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!