Friday, August 31, 2012

Eighties Night

Last night, I listened to the GOP convention on the radi-adi-o, and one thing (besides the bizarre performance on Clint Eastwood's part) struck me... the whole thing seemed to be a cack-handed attempt to recapture that St. Ronnie magic.

I have no doubt that Clint was primarily invited so he could utter the line "Go ahead, make my day", a line which Ronald Reagan employed on at least one occasion. Yeah, there was a long, bizarre prelude, but the crowd sure enjoyed shouting it as they fantasized about the bad things that would happen to the imaginary black man on the stage. Nice, Clint, just make sure that you insist you're not a racist because you're a jazz fan (the line play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz on your five grand stereo comes to mind).

As far as Mitt's acceptance speech goes, it was Reagan revival redux all the way. We have Mitt talking about the threat of the now-retired Fidel Castro:

When every new wave of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty, or knelt down and kissed the shores of freedom just ninety miles from Castro's tyranny, these new Americans surely had many questions. But none doubted that here in America they could build a better life, that in America their children would be more blessed than they.

Now, we have Mitt railing against the threat posed by Iran:

Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order, and Seal Team Six took out Osama bin Laden. But on another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We're still talking, and Iran's centrifuges are still spinning.

Now we have a two-fer, as Mitt cautions us about Cuba and Russia:

President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro's Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia's President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.

In my mind's ear, I can hear Mittens saying, "Mr. Putin, tear down this Pussy Riot!" I'm odd that way.

To continue with this "80's nostalgia" theme, there was even an arcade in which a huge game of SuperPACman was going on. Yeah, it was eighties nostalgia night... if you squint really, really hard, Romney looks a little like the deified Reagan... and, like Reagan, we'll have a even bigger problem if we elect Romney:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lyin' Ryan

So many lies in one speech (Bette Noir has a good breakdown), even the Associated Press went so far as to characterize his statements as factually slippery. Uh, people, how hard is it to use the word "lie"? I mean, is it so difficult to use the most simple description of such mendacity? I know a lot of writers are paid by the word, but can't one use simple English in an article once in a while? Anyway, since last night's post was so long, and Bette's post is so good, I think I'll keep this one brief:

Consider the case of Paul Ryan,
When he moves his lips he is lyin'.
His icy-cold eyes
Are unfazed by lies.
He does it without even tryin'.

Oh, I just need to add that Tim Pawlenty sure served up some bloodless red meat to the convetion delegates. I mean, he should stick to his **SNERK** day job, because his delivery was pretty damn awful:

Comedy, it's not synonymous with "jokes".

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love, Sugar!

I had to work the graveyard shift this morning, so I woke up last night just in time to hear the Hudson Harkonnen's speech. I figure that, having been on Chris Christie's capacious ass for a couple of years already, I had to cover his GOP convention speech. I will be cutting-and-pasting excerpts from a transcript of Christie's speech, and giving my annotations. This is going to be a wild ride in which I'll be going all over the place, so strap your hands 'cross my engines. Here goes nothing:

I am the son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother.

I didn't know Christie was a paisan, but I kinda sorta suspected that he was. This would explain his Phony Soprano Joisy tough guy schtick. Christie is just what our country needs right now, he's America's cafone. O Marone, che schifo!

They both lived hard lives. Dad grew up in poverty. After returning from Army service, he worked at the Breyers Ice Cream plant in the 1950s. With that job and the G.I. bill he put himself through Rutgers University at night to become the first in his family to earn a college degree. Our first family picture was on his graduation day, with Mom beaming next to him, six months pregnant with me.

Mom also came from nothing. She was raised by a single mother who took three buses to get to work every day. And mom spent the time she was supposed to be a kid actually raising children – her two younger siblings. She was tough as nails and didn't suffer fools at all. The truth was she couldn't afford to. She spoke the truth – bluntly, directly and without much varnish.

One thing strikes me about this narrative, the fact that both of Christie's parents benefitted from government programs. His dad benefited from the G.I. Bill (which the current crop of Republicans, including the Sainted McCain, has been hostile to), and attended a public university. His mother's mother relied on public transportation to get to work, and would have benefited from equal pay provisions. I don't know if the ice cream plant that employed his father was a union shop, but I imagine that it probably was. So much for the "we built this", Randian model...

I was her son as I listened to "Darkness on the Edge of Town" with my high school friends on the Jersey Shore.

This is kinda weird to me, the song that he references is about penury and desperation. For all of Christie's unrequited crush on "The Boss", it's safe to say that Christie didn't learn a goddamn thing from a three minute record.

The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.
Now, of course, she was talking about women.
But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever.
I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved.
Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to know that social acceptance and popularity is fleeting and that this country's principles needed to be rooted in strengths greater than the passions and emotions of the times.

Thom Hartmann covered this pretty extensively today- Christie is basically paraphrasing beloved Founding Father Niccolò Machiavelli here.

Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say "yes," rather than to say no when "no" is what's required.
In recent years, we as a country have too often chosen the same path.
It's been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we've stood silently by and let them get away with it.
But tonight, I say enough.
I say, together, let's make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up.
We are beginning to do what is right and what is necessary to make our country great again.
We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America.
Tonight, we choose respect over love.

I'm grateful that Christie isn't choosing love, because "Christie Love" conjures up images of him sporting an afro wig and a form-fitting "mod" getup, an image which would have all but the most self-hating, bear-loving Log Cabin Republicans running toward the exits, trying not to puke. As an aside, when I clicked on the "Log Cabin Republican" link at teh Wikiwakiwoo, I was redirected to "Homosexual Republican"... it seems that the American Family Association is messing with Wikipedia. Of course, while claiming not to be seeking love, Christie has pandered to the Tea Party from day one... he pretty much painted his prodigious ass purple and waved it in front of the knuckle-dragging Koch baboons. He's just not seeking your love, Joe and Jane Schmo.

We are the great grandchildren of men and women who broke their backs in the name of American ingenuity; the grandchildren of the Greatest Generation; the sons and daughters of immigrants; the brothers and sisters of everyday heroes; the neighbors of entrepreneurs and firefighters, teachers and farmers, veterans and factory workers and everyone in-between who shows up not just on the big days or the good days, but on the bad days and on the hard days.
Each and every day. All 365 of them.
We are the United States of America.

We are the great grandchildren of the men and women who were saved from destitution by the New Deal, and protected from rapacious bosses by unions. To honor them, Christie's going to sell out their legacy.

Now we must lead the way our citizens live. To lead as my mother insisted I live, not by avoiding truths, especially the hard ones, but by facing up to them and being the better for it.

This is why he's lying.

We cannot afford to do anything less.

I know because this was the challenge in New Jersey.
When I came into office, I could continue on the same path that led to wealth, jobs and people leaving the state or I could do the job the people elected me to do – to do the big things.
There were those who said it couldn't be done. The problems were too big, too politically charged, too broken to fix. But we were on a path we could no longer afford to follow.

Of course, he doesn't mention that New Jersey's unemployment rate is considerably higher than the national average. How's that Jersey Comeback going, guv?

They said it was impossible to cut taxes in a state where taxes were raised 115 times in eight years. That it was impossible to balance a budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit. Three years later, we have three balanced budgets with lower taxes.

We did it.

Christie basically shifted the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle and lower class, which is exactly what Ryan and Romney would do.

The disciples of yesterday's politics underestimated the will of the people. They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself.
Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice.

Of course, not everyone shared in the sacrifice...

I know this simple truth and I'm not afraid to say it: our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.

Yeah, the liberal ideas which FDR promulgated failed America, and the post-Reagonomics conservative ideas have worked. Nice use of figures to prove your point, Christie.

Let's be clear with the American people tonight. Here's what we believe as Republicans and what they believe as Democrats.
We believe in telling hard working families the truth about our country's fiscal realities. Telling them what they already know – the math of federal spending doesn't add up.
With $5 trillion in debt added over the last four years, we have no other option but to make the hard choices, cut federal spending and fundamentally reduce the size of government.
They believe that the American people don't want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties and need to be coddled by big government.
They believe the American people are content to live the lie with them.
We believe in telling seniors the truth about our overburdened entitlements.
We know seniors not only want these programs to survive, but they just as badly want them secured for their grandchildren.
Seniors are not selfish.
They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election.
Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power.
We believe that the majority of teachers in America know our system must be reformed to put students first so that America can compete.
Teachers don't teach to become rich or famous. They teach because they love children.
We believe that we should honor and reward the good ones while doing what's best for our nation's future – demanding accountability, higher standards and the best teacher in every classroom.
They believe the educational establishment will always put themselves ahead of children. That self-interest trumps common sense.
They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.
They believe in teacher's unions.
We believe in teachers.
We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C.
We believe it's possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles.
It's the power of our ideas, not of our rhetoric, that attracts people to our Party.
We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing.

It's nice to be told what you believe- Chris Christie does a bang-up job telling the convention attendees what the liberal strawmen in his head believe. There's so much mendacity in this bit that it would take a long time to rebut it point-by-point. That being said, when Christie says "we win when we make it about what needs to be done", he doesn't mention that voter suppression is really what "needs to be done" for them to win. Also, when he says "we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing", he's being disingenous or he's straight up lying (I just picked those two examples, there's a plethora of them).

After some platitudes, and (finally!) a mention of Mitt Romney, Christie continues:

There's only one thing missing now. Leadership. It takes leadership that you don't get from reading a poll.
You see, Mr. President – real leaders don't follow polls. Real leaders change polls.
That's what we need to do now.
Change polls through the power of our principles.
Change polls through the strength of our convictions.

This is an interesting "tell"... Christie talks about changing polls, but he doesn't mention that they are changing polls by using biased polling organizations. Silly Christie, this is the sort of things one should only discuss in quiet rooms.

I don't know about you, but I don't want my children and grandchildren to have to read in a history book what it was like to live in an American century.
I don't want their only inheritance to be an enormous government that has overtaxed, overspent and over-borrowed a great people into second-class citizenship.
I want them to live in a second American century.
A second American century of strong economic growth where those who are willing to work hard will have good paying jobs to support their families and reach their dreams.
A second American century where real American exceptionalism is not a political punch line, but is evident to everyone in the world just by watching the way our government conducts its business and everyday Americans live their lives.
A second American century where our military is strong, our values are sure, our work ethic is unmatched and our Constitution remains a model for anyone in the world struggling for liberty.
Let us choose a path that will be remembered for generations to come. Standing strong for freedom will make the next century as great an American century as the last one.

Wow, Christie's talking about a New American Century, and we all know how that went. If you want a new New American Century, I'll tell you what, send Mitt's sons to Iran or whatever the hell else front you want, let their thin, blue blood stain the sand for the cause of FREEDUMB! and Dick Cheney's stock portfolio.

This is the American way.
We have never been victims of destiny.
We have always been masters of our own.
I won't be part of the generation that fails that test and neither will you.
It's now time to stand up. There's no time left to waste.
If you're willing to stand up with me for America's future, I will stand up with you.
If you're willing to fight with me for Mitt Romney, I will fight with you.
If you're willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that truth will bear, I'm here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.
Tonight, we choose the path that has always defined our nation's history.
Tonight, we finally and firmly answer the call that so many generations have had the courage to answer before us.
Tonight, we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.
And, together, we stand up once again for American greatness.

Man, he's laying it on thick now, he's calling on his audience to heed the call to have the courage to saunter into a booth to vote for a sociopathic socialite who likes to fire people who aren't willing to work for a pittance behind barbed wire fences. Now, that's a Profile in Courage if ever I saw one!

Cross posted on delay at Rumproast, because I didn't want to step on Bette Noir's current post.

Now It Can Be Told

Last week, I indicated that there was big news on the horizon, and today is the time for my big reveal. I have been invited to join the Rumproast team, and put up my first post this morning, a short autobiography.

It's a good feeling, being trusted to participate in other people's blog. I was flattered to receive such a vote of confidence. I'd say there was a lot of pressure involved with the first post, but my co-bloggers there are very welcoming. They are also very generous hosts, giving me the option of cross-posting at both sites.

Thankfully, there's a lot of good material to work with if one is writing snarky political material... and I'll get cracking soon enough. Right now, I'm just basking in that warm, rosy glow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harkonnen Headlining

Watching Reince Priebus (take the vowels out of his name and you have RNC PR BS) opening the GOP convention to a small group of white people, all I could think was, "Talk about tepid." Reince (my favorite anagram of his name is "Crib Seep Urine") has all the charisma of damp cardboard, and I imagine most of the delegates decided to bag his intro so they could head to the strip clubs.

The keynote, though, should be a different story, as GOP hearthrob Chris Christie will be delivering the speech. I expect Christie to be throwing as much "red meat" to the base as he consumes in a typical week. The Hudson Harkonnen is bound to be a hit, he's a thuggish, sexist boor who has been extraordinarily hostile to teachers and is trying to paint the rising unemployment in his state as a "comeback". I'm looking forward to Christie's speech, and I imagine that he'll have an introduction like this:

Christie is a reasonable man.

Not everyone is predicting a great speech by Christie- yeah, he'll probably talk more about himself than Mitt. Personally, I hope he slips up and mentions that he'll be running in 2016. Yeah, I hope he really stabs Mitt in the back... never trust a Harkonnen. Don't disappoint me, Christie.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama's Weather Smurfing Machine

On a hunch, I decided to see what a particular brand of kooks was saying about Hurricane Isaac, which has been disrupting the schedule for the impending GOP convention. Sure enough, some of the conspiracy nuts are claiming that Obama is using "weather control" technology to disrupt the convention.

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program is a facility which is designed to allow studies of the Earth's ionosphere, in an attempt to promote the development of better communications and navigation systems. The centerpiece of the research facility is a high power, high frequency radio transmitter. To a normal human being, furthering knowledge of the ionosphere is a laudable goal, especially if it results in GPS systems which are more effective.

To the paranoid lunatic fringe, though, HAARP is a combination death ray, earthquake inducer, and weather control device. It's like a Swiss Army Doombringer- able to rain 57 varieties of death and destruction on a largely unsuspecting world. As a added bonus for the nutters, this high-tech Fist of the Illuminati utilizes super secret devices developed by Nikola Tesla. To the conspiracy nutters, Tesla is a one-man Mi-Go Weird Science R&D department. There's got to be a Godwin's Law equivalent here- as a thread on a conspiracy theory message board gets longer, the possibility that Tesla's name will be invoked becomes greater...

So, the Kenyan (or possibly Reptilian) usurper is up to his tricks, using secret Tesla technology to disrupt his opponents in order to bring about a Socialist New World Order with a weather smurfing machine. This plot was forshadowed in a 1980s cartoon, in which a worker in a socialist community built a weather control machine to foster the community's dire plot to subjugate the world. Peyo was prescient- the socialist men under their red father (aka Barack "Papa Smurf" Obama) have a real, genuine weather smurfing machine, and they're not afraid to use it!

And don't even get me started on what the queers are doing to the soil!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rest in Tranquility, Moon Man

It was with considerable sadness that I read of the the death of Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on extraterrestrial soil (sorry, Cyrano). The Apollo Program is perhaps the pinnacle of human achievement- a voyage to a heavenly body with the safe return of the travelers. Neil was the first- the combination of brilliance and bravery that led him to volunteer for this mission is positively mind-boggling. The trust that he placed in the physicists and engineers that made the program possible is a testament to his character. Just watching the film, and hearing Neil Armstrong's famous prounouncement, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" gives me goosebumps:

Fittingly, I took a good, long look at a beautiful waxing moon tonight (since much of my work schedule is nocturnal, I devote a lot of my blog to the "altar of the lupine lords") and thought, "There are human footprints up there, what a marvel!" The fact that humans were able to accomplish such a feat fills me with pride, even though the society that put the Apollo 11 "Eagle" Lunar Lander on the moon was far from perfect, as Gil Scott Heron acidly observed in one of his best pieces:

Of course, Neil Armstrong had nothing to do with the societal pathologies of the day. It's hard to wrap one's head around this in this cynical age, but Neil was an unalloyed hero- a self-effacing individual who had accomplished an unprecedented feat, a mere human who had strode like a titan across the face of the moon.

Then I came back down to earth... forty-three years after the Apollo 11 landing, our society has become debased. Theocratic thugs are trying to impose their Bronze Age superstition on the nation that was capable of the Apollo Project and Rapture Ready rubes are so fearful of the real universe that they hope and pray for its destruction (with the accompanying sideshow of folks like you and me being subject to eternal torment). An entire political party platform is based on the premise that government, the very government that successfully put Neil Armstrong on the moon, should be shrunk to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub or inserted into a vagina. Neil, we've failed you. We've failed to follow in your footsteps, both mundane and lunar. We've failed ourselves, and, so far, our progeny. Neil, you will be missed, at a time when we need your example of fearlessness and brilliance more than ever.

Wow, that sure took a depressing turn... time for a little soothing balm. I believe that zrm would concur with me that some Mekons are in order:

Goodnight, Neil, sorry we're not following in your footsteps.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peak Wingnut? Close!

Yeah, I know the achievement of "peak wingnut" is impossible... peak wingnut is an asymptote, forever approached, but never reached. Yet, this week has pretty much been a banner week for wingnut craziness, and the latest example may be the final nail in the Romney/Ryan campaign's coffin.

Forget the GOP trying to distance themselves from Todd Akin's odious and completely non-factual statement, Paul Ryan has blithely asserted that rape is pretty much just another method of conception, for all of it's bearing on the abortion issue. Here's the mild-mannered sociopath and virulent misogynist's own words:

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea that, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life. But let’s remember, I’m joining the Romney-Ryan ticket. And the president makes policy. And the president, in this case the future President Mitt Romney, has exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, which is a vast improvement of where we are right now.”

Yeah, he doesn't give a shit about the ability of women to determine what they will do with their own bodies, their own lives. At least he has the candor to let us know what he thinks, unlike the weasel at the top of the ticket. I think it's pretty safe to say that, barring massive vote suppression, this race is over. And to think, the GOP hasn't even had its convention yet.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Flying the Coop

Yesterday marked the last day on the job of one of my awesome co-workers, a brilliant, adorable Yonkers girl (YAYYYY, City of Y______) who is starting college on Monday. She'll be going locally, to **REDACTED**, a prestigious bastion of prestige, so we'll probably see her from time to time, but it'll be weird without her around. Being an awesome human being, she stopped at a bakery and brought some gluten-free cupcakes for all of her co-workers. Now, that's a great way to get everybody to miss you even more.

Of course, there was the inevitable torrent of advice, including some rather interesting "reveals"- for instance, the last person I thought would tell such a story cautioned everyone against eating a pint of blueberries before going out drinking, and informed us that the color of the resultant mishap was "strangely beautiful". Nice! Since the world is pretty much ugly these days, we all reminded her never to go out drinking without a responsible friend. I had a discussion with her about her science requirement, weighing the pros and cons of a humanities major getting the science and math courses out of the way (I cringe even writing this, being objectively pro-science) early, when one's high school classes are fresh in one's mind, or waiting until one declares a major, when one can choose science classes that are a better "fit".

One major theme of our discussion was to tell her to have fun, and not to miss home too much- she has the benefit of being familiar with New York City, so she will be able to help her roommates (a Texan and an Alabamian) navigate the big city, and gain some serious cool points. She'll do fine, she's the sort of young woman who brings gluten-free cupcakes to work.

On a parenthetical note, yesterday and today mark one of those rare occasions on which I find myself working a double- I started off at 4PM and am working straight through to 8AM. It's been a week, alright. Things should calm down a bit until mid-September, when we host a major event which will involve some serious scheduling contortions. Then in October, I descend into the maelstrom of madness that is our fall fundraising season. I'm a little knackered, but it's good practice for staying up all night:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Goofing Off

Today, I woke up late, being knackered from working a long day yesterday. I figured I'd noodle around for a bit, listen to the radio, and work on a blog post. Then the phone rang- it was my cousin, who did not use the alias Big Leo during the hilarious "Midnight Gardeners" stunt, but, as ringleader, went by "El Capitan". My cousin and his son had to travel to New Rochelle on some business and were planning on hitting the Bronx Zoo afterwards. Well, my destiny was clear- it would be boy's day at the zoo.

Wednesdays is the free day at the zoo, so the place was, as they say, a zoo. A lot of summer camps take their charges there because they don't have to pay admission for thirty or so little urchins. Needless to say, there were a lot of hairless apes wandering the premises. We decided to concentrate on some key areas- my little cousin wanted to see the gorillas, and take a ride on the Wild Asia monorail- and what could possibly go wrong with a monorail ride? Anyway, the line for the monorail ride was longer than the monorail ride would have been, so we decided to bag it, and head off to "Jungle World". While I really like the tree kangaroos, my personal favorite is the comical looking Fly River Turtle:

We finally wended our way to the gorilla exhibit, with a long detour to check out the spotted hyenas (I don't know why, but I've always had a soft spot in my head for hyenas). The gorilla exhibit was packed, but the gorillas just looked kinda bored- if I were in the hoosegow, I'd look (and be) bored as well. We were only at the zoo for a couple of hours (which is not a big deal on free admission day, or if you're a member), and we resolved to return at a later day when it would not be so crowded (membership has its privileges, one of which is unlimited admission).

After the zoo sojourn, we decided to hit The Rambling House for an early dinner and (for the adults) a couple of beers. Happily, they had the strong (6.3% alcohol by volume) pale ale from The Bronx Brewery on tap- I have to say, it's delicious, and I wish the brewery staff good luck in their endeavors.

It's been a day of goofing off, but it was nice to hang out with family, and to mingle a bit of learning in with the goofery. As regular readers know, I'm a big one for mixing education with goofing off and boozing it up... my goofery should be apparent to even a cursory glance at the blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Busy Day, Bizarre Day

Ever have one of those days? Today was pretty bizarre. I worked the graveyard shift this morning, so I didn't roll home until after 9AM. Towards the end of my shift, I noticed that my phone battery was dying, so I turned the phone off. Who's gonna call during the day on a Tuesday? I passed out shortly before ten, and woke up around half-past two in the afternoon. I decided that my first order of business would be charging the phone. Yeah, good idea not to be cut off from the outside world. I plugged the phone in, and noticed that I had a voicemail... it was the division head at work- they needed someone to come in to work a site in the afternoon. Great.

Well, it turns out that my universally beloved co-worker had to work late polishing up an abstract she's co-writing with the site manager for a conference presentation, and the site director (who is a very caring individual) did not want her to be on site all alone. I knew I'd be covering the shift (I swore when I was promoted to supervisor that I'd lead with my chin, so to speak), and this just made the prospect more pleasant. I haven't met anyone who wouldn't jump through a hoop of fire for my co-worker.

After a bit of a pain-in-the-ass commute (lot of aggressive toolburgers on the highway today), I got to work in one piece. I spent a good deal of time listening to my co-worker tell a hilarious story about her recent move to an apartment three blocks from her parents' house, and the multi-week ordeal of spackling and painting her new place while shuttling back and forth between the new place and her parents' house. She had enough of her stuff in the new place so she could camp there overnight, but she had to run to her parents' place to get dressed for work. Her landlord is allergic to cats, so she couldn't bring clothes to her new place until she washed them. She couldn't keep her work clothes in the new place because of the paint fumes. She described the situation as "keeping Kosher" sartorially as she had two separate sets of clothes and she's not even Jewish. It's hard to do justice to her story, I told her she needs to tape it as a comic monologue.

I was also able to give her a critique of the abstract that she'd been working on. She and the site manager will find out in November if they've been accepted, and the conference is in June. Good luck to her, it'll really be a feather in her cap if she's chosen as a presenter.

On a weird note, I found a sizable fish on the grounds, about fifty meters from the nearest water- it was dead, but in somewhat decent shape... if I had to guess how it got to where it is, I'd have to say that it may have been dropped by an osprey, but I'm not sure where the nearest osprey nest is, though the birds are present in the region. If it wasn't an osprey, then I blame fish.

Being myself, I also took some time to grab some purslane that I'd found growing on site- I have enough to make a small salad when I get home. It's a fringe benefit. I decided to leave the fish, though- can't be eating carrion, now.

It's been an unexpectedly busy day, with a soupçon of weirdness. Thanks for putting up with this barely conscious stream of consciousness today. I'll have a more substantial post up in the next couple of days- I actually have some big news to tell, but I'd prefer to wait until I'm in better cognitive shape than I'm in now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

No Concept of Consent

This post may be a little rough, folks. I will do my damnedest to be careful in my choice of words, but we're dealing with pure evil here. Today's biggest story is Missouri Representative and Senate candidate Todd Akin's horrific comments about rape:

Leaving aside the complete ignorance of biology, the truly problematic thing about Akin's statement is his use of the term "legitimate rape". There is a large contingent of conservative authoritarians who have a problem with the concept of consent. They believe that, if a woman doesn't fight tooth and nail against a violent attacker, then any assault on her can't be characterized as rape. Other forms of coercion besides the use of violence don't enter into consideration in their minds. Their position reveals a patronizing attitude towards women- best exemplified by a heinous quote by Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams. As far as the Patriarchy is concerned, a woman's value is as a sexual object, and her sexuality must be controlled and constrained in order to maintain her value (this is why they place such an emphasis on creepy purity pledges). In this worldview, a "worthy" woman would only be raped by a violent assailant- the occurrence of date rape, marital rape, and statutory rape are handwaved away- that sort of thing wouldn't happen to a morally upstanding woman. Consent never really enters into consideration with conservatives... and I'm not even getting into the cesspool of self-described "Men's Rights Activists' opionions regarding rape.

Oddly enough, while conservatives have a problem recognizing what constitutes rape, they often use violent sexual imagery to refer to things which aren't rape. Whines about "things being shoved down throats" and being "bent over" abound with conservatives. It's bizarro world- date rape isn't rape, but an increase in marginal tax rates is...

Now, getting back to Akin, the real story is that he partnered with Paul Ryan in an attempt to narrow the definition of rape in H.R. 3. The only real difference between Akin and Ryan is that Akin is dumb enough to say what he thinks on live television while Ryan's assaults on women's rights take place behind closed doors.

Vixen Stangely and Bette Noir have covered this topic really well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Devo Going to the Dogs

Anyone who has read this blog on a regular basis knows that I am a huge Devo fan, to the extent that I wrote a lengthy two-part post on the band and its body of work. The new Devo song, although not quite up to the Empyrean heights of such epics as "Jocko Homo", "Gates of Steel", "Gut Feeling", "Mongoloid", and "Smart Patrol/Mr DNA", is a hoot and a half:

As one can imagine, Jerry Casale is no fan of the J.R. "Bob" Dobbs-like Romney, but he's not exactly enthusiastic about President Obama. Yeah, don't expect a guy who was so traumatized by the Kent State shootings that he and his friends formulated a theory of devolution to be too keen on a president who is unfazed by the extrajudicial executions of American citizens.

So, the new song is hilarious, as is the the Seamus themed video game, and don't we all need a good laugh these days?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Elasmobranchooklyn... Post Lecture Recap

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the monthly Secret Science Club lecture by rock star and marine biologist Hans Walters of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The lecture began with an overview of shark species native to the New York Bight. Yes, there are frickin' sharks swimming in the waters of New York City. The amount of documented shark attacks is miniscule (you're more likely to be bitten by a dog or a human in the city) and there have been no fatal attacks in the waters of NYC (as an editorial aside, there were five shark attacks- four fatal- in the waters of New Jersey in 1916, but these were unusual enough to still be noteworthy). Here's a nice overview of the sharks in New York waters.

Sharks are cartilaginous fishes, their skeletons are composed of cartilage, not bone. While most sharks have a similar appearance, they are a diverse group- the basic shark form is extremely successful, and the sharks of 370 million years ago are remarkably similar to modern sharks (though there are notable exceptions. Far from being mindless killing machines, sharks have extraordinarily sophisticated senses, not only smell, taste, hearing, sight, and feeling but also electroreception.

The discussion then turned towards tagging sand tiger sharks in order to track their migrations. The tags don't harm the sharks any more mating does. In one tragic case, a shark had survived a finning and was tagged in order to determine if it would survive. The practice of finning is taking a tremendous toll on shark populations worldwide. The lecture ended with a brief preview of the proposed huge shark tank project at the Coney Island Aquarium.

Following the lecture, there was a presentation of the Discovery Channel documentary Great White Highway. Of course, there was a Q&A following, during which some bastard in the audience asked about the prevalence of homeothermy in sharks. The salmon shark, short-finned (and possibly it's long-finned relative) mako shark, and the great white shark can regulate their body temperature to some extent, as can certain billfish and tuna.

All told, it was another fantastic Secret Science Club lecture, an informative and sobering (truth be told, it was a BIG BEER NIGHT for the Bastard, so I needed some sobering information) talk about some misunderstood and vulnerable creatures. Don't eat shark fin soup, people... a shark sandwich is okay, though.

As an added treat, here's a video featuring a hairier Hans Walters, from the days before he made the transition from RAWK GAWD to SHARK GAWD, fronting the band ZTOYZ:

As a brief postscript, I have to say that he's a hell of a nice guy. It's too bad I didn't have time to bring up this little fella, though.

As another postscript, a whole bunch of aquarium staffers came to the lecture and formed a cheering section for their colleague. After the lecture, I asked one of the marine mammal curators if they had an indiscreet walrus (probably NSFW, unless you work in an aquarium) problem, but the only... uh... self-entertaining walrus in Coney Island used his flippers to... uh... amuse himself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Building a Bridge to the 19th Century

So... I'm feeling a little unambitious so I'm going to fall back on the old "expand on a comment you made on another blog" gambit. This time, it's a comment I made at Vixen Strangely's blog. VS, who is not to be confused with VS (can't have enough VS's in your blogroll), posted on Romney's flip-flop on the coal industry. Recently, Mitt, in rather asinine fashion, accused President Obama of (wait for it... wait for it) waging a "War on Coal". Shya, how can Obama wage a War on Christmas if he doesn't wage a war on the very coal which will be placed in the stockings of naughty children?

First off, coal production is up in Ohio, so Obama is not hampering the coal industry in any way. More importantly, Obama should be waging a war on coal. Coal extraction is destructive to the environment and dangerous to workers. The burning of coal releases toxins into the environment and contributes to climate change. As Gene Wolfe put it in a passage I've quoted here before:

"That's coal smoke, the technology of the Nineteenth Century brought into the Twenty-First and hard at work. They could have conquered the solar system and harnessed the sun, but they did this instead, because there was no fun involved. Their great-grandfathers had done it, and they knew it would work."

Fossil fuels should be regarded as energy start-up capital, the basic pool of relatively easily obtained energy sources which can allow us to make the transition to renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, tidal, biomass, biofuels, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Once again, Gene Wolfe is the go-to guy here, referring to our inaction on the environment as the do nothing future, the one in which humanity clings to its old home, the continents of Earth, and waits for the money to run out.

We've known that reliance on fossil fuels was a problem since the 1970's but Carter was ridiculed for asking people to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater and Reagan ripped the solar panels from the White House roof. We've had an ass-backwards energy policy for the past thirty-odd years and still fucking idiots are wasting time and resources making sure that nothing is done.

Mitt Romney's energy policy is basically the Bain Capital model of energy policy- use up all the resources you have until you've extracted all the value out of your "investment" at the expense of its long-term prospects... the one hitch is that, when you've burned through (literally) all of your fossil fuel "startup capital", there's no possibility of a bailout.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Wasn't I Told?

Damn, damn, damn, I just found out that August is National Sandwich Month. You read that right, National Sandwich Month. Hell, if I'd a known, I'd a jumped on this bandwagon, rather than going quite a few days without consuming any sandwiches at all.

Luckily, my go-to cookbook in the summer is Claudia Roden's Book of Middle Eastern Food, with it's plethora of no-cook dishes. I consume a lot of hummus, tahini with yogurt, and tahini pureed with canned fish, and if I'm ambitious enough to fire up the grill, baba ghanouj (it tastes best when the eggplant is charred over an open flame). Needless to say, I've eaten a lot of pita sandwiches this month. I've been meaning to make falafel, and I even have dried chickpeas and shelled fava beans on hand- I'm just too lazy to grind the bejesus out of them lately.

That being said, I have to step up my sandwich consumption in order to catch up. Luckily, I live near a lot of fine Italian delis, so capocollo and provolone sandwiches with roasted red peppers will be in my near future. Another go-to sandwich for me is roast pork and broccoli rabe or spinach with provolone. Of course, Cuban sandwiches and Bánh mì are certainly affordable delicacies, perfect for National Sandwich Month.

I remember once, as a somewhat appalling experiment, I made a "combo platter sandwich", putting a mozzarella stick, a jalapeño popper, and a chicken finger (chicken fingers got no bones!) on a sliced baguette and slathered it with hot sauce and bleu cheese dressing. It was a glorious horror, and I never have to do it again.

Yeah, I have to make up for my failure to celebrate National Sandwich Month, so I'll have to eat some ridiculously large sammiches in order to make up for this oversight.

Monday, August 13, 2012

All Joking Aside, Time to Take the Gloves Off

Ryan, it's on you fucker, talking about "flushing out" progressivism and agreeing with Beck that it's a cancer? What the fucking fuck, you fucker? Plus, what the hell was that about "German intellectuals" in Madison, while urging people to read the "Austrians"? I hate those Mises to pieces! I'd mention a certain Austrian in connection with you, but I don't want to go full-on Godwin, asshole.

Alright, time to calm down, time to stop addressing the d00d like he's here...

Part of me is convinced that the GOP base wants Romney to lose, thus setting up a Ryan 2016 campaign... the dude's young for a politician, so he will be with us for decades to come. Time to nuke the fucker from orbit, electorally speaking- it's the only way to be sure he won't haunt us until mid-century. Sarah Palin went from GOP superstar to laughingstock to nonentity in four years, so we can do the same with John Galt, Jr.

I think it's going to be a tough season for Ryan, who promulgated global warming denialism, and now has to tour the drought ravaged heartland as a guy who blocked the farm bill. We'll see how he deals with the inevitable hecklers that he won't be able to shut out with admission fees.

I imagine Ryan will stay away from crucial swing-state Florida, because he can't have 17.3 % of the population arrested.

What the hell voting bloc could Ryan help Romney pick up? For all the talk of his youthful vigor, Ryan's stance on Pell grants won't endear him to younger voters. Yeah, he listens to Nirvana, a band whose signature album was released about twenty years ago- way to get the hip young go-getters! For all the talk of the guy being handsome, his stance on reproductive rights and equal pay won't endear him to female voters. I don't think Ryan would even help with the Catholic vote, all gushing by righties aside, his budget was denounced by a group of nuns and even the reactionary Council of Catholic Bishops criticized it. Shit, even Forbes magazine isn't exactly keen on the guy.

Time to hit Ryan with everything we've got. Yeah, he wants to flush us out- time to tear out of the bushes like a grizzly bear and whomp the fucker so badly that his future will consist of a weekly "Fox" gig, well away from the levers of power.

UPDATE: As an added bonus, here's Paul Ryan explaing his vote on the TARP bailouts:

Hypocrisy? Nah... couldn't be.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ryan? Ryan! I Laughed So Hard, I'm Cryin'

After I finished working a graveyard shift yesterday, I turned on my radi-adi-o to catch the traffic report, and found that I was in time to hear the press conference in which Romney named Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his Vice Presidential candidate. Paul Fucking Ryan? The guy who proposed gutting Medicare and giving vouchers to seniors so they could **SNERK** purchase private health insurance accounts? The guy who tproposed eliminating estate taxes and taxes on interest and capital gains income while shifting more of the tax burden onto the middle class? That Paul Fucking Ryan?

Oddly (I couldn't tell if this were a gaffe or a weird attempt to bow out), Mitt introduced Ryan as "the next president of the United States". WTF? It was truly an odd moment. During a quick trip to the bank, I caught some of the television coverage of the event and I had a strange thought, Ryan looks kinda like he could be one of Romney's five sons: Tagg, Thag, Grag, Spag, and Malagate. I imagine the Brylcreem budget of this ticket will run to six figures.

The choice of Ryan is somewhat odd- the conventional wisdom was that Romney would tack to the center in the general election, but he seems to have gone full-tilt Teahadi. Also, with Ryan as the VP candidate, the Obama team using the president's repeated clashes with Ryan has a great deal of its opposition research already done. Also, the Saturday (slow news) revelation of his running mate probably won't get Romney off the hook for not releasing his tax returns.

In the meantime, we have the guy who, in true scumbag fashion, used leveraged buyouts to purchase companies, then liquidated said companies to pay himself and his investors handsomely, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs running with the guy who wants to cut food stamps to the people his running mate fired. As Betty Cracker brilliantly put it, it's the Vulture/Voucher 2012 ticket. Of course, the snark has already been ramped up, with Esquire's Charles Pierce having dubbed Ryan the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver (no offense to zombies). Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver has a nice ring to it, it's like something out of a lurid 1950's Man's Life magazine. I can see the cover now: ZOMBIE-EYED GRANNY STARVERS STARVED MY GRANNY!

It's an uncanny likeness, isn't it?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Politics Ain't Beanbag, Bainbag

Is there no help for the plutocrat's son? Poor little rich boy Mitt Romney is sad because his opponent is bringing up his business and tax records, a tactic that he finds upsetting because it's driving up his unfavorable ratings. Mitt's cri du coeur is pretty pathetic, because it demonstrates that the only real emotion he seems capable of expressing is self-pity:

"Our campaign would be — helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon — business or family or taxes or things of that nature,” Romney said, according to excerpts of an upcoming interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd released Friday.

Of course, Mitt's business experience was supposed to be his strong suit (warning, link is to a Neil Fucking Cavuto clip), but the fact that Mitt was a vulture tapeworm capitalist has nuked this narrative from orbit. Even more worrisome for Mitt are his not-so-stellar tax records. It's no wonder that he wants to bury his past. Of course, by seeming to try to take the high road, Mitt reveals his true problem, and the reason he's suggesting (insincerely) a non-aggression pact:

Romney said he would prefer the campaigns “only talk about issues,” and claimed that “our ads haven’t gone after the president personally. … We haven’t dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around. We haven’t gone after the personal things."

He hasn't "dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around" because it didn't work. The Kenyan Usurper won the presidency in Ought-Eight, and nobody gave a shit about Jeremiah Right or Bill Ayres or Lolo Soetoro. Frankly, Mitt's got nothing.

Mitt genuinely seemed to be a little sad in the interview... it's the unique sadness of the bully who gets trashed by his erstwhile victim. He thought he could knock the president down and cut his hair, so to speak.

Mitt's first ad in the general election involved deceptively editing the president's words and his campaign is still engaging in this practice. In addition, the theme of Romney's new ad is "Obama can't run on his record." Shya, "Bin Laden is dead, GM is alive" beats anything Romney's got.

Romney's vaunted Olympic chairmanship involved a major bailout by taxpayers, his business model involved destroying healthy companies and used taxpayer dollars to cover looted pension funds. A Romney spokesperson has been castigated by conservatives for even mentioning his Massachusetts healthcare reform. D00d's got nothing, so he's basically crying "Uncle" and asking the Obama campaign to play nice with him. Sorry, Mitt, you trashed your primary opponents and you've trashed the president... what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the pander.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sons and Dads

Perhaps the most odious man in Congress is Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who is back in the news because he referred to the president as son. "Son" and "boy" were terms used by white southerners to demean and infantilize black men, and the use of such epithets to refer to Barack Obama has been in play for years. Walsh is trying to blow the dogwhistle, but it's sounding more like a goddamn foghorn.

Oddly enough, the use of the word "son" by Walsh calls to mind the fact that Joe Walsh is a deadbeat dad. Funny, President Obama is a devoted family man who is taking good care of his two lovely daughters. Who's the real man, and who's the infantile boy here?

Walsh is a chrome-plated toolburger, besides being a deadbeat dad, he's denigrated the sacrifices made my his opponent, wounded Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth. He's so toxic, the SuperPAC ad for his district doesn't even mention him by name. It's time to put the race-baiting deadbeat on the unemployment line- don't worry about his wife and kids, because they don't get dime one from the creep even when he's working.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Amber Suds Which Wash Away Ambition

Uh, blame it on a big beer day but I'm lacking ambition enough to put up a substantial post. It all started when my friends decided that they'd grill some pizzas using a no-rise dough similar to the one in this recipe. I had stopped by a local salumeria to pick up some high-end dried sausages, and my friends had arugula. There we were, sitting on the deck, when I was handed an ice cold beer. Well, beer gets lonely, you just can't have one, so I had another, and another... you get the picture (I'd brought over a 12-pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale earlier in the week. It's kind of hard to write an ambitious post when you eat like porkers and drink like hell. I'd farm this post out to a guest blogger, but she's asking for industry scale, and I'm a cheapskate. I think it's time to fall back on the "post a video" gambit. Here's a song by a band with a name derived from The Onion that I heard on the radi-adi-o last week:

You can blast it, my head's not that tender.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trying Out a Guest Blogger

I will be entertaining some friends from out of town today (3 generations' worth), and, oddly enough, will be taking them to a couple of my workplaces on my day off. For what it's worth, these are relatives of my jam making conspirator, so she'll get to meet my co-workers who have partaken of our handiwork. Anyway, I decided to let a guest blogger write today's entry for me, inspired by a comment by Thunder:

SOOO...that means another Fred and Ginger picture blog is on the way?


Hmm... sounds like a good idea. I've never had a guest blogger before. Here goes nothing:

dddew tgr kkju ;po

What was that? Huh? I ask you to type a post, and that's it, and now you're sitting there all smug, thinking that you're done?

What's your excuse? Don't even tell me that cats have problems using keyboards, because there's empirical evidence that cats can use keyboards with no problem. I think you're being contrary. And don't look at me in that tone of voice:

Oh, Ginger, I'm sorry... sheesh, I just can't stay mad at you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Too High on the Food Chain

This opinion piece exhorting U.S. energy policy not to divert corn for use in manufacturing of fuel has got me harping on a topic I've long though about. To me, the very idea of using corn (my people call it maize) as fuel is an asinine plot by the multinational agribusiness interests to push product while providing a red herring to lead away from viable biofuels production. Maize plants are too high on the food chain to make sense as a fuel stock, they are large vascular plants that require too much energy and water to produce. For viable biofuel production, we should turn to algae or small vascular plants such as duckweeds. With their fleetingly short generations, these organisms can be selectively bred in order to result in higher oil content more quickly than corn could be. Additionally, they can be grown using sewage and waste water. Our need for fuel should not compete with our more pressing need for food.

Of course, the root cause of our predicament is overconsumption, but I decided to focus on the insane fact that even our proposed solutions to our problems tend to be dead ends. If I were a more cynical person, I'd suspect that this was a feature, not a bug. HA!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finally, Something to be Proud Of

We're weird... as a species, and as a nation- yesterday saw the absolute worse that Homo sapiens sapiens and U.S. residents in particular are capable of, a bloody rampage of rage and tribalism. Today, we have a triumph, for both Homo sapiens sapiens and for the people of the United States. In what could be described as one of the pinnacles of human achievement, NASA safely landed an automobile-sized rover on Mars in a nail-biting procedure:

It's amazing the contrast between the horrors to which humans can perpetrate, and the glories we can achieve... hopefully, we can move beyond our capacity for harm, and choose to be seekers for knowledge rather than wallowing in ignorance and hate, to inhale Einstein and exhale Hitler, so to speak.

It's a little something to assuage the grief and horror of yesterday's events... a little reminder that we aren't merely brutes. The Curiousity rover's mission is an important one, the search for evidence that life could be or could have been possible on another planet. If such evidence comes to light, it will simultaneously be humbling and edifying- we will no longer be able to consider ourselves a special case in the universe, but we will be able to see ourselves as part of a much grander "community" of living beings. If there is evidence of life on another planet, will we have a better chance of seeing the intrinsic kinship we have with not only our fellow humans, but with the other species we share this planet with? I sure hope so, I'd rather be a simple resident of a typical rocky planet that to be the "Apex of Creation".

That being said, I hope Curiosity stays away from the bad neighborhoods on Mars...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Depressing and Distressing

Another mass shooting, this time in a Sikh gurdwara near Milwaukee. Another round of hand-wringing and dancing around the blued-steel elephant in the room. At least this shooting is being treated as an incident of domestic terrorism. One possibility is that the shooter opened fire in the gurdwara in the belief that he was killing Moslems- it would not be the first such attack here in the States.

A few days back, Johnny Pez put up a dire post about the possibility of a coming civil war. Living in my safe Northeastern home, I posted a comment "talking him down", but I'm not so optimistic today. The gun violence statistics are appalling, there's a low-grade civil war being waged on U.S. soil as we speak, it's just that there are no battle lines drawn, and no "sides". Deranged loners, racist wingnuts, gangbangers of all types, rage-filled family members... the common denominator is that they have access to guns, and there are powerful forces which seek to ensure that they never lose access to guns. How many more mass killings do there have to be before the violent gun culture in our society is addressed? It's getting so insane that the authorities in Houston released a video on dealing with a mass shooting event- it's almost like these occurrences are being treated like natural disasters. Floods... Wildfires... Mass shootings... one of these things is not like the others.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Chilling Effect on Hotheads is a Good Thing

Here's a bit of good news, the New York City Law Department has decided not to defend the infamous Anthony Bologna in an upcoming civil suit. I think it's a great decision, the city should not be wasting any money defending the indefensible actions of this hothead, authoritarian asshole. Of course, not everybody agrees with this stance- for instance, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly had this to say:

"I think it could have a chilling effect on police officers taking action. It's a discretionary decision by the Corporation Counsel and I'm concerned about an adverse effect on officer's willingness to engage."

He thinks it would have a chilling effect? I sure hope it would, hotheads need to be chilled. Also, a willingness to engage should not include a willingness to assault peaceful demonstrators... this is an engagement that should not be kept. We need there to be an adverse effect on bullshit like that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

For Unspeakable Horrors, They Sure Are Cute!

No, this is not a post about children, so watch it, smartasses! Also, HERE BE SPOILERS, so bust out your "Best of H.P. Lovecraft" volume and get reading before you continue here, okay?

The redoubtable M. Bouffant linked to a post at the Golden Age Comic Book Stories blog which featured a whole bunch of illustrations from the Astounding Stories pulp magazine. I was especially taken with some of the illustrations of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction. Lovecraft is generally pigeonholed as a horror writer, though a good portion of his work boils down to gonzo pulp science fiction (I can't remember where I read it, but one wag noted that Lovecraft doesn't really write scary stories, but stories about people who are scared). Of course, there are exceptions- The Colour Out of Space is genuinely unsettling, it's almost as scary as Ethan Frome- also a tale of a New England family slowly having the life sucked out of it.

I'd also note that The Shadow Over Innsmouth is really a Bildungsroman, with a happy ending that may be hard to catch upon first read.

Enough of the preliminaries, how about some illustrations of some of the cutest Lovecraftian menaces you've ever seen?

Here we have some whimsical "Old Ones" from At the Mountains of Madness:

I like this one... spread your wings and fly, oh weird, tentacled alien:

This may be my favorite AtMoM illustration- helpful shoggoth is helpful:

Even cuter are the illustrations from The Shadow Out of Time, which was a cover story inspiring one of the best pulp covers of all time.

Look at these immense, rugose cones with their funny round heads, and their googly eyes. The chap standing akimbo (it seems the illustrator didn't read the story) looks like he's going to lovingly punish them for some hilarious hijinx:

"You crazy cones, I just can't stay mad at you!"

Oh, noes, little man, run before they accidentally drop a giant book on you!

Perhaps my favorite illustration depicts the fellow "guest workers" who labor in the Great Library with the narrator, compiling the records of all of the ages for their immense, rugose, hyperintelligent hosts:

I've long thought that The Shadow out of Time would make a great basis for a workplace comedy, but looking at that picture, I can see it as a children's fantasy adventure- the heartwarming story of a plucky orphan who gets a job in a monsters' library, and goes on all sorts of field trips and adventures with his monster employers (this is not all that different from the original, actually). That googly eyed dude (second from the right) looks like the type who'd try to swipe our protagonist's dessert in the cafeteria...

The funniest thing about these illustrations is that they appeared in the publications that first published these stories (how's that for "Lovecraftian italics", huh?). The seeds for "Where the Old Ones Are", "Pokéthulhu", and "Hello Cthulhu" were there all along, right from the start. LOLcraft, indeed!