventually more public. She's one of those "I'm rich enough to be a libertarian" kind of people, with only an environmentalist bent to make her politics palatable. Her editorial page has railed against Living Wage legislation--in Santa Barbara, infamous as a place where all the services classes work and then hustle off to Ventura or Santa Maria, because the cost-of-living is so expensive. (A 1300 square foot house on a small lot goes for just under a million.) Then her intended became the paper's food critic, and there wasn't even a disclaimer when he took his "brainiac fiance" out on his reviews. Then the editorial page editor, who seems to hate any woman politician in the region (OK, maybe not everyone, just Lois Capps, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Marty Blum, Susan Rose, Gail Marshall, and Janet Wolfe--did I forget anyone?) gets busted for DWI while motoring the wrong way on a one way street but the paper spikes the story about his sentencing because having a blood alcohol level almost 3 times the legal limit isn't news, well....

It's hard to chronicle all the downhill from there--so fast, so down, so hill. Things blew-up this past week, and now 6 editors and a beloved columnist have quit. Want to know about what's going on? In the News-Press you can read a commentary about the glorious history of publishing papers in Santa Barbara, and how people have differences of opinions, so some move on. But when so many move on, that's not a difference of opinion, that's a parade of righteousness out the doors of hypocrisy and failed journalism. If you want the news, go to a real newspaper, or a blog.

P.S. Rob Lowe--if you want a McMansion, that means you want people to gawk. They need to know the address is 700 Picacho Lane, Montecito. In fact, here it is on a Google hybrid map.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This 60 Is 0 in No Time Flat

Put this one in the "get that man a booth at the boardwalk" file. This morning President Bush proved that he didn't learned from his faux pas when he "joked" with a partially-blind reporter about wearing sunglasses at a press conference less than month ago. After all he is the regular guy president we'd all have a drink with if he wasn't an alcoholic, and he just kids, he's the Kidder.

Nope, this morning, when a citizen of Chicago stood up to ask a question during Bush's so-called Listening Tour, he preceded his query by wishing the president a happy 60th birthday. Bush, ever-so-socially-ept, cut in and said, "Well you, you don't look a day under sixty-five."

Bush got him, didn't he? He's younger than many Americans. Now give him a supply of back-scratchers and let him guess folks' age and weight in Seaside Heights, NJ or something.

The Ants Are Our Friends

Those next-to-nothing moments that get one by are sometimes so personal that they might not make sense to anyone else, but I'm going to take a stab at this one anyway. (Don't worry, it's not dirty.) On the 4th KCRW aired the radio version of No Direction Home about Bob Dylan, which we heard off and on as we drove the pups to and from their walk at the wonderful off-leash park the Douglas Family Preserve, and at one point we caught some of a live version of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." Me being me, I think of the camped-up Bryan Ferry version, and then also think of the way I always want to hear the chorus, since I'm so much a basebal fan I have a Rawling's-made wallet crafted from mitt-leather (thanks, Amy--both for the wallet and the comment, so I have updated and corrected my mistake): "Tim Raines a-gonna fall."

Well, it makes me smile.

2-Gether, 4-Ever

For Dog Blog Friday: DJ Amy-Aim spins one spectacular greyhound mash-up.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

But Will You Still Give Me Presidential Love in the Morning?

The AP reports:

Bush was starting his road show Thursday with a two-day trip to Chicago, where he planned to listen to the concerns of local leaders over dinner and then stand for an hour of questioning from the national and local media in a unique heartland news conference.

The overnight trip is a departure for the president who travels extensively across the country but is known for his quick fly-in, drive-by visits. White House counselor Dan Bartlett said the Chicago trip will be the first of several this summer where Bush will spend significant time in a community and "really sink his teeth into the local market."

"There are a lot of things that are important to this president and often times when you fly into a community, you're in and out within 55 minutes and you talk about one subject," Bartlett said. "This gives him an opportunity to cover a broader range of subjects in the local community."

Yeah, on an overnight you can talk about two subjects. Or ten really quickly, depending upon how deft you are at eating breakfast while discussing safety. One can just imagine the President saying, "You know what's a crime? That there are so many vegetables in this omelette."

By giving folks two days, he certainly knows how to show the people he cares.

What Happens When the Blue Hens Face the Gamecocks?

Friday is the 83rd anniversary of the University of Delaware inventing the "junior year abroad." Anyone who has ever been to Delaware knows you're pretty much abroad if you drive for 30 minutes in any direction, so it's little surprise that the Fighting Blue Hens (team motto: "look out! we have eggs and we're angry!") took the lead in having its students learn elsewhere. What else would you expect from people who can't even pronounce Newark correctly.

The hard part, of course, was coming up with a name for this experiment in education. In 1923 many of U of D's students were legacies, so actually it was called "Junior's year" originally, but then women insisted on going to college and that complicated everything, not to mention leading to many more Juniors. The "abroad" part also had to change then, since it was called "a-dame," but that only really fit when students went to England, and now students were going to France (insert your own joke as they went to the Sorbonne--oops, I beat you to it) and "a-femme" sounds like you're clearing your throat and can't quite talk well, which is probably why you're clearing your throat.

Actually, it's best the U of D got to name the program. It's rumored that the University of Texas wanted to call it "A Spell Over Yonder," which at least is better than NYU's "Why the Fuck Do You Wanna Leave Manhattan?"

Want Adds

In a performance as big as America, in a movie not quite as funny as you remember it when you watch it again (call it Spinal Tap syndrome), Kevin Kline actually won an Oscar doing comedy as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. (Maybe he got the Oscar because acting so stupid seemed like a handicap, and the Academy likes nothing better than wheel-chair bound, left-foot writing, magically match-stick-counting men.) Still, one moment of the film always sticks with me, just because it captures something we've all felt, if not usually in front of an empty safe we thought would contain jewels that would make us rich. But confronted with just that situation, Kline pauses for a split-second--everything registers a millimoment slow for poor Otto--then bellows out "Disappointed!" feeling each of the four syllables from his stunned mouth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Past Tense of Lay

Reuters reports:

Enron Corp. founder Ken Lay died of a heart attack on Wednesday, six weeks after being found guilty of fraud in one of the biggest corporate scandals in U.S. history.

Conflicting reports about Kenny Boy's demise ran through the medical community. One doctor said that while Lay insisted he was fit as a fiddle, he was actually far from the picture of health that he tried to paint for outsiders. A different doctor said, "It is quite befuddling that cardiac arrest did him in--those of us in the medical community thought you actually needed a heart for that to happen."

With Fireworks, and a Moment of Grace, for All

When the fireworks go up, and a stray spark drifts out of formation,burning, burning on.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Can in American

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

You have to love that "among these," a grace moment, a fire escape, an open window, if there ever was one. Now go listen to Dave Alvin sing "Fourth of July."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Never Forget 2/11

It seems BushCo has some splaining to do. We've been told that any bit of rights we lose of late is a good thing as that means we're not dead, and that's all we can hope for from the federal government--not dying. Your bank records, library records, phone records, internets records--hey, if the government can't see them, what are you trying to hide, anyway? It's not like the feds are spying on members of Cindy Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace or an American Friends Service Committee intern who was also active in Food Not Bombs or college students planning to go to the Democratic convention in 2004.

But now writes:

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

Huh. That's even months before the Presidential Daily Briefing that Bush decided wasn't so important that it should interfere with a busy day of clearing brush.

So, here are some options:

1) The President's middle initials are really W.C.--no, not for water closet but for Walker Cassandra. He just knew some heavy shit was coming down.
2) The President knew some heavy shit was coming down. All the conspiracy theories are true.
3) The President doesn't care what happens, he just likes to spy on people.
4) would publish the address of George Bush's home--and not just his summer home, either--just so the terrorists could target him. They even hope there's a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank in the house. OK, since it's Bush's house, it might need to be a DVD of the film, but you get the point.

Feel free in the comments to vote for your favorite choice. More than one answer is possible, and there's always room for a write-in vote. Do note that all votes are immediately recorded, and not just by INOTBB.

Ain't That a Kick in the...

Still bitter over 230 years later, it seems the Brits have a nit to pick with their former colonies, at least according to this story from the AFP:

The United States is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll published in The Daily Telegraph.

Now, regular INOTBB readers might be shocked to learn that I'm going to have to defend the U.S. (of course since I'm a liberal and all, I generally side with the terrorists) on this one. Especially when one of the results is:

A massive 83 percent of those questioned said that the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

That's just so wrong.

The United States--or at least BushCo--doesn't care what the rest of the United States thinks, either. So why should the English get to feel all special? To put it in terms any footballer can understand, it's like this--the White House is Wayne Rooney and all the rest of us are Ricardo Carvalho's groin.

Hey, Lover, Hey Lover, Hey Lover--Swing

The film is supposedly unfinished, which only adds to its legend, which only goes to show. That's passion for you--glimpsed, grasped at, gone. Jean Renoir's luminous Partie de campagne/A Day in the Country captures something perhaps only Bergman's Smiles of A Summer Night does: how love stuns, even when, scratch that, especially when, a mere moment. There's no stepping in that same river twice, no matter how one thirsts.

But, of course, to feel that kind of loss one has to have something to lose. In this case it's Sylvia Bataille on a swing, what should be just a child's pasttime. The motion that Renoir captures, the freedom, this young girl in the air in the country in love. There's nothing quite like it in cinema.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pull This One, It Plays "Jingle Bells"

In a study sponsored by the Gates Foundation, with funding from Warren Buffett, the MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and anonymous donors, it has been discovered:

Your next raise might buy you a more lavish vacation, a better car, or a few extra bedrooms, but it's not likely to buy you much happiness.

Measuring the quality of people's daily lives via surveys, the results of a study published in the June 30 issue of journal Science reveals that income plays a rather insignificant role in day-to-day happiness.
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