Monday, April 30, 2007

Bush Vetoes Tuesday
Santa Barbara Protests Wednesday

As you probably know, President Bush will veto the Iraq Accountability Act -- a bill to end the Iraq war and bring the troops home safely in 2008 -- most likely tomorrow. After all it's a perfectly fitting way for him to commemorate his Mission Accomplished speech, which he gave 4 years ago.

So, to show Americans want the war to end as soon as possible, on Wednesday, May 2 starting at 5:30 pm, local Santa Barbara residents will protest President Bush’s veto. Residents will gather on the 101 Freeway overpass at Micheltorena Street to make some noise expressing their strong disapproval of President Bush’s veto. This protest will help get the message out to the greater Santa Barbara area in a vivid and unequivocal manner at the height of evening rush hour traffic.

Feel free to join us--bring a noisemaker, a sign, and your indignation. Let the world know that President Bush does NOT speak for you. Local members of Political Action are organizing Wednesday’s event, which is one of several hundred around the country. If you live somewhere else, go join your local protest.

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Originally uploaded by kurthu.

If rumors are true, this is a graphic representation of a bedroom containing George and Laura Bush.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Adidos

Originally uploaded by drewmoser.

What do you mean they're cheap knock offs--they smell jut as badly as my Nikke golf shoes.


Three Sheets to the Wed

Originally uploaded by ConnorTreacy.

It was bad enough that Tracee made her bridesmaids wear toga party fashions, but forcing them to take part in a three-legged race took the cake (and not the wedding cake, either).


Friday, April 27, 2007

Me Pun Pretty One Day

For you out-of-towners and you Santa Barbarians who care not a whit about written wit, this Saturday the author of Naked and the author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot will do a tag-team reading at the historic Arlington Theatre. Driving north by that theater the other night I saw that the side marquee announced "David Sedris" was coming. I guess with getting the front marquee correct they just ran out of vowells.

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Take One (Oval Office) for the Team

A brilliant idea in a letter to Eric Alterman today from the aptly named Jim Wiseman:

While we're on the subject, whoever wins the Democratic nomination ought to take a page from Abe Lincoln's book, and unite the party by filling his cabinet with heavyweights. Furthermore, take an additional page from the British, and announce it in advance of the election. Thus for example, if Edwards/Obama was the ticket, publish a shadow cabinet of (say) Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Wesley Clark as Secretary of Defense, Bill Richardson as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dennis Kucinich as Secretary of Labor, Bill Clinton as Ambassador to the UN, and as a cabinet level Energy Czar... who else but Al Gore. Gore might accept if he was given the funding, and a mandate to make the US the world leader in reducing greenhouse emissions.

In any case, such an approach might finally unite the party, and allow us to move forward from a position of strength -- so that the party ceased to be perceived as simply a catch -- all for everyone who doesn't like the far right agenda. But it would also be good government, as Lincoln proved. Why does personal loyalty to the President have to be the first prerequisite of a cabinet post?

I'm all for this--if only they all weren't politicians. (And it does seem a bit like a special episode of Batman in reverse....)


Friday Random Ten

Penguin Cafe Orchestra "Cage Dead" (Version 2) Concert Program
Fred Astaire "Steppin' Out with My Baby" Steppin' Out: Astaire Sings
The Mekons "Machine" Retreat from Memphis
Sufjan Stevens "Out of Egypt, Into the Great Laugh of Mankind, And I Shake the Dirt from My Sandals as I Run" Come on Feel the Illnoise!
Michael Tilson-Thomas & the Orchestra of St. Luke "Contredanse No. 2" Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"
Liz Phair "What Makes You Happy" Whitechocolatespaceegg
Billy Bragg & Wilco "Christ for President" Mermaid Avenue
Orchestra Baobab "El Son Te Llama" Specialists in All Styles
Richard Hell "Going Going Gone" R.I.P.

Jack Logan "Opposite Direction" Bulk

Yet another week with lesser cuts from greater artists (Mekons, Stevens, Phair, Logan), but there's Robert Quine behind Richard Hell's poorly recorded whine, one of the best world music CDs of the past 10 years with Orchestra Baobab, and the inimitable Fred Astaire.

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Hounds Go for a Round

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie is the Classy Blassie around our house.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Blog Entry with Blassie

Sometimes it seems the world just calls to INOTBB and I'm guessing you'll understand exactly why when I copy the following info from "Any-Day-in-History's" entry for April 27:

1953 Wrestler Freddie Blassie coins the term "Pencil neck geek"

Now everything I know about wrestling I learned from StrongBad, so I had to wrestle with the mighty tubes of the internets to learn more about the Classy Fred Blassie, who seems to have been the Dick Cheney of wrestling--he even was rumored to have filed his incisors down to points (in Cheney's case, that makes it easier to eat puppies). Blassie was one of wrestling's great villians, so much so according to Wikipedia "he was also stabbed 23 different times, had his car set on fire, had acid poured on him, and became blind in the right eye when a fan threw a hard-boiled egg at his face." What Wikipedia leaves out is it was a dinosaur egg, which after millenia get quite hard. I know you're wondering how it got boiled, but any intelligent design believer will tell you Adam and Eve domesticated dinos and used their eggs just like we use chicken eggs--but, alas, that dino egg gravy train ended when the dastardly serpent made the susceptible and of-course less smart Eve get us all banished from Eden, a lost Paradise of hard-boiled dino egg good eatin'. Of course, there are benefits to being damned, and one of those was Dr. Demento, who regularly played Blassie's blissfully bumptious recording of "Pencil Neck Geek" which concluded: "They say, 'These geeks come a dime a dozen.' /I'm lookin' for the guy who's supplyin' the dimes./It's gonna be real hard times for all of these/grit eatin',/scum suckin',/boot lickin',/drop kickin',/ gut grindin',/nail bitin',/glue sniffin',/scab pickin',/butt scratchin',/egg hatchin',/sleezy,/smelly,/pepper bellied,/ dirty, lousy, rotten, stinkin', freaks./Nothing but a pencil neck geek." Them's wrestling words!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Dinner of the Blogs Blogging

We aren't just brilliant with bytes, we're brilliant with bites here in Santa Barbara so last night Esau, Big Table, What Is a Blog Anyway?, and yours truly sat down and chowed down at the brand new, really just barely a kitten Hungry Cat. Yep, we broke that time-honored rule about not attending a restaurant's opening night because we just couldn't wait. The good news is the time-honored rule didn't apply. David Lentz and crew have themselves a total winner straight out of the gate, and I'm not just talking about the Pimlico cocktail (bourbon, orange juice, lime juice, mint) one of us enjoyed.

We were surprised to find the joint jumping when we arrived for our 8:30 reservation. (Indeed, when we left and chatted a bit with Lentz he said he was over-joyed at the turnout, given the original Hollywood location took a few weeks to catch on.) We had to wait, but the hostess was quite polite and apologetic about it, and you have to admit dealing with a 45-seat restaurant and figuring out how long people might linger won't be easy, especially since there's so many fine drinking options to keep people in their seats post-dinner (have Tim recommend the Armagnac--you'll see). As for the space, it's got a fine copper-topped bar and another bar along the back window, but mostly when it's full, it's deocrated with people. Of course, this is Santa Barbara, so the people are more decorative than in many other locales, so that's far from bad. The Cat's buzz will just build its buzz, in a way, if it stays packed with attractive folks.

As long as those attractive folks have any taste, that won't be a problem. We started with cocktails, and a hint they take things seriously is that only 1 of the 8 specialty cocktails feature vodka (no point in being a painter who only paints in white, right?). I particularly recommend the Howling Wolf--rye, blood orange, and lemon juice, so it's kind of a variation on the New York Cocktail, but it gets its wolf on with a dash of chili-infused tequila. That sneaky heat at a sip's end is a pleasant surprise, and really works with the raw bar oysters, sort of like liquid cocktail sauce with an alcohol kick. The oysters were good but the peel and eat shrimp were better, as you'd expect from a chef who grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Lentz knows what goes in a boil, and the kitchen cooks the shrimp just to the right doneness.

The wine list features some of INOTBB's home cellar faves, including Cold Heaven Viognier (it's got that exotic fruit thing you want, but none of the cheap-o viognier froot loops taste you don't want) and Kunin Pape Star (as in, like Chateauneuf du, but at a fraction of the cost and from right in the Santa Ynez Valley), but we went with the Spanish tempranillo I didn't know because it's good to try things you don't know you know. Do watch on the menu that everything listed on the menu under "dinner" isn't created equally--some are more small plates, so when in doubt, ask about how much you'll be getting. That doesn't mean the quick-cured hamachi isn't delicious, but it does mean it will also be quick-eaten. Everyone seemed content with his or her dish, for in addition to the hamachi we had the crabcake, frisee, pancetta with two over easy quail eggs atop; the grilled scallops, braised oxtail, cauliflower, and curry (which looked like a clever surf and turf--mollusk and tail?--variation, but none of us shared nothing cause we're ornery and liked our stuff too much); and my housemade chorizo, braised clams, sofrito and grilled bread that was so good people longed for the bread, even.

Service was fine given it was opening night and waiting on our 4-top meant taking two different routes to our table around other tables. At times things seemed to come a bit jumbled--the wine arrived after the main course was placed down, say--but our waiter was genial and the occasional visits from beverage director Tim were highlights because he just knows his stuff so well and is so enthusiastic about it. (Indeed, I'm thinking I missed the career boat: what could be better than to have your job be deciding what beer, wine, and cocktails go with good food?)

Don't believe the website (as of now), for the SB Cat, like the Hollywood Cat before it, only has one dessert, a chocolate bread and butter pudding that gets bruleed on top and I have to stop thinking about as I want one RIGHT NOW. Sorry.

Also, the Hungry Cat is one of those places were nothing seems too expensive but you like things so much all the cocktails and food adds very quickly to over $50 per person (with tip, and do so, generously). Still, it's worth that to have a place that's both comfortable and hip at the same time, and incredibly welcoming. Even Lentz's wife Suzanne Goin of AOC and Lucques fame was around for much of the night, with the double stroller and their newborn twins.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another Payne in McCaw's Craw

It seems there are even more folks in on the conspiracy to drive Wendy McCaw from journalism (or maybe that should be "journalism" given how she practices it). Here's the latest news from the University of Oregon School of Journalism:

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times will share a 2007 Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for their decision-making processes surrounding the June 2006 publication of a story on a US government project to access the SWIFT financial records database. Nine journalists who resigned from the Santa Barbara News-Press in protest over what they characterized as the publisher’s interference with news coverage also will share a 2007 Payne Award.


The nine former staff members of the Santa Barbara News-Press to receive the Individual Award include Jerry Roberts, former executive editor; George Foulsham, former managing editor; Don Murphy, former deputy managing editor; Gerry Spratt, former sports editor; Michael Todd, former business editor; Jane Hulse, former city editor; Colin Powers, former presentation editor; Scott Hadly, former reporter; and former columnist Barney Brantingham, who worked at the newspaper for 46 years. The judges applauded the journalists’ “difficult decision to act upon their beliefs about what excellence and ethics in journalism mean—even if it meant losing or giving up their jobs.”

And if you want to know, here's what the Payne Awards are about:

Ancil Payne, a legend in Seattle broadcasting, established the Payne Awards at the School of Journalism and Communication in 1999 to “to honor the journalist of integrity and character who reports with insight and clarity in the face of political or economic pressures and to reward performance that inspires public trust in the media.” Payne, who died in October 2004, was former CEO of KING Broadcasting; under his leadership, the company developed a national reputation for its commitment to ethical journalism.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Sins of Omission, Sins of Comission, Sins of Transmission

Somebody's got to do it, so here we go....When covering Jerry Roberts's press conference on Sunday in response to the News-Press's claims about his former computer and child pornography, Matt Kettmann reports on the Independent website:

The press event was attended by about 30 journalists, including the nearly 20 who crammed into Merenbach’s second-floor office on East Carrillo Street, a plethora of former N-P reporters, and one current reporter from the News-Press.

That last phrase is really important. In the News-Press article on Sunday, they showed no sign of contacting the accused--ok, the insinuated--and from what Roberts said on Sunday, they didn't ask him anything about these charges before running the non-bylined front-page story. Still, they felt this story about a computer used by many and bought used was worth running on their front page, which seems to mean it's a story worth following and anything related to it should later be reported at least somewhere in the paper.

What appeared in Monday's edition from that "one current reporter from the News-Press"? Nothing. (Hat-tip to Bob Guiliano in a comment on Blogabarbara for pointing this out.)

So, how does a story worthy of front page coverage one day devolve into not being covered at all the next day? And it's not like the News-Press couldn't get a story in on time. The Independent, a weekly (with a very much amped up web presence and a great new web redesign) had two stories (a news article by Nick Welsh and a media blog by Kettmann) up before the sun set. The Daily Sound, temporarily down to one main reporter, got a story in about the Roberts' press conference right on page 1. Even the New York Times worked in Roberts' press conference in their overall article about the latest sordid events in this struggle against intractable management.

So, how is this journalism? How do you work for a paper, no matter what part of the paper you work for, when this is its model of journalistic "integrity"--to accuse someone of something heinous and never ever let him get in his words of defense? Where's the balance there, especially in an age when journalists tend to look for the opposing opinion even on issues science has settled? I'm not going to name any names as I like some people still inside fortress McCaw, but I have no idea how they can look at themselves in the mirror at this point. "News-Press Staff Report" means all of you. And if you all just quit, at least walked out for a day or two, well, that might change things. I'm talking to you freelancers too.

I know it's easy for me to say this as it's not my livelihood at stake. But if you ever want to get a job anywhere else and you have the News-Press on your resume, how will that help your career at this point? Might as well say that you worked at Sleazeball Inc.

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What Goes Around Thanks Around

In an effort to spin the entire universe into one self-referential ball of goo, I want to say thanks to Watertiger, usually of the bitingly hilarious Dependable Renegade, who was kind enough to point to an entry on INOTBB yesterday in her Face the Snark edition at Firedoglake. Nothing like getting pointed to in a list with James Wolcott, TBogg, the good Roger Ailes, and more. I am not worthy to touch the bytes of their snark.

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Erector Set?

Originally uploaded by alpi_.

Is that the Eiffel Tower on your blog, or are you just happy to see me?

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


Their Nicknames Are Flotsam and Jetsam

Originally uploaded by tamer_mahnna.

In case you were trying to keep abreast of the situation, there is an understudy for Morganna the Kissing Bandit, although understudy might be the wrong word.


Electric Rugrat-aloo

Originally uploaded by PU Skunk.

The world's youngest, whitest breakdancer busts a move.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Weekend of No Flipping

As it's now Earth Night I feel I can finally admit something terrible about myself--today was the first day in my almost 13 years in Santa Barbara that I rode a MTD bus. And mostly I did it because it was free, and Amy, as usual wisely, insisted. I'm a hypocrite, I know, preaching all the save the earth spiel and refusing to get from behind the wheel of my own car. Although, in a weird way, I want to blame it on music, as the car is one of my favorite places to listen (and my car stil has a tape deck, even), and just-the-right song on the way to work can do so much for the start of a day. Sure, I could iPod-up like many mass transiters, but that means ignoring the mass, which seems rude somehow, plus if you start singing along, that's not just rude, it's offensive (you haven't heard me sing, and say thanks for that).

In other news this weekend....

So the News-Press has decided to go after Jerry Roberts in the nastiest way possible now. Nothing like a slimy unsigned story that doesn't even bother to try to get a quote/response from the person being accused of terrible things. (Don't they know it's de facto for such a story to have a quote claiming the accused refused to comment at this time, or could not be reached?) Reminds me of the old LBJ tale when he was running for an office in Texas and he told his advisors, "Accuse my opponent of pig-fucking. I know he didn't do it; I just want to see him deny it." At this rate, next Sunday's News-Press will allude to a now-vanished You Tube video of Susan Paterno strangling puppies....

The uptown Downtown Brewing Company should be open by the first week of May. We were out walking and peeking at the posted menu and they invited us in to look around. It's quite a space, with pool tables, a banquet room, a very nice bar, the already approved of by INOTBB outside seating area, and a nifty, couch-filled lounge, plus lots of plasma TVs (I can see myself watching the Mets win the World Series there already). Lots of cool specials, too, so here's hoping the beer they make and the beer they contract from Firestone Walker is up to snuff. And here's wishing their Happy Hour wasn't 3:30 - 6, but at least till 6:30. Some of us, despite how much time we spend blogging, have to work.

Rush out right now and buy Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show. This DVD package is totally hilarious--some of the best written TV ever. We're only 5 of the 23 episodes in, but after the Garden Weasel and fun with tarantulas and the Hankerciser 200, and a quick shot of T Bone Burnett, we couldn't be happier. That's leaving out the 8 hours of new material, mostly supposedly very unusual interviews with Gary Shandling and friends, we have yet to set eye on. The triumvirate of Shandling as the self-centered yet aware enough to be self-loathing Sanders, Jeffrey Tambor as the brilliantly dumb Hank "Hey Now!" Kinglsey, and the sly, slick Rip Torn as Artie (a performance that reaches back to George C. Scott as Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove and is a fore-runner to what James Spader does as Alan Shore in Boston Legal) makes every second of this show a joy.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Cat's Got Our Taste Buds

Out and about town tonight and what should we see at the corner of Chapala and Anapamu but tables and chairs and people in the soon to open Hungry Cat. Not just any people, but both owner David Lentz and spirits director Tim Staehling (that means he's in charge of all the liquor, not that he conducts seances). Opening night will be this Tuesday. And we will be there.

Other great news--the Hungry Cat will be the first place in Santa Barbara where one can get a beer from Craftsman Brewing, which will save us a lot of trips down to Father's Office in Santa Monica.

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And This Happened Just on a Thursday

Yesterday I get an email about the website we're totally redesigning at work, and I'm convinced at first glance the sender wants us all to meet at a "winebar." Then I get over being hopefully dyslexic and realize it says "webinar."


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Lazy Legs

For Dog Blog Friday, the Pups Celebrate Earth Day Sunday.

"I've been thinking what to do wit' my future. I could be a mud doctor. Checkin' out the eart'. Underneat'."

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Friday Random Ten

Randy Newman "William Brown" Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman
Laurie Anderson "Night in Baghdad" Bright Red Tightrope
David Byrne "Civilization" Grown Backwards
John Cale "Mr. Wilson" The Island Years
Son Volt "Ten Second News" Trace
Janet Bean & the Concertina Wire "Spout of Sprite" Dragging Wonder Lake
Chavez "New Room" Ride the Fader
Brian Eno & John Cale "Spinning Away" Wrong Way Up
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 "..." Mother of All Saints
Of Montreal "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger" Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

The Heath Brothers "A Harmonic Future" The Heath Brothers: Jazz Family

As usual, all over the map, even if we get a few contiguous towns along the way. I've always been a sucker for that rhythm guitar in the Eno/Cale song.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Keep His Robes Away from All Those Candles

Sshhh, don't tell anyone, but Friday is the 87th birthday of Justice John Paul Stevens. If the Justice is sleeping, let him rest. If he seems to be sleeping a bit too soundly, gently wake him. If he doesn't wake, prepare for a film I'd like to call Supreme Court at Bernie's.

Many don't remember, as it happened lifetimes ago when Republican presidents were just ineffectual and not outright dangerous (ok, dangerous to others--"watch your step there, Mr. President!"), but Gerald Ford appointed Stevens to the Supreme Court. Ford had to decide between Stevens and Judge George Ringo Stella, and opted to go with the man whose first and middle names wrote better songs. Indeed, despite Stevens ending up the anchor of the liberals on the Big Bench (and alas, the Bench is now a seesaw swinging right--it doesn't help that Ginsburg is so tiny), President Ford in 2005 praised Stevens: “He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns.” Of course, President Bush replied, "That doesn't sound like what I want to see in the government--get me some more Gonzales and Thomases."

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Richie Rich and Whitey White

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2008 Republicans!

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hasn't done a lot of grocery shopping lately — at least based on his answers about the cost of milk and bread.


When asked about more mundane matters — like the price of some basic staples — Giuliani had trouble with a reporter's question.

"A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30," he said.

A check of the Web site for D'Agostino supermarket on Manhattan's Upper East Side showed a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39. In Montgomery, Ala., a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.

Out of touch isn't quite the word--no wonder the Republicans only seem to represent people for whom the cost of food doesn't matter. Then again, Giuliani might be better off than rival John McCain, who has entirely different if equally mistaken perceptions when he goes to market.

Oh, why was Giuliani in Alabama? To attend $1,000-per-person campaign fundraisers in Mobile and Montgomery...and to suck up to racists as well, for he insisted that flying the Confederate flag should be left to each state to decide. Good thing for him there's a nifty Venn diagram where the white folk and the rich folk meet.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday Saturday Night Date Blogging

Now don't get all Representative Squeezy McFeelpants on me, and don't go expecting any incriminating You Tube clip, neither. This entry is about eating.


OK, now that that any snickeryness is out of the way, let's talk about the dinner and drinks Amy and I had last Saturday, and what it portends for Santa Barbara area dining. We opted to eat at the Montecito Cafe for the first time in months, and as we were hungry and went early, we even got in at 6 without a wait (for you out of towners, this is like getting to secondbase with a nun in fifteen minutes, but more rewarding). Generally we like to wait for a table in the cocktail lounge--it's really much nicer than a bar, after all, it's in a location that used to be a high-end jewelry store--so even without having to wait, decided to have pre-dinner drinks anyway. I'm a sucker for their blue martini, made with Bombay Sapphire and truly delicious blue cheese-stuffed olives, wisely made with real cheese, daily (so many blue cheese olives seem to be made with pasty cheesesque stuff unworthy of good gin or the drinkers that appreciate it). Amy had a Mandarin-tini based on Hangar 1's mandarin vodka, so you know that was also delicious.

Alas, things would sort of good downhill from there, if buoyed at the end by the as usual terrific coconut cake, a moist delight. Our appetizers were solid enough, both carrying on the blue cheese theme, as I got broiled oysters with a blue cheese sauce (that Amy insisted overpowered the bivalve, and as always there's the argument doing anything to a good oyster is a crime, let alone laving dairy on one) and Amy got the iceberg wedge with, yes, you guessed it, blue cheese dressing. Both plates featured tomatoes that were mistakes--a pale tomato makes the whole day a bit wan. Several slices on two plates is wan too many. So the first course gets a passing grade, but not really high marks.

The main courses didn't quite even get to that level. To be honest, my roast duck had good flavor, but the waitress didn't ask how I wanted it cooked and that's exactly how it came--not how I wanted it cooked. Duck really needs to be medium rare, and this duck was well done, which is not done well. Amy ordered Linguini, Lamb Sausage, Roasted Garlic & Onions, Tomatoes, Oregano & Olive Oil, and wasn't pleased, complaining the dish never really came together, the lamb was just like little pucks on the pasta, and the sauce merely runny. We did have a nice half bottle of Qupe Syrah, ever an old standby, but as usual the Cafe wine list perturbed me, as they refuse to include years, as if they assume no one knows anything about vintages. What's more, on the actually solid half bottle list they offered a "Rosenblum Zinfandel," and all I could think was which one? Currently Rosenblum offers 22 zins on its website. Now, perhaps not all of them come in a 375ml bottle, but still, this is sloppy wine-selling at best, disregard for the customer at worst.

You add it up and it brought us down, for the Montecito Cafe is generally one of our favorite places to dine in the area. You get a bit of the chic buzz of Montecito without the attitude, you get an interesting if small selection of wines, you get very good if rarely knock-you-out food, and you get out the door at about $100 total for two people. But if the food slips, not paying a ridiculous amount of money won't be enough to keep us coming. Here's hoping it was just a bad night in the kitchen and not a trend.

After dinner we decided to check out the recently re-opened Quantum, which now bears the moniker Quantum Kitchen & Cocktails. The previous incarnation of the spot just seemed to try too hard--it wanted to be AOC or some other sophisticated yet fun big city small plate hot spot, but mostly came off like Santa Barbara straining, which defeats the whole purpose of Santa Barbara. Plus, the food back then was hit and miss. And they didn't have a full liquor license, and saketinis just seem silly to me, leaving me an image of someone on Laugh-In making "sock it to me" jokes.

So, we didn't eat, of course, but we did cocktail up. Amy tried a special pear cosmo (check that spelling, she only had one), that was a clever variation on the tasty drink Sex & the City ruined (really, ladies, drinking them won't make you a size 0 like Sarah Jessica Parker). All the joy of pear without any of the fruit's graininess. I had to stick with gin, because gin insists (you gin drinkers know exactly what I mean). Quantum serves a bracing Hendrick's martini, a gin I've grown to appreciate as it's cool as a cucumber, or at least tastes a bit like one.

While we drank we also drank-in the menu, which seems simpler and wanting to comfort and is especially heavy on the burgers they serve in a box (no, not like Mickey D's, but a little wood tray-like contraption). That certainly helps knock the pretension out of a joint. The Happy Hour (and a Halfs) from 5-6:30 also looked like good deals, especially the food and a draught pairings. We plan to try the fish and chips one of these days, at least. And order Dr. Loosen's Riesling by the glass.

So, it's a tenuous ecosystem, and maybe there are only so many good restaurant vibes that can go around. We shall see, or I guess I should say we shall taste. Although any good date night dinner involves all the senses.

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The Supremes Sing "Fetal Love, My Fetal Love"

The Supreme Court reminded us you can't spell "mean" without "men" today in its 5-4 decision to uphold a law that bans a type of late-term abortion. I doubt I have to tell you which Justice voted which way, but what's most telling is the majority had to write two opinions, as Scalia and Thomas (or is that Scaliathomas, since Clarence packed up his tiny brain and handed it in a paper bag to Antonin) insisted they were prepared to go all the way and over-turn Roe v. Wade. Pretty interesting given Thomas didn't even have an opinion on the matter when he was up for Senate approval.

CNN reports:

President Bush, who signed the law in 2003 and appointed two of the justices who upheld it, said the prohibition "represents a commitment to building a culture of life in America."

Bush also said, "We plan to start arming fetuses--got our scientists who don't believe in global warming working on making them tiny little automatic pistols. That way they can protect themselves, shoot up them doctors if they try to pull anything funny like one of them DLC's or whatever they call 'em."

He went on to claim, "Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America."

"After all, it's huMANity not huWOMANity. If a woman or two dies because of pregnancy complications, it's ok as long as the baby makes it. Heck, it might be a boy."

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Music Is the Universal Language till You Play It on the Google Translator

Someone in Spain used the Google translator to view INOTBB, and one of the gems of that page produced the following mixed tape.

cara una
Mella Lowe, “va tan”
Los reemplazos, “no pueden esperar apenas”
Paja de Syd, la “muchacha más resistente en el mundo”
Pooh palillos, “gente joven”
Duendecillos, “empuje para el fuego”
Ese perro, “Minneapolis”
Fuentes de Wayne, “Denise”
Construido para derramarse, “cucharón grande”
Puede ser que sean gigantes, “Birdhouse en tu alma”
El choque, “tren en inútil”
Lucinda Williams, “besos apasionados”
Amy Rigby, “todos lo que deseo”
Elvis Costello, “(los ángeles desean usar mi) zapatos rojos”

cara dos
Formar Crenshaw, “yo hará cualquier cosa”
Flamin Groovies, “sacudare una cierta acción”
Tommy Keene, “lugares se van que”
Dramarama, “trabajo para el alimento”
La Tengo de Yo, “Tom Courtenay”
Buzzcocks, “caído siempre en amor?”
Ryan Adams, “nuclear”
Viejo 97's “Rollerskate flaco”
XTC, “alcalde de Simpleton”
Campos magnéticos, “100.000 luciérnagas”
Estrella grande, “septiembre Gurls”
Ben Vaughn, “Shingaling con mí”
Dulce de Matthew, “somos iguales”

Matthew Sweet turns out to be delicious, Syd Straw gets truly funny, and for some reason Yo La Tengo gets translated into Spanish as some Mets outfielders crash into each other. Oh, and notice that Buzzcocks in any other language are still Buzzcocks.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Possession Is Nine-Tenths of the McCaw

So Wendy McCaw has opted to turn our local paper into Carpetbagger Central, first by canning all the local columnists and replacing them with Dr. (of Physiology) Laura, who, of course, comes from Planet (Self-)Righteous, and now hiring a gossip columnist who became a US citizen less than 2 months ago. Give a big Santa Barbara welcome to Richard Mineards, generally billed as one of the world's experts on the British Royal Family, as there's nothing more fascinating and pertinent to today's world than the last vestiges of monarchy and where Prince William puts the royal willie.

It seems Mineards for years wrote for the British tabloid The Daily Express, which bills itself "The World's Greatest Newspaper," so Mineards should feel right at home at the News-Press, which has an equally inflated and mistaken opinion of itself. Indeed, looking at the Wikipedia page about The Daily Express one comes across numerous ways Mineards should sense some deja vu while working for Wendy. The Express "has a reputation for consistently printing conspiracy theories" and "the paper has made such sweeping generalisations about numerous other targets."

Actually, maybe we can work out some special overseas exchange deal and keep Mineards and ship them Travis Armstrong--seems he'd fit in perfectly.

Of course Richard Desmond, owner of the Express, couldn't be less like McCaw--he had made his money owning numerous magazine titles, many salacious (such as Big Ones and Asian Babes). Yep, he made his dough off people fucking while McCaw makes do fucking people over. It's enough to make one an Anglophile.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Balderdash Is Usually Beautiful

Better writers and those who more deeply felt Vonnegut's pull have written well of him and what his loss means, so I won't try to do that. But I will write about his house. In Iowa City at the top of Van Buren Street (and it really is uphill, even in Iowa, promise) sits the house pictured above, with a pretty good sized plot of land about it, featuring a barn into which you can fit a lot of people making an impromptu drum circle (mostly without drums), but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Back when I lived in Iowa City in the mid-80s, every May Day--in that spring fling abandonment dance about the May Pole way, not the workers unite or Haymarket Square or Red Square way--there was a huge party at what was called the Vonnegut House, although, from what I can figure Googling, he only lived in it for a couple of years in the late 1960s. Still, the house had a spirit, and that wasn't just because the people who lived there mostly dropped acid for the party (yes, even in the 1980s--it's a college town with a history of creativity, ok?). Now, drinking has always been my drug of choice, so I didn't do that, but I didn't really have to--you could pretty much get a contact psychedelicized high just by being there. Always a bonfire, as it was Iowa and even though May Day is about spring, that doesn't mean spring is about necessarily on May first. Lots of young folks, lots of drinking, lots of options in the air. It was truly charged, and it's hard not to feel that some Vonnegut spirit was present, that absolute need to laugh for humans are so terrifically beautifully absurd and otherwise too easily brilliantly mean.

And the one year, many of us crammed into the barn and started beating. You really can't call it a drum circle, as maybe 4 of 50 had drums, and a circle implies an order our various states of glossy inebriation wouldn't have allowed even if we had such an urge. But we all found sticks or tools or bottles and then found things that echoed well when tapped or thwacked, and somehow it all took a shape. What's more we would follow leads, hushing and crashing, tripling and soothing, cresting and coasting like we were one.

Kurt, thanks for one evening as long as it lasted when a bunch of freaks kept wild time and knew they knew each other, if only in this way no one could explain, but you knew that, that's why you kept writing and hoping, for what else is writing.

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Blacksburg and Baghdad

As someone who has worked or gone to school on a college campus for a couple of decades now, my heart goes out to all those involved in the shootings today at Virginia Tech.

But, then there's politics, and along with Larry Johnson I can't help but watch all the headlines and news shows get dominated by this terrible story and think of Laura Bush saying to Larry King: "But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody."

So, don't be discouraged, everybody. It was just one extended shooting. Why aren't we being shown the rest of the country's campuses, violence free?

Oh, and what was President Bush's response? "'The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed,'" spokeswoman Dana Perino said."

Yep, guns don't kill people, the media who cover people getting killed kill people. After all, if you never show those coffins, it's like the deaths never happened.

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Missed Speak

A typo in another blog's comments that you have to love: "lobbiest," as in "he became a political lobbiest."

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When Iris upon a Star

Originally uploaded by jasondunsmore.

The notorious banned cover art for the last CD by The Plant Part Formerly Known as Pistil.


Friday, April 13, 2007

You've Got Meme

Tom over at the ever-wonderful If I Ran the Zoo tagged me with the following far-too-long for how ultimately interesting it is (at least in my case) meme. So here we go....


Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. A vinaigrette with blue cheese chunks. But the Silver Palate Julee's Caesar is my favorite from the bottle.

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. None. We just don't do that. Does Super Rica count? (On Tuesdays for the sopes.)

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. Right now, have to say Jar in LA. Who's paying?

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. 20% on the bill pre-tax.

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick off of?
A. Cheese, because there are so many kinds.

Q. What is your favorite type of gum?
A. Dang, as in dang-gum it. (Not really a chewer.)


Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. Photos of the boys, of course.

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. One, as in one too many (but it is baseball season).


Q. What’s your best feature?
A. I will quote (ok, paraphrase) from Desire when the playing-a-European John Halliday says to Gary Cooper: "America is a big country," and Cooper leans in and says, "Six foot three."

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. Wisdom teeth. My innocence. Not at the same time.

Q. Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?
A. Taste.

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. Knock on enamel not for awhile, but then again I had so many as a kid I'm now in the "that filling has failed, time for a crown" phase of dentistry.

Q. What is the heaviest item you lifted last?
A. My sorry ass out of bed this morning.

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. Is that a threat?


Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. Only if I could write a poem as good as Merwin's "On the Anniversary of My Death" about it.

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

Q. Is love for real?
A. Yes indeedy.

Q. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
A. Zeus. Might as well aim high.

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. A blue shirt is often nicce to match my eyes, but it really depends. If you next ask what I'm wearing now I'm hanging up the phone....

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. Yes, my words.

Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. I don't think so, unless as a DJ I saved someone's life way back when. (Whatever happened to In Deep?)

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. Beyond saving it from being boring and miserable, no. (Thanks, Amy!)


Q. Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?
A. How about half naked for a mile for $50,000? Or could I run?

Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. Can I choose the person? If so, sure. (Someone warn Johan Santana.)

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. No way. Pain ain't worth money.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. Even under a psuedonym? How would you ever know?

Q. Would you pose nude in a magazine for $250,000?
A. Are magazines that hard up these days?

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000?
A. Do you get the trip to the enmergency room included, or does it come out of the grand?

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. Well, since I've already done so just for the thrill....Of course not.

Q. Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
A. Easy.

Q. Give up MySpace forever for $30,000?
A. Does it count as "giving it up" if you've never had it? I'll give up making wild passionate love with Kate Winslet too.


Q: What is in your left pocket?
A. My wallet.

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. One more cultural moment everyone shares but me, which makes me want to see it even less. (See the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, or, don't, and be like me.)

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A. Hardwood, but some rugs on that.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A. Why would I sit?

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A. A wife isn't a rommate--she's way better than that.

Q: How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
A. 0

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A. Since they didn't catch me after that perfect murder, I guess it was the speeding ticket the one day a couple years ago going home at lunch to check in on the dogs. Pleading dog care doesn't get you out of a ticket, btw.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A. Who says I have to grop up?


Q: Friend you talked to?
A. Real or imaginary?

Q: Last person you called?
A. A photographer we're hiring to cover an event.


Q: First place you went this morning?
A. To the curb to grab the newspaper. (The LA Times, not the dreaded News-Press which we cancelled months ago.)

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A. Fnish this damn questionnaire.

Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A. Seven Chances. Still enjoying that wonderful Keaton boxset.

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A. To friends, yes.

So, it's tagging time. I turn this meme over to Amy (sorry, honey--at least I left all the local bloggers you know for you to tag), Cookie Jill, and James.

UPDATE: Amy has hers done. And now Cookie Jill does too.


Dog Amuck

For Dog Blog Friday: It's all fun till someday looks like they've got a black eye when screened by someone else's ear.


Friday Random Ten

The Buzzcocks "Harmony in My Head" Singles Going Steady
Steve Earle & the Del McCoury Band "Long, Lonesome Highway Blues" The Mountain
Moe Tucker "Danny Boy" Dogs Under Stress
Matthew Sweet "Behind the Smile" Life on Mars
Tom Waits "Dog Treat" Orphans: Bastards
Matthew Sweet "Good Friend" Girlfriend (bonus CD)
Louis Prima & Keely Smith "That Old Black Magic" Jackpot! The Las Vegas Story
Pizzicato Five "[something in Japanese]" Happy End of the World
The Replacements "Anywhere's Better than Here" Don't Tell a Soul
Buena Vista Social Club "Chan Chan" Buena Vista Social Club

Richard Thompson "A Solitary Life" Front Parlour Ballads

Yes, it's that "Danny Boy." You really don't need to hear it. Not really one 10 out of 10 song this week, despite lots of fine artists. A selection of small horizons, as RT might have it. (Oh, and it's not THE version of "Girlfriend" but a demo, hence not a 10/10.)

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Zing the Tubb-Husband Electric

You might think a guy who wouldn't look out of place on a Smith's Coughdrops box might not be the man to turn to for an invention that would be useful for scientific and entertainment purposes. But without James Wimshurst, Frankenstein movies wouldn't be as cool. For on a whim, this decidely unwhacky Englishman, who managed to marry a Tubb and not giggle (his wife's maiden name was Clare Tubb and you have to hope the minister said, "Will you take this Tubb to be your lawfully wedded wife?"), created the Wimshurst machine, sometimes called a Holtz-Wimshurst machine, but never called a Tubb-Wimshurst machine. (Billy Bob calls it a slingblade.) Now don't give me any static trying to explain. It's an electrical influence machine with two poles and when the electricity gets revved up (if you want to know how, go ask a scientist--I think it has something to do with kites and thunderstorms and black and white film and a slightly slow guy with a hump), it flies back and forth in wonderfully cinematic arcs. Later inventors came up with their own variations, including W.R. Pidgeon's Pidgeon Machine, which not only looked fascinating but made tasty squab.

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Religious Art: Once More with Feeling

Just as the poor Neanderthal deserves some paleo-historic love, even if it turned out to be an evolutionary dead end, it's good to stop and give Tintoretto--who led to no one and barely left his Venice--an artsy cheer. I was reading the latest issue (subscription required) of The Nation last night and Arthur Danto praises Tintoretto and a curent retrospective in Spain he called a "beautiful and unforgettable show, and a reason to visit Madrid this spring, in case you needed a reason." I've never been to Madrid, but his encomium made me want to book a flight pronto.

Then again, it's hard to imagine any traveling Tintoretto show topping his show-stopper "installation"--the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice. It's not necessarily the first thing people think of when they consider the city that is as wonderful and romantic as you might imagine, without any Disneyfication (knowing the city is all at best wearing away, at worst slowly sinking into the lagoons knocks flat any cheap sentiment). I mean there's St. Mark's--the square and the basillica and the dueling coffee shop orchestras and the campanile a bit askew and St. Theodore astride his crocodile (you have to know your Pound for that one)--, and the canals, and the Doge's Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs, and Harry's (most expensive cocktails I've ever had), and Murano (gee, why does every demo end with the audience in the salesroom?), and for relief from the "old stuff" there's the Guggenheim. San Rocco can seem like an afterthought's afterthought.

But to tell the truth, it was perhaps the place I found most inspiring in all of Italy (ok, we only visited Florence and Venice, but...). The danger with any such trip is at a certain point you're about ready to scream if you see one more blasted cherub. Enough with the damn religious subjects. But Tintoretto must have felt that too, and you learn very quickly why he earned the nickname "Il Furioso." I've drifted much from the church, but looking at a Tintoretto you get gobsmaked by this artist's faith--it's living, and so are his paintings. Things are seen anew, over and over; one simple example is while every other Last Supper has the table square (rectangular?) in the frame, Tintoretto runs his at a diagonal. Different just to be different? Well, yes and no--the unique perspective makes the event seem possible, animated, and Jesus and his disciples quite possibly actually people. And if we get moved to believe that, then the story gets really interesting.

Danto quotes John Ruskin's response in a letter to Ruskin's father:

I have had a draught of pictures today enough to drown me. I never was so utterly crushed to the earth before any human intellect as I was today, before Tintoret [that's the Anglicized version of his name, which is thanks to his father, a dyer or tintore: he's the little dyer]. Just be so good as to take my list of painters, & put him in the school of Art at the top, top, top of everything, with a great big black line underneath him to stop him off from everybody--and put him in the school of Intellect, next after Michael Angelo. He took it so entirely out of me today that I could do nothing at last but lie on a bench & laugh.... M Angelo himself cannot hurl figures into space as he does, nor did M Angelo ever paint space itself which would not look like a nutshell beside Tintoret's.

San Rocco's walls and ceilings attest to Tintoretto's genius--52 paintings in all, with ones you have to view in a mirror on the ceilings. That crucifixion at the top of this entry (just trying to play catch up with Good Friday, I guess) isn't just a painting, it's practically CinemaScope with dimensions of 17 1/2 feet by 40 feet. It's ten years this summer I saw these works and they still seem vivid to me. Whenever anyone wants to think art is purely an intellectual exercise, I want to ship 'em to Venice and make 'em tremble before that.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stop! In the Name of Love

Here's news from the AP that's sure to get conservatives all hot and bothered:

Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation promoting comprehensive sex education instead of abstinence-only curriculum. They want to send money to schools that stress abstinence while also instructing students about the health benefits and side effects of contraceptives.

So they want to suggest that abstinence is a good idea, but if you are going to have sex, know how to be safe? Geez, that's just more evidence how the Democrats always go off half-cocked. While abstinence-only education tumesced "17-fold — from $10 million in 1997 to $176 million this year — when the Republicans controlled Congress," that federal gravy train may have shot its wad.

The abstinence groups, however, won't take it lying down.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said the group's formation is not a response to Democrats taking control of Congress.

"It really has nothing to do at all with any current political climate, just the evolution of the field of abstinence education," she said.

"Not that we believe in climate change or evolution," she quickly added.

While a quick Google didn't help me find the National Abstinence Education Association (maybe they don't want to include their information in a medium that also features porn sites that might give teens the idea they have bodies), I did come across the Florida Department of Health's It's Great to Wait (and it even rhymes) site. It might be premature of me to blast the site so quickly, but any education plan that stresses it's wise to "teach that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects" has a funny sense of what likely means.

The site also offers suggestions about how parents can help their teens keep a lid on the old id:

Parents - talk to your kids!

  • Be available to talk to your teens; treat each other with respect and trust.
Indeed, too often a father will fall asleep immediately after having sex with a child. (Oh, wait, this is Florida, not Mississippi, my mistake.)
  • Ask your teen questions about their opinions, friends, schools or movies, but let your teen tell his or her story.
Afterward be sure to tell them a "story" or two, too, like how you and your spouse never had sex until your honeymoon. It's best to practice this "story" so you can tell it without giggling.
  • Try asking open ended questions such as “What was the best part of your day?”
If young Billy answers, "When Susie gave me that blowjob in study hall," you know you have a problem. After all, now Billy owes Susie one.
  • Support their goals. Ask what your teen’s goals are, both for the long range and for the short term and share your support.
Be sure to stick to sports metaphors other than baseball, however. Goals--good. Sliding into home head first--bad.
  • Encourage, educate and empower your teen to make healthy choices.

For instance, buy them these Healthy Choices penis puppets--no one will have sex with your son once he slips one of these babies on. (P.S. Be sure to begin the Junior's Later-Years Psychiatrist Fund at the same time.)
  • Give your teen the guidance, information and skills to be successful.
Just be sure to give them no real information beyond sex will make them pregnant/blind/dead, not necessarily in that order. You don't really need to give them skills, either. The ability to be a great sex partner immediately fills up a bride and groom upon the sacrament of marriage, but only if the married couple is trying to have children. That we've come to a time when non-potentially procreative sex isn't thought of as an abomination makes me want to shudder and scream.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

That's Advertainment

Doing all they can to confirm all suspicions they were really a bunch of Tories, you can now hear The Jam's "Start!" as the music selling you a Bose speaker system for your Cadillac.

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Six Feet Under an Angry Hedwig

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iran So Far Away

The AP reports:

Iran announced a dramatic expansion of uranium enrichment Monday, saying it has begun operating 3,000 centrifuges — nearly 10 times the previously known number — in defiance of U.N. demands it halt its nuclear program or face increased sanctions.

U.S. experts say 3,000 centrifuges are in theory enough to produce a nuclear weapon, perhaps within a year. But they doubted Iran really had so many up and running, a difficult technical feat given the country's spotty success with a much smaller number.

Instead, the announcement may aim to increase support at home amid growing criticism of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and to boost Iran's hand with the West by presenting its program as established, said Michael Levi, a nonproliferation expert at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.

It sure is a good thing we have Valerie Palme and her super-secret "operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran."


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To Write This Wrong with Blinding Speed Goes Underblog

A quick word on why it's good to have blogs--because people outside the usual media channels can have a voice and be read. Clearly there's been a huge failure over the past few decades (probably longer): what's offered to consumers as news often isn't really news (anybody read a story about Anna Nicole Smith lately?) and then there's the whole ridiculous notion that a story without two "sides" is instantly biased (as if we need to quote the Flat Earth Society if there was a story on global rounding). Blogs rarely break news, sure--you need actual reporters and some funding to do that--but they do help keep stories alive that need to be kept alive (just look at Talking Points Memo and the US attorney firings) and also allow for some rumination before we run off and chase the next shiny bauble (and to think of all those editorials that claimed 9/11 beat the "summer of the shark" stories out of the press).

All that said, I find this entry from Santa Barbara's Blog to be most distressing, and not just for its smug, self-congratulatory tone:

In her A-2 column on Sunday in the Santa Barbara News-Press, Dr. Laura Schlessinger acknowledged the Blog for doing the right thing. Niceness aside, the Blog will continue to offer a voice to all in the community. The goal…a multiplicity of opinions, and quality interactive discourse.

Dr. Laura wrote: “And a thank you: It is a pleasure, and a surprise, to find a nice blogger in Santa Barbara! The editor of, has offered to run 150-word posts on a variety of subjects affecting our local community. ‘Dr. Laura’s voice deserves to be heard in Santa Barbara, but she often takes a lot of undeserved flack, especially in the local blog world.’

Thank you, (Editor Bird), I am grateful for your invitation and your positive, fair spirit. Now, we need to clone (the Blog) to uplift the S.B. blog quality of discourse.”

The 150-word post(s) noted by Dr. Laura, is the same, open invitation offered to all media personalities, newsmakers, local leaders, and dignitaries.

Exactly why does Dr. (of Physiology) Laura need a platform on Santa Barbara's Blog, too? Isn't her column in the News-Press (and radio show, and books) enough local exposure? Of course, she doesn't get much web exposure, given the News-Press doesn't let non-subscribers get anything for free, so maybe that's her concern.

And wouldn't someone with her ideas probably be against cloning? OK, seriously, do we want all blog voices to be the same? Schlessinger probably does--they should all say she's wonderful! She's all for a multiplicity of opinions as long as they all agree with her.

Which, of course, is where the paper she writes for and defends stands right now. If I shipped in a letter to the editor with content like my entry the other day decrying her praise for Rudy Giuliani (assuming I cut it down to the proper letter-to-the-editor length), would it ever run in the News-Press? They didn't even cover the NLRB findings as news, let alone allow any nay-saying words to be heard in their letters section.

I've heard plenty from "all media personalities, newsmakers, local leaders, and dignitaries." It's time to hear from those of us who just want to live our lives, who aren't necessarily experts (with our without doctorates in the fields we purport to be authorities in), but who have thoughts, think them through, and hope to be heard above the din of others' axes grinding.

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His Collar's Ridiculous Too, But I Didn't Make Fun of That

Originally uploaded by Aaron Borens.

What do you mean if I bought a slightly smaller television I might have money to buy some new jeans?

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.


A Brush with the Flaw

Originally uploaded by Ken R.

Life was so much easier once Baby Timmy learned how to use his own Paint-On Diaper.


I'm Not Lovely and Talented, But...

Originally uploaded by mchadwick.

Quick impersonation, TBogg's Blog!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Random Ten

John Cale "Leaving It Up to You" Fragments of a Rainy Season
Astor Piazzolla "Adios Nonico" Un Siecle de Tango Volume 2
Lucinda Williams "Essence" Live @ the Fillmore
Rilo Kiley "More Adventurous" More Adventurous
Billy Bragg "Deportees" Talking to the Taxman about Poetry
East River Pipe "Kill the Action" Mel
Waco Brothers "Big River" Cowboy in Flames
Sleater-Kinney "Memorize Your Lines" The Hot Rock
Guided by Voices "Run Wild" Isolation Drills
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 4, Rondo, Allegro" Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Elvis Presley "Trying to Get to You" The Sun Sessions

Elvis and Mozart, together again. I think they both love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. And how in the world did John Cale pop up--just because I've been invoking him in title after title?


Buffalo Ballet

For Dog Blog Friday: Sorry, but I've been on a John Cale jag with the post titles, even when they don't make much sense with the post. But nothing says "Sleeping in the midday sun" like these two. I promise I won't let either of them chop the head off a chicken. (Photo by Amy)

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Add It Up It Brings You Down

So the News-Press received its latest installment from the satellite inhabited by Dr. (of Physiology) Laura today, out in its orbit pulled by the gravitational forces of Wendy McCaw, George W. Bush, and all the hypocritical moral scourges that have come before her. The first part of her column attacks the Santa Barbara Newsroom, but what else could it do, for the Newsroom is the home for all the fired former News-Press journalists. This rant, which belittles all unions (each worker, of course, should just stand up and take responsibility for him or herself--that's the way to fight unscrupulous owners who have all the power!) is boring--what else would a News-Press lackey like Laura Schlessinger say? It must be something to write and never surprise oneself with where one ends up.

No, I'd rather look at the second part of her column with the subhead "Cure for Gangs." In her typically authoritarian manner, her answer to the problem is simple--police, and lots of them (gee, does she know they have a union?). The kicker, of course, is this claim:

When he was mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani used the police force wisely and made the crime rate in New York City (a bit bigger and more complicated than Santa Barbara) plummet. He managed to do this without creating more fun and games for gangster types in hopes of distracting them. Just good old law presence and enforcement.

Yep, good ole (ok, she didn't spell it that way, which takes the Pusser out of it, but you know what I mean) law presence and enforcement. Just ask Amadou Diallo about that. So, beyond turning New York City into a police state that could be as scary for people of color as today's Baghdad is for everyone but John McCain, what else did Rudy Giuliani accomplish as mayor? The 2006 film Giuliani Time, widely praised, offers some suggestions. Here's some of Kenneth Turan's review in the Los Angeles Times:

"He was a one-trick magician, and that was crime," says Ruth Messinger, one of his unsuccessful opponents. Yet for all the talk that he was a mayor who "brought joy, safety and greatness back to New York City," Giuliani Time claims the mythology doesn't always stand up to scrutiny.

For one thing, statistics indicate crime in the city began to decline before Giuliani's election. For another, the policemen who made that decline possible were hired when [his predecessor David] Dinkins was mayor. Finally, there is no consensus that the celebrated "broken windows" school of policing that emphasized dealing with minor infractions such as vandalism really was a factor in suppressing major crime rates.

Andrew O'Hehir in Salon took a deeper look as to what motivated Giuliani, paragon of goodness for the dear "Dr.":

He [Giuliani] seemed incapable of grasping that many black New Yorkers felt that he had given police free rein to harass them, beat them and even kill them if it brought the crime rate down another few points. Giuliani may or may not be a racist, but he was raised in an all-white Long Island suburb and plays to primal, almost atavistic big-city fears. The fact that he could be elected not once but twice while totally antagonizing the black population and essentially telling the rest of us that those people were the problem is, as [journalist Wayne] Barrett notes, almost unbelievable.

For my money, the most important political argument in Giuliani Time is that Giuliani's cosmetic reforms had little to do with crime reduction, and a lot to do with making rich and middle-class white people in Manhattan and the brownstone neighborhoods of Brooklyn feel better about the city. Under the previous mayor, David Dinkins, crime had dropped sharply for three years before Giuliani took office in 1994. But Dinkins is a black liberal Democrat, so to this day, many people cling to the superstitious belief (argued vociferously by Giuliani during their '93 campaign) that he hated cops and coddled criminals. In fact, Dinkins had hired thousands of new police and introduced a street-level anti-crime campaign. (Some social scientists will tell you that crime rates are more a function of economic and demographic curves than anything mayors ever do, but that's another story.)

Ah, so it's a race thing. That should play well in Santa Barbara, where it's easy to say gangs are those people's fault, and we sure don't mean the ladies who lunch at the Little Town Club.

And leaving Schlessinger behind, let's not forget how Giuliani's pre-9/11 New York is the post-9/11 U.S. Bush now leads. We are constantly reminded of our primal, almost atavistic fears--if we aren't careful, they will follow us home. They will kill us here.

We have nothing to fear, however, but fear-mongers themselves.

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Hostess with the Moistest

Here's something to chew on...Friday is a grand day in the history of modern eating, if not necessarily of eating food, and get your mind out of the gutter as I'm talking about the Twinkie (please notice that capital T), which celebrates its 77th birthday. A mere youngster in our effort to take all pleasure out of eating, the TV dinner celebrates its 53rd anniversary Friday, thank you Swanson & Sons (maybe Swanson needed his daughters to help in the kitchen instead). Of course, there are most likely some of the original batches of each around, that Twinkie just as spongily lovely, that turkey dinner encased in its protective ice crystal coating, a few peas misplaced and jammed into the cornbread (the brownie that at least lived up to its color if not its flavor didn't get its aluminum partition for years--we're talking Omaha, after all). It's surprising to learn that unlike the lines that seemed to link the TV dinner to the TV in Hal Hartley's Trust ("I had a bad day at work. I had to subvert my principles and kow-tow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. Deadens the inner core of my being."), Swanson & Sons called it a TV dinner because they thought the rectangular tin looked like a rectangular TV. Thank god the convenience meal wasn't invented today, or we'd have 48" of salisbury steak to face, and I'm not trying to make a Milton Berle joke, I promise. As for the golden sponge cake with a creamy filling, it was created by a man named James Dewar, so I assume he drank too much of the other product named after him and then got to baking. Wikipedia does inform us: "In one small classroom experiment at George Stevens Academy, a single Twinkie, removed from all packaging, did not spoil for 30 years, although it became 'rather brittle.'" Then again, I'm pretty sure I saw the Brittle Twinkies back at the 930 Club in DC in the '80s when they opened for Hungry-Man.

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Where Jane Jarvis has Her Hands All Over Your Organ

Now, I don't like to count my pennants when only seven shutout innings of one hit ball have been hatched, but I do feel I should pause and credit Omar Minaya for being one canny dude. Heading into the 2006 season he did what seemed dumb, trading a starting pitcher for a bullpen arm that always seemed more talented than it is and a minor leaguer no one was too high on. That trade of Kris Benson to the Orioles looks like utter genius now, despite the carping of all sorts of people, not the least the Baseball Prospectus crew (and therefore me, for they've become to baseball what Pauline Kael* is for film for me--sometimes I quote without knowing I'm quoting).

Let's look at where we stand a few games into 2007:
  • Kris Benson injured, probably out for the season in Baltimore.
  • Anna Benson is no longer a siliconed-distraction in New York.
  • To cover for Benson's loss, the Orioles had to sign Steve Trachsel. (I guess the benefit is fans will get to spend much more time in Camden Yards during his starts.)
  • The Mets flipped the erratic bullpen arm, Jorge Julio, to the Snakes to get El Duque. The Mets needed someone to challenge Julio Franco as team old man. Seriously, when healthy, he's at least as good as Benson, and he's a lot more fun to have around.
  • The Snakes then flipped Julio to the Marlins, and now he will blow-up frequently as their closer, making it easier for the Mets to win more games in their division.
  • Best of all, the Mets landed John Maine, the barely praised prospect who has turned into a savior for a Pedro-less rotation.
In essence, Minaya turned Benson into Maine and El Duque. Did you see games 2 and 3 of the Mets crush the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals series?

*Kael's love of Brian DePalma not available as part of this offer.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Cheesy Goodness Blogging

I like lots of cheese if you please; I like lots of cheese if you don't please. I don't mean to get catty about it, but I never understood people who say they don't like cheese because it's sort of like saying you don't like people--given there are so many different varieties, there's got to be at least one you'd appreciate. Then again, I like more cheeses than I do people, but that might just be because I've never met a chesse that was an Atlanta Braves fan, or a Republican. I like my cheese hard, soft, and semi; mild, mercurial, and musty. Cheese fascinates me the way wine does, how much it's part of a culture (in two ways), a place, a people, a season. Plus it just tastes good.

Luckily, Santa Barbara has a fine cheese store C'est Cheese, which not only has terrific stock but is run by sweet people, so you feel even better supporting Michael and Kathryn as you get your cheesy fix. Each month the store holds a cheese tasting, which is a great way to learn something and eat well. Amy and I have attended several, including the March Cheeses of Switzerland event. We got to try 5 samples, matched with a wine (a Morgan sauvignon blanc)--it was a hole [sic] lot of Swiss cheese! OK, these cheeses weren't particularly aerated, as it were, and while 4 of the 5 were variations on a theme, the last cheese was a real stinker, in that good way, but we'll get to Vacherin Mont d'Or in a bit.

As for the variations, all made from cow's milk, it's hard to go wrong with a classic, actually aged Gruyere. A wonderful creaminess and nuttiness, and much more flavorful than typical grocery store Gruyere--the Trader Joe's kind is sort of the Two-Buck Chuck of cheese, alas. Appenzeller is a bit milder, although no dog of a cheese, especially in fondue (C'est Cheese does fondue tastings too, but we have yet to stop our schedule and melt with them). My favorite of the night was Hoch Ybrig, not only because it sounds like cheese trying to talk like a pirate but, as the much more fromageloquent Max McCalman puts it, "its flavors are complex, harmonious, and lingering; they include salty, nutty, sweet, and tangy with a hint of butterscotch." And how can you go wrong when your cheese packs its own dessert? The Seelander, which makes me think there should be goofy Ben Stiller on the label, is good, but a tad less complex, a pinch saltier.

As for that Vacherin, it's one of those runny, gooey, strong cheeses that has a bit of the barnyard to it. Like a strong-willed person, you sort of admire it more than want to have it around a whole lot, but at times it helps clear the room, and there's a use to that.

Oh, while eating this good stuff, you also get to learn a lot about the cheesemaking process (no whey!) and each cheese, which often includes battles over who gets to call their cheese what and why the US is obsessed with pasteurization and how long to age your cheese (not as long as most of my jokes are old). But I don't mean to milk this topic till your blue, I promise. Suffice to say that Kathryn is a terrific host, managing to be both knowledgeable and interesting, even to an after-work crowd starting to drink.

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So Many Shades Fall on Scarlet Kinghts

Last night was day two and a half of the baseball season and I couldn't find a single baseball game on television at 7 pm PDT. This is why someday all baseball fans will be old enough to remember the days when Doc Gooden was all flash and promise. If kids can't watch a game, they're not going to watch the game.

Now, I only have expanded basic cable, so am stuck with fewer options, but why was ESPN covering the NCAA Women's Championship Game on both ESPN and ESPN 2? Why have two stations if they do the same thing? What's worse, they we're doing something truly annoying on 2, splitting the screen into 6 parts, thereby driving up sales for ADHD drugs. Just because a network has a technology doesn't mean they should use it. I know you've got multiple cameras, but I expect a production team to show me what I need to see at any point. If I wanted to craft my own broadcast of the game, I'd go into video-editing for a career.

Instead, all I want to be able to see is some baseball.

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Schticks and Stones

News flash (and you can't spell false without flash): During the run up to the 2004 presidential election Senator John McCain approached I'm Not One to Blog But asking if he could be a co-author. Insisting he was a maverick just like that Top Gun guy, McCain promised to broaden the audience of INOTBB by bridging the divide between right and left, Arizona and California, old nationally known guys who lie and sort-of middle-aged guys read by a couple hundred people each day who have nothing better to do. Although we had to turn him down (he is a loon, after all, and a suck-up to Jerry Falwell, who has never asked to be part of the INOTBB community, which doesn't seem mighty Christian to me, but what do I know--even when I was religious I was a Papist), McCain did insist he would feel completely safe walking in the neighborhoods of INOTBB--just as long as we supplied him with 100 soldiers, an attack helicopter, and a bullet-proof vest.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Two Good

Wow. The Mets are up to 6 double plays in the first 11 innings of 2007. I say they just hit the first guy up every inning--sets a tone, and then you wipe him off the basepaths in a twin-killing.

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Then Again, I've Never Read Stuff, Neither

You know you're old when you don't even recognize two of the names on the Top Ten list of the World's Sexiest Women.

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So today's press conference confirms President Bush believes there's a new word called "artificialtimetables." If I were part of the gaggle, this would be my question: "Mr. President, you continue to use the word 'artificialtimetables' as a way to characterize the Democrats' attempts to end the Iraq War. Could you tell me if there is a 'realistictimetable'? And if there isn't, does that mean we are in Iraq forever?"

Oh, and you have to admire when the id gets out. Bush ended the press conference with the telling following line: " Iraq is a very important part of securing the homeland, and it's a very important part of helping change the Middle East into a part of the world that will not serve as a threat to the civilized world."

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Shake Down and a Start Up

It's a grand day on the internets as one great site gets a revamp (not that it needed one) and another site takes its first cyber-steps towards greatness. The wise and wonderful Melissa McEwan has decided to turn over her asylum even more to the inmates, so Shakespeare's Sister is now Shakesville. Go say hi.

And more locally, the Santa Barbara Eight have opened up a new news shop, the Santa Barbara Newsroom. Best of all, it's free--none of that you have to pay for all our content BS you get at some other Santa Barbara "news" site. (News-Press' motto: "All the news we say is news that we make you pay for.")

Actually, best of all, it's really news, written by professionals who had the misfortune of worknig working [updated 4:34 pm] for the wrong woman.

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$ilent but Deadly

Maybe this won't work for you, but I've got your tailpipe emissions problem in as nutshell right here--I follow the link from Talking Points Memo to the New York Times and get distracted from the story about the Supreme Court by the video running to the right of the article. I know it's an ad, but it's in motion. And it's an ad for? The Porsche Cayenne, which as a base model--and who buys a Porsche to get the base model?--gets 20 mpg.

You can rebuke the administration as much as you want, but there's a whole lot of corporate rebuke that needs to happen, and nobody has the stomach for that. Sadly, someday soon no one will have the lungs....

UPDATE: The next time I followed the link I got the bizarre Netflix zombie ad, which might be fitting, too.

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Give a Dog a Cone

Originally uploaded by blurbqa.

Fido says: "I don't really feel for you and your goddam Monday."

Random flickr-bloging explained.


There's a Sucker Dead Every Minute

Originally uploaded by Bebakus.

"Luckily" for Carlos, the curare tip-darted does its work a second before he realizes he's supposed to blow, not suck, the dangerous dart.


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