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31 October 2005

Nukes? Sure!

I say let the anti-sex Republicans threaten the nuclear option if the Dems filibuster Alito.

They're only going to be in power for another year anyway...

26 October 2005

Some days this shit just writes itself...

The White House is asking the Onion to stop "inappropriately" using the Presidential seal. It seems to me that's more than fair, as long as the White House stops engaging in absurdist comedy.

I'm also guessing since they have time for this bullshit terrorism, poverty, and the Happy Tree Friends have all been taken care of...

25 October 2005

If there are any open bets about whether Mark E. Smith, lead singer of the Fall, is kind of a dick or not...

I think the patrons of this club would have an opinion...

Still love their new album, though...

24 October 2005

I can only assume that all issues in the Middle East have been resolved, all the radioactive material available on the black market has been accounted for, vaccines for malaria and HIV have been approved, voting machines now leave a paper trail, single-pay health care has been adopted, all injustices of the past have been rectified, equal rights are enjoyed as a matter of law by all races as well as homosexuals, economic disparity has been addressed in all countries, and we have entered a new Golden Age...

(Updated 10/25) let's deal with the social problem that is The Happy Tree Friends.

Apparently, the catalyst for Katharine Ellison's decision to waste my time reading this was catching her 6-year-old watching this online.

First of all, if I may comment, kudos to you, young master Ellison! Your savviness with the internets will hold you in good stead when it comes time to choose a trade.

This article seems to come from the same "it's tough to be a mom" mold as Ayelet Waldman's insufferable works; let's take a look at what passes for insight in this article.

Just when parents thought we knew who our electronic enemies were -- the shoot-'em-up video games, the TVs hawking trans fats, the pedophile e-mail stalkers and teenage-boobs Web sites -- here comes this new swamp-thing mass entertainment: the Internet "Flash cartoon," pared down to pure shock value.

This sounds like what someone making fun of her style might type, but since she insists on flogging this to the public, I suggest that there's exactly one thing in her list that is truly a concern. For everything else, the answer's simple. Don't buy your kids the goddamn videogames, turn off the goddamn TV, and put your computer in the living room so what your kid sees is clearly visible to everyone in the house if you're too goddamn lazy to work the internet filter.

BTW, if Mr. Ellison objects to this last suggestion, he's got a porn file on there somewhere.

OK, now let's discuss the merits of Ms. Ellison's argument.

This whole issue (look what we parents have to worry about!), is of course, nothing new. Marge Simpson dealt with this very issue in the second season of the Simpsons, and Ellison comes to pretty much the same conclusion that Marge does (I guess you can't ban the cartoon, though I'd really like to because I don't like it).

Ms. Ellison's biggest mistake, however, is to make the "when I was your age" argument that earlier cartoons were somehow better:

I know "Tom & Jerry," and this is no "Tom & Jerry." "Tom & Jerry" never pulled knives or tore heads off or used someone's intestines to strangle a third party, just for starters.

"Tom & Jerry" also had creativity, with surprising plot twists and a richly emotive score. Most importantly, "Tom & Jerry" had a conscience. Routinely, Tom attacks Jerry and is punished for his aggression.

You probably noticed that she doesn't really delve into specifics here, and with good reason...

Remember the cartoon "Mouse Trouble"? In that one, Tom hides in a giant birthday package, and Jerry, due to his suspicions, proceeds to shove stickpins into the package at various angles (with Tom's screams in pain heard) and saw the package in half. Jerry then looks in the cut open package, gulps, and holds up a "Is There a Doctor in The House?" sign.

In another cartoon, Tom and another cat try to catch Jerry by prying open the wallboard. As they lift the wall, Jerry smashes Tom's foot with a hammer, and as Tom lets go, the entire board falls on the other cat's fingertips, causing him to scream in excruciating pain. You then cut to Jerry playing the last line of "Yankee Doodle" on the cat's fingertips with the hammer like a xylophone, with the last note also containing a rather satisfying crunching sound as he hits two fingers at the same time.

Yes, Tom & Jerry is rather creative w/its characterizations, esp. the lovable Mammy Two-Shoes, who delighted audiences of all ages. Indeed, one of the important lessons I was taught by cartoons of this era was that if a high-impact explosive were detonated near you your lips would become elongated and pale and you would adopt mannerisms similar to the stylized acting of Mantan Moreland.

And we don't even have to talk about all the others, save to say that "adults" like yours truly can't even buy a DVD of Tom & Jerry that isn't uncensored (not that I'd care, I'd settle for a collection of the criminally overlooked Droopy Dog).

At this point, I must admit that one of my biggest shames growing up was hurting another child in the playground by giving him the ol' Three-Stooges eyepoke after watchin Bugs Bunny do that to the Tazmanian Devil.

I'm glad Ms. Ellison is an accomplished enough writer that she automatically assumes that her wondrous discoveries haven't been discovered by mainstream America. Can't wait to read upcoming articles about the dangers of the rap music...

But if I have a kid, s/he's going to grow up with a fine appreciation of Looney Tunes and Tex Avery, I'd be remiss in my parental duties if I did otherwise.

BTW, if you like the Friends, you might enjoy this cartoon that C. Franz sent me. I'm sure he won't mind,(since he hardly ever updates his blog anymore. And what's up w/that? Being a parent of two wonderful, beautiful daughters is satisfying enough for you? You're saying I don't have a life? Is that it, HUH?)

22 October 2005

Saturday morning corgi bloggins...

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Here's Monty looking all fluffy and shit right after his Saturday morning bath. No more scwatching, scwatching, scwatching...

21 October 2005

Guess who's coming to our sleepy li'l town?

The Big Dog himself, to a private fundraiser for Tim Kaine.

Read the response by Jerry Kilgore's representative and see if you don't swallow your teeth in rage. Clinton's out of the mainstream. Clinton. A man with twice the popularity of Bush while facing impeachment.

And of course, this lashing out is typical of the klass-with-a-capital-k campaign Kilgore has been running. Pejorative name-calling and ill-thought-out economic planning is great if you're running a blog that gets forty hits on a good day, but this guy wants to be governor of Virginia. Really, even if you believe in very limited government, don't you think that's just crazy?

Like "balance the budget by doubling spending, cutting taxes, and waiting for Izzschmelzibob the Invisible Market Forces Imp or the next Democratic governor to sort it all out" crazy?

Like "shit yer pants and do a dance" crazy?

No wonder Kaine's getting endorsements and starting to pull away in polls. I'm still nervous, though. When was the last time you heard of a Democrat winning a close election?

20 October 2005

Since Halloween is just two weeks away...

I thought I'd put something up to scare the kids...

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Shit, I just scared myself.

Oh well, enough play, back to the studio! Take us out, legendary pop-jazz vocal combo Manhattan Transfer!

"...if they give you a chance to lick the spoon, take it..."

19 October 2005

Ooooooh, no matter how tempting, I promise to limit myself to three helpings of light, fluffy, delicious, no-calorie organic schadenfreude...

Bye-bye, frogface!

What do you do when you're able to believe for a moment that justice actually exists on earth? Some make snarky t-shirts. Some explore and articulate their system of values.

Those who know me, however, know there's nothing I enjoy more than flying in (at considerable expense to myself) legendary pop-jazz vocal combo Manhattan Transfer to record my original compositions!

It has been more difficult to raise the necessary funds for these projects, I don't believe it helps that they've been a bit more unreasonable in their demands (I mean, really, Alan, does it have to be a whole case of Almond Snickers? That's just a Mars bar with a new name, you know). Still, my efforts to get corporate backing have met w/some success. I think they're intrigued by my marketing plan of releasing the CD w/the bonus track "Mmmmm-mmmm, This Beer Is Delicious (I Enjoy This Product)." So we're looking at a holiday release schedule, I'll be sure to keep you posted...

In the meantime, why don't I let them give you a taste as we fade out? Take it away, guys!

"Toss that salad, toss that salad,
Get down there and toss that salad..."

18 October 2005

Fancy a corgi, luv?

Next time you stop in Barnes & Noble don't forget to sneak-read the latest issue of Dog Fancy. There's a corgi on the cover and an article devoted to the idiosyncrasies of the quirky li'l dickens.

And when you're finished, why not get a corgi?

Hell, why not buy two?
To our minds, the football is no longer for us profitable, but we provide assurances to you that we still great power...

I don't have cable, so I missed all the ESPN-Sports Reporter-chatter over the fact that Russia failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup this past week. If you're a foreign traveler, though, you may take solace in this news, since the possibility of being savagely beaten by soccer hooligans has just substantially diminished!

I spent the weekend reading the forums; my favorite comment was from Toyot42 (nice number in your handle, too), who noted that it's going to be unrealistic to field a championship-caliber team in a country where you get one month of summer (if you're lucky)...

16 October 2005

"I don't blame you..." (Cat Power review, Satellite Ballroom, 14.10.2005)

This was the most disturbing show I've ever seen, and we're just coming off the big Rolling Stones bomb threat show from a week ago. We were given a Cat Power CD a year and a half ago from my hip aunt and it's enjoyed medium rotation in our house since, but our decision to go was more or less based on the "we go see any concert by someone we've heard about" rule...

As the show approached we had been warned by our friend and the internets about her flaky performances. We didn't know what to expect, but the snoozeworthy opening act (Spokane, I ain't linking them 'cause they stink) did a great job cooling down the crowd with their total lack of stage presence (ooooh, we're hiding behind the amps, we're so vulnerable!) and dirge-like melodies that at their best approximated a third-rate Sigur Ros. Mrs. Nevskaya and I found a dry place against the wall and hunkered down cross-legged, chatting and wondering how the hell we were going to see Ms. Power (Chan, pronounced "Shawn") since we were twelve back and everyone there was at least two inches taller than we were.

A stir and applause rises from the crowd, we stand on tiptoes and a catch a mop of blonde hair, and a pleasant murmur with a touch o' Southern drawl rises from the stage. I can't catch the general murmur, but people start sitting down on the floor like a reverse wave, and there she is in her waifish glory. In jeans and a t-shirt, she walks over to the piano bent over and immediately launches into one of her two-chord songs which is ostensibly new yet resembles many songs from the album we have. After eight minutes or so, she peters out, fiddles w/the piano a bit, then goes into her next song. This continues for a half hour or so, song, fiddle, next song. She plays crouched over the piano like Shiny McShine and doesn't give the audience a chance to applaud, and you can tell they're itching to; they finally throw in some cheers when she pauses a little bit. Then she walks off the stage...

...and comes back w/a guitar. Fiddle, fiddle, two-chord song; it's the first time I get to see her face, and she desperately avoids eye contact w/the audience. But she's feeling her oats and belting 'em out, song-fiddle-song (Living Proof stands out, maybe because it was the only one there with an easily recognizable chorus), but then she starts asking the sound tech in the back if he can make her guitar sound "less bright" and "less heavy". I'm guessing they had these conversations before, because my immediate response would be "what the fuck are you talking about?" Suddenly she turns down the volume on the guitar and turns back to the piano.

And so it goes for a while; turn to the piano, song, song, fiddle, song, turn back to the guitar, song, song, fiddle, song, turn to the piano. I'm liking it just fine, but the divide between the enraptured folkies and the chipsters chatting it up in the back became more and more pronounced, and Chan's total lack of patter and soft tunes weren't helping. Finally, some dude from the middle of the floor yells "Shut up!" and I get a little excited at the thought of a fight. Though my sympathies initally lay w/the folkies, I drift towards neutrality when a self-righteous douchebag that was hopefully looking to get laid starts this exchange:

"Did you all buy a ticket just so you could piss people off? Shut up!"
(from the back)"You shut up, asshole!" (slight chuckling)
(non-douchebag folkie)"O'Neill's* is down the street!" (more chuckling)

O'Neill's - an Irish bar popular w/the UVA students

So I was enjoying the crowd tension, but Chan, in one of her piano/guitar exchanges, mutters into a microphone something like "hopefully I can play a song that doesn't piss anyone off" and goes into a nice cover of "House of the Rising Sun". I'm not a yell-in-the-crowd type of guy, but if I could have innocuously slipped her a note to the effect that she shouldn't let the in-crowd posturing affect her, I would have.

And it was at about this point that I noticed (along with my body becoming increasingly numb from the ass down as I fidgeted more trying to get comfortable sitting on the hardwood floor) that Chan herself was becoming more and more fidgety. The fiddling increased, she became more and more uncomfortable in a manner recognizable to anyone who saw Matchstick Men, the guitar/piano switching became more awkward, and she'd stop songs short. The crowd would cheer as a recognizable lick came up but the expected song wouldn't follow. She then started to mutter how she hears the patter "she-she-she-she" echoing in her head. Mrs. Nevskaya turned to me and said "she's making me nervous", and I was trying to psychically advise her by projecting "play 'I Don't Blame You' and say goodnight!" She turned to the piano and started to play it and the crowd erupted into applause (in my case, fueled by relief), but after the first verse she stopped and rolled her right hand down the piano. Some sycophantic "we love you"s came out from the crowd, but she said into the mic "I'm afraid of the KKK, I'm afraid of the KKK, I have to go" and ran off the stage.


As we were walking back to the car, we couldn't help but feel bad, but Mrs. Nevskaya did speculate if there wasn't some element of schtick involved in her antics. The next day I was at our local music shop buying an older CD (using the logic that if she made more money from sales she wouldn't need to do shows) and the clerk, who had also attended the show, told me that some members of her circle were saying they would have been disappointed if she hadn't broke down on stage, so maybe there's something to it.

Assuming it's not a schtick, though, and if you're reading this, hon, take care of yourself down in Asheville tonight, OK?

14 October 2005

When did we change our state motto from "Virginia is for lovers" to "DUHHHHHHH!"?

In an earlier post I bemoaned the fact that Jerry Kilgore had a good shot at winning the Virginia governorship despite coming off Mark Warner's successful run and only four years removed from the sheer disaster that was Jim Gilmore. God help us, it's neck-and-neck. Kilgore just ran a series of repulsive attack ads (read Waldo Jaquith's excellent blog about it) after getting smacked down in a series of debates by Tim Kaine, and I'm getting Kerry-Bush flashbacks.

It shouldn't be this close, it just shouldn't.

If you live in Virginia, please consider donating or volunteering...

My shock isn't due to the fact that the Bush administration would exploit our soldiers for political gain, hell, they've been doing this for the past four years.

No, I can't believe someone in the media is actually calling them on this. Did Georgiepoo drunkenly piss on some reporter's car or something?

Update: About ten minutes after I posted this the word "staged" was removed from the headline of the article.

13 October 2005

Help me out here, sibs...

Since you're more up on this whole technology thing than I am...

This new video iPod, is this a good thing? Something excitedly new and different? Seems like bullshit to me (if I wanted to pay $400 to squint I'd get back-alley laser-eye surgery), but maybe you guys have insight to its awesomeness. I await your brilliant comments...