Friday, December 16, 2011

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Dept.

Christopher Hitchens has died. Pneumonia resulting from the esophageal cancer he fought.

One quote, from his explanation for his strong and immediate defense of Salman Rushdie against the fatwa issued in 1989 by the Ayatollah Khomeini, speaks eloquently to his Weltanschauung and speaks very strongly to me in current-day America:

“It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual and the defense of free expression.”

ave atque vale, Mr. Hitchens.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Pillocks of the Community, Dept.

Hey, so, Herman "Where the white women at?!" Cain is out of the race because of "the continued distraction, the continued hurt to me and my family" related to his reported penchant for forcing women's heads down onto his groin.  Separately, megachurch idiot-fleecer "Bishop" Eddie "You can't spell 'Eddie Long' without 'D.L.'" Long is taking time off to "focus on his family" after his wife filed for divorce, reportedly because he took advantage of his wealth and spiritual authority to lure four young men into sexual relationships.  He settled the cases, as did Spermin' Herman, and neither man admitted wrongdoing, despite that head-scratching bit about giving accusers money when their accusations are a pack of lies.

Oh, America!  Oh, religion!  Oh, politics!  Did you take the dictionary page containing "shame" and tear it out of your Funk & Wagnalls?

I mean--putting aside for the moment why, given his absolute zero experience in governance, anyone--ANYone--would think that this pizza-hustling pussy pirate could ever begin to approach the minimum requirements even to be mayor of a one-horse town somewhere in the trackless wastes of Flyoverstan, much less president of what is, for now, still the most powerful nation on Earth--on what planet is the farrago of bullshit, half-truths, non-truths, lies, spin and blather that this second coming of George Jefferson and his repellent mouthpiece spewed after allegations popped up like boners at a prom dance that he liked to dip his wick everywhere but in his long-suffering and almost entirely silent wife anything but risible? 

But, no, actual sentient lifeforms with U.S. citizenships and driver's licenses that allow them to pilot two-ton vehicles at 65 miles per hour were lining up to support his pretend tax plan, to defend him against what were surely baseless charges by vindictive golddiggers, to pledge their sacred votes to see him elected to the highest office in this land.  His now-defunct campaign even started a Web site "Women for Herman Cain" that, contrary to appearances, is not a sign-up sheet for women who want to be basted in his baby juice, but, instead, a place for representatives of the gentler sex from states whose shape and capitals we on the coasts are hard-put to remember to testify about their ardent luv for the pizza-makin', booty-shakin', liberties-with-the-truth takin' political n00b.

Take, for example, "Robin Haraway" of Millington, TN--apparently a real person--who writes, "Sir, I firmly believe that you were sent to our nation through Divine Providence and I believe that you are the man to preserve our Republic for our children."

Or "Debbie Stevens-Paulsen" of Tulsa, OK who writes, "I want you to know that I fully support you! I've sent $9.99 several times, and will continue to do so every chance I get. I wish I could do more! I'm "reassessing" my Christmas List... instead of buying misc $10 gifts for people I barely know anyway, I'm sending all that money to you. YOU are who this country needs. Please don't let the opposition win, they are vile liars and will face God for what they've done to you. "


Really really?

I mean, "Robin Haraway," though somewhat bereft of fashion sense, appears to be an Average American, one who does not live in a tree or communicate only in wolf language.  How the flying fuck would this person--who, apparently, has held a job (as an elementary schoolteacher, dear God!) and perhaps even voted previously--ever think that the so-aptly named "Herm" was sent to our nation by anything other than a trickster deity with a grudge against American exceptionalism?

We're definitely at the horses-made-consuls-by-deranged-emperors stage of the Roman American Empire.  Look for the barbarians at the gates in 3...2...

Monday, November 07, 2011

Flame On! This Huge Fucking Spliff!, Dept.

A comic book hero "conceived by Ziggy Marley," the musician and bearer of irie genetic code.

Haven't seen any story from this yet.  Can't imagine who his archenemy might be.  Doctor Doesn't Corner the Bowl?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Proud, The Few, Dept.

Having ragged on the Apple Store and its substandard help, I have to take a moment here and give a shout-out to people who do it right.

I visited The Sound Garden in Bawlmurr today, as I generally do when in Charm City.  (I should say, "Bawlmurr, hon" just to keep the branding consistent.)  And those folks never fail to satisfy.

  • They always have the latest chart releases at great sale prices.  Which would be more meaningful to your sobsister if most of the music on the charts didn't suck massive donkey cock, but, hey, chacun à son goût.
  • Other recent releases are priced near or better than Amazon's prices.  Which is huge.  What killed the big record stores/Borders/vaudeville is the fact that they were selling CDs at list price, even as Amazon was selling them for, on average, 20-30% less.
  • Their buyer(s) rock(s).  I invariably find either things I've only seen in Brit music mags such as The Wire or MOJO--and not at no ripoff, margin-stretching markup--or stuff I didn't know existed that I suddenly realize I have to have.
  • They have tons of used CDs 4 cheep.
Now, when streaming music (i) fills out its catalogs (why no Joanna Newsom, MOG?) and (ii) gets with the CD-quality sound. then, really, the day of the great CD store will be over, save for those of us who need the accompanying 125-page hardbound book of liner notes replete with previously unpublished pix of the band.  Which may be why the few that are still in business are stocking up vinyl like hoarders buying Wonder bread and milk before a snowstorm.  

But, for now, shopping the great CD store is a lovely experience, thanks to convenience and, more importantly, serendipity.  I went in looking for one CD and came out with three and could've come out with 10.  That's not something I'll do online because of how the information is arranged.  And, no, "if you like Amy Grant, you'll like Revolting Cocks" doesn't make me click through to your typical online vendor's suggestion.

So, enjoy your well-curated CD/LP stores while they last.  Sound Garden is the best one between Philly and at least as far south as Richmond.  It's even on Rolling Stone's list of the 30 best record stores in the contiguous 48, for those as still consider RS to be an arbiter of taste.  I gave up when its coverage started being driven by what it thought its audience wanted to read rather than what it thought its audience should start hearing.  Or maybe when it became People magazine with rolling paper ads in the back.  But that's a story for another day.

So, The Sound Garden.  Vote with your wallets, kids, early and often.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

An Educated Consumer Is Our Most Annoyed Customer, Dept.

Right, so I call the Apple Store today and ask which styluses/styli they carry for the iPad. 

The salesperson on the other end says, "We have a couple of silver ones.  Oh, you mean the brand name?  I don't know that.  I can find out, but it'll take a while."

And so, on this brilliant blue fall morning, I feel compelled to ask: are you fucking shitting me?  "A couple of silver ones"??  If you worked in a wine store, would you answer, "We have some white ones and some red ones, and they're in glass bottles"?

Uncle Steve is looking down from Heaven and wishing he could assume corporeal form for only a few minutes just to rip this putz a new rectum.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slowly I Turned, Step by Step*, Dept.

The Times (New York's, of course; Washington's I wouldn't insult a puppy's ass with) had an interesting article this week concerning a condition whose existence was unknown to me: misophonia, which the paper describes as being sent "into an instantaneous, blood-boiling rage" by "[t]he sounds of other people eating—chewing, chomping, slurping, gurgling."


I mention it both because it's interesting and because (here I stand up, introduce myself to the group and acknowledge) I cannot stand to watch or hear people eating.  Now, it's not quite clobberin' time if I do happen to find myself in, say, a restaurant or even, God forbid, a food court.  But there are times when I would gladly push a large-caliber bullet into a diner's forehead with my hand rather than have to watch him—and it's most often a "him"—chew his cud.

Case in point: I'm in a dumpling house yesterday, waiting to enjoy a plate of pan-fried dumplings.  Because the kitchen forgot my order, I find myself without food for a long time in a smallish room that holds four other occupied tables.  Two of them are occupied by Asian-Americans, whom, the law of averages holding, are likely Chinese-born.  I lean on the law of averages in this case because their table manners were very reminiscent of those I saw exhibited by Chinese nationals during my time in the PRC, i.e., they manifested the relish with which they ate by (i) shoveling food into one's mouth as if trying to beat an off-stage timer and (ii) chewing in an open-mouthed style that produced a smacking sound like a wet towel hitting a bathroom wall.

Now, sensitive to multiculturalism as your sobsister is, I did not fling my unused chopsticks at either party (or, cooler, at both simultaneously) with sufficient force to pin his gobblin' hand to the nearest wall.  But the thought crossed my mind.  Along with that of a 16-ton Terry Gilliam-brand weight dropping on each of them.  Call me bourgeois if you must, but there are a few things of which I should be unaware unless I'm rightnexttoyou.  One is the smell of your perfume, another is the sound of your chewing.  I would add to that list the sight/sound of people sucking the nonexistent contents of an empty cup through a straw and scraping the nonexistent contents of an empty yogurt container with a plastic spoon.  Not unreasonable by any yardstick.

So, yes, misophonia.  Stand up and proudly own your disorder.  I have.  And if you happen to be in an eating establishment, and an otherwise-mild-mannered person is lunging, Wolverine-style, at a patron who's rendering the 1812 Overture with only his spoon, his mouth and a bowl of soup, please come over and introduce yourself.  I'll need someone to post my bail.

*If you've never had the pleasure of seeing the "Slowly I Turn" bit, feast your eyes on Lou Costello and Sid Fields or Lucille Ball or Moe, Curly and Larry working it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Irrefutable Assertions, Dept.

Right, so, today, as a result of the quite tarsome rain we've been enduring or perhaps of the strong winds accompanying same, a Very Large Crane (not the flying variety) crashed down at the National Cathedral.  It had been transporting supplies to the top of the cathedral as part of the repair effort necessitated by the earthquake that shook Choc City a few weeks ago.  In the WaPo's words, the "crane toppled...sending its operator to the hospital, damaging two out-buildings and crushing four vehicles that belonged to contractors."

Pretty brutal, right?  The cathedral had sustained fairly serious structural and external damage as a result of the quake, to begin with, so this would seem the proverbial insult atop the the proverbial injury.  But here's another take on it:

"The Rev. Simon Bautista, canon for Latino Ministries for the diocese...[s]uddenly] heard a sound that was like “thunder,” Bautista said. “My office started shaking.”
When he looked out and saw the yellow crane sprawled on the ground, he said his first thought was that people must be hurt. When he learned that no one had died or was seriously injured, Bautista called that miraculous.
'You can see that this was a divine hand that kept something else from happening,' Bautista said."

Well, one could see it from that angle.  Or one might ask, "Gee, God, why are you toppling a crane that's helping to rebuild your house of worship?"

But kudos to the good padre.  Talk about a spinmeister!  When asked about the Black Plague that killed roughly half of everyone from Constantinople to Stockholm by the end of the 14th century, Bautista noted, "Truly a wonder!  Clearly, it was the hand of God that prevented Europe from being entirely depopulated."

'Cause there's those as drink the Kool-Aid and those as pour it down your gullet.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

That sticky sauce of buttermilk and Clorox*, Dept.

" a result, the king said fellatio did not count as sex, and the youth of the realm set at it with a renewed vigor that even the Spanish ambassador found remarkable."

I swear, I did not know Foxe's Book of Martyrs was so entertaining. Because the title's a bit of a buzzkill, right?

I joke, of course—the preceding is not from Foxe's Martyrs, but from the somewhat-better-known Pilgrim's Progress by John "I gotcher Slough of Despond right'ere!" Bunyan.

But, taking just a moment to expound on fellatio (from the Latin fellare, "to do something that, really, is quite reasonable and shouldn't have to be requested, like Baked Alaska, accompanied by ample notification and much occasion"), why is one of the great divides in American society—a polity already riven by any number of polarizing dualities—spit versus swallow?

Your sobsister's experience working the business end of the membrum virile is limited. And by "limited," I mean "nonexistent." So, I cannot in all honesty judge—harshly, generously or at all—those who will not take the bitter draught in its full and fertile flow, though I have met women who would screw up their faces in a startling grimace at the prospect of gargling some groin grog.

That said, then, let's look at the numbers. The human male ejaculates, on average, 4 milliters of seminal fluid, with maximal levels of 10-11 ml recorded, according to the Internet, which has never, if rarely, let me down. By comparison, a teaspoon is equivalent to 5 ml. So, really, this entire debate, which has engulfed generations of Americans and generated more angry and tearful arguments than the question of Ann Coulter's birth gender, centers around individuals' unwillingness to down a teaspoon of viscous fluid when people drink entire cans of Coke Zero without batting an eye. I mean, really? Really really? You'll eat a Twinkie or a Hot Pocket or one of those horrible cheezy peanut butter cracker sandwiches they sell out of men's room vending machines, but you won't down a teaspoon of spooge? What are you, a fucking Communist?!

So, come on, America, he ejaculated, suck it up! A source of high-quality protein, low in fat and calories, rich in flavor.

Semen: It's Not Just for Prostitutes Any More™.

*A tip o' the topper to Philip Roth for that memorable description.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dulles As Dull Does, Dept.

Here's a Sobsister Tip®: If you're a germophobe, do not hang around the international arrivals area of a large airport for an hour and a half.  Because that's like Mayo Makeup!: Best Bukkake #17 for germs of every description.  As I could not slather myself in Purell like a Channel swimmer in grease, I held my breath for the better part of those 90 minutes and breathed through my skin as the dancing dots before my eyes bulged into topographical spheres.

I stood in said area and watched a number of planes' disease-vectoring human cargo stagger out to meet rushing hugging family; impassive Africans with little white signs bearing passenger names; or no one.  A few observations--
  • Qatar Airways hostesses get to wear smart burgundy outfits topped with hats that look like gnocchi.
  • Some people vacation with more clothing than I have in my closet, chest of drawers and, possibly, attic.
  • French exchange studentesses are invariably cute.  I'm extrapolating from the one I saw being met by her new host family, but I'm pretty confident about my calculations.
  • Many women arrive in the United States wearing Sharia-compliant clothing.  Like the cute 20-something whose hijab was perfectly modest, thereby allowing the gaze to slip down to the v. large T-shirted rack popping out of her gown.
  • The difference in facial expression between arriving flight crews and tween travellers is like that between a cathouse madam and a honeymoon bride.
  • Grandmothers of all nations have the same cheek-pinch reflex, like a primordial muscle memory or a twitch of the collective unconscious.
  • If one young woman meets another who's arriving and says, "Oh my God, I totally want to murder you!," they're probably related.
  • Lufthansa crews look like Mad Men in the air.  I expect the pilots still playfully swat the stewardess' asses and demand Johnny Walker, rocks, while puffing on Luckys.
So, yes, air travel.  It brings us together: humanity and the microbes.  Were there justice or even intelligent design, we would infect the little bastards with intestinal catarrh or the like.  Instead, we rely on Panthanatos: ethyl alcohol in a 62% solution sweetened by aloe or Vitamin E.  We are America battling imported insurgencies.  From some of the same countries from which these tired and grateful visitors travelled or fled.

Circle of Life! *jazz hands*
4:20 Mumbai Time, Dept.

Right, so your sobsister loves me some Kronos Quartet.  Point the first.  I'm also all about the Bollywood soundtracks.  Point the second.  So, some time ago, when I picked up legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle's collaboration with Kronos, You've Stolen My Heart - Songs from R. D. Burman's Bollywood, I was grabbed by the leadoff cut, "Dum Mara Dum," which is translated as "Take Another Toke."

The lyrics, according to the Mother Box, are:

Dum maro dum
Mit jaaye gham
Bolo subah shaam
Hare Krishna, hare Ram

[Take a toke
Let the pain be erased
Say all day and night
Hare Krishna, hare Ram

Now, as you might've guessed, this piqued my interest.  So, today, I thought to find the original, also sung by Ms. Bhosle, on YouTube and, sho' nuff, here it is.  Very much of its time, i.e., fab.

From 1971's Hare Ram, Hare Krishna:

Man, those guys are working those chillums.

Then, I found a remade version that's very modern, i.e., BET moves and aerobicized abs on actress Deepika Padukone.  Interesting, but very not Asha:

So, to make up for that tawdry display, I'll finish off this segment with the version that got this thing started.  Asha Bhosle, about a quarter-century after the original, and the Kronos krewe:

And remember, kids: "ganja" is the Hindi word for "how late do they have that all-you-can-eat buffet at Udupi Palace?"

Monday, July 04, 2011

Independence Day CCXXXV: Where's Your Precious Will Smith Now?, Dept.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  Join me in celebrating that joyful day 235 years ago when Jesus first charged his power ring and created the blessed corporatocracy in which we now live.  (Wait, did I spell that correctly...? c-o-p-r-o-c-r-a-c-y...)

If you can't join me, well, then, join Latino Superstar Jimmy "my name doesn't end in a vowel, cabrón" Smits for A Capitol Fourth.  Smitty will introduce such renowned musical acts as that girl who won Idol a few years ago and Josh Groban, whom my mother used to like.  Inspiring marches and such will be played to remind us of the American Empire's salad days.  Hey, remember when we kicked Spain's ass?! Aww, yeah, that was wicked cool!

So, yes, America's birthday.  Canada may have a better national anthem and health care system, but we made Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, so IN YOUR FACE, you poutine-eating, Triumph-listening posers!!

U.S.A.!  U.S.A.!  U.S.A!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quoted for Truth, Dept.

From the landing page for the Welspun Group, an Indian steel and textiles manufacturer:

"With a participative approach towards social development, the company is guided by the three ‘E's - Education, Empowerment and Health." that the famous Hindi silent "h"?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

My Cousin Kenny, Dept.

This political season is so absurdly rich in sociopaths at whom we laugh, but who hold stature in the eyes of a non-trivial segment of the population, that satire becomes journalism with more Buffy references.  Sure, some of them--Bachmann, Santorum, Palin--are so bizarre, repellent and unavoidable in their attempts at self-aggrandizement through manipulation of the basest instincts in what I hope is a largely ignorant, perhaps cave-dwelling, population that they invite, if not demand, comment in a way that, say, Steve Forbes never did and never will unless he releases photographs of himself coupling with a manatee cow.

Amongthem?notyet, but you have to credit his arriviste spunkiness is Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a feller who's making a name for himself by saying and doing shit that others might think openhandedly indulged a penchant for persecution of one's culture war enemies except for the fact that Cuccinelli's pronouncements are so inappropriate for someone representing all of the laws of the state--not just the ones that fuck up the Opposition--that they cease resembling rational speech and morph into the midway bark of a Tod Browning carnival.  Challenging gay rights, challenging environmental legislation, challenging the constitutionality of the health care law, challenging academic freedom--he's one challenged guy.  And on his short bus, he believes homosexuality is wrong, abstinence-only sex education is the way to go and the Second Amendment pretty much gives anyone the right to bear arms in as concealed a manner as that individual deems appropriate.

Now, by this point, you might think that "Cuccinelli" is Italian for "deranged right-wing twunt."  And it might be; my Italian is rustier than Condoleezza Rice's sense of shame.  But in the interests of bipartisanship and open dialogue, I've invited "Cooch," as I call him, to answer questions from readers, in a segment I call "Talk to the Cooch...'Cause the Face Don't Care!"

Our first question comes from Lerman Griswold of Nacogdoches, TX
Q: Hey, Cooch, It seems funny that Virginia still has anti-sodomy laws on the books, particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v Texas.  Could you clarify?
A: "I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

Great, thanks, Cooch.  Our next question is from Tamneesha Brown of Chicago, IL
Q: Dear Cooch, I understand that you gave your staff lapel pins that had a modified version of the current Virginia state seal.  In your version, the Roman goddess' bare breast was covered, and the design came from a Confederate seal used during Civil War.  So, are you a racist or scared of women's bodies or both?
A: "Give yourself a hand, right across your fucking mouth."

Interesting, interesting.  Alright, we have time from one more question.  This one's from Rogelio Ignacio Villacruz of Pomona, CA
Q: ¡Hola, Cooch! Me pareces ser un imbecil comemierda maricón infeliz, y yo y mi mara nos cagamos en la concha de la putamadre que te pario.  ¿Que te parece eso?
A: "How do you cook your grits? Do you like them regular, creamy or al dente?"

Nicely put.  With that, we bring this first edition of "Talk to the Cooch...'Cause the Face Don't Care!" to a close.  Please send in your questions, and we'll try to get to as many as we can in future editions.

Until then...keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the...what? well, I don't Casey Kasem my mother?...well, I don't have another sign-off, OK?...what?...that doesn't even make sense...I don't care if she's not using...what?...OK, fine...

Hm.  Until then, everyone, wubba wubba wubba!


Monday, April 25, 2011

In the Valley of the Cretin, the Half-Wit is King, Dept.

As some of you might know, I have a hate/hate relationship with those Bunyanesque twins, Willful Ignorance and Self-Inflicted Stupidity.  And, from daily exposure to their misshapen brood--in this episode, as you'll see, I encounter Cluelessness--I wear their stink like a '20s frat boy wore a beaver coat.

An example?  Certainly.  I arrive at a local medical facility for an appointment.  At the elevator bank, I press the "up" button.  Soon enough, the elevator arrives with a chiming tone and the illumination of a white and upwards-pointing arrow.  The door slides open.  Inside are two young women in their twenties.  They stare at me, but make no motion to exit.  I enter the elevator and press "4," the button for my floor, then share with them my view that this elevator is now going up.  "Naw, it's goin' down," I'm told.

The elevator door closes, and, to my non-surprise, it heads up.  The two women are confused.  They were apparently heading for the garage.  For which reason, I deduce from their few words to each other, they had pressed the starred "G" button, perhaps unaware of the convention whereby "G" stands for "Ground Floor," and of the one whereby a star beside the floor alphanumeric indicates that it is the principal exit floor.

The elevator, of its own volition, stops at 1.  This floor is handsomely appointed, wood-grain trim above and below, tastefully matched to the paint, other nice touches.  They overcome their apparent reluctance to leave the safe haven of the elevator, step out, look around and exclaim, "Where the hell we at?!" and "How we gettin' outta here?!" before the door slides back shut, sparing me the sight of their descent into madness.

Q: If they thought--perhaps not unreasonably--that "G" stood for "Garage," then why didn't they get out of the elevator when it arrived at that floor, particularly as they hadn't pressed any other buttons? 
A: Possibly because it didn't look like a garage floor might look.
Q: And the fancy-schmancy wood-paneled floor looked like the garage?
A: Yeah, I'd love to answer that, but I can't.

Q: At any rate, why insist, after I board the elevator, that it's going down, if they hadn't pushed any other buttons?
A: The topic of today's sermon:  Cluelessness.

Another?  My pleasure.  Casa Sobsister has a shabby little black metal mailbox that may, at one point, have been attached to the house.  It now leans against the house, its flappy door resting in the "closed" position.  So, some time back, in anticipation of a Thanksgiving trip out of town, I submitted a request to the USPS to hold our mail until we returned.  Off we go, back we come five days later.  Well, not only had my "hold mail" request not been heeded, but the brain trust that comprises the mail carrier corps of my local post office had kept wedging the mail into the narrow little mailbox, despite the fact that, oddly enough, the residents were not retrieving their mail.  As a consequence, then, of having a week's worth of mail (including magazines and a book) shoved into it, the mailbox stood with its flappy door forced open and skyward during a period when it rained quite heavily.  Did any of the fucktards from my local post office regard the situation and think, "Hmm...this customer's mailbox is entirely full, possibly as a consequence of not retrieving the mail due to absence.  Perhaps I should check to see if he has filed a 'hold mail' request."?  Short answer: no.  Somewhat-longer answer: no, because the radioactivity to which the postal drone in question exposes him- or herself while hanging onto a cell phone for the entirety of his or her shift renders him or her Clueless.  And that is the kindest of the explanations I've been able to devise.  Otherwise, why would I always get my next-door neighbors' mail?  Why would I get the mail for the lady one block over who has the same house number?  Why, despite the very large sign pasted to the shabby little mailbox that reads, "PLEASE KEEP CLOSED," do the mail carriers leave the flappy door w-i-d-e o-p-e-n?  It's Cluelessness, plain and simple.  Irremediable without a strong and conscious effort, which these shitwits are extremely unlikely to make as they slouch down the street, head and shoulder sandwiching a celly: "Mm-hmm.  Mm-hmm.  You know that's right.  Mm-hmm."

Q: What, are they retarded?
A: No, because the retarded make an effort.  These minus-quam-sub-geniuses don't.

I occasionally despair for the species.  And by "occasionally," I mean "every time I go outside."  And by "every time I go outside," I mean "I have to go outside because I don't trust the USPS to deliver my magazines without jamming them into my mailbox in the rain and leaving the flappy door open."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The 420 Steps, Dept.

So, last year on this date, I riffed on the cannabine associations of April 20.  Sophomoric prattle, really; terms like "rolling a fatty" and "torching a tenement tiki" being bandied about like a teenager's first pair of breasts.  And, certainly, there was a reference to a certain Austrian paperhanger's natal day.  How could there not have been?  But, the tone, I felt, was a low one.

So, instead, I thought today to honor the day with a bit of poetry.  Not my own, mind you.  That's so elevated in tone, it would bleach the tabs on either side of me in your browser.  No, something a bit more traditional.  Folk poetry, perhaps?  There's something invariably noble and grounded about the people's creative product, isn't there?  Well, let's see...what would be nice...?  Oh!  Yes.  This'll do.  This'll do nicely.

And so, without further ado, I offer for your delectation that family favorite, "The Ball of Inverness":

The Ball of Inverness

Four and twenty virgins,
Came down from Inverness,
And when the ball was over,
There were four and twenty less.

Singing balls to your father,
Your arse against the wall,
If you've never been fucked on a Saturday night,
You'll never be fucked at all.

Four and twenty prostitutes,
Came up from Gloccamore,
And only one went home that night,
And she was double-bore.

The village plumber he was there,
He felt an awful fool,
He'd come eleven leagues or more,
And forgot to bring his tool.

Sandy McPherson he came along,
It was a bloody shame.
He fucked a lassie forty times,
And wouldna take her haim.

Mrs. O'Malley she was there,
She had the crowd in fits,
A-jumping off the mantelpiece,
And landing on her tits.

The minister's wife was at the ball,
A-sitting in the front,
A wreath of flowers 'round her ass,
A carrot up her cunt.

Father Feeney he was there,
And in the corner he sat,
Amusing himself, abusing himself
And catching it in his hat.

The Parson's daughter she was there,
The cunning little runt,
With poison ivy up her arse,
And thistle up her cunt.

The Vicar's wife she drank beer,
Back up against the wall,
"Put your money on the table boys,
I'm fit to do ye all".

The Vicar and his lovely wife,
Were having lots of fun,
The Parson had his finger,
Up another lady's bum.

The vicar's daughter she was there,
Getting very merry,
Swinging from the chandelier
And peeing in the sherry

The Queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey,
The King was in the chambermaid,
And she was in the money.

First lady forward,
Second lady back,
Third lady's finger,
Up the fourth lady's crack.

The bride was in the kitchen,
Explaining to the groom.
The vagina, not the rectum,
Is the entrance to the womb.

The groom was in the parlor,
Explaining to his bride.
The penis, not the scrotum,
Is the part that goes inside.

The village magician he was there,
Doing his favorite trick,
Pulling his foreskin over his head,
And vanishing up his dick.

The village cripple he was there,
He wasn't up too much,
He lined them up against the wall
And fucked them with his crutch.

Now farmer Giles he was there,
His sickle in his hand,
And when he swung the blade around,
He circumcised the band.

Giles he played a dirty trick,
We cannot let it pass,
He showed his lass his mighty prick,
Then shoved it up her ass.

Farmer Brown he was there,
A' jumping on his hat,
For half an acre of his corn
Was fairly fucking flat.

Officer O'Malley he was there,
The pride of all the force.
They found him in the stable,
Wanking off his horse.

The chimney sweep he was there,
They had to throw him out,
For every time he farted,
The room was filled with soot,

The village builder he was there,
He brought his bag of tricks,
He poured cement in all the holes,
And blunted all the pricks.

Little Jimmy he was there,
The leader of the choir,
He hit the balls of all the boys,
To make their voices higher.

Little Tommy he was there,
He was only eight,
He was too small for the women,
So he had to masturbate.

The village doctor he was there,
He had his bag of tricks,
And in between the dances,
He was sterilizing pricks.

The doctor's daughter she was there,
She went to gather sticks.
She couldna find a blade of grass,
For cunts and standing dicks.

The village postman he was there,
The poor man had the pox,
He couldna fuck the lassies,
So he fucked the letter box.

The village shepherd he was there,
And he began to weep,
All these willing women,
And not a single sheep.

The local harlot she was there,
A lay'in on the floor,
And every time she spread her legs,
The vacuum shut the door.

There was fucking in the haystacks,
Fucking in the ricks,
You couldna hear the music,
for the rustling of the pricks.

And when the ball was over,
Everyone confessed,
They all enjoyed the dancing,
But the fucking was the best.

Monday, April 18, 2011

American Hystery, Dept.

Your sobsister rides the subway to work.  Here in Choc City, the subway is called a "Metro," the sound of which conjures up Parisian romance, even as the experience conjures up Dantean expiation of what must have been horrible, horrible sins on Earth.  If Washington has been described as a city of southern efficiency and northern charm, the Metro is a transportation system of Nigerian efficiency and North Korean charm.  While the frisson of sudden and unexpected death by incompetence does shake the previous night's sleep from passengers each morning, it is not, on the whole, a pleasant experience.  And, by ironic understatement, I mean to say everyone associated with Metro--and here I'm looking at the person who let out the contract for installation and maintenance of the system's escalators--should be horsewhipped, if not daily, at least weekly.  At least weekly.  Maybe thrice a fortnight.  Which is pronounced "Cholmondley."

Anyhoo.  Every day, I wait for the Metro homebound, and I stare across at the facing platform, on which there is a backlit sign for a new show at Ford's Theatre.  The venue will likely be familiar to you as the place where Abraham Lincoln took in most of Our American Cousin.  And currently the theater is presenting a musical titled Liberty Smith.

Now, I don't claim to have psychic powers, you know, since the cease-and-desist, but, one look at that ad triggered what might be latent mutant tendencies.  The poster transparency shows the title character, a fellow, affable in appearance, seated with a colonial American flag in his lap.  I looked at the image, looked at the name of the production and intuited a show wherein the aformentioned Liberty Smith "happened" to have been comically present at key moments in revolutionary-era America.  Maybe he told Betsy Ross that concentric circles wouldn't work as well as stars and stripes.  Maybe he told Thomas Jefferson that once he went black, he would not, in fact, go back.  Something along those lines, all whimsical and juvenile and easily digestible.

So, today, after a few weeks of staring at that ad while waiting for the train, I went to the Ford's Theatre Web site and read the synopsis of Liberty Smith.  And it goes something like this:

Ford’s Theatre presents the world premiere of Liberty Smith, a madcap musical romp through Revolutionary America. A childhood friend of George Washington, apprentice to Benjamin Franklin and linked to Paul Revere’s remarkable ride, the elusive Liberty Smith weaves his way through familiar tales of a young nation.

As they say, nothing but net.  Madcap net.

Now, you may ask, will I find love or who will win the Stanley Cup or when will a cure for cancer be found?  My nascent powers, I believe, confer upon me a sacred trust to use them wisely, sparingly and well.  Further, regarding the Stanley Cup, I think I'd rather inventory the earthworms in my back yard than devote a scintilla of thought to the most pointless of the generally pointless array of professional sports.  But were you to ask: How is Liberty Smith?  As two teams of wild horses would be woefully inadequate to drag me down to the theater, I'll supply a few choice quotes from the Washington Post's reviewer: "this energetic if flavor-deprived waltz through American revolutionary history...[is] a harmless riff on what spills out of every elementary school history text...The predicaments seem inspired by lame skits from long-ago TV variety shows."  Funnily enough, none of this is quoted in the ad, which someone very carefully crafted from the handful of phrases in the review that didn't damn with faint meh.

So, yes, Liberty Smith.  Exactly what out-of-towners expect of a Washington show and about what they deserve.  I keep wanting to call it "Liberty Jones," except that would be the title for a Bing Crosby musical number of my imagining, circa 1940, featuring a goggle-eyed pickaninny shoeshine boy who dreams of being elected to a White House surrounded by cotton fields and watermelon patches, with a Secretary of Fried Chicken and a federal tap dancing holiday.  "Liberty (Liberty!) His momma named him Liberty (Liberty!), 'Cause he'll set all the dark people free."

At any rate, pastiche pool's closed, kids.  It's time to retire for the evening to face down another day tomorrow.  And so, as another blogger once wrote, to bed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's on Everyone's Lips, Dept.

You would think sodomy would be a divisive issue in today's America, but, surprisingly, it is not.

Democrats, for example, enjoy having their dicks sucked by zaftig interns with daddy issues, while Republicans like being reamed by hung rentboys.  It's as natural as cherry blossoms in spring or fetal alcohol syndrome in reality show contestants.

Apropos of which, former Sen. Rick Santorum has taken the first baby steps towards the White House by announcing the fundraising committee that will sound the waters for financial support for his candidacy.  For those who've not had the opportunity to google "Santorum," the Web site is the first hit for the former senator's surname, thanks to the SEO efforts of sex-advice columnist Dan Savage and his many followers.  The site's purpose: to immortalize the redefinition of "santorum" (as devised by Savage's readers) as "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex."  Savage and his followers took the initiative in response to the former senator's many and unenlightened pronouncements on homosexuality.  (The second Google hit is the Wikipedia page for "Santorum (sexual neologism)"--huh huh, he said "jism"--followed only then by Santorum's Wikipedia bio page.)

Now, Santorum, as a devout Catholic--if his seven children and virulently antigay pronouncements are any barometer--may be a stranger to back-door lovin', given that, by my best calculations, it doesn't seem to lead to babies very often (one notable exception: Glenn Beck).  Or, as a devout Catholic who is virulently antigay, he may be well-acquainted with back-door lovin' (see rentboy above).  It's all between him and his confessor.  Who may be well-acquainted with back-door lovin' (see rentboy above).

But Santorum's reappearance on the national stage after having had his pee-pee spanked in the 2006 senatorial race by Democrat Bob Casey will allow national media to revisit this "colorful" senator's past statements and activities and report them to an audience a bit bigger than the tragically slackjawed Pennsylvania electorate that first elevated him to Capitol Hill.

Here's one of my favorite Santorum stories, a testament, really, to the type of president he might make were he to achieve this nation's highest elected office.  So, as I noted, Santorum and his wife have seven children.  Well, actually, they would have had eight, but the child fifth in line died a few hours after birth due to a severe genetic disorder.  A tragedy by any reckoning, but Santorum decided to put his own special spin on the situation by bringing the deceased infant home, introducing it to his four children as "your brother Gabriel" and spending the night with it before returning it to the hospital the next day.  Talk about kickin' it old-school.  That's an attitude towards death with which most Americans would be familiar.  In the 19th century.  When post-mortem photography reached its zenith.  It's certainly of a piece with his attendance of Latin Mass and his trogolodytic attitude towards human sexuality.  Would your sobsister be surprised to find that Santorum cinches a metal cilice around his thigh just a bit tighter when he has an impure thought about Justin Bieber?  Well, would your sobsister be surprised to find that Yosemite Sam recently pitched a minor hissy regarding a certain consarned long-eared galoot?

So, yes, Rick Santorum, welcome back to the national stage.  In an electoral season where the ring is increasingly crowded by the tinfoil hats of the bizarre, disturbed and irrational politicians of the American Right, a man synonymous with shit-flecked spooge should feel right at home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Definition of Solipsism, Dept.

I'm on Twitter.  As some of you may recall, I'd ridiculed Twitter before I joined, its notion that anyone outside of your head cares in any meaningful way about your individual thoughts and actions unless they're your parents or your stalker.  But I did join, first, by setting up my office's account and then, familiarized, by setting up my own.

I've used it more or less frequently since joining.  It's fun to craft a punchy statement while working within the character constraints, and it's nice to "publish" a quick thought that isn't substantial enough for a blog post.  From the user standpoint, it's great to find content from a variety of providers, from friends to corporations to commentators on it all.

But, here's the thing: I follow just over 60 accounts, and, even so, I rarely have the time to do more than cast a quick glance at these tweets when I do access Twitter to post, clicking infrequently through the attached links and never scrolling down more than a few screens.  As a consequence, unless I make the effort to see what one Twitterer has had to say over X period of time, I miss much of what's been said while I've been offline.

By contrast, at work, I use HootSuite throughout the day to track my office's tweets, as well as subscription tweets, responses and retweets, in a four-column configuration.  To the casual observer, it looks as if I'm monitoring battlefield reports at a C3 bunker, new tweets streaming on constantly, the software chiding me if I leave it unattended for over an hour.

I'm sorry, but either scenario is more than a bit unsatisfying.  I mean, I want to be as informed as the next fellow of Christina Aguilera's thoughts on a real-time basis.  And, doubtless, some of you are far more efficient than I and effortlessly multitask monitoring your overflowing Twitter stream, even as you earn Foursquare badges and update your Facebook status.  But the democratization of online communication and the concomitant multiple-magnitude increase in online content have made it, to my mind, almost impossible to conduct a casual online life, one that does not require constant care, attention and commitment if one is actually to use the social media for which one has created accounts.

Granted, even among this democratized twittering class, some voices, by dint either of celebrity or of the actual value of their content, draw eyeballs.  The aforementioned Aguilera has been on Twitter for just under a month and has over 220 thousand followers.  Britney Spears has been on since October 2008, has 7.4 million followers and follows 417 thousand others.  That said, while it's understandable that more people than inhabit Massachusetts would want to catch such gems as "@rihanna You're such a tease! I like it, like it.... -Britney" drop from BritBrit's virtual lips, is Britney assiduously reading the tweets from all four hundred thousand-plus of her followers?  Such as intriguing tweet "@ You didn't actually :') Like whaaaat? A PINK DILDO? :B <3"
or any of the tweets from the 12-year-old "Verified Beliebers" who also follow her?

In truth, is anyone listening to anyone else?  Because from my perspective, it's the virtual equivalent to a stadium concert where everyone is too busy texting, talking and tweeting to actually watch the act onstage.  Except that the act onstage is everyone texting, talking and tweeting.  And if that's the case, then what's Twitter but the ocean into which everyone throws a message in a bottle knowing? assuming? hoping? that someone will not only find it, but take 30 seconds to read it?

I referred earlier to the "democratization" of online communication, but Twitter represents not so much the democratization of electronic media as the reification of the ego.  The expression of each individual, however benighted or brilliant, is given form and life in a way unimaginable a generation ago.  As a consequence, people, their dreams kindled and expectations raised, want to be heard--even if they don't want to hear others--and want to have even a little assurance that they are being heard.  "Follow-me-I'll-follow-you" logrolling only goes so far (the rolled log being the remains of the tree that fell in the forest to no audience), because you, Joe or Jane Blow, may have a thousand followers, but can you say with certainty that any 100 are actually reading your tweets regularly?  If others do this math, then I can see a near future when Twitter sheds its "social media" skin to serve as a customer service channel for merchants such as airlines and big box retail or an expedited channel for news dissemination, be it from media, the government or grassroots reporters.  But the notion that everyone or anyone cares about each and every hair, mood, location or LOLZOMG!! tweet you squirt is likely, I think, to be discarded sooner rather than later.

Because, ultimately, you're not that interesting, and neither am I.  Keeping that knowledge to ourselves is as essential to the social compact as covering one's mouth during a sneeze and faking an orgasm with royalty.  Any system that reminds us, tacitly or otherwise, of the world's indifference to the minutiae of our mental lives is not fated to enjoy a long life.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Conscience of the King, Dept.

So, I'd recorded the All Together Now: A Celebration of Service TV special that aired March 28 on NBC.  A little bit of propaganda to goose the notions of service and volunteerism among the couchlocked viewing audience.  All the living former presidents were in attendance, and, for some reason, Bush XLI was being particularly fêted.  Or "fetid," I'm not sure which.  So, Bill, Jimmy, Dubya and Poppy were all on display, along with the no-account Bushes, old Barbara and hot Barbara, etc.

From the attendees, you might imagine that the entertainment on offer would not be boundary-pushing.  Whoever the fuck Miranda Cosgrove might be gave a little speech about service or something.  Cee Lo Green came out to sing a verse of "Soul Man," then introduced his uncle, Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, who duetted with him.  Brad Paisley, who we know is "country" 'cause he had the good taste to sport both an inappropriately large white cowboy hat and a silver-glitter-and-paisley Telecaster, sang "Try a Little Kindness."  Lots of reaction shots of the prezzies.  GHWB was looking very Monty-Burns-ish.  Dubya unsurprisingly looked lost, as if Laura had snookered him into going out by telling him they were going to see The Wiggles.  Bill, minus Hill who actually has paying work, was eyeing Miranda Cosgrove like a cartoon cannibal eyes Bugs Bunny.  Jimmy and Rosalynn looked marooned on an island of fatuous.

Several speeches later, Carrie Underwood is introduced.  I expect her to sing "Jesus Take the Wheel" or "Jesus Go Out for Burgers" or some other of her simultaneously pious and patriotic numbers.  Out she struts in a snug'n'shiny black suit with three-quarter sleeves over a pirate shirt.  Cut to the prezzies: old Barbara and Dubya and the rest are bobbing their heads to the intro music in expectation of some sweet Muskogee truisms about the flag and the Lord.

Instead, Carrie plants herself mid-stage and launches into
Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead

If anyone with even slightly less Red State cred than Carrie U. had addressed these lines at the assembled, she would've been run out of town on a rail after a vigorous horsewhipping.  Instead, Carrie stands there, unsmiling, staring up and out at the prezzies and sings
Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin'
Join the human race

Umm, wow.  Okay.  Maybe she? the producers? Satan? thought that the "Well we all shine on/Like the moon and the stars and the sun" bit made this song up-tempo and happy and appropriate for the occasion.  Or maybe Carrie Underwood is the most subversive woman in America.  But to tell this particular band of men, to tell the honoree and his skeeze-bag sons seated to his right and left, that karma is hovering over them like the Eumenides over Orestes?  Oh snap, girl.  That's better than Colbert reading Dubya at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

I don't own any of her albums.  I didn't root for her the year she won Idol.  I don't know the backstory to this performance.  But for four minutes this week, I was a huge Carrie Underwood fan.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Coprokomodia, Dept.

So, this episode contains allusive content that may prove distressing to those with sensitive nerves or vivid imaginations.  Let that serve as my only warning.  Which reminds me, how's your mom, Ed?

I'm at work.  I'm in the bathroom, I enter a stall.  Someone is already in the far stall, the handicapable stall.  As I ponder, let my thoughts meander, freely wander, the occupant of the far stall begins to make noises.  The noises a very unfit man makes walking uphill in the summer.  The hard breaths, the grunts.  Should I intervene?  Is the occupant in distress?  Is the occupant about to gaochao?  Is the four-alarm chili doing a Sherman through his Georgia?

The noise continues.  It ends.  The hoarse roar of his flush masks other ejaculations.  I can see a sliver of the sinks through the crack between my stall door and the stall frame.  The heavy breather--I recognize him, a morbidly obese dude in his early 30s I've seen on my floor--stops at a sink only long enough to trigger the motion-sensor water flow with a swipe of a hand, then walks to the paper dispenser to grab a length and out the door.

I can understand many trespasses and forgive some.  Situation and circumstance can force men and women to do things that they might not have chosen to do, or they can offer men and women the opportunity to do things that they oughtn't.  But the pro forma automatic sink swipe to convince whom? Me? Jesus? Ceiling cat? that you had washed your hands as thoroughly as anyone who's just finished a hot toilet grunt session might do, i.e., as thoroughly as if about to perform open thoracic surgery.  That I shall not forgive or *gaak* forget.

You don't know me, and I don't know you.  But, entre nous, in Tom Cruise's words from Magnolia, I'm quietly judging you.  The judgment? You are one fa schifo motherfucker.

And I hope the maintenance guy scalds the bathroom door handles every night.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Gen 6:4, Dept.

Listening to a stream of Miles Davis' sextet on April 12, 1970 at the Fillmore West.  Jesus Mary and Joseph O'Leary, they started with an "It's About That Time" that must've flash-fried every hippie in that temple to Euterpe, then continued one minute voodoo funk the next free blowing for the entirety of the set, with occasional oases of quiet lyricism.  If you've ever asked yourself as I am wont to do, "What's a good example of a band that listens to each other with elephant ears, then plays as tightly as, I don't know, some 12-armed deity of asskicking ecstacy music?," this will answer your question.

Then, the Grateful Dead walked on to headline, reportedly awed by Davis and his band.  No offense to the Dead, and on their home court yet, but you can only follow an opener like that, to quote Lenny Bruce, with Art Baker whacking it in Bert Parks' face.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being a Short Discourse on the Latest Edition of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, Dept.

Right, so I forgot that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (R&RHoF) Induction Ceremonies were last week, so I had to watch the two-hour reduction instead of the full live feed.  On the one hand, I missed Jann Wenner's most-likely half-toasted introduction, some unedited acceptance speeches that remind us why a number of performers are not their own best editors, and the inevitable closing "jam."  On the other hand, I missed Jann Wenner's most-likely half-toasted get the bit, right?  Onto the show, then, now in bulleted form!
  • Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack was inducted by John Legend, which must have been as disappointing for the good doctor as it was for the viewing audience.  John Legend, what, now?  Aside from having one of the ironic self-inflicted surnames of all time, I don't get him.  He, like Fergie, like Pink, like so many others whose name more than music springs to mind, occupies this middle tier in the music business.  Like he's the regional manager for product development.  Not the CEO, not the mailcart guy, just...there.  In the middle.  Doing some job that I don't care about or even really understand.  His induction speech was flaccid and Teleprompter-heavy, and then, inexplicably, he played a piano duet with Dr. John on "Such a Night."  Was everyone and anyone else who could have said something meaningful about Mac Rebennack dead or out of town?  I mean, Christ, Robbie Robertson was in the audience!  Dr. John played "Such a Night" at The Last Waltz!  There's relatedness, right there!  Or Liv Tyler looking quite lovely.  Or Catherine Zeta-Jones likewise.  I'd preferred to have watched Liv Tyler and Catherine Zeta-Jones freestyle an induction rap for Dr. John over watching John Legend's grade-school pageant presentation.  Ugh.
  • Bette Midler wearing an approximation of Bette Midler's face ca. the Divine Madness Tour inducted Darlene Love.  *ha ha*  I joke; she's had the good work done.  And at least she read her speech with characteristic sass and oomph in contrast to the agent of entropy who preceded here.  And Darlene Love spoke her acceptance sincerely,  good lines well-delivered, from what the excerpts showed.  The acceptance speeches were all intercut with the associated musical performances, so the absolute length of them is unknown to your reporter.  She (and the others) may have spoken for an hour or two minutes.  But she's got pipes, I tell you what.  She ran through a few Spector classics with Paul Schaffer's Letterman ensemble, the usual house band for the event.
  • Rob Zombie, looking like he ate Choo-Choo Charlie then stole his hat, inducted Alice Cooper.  A clever speech delivered in an offhand way.  The band performed two numbers; the inevitable incongruousness of the 62-year-old Alice Cooper né Vincent Furnier singing "I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out" overshadowed by the fact that all but the guitarist are original members and looked to be having a tremendous time as they rocked out.
  • Neil Young now resembling a cantankerous Civil War veteran woken after a century's sleep offered offhand comments, essentially admitting he hadn't prepared remarks for the occasion, but, nevertheless, winged a funny, surreal performance piece in introduction of Tom Waits.  I'd call this the marquee event.  Tight-lipped and media-shy, Waits keeps a low profile, revealing print interviews of him as numerous as my hen's teeth.  His acceptance speech is funny, likely rehearsed, but as engaging as you might imagine, punctuated by his eyes blinking as if forced into sunshine from the cool deep dark.
  • In the evening's most personal introduction, Sir Elton inducted his idol and current tour partner, Leon Russell.  He spoke of his encounter with Russell's music as a young musician and of his awe and respect then and Russell's help and advice to him, followed by his reconnection with the man 30 years later when Russell's fortunes were much reduced.  A riches-to-rags-to-riches story underlined by Russell's speech wherein he noted that Elton had found him in the "ditch by the side of the highway of life" and treated him like a king.  Now and for some time in fragile health, he performed "Delta Lady" and, affectingly, "A Song for You"  in a shadow of his voice, particularly poignant given the film clips of him hollering and tearing it up onstage as a younger man.
  • Paul Simon came out and kvetched humorously about it taking 20 years since Neil Diamond's first eligibility for him to be inducted.  Paul looks like he hasn't had the good work, unfortunately.  Maybe it's just crap makeup, but Paul Simon?  Really?  Whatever it is, he shouldn't look like Albin in La Cage at the Jewish Community Center of Flatbush.  Neil Diamond offered a moving "I Am...I Said," with the weight of 45 years in the business behind it.  Wistful, valedictory, a slow recognition of life's existential weight that ended in as many "no"s as Molly Bloom offered "yes"s.  He then shifted gears suddenly--and somewhat unwillingly, if his expression was any barometer--to sing "Sweet Caroline."  Pro that he is, however, by mid-song, he'd waded out into the audience to grab family members, shmooze other singers and, at one point, stand on a chair to lead the assembled in song.  As I said, a pro.
So, okay, the average age of the inductees was 104.  That's fine, but it led me to think and research.  The list of good, even top-tier, bands that have yet to be inducted is long.  Longlonglonglong loooonnng.  And it raises a few questions that I'll characterize as "uncomfortable" and discuss in the next installment.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New York State of Mind, Dept.

Recently back from der großer Apfel 
--using the Teutonic version thereof in memory of the Yorkville neighborhood of NYC where I went to high school and where once there stood a series of great, traditional German businesses, large and small, including restaurants and Konditoreien and Biergärten and the like, but now is home to Big Box Stores because why have interesting, organically developed, locally owned businesses when you can have another Sephora and a Best Buy--

and, setting my bitterness aside for the moment, I thought to offer a few notes and observations from our latest visit.
  • If you are an attractive Asian-American female between the ages of 18 and 25 who is not appreciated in her precincts, by all means run-do-not-walk in your clackety heels to New York City.  Apparently, the mayor passed an ordinance recently that requires casually dressed Caucasian men of the same age to be seen on the streets with an Asianesque hottie irrespective of their own Hot-or-Not rating.  It follows on the heels of the controversial tattoo-sleeve/soul-patch/porkpie-hat requirement for Williamsburg.
  • If you read this before April 17, speed your way to the New York Theater Workshop in the East Village and glom a ticket or two for Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel to J.M. Barrie's classic, Peter Pan, adapted from the novel of the same name.  It's the closest to British panto I've seen on these shores.  A smash-bash of high and low art that veers from fart gags to the line "It's as hard to find as the melody in a Philip Glass opera."  Wildly inventive, it turns red headlights and two clotheslines into a crocodile, and ropes into everything from whipping waves to a narrow tunnel.  Fantastic cast in a jewelbox setting.  Do.  Not.  Miss.  It.
  • Our hotel seemed to house two types of guest: us and ugly Euro-hookers.  No, let me correct that: us, ugly Euro-hookers and Lolitas who ostentatiously occupied space in the lobby.  One stood out: Ugg-ish boots, a v. short skirt over coltish legs, a headful of yellow curls, pouty mouth and a large sock monkey doll.  What, the prop department couldn't find heart-shaped glasses and a lollipop?  I'm sure these young ladies could earn their college and grad school tuitions in a single season working the lobby, assuming, of course, that by the time they're old enough to matriculate, they're not dead or chained to the throne of the Sultan of Brunei.
  • Mediocre seafood is not redeemed by a bouncy server who puts his thespic training on display as "Gregarious Waiter #2".
  • Times Square, thanks to the aforementioned Bloomberg, is now--thank you, Guinness--The Biggest Traffic Clusterfuck in Creation.  I'm sorry, say again...? make Times Square a pedestrian mall?  Certainly!  I mean, who would ever use Broadway as a southbound artery?  *ha ha* the very notion!  Absurd!  Perkins, throw another wog on the fire, I'm getting chilly!
  • I saw a number of institutions of secondary education named using the formula "The (illustrious obscurity's surname) School."  They irritate me.  That they are no more and no less than high schools that nevertheless charge, thanks to a consensual cachet, the equivalent of a small Andean country's GDP per annum to instill the values of a predatory plutocracy guised as beneficent meritocracy into the pretty heads of the loinfruit of the financial condottieri and their siblings in the Professions.  That we as humble passersby should be awed by the stark simplicity of the institution's name, its opacity incised into the façade's granite.  Not for them the transparency of "Wendell L. Willkie Middle School"or "Our Lady of the Illuminated Hardships High School for Girls," when, in fact, it should be: "The Murgatroyd School for the Coddled Children of the Monied Class, Who Within Our Walls Will Get an Earful of the Sort of Egalitarian Nonsense Only the Wealthy Can Afford to Believe, Then Stumble from Here to the Ivies, or, if They're Horrible Fuckups, the 'Little Ivies,' and, After Some Dalliance with Conformist Noncomformist Thinking, Will Eventually Get a Law Degree, Find a Suitable Spouse from the Same Class and Breed Their Successors at the Firm."  At a minimum, it would provide ample work for automobile decal makers, and, really, isn't that all we can ask as a people? 
  • There is more diversity in any three-block stretch of Queens Boulevard than there is in most of our landlocked states. Queens is where the immigrants live, cheek-by-jowl, bulgogi joint next to cumbia palace next to bagel shop.  Queens is the last bit of Old New York, now that Progress, that tasteless bitch, has eaten up Manhattan and shitten out Singapore, then driven the dead out of Brooklyn.  I can't speak for the Bronx or Staten Island because, frankly, who the fuck goes to the Bronx or Staten Island?
  • An apology to the people responsible for developing content for the little TVs in NYC cabs, but, really, I don't need to watch NBC-branded television if I'm in a taxi in Manhattan, right?  If watching the architecture, storefronts and people of one of the most dynamic cities on the planet is too boring, I can always ask my driver how long it's been since he left Lahore.
  • Apropos of nothing, I judge people who have to have coffee before they can function or be even vaguely approachable at work.  I mean, I'm extremely judgmental by nature and nurture, but, really, substitute "crystal meth" or "black tar heroin" or "a rock of cocaine" for "coffee" in that sentence, and you kinda get my drift.  The fact that many enterprises--my own employers included--keep giant vats of this shit percolating all day for free consumption is ethically and operationally no different than their piling a five-ounce pyramid of blow on a conference room table at 9 a.m.  So, yes, Mister Venti Non-Fat Four-Shot Extra-Hot Macchiato, you are the moral equivalent of a bust-out junkie, except you're nodding out before you score, and I pronounce anathema on you, sir, anathema!
At any rate, that's NYC for now.  Coming back to Choc City after a weekend in Manhattan is like ambling back to Mayberry.  Well, Mayberry with Black people.  And without its courtly charm.  But with horrible commuter traffic.  Have I mentioned my proposal for a thousand-dollar-per-vehicle annual commuter tax on the Maryland and Virginia parasites who drive--and always, always badly--their cars into town and leave nothing of any value in return?  Derail.  At any rate, Choc City is apparently nothing like Mayberry, but is still a small Southern town.  Those who wish to send me a file baked into a cake can write me for my mailing address.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Blue-Eyed Tiger, Dept.

Sobsister favorite Betty Garrett passed on to the Big Screening Room in the Sky on Feb. 12.  She lights up the screen in On the Town despite sharing screens with Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen and Jules Munshin, not a shrinking violet in the bunch.  Her man-hungry lady cabdriver is the center of most of the best comic action in the film.  Through most of the film, she eyes Sinatra the way a cartoon cannibal eyes a missionary on the hoof.

So, here's her big number from the aforementioned, "Come Up to My Place," a witty bit of classic Comden and Green.  Sexy, sassy and smart.  The kind of triple-threat movie star not much seen any more.

Where Are They Then?, Dept.

Watching New Rose Hotel recently--an excellent William Gibson adaptation, btw, with standout turns by stars Christopher Walken and the stunning Asia Argento--I noticed, during the closing credit crawl, a semi-familiar name listed as providing craft services.  Rachel Uchitel, now best known for being numbered among the four-score-and-seven women who boinked sex addict and sometime golfer Tiger "Itchypants" Woods, apparently fed the cast.  It's the only time she's credited as such, according to IMDB, and her only foray onto the silver screen, big or little, excluding her appearances on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

9/11-semiwidow, VIP lounge wrangler, celebrity knobpolisher, reality TV exploitee.  There's a resumé you don't see every day.  Unless you live in Los Angeles, I suppose.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, Dept.

A mantra that your sobsister has heard at any number of jobs over the years is "Do more with less."  Although its nuances shift according to the sector, decade and location, what it basically means is this: We don't have the resources to do what needs to be done in a way that doesn't strain you few poor bastards who are charged with the task's completion.  That we do not could certainly be attributable to the fact that we didn't plan this all too well.  Or to the fact that we don't care about your particular task, ostensibly necessary as it is, so we shifted resources to something entirely unrelated that will yield us more visible results that we can then trumpet to advertise our efficiency, efficacy and splendor.  Or to the fact that we despise you, at least a little, as the incarnated reminder of responsibilities or functions that we do not care to be reminded we still possess like vestigial tails or vermiform appendices.

At any rate, it now appears that doing more with less is not restricted to the lower 48.  And, no, I do not refer to the fact that Sarah Palin has done quite remarkably well for someone with a walnut-sized brain.  *ha ha!*  Gratuitous swipes are the best.  And stolen kisses are the sweetest.  Or so I am told.  No, I refer to Il Vaticano, home of the 14-inch meat-lovers' wafer.  For that august body has been having to do more with less for some long time now.  (And, at least today, I am not making reference to their doing more boybuggery with less supervision.  Although, in denying the reference, I make it.  That's called "language.")

You see, back in 1983, Pope John Paul II abolished the office of the advocatus diaboli, better known to Keanu Reeves fans as "the devil's advocate."  His reasons for doing so are unclear, to me at least.  The devil's advocate--officially known as the promotor fidei, or "promoter of the faith"--serves, in the words of the old Catholic Encyclopedia, "to prepare in writing all possible arguments, even at times seemingly slight, against the raising of any one to the honours of the altar. The interest and honour of the Church are concerned in preventing any one from receiving those honours whose death is not juridically proved to have been "precious in the sight of God."  JP II, very old-skool pontiff that he was, would seem an unlikely actor in the abolition of a 400-year-old office.

But, then, JP II also beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, "more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries," according to Wikipedia.  Around Choc City, we call that "removing a procedural bottleneck."  And, as with any such initiative, given enough time, we see how it comes around to scratch the originator's back.  (Along with those of 483 other people whose face and figure you won't be seeing on traveler's medals any time soon.  Although the face of Opus Dei cult founder, Josemaría Escrivá, might be found burnt into the leather handles of the whips with which his reactionary zombies followers flagellate themselves.)

Because, earlier this month, news reports surfaced that JP II is himself due to be beatified on May 1.  His successor approved as the qualifying miracle the spontaneous cure of a nun named Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, whose Parkinson's disease miraculously miracled itself out of existence after she prayed to JP II two months after his death.  I'll let the BBC continue:
Church-appointed doctors agreed that there was no medical explanation for the curing of the nun, although last year there were some doubts about the validity of the miracle.
A Polish newspaper said that a doctor who scrutinised the nun's case had concluded that she might have been suffering not from Parkinson's, but from a nervous disorder from which temporary recovery is medically possible.
Let's see if I've got this straight: a Catholic nun--a reliably disinterested party if I've ever seen one--claims that her Parkinson's was cured by prayer to JP II.  There were doubts about the validity of this "miracle," understandable given the fact that it sounds, in medical terms, entirely made up.

So, it seems that what this situation needed was another pair of eyes--someone to investigate the situation and report on the veracity of the cure with a particular eye to debunking any false claims that might somehow benefit the cause of the late pope's pending beatification, a sort of "advocate," if you will, against beatification.  Yes.  The man who benefited most from the abolition of the position of devil's advocate is the one who abolished the position of devil's advocate.  Ironic, isn't it?  Like ray-ee-ain on your wedding day.

And G*d only knows how many other people found themselves whoopsied into sainthood due to the absence of the devil's advocate.  I can't imagine that the aforementioned Escrivá would have had such a lubed entrance into the fraternity of the elect if someone had been standing at the gate and examining his papers.

But, hey, it's all good.  The RC church isn't about demonstrable facts.  It's not even about internal consistency.  Currently, it's about being a lawyered-up cross between the Mafia and Blackwater, with a little American Idol-style bottom-up mobocracy thrown in to keep the hoi polloi interested.  So, yeah, clear some space on your dashboard for soon-to-be Saint John Paul II, patron saint of expeditious transactions, few or no questions asked.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Less Taste, More Filling, Dept.

Having walked past the windows of the Forever 21 in downtown Choc City every day for some months now, I think I've hit upon their design secret for conveying the chain's unique fashion philosophy.

1) Eyes closed, reach into a large box and pick any five articles of clothing.
2) Dress mannequin with said articles.
3) Repeat until all the mannequins are dressed.
4) Done!

Yes, by just following these simple instructions, you too can dress a store window to feature a "look" situated somewhere between Mad Max and Barely Legal. And not in a good way.

So, hats off to Forever 21 for showing young men and women that they don't need "taste" or an "eye for style" to work in the fashion industry! Next up: Food Network's Sandra Lee demonstrates how lacking the will or skill to cook didn't prevent her from becoming a successful TV "chef"!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again, Dept.

Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
They rob, slaughter, plunder--and label it "empire."  They make a wasteland and call it "peace."
       -Tacitus, Agricola

So, how does 2011 look for the model Jeffersonian democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan? 
The Hot White North, Dept.

Well, Happy New Year to those of you employing the Gregorian calendar to mark the ineluctable passage of time and the slow march to the grave!  Apropos of little on this gray Sunday, I'll offer you my nominees for the loveliest, most talented Canadian sisters of the 20th century, the O'Hara girls from Toronto:

Mary Margaret

and Catherine

Edging out Calgary's Tegan and Sara Quin and Montreal's Kate and Anna McGarrigle.  Disqualified as half-sisters were Montreal's porn duo of Lanny Barbie (also known as Lannie Barbie, Lannie Barby and Lanny Barby and star of Analgeddon and the unnecessary Meet the Fuckers) and Kimberly Franklin, as well as Canmore, Alberta's Three Sisters mountain range for being a rock formation.  Better luck next time, ladies!