Monday, June 25, 2007

Get Away Blog

I hate that record. There. I’ve said it. I’m a RUBBER SOUL guy. Everything went downhill after that. I blame LSD.

The first time I heard “A Day in the Life,” my jaw dropped. I’d never heard anything like that before in my life. It stunned and amazed me. It no longer does so, but young people need that sort of thing. Yes. They do.

…there’s “When I’m 64.” Or “Lovely Rita Meter Maid,” or “Within You/Without You,” or the title track. THESE SONGS SUCK! Thank you for listening.

You’ve seen this tenor on YouTube, and if you haven’t, check it out before you read this.

Okay, so he’s this shlub from Wales, who looks like a cashier at Walgreens’s (not there’s anything wrong with that), who showed up on an AMERICAN IDOL type show, only on the sceptr’d isle. Simon Whathizname was one of the judges; he, the other panelists, and the audience, greeted his entrance with a weird mixture of boredom, anticipation, and bemusement. They were expecting this guy to fail! Little chubby guy with bad teeth. And he’s going to sing what? “Nessun dorma,” the tenor aria from Puccini’s TURANDOT, a song familiar to those familiar with it via Luciano Pavarotti’s signature version.

Anyway, Mr. Potts knocked it out of the park. The audience went nuts. There were tears in eyes. Simon Cowell bestirred himself from his innate assholitude, and said something nice and encouraging.

The tape of this song has made the YouTube rounds, and earned Mr. Potts millions of fans, overnight, more or less, whatever that means any more.

This month, the New York Times, in its newly-dual role as Grey Eminence and Hip Arbiter, wrote about Paul Potts. The article quoted Philip Hensher in The Independent of London: “Mr. Potts is the sort of bog-standard tenor to be found in any amateur opera company in any corner of the country. His tuning was all over the place; his voice sounded strained and uncontrolled; his phrasing was stubby and lumpy; he made a constipated approximation only of the fluid sound of the Italianate tenor.”

“Ouch,” responded the newly, easily-bemused New York Times. The article concluded: “…[T]he fact remains that mass media, like radio and TV, has enormous influence on the music people hear. For classical musicians, those realms have become deserts.

Well, I have seen Mr. Potts. I’m not a classical music expert, but I’d say he did all right. But the quality of the music is not what this story is all about, in my opinion.

Here’s what I think: people watch AMERICAN IDOL and the like (I’m not one of them, by the way), looking for a ROCKY moment to emerge from the competition. People are looking for a MOVIE, in other words, in what is actually a GAME SHOW. Yes, this proves – once again- that most of us are insane. (Full disclosure: I’m not insane in that way, but am insane in others.)

Even more insanely, these game shows DO provide movie moments. Paul Potts is one of them. Think about it: people gather around these show for a number of reasons.

1) To develop a crush on somebody you will never meet in real life, and even if you did s/he would not only ignore you, but make fun of you behind your back. Kind of a self-defeating proposition, isn’t it? But that’s America for you.
2) Discover a previously unknown talent. This has not yet occurred, near as I can tell. Though I understand that many previous winners now have mansions and lucrative recording contracts. That’s America for you.
3) Mock hideously untalented hideous people to make the aforementioned “previously unknown talent” look even better.
4) Hope against hope that (3) will be more fun to watch than (2).

So Paul Potts showed up, and by the simple fact that he didn’t suck, knew all the words, and was not sweating visibly- that alone guaranteed him fame. His viewers were expecting him to fail. His viewers were expecting him to leave the stage in tears, or almost. His viewers were expecting him to be a subject line for a joke e-mail they might or might not send. His viewers were expecting him to be so far off a note they would feel justified in pelting him with moldy tomatoes, which they didn’t have, but the visualization of which is certainly encouraged by producers.

Instead, they got a guy who didn’t suck. But looked like a guy who would! Wow! A superstar is born. That’s America for you.

The Wee Wife and I went to Sacramento this weekend for a long-anticipated getaway. (“What kind of people go to Sacrameno for a getaway,” you ask? Shut up.)

I won’t tell you what the Wee Wife purchased, but may later, but I can tell you some things that I purchased:

A painting by Lyle Helman (don’t ask, don’t know), at a Mormon thrift shop. It is a portrait of a man who looks like a cross between Daniel Boone, a squirrel, and a singer from THREE DOG NIGHT. My wife has dubbed the painting: “St. Emo.”

Fabulous! How much? Two bucks. Eat your heart out, America.

A magazine, called POPULAR HOBBIES, from 1949. The cover shows a guy with a bunch of doll heads. He’s placing eyeballs in the empty sockets of one of them. Creepy, yet oddly reassuring. Again: two bucks.

And, for a dollar, a little packet called TOYLAND TREASURES, which contained two identical plastic figures, their hands formed to hold objects (Tiny briefcases? Weapons?). They were dressed in trenchcoats, and their faces were expressionless. What were they? From what playset did they vanish? World O’ Stalin? Apparatchik Land?

The Budget Inn in Woodland, measures amenities by their subtraction:

--Two bedside lamps. Only one worked, leaving an atmospheric “noir” atmosphere.,

--The room was lined with cinder blocks, painted in what the WW termed “Duck Shit Brown.” We later discussed whether it could be called, with equal precision, “Baby Diarrhea, With Corn.’

--Several blobs of this paint have dripped onto the tile below the cinder blocks. In the bathroom.

--There is an unnecessary shelf in the bathroom, between the sink and the wall.

--All the shelves in the medicine cabinet have been helpfully removed. Though there still remains a razor disposal slot.

--Between the cinder block walls and the ceiling there is a six inch (or so) strip of patterned wallpaper. There is a half inch of white material between this wallpaper and the feces-colored wall.

--Yes, there is a motel room painting. I’ve forgotten its subject matter already, but it was a landscape of some sort. It was smeared with fingerprints and bolted to the wall.

--No Bible. The motel was run by Indians (who had an excellent vegetable garden in the back), which may explain this lack.

--The only clock in the room was on the microwave oven. We did not use the oven, but deeply appreciated the clock. .

--The towels were threadbare, and the flannel blanket was pilly.

--No wastebasket.

--Locks and knobs missing.

But they did have cable. We watched several movies about gargoyles on SciFi, with Joe Penny and Michael Pare, respectively. A small spider dangled between us and the television screen. Despite the fact that I’d forgotten to pack my swim suit (the motel had the world’s smallest pool), I would have to say that Budget Inn provided an unforgettable (by which I mean “memorable”) motel experience.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

what rough blog

Tony Blair calls the press a “feral beast.”
The press was socialized and neutered earlier today, and was adopted by an elderly couple in the Cotswolds, where it is presently napping in a patch of sunlight in the parlor.

Trick or treat?
Headline: “Hamas bans masks for Gaza gunmen”
Because sniping in Spiderman drag didn’t strike the note of proper dread.

Two more headlines!
Toddler served margarita in a sippy cup

Deputy's dog eats cruiser seats, dies

In other news….
Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds banned the word "cock"
from its website. "Tit" and "swallow," however, were still permitted.

Immigration news…
Many opponents to the immigration bill object to it because it grants “amnesty” to illegal immigrants, allegedly. Have we lost our minds? Do we even know what amnesty is?

Amnesty was granted to those who fought against the Union in the Civil War, after the cessation of that unfortunate conflict. After the restoration of Charles II to the throne of England, he extended amnesty to anti-royalists, but did not include those who killed his father.

My point is that amnesty is reserved for people who may be perceived as having committed a crime against the state. Unless you equate unloading a truck, say, or picking tomatoes to coup-plotting, “illegal immigrants” have committed no crime that even puts amnesty on the table. It’s so far off the table it’s in a room down the hall with pardons, leniency, and common sense. The only things on the table, near as I can tell, are vitriol, racism, and stupidity.

Hey, I know! Let’s build a fence between Brownsville and Matamoros! People living in those places will hate it, but the rest of America will sleep better at night. Because they’ll all be tuckered out from trimming their own hedges.

Weird column
I read an extremely odd column by Kathleen Parker this week on my local paper (SF Chronicle)’s op-ed page.

She begins: “Gen. Peter Pace -- the first Marine Corps officer to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- is being precipitously let go.”

She wonders why: “Is it because he was doing a lousy job? Not according to [Robert]Gates, who said that terminating Pace had ‘absolutely nothing to do' with his performance.”

She thinks she’s found the reason: “Flash back to March 12 and recall that Pace, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, said he believes that homosexuality is morally wrong. Pace later expressed regret for his remarks, saying he should have kept his personal beliefs to himself. But the die was cast.”

And issues a caveat: “Whether that single remark would cause Pace's removal seems doubtful.”

Still: she blames Hillary Clinton for it, sort of, assuming that she’s elected President. “No one benefits more from Pace's removal than Clinton, who would have had to vote for or against the man and be stuck with a position that could hurt her.” That is, the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” position, initiated by then-President Bill Clinton.

Ms. Parker concludes: “There's no telling for now what kind of backroom understandings may have led to Pace's walking orders. Maybe it was really all about a new beginning. But the pained expression on Gates' face and his oblique responses to questions during his news conference suggested something else. And the Clintons, as always, bear watching.”

Well, of course, Gates would look pained. He’s just been canned, for God’s sake. And when was the last time you heard a response from anybody at a news conference that was NOT oblique? How she can infer from his “pained expression” that the Clintons may have conspired with the Bush White House (which, I have a hunch, made the decision to fire him) to remove Pace because he’s anti-gay, well, she just might be living in Bizarro World. There’s no telling for now.

When in doubt…
Blame the Clintons!

In other worlds…
Linden Lab's Christopher Mahoney: "Imagine taking an avatar and walking around a house, painting the walls dynamically and furnishing it with products from Pottery Barn or Ikea. There'll be a point when a 3-D Internet solves problems in your real world."

Imagine taking your cute little avatar and sticking it where the 3-D moon don’t shine. Take your Skruvsta swivel chair with you. And the French-tipped terra cotta pot.

The wee bride wants to know…
Why hasn’t the Reverend Al Sharpton paid a visit to Paris Hilton yet?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

last time i saw paris blog

Knut Update
Der Spiegel: “Knut turns half on June 5 after six glorious months for Berlin Zoo which has hand-reared the celebrity polar bear from a guinea pig-sized baby into a powerful 28-kilo fighter.”

I follow the Knut saga with interest, hoping to find the precise moment when the world forgets that Knut was ever cute in the first place.

Fast food, by by.
AP: “Edwin Traisman, a food scientist who created the process for freezing McDonald’s french fries and helped develop Cheez Whiz, has died. He was 91.”

He also developed a process that allowed McDonald’s french fries to remain crisp after freezing. Fast food genius! I still remember slathering Cheez Whiz on celery grooves and downing stalks by the dozen. I’m not proud of the memory.

Lede of the week
AP: “Hello Kitty dons new pink laptop to woo working women.”

I’m not a woman, but I struggle to understand why women would want to make their computer look “cute.” Heretofore, did working women buy pink typewriters? Did working women buy pink stenographers’ notebooks? I’m not against “cute” – well, okay, I am – but why should a computer be cuddly, any more than, say, a chainsaw, or hammer?

And when the computer is taken by the feds as evidence, gals, do you really want it to be photogenic? I rest my case.

Fox News
“In a match seemingly made in tabloid heaven, the father of murdered child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey and the mother of missing-in-Aruba teen Natalee Holloway are dating, FOX News has confirmed.”

Gah! Kill me now!

So which is it?
Hell in a handcart, or hell in a handbasket? I am SO sick of this argument.

A new study says that fifty percent of evangelical men, and twenty per cent of women watch porn to the point of addiction.

Okay, but what KIND of porn? I have seen a lot of porn, my friends. I am fascinated by porn. Are evangelicals watching voyeur porn, girls gone wild, sado-masochistic fantasies, swinger stuff, 3D cartoon incest fantasy …?

I will withhold judgment. And perhaps entertain fantasies of having sex with an evangelical woman, who comes to the door with a pamphlet, who does not know that I have strange (unexplained) powers of mind control, and then… oh … I have gone too far… never mind.

San Jose Mercury News
“An Airplane Named Desire, and Contents May Be Under Pressure are among the names Burlingame-based Virgin America has chosen for its soon-to-be-launched aircraft fleet.”

That’s cute! Have I mentioned that I hate cute?

Paris Hilton
I’m as sick as everybody else of hearing about her (there were TWO stories about her in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day). Here’s what I think: she has tried to ride the publicity about her to gain some goal or other which has yet to materialize because she’s a fucking idiot, and has no goals, because she’s rich, and doesn’t need goals. And now that has all come back to bite her, because she does not pay attention to things that may potentially bite her, because she’s a fucking idiot with no goals, and yet with money. Nobody told her what the world is like. She only knows what the world is like from her own press releases, which she probably doesn’t even read. It’s pathetic.

There’s more to this missile shield flap than meets the eye, I’m betting.

Good lord, what a bunch of idiots we are. More on this later, when I have time to think about it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Shaggy powerful blog

Future of porn in jeopardy!
NYT: “The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.

And unlike consumers looking for music and other media, viewers of pornography do not seem to mind giving up brand-name producers and performers for anonymous ones, or a well-lighted movie set for a ratty couch at an amateur videographer’s house.”

I believe I just saw poor Jenna Jameson on the street, with a tin cup and a sign that read “Will do hot anal for food.”

Knut news
“Knut, Berlin Zoo's celebrity polar bear cub, is growing from a cuddly ball of fur into a shaggy, powerful predator.…”

News from the hood!
Heard many sirens, went down the street, and found three blocks of Market blocked off with police tape. Six cop cars! I went to investigate and saw one red car, a Ford I think, front end smashed in, in the middle of 56th between Market and Adeline. Its engine was in front of it on the street. Then I rounded the corner and saw - a big gold car, maybe an El Dorado, which apparently had flipped entirely over, and was resting UPSIDE DOWN, hood up, on the side of a house. Many observers! No ambulances. On my way back home the crossing guard at the school said to me, "Tie your shoe up." I thanked her, and did. On the corner a lout said, "Gimme a cigarette." I told him I didn't have one. And there was nothing about any of this in the newspaper. No wonder print media are in trouble!

Other news from the hood!
I was walking home from the store, and this very old skinny man approached. He was wearing sunglasses, and carrying a really girly purse in his left hand. Its handle was wrapped in tissue, maybe to protect him from its girlishness, I don’t know. As we passed, he said in a manly voice, “Hey! How you doin’?”

Huffington Post, and why igorance of evolution can pose problems.
Deborah Blum posted: “Today most doctors prescribe antibiotics sparingly but, even 10 years ago, medications were given for infection the way water is given for thirst. The result was to create a richly antibiotic-laced world, one that presented bacteria with a challenging new environment. And microbes responded by adapting, evolving to meet its pressure. The problem (for us) was not the bacteria that died, but the ones that contained mutations that allowed them to survive. The survivors reproduced. Challenged by another drug, they died back except for a few resistant to both chemical agents. And that scenario repeated itself to create our current problem. To use TB as an example, there are now more than half a million people infected with multiple-drug resistant tuberculosis.”

From Think Progress
Last week, President Bush nominated James W. Holsinger to become the next Surgeon General of the United States:

– Holsinger founded Hope Springs Community Church, which “ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian.” Holsinger said that he sees homosexuality as “an issue not of orientation but of lifestyle.” [Lexington Herald-Leader, 6/1/07]
– In serving on the United Methodist Judicial Council - the “court” that resolves “disputes involving church doctrine and policies in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination” - Holsinger “opposed a decision to allow a practicing lesbian to be an associate pastor, and he supported a pastor who would not permit an openly gay man to join the church.” [Lexington Herald-Leader, 6/1/07]

– In the early 1990s, Holsinger resigned from the United Methodist Church’s Committee to Study Homosexuality “because he believed the committee ‘would follow liberal lines.’” He also warned “that acceptance of homosexuality would drive away millions of churchgoers.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 5/26/07; Time, 6/24/91]

Caisha Gayles, out of Galesburg, Illinois, was denied her high school diploma last month, because her friends and family were too vocal at the ceremony when her name was called out. According to the Associated Press, the high school’s “get-tough policy followed a 2005 commencement where hoots, hollers and even air horns drowned out much of the ceremony and nearly touched off fights in the audience when the unruly were asked to quiet down.”

More school news….
AP: “A math teacher whose name is used in a student film featuring an evil teddy bear that orders other stuffed animals to kill a teacher is suing the four children who made it, alleging it defamed him.”

“Jackie Suess, an attorney for the ACLU of Indiana who represented one of the students during their federal lawsuit against the school,…called the lawsuit's allegations misleading.

"’It's not true that they were murdered in the movie,’ she said. ‘It was literally stuffed animals being manipulated by the boys, walking around going 'yeoowww' and talking in funny voices, very juvenile.’"

Yes, but teddy bears grow up to be shaggy powerful predators.

Google Earth
NYT: “The Drudge Report, that early-warning system for democracy, is now using a screencap of someone peering out of a living room window as his top image. If that didn’t scare you, the banner headline might: SMILE, YOU’RE ON GOOGLE EARTH!

“CNET tells the story of one fellow who was caught smoking on a competing service from Amazon, revealing a secret he would like to have kept from his family. That service has shut down.

“The article mentions some other secrets that Google could set free: ‘entering and leaving places like domestic violence shelters, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, fertility clinics and controversial religious or political events.’ Drudge cited concerns about strip clubs, adult book stores and license plates.

“Google doesn’t see a problem - the images are of things and people that were in plain view from the street, after all - and the company points to its easy reporting mechanism for any inappropriate images.”

Of course Google doesn’t see a problem. Google is Google and therefore everything it does is good. Wait a minute – everything it does is cool.

Ladies and gentlemen, the poetry of Rosie O’Donnell! From her blog!
cease fire
Posted by ro on May 23rd at 2:47pm in family

a split screen
new heights
or lows
depending on who u ask

is this kelli
no rosie
well hello it is betsy
i saw the view today
and wanted to call u
and just say hi and i hope u r ok

betsy and i chatted
i thanked her
fed the geese
put on amy winehouse

always loud
the soul shakes
the heart awake

like it or not

tomorrow kelli turns 40
i will not be at work

peace out

Cindy Sheehan calls it a day, activism-wise. Why?
“I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called ‘Face’ of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such ‘liberal blogs’ as the Democratic Underground. Being called an ‘attention whore’ and being told ‘good riddance’ are some of the more milder rebukes.”

Stupid person posts to dog chat room….
“Is there anyone other than me that feels a little uncomfortable when there is a male dog around children? Human men can't walk around with their parts exposed to children and if they were to expose themselves, I'm sure you'd agree that the behavior would be most inappropriate. I know the doggies can't help it, but I still do not like male dogs around my girls. For a while, I even thought I was over reacting, and I adopted a little boy, figuring that he was a small dog so his ‘little man’ would be small too and his fur would help cover him. But my girls still ask questions. How do I explain to my 3 year old what ‘it’ is? I am considering adopting him out.... any advice??”

Tell your daughters it’s called a “penis.” Next question.

Lede of the week
“After owning the Shell gas station at 3075 N. 124th St. in Brookfield for 20 years, Jeff Curro has stopped selling gas.”

Mickey D strikes back!
McDonald’s has launched a petition, to the Oxford English Dictionary to change its dictionary definition for McJob: "an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects.”