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Monday, June 30, 2008

Do You Have What It Takes?

Because the Old Glory ad from a few days ago made me nostalgic for more faux ads, here's one for American Apparel:

Hilarious. Every time I see their ads on the back of The Onion or The Reader, I am filled with a desire to eat hipsters.

Ivy Retardation

The American Scholar published an article by William Deresiewicz, a professor at Yale University, which describes the phenomenon he calls "Ivy Retardation."

We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and
everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to
give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when
people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard,
I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to
school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are
smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of
class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at

So very true. I openly loathe the American education system. Yes, I am currently training to be a test prep instructor, thereby helping more students game the system. I am part of the problem. But I do know what the solution is. The American education system is nothing more than a guarantor of privileges of your socioeconomic class. The idea that there is any equality at all is laughable. Equal education will only arrive when teaching becomes training, when all students are given the basics towards their survival in a global market.

Yes, this would be more money for teachers, and higher taxes. But it would emphasize broad, marketable skills- reading, writing, math, and technology. The lie of American education is that anyone can be President. Maybe so, but that is not a goal. The country needs construction workers and adminstrative assistants. What the country doesn't need is failed schools and academics more in love with theory than training.

True, education is better today on a global perspective. More women and handicapped receive proper education. But, top to bottom, the American education system relies less on its primary goal (education) than on illusory social skills (phys ed, networking, adding resources, etc.).

Our empire will crumble here, not through misbegotten wars or failed environmental policies. Poor students make poor leaders.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tarantino Update

Our man in Van Nuys, Mr. Quentin Tarantino, chatted with the BBC about his upcoming WWII movie, Inglorious Bastards. The film will be his version of The Dirty Dozen.

Something to look forward in, oh, I say, Christmas '09.

Honda's ASIMO Conducts Detroit Symphony

First, Japanese cars overtake Detroit cars in the marketplace. Next, their robots come and conduct Detroit's symphony.

What's next? Do they buy the Red Wings?

Just reminding you, better get that robot insurance.

Why the Democrats Suck

While you were enjoying your summer the last two days, the Democratic controlled Congress rewrote our laws for government wiretapping. The Democrats gave the Bush administration everything. The government can begin reading your emails and bugging your calls just like if you flipped off Jack Bauer in traffic.

Slate's excellent legal affairs columnist, Patrick Radden Keefe, wrote a piece which will explain to you exactly why this bill is so horrid. FISA, the previous law protecting us from an obtrusive government, existed since the bad old Watergate days. The Democrats then lived through a corrupt Republican administration, and passed laws to stop another Nixon from bypassing our Constitution. The Democrats we have today? Yeah, not so much. Why not give an even worse Republican expanded powers? Ugh.

The Sprints and US Cellulars of the world, the folks we all pay monthly so we can drunk text at 2 AM, the very companies who allowed the government to browse through your phone records without your knowledge, were granted immunity. And yes, our very own Barack Obama voted for the bill.

Somebody remind the Democrats exactly what an opposition party means, please. Nancy and Harry, it means you vote No. No. You just vote no.

Ick. Just about makes you want to party with Ron Paul.

Willy the Hot Dog Man

Kermit Love, 91, co-creator of Big Bird and my childhood best friend Mr. Snuffleupagus (seriously) with Shambollocks Personal God Jim Henson (an elusive category, which we'll leave for another post), died yesterday according to the Los Angeles Times.

Kermit played Willy the Hot Dog Man on the show, human foil for Oscar the Grouch. He is not the inspiration of Kermit the Frog's name.

Sesame Street
has had as much a positive impact on American society as any cultural product or historical figure. It imagines an urban existence of tolerance and responsibility which remains elusive, but is as effective educationally today as it was in the '70s.
Though he had no children of his own, Love said in a 1991 Newsweek article
he had "raised so many people's families.

"I have a million children."
Yes you did, Kermit. And I, as one, will miss you dearly.

Troy McClure Resume


IMDb has started a new feature, providing resumes for favorite fictional characters. This link gives you the career of Troy McClure, star of my favorite Simpson episode A Fish Called Selma. His film work follows:

Performer Profile
Hair Color:
Hair Length:
Voice Type:
Macarthur Parker: Agent To The Stars, Macarthur Parker, Agent
Carnival Of The Stars, Jim McClure, Other
Three Men And A Bunsen Burner
The doomed Professor Landrew
Cry Yuma
Here Comes The Coast Guard
Preacher With A Shovel
The Revenge Of Abe Lincoln
The Wackiest Covered Wagon In The West
Calling All Quakers
Gladys The Groovy Mule
Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die (aka McBain; aka McBain Episode I: Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die)
A Bridge Too Far
Todd, the world's unluckiest dentist
Dial M For Murderousness
The Erotic Adventures Of Hercules
'P' Is For Psycho
The President's Neck Is Missing!
The Boatjacking Of Supership 79
Hydro, The Man With The Hydraulic Arms
Good-Time Slim, Uncle Doobie, And The Great 'Frisco Freak-Out
Muppets Go Medieval
The Contrabulous Fabtraption Of Professor Horatio Hufnagel
Troy McClure
The Greatest Story Ever Hula-d
They Came To Burgle Carnegie Hall
Meet Joe Blow
Give My Remains To Broadway
The Verdict Was Mail Fraud
Leper In The Backfield
Make-Out King Of Montana
The Electric Gigolo
Wake Up, Finnegan
Paddy The relentless bell-ringer
David VS Super-Goliath
Suddenly Last Supper
Space Mutants VII: Cry Of The Space Mutant
The Itchy & Scratchy Movie
Jagged Attraction
Look Who's Still Oinking
Three Men And A Nuke
Ten Was Too Many
The Computer Wore Puka Shells
The Frontier Family Get Deer Ticks
The Mediocre Journey
Swing, Swang, Swung
Bobby, the happy-go-lucky boyhood friend of Ook-Ook the lip cancer chimp
Slow Down, David Copperfield, What's That Down Your Sock?
Calling All Lumberjacks
The Day Paul Bunyan Cried
Radioactive Man II: Bring On The Sequel
Radioactive Man III
The Pulverizer
Sleepless In Shelbyville
The Unbearable Moistness Of Sweating
Coffee, Tea, Or Fiddle Dee Dee
Eenie Meeni Miney, Die
Young Jebediah Springfield
Watch-And-Learn Productions
Troy And Company's Summertime Smile Factory
Buck Henderson: Union Buster
Handel With Kare
Troy McClure's Pre-Teen Soul Machine
Alien Nose Jobs
Fox Network Special
Five Fabulous Weeks Of The Chevy Chase Show
Fox Network Special
Troy McClure's Aloha From Louie's House of Shave Ice (Live Via Satellite!)
"Ah! Fudge" Factory Introductory Video
"Rancho Relaxo" Resort Introductory Video
I Can't Believe They Invented It!
IBN: Impulse Buying Network
Springfield Public Television Telethon
Out With Gout '88
Let's Save Tony Orlando's House
Miss American Girl Pageant
Carnival Of The Stars
The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular
The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase
Stop The Planet Of The Apes: I Want To Get Off!
Rod, the happy-go-lucky fire engine
Mommy, What's Wrong With That Man's Face?
Alice Doesn't Live Any More
Birds: Our Fine Feathered Colleagues
Man Verses Nature: The Road To Victory
Earwigs, Eww!
Adjusting Your Self-O-Stat
Get Confident, Stupid!
Smoke Yourself Thin
Kiss Your Butt Goodbye: Post-Meltdown Emergency Procedures
Where In The Heck Is The People's Republic Of Kampuchea?
Boy, Oh Cheboygan!
Dig Your Own Grave And Save
Mothballing Your Battleship
The Half-Assed Guide To Foundation Repair
Fuzzy Bunny's Guide To You-Know-What
Here Comes The Metric System
Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly
60 Minutes Of Car Crash Victims
Alice's Adventures Through The Windshield Glass
The Decapitation Of Larry Leadfoot
Pepsi Presents: Fractions
The Meat Council: Meat And You: Partners In Freedom
Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun
Firecrackers: The Silent Killer
Shoplifters BEWARE
Designated Drivers: The Lifesaving Nerds
Phoney Tornado Alerts Reduce Readiness
Locker Room Towel Fights: The Blinding Of Larry Driscoll
A Tree Grew In Springfield
Turning Comics Into Movies
Voice Over
Duff Gardens Commercial
Barnum - The Animated Series
Christmas Ape
Christmas Ape Goes To Summer Camp
Performer Skills
Dance: Tap
Athletic Skills: Football, Golf
Performance Skills: Singing, Comedian, Stunts, Host, Teleprompter, Voiceover
Employment Details
Work History : Television, Voice Over, Film, Commercial, Industrial
Job Categories: Acting, Directing

Ever-Changing Skyscraper

The BBC has a clip of a new building to be built in Dubai by David Fisher which will move with the wind, thereby generating its own energy. Most of you know how fascinated I am with architecture (just like George Costanza). Who knows if they can pull it off, but the clip is awesome.

The bummer is it will be filled with fourth cousins of Saudi sheiks.

Used By Our Illusions

Rolling Stone reported Tuesday that FBI agents contacted the California blogger who posted songs from Guns N' Roses mythical Chinese Democracy last week. The blogger, Kevin Skwerl , is prepared to face the music wherever it may lead. But this post won't focus on copyright issues.

Why is this news? In 2008, why are we still fascinated with Axl Rose and a defunct band that has not released an album of new material in SEVENTEEN years!

I am as much to blame as any other member of my generation. Monday found me wearing my GNR hat, and I proudly wear GNR buttons on other clothing. Yet, they are nowhere near my favorite band.

I believe Guns N Roses fascinates Gen Y because of what has happened to the music industry since our teenage days. The great bands of our generation either no longer exist (Nirvana), have outgrown their niche (Beastie Boys), or have irrevocably damaged their reputation amongst their former fans (Metallica, R.E.M., U2).

Guns N' Roses never formally called it quits. They continue to tantalize us with the same exact unprofessionalism we all found appealing in the first place. What is amazing is how long they have managed to pull it off. I routinely call out the Grateful Dead for being overrated, but didn't they achieve much more than GNR ever has? How can I slag the Dead for abusing their fan base, when I know full well that if GNR manages to release something I will buy it.

GNR is Gen Y's nostalgia band. Except instead of a non-stop tour, they are earning attention by doing nothing. Maybe Axl is not as crazy and out of touch as I believe.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bad Taste Department

The BBC reports that a terrorist-themed restaurant has opened in a predominantly Muslim area of Lebanon. The restaurant is called Buns & Guns, and features sandwiches named after artillery (Kalashnikov, Dragunov, Viper, B52, etc.).

This is not a bit.

This from the owner:

"My goal was to make people laugh before they ask me why weapons. The
important thing is that they laugh," Mr Ibrahim said.

And people say militant Muslims have no sense of humor? I don't know about you, but I believe all the Jews in northern Israel who spend much of their free time in bunkers are laughing their yarmulkes off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Press Clipping of the the Day

Surprise, surprise: 17-year old Jamie Lynn Spears gave birth to a baby girl a few days ago. I would not usually care, except for this sentence in the AP filing.

The father is Casey Aldridge, a pipe-layer from Liberty, Miss.

I don't think that occupation is in any doubt right now. Hilarious.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shambollocks Outing....

Drive-By Truckers play Taste of Randolph this Saturday evening at 8:30. If you wonder where the glory of '70s American classic rock went, DON'T miss this show. K and I will be there and you can buzz us at if you wish to join us.

Here's a link to hear some music. And here they are live:

Hope you can join us! Our photography department will post photos.

Iowa Flood Photos

The Des Moines Register posted a great collection of photos of the damage done so far by the month of heavy rain and rising rivers. There will only be more photos added to the page in the next few weeks as the big 'un, the Mississippi, deals with the water draining into it from its neighboring states.

The most important reader of this blog, my fiance, hails from the state of Iowa and I believe it to be my duty to give a bit more exposure to the travails of the state's citizens. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks as they harness their energies toward rebuilding in the flood's wake.

Expect food prices to rise in a few months precipitously as a reaction from this catatrosphe.

Father-Daughter Debate Sexism and the Hill Campaign

Slate published an email exchange between Casey Greenfield and her father, Jeff, one of my favorite journalists. Jeff did fine work for years as a Nightline correspondent. He now is a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning. Casey is a Hill supporter who wants the media's sexist treatment of her candidate put on trial. Jeff believes her daughter doth protest too much.

I agree with everything Jeff writes in his emails (where did they sell those nutcrackers, anyway?). Politics has very little to do with marginal social issues (racism, sexism, whitism). Politics is about getting out the vote, and picking up the garbage (thanks, Richard J!). Hillary did not run a campaign, but a coronation. Barack won not because he is black, or a man, but because he did a better job.

Sometimes I feel like I've woke up in Election, and the Tracy Flick supporters won't shut up. You ran for an office, and you lost. It happens. Even to ambitious, capable women.

Getta Load of 'Dem Gams!

I love musicals. Singing In The Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Kiss Me Kate, and My Fair Lady are all in my top 20 films of all time, and there are a slew of others I could watch again and again. Unlike many in my generation, I don't have a problem with someone stopping what they are doing and singing. We don't go to film for reality, after all.

Dancer Cyd Charisse died of a heart attack a couple of days ago. My childhood imagination was always taken by her and Ann Miller. They both seemed completely alien to me-more animal than human, with otherworldly coordination. In short, they were damn sexy!

Here's Cyd with Gene in Singing:

And Fred, in another great MGM musical, The Band Wagon:

As my dad would say, "That's when they had real dancing in movies."

Fidel Death Watch 2008

The Fidel Death Watch, now in its third fantastic year, continues. Two days ago, he appeared on Cuban television for the first time in five months. He's wearing the same Cuban boxer warm-up he has been photographed in recently.

Fidel Castro, hell bent on outliving every single damned capitalist pig American.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Truthiness Alert!

Talking Points Memo created a video with all the reactions to former White House Press Secretary's Scott McClellan's book from the Bushies.

Remember class, if everyone is saying the same thing, no one is saying anything at all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Skype Love

Kara and I met online, and for the longest time this made me feel horribly self-conscious. I'm not anymore, as online dating has reached the mainstream and now I feel like our meeting was like seeing the Talking Heads in 1976. Yes, everything goes back to music for me.

Well, the new frontier in computer love is Skype Love. The Walrus has an article about what it feels like to be in love with someone through a computer.

But accelerated love still presents a problem: as the mind races forward to
embrace a lover, the body is left behind. The closer you get on Skype, the more
you miss the feel of someone’s skin, their weight beside you in bed. So near, so
in your ear, yet so far away. It can be incredibly frustrating. Several months
into our physical separation, my girlfriend and I found ourselves joking that we
were not having a relationship with each other but with our computers (sometimes
I actually kissed my screen and hugged my keyboard).

The article proves that romance, in whatever context you get it, is always sweet, always awkward.

Photobombers has a flash gallery of photobombers- people who dump on that perfect photo when your back is turned. The first few aren't great, but there are four or five that are laugh out loud funny (one which involves a well-placed flobe) and a mock threesome.

Looks like I have a new prank to add to my arshole arsenal.

The White Sox First Round Draft Pick...

plays shortstop. His name is Gordon Beckham. And he's a douche. Keep watching to the 2:35 mark. You will laugh your ass off.

I really hope they play this clip on the Jumbotron when he takes his place next to Joe Crede in two years.

Banker looking for hipster

From Craigslist today:

Banker looking for hipster

Reply to:
Date: 2008-06-13, 11:03AM EDT

Who knows if it'll work out?

You can't wait to tear off my pinstripe suit. If you rip any buttons I'll totally stretch out that tshirt you bought off etsy and pass off as your own.

On Monday nights you'll try and get me to drink. You'll think I won't because I have an adult job. But I won't because I want to be lucid for this week's episode of The Hills.

The next day you'll tell me that my job is boring and that you hate the Upper West Side. But the truth is that you kinda like making out in central park and enjoy that my bonus can cover all the grilled cheese sandwiches you dig. I'll make fun of whatever dirty street you live on in Brooklyn, but I know it's a lot more fun.

You'll pretend you can cook and make me pancakes. I'll probably distract you while you cook and you'll probably burn them. It's OK; I've got waffles in the freezer.

I don't have to tell you what I do or my background. I'm great on paper (school, work, charities). I'm 6'1''...handsome and jewish/irish. You be cute, wear scarves, make witty/biting remarks, and have an infectious smile/laugh.

After a while I'll probably become a vegetarian because of you and you'll probably start bringing up op-eds from the wall street journal when you're hanging out with your friends. It's cool. Don't fight it. I promise we'll have the sweetest combined movie/CD collection of all the couples you know.

Send a pic.

Too funny!

Other Review of the Week

Monosyllabic review of The Hulk in Friday's Guardian.

"Hulk. Smash!" Yes. Hulk. Smash. Yes. Smash. Big Hulk smash. Smash cars.
Buildings. Army tanks. Hulk not just smash. Hulk also go rarrr! Then smash
again. Smash important, obviously. Smash Hulk's USP. What Hulk smash most? Hulk
smash all hope of interesting time in cinema. Hulk take all effort of cinema,
effort getting babysitter, effort finding parking, and Hulk put great green fist
right through it. Hulk crush all hopes of entertainment. Hulk in boring film.
Film co-written by star. Edward Norton. Norton in it. Norton write it. Norton
not need gamma-radiation poisoning to get big head. Thing is: Hulk head weirdly
small. Compared with rest of big green body.

Hulk not scary. Hulk look like Shrek. Wait. Critic have ... second thought.
Hulk look like Shrek when Shrek turn handsome, in Shrek 2. Like Gordon Brown.
Hulk rubbish. Hulk not look powerful. Especially when Hulk do jumpy bouncy
floaty thing. Over New York buildings. Then Hulk look wussy. Big. Yet wussy. Not
good combination.

Stan Lee have big cameo. Stan Lee keen on self. Previously Stan Lee just
glimpsed. Now Stan in it for 30 seconds. Or more. Stan clearly on roll. Stan
even give Robert Downey Jr cameo. As Iron Man. This very irritating. Audience
supposed to be excited. Audience nod off. Long ago.

Idea is. Dr Bruce Banner - on run. Keep anger under control. Banner hope
not turn into Hulk. Banner live .... in Brazilian slum. Work in factory. Total
babe there fancy Banner. Banner quite fancy babe. But Banner not make move. Babe
in film to keep guys interested. Until Banner's girlfriend Liv Tyler come into
action later. Tyler not mind Hulk thing. Hulk remind her of dad. Steven Tyler.
Possibly. Much location work. Overhead shots. Of slums. City of God vibe
intended. But this rubbish. Like everything else.

Tim Roth come on. As evil soldier. Fighting Hulk personal for him. Roth
typical evil Brit. Roth supposedly working for US army. Yet Roth Brit. Critic
annoyed by stereotyping. Roth get injected with serum. Become Hulky
supervillain. Smash cars. Tanks. Only with no trousers. Roth groin area
ambiguous. Groin area look lumpy. Bumpy. Perhaps odd penis. Perhaps odd
trousers. Critic ... not sure.

Same old story. Superhero movie give superhero mirror-image antagonist.
Like in Spider-Man 3. Idea rubbish in Spider-Man 3. Idea rubbish here. Hulk
versus humanity important thing. Cancelled out here. Basic problem ... critic
not believe Hulk angry. Hulk just roar. It not look convincing. Not truly seem
angry. Critic think about this. Critic decide why. It because Hulk not swear.
Hulk just say: "Hulk. Smash" etc. If Hulk shout C-word ... different matter.
Then Hulk look angry. Sound angry. Not here. Hulk genteel.

Critic remember Ang Lee version. Ang Lee version slagged off. Yet rubbish
new Hulk film make that look like Citizen Kane. Critic exit cinema miffed. Film
take away two hours of critic's life. Critic not get time back. Ever.

Very clever, Brits. Evil, evil, Brits

Review of the Week

Kara and I saw Iron Man a few weeks ago (awesome!), and were treated to the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's (I know I shouldn't, but I always want to address him like Sterno used to-Shamalamadingdong) new film, The Happening. Wow. The trailer was so intentionally awful I felt for art's sake I should leave even before I saw Tony Stark.

Obviously, the trailer wasn't a lie. The New Republic review spoils the whole film on purpose and skewers it hilariously. I would pull a few of the better quotes, but I don't want to spoil it for the five or six readers of mine who might actually want to see this mess.

What happened to M. Night? I am huge fan of Unbreakable, which by the way is begging for a big budget sequel, and Signs. And of course, The Sixth Sense deserved all the accolades and cash it earned. But this guy's last few films have not interested me at all. Enough with the ethereal threats already! This guy needs to make Godzilla or something, so at least we can see the evil above his name in the title.

M. Night. Get Sam and Bruce together, they bowl every Thursday. Agree to do Unbreakable II: Security. Get your career back on track, brother. You're very talented and likeable.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Cult of Carefree Irresponsibility

If you ask me, every Christopher Hitchens essay is an event. Alcoholic? Yes. Frustrating? Sure. Genius? You betcha. In this week's Vanity Fair, he writes an emboldened plea to save the little patches of Bohemia disappearing in an urban landscape so desperate for another bespoke boutique.
It isn’t possible to quantify the extent to which society and culture are
indebted to Bohemia. In every age in every successful country, it has been
important that at least a small part of the cityscape is not dominated by
bankers, developers, chain stores, generic restaurants, and railway terminals.
This little quarter should instead be the preserve of—in no special
order—insomniacs and restaurants and bars that never close; bibliophiles and the
little stores and stalls that cater to them; alcoholics and addicts and deviants
and the proprietors who understand them; aspirant painters and musicians and the
modest studios that can accommodate them; ladies of easy virtue and the men who
require them; misfits and poets from foreign shores and exiles from remote and
cruel dictatorships. Though it should be no disadvantage to be young in such a
quartier, the atmosphere should not by any means discourage the veteran.
I know the West Village in Chicago is no Greenwhich, but I will always be profoundly influenced by the raw individuality of that urban frontier I called home. Status had not fully arrived yet, and the streets stunk of immigrants and artists. It was a blast. Hitchens is right- urban life without real artists is a mall.

What's A Basehead?

I knew it was some kind of junkie and that Chuck D wanted them out of his 'hood, but nothing more than that.

Grandmaster Flash, in an interview with New York magazine, gives us the truth.

Here’s what it is. You had to have money to be a basehead. And I’m not
waving the flag like "Yay!" for it. It really was an awful habit, but you had to
be able to have … in order to get cocaine down to base, you have to cook it in
such a way and burn out any impurities that might be in what you’re sniffing to
get it down to base. So let’s just say — and I’m gonna be pretty bad here —
let’s say if it was a quarter in weight, by the time you purified it, it might
be ten times less that. So you had to buy a whole lot of cocaine to base.

You don't say, Mr. Flash.

Yeah. Base was a very expensive habit. I think you could buy crack for ten
dollars. To base you had to easily spend five, six, seven hundred dollars,

And that, boys and girls, is how you lose all your money to drugs.

What Worries Conservatives Today?

Google doodles.

Yes, the changes Google occasionally makes to its logo irks conservatives. In yesterday's Slate, the conspiracy is revealed. It seems conservatives would like their holidays to be commemorated. Google, is it so hard to place a dead soldier or crucified Christ (ya know, the cheery images that make conservatives so much fun at parties!) between your oos?

Google defends itself by stating they didn't celebrate Judy Garland's birthday last year, upsetting legions of gay males.

Every day can't be a 'War On Religion' in Foxland. Somedays need to be a 'War On Google Doodads.' Keep at it. Every resource they spend on that, is less they spend on John McSame.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today in Race

Yeah, I know- you've had it with race already this election year. If so, you better build yourself a bunker, because the issue is not going away until at least January '09. The esteemed Wall Street Journal provided a history of whiteness today. Now, it can be said that the WSJ itself is the history of whiteness, but that is a whole other post. The key passage for me is this:

Whiteness and the privileges that came with it were so closely guarded that in
1912, a House committee held hearings on whether Italians were really Caucasian,
says Thomas Guglielmo, a historian at George Washington University. The idea was
picked up from Italy, where northern, lighter-skinned Italians, were asking the
same questions about the southern, darker-skinned Italians, he says. No one
argued seriously that Jews and Greeks, or Irish and Poles -- light-skinned but
poor -- weren't white, but whether they were ethnically Caucasian was up for
debate, he adds.

Yes, we Irish-Americans were not white enough. So the next time anyone tells you that a black can't be elected, you can gently remind them that there was a time not so long ago when a Kennedy couldn't bend elbows with a Vanderbilt.

I'm glad I'm marrying into good German stock. It will cleanse that nasty Irish blood.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Great Art Deco Movie Poster

K and I decided on an art deco theme for our wedding this October, so I've given myself over to an education on this design movement. I feel like I've seen a good share of what is represented as the standards of art deco online. I stumbled on this stunningly beautiful poster for Chaplin's City Lights from the blog Stale Popcorn, where they are listing the 100 best movie posters of all time. Movie posters are one of my favorite advertising vehicles. If you dig them, too, you should really check out the list which has a bunch more of my favorites.

What a poster! You get the Tramp in the foreground, the dominant film character of the silent era. In front of him is a stylised modernist cityscape that could have been borrowed from one of the ubiquitous 1930s World's Fair posters. And to top it off, what shines down on the lonely tramp but the apple of his eye- the blind girl he courts in the film.

In this case the poster is every bit as good as the movie, which is a classic.

The 60s Never Happened

The 60s never happened
no, they never did
those pictures are all ads
the music made by corporations
the scene a marketing campaign

The 60s never happened
no, they never did
no white youth marched with King
no press helped end the war
all this history I don't believe

The 60s never happened
no, they never did
And if they did-
Where is that white youth?
Where is that honest press?
Where are the 60s now?

The 60s never happened
no, they never did

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

J.K. Rowling at Harvard

I have to say I dig Harvard more and more with each passing day. The Harvard Lampoon launched the careers of many of my favorite comedy writers. Harvard is not being sued by ASCAP because their law school is one of the premier institutes of liberal patent law, and the major record labels want nothing to do with a fair fight. Finally, they book great speakers for commencement. Two years ago, Conan O'Brien returned to his alma mater and gave a great commencement address. This year, Harry Potter's creator, J.K. Rowling, gave the address. You can find the video (which I couldn't watch), mp3, and the text here.

I lucked out at Loyola and had Ted Koppel speak at my commencement. What he said about the media and individual responsibilty stays with me to this day. J.K.'s talk is entitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” and it contains many of the hard-earned lessons I've learned since graduating. Failure will never be far from your side, and imagination will always be a gift against the hardships of our world.

Well done, Ms. Rowling!

Climate Change and Public Policy

Climate change will affect all of us. For the next few months, it is going to affect the world of politics more than anything else. MoveOn.Org, which I am a member, has environmental issues as one of our big five. Both McCain and Obama have stated that they will do the best job battling back the effects of global warming. But what are they going to do? What should they do? We don't hear many plain english answers to these questions.

Reason Magazine hosted a symposium on climate change policies and free markets. I found it very illuminating. I could even sympathize with the libertarian who wished for no government intervention.

Educate yourself on this issue! Indifference only gives our leaders the easy out of leaving this monster hereditary issue to another generation.

Your Farm Report

The Times has an article today about the effects the wild weather in the Midwest this spring will have on food prices in the coming year. As I am marrying into an agricultural family, I now have some first-hand knowledge of this world. I can't do justice to the level of frustration Kara's father expressed
while Iowa absorbed inch after inch of rain. The picture above is of a corn field in Indiana, and that crop should be more than a foot tall by now. When the Midwest doesn't produce their usual amount of corn this year, we will see this reflected in the price we pay for everything at the grocery store.

Farmers will remain much more susceptible to the effects of climate change as the indictators of global warming increase. Of course, much of their livelihoood depends on their ability to adapt to changes in soil, climate, and technology. But the years ahead will present even greater challenges as I have not read many studies on how farmers should adapt to a world warmer than any they've ever known.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Times Travel Writer Sox It To The Cell

Yep, some Times travel writer gets the sweet gig of visiting all the ballparks in the country, and then turns around and dumps on the best ballpark food in America. And the worst part? He recommends the Italian Sausage at Wrigley over ANYTHING at the Cell.

I was going to post a lacerating comment, but enough of us ChiSox fans rallied to save our rep I felt no need.

The guy says he's a native Chicagoan, but then says he likes Vienna Beef dogs over Best Kosher? Get real.

Details on 'The Road' Film

The Times has a preview of the 'The Road', an adaptation of the award-winning Cormac McCarthy novel, here. I highly recommend the book-it is the best sci-fi novel I've read in quite awhile. It makes King's The Stand look like it was written by Danielle Steele. Of course, if you thought the film version of No Country For Old Men was too much of a bummer you may want to steer clear. The Road is a gut shot.

John Hillcoat (of whom I've never heard) will direct. Viggo Mortenson (good call!) plays the father. Kodi Smit-McPhee (again,?) plays the boy. The article contains only one false note-the film will contain a much bigger role for the mother (Charlize Theron). Let's hope it's not enough for an award campaign, because the mother plays such a small role in the novel.

Find me in line opening weekend.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Long Time Ago in a Suburb Far, Far Away...

The most important part of the Star Wars phenomenon to my generation was not the films themselves, but the folk art we made of Lucas and Hasbro's ubiquitous merchandise. The toys and clothing became both social indentifier, and a means for children to build and communicate their own personal myths. I believe this is why the films have had such a unique influence. They are not just of our childhood, they ARE our childhood.

flickr has a great slideshow called Growing Up Star Wars where you can find even more of these great photos. Beyond the poor execution of the latest trilogy, I don't think they ever could have met the near extraordinary expectations we had for it based on our lives. The new Star Wars films gave us just the films themselves. We did not identify as readily with these protagonists as ourselves because we were too old to ask Santa for a Jar Jar Binks (ok-most of us were). Which is why I thought Lucas' best bet was to make an adult trilogy. We all know that didn't happen.

Enjoy these photos, which harken back to better days-when men were men, and women wore hair earmuffs.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Just Shot Marvin in the Face!

Sand & Cotton have a great feature on the best head shots (non-porn) of all time. They included the ending of the new Rambo, which I have not seen. My buddies and I were all pumped to go, but someone died on the train (for real), and I missed the connection. Well, this is the ending. And. It. Is. Awesome.

YES!! In the immortal words of George Clooney's cousin, Miguel Ferrer-"War! It's Fantastic!" Seriously, we need more ultraviolent movies like this.

In the next week or so, I'll put together my all-time Top 10 Kill list. In the meantime, drown your fries in some mayonaise.

Quote of the Day

From an article in the New Republic, about the practice of communion denial in Catholic church:
"To think you have done a generous thing for your neighbor or that you have
built up a culture of life just because you voted for a candidate who says
his brochure that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade is far too thin an
understanding of the Catholic faith," he said. Kmiec, a critic of the Bush
administration's Iraq policy, added that Catholics should heed "the broad
social teaching of the church," including its views on war.

The speaker is Douglas Kmiec, a famous conservative denied communion two months ago because of his support for Obama. Two weeks ago, I attended the Basilica in Dyersville, IA with Kara and heard how the sacrament of communion was under attack when received by 'politicians who support abortion'. I refused to take communion at this service. We liberal Catholics must take back our pulpit from those priests who wish to turn them into Republican campaign headquarters. Do not take communion from priests who campaign for Republicans in their homilies or missives, and do not give them any contributions.

Douglas Kmiec is a hero of conscience, and a conservative I will stand up with any day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Love Shoes On Power Lines

You can find more images of subways here. If the tumbleweed is the symbol of desolation, than canvas shoes on power lines mean urban youth. Whenever I spot them, it makes me smile.

Of course, if I lived in the city as a child, those would be my Chuck Taylors.

Kick Ass Bo Diddley Funk

You can argue that Mr. Bo Diddley invented rock n' roll. As such, his passing should result in some great appreciations. Well, I haven't found them yet. But Moistworks posted this late Bo Diddley funk gem which I grooved to today.

Bo Diddley was to nonsense what Prince is to purple.

We all knew Diddley,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Royal Club

Writers block sucks (and doesn't really exist physiologically, but that's a whole other post). Many times you just have to steal ideas where you can get it. So from time to time I'll post photos which I riff off. Today's photo is from here.

The Royal Club

What magic mix
wines beer & music
a smile plastic
wines beer & smoke
lust from longing
wines beer & women
fears long gone
wines beer & company
a transient state
wines beer & remorse