Sunday, October 31, 2010

mid-term crazy

Well, it's the weekend before the mid-terms and the TV ad vitriol has reached its zenith. 

To listen to these cretins, you'd think we were stuck with a choice of either Stalinist breadline growing communists or gun-crazy idiot fundamentalist christian Nazis.  Who knows?  Maybe TV is right.  After all, TV wouldn't lie now, would it?  Christ, I mean Obama's about as middle of the road as you can get in my book and the right wing rabblerousers already have him pegged as a Muslim Communist Nazi rolled into one, a stark raving bundle of extremism contradictions "comrade"ing and goosestepping all over their version of the constitution, one that doesn't exist outside the confines of their revisionist imagination (of the anti John Lennon variety). 

The left are far more incompetent in their ability to illustrate a vision of the right's love-Jesus-or-die fundamentalist tendencies (generally, those sort of politicos are more effective in demonstrating their own scary brand of wackiness than the left ever could be).   Of course, the left couldn't sell ice in hell.  They're the Willy Loman of the political world and would never win the Cadillac or even the steak knives in Baldwin's Glen Garry sales contest.

I get the feeling that most of the country could probably be classified somewhere in the socially liberal/fiscally conservative bucket, but you rarely hear that voice expressed in the media.  It's just not that entertaining, I guess.  I myself am glued to the left side of this bucket, though my fiscal conservatism is generally aimed at the DoD pig trough, where billions - trillions - get wasted on fat cat contractors while we have soldiers applying for food stamps.  I'd transfer some of that to social programs where we spend relatively little (though you certainly wouldn't think so given the TV ads).

Ahh, yes - the mid-terms.  Rarely a good time for those in power (especially when things aren't good).  It's almost always a purging and given the economic climate, this will be no different.  I suppose that's what keeps us in balance.  But why does it seem like the yahoos we elect are more yahooey every year?  I guess it just seems that way.  But just the fact that super yahoos like Christine O'Donnell end up on a ballot anywhere sends a chill up my spine.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row

I've certainly neglected this blog of late - it's been nearly two months since I last posted.  Mostly it's because I've been focusing on other things but more than a little is due to it becoming almost an "obligation."   And I don't have a whole lot to say that I can't express through other channels (including a number of other blogs I maintain).  This was my 'rant' outlet and though I've got plenty of things still to rant about, none of them seem all that funny.   So I think I'm going to officially put this guy in mothballs and continue to focus my energies elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of Dolphins and Douches

In a gracious show of sensitivity over the ongoing Oil "spill" his company caused, BP CEO Tony Hayward went yachting this past weekend in "his smaller boat" (leaving his usual schooner, seen at left, back at dock). Hayward made additional sacrifices as well, postponing his 6th annual Dolphin Hunt (that's last year's hunt kicking off on the right) and the traditional Manatee round-up. Classic Daily Show bit. The photo of the "Dolphin Hunt" cracked me up like nothing in awhile.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I don't care if it rains or freezes ...

It's been an apocalyptic June thus far, what with lightning striking down a six story Jesus in Ohio, a state well known as the nexus of the pending battle against good or evil; in fact, I think the book of revelations says as much in the chapter covering the rock and roll hall of fame.  That old song might go, "I don't care if it rains or freezes, 'long as I got my plastic Jesus" but it doesn't mention lightning.  So bad juju in Oh-hi-oh. And then Thursday some ruffians up and kidnap Jeremy London, forcing him to smoke crack and buy them alchohol.  It seems kind of odd that they didn't ask for a ransom.  Jeremy has been known in the past to partake in the magic rock, but I'm sure this isn't his way of getting in front of bad publicity surrounding a slip off the slope of his sobriety.  I hope these same hooligans don't make their way to Hollywood and mug Lindsay, stealing her SCRAM bracelet and forcing her to ingest copious quantities of booze and coke.  But I wouldn't be surprised.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Of Weeds, Madness, Sheep, Shoes, and other Bullshit

Ahh, the time has come for another season of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! on Showtime.  Brilliant show.  With Weeds and Mad Men just a few weeks away, things are starting to gear up for the TV favorites of yours truly.  I pretty much missed most of the network season recently put into mothballs for that anachronism of yore known as "summer hiatus."  None of that means much in our world of 1000 channels of tube action and virtually infinite choices online but the networks like to pretend the past 15 years never happened, I guess.

In other news, apparently there's a Joan Rivers documentary (you know her: that brilliant director of 1978's Rabbit Test).  Meanwhile, sadly buried in this week's news, the world's oldest pair of shoes was discovered in a layer of Sheep's dung: 5500 years and just like new, thanks to the natural preservatives found in Ba Ba's Poo Poo.  And just where Joan Rivers left them as a child. Ba-dum.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A well-oiled machine

The Long John Silver's fast food franchise must be thrilled about the Gulf Oil spill as it should save them millions on the very substance they drench all their seafood products in.  Import fish from down Louisiana way and it comes pre-oiled at no cost.  Long John Silverfish isn't the only beneficiary of what on the surface might not seem to have any positives: Mickey D's, Burger King, and the rest all have deep fried seameat on the menu.  Now, with the winning combination of oil, salt and fish all mixed in together, it's time for BP to take a cut of this on-the-go snack food windfall.  Cajun "blackened" fish takes on a whole new meaning now.

Meanwhile, there are more important fish to fry - sorry, poor choice of words; let's just say, "things to worry about" - what with the Hells Angels' takeover of Scandinavia.   I never would have considered this to be possible but the National Geographic channel is telling me it's true.  Probably taking advantage of the burgeoning Lutefisk-based methamphetamine market in those parts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Death doesn't take a Holiday

Gary Coleman is dead.  Which makes the prospect of a Different Strokes movie all the more unlikely.  Okay, I know there was already a Different Strokes flick starring Dana Plato; however, I meant a non-porno whose storyline is at least vaguely related to the show.  Sure, remake movies rarely include original cast members, except for cameo appearances, but actors are notoriously superstitious beasts and there aren't many that would want to tempt fate by associating themselves with this cursed franchise.  Well, Todd Bridges is still hanging on.  He's not even behind bars anymore.  And he, after all, is the only one who can finally answer the question, "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"  Perhaps Todd, Conrad Bain and Charlotte Rae could get together for a reunion show anyway.  Play it real.  Kimberly has killed herself and Arnold has died of stupidity.  Bains and Rae are as old as dirt, so you'd better hurry.  Of course, they'll both probably outlive Bridges in the end.  He's due to go off the deep end soon.

As I write this, I hear of another passing on a whole different scale: Dennis Hopper, one of my favorites ever to grace the silver screen.  To paraphrase his Apocalypse Now photojournalist: "I'm a small man, a small man; he's a great man ... his mind is clear but his soul is mad."  I couldn't put it better.

So as Gary and Dennis stand waiting at the pearly gates (or perhaps a somewhat warmer variant), they must be having an interesting conversation.  Perhaps Art Linkletter has joined them.

Now, on a completely unrelated topic, I'll close with the parting words from more than one of the A-Team episodes I caught on the Centric Network's marathon today.  "Why do they do it?"  "For the Jazz, man.  For the Jazz."   Indeed.  Pure poetry.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Life during Wartime

It's hard to laugh at a world spinning out of control but if you don't, you're in for one helluva serious life. Wired on too many Cherry Coke Zeros and Weight Watcher Giant Latte Ice Cream bars, I sit and contemplate the news of the day. And chuckle. Gary Coleman is dying, Art Linkletter is dead, Lindsay Lohan can't drink, and there is still no film adaptation of Barney Miller in the works.  Oh, and some oil is leaking somewhere (presumably, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Co. will be heading in to save the day after Waterworldly Kevin Costner was shot down in his efforts at being superhero). 

Meanwhile, a new romantic comedy is being inspired by miss Half Baked Alaska and new next door neighbor Joe McGinniss (Tina Fey and Jonah Hill?).  He's renting the house across the way in Wasilla in order to get material for a new tell-all book on the noted bookworm and tea bagger.  In response, she just erected a 14 foot tall fence on the property line separating their two abodes.  Love is soon to follow, I'm sure.

But despite this turmoil, all is right with the world.  I know this because there are re-runs of Miami Vice and Soul Train on the tube (thanks BET and MTV, for the newly re-branded Centric Network).   Miami Vice ... mmmh ... ya know, perhaps it's a good thing that there is no Barney Miller movie.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Samberg rules

Andy Samberg's digital short Great Day was, I thought, the one and only highlight of the latest episode of SNL. 

While looking up Great Day on You Tube, I came across another great Samberg short ...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pink Panther of the Apocalypse

Lord Jesus Christ was hit by a car this week. Makes me want to pack it up and stay inside.

Between the taser-tottin' sport-cops gettin' all trigger-happy on the baseball diamonds of America, and the Inspector Clouseau wing of Al Qaeda on the prowl, rigging SUVs with M-80s and fertilizer like a poor man's Tim McVeigh, it feels as though the good guys and bad guys alike might zap me through their exuberant conformance to the rules on one hand or some nefarious incompetence stumbling over accidental "success" on the other.

Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, I'm in no way equating the police with terrorists. In fact, I'm all for tasing drunken or just-plain-goofy morons and the fruitcakes who break the rules should be sentenced to spend the rest of the season in the ballpark parking lot in a taser-based "dunk" tank so that tailgating fans can take turns shocking the shithead until he drops into the water (and then it's back onto the blank for you so another lucky fan can have a go).  Nor I'm comparing those who would kill and maim innocents to Peter Sellers' lovably bumbling French detective, except to note that Clouseau and the would-be Times Square car-bomber seem to share a flair for the idiotic.

Even dumb shits get lucky every once in a while, though, so it's probably best to stay put under the bed and wait it out, listening for the galloping hoof beats of the impending Apocalypse, hoping to make the guest list. Assuming the end-of-days aren't canceled because some wing nut mowed down the son of god in their Canyonero.  Wouldn't be the same sort of party without Him.  Sort of like starting a Soc/Greaser rumble without Dallas Winston.   Meanwhile, I'll try my best to stay gold ...

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Oh, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Raquel Welch turns 70 this year. Damn I feel old. She turned 22 the day after I was born. I looked it up after seeing her in a Foster Grant ad campaign on TV and not believing my eyes (yes, that's the 69 year old to the left in the aforementioned commercial). She looks pretty darn good for 70 (actually, looks pretty good for 40). I imagine that she deserves a lot of credit; however, the lion's share is probably owed to Hollywood's best FX magicians (medically licensed and otherwise).

I'll say this: she looks younger and healthier than 23 year old Lindsay Lohan. And that can't be attributed to make up or plastic surgery. But in both cases, chemistry is definitely involved ...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The magnetic attraction of dicks and bellingham

Ahh, Bellingham, Washington. My dad was born and spent his early years there before his family moved down south to Seattle.  His stepfather was but one of a plethora of Buzzards concentrated in the vicinity, many associated with the venerable Buzzard Iron Works, an icon of sorts for a time there.  The aforementioned Robert Buzzard, Jr. was a miserable SOB by all accounts, someone who cursed us with the vulture moniker by adopting my dad after marrying his widowed mother.  I have no Buzzard blood and would otherwise have been Steve Finnegan.  Fuck wad.  (Grammar question: is fuck wad one word or two?)

Ironically,  ol' man Bob apparently acted like he resented having adopted my dad (or perhaps he was just disappointed in the mess Chuck later made of his life).  I wish he'd have gone with his instincts.  I personally remember little to nothing about the guy (we didn't visit all that often and when we did, I don't recall him there).   There's a little burb at the end of this obit page that lists several notable dead Buzzards from Bellingham, including my step-gramps (and his father).

Anyway, there was a story online today that got me thinking of Bellingham.  Some guy in a store reeked of a foul odor and when a worker there tried to tell him so in as tactful a manner as one could muster under the circumstances, the guy threw batteries at him and punched him in the face.  Somehow the story had, for me, Bellingham written all over it.

Speaking of dicks, it's simply amazing the percentage of ads (and spam) across all spectrum of media related to the core issue of erectile dysfunction (now universally known as ED; I think even young kids are taught this in school).  I feel sorry for those afflicted who also "take nitrates for chest pain," since they apparently can't avail themselves of Viagra, Cialis, et. al.  Presumably if they take nitrates for other reasons, they're golden.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

The Tea Party movement really has me baffled. Especially when taxes have gone down for the vast majority of those who identify with the cause. It's just one perspective but I'm of a mind that there's more going on here than simple righteous indignation over Wall Street excesses and horror over the health care legislation.

It's funny that the same folks bemoaning government involvement in health care are also up in arms over the decision to have less government involvement in space exploration. It's like a bunch of 7 year old boys who can't get enough of bombs and astronauts but have no use for playing nurse (that's for "girl" countries). Christ. No wonder we've had so many presidents who either resembled, played or actually were soldiers and cowboys. We haven't elected an astronaut president yet (but we have put a few into congress). Something so basic and necessary as health care already has government involvement that we pay too much for in taxes, footing the tab for what becomes of that portion of our society that didn't and don't have health and have become a chronic long term drain on the system. Or for the people who use the emergency room as their primary care facility. We end up having to subsidize all this indirectly but no less costly. It's cheaper by far in the long run to ensure folks have preventative care in the first place. Health care is even more essential than education, to my mind (it's tough to educate someone who's sick and even tougher when they're dead). Space exploration is important, sure (and I'm as big a space nut as anyone). But in comparison our more basic needs, there's no contest. Just one bum's opinion.

"We want our country back" seems to be the battle cry. Where did it go? There isn't any more government involvement or control now than there had been over the previous eight years of the Bush administration. In fact, it can be argued that there is less involvement (at least of the more insidious variety). I always had the feeling with Bush/Cheney that if they could, they'd round up all of us who didn't share their vision of a blue-eyed gun-toting America-first Jesus due back to earth any time to strike down all those who didn't fit the mold and send us all to re-education camp until we saw the light. It seemed that so many of their decisions were made with this joyous end-game dancing in their heads.

Obama's making his share of missteps for sure, mainly I think in terms of communication and often in trying to bite off more than he can chew. But, man, I've never heard so much outrage about so little. I can see and appreciate and share in the colossal uproar about our financial institutions excesses that resulted in its collapse, a global depression, real estate crisis, and the government bailout that followed. But that happened before Obama came into office. The decision to bail them out was made by the Bush administration (though Obama agreed with and ultimately instituted it). I'd have personally let the institutions die and the chips fall where they may. Likely it would have been disastrous and probably it's good I'm not in charge. More than a few have postulated that there's a bit of "give me back my (white) country" going on here. Maybe not on a conscious level. But it's definitely there.

But enough about the sorry state of our political discord and other such mindless drivel. I wanted to talk about important things. Like television commercials.

I find commercials provide a good framework for articulating the ups and downs of life. They can also inspire hatred and love in my heart. Truly. Charles Schwab and the Chase Sapphire Visa couple bring out the vitriol in me like nothing else on this planet. I want to kill them and their families. Same with the Progressive Insurance gal. Conversely, I love the Old Spice ads and feel the same regarding the Most Interesting Man in the World.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I figured Tiny Fey on SNL last night deserved a mention: there were actually a couple of funny moments on a show that doesn't often have them these days.  Brownie Husband might have been the best, and Fey's Palin hawking her own network was pretty great as well.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saudi Sorcery and Middle Eastern Country Western Remembrances

So the Saudis are on the brink of sawing a guy's head off for practicing "black magic" (i.e., fortune telling). Gotta love it. Granted, "Uncle Arthur" was pretty stupid for flying to Saudi Arabia in the first place, but it turns out he's a devout Shiite Muslim and was on a Hajj pilgrimage from his home country of Lebanon when he was arrested in 2008. Apparently Crockett and Tubbs from Medina Vice recognized this master criminal from the fortune telling TV show he does back in Lebanon and nabbed his ass to protect the faithful. Guess they don't burn their witches in SA and drowning is likewise too rock and roll. No faddish post-modern Salem stuff for them - beheadings are ever classic (they never seem to go out of style). Global outrage has succeeded in one stay of execution for our intrepid warlock but it's just a matter of time before they take a little too much off the top and that ol' black magic hasn't afforded him a means of escape (they must have his nose immobilized or else he'd have twinkled himself free by now, Samantha-style, though perhaps that only works for witches). Through it all, we American's just seem to go right on loving the Saudi government. What's a little human rights violation here, the number #1 breeding ground of terrorism there, when you're sitting on the lion's share of the world's oil reserves.

I had a chance to spent several weeks in Bahrain a little over 19 years ago and had a chance to witness the surreal on a nightly basis courtesy of the country western bar attached to my hotel. The Saudi Arabian government puts alcohol on similar footing with sorcery, so many of their citizens would make the drive over the causeway into Bahrain to get hammered at this shit kicker bar, in full out middle eastern garb save for the cowboy boots sticking out from under their robes. They'd be "ye-hawing" and two stepping it on the dance floor all evening and then presumably drive blind drunk over the causeway back to the land of no-no-no. They seemed to be good guys mostly - hopefully they didn't kill themselves or somebody else (or lose their head at a DWI checkpoint). "I'm sorry, sir - have you been drinking? Yes? Could you please keep your chin up? You won't feel a thing ..." I'm not condoning drunk driving, certainly. Nor do I think much of fortune tellers - most of them are con artists and the rest simply fools, in my eyes. I don't think decapitation is the answer, though.

Personally, all this is just more affirmation of my passionate belief in non-belief. History is littered with such acts and far worse in the name of God; no religion is immune from this - certainly not those dealing in absolutes, which includes all the major ones.

So the Saudis are on my list. As are the Chase Sapphire couple who've seemingly amassed an endless supply of points having never actually used their credit card to earn them. I hope they ski off a mountain. And as always, "Chuck" Schwab. May everyone associated with these two advertising campaigns fry in their own special hell, forced to watch their insipid commercials endlessly for all eternity.

Happy Easter, Ester, Passover, Pass out, or whatever other reason you find to be happy. Just try not to be happy at the expense of another person's head ...

As Mr. Zimmerman said, "When you're lost in the rain in Juarez and it's Easter time too ..."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Mouse That Was My Vietnam

Posting here in the past has been a compulsion, a nervous tic; however, it was real easy to step away once I got sucked back into the workaday world at a job that required a bit more of my attention, as new jobs often do. But here I am, back again.

So what's going on? Not a lot - As I write this, I'm locked in mortal combat with a mouse who's invaded my home. I'm sure this fucker'll forever be two steps ahead of me as I waste far too much energy on hunting the beast down. I feel vaguely like Wile E. Coyote (or perhaps Al Bundy would be a better analogy). Why the anger toward this Disneysque creature? I'm sure the whiskered cutie breaks out in song after hours as I slumber, after all. And frankly it's nice to have company over - I should welcome him into the fold with a saucer of milk (saucer of cheese?) Ahh, fuck all that - I've got the traps all set up, so it's just a matter of time for him and his brethren. Short of that, I'm at the ready with my fireplace shovel to slap him into space, Scratchy-style. Then again, Scratchy is the one who is repeatedly pummeled by that little Itchy rodent. Where's Willard when you need him?

(Epilogue:  The mouse is dead, long live the mouse.  I found it this morning in the kitchen, caught in the web of one of my glue traps, poisoned by the bait and stuck.  It had managed to slide the trap half way across the room, trying in vain to drag it with him under the stove but only half making it.  Judging by the particular trap he was snarred in, I now know the tiny hole from which the guy made his entrance.  Time to close it up.  I feel awful about his demise but imagine he's only the first of an army, now seething with anger over my atrocity, much like Platoon's Sgt. Barnes in the village.  I'm waiting for the Johnny Depp translator mouse to come up to me and start asking who the rice and the weapons are for ... er, I mean the glue traps and poison-laced bait. But I digress.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Healthcare? Whatchutalkin'bout, Willis?

I'm flipping through the channels and see that Larry King's guests tonight are Jesse Ventura and Todd Bridges.   My mind reels trying to connect the dots between these two shining stars.  Not so much that I'm tempted to actually watch the show and perhaps uncover this mystery.  Bridges' appearance at this juncture is obviously connected to Corey Haim's passing (one "formerly" troubled ex-child star talking about a fellow traveler on the ash heap of has-been heaven recently crossed over to the other side).  Jesse was big in the 80s as well, though he wasn't a child or on a sit-com.  Perhaps Corey (or Todd) took to trolling on the pro wrestling circuit in their spare time (perhaps they all shot growth hormones together, sharing the same dirty needles).

Guess I'll have to switch on over after all ...

... Hey!  What the fuck!?!?  Jesse (and Rudy himself, Sean Astin) are on talking about healthcare!  My God!  The healthcare bill is now truly doomed!   Rudy is stuttering on about how "there's some really good stuff in this bill" and "the people did speak, at the polls, and they want this."  I agree with both sentiments but these guys aren't the ones you want convincing folks, do you?  

Perhaps Larry's trying to reach those suspicious "salt of the earth" types by giving air time to common folks they can relate to.  You know, like a kid who grew up in Hollywood riches (with Gomez Adams and Helen Keller/Identical Cousin Patty/Cathy as parents) and is perhaps best known as a hobbit (though he'll always be Rudy to me) along with a pro wrestler turned governor of a state that these salty types probably think is part of Canada (at best equating it to that Arctic berg who brought raging liberal commie pinko Al Franken to the Senate).  

Maybe that's why Todd Bridges was booked - maybe he'll be giving his Healthcare pitch soon ... free smack for everyone!   We don't need your help, Larry.  Your very existence is a medical aberration so you shouldn't be doing healthcare themed shows, period (or anything beyond the increasingly Jerry Springeresque subject matter you've naturally gravitated to over the years).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apocalypse Garden

I haven't laughed so hard in months as I did this week with Stephen Colbert's take on one of Glenn Beck's advertisers: Survival Seeds.  Apparently, this is a product to keep you self sufficient and fed during the end of days.  As Stephen notes, "When you're tilling the earth with a human femur while the sky is raining fire, you'll want a reliable supply of radicchio and mini squash."  Colbert added that those ponying up the duckets to advertise on the mighty Glenn Beck know very well one overriding fact: "Nothing sells like the hot stink of fear."  Indeed.

Here's the actual commercial for your own "crisis garden":

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Sadists and Milkaholics Among Us

The NFL's Cowardly Lion is receiving a "Courage" award this evening.  Sadly, he doesn't play for Detroit but rather for Philadelphia, so I guess technically he's the Cowardly Eagle.  And frankly the analogy falls flat on a more basic level: I actually liked the Wizard of Oz's Cowardly Lion (certainly I didn't despise him).   Meanwhile, illegal dogfighting has risen 300% in the city of brotherly love since Vick came to town.   He's about as effective an anti-dog fighting advocate as Big Tobacco is in driving the nation's anti-smoking campaign.
In other dingbat news, Lindsay Lohan is suing E-Trade over the little baby "Lindsay the milkaholic" ad they've been running since the Superbowl.  She wants 20 million dollars and all copies turned over to her, claiming that the name "Lindsay" is as singular as "Oprah" or "Madonna" or "Sting."   Not really much I can add except to say that until I read this complaint a couple minutes ago, I didn't make the connection and I've seen the spot a number of times.  Perhaps others made the leap.

Well, I felt obligated to post something here (not sure why; it's been awhile I guess).  And now I have to get back to National Geographic network for their illicit drug marathon (LCD followed by THC followed by Meth).  That's as close as I get to intoxication these day.  Of course, some claim quite rightly that television is our nation's most addictive and damaging drug of all. Maybe I'll watch Dragnet's "Blue Boy" episode after finishing these off.  Peace.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Rumblings of Planet Earth

The Earth is once again giving us just a minor taste of how insignificant we tiny bags of biologic chemicals and mostly water are in the grand scheme of this planet's evolution.

The earthquake in Chile this morning, though one of the largest ever recorded at magnitude 8.8, didn't cause catastrophic loss of life anywhere near the scale seen in Haiti.  Which might seem odd to some, since the quake itself was 500 times more powerful than the one which ripped through Port Au Prince last month.  Chile is obviously a much more prosperous country than Haiti and its infrastructure has evolved specifically to deal with earthquakes and other natural disasters in mind, which helps limit the damage.  In many ways, Haiti and Chile are on opposite ends of the two extremes in this regard.  Another difference is that the epicenter was 22 miles underground, 70 miles from Concepcion and 200 miles from Santiago (it wasn't a direct strike on a large city).  Still, over a hundred are known dead so far and likely many more before it's said and done.  The direct strike was on the coast, resulting in a massive tsunami whose destruction is spreading far beyond the local region, threatening a good chunk of the pacific (warnings are in place as far away as Hawaii and Australia).  Good thoughts to our brothers and sisters in the southern hemisphere and pacific basin while they deal with this crisis.  

This is a good time to remind folks that the people in Haiti are still hurting and will be for a long, long time. Without any sort of lasting infrastructure to help them.  Please give if you can.  The global news cycle and associated throng of media have largely moved on to more recent events as is natural, but that doesn't mean things are all that much better here ...

Perhaps it's too soon for jokes but I've given fair warning that my humor trends toward the dark side.  When I first saw the news this morning on TV and they were showing damage in Santiago, I immediately thought of Something About Mary.  Specifically, the scene in which Pat Healy, pretending to be an architect, slings bullshit at Harvard educated and renowned  British architect Tucker, who he thinks is the real deal (but who later turns out to be a pizza delivery man named Norm from New Jersey).  Hint: neither of them have ever been to Chile.

Tucker: Really? Where would I have seen your work?
Pat Healy: Well, have you been to, uh well, let me see... Santiago, Chile?
Tucker: Twice last year. Which building's yours?
Pat Healy: Oh. Emm ... are you familiar with the soccer stadium?
Tucker: Did you build the Estadio Olimpico?!?
Pat Healy: No, just down the street the Celinto Catayente Towers. It's quite a fine example, in fact!  I recommend that next time you're up that way that you drop in and take a gander at it yourself.

Here's hoping the Celinto Catayente Towers is okay.

And in all seriousness, best wishes to all affected by this tragedy.   Give to the Red Cross, please.  For Chile, Haiti, and all those hurt by Mother Nature's wrath.   The Red Cross is pretty good at getting the cash to those who need it most.

"Talk" to you again maybe next weekend.  My flu's in the rear view mirror and it's time to tackle all things technology again for awhile.  If you're a masochist who finds something interesting on these pages, you can always visit my technology blog as it's more likely that I'll post there during the week.  Of course, I can't guarantee you'll like the subject matter much; often times, I don't either :-).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stacking The Brooms

I've been watching the women's curling gold medal for the past two hours.  And I don't even have a fever anymore. As I write this, they're going to "extra ends."   A real thriller, with Canadian pride hanging on the line!

I've really been getting into this sport with a vengeance over these Olympics and don't understand why others can't see its genius.

I guess that's why there hasn't been a decent curling movie produced (or any curling movie at all, for that matter).  To that end, I'm going to write one, inspired by the '70's classic Slap Shot

Burt Reynolds will be perfect in the Paul Newman role as player/coach Reggie Dunlop (the "skip" in curling parlance).  Of course, we'll need to have the Hanson Brothers.  This time the boys will forever be getting in trouble for "high broom sticking" and "rock greasing."

Finally, let's not forget Ogie Ogilthorpe, the notorious Federal League goon.  In my curling-infused re-telling, he'll be infamous for his "prison shower" shenanigans (suffice to say it involves a sharpened curling broom handle levied in the vicinity of the opponent's thrower, just as he's bent over about to deliver the rock).  You'll laugh, you'll cry - it'll be better than Cats.   Of course, we'll need a new title.  I like Stacking The Brooms.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mary-Louise + Costello = Healing

Elvis Costello turning the table on his Sundance Spectacle show: he's the one being interviewed this time and by no other than Mary-Louise Parker.   Mary-Louise is a Costello fan?  I didn't think I could be more infatuated with her but apparently I can.  I do believe that I'll head to NYC right now and start my new career as her personal stalker (I hope the position is open).  I didn't know Mary-Louise was a music journalist in addition to her award winning stage and screen talents.  She writes a semi-regular column for Esquire.  I'll be checking out her work at once!  And we share the same favorite Elvis album (Imperial Bedroom).  The close up of her swaying to Elvis singing Town Cryer is almost enough to make me ... well, I'm only human (and I think I'm Turning Japanese, I really think so ...)

I needed this shot in the arm.  Because apparently other shots in the arm I've received were a bit less than effective.  Specifically, I refer to the flu shots I got in August and again in November, both received while in the depths of the flu.  The end of February and I've been knocked out with influenza once again, just now climbing out of the shit tank.  Perhaps I should have gotten an anti-flu shot instead or at least one that lasts more than a few days. Thanks, Dr. Nick!  I can't wait for spring to get here.  As one who hates the sunshine and flowers, I never thought I'd hear myself saying that but there it is.  Say goodbye to sickness and snow.   He says with another half foot of snow on the way tomorrow ...

In the meantime, I'll throw Imperial Bedroom on the stereo and a re-run of Weeds on the screen and veg myself to sleep in my recliner ...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Digging Skeleton and Graves

I'm OD'ing on Raspberry Diet Snapple and watching the Olympics.  My favorite sport, Skeleton, is now over (Luge is for chicken-shit wimps).  Skeleton riders go head first and the sleds are not allowed to have steering or brakes.  But there's still freestyle aerial skiing and more alpine action to be had.  And, always, curling on the lesser NBC channels.  Almost Famous is on the tube so I find myself switching back and forth between the Olympics and that.  I always gravitate to Almost Famous: any movie that includes Lester Bangs as a character is okay in my book.

Speaking of Lester Bangs, and other dead people, I stumbled across a fine online service today that helps you get the low down on the disposition of a dearly departed's remains.  It's called, appropriately enough, Find A Grave.  I can't believe I haven't found a need for their services up to this point.  Finally, a site with a useful purpose.  I dig it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Hyperbole About It

I've never posted simply to point people to someone else's blog, but I really think Allie of Hyperbole and a Half could be famous one day.  She's got a huge talent for comedic story telling and mad skills for lunatic illustrations.  She's got a Ralph Steadman thing going with the drawings.  And that's high praise indeed, in my book.

Sweepers, Sweepers: Man Your Brooms

ActivStyle is the latest service sprung up to satisfy the incontinence craze sweeping our nation.  According to the commercial, your "personal incontinence consultant" will guide you through the maze of bowel and bladder control products on the market today, ensuring your needs are met.  Tell me, sir, do you shit your drawers, piss your pants, or both?  Or are you just a dribbler?  I want to be sure I formulate a plan custom made just for you! When I'm finished, we'll plug those leaky holes of yours so tight that there'll be no need for you to carry that mop and bucket around where ever you go anymore ...

Speaking of mopping up, I'm quite fascinated by the sport of curling and have been since I was a little kid.  I grew up about 75 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. back when there was no cable television, so you got whatever channels your rabbit ears could pick up.  In addition to the Seattle network affiliates, we got several Canadian stations and it seemed like curling was on one or the other practically 24/7.  I've lived in Philadelphia almost 25 years and so don't get the chance to see curling much these days, but the arrival of the Winter Olympics brings a bit of my childhood back home to me once again. 

I guess it's curling's strange shuffleboard meets mopping the floor that feeds my interest.  Perhaps it's no accident that the sport has become somewhat of a metaphor for my life at sea: I did lots of mopping and sweeping the decks in the Navy and later ventured out on a couple of short pleasure cruises where you could play shuffleboard, if you were so inclined.  Curling brings those two disparate experiences together for me, tying them together along with the experience of my younger self so taken with the sport from the great white north as a child.

As much as I "enjoy" curling, I'm even more fascinated by cricket, having been glued to the TV for hours watching it from the hotel whenever I'm in Europe.  I think the attraction there is that though I've watched extensively, I'm to this day completely confused by what's going on.  I do know they break for tea several times in the ten years it feels like it takes to complete a match.  They have bowlers and batsmen, and it's vaguely like baseball mixed with croquet.  I'm aware that there's a lot of talk about "overs" and such.  Simply magnificent.

But cricket's for another time.  It's the Winter Olymics now. Sure, it's great to see Lindsey Vonn come through with the Gold, even with a bum shin.  Gold too for mogul chick extraordinaire Hanna Kearney earlier in the week. And Shaun White will do his thing tonight and likely grab the top prize.  But me?  I recorded CNBC's coverage of curling this afternoon and plan to hunker down this later this evening and transport myself back to those childhood days of yore in front of the tube, digging on this sport of kings (well, sport of kings' housekeepers anyway). 

Sweepers, sweepers: man your brooms ... Fellow travelers who are familiar with that siren song understand.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Life So Far (Based on the Novel By ...)

This one is harder - I tend not to read books in the same year they're published (with a few exceptions).  So tying a book to a particular year is tough. Syd Hoff was my literary hero when I was first introduced to the joys of reading by my mother at the age of three. From three to six, it was all about Syd. It turns out that Syd and I share a birthday (September 4th), though I didn't know it until about five minutes ago when I looked him up on Wikipedia. It turns out that you can sort of classify my love of reading into eras:
I strayed a little, of course. During the prepubescent eras, The Phantom Tollbooth was the most significant of the "one hit wonders" I loved. And Where The Wild Things Are around the same time as Syd. Later came the Everything Else era which meant literally that: any single author/genre/whatever was now beside the point.

Everything Else started around 1975 when I made it out from the downstairs backroom of the Everett Public Library upstairs to the land of big people's books. Manchild in the Promised Land was the first "adult" strength read, a tale of growing up that was grown up with a vengeance. And wholly foreign from my way of life. In other words, brilliant.

The late 70's found me devouring Creem and Rolling Stone, the former handing me Lester Bangs and the latter the works of Hunter S. Thompson. That was all she wrote. Lester and Hunter were gods to me, especially Hunter. For me, there's Hunter and then there's everybody else. Even his later work, when he got lazy and repetitive. Didn't matter, it was all fantastic. It taught me what the truth really means.

Of the fictional variety, I loved/love Bret Easton Ellis (especially American Psycho), Jay McInerney (especially Story of My Life), Joseph Heller (especially Something Happened), John Irving (especially A Prayer for Owen Meany), F. Scott Fitzgerald (especially Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned), William Burroughs (especially Junky), Charlies Bukowski (especially Ham on Rye), James Frey (I love his style, and especially A Million Little Pieces, even more now that I know portions were made up), Leon Uris (especially Trinity and The Haj).

My favorite book of all, hands down, no-contest, is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I first read it in the early 1980's and have since re-read it a number of times. It never gets old.

The only book of any heft that I've read in one sitting on a single day is Christine by Stephen King. I'm not a huge King fan but have read more than a few of his tomes, many of them simply wonderful. I happened to start Christine early morning hunkered down in the laundry room on board CVN 69 while floating around the Mediterranean Sea during the summer of 1983. I was new to the ship, working in the Intelligence Center, but temporarily assigned to clean my division's enlisted sleeping area. Most lowly straight-outta-school enlisted types take a turn at this and the duties included doing the entire division's dirty clothes and towels. There was only one laundry room available and it was particularly backed up on this day, so I spent thirteen hours head resting on the large sacks of clothes, waiting for and then doing the shitload of uniforms, towels and other at-sea personal items I was stuck with. I spent that time with Christine.

Lately I've been going through random stuff, whatever I find on Amazon or in Borders. I love the Japanese novelist Natsuo Kirino, especially Out. Even translated, her books are bitter, cynical, funny, just great.

In the last dozen or so years, I would have to say that my favorite single book has been Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis, published in the late 90's. God I hope she publishes again one day.

As evidenced by my King affection, I'm not immune to the charms of McNovels. I've enjoyed those by the likes of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Michael Crichton, especially the latter. If I'm stuck at an airport and find myself without a book, these guys are nothing if not consistent. Crichton was a Harvard M.D. whose first book was a non-fiction account of modern medicine circa 1970, entitled Five Patients. It's one of my favorites. As is The Andromeda Strain. These guys tend to have good story structure but mostly fall short on character development and prose/imagery. Characters and imagery are the most important qualities of a good read for my money, but I can and do take story structure alone in a pinch. Sometimes you're surprised by these guys and get a good chunk of all three.

So that's the "list" as best I can put it. It's out of phase, out of time, not particularly linear. I've read a helluva lot more books than I've seen movies, more even than I've listened to songs (I'm not talking casually listening here, which I do many times a day, but really focused listening). Still, I can't bring myself to associate any one to a given year.

For those that suffered through this self indulgent literary life crawl, you can take comfort in the fact that I'm done with this particular obsession. No more lists for a while.

Now I need to go out to the porch and chip the rest of the ice off my front strairs (wouldn't want the postman to slip, fall and sue me). Then it's time to prepare for Chinese New Year coming our way tomorrow. The Year of the Tiger, my Chinese astrological sign. Of course, in China it's already tomorrow and Chinese Dick Clark has long since hosted the ball drop from Tiananmen Square. Back here in Philly, I need to get my last ditch New Year's Resolutions in order before our time about eight hours hence.

Oh, it's also Valentine's Day tomorrow. I don't know why Billy Ray Valentine gets to have his own day, but apparently he does. I'll drink some frozen orange juice in his honor.