Sunday, December 31, 2006

Merry New Year!

Hope everyone has an appropriately hazy and safe New Year's Eve tonight and a gloriously hungover and football-filled New Year's Day tomorrow.

As a present, here's a video clip of the politician who gives me the most hope and optimism for the future -- John Edwards. I have a ginormous man crush on this guy, and I endorse his presidential campaign to the utmost. I can only assume that'll guarantee his victory.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Trifecta Completed?

A couple days ago, Otto asked who would be the third celeb to die. According to MSNBC, we may have an contender:
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins at sundown Saturday.

The hanging could take place as early as Friday, NBC’s Richard Engel reported.
Otto stipulated that the third famous person should be a star of the 70s, and I'm not sure Saddam makes the cut. He didn't seize full control of Iraq until 1979, having spent the prior decade consolidating his power by sticking forks in peoples eyes. We didn't really pay him much attention here until the 90s, but the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-1988 was probably his hey day.

Besides, can you even count someone who gets executed?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Friday Random Nothing

I'm on the road this week and unable to post the Random Ten.

While I can only assume that this will ruin New Year's weekend for many of you, and destroy the remainder of the '00s for a select, sad few, I simply can't get it done. The ugly album covers and snarky comments about ABBA can only come directly from the home base.

To keep the musical love alive, let's use the comments here as an open thread for all things musical. What new music from the past year rocked your own little corner of the world?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jerry & JB

I know, I know. It sounds like a '70s action show starring a trucker and his sassy pet orangutang. But Jerry and JB are the two icons of that decade who've just passed on.

My memories of President Gerald Ford are fairly thin. He's the first president I really remember, dating from a 1976 mock election in my kindergarten, in which I cast my very first ballot for Ford. Why, I can't remember. I seem to remember thinking he looked more like my father. Maybe it was the golf clothes. Whatever it was, I chalk up the folly of voting for the Republican candidate as a youthful indiscretion. I was four. Cut me some slack.

I don't really remember James Brown from that decade, as his best work was just behind him, and it would take "Living in America" in Rocky IV to bring him back to the public eye. I quickly became a fan then, plunking down a lot of my hard-earned rock dolar on the 4-CD Star Time collection -- my first and still my best box-set purchase -- and then following up with everything I could get my hands on. It's fitting that JB passed away on Christmas, since he used to issue a great Christmas single every season, ranging from nice soul classics like "Merry Christmas, Baby" to militant original tunes like "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto."

Both men were survivors, with Jerry shrugging off not one, but two assassination attempts in a single month and the crappy impersonations of Chevy Chase, and JB overcoming the Disco Era and several sad run-ins with the law and his ladies. Rest in peace, boys. Lord knows you've earned it.

Please feel free to drop your own memories and memorials to Jerry and/or JB in the comments.

Also, as we all know, celebrities die in threes, and more often than not, they're related. So let's start the ghoulish speculation -- who's going to round out this '70s triumverate? My money's on slick Hollywood producer Robert Evans. Will the kid stay in the picture? Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

For Christmas, I Want The Clap

No, not the Clapper - the Clap. What do you get the kid who has everything? Well, thanks to the folks at you can now get them a plush toy resembling their favorite disease of the past (plague), present (the flu), or potential terror of the future (ebola).

Don't forget about the family dogs as well.

Hat tip a friend at the CDC who point these little fellows out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Finally, we can reveal just how Santa always knows when you''re sleeping and knows when you're awake. He's got more electronic surveillance out there than the NSA. And from the panicked, wide-eyed look on his face, it sounds like he just overheard something serious. Maybe it's a Bumble plot to assassinate Yukon Cornelius, or maybe he's just found out that the wayward Mrs. Santa has been on Donner, on Dasher, on Prancer and Blitzen. Whatever it is, it doesn't look good.

Alright, Misfit Toys, it's time for the Friday Random Ten.

1. The Arcade Fire, "Haiti" -- Say what you will about the Francophone world -- and, believe me, I've heard what you've been saying -- but those people stick together. Here's a band from Montreal not only singing about Haiti, but adopting a little Carribean steel drum to make the song feel at home. Vous bâtards magnifiques! Je vous salue. 8/10

2. Them, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" -- Probably my favorite bit of work from Van Morrison. It doesn't hurt that this was sampled beautifully for Beck's "Jack-Ass" either. 7/10

3. Sleater-Kinney, "Entertain" -- I had some grrrl friends who were really into these ladies a few years back, but I never really caught the bug. Am I alone on this? Is it a sign that I hate women? 4/10

4. The Aqua Velvets, "Spanish Blue" -- This is a fairly straightforward, surf rock instrumental. Not much amazing about the tune, but you've got to love the band name. 5/10

5. The Amps, "Pacer" -- The Amps are one of the forty-eight bands that Kim Deal helped form during the late '90s between gigs with the Pixies. The lone (?) album by the Amps, also named Pacer is solid enough, but for some reason this title track is one of the weaker songs. Eh. 6/10

6. The Velvet Underground, "Sweet Jane (live)" -- A terrific track off the 1969 live album. Not sure what else needs to be said. 8/10

7. J.J. Chauke & Tiyimeleni Young Sisters, "Madyisa Mbitsi" -- South African pop from the '80s, I believe. I have no proof of this, but I'm convinced the opening riffs of this song are what inspired Paul Simon's "I Know What I Know" from the Graceland album. Very nice. 7/10

8. Harry Belafonte, "Will His Love Be Like His Rum?" -- Of all the calypso wedding numbers I have, this is easily my favorite. 6/10

9. The Grifters, "Bronze Cast" -- Some outstanding indie rock from the early '90s, off the album Crappin' You Negative. I shit you not. Anyone know what happened to these guys? 9/10

10. Ray Charles, "Greenbacks" -- This is a great song from his Atlantic sessions in the '50s, a rolling R&B jumper with some catchy hooks and nice vocals. 7/10

Alright, that gives me yet another 6.7 rating. The same as last week, and a couple weeks before that. It seems it's Santa's will to keep me at two-thirds cool, so who am I to argue?

Let's see what you've got this week. Go ahead and drop your own FRTs in the comments below. Remember, the coolness self-audit is optional, but the sacrificial offering of milk and cookies is mandatory.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

All's fair in love and war

Say you are reminding a group of 10 year olds that Christmas is really about love and Jesus and all that warm and fuzzy stuff, but those meddling kids just won't shut up about presents. What do you do?

Children left a school Christmas assembly in tears after claiming a vicar said Father Christmas does not exist.

Teachers at St George's C of E Primary in Mossley told the Rev Martin Dowland he had upset children after reading `Why Jesus Is Better Than Santa Claus'.

It was during the reading with colleague the Rev Richard Lindsay, of St George's Church, that Mr Dowland is reported to have said: "You all should know by now that he (Santa Claus) is not real."
This is the nuclear option in the War on Christmas. If Fox News is serious about winning this thing, all they have to do is run big obnoxious graphics telling the world that the jolly old elf is a bunch of hooey.

Going off the rails

Here's some good news from Iraq. Americans handed over security to Iraqi forces in Najaf. And ain't no party like a Najaf security forces party.
As U.S. commanders and guests watched, the burly commandos in dark green T-shirts began taking bites out of the frogs.

One man knelt, placed the rabbit belly-up on his lap, and cut it open with his military knife. He screamed as he bit the rabbit's heart, then handed the carcass to his companions, who began gnawing away, blood flowing down their cheeks.

The ceremony marked the shifting of responsibility for security in Najaf province to Iraqi forces, and was attended by U.S. and Iraqi dignitaries, including Iraqi national security advisor Mowaffak Rubaie.
As we all know, freedom is untidy. I just hope that some of that $170,000,000,000 is used to buy some Bon Ami.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Truth and Consequences

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon wants the White House to seek an additional $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information provided to The Associated Press. The military's request, if embraced by President Bush and approved by Congress, would boost this year's budget for those wars to about $170 billion.
Given there are 295,734,134 people in the United States - that comes to about $575 per person for this year alone. With the wife and three kids, the Studiodave clan is on the hook for $2875 to support the Bush foreign policy of 2007.

Good thing they are tackling that Death Tax.


Kristol Clear

Bill Kristol was on The Daily Show the other night, and Jon Stewart beat him like a goddamned pinata.

Crooks & Liars, as always, has the evidence.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

McCain Mutiny

The Decider has decided. He is sending more troops to Iraq. The Washington Post reports:
"I'm inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops -- the Army, the Marines," Bush said in the Oval Office session. "And I talked about this to Secretary Gates and he is going to spend some time talking to the folks in the building, come back with a recommendation to me about how to proceed forward on this idea."
Not quite the "Let's roll!" and "Mission Accomplished" rush to action with laser-like focus which got us in Iraq in the first place -but, hey, he's our "W".

But enough of the past, what about 2008? John McCain has been considered a GOP front runner since Rove "spun" him out of South Carolina. But 2008 finds him in a very awkward space. He has already stated his support for raising troop levels in Iraq. With Bush's plan to continue to add troops, McCain is making his foreign policy strategy synonymous with Bush's.

While I respect McCain for differing from the masses, the fact is the 2006 election proved the vast majority of Americans are not interested in a larger commitment to Iraq. It is a tough sell when you have been wrong for the last 5 years - specifically trying to convince 275 million people that somehow something new will happen.

McCain may have had some initial support from the press' man love for him in 2000 - but 2000 is a long time ago. And the "W" foreign policy record is ... Christ, what's the word?

Season's Greetings

If you missed Saturday Night Live this weekend, you probably have a more active social life than I do. But that means you missed a seriously funny digital short, whose hilarity was made all the more improbable by the fact that it featured Justin Timberlake.

The audio isn't safe for work, but so worth it. Hey, they're not going to fire you at Christmas, right? Right?

West World

I caught the last half-hour of The Magnificent Seven on TV last night, and it got me wondering -- what's the coolest western film of all time?

Part of me is inclined to stop right where I began and award the title to the Magnificent Seven. I mean, Charles Bronson is in the film, and he's probably the fifth coolest actor in it, behind Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Yul Brenner, and Robert Vaughn. Hell, he might even be sixth if you count perennial badass Eli Wallach. John Sturges does a nice job with the direction, and the action scenes are solid, if not mind-blowing. All true. But the plot is a watered-down rehashing of the excellent Kurasawa classic, The Seven Samurai, and the rest of the acting is poor. (Apparently, in the '60s, all Mexicans thought, spoke and acted like Speedy Gonzales.)

All things considered, I'd probably have to go with an Eastwood film, a qualifier that narrows my choice down to merely half of all westerns ever made. Despite the great work he did in the '70s and the brilliant reinvention of the genre he made with Unforgiven, I think I've got to go with an easy answer: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. An incredible trio of actors -- Eastwood, Wallach, and the evil-mustachioed Lee Van Cleef -- in a beautifully-filmed story. The third part of the Sergio Leone trilogy, this flick runs long enough to be a trilogy of its own, with massive set-pieces (the Civil War battle, the P.O.W. camp) and really intimate stand-offs. Plus, Ennio Morricone adds one of the greatest film scores of all time. (Suck it, John Williams!) So, yeah, that's my choice.

What about the rest of you? What's your favorite western?

Cable Snooze Network

Judging by the breathless coverage on CNN right now, there's some mini-scandal involving Miss USA going to bars before she turned 21. Personally, I'm shocked. I didn't know we still had the Miss USA competition.

Anyway, CNN just gave start-to-finish coverage of the press conference. Yes, start-to-finish, because this wasn't some boring old political speech about the war, the economy, or the fate of our lives, but a vitally important issue like whether or not Miss USA snuck into Tipsy McSurly's and drank a Zima! Besides, Donald Trump is apparently involved somehow, and we all know how rarely we get to see and hear from that reclusive American.

As unnewsworthy as this whole event was -- I hate to ruin the suspense, but Miss USA will keep her crown!!!! -- the CNN anchors treated this like it was the fall of the Berlin Wall. As the press conference came to an end, they wiped the drool from their lips and Tony Harris actually said something to the effect of "Wow! We can beat this issue for hours!" Seriously, if they get any more excited about this, we're going to have our first on-air circle jerk.

Oops, I've got to run. They've shifted from the fifteen minutes of wankery about Miss USA to fifteen minutes of somber updates on those lost mountain climbers. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, war, scandal, crisis, blah blah blah....

Go to sleep, America! CNN commands you.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Guardian Rangel

Alright, I admit it. I have a giant man-crush on Charlie Rangel.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hooray for Everything!

Time Magazine has just unveiled its choice for Person of the Year and, guess what? You won!
The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.
That's right, in a time of turmoil and chaos, in an era of major political changes at home and abroad, in a moment of seismic shifts in geopolitical power, the Person of the Year is a 28-year-old virgin watching YouTube clips of the AfterSchool Special where Helen Hunt does angel dust and jumps out her window, as he passionately edits the Wiki entry on "The Thundercats." A thirteen-year-old girl whose greatest accomplishment is the number of N'Sync references on her My Space page, truly belongs listed alongside the pantheon of world-changing figures like Gandhi, FDR, Hitler, Stalin, MLK, and Pope John Paul II.

You know, Time, if you're going to sneer at the Great Man approach to history -- and I'm right there with you -- then maybe you should simply scrap the whole idea of a Person of the Year, seeing how it seems to privilege the ideas that an individual Man or Woman does Great things. You'd be better off kicking this idea to the curb, instead of reducing it to Everyone Gets a Ribbon Day.

Update: While Time has been busy cheering at the Special Olympics, it seems that Salon not only understands the basic concept of the Person of the Year, but has also made an interesting, thoughtful choice.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Don't Fence Me In

The following story does not -- I repeat, does not -- come from the Onion. Sadly, this is real news.
A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.

After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.
OK, then. I think my sense of irony just melted.

(Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for the link.)

"Girls Should Stick to Girls Sports, Such as Hot Oil Wrestling and Foxy Boxing and Such."

Yet another reason I really, really love New York.

Friday Random Ten

At long last, I'm proud to present the many, many, many facets of Roger. Those moods, clockwise from the upper left, are apparently sleazy, skeezy, cheesy, saucy, spacy, and hey, who farted? Look upon them, ye who enter here, and marvel! Bask in the might of their awesome power and their infinite variety!

Alright, time for the Friday Random Ten:

1. Midlake, "Young Bride" -- Holy shit, what a great start. I just discovered this band, and I do believe I'm smitten. Midlake sounds like an odd blend of the airy vocals of Electric Light Orchestra, the offbeat oldschool instrumentation of Arcade Fire and Camper Van Beethoven, the bass and drum beats of the Strokes, and a mystery ingredient that I do believe is Krusty Brand Children's Cough Syrup. Whatever it is, it works. Seriously, stop reading this right now and go listen to this on iTunes. And then listen to their song "Roscoe" too. Wash, rinse, repeat. 10/10

2. Peter Gabriel, "Digging in the Dirt" -- Alright, I've been outed as a closet Gabriel fan. This is a nice funky number from Us, which I think is going to be used as the theme song for the new Courteney Cox show on F/X. Nice choice, folks. 8/10

3. Sam Cooke, "Little Girl" -- He may have been the Man Who Invented Soul, but this is a pretty lame standard number. Eh. 4/10

4. Amy Winehouse, "Rehab" -- Winehouse is apparently the shite right now over in the U.K., a white Brit R&B star who sounds a little like Mary J. Blige and has all the sauciness you'd expect. Plus, it's a song about resisting an intervention. Awesome. 7/10

5. Encore, "It's Time" -- This little hiphop number is catchy as hell. I don't know much about Encore, but if this is a representative sample, I may need to see if they have a promotional pamphlet or the like. 9/10

6. John Lee Hooker, "Back Biters and Syndicators" -- This bluemaster's blood is 100% Type Cool Positive. 10/10

7. The Beatles, "Penny Lane" -- While I like Magical Mystery Tour, this is a song I remember our dirty filthy hippie music instructor used to have us sing in grade school. Plus, it's a Paul song. It is, therefore, irretrievably uncool. 1/10

8. Beck, "The New Pollution" -- Ah, yes, that'll cleanse the palette nicely. Beck may have been seduced by the Dark Side of Scientology, but he's still putting out incredible music. This is from Odelay, which is now my second-favorite CD of his, right behind the life-affirming, thetan-crushing genius of Guero. 7/10

9. Carly Simon, "Why?" -- In my defense, this comes from a CD of music sampled for hiphop tunes. And yet, even I still think I deserve your scorn. 1/10

10. Django Reinhardt, "Blues Clair" -- Good Lord, could that Belgian gypsy play. Reinhardt's skills let him do a wide variety of things with a guitar -- from blistering fretwork to plunking rarely-heard chords, to even making and deep-frying fresh julianned potatoes! Amazing. 10/10

Man, I was all over the place today. I've seen the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, and the creamy middles. And once again, I wind up two-thirds cool with a 6.7 average.

Let's see what you've got. Drop your own FRT in the comments, or whatever other musical snark you'd like to spread.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jurassic Prick

Courtesy of TPM, I see that Michael Crichton continues to move deeper and deeper into nutsville.

First, there was his effort to join forces with the Bush White House in insisting that the whole global warming scare is a hoax perpetrated by Wavy Gravy and the Sunshine Freakout Squad and their unwashed hippie allies in the godless, liberal scientific community.

Taken to task for that lunacy, Crichton has decided to strike back at one of his critics with all the nuance and subtlety of a three-year-old. I couldn't decide what to exceprt, so you should just go read the whole thing. His petulent tantrum makes the president look well-adjusted.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"I'm Certainly Proud of the Ass Painting"

Once again, the Man is trying to stifle free expression.
To hear the students tell it, Stephen Murmer is a fun, popular art teacher who is always quick to crack a joke. But there is another side to Murmer. A side that has agitated school officials and resulted in his suspension. A side that focuses, almost entirely, on the crack in his backside.

Outside of class and under an alter ego, the self-proclaimed "butt-printing artist" creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas. His cheeky creations sell for hundreds of dollars.

This has not gone over well with Chesterfield County school officials, who placed Murmer on administrative leave from his job at Monacan High School.

Owning a piece of Murmer's art doesn't come cheap. On his Web site, his creations run upward of $900. His most popular piece, "Tulip Butts," goes for $600.
Sometimes, I just don't know if Virginia is really the right place to raise my kid.

[Hat tip to Mrs. Thrillhous]

Cram It With Walnuts, Ugly

I know I'm a little late on this, but like Smitty and Mike say, what the hell is all this Pinochet love about? I expected it from The Washington Times and Fox, but The Washington Post? Freakin' NPR? Using their reasoning their lame standards of maintaining order and managing the economy, you could probably make an argument for that guy we pulled out of a hole in the ground.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stabbed in the Back

You just can't make this up. Tom DeLay is blaming liberals for the failed war in Iraq.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finding Time In The City Too Busy To Hate

Milton County

A little bit of background.
Milton County in the U.S. state of Georgia was created on December 18, 1857. Alpharetta was the county seat until the end of 1931, when Milton was merged with Fulton County to save it from bankruptcy during the Great Depression.
Now some current events.
In recent years there had been growing animosity by those in affluent north Fulton County over tax revenue needed in the less-developed southwest section of the county, as well as over excessive land development and zoning, and other issues of local control. Because of the July 18 referendum, active political discussions regarding the re-forming of Milton County out of north Fulton (the area in which the City of Johns Creek will reside) have been revisited.
At many levels, this story is nothing special. Suburbs deciding they enjoy being rich. And the poor are everyone's problem not just theirs because of a very oddly drawn county. But this is the South and everything has a racial element to it.

During this year's midterm elections, it was the incumbent Atlanta political base which played the race card in a very inappropriate fashion in a pathetic attempt to get out the vote. Andrew Young, Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Rep. John Lewis spoke in the ominous radio ad. Here is the Lewis portion:
On Nov. 7, we face the most dangerous situation we ever have. You think fighting off dogs and water hoses in the '60s was bad. [Now we] sit idly by, and let the right-wing Republicans take control of the Fulton County County Commission.... Your very life may depend on it.
(Here is the full text.)

To summarize, we already had a portion for withdrawing from Fulton County and now this ad where there is blatant us (black/city) versus them (white/suburbs) to crystallize the racial portion of the issue.

So, here's what is special. I am in the middle of this. The Studiodave family estate is in John's Creek. (You can actually see it by selecting "voting Democrat" on for the greater Alpharetta area.)

Personally, I see this as another case where a class issue which is being clouded by the race issue. The facts are that Atlanta politics are hugely. (The saying goes "if Maynard Jackson invented graft, Bill Campbell made it an institution." For example, the judge at Campbell's sentencing added that during the trial he "was overcome, almost appalled, at the breadth of misconduct in your administration.") Based on the corruption and the savings in taxes I'd receive - I have to say it is very hard for me to support remaining in Fulton.

I'd love to know your thoughts. Am I a racist for responding in this fashion? Or simply selfish? Or am I a great American?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You're Not The Wallet Inspector!

I know the "dumb criminals" emails drive everyone nuts. But this one is too good to pass up as it actually appears to be true.
Mezvinsky traveled to Nigeria numerous times and ultimately lost more than $3 million as a victim of the scammers.

Prosecutors say Mezvinsky fell particularly hard for what is known as the "black money" scam. Victims are told millions of dollars have been coated with black ink so the money could be smuggled out of Nigeria.

The scammers then offer to sell a special, expensive chemical to remove the black ink so the currency can be used.

Prosecutors say Mezvinsky fell for at least three separate "black money" schemes that he thought would bring him millions.
Somehow this lucky fellow is tied (vaguely) to the Clintons. This story should have legs until the GOP can find a success story to point to - so assume you will here this reference to Clinton bashing for another 9 years.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Spicy Meatball

I look forward to this season every year. I hate the fact that I have no money, but I like buying presents for people. Getting presents makes you sit down and think about the ones you love and to think about what would make them happy. I love the fact that this weekend will be the last time I rake leaves for 9 months. But most of all, I like that I can be an absolute complete unapologetic glutton for an entire month.

I like to eat. Highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow -- I'm an equal opportunity omnivore. We usually go up to my parents' for Christmas, but this year we're entertaining. My sister-in-law and her husband (brother-in-law once removed?) are coming down. They're Yankees from the effete liberal enclave of Ann Arbor and like to experience Southern Fried Goodness whenever they come in to town.

Fried turkey is definitely on the menu. I've had this so often that I no longer consider it exotic. At this point, a turkey that is stuffed while you cook it sounds pretty fancy.

What I'm most excited about this year is Tasty China. The Ann Arbor folks used the internets and found out about this place. Now I find out that I can eat food so spicy that it was until recently banned in the USA. (Okay, it was actually banned because of a canker, but I like my reason better.)
But the salient feature of many dishes at Tasty China is their stunning, chile-stoked intensity. The food doesn't merely burn your palate; it also leaves it feeling strangely anesthetized —- like a shot of novocaine or even a defibrillator applied directly to your oral cavity.
This is going to be the greatest Christmas ever!

"Pfft. Why Not Write a Musical about the Common Cat?"

As part of Broadway's continuing death spiral, they're turning High Fidelity into a musical. I guess if you can make musicals out of the masterwork of ABBA and Billy Joel, why not make a movie about people who hate ABBA and Billy Joel? And why not make it just as annoying?

Anyway, I mention this because I came across an interview with the lead actor in the Newark Star-Ledger, which is easily the place to go for all your Broadway musical news needs. I was especially intrigued by this passage:
But after almost a decade on Broadway, this will be only Chase's second stab at creating a role; his first was as one of the actors who portrayed John in the ill-fated "Lennon," which closed after 49 performances last summer. ...

His role in "Lennon," a production mounted with the blessing of the Beatles' frontman's widow, is one he cherishes, despite its failure to gain an audience. "To have Yoko Ono come up to you after you sing 'Mother' and say, 'It's like having John singing it again' I was like, 'Shoot me now ....'"
You know, there's such a thing as taking an impersonation too far.

Friday Random Ten

To answer your first question, no, I don't know what "I Farta" means in Norwegian. This may shatter your opinion of me, but I don't speak Norwegian and it's not a cool enough language to be featured on Babelfish.

I'm just hoping it doesn't mean what i think it means, because if it does, the goofball in the Bill Cosby sweater really, really needs to remove his finger from the behind of the Jackie Earle Haley wannabe in the acid-washed jeans. (You're supposed to pull his finger to make him go, Knut. He's not supposed to push yours.)

Anyway, the arrival of the Norwegian gas face can only mean it's time, once again, for the Friday Random Ten. Take out your iWhatever, put it on random, and give us the first ten songs. And if you'd like to send out the jazz and bring in the funk, throw in a coolness self-audit as well. Here's mine.

1. The Archies, "Sugar Sugar" -- Goddammit, who's been messing with this thing? 1/10

2. Moby, "I'm Not Worried at All" -- While I didn't like 18 as much as I loved Play, I also didn't have to hear every single song in forty different American Express ads or in the end credits of every third Hollywood release. So this one's a little cooler just because it wasn't mass-merchandised. 7/10

3. James Brown, "Soulful Christmas" -- Call me a traditionalist, but it's just not Christmas to me without the holiday singles from the Godfather of Soul. He put together a different single each season, and as the '60s spun out of control, they became more and more militant. This isn't exactly "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" but it's pretty close. "James Brown loves you, you lucky so-and-so." Yes, he does. 8/10

4. Grandaddy, "Guide Down Tonight" -- From Just Like the Fambly Cat, the fifth and final album from this group after fourteen years of precious, precocious, alt-nerd sounds. Nicely mellow. 7/10

5. Handsome Hank and his Lonesome Boys, "Video Killed the Radio Star" -- Yes, it's a bluegrass cover of the Buggles song. What? Stop staring at me like that. I am not an animal! I am a human being! 6/10

6. Beck, "Missing" -- From the excellent Guero album, a song that somehow manages to be sparse and haunting on one hand, and catchy as hell on the other. You may be a nutball Scientologist, Beck, but you make a mean song. 9/10

7. Leonard Cohen, "Hallelujah" -- A tremendously moving song, ruined by Leonard Cohen's tremendously creepy monotone in the lead vocals. Yeesh, sounds more like Leonard Nimoy, or perhaps South Park's Ned on a good day. There's a reason that when this song is used in four different Very Special Episodes of television dramas this season, it's a different singer. 5/10

8. Nina Simone, "House of the Rising Sun" -- Only Nina Simone could make this song a raucous soul number, and make it work. Take some notes, Leonard. This is how it's done. 9/10

9. Jane's Addiction, "Summertime Rolls" -- True story. Soon after I started playing bass in college, I ran into StudioDave. He wanted to know if I could play the bass line to this song like a guy on his hall could, and when I said no, I hadn't mastered this complicated song in my two weeks of practice, he was visibly unimpressed. His lack of faith soon caused me to abandon the instrument. (I said it would be a true story. Not that it would be even remotely interesting.) Anyway, I'm taking off a few points for the mental trauma inflicted by this song. 6/10

10. Eric B. and Rakim, "Don't Sweat the Technique" -- Ah, what a nice way to round out the FRT. (That's F-R-T, Norwegians. You may not buy a vowel.) Probably the biggest hit from the best hiphop act of the late '80s. Yes, better than Public Enemy. Yes. 9/10

Man, I was all over the place today. And somehow I still ended up with a 6.7 average. I'm two-thirds cool, just like Wilson Phillips was two-thirds hot.

I'm sure you folks can do better. Drop your own FRT in the comments, or feel free to launch a rebuttal in the Eric B. vs. Chuck D. battle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thank You Bill Clinton

So I'm back at work after a month of chilling with Mrs. T and new Baby T, and I just wanted to say thank heavens for the Family Medical Leave Act. More specifically, thank you, Bill Clinton.

FMLA is, of course, the law that lets you take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to take care of family health issues, such as a newborn or serious medical condition. It's far from perfect (lots of paperwork involved, and there's plenty of loopholes that an employer can exploit), but it's basically a great law.

Some folks might think that a law that allows you to take care of your family's health situations is pro-family, but you'd be wrong. In fact, the pro-family HW Bush vetoed the legislation twice. Wasn't until the Big Dog got in office that the law was enacted; in fact, it was one of the very first pieces of legislation he signed (a good primer is at wiki). If you check out the roll call on the vote, the family-hating democrats were overwhelmingly for it, while the republicans were overwhelmingly against it.

Courtesy of rebeldad, I see that the present admin is asking for comments on FMLA. They may want to mess with it, seeing as how some employers don't like the idea of their employees lazing around the house with their newborns or sick family members, but I think that'd be a huge mistake. I think they'll find that FMLA has joined the ranks of overwhelmingly popular family-friendly laws written and enacted by democrats. Any criticism of it will be that it doesn't go far enough -- paid sick leave, anyone?

To recap, thank you to Bill Clinton and the democrats who made FMLA happen. And "F-U" to anyone who wants to mess with it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Would You Do For $100,000?

As the crew can attest, I admire laziness. If I didn't have a wife and kids, I would be making the Big Lebowski look like a go-getter. So it amazes me to learn of a man who would be willing to lower himself further than even *I* could tolerate.
TACOMA, Wash. -- For nearly 20 years -- ever since Pete Costello was 8 -- his mother has collected disability benefits on his behalf. In meetings with Social Security officials and psychologists, he appeared mentally retarded and unable to communicate. His mother insisted he couldn't read or write, shower, take care of himself or drive a car.

But now prosecutors said it was all a huge fraud, and they have video of Costello contesting a traffic ticket to prove it. "He's like any other person trying to get out of a traffic ticket," Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Barbosa said Tuesday.
Impressive. So, folks, what's the lowest thing *you* have ever done for money?

(Please note IRod - I know your answer and if it doesn't appear in 2 days - I'm posting!)

Mass Scots

Courtesy of Deadspin, I see that Carnegie Mellon University is trying to come up with a new mascot.

The fine people of Carnegie Mellon currently don't have an official mascot, although they do have an incredibly awkward nickname -- the Tartans. While I think the kilt-wearing, haggis-chomping, nae-saying, grounds-keeping Scots would be a great inspiration for college teams (especially women's field hockey), apparently the fine people of CMU aren't sold. They're probably worried that Scotland will object when the Decider announces that we're invading the Vatican and there'll be a backlash to all things Scottish. We'll be busy switching over to patriotically-correct terms like Freedom Liquor and War on Terror Terriers, but they'll be stuck forever with the Scottish taint. (Man, that sounds wrong. Ugh.)

Anyway, they're accepting nominations for a new mascot, so I thought we might make this an open discussion among the criminal perverts and/or shut-ins who make up our readership.

Personally, I think there's got to be a good mascot to be found in their founders, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and aluminum magnate Andrew Mellon. The Philandering Philanthropists? The Tin Men? Metallica? Andy Andy?

Or maybe we should focus on the student body, which, if my college application memories are correct, is generally composed of earnest engineering and math types. The Mathletes? Team Excelsior? The CMU CPUs?

As you can tell, I'm not feeling very inspired, but I'm sure we've got a winner out there. Drop your suggestions in the comments.

Little Help?

I know I should already know the answer to this question, but since a scientifical test proved I'm 100% in favor of the terrorists, I can't trust my own judgement. Exactly why is the guy accused of supporting terrorists getting way worse treatment than the guy who was, you know, convicted of committing a heinous terrorist act on American soil?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Caption Contest

It's a busy day today, so that can only mean one thing for the blog -- time for yet another accursed caption contest.

Have at him, folks.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ku Klux Kramer, Pt. 2

Thanks to the fine folks at Shakespeare's Sister, we're proud to present National Lampoon's discovery of a long-lost episode from "Seinfeld," in which Kramer's crackerisms are fully explored. Enjoy.

Friday Random Ten

I find this week's album cover to be particularly disturbing. The title is creepy enough, but the recreation of the Kids in the Hall "Daddy Drank" sketch is even worse. What are the songs on this little lovefest? "You Were an Accident!"?

Anyway, the arrival of the After School Special drama that is Listen, Son can only mean that it's time for the Friday Random Ten.

1. Betty Davis, "Don't Call Her No Tramp" -- Holy shit, I'd forgotten about this song. It's a phenomenal bit of early '70s funk, with some blistering guitar work and scorching vocals. If this isn't cool, I don't know what is. 10/10

2. Latin Playboys, "Mustard" -- This is an acoustic side project of Los Lobos. A very nice, lowkey guitar shuffle. Highly recommended. 9/10

3. Hasta Panojo Baila Mi Son, "Estrellas De Areito" -- A great bit of Cuban music here, with some terrific violin and acoustic guitar work. It goes on a little too long -- eleven minutes for an instrumental? -- but it's solid. Not sure where this lands on the coolness range. 6/10?

4. Björk, "Bachelorette" -- My fellow bloggers will mock me mercilessly for this, but I've always had a soft spot for this swan-wearing Icelandic nutball. Off of Homogenic, which might just be one of my favorite albums from the 1990s. 7/10

5. Archers of Loaf, "Web in Front" -- Some terrific indie rock. This is a nice single from their 1994 album Icky Mettle, which I believe was actually Spin magazine's album of the year. Nice blast from the past. 9/10

6. The 6ths, "Falling Out of Love (With You)" -- Damn, I'm on a roll. The 6ths are a side project of Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic Fields, one for which he brings in different guest vocalists for each song. This is Dean Wareham, I think, in an incredibly catchy bit of happy little indiepop. 9/10

7. Joan Jett, "Do You Wanna Touch Me" -- I'm not exactly sure where Joan Jett stands on the coolness scale either. Probably wherever the hell she wants. 8/10

8. Rosey, "My Baby" -- Hmmm. This is a pretty horrible bit of poppy R&B. I have no idea where I got this, and I'm afraid to find out. I need some iPenicillin. 1/10

9. James Brown, "Super Bad" -- Well, that's a nice recovery. There are only three box sets I've ever purchased that I've felt have been worth every penny -- the Johnny Cash Columbia Years Recordings, the Muddy Waters Chess Set, and the James Brown Star Time collection. As a comedian once said, the only time a box set makes sense is if you can say, "Hey, I own nothing by Loverboy, but I think I want to own everything by Loverboy." This is an exception. 8/10

10. J.J. Cale, "Cocaine" -- A bluesier version (original?) of the Clapton song. Eh. 5/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.2 average, in spite of the Rosey meltdown. I can live with that.

Feel free to drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments below, or flail me for my flawed selections and/or ratings. Release the hounds!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The N-Word. No, the Other One.

Diane McWhorter has a phenomenal essay up at on the valid comparisons to be made between the current administration and the lessons of Nazi Germany. It's very good and should give all sides food for thought.

Suck it, Godwin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Caption Contest

Another caption contest featuring the Decider!

Just think -- only two more years of this tired schtick!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Now Playing

This past weekend, the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I had a chance to catch up on some recent new releases.

First up, Casino Royale. I know there was a whole lot of grumbling about Daniel Craig taking over the helm of the Bond franchise, but I've been rooting for him from the start. I loved his work in Road to Perdition and Munich, and especially his absolutely brilliant turn in Layer Cake. Not surprisingly, I thought Craig did a tremendous job here, bringing the rough tones needed for the origins story. (He'll bring the more polished appeal of Layer Cake to the next installments, so no worries there.) The real surprise, for me, was how they rebooted the whole franchise, dialing down the over-the-top gadgetry of the last couple films -- invisible cars? orbiting heat rays? -- and paring it down to the hard-edged, hard-nosed spy thriller at the heart of the Fleming novels. There's some terrific action -- including a phenomenal parkour fight scene -- and some actually decent acting as well. I'd have to say it's the best Bond film since Goldfinger.

Second, we had a chance last night to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I'd been a little wary about this one, since I wasn't sure how they could maintain the premise for an hour and a half without running out of steam. It did wind up getting a little old by the end, but that might have just been physical exhaustion I felt from laughing so hard for so long. I don't want to spoil any of the jokes here -- in the comments, maybe -- but I will say that there's a bit with former Republican Rep. Bob Barr that had me crying, and a piece with Alan Keyes that wasn't far behind. This one's going to involve multiple viewings, I think, and I doubt they'll disappoint.

Finally, I've got to join the growing blogospheric chorus in raving about this season of The Wire on HBO. I've been a tremendous fan of this show from the very first episode, largely because I saw it as a reincarnation of my all-time favorite cop show, Homicide: Life on the Streets. But The Wire is, in truth, even better. Not only is it a fantastic drama that includes a wide array of richly-drawn characters and some terrific acting; it's the only piece of entertainment I've seen that also carries a political message subtly and strongly. Each season has been a study in the deterioration of urban institutions -- the law, the unions, the political process, and now the schools. If you haven't been watching this show, do yourself a tremendous favor and start lining up Season One in your rental queue. You won't be sorry.

Feel free to drop your own thoughts on any of these in the comments below, or throw out your own recommendations for new shows in the motion picture theaters or coming out on that there teevee.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pay It Forward

Remember when the neocons said the fighting in Iraq would pretty much pay for itself? Turns out, they were right all along.
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many of the insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says that $25 million to $100 million of the total comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid to save hundreds of kidnap victims in Iraq, the report said. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by senior American officials as including France and Italy — paid Iraqi kidnappers $30 million in ransom last year.
Actually, on further review, they said our fighting in Iraq would pay for itself. They're sort of half-right, though, and that's as close to right as they've ever come.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Please note the following video includes thoroughly immature humor which may offend the following - Ghost Hunter fans and people suffering from IBS.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Due to tryptophan poisoning, there will be no Friday Random Ten this week. I'm sorry, but I'm so sedated from a day full of turkey, wine, and a stuffing that apparently included horse tranquilizers that I can barely type.

To make up for the musical absence, I offer you this gift of the White Stripes live in concert in December 2001. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Revenge of the Nerds

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

So, as you settle into your turkey slumber watching some silly pro football games, remember that this weekend marks a truly rare opportunity in college football.

Georgia Tech is the No. 15th team in the nation boasting a 9-2 record. They have clinched a shot at next weeks ACC championship in Jacksonville.

Up highway 316 in Athens GA, God's pride and joy (The University of Georgia) finds itself at 7-4 including 2 losses to Vandy and Kentucky. The university is still investigating why other signs of the apocalypse including the seas to blood and the stars falling from the sky didn't accompany this event. Experts (meaning me) have concluded that Georgia's experiment with fielding a team of players not on a pending academic probation or a criminal investigation commencing conveniently in January - may have backfired.

Mark your calendars for 3:30 EST on CBS for this year Georgia Tech may (pause...deep breath) have a shot at winning.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Future

If you'd like a guide to how a true American should celebrate Thanksgiving, check out Big Daddy Drew's forecast over at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Did-Nothing Congress

Courtesy of TPM, I'm proud to present the last throes of the Republican Congress:
Republicans vacating the Capitol are dumping a big spring cleaning job on Democrats moving in. GOP leaders have opted to leave behind almost a half-trillion-dollar clutter of unfinished spending bills.

There's also no guarantee that Republicans will pass a multibillion-dollar measure to prevent a cut in fees to doctors treating Medicare patients.

The bulging workload that a Republican-led Congress was supposed to complete this year but is instead punting to 2007 promises to consume time and energy that Democrats had hoped to devote to their own agenda upon taking control of Congress in January for the first time in a dozen years.
These guys already accomplished the least amount of work in modern history and took the highest number of vacation days. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that they're abandoning ship before the job is done.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ku Klux Kramer

Recently, Michael Richards -- Cosmo Kramer from "Seinfeld" -- exploded in a full-blown, crazy-ass, really really racist tirade at a club appearance. Go take a look. It's so far off the charts into Crazytown that I've got to assume he owed Mel Gibson some money and he decided to pay off the debt by making Gibson's anti-Semitic comments seem sane by comparison.

I'd like to echo the thoughts of Shakespeare's Sister here, in thanking Richards for ruining "Seinfeld" for me, forever. Asshole.

Caption Contest

Bring. It. On.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hindsight Not 20/20

People have different opinions. That's not interesting. What is interesting is when someone looks at the past and sees something entirely different from what I would have thought.

After getting the gas face from the nation and own party, President Bush pulled a play from the President 101 handbook and went international. The Chicago Tribune reports that when:
Asked what lessons the war in Vietnam offered for the war in Iraq, Bush's response suggested a need for patience and determination--a nod toward the U.S. decision to abandon Vietnam after a protracted and unsuccessful war there.

"We'll succeed unless we quit," Bush said.
There were two things that surprised me about the Decider acknowledging the parallel.

(1) Could we ever have won the Vietnam War?

(2) Even if we could have won, was it worth it?

My personal opinion is that the answer to both of these questions is "no." I'm curious if I am in a minority. I am more than happy to understand how the Vietnam War might have been won. Nuclear? Attack China? Arrest all protestors?

What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Compare and Contrast

If you happen to know any Greens or Nader voters who think there's no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans -- and, surprisingly, there are still some out there in the wild after six years of Bush -- feel free to point out to them this small study in contrasts.

First up, consider Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma). Inhofe is a certifiably crazy man, who can be seen in this illuminating segment on "Fox and Friends" discussing his belief that global warming is "the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people" and reminding us that God's still up there. (As an aside, I'd like to see scientists study just how much dumber repeated viewings of "Fox and Friends" can make you. I watched thirty seconds and forgot my own name.) Anyway, why are Inhofe's ravings important? Well, for the last several years, this nutty little raisin cake has been the head of the Senate committee which determines federal policy on the environment. He's been a chief obstacle to any kind of government action on global warming, a champion of rolling back the Clean Air Act, and the Bush administration's point man on killing the Endangered Species Act.

Next, consider Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California). Because the Democrats retook the Senate, she's the new head of the aforementioned committee. She's already sketched out an ambitious agenda, one that seems just a little bit different from her predecessor's. She intends to introduce legislation to drastically reduce greenhouse gas pollution, to strengthen environmental laws affecting public health and to hold hearings on federal plans for cleaning Superfund hazardous waste sites across the country. And, in a sign that she's clearly a dangerous left-wing feminazi from gay California, she not only believes all the science about global warming, but also thinks we should do something about it! Crazy!

If that doesn't make the contrasts clear enough, then take a look at virtually any committee in the Senate. The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will no longer be led by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Tantrum), a man who thinks the internet is a "series of tubes" and who famously wasted $233 billion on his "bridge to nowhere." The Finance Committee will no longer be led by adminsitration water-carrier Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) but instead by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-SD), who just pronounced that Social Security privatization is "dead" with him on the watch. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has kept all investigations of 9/11 and Iraq intelligence failures bottled up in the Intelligence Committee, but new chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is going to pry it all open.

The list goes on and on. Education now goes through Ted Kennedy, who's itching to revisit the failures of No Child Left Behind. Judiciary is now run not by Stepford Senator, Arlen Specter, but by Pat Leahy, an aggressive guy who reduced Cheney to profanity and who's already calling for investigations into voter suppression tactics in the midterms. And so on.

You'd have to be willfully ignorant not to see the real differences between the two parties here. Wait -- wasn't that Nader's 2004 slogan?

Friday Random Ten

There's nothing like seeing the eyes of a child delighted by the magical whimsy of music. And, indeed, this album is nothing like that.

I don't have much to add about this trainwreck, except for my fervent hope that that man is Deborah's father.

We might as well just move along to the Friday Random Ten.

1. Dead Kennedys, "Kill the Poor" -- One of Jello Biafra's subtler songs. I guess the ham-handed politics aren't surprising when you realize he wrote "California Über Alles" to mock the evil, right-wing, fascist tendencies of, uh ... Jerry Brown. Seriously? Governor Moonbeam? OK, then. 5/10

2. The Red Paintings, "Mad World" -- One of the many cover versions of the Tears for Fears classic. It's not the most well-known -- that would be the Sacre cover from the Donnie Darko soundtrack (and some new XBox ad, I think?) -- but all things considered it's almost as good. A little more emotion, but still in the creepy acoustic mood. Very nice. 8/10

3. Lou Rawls, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" -- What a great fucking song. Not much to add about this, except if you watch the commentary tracks for the movie Anchorman, you'll be treated to a ten-minute segment where they ignore the movie and just interview Lou Rawls. He spends half his time wondering why the hell he's there. Hilarious. 9/10

4. Thom Yorke, "Black Swan" -- This is from his recent solo album, which I found pretty underwhelming. This is one of the better tracks, one that sounds like a leftover song from Kid A. Eh. 4/10

5. San Francisco Seals, "Don't Underestimate Me" -- Some rollicking indie rock from Barbara Manning. Nothing too spectacular, but solid enough. 6/10

6. Groove Armada, "My Friend" -- I think I'd like this little bit of technopop a bit more if it wasn't currently being used in 90% of the ads on TV. They're approaching Bob Seger levels of commerical overexposure. 5/10

7. Modest Mouse, "Bukowski" -- I've never actually read a single thing by Charles Bukowski and I can't say that this song makes me want to dive into his realm of assholery. Great tune, though. 8/10

8. Nina Simone, "See-Line Woman" -- Sweet. If I had to pick a paragon of musical coolness, Nina Simone would be at the top of my list. She could do it all, from heartbreaking ballads to funky soul numbers like this one. Such a great song I'm tempted to take the score up to eleven, but I'll respect the system. For now. 10/10

9. The Fugees, "Take It Easy" -- Well, there's a coincidence. Right after Nina Simone, I get a little bit of Lauryn Hill, a later-generation badass who once crooned, "So while you imitatin' Al Capone / I be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone." One of the Fugees lesser songs, though. 5/10

10. Ray Charles, "What I'd Say?" -- I know this is a standard and one most folks might consider tired, but give it another listen. The organ work is absolutely blistering. I know subjects of Oscar-winning biopics aren't usually deemed cool, but I can live with your scorn. 8/10

Well, that gives me a 6.8 average. That means I'm more than two-thirds cool! I bet I could make Deborah happy. Well, two-thirds happy. Bemused, I guess.

Alright, let's see what you've got. Feel free to drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the coolness self-audit. Or just mock me for my Bizzaro Ratings where the DKs aren't cool and Ray Charles is.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


The announcement that Democrats held on to those two endangered congressional seats in Georgia is a good sign for so many reasons.

First and most obviously, it provides an even wider margin in the House. Second, it shows that the Democratic wave was strong even in the Deep South, where we ceded no ground.

But most importantly, it's an historic achievement. The Democrats pitched a total shutout this election. They not only made huge gains in the House, the Senate and the governors' offices, but they prevented the Republicans from picking off a single Democratic incumbent anywhere in the nation. Not one.

Political guru Larry Sabato of U.Va. predicted this a couple days before the election and noted that it would be historic:
Five days out, let's rephrase the question this way: when's the last time a major political party has failed to capture a single House seat, Senate seat, or governorship of the opposing party in a federal election year?

We bet it's never happened before, and it certainly hasn't happened in the post-World War II era. After all, even when a party suffers miserable net losses, it usually picks up at least several consolation prizes in the form of open seat pickups or an against-the-tide incumbent defeat.

Yet look at our 2006 predictions: at this moment, the Crystal Ball cannot identify a single election for Senate, House or Governor in which a Republican is likely to succeed a Democrat in office. Just imagine how devastating an absolute shutout would be in the eyes of history if this proves to be true!
This election was an historic defeat of devastating proportions. The Republicans were repudiated at every single level in every single state. And every single dime spent by the GOP and their voters to try and oust an incumbent Democrat was an absolute waste of time and money.


In your face, Flanders.

Miracle of Life My Ass

I know everyone's been standing around, arms raised, asking "Where's Poochie Thrillhous?" I'm happy to say Mrs. T gave birth to a healthy baby girl recently, and it's been all baby all the time. Pretty typical so far: baby eats, sleeps, and cries while parents stay awake, forget to eat, and cry.

We're holding out for a big fat contract from The Enquirer for the first photos, but I have commissioned this artists' rendering of what the baby looks like after about 5 minutes in my hands (the outfit is a little off; we tend to use a Windsor knot).

I can't promise I'll start posting more often just yet, but I'll try to try.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laugh Riot

This past Sunday, the New York Times Magazine had an issue devoted to Hollywood humor. One of the smaller features was a running bit where they asked comic actors and directors to name their five favorite funny films.

The answers were interesting. Some replies were clearly tongue-in-cheek, with Judd Apatow selecting Terms of Endearment and David Cross selecting Rent. Some were on the borderline between sarcasm and sincerity, like Will Ferrell giving the nod to Weekend at Bernie's. And many more were going for old school comedy cred, with numerous selections of trailblazers like the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, and Buster Keaton and a disturbingly high number of Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy flicks.

Anyway, I thought this might make for a nice time-killing exercise for the day.

What are your five favorite funny films? To start the ball rolling, here are mine:
Blazing Saddles
Dr. Strangelove
The Jerk
Raising Arizona
Waiting for Guffman
Drop your own favorite five in the comments, and/or your bewilderment over what I chose or ignored.


Conservative commentator Tony Blankley has an, um, interesting metaphor for the rebuilding process that the Republicans will have to go through:
Like the Berliners of 1945-46 who picked through the rubble to separate still usable bricks for re-building from that which was destroyed beyond repair, the Republicans now start the same lamentable process of finding something of value in the rubble that was their majority. And just as the Berlin of today is physically both similar to and different from the Berlin that stood before it was flattened during WWII, so, too, the new Republican majority that someday will be rebuilt will be similar but not identical to the one that was constructed in the Reagan-Gingrich era.
I guess it's alright to compare Republicans to Nazis if you do it in a positive way. Take note,!

The Un-Macaca

I know we were all thrilled to shove George Felix Allen Jr. out of the Senate and into the cold, cruel world of wingnut welfare, but I'm not sure how many people realize just what a terrific find his replacement is going to be.

Check out this brilliant op-ed piece by Jim Webb in the Wall Street Journal. He's going to be a great voice for economic populism in the Senate and a nice face for the party on these issues.

Don't Call It a Comeback

Oh, the good news for liberals just keeps on coming.
Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the No. 2 post Wednesday for the minority GOP in the next Congress.

Lott returned to the center of power by getting the position of vote-counting GOP whip, nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander. Sen. Rick Santorum told reporters that Lott beat Alexander by a 25-24 vote.

After an intense evening in which both men lobbied colleagues during floor votes, the Republican caucus elected Lott, a one-time whip and majority leader, by secret ballot. Lott will be the GOP's second-in-command to Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who was elected unanimously to be the Senate minority leader in the new Congress.
This is great on so many levels. Obviously, McConnell and Lott are a terrific combination to have leading the Senate Republicans, since they combine a particular brand of right-wing Southern insanity that the voters are clearly clamoring for. They're going to make Harry Reid look incredibly rational and moderate in the next two years and should do a wonderful job of helping tee us up for what should be a Democratic landslide in the 2008 Senate elections.

Alexander is also a Southerner, and even though he comes from a state sandwiched between Lott and McConnell's, he's fairly sane. By Republican standards. He would've injected a level of reason and civility into the GOP leadership, which would've been disastrous for us.

So thanks, Republicans!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Atomic Wedgie

Some times you read a news story and feel better about yourself. Sure, you're looking at news stories killing time while your pr0n downloads, but some people are not as cool as you.

Take these guys, for example. They started camping out Monday, November 6 outside a Best Buy to be the first kids on the block to own a Playstation 3. (This would be the Playstation 3 that goes on sale November 17.)

They quit jobs and postponed buying engagement rings for their imaginary Canadian girlfriends in order to stay unwashed and uncovered in a parking lot. All this to have a Playstation 3 a full 8 - 12 hours before the rest of America does.

They're dorks, right? Well, what would you say if after sleeping on the sidewalk for four days Best Buy kicked them off their property with nothing to show for it.

I feel cooler now, don't you?

Caption Contest

As Dick Cheney always says, there's no better time to kick a man then when he's down. Have at him.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tom Cruise Use Your Witch Powers! Save Me!

Remember two weeks ago when the GOP continued the party line that this conservative "thought revolution," which was 40 years in the making, was here to stay. Started at the grassroots level, it had a solid, balanced vision and with its powerful fundraising and "get out the vote" machine - unconditional surrender was the only option.

Well, the Reich which was to be here for 1000 years is no more. In a remarkable domino effect, the Grand Old Party has seen the House, the Senate, the head of the GOP Ken Mehlman, Rush Limbaugh's backbone, and now their hope for their "shining star" (Liddy Dole) all disappear....

Privately, there've been Republican grumbles for the past year about Dole's fundraising. Although she raised 12 percent more money in the past two years than her committee did in the previous election cycle, she collected far less than did her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.

The difference hurt candidates in the trenches, some Republicans said.

Ha. Ha.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Close Encounters

Yesterday's "Guardian" reported that Nick Pope, formerly of the Ministry of defense UFO project in the UK had warned:

"Britain is wide open to alien visitors and a department meant to look into UFO sightings is virtually closed down."

So this got me thinking. What would be the pros and cons of an alien invasion? I will assume they are friendly. If they are not, I imagine we simply die in some very efficient, very quick fashion.

  • Answer to "What would Jesus Do?"
  • Creationist Christians heads explode trying to rationalize God's other family.
  • Someone else for Madonna to shock.
  • Rush Limbaugh no longer needs to "carry the water" for this human race.
  • Tom Cruise vindicated for kookie-ass religion.
  • Joan Rivers look alike contest bigger than "American Idol"

  • Alien basketball team beats Atlanta Hawks by 213.
  • Laws need to be established to prevent gays marrin' Aliens.
  • Aliens constantly make comments ending with "I crossed the galaxy for this?"
  • Branson, Missouri is chosen as first contact. Aliens reconsider.

Please feel free and add your ideas. Perhaps, we can convince the British government that they need to stop tracking their local terrorist cells and focus toward the sky....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Random Ten

I thought this album cover would be a fitting tribute to the ascension of our new Democratic overlords. As all of the Republican talking heads warned us, the reign of Nancy Pelosi (D-Faaaaaabulous!) would force all Americans to get gay married, to gay Mexicans, in a gay Islamic ceremony, in a gay poorhouse, with totally gayed-up hors d'oeurves made out of snowflake babies and the pages of a Gideon Bible.

Get used to it, people. You're here, you're queer, you don't want any more bears.

Alright, time for the first Friday Random Ten of the Glorious Gayed-Up Revolution.

1. Catherine Wheel, "Strange Fruit" -- Well, here's a band I haven't thought about in several years. Some nice overly-strummy, very-catchy, mid-90s Britpop. No, no, it's not the Billie Holiday song. But you have to admire the king-sized huevos it takes to give a song the same title as a sad dirge about lynching. 8/10

2. Black Keys, "She Said, She Said" -- No, this is a cover, a rendition of the Beatles classic. The raw vocals and distorted geetars add some nice touches here. I like it. 7/10

3. Joe Tex, "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" -- Joe Tex always seemed like the poor man's Otis Redding, in that he always had pretty good vocal chops, but his tendency to record songs with titles like "Ain't Gonna Bump No More With No Fat Woman" sort of made him seem a little less legit. This is a fairly solid soul number, though. 9/10

4. Wanda Jackson, "Let's Have a Party" -- Some classic rockabilly from a pioneer riot grrrl. Even if you're not a fan, you may have seen this song in the semicrappy Dead Poet's Society when the nerdy kids build a radio to rock out and stick it to the man. It's very, very sad. 6/10

5. Wilco, "Jesus, Etc." -- One of my favorites off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I can never decide if Jeff Tweedy is a genius or just a self-obsessed douche, but this song is one that makes me vote for the former. Any thoughts on this? 8/10

6. Dinosaur Jr., "Just Like Heaven" -- J Mascis does a kickass cover of the Cure classic here, complete with a screaming fit that, to this day, scares the shit out of me. Nice work, indie geeks! 7/10

7. Leonard Nimoy, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" -- Anyone want to take Leonard up on this offer? Anyone? 2/10

8. The Hives, "A Get Together to Tear It Apart" -- Eh. This band is sounding more and more like a one-album wonder. Well, a one-hit wonder. Would you believe, a one-hit mediocrity? 4/10

9. Outkast, "B.O.B." -- Damn. Saddam may be heading to the gallows, but he'll always have the funk. 9/10

10. The Kinks, "Sitting by the Riverside" -- A fairly forgettable tune from the hit-or-miss album, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. Eh. 4/10

Well, I was off to a nice start there, but ended up poorly. Rumsfeld knows what that's like, I guess. Final average: 6.4.

I don't want to end the first FRT of the brave new era on such a down note, so let me recommend this excellent clip of Eddie Vedder, singing a rendition of Phil Ochs' "Here's to the State of Mississippi" that's been updated to pay tribute to the administration of George W. Bush. Great stuff.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Still Miss Republicans

John Rogers has just put up a sequel to his brilliant "I Miss Republicans" post, and it's just as good. Enjoy.

Secretarial Skills

Well, elections have consequences, and the first one seems to be the delightful announcement that Donald Rumsfeld is finally being sent packing. Even though President Bush proclaimed his undying love for the man just a week ago and promised to keep him in office forever and ever, amen, the Decider has flip-flopped and shown him the door.

We here at LLatPoN have a soft spot for Rummy, and would like to do everything in our power to help him find a new job. But what?

Maybe he'd be a nice Wal*Mart greeter, given his age and predilection for pointing. Plus, we all remember he gives a warm and hearty handshake to even the most unruly of customers. Sure, he'd probably want to drop napalm on the Housewares aisle, but can you blame him? Those lardass housewives are begging for it.

Maybe he'd be great writer of fiction. Given the intricate fantasy world he lives in, he'd sure be a natural for it. Of course the entire book would consist of rhetorical questions. "Did John walk down the street? Of course! Did he open the door to the bar slowly? Goodness, yes. Did he pull up a stool and order a beer? Certainly!" Not exactly Pulitzer material.

Or maybe, just maybe, he can put his love of torture and violence to good use and become a high-priced gigilo on the S&M circuit. Actually, on second thought, scratch that. If Rummy dressed up in leather, he'd look like this.

Let's help this good man out. Drop your own suggestions in the comments below.

The Triumph of Yacht Rock

I'm surprised that he was electable after appearing on that album cover.
John Hall, leader of the rock group Orleans that recorded such hits as "Still the One" and "Dance With Me," has won a stunning upset in his race for Congress in upstate New York, narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Sue Kelly 51%-49%.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mock the Vote

This will be a rolling post on tonight's election returns. I'll update it semi-regularly as events and my own sobriety warrant, because I know that our seven regular readers would expect nothing less.

7:30 pm: CNN is operating a high-tech, fancy-pants war room for the election coverage, and they seem to have spent as much money on it as Wolf Blitzer does on maintenance of his precious, precious beard.

Anyway, they've just reported that Ken Blackwell just got his ass handed to him in the Ohio gubernatorial race. They announced his loss the second the polls closed, it was so bad. For anyone who remembers Blackwell's helping hand in screwing over black and urban voters in the 2004 presidential election, this is a moment of pure, unadulterated schadenfreude. Sit your ass down, Ken, and save a seat for Katherine Harris.

8:00 pm: And here's Kathy! Go sit down in the loser's circle with Ken, sweetheart. Maybe the two of you can become a warning to future GOP hacks -- mess with our elections and we'll destroy you the first chance we get. Also, I'm so glad to know you blew about $10 million of your own cash on this race. That's $10 million you won't be able to spend on further plastic surgery horrors.

8:12 pm: Looks like the Democrats picked up the governor's office in Massachusetts. I haven't heard much about Deval Patrick, but what I've seen suggests he could be a rising force. In any case, Mitt Romney didn't get to hand his office over to a Republican heir, and that's got to be a nice dent in his presidential aspirations.

8:27 pm: CNN has called the Democrats' first House pickup, with Ellsworth beating Hostettler in IN-08. And Daily Kos is saying Paul Hodes beat Charlie Bass in NH-02. So two down, and thirteen to go.

8:51 pm: Sherrod Brown's been declared the winner in the Ohio Senate race. I liked Paul Hackett, but it's nice to see a fairly liberal voice get the nod here. Given the general anti-GOP trend nationally and the wave of local scandals in the state, we might just see the entire slate flip from red to blue at this rate. Which would be huge for the 2008 presidential race.

9:00 pm: Rick Santorum. Dead, dead, DEAD! Alright, I'm breaking out the bourbon.

9:12 pm: Just realized that Olbermann is co-hosting the MSNBC coverage, so I'm switching to them. (I'm intentionally saving Fox News for the late night crying.)

Sadly but not surprisingly, I see that Lieberman is projected to pull out the win in Connecticut. Despite the initial excitement over Nedmentum, this has seemed likely for months. We'll see if he really caucuses with the Democrats. I bet he does so in name, but continues to stab the party in the back -- perhaps even more so. All the more reason to hope this thing doesn't end up 50-50.

9:20 pm: MSNBC has called Maryland for Cardin. Woohoo! Michael Steele was supposed to be a rising star in the Republican ranks, so this is a big one. If you listen closely, you can hear the violent sobs of Ken Mehlman. In a sign that he hails from Bizarro World, Chris Matthews just said that Steele ran a really classy campaign. Yes, a campaign filled with lies about getting pelted with Oreos and flyers meant to trick black voters into thinking he's a Democrat. Very classy.

9:33 pm: They're calling KY-03 for the Democrats, too. This is another race I thought was a bellwether one, so this is good news. Stay tuned.

9:43 pm: And now it looks like Count Chocula is going down in Indiana, too. These are very good signs for a big wave in the House.

10:03 pm: Rick Santorum is conceding on MSNBC. Our hatred for the man runs so deep that my wife, the lovely and talented Malibu Stacy, went so far as to mock his daughter and "her stupid little doll." (She's normally a very sweet woman. Santorum just brings out the evil in us.) Anyway, Ricky just thanked God, and I'd like to second the motion. Truly, with this loss, we all know that He is a just and righteous God.

And now, Rahm Emanuel is on with news that the Democrats have swept the three contested races in Indiana, and knocked off Nancy Johnson in Connecticut.

10:15 pm Just switched over to Fox News in time to watch Brit Hume have to announce the loss of Republican seats in Bob Ney's old district in Ohio and Don Sherwood's seat in Pennsylvania. The analyst is dismissing these pickups as "scandal seats." Yeah, lucky for the GOP those were the only two scandals this year.

10:43 pm: CNN has just called it for Joe Sestak over corrupt Curt Weldon in the Philadelphia suburbs. I'm really hoping we can run the table on the three collar-county districts around Philly, and this is a good start.

10:48 pm: And now Heath Shuler has taken NC-11 from the Republicans. Here's hoping he fares better in Washington this time around than he did when he played for the Redskins. We're now halfway to picking up both the House and the Senate.

10:55 pm: And Don Sherwood's gone down. Apparently, acknowledging an extramarital affair and getting sued by the mistress you choked is not a winning strategy. Take note, politicians!

11:07 pm: More and more great news, with longterm Republicans John Sweeney and Clay Shaw both going down. Mark Foley's seat has fallen, too, and a pickup in Arizona.

And CNN has just called it -- the Democrats have retaken control of the House of Representatives. That means committee chairmanships for John Conyers, Henry Waxman, Alcee Hastings, and Charlie Rangel. Bend over, Mr. President, because here they come!

11:17 pm: Fox News is so somber, they've done everything but break out the black armbands. They just called the House for the Democrats, and by their math, it came on Tom DeLay's old seat. Brit Hume looks like someone just shot his dog and then gay married the corpse.

11:31: MSNBC is reporting that the Virginia Senate race is likely to come down to the wire. 97% are in and Allen has a 6,000 vote lead. But the parts that haven't come in involve Democratic areas in Richmond and Fairfax County, so this is going to be incredibly close. I think we're looking at a recount here, Macacas.

11:52 pm: CNN is now giving Ensign and Kyl the wins, which is sad since I thought Pederson had a chance in Arizona. But good news in Virginia, as Webb takes the lead 50%-49% with 99% of the precincts in. This is going to be incredibly close. If the margin of victory is less than 0.5%, the loser can demand a recount.

12:06 am: According to TPM, the Democrats have unseated conservative Jim Ryun in Kansas and troglodyte J.D. Haysworth in Arizona. Blue wave, baby!

12:18 am: With the House clearly going Democratic, all attention is now focused on the last four Senate races in Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri and Montana. I'll go out on a limb here and predict that the Democrats lose Tennessee and take Montana, and pull out razor-thin wins in Virginia and Missouri. There will be recounts in both of those, but I think we could hold the leads. And if so, it's a 51-49 Democratic Senate, assuming Lieberman sticks with the winning team, as always.

12:40 am: Good news in the Virginia race. Chris Matthews is now reporting that 33,000 votes haven't been counted yet in Fairfax County, a suburban stronghold for the Democrats. Webb might be poised for a last minute surge here. It could still go to a recount, but increasing his lead would be huge.

12:52 am: Alright, I'm calling it a night. Things are looking good, but we'll know a little more by morning.

Please feel free to keep adding updates in the comments.

8:01 am: Beautiful morning, despite the rain here. Woke up to find out that Claire McCaskill took down Jim Talent in Missouri, and we're just waiting to see about Jon Tester and Jim Webb. I like our odds of taking the Senate, and I'm thrilled to see we picked up 28 seats in the House.