Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bigger The Headache, The Bigger The Pill, Dept.

Roberts says God forced his resignation - Yahoo! News

The scene: the Judgment Seat
The time: a moment after Richard Roberts, former president of Oral Roberts University, draws his last breath

ROBERTS: Lord...I, I don't know to say. I didn't actually believe You existed...I mean, I acted like I did but that was just for show, you know, for the rubes. As a result, Lord, I cheated, I stole, I invoked your name in every sort of blasphemous lie. I exploited for personal gain the simple faith of the poor dumb hicks who actually thought I talked to You, Lord, and that You talked back and gave me legal advice and professional advice and spiritual advice. Lord, I treated you like a ventriloquist's dummy instead of the Almighty Deity of the Universe just to make a few sleazy bucks, just to drive a nicer car than anyone I knew, just so my wife could go on shopping sprees, just so I could revel in the power that came from belief by tens of thousands that I was a religious man with a connection to God Himself as deep and real as that of Moses and Abraham. My Lord, My God, can You find it in Your Infinite Kindness and Goodness to forgive a black-hearted sinner like me?

GOD: You're fucked, bitch.

As Gilbert & Sullivan wrote, "a paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox".

How is it that the ones who preach most loudly and most self-importantly that God exists act most obviously and most egregiously as if He, She, or It doesn't?

On second thought, that's no paradox at all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Woodman, Spare That Tree!...And The Hundreds Like It Necessary to Publish This Catalog of Inanities!, Dept.

I'm special. How do I know I'm special? Well, besides the fact that Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, I just got a bonus magazine with my latest home-delivery copy of Wired. Actually, we received two, count 'em, two copies chez sobsister because we subscribe to several Nasty Cunt...ahem, excuse me, Condé Nast publications. Parenthetically, I will not be offering our surplus copy on eBay--please keep the sighs of dismay to a roiling underscore--but, instead, will be double-bagging it and storing it in a climate-controlled room until it has achieved its true collector's-item valuation.

Now, what is the name of my special bonus magazine? Movies Rock. What does that mean, sobsister?, I would hope to hear you ask. Well, apparently the nice people at Condé Nast were worried that we wouldn't rush like lemmings off a cliff to watch the upcoming TV special of the same name, so they went to the trouble and expense of producing a whole magazine, referred to in one piece as Vanity Fair's 13th issue of 2007, just to flog the concept of movies, you know, rocking.

A little background on the TV special since I know you, as discerning culture consumers, won't watch it. The Big Concept: "today's top stars"--such as they are--in "a world-premiere celebration of marquee moments in music and film". Ratcheted down several notches on the Münchhausen Hyperbole Scale, it translates to "popular singers sing famous songs from the movies." But when I say it like that, it sounds Six of American Idol? Perhaps. Here's a li'l taste of the magnitude of talent gracing the stage of the Kodak Theatre on December 7. In alphabetical order, no less:

Marc Anthony and his wife, Jennifer "My Talent is Inversely Proportional to My Demands" Lopez. Now that Ms. Lopez is infanticipating, she and her husband are inseparable. Also since her latest album, politely put, has sold as well as sandpaper condoms.

Beyoncé. I was raking some leaves this morning and I pulled a little pile off near the hydrangea and there was Beyoncé. And I poured boiling water into a cup along with a tisane-bag of chamomile and it steeped for three minutes and I pulled out the bag and there was Beyoncé. And I was making the bed and fluffing the pillows and under a fluff of goose-down there was Beyoncé. What's that? Am I sick to fucking death of Beyoncé? No, not at all. She's hardly overexposed. Why, I DVR'd her wonderful new ad for DirecTV--you know, the one where she chants that song about upgrading to HDTV--just so I can watch it over and over and sing along and copy her stylin' dance moves. I extra-particularly like the part where, after rolling on a floor apparently molded from the contents of Aladdin's Cave, she turns her head to reveal a massive gold bit in the form of the word "UPGRADE" stuck between her teeth. Verrry classy. She's scheduled to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" at Movies Rock because...ummm...because she's the Judy Garland of this generation? If not Judy Garland, at least Hank Garland. Or Judy Carne. However, Beyoncé as Dorothy is troublesome for me. Mainly because I just saw an Annie Leibovitz photo spread for Disney which had Beyoncé as Lewis Carroll's Alice. Who else can she be? J.M. Barrie's Wendy? Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking? Beverly Cleary's Ramona? My goodness, she truly is America's Chocolate Mirror™.

Mary J. Blige.

Chris Brown.

Jennifer Hudson. I wonder if she's going to hip-check Bee-yonce off the stage for shits'n'giggles. She's going to sing "Goldfinger." But she won't sound like Shirley Bassey and I fear will, as a consequence, be a disappointment.

Queen Latifah. I've said it before and I'll say it again: America loves itself some Queen Latifah! She's out flogging her new album of jazz standards. Sort of the Black female Rod Stewart. Except Rod the Mod actually had an appealing and distinctive voice once. And his appeal was once actually discernible. Queen Latifah is like the Oprah of the musical world. Inexplicable, unavoidable.

John Legend.

Nelly. Really? Nelly? There were no actual, you know, singers willing to take the gig? Is Nelly going to rap his way through "Moon River" or "The Way We Were"? Oh, wait. His first disc in three years, now several times delayed, may be dropping in December. Well, there you go. Yo! Yo! Moon river! Get up up on the dance floor! Give that man what he askin for! Yeah.


Gosh, is this BET Goes to the Movies? No, wait. I know there're some Caucasians in here somewhere...Carrie Underwood! She's White. Not particularly appealing on any level. But she's popular. And, as I mentioned, White. And Country. And so is LeAnn Rimes, who's also participating. Now, why you'd have both LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood on a show like's a little like having a peanut butter and almond butter sandwich. Redundant systems in case one fails, I suppose. Carrie Underwood's going to sing "The Sound of Music." I don't know of a singer/song combination in the world that could strike a louder chord of apathy in me than that one.

Elton John. He's going to sing a medley of songs from animated films. Call me Cassandra but I predict we'll be hearing "Circle of Life".

Fergie. What's her talent again? Baton twirling? Fire eating? At any rate, she's going to sing "Live And Let Die." Yeah. If the Auto-Tune doesn't burst into virtual flames, it'll only be because God is great and merciful.

So, have I whetted your appetites with this bill of fare? Could it be any more au courant and, as a consequence, unspeakably wretched? Well, maybe if it featured Miley Cyrus, backed by the Duff sisters dressed as Everygirl's First Feminine Hygiene Products, singing "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." No, wait. I'd watch that. At any rate, you get my none-too-subtle drift and I...what's that? You'd like to be as blow-the-doors-off cool as your sobsister and know what's inside this amazing bonus magazine itself?

Well...I don't know...remember that time I lent you my backhoe and you took, like, forever to bring it back and there was, like, Coke™ all spilt'n'sticky on the seat and you were all, dude, I don't know how that got there...? Now, now, no embarrassing attempts at self-exculpation are necessary. Here's enough of a peek into the first few pages of the mag that you'll be able to drop references to it in casual cocktail conversation and cause your friends, colleagues, and creditors to turn twenty-seven shades of emerald.

The cover features Bill Murray in late-Vegas-era Elvis jumpsuit drag, complete with big hair and muttonchops. Bill Murray is equated in some minds with "jaded-but-warm hipster irony", so this tells the clued-in reader that reverence and, well, irreverence will be doled out in equal portions by the nice hairnetted ladies on the cafeteria line. Either that or the magazine's late-boomer editors wish they were as cool as they perceive Bill Murray to be. Whichever.

Thumb a few pages in...and there's Jennifer Aniston! Once famous for her role on an intermittently-funny, intermittently-insufferable sitcom, now best known as Debbie Reynolds to Angelina Jolie's Liz Taylor. Jen-Jen's looking fine, tit-tays all hangin' out, as she flogs "glacéau smartwater" in a two-page b'n'w spread. First, I ask myself, why the accent ague over the "e" in "glacéau"? I mean, this shit comes from Whitestone, Queens, where the leading brand is "gimme some'a dat fuckin' water." Then I ask myself, does she need the money? the exposure (her leotard stare-out version of the ad is featured on the back cover)? the validation that comes from knowing that a division of Coca-Cola views her as marketable? Then, examining her pose, I realized that the camera has caught her, fingernails about to flip under her chin in the classic me ne frego or "I don't give a damn" hand gesture. You tell him, Jen-Jen! Him and that homewrecking hussy with her lush, overripe mouth that hints of unspeakable midnight madness!

A few more pages...and there's an ad for Tom Ford For Men. Considerably more restrained in its presentation than the Flash graphic on his site wherein a gape-mouthed, sweat-flecked, nude woman first holds the cologne bottle between her breasts and then against her vagina. Is that all meant to give us hints as to the scent notes in his first fragrance for men?

Wow, an eight-page, full-color spread for Dillard's! Featuring a girl-woman who looks like Mena Suvari! I've never visited a Dillard's! The nearest one is in North Carolina! All the shots are set at night or in darkened spaces! This is not helpful! And, no, I'm not shouting!

Then, finally, some substance. The Editor's Letter, penned by a "Mitch Glazer", who appears to be a screenwriter and film producer of some sort. His thesis for this opening salvo in the war for my limited attention span: with all the music-related films (apparently defined to include musical films, films about music, and documentaries about musicians) out and due out, 2007-2008 is a Year of Music. Possibly in historical reaction to "times of national unease", possibly due to natural Hollywood theme cycles, who knows. Okay. I'll grant that assertion and its equivocal underpinnings. That's about it for Deep Thought, however, as the rest of the Letter describes in woozy prose the magazine's contents. My favorite sentence...well, not quite my favorite sentence, as that would imply some enjoyment on my part...the sentence that most made me wish that Vanity Fair employed editors was: "If (Elmer) Bernstein was film's inspired professional, director Ken Russell is its nutty diva." Hmmm... Aside from the fact that I don't know what a "nutty diva" might be--Maria Callas meets Carrot Top? Joan Sutherland eating brittle?--I'm confused by the construction. Usually the "if x is the y of (topic), then a is the b (of (topic))" format requires that (topic) be the same in each case, as in "if Mick Jagger is the Hamlet of the Rolling Stones, then Keith Richards is its Laertes." Here, if Elmer Bernstein is the inspired professional of film--and, just a question, is "inspired professional" a Type specific to film or any other field? or is it just a generic description applicable to anyone in any profession?--then Ken Russell is the nutty diva of film. And, again, is "nutty diva" a recognized Type in films or the film industry? You see the source of my confusion. By the end of this waste of a page that could've otherwise been profitably employed to display, I don't know, particularly-good lolcats graphics, we the readers have learned not only that Bill Murray sang all five verses of "Brandy" at this fellow's wedding, but also that putting together this special edition "has been like driving an Aston Martin DB5 convertible along the Big Sur Highway, naked." And just not to leave you on the edge of your seat, that would be "exhilarating and terrifying and possibly humiliating." We are not given much time to ponder why anyone would do such a thing or why it would be "terrifying" (are Aston Martins prone to sudden mechanical failure that would cause the vehicle to careen off the road?) before the Letter closes with the assertion, "In fact, I think we rock." Good on you, then, "Mitch Glazer". Too many people are beset by anxious doubt, possibly regarding their writing skills and public exhibition thereof. But not you. Good on you, mate. Now, never make me read anything you've written ever again.

That done, ooh! a four-page, b'n'w Budweiser spread! Wherein "three hot new talents revisit scenes from their favorite movies"! Jeepers, there's a newly-minted concept! And it's realized in as half-assed and half-hearted a fashion as the concept deserves! Actor Josh Duhamel in what purports to be a scene from Pulp Fiction but instead looks like some guy in a suit opening a briefcase in an abandoned diner. Producer Stacey Sher having her hair blown-dry in supposed hommage to Shampoo. "Post-grunge rockers" (excuse me?) Hinder walking next to a mist-enshrouded jet in apparent reference to Top Gun. No, but really, it's at least twice as good as my description. At least twice as good. A worthy use of Budweiser's advertising budget. It tells me nothing about their product and everything about the lamebrainedness of the ad agency and Bud execs who greenlighted this waste of pulp that could've been used to print those two-color flyers for Chinese take-out joints one invariably finds strewn about the mailbox.

And then we get some info on the producers of the Movies Rock program. Spielberg associate Kathleen Kennedy and some dude named Bruce Cohen. From what we're told, "These longtime friends put their heads, hearts, and Rolodexes together to plan the event." You can't buy writing like that at Kresge's, folks. You can't buy writing like that at Woolworth's. "Put their heads, hearts, and Rolodexes together" Take THAT, John Donne! The aforementioned Cohen gives us an insider's peek at the Big Thinking that created the show, "Taking today's performers, giving them a classic song that everyone's always loved, and then having you hear it in a whole new way--that to me is what's going to excite people about the show." Hell, yeah! I'm excited already! When Hollywood producers get all Big Concept-y like that on me, woof!, I get all a-twitter. See, that's why these Hollywood folk drive late-model Porsches stocked with hot'n'cold running supermodels, and you, you schmuck, are taking the bus to work carrying a grease-stained brownbag lunch, okay? It's called Sheer Fucking Genius. And if this "today's stars sing yesterday's songs" concept doesn't reek of genius, then I gotta take my schnozz in for a tune-up.

I'll stop here. There're some articles to lend this thing a fig leaf of legitimacy, the inevitable 50-Best List, a painfully-unfunny film music bit with two "comedians", etc. But by now I hope you can see why I'm pants-wettingly excited about having received this schweet bonus mag. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go figure out why the not-by-any-means-overexposed Halle Berry is appearing in a four-page ad for Harry Winston diamonds under the aegis of the Diamond Trading Company, on whose website not a single squeak is squeaked about supporting trade in conflict-free diamonds. Whoopsie.
Lott's To Ponder, Dept.

Mississippi’s Lott to Leave Senate Seat - New York Times

So, in a few weeks, Senator Trent Lott is going to resign his newly-rewon position of power and authority in the nation's highest legislative chamber.

What could possibly compel a recently-reelected politician to renounce a 35-year career in Congress and the prestigious position of Minority Whip?

Lott claims that he has "financial commitments" to meet, as well as the age-old desire to "do something else".

But could it be the fact that, under new ethics and lobbying rules set to go into effect in 2008, Lott-o would have to wait two years instead of one before lobbying his erstwhile colleagues? Nooo, not Trent! He specifically noted that he was not retiring due to the new rules. So, you can take that assertion to the bank, okay?

Or could it be the rumor flitting about that he's resigning to avoid fallout from a few assignations with a male escort? Please. Trent Lott is a married conservative Republican and a former cheerleader besides. What possible use could he have for a hunky rent boy?

Well, I'm plumb out of guesses. So, we'll have to take the esteemed Senator from the Magnolia State at his word. He's jettisoning a career in politics to do other, unspecified things. Not to dive face-first into the sweet, sweet slop of the lobbying trough as soon as possible and certainly not to avoid the foul breath of manlove scandal.

Best of luck, then, to soon-to-be-former Senator Lott. I expect to see him building homes at a Habitat for Humanity site once the holiday season winds down. If he isn't devoting himself to literacy programs in his native state. How refreshing it is to see a man leave the hurly-burly and ego-crank of national politics to devote himself to good works and grassroots public service.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Errata and Corrigenda,Dept.

Thanks to the helpful and charming Orderfire, who, as we speak, is making the Nutmeg State a finer place to study, I was reminded of Jane Horrocks' performance in Little Voice as a prime example of celebrity voice impersonation.

So, following up on my last posting, here's a fine clip of Ms. Horrocks wowing an audience with her impressions of everyone from Shirley Bassey to Judy Garland.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Double Tonguing, Dept.

Funnyman, Who Art Thou? - New York Times

The above article from Sunday's Arts and Leisure section features Frank Caliendo, a comedian and impressionist who debuted a sketch-comedy series on TBS Tuesday. Apparently, Mr. Caliendo, using his mimicry skills, plays most of the characters on the program. (Promo trailers for the show itself here and nearby.)

Watching Caliendo's act on Letterman brought up the principal difference between him and the old-school impressionists, Cézanne and Degas aside: he amplifies the accuracy of his impressions with decent comedy material. In contrast, say, to the tiresome Fred Travalena, who, despite years at the game, has neither accurate impressions nor jokes worth a damn. In contrast, actually, to the vast majority of impressionists I saw on YouTube who lean heavily on catchphrases and the same half-dozen voices--Mommy, please don't make me watch another rendition of DeNiro arguing with Pacino, I swear I'll be good!--to sell their routines.

Basically, says I, there are two types of impressionist acts. The "quick-change" act wherein the impressionist will trot out all his or her impressions one after the other with only the slightest hint of narrative (here and here for Frank Gorshin's intense and kinetic "what if actors ran the government" bit and here for Rich Little's career-overview-as-routine) and the "immersion" act wherein the impressionist only does one impression in depth (here for Marilyn Michaels' Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand).

Most non-singing impressionists will opt for the former because it gives them the opportunity to show off a number of impressions quickly and, by this quickness, avoids the danger of revealing the limitations of the impression. Marilyn Michaels does a very good Garland but hearing her do an extended medley of Garland's signature tunes allows the audience to notice both where she doesn't sound like Judy and also exactly how she is making herself sound like Judy. Once the impressionist's tricks become apparent, as they almost inevitably must do in an immersion act, it's like seeing the trap door behind the magician's cape. By contrast, the quick-change act can ride from gasp of recognition to gasp of recognition without sagging and without revealing either the flaws in the impression or the wheels and gears of the illusion. The downside of the quick-change act, aside from the clunky set-ups (what if Hollywood actors advised the President? what if Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson played golf together?) however, is the tendency to become a rapid-fire slideshow of the clichéd tics and moues of the easy caricature in the manner of the many, many living-room impressionists who have hiked up their shoulders, hitched up their forearms, and growled, "You dirty rat" to convey Jimmy Cagney. An extreme example of this is the YouTube appearance of 100 voices in under five minutes, 101 voices in under four minutes, and 200 impressions in fifteen minutes.

Watching the assortment of impressionists' videos on YouTube, I was struck by three things. First, how amazingly sucktastic some of these performers are. One apparently need only don a fright wig and be in the vaguest vicinity of an approximation of a celebrity's voice to make a decent living as an impressionist before the gomers and goobers who fill the seats at casinos and cruise ships. By way of illustration, I point you to the sampler reels of Larry G. Jones, of Tony Mosti, of Tony Pace, and of Bethany Owen. Unfortunately, I could find only a short clip of the king of the crap "comedian"/"singer"/"impressionist" lounge circuit, Danny Gans, a man whose popularity makes me fear for Western civilization as a whole. I mean, can't America and the world-at-large do without yet another version of ol' Satchmo singing "What A Wonderful World"? Apparently not.

Which leads to the second thing by which I was struck: the extent to which the impressions most of these performers do are the same impressions done by their predecessors. Jack Benny, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson. Richard Nixon, for fuck's sake, right down to the V-for-Victory signs and "I am not a crook." Presumably these tired bits go down easy with the elderly patrons of Branson and the Vegas and A.C. lounges. But does this say anything Bigger about the lack of iconic figures in American entertainment? Were someone to do a spot-on Julia Roberts or John Cusack or, flashing forward a bit, Reese Witherspoon or Jake Gyllenhaal, would anyone recognize the source and the accuracy of the reproduction? And, for the singing impressionists who are still doing Sinatra and Johnny Mathis and Cher, who is currently universally recognizable? Not too many people working on their Britney Spears or Alicia Keys or Eddie Vedder, I daresay. While current-day film and television celebrities are not totally ignored, the bulk of the contemporary impressions I've seen tend to come from the world of animation (Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park, Spongebob Squarepants), sci-fi (Terminator/Star Wars/Star Trek), and politics (Bush 43 and Bill Clinton). Of course, there may be a built-in lag for celebrities outside politics to become sufficiently iconic that they are identifiable by a catchphrase and a facial quirk. Current impressionists seem to be stuck in the mid-'80s with their DeNiros and Pacinos and Robin Williamses. But it is still hard to imagine anyone being plucked out of contemporary film and television in ten years who will have the same resonance and universality that a John Wayne or Cary Grant or Bette Davis had for an earlier generation. Which may be why these long-dead stars are still being exhumed nightly by the hack impressionists of the world.

The third thing which struck me was the extent to which the repertoires of impressionists past and present serve as a barometer of the Eurocentricity and androcentricity of our popular culture, with the corollary observation that there are almost no female or Black impressionists. Marilyn Michaels was it during the '60s and '70s, and even she based her success on her singing ability coupled with her gift for mimicry. Without the opportunity to build an act around the songs of Garland, Streisand, and others, whom would she have had left to "do"? Or, rather, what women would have been universally familiar and sufficiently memorable for her to caricature? Bette Davis, okay. Tallulah Bankhead. Joan Crawford, maybe. And they're still a generation before Michaels. Jane Fonda? Could you tell if someone was doing a great Jane Fonda? Or a Maggie Smith? Or a Lee Grant? How about Emma Thompson? Or Meryl Streep? These are all great actresses of their respective generations and yet at best one might recognize an impression of them in a specific role. Of course, someone could point out male actors who've never been "done", but the point that seems to glimmer here is that, traditionally, female actors--at least those who have not been willing to play the grotesque--have, consciously or not, presented fewer features to caricature than their male counterparts.

Similarly, Black impressionists (old-school: George Kirby; new-school: Reggie Reg) are few on the ground. Their situation, interestingly, is a twist on that of female impressionists: they do not want for recognizable (male) models to caricature but, on the national level, they are constrained by the Black figures who will be recognizable to a mass audience. In the preceding clip, Reggie Reg "does" Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby (no-one, black or white, doesn't "do" Cosby and his frickin' Jello Pudding Pops), Jesse Jackson, and Richard Pryor along with a few White voices before a Black audience. On his Letterman appearance, he leads off with a so-so Bush 43, features the most famous of the Black impressions from his club act, and introduces Schwarzenegger and Clinton. In the 1978 Kirby clip, before a White audience, he focuses on Black singers (Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Joe Williams), "does" Archie and Edith Bunker only passably, then Gregory Peck, Edgar Buchanan, John Wayne, and back to Bill Cosby. Kirby's emphasis on White impressions is a function of the times in which he developed his act, just as is the case for Sammy Davis Jr. who, among his many skills, was an excellent impressionist (witness his fine 1960 Royal Command performance, impressions starting at 6:00 of the clip, here and an impressionist mano-a-mano where he kicks Rich Little's butt here). Thirty years later, the situation has improved, but only just.

After watching a flock of impressionists and hearing audience reaction to their routines, I think the appeal of these acts, which, as I've noted, are not exactly masterpieces of narrative, comes in two ways. First, the accuracy of the impression is delightful to audiences, particularly in that first moment when the impressionist opens his or her mouth and out pops a voice uncannily like that of a celebrity. There is an audible frisson of pleasure at recognition for the best impressions. Second, and related to that shudder of delight at the accuracy of the impression, is a shudder of delight at the unease caused by the temporary possession of the impressionist by the disembodied celebrity. Like the human-riding Loa of Haitian Vodou, the spirits of singers and actors appear to enter the impressionists and speak through their mouths. Our protective line between the Self and the Other is temporarily smudged, albeit in a safe environment. The more accurate the impression, then, the greater the sense of uncanniness about the performance. Of course, the hokiness and corn of many performers' routines tend to undermine an audience's sense of wonder and awe, as does the careless way in which one impression follows another in quick succession, but occasionally a performer can hit that seam of pleasure and unease and it is clearly audible in the audience's reaction.

For those who, for some reason, have not seen or heard enough impressionists, here are the lineups from David Letterman's 2006 and 2007 Impressionist Weeks, some of which have already been linked above: (2006) Rich Little, Fred Travalena, Gordie Brown, Frank Caliendo, and Kevin Pollak. (2007) Rob Magnotti, John Byner, Mike MacRae, Joe Piscopo (for whom no YouTube Letterman clip exists), and Reggie Reg.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go practice my Ronald Reagan-meets-Robert DeNiro.
"Weeell, there you go again..." "You talkin' to me? You talking to ME?!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Oh, Was That Your Dick in My Mouth?, Dept.

State lawmaker says he's a victim of extortion

Alright, people, this is getting old.

Married Republican lawmaker who has consistently opposed gay rights legislation engages in homo sex, gets busted, and denies he'd ever, ever make sweet, queer love with another man. Any new wrinkles this time around? Well, Richard Curtis, the GOP legislator in question, did try to throw a change-up by reportedly changing into long red women's stockings and a black sequined lingerie top at the Hollywood Erotic Boutique where he got the blue plate special from a thousand-dollar rent boy in an upstairs room, according to witnesses. So, a few originality points for Dick. None of this ho-hum "wide stance", did-he-didn't-he bullshit. Dickie-boy was gonna bust out queer and tranny and everything else he could think of. It should go without saying that the former firefighter declared, according to media reports, "I am not gay". Which, here in Bizarro-America, means: WOOO-hoo, sailor...I'm as queer as a clockwork orange!!

But, really, boys, stop already. This story is so mid-2007. I mean, the ladies-wear was a nice touch but "homophobe Republican legislator makes the beast with one back and four hairy legs, then denies homo longings"? Yaawwwn. Dog bites man. Film not at 11.

Call me when your station stops showing reruns, 'k? Thanks.
A Second Pass over "Nagasaki", Dept.

Well, I don't know about you, Faithful Readers, but I haven't been able to knock the tune "Nagasaki" out of my head after my recent posting. Possibly because I've been scouring YouTube for video versions of that ditty. Which I've found. Some of which I shall now share with you. Because that's just the kind of okay Joe I am. Without further ado then.

Here, the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra smokes the tune in a big-band reading.

A more laid-back but nonetheless funky reading by the duo of "Red and Struggle", backed by Don Redman and His Orchestra here.

An instrumental version here featuring British stride pianist Neville Dickie.

And here, one of my favorites, Bertie Wooster has a go at it on the old 88s.

More fun than a boxful of puppies! Or, if you don't like puppies, narcotics. Whichever.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Gilded Age, Dept.

New York's $25,000 dessert sets Guinness record - Yahoo! News

So, a $25,000 chocolate sundae, available at New York City's Serendipity 3, using expensive and exotic cocoas, infused with edible 23-karat gold, served in a goblet lined with edible gold, at the base of which is an 18-karat gold bracelet studded with white diamonds, the contents of said goblet to be eaten, along with gold-covered whipped cream and a side of $2,600/pound truffles, with a gold spoon decorated with white and chocolate-colored diamonds.


If I hear a fiddle being played, does it mean the whole shithouse is going up in flames?

-Knock, knock.
-Who's there?
-"Barbarian" who?
-Taste my sword, decadent American fool!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Best American Poetry 1928, Dept.

They don't write 'em like this any more. I think I can say that without fear of contradiction. I was introduced to this song via Cab Calloway's jumpin' rendition. He, however, grabs a few lines off the first chorus, then scats his way through the rest. So, it was only recently that I learned the lyrics as they were written by Mort Dixon. And what fine lyrics they are. Redolent of another age when we as Americans found foreigners considerably more amusing than we do today. Enjoy. Ideally with ukulele accompaniment.


Verse 1:

Fellows if you're on,
I will spin a yarn,
That was told to me by able seaman Jones.
Once he had the blues,
So he took a cruise
Far away from night clubs and from saxophones.
He said, "Yoho, I think I made a certain port,
And when you talk about real he-man sport."

Chorus 1:

Hot ginger and dynamite,
There's nothing but that at night,
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

The way they can entertain
Would hurry a hurricane,
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

Oh, Fujiyama,
You get a mommer,
And then your troubles increase;
In some pagoda
She orders soda,
The earth shakes milkshakes, ten cents a-piece.

They kiss-ee and hug-ee nice,
By jingo, it's worth the price,
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.


With an ice cream cone and a bottle of tea,
You can rest all day by the hickory tree;
But when night comes 'round, oh, gosh, oh, gee!
Mother, mother, mother, pin a rose on me.

Chorus 2:

They give you a carriage free,
The horse is a Japanee.
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

They sit you upon the floor,
No wonder your pants get sore,
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

Oh, sweet Kimona,
I pulled a boner,
I kept it up at high speed;
I got rheumatics
And then sciatics
Of halitosis that's guaranteed.

You must have to act your age,
Or wind up inside a cage,
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

Verse 2:

When the day is warm,
You can keep in form
With a bowl of rice beneath a parasol.
Ev'ry gentleman
Has to use a fan,
And they only wear suspenders in the fall.
That's where the gals
Don't think of rings and furs,
Gee, it's the grandest place that ever was:

[Chorus 1, Patter, Chorus 2]

The preceding is from a very good Harry Warren page, he being the composer of the ditty. I found another chorus on the web that may or may not be kosher but for completeness' sake, I'll include here:

Those pretty mamas
In pink pyjamas
They try to give you a kiss
Those torrid teases
Heaven help a sailor on a night like this!

Not too gentle and not too rough
But you've got to tell them when you've had enough
Back in Nagasaki
Where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

Now, some might try to read "bawdy" meaning into some of the lyrics of this song. To him or her, I would direct those time-honored words which have guided the behavior of the English people through the years: Honi soit qui mal y pense. Which, loosely translated from Old French, means: a nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat.