Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary's Little Blog

For Hillary
Because Lord knows she could use a little help.

Oh, what now?
Somehow the Democratic primaries have devolved into America’s long nightmare. Thank you, media! You’re getting bored, so the rest of us have to get bored too.

Hillary Clinton recently pointed out that many primaries have lasted into the summer - citing 1968, for instance. In that citation, she mentioned that Robert Kennedy had been assassinated in June, 1968.

This somehow instantly became… what? That she was somehow suggesting or hoping that Barack Obama might get assassinated? That seems to be what we’re supposed to take away. From MSM to the blogosphere, the voices were raised.

Outraged. That's the word. We have become outraged. Why? On whose behalf? Robert Kennedy Jr. was quoted in the New York Times: “I’ve heard her make that argument before. It sounds like she was invoking a familiar historical circumstance in support of her argument for continuing her campaign.”


Not that I want Ms. Clinton to stay in the race. I've had it up to here with the Clintons. I've also had it up to here with fake outrage. Stop it, America! Don't make me come up there. I'll turn this car around and we'll go straight home. I mean it.

Zombies return.
According to the New York Times, a Chicago company called River West Brands is buying up old brand names, hoping that their vague familiarity might be worth something. Remember Brim? “Fill it to the rim – with Brim!” They own that. These brand names are also called ghost brands, orphan brands, or zombie brands. They include Underalls, Salon Selectives, Nuprin, Coleco, Eagle Snacks, Quisp, Ipana, and Duz. I didn't even know half of these were gone.

There will always be an England.
Rough Guide to England, according to Reuters, says at one point: "as a glance at the tabloid newspapers will confirm, England is a nation of overweight, binge-drinking reality TV addicts."

Sociologist Harry Collins was interviewed by the Scientific American. He said, "It is easy to imagine all sorts of horror stories if we abandon the idea that there are some people who know what they are talking about and some who don't. Most scientific disputes that concern the public are at the cutting edge—the place where things are not completely certain. Examples are the safety of vaccines, the true importance of global warming, the effects of farming genetically modified food crops, and so forth. Even now, in the U.K., the relatively dangerous disease of measles is becoming endemic as a result of a widespread consumer revolt against the MMR vaccine about 10 years ago. Parents believe that even though doctors assure them that vaccines are safe, those doctors may be wrong. Therefore, the parents think they are entitled to throw their own judgment into the mix. Quite a few social scientists are pushing this trend hard."

That is so right. Thanks to the Internet, everybody now officially knows everything. Which is nothing.

I went to my daughter's graduation in Vermont. It was fabulous. And the lilacs were in bloom. Man, do I miss lilacs. At a reception afterwards, one of the neighbor ladies brought over a rhubarb crisp. I haven't eaten rhubarb, I don't think, since a pot luck church basement dinner in 1970.

My daughter, Justine, is moving back to the Bay Area this summer, and is looking for work. She's a very talented artist, but will probably settle for admin.

Publicly traded pawnshops, those that are part of corporations that also issue payday loans, aren't doing so well. In these hard times, a lot of people are defaulting on those loans. And the companies are closing down the pawnshops, apparently, because they don't generate enough income.

So if you're looking to sell your old banjo to help pay off your payday loan, better find a mom n' pop pawnshop. Because the company that owns your loan, it seems, is shutting down venues that it owns that help you give them their money. Do I understand capitalism? No.

Buzzkill Dept.
Nick Turse,, who seems to think that IRON MAN is a military-engineered semi-fascist propaganda, concludes his review with this:

What the film Iron Man actually catches is the spirit of the successor "complex," which has leapt not only into the cinematic world of superheroes, but also into the civilian sphere of our world in a huge way. Today, almost everywhere you look, whether at the latest blockbuster on the big screen or what's on much smaller screens in your own home -- likely made by a defense contractor like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic or Toshiba -- you'll find the Pentagon or its corporate partners. In fact, from the companies that make your computer to those that produce your favorite soft drink, many of the products in your home are made by Defense Department contractors -- and, if you look carefully, you don't even need the glowing eyes of an advanced "cybernetic helmet," like Iron Man's, to see them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lights! Camera! Blog!

Oh dear
Where do we begin? For those of you following my career, well okay, that’s nobody really, but let me tell you I have been working with Bill Allard (and others) on an online web series, whatever that means. We went through a first season, which kind of, well, sucked…. Well , it didn’t suck so much as – how shall I put this? – not encourage interest from viewers.

On the other hand, it wasn’t THAT sucky, and we got funding to pursue a second season, or (more interestingly) the chance to make a DVD of the material.

Unfortunately, one of the actors - disappointed in how the first round of episodes turned out- balked. So I am not flying to Colorado, leading to all sorts of problems, because I need to be in Philadelphia on May 17th to do a Philosophy Talk show in Delaware, and than back up to Burlington to catch my daughter’s graduation from UVM on May 18th.

For a guy who seldom leaves the house, this is pretty heady stuff.

Though all the talk about the process of obtaining a Democratic candidate for President being too drawn out annoys me, I must confess I think the process of obtaining a Democratic candidate for President is too drawn out.


Barbara Walters
Reading the NYT review of her new memoir, I came across: “She’s old enough to have had the daughter of one of the Three Stooges as a childhood friend.”

But which Stooge, I wonder? Moe? Larry? Shemp? Joe? Curly Joe? Curly Shemp? Shemp Joe? As a result of her childhood experiences, does she know how to poke another person in the eye without causing permanent damage? In private, can she say “nyuck nyuck” convincingly? Why is none of this reflected on THE VIEW?

Hi Def Teevee
Does anybody besides me think there are going to be riots in the streets when the switch to high definition happens? What was Congress thinking? Well, they were probably accepting large sums of money from hi-def enthusiasts. But has Congress ever done this before? Dictated that American citizens must purchase an item, or else?

HD Radio
Don’t get me started on this scam. See Harry Shearer for more on this.

Sorry I have been remiss in visiting my blog. I find it harder and harder to find anything funny in this stupid world.

Newspapers are dying, movies are crappy, my favorite teevee shows have not been the same since the end of the strike, gas is expensive, food prices are going through the roof, Mugabe is insane, Burma is insane, Hillary Clinton is imploding, Bill Clinton is still appearing in public, we’re using stuff we eat to make fuel (THAT’S INSANE!!!), this Useless Damn War, Afghanistan, rampant incompetence EVERYWHERE, including my OWN PERSONAL LIFE…. Oh sorry, I’ll lower my voice. Don’t want to alarm the neighbors.

From a recent Spam email
“Charles Marshall is a comic expert on daily living, because life is crazy and so is he. More than a decade of experience in comedy has given Marshall a quick wit and sharp edge, and his love of God and people has cultured a warm heart. He’s already shared his outrageous insights with thousands through his syndicated column Laughing Matters, as well as entertaining audiences at hundreds of stand-up performances across the nation. Now his versatile and vibrant humor has been collected in this new book. Each of these hilarious sketches gracefully segues into an encouraging and pertinent Christian message, reassuring readers that life may be a zany ride, but God is at the controls.”

In addition, I learned that he is “non-threatening.”

Quoting… somebody….
"I think my generation has a lot to answer for because I think the youth culture in the 60s and early 70s threw out every rule book and thought it was really clever to use four letter words. But I think things should go back, not to the old deference, not to groveling, not to any of that but just to feeling respect, because I think that would make everyone's life more pleasant."

Oh, fuck you.

Branson, Missouri
My wife and I picked up a videotape, produced by a credit card company, about the wonders of Branson, Missouri” LIGHTS, CAMERA, BRANSON! The place is kind of amazing – it’s Vegas without the gambling and drinking. Celebrity after celebrity was trotted out – Wayne Newton, Glen Campbell, Tony Orlando, Bobby Vinton, etc. – each of whom has his (or her) own theater. The celebs enthuse about the freedom Branson offers. Because, apparently, the crowds will come to see them no matter what they do, they can do whatever they feel like doing.

There is much talk about authenticity, how Branson represents somehow a real America that is not represented anywhere else. There is much, to my mind, unfeigned gratitude on the part of the celebrities for a place where they can “be themselves.”

But these are people who are deeply inauthentic. They have no life, near as I can tell, beyond the attention of their fans. So Branson seems to offer a closed information loop, in which stars give fans what they want, fans give stars what they want, and everybody goes home fulfilled.

The Wee Bride and I want to go Branson. We are immoderately fascinated by the place.

Friday, May 02, 2008

That Darn Blog!

Bad for me, good for you!
This piece was rejected by the producers of Philosophy Talk, because they (well, okay, HE) didn’t get it.

Keep in mind I love them (him), but I thought this was pretty good. The particular Philosophy Talk episode is about promises. What do they mean?

For those of you who don’t know Philosophy Talk (and there are legions, I’m sure), check out, for streaming audio, links to shows, yadda yadda.

Anyway, I occupy the Andy Rooney seat on this program. Rather than complaining about, say, the thread count of tissues, however, I try to bring some kind of button (dessert!) to the meat of what has gone before.

So anyway, on PROMISES, I wrote this:

Promise me….
Before he succumbs to hemlock poisoning, Socrates’ final words are something like “Crito we owe a cock to Asclepius. Do pay it. Don’t forget.”

Crito was Socrates’ best friend, a rich man, around the same age as Socrates, and a good listener. You had to be to hang out with Socrates. Crito didn’t do much philosophical discussion in PHAEDO, Plato’s dialogue about Socrates’ final hours. Instead, Crito made sure that Socrates’ wife and kids got home safely. He kept the other guys away when Socrates bathed himself before taking the hemlock. He was the liaison between Socrates and the poisoner. After Socrates’ mysterious last words, Crito asked if there was anything else, and got no reply. It was Crito who closed his dead friend’s eyes. And then supposedly got a rooster for Asclepius, because Crito had made a promise to a dying man.

As for Socrates’ strange last words, well, who was Asclepius? He was the son of Apollo and a nymph, Coronis. When Coronis was pregnant with Asclepius she had an affair with some other guy, a mortal. Apollo found out about it, got mad and sent his sister Artemis to kill her. Which she did, but Apollo rescued the baby by performing the first caesarean section, then gave the baby to the centaur Chiron to raise. –You following this?-- Chiron taught Asclepius the art of surgery, and eventually Asclepius became very good. It helped that Athena had given Asclepius Gorgon blood, which can bring the dead back to life, apparently.

Some say Asclepius took money in exchange for resurrection. Others say that Asclepius could actually make people immortal. Whatever it was, Hades got upset, because as god of the underworld he considered dead souls his rightful property. So he talked Zeus into striking Asclepius down with a thunderbolt.
This enraged Apollo, who killed the cyclopses who made the thunderbolt. Then Zeus, saddened at the loss of his cyclopses, decided to return them from Hades, and Apollo begged him to bring Asclepius as well. Zeus agreed. But Zeus made Asclepius promise not to bring people back from the dead any more. Reassured, Zeus placed Asclepius in the sky as a constellation.

The traditional interpretation of Socrates’ final words – We owe a cock to Asclepius, pay it, don’t forget - is that Asclepius was the god of health and the body, and since death is a kind of healing, sort of, Asclepius was owed gratitude. Well, maybe. But if Asclepius wasn’t resurrecting any more, what was the point of that? In the context of Socrates’ dying, couldn’t it have been just a last minute thing Socrates remembered, like “Make sure the lights are turned off,” or “Check to see if the doors are locked?” or “We gotta give a chicken to Asclepius.” Socrates and Crito were both old men, and subject to the pains of the flesh. Couldn’t this chicken have been an old promise unkept for the healing of old wounds? Or even just some guy in Athens, also named Asclepius, that they once borrowed a chicken from? A promise is a promise is the message I get. Unless gods make them to us. In which case, aside from the certain promise of death, don’t count on it, kids.

The New York Times, ladies and gentlemen!
“In Ohio, Holly Levitsky is replacing the Lucky Charms cereal in her kitchen with Millville Marshmallows and Stars, a less expensive store brand.”

In other news….
The DC Madam has apparently killed herself. Hm.

In other news….
Mariah Carey is now officially more popular than Elvis.

A response on Twitter is called a Tweet. Fuck y’all, fuck all of y’all.

You motherfuckers act like you’ve forgot about Dre.