Monday, December 31, 2007

Sure We're Guilty--Guilty of Being Right! (Might Is Still Right, Right?)

Given today's news, here's an article we could most likely read in the shell that used to be the News-Press, as buried as you can get in a paper with small sections....

NLRB Judge Rules Against Ampersand Publishing:
Judgment Proves Federal Law Bias

by Shott Credibiliton

National Labor Relations Mr. Judge William Kocol has decreed that the News-Press and its parent company Ampersand Publishing has violated the National Labor Relations Act in more ways than this paper can count with its remaining staff. News-Press legal counsel Mr. Barry Cappello states, "These rulings simply prove our case--the entire world beyond a handful of people willing to sell out all their scrupples is biased against [Mrs.] Wendy McCaw. This obvious bias is proof we'll definitely win upon one of the many appeals that I've had written since the day the original case closed. I figured I needed them prepared as this could go on longer than I might."

Mrs. McCaw originally expressed surprise upon hearing the news, claiming, "I own the building [located at an address we won't print to protect the building] in which the hearing took place. I thought property rights meant something in this country. But it seems I can't own a person or a building. Nipper, go make me a drink; just make sure that boy editor doesn't get one."

Ampersand also announced it will go to court to gain possession of Mr. Judge Kocol's computer.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Pavement "Trigger Cut/Wounded Kite at :17" Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Deluxe
The Clash "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais" Clash on Broadway
Louis Armstrong "The Home Fire" What a Wonderful World
Arturo Sandoval "Guantanamera" For Love or Country
Neko Case "Runnin' Out of Fools" Blacklisted
The Elected "The Miles 'til Home" Me First
Sleater-Kinney "One Beat" One Beat
Elvis Costello "Please Stay" The Kojak Variety
The Buzzcocks "Promises" Singles Going Steady
Graham Parker & the Rumour "Hold Back the Night" Passion Is No Ordinary Word--The Graham Parker Anthology (1976-1991)

bonus
R.E.M. "Sitting Still" Murmur

Fine 1-2 to kick off, lots of good artists, and a Graham Parker I actually have on a 4-song 45 ep and have loved for a long time. And unlike most everyone my age, there's R.E.M., which doesn't leave me dreamy. Listening to it now, it's not so bad, but I still don't understand the fuss.

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We Request that the First Three Rows Move Back for Their Own Safety

For Dog Blog Friday (a bit early, but all the rest of the posting of late has been late, so maybe it all balances out): Nigel wishes you a 2008 of big licks!

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Who made It Rest in Peace on Earth?

Bad bad week. First Michael Kidd. Bad for the dance world. Then Oscar Peterson. Bad for the jazz world. Now Benazir Bhutto. Bad for the world.

And I fear for the people of Pakistan, for President Bush today announced, "We stand with the people of Pakistan." He's said that numerous times about the people of Iraq, and there his promise hasn't turned out so well. Even more frightening, those hard to find WMDs just happen to be a good thousand miles east of where Bush said they were.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Milk Bones Were Harmed in the Making of These Pictures


For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel and Mookie wish everyone a LED Christmas. Which means you can't use the flash and if they move, which greyhounds never do, they end up blurry.

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Sweet 16 Non-Random Holiday Hits!

It's closer to the holiday now, no? In artist alpha order...

Louis Armstrong "Zat You Santa Claus?" Hipsters' Holiday
Pearl Bailey "Five Pound Box of Money" Hipsters' Holiday
Blind Boys of Alabama with Tom Waits "Go Tell It on the Mountain" Go Tell It on the Mountain
Blue Hawaiians "We Four Kings" Christmas on Big Island
Kate Bush "Warm & Soothing" B-side of "December Will Be Magic Again" single
Captain Sensible "One Christmas Catalog" Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas
John Cale "A Child's Christmas in Wales" Paris 1919
The Dickies "Silent Night" single
Ed's Redeeming Qualities "Christmas in Vermont" It's All Good News
El Vez "Feliz Navidad" Merry MeX-mas
Dexter Gordon Quartet "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Jingle Bell Jazz
Vince Guaraldi "Christmas Time Is Here" Charlie Brown Christmas
Eartha Kitt "Santa Baby" Hipsters' Holiday
Los Straitjackets "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets
Martin Newell "Christmas in Suburbia" The Greatest Living Englishman
Ryuichi Sakamoto "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" (theme) Playing the Orchestra

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Friday Random Holiday Ten

Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, and David Jones "Christmas Is My Time of Year" T.V. Family Christmas
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra "Jingle Bells" What a Wonderful Christmas
Vince Guaraldi "The Christmas Song" A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Blind Boys of Alabama featuring Aaron Neville "Joy to the World" Go Tell It on the Mountain
The Blue Hawaiians "Christmas on Big Island" Christmas on Big Island
Louis Armstrong "Christmas Night in Harlem" Hispters' Holiday
Throwing Muses "Santa Claus" Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Xmas
Glenn Miller "Silver Bells" In the Christmas Mood
Vince Guaraldi "O Tannebaum" A Charlie Brown Christmas
Vince Guaraldi "Skating" A Charlie Brown Christmas

bonus
James Brown "Sweet Little Baby Boy, Parts 1 & 2" Funky Christmas

That's a lot of Charlie Brown, and I like that CD. Still, certainly proves there's a range of holiday music out there. I'll try to get to a top ten non-random holiday list closer to the day itself.

And I'm loading early as I'm busy busy at work tomorrow. Yes, the day before the Christmas break I'm busy, when everyone else leaves at 3. It's the coal in my work stocking, I guess.

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Hops to It

It's going to get a lot more expensive to drown our sorrows, leading to more sorrows. Here's a part of the newsletter I got today from the good folks at Alpine Beer Company (their Pure Hoppiness double IPA is one of my favorite beers, hophead that I am):


I will now try to explain, in a nutshell, what caused the eminent beer price increase. The supplies for beer making, malt (malted barley) and hops, are marketed on a global scale. A bad year somewhere in the world puts a supply strain on other parts of the world. The malt is competing with other crops that pay better. Bio fuels, corn in particular, are getting big government money to increase production in order to wean off our foreign oil dependence. Feed grains yield more because you can fertilize them more, and they don’t have to look as pretty. My malt prices for bulk malt, the cheapest malt I buy, went from $0.19/ lb. to $0.44/lb.

Hops and their disappointing returns have lowered the number of hop farmers from 250+ to 45. Hop growing acreage is down, and the world’s demand for high alpha hops is putting pressure on all hop varieties. My average hop price went up over $3.00/lb.


I use only premium quality malt and hops on a scale of a much larger brewery. I have also done my part in contracting ahead for my supplies. This is the best way to stabilize prices and assure an adequate supply. This increase will affect all breweries, even the big guys. Any future hop farmers out there?


So if I stop blogging to become a hop farmer, will you good people of the internets subsidize my work?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free Your Market and the Asses Will Follow

Back in the day so long ago it wasn't considered old-fashioned to say "back in the day," I was quite a student (both grammar school and high school valedictorian, if you must know). Even then there was one type of test that tended to give me fits--the true/false exam. Now I realize that just means I developed a sense of nuance early in life, and realized how often either/or thinking isn't thinking at all. Indeed, many such questions fail to ask the right question in the first place, such as the classic "have you stopped beating your wife--yes or no?" It's not just over-simplification or bullying; it's often a way to avoid the matter we should most discuss. Just think about the "if you don't support President Bush then you don't support the troops" folks as a recent blatant example that hopes to make it impossible for you to even question the endless, unwinnable quagmire we're in*.

Just recently we have two more examples of either/or insanity, one Santa Barbara local, one global. Over at Sara de la Guerra's place people have got into a huge tizzy about Paseo Chapala and downtown development. In the longish comment thread we get to twice hear from someone billing himself "Hiram Johnson," and who ends his first post with, "Let the market decide what kind of growth and where. Anything but letting the market decide is socialism! Either you're a free marketeer or your [sic] a socialist stooge."

Now, how someone posting as Hiram Johnson--who as a republican senator voted for FDR's New Deal (until he tried to pack the Supreme Court)--can then dump on any government intervention is puzzling, to say the least. His language, of course, is telling--you can be a marketeer, which sounds fun and fuzzy and close to Mouseketeer (who wouldn't want to be Annette Funicello? let's ignore the more recent crop, though, ok, Britney?) while everyone else gets to be a stooge.

It's particularly striking he sets up an unbending dichotomy between two things that economists argue can't really exist in their pure states anyway. Is theoretical socialism what happened in the USSR or China? Does the U.S. have a truly free market economy? So if we're already playing games with continuums, how are we supposed to line up on one side or the other?

Of course when it comes to lining up one one side or another, you can't beat the centuries of experience the Catholic Church brings to the table. From Reuters we learn:

The Vatican on Wednesday condemned the film The Golden Compass, which some have called anti-Christian, saying it promotes a cold and hopeless world without God.

Perhaps it's just me, but any film starring Eva Green (she's hot enough I can link to a SFW photo and you'll still get the point) makes a good argument there has to be a higher power, but I can see why the Vatican might not agree (she's not a young boy). Snark aside, it drives me nuts when the Church thinks it should tell all its people not to see something. Is the Catholic Church that weak that one viewing of a film will tear it down? So much for faith like a rock.

Reuters goes on to say:

The U.S.-based Catholic League [ed. note--you knew William A. Donohue would be hot on this one, didn't you?], a conservative group, has urged Christians not to see the movie, saying that its objective was "to bash Christianity and promote atheism" to children.

Must be some film if it can turn children into atheists in two hours (it took years of Catholic school to make me one). But for the "either you don't ever see this film OR you're a good Catholic" group, that's exactly how it works. The article also claims:

Still, some Catholic groups in the United States have called for a boycott, fearing even a diluted version of the book might draw people to read the bestselling trilogy.

Horrors! People might read!

Why is thought so frightening to these folks? Don't they want their ideas tested, faith challenged and made strong? If I remember my Bible even Christ had his moments of doubt in Gethsemane, and if the son of God himself can question, lords know us sinners deserve a bit of slack.

Perhaps we need to cut the church some slack, though. The article says, "The Vatican newspaper called the movie 'the most anti-Christmas film possible,'" which shows they just don't get out enough. This very December 25 Pope Ratzky-Watzky and his Kollege of Kardinals could hit the local Rome megaplex to see Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem being sold with the tagline "This Christmas there will be no peace on Earth." If that's not enough for them, there's two Black Christmas films to chose from on DVD, with the 2006 version offering burnt body, inbreeding, disfigurement, eye-gouging, blood-splatter, and more (it's quite a list of plot--haha--keywords at IMDB). Of course that sort of sounds like a good day at the Crusades, so the Catholic Church might not have any problems with it.


*The escalation might have helped us do better militarily, but Iraq is no closer to being a stable political entity, so don't tell me we're winning. OK?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Foodie Can't Fail

You'd think that someone who can turn a phrase as wondrously as James Wolcott would be able to avoid moments like this, but I guess not. In a recent post about a meal at Mario Batali's Babbo he wrote:

How was dinner eating-wise? I'm not a foodie, finding comparison eating a grossly materialistic and presumptuous exercise (why should I care what went down your gullet that halcyon night in Provence?--nor am I interested in knowing from which sun-kissed vineyard derived your wine in all its Tintoretto splendor), but for the record I ordered rabbit as an entree, and it was fab.

Part of me wants to point out "comparison eating" gets summarily dismissed in a piece that is largely about his dinner companions that include birthday celebrant Elvis Mitchell, Roberto Benabib, one of the executive producers of Weeds, cinematographer Harris Savides, Lola Ogunnaike from CNN, and a novelist some of you may have heard of, Toni Morrison. So, sure, namedrop your Nobel Prize-winning companions, but god forbid you mention the AOC of your wine.

But there's more to it than that. First, perhaps in the rarefied, Vanity Fair air foodie can only equal snob. That leaves out one of the greatest of foodie joys, the cheap find. A true foodie delights in diners and dives as much as what's haute. A foodie wants nothing more than surprise, and to stumble upon that perfect sopes, say, ranks as a greater thrill than finding out Alain Ducasse is as talented as everyone says (or that one of his numerous sub-chefs is, but that's a different issue, perhaps--a true foodie is intrigued by the chef celebrity game yet realizes there's often a mighty marketing department behind the great Oz's kitchen).

Second, dismissing rapturous food writing is like dismissing an edgy evening in a punk club watching the roar that is the Ramones or an evening at Lincoln Center when the ballerina nails it so she seems heaven-glimpsed, to pick two events Wolcott has exalted in his own writing past. One of the great glories of food and wine, and the desire to write about those glories, is they're so flash and gone. The mulberry bursts the essence of redness, and unless you have your mouth open and now that white shirt won't launder, all you're left with is the magical memory. Unless you write about it. Which is never the same, and therefore poignant and a different pleasure. But that's memory for you.

Third, many of us read food writing for the same reason we read any criticism--to delight in aboutness. What a wonderful thing, thought. Criticism of food follows such a lovely through line, from description to argument, having to build from particulars, getting to revel in all the senses in a way denied most other criticism. Pauline Kael couldn't discuss how the film smelled (ignore Odorama for a second); Lester Bangs, thank god, never tasted Lou Reed (surely we would have heard about it). Turn to a Jonathan Gold or a L.E. Leone, to name just two fine food writers, and we could be worded into anywhere land.

Or everywhere. For that's what Wolcott seems to want to deny. Food isn't just fuel. It's taste, of course, but culture and kindness. It's kin and country. It can be come-on or apology, lavishment or last lusciousness before a lethal injection.

What it can't be is dismissed so easily. Heck, I bet even Toni Morrison would tell you that.

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The Spare Shit Rhino


If you feel as if you can't give a shit about Christmas, it turns out you can. Rhino shit, in fact. (No, it doesn't come with a horn, silly.) And just like anything cherished by a connoisseurship, like truffles or Beanie Babies, it comes in varieties--white, black, Indian, and Sumatran. You just can't beat the Sumatran for a quick jolt in the morning, I say.

Forget about Endangered Species, we're talking Endangered Feces, here, as you can see on the International Rhino Foundation website. My favorite line is "We can’t wait to learn about the folks getting these special gifts." I just want to know their addresses so I can stay very far away. And I hope that plastic case isn't gas permeable.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Petra Perfect Tense



How did I not know about this for 4 months? I'd be that happy, too, if I could sing that well. Nothing as wonderful as schlock redeemed.

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Silly When Wet


Originally uploaded by bruce.ong@sbcglobal.net

"...And this year's winner for how best to set up your AV equipment goes to....oh, we have no winner."

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.

(And why, yes, I am hoping this entry title gets me some stray traffic.)

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This Case Seems Black and White

Originally posted by Isola!

Shoot. We're a sickle and a saxophone short of cinematic genius.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Steroid Noise Annoys

The Hollywood Foreign Baseball Association announced its nominations yesterday for the Golden Syringe Awards, fully admitting some nominees were honored for lifetime achievement while some were being singled out for their current work. President of the HFBA Giorgio Miccioloni said, "We are stunned by the depth and breadth of talent. No doubt players from the past are greenie with envy, except for players of color active before 1947."

And the nominees are:

Brave Arms Most Likely Not To Award

Paul Byrd
Kent Mercker
Bart Miadich
Denny Neagle
John Rocker
Mike Stanton

Performance Enhancing? Drugs Award

Phil Hiatt
Nook "Nuke" Logan
Scott Shoeneweis

Drugs Made Me Jumpy, Right Alex? Award

Howie Clark

They Like Us Cause We're Gritty (and Whitey) Award

David Bell
Lenny Dykstra
Paul LoDuca
Hal Morris

You'd Drug Up Too If Halle Berry Dumped You Award

David Justice

Reactions were quick and from all corners. Many were amazed at those not nominated, wondering what a Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire had to do to earn a little respect for what they willingly did to their bodies. Of work, that is.

MLB.com reports:

Former Mets first baseman and current TV analyst Keith Hernandez said he regards the naming of names as a necessary evil that will help repair the game and help baseball move past a tarnished period.

"I'm glad it's exposed," Hernandez said. "It's important that it's all out there. I don't believe they'd put those names out there if they didn't have strong, convincing evidence. I'm glad there are specific names. People should know. Anything that happened from the beginning of the '90s up to the present is forever tarnished. And that should be noted."

"After all, I retired in 1990. And anyway, what's the problem with players today. Can't they just do coke and be drunks like the players, the true menschen, back in my day? Geesh. I mean, even with the drugs you're never going to see F.P. Santangelo on Seinfeld. And not just because the show isn't on the air anymore."

Others were saddened to discover a recent governmental report shows these stellar performers don't have as much sway on youth as people might hope. The White House itself has released a Monitoring the Future (MTF) Study that "Shows Our Efforts To Reduce Youth Drug Use Are Achieving Significant Results [so much so we must write that all in caps]. The latest MTF study shows a remarkable decline in past-month youth drug use from 2001 to 2007. Use of any illicit drug dropped approximately 24 percent. Steroid use dropped by approximately one third." Miccioloni responded, "Clearly we're not doing enough. If youth stop using steroids while players are using steroids, we just don't have the influence we should have. We hope these awards will help say, 'If you want to be a throw a bat shard at somebody future Hall of Famer like Roger Clemens, you better get on the juice, kid.'"

Even President Bush chimed in, saying:

"I'm a baseball fan. I love the sport. I love the game. Like many fans I've been troubled by the steroid allegations. I think it's best that all of us not jump to any conclusions on individual players named, but we can jump to this conclusion: That steroids have sullied the game."

"What's more," the President continued, "we shouldn't judge any former team owners, since they were probably on drugs themselves and couldn't know what their players were doing, even if one of their players was a Sammy Sosa or a Jose Canseco. I mean, trying to figure out what player has steroids in him is like trying to figure out what country has nucular weapons. As president I can say what country is evil like that, but doing that for baseball, which I love, I can't."

Finally, Steve Phillips, ESPN baseball analyst and former general manager of the New York Mets, said, "What struck me was Selig's inability to say, 'Yes, I'm to blame as well.' I think it would go a long way with fans if he admitted blame." Of course this is very much news as it is the first time Phillips has been right about anything. Rumors have it that he was whisked off for his own drug test the minute he got done speaking.

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Friday Random Ten

Rachel Sweet "B.A.B.Y." The Big Stiff Box Set
Tom Tom Club "Genius of Love" Tom Tom Club
Louis Armstrong "Rockin' Chair" Ken Burns Jazz: Louis Armstrong
Weston "In April Sometime" Matinee
Mission of Burma "Absent Mind" ONoffON
The Mekons "What You're Doing" Journey to the End of the Night
Dorothy Williams "Closer to My Baby" The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
They Might Be Giants "How Can I Sing Like a Girl?" Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants
Tom Russell "Box of Visions" Long Way Around
Sally Timms "Cancion para Mi Padre" Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments...for Lost Buckaroos

bonus
Alex Chilton "Nice and Easy Does It" Black List

Diversity, thy name is Friday Random Ten. It's cute how it opens with Rachel Sweet doing a song that I most like performed by the last person on the list.

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Nigel in a Natty Jacket Contemplates Hansel and Gretel and Sylvia Plath

For Dog Blog Friday: It's been cold, so the boys, furless and fatless, get to wear jackets for their morning walks.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Muybridge under Glass


video


They have stuff like this just sitting inside doorways in San Francisco. It's quite a place.

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When Again Might as Well Be Always

CNN reports:

Democratic lawmakers and staffers privately say they're closing in on a broad budget deal that would give President Bush as much as $70 billion in new war funding.

The deal would lack a key provision Democrats had attached to previous funding bills calling for most U.S. troops to come home from Iraq by the end of 2008, which would be a significant legislative victory for Bush.

Democrats admit such a move would be highly controversial within their own party. Coming just weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, vowed the White House would not get another dollar in war money this year, it would further antagonize the liberal base of the party, which has become frustrated with the congressional leadership's failure to push back on Bush's Iraq policy.

"The base will not be happy," said one senior Democratic aide, who requested anonymity to candidly discuss budget negotiations that have not been completed.

The senior Democratic aide went on to say, "But if you want to look at the glass as half full, that base keep shrinking each time our balls do. So soon we won't have anyone left to piss off."

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happiness Is a Warm Gub

It's cold here in Santa Barbara--almost got down to freezing last night. And living here makes us wimpy. So I thought, "Why not heat this blog up?" So here's the season we used to call Christmas till secular sickos like me took your right to a mercantile-religo-fest away, plus Gene Krupa, go-go dancers (aka the world Famous Potani Sisters), Mexican wrestler masks, and surf music all in one neat straitjacketed bundle.

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More Goodness than You Can Shake a Transamerica Pyramid At

Hey, is this blog on? [tap tap]

We were out of town, doing the San Francisco thing, seeing Amy's brother Ken and having a grand eating-drinking tour, as if you'd expect anything else from a blog soon to be as big as its name is long.

Can't say a whole lot as two days off means I actually need to work at work, but when in San Francisco be sure to stay at the Laurel Inn; drink at City Beer (especially if they have a holiday beer tasting), the Lion Pub, The Page, and Zeitgeist (especially if you can hang with the BARBARians, all cool to a fault--I am unworthy to touch the hem of their corner of the internets); and eat at The Alembic (which ain't bad for drinking, neither), Nopa, Ella's, and Sociale.

You will thank me.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Random Ten

French, Frith, Kaiser, & Thompson "To the Rain" Invisible Means
Lambchop "Short" Damaged
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 "Fish Bowl" Mother of All Saints
Youssou N'Dour "C'est L'amour" Nothing's in Vain (Coono Du Reer)
The Clash "Rock the Casbah" Clash on Broadway
The Stanley Brothers "Carroll County Blues" Stanley Series--Volume 4, Number 2
Johnny Cash "Just As I Am" Unearthed IV: My Mother's Hymn Book
Talking Heads "I'm Not in Love" The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads
Neil Young "Mr. Soul" Decades
Jimmie Dale Gilmore "Ripple" One Endless Night

bonus
The Decemberists "16 Military Wives" Picaresque

You have to hand it to iTunes--it doesn't just play songs, it predicts the weather with the very first cut (although I post this list on Friday, I compile it Thursday night). And a bunch of people's better known songs, too. Interesting week that ends mighty strong.

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Drawn and Halved (Well, There's Only Two of Them)

For Dog Blog Friday: Nothing like a good old greyhound tug-of-war. Unless your name is Frisbee.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hey Man, Smell My Blog Post

As we all know, December 7th is a day that will live in infamy. That's because it's the day George Clinton was elected Vice President of the United States. Clinton put the funk in the White House, and a recently released NIE from 1814 proves that he might have been zinging First Lady Dolley Madison and in a passionate moment going up for the down stroke, caused the fire that burned down the White House. This conflagration was later blamed on the British, a bitter irony considering how generally unfunky they are as a people--just try to get one to pronounce You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish properly. Plus they'll ask for malt vinegar. As for George Clinton, oddly enough the Vice President who followed him was Elbridge Gerry of Gerry and the Pacemakers, not to be confused with VP Dick Cheney and his pacemaker; few people know that Cheney was in a death metal band as a teenager--in a preternatural foreboding of his future, he played death.

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JoJo a Go-Go at SoHo

So it's come to this--you go to a concert and the most brilliant performance artist shows up instead. That's the case with Jonathan Richman's show at SoHo Wednesday night. For as much as he sings his sweet-silly songs, as much as he does his sly hip-sway dance steps, as much as he picks a fancy acoustic guitar (he even buried fave "I was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar" in the instrumental intro to the second half of his set), he also makes the audience roar with laughter. Who is this man on stage? With his seeming stoner stare and paeans to love he often seems a bit simple, some kind of rock and roll rube. But then there's the song about Vermeer. Or a version of "Let Here Go into the Darkness" in which he shows us the troubles with love not just in English but in French, Italian, and even Hebrew. It's a great bit--men and women are at each other everywhere--but it's a better bit because of who delivers it. The man who seemed the mayor of simpleton just went all Berlitz on the audience, and did it with differing male and female accents, even. At some speed.

Richman gapes with innocent enthusiasm at his loves, and that doesn’t mean just girls, with whom his songs rarely get to second base. Indeed, what I think is a new tune nostalgically laments the 14 year old but looking 12 Jonathan hoping against hope that a 15 year old girl means something when she smiles at him. She doesn't, but he etches his teen ardor so finely, it suddenly seems the song isn't inspired by his life but James Joyce's "Araby." Of course the great love of his life isn’t a female, it’s rock and roll. And luckily he had stalwart, ever inventive Tommy Larkins along on drums. Still, Richman has been at it 35 long years, meaning his cult is pretty much a religion celebrating the missing link between Chuck Berry and “Sister Ray."

His genius is to do all he does with a gee whiz air of a kid pointing out something cool to his pals. That we get to be his pals is our luck, or if you’re into rock-as-cult, our natural superiority.

He didn't do this song either:

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Juno What I'm Saying?

The AP reports:

The nation's teen birth rate has risen for the first time in 14 years, according to a new government report.

Can you say abstinence only programs?

"It took us by surprise," said Stephanie Ventura of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a co-author of the report.

Turns out that's exactly what all the teen moms said when those rascally, unwrapped dads didn't pull out.

Seriously, the Republicans push for abstinence only programs, indeed their eager funding of them, symbolizes their twisted take on federal government. Only fund what doesn't work, then point to this failure as a sign federal action doesn't work. And in the meantime there's plenty of collateral damage, but that doesn't matter.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Reports that Say NIE

Headline I want to see:

Bush, Cheney Deny Intelligence

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Monday, December 03, 2007

What's That Lassie? Language Fell Down the Orwell?

There's this great service Poynter Online that will send you more emails with more info during the course of the day than you'll know how to handle. But the other day this quote by Howard Fineman from Newsweek in one of their feature articles about what should be happening in the presidential debates really hit me:

I wanted to ask him [it's unclear what candidate he means here even reading the whole article], and I want to ask Hillary, if they think Islamism is evil. Do they think Osama bin Laden evil? Is evil a meaningful word in modern life and in the world? I happen to think that's the one thing George Bush said that most that most Americans agree with. Do the Democrats agree with it or not? That's an example of a fundamental question. You don't want to get lost in the details.

Yeah, god forbid anyone making international policy think about details.

This passage made me think of Orwell's even-more-true than in 1946 "Politics and the English Language" (the whole thing's online--go read it right now, even if you have before, it keeps giving) and this passage:

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.

Back in my teaching days I suggested students avoid "God and Devil" terms, the ones that make readers react and not think. People write God just to hear "yeah! woo-hoo!" and Devil just to hear "hiss! boo!" That's the way of the word evil, a label meant to cause fear or anger, not consideration. Of course bin Laden is an enemy of the U.S., and as such he should be brought to justice. American justice, if possible--a trial where he must face his crimes. That's how America is supposed to work. When we work that way we might just get other peoples and nations interested in being more like us.

Calling him evil is just an excuse to torture and murder. And a prelude to creating the next "evil." Unless we have some plan of killing off everyone who grows to hate our country, or eventually kill them off before they even get that chance to grow.

And note I haven't even said how we liked the evil bin Laden when he was one of the folks fighting the Evil Empire for us in Afghanistan. That's the convenience and curse of evil, I guess.

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I Apologize to Pumpkins Everywhere


Originally uploaded by Gus Dahlberg

Here we see a rare angle of President Bush.

Moday random Flickr-blogging explained.

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There's a David Sedaris Reference I Could Make Here


Originally uploaded by uruandimi

The Mets show off their new home uniforms for 2008 (and are overjoyed they won't have to listen to Lastings Milledge's rap song anymore--at least until Brian Schneider proves he's washed up--that should be about April 11).

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Waiter, There's a Candy in My Hair


Originally uploaded by cyberjunko

You can never go hungry wearing a cotton candy wig.

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Sometimes a Stalagmite is Just a Stalagmite


Originally uploaded by Cyril-Hugues

After years of hearing women complain about their men being cold bastards, Winter Warlock Inc. has put on the market the latest marital aid, the Icedickle.

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