Friday, September 29, 2006

Torturing POWs. Now and Then.

If you had to choose (if you really had to) would you rather be a prisoner of the Americans in "the war on terror", where you'll be tortured, brutalized, sodomized, humiliated, and left with no hope of ever being released, even if you're innocent...

... or would you rather be held by the Germans in WWII, where you'll put on a fully staged production of the hit Broadway play "The Man Who Came to Dinner"?

This picture comes from a British website devoted to RAF veterans' memories of WWII.

Here's what I find disorienting:

-This is not a "staged" propaganda pic, this event actually happened along with several other theater productions.

-This is not like a secret radio hidden under a floorboard. One does not smuggle an upright piano, an electric bass, trombones, trumpets, saxophones, and a whole string section back into camp from the daytime work detail in your "body cavities". This had to have happened with the full knowledge and assistance of the camp Kommandant.

-The women you see on stage are men in drag. Go look at the pic of the jazz band they put together and you'll see men as the "girl singers". And according to an account on that site, they were pretty good at it.

-The Germans used to call Britain "The land without music". (There was even a poster in the 1930's touting Germany as "The land WITH music.") But those Brits must have had some musical currents running in their daily lives if they could pull this sort of talent just from downed bomber crews.

-What a strange moral compass the Nazis had. On the one hand, their British and American captives tended to get approximate "Geneva Convention" treatment. POWs from the Soviet Union, if not immediately killed, were sent to horrifying slave labor camps.

-And where is our moral compass pointing, with our treatment of prisoners heading toward the savage end of the scale rather than the humane end?

I'm sure that being in a POW camp is unpleasant, no matter who your captors are; but isn't it disappointing that this comparison can even be made today? For at least 150 years America has promoted itself as the gold standard of decency and justice. Who will ever trust us again?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's Fashion Week!

It's Fashion Week and designers around the world are unleashing their new creations.

During Fashion Week, the model shortage is so severe that even a model whose eyeball has to be mechanically held in place is called up from the reserves.

Hey Lady, you've got some toilet paper stuck to your... oh never mind.

Sadly, one model's career ended when she was swallowed whole by an evening gown and never seen again.

I don't think there's enough kleenex in all of New York City to plump those things up.

The legendary Ralph Lauren. Designs his own clothes and apparently... changes his own oil.

Ok, that was totally unnecessary. I mean the shirt.

Fashion Week continues below!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's Fashion Week 2 !

Tucked inside, there's a small strip of paper that says "You may go on a long journey."

Fashion Designers Manuel Cuevas Sr. and Jr. To be a fashion designer you need an eye for color and form. You do not need to use that eye on the mirror at home or the bathroom scale.

A can of "Off!" could have prevented those mosquito bites entirely.

Professional Modeling School. For the person who wants to put weird crap on their eyes and lick bugs... or just look like someone who does.

Outfits for girls who want to get Michael Jackson's attention.

Backstage technicians scramble to avert disaster when a model's head comes loose.

Hey lady! You've got some toilet paper stuck to your... damn, fooled again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tiny, tiny, monkeys!

"Hey, Bob... I'm wearing him down... just a couple more days... and we'll be outta here"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

So long Ann Richards

I'm disappointed to hear that Ann Richards, Texas' second female Governor (after "Ma" Ferguson), has died. She was always witty, even without writers to back her up.

Trying to test her commitment to Texas' death penalty, someone asked her what she'd do if the legislature passed a bill outlawing it. "I'd faint", she replied.

Richards was elected Governor in 1990 but defeated for re-election by George W. Bush in 1994. A recurring feature of all George W. Bush campaigns is the floating of an unsubstantiated charge aimed at disgracing his opponent.
-In 2004 it was that John Kerry had faked his injuries in Vietnam.
-In 2000 it was that John McCain was gay, a traitor and/or had a mixed race baby.
-In 1994 it was that Ann Richards was a cocaine-addicted lesbian.

Some of our founding fathers worried that the common people might be deceived by lies and trickery in election campaigns. I guess they'd have a big "told ya so" for us now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yet another pain-in-the-ass cell phone user

X-ray of man in El Salvador found to have a cell phone up his rear.

I can only surmise that something has gone terribly wrong in the manufacturer's Korean to English to Spanish computer translation of the user manual instructions on "How to end a call."

Monday, September 11, 2006

What have I learned?

I have two very distinct memories of 9/11. The first was logging on to the internet that morning to begin work and seeing a red-letter headline on AOL, "World Trade Center Tower collapses." Astonishing and disorienting news.

The second was turning on the TV and seeing a replay of the jet hitting the second tower and Katie Couric saying "I can only imagine the horror of the people on that plane."

Those are the big two that stick with me.

Over the next few weeks public figures seemed like they couldn't open their mouths without using the phrase "cowardly attack". I guess that's an attempt to salvage some pride after having been outsmarted by people we thought were beneath us.

Certainly a clever attack. For just a little walking around money some guys on tourist visas goaded us into ruining thousands of lives, evaporating every last bit of respect the world may have had for us and wasting half a trillion dollars we couldn't afford on ventures that have only weakened us and strengthened our adversaries.

These outcomes will haunt us for decades.

What have I learned? I see now that the biggest boon for a weak leader is to find someone his country can hate. Nothing seems to unify a country behind a leader as well as having an enemy to blame for their problems. All good sense, reason and caution go out the window as people become afraid to be seen as unpatriotic.

Mere tragedy, like a natural catastrophe, isn't enough to mobilize a country. We need someone on the other side to oppose.

I guess that isn't such a staggering lesson; it's like a broken record playing through history, right? But now that I've lived through it, I understand it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ah... verb tense trouble!

From the NY Times today:

Mr. Cheney, who predicted in May 2005 that the insurgency was in its “last throes,” said on NBC-TV that there was no question “that the insurgency has gone on longer and been more difficult than I had anticipated. I’ll be the first to admit that.

Of course, he's really just about the last person to admit that.

But this is consistent with essential pattern we've seen:

1) first, boast and lie
2) then, implement plan based on boasts and lies
3) when that doesn't work, assert time travel powers to negate boasts and lies.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Boob Tube

The American television network CBS thinks making Katie Couric their new anchor is a smart move even as they worry that she's not attractive enough.

The french are way ahead of us in female news anchor technology. Get a load of this, boys, and remember to reel your tongue back in when you're done:

Video of French female news anchor

And get a load of the outfits she wears to deliver... the news.

But for my money, the best female news anchor was Linda Ellerbee. She anchored a very late night newscast (1 AM!) on NBC in the 80's. While not glamorous she was smart, witty, clever, insightful... completely wrong for network news.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Design horror

At the following link you can down load a pdf of a book that is "A guide for young designers: what to expect in those first months in your first job."

Brace yourself. Don your protective goggles.

The color scheme, the fonts, the layout, the illustrations, even the spacing between lines... they're all incomprehensibly awful choices. It's as if every page was designed to dissuade anyone from reading it.

This is by a designer? His pet sea monkey maybe?

I wonder how many awards it has already won.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The speech writers have left the building

Here's a brief excerpt from George Bush's Labor Day Speech (AP)

If politicians like Al Gore or John Kerry had given a speech that just consisted of a series of obvious statements, with repetition of each point to make it all doubly obvious, they'd be attacked for being "patronizing". Probably because people regarded them as too intelligent and somehow separate from the common man.

But when George Bush gives such a speech, that doesn't happen. Everyone knows that, even with his Ivy League education, this is both barrels. No one entertains hopes for thoughtful insights or inspiring oratory.

How far we have fallen from Presidents like Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan who said something quotable almost every time they opened their mouths.

I worry that the two most memorable Presidential quotes of our time are going to be "I did not have sex with that woman... Miss Lewinski." and "Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice... uh... uh..."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The RIDGID TOOLS Girls of 1953

I understand the convention of pretty girls on a calendar.
I understand the double entendre of the company name.
I understand the suggestive poses with the oversize tools...

... but what's with the red, sore-looking knees?

You can see the rest of famous pinup artist George Petty's calendar art at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, a fabulous site that posts rarely seen artwork and documents from the golden age. Most of it without any sore knees at all.