Sunday, September 27, 2009

saws all

"Britain's Got Talent" non-winner Austin Blackburn performs grand opera on the musical saw. Infinitely better than the un-musical saw version.

His "Ave Maria" isn't bad either:

His only partially well-received BGT audition:

The musical saw is not a new instrument, its heyday was probably in the vaudeville era. Marlene Dietrich entertained troops during WWII with her saw performances. I'm sure the jokes probably wrote themselves on that occasion.

to the situation room!

I can see President Obama picking up that ringing phone at 3AM... some new international crisis must be brewing.

Has Russia invaded Georgia again? No.

Has Israel bombed Iran? No.

Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland!

It would have been simpler for everyone if he had stayed out of reach. Not necessarily just, but simpler.

The Swiss must be trying to create awkward circumstances for Obama after the US made them give up some of their secret bank account customers. This can't be the first time in 30 years that Polanski has been thru Switzerland, but they decide to nab him now?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

for me, it was "sky and telescope" magazine

A Republican Senate staffer tells Values Voters that straight porn will make you gay.

“And if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest."

Monday, September 21, 2009

except that we were in minnesota

This guy used to be Secretary of Education under Reagan and it fit. He looks like every overstuffed, red-faced principal I had in elementary school.

For the first few grades I was confused. Why is the same overstuffed, red-faced man appearing as principal at these different schools but under different names? It was a very specific look, very similar to the stereotype of the rural southern sheriff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

and next year we're not going to tahiti*

Russia has canceled plans to put missiles they couldn't afford next to Poland after the U.S. canceled plans to put missiles we couldn't afford next to Russia.

Neither admits it's about the money, of course.

This is a novel new approach to international affairs... calling off the war ten years before you stomp into it. How will we ever get a good war off the ground with planning like that?

*punchline from an old joke where a down-on-her-luck socialite has explained that she didn't go on an expensive vacation to Cannes because it was just "too boring" there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

guns don't kill people...

... crazy people with guns, who want an easy way to kill someone as they drive by, kill people.

Too big to fit on a bumper sticker, I'm afraid.

The gun lobby promotes gun possession as a defense of liberty. But I can't think of any case in American history where an oppressive government policy has been rolled back because ordinary citizens took up guns against it.

The Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790's did not succeed in getting the whiskey tax repealed. It got repealed some ten years later when the people elected new representatives in Congress who voted to repeal it.

Certainly the South's rebellion in the Civil War was the biggest example of taking up arms against Federal policy, but I recall that rather backfired for them.

Some might say the American Revolution was an example of people taking up arms, but that citizen effort floundered until it was organized into a real army under Washington and even then it required the intervention of the French to tip the balance.

(Washington and French General LaFayette)

The only examples I can think where people achieved an objective by taking up guns have been for totally nefarious purposes, such as the Klan suppressing the legal rights of minority citizens, or gangsters intimidating lawful authorities from curbing their illegal businesses.

People point to the Nazis' confiscation of private guns in Germany as proof of something or other but fail to note that the Nazis came to power while the guns were legal and consolidated their power while the guns were still legal and didn't get around to taking the guns until years later. The right to bear arms in Germany didn't do anything to stop tyranny.

Likewise, ordinary people could own guns in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It's hard to detect that that improved their liberty situation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

leavin on her jet plane

Peter, Paul and Mary are one THE memories I have of growing up in the 60's. When I was little we simply did not have rock music records in our house, but folk music was permitted and Peter, Paul and Mary got played quite a bit.

In retrospect, they were the one folk act that didn't seem to become a self-parody. And as a college friend of mine once noted, no one could swell like Peter, Paul and Mary. It seemed like ghosts singing. In a good way.

So I'm sad to hear that Mary Travers has died.

And Henry Gibson has died too. He was part of that signature TV show of the 60's, "Laugh-In". That was another big memory of the 60's. If you see clips today it seems insignificant, but every week something on that show would leave us gasping with laughter and asking "can you SAY that on television?"

And of course he was the Nazi in "The Blues Brothers".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

watch your back, guys

Dick Cheney, toxic asset.

Although ex-vice-presidents do not usually get any Secret Service protection, President Obama has extended Dick Cheney's protection indefinitely.

Dick Cheney is probably the first time in the history of the Secret Service that they have to worry about the person they are protecting having a gun.

Friday, September 11, 2009

bob the seer

A college friend, Bob Como, correctly identified the origin of the problems we're having today.

Years ago, when we were sophomores at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, he said to me, "Robert, can you believe this school has a Young Republicans chapter?"

Trying to be fair and balanced I answered, "Well, isn't there a Young Democrats chapter here too?"

"Yes," Bob replied, "but the Young Republicans actually have meetings."


Monday, September 07, 2009

even safety isn't safe anymore

The AP reports that "nanny" software that you use to monitor your kids' online chats is also recording their comments and selling them to advertisers.

This is so the corporate powers that be can be ready for the moment when "tween" desire reaches critical mass for a product that somehow involves the mating of the Jonas Brothers with the Olsen Twins and to correctly identify which Jonas Brother should be the odd-man-out.

It's probably all buried in the EULA somewhere but I think most people stopped reading EULAs when they noticed most begin with something like "This software is not warranted to ever perform any useful function from the moment of purchase until the Sun runs out of fuel..."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

the smell of manliness

From the what-were-they-thinking division of Hollywood we get the Charlton Heston movie "The Far Horizons", an almost completely fictional account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

In which you will see:

Fred MacMurray... in satin knickers... descending a staircase... after a felicitous discussion... in a private room... arm in arm... with "John Hancock":

Sacajawea, the Indian guide, portrayed by... Donna Reed:

Charlton Heston kisses her quite a bit in this movie and I would too seeing as she appears to have the entire contents of a box of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix smeared on her face.

But Charlton is the focus of this movie, and I know that because he goes through...

... about a third of the movie...

... with a skunk on his head:

Imagine if this film had been a hit instead of "Davy Crockett" a year later.

BTW, that's William Demarest on the left...

... who would later be "Uncle Charlie" to Fred MacMurray in "My Three Sons"

Friday, September 04, 2009

four men, one cello

You know things are bad when four guys have to split one cello between them. And it's clear to me that termites have gotten the better part of that cello.

WARNING: contains Ravel's "Bolero".

Thursday, September 03, 2009

obama will unplug grandma's clapper

But, shhh! Don't start shouting it until we've worn out the "death panels" thing.

Pass it on.

I'm reminded of an old porn movie where one character slaps another character on the butt twice... and the lights go off!

the stupidest man in America?

Here's my reading of the current political situation:

The right wing bet everything, including a trillion dollars of Iraq war debt the rest of us will have to pay, on George W. Bush and his follies.

Now that everyone knows Bush was a disastrous President (you don't even hear Republicans referencing him as a model these days), the right wing is trying to save face by making sure that everyone who follows fails even more disastrously than Bush, even if they have to create the disaster themselves, even if they have to burn the whole country down to do it.

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Either that is their clever plan or someone like Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe really is the stupidest man in America with his claim at a town hall meeting last night that President Obama is planning to release terrorists into the U.S.