Sunday, March 30, 2008

Suicide Ain't Painless

A month back friend and fine writer Starshine Roshell wrote a column partially based on info she requested from people she knew. Our job was to discuss couples in which you like one person and then can't stand the other half. Turns out part of my response made it to her finished article:

"In my experience, it’s best not to tell someone they married a loser,” said a guy whose sister — sadly — did just that. “He’s a blowhard know-nothing and a self-centered jerk whose favorite response in an argument is, ‘Duh!’”

Well, self-centered jerk isn't half of it. Half way through our Paris vacation, Amy and I get an email from my other brother-in-law--it says the guy I bitched about above is dead. We at first can't believe it, but call New Jersey to find out he's not just dead--he's shot himself in the basement and my poor sister, his wife, found him, too. So since December 2006 she's lost her mother, father, and husband.

But only one of them decided to do it himself.

I know you're not supposed to talk ill of the dead, but my only response is, What the fuck!? He wasn't a depressive sort, he left no note, and while the most recent job he'd been on (he ran his own construction company) was miserable according to my sister, I would assume one great joy of picking up contract after contract is you know none of them are forever. He didn't have any pressing huge health problems. We keep wondering if there's some surprise shoe waiting to drop somewhere--gambling debts he couldn't pay, who knows.

What I do know is my sister is going through hell. My bitter joke is that if my dad was still alive he'd say, "If I knew he was going to do this I'd shoot him myself."

Of course my guilt is all mixed into it, too, as we were an ocean away and it was too financially ridiculous to head back to New Jersey and cut the vacation short. Especially given my sister would be attended to by so many--her husband's kids and grandkids from his first marriage, her huge network of friends and coworkers who all showed up for the funerals for our mom and dad, even when they didn't know them at all. Sure enough, as my other brother-in-law put it, you'd think the pope had died, so many people came to the funeral home and funeral. So I'm saving my money and time to see my sister soon, and see just her, be there for here, whatever that can mean after something so senseless.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Un Peu Adieu

Food and wine are calling long distance on line 3, so Amy and I are off to Paris. If you think I'm blogging from there you're crazier than I am.

When we get back, you'll get another series of travelogues like the ones from a few years ago when we went to Provence. So don't say we didn't bring nothing back for you.


Friday Random Ten

Lucinda Williams "Those Three Days" Live @ the Fillmore
Shout Out Louds "Meat Is Murder" Our Ill Wills
Lucinda Williams "Abandoned" Lucinda Williams
The Vanduras "The Big Hurt" In the Dark
John Hiatt "Thunderbird" Master of Disaster
John Hiatt "Lincoln Town" Crossing Muddy Waters
Lou Reed "Sex with Your Parents (Motherfucker) Part II" Set the Twilight Reeling
Silkworm "Hangman" What's Up Matador?
Pine Valley Cosmonauts (with Chris Ligon) "Great State of Texas" The Executioner's Last Songs Volume I
The Arcade Fire "Une Anee Sans Lumiere" Funeral

Patti Smith "Dancing Barefoot" Land (1975-2002)

Ok, that's just perverse this week--a double stutter on artists, one of the weaker cuts from one of last year's best albums (the Shout Out Louds), and a Lou Reed song all too appropriate for this week of Spitzer. iTunes is iNsane. At least there's a classic Patti Smith to end with.


Double Dose of Dogs

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel models one of his mom's first knitting projects; Mookie looks askance.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Socks To Be You

I have to admit I find it a bit disturbing that someone at a Whole Foods in Austin, TX, with all of SXSW happening around him or her, and in the middle of the day, is Googling "sock monkey sex." And not even prefacing that search with "organic" or "soy-based."

I'm not surprised, however, the person wound up at my blog.

That's why you put a counter on your blog, folks. And why you have to post images like this one when you find them.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

McCain, Self-Admittedly Doesn't Known Economics, Admits Adding Up Numbers to Victory Too Hard

Today's Boston Globe features a story that says:

McCain's accessible style stands him apart from the two remaining Democratic candidates, who reach voters primarily through large rallies where they do not regularly interact with people. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton appeared at an Art Deco concert hall here with 1,763 seats for symphony performances, and at a Philadelphia university athletic facility that can hold nearly 4,000. On Monday, Obama appeared in Mississippi before crowds of 1,700 and 8,500, according to estimates provided by his campaign.

McCain's audiences typically number in the hundreds, evidence of a disparity between the parties in both voter enthusiasm and the resources necessary to hire the field organizers who help build crowds. Yet McCain has tried to elevate his style of direct, intimate communication into a test of character that will distinguish him from a future Democratic rival.

"Americans aren't interested in an election where they are just talked to and not listened to; an election that offers platitudes instead of principles and insults instead of ideas," he told supporters in Dallas after winning the Texas primary on March 4 - and enough delegates to assure him the nomination.

"After all, George Bush managed to convince just 5 voter in 2000 to vote for him and he won the election," McCain explained. "You don't really need the most voters, you just need the most important ones. Luckily, Vice President Cheney has promised to take me hunting with Antonin Scalia, so I should be just fine. The last thing this country needs is majority rule. If that happened, how would the rich survive?"

(hat tip for the story to IIRTZ)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For He's a Jolly Oberkfellow!

An inordinate amount of my emotional life--pretty much every March through October, since my teams play into October--is ruled by the successes or failures of my fantasy baseball team. Luckily since joining the league I'm in now in 2002 (and I've played fantasy long enough to have been able to have Tom Seaver on a team way back when), I have only missed the play-offs once and won the World Series twice. It's not quite a dynasty, but it's a damn good time for $25 a year. (Way cheaper than a Spitzer habit, and you never have to do that ulgy press conference.)

So, that said, we had our draft tonight, and that means, here are the opening of the season, 2008 Oberkfells (any resemblance to the 2007 Oberkfells is purely coincidental)!

James Loney
Casey Kotchman
Kelly Johnson
Asdrubal Cabrera
Khalil Greene
Julio Lugo
David Wright
Miguel Cabrera
Andy LaRoche
Brian McCann
Josh Willingham
Adam Jones
Jack Cust
Ryan Church
Carlos Beltran
Jay Bruce
Cory Hart
Kosuke Fukodome
Johan Santana
Scott Kazmir
Clay Buchholz
Jeff Francis
Jeremy Bonderman
Zack Grienke
Rafael Soriano
Jonathan Broxton
George Sherill
Brandon Lyon

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Buck Up, It's Just Stagflation

Tom Burka doesn't post as often as he used to, alas, but you knew he'd come out schwinging for this one:

Stagflation Making Cost of Hookers Unacceptably High, Spitzer Says

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer attacked Republicans today for creating an economic climate so hostile to middle and low income workers that they can barely afford the cost of a decent blowjob. "The cost of prostitutes is skyrocketing while the salary of the average American worker is declining," Spitzer complained.

"Everyone should be able to get a reasonably priced reacharound," said Spitzer, "but George W. Bush and his cronies want only the Washington fatcats to be able to afford quality hummers."

Go read the rest....

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Ah, Cappello, You're Singing an Odd Tune

In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on Citizen McCaw today, which means, for those scoring at home, it's LA Times 1, News-Press 0. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the article is the end, focussed on McCaw's attorney/mouthpiece Barry Cappello:

Cappello said McCaw had "no interest" in seeing the documentary bearing her name and will continue to run the News-Press as she sees fit, regardless of criticisms from filmmakers or former employees.

Or from the 2000 moviegoers who booed her first appearance in the film while cheering for every journalist and then giving the former N-P employees at the screening a good 3-minute long standing O after the film.

Or from the 10,000 subscribers the paper has lost since "the troubles" began in July 2006.

Or from Ben Bradlee, Sander Vanocur, Lou Cannon, Ann Bardach, or any of the university journalism faculty interviewed in the film who condemned what Wendy McCaw has done.

"This is, literally, like water off her back," Cappello said of the film. "Barking dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on."

Perhaps we should cut Cappello some slack for having a duck (aren't they the ones with water off their backs?) in a caravan (which should be trucks or camels or a great Duke Ellington song or something). Of course that Cappello says "literally" makes it much harder to cut him some slack, especially when you know he's billing a good $600 an hour or whatever his rate is (anyone, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). I guess it's easier to pile up a metaphorical mess than show how Citizen McCaw actually gets anything wrong or misrepresents the official News-Press position.

Ultimately, though, we can't be too surprised that the News-Press hasn't covered the film. I don't think it's because they refuse to give Citizen McCaw any publicity. I simply think it's because they don't have any journalists left to do the job. Then again, Travis Armstrong could write one of his ed-port-orials about it.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Think I Just Burped Jeff Goldblum

Originally uploaded by geis.t

The George Bush Sandwich for people suffering under the tanking economy--lots of whitebread and some protein you might not want to swallow even if you can get it to your mouth.

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.


Driver's Read

Originally uploaded by derÄsthet

For some inexplicable reason, the teens at the local high school always failed their driving tests.


You Ad It Up It Brings You Down

Originally uploaded by .unsuono.

A voter fights to get through the latest TV ad from Hillary Clinton.


Worst than Hearst?

Citizen McCaw had its long awaited premiere Friday night to a sold out Arlington and it lived up to the hype--capturing the essence of the sad destruction of a once solid newspaper. If you want details of the event or the film, go see fine reports in the usual fine places--The Average Man, Craig Smith's Blog, Aguayo Shed. Or see the film's own website, which will tell you about other opportunities to see the flick on the big screen.

I just want to be the film geek I am and point out that the film's title is far from a mean-spirited push. And I mean that about "poor" William Randolph Hearst, of course, as Citizen Kane, as a fictional film, took enough of his life to make it clear the film was based on him, but also changed enough to make him rightfully mad. In particular the film is nasty to Marion Davies, who was far more talented than Susan Alexander Kane. Of course, it might not be a stretch to imagine the Nipper doing some lame floor show at the El Rancho some day, but that's a different story....

That said, the title of the film Citizen McCaw is actually suggested by McCaw's lawyer Barry Cappello. He's the one in the film saying, "So if the publisher wants to be a William Randolph Hearst and start a war in Cuba, they can do it," a moment immortalized in the fictional version of Hearst's life when Kane dictates a telegram that says, "Dear Wheeler, you provide the prose poems, I'll provide the war."

Now, let's ignore the fact that a publisher of a paper in the size of a town like Santa Barbara better not be able to start a war (Judith Miller's "reporting" in the New York Times and Iraq, that's a different story). What's sadly true is that one can insist McCaw has started a war--on anyone who disagrees with her, and in this case one of those anyone's happens to be the truth.

But there's another scary parallel to Hearst and McCaw beyond the scope of the movie. This is according to Pauline Kael's The Citizen Kane Book--it turns out two years after Kane, the film's screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz fell into Hearst's nasty hands. Driving home drunk (as was his wont), he hit a car right at the gates of Marion Davies' house, while Hearst was inside. The driver was Lee Gershwin, Ira's wife, and while her two passengers were just shook up, she had to get several stitches. Mankiewicz got hauled down to the police station, wasn't particularly good there. He did go over the Gershwin's later with flowers to apologize. But that wasn't enough for Hearst, of course. According to Kael:

Hearst's persistent vindictiveness was one of his least attractive traits. Mankiewicz was charged with a felony, and the minor accident became a major front page story in the Hearst papers across the country for four successive days, with headlines more appropriate to a declaration of war....Mankiewicz had to stand trial on a felony charge. And although he got through the mess of the trial all right, the hounding by the Hearst papers took its toll, and his reputation was permanently damaged.

Can't imagine someone in our town trying to pull something like that, can you?

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cuteness, Thy Name is Greyhound

For Dog Blog Friday (even if it's Thursday): Some photos from 2002, when our dogs were young and gay.


Friday Random Ten (Thursday Night Edition)

Ensemble Romulo Larrea et Veronica Larc "Che Tango Che" Un Siecle de Tango
The Clash "1977" Clash on Broadway
Built to Spill "Big Dipper" There's Nothing Wrong with Love
They Might Be Giants "I Should Be Allowed to Think" Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants
Moe Tucker "Poor Little Fool" Dogs Under Stress
Sex Pistols "Bodies" Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
Coolbone "The Saints" Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
Lionel Hampton "White Christmas" Jingle Bell Jazz
Archers of Loaf "Death in the Park" Vee Vee
Peter Case "Anything" Torn Again

Steve Earle & the Del McCoury Band "Dixieland" The Mountain

A bit of the all-over. Built to Spill wins song of the litter. And I forgot to turn my Christmas music off. (Oh, I posted this early as I'm busy most of Friday morning.)


Have You Driven a Commissioner Lately?

It's not every week that I could give a Frick, so I guess I can't pass up the chance. For it seems March 7 is the 33rd anniversary of then baseball commissioner Ford Frick claiming he favored legalization of the spitball. (Yes, it's a slow news day. I could try to make a joke about how I want to wish Willard Scott a happy birthday--you're only 26 years away from wishing yourself a big Today Show HB!--but that's not really funny.) Of course, making this claim was easy for Frick as he wasn't a catcher or Ray Chapman (hope that joke isn't too soon, Chapman family, or too old, everyone else). Still, you have to feel for Frick, as the commish before him was named Happy Chandler, and it's hard to come after happy, especially when your name rhymes with prick and dick and your first name is a car whose last name is Edsel. And be thankful I did not make the joke: of course Frick had to legalize the spitter, as he legalized the swallow the year prior. That joke would just suck.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Whose Quote Is It Anyway?

Seems there's a new blog out there--Meming with Rickey. And it's fitting that the all-time steals leader has opted to steal some of my time with this: I must look up 15 of my favorite movies on IMDB, take a quote from each and post them for you, my readership, to identify. Do so in the comments, then I'll cross each one off as you get them. This game always drives me nuts, as I've seen tons of films (not Andrew Sarris tons, but still...) but somehow I never can remember quotes well. So let's hope you're better at this than I am. (I don't think I've rounded up the usual suspects, either.)

And as my readership (the S.S. Readership?) knows, I've given up tagging people, so if this game floats your readership, feel free to do it in your corner of the internets. Who am I to judge?

1) "You shouldn't keep souvenirs of a killing. You shouldn't have been that sentimental."

Clue--second quote
(different character who is the one addressed in the first quote):
"Here I was born, and there I died. It was only a moment for you; you took no notice."
Solved in Comment #21 by jqb
Less Coyly Solved in Comment #22 by Drew

2) "What goes good with lots of beer? More beer!"
The Band Wagon
Solved in Comment #20 by Amy

3) Character 1: An hour ago, Rudy Linnekar had this town in his pocket."
Character 2: "Now you could strain him through a sieve."
(bonus points if you identify the actor playing Character 2)
Touch of Evil
Solved in Comment #1 by Tom Hilton (Tom also gets the bonus points--it is Joseph Cotten)

4) "Three men and one woman are trapped in a building! Send help at once! If you can't send help, send two more women!"
Duck Soup
Solved in Comment #5 by Hogan

5) Character 1: A friend of mine will be stopping by tomorrow to drop something off for me. He's a cop.
Character 2: A cop? That's a funny kind of a friend.
Character 1: Well, he's a funny kind of a cop.

Clue--second quote (said by an actor much more famous for another role for the same director):
"You're a no-good, nosy little tramp... you'd sell out your mother for a piece of fudge... you have a great big dollar sign where most people have a heart."
T-- K------
Sneakily Solved in Comment #21 by jqb
The Killing
Letters filled in by Mike in Comment #24

6) "Not Oklahoma City itself!"

Clue--dialog from near the film's end:
Character 1: Well, I mean, if you didn't feel that way you do, things wouldn't be the way they are, would they? I mean, things could be the same if things were different.
Character 2: But things are the way you made them.
Character 1: Oh, no. No, things are the way you think I made them. I didn't make them that way at all. Things are just the same as they always were, only, you're the same as you were, too, so I guess things will never be the same again.

T-- A---- T----
Solved for those who know in Comment #21 by jqb
The Awful Truth
Letters filled in by Melville in Comment #25

7) Character 1: Was she supposed to be a virgin?
Character 2: Yeah.
Character 1: I had a virgin once. I had to fly to Guatemala for her. She was blind in one eye and had a stuffed alligator that said "Welcome to Miami Beach."

The Stunt Man
Solved in comment #15 by Hogan

8) "When you've been married to a man for forty years you know all that don't amount to a hill of beans. I've been married to Walt that long and I swear in all that time I just lie there thinkin' about my canning."
The Night of the Hunter
Solved in Comment #8 by Rickey Henderson (b/c I know he didn't mean to type Huntress)

9) Character 1: Do you know what this means - "I'll get you on the Ameche"?
Character 2: No.
Character 1: 'Course you don't. An Ameche is the telephone, on account of he invented it.
Character 2: Oh, no, he didn't.
Character 1: Like, you know, in the movies.
Character 2: Well, I see what you mean. Very interesting. Make no mistake, I shall regret the absence of your keen mind; unfortunately, it is inseparable from an extremely disturbing body.

Ball of Fire
Solved in Comment #2 by Tom Hilton

10) Character 1: I want adventure. I want romance.
Character 2: There is no such thing as adventure. There's no such thing as romance. There's only trouble and desire.
Character 1: Trouble and desire.
Character 2: That's right. And the funny thing is, when you desire something you immediately get into trouble. And when you're in trouble you don't desire anything at all.

Clue--Amy gave you one in comment #20.

S----- M--
Solved in Comment #21 by jqb, if you trust him

11)"On one side... Here, I'll show you. On one side, I put a picture of my wife...and on the other side, my little baby. When I open it, it says, 'Papa' and not 'Ochi Tchornya.'"
The Shop Around the Corner
Solved in comment #13 by Melville

12) "To smoke, and have coffee - and if you do it together, it's fantastic."
Wings of Desire
Solved in Comment #18 by Marty

13) "That's one of the tragedies of this life - that the men who are most in need of a beating up are always enormous."
Palm Beach Story
Solved in Comment #2 by Tom Hilton

14) "I've been thinking what to do wit' my future. I could be a mud doctor. Checkin' out the eart'. Underneat'."
Days of Heaven
Solved in comment #14 by Mike

15) "Bill's thirty-two. He looks thirty-two. He looked it five years ago, he'll look it twenty years from now. I hate men."
All about Eve
Solved in comment #12 by Melville

plus one extra credit: "In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention."
Solved in Comment #3 by Tom Hilton

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Love Hurts

If there ever had to be a musician who was actually physically hurt by audience applause, there's no better choice than Stephin Merritt. He's got hyperacusis, an ear disease that makes loud noises even louder, so when his band Magnetic Fields finishes a tune and the audience applauds, he winces, his hand to his left ear and its earplug. It's as if providing something worthy that then evokes joy causes him pain.

Seeing Merritt live, as I did last night at the Music Box in Los Angeles, it's easy to wonder if it does emotionally, too. After all, he's drier than the world's finest martini, even giving Claudia Gonson, his longtime musical compatriot and friend, a hard time about nearly everything she said, and she said a lot, as she seems a chatty sort and someone has to carry the stage patter portion of the band's show. He's ever the editor, ever the one needing perfection (as one of his lines goes, "I've got a sense of perfection, and nothing makes much sense at all"); when Gonson announced a tune from their album i by saying, "All the songs begin with the letter 'i,'" he quickly corrected, "All the titles. Only some of the songs."

But his persnicketiness didn't rule or ruin the evening. Partially because he had a Snicket with him, of the lemony variety--Daniel Handler was on hand to play accordion on several cuts, and in fact performed "Scream and Run Away" from the Tragic Treasury solo, with some audience participation near the end of the song. We got to stamp our feet and run away, and to die (we got to choose our own hoped-for position to expire, and then take it). Turns out it's hard to shift quickly from running and dying. Especially when you're giggling in-between.

And then there's the sheer lusciousness of his songs and their witty-to-a-fault lyrics. Live, no matter how his songs are recorded (and his latest album, Distortion, bathes the tunes in Jesus and Mary Chain inspired noise), they get the chamber pop treatment--there's that volume problem, after all. But stripping them down to guitar, piano, cello, and bouzouki (that's what Merritt strums these days, although it's new enough that Gonson kept talking about his ukulele) let them shine. For an acidic cynic, the guy sure can write a memorable tune. That's even the joke, it seems. When the group did a shimmeringly beautiful version of "All My Little Words" from the epic 69 Love Songs, the intertwining of Gonson's voice with Shirley Sims' made you think the lines, " Not if I could write for you/ The sweetest song you ever heard /It doesn't matter what I'll do /Not for all my little words" you had to wonder--what the hell does this "unboyfriendable" lover want? This is the sweetest song I've ever heard. And then you know love sucks and the song is all the more heartbreaking. Makes you want to wax poetic about the sublime, but you don't as you know exactly what a withering look Merritt would send your way if you did. Sucker.

If you want to hear a 2005 Magnetic Fields' concert, check out this NPR link.

And if you want to see Merritt create a song in 2 days, another NPR production, check out this link which has a nifty video.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

M, M Good

How can you resist a group that has the following on its label's website:

THE WORLD/INFERNO is coming to your town! They are not fucking around! Full-time-fighting friends to the friendless, the most successful scourge to the oppressors since Willy Sutton, they're riding a wave of delicious alcohol straight into your hearts. Even if they have to buy the drinks themselves, they'll do it. Come see the circus play the dirty rock club, one night only! Come and waltz with the one you love.

Well, it's not a dirty rock club, it's SB's La Casa de la Raza (601 E. Montecito St) this Wednesday at 7 pm, but The World/Inferno will be there doing its sort of unclassifiable music, theater, art, provocation, good time for the masses. Their latest CD, Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's Twentieth Century, is sort of a FUBAR Weimar run through a bad dream by Sondheim--grand, glorious, and will get you singing along to catchy ditties like "I Just Make Faces."

Sure to be a unique night, as you'd expect given it's co-presented by KCSB 91.9FM, radio where anything can happen.

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Two Feets to the Wind

The undertow was one thing, but little did Cory know that he also had to worry about the over-toe.

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.


Too Much to Pay

Originally uploaded by alexdarke

Portrait of a Sad Pool Filter.


Non-Old Movie Buffs Need Not Apply

Originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999

Claude Rains Jr.


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