Sunday, August 30, 2009

'Oh you've caught an even atom tan' - The Clash

What's the deal with the clowns in Cialis commercials? The dudes all have Hollywood tans. You know: deep, fake.

Maybe it's due to all that blood trapped in their facial pigment when it should be flowing down south to help raise the draw bridge? A result of their ED affliction? If so, what does that imply about George Hamilton? He claims to be ED free, but you can't hide from that Coppertone look.

Does Cialis simply free up all that blood from the face? Do you end up looking like Casper the Friendly Ghost "when the moment is right" or "when she gives me that look" or "when Glenda the Good Witch makes her first appearance in Wizard of Oz"? (Oops, that last one hasn't been released yet.)

Or is the tan a side effect of the medication itself? Perhaps that was the original indication? If so, does it turn your dick brown as well?

Lots of questions, but no answers forthcoming from their web site. Though I did learn that you shouldn't use amyl nitrite or other 'popper' drugs together with this particular pecker pepper. Or drink 5 shots of whiskey on a daily basis.

Taking Cialis does apparently compel you to haul bathtubs and perhaps other porcelain hygiene accouterments toward large bodies of water. It's not listed as a side effect, but the home page picture tells the tale.

For no particular reason at all, I found this alternative Cialis commercial to be revealing, though certainly not illuminating. They sidestep the tanning issue here by featuring African Americans. Or at least they appear to be, but it could just be the meds ...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Lion and the Wolf and the Autumn of Steve

Equus asinus.
Man, has there ever been a bigger braying jackass than Wolf Blitzer?

Perhaps. But ya gotta give it to him: he pours his heart and soul into summiting that equine mountain every time he opens his neatly trimmed hairy white monotoned pie hole.

Howling Wolf's personal donkey is alive and kickin' judging by his voice over commentary this morning as dignitaries flowed into our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica for Ted Kennedy's funeral mass.

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were quietly talking prior to the service while Wolf endlessly prattled on and on about obvious and/or meaningless minutia, struggling then failing to contain yet another outbreak of his Dullard's Tourette Syndrome. Hey, children, remember way back three weeks ago when Clinton briefed Obama on his trip to North Korea? Did you know that meeting took place in the Whitehouse Situation Room? "Of course, that's the Whitehouse Situation Room," Wolf unnecessarily explained. "Not my situation room. But they are always welcome to have such meetings there." Thanks for the clarification, Wolf. And the invitation. Now shut the fuck up, Steve said as he flipped to CSPAN.

Hey, who is that young dude with the shaved head and long flowing black beard attempting to blend in with the gaggle of priests and other religious types during the funeral? He's in white robes in the foreground on the left in this picture. He looks more Radical Fundamentalist Muslim than Boston Irish Roman Catholic. He clearly isn't a member of Obama's Kenyan Muslim sect, so he's not there as part of some presidential decree. Maybe a nod to Ted's alliance with Al Qaeda, allowing one of their own be included in the religious delegation? And kudos to Obama for allowing the service to proceed in English rather than Kiswahili, as will no doubt soon be required throughout the land. Oops, sorry - wrong channel. Stumbled upon Fox News rather than CSPAN. Click.

My own reflections on Ted Kennedy? For those who are interested ...

Teddy was a drinker, often a drunk. Born into wealth, privilege and power. He lived, he knew forever, in the shadows of his older brothers. He was compared to them often but usually in terms of disappointment and wanting. Martyred American icons make no mistakes or bad choices and he continued to make plenty of both simply by being alive.

Despite (or perhaps because of) all that, I think Ted was the best of his family and the best the Senate had to offer. He certainly did more good for more people, most of whom had and have no idea. Ironically those who may have benefited most from the legislation he championed over close to half a century are the same salt-of-the-earth folks likeliest to decry the "womanizing, privileged, drunkard, liberal." He was at times all of those things. He was a Kennedy, after all.

It's funny how the most effective people in public service seem to share these characteristics, not all of them flaws; anyway, not to some of us. To me, liberalism is a virtue. And to be born into a life of privilege is not something you choose, it's what you do with the things you've been given that counts. And it might be true liberalism is a luxury only those with money can afford but likely without it, there wouldn't be a middle class.

As for the failings of drink and philandering, often one is fueled by the other and both by a culture and heredity that also ignited tremendous good. That's some of it, but a driven personality at some level doesn't differentiate what it's driving at and toward.

He of course broke the cardinal rule of male politicians ('Never let them find you with a dead girl or a live boy'). He'll forever be remembered by many for that alone. Maybe he deserves to: it was a horrible thing. But for some of us - well, I can count at least a handful of situations that might well have ended in similar fashion for me. There but for the grace of dumb luck go I. So I'm a bit more forgiving.

People who decry the Kennedy clan as a bunch of pampered, self-important patronizing booze hounds who walk through life as though it were their own private stag party are missing the point: most families of power and wealth do that and you only read about them on the society page or Star magazine 'cause partying and whatnot is their full time gig. The Kennedy gang do all that when they're off the clock, sure. But they were and are otherwise chronic workaholics who have had it beaten into them from a very young age that their privilege and wealth must be repaid with a lifetime of service helping those less fortunate. It seems arrogant and patronizing by it's very nature.

Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby (a Kennedy caricature Ted apparently found amusing) has a favorite toast: "May all your indiscretions be private." Ted's weren't but neither were his triumphs.

Hey, that's all just the opinion of this commie pinko limousine hemorrhaging heart liberal.

And now, since it most definitely hasn't been a Summer of George for yours truly, I gotta start planning my Autumn of Steve. It might not be the most fiscally responsible thing I do (that list is small), but it might be necessary for my sanity and peace of mind.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, "Life is full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness—and it's all over much too quickly." I happen to agree with Woody that life's much too short. I also recognize it has gobs of inevitable misery you have no choice but to deal with so why add to it by enduring the avoidable variety?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Now Santa Claus comes forward, that's a razor in his mit; and he puts on his dark glasses and he shows you where to hit

I had just pulled out of the Dunkin Donuts on my way into into work today and found myself behind a car with the words 'Antibacterial Socks' plastered in huge black letters across the rear bumper.

Antibacterial Socks.

No other explanation (apparently none needed).

I pulled around to pass the guy and noticed lots of advertising on the side, albeit none related to foot odor or other similar hygienic or podiatry needs. The adverts indicated the vehicle was a rental - a zip car - nothing odd about that. Some shitty little subcompact thing, it might have been a Toyota but my attention was elsewhere.

Then it got weird. Starting with the driver.

His window was down and we were across from one another at a traffic light.

The dude at the controls couldn't see over the steering wheel, was wearing a very tall blueish top hat(!) , wrap-around Bono shades, a pink t-shirt and was drumming the dashboard furiously with what looked like latex gloves on (the dish washing variety).

This cat was singing, howling at the top of his lungs. But he had no music on in the car that I could hear and no ear buds or other obvious source for his rhythmic inspiration. The words he was torturing weren't English but they weren't exactly not English either. I felt I could almost make them out, but then at the last instant they'd float away, undeciphered. Out of phase, is the best way I can describe it. And there was no familiar melody or recognizable genre to help place his warbling in some sort of context I could understand.

I felt for just a second like someone must have laced my Dunkin Donuts coffee with a potent hallucinogen. But no one had touched it other than the counter person I see every day, a shy but friendly young Indian gal that most definitely did not seem the deadhead trippy hippie type. Perhaps the java is packaged that way, a new marketing angle for the random customer who asks for "Cinnamon Spice flavor". Wink-wink, sly smile. A tie-in to the new Ang Lee Woodstock flick about to hit theaters, perhaps?

I wanted to ask the zip car drivin' cat-in-the-hat next to me about antibacterial socks but I didn't know how to broach the subject given his operatic focus and my dumbfounded confusion. And then the light flashed green and he was off. I slowed down and watched him continue down route 202 South as I turned right onto Allendale Road and the daily grind.

Antibacterial socks were but one of a litany of puzzles I was chewing on as I pulled into the parking lot.

So I started work today in a state of flux and never regained my balance.

As I write this in the evening I'm still trying to shake the encounter from my psyche. Does it portend something ominous to come? Is this some kind of I Heart Huckabees existential calamity? Is this Short Top Hatted Singer to me what the Tall African Man was to Jason Schwartzman?

Or was he just some clown driving through King Of Prussia on his way to work?

Maybe he was freaked out by my lack of a Top Hat and because I wasn't singing along to music he couldn't hear. And primarily because I did not declare my support for Antibacterial Socks, at least not in the overt way in which he was accustomed.

Maybe I'm just listening to too much Leonard Cohen on the iPod these days. Apart from my Beatles jag last night, I've been fixated on the first three Cohen records of late - my "Early Cohen" playlist has been on a continuous loop: Songs of Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room, Songs of Love and Hate. Especially the Love and Hate disc. Dress Rehearsal Rag, Last Year's Man, Famous Blue Raincoat. Those three are enough to make you existential ... or maybe it's suicidal ... or perhaps both (though in that case you'll likely not know if you've done yourself in or only imagined you have).

Cohen's lyrics do you in for sure. Though the baritone, unceasingly minor chord progressions and spare bordering on non-existent backing instrumentation do their fair share of damage as well. To compare to another favorite of mine with razor sharp teeth, Elvis Costello's words are even darker and more vicious, but he dresses them up in happy major chords, Lennon/McCartney style melodies and keyboard heavy punkish hues. Leonard doesn't let you off the hook like that: there's nowhere to hide in his well of sorrow. Don't get me wrong, now: he's got some wonderful melodies, they're just more oriented toward the shadows.

The rain falls down on last year's man. Indeed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

'Cos you're making me feel like I've never been born

I see the NAACP is planning on being out in force for tomorrow's Eagles game, in support of Michael Vick.

Am I the only one who sees a heavy irony in this? This organization is sticking up for Michael Vick? An organization with a proud history of fighting institutionalized injustice of others, acting as voice where before there was none, hastening the progression of a people from property to perhaps one day enjoying true and full equal rights not just by law but in hearts and minds (and don't kid yourself, our country isn't nearly there yet). This is that organization?

Let's go back in time about 200 years, 150 even. A white guy who did to African Americans, to human beings, what Vick did to dogs, would likely have gotten a similar punishment, maybe even less, if he "owned" those individuals. If his was a public profession (entertainment or the like), he'd be in a familiar position. And likely there'd be the Klan or similar ilk out there showing support for the guy because "he'd served his time."

Now, before you get your Smuckers in a jar, I'm not suggesting that the canine victims of Vick's crimes compare to the human victims in this trip down that shameful corner of our nation's past. It's a fact that they were thought of this way, even less, is my point. Nor am I comparing the NAACP to the Klan. The NAACP is a tremendous group, have been and are a driving force for incalculable good; the Klan is a despicable organization responsible for equally incalculable evil.

Animals and human being do share one very important aspect: the capacity to suffer and feel pain. We're carnivorous, we kill and eat meat. However, a living creature capable of suffering shouldn't be made to if it isn't absolutely necessary, certainly not for 'entertainment' purposes.

Years of sociopathic behavior tells the tale, whether he tortures animals or people, whether he be black or white, whether he be a she, it doesn't matter if it's 1809 or 2009. I admire the hell out of the NAACP and am sure their intentions are pure. They are likely tired of seeing yet another African American demonized and are trying to be proactive in stemming the tide of public opinion. I sympathize. Frankly, I wish Vick was a blond haired/blue eyed sociopath, but he's a sociopath regardless. I can't stand inside their shoes and certainly do not presume to understand their perspective. Just suggesting maybe they don't really want a dog in this particular fight. So to speak.

Religious intolerance and fear made the news again today. But really this kind of thing plays itself out every minute of every day on this planet in guises we likely don't always recognize. Strident belief in a set of values handed down from some omnipotent deity which hint (or hammer) at the values (and, consequently, the core worth) of others. It's instilled in a lot of us at birth and continuously reinforced since. It's been responsible for the lion's share of humanity's violence and hatred since time immemorial. No news there. But that doesn't make it any less depressing. Usually poverty and powerlessness fan the flames (hell, they ignite the fire in the first place in a lot of instances). But not always. Another case of stating the obvious, and the obviousness of it not helping.

It's pretty easy for me to rattle off an obnoxious, high and mighty, self righteous observation like I just did. I'm not a religious person, though not exactly an atheist. Anyway, not one who insists that there was/is - time being so relative - intelligence responsible in some manner for our existence, the universe, the multiverse, etc. To insist that's true is just arrogance through the looking glass.

My take is we're not nearly evolved or intelligent enough as a species to be able to figure something like that out. I guess that makes me an agnostic, though I don't consider myself indecisive or unwilling to "take a stand." I'm not hedging my bets. The only thing I'm pretty sure of is that while everybody with a belief in a supernatural being might be right about such a being's existence, they're surely wrong about any of the specifics. But I recognize that this is only my opinion and I don't think you're "of the devil" if you disagree. Or "The Great Satan", to give equal voice to the intolerant among those not tolerated by the Floridian devil-t-shirt crowd.

But enough pontificating - let's get to important things ...

We are fortunate enough in America to have some leaders of great principles and honor, in the here-and-now, regardless of what might await us once we leave this mortal coil.

Folks like Mark Sanford, noted Appalachian Anthropologist and amateur Argentinian Gynecologist. And, I might add, a True Believer.

Hang in there and fight for what you believe in, Mark. Don't let the unbelievers tear you down. You have work left to finish, South American fact finding trips yet to take.

You're the anti-Sarah Palin.

Sarah inexplicably resigns to twitter her life away, so as not to be an all-destructive Lame Duck, quacking away at the very fabric of the Yukon's star spangled icebergs. She should have resigned immediately upon being first elected, so as not to risk being a one-term burden on the great white north.

But you, Marky boy, you take a different tact. It'll take a conviction on charges of mass genocide for you to consider leaving office. Mass genocide, mind you - a bit of genocide here and there, especially if done for love, might even be considered a strength (if done out of state).

Now for something completely different ...

Great VH1 retrospective tonight on what was my first favorite rock band, the Beatles. When I caught Beatlemania they were already in reruns, having broken up three years prior to my first album purchase. Still, I couldn't get enough of them (this was the early 70s - who else was I supposed to get excited over?).

Until the Ramones, Clash, Costello and Springsteen made themselves known to me, the Beatles were the shit in my book. If I had to choose, I think I'd still pick them. Well, maybe Dylan would be first, but I didn't come to his work until a bit later in life. Unlike many, I always dug the Beatles early work more than I did the later stuff. A Red Album Guy, as it were. With a decidedly Blue State hue. Just to be sure I had balance in my life, at least where the primary colors are concerned (the Irish in me rounding out the green).

Well, this was certainly a post for the ages, filled with non sequiturs, pointless ramblings, wild mood swings and generally a big mess ('the world's a mess, it's in my kiss' - love ya and miss ya, X; you & the Violent Femmes made the 80s tolerable).

I blame the six pack of diet coke I just drank and the all round lack of sleep since the flu last week. That and the mental letting go of things on the professional front as I look for something different. That's been an ongoing process but decisions were made last week and it's like coming to the surface after a long time at great depth. I have the bends. Gotta flush the iridium out of my system (and that means something only to those it does)

Time for bed, though not for sleep. iTunes Beatles 63-66 playlist, I think. And my umpteenth read of The Great Gatsby. For some reason, they seem to go together just fine. See ya in a bit, Daisy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Johnny and Momar go to (Englewood's) White Castle

Everyone's favorite terrorizin' Gadfly is winging into town next month to introduce his fall fashion line. I also wouldn't count out a stylish collaboration or two taking place between Momar and Vogue's Prada wearing devil while he's here. Maybe I smell a cover? After all, he's already made Vanity Fair this month. He's clearly the Gold Standard of modern batshit insane urbane clotheshorse dictators.

Oh, yeah - and maybe he'll swing by the UN too, if he has time.

Apparently Libya owns an estate in Englewood, NJ. They've had it for years but it was seemingly unused and in increasingly dilapidated condition until a couple of months ago when the Pimp My Ambassador's Residence crew descended upon it. Now the Darnah Dandy says he wants to camp out there during his upcoming trip to nearby Manhattan, much to the chagrin of the local authorities.

Folks are concerned the town's large Jewish population might take offense at Sgt. Pepper and his Radical Islamic Hard Liner Hearts Club Band rolling into town. Come on, guys! He really didn't mean that crack about running all the Jews of the world into the sea! He was joshin' - he's such a card - the Dice Man & Don Rickles of the Middle East. Just ask his newest Pal, Johnny-B-Good McCain. Johnny, run on over to the Garden State and stand up for yer buddy.

Momar, baby - ya don't want to rock and roll in the sticks anyway - one of Trump's joints in the city is more your style! Maybe a Trump Soho Hotel Condo? That'll put ya in the thick of the action - close to the fashion district and the trendy artist community you so love but just a cab ride away from the mid-town or upper east side scene. Your personal bodygals will be bored silly in Englewood when Park Avenue beckons!

I wonder if J. Mac will offer his services as tour guide while the Libyan Lothario is in town? I know the Big Apple isn't exactly Johnny's turf, but it's only fair given the magical time he had recently at Momar's "Mustang" Ranch. Grampa Munster raved about it on Twitter and Facebook, sounding just a bit like a school girl with a crush. Must have been a mighty "interesting" time indeed. Do ya think they got juiced up on Benghazi Bourbon and started harmonizing to "Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran" together? Probably not, Momar doesn't drink (he's high on life).

Still, booze or no, you thought the SNL Czech Brothers were wild and crazy? Get Momar and Johnny together and they make those two look like the Bobbsey Twins. Look out, Scores! Daddy needs a new group of female bodyguards ...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dances with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight

So I flip on the tube and the beginnings of 'Dancing with Wolves' this morning. It's an okay movie. Probably the most 'mainstream' film to show Native Americans with a central focus in positive light. And as Costner 'epics' go, it's the best, though that's damning with faint praise and deserves better. I mean to say it's gobs and heaps superior to the 'Dances with Post Offices' and 'Dances with A Huge Fucking Body of Water' fiascoes that followed in its wake.

In the end, though, two things knock it from the realm of great flicks for me:
  1. Just as making a race of people look nothing but savage and evil takes their humanity away, so too does portraying them as unceasingly 'good' and 'wise'
  2. Do ya gotta always have a kindly white guy watching over/protecting the naive child-race? Cause God knows they can't do it themselves! That's just insulting: neither Bugsy Seigel nor Moe Green nor even Steve Wynn popularized casinos the way these guys did, and they didn't need some sad sack pale face to do it. Okay, they needed a whole lot of sad sack pale face gambling degenerates to wager their wallets into the casino coffers, but that's just good ol' fashioned karma doing its thing. And then there's the millennium of culture, tradition, etc.
I can forgive #1 as a balance to pretty much all other popular depictions but #2 sort of sinks it for me (though I do understand the business reasons for having gone there).

All this long winded shit got me off track from my driving point: the genius of one of the first scenes of the movie, one that speaks volumes to us today as we wander out of the opening decade of the 21st century. It has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, nothing much to do with anything.

I refer of course to the moment when Costner's Lt. Dunbar presents his orders to the frontier to his current commanding officer Major Fambrough, a batshit crazy, droolingly fat slob who mutters incoherently and with paranoid visions. After an uncomfortable and nonsensical exchange, he dismisses the Lieutenant but then he stands up, revealing a dripping wet pee stain soaking the whole of his crotch. "Sir Knight", he exclaims to Costner. "I've just pissed my pants and nobody can do anything about it!" Dunbar walks out in shock/disgust and soon thereafter, Fambrough strolls to the window and blows his brains out.

There's even a shrink online trying to diagnose this character's malady.

Whatever it is, it has parallels in the bizarre behavior of any number of today's leaders, whether in government or the private sector. From Sheena of the Yukon to Gov. 'Don't Cry for me, Appalachia' to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, we've no shortage of Major Fambroughs floating around the national stage. Further afield, ya got even more to choose from with yer Lil Kim Jong Ill-in-the-head, Momar Versace Khadafi and the Nazisque MadLoon I'm-Ahh-Jitter-Bug dotting the globe.

And those aren't even the worse of the lot. Christ, looking at that cast of characters, the crew of super villains from the 1960s Batman show seem dignified and reasonable by comparison.

And with no real Caped Crusader to be had. I thought Obama might just be Superman, but even so, it seems folks are trying to make Healthcare his Kryptonite.
They won't succeed, he's too big for that. But alas, he ain't Superman or Batman either.

To paraphrase a certain someone in the diplomatic corp who's familiar with the sucking black hole that is healthcare reform: It takes a (global) village to defeat the Major Fambroughs of the world.

It takes action and the continued spotlight and cash when you have it to help shine the light and scatter these rodents (apologies to the rats of the world, they stuck ya with a bad image).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Six big horses and a rubber-tired hack, Taking him to the cemetery, but they failed to bring him back.

Is there a better bit of techie-geek cheese than 1995's Hackers?

A 20 year old Angelina Jole as Acid-Burn, a tomboyish but still super hot hacker teen, going head to head with Jonny Lee Miller (late of Eli Stone) as hacker-extraordinaire Crash Override, newly transferred-in high school classmate and former world infamous child hacker Zero Cool. As is her want to do, Angelina fell in love with her co-star in real life and ended up marrying the guy (can you say 'Billy Bob' and 'Brad'?).

All the tech scenes are over-the-top ridiculous with crazy graphics as the hacker kids work their skills cracking into various anonymous corporate mainframes, always for innocuous 'bragging rights' only. Until they're targeted by a vigilante government agent who's been made a fool of and wants revenge, partnering with one of the biggest/baddest of corporate bad guys.

In real life, hacking is (and certainly back then was) generally done using the decidedly non-graphical command line, but that wouldn't make for much of a movie.

Still, it's the script and hamtastic mugging .. er, 'acting' that makes this movie fun.

When catching Jonny 'borrowing' her brand-new wiz-bang laptop, Angelina purrs "That's too much machine for you." Later, in the same scene, after watching his fingers blazing across the keyboard as he penetrates one firewall after another, she teases "I hope you don't screw like you type."

Fisher Stevens (!?) plays 'God', the chief security officer and wanna-be adult hacker for the bad guy corporation. He's apparently an executive for the company but cruises around on a skateboard browbeating his underlings (Penn Jillete among them, in a small cameo). And he's torn between bringing down all the hackers to prove he's the best and his admiration for the squirts.

The Spoprano's Dr. Melfi rounds out the cast as (I think) the chief executive officer, who happens to be screwing 'God'.

As Pat Healy might say, "Next time you're up that way, I suggest you take a ganders - it's a fine example."

For a more contemporary chuckle, check out Lars and the Real Girl floatin' around Showtime. It perhaps hits a bit too close to home for some of us. Sort of a romantic variant on Harvey - well, not really. Maybe closer to Jan Brady and George Glass. With a touch of Being John Malkovich, not in plot but in attitude.

Basically, a delusional guy brings his new girlfriend home to meet the family. She happens to be a life-size blow-up sex doll named 'Bianca' and he believes she is real.

Pretty fun ride. And it has a stronger point than most 'serious' movies regarding the nature of love and companionship. And perhaps also on the treatment of the disabled on multiple dimensions: emotional and mental (Lars) and physical (Bianca appears to be a paraplegic).

Get ya popcorn ready.