Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sinéad or Nay?

In comment to an earlier post, Monsieur Not-so-fresh Undead Guy asked: Sinead O'Connor. Yea or nay? My reply was, I dig Sinead- she's had some rough spots in her career, but I can't help digging her. Whereupon, he clarified his query: Actually, I was asking whether I should bother getting tix for the Milwaukee show. Of course, this question requires a more in-depth answer or, if you are a comedienne, a flip one: I thought it was a more existential question like "if sinead o'connor rips up a picture of the Pope in the woods...can I watch?"

Not being a comedienne, this post will be my answer to the question. The obvious issue here is one of cost- is it economically feasible to purchase tickets? If so, the answer is "Hell, yeah!" I dig Sinéad... along with Michael Jordan and Patrick Stewart, she helped to popularize the bald-headed look that I now sport, and her best-known hit can easily be adapted into a perfect theme song for a big, bad, bald bastard:

I've got no hair,
I've got no hair.

Additionally, she still has a knack for pissing off right-wingers. As an added bonus, maybe she will officiate at a Mass during the concert. Hopefully, she'll be administering the Eucharist in both species, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do.

I'd be remiss if I didn't post a video for my all-time favorite number by Sinéad, her debut single, recorded with an obscure guitarist named David Evans:

I hadn't heard Sinéad's version of John Gibbs' Irish Ways and Irish Laws before now, but it gives me goosebumps (I still think the version by Friend of the Bastard Mary Courtney is the best I've heard, though):

As an added bonus, here's her version of the rebel song Óró, sé do bheatha 'bhaile, which invokes the name of pirate and feminist pioneer Granuaile as a symbol of national liberation:

So, should ZRM go to Sinéad's concert in Milwaukee? Should Scott Walker be run out of Wisconsin? Of course, I always figured ZRM to be more of a Dolores O'Riordan type of guy.

N.B.: by which I mean Nota Bene: Post title is not to be confused with Shenehneh!

POSTSCRIPT: I imagine Sinéad would have a few choice words to say about Governor Turdwaffle...

Friday, March 30, 2012

In Keeping With Tradition

As I typically do, I am posting happy birthday wishes to my baby brother, Gomez. What better way to commemorate a birfday than to post a video by Concrete Blonde, featuring the passionate vocal performance of Johnette Napolitano?

Happy birthday, baby bro!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So You've Taken Up Foraging!

In a comment to yesterday's post, Thunder wrote:

I made a salad out of Cercis canadensis flowers yesterday.

Being a forager myself, I read this with a tear in my eye, and started chanting "ONE OF US! ONE OF US!" It's still pretty early in the foraging season, but I've already consumed quite a bit of stinging nettles (I boiled them, pureed them, and added them to a basic biscuit batter I make when I have milk that goes sour on me), and snacked a couple of young Japanese knotweed stalks that were poking up out of the ground (the knotweed is an aggressive invasive species, it has a pleasantly sour taste, much like rhubarb).

During the summer of 2009, I made a resolution to forage for at least one edible plant every week during the growing season. I've stuck by it all this time- once one develops an eye for the edible weeds, it's an easy hobby to pursue, and it cuts one's grocery bill by quite a bit. For me, though, the most important aspect of it is that it expands the variety of foods that are available- as author Michael Pollan observed:

Simplification has occurred at the level of species diversity, too. The astounding variety of foods on offer in the modern supermarket obscures the fact that the actual number of species in the modern diet is shrinking. For reasons of economics, the food industry prefers to tease its myriad processed offerings from a tiny group of plant species, corn and soybeans chief among them. Today, a mere four crops account for two-thirds of the calories humans eat. When you consider that humankind has historically consumed some 80,000 edible species, and that 3,000 of these have been in widespread use, this represents a radical simplification of the food web. Why should this matter? Because humans are omnivores, requiring somewhere between 50 and 100 different chemical compounds and elements to be healthy. It’s hard to believe that we can get everything we need from a diet consisting largely of processed corn, soybeans, wheat and rice.

I enjoy foraging, it's something I have done on an irregular basis since I was a little kid. My maternal grandmother was very knowledgeable about plants, and she'd teach us grandchildren while we went on walks through the woods. Whenever I'd weed the garden, I'd simply wash the purslane off and scarf it down. This year, though, I think I may have to ramp up the foraging... I typically only go for parts of the plant that can readily be picked- leaves, stalks, fruit. This year's the year I take it to another level, straight down... this is the year I'm going to start digging up gobo roots. We have a lot of burdock plants growing around one of my worksites, and they have gone uneaten for all too long.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Horror Movies

Tonight, I will be heading to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for a special Secret Science Club presentation of classic cheesy horror movie The Tingler featuring Bastard fave Vincent Price. For the record, Vincent Price utters one of my favorite quotes from any movie in the classic low budget horror film Tomb of Ligeia:

Christopher, not ten minutes ago I... I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage, and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable, what rot would be freed from its grey leaves?

Gotta love, love, love that Vincent Price. Sure, I'll be in Brooklyn, but I'll leave you good folks with a nice little bit of entertainment:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morning Staff Meeting

This morning, I got my ass up early to attend the big staff meeting at my employers' main office. I met up with two of my co-workers at about ten to eight this morning, and we carpooled to HQ. This being the big meeting for the entire organization, I saw a bunch of people that I only see periodically, and met a couple of co-workers I'd never met before. It also marked the return of our sizable seasonal staff, many of whom I hadn't seen since December. After a breakfast catered by a local deli, we filed into the large meeting room, and took our seats- we were seated with co-workers from other sites, so we could mingle with individuals we didn't know all that well. Seeing that I work with a great bunch, I got along famously with the folks I'd never met before. My Angry Birds story went over well.

The speech by the president of the organization was a mixture of woe and optimism. Like most non-profits, we are experiencing some funding challenges... the fact that our major fundraising weekend was a buried under a foot of snow last year didn't help. This year is going to be a year of regrouping, figuring out what approaches can help the organization get back on track. It was pretty much a boilerplate speech, but the president did express his confidence in the talent and dedication of the staff. One major topic was the discussion of apps that would expand the scope of our organization. A couple of other co-workers made presentations about some of our programs, and we had a brief Q&A session.

All in all, the staff meeting was pretty much what I expected- part cautionary tale, part pep rally. The best part of the whole event was seeing almost everybody... I have confidence in my co-workers, which gives me some optimism about the coming year. At any rate, the broccoli quiche was pretty damn good, and the coffee was plentiful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Addition to the Blogroll, With Bonus Pink Slime Commentary

Pupienus Maximus, The Food Pr0n Obsessed Emperor of Portland has started what is sure to be a combination Food Porn/Porn Porn blog. The culinary tips will be great, though the photos may be blurry if he's been drinking gin. It's about damn time the Emperor started blogging about his kitchen exploits. Oh, and about that blog title... I may be asking for a periodic royalties check, old chum!

On the "culinary" front, pink slime is all over the news. Hilariously, a libertarian hack wrote an article defending pink slime producers from a "smear campaign" (a sliming, if you will) on the part of ABC News. This is the money quote:

So you know to be suspicious when ABC claimed “USDA officials with links to the beef industry labeled 'pink slime' meat.” Actually, USDA officials labeled meat as meat.

To be fair, sometimes ABC had the honesty to refer to the meat as “so-called pink slime,” but typically they treated it like the meat was actually called that term. Even when Avila was giving the few words to the company's side, he still called it “pink slime.” For example, he said: “And the American Meat Institute insists pink slime is not an additive, so no label is necessary.”

Most of the ABC stories didn’t mention the company’s argument. You know, the basics of journalism, like the fact that the product is actually meat, not some foreign substance.

I'm not a squeamish person- I eat organ meats and blood sausages, and insects, and balut (last link not for the squeamish)... but I know what I'm getting when I eat these things! Beef scraps, separated mechanically from the remains of a carcass and treated with ammonia to kill off pathogens, are another matter entirely- they are not labeled as such, and have been added to ground meat products without notifying consumers. Not cool- if you truly believe that the Free Market is of paramount importance, you should demand that beef with added ammonia-treated beef scraps be labeled as such. If deception or obfuscation are employed, the market is not free.

In a comment to the latest Riddled post, the estimable Smut Clyde linked to an article in The Atlantic about pink slime. I had been dreading that the "pink slime" article was by Megan McArdle- thankfully, it wasn't... I imagine Megan would be pro "pink slime" because it was dreamed up by our Randian overlords to extract extra money from the proles by feeding them meat by-products that used to be fed to animals. I imagine she'd be happy to buy "pink slime" if it were marketed as Pink Himalayan Slime.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

By the Time You See Things My Way, I'll Be Halfway Down the Highway

I tend to be nostalgic for things that most people have never even heard of, especially when it comes to music. As an example, one of my favorite records released in the 80's was the eponymous debut of Scotland's Shop Assistants. After the Shop Assistants broke up, lead singer Alex Taylor briefly fronted a combo called The Motorcycle Boy. As far as I know, The Motorcycle Boy only released one album, but the lead single of it was an obscure gem which got a little airplay on college radio, but dropped into obscurity.

Big Rock Candy Mountain takes its name from a song about a hobo's vision of paradise:

The Motorcycle Boy's song of the same name concerns an unhappy woman's desire to escape from an unsatisfying relationship. It's an almost perfect noise-pop confection which features the blend of sweet melody and melancholy lyrics which also characterized Alex Taylor's previous work with The Shop Assistants. I hadn't heard the song for a decade and a half, and scoured used record stores (Google them, if you've never heard of them) in vain to find the album. Thanks to teh t00bz, I was finally able to find this Holy Grail of pure pop bliss (that voice!):

For more of that pure pop bliss, here's another number, which I had never heard before composing this post:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Weird Encounters Today

Compared with yesterday, today was pretty routine on the job. Before heading to work, though, I did briefly attend the first ever McLean Avenue St Patrick's Day parade, sponsored by the recently formed merchants' association. The event was well-attended, with a mix of families and revelers lining both sides of the street. I kept pace with the Yonkers Fire Department Pipe and Drum Corps while they played The Rising of the Moon, one of my favorite rebel songs. After they finished playing it, I ducked into Angelo's Pizza to grab a calzone to serve as my dinner.

After my brief attendance at the parade, I walked home and grabbed my "go bag" and laptop, and drove north. I had a brief interlude in which I stopped by the local brewery to get my growler filled (my grandmother used to tell us stories about how her parents would send her, as a child, to the local pub to get the growler filled with beer to accompany the evening meal- could you imagine sending a kid to a bar for beer takeout these days?). As soon as I get home, I'll have a nice fat pint of Kölsch when I get home.

It's funny, now that I'm done with my volunteer gig until October, how much free time I have on Saturdays... still not enough to catch local parades and get soused afterwards, though.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Bird in the Hand

There are two schools of thought regarding bird photography... you can purchase a high quality camera, set up a feeder, and improvise a blind so you can get great photos, or you can just grab a bird and take a picture of it with your cell phone camera:

This afternoon, a crazy red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) flew into one of our buildings and got into a bit of trouble with my friend and co-worker Fred. Being a bird fancier, I robbed my little piratical friend of his sport, and grabbed the boid. Sorry, Fred- stick to the meeses, and we're cool.

Luckily, I had my cell-phone relatively handy, so I was able to snap a picture. The last time I had to grab a bird, my phone was in my left pocket, the bird (a mourning dove) in my left hand, so I was unable to snap a pic. That time, a co-worker's husband saw the proceedings, and started calling me "The Bird Whisperer". Every couple of years, it seems I play this role.

UPDATE: My standard joke regarding this picture is that it depicts my only game of "Angry Birds"- you grab a bird and he gets real angry. That being said, I think the cat was angrier that day.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Searching for False Equivalence

While listening to the Thom Hartmann show, I heard three conservative callers trying to create a false equivalence between Trayvon Martin's murder, and a horrific assault by two black youths on a thirteen year old white boy in Kansas City. While the Kansas City assault is horrible, there is no real comparison between the two incidents. The murderer of Trayvon Martin is known to the police, and remains unincarcerated, while the Kansas City police are investigating the assault on the Kansas City boy.

The reason why the killing of Trayvon Martin became a national news story is because the police have done nothing to investigate his murder. Furthermore, the reason why the murder has remained uninvestigated is because a psychotic law pretty much gives the okay to homicide in Florida and other states.

The sad fact is that murders occur every day in These United States. It is likely that the killing of Trayvon Martin would have remained a local story if George Zimmerman had been arrested. If the police had refused to investigate the Kansas City assault on a white teen, a comparison could be made between media coverage of the two incidents.

Just like The Right's attempt to draw a comparison between Ed Schultz's stupid and ill-conceived use of sexist slur against right-wing personality Laura Ingraham (for which he was rightfully suspended) with Rush Limbaugh's three day sexist rant against Sandra Fluke, the comparison between the Martin case and the Kansas City case is a stretch. I hope they catch the individuals who assaulted the boy in Kansas City, just like I hope George Zimmerman faces justice, and I can't think of any liberal in my circle of friends who wouldn't agree with me. The Right's attempt to draw a parallel is yet another bullshit attempt to play the hackneyed "Both Sides Do It" game.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reality of a Tragedy Hits Home

Like millions of individuals around the world, I've been following the story of the killing of Trayvon Martin, an innocent, unarmed teen. Yesterday afternoon, though, the true import of the murder hit me. I grew up in a middle-class family, and I'm as white as the Ace of Teeth, I've never had to look over my shoulder, concerned about my personal safety... this kind of thing just doesn't happen to people like me.

Yesterday, I worked an uncharacteristic day shift- when I finally got home, the first person I saw on the street was the son of a good friend of mine, a divorced African-American mother of two boys. Her elder son is in college, studying aviation, and he wants to be a commercial pilot. Her younger son, who I saw when I got home, is still in Middle School, and is involved in several extracurricular activities. All I could think upon seeing him was, "What would I do if anything ever happened to these boys? How would I feel?" I'd feel devastated, which is the proper human emotion in the face of such horror.

Of course, proper human emotion is foreign to right wingers, as this horrific collection of Fox viewers' comments demonstrates. Just reading that combination of racism and bloodlust proves to me that there's no place in society for a "stand your ground" laws.

Meanwhile, the murderer of Trayvon Martin remains unincarcerated (I'd never call someone so hemmed in by fear and hatred free), but the Sanford police department has a history of corruption and a failure to treat attacks on black men seriously.

How do well-meaning people push back on "shoot first and don't bother to ask questions" laws? In Florida's case, letters to the tourism board and the Disney Corporation would not be unwarranted- who would want to travel to a location where unprovoked attacks by armed nutbars aren't even investigated by the police? I've been to Florida once, but I sure as hell would not wish to travel to a place that has given civilians the power to engage in state-sanctioned murder.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Objectivist Morrissey Back in Action

I feel I've been neglecting Objectivist Morrissey, but Objectivist Morrissey doesn't need my pity! Anyway, this might be my second-best effort after the original Objectivist Morrissey parody. Anyway, without further ado, here's Man in Gulch:

Man in gulch
The dumb blind louts are left behind
No, I’m not like any other man
I’m superior ‘cause I’m not kind
Man in gulch
I can do whatever I can
And everything depends upon
My magic power plant.
And if the moochers whine
Then let the moochers whine.
Oh, I really don't know and I really don't care
Not your slave...

Man in gulch
The weak people whine
Yes I may be hidden by so well,
All the moochers can go to hell.
Man in gulch
The dumb blind louts are left behind
Yes I may be hidden by so well,
All the moochers can go to hell.
And if the moochers whine
Then let the moochers whine.
Oh, I really don't know and I really don't car
Not your slave...

So man in gulch, I stake my claim
I'll fight to the last breath
If they dare tax a bit of my bread
I'll fight to the last breath
For the moochers are out there somewhere,
So come into my gulch my little Dagny
But you lice can go to hell
Yes you lice can go to hell
And you'll probably never see me again
I hope you’ll never see me again.
I know you’ll never see me again.

For those of you not into Der Schmidts, this is a parody of Hand in Glove:

The inspiration for this one was a bit bizarre- the phrase "man in gulch" had been kicking around inside my skull for a while, but it took some time before I had a rhyme for the bizarre line "the sun shines out of our behinds", and when it did, I knew I had a winner. Cross posted at (where else?) Objectivist Morrissey.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Winter's Last Gasp?

Today, the final day of winter, temperatures have hit the low seventies (low twenties Celsius). We haven't had much of a winter at any rate, but today felt like a day in mid-May rather than mid-March. This being St. Joseph's Day, I walked to Artuso's Pastry Shop to get sfingi, then went to Tibbett's Brook Park, where I noted that the beautiful wood ducks (the prettiest of the North American waterfowl) have returned.

Yeah, it feels more like a late spring or early summer day, rather than the last day of winter, but global warming is not occurring. I know this because James Inhofe tells me so. Inhofe tells us that Scripture refutes the very notion of global climate change. As I recall, Chapter 4, verse 20 of the Book of Gasses reads:

Verily do I say to thee, sayeth The Lord, Carbon Monoxide hath no effect whatsoever on global temperature. Woe unto those who mocketh The Lord by measuring Carbon Monoxide Levels and extapolating climate models from such. The Lord shall strike such blasphemers most sorely with hail and cyclones, for they commit an abomination unto the Fossil Fuel Industry.

Yep, that's how I recall that Bibble passage, and who is any climate researcher to question me?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

As I Sat Looking Up at the Guinness Ad...

I could never figure out how yer man stayed up on the surfboard after fourteen pints of stout:

Of course, certain readers won't recognize that I yoinked those lines, and to them I ask, "Do youse not know nothing by Christy Moore?" Well, if you don't, you shall:

Don't play it too loud... the head is still a little tender.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Solemn Feast of Saint Patrick

Thanks to my great co-worker, I was able to juggle my schedule so I could celebrate my Goidelic heritage by living up to the negative stereotype. In order to gain some drinking time, I am working a double shift (Friday afternoon into Saturday morning). I'll have some hours to sleep, then hit the ground running in the evening, and by ground I mean the pubs.

Soooooo... how about a lovely little song about a couple of seaweed vendors arguing because one is courting the other's daughter? My favorite version is by the glorious Altan:

My favorite song by Altan, though, is Moll Dubh a' Ghleanna, which on one level is a love song about a spirited dark-haired girl, but is also a code for the illegal distillation of moonshine (warning: link plays 8 bit rendition):

Because I will have been working for 16 hours overnight, I think I'll blow off my tradition of baking a couple of loaves of soda bread (a few years back, I spent some time wandering around Manhattan with a loaf of it stuffed under my jacket for my off-the-boat Polish girlfriend who'd never had it. Luckily, it was a cold day). This recipe comes close to the one I use, but I substitute vegetable oil for the butter, and add it to the buttermilk before adding it to the dry ingredients. I also insist on using both dark and golden raisins in my spotted dog. This year, I got a kinky idea which will entail some experimentation... I am going to see if soda bread biscotti are viable. What better tribute could there be to my father's Italian/Irish Bronx heritage?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Post Lecture Recap

Last night, I headed to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the monthly Secret Science Club lecture featuring molecular geneticist Dr Alea Mills of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.

Dr Mills began her talk with a discussion of the roles of P63 and CHD5 in cancer- both P63 and CHD5 are tumor suppressors. P63 is also essential to proper development and plays a role in stem cell replenishment. Using genetic engineering techniques, the P63 gene can be deleted, and the altered gene can be injected into a blastocyst to produce a chimera- chimeric mice with a P63 deletion fail to develop proper.

The CHD5 gene is also a tumor-suppressor, it prevents tumor development and fosters apoptosis (cell death). The Ink4/Arf locus is turned on by chd5 deletion in human glioma and other tumors. Dr Mills indicated that the full role of the mutation is currently unknown- is it the "driver" or a "passenger"?

Dr Mills finished with her discussion of tumors, and spoke about experiments with mice seeking to discover the role of gene deletion in autism spectrum disorders. Gene 16p11.2 is a region the 16th chromosome. 16p11.2 deletions can be de novo mutations- they are typically not hereditary. The genetic engineering techniques used in studying 16p11.2 deletions are similar to those described in the p63 deletion studies- the altered gene is injected into a blastocyst to produce a chimera.

Approximately half of the mice with 16p11.2 deletions die shortly after birth. Surviving mice with 16p11.2 deletions show non-progressive behavior- they tend to have trouble adapting to novel conditions (different cages). They engage in repeated, restricted, "ritualistic" (one particular mouse would "dismount" from the cage ceiling in a particular fashion) behavior. The "autism mice" exhibited hyperactive behavior and had sleep deficits. The hypothalamus in the autism mice is altered. For a good overview of the behavior of autism mice, with an interview with Dr. Mills and a link to a relevant video, this article in The Scientist can't be beat. Dr Mills stressed that there is no single cause for autism, but the study of 16p11.2 deletions was one factor in getting a more complete picture.

In the Q&A afterward, some bastard who likes to pry into the private lives of mice asked if the mice had problems breeding. The autism mice seemed to copulate without problem but, as noted, about fifty percent of the offspring soon died.

Once again, the lecture was top-notch. Not only was the lecture informative with regards to the subject matter, but it also gave a beautiful view of a working scientist's techniques, plus bonus mouse videos.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blogroll Update

Today, I'll be heading down to Brooklyn for drinking and learning, so I actually cobbled this post together last night. Yeah, "Post Options" is great for those times when you want to head out and goof off.

The blogroll has expanded... paleotectonics' blog is brand-spanking new, and he's been posting like a madman! I finally got around to linking to Mock Paper Scissors to ensure that I would check it out more often (the Chris Christie/Snooki photoshop has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I've also added Vixen Strangely to the blogroll because her commentary is terrific. Plus, you just can't have enough V.S.'s on your blogroll. Of course, I'm going to have to start calling each and every V.S. by her proper 'nym.

The best thing about growing the blogroll is that everybody has more to read now, so I don't feel guilty about blowing off posting more, and scarpering off to have a beer or four.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Southern Primaries, Pulp Fantasy

I had an evil thought... if Mitt Romney continues to push his faux redneck schtick, he's going to end up buggering a canoer. It's pretty horrible, thinking of Mitt Romney, saying, in his patrician voice, "Squeal like a pig." Sorry folks!

Vacuumslayer wrote a post about Alexandra Pelosi's interviews with Mississippi voters, and embedded the scary clip from Real Time. Yeah, these people live in the world's only current superpower, and they're that dumb and retrograde. Soon after watching that clip, I was reading the first omnibus volume of Michael Moorcock's "Elric" series (insert "I'm not gay, but I sure dig Moorcock" joke), purchased at a library book sale (I have the old paperbacks from my high school days with the silver covers featuring Robert Gould's illustrations packed away somewhere). Anyway, the omnibus volume features a novella I hadn't read before, The Fortress of the Pearl. As I was reading it, this paragraph, in which Elric, having abdicated the throne of the decadent Empire which he had reluctantly ruled, in order to travel the world seeking knowledge, confronts survivors of another decadent former empire, which has dwindled to a single city populated by unscrupulous, status-obsessed rival factions:

"If your people spent less time maintaining their own devalued myths about themselves and more upon studying the world as it is I think your city would have a greater chance of surviving. As it is, the place is crumbling beneath the weight of its own degraded fictions. The legends which offer a race their sense of pride and history eventually become putrid."

Day-um! If that doesn't describe the typical GOP primary voter, and the entire roster of GOP candidates, I don't know what does. It's pretty depressing, all told. Well, since I mentioned Michael Moorcock's "Elric" books, I think that both Z.R.M. and Smut Clyde would ahem me back to the Stone Age if I didn't close with a little BÖC:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dreams in the Bastard House

I don't seem to dream, at the very least, I don't typically remember my dreams. Yesterday, though, was an exception- I had a very vivid dream that I was being lambasted by a male Fox News talking head for writing unflattering, though accurate things about the late Andrew Breitbart. For some reason, the talking head in my dream was fixated on my Canadian flag day post in which I wrote that I'd drink a "Bloody Caesar", and he started referring to me as "the Clamato guy". Of all the things to fixate on, this was a weird one- I really haven't mentioned Clamato that often.

I figured I'd take this opportunity to write about Clamato. I drank some Clamato straight, and mixed a bloody Caesar, but I didn't have the ingredients on hand to mix the more outré seeming Clamato vampirito. I enjoyed the taste of Clamato, but was struck by two things- the first thing is that Clamato has a very pronounced celery seed flavor, the celery seed is more pronounced than the "dehyrated clam broth" (I wonder if there's a single facility which produces all the dehyrated clam broth used by Mott's, or if various subcontractors provide clam broth powder to the bottling facilities. Now I want to be your dog a dehyrated clam broth magnate.) flavor. The second thing is that Clamato, while not particularly sweet, contains, of all things, high fructose corn syrup. Reading that, I got the feeling that the people of Mott's are adding HFCS to Clamato just mess with us.

Clamato aside, dreaming about Fox News was pretty bizarre, but it's March, when strange dreams seem to intrude on the minds of creative people. Special note to friends from New Zealand... maybe it's not a good time for a Pacific cruise.

UPDATE: On the subject of dreams, I can't believe I didn't embed a video of one of my all-time favorite scenes in any movie, the "Land of Dreams" sequence in Excalibur:

Teh Wiki tells me that Nicol Williamson, who played Merlin in Excalibur died last December. I wish I had known earlier, because, by virtue of his Merlin performance, he is one of my favorite actors. I know that Merlin's role in Excalibur wasn't supposed to be a comedic one, but Mr Williamson's delivery never fails to crack me up. His delivery of the line, "A dream to some, A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS!" is perhaps my favorite line in any film.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Closing Excercises

Today was the last day of this semester of my volunteer gig. My coaching season runs for twenty weeks from the first weekend in October to early March. While I will miss the kids, I'll be glad to be able to take it somewhat easy on Saturdays. Today, I left the house around 8AM, and I will probably get home from work around 1AM Sunday morning. I don't have to do a blessed thing tomorrow, so I'll probably sleep until noon. More importantly, the next couple of Saturdays will be pretty nutty, the Solemn Feast of St. Patrick being next Saturday, and the following Saturday being the first ever neighborhood parade. Sorry, kids, but coach will be drunk as a skunk for the next two Saturdays (I'm going to be calling in favors at work).

Today, after the classes, we had a luncheon and awards ceremony. All of the coaches got to hang out, and accolades were handed to kids who'd excelled. Of course, there are some kids who, due to their exceptional ability and dedication, sweep a lot of these awards (and the coaches for different sports don't confer with each other beforehand). Some of the kids really stand out- in fact, our assistant director was once a program participant. Once my student, she's now my boss... actually, the real "bosses" are the high-school aged kids who usher the kids from class to class- I always make it a point to let them know that they have quite a bit of authority over us coaches, as they are the timekeepers and kidherds.

Yeah, as I said, I will miss the kids, but I've devoted almost 40% of my Saturdays to them, so I've earned my rest... and rest I'll have- for all my talk about all-night endurance tours, I'm not twenty-five anymore, and I need some recovery time these days.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Sin of Being Boring

I'm watching the video of Breitbart's cabana boy being smacked around by Soledad O'Brien (bonus, the great former NY Daily News columnist and NYC radio personality Errol Louis makes an appearance around the 10 minute mark), and I realize that the downfall of the Breitbart "empire" will be, to a large extent, due to the fact that the junior Breitbart minions are not only stupid, but B-O-R-I-N-G as hell. I don't imagine the dweeb in this video getting too many invites to network studios. As awful as Andrew Breitbart was, the guy was a goddamn train wreck, which tends to lend itself to better ratings.

Speaking of ratings, the numbnuts, in transitioning to their new "frontpage", have severed their links, and their traffic has declined precipitously. As Thunder would put it, the schaden freudes itself. With a couple of boring numbnuts at the helm, and a boring non-revelation as its kickoff, it would seem that the post-Breitbart Breitbart endeavor will go the way of Rush Limbaugh's advertisers.

UPDATE: I want to emphasize that, when I describe the Breitbartlings as boring, I mean that they are tedious and lame. They are not boring in the sexy sense:

Another thing... it's pretty crazy to see a white South African lecturing a woman of color, whose parents couldn't even legally wed in their home state on critical race theory.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

As Monsieur McGravitas notes, tomorrow is International Women's Day. The current GOP legislators in the United States have sponsored over one thousand laws targeting women's rights. Republicans even fought laws that would have ensured pay equity between male and female employees. The cherry on top of the misogynist sundae is GOP water carrier Rush Limbaugh's continued tirade against women.

Well, women are fighting back, with class and wicked, hilarious humor. The troglodytes are going to find it a tough year... even female GOP members of congress are ditching the party.

Today is also Purim, a Jewish holiday which commemorates the heroism of Esther, though an Israeli ad for Purim costumes had the faces of the girls blurred. Here in New York State, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish authorities urged women to keep it under wraps this Purim.

Happy International Women's Day, all... especially all you fundamentalist assholes of all stripes who are incensed that women have gained some measure of rights. Please choke on your own rage at the fact that the majority of women, and a good number of men, are willing to fight back when you attempt to turn back the calendar to the Dark Ages. You're losing, you will lose. Pick your knuckles off the ground and deal with it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Demented Gnome: "You're on Your Own!"

Right-wing kook Ron Paul has come out against federal aid for the victims of the Indiana tornados. Paul's usual mantra of "let local authorities deal with the problem" rings false when you look at the wide swath of destruction that these storms caused. It's hard to use local resources when there's no locale. Of course, this isn't the first time Ron Paul has revealed his complete idiocy about federal disaster relief.

Regarding Ron Paul, I just don't trust an old, white Southern male who talks about states' rights. White southern males of a certain stripe were the ones who proved that they couldn't be trusted with states' rights. The issue was settled in the 1860's and had to be addressed again in the 1960's- as the FBI puts it on their website:

The FBI investigated what are now called hate crimes as far back as World War I. Our role increased following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before then, the federal government took the position that protection of civil rights was a local function, not a federal one. However, the murders of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, near Philadelphia, Mississippi, in June 1964 provided the impetus for a visible and sustained federal effort to protect and foster civil rights for African Americans. MIBURN, as the case was called (it stood for Mississippi Burning), became the largest federal investigation ever conducted in Mississippi. On October 20, 1967, seven men were convicted of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of the slain civil rights workers. All seven were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to ten years.

Ron Paul strikes me more as a Neo-Confederate than a "principled" Libertarian (if there is such a thing). His stance on the 1964 Civil Rights Act was naive and ridiculous, his stance on women's rights is just as barbaric as Rick Santorum's and Rush Limbaugh's are.

Sorry, Paulbots, the guy is worse than a dud, he's a reactionary Confederate creep, and the white power folks seem to agree with my assessment.

As far as Ron Paul's assessment of FEMA goes, he's partially right, but he's only right because his party did it's damnedest to destroy the agency.

Oddly enough, as a resident of New York State, I send more of my tax dollars to Alabama and Mississippi than I do to my own damn state. From a purely financial standpoint, I should applaud Ron Paul's stance on the federal government... but I'm not a goddamn sociopath. I don't want to see people in the Heartland suffering, even though they are suffering from storms exacerbated by a problem their elected representatives won't even acknowledge, much less fight. Again, it's because I'm not a goddamn sociopath.

I sure hope that the stupid Ron Paul supporters wake up to the fact that the guy is a kook who couldn't be trusted to work as a local dogcatcher. Barring that, it sure would be fun to have a buttload of butthurt Paulbots stop to whine that I'm being mean to their idol.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breitbartisans' Big Plot?

I wasn't going to write about the death of Andrew Breitbart, because I really didn't want to waste any electrons on the lying hatemonger's arteriosclerotic corpse, but the goddamn tongue-bath he's been getting even from "liberal" mainstream media figures is pretty damn disgusting. To paraphrase the Bard, "I come to bury the douchebag, not to praise him." To ignore the awful negative effect he had on political discourse is to allow his troglodyte followers to write a counterfactual hagiography. Hell, the right wing is trying to make him into a martyr and manufacturing an iconography.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a great piece up about the decedent, and this obituary is a must-read. Finn Finn also had a good post on the guy.

Andrew Breitbart's highest profile exploits were marked not only by their use of deception, but also by racial animus. He used deceptively edited videotape to target an organization which devoted time and effort to registering voters mainly in poor minority communities. His calumnious attack on Shirley Sherrod, a dedicated public servant was an attempt to portray the NAACP as a racist organization in order to deflect criticism from the Tea Party. Breitbart's last big project was an attempt to portray a discimination lawsuit on behalf of poor black farmers who were slighted by the USDA as a shakedown. The guy had a knack for kicking people who were down, and the majority of his targets were African-Americans.

It is often said that race is the "third rail" in American politics, and Breitbart was the rage-filled tweaker lurking on the platform, and hoping to push some poor innocent onto the tracks. He could have looked at the entire video of the Shirley Sherrod speech and said, "She seems like a really good person, maybe I shouldn't engage in character assassination to 'count coup' politically." But he didn't, he considered Shirley Sherrod to be "collateral damage" in the political war he was waging, which was pretty much a race war as well. This was a guy who thought that accusing someone of racism is worse than racism. The guy was hardly a pleasant enough goofball- he did his damnedest to make the country an uglier place.

The world is undiminished by his passing.

The real reason I'm writing this post is that the mothership was down yesterday, and now that it's up, nobody can post comments... is this takedown of Snark Central the big plan the Breitbartisans had cooked up for Sunday?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Needed a Break From Ugly Noise

What better anodyne is there for healing ears scorched by ugly rhetoric than some sweet music? Last Saturday night, I heard the following song, by Portland based Eux Autres and was immediately taken by it:

I have to confess that I blasted the song four or five times while working the graveyard shift on Sunday morning... "not going home tonight" indeed!

Also, any Sadlynaughts know what the hell's going on at the mothership? The browser's acting like it's just not there. I think I'm just a little skeered and afeared, so I need some reassurance that everything's okay. Maybe the hamsters running the generators at Sadly Central are just a little fatigued?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Gathering of the Tribe

Today is the annual New York Open Judo Competition. This year, four teams (U.S., Canada, France, and Germany) will be competing. It'll be a hell of an event, with some world-class players.

Yesterday, a bunch of guys from the German team stopped by the dojo to work out and (very kindly) to give a clinic to the kids. I have to say, they are a great bunch of guys. My great and good friend Gentle Jimmy G. (the guy who makes me seem like Rainbow Brite in comparison) stopped by and we fought like hell for about ten minutes. I had worked a graveyard shift before going to the dojo, he had downed ten pints of Guinness the night before. We were fighting like the big, strong mooks we are, but the Germans were fighing in a very beautiful, clean style. Poor us.

I joked to the administrator of the program:

"So, here we are, with all of these twenty-something German guys in the dojo, and they were so much younger, and better-looking, and they fought so prettily- the real problem is that they're really a genuinely nice bunch of guys..."

"So you can't hate them."

"You took the words right out of my mouth."

I apologize to my straight female and gay male readers for not bringing my camera to the dojo. You'll have to find your pictures of handsome, shirtless German guys with muscular physiques elsewhere. This being the internet, you shan't have any problems.

As an added bonus, I ran into the father of one of my all-time favorite students. I try not to play favorites, but it's so hard not to. I remember how I'd sit cross-legged on the mat refereeing matches between the kids, trying to project a gruff and badass demeanor, and this tiny little sprite would snuggle up to me and rest her dark-tressed head on my arm, totally ruining the effect. She's gotten her masters' degree in art history and is currently interning at a museum. To let you know the high regard in which I hold this young woman, I gave her my copy of this book, figuring it would be interesting reading and a good inspiration for a term paper when she was studying Ancient Greek... now that's saying something! I was so happy to hear that she is excelling.

Writing that last paragraph, it hit me why the attacks on women and women's health issues anger me so much- anyone who seeks to diminish one person diminishes us all. I want to build people up, not tear them down.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Misogynistic Monster, Sexually Confused

I'm currently working a graveyard shift, so I spent much of Friday blissfully unaware of the misogynistic filth that's been coming over the public airways. Swayt Jaysus, there's a powerful lot of lady-hatin' going on lately!

The ringmaster in the three-ring circus of male chauvinism is drug-addled windbag Rush Limbaugh, who lambasted Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law School student who was denied an opportunity to act as a witness in Darryl Issa's all-male hearing on contraception. To save you from subjecting yourself to the asshole, here's the transcript of his hateful rant:

What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps.

The johns, that's right. We would be the johns -- no! We're not the johns. Well -- yeah, that's right. Pimp's not the right word.

As if the sheer misogyny of the comment weren't bad enough, Limbaugh was detained at an airport after returning from the Dominican Republic with a bunch of Viagra pills prescribed to another man. The circumstantial evidence points to Limbaugh indulging in "Sex Tourism"... yeah, Limbaugh is one to talk about being a "John".

Limbaugh dug his disgusting hole even deeper, by revealing that he really does want to be a consumer in a sex industry, when he calls for Ms. Fluke to post a sex video on the internet:

So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

Now, this has pretty much been heinous, though run-of-the-mill misogyny, but for the fact that it's being broadcast on the public airwaves, but then it got weird... as Limbaugh dug his hole even deeper, he subconsciously let it be known that he just doesn't seem to understand how oral contraceptives work. This guy is sixty-one years old, and has been married four times, but he has less of a grasp of female sexuality than a typical freshman high school boy. Just let this sink in... the guy has lived with four different women, and he has no idea how oral contraceptives work. This guy doesn't know his ass butt boil from his elbow bicep about female sexuality.

It's one thing to have to rely on pills and prostitutes to be able to engage in sexual activity, but it's another thing entirely to have lived with four different women and have no idea how oral contraceptives work. Limbaugh hates women so much, and he's so sexually confused, he's coming across as yet another conservative closet case (this list needs to be updated). He's losing advertisers minute by minute, but maybe the best approach to taking on Limbaugh is to point out to his fans that, sexually, the guy is a n00b. Point out to your brother-in-law that the guy is ignorant regarding the ladybits, point out to your blowhard co-worker that the guy is basically begging for internet porn like he's a Chatroulette troll. Alpha male, my ass, Rush is less with-it than a typical fifteen year old. Rush's sexual naivete could sink him faster than any amount of "liberal" outrage ever could (though that's no reason to ease up on his advertisers).

While checking out Rumproast (for some reason, my browser keeps crashing when I view my frontpage, but check them out in the blogroll- they are awesome), I saw a comment from Vixen Strangely who wrote a post which makes many of the same points I've made. Please, read her post, and give her some accolades!

UPDATE: Due to a serious backlash, and the loss of several sponsors, Limbaugh has issued the typical nonpology in an effort to quell the public drubbing he's taking. Of course, even when he's claiming to apologize, he's a lying sack of crap- while Ms. Fluke was testifying about women's health, Rush introduced the topic of sex in a puerile and degrading fashion, yet Rush lies:

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.

Typically, he tries to pass his vicious slander of Ms. Fluke off as a joke:

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

There was no setup... his vile characterizations of Ms. Fluke as a "slut" and a "prostitute" weren't punchlines, they were punches. Limbaugh's entire running commentary was an attempt to reduce an intelligent, educated, well-spoken and well-meaning woman to a set of genitals. Back in college, I remember reading an essay in a literary magazine in which the writer spoke of being "marginalized to the point of negation". Being a young, middle-class, straight white male, and unaware of the privilege that I enjoyed by virtue of my identity, I thought the phrase was a bit heavy-handed and overly dramatic, but I get it now... this is precisely what Limbaugh was attempting. Limbaugh's feeble, insincere press release isn't good enough. He engaged in a three-day campaign of attempted character assassination against a woman who was merely exercising her first amendment rights (and to anyone thinking that censuring Limbaugh is a violation of his first amendment rights, nobody has a constitutional right to a platform on the public airwaves), and her duty to stand up for the health concerns of her friends and colleagues. This was no mere joke or poor choice of words. Limbaugh makes his living through the spoken word, the spoken word is his stock-in-trade. He knew exactly what he was saying, and he chose his words for a specific purpose- to tear his perceived "opponent" to shreds. Sorry won't cut it.

Another bizarre development in this shitstorm is that so many right-wingers are hopping on the barbarian bandwagon. Perhaps the craziest attack on Ms. Fluke came from a hapless right-wing blogger who is best known for finding vaginas repulsive... in a completely heterosexual way. HONEST!!!

Let's see if this misogynistic maelstrom sucks the entire right-wing down into oblivion. It's time to show assholes like this that a woman's place is in the Congress.

P.S. Dusty has also covered this subject.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'd Like to Take This Opportunity to Thank the Academy

And by "The Academy" I mean Laura, the Canadian Domestic Goddess who nominated me for an award:

Now I have to post seven random things about myself...

I like that award picture. I actually love roses, they're delicious. That being said, I prefer squash blossoms- stuffed with mozzarella, dipped in batter, and fried in olive oil and butter.

I’ve only gotten one speeding ticket in my life, and I beat it. I think I was doing forty in a thirty zone, but the road had multiple speed limits, and I was coasting down to the speed limit after leaving a fifty-five MPH zone. I showed up in court (it was an hour drive north), but the issuing officer did not. The judge dismissed the ticket. I made it a point not to thank him, because he wasn’t doing me a favor, he was upholding the law. I merely said, “Goodnight, your honor” after he dismissed my case.

I drink a lot of coffee, and I love coffee paraphernalia. Besides a drip-style coffee maker, I have a French press and a stovetop espresso pot. I have a big coffee urn in storage, in case I have to brew coffee for twenty or so people. While I can drink black coffee with no problem, I usually drink hot coffee with a little milk, no sugar. I really don’t like hot, sweet coffee. I drink iced coffee a little on the light side and kinda sweet- if I’m really ambitious, I drink iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk (a habit I picked up while dining in a Vietnamese restaurant). I drink almost as much yerba mate as coffee. I don’t drink much tea, and typically prefer it iced, with a little lemon and sugar.

I have a couple of verbal tics. Whenever anyone says "Take it easy" my response is always "Take it nonetheless". This confused the hell out of one of my co-workers. For months, he could never quite remember what my response was. There are a couple of friends that I never greet with a simple "hello"- whenever we see each other, we strike a "heavy metal" pose and bellow a long, drawn-out "YEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!" My friend J-Co picked it up from a co-worker who was in a metal band called Killerwatts. My brother Sweetums also does it, and it was a triumph when we got his demure, soft-spoken wife to humor a bunch of us with a hearty "YEEEEAAAHHHH!"

A few years back, a bunch of us traveled from New York to Washington D.C. for a friend’s wedding. It was a summer day, so we all wore shorts and t-shirts in the car, and then changed into our suits in a men’s room at the venue. One of my friends joked, "Heh, you clean up good." I responded, "No, I just dirty down real bad."

Speaking of "dirtying down", I’m pretty outdoorsy, so I often come home covered in mud, blood, bugs, scratches and what-not (no Santorum jokes! Yes, it's that link!). If I were to design a dream house, it would have an outdoor shower stall, so I could avoid tracking gack into the house.

While I enjoy doing these kind of posts, I always feel funny about sending out the prompts. Part of it is that I’m sure I’d send it to people who have already received it, what with all of our shared blogrolls. So, rather than sending the award out to other bloggers, I'm going to invite people to post random speculations about me in the comments.