Monday, January 31, 2011

Alas, Foghorn Never Sang for the Smiths

So, in the latest epic thread at Central Snark, a tired Ned wrote:

How has my day been? I read

People say that Murray Lightburn sounds a lot like Morrissey

as “People say that Foghorn Leghorn sounds a lot like Morrissey” and found myself nodding.

While Foghorn never sang for the Smiths, one may get somewhat of an approximation by listening to Mojo Nixon's version of Girlfriend in a Coma:

For the record, my favorite Mojo Nixon (and Skid Roper) tune is the original version of Jesus at McDonald's. My favorite line, "They weren't the kind of couches you want to sit on, they were the kind of couches you want to sleep on."

Oddly enough, while Googling "Foghorn Leghorn" & "Morissey", I found this video, which has nothing to do with Foghorn, Mojo, or Stephen Patrick.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Storks, Not Orcs!

So, it seems that the little hobbitses of Flores Island had to deal with very large storks as well as Komodo Dragons. The science blogger Laelaps has a post about the storks of Flores, and riffs on Island effect, and the sensationalist accounts in the popular press (with our need for monsters to tantalize our imaginations).

Oddly enough, classical Greek sources describe wars between Pygmies and cranes... who knew what Homer could have known when he composed the Iliad?

Speaking of hobbitses, and islands inhabited by huge, flightless birds, the slayer of things that suck issued a challenge at Snark Central to write a poem about a certain "fat hobbit-hugging bastard":

There is a guy whose medium's film,
From a strange Antipodean land.
Whining that his profit margins kill'm.
And the labour costs are out of hand.
The Queen, being rich, done made him a knight,
But the working folk think he's a dastard.
Yet beard-boy still says the money is tight,
The fat, hobbit-hugging bastard.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gotta Put a Post Up, Preferably a Mood Enhancer

It's not like I often suffer writer's block, but today I have been preoccupied with the news from Egypt, and the nagging fear that the U.S. State Department will intervene in a spectacularly wrong-headed way. I think I need a mood enhancer... a breath of tropical warmth would do on a cold night, while the mountains of snow from yesterday's THUNDERSNOW!!!! harden into dirty gray hillocks. The song Sweet and Dandy by Toots and the Maytals never fails to raise a smile. The song, sweetly sung in patois, is a simple tale, of Ete and Johnson being gently chided for pre-wedding jitters by their families. A truncated version of the song was featured in the movie The Harder They Come. I'm embedding a version with the intro: My favorite thing about the song is its theme of ordinary people living life well, even though they're not wealthy. I remember talking to the server at a local coffee shop about music, and he ended up playing this on the stereo four times in a row. Luckily, the place wasn't crowded, because our singing along with the disc would have driven away the other customers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Night of Music After the Big Dig-Out

Tonight, at the Slane Public House in Greenwich Village, friend of the bastard and all-around great guy Shane Murphy will be celebrating the release of his new CD, Open Hearth. Anyone in the vicinity of Bleecker and MacDougal Streets would be well advised to give Shane an ear. As an added inducement, the flagship of the Mamoun's Falafel Restaurant empire is right down the street from Slane's.

Without further ado, here's Shane's rendition of the Basque song Txoria Txori:

I have to take a moment to say, in all seriousness, that I am fortunate to know so many really talented, awesome people- if I weren't so lazy about labeling my posts, the "Friend of the Bastard" tag would be a sure indicator of some high-quality entertainment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exhuming a Local Legend?

Today, the local CBS affiliate ran a story about a local controversy, the proposed exhumation of local legend, the Leatherman- no, not the one you were thinking of!

The Leatherman was a traveling man who wandered a 365 mile circuit (bounded on the west by the Hudson river, on the east by the Connecticut River) which he typically completed every 34 days. While he was a taciturn, solitary man, he accepted handouts of food and tobacco from individuals along his route. He typically took shelter in caves (I've been in the one at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, and I always get goosebumps contemplating the smoke-darkened rock walls, and thinking "Somebody lived here).

The Leatherman wore an eccentric wardrobe pieced together from scraps of leather, the ensemble weighing approximately sixty pounds. The identity of the Leatherman was never known, but he was thought to be French, having a French prayer book in his possession at the time of his death. The most popular legend, purely based on speculation, was that he was Jules Bourglay of Lyons, a man who had married a girl above his class, the daughter of a prosperous leather merchant. This legend avers that he bought a stock of leather on speculation right before the price plummeted due to a new manufacturing process, and ruined his father-in-law's business. Disowned by his in-laws, Bourglay was supposed to have sailed to America, and began his solitary, penitent itinerary.

While a spectacular story of financial ruination, lost love, and remorseful rambling makes for a great legend, the truth behind the Leatherman's identity is not known, even though the plaque on his grave in Ossining's Sparta Cemetery bears the name Jules Bourglay.

The plans to exhume his body from the pauper's grave and run some forensic tests on his remains before reburying him in a more suitable spot have, understandably, met with opposition. I am of the opinion that any attempt to increase our knowledge about this fascinating local legend is worthwhile, and trust that the archaeologists who will handle the exhumation will handle the mortal remains in as dignified a matter as possible. I understand the romantic impulse which inspires those who wish to have the Leatherman left alone, but I confess to being a hardnose about these issues.

The most famous picture of the Leatherman gives a nice, detailed view of his eccentric raiment:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fire in the Subway, Fire on the Number One

Last Saturday was one major ass-kicking... I had to work a graveyard shift, and spent an inordinate amount of time outside in frigid conditions (I was wearing a T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt, a flannel shirt, and a peacoat, so I was able to cope pretty well). After work, I headed down to Manhattan for my coaching gig, though I was pretty much "starchless" for most of the day, I have to confess. After the day's program was done, I got on the 1 Train so I could return to the Bronx, where my car was parked (I do not drive in Manhattan). At 137th St, the train stopped, and all of the passengers were directed to exit the train. It turns out that there was a fire on the tracks near 168th St, so no trains were running between 137th and Dyckman Ave. Yeah, there was a fire in the subway, fire on the number one. We were told that we could take the Manhattan 5 Bus to 168th St and transfer to the A Train. The buses were packed, so I ended up trudging from 137th to 168th on foot, with a large bag filled with sweaty clothes. UGH, all that because stupid evil muthers throw their litter on the tracks. When I got to 168th, the 1 Train was running again. Fuh-huh-huck, at least I had an interesting walk up Broadway. Suffice it to say, as soon as I dragged my ass through the door, I hit the wall and was asleep within minutes.

It's funny, though, I really can't complain about public transportation. These annoyances are a fairly rare occurrence, and the need to find alternatives is good for the cognitive faculties. Hell, it's not always easy living in a megalopolis, but it's never boring.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Revenge is a Dish Best Served with a Side of Corn Dodgers

Uh, before you read this, get yourself to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Charles Portis' True Grit... better yet, pick up two or three copies, because you will want to lend the book to friends and family, and you most likely won't get it back. It's a quick read... I can wait. Good, no need to thank me.

I very rarely view films in the theater- most of the recent blockbuster movies have lacked any appeal. That being said, the siren song of a film version of a novel by one of my favorite authors, made by two of favorite filmmakers was enough to lure me into the local multiplex.

While the two film versions of True Grit are about a fourteen-year-old girl's quest to avenge the murder of her father, the novel is about an elderly woman recounting her quest to avenge the murder of her father when she was fourteen (a subtle distinction, but one which gives the novel a power that neither film can quite match).

The novel True Grit is not a Bildungsroman, the character of Mattie Ross is presented (albeit by an elderly Mattie Ross) as a fully developed individual- a hard-bargaining, stiff-necked, precocious character who pursues her goal in single-minded fashion. Throughout her journeying, her attitudes do not seem to change, although change comes to her in a very literal, gruesome fashion.

The geographic setting of the book is explicit, Mattie begins her journey at her family's land holdings in Yell County, Arkansas, near Dardanelle, traveling to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where her father was killed by a hireling, to obtain his body and to commence a manhunt for the killer, who has fled to the Choctaw Nation in the Indian Territories. The action takes place during the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, with the events being narrated at the time of Al Smith's presidential campaign. Much like Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, which was released in the same year, the book concerns the transition of a lawless frontier to a settled region. In one of the book's asides, Mattie gives a short account of the Permalee boys Harold, Farrell, Carroll, and Darryl: A family of criminal trash! While Harold and Farrell are killed in the mounted affray which forms the narrative's climax, Carroll Permalee lived long enough to be put to death in the Electric Chair, and not long afterward Darryl Permalee was shot to death at the wheel of a motorcar by a bank "dick" and a constable in Mena, Arkansas.

Another major thematic element in the book is the difference between good men and bad, with Mattie's father being "the gentlest, most honorable man who ever lived" while his murderer is a coward, and trash, with a cur nature. Most of the men portrayed in the book occupy a middle ground, with deputy U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, hired by Mattie to bring the killer to justice, having more in common with Sergio Leone's amoral gunmen than with the sanitized heroes of television westerns. Cogburn switches between the roles of a Falstaffian buffoon, a relentless hunter, a ruthless killer, and a protector throughout the book. Even Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who joins Mattie and Cogburn, is motivated primarily by the prospect of a bounty on the killer's head, and, in a brutal scene, throws Mattie to the ground and thrashes her with a willow switch in order to dissuade her from joining in the manhunt (and, probably, because she has a "saucy manner").

Hanging over the action like a grisly specter is the Civil War, with the particularly bloody frontier war casting a long shadow. Cogburn is portrayed as a former member of Quantrill's Raiders, and the Lawrence Massacre is mentioned in a pointed exchange between Confederate veterans Cogburn and LaBoeuf:

"I was told in Fort Smith that you rode with Quantrill and that border gang."
Rooster made no reply.
La Boeuf said, "I have heard that they were not soldiers at all but murdering thieves."
Rooster said, "I have heard the same thing."
"I heard they murdered women and children at Lawrence, Kansas."
"I have heard that too. It is a damned lie."
"Were you there?"
"The Lawrence raid."
"There has been a lot of lies told about that."
"Do you deny that they shot down soldiers and civilians alike and burned the town?"
"We missed Jim Lane. What army was you in, mister?"
"I was at Shreveport first with Kirby-Smith-"
"Yes, I heard about all them departments. What
side was you on?"
"I was in the Army of Northern Virginia, Cogburn, and I don't have to hang my head when I say it."

While the novel's events allow Cogburn a moment of heroic altruism, the novel is not the story of his redemption. In an attempt to follow up on him in later years, Mattie relates that he had gone north to Wyoming with a reckless character named Tom Smith where they were hired by stock owners to terrorize thieves and people called nesters and grangers. It was a sorry business, I am told, and I fear Rooster did himself no credit there in what they called the "Johnson County War." While not named in the novel, it's possible that Rooster could have been one of the heavies in Shane (veiled fanfic reference?).

True Grit is not unrelievedly grim, there are numerous humorous asides (as Mattie admits, she has a "discursive" writing style), and an absurd interlude in the middle of the manhunt. My favorite humorous passage in the book is this brilliant aside, which is side-splittingly funny:

I was sick the next day. I got up and went to breakfast but I could not eat much and my eyes and nose were running so I went back to bed. I felt very low. Mrs. Floyd wrapped a rag around my neck that was soaked in turpentine and smeared with lard. She dosed me with something called Dr. Underwood's Bile Activator. "You will pass blue water for a day or two but do not be alarmed as that is only the medicine working," she said. "It will relax you wonderfully. Grandma Turner and I bless the day we discovered it." The label on the bottle said it did not contain mercury and was commended by physicians and clergymen.

Along with the startling color effect the potion also caused me to be giddy and light-headed. I suspect now that it made use of some such ingredient as codeine or laudanum. I can remember when half the old ladies in the country were "dopeheads."

You have read the book by now, no? If you haven't, you are out of the will. If you have, read it again- you will no doubt find something incredible that you may have missed. True Grit is Charles Portis' best novel, even if it's not quite my favorite.

Oh, and about the corn dodgers? There are plenty of recipes for anyone interested in making up a batch of trail rations or "pigeons".

Friday, January 21, 2011

Interlude Musical Avec Plug

On his radio show last Saturday, WFDU'S Ghosty played a beautiful, sadly timely song by Ozzystoryallya's Hunters and Collectors. For your listening pleasure, here's the lovely Back on the Bread Line:

While in high school, my brother Vincenzo saw these guys open up for Midnight Oil on the Diesel and Dust tour, while I was occupied studying at a prestigious bastion of prestige. Lucky Vincenz!

That being said, Ghosty is blogging. I have never met the man, and have only spoken to him briefly on the phone during the pledge drive, but I'd be lying if I said he didn't play a big role in my weekend routine. Show the man some love, people!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Post Lecture Recap

Last night's Secret Science Club by astrophysicist Charles Liu was another tour de force by an engaging, brilliant speaker. Dr Liu started his lecture with the bombastic declaration, "Pluto schmuto, planets I scoff at thee!" He was here to talk about galaxies and large-scale structures. Shortly afterward, he walked back his statement a bit, and said that he didn't scorn these little lumps of mud because, after all, he was a resident of one.

Dr Liu went on to describe the different forms of galaxies, with spiral galaxies having a high incidence of star, and elliptical galaxies having a lower incidence of star formation. The incidence of star formation may be inferred from the emission lines of a galaxy's spectrum (note the spikes on the graph of a spiral galaxy's emission line). There are also a minority of irregular galaxies, many of them being found billions of light years away (because of the distances involved, the images of these objects are ancient).

A brief overview of the supermassive black holes followed, accompanied by diagrams of the torus-shaped accumulation of matter around the black hole, and the flares or jets of excess material ejected from the accretion. This prompted an a cappella rendition of a song set to the tune of
Day O:

Black holes, they don't suck, they don't suck, they don't suh-uh-uh-uck
But if you fall in one, then there's your new home.

Dr Liu showed a gallery of interacting galaxies, and gave an overview of the "collisions which occur between galaxies- he noted that the Milky Way is approaching the Andromeda Galaxy, but advised the audience not to change their retirement plans. He followed up the gallery of images with an overview of the procedures used by astrophysicists, giving a brief history of the Hubble and Spitzer (insert your own joke) space telescopes, and gave a plug for the Galaxy Zoo project.

The talk was a "grand slam", hitting the perfect notes as far as "sense of wonder" was concerned. Dr Liu's enthusiasm for the material was infectious, and he was a charismatic stage presence. He entertained questions from the audience, the best one concerning the reconciliation of the time differences between objects vastly distant from each other. While not his particular area of inquiry, there are differential equations that can be used to model the probably current relation between objects to create an image of the "superstructures" composed of galaxies.

I apologize for not giving a better condensed version of the talk... a lot of Six Points were consumed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Mind's on Mesoamerica

I've been re-reading Dennis Tedlock's translation of the Popul Vuh (no, no not the Popul Vuh you're thinking of), so Mesoamerica has been on my mind. The Popol Vuh relates the creation myth of the K'iche' Maya, and the deeds of their divine and human precursors. Yes, Mesoamerica has loomed in my thoughts lately (it could just be the desire to leave the cold, slushy Northeast for a tropical locale, though).

The oldest known Mesoamerican civilization, the likely predecessor of Mayan civilization, was the Olmec civilization. Olmec art is known for it's massive stone heads, and its slightly unsettling "were-jaguar" babies. Hey, now, wait a minute... let's get a closer look at one of those were-jaguar babies:

Hmm... now where have I seen that sneering, down-turned mouth? O!M!G!

AYIYIYIYI! It all makes sense now, the talk of blood, the role as a "basketball player"... Sarah in 2012 is looking pretty terrifying.

In order to scrub this awfulness from your mind, there's a gorgeous animated version of the Popol Vuh by Patricia Amlin, inspired by images taken from Mayan ceramics:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Best Photoshop EVER!!!!

The Dragon-King of LEAFS SUCK!!! has created the funniest photoshop in the history of, uh, photoshopping.

Put down your drink, click on the link! Honestly, don't look at it while consuming liquids of any sort.

Moqtada al-Sarah, an air wolf, Airwolf, Jetpacks! Choppers!!! This work of art has it all- it's better than a whisky fountain, it's even better than an army of Scarlett Johansson clones making an amphibious assault on an island in the Arctic Sea.

Give the man some love, L-U-V, and give the man some links!

Well played, old chum, well played.

Uh, and what's up with my inability to post comments at yer blog with my Goog profile?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Memories of Monomachy

With talk of duels hitting the airwaves, I decided to recall my own experience of single combat... on the pretext of a trumped-up "slight", I was challenged to a duel to the death with venomous plants serving as weapons. In order to obtain my weapon, I had to travel to the cacogens' quarter of the city, and cut the stalk of the plant. Why did I cut the stem of the plant instead of tearing it up by the roots? Had I been able to tear it up, I might have found things clinging to the roots against which not even my badness would prevail. The plant's roots are set in hell.

Once I obtained the plant, I had to learn how to employ it as a weapon. The thick stalk had protruding spikes, suggesting that the plant be employed the same fashion as a Godendag, while the roughly spherical nodules (known to exobotanical specialists as orbs) could be detached from the stalk and thrown at one's opponent- with any contact sure to be fatal due to their virulently toxic nature.

Since I am writing this entry, it's pretty obvious that I survived my duel, through a dint of good luck. Because I was preoccupied at the time, I could not take any photographs of the duel itself, but I did take a picture of the heinous alien plant which I employed in combat:

I seem to recall a similar recent post at an Antipodean blog, but was unable to find it... reading through several months worth of posts was hilarious, though. Cheers, chums!

UPDATE: I found the "Riddled" post I was alluding to- I was looking for "Martial Rose Library", but it was Winchester, England. Tricky Kiwis, how do they work?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WTF, Sarah?

Sarah Palin's non-apology was pretty much a doubling down on her offensiveness as a political creature. Even if she is totally ignorant of the loaded history of the term "Blood Libel", her handlers probably aren't. Her speech sounded like a bunch of dog-whistles meant to appeal to fringe anti-semites and Dominionist nutjobs.

If she truly thought that "Blood Libel" merely meant false accusations of inciting violence, Palin is still being a hypocrite- she had no problem conjuring up images of "Death Panels" and conflating innocent Muslims with terrorists. Why the hell isn't she "refudiating" violent political rhetoric?

It hit me yesterday, listening to her speech on the radio, that Sarah Palin is merely a pitbull Moqtada al-Sadr with lipstick- the same fanatic followers, the same violent rhetoric. I haven't heard of al-Sadr personally pulling a trigger, but none of Palin's apologists would give him a pass on his rhetoric.

UPDATE: This DKos article on "stochastic terrorism" is a must-read. How many "lone wolves" does it take to constitute a pack?

SECOND UPDATE: In a case of borderline staircase wit (not to be confused with mother obsessed Ontario otaku- Torontotaku?- Staircase Twit), I realized that Moqtada al-Sarah would be a good nickname for Palin.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I spent the early part of Saturday as I usually do, in a judo dojo instructing a bunch of small (and not so small) children. Last Saturday, I had to work a graveyard shift on the job, and I headed immediately down to the dojo, where classes run from 9:30AM to 1PM. It's a solid block of time spent away from the phone and the computer, ensconced in a padded cocoon that smells of sweat. It's always a great way to spend the day- we throw a bunch of children around, we beat the bejeezus out of each other, we kibbitz. At the end of the day's program, I took a hot shower, and got on the subway to go home, blissfully unaware of the news of the day. When I finally got to my car, and put on the radio, I was devastated by the news of the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and the murder of six others, including Christina-Taylor Green, a girl the same age as the children I had been teaching all morning. I was wiped out, the adrenaline rush that accompanies physical activity had worn off, so I was feeling the aches and pains that result in hitting the mats over the course of a few hours, and the ugly reality of the day's events penetrated the bubble in which I had spent the day. The world had seemed so different scant minutes before, an amusing place filled with camaraderie, learning, shared effort...

Worn out, sore, and heartsick, I climbed into bed shortly after getting home. I felt like an old man in a cruel world. It may sound strange to think of a smelly room in which people are throwing each other to the ground as a sanctuary, but I have come to think of it as one. The outside world was literally going to pieces as my friends and I happily roughed each other up, and taught a bunch of grammar school age children different ways to toss each other around. The outside world is a violent place, in which hateful, deranged people do harm to others. Inside our cloister, it looks a little rough, maybe even a little dangerous, but there's a sense of responsibility, nurturing, and trust that informs our actions. We always bow as we enter the room, walk onto the mats, begin the class, start practicing with an individual, end the class, and leave the mats. That insistence on ritual is a means of putting aside the outside world, of acknowledging that we are in a space that is out of the ordinary, engaging in activities that are outside the ordinary routine, activities that could be potentially dangerous if not conducted in a serious manner with an emphasis on shared development. It's a pity that the outside world isn't as safe or as nurturing as our little cloister.

UPDATE: I updated the post to add Christina-Taylor Green's name. This poor child, so senselessly slain at such a young age, should not be forgotten.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Present Pour Moi?*

I got me a present from the lovely, gracious and talented vacuumslayer (congratulations on finding out that you will be having a boy)- a link to the 700 Hoboes (sic) Project (the song Hobo with an Oboe is now running through my head and, to my knowledge, it doesn't exist):

Hobo with an oboe, I know, I know it's serious!

I am also trying to picture a vacuumslayer illustration of a hobo, but the idea just does not compute... the adjectives "ethereal" and "sylph-like" just don't mesh well with the noun "hobo".

I wish I knew more about hobos, because having a working knowledge of their techniques would come in handy in these harsh economic times. I have some scant familiarity with hobo signs, but I have no experience in stealing a cooling pie from a windowsill, and, at any rate, the Goddess of Pies (sorry about the initials of that nickname!) lives clear across the country.

Perhaps GOP (not Goddess of Pies) hostility to rail projects stems from fears of the potential growth of a hobo underclass, as cash-strapped Americans with "underwater" housing units trade in their soon-to-be-foreclosed-on houses for a life riding the rails. A growing hobo class would undoubtedly push their hobosexual agenda on besieged cultural conservatives... who really knows the salacious uses to which hobos put those purloined pies? What demands would a hobosexual lobby put on the baked-goods industry? Would there be a slippery slope as cake fetishists and other dessert deviants seek societal sanction for their kinks?

*Veiled Plastic Bertrand reference

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He Reads This Crap So You Don't Have To

L.A.'s most stalwart curmudgeon has a great capacity for wading into the Daily Caller (I almost wrote, "the bowels of the Daily Caller, but it's all bowels), and finding choice crap to ridicule. He posted a takedown of a screed by America’s Pre-Eminent Evangelical Protestant Female Intellectual (highlighted for the sake of hilarity) on same-sex marriage and the slippery slope that will lead to... oh, hell, let's let the scold's words speak for themselves:

Homosexual practice thus requires individuals to contradict their own biology. It disconnects a person’s sexuality from his or her biological identity as male or female — which exerts a self-alienating and fragmenting effect on the human personality.

And the logic of alienation will not stop there. Already the acceptance of same-sex relationships is metastasizing into a postmodern notion of sexuality as fluid and changing over time.

Yes, biological identity is static and never changes over time. Why the hell do these fundies ever invoke biology in a piss-poor effort to bolster their bigoted claims? Perhaps the best rejoinder to this argument was articulated by obscure band The Anemic Boyfriends:

I just wanted an excuse to post this song, which I hadn't heard in many years (I am actually shocked that I found it). Thanks, M.B., for giving me an "in".

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

He's America's Boehner Now

I heard Ohio was nice, I've even seen photographic evidence, but I'm just not digging the fact that Ohio is waving its Boehner in my face. It's even worse than a goddamn Bret Favre instant message. At last the U.S., with a GOP house, can look forward to such subtly named bills as (I shit you not) Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. How soon before the Orgasms for Everybody Except for the Dirty Queers Act is proposed to appeal to the knuckle draggers?

Even worse is troglodyte Darrell Issa's notice to the foxes that the henhouse is going to be blown open to allow for easy access. No doubt this handing of oversight to the overseen will be named the Removing Burdensome Overregulation of the Masters of the Universe so Supply-Side Jesus Won't Be Sad and You'll Finally Be Able to Get a Job, Albeit a Crappy One, Act.

Hell, it's going to be a long, stupid couple of years.

UPDATE: Fuckin' Boehner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Don't Strain Your Brain*

Recently, two major news organizations (so called) have covered "End of Days" lunatics in a sympathetic light, and interviewed a fundamentalist nutbag about the deaths of birds and fish in Arkansas. Why the hell are "mainstream" media outlets giving time to these lunatics and their eschatalogical fantasies?

The idea that one is going to be witness to the End of All Things has to be one of the most narcissistic notions that one can entertain. Honestly, people, get over yourselves- you are merely, as Douglas Adams put it, simple, ape-descended life forms inhabiting an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet orbiting at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles a small unregarded yellow sun in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy. No Rapture, no Ragnarök (though I won't rule out a Gigantomachy). Even if the human species nuked itself into oblivion, life on earth would almost certainly endure. Belief in an imminent end is pernicious because it absolves believers of responsibility for conserving resources or caring for future generations (the "torture porn" aspects of belief in a Rapture, with the majority of humanity suffering lovingly-described tortures, is merely the poisoned cherry on top of the rancid sundae). The only benefit of the Rapture fantasy is that it can provide occasional manifestations of comic brilliance, like this bit from Oregon's big gay emperor, Pupienus Maximus:

I sent the group an email promising a $1000 donation now if they agree that on May 22 the world has not ended they will pay me $100,000.

*Not so veiled Rapture reference

Monday, January 3, 2011

You Know, That Guy...

One of my favorite character actors has died- Pete Postlethwaite, whose prominent cheekbones made him instantly recognizable, though not a household name, succumbed to cancer at the age of sixty-four. My favorite Postlethwaite role was the decidedly un-Japanese looking Kobayashi in The Usual Suspects. His IMDB profile has this great quote about acting:

At the end of the day, acting is all about telling lies. We are professional imposters and the audience accept that. We've made this deal that we tell you a tale and a pack of lies, but there will be a truth in it. You may enjoy it, or it will disturb you.

Would that all lies were as benevolent as those of Mr. Postlethwaite.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Little Number for Those Who Overdid It

Having spent the transition from 2010-2011 as sober as a Mormon, I have to say that I both envy and pity those who overindulged in intoxicants as they ushered in the new year. In honor of those who ingested "recreational" substances, here is a ditty by The Drongos, a great pop band originally from the not-so-drouthy-antipodes, who descended upon New York City in the late seventies, and made a name for themselves by busking heroically. The song Substance Abuser is a tongue-in-cheek number from the perspective of a man who falls in love with a woman with a problem, but "falls out in time". I first heard the song on the local college radio station as a pup. **WARNING-VIDEO FEATURES 80'S HAIR**:

Watching that video, I have to say that female vocalist/guitarist Jean McAllister had a head of hair that would have made Rapunzel jealous. The song, featured on the album Small Miracles, was recorded on the streets of Manhattan. The band also recorded an eponymous studio album, both records were released on the micro-indie label Proteus Records. The band broke up, with members Tony McMaster and Jean McAllister returning to the antipodes (I wonder if they ever play The Old Entomologist). Drummer Stanley John Mitchell currently lives in Brooklyn (if he ever Googles himself and ends up finding this post, I'd be happy to treat him to a D.U.B. pie). Guitarist Richard Kennedy has relocated to England. Unfortunately, the gloriously catchy songs of The Drongos are extremely difficult to find on the web. I did find the number Metronome in the archives of radio station KSCU. As an added bonus, the linked archive also features the original version of If We Never Meet Again by Reckless Sleepers and a slew of other criminally unknown musical gems.

I'm going to close this post to say that, should you find either Small Miracles or The Drongos, do not hesitate to buy either album, both are masterpieces of fine pop tunesmithing.