This blog is still alive, just in semi-hibernation.
When I want to write something longer than a tweet about something other than math or sci-fi, here is where I'll write it.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Actually, as we know, it turns out that neither of these wacky kids was a cop, and they didn't run afoul of the law, and they lived happily ever after.
Though in a country with truly just laws, that tie would be at least a misdemeanor and I don't even know where to begin with that dress.
I put up this easily recognizable picture of a john and a prostitute so that I can segue into a topic that I only know by watching TV and movies, the laws against prostitutes and soliciting prostitutes. According to countless episodes of Law & Order and other equally impressive legal authorities, you can't arrest someone for being a hooker until the magic phrase "I am willing to perform ____ in exchange for _____ in cash or other fungible assets." And the criterion for arresting a john also relies on the similar phrase "I have ____ in cash or fungible assets that I am willing to give you in exchange for you performing _____." Then the handcuffs go on and the arrested party is obliged to curse and say they knew the person they were talking to was a cop.
I bring this up because of the recent Larry Craig unpleasantness. This has to be the least sex ever involved in a sex scandal that can destroy a guy's career. Nowhere in the testimony are the words "I want to ____." spoken. The early coy advances by the senator could easily have been thwarted by a tactful "KEEP YOUR FUCKIN' FEET IN YOUR OWN FUCKIN' TOILET STALL, YA FUCKIN' FAGGOT!", followed by the officer getting out of the stall, glaring at the offending party until he washed his hands and left. Having this message play on an intermittent tape loop through a P.A. in the restroom in question would probably be as much of a deterrent to the unwanted behavior as the arrests the cops are now using.
And with that out of the way, let's take a listen to this week's Random 10.
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) Marvin Gaye
Diamonds Are Forever Shirley Bassey
Look On Yonder Wall Elmore James
Get The Party Started Pink
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) Otis Redding
Substitute The Ramones
Under Your Spell/Standing Amber Benson and Anthony Stewart Head
Mr. Me They Might Be Giants
Political Science Randy Newman
The song from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical almost qualifies as obscure, and I'm always glad to see an appearance from Elmore James on the list. James is one of the few blues artists whose songs sometimes admit that it might be their own behavior that causes their unhappiness, which is a welcome respite from the standard blues lyric, "I woke up this morning and the world started shitting on me."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I love the attention to detail in Mad Men, which I will extol by showing a picture of a pretty girl. Christina Hendricks plays Joan, the office manager of the ad agency. Checking on her other work on imdb.com, I found that she had a recurring role on Firefly, Joss Whedon's short-lived cult favorite that spun off a movie version called Serenity. (Ms. Hendricks is not in the movie cast.)
On Mad Men, Ms. Hendricks' character is very much in charge and very confident in her sexuality. She dresses "professionally", at least the 1960 version of that concept. Her clothes aren't shiny, she shows no cleavage, her hemline barely shows her knee, but it is acceptable to put 120 pounds of her in a 100 pound sack, so to speak. Besides being a redhead with an attractive face, she has a va-va-voom-y figure, much more like Mamie Van Doren than Mamie Eisenhower. The men at the agency, who are portrayed as swinish women chasers (except the closeted gay guy, who still has to pretend to be a swinish women chaser) all see her round and womanly curves as the pinnacle of feminine attractiveness.
On Firefly, her character was introduced as a waif from a poor village on a backwater planet. In the two pictures at the top, you can see the dramatic difference in her hair style and get a glimpse of the difference in costume. While the dress in the picture on the right appears to be low cut, she does not show a lot of cleavage, except in a few scenes in private with characters she is seducing.
Ms. Hendricks does great work with both these different roles, but the differences in her acting approach is just part of the chameleon work shown in the two roles. In Mad Men, she's usually the tallest woman in a scene and the camera often gives her center stage. In contrast, Firefly has a very tall cast of men and women, and at 5'8" she is usually the shortest person in most of her scenes, and she acts in a mousy way and often is away from center stage. The costume she is put in, the camera angles from which she is shot, and the reactions of the rest of the cast to her all add to the illusion of her frailty.
If you haven't been watching Mad Men, I don't recommend you jump in half way through and try to figure out what's going on, but eventually it will be on DVD, and if you haven't seen it I definitely recommend checking it out. I also recommend the DVDs of Firefly and Serenity, but I'm a sci-fi geek and Joss Whedon fan, just so you know that going in.
*Edited because of an error spotted by Monique R in the comments. Thanks, Monique!
**In short, The Company suffered from not enough Alfred Molina, way too much Chris O'Donnell and about a jillion cliches. (Smart American guys breed orchids! Smart Russian guys play chess!) Even Mr. Molina has a crap scene where he is supposed to be in retirement and taking up golf. That's the ugliest looking golf swing in recorded history, Al. Show some pride, for pity's sake.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This is yet another masterpiece snatched off the I Can Has Cheezburger? website, a terrific source of Cat Lolz which has decided to release a non Cat Lolz this week for reasons as of yet un'splained.
And for the first time in many weeks, we have new additions to the Flags of Many Lands family of nations. I haz Norway! This means I get my all Scandanavian merit badge, already scoring visitors from Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
And also a big hello to Slovenia! I am nowhere near collecting my Former Iron Curtain badge, but every new visitor is getting me closer to my goal. Oh, the fun I am going to have with that new toaster oven!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Singing Senators! (With vocal coach and total attention hog Renee Grant-Williams blocking the view of all the beefcake we really want to see.)
As any marketing person will tell you, a successful boy band needs different personalities, distinct characters for the fans to choose from. (And, of course, fall in love with.) Here's the line-up that made The Singing Senators the 90s sensation that they were.
John Ashcroft, The Talented One. Honestly, did you write Let The Eagle Soar? No, my blog reading friend, you did not. John Ashcroft did. And did you hear how long he held that note in that song? Yes, he's the pipes showoff that will amaze the audience. I know I'm amazed every time I hear it.
Trent Lott, The Head Honcho. C'mon, he's tall, he has the nice hair, he was the Senate Majority Leader until he had a little too much to drink at Strom Thurmond's kajillionth birthday party and let slip how he really feels about (those people).
Jim Jeffords, The Bad Boy. He's not even a Republican anymore! He's an independent, just like Joe Lieberman. The girlies love the bad boy. They know that with the right girl, he's ready to become a teddy bear who only shows his claws behind closed doors, if you know what I mean.
Larry Craig, The Gay One. This may be unfair. There are a lot of reasons a guy might plead guilty of lewd conduct in a public bathroom. Those gay sex and coke rumors from the 1980s were never proven, and that Mike Rogers guy is worse than just a total liar, he's a blogger, for pity's sake! I mean, who are you gonna believe? Wikipedia? Those liberal gay America haters?
Still, from a marketing standpoint, research shows that some boy band fans like to think they can cure even more challenging cases than mere bad boys. There's even evidence that some boy band fans may own DVD copies of Meet Me In St. Louis and Easter Parade, if you know what I mean.
While, he would never make the band because he sings like a tonedeaf raccoon, John McCain did have an important word of advice for the group before they made their trip to the big time. Stay away from the big gay sweaters! Oh, don't they wish they would have listened now?
Monday, August 27, 2007
You might have heard George W. Bush's press conference last week from Texas when he was asked if he had confidence in Li'l Alberto, and he answered "Why shouldn't I? The Congress says he's done nothing wrong." (Emphasis mimics Bush's delivery.) I thought, well, impeachment is the only way to dislodge this obstruction from the Justice Department. Everyone knows that regardless what else you might say about him, Bush is loyal, even loyal to a fault.
Another myth busted.
Hello, Democrats in Congress! Here's a plan! Do you have pen and paper? Okay! Whoever Bush puts up as attorney general, here are the rules. He (or she) doesn't even get a hearing until ALL the papers you have subpoenaed are produced. No ticket, no hearing, no exceptions.
Still, there's today. Yay for today!
The first thing on the DVD is an ad for Zodiac: The Director's Cut, which will be available next year on DVD. The version you can rent now has no extra features whatsoever. I recommend you save your money (or if you have Netflix, save the position in your queue) and wait until the version with the cool optional extras is available.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
In 1961, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in a season. Some people think there is an asterisk next to this record in the official records, but there isn't. Maris' "sin" was that the season was 162 games long in his era, while Ruth's team played only 154 game in a year. Maris didn't have 60 in the 154th game of the year, and commissioner Ford Frick, who had been Ruth's publicist in days gone by, treated Maris' accomplishment as not the equal of Ruth's. Older Yankee fans still loved Ruth more, and perhaps even worse for Maris, the fans loved his teammate Mickey Mantle more as well. But Mantle got hurt that year as the two were running neck and neck, and it was Roger Maris who would be the new season record holder.
While Maris is one of the many good players from the post war era, he didn't hit home runs consistently and never had a chance at Ruth's career record. The game had been changed radically by giving opportunity to black players, and many of them made their mark in the record books. The 500 home run club, once a nearly unattainable goal, added only one more member from the great players who started playing prior to World War II, the incomparable Ted Williams with 521. Ted's career numbers are hamstrung by his years of service as a Marine fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War. Ted's great contemporaries, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and Al Kaline couldn't get in the club, and neither could home run phenom of the early 50s Ralph Kiner.
For the players whose heyday was the 50s and 60s, the 500 home run club was the clear and attainable goal, a stamped ticket to baseball's Hall of Fame. Be a great hitter and stay relatively healthy was the way to go, and many more joined the club. Ernie Banks, Eddie Matthews, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson all made the 500 home run club, but from that era, two broke the 600 home run mark, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
Mays started his career in New York, and though he played most of it in the relative obscurity of San Francisco, he still had some big city cache. The numbers say that at his prime he was a better hitter than Aaron, but he didn't stay in top shape, and Aaron used longevity and talent to beat Ruth's all-time record, much in the same way Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's all-time base hit record by having thousands of more at bats. (Let me say in terms of content of character, Aaron is a mensch, Ruth was a jackass, Pete Rose is scum and Ty Cobb was psychotic. I could say that's just my opinion, but you can look it up.)
And so it stood. Aaron was the career king and Maris the season king, throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. Baseball went through a labor dispute that saw a World Series canceled, and the game was seeing an attendance slump. People noticed that players were hitting more home runs after the dispute was settled, and the speculation was that The Powers That Be had quietly made a change to the baseball that would make it travel farther. This had happened before, when Ruth's era of dominance started, and they tried an even livelier ball in the 1930 season, but went back to the "regular" live ball in 1931. Then Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa duked it out for the season record in 1998, when McGwire hit 70 and Sosa 66. It's less than ten years ago, but some might remember that it was a complete celebration. McGwire and Sosa were likable guys, and they showed the proper respect to the late Roger Maris and his surviving family and it was a love fest. No one, but no one, even whispered that there was a turd in the punchbowl.
Of course, there was a problem, and it was that baseball turned a blind eye to performance enhancing drugs. It was common knowledge that McGwire had a huge bottle of Andro, short for Androstenedione, in his locker. But, hey, it's not a drug, it's a dietary supplement! Actually, of course, it's a steroid and the World Anti-Doping Agency had banned it, which meant it was banned from the Olympics. That meant nothing to American sports fans, of course. The way WE handle performance enhancing drugs must be the best way.
Attend the tale of Barry Bonds, the best player of his generation, albeit a screaming asshole. Now with more Most Valuable Player trophies than any player in history, and with three before 2000, but when the voting for the All Century team happens in 2000, the fans chose current position players Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mark McGwire and ignored Bonds. I imagine this was not happy news for Barry. In 2001, Barry Bonds hits 73 home runs, the first and only time in his career he hits over 50 home runs. (It should be noted that Hank Aaron never hit over 50 in a season.)
In 2004, George W. Bush denounces the use of steroids in sports in his 2004 State Of The Union address. In 2005, current and past players are brought in front of the Senate to testify. Jose Canseco, self-absorbed jerk, tells the truth about what he knows. Rafael Palmiero, stand up guy, lies under oath. McGwire looks like a beaten old man. Sosa no speak the ingles. Steroids are bad, really bad. And the current player most under suspicion is Barry Lamar Bonds.
So now, Bonds has passed Aaron. A book has been written alleging Bonds used steroids, with lots of names and dates, but to this date, Bonds has never failed a drug test. In this way, he is the same as Lance Armstrong, who has had his accusers but never failed a drug test. Thing is, Lance is likable and Barry isn't. Race may also be a factor, but Bonds' assholishness is up at a par with white assholes like Donald Trump.
One thing Bonds has that Armstrong doesn't have is a trainer currently in jail for refusing to co-operate with a grand jury, a man by the name of Greg Anderson. While this is not evidence in Bonds' favor, I think people of all political stripes in this country can agree that grand juries are more than happy to throw people in the can nowadays. Whether it's Susan McDougal or Judith Miller or Josh Wolf, a candidate for mayor of San Francisco who holds the record for time held by a grand jury for failing to produce his notes, I think everybody can find at least one jail bird worthy of the title of protector of all our freedoms against overzealous government prosecutors.
Boy. That's lotsa 'splainin'. Glad it's a Sunday.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
H.L. Mencken, Chicago Tribune on September 19, 1926
Well, Old H.L. finally gets charged with an error. Don't feel bad for him. He had a great run. This is the first he got one wrong in what, 80+ years?
Fox put a reality show called Anchorwoman on the air this week. It was following the career of Lauren Jones, former Miss New York beauty pageant winner and a diva for the WWE fake wrestling organization. She was hired in Tyler, Texas to be the news anchor, and Fox thought it would be a good idea for a reality show to watch the wacky hijinks ensue. They pushed the show as much as they could, given that it started in August. Bill O'Reilly had Ms. Jones on his show on Monday to promote the Wednesday premiere. (Aside: This is the first time I watched an O'Reilly interview ever, having looked it up online after the fact. OMG! Stephen Colbert doesn't come CLOSE to capturing the self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing singularity of solipsism contained in the squinty eyed mass of protoplasm named Bill O'Reilly!) The cover of the S.F. Chronicle's Sunday TV magazine had a picture of Ms. Jones. The New York Post (owned by Murdoch) gave the show three out of four stars.
The show was canceled after ONE (count 'em, one) episode.
If they can throttle one reality show in its crib, why can't they throttle them all?
Of course, Americans are used to pretty women reading the news on TV. The U.S. audience seems to go for the Realtor Of The Month level of pretty, not the Fashion Sense Of A Stripper level of pretty.
In France, they like their newsreaders at the OMG! Low Flying Angel Alert! level of pretty. This is Melissa Theuriau. Her pictures are very popular on the Internets, as you well might imagine. I've watched a few minutes of her newscast, just to give a fair assessment of her talents. My French is a little rusty, but if I translated what she said correctly, yes, Mlle. Theuriau, you can beat me, hurt me and make me write bad checks. I agree to your terms and surrender unconditionally.
Americans surrendering to the French. A sure sign that the new Millenium is here!
Friday, August 24, 2007
Very good, sir.
Luckee lil bald guy!
Actually, this post might be more aptly titled Trpl Luv Friday, as I want to take some time to praise a guy I have the utmost respect for as an artist, Elvis Costello, discussing a little known song found only on the extended play Rykodisc re-release version of his first album My Aim Is True. The song is called Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver), and it was recorded in 1974 or 1975, some two years before Elvis quits his day job and becomes a professional musician. The backup band is called Flip City, and they aren't as polished as his later band the Attractions, or even the band Clover, which backed him up before the Attractions were formed.
What makes the song remarkable to me is that it is in a style he never really repeats in his career. It's a slow country rock ballad. The song could easily fit on an album by The Band or The Flying Burrito Brothers, and doesn't sound like the country swing tunes he later records like Stranger In The House or Radio Sweetheart. It's the work of a kid who is still trying to find his voice, and even so it stands on its own as a really good (if not perfect) pop song.
And from that non random starting point, we get this week's Random 10.
Imagination (Is a Powerful Deceiver) Elvis Costello
Little Wing The Jimi Hendrix Experience
She’s An Angel They Might Be Giants
Could You Be Loved? Bob Marley & The Wailers
All Men Are Liars Nick Lowe
Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair Nina Simone
Hanging On The Telephone Blondie
Take The Cash (K.A.S.H.) Wreckless Eric
Caravan Van Morrison
Night Train James Brown
Semi obscure: Wreckless Eric was also on Stiff Records, the company that first released Elvis Costello's work. Regular readers of Dr. Monkerstein's blog will already know this.
Another Stiff Alum and close personal friend of Elvis, Nick Lowe, makes an appearance, as do They Might Be Giants, who might idolize Elvis Costello as much as I do. We also have Van Morrison and Bob Marley, artists who Elvis admits he
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Among the most quoted things Jesus ever said was the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is important enough that it shows up four times in the Gospels, twice in Luke (6:31 and 10:27) and twice in Matthew (7:12, 22:39).
I show this picture of the Torah because I want to discuss Rabbi Hillel, born in 50 B.C and died in 10 A.D, so about a lifetime before Jesus, kind of like Galileo is to Newton. I don't show a picture of Hillel because the Jews take more seriously the commandment about no graven images, which most Christian sects ignore completely.
Hillel also made a statement very similar to the Golden Rule. Legend has it an impatient and impudent young man asked the rabbi to explain the Torah while standing on one foot. "That is easy," said Hillel, standing on one foot. "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. All the rest is commentary. Now go read the commentary." This apocryphal story ends with the young man so impressed that he becomes a Talmudic scholar.
This is not the first recorded citation of this statement in history. Both the Indian text the Mahabharata and the teachings of Confucius have the double negative statement of The Golden Rule some five hundred years earlier. Whether Hillel or Jesus would have seen either of these texts in debatable. That Jesus would have heard of Hillel is much more likely.
I am of the opinion that the Hillel statement is better advice than the Jesus statement. George Bernard Shaw wrote it this way. "Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same." While Shaw was being clever, which is what he did for a living and did it very well, he also sometimes threw in some wisdom with his wit, and this is certainly one of those times.
I bring this all up to recommend a starting point for civility in the modern polarized discussion of issues. There is a lot of rudeness thrown around, and I certainly do some of the throwing myself. But I have a rule that I do my best to follow, and would like to see put forward as the absolute minimum level of civility, with penalties to any who break the rule.
Don't wish people dead.
I know that bloggers and commenters on liberal blogs sometimes break this rule, and I ask them to stop doing it and to reject such past statements. I have a much harder time recalling of a major left wing writer wishing people dead. The so-called major right-wing pundits have a lot of instances of this. He Who Must Not Be Named on Fox Noise (AKA Papa Bear for those who watch Stephen Colbert) decided that a terrorist attack on San Francisco would be okay because the City Council made a ruling about military recruitment he didn't like. Ann Coulter has done it so often, it's easier to say it's her hobby rather than cite all the examples. Michael Savage, a very psychologically disturbed individual, lost a TV gig for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die". Michael has a problem with teh gays.
I think the penalty of losing your job on any reputable new outlet is reasonable for extreme situations. I think time in the penalty box, like a several week suspension without pay, would be a good warning to those who do this that it is not a good idea. Since I hope this would be followed by reputable news outlets, I don't hold out hope that Fox Noise Channel will do it, and I think right wing talk radio will only do it if it becomes an FCC regulation or there are large campaigns threatening boycotts of their sponsors.
I ask people to follow this rule not only for their own spiritual health, but as reminder that you never know who is reading or listening to what you say. We now think of "terrorist" as a person from a far away country with a hard to pronounce name, but it wasn't so long ago that most successful terrorists in America were from America and had good old American names like Kaczynzki, McVeigh and Rudolph.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
While he proclaimed his innocence less than a month ago, he is now pleading guilty as part of a deal. The best estimates are that he will spend from a year to 18 months in jail, instead of the five years he could have spent in stir had he gone to trial. Since he is viewed as the ringleader of these greaseballs, assume that it will be 18 months. He will still be in jail when the Super Bowl of the 2008 season is played, and he still has to deal with state charges.
He is not the first pro athlete to be convicted while his career is still going on. The Baltimore Ravens have a running back named Jamal Lewis who did time for drugs, but returned to the league. This is less likely for Vick, as now both the NFL and NBA are very sensitive to the public perception that the players are a bunch of thugs. Part of this is because of many stories of dust-ups with the law by the players, some major and some minor. Another part is that the NFL and NBA have a much higher percentage of black athletes than other sports. The NFL is already floating a trial balloon that the gambling on the dog fights is their primary concern. The NFL hates gambling, except that it's okay when their friends in Vegas do it. And Fantasy Football is acceptable gambling as well. Go figure.
But more than the current crackdown, which might well be a thing of the past when Vick gets out of jail, Vick is in trouble because he has become a tabloid headline, a thing of derision like Tonya Harding or Mike Tyson. The only merchandise you can get with his likeness on it right now is the Michael Vick Chew Toy, which you can order through the link provided. (The guys who made it are giving proceeds to charity, and reading their website, I'm inclined to believe they are stand up guys.) It will be very hard for him ever to get another endorsement deal, and he doesn't seem like the type of guy to laugh along with the joke to make a weak buck when the money spigot goes completely dry. The best news he has is that he didn't have to pay his lawyers all the way through a long trial and multiple appeals. If he and his posse can keep to a budget, the money he has already made may be enough to get him through. I realize that's a big if, but I hope he doesn't become destitute, because I think it will only be a temptation to make even worse decisions in the future.
* Extra points for those who can identify the cartoon from my Top 7 that provides the quote that is the title of this blog.
I woke up late this morning, and when I got on line, the Google server was down. I had this idea for a post about Michael Vick, but time kept ticking away. I don't have time to write it this morning, but I'll post it this evening.
So what does a daily blogger do when there is no time to do something original? This is why the baby Jesus invented lolz cats.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
On The Daily Show last night, they discussed the 27th Democratic Presidential Debate that just aired. 27 is the actual number, not a joke. The joke they made was how often the camera cut to the crowd to show Elizabeth Kucinich. They cut to Miss Elizabeth whenever Dennis was making a point, but they also cut to her even when other candidates were giving their answers. (I went to the Daily Show website, but this particular clip wasn't available for viewing.)
This is the DVD cover for the films of Andy Sidaris, a truly third rate filmmaker whose artistic vision consists of going to Hawaii, hiring women who have posed naked in Playboy or Penthouse, writing a tired action film and shooting it on a pathetically low budget, then releasing these films on DVD. The actress on the cover is Julie Strain. The only thing she and Elizabeth Kucinich have in common is they are both six feet tall.
I bring up the work of Mr. Sidaris (no relation to David Sedaris, either in terms of family tree or artistic vision) because his day job was as the director of Monday Night Football for many years, where he is often given the credit for the invention of The Honey Shot, which is cutting into the stands to show a pretty girl. Personally, though I have heard this story from several quarters, it seems amazing to me that this wasn't a common practice long before Monday Night Football. I mean, he didn't invent the USC cheerleaders, did he?
I personally don't care one way or the other if Fred Dalton Thompson enters the race. Republican voters even seem to be tiring of his coy act even before he declares for real. But I'm sure the directors of the Republican TV debates can't wait until they can cut to a picture of his
Have I already said how icky they look together? Yeah, I think I have in previous posts.
(Edited for spelling: Thanks to sfmike for noticing.)
Monday, August 20, 2007
Then there are the meerkats themselves. Why do we like, nay love, these little varmints? Take a look at a meerkat on all fours. Large rat? Small weasel? Throw in carnivorous and covered in parasitic insects and the ick factor gets pretty high.
But let one of these little guys stand up on its hind legs and suddenly, ooooh, dey so cuuuuuute! Da li'l meerkatsies! Da li'l meerkittehs!
Like I said, a sap.
This season, there are new commercials for Meerkat Manor that I like a lot. Of course, being on Animal Planet and marketed towards kids, they go easy on the sex and violence, but the ads admit that the plot of the story is all about who is pregnant with the next litter of pups. In the Whiskers clan, that has been the dominant female Flower for all three seasons, even though some of her daughters are now old enough to be mommies themselves. The new ad shows Flower against a white background, text explaining her situation in a way that makes it sound like the problems that might be faced by a momma of trailer trash, with Britney Spears' tune Oops, I Did It Again as the background music. I love the juxtaposition, because now we know that Britney is not the super-hot mean popular girl slut from her early videos, but actually trailer trash herself. I think Britney's people thought, "Oooh, meerkats. Dey sooo cuuuuuuute. Da li'l meerkittehs! It'll be fun!"
Britney's people aren't that much brighter than she is.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
This is Natascha McElhone. She is a British actress who usually plays the "Who's the NEW girl?" role. For example, she plays the role of the girl Jim Carrey falls in love-at-first-sight with in The Truman Show. I was considering her for the Adopt an Actor choice, but felt Jeffrey Wright was a more worthy choice. That said, doesn't her picture kind of brighten the place up? Of course it does.
As pretty as Ms. McElhone is, she does bring up questions about proportion.
a) Aren't her cheekbones too prominent?
b) Aren't her eyes a little too blue?
c) Aren't her lips too inviting?
We commissioned a polling company to ask these questions to red-blooded American males, and just to make sure people didn't think the poll was entirely Natascha McElhone, we added two questions as a control mechanism to check the baseline results.
d) Does Serena Williams have too much junk in the trunk?
e) Are Pamela Anderson's breasts too big?
The answers were as follows and in order: a) No. b) Hell, no. c) What, you crazy? d) Nah, man, that's how I like it! and e) What the fuck? Are you gay or something? 'Cause muthafucka, I don't play that!
And thus speaks the red blooded American male.
And a quick mention of the winner of the Lotsa 'Splainin' Adopt an Actor sweepstakes. Mr. Jeffrey Wright can be seen in a small but pivotal role in the new movie The Invasion, the kajillionth remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this one starring Nicole Kidman.
It's an allegory! It's a metaphor!
It's a candy mint! It's a breath mint!
It's a floor wax! It's a desert topping, you COW!
Sorry. Got carried away there.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This is from the official White House website. The official caption reads:
This morning, Mrs. Laura Bush called Barbara Morgan, an astronaut and former teacher who will travel to space for the first time on the flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station.Given how much time Ms. Bush spends in geosynchronous orbit, she could just wait until the shuttle gets close by and then wave.
Friday, August 17, 2007
But this essay isn't about physical attractiveness. To paraphrase Dr. King, one day we may live in a world where we are judged by the content of our character and not the suppleness of our skin. In that world, Bob Murray and Erin Burnett are scum. Their DNA may read as human, but the words that pour out of their mouths show that they are more closely related to cockroaches.
Murray can't stop lying, unless of course he decides to bully. He says a quake caused the collapse. Seismologists say otherwise. He says he doesn't use retreat mining practices. Documents say otherwise. He says no one knew that part of the mine wasn't safe. Leaked memos say otherwise. Is it surprising he's a big Republican backer? Is it surprising the head of the federal agency in charge of mine safety is a former mine owner and large contributor to the Republican Party? If you answered yes to either question, are you always this easily surprised?
Why would I compare this vile monster, morally responsible for at least three deaths (and if there is a God, legally responsible as well) to the lovely and personable Ms. Burnett? She also said something this week that is beyond disgusting. Here's the quote.
"(...if) China is to start making, say, toys that don't have lead in them or food that isn't poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up and that means prices at Wal-Mart here in the United States are going to go up too. So I would say China is our greatest friend right now. They're keeping prices low."
Yes, low prices for everybody is worth a few dead consumers, a few children with disabilities. You see, a low inflation rate helps everybody*. Unsafe products only hurt a few, statistically speaking.
Really, if Ugly Don Imus can lose his job at NBC over "nappy headed ho's", Pretty Erin Burnett should find herself in the unemployment line for cavalierly accepting deaths and disabilities as long as the economy is humming.
We live in a world where people like this are on TV EVERY FUCKING DAY. Because of this, they are the supposed mainstream and we just those wacky left wing fringe bloggers.
I despair for this country and this world. In the words of Tom Waits "Who are the ones that we left in charge? Killers, thieves and lawyers. God's away on business. Business."
*We don't actually have a low inflation rate. The Core Inflation Rate is another God damned lie, brought to us by that lying scumbag Ronald Wilson Reagan.
A lot of Mr. Wright's work is on the stage in New York City, but his work in film and on TV has been really terrific so far. Sometimes the movies he is in are fantastic and some just okay, but I've never seen him give anything but an A #1 Tip Top performance.
The top of the list of movies to see with Mr. Wright in them is Angels in America, the HBO production of the award winning play. The most famous actors in the cast are Meryl Streep, Al Pacino and Emma Thompson. Like Streep and Thompson, Wright plays multiple roles. He is cast as a nurse named Belize who takes care of the dying Roy Cohn (played by Pacino), he plays the Angel of Europe and he also plays Mr. Lies, the tour guide of Mary Louis Parker's character when she takes drugs, which is pictured here. They cast really good actors to take the multiple role parts in this movie, and Jeffrey Wright is a really good actor. If you haven't seen this movie, you really should. It's why the little baby Jesus invented DVD players.
Next up is also an HBO movie. Boycott dramatizes the story of the Montgomery bus boycott. Wright plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. No pressure there, right?
Wright has a head start on playing Dr. King, since he is both not very tall and African American. What makes him a better choice than Gary Coleman or Emmanuel Lewis, for example, is that Wright has a brilliant ear for mimickry. He really gets the voice of Dr. King down to a tee, and his ability to command the screen when he is on camera is second to none among actors working today.
The first chance Wright got a starring role is in the little seen movie Basquiat, directed by the artist Julian Schnabel. Wright plays the title role of a graffiti artist living in poverty in New York City who becomes world famous, but the makers of the film decided not to put Wright's name at the top of the cast list. The rest of the cast includes Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Claire Forlani, Benicio Del Toro and David Bowie playing Andy Warhol. This movie is also worth seeing, though I should say that I love a good movie based on real life events.
Most of Wright's work in movies is in Small But Pivotal roles. In the most recent James Bond movie Casino Royale, Wright takes on the role Felix Leiter, Bond's contact in the CIA. This puts Wright in the Felix Leiter fraternity, which includes Jack Lord, David Hedison and Bernie Casey. Isn't Wright somewhat more talented than the rest of these actors? I don't know. Isn't Shaquille O'Neal somewhat taller than the Backstreet Boys?
A role which showed off his vocal abilities is the part of the Puerto Rican drug dealer Peoples Hernandez in the recent remake of Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Here, Wright is shown opposite Christian Bale, playing a racist scumbag. It is arguably the best scene in the film.
He also has a small but pivotal role in the movie Syriana. Again, like Angels in America, Wright is in a huge ensemble cast, but he makes good use of every moment he is on the screen. Other movies where Wright plays character roles are Ali, Woody Allen's Celebrity and the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
If you get the idea that I can't say enough good things about Jeffrey Wright, then I have done my job here. On imdb.com, he is listed as the star of a new Easy Rollins movie in production. I look forward to that, as well as any chance to see Jeffrey Wright on the silver screen. Matty Boy says check him out.
And with that, we go to the Random 10.
Kathleen (Catholicism Made Easier) Randy Newman
When You Were Mine Prince
Just One Cornetto Pookiesnackenburger
Town Called Malice The Jam
The Heart’s Filthy Lesson David Bowie
L-Y Tom Lehrer
When I Was Cruel No. 2 Elvis Costello
Reeperbahn Tom Waits
At Last Etta James
Bald Head Professor Longhair
The obscure explained: Pookiesnackenburger has a song on the Stiff Records boxed set. I do not own a Pookiesnackenburger album. I'm not sure they ever made one.
The semi-obscure explained: L-Y is a song Tom Lehrer wrote for the PBS show The Electric Company. It's about turning adjectives into adverbs. Every sports commentator should be sent a copy of this song before every game. As football season approaches and I watch more sports on TV, I will be chronicling The War On Adverbs being waged by the second guys in the booth.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The only thing going up is the dollar against other currencies. I made a little post about the dollar being weak a few weeks back, then crowed in triumph when it made a small surge after my merciless mocking. If the dollar getting stronger means all the rest of this crap, too, I think I'd rather live with a moderately weak dollar, if it's all the same to you.
It's a good day to have your money in lumpy mattresses.
In the past 20 years, many cartoons have come and gone. Some have come and sweet merciful Jesus I wish they would go already. Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill are in the Come and Gone category. South Park and Family Guy are in the Please Leave Now category. Some of these I just don't care for that much. Others I actively dislike.
And then there's The Simpsons. Unlike many of the other shows on this list, I don't feel like I have to explain to the uninitiated why the show is good. You already have your own opinion about The Simpsons. I don't believe that every one of the 400+ episodes is brilliant work of art, but a lot of them are, from some of the earliest shows to the some of the most recent. I never miss a Simpsons Halloween special.
I like some of the shows on the list because of superior voice talent. Others are on the list because of the writing. The Simpsons is there for both. The regular cast is brilliant and the guest star list is the most impressive in television history. The depth chart for the cast of characters is Dickensian. The Simpsons has more interesting characters that the show has killed off than most shows have interesting characters. There is hardly a single cultural milestone of the past twenty years that the show hasn't commented on.
While I could compile a list of favorite lines from the show, let me finish my recommendation with the line of dialog that explains the main comedy source of the show, the relationship between Homer and Bart.
"I've threatened you, I've beaten you. God forgive me, I've even tried reasoning with you."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Not that The Tick himself is sophisticated. While he is a full grown adult, very full grown at 6'6" and 230 pounds, The Tick thinks in the black and white world of costumed superheroes. There are good guys and bad guys and they fight and the good guys win. He is cheerfully clueless about the concerns of adults. He doesn't much think about money. He absolutely ignores any sexual innuendo. Adult concerns are left to his sidekick Arthur, a doughy former accountant who has a costume that allows him to fly. The white costume with antennae is often mistaken for a rabbit by characters who don't know Arthur. His family is worried about him choosing the "superhero lifestyle".
The show is really all about superheroes. Almost no villains get repeat gigs. Among the friends of The Tick and Arthur are Sewer Urchin, American Maid and Die Fledermaus. Almost no one except The Tick has anything approaching superpowers. Sewer Urchin is like Dustin Hoffman's character from Rain Man, American Maid is a good acrobat but not super strong, and Die Fledermaus has a really cool looking costume, but really doesn't like fighting and is only in the superhero business to hit on chicks. During one adventure a team of heroes from The City are being outmatched by superintelligent ants, and Fish Boy, Lost Prince of Atlantis, turns to Die Fledermaus and asks, "Where is The Tick? You told my mom The Tick would be here!"
Die Fledermaus answers, "Look, Fish Boy, I told your mom a lot of things."
The Tick is the creation of Ben Edlund. He turned a character he drew as a teen as the mascot of a local comic book shop into an indie comic book character into a Saturday morning TV show and then a few years back into a live action TV show with Patrick Warburton as the hero. More recently, Edlund had gigs as writer and producer on the Joss Whedon TV shows Angel and Firefly. There are three seasons worth of the cartoon show. Matty Boy says check them out.
#2 The Venture Brothers. Chris McCullough was a staff writer on The Tick back in the 1990's, and created his own show The Venture Brothers from the same fertile ground of making light of the genre of action heroes. In the background of the picture, you see Doc Venture and his boys, Dean and Hank, as they watch the family bodyguard Brock Samson, who is about to kill an alligator. There are obvious similarities to the old 1960's show Jonny Quest. The characters of Race Bannon and a grown up Jonny Quest make guest appearances on separate episodes. Even more, Doc Venture was sidekick to his own father, an adventurer scientist, and was well enough known to have crap merchandise created with his likeness on it, like lunch boxes and alarm clocks. Life has not turned out well for Doc Venture given his illustrious beginnings, and he is an exceedingly bitter person.
The boys Hank and Dean are very innocent for modern teens, much in the same way The Tick is innocent. In the first season, Dean falls in love with a neighbor girl who barely knows that Dean is alive. Hank likes to talk a good game, but he is even more of a virgin than Dean, if that is possible.
If The Tick was all about superheroes, The Venture Brothers is all about costumed villains. The show spends nearly as much time dealing with The Monarch, a guy who dresses up as a butterfly and commands an army of minions. The Monarch has sworn vengeance against Doc Venture for as of yet unexplained slights. Other villains include Phantom Limb, whose arms and legs are invisible, King Gorilla and Baron Underbeit, a character like Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four who rules a country. Most important after The Monarch in the list of villains is Doctor Girlfriend, the second in command to The Monarch. Doctor Girlfriend is drawn as a sexy brunette who dress in pink costumes fashioned to look like what Jackie Kennedy wore, but the voice sounds like Harvey Fierstein, only not as feminine.
The shows main strengths is the large cast of well developed characters and the many pop culture references. One episode starts with a scene where all the dialog is lifted from David Bowie's A Space Oddity, which some might remember better from the opening line "Ground Control to Major Tom". Other musical acts who get a mention include Jesus Jones, Depeche Mode, Led Zeppelin (Brock Samson's favorite) and Rick Springfield. So far, there have been two seasons worth of episodes, with Adult Swim promising a third, though exactly when it will air is anyone's guess. Since I think it's the second best cartoon series of the last twenty years, it goes without saying that you should check it out.
Next up: The Number One cartoon show of the past 20 years, the time I call (spoiler alert) The Simpsons Era.
Also a big hello to Macedonia, a new country to have visited the blog and now enshrined in the Flags of Many Lands.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Zim is from an alien race that plans to conquer the entire universe. He is not a talented invader. His overlords decide to send him to Earth because it is so far out of the way, they don't much care whether he succeeds or not. They give him the defective robot GIR. Zim is steadfast and zealous, and somewhat clueless that his overlords dislike him so much, even when they banish him after he unwittingly destroys his own army in an earlier attempt at conquest of a different planet. GIR is just clueless, and is the engine for much of the comedy in the series. He joins a long line of incompetent but lovable minions of evil, like the dog Max in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Early shows have Frank Conniff in the credits, who was the incompetent but lovable minion TV's Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Zim is small in stature, so he "hides out" as a kid at Skool, where he runs afoul of a nerdy kid Dib. Dib is the only person at Skool who realizes the new green kid with the "skin condition" is actually an alien bent on taking over the earth. Dib's sister Gaz also realizes that Zim is an alien, but thinks he's too stupid to take over the world and does almost nothing to help Dib. Their father is a world famous scientist, but neglectful. Mom is never shown.
Nickelodeon knew what they were getting with this show, but they didn't know what to do with it. Invader Zim was canceled before the second season finished. If you want to check it out, it's available on DVD.
People looking for the answer to the "What band's famous pig" question.
Sheesh, young people today!
4. The Boondocks. Aaron MacGruder's comic strip was brought to the small screen on Adult Swim, the late night version of Cartoon Network. Originally, it was going to be on Fox, but too many run-ins with the censors caused Fox to pass even after paying for nearly a full season of episodes. Personally, I find it less offensive and more funny than Family Guy, but if I were guessing, I think the thing that made a difference to the censors is the regular use of the word nigga.
The best new characters in the show that were not regulars in the strip are the Wuncler clan. Ed Wuncler is voiced by Ed Asner, and represents the white power structure in town. His grandson Ed Wuncler III is an Iraq war vet who didn't do very well in the war, but still dresses in combat camouflage and is voiced by Eddie Murphy's brother Charlie, who was a regular on Chappelle's Show. His best friend Rummy, who is also a white Iraq war vet, is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Some of Rummy's dialog is taken from the quotes of Donald Rumsfeld, and some are quotes from Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction. The world treats Ed III (who wears a big gold W on a necklace) and Rummy like heroes, though it is obvious to the audience that they are criminal thugs. Wonder why?
Other good episodes include the story of Martin Luther King Jr. not being killed in Memphis but merely in a coma, which he revives from after Sept. 11, the story of the rapper Gangstalicious and a parody of home improvement reality shows. Adult Swim has announced there will be a second season, but given how much higher the production values are on Boondocks compared to other Adult Swim shows, it is unclear how many episodes there will be in the second season. So far, three are scheduled to air this October.
Matty Boy says check these out shows out on DVD.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I've been staying away from the news in general on this blog because it's been so monumentally depressing. Collapsing bridges, collapsing coal mines, collapsing credit market, collapsing Congressional Democratic spines. We're a third world country without a 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Whether Karl Rove is working in the White House or not is irrelevant to the situation on the ground, and it will be eighteen long months until someone is in the White House who actually gives a rat's ass whether these problems get solved or not.
Believe it or not, Rove was about the only counterbalance to Cheney that existed in the White House. Rove was about making things work politically, playing to the base. Cheney is about naked power grabbing. They don't have to worry about an election. For the first time since 1928, this election will not involve a sitting president or vice-president, and even in 1928, the Republican candidate Herbert Hoover had been a member of the incumbent's cabinet. Without having to worry about the next election cycle, and having shown in 2006 that they really don't care that much about the rest of the Republican Party as long as they can keep enough votes to uphold any veto, we are about to see the Cheney presidency in full ascent.
As far as I can see, that means war with Iran.
Now you can see why I've been sticking to cartoons, math and Indira Varma. It's easier to stay positive that way.
p.s. Odd experiment. If you have a Google textbar in your browser, clear your search history. If you type in "george w", it will prompt you with George Washington, George W Bush, George Will, George Wallace, etc. If you type in "dick c", no prompt. Nothing. According to Google, Dick Cheney is a phantom that no one would ever want to Google, at least according to my browser. Creepy.