This is my grandnephew Calvin discussing with his father, the pretty darn good nephew Josh, what should be played in the next set. But what I wrote is just a mean old relation putting words in the mouth of a child.
Calvin would never request Freebird. Likewise, he wouldn't request Smoke on the Water or Don't Fear the Reaper. Largely because The Wiggles don't play any of these songs.
And if he ever asks for Stairway to Heaven, well...
President George W. Bush delivers remarks on the Fiscal Year 2008 budget Wednesday, July 11, 2007, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The President's budget lays out a detailed plan to balance the budget by 2012 while keeping taxes low.
White House photo by Eric Draper
Wonderful plan, Mr. President. Maybe you haven't noticed, being so busy and all, but you won't be president after January 2009, and like millions of Americans, I wish the Congress would show some love for our country and get rid of you sooner. Even more to the point, your administration is not putting up a standard bearer for the 2008 election, so your plans for the years after that are just farts in the air.
Please stop farting in public. It's rude. I'm sure your momma taught you this at some point.
We now have the spectacle of Congress wanting to increase the five year funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) from $25 billion to $60 billion, and the fiscally responsible George W. Bush vetoing this "budget busting" bill. At the same time, the one year war funding for 2008 is now $189 billion, up from $142 billion earlier this summer.
Here's an idea, Mr. President. You aren't president for most of the five years of this funding increase. The increase for your time as president is about $10 billion. Go see if you can trim $10 billion in ridiculous waste from the funding for the wars we are fighting only because you are the worst commander in chief this country has ever seen. These wars we are in are your messes. Show some pride and at least try to screw up less. No one expects you to actually do the right thing; the best we can hope for is for you to be less of a screw-up one year than you were the year before.
I'm never going to be a conservative, but I wish they had some consistency beyond the idea of lower taxes. Less than ten years ago, they said they believed in balanced budgets, but letting them be in charge of the legislative and executive branches has put the lie to that. Right now, they just appear to believe in stealing from everybody who isn't in their club, and distributing the stolen goods to their pals.
I know I have readers who will never love football. Most of them will call it "soccer", because most of them are from the United States of America. I have some sympathy. I will never love NASCAR, for example. A person of good will could write a passionate post about the sport and at the end of giving it a fair reading, my answer would still be "Nope. Still hate it."
Yesterday in China, early in the morning for folks living as I do on the West Coast, the Brazilian women took to the pitch against the favored United States and completely dismantled them, 4-0. Earlier this month, Brazil whipped China, another women's football superpower, by the same score. The big reason for both wins is Marta, who wears the number 10 jersey for the Brazilians. In the men's game, the great Ronaldinho wears the number 10.
What does it means to wear the number 10 for Brazil? The simple job description is "Wanted: someone as good as Pele." Be that good and people don't complain. Fail to meet that standard, and the Brazilian public can get a little snippy.
No pressure, right? In some ways, not as much as you might expect. The coach of the Brazilian women was asked to explain the Brazilian style of football. His answer: "Happiness." The answer might seem like a non-sequitur or a mistake in translation, but it's the best description I have ever heard. When Brazilians execute their game plan, it is happiness. It's like listening to Fats Waller play piano. If you know anything about playing soccer or playing the piano, your first question is "How did they do that?" But after a while, you just say "They did it, and I'm happy." It's a gift, pure and simple. (Well, maybe not that simple.)
There's an old saying, (Actually, I made it up a few years ago but it should be an old saying): "When Americans are dancing, they naturally assume they are leading." The story in the United States about the crushing defeat is that the U.S. coach Greg Ryan took out the successful goalkeeper Hope Solo and replaced her with 36 year old veteran Brianna Scurry, on the theory that she had never lost to Brazil. Fascinating statistic, coach. You might also notice that no Brazilian team before this year had Marta in the beginning of her prime. You didn't have an answer for her. There's a good possibility no one does, but the Germans are the next folks to get the chance on Sunday.
Here's my 'splainin' on why Coach Ryan did the un'splainable. He knew. He knew the Brazilians were going to humiliate his team, and by making this goofy move of replacing a successful goalkeeper, he could make that the story line. Nice try, coach. The real story is that the Brazilian women play happiness now, and the rest of the world is going to be hard pressed to catch up.
One of the great story lines of sport is the rag to riches story, and both Marta and Ronaldinho fit that bill. People sometimes make fun of Ronaldinho's crooked teeth, but his family had no money for the luxury of orthodontics. (Take a good look at a picture of Joe DiMaggio flashing his teeth and you'll see the same thing.) Marta made her first splash in the last Women's World Cup four years ago, but it took two months to sign her to go the top women's league in the world, the Swedish league. It took so long because Marta's family didn't have a phone in their home.
And on that note, since I wrote a post that will be of little interest to many Americans, I present a non-random "Random 10" filled with songs sung in languages other than English. It opens with Brazil's great composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and ends with David Bowie singing Helden, which is German for "Heroes".
Brazil-Germany on Sunday! I can't wait!
Aria, Bachianas Brasileras #5 (Villa-Lobos) Victoria De Los Angeles La Foret De Mimosas Kirsty MacColl Prashanti Ravi Shankar & Phillip Glass Surabaya Johnny Teresa Stratas Djore Dos The Women’s Choir of Bulgaria Anapse To Tsigaro 3 Mustaphas 3 Batonga Angelique Kidjo Vuelvo Al Sur Astor Piazzolla Chi Vuol La Zingarella (Paisello) Cecila Bartoli Helden David Bowie
Flags of many lands! My first visitor from Sri Lanka! Or as Gallito Mescalito might say over at Padre Mickey's Dance Party "SHRIEEEEEEK!" and then Red Mr. Peanut Bank could finish with "Lanka."
Thursdays are going to be a little busy for me over the next few weeks, and I will often be resorting to using the Four Pillars of Successful Blogging on these days, Pretty Girls, Babies, Dogs and the modern fourth pillar, Lolz Cats. This day, I decided to go with another picture of French newsreader Melissa Theuriau.
You might ask, Matty Boy! Has Ms. Theuriau done something newsworthy? Do you have some clever comment to make about her?
Well, no. That's why this is lazy blogging at its finest. Many of my loyal male readers, as well as some of my female Lebanese regulars, will agree that any excuse to look at a picture of La Belle Melissa is reason enough to publish.
Also, another coup for the flags of many lands™! With a visitor yesterday from Bratislava, I have now completed the Slovakia/Slovenia Double Play! If I'm not mistaken, this means next time I'm down at the Blogger Union Hall, I'm entitled to a free pastry!
This is a picture of Lana Clarkson, actress and model. Like countless thousands of young attractive women, she came to Los Angeles in her late teens hoping to break into show business. She was much more successful than the average aspiring actress. She had small roles in well-known films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Scarface, a lot of guest appearances on TV shows, several modeling and commercial jobs and starring roles in small budget films, most notably Roger Corman's Barbarian Queen and its sequel. Corman called the film "the original Xena", and in some ways, Ms. Clarkson's career parallels a career like that of Lucy Lawless, but without that one show or performance that breaks out of the pack to turn her from a working actress to a name the public recognizes. (In the interest of full disclosure, Ms. Clarkson had a brief role as an eight foot tall giantess on Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories anthology series, so her name is better known among My People than it is among the public at large.)
Lana had lots of work early in her career, back in the mid 1980's, but got less roles as time went on. By 2003, she worked at The House Of Blues restaurant as a VIP hostess, and on February 3, agreed to go home for a drink with one of the patrons, the record producer Phil Spector.
That night, someone put a gun in Lana Clarkson's mouth and pulled the trigger. Spector's chauffeur says he heard the gunshot from inside the house and Spector came out and told him "I think I just killed somebody." Later, Spector's story was that Clarkson, a stranger to him before that night, had become despondent at his home and shot herself. The story left the front pages after a little while, and the District Attorney's office in Los Angeles was not sure what to do. They finally indicted Spector for murder on Sept. 24, 2004, nearly twenty months after her death. The trial finally started this year and Spector's fate is now in the hands of the jury.
Besides the chauffeur's testimony, the prosecution was able to get into evidence past acts of Spector, who has a history of threatening people with guns, both people he knew well and relative strangers, often but not always women. The press has made light of the fact that Spector is fond of wearing outlandish wigs and the trial has become a circus, as entirely too many trials in Los Angeles have in the past few decades. As of this week, the jury is deadlocked 7-5, and has come back to the judge to ask questions about the instructions as well as to review evidence. The news reports have not said whether the 7 are for conviction or acquittal, but with that even a split it hardly matters.
As a Californian, I'm ashamed at yet another sign that our state is the place where killing a pretty blonde isn't really a crime if you have enough money, and that district attorneys are a bunch of incompetent second string losers. (Technically, I'm a Northern Californian, and most of the truly ridiculous verdicts have come from Southern California, but for most of the country, that is a distinction without a difference.)
As an American, I'm disappointed at yet another example of justice incredibly delayed. 20 months to get an indictment and another 30 months before the case sees a courtroom, and this for a murder! Every case is different, of course, but earlier this decade we had Martha Stewart accused, tried, convicted, jailed and released from prison before the Enron trials even went to court. The last thing any civilized person should want is vigilante justice, but it's hard to argue that our system isn't terribly broken.
As a person, it's the story of Lana Clarkson that makes me so sad. In the reports of the trial, she is "B-movie actress Lana Clarkson" or "struggling actress Lana Clarkson", which somehow makes it seem like this increase in her fame level is actually a turn for the better when she became "murder victim Lana Clarkson". Her career is probably in the 95th percentile of success for people who come to Hollywood trying to break into show business, but the names the public knows are the people in the 99th percentile or possibly higher.
She didn't know what a mistake she was making going to Phil Spector's house one night. She doesn't deserve to be the answer to a morbid trivia question. And most of all, she didn't deserve to die and her murderer doesn't deserve to be another example of what a joke the justice system has become in this country.
Update: As of this Wednesday afternoon, the jury has come back with the report that they cannot come to a unanimous decision and the judge has declared a mistrial. The prosecutor has promised to retry Spector for the murder. My heart goes out to Clarkson's friends and family, as a very long nightmare continues, due to prosecutorial incompetence and blinding stupidity on the part of the jury.
I bring this up because we are in the middle of Ramadan. Because the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, Ramadan moves around a lot on the Gregorian calendar. A few years back, it was in November and December, but in 2007 it runs from September 13 to October 13.
The faithful observe the month by fasting from sunrise to sunset, refraining from eating and drinking. Here's the thing. That includes drinking water. Folks aren't allowed to hydrate for twelve hours + in heat that runs from noticeable to oppressive.
Islam isn't vicious about this. Little kids, pregnant women, old folks and the infirm are exempt from the fast. But healthy and observant Muslims are supposed to keep the fast. I would expect that they are very aware of the early symptoms of dehydration, given statistically how often they must see them during Ramadan. What I would like the imams in charge to consider is to rescind the prohibition of drinking water to all the faithful during the daylight hours, because the long term effects of dehydration include seizures, permanent brain damage or death.
There is a silly phrase popular in the decadent West that what does not kill us can only make us stronger. The actual physiology of many threats is that what does not kill us can make us
I'm not saying it 'splains everything that's wrong with this little pinhead. But it is a good start, isn't it?
The late Andreas Katsulas was one of those actors who really got into character. According to Peter Jurasik, who played Londo on Babylon 5, if you wanted to talk to Andreas to discuss plans for getting together on the weekend, for example, you had a few minutes in the morning before he got in the make-up chair and then a little while at the end of shooting when all that makeup was removed. For the rest of the day, G'Kar was available but Andreas was somewhere else.
I bring this up because I saw the new version of 3:10 to Yuma this weekend, starring Russell Crowe as the main bad guy Ben Wade and Christian Bale as a poor rancher who decides to join the group of men hired to put this guy on the prison train. It's a pretty good movie, with what you expect in a Western, gorgeous vistas and grimy close-ups. While I enjoyed it, I did spend a lot of time with my friend Art after the movie discussing plot points. Usually, you don't discuss plot points in Westerns, as they are clear as rain water. You discuss plot points in thrillers or mysteries, maybe science fiction. Westerns... not so much.
But the point I want to make is separate from the relative merits of the film. I always stay for the credits. In the modern credits, there are often Assistant to..., with the names of the actors or director. In this movie, there were credits including
Make-up to Ben Wade Dialect coach to Ben Wade Assistant to Ben Wade Driver to Ben Wade etc.
Not to Russell Crowe, mind you. To Ben Wade. Killer Ben Wade needed a dialect coach. Outlaw Ben Wade needed make-up. Fictional character Ben Wade needed a driver. Christian Bale also had some personal assistants but they were listed as "Assistant to C. Bale", etc.
You know. The way normal people would list the folks that help them. The way that has been done for generations by people who haven't done lost their minds!
I don't pay that much attention to HDTV commercials, largely because I can't afford one right now and probably won't be able to for some time. But today, I actually tuned in to the blah blah blah the announcer was saying about the Samsung HDTV. He proudly claimed the TV had "120 Hertz, higher resolution and twice the refresh rate" of standard TVs.
In the U.S. of A, the refresh rate for standard TVs is 60 frames per second, known usually by the super technical term of... 60 Hertz. 120 Hertz and twice the refresh rate mean exactly the same thing.
Someone call the Department of Redundancy Department!
(With a nod, of course, to the brilliant Eddie Izzard for coming up with the idea.)
I want to say here and now that if I should decide, at this late date, to switch to the conservative side, I know that I don't have much talent for creating fake controversies, which would be a serious disadvantage.
I asked my loyal readers if Copy Cat over here was too cute or just the right amount of cute, and the vote was 12-0 for "just right". Some readers have made comments that I, yes I, Matty Boy, am responsible for their newfound addiction to lolz cats. It's always somebody else's fault, isn't it?
I shake my fist at you!
Since I cannot find a single incredibly cute lolz cat that my audience will finally rise up against and say ENOUGH! MERCY!, I instead now put three, count them three, lolz cats in a single post. Do you surrender yet?
Here we have a picture of Henry Kissinger, Larry King and their respective gigantic child brides. In fairness, I should say that Nancy Kissinger is in her seventies while Henry Kissinger is 81, but she has always been stylish and tall, while he has always been a troll. As for Larry King and his much taller, younger wife... yeesh. They make a creepier looking couple than Fred Thompson and the Hooters Girl, and that's saying something.
I do not know how Larry King and Henry Kissinger met or how they decided to become friends. My best guess is that they have the same eyeglass frame designer.
The first big bump in viewership for my blog was when I put in a link on BuzzFeed about Elizabeth Kucinich, the gigantic child bride of Dennis Kucinich. The huge increase in readers lasted about three days, and that one week is still the most traffic the website has ever seen. While thousands of people came over to Lotsa 'Splainin' in those few days, some decided to stick around the number of readers has grown slowly and steadily. More recently, BuzzFeed had a bunch of links about taller women and shorter men, so I submitted a link to my gigantic child brides post from last May. Unlike the first increase, which spiked huge and faded within days, people coming to my website looking for gigantic child brides has been roughly half my readership for well over two weeks now.
And so I produce this post, which is called "pandering". It's a marketing term... very technical, so I won't bore you with the details.
but not his spleen. And so he vented it a li'l bit on his first day back at work, all about the fake conservative stink about MoveOn.org's "General Betray Us ad, and Bush finishing his truly terrible press conference yesterday with a set-up question from the fake conservative press which is published in this country by rich guys willing to lose millions (if not billions) to get their vicious world view in print.
It's a great week for Flags of many Lands™ here at Lotsa 'Splainin'. Today the new flag on the list is Trinidad & Tobago. See, Tanzania? When you have two places with two cool names and you put them together, keep both cool names and link them with an ampersand! How hard is that?
When George W. Bush took office, a Canadian dollar cost 66 cents U.S., the Euro was just getting its legs under it and could be had for 93 cents per, and the British Pound was at $1.46. As of business today, a Loonie costs a buck, the Euro is at the all-time high of $1.41 and the pound costs $2.01, slightly off the high mark it reached earlier this month. To put it simply, the world markets aren't confused by administration spin. The American dollar is not a good investment, even with the Japanese and Chinese straining mightily to prop it up.
We are told the problem is sub prime lending. Poor people wanting money.
BAD POOR PEOPLE! NO BISCUIT FOR YOU!
The problem COULDN'T be a huge federal government that has been running up an insupportable debt for 6+ years while trying to keep a half trillion dollar war off the books. No! That's not the problem! Look over here! The problem is poor people acting like the government, not the government itself.
I've been leery about the great American economy for some time now. I used to joke that the boom of the 1990s was largely the NASDAQ for rich people and Beanie Babies for poor folks, not supported by actual new products made in America getting into the hands of willing consumers.
Now, I'm not joking. Some have compared the Bush administration to the Nazis, others have compared them to the Soviets. No one compares us to the Red Chinese. Why would you compare a slave to his master?
I yap about this at greater length on The Smirking Chimp today, if you want to read it. No pretty pictures, though.
And on that cheerful note, a pretty darn good Random 10, if I do say so myself.
Man With A Gun Jerry Harrison Elenore The Turtles When I Write The Book Rockpile Bad Connection Yaz Ain’t Too Proud To Beg The Four Tops Don’t Be That Way Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong You’re All I Need To Get By Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell Things Go Wrong Chris Isaak Love Shack The B-52s Everybody Plays The Fool The Main Ingredient
Not going with the obscure this week, we got a boatload of talent and some absolutely perfect pop songs. Having Ella & Louis hand it off to Marvin & Tammi is absolute genius. If these songs were playing a supermarket, I would shop like a crazy person. Hey, Trader Joe's! Here's your music mix for this week.
Debating which song I should choose from here on Foxy Tunes, I went with Bad Connection, a great song off of Upstairs at Eric's. While my sexuality has confused some, I will say that though I'm not gay and I never have been, I love Yaz more than any heterosexual male should.
Checking the rounds on other blogs yesterday, I saw that I, Splotchy, founder the Adopt an Actor meme, was playing a game I like to call Google Loves Me Best! The idea is to come up with short phrases you can type into the Google search engine such that the tip top choice is your own humble little blog. Here are ten such phrases, all four words or less, where Google will tell you to get on over to Lotsa 'Splainin' 2 Do to find out more.
1. Making things rigid 2. gigantic child brides 3. lolz Lauras 4. till somebody gotsta pee 5. Rafael Boguslav 6. Michael Vick doomed 7. cutest t'ing evah 8. cynicism to supermodels 9. Holy Shucking Fit 10. singing senators boy band
Try it yourself on your blog! It's fun!
A big hello to Monaco, latest addition to the Flags Of Many Lands™. You might ask, Matty Boy! How can we be sure this is the flag of Monaco and not the flag of Indonesia?
Check the thread count. Le drapeau Monegasque is so much more luxuuuuuuuurious than the Indonesian.
* The guy in the picture is Proposition Joe from The Wire, the best show on television this century. My sister Karla is now saying "Duuuuhhhh!", but not everyone reading this blog is from the U.S. of A., and not everybody can afford HBO, which includes me, right now. (Don't tell me about Season 4! I haven't seen it yet!)
With 20 votes cast, the favorite Christopher Guest mockumentary for the readers of Lotsa 'Splainin' is the original and the only one Christopher Guest did not direct. This is Spinal Tap ended up with 45% of the votes, and it would have been 50% except that I changed my vote to last year's For Your Consideration because it looked so lonely.
While of course this was just asking opinions, so technically no one is "incorrect", I don't have a problem with anyone voting for any of the movies. Spinal Tap has a lot of great and memorable lines, funny scenes like the listing of ways the drummers have died, the show with Stonehenge and Marty DiBergi listing the terrible reviews of some of their albums while the band has to give their honest reactions. The most famous line is probably "These go to eleven.", but I have at least a dozen fond memories of this movie.
That said, I think all the movies are terrific comedies and the vote cast for For Your Consideration was not just a mercy vote. For gags per minute, I think it's the best of the five, though Tap, Guffman and A Mighty Wind have the advantage of music, and Best In Show has the gorgeous dogs.
Okay, that was so much fun, let's do another one. Last week, I defined the categories of the good, the bad and the cute overload of lolz cats. By my definition, Copy Cat shown here is either a good lolz or a cute overload lolz. It is a situation a kitteh could get into naturally, so it doesn't qualify as a bad lolz, though it might not be to everyone's taste. Cast your vote for how you think it should be categorized. Tabulation will end on Sunday.
If you watched Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, you already heard that Keith had emergency surgery to fix a burst appendix. That sounds so painful, I wouldn't even wish it on Bill O'Reilly.
On the other hand, if BillO had that kind of a health problem, I wouldn't spend time on a blog entry wishing him the best.
Get well soon, Keith. Your loyal fans miss you, no matter how cute Allison Stewart is. (Answer: Allison Stewart is very cute.)
Also a heartfelt buenos dias to new folks from Puerto Rico visiting Lotsa 'Splainin' for the first time. I like Bacardi rum a lot, and I even like their logo, because I thought bats were cool when I was a kid. I boycotted Bacardi for a while after that crap tax break they got in an appropriation bill thanks to Tom DeLay, but he's out of office and awaiting trial now, so all is forgiven.
It's always gratifying to me when I discover that people I admire also appreciate each other, like Elvis Costello making nice comments about James Thurber, or Tom Lehrer's view that Stephen Sondheim is the greatest lyricist bar none. With Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the admiration was actually a close friendship. I suppose it isn't that surprising, since they were both WW II vets who wrote two of the great comic anti-war novels of all time, Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five.
The story goes that Heller and Vonnegut are at a party in the 1980s, and Vonnegut points out another guest to Heller. "Joe, that guy over there... He's a hedge fund manager. Somebody told me that last week, he made more money than you have on Catch-22 since it was published."
Heller thought for a moment. "That may be true. But I have something he'll never have. Enough."
Several events of the past year have brought this comment into focus. In this country, and maybe it's worldwide, I can't be sure, we have turned avarice from a vice to a virtue. People who have enough are viewed as losers and saps, while the greedy are lionized. One of the few places where this isn't true is sports. Both the fan base and the sports media get genuinely irate about cheaters. Barry Bonds is one of the best players in baseball history, but he is despised as a cheat. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, winner of three Super Bowls, can now be certain that his obituary will call him a cheat in the first paragraph. He was fined $500,000 and there are fans and sports writers who think the penalty should have been more severe.
Out in the "real world", there are always people who will spin and twist the truth, defending those who break the rules out of some ideological loyalty. The phrase we have learned all too well this decade is "It's okay if you're a Republican", as scandal after scandal shows the GOP to be easily more corrupt than Bill Clinton is horny at his horniest, but we are told that it's okay for them to lie and even to be convicted. They will be pardoned, cleansed of their sins and re-hired by other Republicans after proof positive of their dishonesty and greed is part of the public record.
This week, we get to see the true disciple of avarice as virtue make the rounds. The disgusting and decrepit homonculus Alan Greenspan is selling his new book, so can be seen on TV pretty much any time you turn it on right now. At least now, some people are leading stories about this weasel with his full curriculum vitae. He was a sycophant to Ayn Rand, founder of the most successful anti-Christian cult of the 20th Century. (Why don't Christians hate him and Rand the way Rand despised the faith? Maybe it's because "It's okay if you're a Republican.") These are the people who confused avarice for a virtue and shouted it to the rooftops. If you want to know why America is descending from the paragon of nations to a dystopia, take a good look at these shitheels shouting the praises of greed.
What lifts your spirits faster than seeing someone MUCH more depressed than yourself?
It's been years since I visited the Strindberg And Helium website. As far as I can tell, they haven't added any new cartoons, but the four that they have are still very funny. The characters are August Strindberg, the dark and misanthropic playwright from the 19th Century, and Helium, a squeaky voiced pink balloon that does his or her best to cheer up the inconsolable author.
The Brazilian women, the Samba Queens, played a game today to which you can only say OMG!!! The Brazilian women are the Brazilian men, only they're women! OMG!!!
Brazil beat China IN CHINA 4 to freakin' NOTHING!!! The Chinese women were the best team in the world a few years back. That day is done, my friends. Now it's watch out for Brazil, just like it is in the men's game.
Let me 'splain this to some of my sports challenged readers, using an analogy best understood by the nerdy. (As you know, no judgments here at Lotsa 'Splainin', at least not of my loyal readers.) Here's a picture of Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
Q: What can Legolas do with a bow and arrow?
A: Anything you can think of and five things you can't think of.
That's what Brazilians are like with a soccer ball at their feet. It used to be that's what the guys were like, but the gals... not so much.
Now... so much. Much so much. All four goals were freaking poems to a samba beat. Here's a link to see the highlights. This is why the world loves soccer. It's like watching the best acrobats in the world, except somebody is trying (and failing) to trip the acrobats every few feet.
Actually, I've got to say not so much bothered as hot and bothered, but thanks for asking. (Click for bigger picture, if that's what you're into.)
Since I was a wee lad, I've had a thing for giant women. My first exposure was probably seeing Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman on TV (Ding.) Then I saw Jason and the Argonauts on the big screen at the old Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, where there is a brief scene with the giant goddess Hera (future Bond girl Honor Blackman) speaking to Jason. (Dingding!) After that, on TV I saw the Fellini film The Temptation of Doctor Antonio with Anita Ekberg as a giantess who comes down from an advertising billboard to torment a prudish and conflicted censor, and
(DINGDINGDINGDING!!!!)... please no more calls. We have a winner.
All this happened well before the age of ten.
I bring up this odd interest, (okay, you can call it a fetish) because it has only been addressed marginally here on the blog, though it has brought me a lot of readers. My post about gigantic child brides was one of the first things I wrote that Dr. Monkerstein mentioned in his blog, which helped me become one of his blog buddies. Also, I got a lot of viewers by putting in pictures of Miss Elizabeth Kucinich, the first of the gigantic child brides mentioned here at Lotsa 'Splainin'. Every Democratic debate means more people wandering the Internets looking for pictures of Miss Elizabeth, and ending up here at my blog.
I've met a lot of fellow giantess lovers, first online, then some in person after our electronic introduction. It's a pretty common theme that we knew at a very early age that we found the image of a woman towering over a full grown man exciting. Whether we were hard wired this way or it's some combination of wiring and the triggering image, I can't say.
Damnit, Jim, I'm a mathematician, not a neurobiologist specializing in sexual proclivities!
Giantesses don't seem to show up that often in myths and fairy tales, especially the ancient stories. There's Alice In Wonderland and her changing sizes and giant women in Gulliver's Travels, which is now marketed to children but that was NOT Swift's original intention. In general, giants are guys who show up in myths and fairy tales to get their asses kicked. At least, this makes sense in the stories we are gonna tell the kiddies. It wouldn't be such a good bedtime story to end it with "And then the angry giant fashioned a club from the trunk of an old dead tree, destroying the homes of the villagers and crushing them underfoot as they fled in blind panic. The End. Well, sleep tight, kids!"
But in fact, giantesses DO show up in ancient myths, most especially from Northern Europe, but not in the parts of the stories we tell the kiddies. Taking a giant wife or mistress is a sign that the hero is indeed a mighty, mighty man. There are versions of the Arthurian legend where Guinivere is a giantess, even a set of giant triplets!
Another example of the giantess as the pinnacle of desirability comes from the Norse gods and the story of the god Thor. Thor killed giants. Lots of giants. Show Thor a giant, Thor would kill him just as soon as look at him. But the giantesses are another story. The giantesses had a soft spot for the little guy and his big hammer. There's one story where the giants are setting a trap for Thor, but giantesses warn him and he turns the tables. More to the point, Thor has a giant mistress named Járnsaxa (Iron Blade), who bears him a son named Magni (Strength.)
With his goddess wife Sif, Thor also has a daughter Thrud (Power), praised both for her beauty and size, kind of an early supermodel with the accent on the super. (Aside: How do you chat her up? "So, what's your name?" "Thrud." "Yeah... that's a pretty name.")
Some of the gods need weapons, what with Ragnarok just around the corner, so they go to the dwarves. They promise the leader of the dwarves Alviss (All Wise) that he can marry Thrud if the weapons are delivered. The dwarves do their bit, but none of the gods who cut this deal talked to Thor about it, who is less than thrilled with the idea of his big beautiful prize of a daughter marrying a dwarf and living the rest of her life underground. You might think, Thor... angry... hammer... crushed dwarf, but you would be wrong! Instead of killing this undesirable future son in law by force, Thor wants proof that Alviss is all wise, so he asks him a series of questions. The trivia contest lasts all the night, and the rays of the sunrise turn the dwarf into stone. The end.
So in conclusion, I'd like to say a kind word for my unusual compatriots. While we might spend too much time thinking about giant women, our reaction to them is not that far out of the ordinary. When giantesses show up in myths, the standard reaction is not "Run for your lives!" so much as it is "Hey! Who's the NEW girl?"
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses Central Command, Special Operations Command and the Sixth Air Mobility Wing Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. "We have shown a watching world that we are a good and just nation: secure in our ideals, fearless in their defense, and willing to sacrifice greatly for the cause of long-term peace," said the Vice President. "We will press on in our mission, and turn events toward victory."
White House photo by David Bohrer
Here is the translation from the satanic.
"I'm never wrong. Even when the facts say one thing and I say another, I'm never wrong. While God is the author of truth, I worship someone else, and my master has given me more power than pious little pinheads like you can imagine. I cannot be contradicted. If some of you have to be killed so that I never see justice, that's fine by me.
"You volunteered to be in the situation you face right now. The first rule of the Army is "never volunteer", but you saps never heard that, did you? I knew that, and I never was in the Army. When I was your age, I did everything I could so that I wouldn't find myself in harm's way so that some lying bastard in Washington could save face.
"Pray to your God that you don't get sent again into the fire, for all the good it will do you. I serve someone else, and I have a lot more say about whether you live or die than some mere deity.
"I would like to thank your superior officers for training you so well. If I were you and I met an evil old bastard like me, I'd spit in his face. Of course, I'm not you, and I'd never get myself into such a shit position. Thanks also for being my backdrop today. It's a great help towards making sure that you and your comrades keep dropping like flies for the next sixteen months so that I never have to face justice.
"I will end the speech by asking God to bless you and this country, but let me be clear one more time. I serve someone else, and some of you poor bastards are doomed."
Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about Amy Winehouse, a singer whose songs are currently making a splash, including a song called Rehab, in which she says she'd rather not go, though clearly others think it might be a good idea. I joked that she might be separated at birth from Devil Girl, the fictional character invented by R. Crumb back in the 1970s. I ended the post with a little joke.
Still, that girl Amy seems nice. I wonder if she's seeing anybody?
My little sister Karla, wise beyond her two-score-and-something-or-other years, wrote in the comments:
Matthew - put down the Devil Girl and back away from her.
Don't make eye contact or any sudden moves. Hum tunelessly, as if you're calm and engaged in something else.
I'll be outside with the car running.
And we left the joke at that. Ha, ha!
Then these two pictures of before and after, though not in the right direction, surfaced on the Internets. In 2004, Ms. Winehouse had a nice womanly figure, but in 2006, she was caught walking around looking Biafran. Rumors circulated that this was not due to a diet and exercise program approved by a doctor.
Then a few weeks back, new pictures surfaced showing the aftermath of a fight with her boyfriend over drugs. While neither of them looks good, from the pictures I'm going to declare that she won the fight.
And so Matty Boy dodges another relationship disaster by not actually having a chance in hell of being in a relationship with Amy Winehouse.
Phew! That was close! (Not really.)
And on to this week's Random 10, which just so happens to be completely free of my three heroes from last week.
Clint Eastwood Gorillaz We Saw The Sea Fred Astaire Nelson Mandela The Special A.K.A. Can Your Monkey Do The Dog? Rufus Thomas Be Thankful For What You’ve Got Portrait Sissyneck Beck Through These Architect’s Eyes David Bowie Baubles Bangles & Beads Nina Simone Crawling From The Wreckage Dave Edmunds I’ll Try Something New Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Sometimes a Random 10 will have graceful segues or an overall pattern or theme that emerges from the randomness. This is not one of those times. Still, I stand by each song on its own, though any DJ playing these in a row at a party is not doing much of a job of setting a mood.
I'm trying this Foxy Tunes thang the Blogger is pushing, but their selection is weak. No Rufus Thomas or Portrait. Instead, I'll just put a video of Special AKA here at the end.
There are many memorable moments in the the first long form video played regularly on MTV, which was Michael Jackson's Thriller. There's Michael as a dancing zombie, there's Michael's transformation into a were-kitteh, there's Vincent Price rapping.
Personally, the highlight for me is Michael talking to his super-hot yet virginal girl friend before the monster parts and the singing parts begin, and he speaks the line of deathless dialogue, "I'm not like other boys."
Never were truer words spoken.
The same could be said for me, though not for the same reasons. I like math. I really enjoy it. I have students, some of them nice folks, whom I know dream of the day when they will never have to open a math book ever again, but I think about it every day, and I like it that way. Right now when I ride BART, I take the book pictured here, The Green Book of Mathematical Problems with me, and when I pick one of the problems and start working on it, I am transported to another world. I get on the train at BayFair, open the book, scribble some ideas and damn! I'm at Fruitvale already! How did that happen?
It's not that nobody else would ever think of math as an enjoyable thing. Some folks work on Sudoku on BART. Sudoku is fun, but all the problems are really just variations of the same problem. In math, things can be very different, and with good math problems, coming up with the right path for solving a problem is the major challenge. Let me state two problems from the book that can be put into simple English sentences.
Problem A: You have 43 positive whole numbers. They add up to 124. Prove that at least ten of the numbers have to be equal to each other.
Problem B: Four points are drawn on a piece of paper. You have a disk, say the top of a pickle jar. If the top of the pickle jar can be placed so that it simultaneously covers any three out of four of the points on the paper chosen at random, prove that it must be able to cover all four at the same time.
Fun, right? Well, your mileage may vary.
First new flag in many weeks! A big hello to Tanzania, though I must admit to being old enough to remember when you changed your name from Tanganyika and Zanzibar, two of the coolest geographical place names EVAH.
What makes a lolz cat successful? Is there a formula for quality funny pictures with simple captions featuring cats, dogs, other furry animals, even babies? I would submit there isn't a formula, but there are guidelines.
Here is a top notch example. The picture is not staged, but captures actual normal (if odd looking) animal behavior. The caption finds the funny in the first obvious place, which is anthrocentrism. Why would a human be in such a situation? Put words of explanation in the mouth of the kitteh, add in a sprinkling of spelling and/or grammar errors and, bingo! Comedy gold.
Next we have the bad, the wrong. The owner of the kitteh loves the kitteh. The love is so great that the owner does not understand the kitteh had boundaries. If you have any pictures like this in any of your personal photo albums, it's time to do a fearless moral inventory. One such picture can just be a moment of weakness. Two is a troubling pattern. Three or more... I think you know where this is heading without me stating it directly.
Then we have the cute overload. (This particular case is from I Can Has Cheezburger?, not from the website actually titled Cute Overload.) The cute picture is combined with the cute caption and the cuteness multiplies until we are left with an I.E.D. of Cute. The cuteness explodes on computer screens around the world, and the victims of the cuteness number in hundreds, if not thousands.
This week, Princess Sparkle Pony took some sickeningly sweet comics like The Family Circus and Love Is... and put in snarky captions at her usual high quality level. Seeing those old, cloying cartoons made me think that the cute overload lolz are the smarmy cartoons of the 21st Century, the obnoxious adorability that we must mock and stand shoulder to shoulder against, as the guardians of irony here on the Internets.
But personally, when I see a really good Cute Overload Lol, I just can't bring myself to hate it. I mean, look at the li'l kitteh! Iz so cuuuuuuuute!
I may need an intervention at some point in the future.
Part of the conservative movement is in the process of canonizing Ronald Reagan. Efforts are being made to name something for Reagan in each of the 435 congressional districts, and some want to put his face on some money, either taking FDR's place on the dime or Andrew Jackson's place on the $20 bill. Here is my counteroffer. Take Andrew Jackson off the twenty and replace him with James Madison, the author of the Constitution.
Thinking of Jackson as the father of the modern Democratic Party is as strange an idea as Lincoln being the father of the modern Republican Party. His positive qualities are that he was a man of the people, the first "outsider" who became president, and the instigator of the patronage system, meaning your cronies, friends and hangers-on could get jobs in the gummint once you won the election. In this way, Jackson is the great-grandfather of Michael "Heckuva Job Brownie" Brown. This is not exactly something we should hold up with pride these days.
Among the negatives of Jackson are that he was the only president to be censured by Congress, this over his opposition to the Second Bank Of The United States. This appears to be a "my sleazeballs vs. your sleazeballs" battle when we look back on it today. More to the point that the Democrats need a new father figure is Jackson's ignoring of the Constitution's definitions of powers and his complicity in mass murder.
Gold was found on the original Cherokee homeland in western Georgia, and white folks did all that they could to swindle the Cherokee out of their assets. The Cherokee, different from nearly all other Native American tribes, fought back like white men would; they took the case to court. They won the case, and it was upheld all the way to the Supreme Court. Jackson ignored the Supreme Court. (Jackson had it in for nearly all the Founding Fathers from Virginia, including Madison and Jefferson, so his disrespect for the Constitution could be seen as personal disrespect for Madison.) It is claimed that he said "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" Whether he spoke the words or not is immaterial, because his actions spoke louder in the end.
He signed a bullshit treaty with a splinter group of Cherokees and the Cherokee, who had played by the rules and won, were sent from their land in Georgia to new and less valuable land in Oklahoma. 15,000 Cherokee signed a petition protesting the decision of the fake leaders. The petition was ignored. Some 7,000 U.S. troops were sent to remove the Cherokee by force. Of the 17,000 Cherokee who left Georgia, some 4,000 died before they got to Oklahoma. This episode is known as The Trail Of Tears. It wouldn't be fair to compare this to the Nazi death camps of World War II. It's much more like the Bataan Death March organized by the Japanese.
If you need further proof that Jackson isn't the guy for us in the 21st Century, it should be noted that he was on the $1,000 bill of the Confederacy. (It should also be noted that he died in 1845, some fifteen years before the Civil War started, so what he would have thought of the dissolution of the Union is unknown.)
Another strike against him is that Charlton Heston once said Jackson was the greatest man he ever portrayed, choosing Old Hickory over some Jewish guy named Moses. This is further proof that even before he was old and senile, Charlton Heston had his head stuck up his ass.
We need a new Democratic Party in this country. We need to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, but also to raise up great traditions of our nation's founding. We should start with the Constitution, a document we need to fight for each and every day. Scumbags in an organization called The Federalist Society are working hard to tell us the Constitution's guarantees to us as free people don't really exist at all. Alberto Gonzales' very weak argument that we don't really have the right of habeas corpus, just that the government doesn't have the right to take it away from us, is the kind of bullshit sophistry these people hang their hats on.
I know that a lot of people will take this day to commemorate what happened six years ago. It's my position that it's time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and to commit ourselves to protecting our true freedoms from enemies, both foreign and right now, most especially domestic.
Indira Varma had a featured role on HBO's Rome. The writers decided to kill her character off at the end of the first season.
Ms. Varma also had a featured role in the first episode of Torchwood, a new show that will be running on BBC America. The writers killed her off at the end of the first episode.
I want people to understand how much I will bend my principles to watch Ms. Varma. I once had some small vestige of pride. I used to say "Yes, I'm a nerd, but I never watched Doctor Who." Torchwood was a spin-off of the new Doctor Who, and I was willing to watch if she was going be a regular. Well, I have my principles back, for all the good they do me.
Here's an idea. How about a Bollywood version of Dallas or Dynasty, a soap opera about the newly rich and powerful in India? Maybe they could call it Call Center or Search Engine.
Should Ms. Varma be the Linda Evans we root for (sort of), or the straight up Joan Collins bee-OTCH? I don't much care one way or the other. Surprise me. Just let her have a few close ups where those lovely eyes smolder and put her in some pretty costumes that show off her (dare I say it?) neck and collarbone, and Matty can be a happy Boy.
Some great writers fall into bad habits. Some write the same story over and over again. Some have a terrific spurt of energy early in their career, only to fade away with time, their later works never quite reaching the standard of the books with which they made their reputation.
Neither of these things can be said of Philip Roth.
Roth first came to public attention for the books Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy's Complaint, both of which were turned into films. My personal favorite of his early novels is The Great American Novel, about an old, possibly dotty sportswriter who clearly remembers a third major baseball league that everyone else has forgotten. While there are many more recent books in his career to recommend, a popular choice is American Pastoral, for which he won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize.
If you want to read just one recent Roth novel, Matty Boy would modestly suggest The Plot Against America from 2004. The novel revolves around the 1940 election, where the Republicans decide to nominate Charles Lindbergh for president, and a somewhat more shadowy figure for vice president. While the story discusses many aspects of this alternate history, the focus rests on the Roth family, with young Philip growing up in New Jersey, feeling the effects of living in a country that signs a non-aggression pact with Hitler's Germany.
In 2004, many artists made statements with their art that could be seen as cries in the wilderness, hoping that America would pull away from the destructive path of the first four years of the Bush administration. Sadly, that didn't happen and things have gotten worse, not only in Iraq but in ways that we wouldn't have considered possible in America a few short years ago. This book can be read as an allegory for modern times, but it also stands on its own as a great work of alternative history.
I didn't see the movie 300 when it was released in the theaters. The ads made it look very pretty, and it was based on a graphic novel (translation: big honking comic book) by Frank Miller, a writer I respect. These two facts actually worked against the film for me, because Sin City had beautiful looking shots in the trailer and was based on Frank Miller's work, so I went and saw ONE OF THE STUPIDEST MOVIES EVER MADE. So I waited until 300 was available on DVD and saw it this week.
The good news is that it isn't as stupid as Sin City, not by a long shot. But let me hand it over to some guest reviewers here at Lotsa 'Splainin' to tell you what they think.
Rep. Bob Allen (R - Florida restrooms) The film has an absolutely brilliant look to it, every shot a masterpiece of framing and lighting. While I didn't know the work of many of the cast members, I thought it was a brilliant choice to make most of the emissaries of the Persian Empire big black guys. While Africa is not in between Persia and Greece, the choice of going with big black guys to be the representatives of an evil enslaving empire that hates freedom makes perfect sense, because as we know, big black guys are scary.
The Spartans, on the other hand, weren't scary at all. I found them... thrilling!
In conclusion, I recommend 300 without reservation. It's a great date movie, either to see it with someone you love, or even someone you just met in a public restroom. Either way, it's a terrific conversation starter.
Former Rep. Mark Foley (R - Washington DC cloakrooms) It's too bad that 300 has an R rating. It's completely deserved, owing to some inappropriate boobies and nipples early in the film, but once those scenes are over, 300 delivers all the heart pounding action anyone could ever want. I recommend watching the film with a whole crowd of 14 and 15 year old boys, warning them about the icky parts early, then getting involved and wrapped up all the way to the film's happy ending.
Afterwards, you could get the kids some sodas and "rap" about their feelings about the movie, the new ideas they encountered and the most thrilling moments in the film. ("Rap" is a word the young people use. I'm really good at connecting with today's youth.)
==== Sen. Larry Craig (R - Idaho)I also enjoyed the movie very much. Gerard Butler, who is featured in the poster above, gets the lion's share of the screen time as King Leonidas, and he puts it to good use. He handles weapons of many types as though he had been doing it all his life. And spending most of the movie nearly naked I'm sure was done just to be historically accurate. Personally, I'm a stickler for accuracy.
I had seen Butler before in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera, but I hardly recognized him here. All I can say about his performance here is that A Star Is Born!
When I say that, I don't mean it as a reference to either the movie with Judy Garland or the later one with Barbra Streisand, because I've never seen those movies because I'M NOT GAY AND I NEVER HAVE BEEN!
==== I want to thank all these guys for taking time out of their no longer very busy schedules to tell us how they feel about the movie 300. If you think I have chosen these individuals to insinuate that this movie is just about THE GAYEST THING EVER MADE, and I'm including the '60s TV shows Batman and Bewitched, here's another take on that topic.