Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Caption Contest

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days.

StudioDave and I were each out of the country celebrating the anniversary of our weddings -- to different women, not each other -- and while we were gone, iRod and Thrillhous apparently decided to hide under a pile of coats and hope that everything would somehow work out.

Anyway, we're all back and ready to roll. In honor of Halloween, here's a photo of the First Xanax User and a pumpkin. Have at it!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Best Show on Television

If for no other reason, you should watch Battlestar Galactica because it's really pissing off the Doughy Pantload.
But alas, this love affair between Galactica and the right was not to last: in its third season, the show has morphed into a stinging allegorical critique of America’s three-year occupation of Iraq.

I'd excerpt more, but there are some spoilers if you haven't seen the series and are planning on picking up the DVDs (which you should).

Friday Random Ten

I can't say for certain, but I'm fairly certain that this album cover from Butch Yelton and Upbound was the inspiration for the movie Frailty, in which Bill Paxton swings his own little gospel axe and sends a bunch of demons back to the fiery depths of hell. Or maybe it was Bill Pullman. Hard to say.

Anyway, the appearance of supergroup Butch Yelton and Upbound -- man, that name just rolls off the tongue and right to Jesus's ear, don't it? -- means that it's time once again for the Friday Random Ten.

Audience participation has been slacking, as you people have devoted your attention to time-wasters like "work" and "family." So here's a refresher course on the FRT.

First of all, get out whatever thingamajig you use to play those new-fangled electronic songs, set it on random, and give us the first ten songs that come forth from the spirit world.

And, as always, if you're ready to run with the big kids, give us a Coolness Self-Audit as well. Remember, the audit is an optional feature for the FRT, sort of like power windows and curly fries.

1. Death Cab for Cutie, "Tiny Vessels" -- A very pretty song with some very ugly lyrics. I haven't checked in with Hipster Central to see if these kids are still the shit, but I don't care. Transatlanticism is one of my favorite albums of this decade, and this is one of its better tunes. 10/10

2. Dionne Warwick, "You're Gonna Need Me" -- Man, whatever happened to Dionne Warwick? (If only there was some way we could reach out and find our dear, long lost friend. If only....) This is actually a fantastic soul song, with some nice West Coast guitars and a great vocal track from Warwick. 8/10

3. Les Savy Fav, "Pills" -- A couple of these kids met while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, which is how the Talking Heads got started too. The similarities end there, as LSF is a bit more all-up-in-your-grill than the Heads ever were. I'm not entirely sold on this song, but I certainly like the cut of their jib. 7/10

4. Frank Sinatra, "The Lady is a Tramp" -- As much as I respect and, yes, fear the Chairman of the Board, this was a song that always seemed to send him into the realm of self-parody. In the live versions, he'd always change "the lady" to "that koo-koo broad" by the time he hit his third chorus and fifth scotch. This is not even remotely cool, especially when set against Ella Fitzgerald's much better rendition. 4/10

5. Hayseed Dixie, "My Best Friend's Girl" -- These guys have apparently made a career out of performing bluegrass covers of rock tunes. (Their rendition of "Back in Black" is, in my opinion, fanfuckingtastic.) Here they take a swing at the Cars' classic. As Bill Hicks would say, it's a hoot. You gotta think about it, but it's a hoot. 6/10

6. Wolf Parade, "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" -- I cannot recommend this band strongly enough. I know, I know, you've been burned before, with all the overblown blogosphere buzz about the Arctic Monkeys, Tapes 'n' Tapes, and Of Montreal. But these gentlemen have stood the test of time. This album still kicks my ass, and seeing them live this year was probably one of the top ten concerts of my life or of any life, for that matter. Trust me. 10/10

7. Charles Wright, "65 Bars and a Taste of Soul" -- You may know Charles Wright from such previous hits as the original "Express Yourself" and "Doin' What Comes Naturally." This is an absolutely scorching instrumental, one that not only brings in the jazz but pushes out the funk. Brilliant. Do we have our first ever back-to-back perfect tens here at the FRT? Yes, Virginia. Yes we do. 10/10

8. Blind Willie Johnson, "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" -- I don't want to begrudge a dying bluesman his last wish, but it seems to me that if you were about to pass on and had the Messiah on the line, you might want to ask for everlasting salvation instead of a turn-down service. But that's just me. 6/10

9. Ghostface Killah, "Struggle" -- Another spinoff from the Wu-Tang Clan's vast empire. There are a few songs on this album that I really really like. This, however, isn't one of them. 5/10

10. Ram Jam, "Black Betty" -- Kick out the motherfucking jams, boys! If this song could maintain its full-throated swagger the whole way through, it'd have a chance of being the perfect classic rock tune. But they run out of steam about halfway through with a wholly unnecessary, tempo-destroying geetar solo. But all things considered, it's a pretty inspired take on an old blues traditional. (However, I believe the original version, performed by Leadbelly and others, lacks the Bonhamesque drum solo.) 7/10

All in all, that gives me a whopping 7.3 average. Considering I had three perfect tens this week, that's actually a little disappointing. Oh well, such is life during the Bush presidency. Can't get my hopes too high.

Alright, your turn. Think you're better than me? Because I will fight you.

No, no, wait, that's the liquor talking.

What I meant to say is -- kindly drop your own FRT in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Olbermann Alert #147

Via Crooks and Liars, here's a great segment from Olbermann on Limbaugh's sick attacks on Michael J. Fox for having Parkinsons and wanting a cure. You get the Fox commercial (first time I'd gotten to see it - very powerful), video of Limbaugh aping Fox's movements, snarky comments from Olbermann and Sam Seder, and a nice zinger at the end about the utter lack of GOP response when Fox filmed a similar commercial for a republican in '04. It's a quadfecta.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No Brainer

Cheney to humanity: fuck off and die.
Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.
I've been so brainwashed. I thought that the Khymer Rouge were a loathesome bunch of zealots that tortured and killed people. Thank you, Dick Cheney, for showing me what a humane hero Pol Pot was. We must rewrite our history books.

Caption Contest

This one is just too good to pass up.

Have at him.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

Master of the Internets

I sometimes use the google to find me the sexy time.

Stay the Course

Say what you will about President Bush, but you have to admire the elephantitis-sized balls it takes to lie so shamelessly.

Halloween Comes Early

What's scarier than a SWAT team breaking into your house and treating you like a pedophile?

A SWAT team and 7 foot 1 inch, 325 pounds of backup.

Caption Contest

Time for another caption contest. Jump to it, people.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"No One Could Have Predicted..."

In an effort to diversify my rant recommendations beyond the blue chip stock of Keith Olbermann, let me kindly turn your attention to this hilarious riff by Bill Maher.

He dismantles the neocon think tanks and their 0.000 batting average in the realm of foreign policy predictions. Fantastic stuff.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Truth Hurts

Somehow, the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. Somehow, this is tolerated. Somehow, nobody is accountable for this.
--Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman
Kevin Tillman understood that the world changed after 9/11. He and his brother joined the Army in spite of jobs and lives. He sounds a lot like those crazy unpatriotic folks who have had the audacity to question this administration.

ESPN's "Outside The Lines" did a great program on the events leading up the Pat Tillman's death. It was an impressive show for a sports show; be sure and keep an eye out for it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

His Mom Thinks He's Cool

Rick Santorum thinks he can pick up some dork votes by comparing Iraq to the eye of Mordor. This expose suggests he's barking up the wrong tree. (Disclaimer: LLPTN is not liable for any atomic wedgies you may receive from friends who catch you looking at these pics.)

Update (OM): TBogg has a brilliant spoof of the "Santorum and Ebert" schtick, where he explains all Republican policies with quotes from Raising Arizona. Pretty good.

Friday Random Ten

This week's featured album was apparently the result of some Dadaist art collective, pulling random words out of a hat to produce the cover art ("... circus ... polka ... duck ... clown ..."), and then doing the same with the song titles. How else can you explain titles like "Slap Happy Polka" and "Meet the Missus Polka"?

On second thought, the lead-off songs on side two might give a clue to their creative process: "Green Grass Polka" followed by "Dark Cloud Polka." Yeah, I think we're going to need a urine sample from Chuckles the Clown. Upon closer inspection, that might not be make-up after all.


The disturbing appearance of the clown from Stephen King's It and the Aflac duck can only mean that it's time for another exciting installment of the Friday Random Ten. You know what to do -- set the iPod to random, and give us the first ten songs that surface. And, if you're feeling competitive, toss in a Coolness Self-Audit, too. (And, no, don't worry -- you won't go blind if you self-audit.)

Here's mine:

1. Johnny Cash, "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" -- A Columbia era song-story about one of the four soldiers who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. The story of what happened to those soldiers after their moment in the sun is a tragic one (soon to be a major motion picture, by the way) but the story of Hayes, a Pima Indian, is perhaps the saddest. Cash's song reveals a lot about his liberal sympathies, but it's not much of a tune. 3/10

2. Blondie, "Hanging on the Telephone" -- Classic. What more can I say? 8/10

3. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Blues Explosion Attack" -- This is a collaboration with Calvin Johnson and, once again, I'm let down. This is pretty much Spencer shouting street-corner insanity over a snare drum. Pfft. 2/10

4. Radiohead, "Rhinestone Cowboy (live)" -- A nice gem of a cover from the B-Sides collection. It's hard to do a lot when your inspiration is schlock, but you've got to admire Thom Yorke for going after Glen Campbell and doing it with a straight face. 6/10

5. Shirley Horn, "Return to Paradise (Mark DeClive-Lowe Remix)" -- This is a fairly innocuous remixing of Horn's original jazz tune, the kind of thing you'd find on a Buddha Bar CD compilation. Nice, but not spectacular. 6/10

6. Southern Culture on the Skids, "Mexy-Melt" -- These folks don't normally do the whole surf guitar thing, but you'd never know from this tune. Guitarist Rick Miller is absofuckinglutely on fire here with some angry, unrelenting riffs. 9/10

7. Rocket from the Crypt, "UFO>UFO>UFO" -- Speaking of angry and unrelenting, here's some in-your-grill post-punk from San Diego. I liked "Sturdy Wrists," but this is the kind of screaming cacophony that my father would've referred to as "narcotic music." Bleh. 1/10

8. Ray Charles, "I Got a Woman" -- How's that for an awkward transition? Straightforward Atlantic-era Charles, this is a good song that I can't hear anymore without thinking of Kanye West's "Gold Digger," and, moreover, the "George Bush Doesn't Care about Black People" remix by Legendary K.O. 6/10

9. Sonic Youth, "Ca Plane Pour Moi" -- An interesting cover of the early '80s pseudo-hit by Belgium's very own Plastic Bertrand. The French lyrics seem fun, until you translate them and realize he's singing lines like "Wham! Bam! My cat Splash lies on my bed with his tongue puffed out by drinking all my whisky." That's very deep, Felicity. Thanks for sharing. 7/10

10. Jurassic 5, "Break" -- I was in Austin last spring for a wedding the same time that J5 was in town to play a show at Stubbs. Tragically, the show was the same night as the rehearsal dinner, so we couldn't go. Even worse, a friend managed to chat up Charlie Tuna in our hotel lobby just five minutes before I walked in. Stupid timing. Great song. 9/10

That gives me a pathetic 5.7 average. Since I've burned all of our permanent records, I can't say for sure that that's the lowest score I've ever gotten, but it would have to be close.

I know you folks can do better than that. Give us your own Random Ten, with or without your own Coolness Self-Audit, and with or without your own condolences on my incredible uncoolness.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lie Back and Enjoy It

Vladimir Putin envies Kobe Bryant and Mike Tyson -- but not for the reason you think.
Kommersant’s version — citing the remarks in Russian — was cruder. “He turned out to be quite a powerful man,” the paper’s reporter in the official Kremlin pool, Andrei Kolesnikov, quoted Mr. Putin as saying. “He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him.”

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

Regarding pension benefits from recently deceased and openly gay congressman Gerry Studds (emphasis mine):

Peter Graves, a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the congressional pension program, said same-sex partners are not recognized as spouses for any marriage benefits. He said Studds's case is the first of its kind known to the agency.

Under federal law, pensions can be denied only to lawmakers' same-sex partners and to people convicted of espionage or treason, Graves said.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

1st Rule About Book Club - Don't Talk About Book Club

Help Loyal Order of the LLPON.com Crew.

Studiodave and his wife will be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary next Thursday. We will be taking a cruise on the Caribbean.

Now, I need adice on books. Something intellectual but not challenging. Something funny but not "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."

Thus far, I have "Moneyball," "Game of Shadows," "Truman"...

Please let me know....

Double Secret Probation

Think Progress has an amazing video clip of the Senate debate between Conrad Burns and Jon Tester in Montana. Here's the highlight:
CONRAD BURNS: I said we gotta win. He wants to pull out. He wants everybody to know our plan. That’s not smart. If you had a plan in order to win are you gonna tell the enemy? He’s not — the enemy’s not gonna tell us! That is absolutely unbelievable that anyone would take that approach! He says our president don’t have a plan. I think he’s got one. But he’s not gonna tell everybody in the whole world.
It's even better when you hear the open laughter Burns' comments evoke from the crowd.

Just like his brother C. Montgomery Burns, Conrad is crossing over from simple villainy to cartoonish supervillainy. What a maroon.

Reading Sucks Ass

One of the worst books of all time to become one of the worst movies of all time.

So Help Me God

It's taken me a couple days to get past the blind rage I had over the president's signing of a bill that starts us down the road to a military dictatorship.

Now that I've been able to form words that don't rhyme with "rock-chucker," I thought I might pass along a helpful tip to the President of the United States about what he's supposed to be doing.

First of all, here's what the Decider thinks his job is:
My job is to protect the American people. It used to be that we could think that you could contain a person like Saddam Hussein, that oceans would protect us from his type of terror. September the 11th should say to the American people that we’re now a battlefield, that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist organization could be deployed here at home.

So, therefore, I think the threat is real. And so do a lot of other people in my government. And since I believe the threat is real, and since my most important job is to protect the security of the American people, that’s precisely what we’ll do.
And, to contrast, here's the oath of office he's sworn twice now:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
He's charged not with protecting the American people, but protecting the Constitution. Instead, he's ignoring it, altering it, and generally defiling it. Awesome.

This might not stick in my craw so much if Bush hadn't made the oath of office such a centerpiece of his 2000 campaign. You may remember this from countless stump speeches and his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention:
So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.
It was a not-too-subtle swipe at Bill Clinton, and one that played well to the conservative base. Still, it's important to note that, in fact, Bush did not swear an oath to uphold the honor and dignity of the office -- and thank God, because he's failed at that too -- but only swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Preserve. Protect. Defend. Pretty simple, right? Not alter by executive order. Not subvert by signing statement. Not undermine through craven legislation that suspends the 800-year-old rights of habeus corpus.

Nope. Preserve. Protect. Defend.

The President has violated his oath of office, plain and simple. (Sure, if he's impeached for this, Bush might throw himself on the mercy of the court by pointing out the "to the best of my ability" clause. But that assumes we still have courts by then.)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we get these un-American idiots out of office before they destroy this country.

So help me God.

Update: Olbermann.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Swift Booted

Well, this is depressing:
MIAMI - The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration’s military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military’s “up or out” promotion system. Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander.

He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden’s driver. ...

Swift’s supervisor said he served with distinction. “Charlie has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job,” said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the Pentagon’s chief defense counsel for Military Commissions. He added it was “quite a coincidence” that Swift was passed over for a promotion “within two weeks of the Supreme Court opinion.”

Washington, D.C., attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said Swift was “a no-brainer for promotion.” Swift joins many other distinguished Navy officers over the years who have seen their careers end prematurely, Fidell said.

“He brought real credit to the Navy,” Fidell said. “It’s too bad that it’s unrequited love.”
So, just to recap: The Navy assigned Swift to represent Hamdan, and to do so to the best of his ability. Swift did so, and, moreover, did so well that he actually managed to win the case for his client. In return for doing as he was ordered, in return for representing his client's interests -- and, in so doing, proving that our freedoms are more than a soundbite and a slogan, but are in fact actual vital principles that we live by even when they're inconvenient -- Swift is being forced out of the military. Fantastic.

Once again, it's clear that if you're at all skilled at your job, if you're able to offer prescient advice and capable of independent thought, if you do your job tirelessly and thoroughly, well, sorry, the Bush administration wants nothing to do with you.

Nope. All that matters is blind loyalty to Dear Leader. Completely clueless? Not a problem. So bad at your job that everyone's calling for your resignation? No worries. Tragically incompetent? Get ready for a Presidential Medal of Freedom!

Lordy, I hope the Democrats can take back the House this fall and start restoring some oversight to our government. It's looking good, but we've still got to overcome the GOP's get-out-the-vote machine and their tremendous cash advantage. If you haven't already, please volunteer some of your time and money for a local candidate.

Caption Contest

Let the snark flow freely.

Hair of the Dog

We've received an interesting online challenge here at LLatPoN, a contest to see how many hair metal bands you can identify solely by sight.

Thrillhous is the current leader here, with a score of 5 out of 18. I-Rod and I each soiled ourselves with a 3. StudioDave hasn't released his test results, which leads me to suspect he guessed "Nelson" for each and every one.

Anyway, take the Peroxide Challenge and see how you do.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Air America Ventilator

Stereotypes. They help us understand the world. They can be right. For example, all Canadians are "painfully" well endowed. They can also be wrong. For example, Republicans are fiscally conservative.

So, it pains me to see conservative news outlets loving the news that Air America Radio has filed for Chapter 11.

Here we have the following: Democrats don't understand business & Democrats aren't supported by mainstream America. (If there were, they'd have advertising.)

I have been accused of being too much the pessimist, but this one stings.

Kramnik Wins! Kramnik Wins! Kramnik Wins!

Go poo in the woods, Topalov.
Vladimir Kramnik has won the 2006 World Chess Championship match versus Veselin Topalov, 2 1/2 games to 1 1/2, in Elista, Russia, in an overtime playoff.

Friday Random Ten

Nothing quite embodies the wild world of Dixieland jazz like a group of geriatric, white Shriners at a funeral.

Look at them. The liveliest one of the bunch is the dude in the coffin. The rest exude the kind of excitement and joy you'd only see in a urologist's waiting room. (Please insert your own "eight balls" joke here.)

I'd always thought jazz was all about free flowing music and improvisation, but these guys look about as spontaneous as the Nixon Library. Mr. Magoo on the left can't even find the photographer, so how's he supposed to find the rhythm? Welcome to Squaresville, baby. Population: You.

Anyway, the appearance of the mighty mighty Eight Balls can only mean that once again it's time for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill, so let's do this thing.

Here's mine:

1. Hank Williams, "No No Joe" -- A great little bit of Cold War country, this is Williams' ode to Joseph Stalin. "The Kaiser tried it and Hitler tried it / Mussolini tried it, too / Now they're all sittin' around a fire and did you know something? / They're saving a place for you." Man, I bet Stalin cried like a Trotskyite when he heard that part. 7/10

2. The Flaming Lips, "Pilot Can at the Queer of God" -- I have absolutely no idea what this song's about, and I say that having read the lyrics. Whatever. It's still a nice chunky rocker. 8/10

3. Fishbone, "Subliminal Fascism" -- Once upon a time, these guys seemed to be at the forefront of a great fusion of punk rock, funk, and hiphop, with a sharp political edge. Of course, once upon a time, the Commodore 64 seemed to be at the forefront of home computing, too. 3/10

4. Wolf Parade, "Shine a Light" -- Have I bored you yet with descriptions of how great this band is? Yes? Suck it. 8/10

5. Elvis Presley, "It's Now or Never" -- I have a soft spot for the cheesier songs in the King's repertoire, and this one certainly qualifies, what with the mariachi sounds and the "Five Neat Guys" making an appearance on backing vocals. Still, I suppose this isn't even remotely cool. 2/10

6. Curtis Mayfield, "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" -- I pretty much love everything Curtis Mayfield ever recorded, but this is a bit of a sprawling Black Power anthem, moving through soul lyrics to congo drums to funk groove to a harp interlude (?) and back again. Not great, but I refuse to give Mayfield anything less than a 5/10.

7. De La Soul, "I. C. Y'All" -- A pretty solid collaboration with Busta Rhymes from Art Official Intelligence. This song has more bottom end than Louie Anderson. Oh, that's right. I went there. 8/10

8. Parliament, "Flash Light" -- The gold standard of funk. I made this my cellphone's ring tone last summer, and ever since, I haven't been able to hear the original without wanting to check the caller I.D. 7/10

9. João Gilberto, "Falsa Baiana" -- A nice bit of classic bossa nova from one of the masters. I may not understand a single word, but my body is still always possessed by the power of Latin rhythms. 6/10

10. Stereolab, "The Seeming and the Meaning" -- One of the most inventive and unique bands around, here with one of my favorites, a tune from the Peng! album. Scorching and sweet at the same time, this is Stereolab at its finest. 10/10

Alright, that gives me an underwhelming 6.4 on the coolness scale. It seems that I, as part of the MTV Generation, really can feel neither highs nor lows. What's that feel like? Eh.

Let's see what you've got. Break out your iPod (or steal a friend's), give us the first ten songs that pop up, and, if you damn well feel like it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.

Thin line between heaven and hell

Can't see the fighters for the trees:
Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Standing Up for Your Right to Sit Down

As dozens of chess players and millions of gamblers around the world know, the 2006 FIDE World Chess Championship is happening right now in Elista, the capital of the Kalmykia. This year's event is special because it is a reunification match between the two major chess leagues, the big-dog FIDE and the upstart CWC. The CWC champion, a Russian named Kramnik, is facing off against the FIDE champion, a Bulgarian named Topalov.

If this were only about chess, I wouldn't care. But after game 4 of the grueling 12-game Cataclysm in Kalmykia, controversy broke out. A controversy that may touch us all, one that could upset the very foundations of life as we know it. A man has been robbed of his toilet.

The Topalov team, down 1-3 to the Russian, protested to the judges that Kramnik was taking way too many bathroom breaks during the games. Essentially, they were saying he was using bathroom breaks to cheat somehow. Topalov's bosses wanted the private bathrooms, which were specifically enumerated in the match's contract, to be barred. The judges announced that while they found no evidence that Kramnik was cheating, in order to ensure ethical behavior the private bathrooms would be locked and the men would share a new bathroom.

The Russian was mad as hell. He said his frequent breaks were totally honest; he does his best thinking in there (which gives new meaning to the phrase "good move"). When game 5 was scheduled to start, he staged a sit-in in front of his private bathroom. He was forced to forfeit the game.

Seeing as how this was chess and not something trivial, Kalmykia's prime minister cancelled his summit with Putin and rushed back to Elista to solve what he called "the issue of the bathrooms." After some frenzied shuttle diplomacy he got the players back to the table, but the Russian is now playing under protest and has vowed to take the FIDE to court if he loses. Reunification seems farther away than ever.

To some, it seems pretty childish. All this over a toilet? But think about it. Who among us hasn't chosen a favorite toilet stall at work? Who hasn't designated a particular bathroom at home his own domain? One's choice of crapper is as personal and as sacrosanct as can be; the very pyramids of Egypt are just oversized toilets for the pharoahs in the hereafter. Have you not noticed that the Colisseum is shaped like a gigantic toilet bowl? These things are primal, friends. You can take my toilet from my cold dead ass. Or something.

So despite the fact that I know nothing about chess, I'm pulling for Kramnik big time. I hope he wins tomorrow's decisive 12th game, ending the need for lawsuits, reunifying the world title, and breaking the lock on the private toilet of life. I hope you'll all join me at 7am for the web cast tomorrow to cheer on the man who fights for us all.

Good move, Kramnik. Good move.

Update: Topalov, playing black, battled Kramnick to a draw. Credit where credit is due (as in American life, being white gives you an unearned advantage in chess). The tiebreaker, 4 games with 50-min time limits, will be played tomorrow.

The Enemy at Home

I'm not sure how Dinesh D'Souza felt about his old asshole, but James Wolcott just tore him a new one. And deservedly so.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Film Forum

It's been a long time since we last opened the floodgates for a discussion of recent movie rentals and, since the Patriot Act will make my Netflix history public any day now, we might as well get right down to it. Here's the latest crop to grace the home theater.

Banlieue 13 (2004): This flick, also known in English as District B13, is a terrific French action film, written by Luc Besson and directed by some cheese-eating surrender monkey I've never heard of. As with any great action film, the acting is secondary (or tertiary, if we're talking about Jean Claude Van Damme). The real star of the film is parkour, a French discipline which involves climbing, vaulting, and jumping around an urban landscape and, when combined with traditional martial arts techniques, leads to some eye-popping fight scenes. Just mind-boggling stuff. Jackie Chan and Jet Li? Pussies by comparison.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006): I mentioned seeing and liking Metallica's Some Kind of Monster a couple weeks ago, but this is an even better musical documentary. It's very bare-bones, just two nights of Neil Young and friends playing at the beautiful old Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I've only seen Young live during the metal Arc/Welder years, but this is him at his folksiest best. As an added bonus, Jonathan Demme directed it and did a hell of a job. Definitely worth a look, even if you're just a casual fan of Young.

Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog (1978): This is one of many great kung fu films that our own Inanimate Carbon Rod has steered me to, and once again, he didn't disappoint. The star here is Sammo Hung, who I vaguely remember starring on some CBS cop show in the '90s, but apparently had a thriving career in these films outside of my field of vision. This is solid, popcorn-fu, the kind of thing I rent when it's me and only me in front of the DVD. The words "Sammo Hung" and "date night" just don't mix.

What about you folks? What have you been watching on DVD lately? (Keep it clean, Studio. Keep it clean.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Semper Fi

I just came across this terrific letter home from a Marine officer in Iraq, thanks to a link by Kevin Drum.

You should really read the whole thing, but here are some teasers to whet your appetite:
Most Surreal Moment - Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. I had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Most Profound Man in Iraq - an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

Biggest Hassle - High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no affect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage - Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest offender - Bill O'Reilly - what a buffoon.

Biggest Ass-Chewing - 10 July immediately following a visit by the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Zobai. The Deputy Prime Minister brought along an American security contractor (read mercenary), who told my Commanding General that he was there to act as a mediator between us and the Bad Guys. I immediately told him what I thought of him and his asinine ideas in terms that made clear my disgust and which, unfortunately, are unrepeatable here. I thought my boss was going to have a heart attack. Fortunately, the translator couldn't figure out the best Arabic words to convey my meaning for the Deputy Prime Minister. Later, the boss had no difficulty in convening his meaning to me in English regarding my Irish temper, even though he agreed with me. At least the guy from the State Department thought it was hilarious. We never saw the mercenary again.

Best Chuck Norris Moment - 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in the small town of Kubaysah to kidnap the town mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the bad Guys put down his machinegun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machinegun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
Again, lots more there so read the whole thing. It's nice to hear directly from the soldiers, without the filter of the media or politicians on either side of the issue.

Repetitive Stress Disorder

I've said this before and I'm sure I'll say it again -- Keith Olbermann hits it out of the park.

Fission Accomplished

In yet another foreign policy triumph from the brilliant team that brought you "Mess o'Potamia," "The Taliban: Back in Style," and "Where's Osama?", I'm thrilled -- thrilled -- to see that they've let the batshit craziest dictator alive develop a nuclear bomb. Awesome.

As Josh Marshall notes, the failure of American containment policy in North Korea stems -- like most failures of this crowd -- from their desire to be the Anti-Clinton:
President Bush came to office believing that Clinton's policy amounted to appeasement. Force and strength were the way to deal with North Korea, not a mix of force, diplomacy and aide. And with that premise, President Bush went about scuttling the 1994 agreement, using evidence that the North Koreans were pursuing uranium enrichment (another path to the bomb) as the final straw. ....

All diplomatic niceties aside, President Bush's idea was that the North Koreans would respond better to threats than Clinton's mix of carrots and sticks.

Then in the winter of 2002-3, the US prepared the invade Iraq, the North called Bush's bluff. And the president folded. Abjectly, utterly, even hilariously if the consequences weren't so grave and vast.

Threats are a potent force if you're willing to follow through on them. But he wasn't. The plutonium production plant, which had been shuttered since 1994, got unshuttered. And the bomb that exploded tonight was, if I understand this correctly, almost certainly the product of that plutonium uncorked almost four years ago. ....

The Bush-Cheney policy on North Korea was always what Fareed Zakaria once aptly called "a policy of cheap rhetoric and cheap shots." It failed. And after it failed President Bush couldn't come to grips with that failure and change course. He bounced irresolutely between the Powell and Cheney lines and basically ignored the whole problem hoping either that the problem would go away, that China would solve it for us and most of all that no one would notice.

Do you notice now?
How many more days to we have to live under the incredible combination of ignorance and arrogance that this crowd specializes in? Can we at least get some Democratic congressional oversight soon? Please?

The Frogurt Is Also Cursed

The good news for George Allen is that he went a whole week without any revelations about his racist past. The bad news is he's been hiding stock options from Congress.
For the past five years, Sen. George Allen, has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

Congressional rules require senators to disclose to the Senate all deferred compensation, such as stock options. The rules also urge senators to avoid taking any official action that could benefit them financially or appear to do so.
No word yet on whether any deer heads were involved.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

Caption Contest

Bush and Foley. Some jokes just write themselves.

This time, however, you'll have to write it. Do your worst.

Friday Random Ten

Part of me thinks that Claudar is just another fake foreigner dreamed up by our liberal media. Just looking at him, he seems to be equal parts Cousin Balki and Yakoff Smirnoff. ("In Soviet Russia, records play you!") In fact, the odds are good that the entire Borat Sagdiyev experience is just a rip-off of this earlier, more brilliant incarnation.

But, then again, maybe it's legit. I mean, I doubt the Holiday Inns of French Quebec would lie to us, and this album has their stamp of approval. The ears may say "non," but the eyes, mes amis, say "oui."

Anyway, with Claudar, Lord of the Dance, watching over us, it must be time for the Friday Random Ten. Here goes.

1. Kool Keith, "Master of the Game" -- Kool Keith has more personalities than Clinton Portis, and an even better sense of style. This is a great bit of driving, funky rap, a bit of boasting that's strongly influenced by the funk masters from Zapp. 8/10

2. Death Cab for Cutie, "Passenger Seat" -- One of the lesser songs off a great album, their breakout Transatlanticism. Not too bad, I suppose, but it really pales next to the brilliant stuff recorded alongside it. Eh. 6/10

3. The Coctails, "2000" -- To be honest, I don't know much about this band, other than the fact that they seemed to combine '60s guitar pop sensibilities with a nice '90s indie rock vibe. Don't know if that makes any sense, but the song works. 8/10

4. Kool and the Gang, "Give It Up" -- Damn, this FRT has more Kools than a nightclub ashtray. This is a pretty early tune by the Gang, a '60s soul instrumental with a couple bright spots. 6/10

5. Sly Stone, "Crossword Puzzle" -- Sweet Zombie Jesus, I'm on a roll! This is a scorching bit of funk, a terrific song made all the better by the fact that it contributed a key sample to De La Soul's "Say No Go" single. If this isn't a perfect song on the Coolness Meter, I don't know what is. 10/10

6. The Wedding Present, "Kennedy" -- This British band excelled at the wall-of-strumming-guitars sound, an approach which dominated most of their songs, including this one. It's like playing an Unrest song at 78rpm. (If you understood that joke, get back to work at the record store.) 9/10

7. The Breeders, "Drivin' on 9" -- I didn't think the Breeders would be as good once Tanya Donnelly moved on after the first album, but Kim Deal proved to be more than enough woman to carry the whole damn thing. For an album or two. The countryish song off Last Splash, this is fairly sweet, though probably not cool. 7/10

8. Labi Siffre, "I Got The..." -- Well, it's apparently Hip Hop Sample Day here at the FRT. This '70s tune contributed the main beat and the title ellipsis for Eminem's "My Name Is..." But, again, the original stands on its own feet. Nicely funky, if a little lame in the vocals. 8/10

9. Stevie Wonder, "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday" -- I'm a pretty big fan of Stevie Wonder, but I've got to be honest here and admit that this is fairly crappy. From the crappy title to the crappy backup vocals to the crappy lyrics, it's clearly not his best work. Sorry, Stevie. 4/10

10. Buffalo Tom, "Hawaiian Baby" -- Ah, what a nice ending. This is a spare, sweet cover version of a Spinanes song. I used to have a 7" single of the original, but it got lost along the way ages ago. If anyone knows where I can track down a copy of that, seriously, help a brother out. The Buffalo Tom version isn't quite as good, but it's still awfully damn good. 8/10

Alright, that gives me a 7.4 average on the global coolness positioning system. I'm not surprised by that number, since it keeps on coming up week after week. As philosopher-king George McFly would say, it's my density.

Your turn, folks. Drop your own FRTs in the comments below, with or without the coolness self-audit. Or else just launch into random tirades about the music these kids listen to today and how it's not really music, it's just noise and screeching and men in tight pants who look like ladies. Your choice.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Chicken Monkey to the Rescue

I love the irony.

Lose your short term memory - to save your long term.

That reminds me.... Oh, wait. Umm. Nevermind it will come back to me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fair and Balanced

StudioDave caught this lovely image over at Inside Cable News -- and, no, I can't think of a scarier place to be than inside cable news -- and I thought we should pass it along.

Maybe this is what the Republican talking heads mean when they insist it's somehow a Democratic scandal. They saw it on Fox News, so it must be true.

By the way, be sure to check out the comments over at the original site. People are mad because Foley's getting so much attention and no one talks about Patrick Kennedy anymore! Because driving drunk is the same thing as preying on children, engaging in cybersex with them, setting up dates where you get them drunk, and so on. Exactly the same!

And hey, what about Bill Clinton's consensual affair with a 22-year-old? How come we never hear about that anymore? That's so much creepier than a pedophile congressman engaging in mutual cybermasturbation with a high school student between House votes. Honestly!

Update: The Fox News drones have been pushing a line for the past couple of days about how the revelations about Foley were orchestrated by the Democrats, probably as part of a gay Mexlamofascist conspiracy funded by George Soros. Well, turns out the emails and IMs were actually passed along by a longtime GOP aide.

Was this "longtime GOP aide" a Democratic double agent trained by the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood to infiltrate the Republican ranks? Or perhaps a space-age cyborg sent here from the future to thwart Denny Hastert's noble quest to return the World Eating Championship to American hands?

Only time and the impartial insight of Sean Hannity will tell.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Caption Contest

I know this is low-hanging fruit, but sometimes that's the sweetest fruit of all.

Have at him, Macacas!

Circular Firing Squad

After years of watching the Democrats turn on each other at the first sign of trouble, it's nice to see the House Republicans doing the same thing in the wake of Predatorgate.
ABC's Teddy Davis reports: In a radio interview with 700 WLW radio in Cincinnati, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) placed responsibility for the Foley matter not being handled properly on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

"I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of," said Boehner. "And, and, and my position is it's in his corner, it's his responsibility. The Clerk of the House who runs the page program, the Page Board—all report to the Speaker. And I believe it had been dealt with."

Please note that by saying that he talked with the Speaker about Foley, Boehner is reversing course and going back to his original position.
Wow. That's the House Majority Leader squarely laying the blame for a pedophilia scandal cover-up at the feet of the Speaker of the House. (And, as the piece notes, flip-flopping in the process.)

I can't believe this is happening just five weeks before a critical election, but with the Washington Times and the Majority Leader leading the charge, we just might see a coup against Denny Hastert. No one can understand what goes on in the mind of the Moonie Times, but I've got to assume Boehner sees this as his ticket to the top.

But even if Hastert goes down, I don't think it's over. The entire Republican leadership is going to be stained by this scandal and put completely on the defensive for the rest of the campaign. Any press conference they give is going to lead to questions on this, and any snide comment they make about Democrats is going to be brushed back by a quick *cough*pedophiles*cough*!

Indeed, this thing will taint the entire Republican Congress. (Sadly, this is what it takes. As widespread as the Abramoff scandal was, it required math and finance skills and thus didn't really seize the public's attention. But a congressman preying on kids? Cue the Soledad O'Brien bridgade: "Won't someone think of the children?!?!") The Republicans are already in some tight races in unlikely places, and this is just the kind of thing that nudges the polls a point or two in each race and could very well lead to a big blue wave in a few weeks.

If you haven't already done so, now's the time to dig into your pocket and send along a little cash to your favorite Democratic candidate for the final push. If you're looking for recommendations, I'd point you in the direction of some of the House candidates in suburban Philly -- Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, and Lois Murphy -- or perhaps the anti-Macaca, Jim Webb, in his Senate race against Felix the Cad.

If money's tight -- and Lord knows it's tight with the Republican incompetents in charge -- just ask yourself: How much you'd spend to see real congressional investigations of this administration? How much would you pay to prevent another conservative justice from going to the Supreme Court? How much would you pay to get a two-year break from these incompetent boobs?

Yeah, I'd pay a lot, too.

Update: Courtesy of Firedoglake, check out this great piece in the Washington Post about the likely impact of all this on the election.

Leg 'er down 'n smack 'em yak 'em

In these terrorized times, evesdropping is not just a right. It's a responsibility of every good citizen. So keep a sharp ear out when you're in an international airport. Because these serve as the modern crossroads for many different cultures and nationalities, you may encounter some people who aren't speaking American. If you do, don't hesitate to report them as a threat.
A 32-year-old man speaking Tamil and some English about a sporting rivalry was questioned at Sea-Tac Airport and missed his flight Saturday because at least one person thought he was suspicious.

The Port of Seattle dispatched its police officers to investigate the case, which occurred Saturday around noon, said Bob Parker, airport spokesman. The Chicago man was preparing to board an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The man was speaking Tamil, a language largely used in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, on his cell phone at the departure gate and on the aircraft. An off-duty airline employee heard the conversation and informed the flight crew.

Monday, October 02, 2006

South Carolina's The Best

All this sexual predatory stuff in the news reminded me of this article from America's finest news source.

And while I'm at it, here's a nice one on the state of our nation.

Those Who Fail to Learn from Ozzy . . .

You've heard about Predatorgate by now, where some sicko/republican from Florida has been busted for getting his freak on by instant-messaging underage interns.

Certainly not the first time a holier-than-thou conservative has been shown to be sickier-than-thou. In the 1980s, Jimmy Swaggart earned some scratch by castigating rockers such as Ozzy Osbourne for their sinful ways. He then used that scratch to purchase services from prostitutes. Once the scandal hit the press, Ozzy opened a can of musical and visual whoopass on him. Enjoy.

What About My Needs?

Dispensing with habeus corpus? Institutionalizing cruel and unusual punishment? Who cares about all that?
This is the real assault on our freedom.
Shares in U.K.-listed online gambling companies including PartyGaming and 888 Holdings plummeted Monday after the U.S. Congress unexpectedly passed an act that could cripple the industry by cutting off its revenue flows.
PartyGaming and 888 Holdings both said they will shut down their U.S.-facing operations once the act is signed into law by President Bush, which is expected to happen in the next two weeks.