Saturday, June 27, 2009


So Gov. Sanford is King David now?
Jesus Christ, man, have some shame. Just resign and get it over with.
David? You've got to be fucking kidding me...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


This is how the people assert their power over the ruling classes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It is my good fortune to have gotten home tonight just in time for Turner Classic Movie's salute to Orson Welles.
I fear I won't be able to sleep; it starts with Citizen Kane and is followed with The Lady from Shanghai (not perfect, but too interesting to tune out), The Magnificent Ambersons (his best, IMHO), The Trial (based on the novel by one of my favorite writers, Kafka) and Macbeth (I liked his Othello and Falstaff both much better).
Kane, obviously, is the one he's most remembered for. I could drone on about why it's the most influential film in cinema history, but I think I'll settle for looking at how it came to be.
Welles was considered a bit of a prodigy as a child. He finished prep school at age 16 and toured Ireland alone. On a whim, he walked into the Gate Theater in Dublin and managed to get himself an audition. The Gate was run by Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards, two of the most progressive and well regarded theater types in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. He won them over, despite no professional experience.
In time, Welles found his way to New York. Barely in his 20s, he and John Housemann (a shipping clerk at the time) were able to start up their own theater company in Harlem, thanks to the Federal Theater Project (an arm of the New Deal). He found radio work, too, becoming the star of that medium in the 1930s. He couldn't fail if he had wanted to.
RKO, then flagging well behind Warner Bros. and the other Hollywood studios, lured Welles to Hollywood with the promise of complete control of whatever films he wished to make. He brought his theater comrades with him, and found Greg Toland, maybe the best cinematographer ever, seeking him out. The Kane film was written primarily by Herman Mankiewicz, a veteran writer who knew where all of the bodies were buried in Hollywood and New York. The film editor RKO assigned to him was none other than Robert Wise.
Everything fell together for Welles. Critics, including Pauline Kael, point to all of the above as good luck on Welles' part. I contend that it was Welles who brought all of the above together. He had every advantage and make the best of it. Sure, you could argue that going after Wm. Randolph Hearst was stupid; but it took a character of Hearst's magnitude to bring the story off.
I think Kane is a film to be savored. I can think of maybe one or two false notes in the whole thing. Welles took what he liked from Ford, Eisenstein and others, orchestrated superior actors, a great script (which he rewrote and edited), terrific camera work and wonderful editing into something unmatched before or since.
But The Magnificent Ambersons is still my personal favorite, for reasons I'll get into some other time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

We're really fucked

In a country that believes credit cards don't have to be paid off, home prices will always go up and The Secret (wish for it and it will happen), it only stands to reason that millions of our teenagers believe that vampires actually exist. Millions of our kids would watch this video and be utterly not in on the joke.


I tried quitting cold turkey. I tried exercise, church, knitting, etc. and I just can't quit it. I'm in Hell.
Please, whatever you do, don't ever mess with Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup!
It's just not worth it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The whole health insurance debate is finally getting going, thank the Lord.
During the presidential campaign, John Edwards (yeah, I know, he's a douche) proposed allowing people to enroll in Medicare/Medicaid if they didn't like their private insurer options. Pres. Obama kinda, sorta latched on to the idea as the campaign progressed.
The genius of this proposal is that it would give the working poor access to affordable coverage and pressure private insurers to lower their rates and improve coverage. It is a tentative first step toward single payer, which is where we are headed anyway.
Conservative Democrats are once again trying to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to make the Medicare/Medicaid option a last resort, only after private insurers get several more years to prove how much they don't care about people getting decent medical care. Their plan is to use Obama's wild popularity to raise money and get re-elected, all while continuing to do the bidding of K Street lobbyists who wine and dine them and get them laid.
It looks like Obama is going to shut the door on that move. As I've said many times before, this guy knows he's in charge. He's jumping into the debate very early on to disabuse the aforementioned conservative Dems that they will get to milk K Street by screwing the rest of us again.
At least I hope that is what he is doing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Charles Pierce is one of the best essayists in the United States, period. He's just released a book, Idiot America, that examines how easily-threatened, mouth-breathing dunderheads have taken over our country.
Here's a sample from his 2005 essay for Esquire that the book is sort of based-on:
The dinosaurs are the first things you see when you enter the Creation Museum, which is very much a work in progress and the dream child of an Australian named Ken Ham. Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, an organization of which the museum one day will be the headquarters. The people here today are on a special tour. They have paid $149 to become "charter members" of the museum.
"Dinosaurs," Ham laughs as he poses for pictures with his visitors, "always get the kids interested."
AIG is dedicated to the proposition that the biblical story of the creation of the world is inerrant in every word. Which means, in this interpretation and among other things, that dinosaurs coexisted with man (hence the saddles), that there were dinosaurs in Eden, and that Noah, who certainly had enough on his hands, had to load two brachiosaurs onto the Ark along with his wife, his sons, and their wives, to say nothing of green ally-gators and long-necked geese and humpty-backed camels and all the rest.
(Faced with the obvious question of how to keep a three-hundred-by-thirty-by-fifty-cubit ark from sinking under the weight of dinosaur couples, Ham's literature argues that the dinosaurs on the Ark were young ones, and thus did not weigh as much as they might have.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

No surprise, really

I have no trouble believing this. The press guy at work found a buddy fishing on the river this week. Jerry asked him what fish he was going for and the guy said, "Dinner, I hope."

Friday, June 5, 2009


Anyone who has already started writing off Pres. Obama is blind and clueless.
The peerless Al Giordano makes the case better than I can, but the President presents his own case here even better than Al:

Consider the context: Barack Hussein Obama, a political unknown five years ago who was repeatedly slandered by Fox News and the Republicans as being a foreign born closet Muslim, strides into the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood (one of the forebears of al Queda), acknowledges past American transgressions and debunks much of the case that extremists try to make against us on the Arab street. He puts Israel and Palestine into a context that no reasonable person can argue with.
I hope, in time, that even Obama's detractors will come to admit that he is a considerable improvement over the bullies and half-wits who preceded him. He isn't waiting for consensus; he's leading with the knowledge that it will come in time. He knows there won't be a Republican backlash in next year's midterms. He also knows he is capable of handling whatever comes his way, without hubris or delusion, and that will carry him easily into a second term and the time he needs to try and set things right.


My predecessor at the day job still writes a weekly column for us. He's a good egg, but we don't always see eye-to-eye. Case in point: His column this week argued that the UAW fucked up the Big Three.
Here is my response:
My learned predecessor Rich Adams weighed in Tuesday with his insights on how things got so bad for the Big Three, placing most of the blame at the feet of the United Auto Workers. I re­spectfully disagree.
I come from Indianapolis, which was once home to almost as many auto workers as Flint. I knew a lot of guys who were UAW members and they all did well until the early 90s, when the plant layoffs and closings began en masse. Aside from a wildcat strike at a Chrysler plant when I was in high school, I don't ever recall any of the locals refusing to give back to companies to keep their plants open, even when it meant permanent layoffs. Profits surged, but layoffs and other cuts kept coming and coming.
Crappy management played a big part in putting GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. By the late 90s, GM was making its money with auto and home loans through GMAC. It kept making SUVs built on car platforms be­cause the profit margins were better. It surrendered the com­pact and subcompact markets to Toyota and Honda and, lo and behold, they now have huge shares of the U.S. market.
People around here prefer trucks and SUVs for obvious rea­sons. Winter lasts 13 months per year and we need the bigger vehi­cles to get around (usually). Go south of the 45th parallel and you will see a big change. People who live in bigger towns and have to drive 20-25 minutes to get anywhere like smaller vehi­cles that burn less gas. Sure, you see a lot of SUVs there, but sedans and compacts are solidly in the majority.
As for Chrysler, it has suffered for years from increased compe­tition from Korea and Japan. It’s final owner, Cerberus Capital Management, bought it on the assumption that the federal gov­ernment would never let it go under...ooops.
The men who ran these compa­nies structured their pay around stock performance, in order to to pay the capital gains tax rate, which is lower than the top in­come tax rates they would pay otherwise. The result was an Enron-like artificial pumping up of stock prices with borrowed money for over a decade and the inevitable mountain of unse­cured debt. The federal government and states like California have tried for years to get Detroit to make smaller, more efficient cars to fight pollution and cut gasoline consumption. The Big Three and the oil companies spent billions lobbying against change, all while their European and South Ameri­can subsidiaries were producing said cars.
Who's to say where GM would be today if it had put it's EV­1 plug-in into serious production 15 years ago, rather than killing it?
I do find it interesting that GM's survival hinges, in part, on the rollout of a new model next year: The Chevy Volt.
What's so special about the Volt?
It's an electric/gas hybrid.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wise words

Sam Seder is my internet Jesus, or John the Baptist at the very least:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

15 pounds

I think I lost about 15 pounds during this now mercifully done bout with the flu. Five more pounds and I'll fit into that bikini!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Damn good

I'm taking a half day today to make up for the half day I worked on my day off the Friday before Race Weekend and what do I find on On Demand? Season 3 of the Sopranos!
This show is damn good, as many of you already know. By season 3, Tony is firmly in control of the family, his dreaded mother Livia (named after Augustus's dreaded, conniving wife) is dead and he has more or less made peace with Uncle Junior.

This is probably the best series ever produced for American television. I could go on and on about why I think that, but I would sound like some half-assed comp lit major and ruin your Sopranos buzz. Just rent a season the next time you're at the video store.


The flu has flown away, or so it seems. I woke up feeling alright and my appetite appears to be back.
I don't remember being that sick in a looonnnggg time. One of the few benefits of having an autoimmune disorder like psoriatic arthritis is that my immune system is too strong. I typically get the sniffles for maybe one day per year. Sore throats and earaches are rare. Infections never happen.
This bout of flu absolutely hammered me, however. I couldn't sleep, wanted nothing to do with food and probably lost 10 pounds (not by puking, if you get my drift). I don't know if it was swine flu. My fever never quite hit 101 and I wasn't congested.
I think that North Pole living, combined with the weekly injection I take for the arthritis, probably compromised me more than I realized. It's still early spring up here, weatherwise, and the long winter did zap my overall energy level.
I dunno. All I can say is that I hope you all are spared what I dealt with over the weekend.