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Just Me

Random Comment Aggregator

Posted on 2020.01.01 at 00:00
If you have a need to leave me a comment that is not specifically related to a post you see below, just comment on this post. Leave comments, ask questions, post links, whatever.

Enjoy!

Oh, and one more thing!Collapse )

Lastly, a completely useless note to spammers, who I know aren't personally spamming me, but just sending robots, and so will never see this note:

LiveJournal does an AWESOME job of catching spam comments, hiding them, and alerting me to them. I delete them as spam on sight. I have never clicked, nor will I ever click, on any link contained in any spam comment, and no-one else will ever see it, so you might as well not bother.


Godzilla 2014

Oh, No! There Goes San Francisco!

Posted on 2014.05.16 at 08:29


I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to spoil things for anybody. What I will say is this: This is the movie I've been waiting for since 1997, which I then thought I'd be getting in 1998. I was crushingly disappointed then, although Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's ill-named Godzilla was a pretty decent remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

Last night, Gareth Edwards made up for it in spades.

GODZILLA is everything you could ever want in a Godzilla movie. The new monsters, MUTOs -- that's pronounced "Moo-toes," and stands for "Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms" -- are really wonderful monsters, huge and frightening, a great design... But they fade to insignificance when Godzilla is on the scene. Again and again and again, Edwards finds ways to simply stun and amaze you with the sheer scale of him.

Remember the very first time you saw Star Wars? The text scrolls by, we see an impressive spacescape, and then the rebel blockade-runner flies into the scene, and it's very big and impressive... And then the Imperial Star Destroyer begins rumbling into view...and keeps coming...and keeps coming...and coming...and as more and more of the ship fills the screen and recedes into the distance, it hits you harder and harder how frigging HUGE it is?

George Lucas managed that trick once. Edwards pulls it off immaculately, again and again and again. That gigantic MUTO attacking Honolulu Airport? Is suddendly dwarfed just by the FOOT of Godzilla coming down. Soldiers on a rooftop, ten or more stories up, fire flares high into the air... and they barely rise high enough to illuminate his waist-line. The jagged spines down his back are mountain ranges unto themselves, and he just overwhelms the eye.

Getting ramped up for this movie, I've watched quite a few of the classic Toho Godzilla movies, and the word I kept coming up with, again and again and again, for what really works about Godzilla when Godzilla works: Majesty.

Edwards' Godzilla is a majestic creature, awesome in the truest, original sense of the word, and you can't help but be overwhelmed by him. If you have any capacity at all to just sit back in your seat and surrender to the spectacle of a giant monster movie, GODZILLA will reward you immensely.

Be warned: Edwards likes to tease you. The first few times Godzilla comes on the scene, we cut away just when things are getting good, and see the action on TV sets in the background as the human characters play out their roles in the foreground. It's a little maddening, but, I think, in just the right way: Edwards teases long and ruthlessly, so that when he pays that teasing off -- and he does, I promise you, he does! -- it's as close to a transcendent experience as a giant monster movie can deliver.

See it on the biggest screen available, and if you can possible handle 3D, see it that way at least once. I promise you, if giant monsters are your thing at all, this will be a feast you'll giggle with delight over for days afterwards.

Godzilla 2014

Guess where I'll be tonight?

Posted on 2014.05.15 at 14:09



Just Me Too

Terror in the Streets!

Posted on 2014.05.06 at 19:12
Today, the May/June issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction hit the stands, at least in the United States.



This magazine includes my story, "The Shadow in the Corner," a horror tale inspired by the late H.P. Lovecraft. It's been pretty favorably reviewed by a few reviewers thus far, as I've noted in previous posts.

The magazine is also currently available -- and has been for a while already -- on Amazon for Kindle Download.

If you'd like to read a little something bringing the Mythos into the modern age, give it a look. Feel free to let me know how you like it!

http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/current.htm

Just Me Too

Aaaaaawwww, yeah!!!!!!!!!

Posted on 2014.04.24 at 10:55



Leviathan meets the Incredible Hulk

The First Reviews Are In...

Posted on 2014.04.15 at 18:45
And they are kinder than I could ever have imagined!

http://www.tangentonline.com/print--bi-monthly-reviewsmenu-260/221-fantasy-a-science-fiction/2386-fantasy-a-science-fiction-mayjune-2014

I'll quote the sections reviewing my story:

Martha Burns writes:


Popular prejudice is against fan fiction with its slashing and shipping. “The Shadow in the Corner” by Jonathan Andrew Sheen is set in the H. P. Lovecraft universe and it is an homage. A professor’s assistant, Agrawal, meets a grisly fate after an experiment goes awry and he begins to see a shadowy figure out of the corner of his eye. The story is gripping on its own merits and brilliant in the way it incorporates Miskatonic, madness, and Cthulhu.




C. D. Lewis writes:


Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will squee! when they learn in the first paragraph of Jonathan Andrew Sheen's “The Shadow in the Corner” that the narrator works at Miskatonic University but has not (yet!) succumbed to the madness that overtakes its faculty. The curious reader is referred to the accounts archived in the Arkham morgue – records go back to the '20s and Sheen assures us it's now all online. (So it must be true, eh?) Mention of the Internet and lasers proves the tale comes from the chilling nearness of our own era rather than the safely distant past.

Early disclosure that the tale ends in disaster serves to build suspense – what kind of disaster? The innovation involves String Theory and quantum entanglement – but for the good of humanity the narrator destroyed his notes and daren't say more. “The Shadow in the Corner” leverages Lovecraft fandom to quickly craft a creepy vibe suited perfectly to works of supernatural horror. And what a horror: modern tools and power sources have only brought within closer reach the Elder Things from worlds that lay parallel to our own; you can mail for the tools yourself, even. Not a comforting thought, is it?

Lovecraft’s own revelations of horror, being set in another century, feel distant from a world that knows about high energy physics; continuing their line in a setting that's aware of modern science and even tropes from horror lit delights precisely because it reinforces that indescribable Elder Things remain indescribable even when summoned in the presence of carefully recorded modern instrumentation. Technology doesn’t defeat horror. Sheen's tale mixes modern vocabulary and informalities with Lovecraft’s narrative style, making a mashup entertaining not only for its Lovecraftian content but for its incongruous juxtapositions. Perhaps the greatest delight is the last pair of sentences, and their surprising power to bring suddenly the horror Lovecraft lovers long to feel. If you love Lovecraft, you can't miss “The Shadow in the Corner."





I could not be more thrilled! What a great set of write-ups!

As I feel I've missed out on being truly obnoxious, I felt that, while reminding you all that it's a mere twenty-three days before the May/June issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction hits the stands, containing my short horror story "The Shadow in the Corner," I should also reassure you that the task of writing the story took ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of me, as can be seen in this "Before & After" picture:

Me, before and after writing "The Shadow in the Corner"


Just so you know.

Summon Leviathan

Happy Bunsen Burner Day

Posted on 2014.03.31 at 16:02
On this day in 1811, German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen was born. He would go on to invent a gas-jet that is used to this day in chemistry labs. In his honor, we commemorate this date every year as Bunsen Burner Day...

And Bunsen Burner Day is, you may take me at my word, the very best possible day to announce that Tuesday, May 6th, 2014, is the "Street Date" of the May/June 2014 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the cover of which you can see below:



That issue will include a short story called The Shadow in the Corner, by Jonathan Andrew Sheen, AKA, me!

So, one and all, please haunt your local bookstores, newsstands, bus depots, train stations and airports, anyplace that sells magazines, and look for that cover -- it's a digest-sized magazine -- and buy one. Or two. Or sixty-seven!

Thank you all so much!

Godzilla

Speak kindly at my funeral, won't you?

Posted on 2014.03.20 at 15:42
Guest-starring jennashaped, because I have an action figure that sort of resembles her.







...and as I expected, it's much less explosive and much more interesting than the headlines made it out to be.

What JKR does say is that Harry and Hermione would have made a perfectly good couple -- which is entirely true, fannish wank to the contrary -- and that Ron and Hermione have a combative relationship, which they'd have to get past to be a successful couple -- and, let's face it, anybody who's read the books knows that's true. It seems to me that by the end of DH, they're already on course for that, with Ron showing he's taken aboard the lessons Hermione's had to teach, and Hermione showing that she appreciates Ron's courage, intelligence and loyalty.

It's a nicely mature understanding of the characters and there's nothing about it anybody who read and understood the books didn't already know.




J.K. Rowling
Author and Philanthropist


Appearing in the February/March 2014 edition of Wonderland magazine.
Interview conducted by Emma Watson.


Jo Rowling wrote Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history, yet she still manages to be funny, kind, warm and real. She spends masses of her time supporting charities such as Comic Relief, Multiple Sclerosis Research through the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic and her own children's charity Lumos... More recently she wrote novels The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling (a crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith).

Emma Watson: I wanted to ask you about the script that you are writing for Warner Bros. for Fantastic Beasts...

J.K. Rowling: Warner Bros. came to me ages ago and said they wanted to do something with Fantastic Beasts. I could see the potential in it. I knew something about Newt [Scamander, the fictional author of Fantastic Beasts] having written a little something for Comic Relief. I had imagined a little bit of back story for him...

So when Warner Bros. came to me and said they wanted to make a film out of the book I had this simultaneous feeling of "it has a lot of potential," and another feeling of slight panic that "I know some things about Newt and I don't want you to ruin that for me!" because I knew who he was. So then I went away and sort of dwelt on what I knew about Newt, not intending to write a script but just trying to collect my thoughts so that I could at least give them the backstory I'd imagined, so that their vision was true to what I knew.

Then I really did have one of those moments that always make you phenomenally excited as a writer; but also that you know is going to end up being a ton of work. I thought, "Oh my God, a whole plot's just descended on me!" But I wanted to do it as I was really excited about it. I wasn't really thinking about writing the script myself, I thought, you know, I'll give them this plot and then – fatally – I sat down and thought "I just wonder what it would look like..." and wrote a rough draft in twelve days!

Emma Watson: Ahhhhh!

J.K. Rowling: It wasn't a great draft but it did show the shape of how it might look. So that is how it all started.

Emma Watson: Wow, Warner Bros. must have been so excited.

J.K. Rowling: I think they were kind of stunned. I didn't tell them I had written it in twelve days. I've never written a script. It truly wasn't that I thought I'd be good at it, I just wanted to get the outline of the story down, and that's obviously given me a lot to work with going forward.

Emma Watson: Do you ever worry when you have a great idea, when a piece of inspiration strikes you, that you won't ever get it down quickly enough?

J.K. Rowling: Yes definitely, although I do work on the convenient premise that if it is worth keeping you will remember it. I don't think I have ever lost or forgotten anything that was really worth remembering!

Emma Watson: Does inspiration ever strike you at really inconvenient moments? Like when you are driving the car or you are taking the children to school and you just think, "not now"?!

J.K. Rowling: That is why I don't drive, I swear to God. I cannot drive. People look at me and think, 'how can you be a woman of forty-eight and not drive a car?' But I know myself and I know how detached I am from my physical surroundings.

My husband has taken to warning me from three rooms away that he is getting closer so that I don't scream. It's ridiculous because obviously I do know that I live with my husband, but that's how jumpy I am. He's gotten used to the fact that I'm a long way away in my head and that I get disconcerted when someone sneaks up on me.

But that tendency does have its advantages because I'm able to concentrate to a degree where I can totally shut everyone out, write it down or really commit it to memory, and then, you know, I've got it in the bank. I do think my apprenticeship writing the first three Harry Potters when I was a single mother and didn't have a lot of support meant that I learned to be very efficient at using the time that I have.

Emma Watson: You also announced that you're going to collaborate on a theatre production.


J.K. Rowling: Yes that was a really interesting idea that Sonia Friedman came up with. I've been so resistant for a long time about theatre productions. Quite a few people wanted to do a Harry Potter musical. I didn't really see Harry as a musical so we said no to all of that, but Sonia came along with a very thoughtful, very interesting idea. I'm quite excited about that.

Emma Watson: Will Hermione be in it?!

J.K. Rowling: Well Emma if you are offering to play Hermione... [both laugh] I tell you what I really want. I want you and Dan and Rupert in really heavy make-up in the background of a scene in Fantastic Beasts, and I'll join you and we'll sit in a bar room having a laugh for an afternoon. Do you not think that would be fantastic?


Emma Watson: That sounds like the most fun I can imagine having!


J.K. Rowling: And we can mess around as extras in the background.

And then we can see if anyone can spot us. I personally would like to be in drag, just to make sure no one can spot me at all.


Emma Watson: GENIUS!

There are so many things that you could say you have achieved, what is the most meaningful to you? What is your greatest triumph?

J.K. Rowling: Of what I've written, Deathly Hallows was a phenomenally emotional experience and my favourite of the Potter series by a mile. It wasn't just about the writing, it was wrapping up a story that had taken me through seventeen years of my life and had meant as much as any literary creation can mean to any writer. I mean, not just because it transformed my life materially, which of course it did, but that comes a poor fourth or fifth compared to the other things that Harry Potter did for me.

But, I hope that the best is still to come. Nothing will ever top Potter in terms of popularity, I've accepted that, but on my death bed I may look back on one of my least popular books and it may well turn out to be the one I was proudest of, because different things matter to the writer.

Emma Watson: I thought we should discuss Hermione... I'm sure you've heard this a million times but now that you have written the books, do you have a new perspective on how you relate to Hermione and the relationship you have with her or had with her?

J.K. Rowling: I know that Hermione is incredibly recognisable to a lot of readers and yet you don't see a lot of Hermiones in film or on TV except to be laughed at. I mean that the intense, clever, in some ways not terribly self-aware, girl is rarely the heroine and I really wanted her to be the heroine. She is part of me, although she is not wholly me. I think that is how I might have appeared to people when I was younger, but that is not really how I was inside.
What I will say is that I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron.

Emma Watson: Ah.

J.K. Rowling: I know, I'm sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not.

Emma Watson: I don't know. I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.

J.K. Rowling: Yes exactly.

Emma Watson: And vice versa.

J.K. Rowling: It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it... I'm not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can't believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy!

Emma Watson: I know, it is heresy.

J.K. Rowling: In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit and I'll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn't told [Steve] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.

Emma Watson: That is just so interesting because when I was doing the scene I said to David [Heyman]: "This isn't in the book, she didn't write this". I'm not sure I am comfortable insinuating something however subtle it is!

J.K. Rowling: Yes, but David and Steve – they felt what I felt when writing it.
That is so strange.

And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn't said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene.

Emma Watson: It's a really haunting scene. It's funny because it really divided people. Some people loved that scene and some people really didn't.

J.K. Rowling: Yes, some people utterly hated it. But that is true of so many really good scenes in books and films; they evoke that strong positive/negative feeling. I was fine with it, I liked it.

Emma Watson: I remember really loving shooting those scenes that don't have any dialogue, where you are just kind of trying to express a moment in time and a feeling without saying anything. It was just Dan and I spontaneously sort of trying to convey an idea and it was really fun.

J.K. Rowling: And you got it perfectly, you got perfectly the sort of mixture of awkwardness and genuine emotion, because it teeters on the edge of "what are we doing? Oh come on let's do it anyway", which I thought was just right for that time.

Emma Watson: I think it was just the sense that in the moment they needed to be together and be kids and raise each other's morale.

J.K. Rowling: That is just it, you are so right. All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn't Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron. He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then had to make friends with the hero of it all and that's a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.

But Hermione's always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you started shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione's journey as much as Harry's at the end.

Emma Watson: I completely agree and the fact that they were true equals and the fact that she really said goodbye to her family makes it her sacrifice too.

J.K. Rowling: Yes, her sacrifice was massive, completely. A very calculated act of bravery. That is not an 'in the moment' act of bravery where emotion carries you through, that is a deliberate choice.

Emma Watson: Exactly.

J.K. Rowling: I love Hermione.

Emma Watson: I love her too.

J.K. Rowling: Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They'll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.

Emma Watson: I think it makes sense to me that Ron would make friends with the most famous wizard in the school because I think life presents to you over and over again your biggest and most painful fear – until you conquer it. It just keeps coming up.

J.K. Rowling: That is so true, it has happened in my own life. The issue keeps coming up because you are drawn to it and you are putting yourself in front of it all the time. At a certain point you have to choose what to do about it and sometimes conquering it is choosing to say: I don't want that anymore, I'm going to stop walking up to you because there is nothing there for me. But yes, you're so right, that's very insightful! Ron's used to playing second fiddle. I think that's a comfortable role for him, but at a certain point he has to be his own man, doesn't he?

Emma Watson: Yes and until he does it is unresolved. It is unfinished business. So maybe life presented this to him enough times until he had to make a choice and become the man that Hermione needs.

J.K. Rowling: Just like her creator, she has a real weakness for a funny man. These uptight girls, they do like them funny.

Emma Watson: They do like them funny, they need them funny.

J.K. Rowling: It's such a relief from being so intense yourself – you need someone who takes life, or appears to take life, a little more light heartedly.

Emma Watson: Definitely so important.

Thank you so much for doing this.




Of course, if you see that Hermione would make a good couple with Harry as well as with Ron, you're just one leap beyond social conventions away from the only ship that truly makes sense:


Beatles

Allow me to cause you to weep inconsolably....

Posted on 2014.02.05 at 15:35
Meet John Lennon, Age 70:

John Lennon, Age 70


I have a hard time imagining what I wouldn't give for this picture to be real, and not the result of AgingBooth, an app available for Android and iPhone.

Emma loves me

How to charm an English girl...

Posted on 2013.12.22 at 19:36





















Star Trek Phase II - Enterprise Fly-Unde

Star Trek: Phase II - Enterprise Fly-Under

Posted on 2013.12.22 at 12:38
I'm a big fan of Star Trek: Phase II, previously known as Star Trek: New Voyages. These are produced by fans of the original Star Trek series, often using scripts written for the aborted TV Series Star Trek: Phase II, which was canceled when Paramount Studios went ahead with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and also using fan-written scripts, and, in the case of the magnificent two-part episode Blood and Fire, a script written for Star Trek: The Next Generation by David Gerrold, the writer of the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, which Gerrold both adapted for Star Trek: New Voyages and directed.

The episodes seen thus far have done a brilliant job of recreating the feeling of the original Star Trek TV series from the 1960s, and, in the coming months, it's going to start ringing in changes to cover the transition in the series from what we saw on TV to what Star Trek looked like in the movies. In a "mini-episode" introducing Brian Goss as Captain Kirk, replacing James Cawley, who's concentrating on his behind-the-scenes role, we also see the beginnings of the refit of the USS Enterprise: It's a lovely bit of design combining the best parts of the original series design with the swept-back, wing-like pylons and flattened, rather than cylindrical engine nacelles, and visible photon torpedo tubes at the base of the "neck" between the "saucer section" and lower hull of the Enterprise.

So, here's a lovely "Beauty shot" of the new Enterprise in action.

Star Trek: Phase II - Enterprise Fly-Under

Aaron Sorkin

Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Sorkinbration

Posted on 2013.11.28 at 05:49
These two clips are my permanent, annual Thanksgiving tradition.






Enjoy.

The Secksma Sheen

Veteran's Day

Posted on 2013.11.11 at 14:34

During World War II, Lewis Burleigh Sheen, Jr, seen second from left in the thumbnail picture below, flew a B-26 Martin Marauder bomber -- named the "Secksma Sheen" -- out of an American Airbase in Chipping Ongar, England, and later, in 1944, another Air Base near St. Quentin, France.

It was when he was flying out of Chipping Ongar, however, that this story happened.

His flight was getting close to their target when Major Sheen -- known to his friends as "Mike," after his boyhood collie, Micky -- hit the switches to open the bomb bay doors then lower the bomb rack, preparing for the bombing run. The doors opened just fine, but when the rack (which could carry a bomb load of either four 1,000-pound bombs, two 2,000-pound bombs, six 600-pounders, twelve 300-pounders, or thirty 100-pounders, although I don't know which configuration was in use here) started to move, Mike Sheen heard a horrible metallic SCREEEEECH!!!!!! A quick visual check by a crewman told him that the rack had come partway out of its moorings and was hanging askew, unable to be lowered far enough to drop the bombs, nor retracted so the doors could be closed.

Mike radioed back to Chipping Ongar, outlined the situation, and asked for instructions. He was told to "orbit" over the English Channel while the situation was considered.

The Secksma Sheen circled, and waited, and the fuel gauge dropped, and they circled, and waited, and eventually Sheen radioed back and told his commanders, "Look, if you want us to ditch, we'll ditch. If you want us to land, we'll do that. But if you're going to make a decision, you have to do it _now_, because the fuel gauge is about to make it for you!"

Reluctantly, through clenched teeth, they told him to come back to Chipping Ongar and land.

As the Secksma Sheen approached the runway, Mike Sheen could see the runway lined with all manner of emergency vehicles. He lined up for his landing.

Now, the Marauder was not a particularly easy plane to fly. It was known as "The Widowmaker" because it was _so_ aerodynamic that it was particularly difficult to take off or land without the lift on the wings and tail flipping the plane on its nose. One consequence of this was that there were no soft, smooth, "airline-style" landings in a B-26. You had to plant that thing firmly on the runway, with an authoritative slam.

And that's what Mike Sheen did that day, lining up the tricycle landing gear, pulling back the throttle, firmly controlling the stick, and after that hard slam of wheels against pavement, he heard another sound, an even longer, louder, tearing-metal SHRIIIIEEEEEKKKKK!!!!!!!

Then, for an instant, silence.

Then, a series of clanking thuds, rapidly diminishing, as the control tower began yammering loudly into his ear.

His rear-view mirrors showed the amazing sight: The bomb-rack, still loaded with a full complement of bombs, tumbling end-over-end down the runway behind the plane, as, in his headphones, he heard the Tower Chief screaming, "Goddammit, Sheen, bad enough we've got the Nazis after us, now YOU'RE trying to blow us up as well????"

The Secksma Sheen came to a successful, safe stop, as did her bomb rack far behind, without a single bomb going off. No-one, that day, on that crew, was killed or injured. The plane was repaired and saw more service, being destroyed in an accident on Dec 26, 1944.

My dad, Mike Sheen, didn't tell many stories about his days flying the Secksma Sheen. When he did speak about it, in his later years, he spoke with horror of the men he'd killed. I don't think he ever saw the war as any kind of grand adventure. I heard this story, not from Dad, but from my older brother, at Dad's funeral in 1990.

But it's one of the stories I prefer to remember, when I remember and honor his service.

You can learn more about my Dad's military service, and see some pictures of him, his friends, and The Secksma Sheen, at the link below:

http://leviathanstudios.com/dad/

Barack Obama

America's Ultimate Solution

Posted on 2013.08.11 at 12:49

"America's Ultimate Solution"

"We have a lot of problems in this country. And I don't have all the answers -- But I have a good start."

"That's why, today, I'm calling on all of my Republican friends, in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, In state, county, and local governments throughout our great country, and even among the general public as a whole."

"I'm calling on all Republicans to breath in all the fresh, sweet, life-giving oxygen they can, many times every minute of the day. And to breathe out all the toxic carbon monoxide they can expell, right before every fresh breath they take."

"Now, here's what we don't need. We don't need to have our Republican friends stick with their obstructionist policies. We don't need the Nation's Republicans to suffocate themselves, just because I called upon them to breathe."

"Really. I mean it. If you're a Republican, I don't want you to super-glue shut your mouth and nostrils. If you're a Republican, I don't want you to cover your nose and mouth with duct tape."

"If you're a Republican, I don't want you to tie a plastic dry-cleaning bag over your head, or to drown yourself in your bathtub. I don't want you to run a hose from the exhaust pipe of your car, and breath only from that."

"Now, according to my advisors' calculations, sometime within the next few minutes, all of the opposition and obstructionism and hostility that's kept this government from functioning for the last few years should be over with, and we can again return to governing. Thank you very much, and God bless the United States of America."


Just Me Too

Join me for breakfast?

Posted on 2013.07.31 at 12:11
Join me for a quiet, peaceful, calm breakfast run?




Jessica Alba Finger-Suck

IANAL

Posted on 2013.06.26 at 13:02
Okay, no, I don't Anal, but it's a good day for guys who do!

At 10:00 am, EDT, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense Of Marriage Act.

It is, at the moment, a decision which acts only on the Federal Government: The ruling was that the Government cannot treat same-sex couples differently than mixed-sex couples. It does not directly strike down any state laws against same-sex marriage.

But here's the great news: SCOTUS' ruling is explicitly based on the Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection under the law.

On that basis, I cannot see how any state can successfully defend a marriage discrimination law. The Supreme Court has ruled that treating same-sex couples differently than mixed-sex couples is a violation of the Constitution. That invalidates any state law discriminating against gay couples.

I Am Not A Lawyer, but that's how I see it.

By that logic, the fact that SCOTUS "punted" the Prop 8 case is irrelevant.

It's all over but the lawsuits.

Accept Change

My review of "The Bling Ring"

Posted on 2013.06.24 at 17:51
 Director Sophia Coppola opens brilliantly, with the pre-movie production company logos not over musical or sound effects stings, but natural nocturnal sounds of Los Angeles. Then, with a bang, see our young burglars getting into a property with childish ease, climbing over a waist-height fence, and we're in amongst them, courtesy of a handheld camera that reminded me of the opening "robbery" sequence of Katherine Bigelow's under-appreciated classic, "Strange Days." We don't stand back to watch this bizarre B&E shopping spree from an ironic distance -- we're a part of it, running into the house and practically diving into the cheap opulence like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his coin vaults in the old cartoons.

We're then quickly introduced to the satirical engine that drives the movie, Emma Watson's "Nicki Moore," in the clip you've seen if you're interested in this movie, addressing the press after some sort of court hearing: An insanely entertaining, vapid, self-aggrandizing speech in which she ends, eyebrows peeping above her expensive sunglasses in a pose of such studied insouciance that it must have taken her days to get it down, "I wanna lead a country one day for all I know!"

 
Okay, anybody reading this knows I'm a pathetic Emma Watson fanboy. You think I'm biased, I'm not gonna argue. But she is by far the best thing in this movie. Her Nicki is such a stunning, virtuoso performance of hilarious vacuous self-promotion. Nicki's only belief is that she should be famous, and people should admire and envy her. She says and does nothing that isn't laser-guided at that goal of someday achieving the cheap, gimcrack fame of any of the Bling Ring's victims. She's not on screen all the time, and is not the driver nor the ringleader of the plot, but her amazing, shallow, monstrous character brings a charge pretty much whenever she's onscreen. Major awards have been given for far worse performances.

The movie is structured to rest on the shoulders of Israel Broussard as Marc, a shy teen whose sexuality seems undefined, and whose self-worth is at an all-time low as the movie begins. He's the new kid at a new school -- apparently a "bottom rung" school for troublemakers and losers -- and, if he feels like his schoolmates are pointing at him, snickering and judging, it's because they are. So when Katie Chang's Becca befriends him, the power she wields over him is awesome and immediately understandable. She is a lifeline, and he's been drowning. We realize only slowly what he can't allow himself to understand: That she's using him, quite callously, manipulating him with acceptance, words of affection and the promise that he can become part of the community of worthless celebrity that is all these young people value: Fame for fame's sake, and no more depth than is offered on E! TV. Her final, coldly calculated betrayal of him, not even acknowledging his existence, is really painful.

Copolla's direction starts with a bang, as I said above, but it's sometimes strangely flaccid. We spend longer unengagedly watching these kids frolic in the homes of the TMZ crowd than their own minuscule attention spans would tolerate, and in the end, you feel like the movie would have benefited from considerable tightening in spots. I think it could have been as much as fifteen minutes shorter with only improvement to its impact and artistry.

While there are slam-bang set-pieces -- the robbery by Broussard and Chang of a mostly-glass house (Audrina Patridge's in the film, though I doubt it's really hers) shot entirely from outside and up a hill, the camera very, very slowly zooming in, is nothing short of masterful -- the movie isn't taut or focused enough, in the end, to really satisfy. 

While it's Marc's movie, we're left with the image of Nicki, milking her notoriety for every last drop of cheap publicity she can, and in the end, while he's anonymously sitting in the back of a prison bus in an orange jumpsuit, we can only contemplate with awe her voracious hunger for attention, more gravitational than nutritional. She's a black hole of self-regard that no amount of attention, and no power of encounter with reality, can ever fill.

TARDIS

Farewell, Mr. Smith, and I thank you!

Posted on 2013.06.01 at 18:37
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/doctorwho/articles/Matt-Smith-to-leave-Doctor-Who
Matt Smith announces he is to leave Doctor Who

Saturday 1 June 2013, 22:11
Matt Smith as The Doctor

The BBC is today announcing that Matt Smith is to leave Doctor Who after four incredible years on the hit BBC One show. Matt first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the role at the end of this year after starring in the unmissable 50th Anniversary in November and regenerating in the Christmas special. During his time as the Doctor, Matt has reached over 30 million unique UK viewers and his incarnation has seen the show go truly global. He was also the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA in the role.

Matt quickly won over fans to be voted Best Actor by Readers of Doctor Who Magazine for the 2010 season. He also received a nod for his first series at the National Television Awards, before winning the Most Popular Male Drama Performance award in 2012.

Matt has played one of the biggest roles in TV with over 77 million fans in the UK, USA and Australia alone!

Matt Smith says: "Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he's a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I've never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I'm back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt."


Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says: "Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he'd turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him - sometimes literally - his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor.

But great actors always know when it's time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt - bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that's still so exciting!"


Having starred alongside three different companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and most recently Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), Matt's Doctor has fought Daleks and Cybermen, as well as Weeping Angels in New York. Regularly heard shouting 'run' and 'Geronimo', through Matt's Doctor fans have been introduced to a new culinary combination - fish fingers and custard!

Matt's spectacular exit is yet to be revealed and will be kept tightly under wraps. He will return to BBC One screens in the unmissable 50th anniversary episode on Saturday 23rd November 2013 - TUNE IN!

We’ll have exclusive quotes from Jenna on this site tomorrow and a special video from Matt - coming soon!






For myself, I want to say this:

I really want to emphasize Stephen Moffat's statement:

"Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that's still so exciting!"

As a fan since the Pertwee days of the 1970s, I'm right there with that. I'm sorry to see Matt go, he's been wonderful, but I'm already so very excited about meeting the Doctor all over again, finding a new face, a new costume, a new personality, a new Time Lord, and welcoming him -- OR her! -- into my heart.

I've loved "Doctor Who" since Gerald Ford was President. I've loved Pertwee and Baker and Davison and Baker (okay, he only really settled into the role in his last story) McCoy and McGann and Eccleston and Tennant and Smith. 

It's been an exhilarating ride, and with no end in sight, and I'm thrilled to meet whoever comes next.


TARDIS

When Daleks Flirt

Posted on 2013.05.30 at 11:47
...it's not a pretty sight, I must say!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xHj1U-zW6k

I Spy - Kelly's Eyes w/Logo

"True, True Colors"

Posted on 2013.05.24 at 20:28

TRUE, TRUE COLORS

 

“Just what color is this thing, anyway?” groused Alexander Scott.

“They’re supposed to be people-colored,” replied Kelly Robinson.

“Not for colored people,” grumbled Scotty.

Kelly paused with the generic Mammoth-Mart brand bandage dangling from his hand, and looked at the two others already covering cuts on his forearm. They were a bit pale against his tanned skin, but not terribly noticeable.

Scotty eyed him sourly, the beige-cream rectangles standing out on his forehead like glowing signposts.

“I thought we weren’t supposed to say ‘colored people’ anymore.”

“Well, if it’s good enough for the National Association For The Advancement Of, it’s good enough for me.”

Kelly looked back at the blood seeping from his forearm, and his own only-slightly pale oblongs, and wrinkled his brow in disgust. “Barbed wire, man. What’s the point of that? I ask you, who puts barbed wire around a secure, secret compound?”

“Pretty much everybody with a secure, secret compound. You going to put your flesh tone adhesive bandage on that, or aren’t you?”

“Man, it isn’t ‘Flesh Tone.’” Kelly eyed it dubiously. “It’s, like, I dunno, Bisque. It’s undercooked muffin tone.

“As opposed to your blood, which is bright red, which, you see, isn’t that good a look on your brand new white jeans. How much do you pay for those, anyway?”

Kelly scoffed, “I’ll put ‘em on the expense report.”

“Well, sure you will,” said Scotty, skeptically, “because Shelly Clavell is always an easy touch for that sort of thing, right?”

Kelly looked again at his arm, again at Scotty’s face and his arms, and threw the pale, limp bandage to the floor. It flipped and wrapped around itself on the way down, like a minnow thrown from a bucket, and landed in a sticky ball, stuck to the side of the bedspread. “Hell with this, man,” he said, and stood up while Scotty’s eyes widened. “I’ll be right back.”


In the back of the Southwestern Bell repair truck, Russell Gabriel Conway shook his head slowly, taking in the naughty-little-boy grins of his two best agents.

“You understand, don’t you, that spies are supposed to be sort of, I dunno, unobtrusive? Nondescript, there’s another good word. That’s what spies are supposed to be, isn’t it?”

“Well, Gabe,” murmured Kelly, “there turn out to be some problems with that.”

Go into any damn drug store! Go into any damn drug store!” He always promised himself he was going to keep his temper with these two, two men who had brought him success after success, two men he loved as much as the son who was currently attending West Point. Some promises were not meant to be kept. “Shelf after shelf of perfectly ordinary Band-Aids!

“They’re the wrong color, Gabe.”

Kelly was the only one who called him ‘Gabe.’ But Russell Gabriel knew how the name ‘Russ’ hurt him, so he let that pass.

“They’re flesh-tone! It says it right on the box!”

Kelly looked steadily back at him. “Your flesh, maybe, Mr. Desk Man. Almost mine.” He paused. “Not his.”

Scotty just smiled mildly at him, enjoying Kelly too much to bring anything like reason to the conversation.

“For God’s sake...” Conway began, and then trailed off. With those pale-beige drug-store rectangles all over Alexander Scott’s face, he would have been every bit as spectacular as both men were now, and far less amusing. “Fine,” he finally said. “Fine. We’ll bring in another team for this part. Just... Just, go somewhere. Get the hell out of here.”

“Shall we, Hoby?” said Scotty, his smile widening.

“I think we shall, Fred C.” replied Kelly, and they stood, ducking the low roof of the phone-company truck.

Russ Conway looked back and forth from man to man, face to face, each criss-crossed with multicolored, goddamned-hippy-approved psychedelic, mock-tie-dyed plastic Band-Aids.

“And next time,” he bellowed after them as they ducked out the back doors, “stay away from the goddamned barbed wire!

 

THE END


All The Good Stuff Is HERE

The Single Greatest Music Video Ever Made

Posted on 2013.05.12 at 18:22
Oh, sweet Jesus, you guys, I can't even....




I've heard a few folks, both individuals and opinion journalists, talk about yesterday's "Lockdown" in Boston as a "surrender to fear" or "bowing to terrorism." The premise seems to be that Bostonians surrendered their civil rights, letting our authorities give us orders far beyond their authority, and thereby, terrorism was effective.

No. Bostonians are a tough, smart, practical people. We don't flinch from tough choices, and when it's needed, we roll up our sleeves and tackle unpleasant tasks. Our law enforcers needed room to work, and to mobilize in a big way to capture a uniquely dangerous criminal, and the best way for them to do that was with the particular cooperation of the citizens. What Bostonians needed to do to see the situation resolved was sit out a day, and stay where they were, to give the authorities a clear field. They made that choice willingly and in good faith, and the state met that good faith by keeping faith with them. They took the day of unprecedented cooperation and the clear field the citizens gave them, and at the end of the day, when they had not been successful, they rescinded the "Shelter in Place" order.

That's not surrendering, it's taking on a difficult task. Bostonians, including and especially "Boston Liberals" have the strength and courage to do that, and one important element of that strength and courage is the strength and courage to trust those we ask to protect us.




Speaking of Civil Rights, I'm seeing a lot of coverage today of the decision that's been made that, under what's called the "Public Safety Exception," the FBI won't "Mirandize" Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before questioning him.

(If that's unclear, "Mirandize" means to read to him, as you've seen on American TV police dramas, what is legally known, after the Supreme Court case that governs it, as the Miranda Warning: "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to consult with an attorney, and to have him present during question. If you so desire, and cannot afford one, one will be provided for you, free of charge. DO you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?")

I'll start here: It's the wrong decision. America stands for something, and one of them is equality under the law. We shouldn't be treating some criminals differently than others. The putative "advantage" the FBI gets from this is minor. Tsarnaev still has those rights. As an American kid, he's doubtless seen enough cop shows that he knows he has those rights. If he clams up, there's nothing the Feds can do about it, and if he demands a lawyer, they have to get him one, whether they read him his rights or not. So making a decision not to read him his rights, and declaring that they'll fight in court to admit anything he says under such questioning as evidence under the claim that the questioning prior to such reading was necessary for the safety of the general public has very little payoff, and the potential cost -- because a judge will rule whether or not she agrees with that, and could well make any such testimony, and any evidence developed from such testimony, inadmissible -- is really high. It's a dumb decision.

You know what, though? So what? As I said, he has the rights, whether they're read to him or not. And does this case look to you like it's going to depend on statements Tsarnaev makes during interrogation? He's on videotape planting the bomb. A victim looked him in the eye as he planted it. He took part in the murder of a police officer, and a carjacking in which he or his brother told the victim, who can and will testify, "We did the Marathon bombing, and we just killed a cop. Give us your car or we'll kill you, too." He took part in a high-speed chase and a gun battle with police, then another gun battle with them. Same gun in both? I'll bet it was. Will there be GSR (Gunshot Residue) on his clothing and skin? Yes. Similar bombs and bomb-making ingredients and components were found in his car, in the carjacked car, and in his home. You wanna bet against there being fingerprint evidence all over all of this? I certainly don't.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be convicted of all the crimes without a word of testimony from his questioning now. And his Fifth Amendment rights are his. If a judge declares everything he tells the feds inadmissible against him, it will still be admissible against anybody his responses lead them to. Any evidence developed against any other parties based on his responses under FBI questioning will stand up in court.

So, what the hell? As long as they don't try to convict him with testimony given during un-Mirandized questioning, and as long as, if he chooses to remain silent, or asks for an attorney, the law is properly followed, I don't see where his rights are violated.




Lastly, in response to Arkansas Republican state representative Nate Bell, who wrote on Twitter yesterday, "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine," I will point this out again. Bostonians don't cower. Not ever. Not in their homes, not anywhere.

You know where people do cower, though? Not Bostonians -- at least, not enough of them to matter -- but waaaaaay too many Americans?

They don't cower behind their doors, but many cower behind their guns, and the bigger, more over-powered a gun is, the more likely the civilian behind it is to be cowering.

Facts:

Today is Patriots Day in Massachusetts, the commemoration of the famous Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. It's HUGELY significant in the Right-Wing Anti-Government Nutbag movement. Timothy McVeigh's truck bomb destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, 19 of them children under the age of six, on April 19th, 1995 - Patriot's Day.

Today is "Tax Day," April Fifteenth, the deadline for Americans to file their income tax returns. This is also hugely significant to the Right-Wing Anti-Government Nutbag movement, as, to them, taxation=tyranny.

Boston is the cradle of the American Revolution. This is where Crispus Attucks fell, the first American to die in the American Revolution. It's the home of John Adams, of Nathan Hale, of Paul Revere.

Boston was, of course, the site of the very famous Boston Tea Party, an event considered iconic by the Right-Wing Anti-Government Nutbag movement.

Boston is also, of course a famously liberal city, capital of a famously liberal state, nearly universally loathed by the Right-Wing Anti-Government Nutbag movement.

Irresponsible speculation:

We're going to find that this was an act of domestic terrorism, the Right-Wing Anti-Government Nutbag movement.

And when you see some scraggly guy from some "Militia" brought in in cuffs, remember this: What he believes in differs in only one significant way from Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Teabaggers who have infested American politics: Willingness to outright murder innocents to make their political points. Everything they believe in, everything they fight for, would make Timothy McVeigh smile.

Emma loves me

Bwahahahahahahah!!!!!

Posted on 2013.04.02 at 09:04
This makes me laugh so hard!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU3HHydacBg




The whole trailer is actually hilarious, and you can see it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i24fo2W5EaE




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhEI_jDRZw8



Adam Rayner feels perfectly "Saintly," and although Leslie Charteris' stories and novels didn't involve an over-arching plotline about Simon Templar's family -- I can hear some network suit saying, "This makes it personal!" -- it does no harm to Simon's character.

And, special super-duper extra exciting! The two older gentlemen talking at the end? The mysterious bearded man who seems to be the "Big Bad" condescendingly asking the other "Do you still believe in Simon Templar?" and the other replying, "The world needs the Saint!"

The apparent villain is actor and novelist Ian Ogilvy who was, himself, marvelous as Simon Templar in the 1970s series "The Return of the Saint," and the fellow he's talking to is, of course, Roger Moore!

This, my friends, is going to be awesome. And, by the way, my friends who love White Collar will definitely want to check this out. Neal Caffrey is absolutely the spiritual descendant of Simon Templar.

Ian Fleming's James Bond 007

Thoughts on "Skyfall"

Posted on 2013.03.11 at 15:14
Y'know what's weird about Skyfall? It is, like Dame Judy Dench's Bond premiere, Goldeneye, a movie about Bond's history, and how obsolete he supposedly is. (Before it proves that he isn't obsolete at all.) It bathes in nostalgia for classic Bond, with the proud return of the famous Astin-Martin DB5, and a closing scene that "brings us full circle" to the Bond/M/Moneypenny Status Quo from Doctor No...

But it stars a Bond who is explicitly on only his third mission as a Double-Oh. It's not that it's Craig's first movie: Of all the problems that "Live and Let Die" had, accepting Moore as having been Double-Oh Seven for a long time wasn't one of them, and even George Lazenby had a scene fondly saying farewell to props from Bond movies he didn't appear in.

But we saw Craig "earn his bones" and become a Double-Oh in Casino Royale: He was a whole new Bond at a whole new beginning. Quantum of Solace was such a direct sequel that it began within about fifteen minutes of the closing shot of Casino Royale, and now Skyfall comes along. A Bond with just two known missions behind him is the wrong vehicle to wax nostalgic over fifty years of movies. Daniel Craig is not just a different face and form for the same Bond who followed Goldfinger across Europe in that DB5, He's a whole new guy, inhabiting a whole new universe, in which Blofeld and Rosa Klebb, Auric Goldfinger and Emilio Largo never existed.

It makes the whole thing feel weirdly wrong.

Captain America

"...Boy, do I itch all over!"

Posted on 2013.03.08 at 08:53
"When you lie down with dogs," the old saying goes -- and I'm stealing this opening from a commentator on '60 Minutes' in the early 1980s -- "you get up with fleas," and, Boy, do I itch all over!

Rand Paul is the worst sort of political idiot stooge. He's an ideological moron. But, as they -- including Chris Matthews, who said this last night in this context -- also say, "A stopped clock is right twice a day."

Rand Paul isn't "right" with anything close to that frequency.

But all the liberals and especially liberal journalists/commentators like Matthews and his MSNBC evening cohort Ed Schultz and others, should really STFU and stop embarrassing themselves about Rand Paul's filibuster.

Paul's filibuster went to a lot of silly places, and, frankly, it was, as is so much of his political career, a triumph of theory of practice, of ideas over reality. He stated as much, in so many words, himself.

But this is what the filibuster is for. I don't particularly disagree with the point Paul was making (I'll get back to this later) and, likewise, I think Senator Lindsey Graham made an important point about the partisan nature of the ginned-up outrage so many Republicans are expressing toward the drone program, but that's neither here nor there. When we talk about filibuster reform, there's a reason I don't want to see it done away with entirely, and this is why.

The filibuster exists so that a senator who has a deep and important concern about an important matter of public policy can bring the chamber to a pause, a moment -- or a few hours -- of cessura, to give attention to that matter. It's a Good Thing.

I'm especially troubled by the willful ignorance being exercised by MSNBC's Chris Matthews, a very good journalist who would be a great one if he would realize that he'll have more value if the people he's interviewing get to actually say what they're trying to say, in his criticisms of Paul's remarks.

Rand Paul said, and he's absolutely right, that Barack Obama is not an evil despot and that there is no reason to fear that he will kill an American sitting outside Panera Bread for breakfast in Chillicothe, OH, for political criticism of his administration. As Paul put it, "Nobody is Hitler," and he added that he finds the comparison of various political opponents to Der Fuhrer wrongheaded and distasteful. But what Paul points out is that it's not good enough to simply say, "I trust President Obama," because it's always possible that the tools we trust him with will end up in the hands of a duly elected government that is genuinely evil. Americans in 2016 or 2020 will not be inherently more moral than Germans in 1934.

So if you're going to rail at Rand Paul for comparing Obama to Hitler, STFU, because he didn't. If you're going to rail at him for comparing ANYBODY to Hitler, STFU, because he didn't.

And, Chris Matthews, don't pretend it's incomprehensible why he mentioned Hitler if he wasn't trying to compare anyone currently involved to Hitler, because you're lying. I know you're lying, because you've shown a fine grasp of the way Democrats and Republicans both seem loath to take away oft-abuse powers like the silent filibuster, because both sides are eager to have the ability to abuse them when THEY are in power.

Rand Paul spent thirteen hours talking to the nation about the importance of remembering that the powers you give a President you love and trust and respect will also belong to a president you loathe and fear and are ashamed of, and giving a good man the power and authority to kill anyone, anywhere, because you trust him not to abuse that authority is dangerous, because that office and authority will not always belong to that good man. That's a point worth making.

Now, the fact is, the whole matter of the drone program and its attendant issue of the targeted killing of individuals, including Americans, is not the failure of transparency its critics pretend it is. It's a TRIUMPH of transparency, because we know it exists as a program. I assure you, there has never been an administration in this nation's history that has not had some agents of some sort who would go out and kill threats to the nation without allowing recourse to due process. It's ugly, but true. Every country has and has had its illicit assassins. Matt Helm and James Bond represent something real, and we've been happier not knowing about them.

In the "West Wing" episode "Isaac and Ishmael," Aaron Sorkin gives Alison Janney, as C.J. Cregg, the following speech:

"Look, I take civil liberties as seriously as anybody, okay? I've been to the dinners and we haven't even talked about free speech yet and somebody getting lynched by the patriotism police for voicing a minority opinion. That said, Tobus, we're going to have to do some stuff. We're going to have to tap some phones and we're going to have to partner with some people who are the lesser of evils. I'm sorry but terrorists don't have armies and navies. They don't have capitals. Some of these guys we're going to have to walk up to them and shoot them. Yeah, we can root terrorist nests but some of these guys aren't going to be taken by the 105th armored tank division. Some of these guys are going to be taken by a busboy with a silencer. So it's time to give the intelligence agencies the money and the manpower they need. We don't hear about their successes. Guess what? The Soviets never crossed the Elbe. The North Koreans stayed behind the 38th parallel. During the Millennium? Not one incident. Do you think that's because the terrorists decided that'd be a good day to take off? Not much action that day? End of song."

Welcome to the drone program. That's why Rand Paul is ultimately wrong. It's not that we will always have presidents who are trustworthy, and will never abuse the technology and authority and power. It's that all governments already have and exercise that power as they see fit, and, even though we'd rather not think about it, we're happier and better off because they do.

But Rand Paul's filibuster was a lawmaker bringing us to a halt for a little while to tell us that we need to pay attention to an important issue of law and morality. It was a Good Thing, and I thank him for it. This is what the filibuster is for, and it's still something we need.

Get off his back.

All The Good Stuff Is HERE

The Relentless March of Science!

Posted on 2013.03.01 at 12:08



Gryffie, Mr Godric Gryffindor

Just Say Meow

Posted on 2013.02.28 at 19:33



Samwise 1

A short musical interlude.

Posted on 2013.01.29 at 18:37
Sung to the tune of "Daddy Wasn't There" by Ming Tea Featuring Austin Powers

Samwise
He's afraid of cats

Samwise
He's afraid of cats
Women wearing hats
Even girls in flats

He's afraid of cats

Samwise
He's afraid of cats
Perhaps he lost some spats
(they don't even act like brats)

But he's afraid of cats

When they're on the bed
Dunno what he read
You can see his dread
No matter what you said
They just get in his head
Then he can't be led
And he won't get in bed......

He's afraid of cats

When they're on the bed
Dunno what he read
You can see his dread
No matter what you said
They just get in his head
Then he can't be led
And he won't get in bed......

He's afraid of cats
He just can't face the prats
They scare him more than bats
He's afraid of cats

(Spoken) He's afraid of cats! Peace!





If you're unfamiliar with the source:





Or, if you don't feel you've suffered enough:





http://leviathanstudios.com/He's Afraid Of Cats - Mixed.mp3

Samwise 2

Samwise

Posted on 2013.01.28 at 21:08

Samwise

After our heartbreaking loss of Mandy, the Bear-Shaped Dog, there was a dark cloud over the Sheen household. We have five cats, and love them, but I've always been a Dog person, and Mandy taught Cindy to crave canine company as well. It was clear we'd need to adopt another dog. We set about scanning online dog adoption listings. There were some false starts: There was Christy, a ten-year-old Chow Chow, whose adoption was on-track until the adopting agency insisted on a condition we'd ruled out in our very first communication. Then there was Arlo, a very sweet and loveable boy who was far too rambunctious for the safety of our cats. He spent a few days with us, and had to return to the shelter he'd come from, which we found gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, as well.

More recently, I read the story of a pair of Lhasa Apso/Shih-Tzu mixes who had excaped from a situation of dreadful neglect, only to be refugees from Hurricane Sandy, a terribly sad story we hoped to give a happy ending, but couldn't, as they turned out to be relentless cat-chasers. The agency that had them was one that specialized in American Eskimo Dogs. I was drawn to that breed, known colloquoially as "Eskies," because they are built and furred similarly to Chow Chows, and so would recall my beloved Bear-Shaped Dog. There were a couple of Eskies who had been in a neglectful environment, in whom we were also interested, but the lady in charge of the rescue agency had a different idea. Having read my tale of life with Mandy (included to give a sense of the sort of relationship we would want with any dog we adopted) Denise of Eskies Online had a very strong feeling that a dog she'd re-rescued so recently that he wasn't even listed on their website, would be a good fit for us, so she sent us two pictures of a dog thought to be a Golden Retriever/Collie cross, named "Gito:"



He certainly looked like a sweet fellow, but Cindy and I were sort of fixated on an Eskie named Simon, and there were some factors about Denise's recommendation that concerned me. He had been adopted out previously to a married couple, and that adoption hadn't worked out, because Gito had taken against the wife, who had a sort of nervous energy about her, which is a description I would, when stressed, apply to Cindy. That tail hanging down behind Gito also concerned me. It didn't look to me, after 8 years with Mandy, like a happy tail; it looked to me like the tail of a sad, defeated dog. Lastly, and most trivially, neither Cindy nor I liked the name "Gito." Still, it didn't seem fair to me to reject him out of hand, and he was clearly a good-looking dog, so we were open to meeting him as well as Simon.

Another wrinkle arose. Denise's usual method of adoptions is to bring the dogs to the home of the candidates. But we Sheens are fierce about our privacy, so that wouldn't work for us. We offered to go to Denise, but she had similar concerns. There was discussion back and forth, trying to come up with a comfortable alternative, until — and I'm inordinately proud of this — I hit upon the ideas of meeting up at a PetCo or PetSmart store, where patrons are encouraged to bring in their dogs, and there are usually benches for owners to wait while dogs are groomed or seen by veterinarians. When I suggested this to Denise, by Text Message, she looked up from the restaurant table where she was having lunch in her area, and across the street to where a PetSmart stood, and the plan was made on the spot.

The following Saturday, January 26th, 2013, we drove the two hours from our home just south of the New Hampshire border to the PetSmart in Johnston, Rhode Island. When we were within a couple of miles of the store, my phone rang, and it was Denise telling me she was going into the store with Gito. Honestly, I was disappointed. We were really thinking about Simon. But, hey, there's nothing wrong with meeting any dog, and it was hardly his fault he had a name we really hated! So we arrived, parked, and went inside. We recognized Gito immediately, and went over to introduce ourselves to Denise and her husband, and, of course, to Gito.

He was a very calm, sweet-natured dog, placidly greeting us and accepting petting from us in a way that reminded me a lot of Mandy. He was also extraordinarily soft and fluffy, with such amazing, warm, soft, lovely fur, we could hardly keep our hands off him. His tail was still hanging down behind him, but, without my having mentioned it, Denise said that his tail was one of her favorite things about him, and that, when he was happy, he carried it curled over his back. I was thrilled to hear that! I also took note that, while we were talking, a lady approached the nearby veterinarian's counter with two open cat-carriers with cats inside. That would have been enough to pre-occupy Arlo, but Gito paid the cats no mind, any more than he did passing dogs. Even though we saw no sign of the curled-above-the-back tail, and the ears still hung slack, he was so sweet, and so calm, that he totally stole our heart. After maybe twenty minutes sitting on a bench, petting Gito, I leaned over to Cindy and asked, "Do you want to meet Simon the Eskie?" She shook her head firmly. "Certainly not." So we told Denise and her Husband that we had decided. We would adopt Gito. We brought him outside, signed papers, paid an adoption fee, shook hands all around, and climbed into our car, me driving and Cindy in the back with Gito.

As we drove North, we talked to Gito, who was very relaxed and affectionate and placid, and talked to one another about him. Cindy thought the Golden Retriever/Collie theory was wrong. Those brown dots on his snout said "Spaniel" to her. I asked her how she was feeling about the name "Gito." She still didn't like it, and frankly, neither did I. I asked her if she had any ideas, and she brought up a series of commonplace male names, none of which grabbed us, and then she chuckled and suggested "Samuel the Spaniel?"

That joke didn't tickle me as a serious name, but there was something we both liked about "Sam" or "Sammy." We wandered about as we drove, considering names, and I found myself remembering that our grey-and-white cat, known by the nickname "The Little Man," was really named "Gandalf," and it struck me immediately. "Samwise?" I suggested. Cindy readily agreed, so we started calling him that. By the time we stopped at the Donelan's supermarket in our home town of Pepperell, Massachusetts, he was already starting to identify with that name, and with us as his people:

When we walked in the door on Saturday afternoon, he completely ignored our cats. By Saturday night, I took this picture:


That, my friends, is a happy tail!

As I write this, it's almost bedtime on the night of Monday, January 28th, 2013, after two and a half days with us, he's completely bonded with us, and he knows his name quite well. He's a very happy dog, and Cindy and I are sort of stunned that we've been lucky enough to bring him home. Research online has led us to conclude that the "Collie/Golden Retriever" theory is incorect. There could be Collie, and there could be Golden Retriever, but we're quite sure that he's partly Brittany Spaniel, and that that breed is so dominant that he may as well be a purebred -- if, indeed, he isn't! He's already a completely essential part of our lives. He's become more active and playful, but without losing his gentleness. He's extremely deferential to our cats, who are getting used to him, he sits with an audible thump in front of the door when approached with a leash -- although he also gets so excited he jumps up, and sometimes gets so excited when we go out that he races at high speed to the limit of the leash and back, like a cat with the crazies, grunting with pleasure at the fun he's having. He's really enjoyed today's snow.

So here, for your enjoyment, more of our wonderful new family member, Samwise:








www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-20845407


Gerry Anderson, Thunderbirds creator, dies

Gerry Anderson, the creator of hit TV shows including Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, has died at the age of 83.

He also created Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and his puppet superheroes fired the imaginations of millions of young viewers in the 1960s and '70s.

Thunderbirds, a science-fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad, ran from 1965 and was his most famous show.

Anderson had suffered from Alzheimer's since 2010 and the disease had worsened in recent months, his son Jamie said.

Jamie Anderson announced the news on his website, saying his father died peacefully in his sleep at noon on Wednesday.

"Gerry was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago and his condition worsened quite dramatically over the past six months," he wrote.

Gerry Anderson talked about the onset of the disease in June 2012.

Speaking on BBC Berkshire he said: "I don't think I realised at all. It was my wife Mary who began to notice that I would do something quite daft like putting the kettle in the sink and waiting for it to boil."

His other creations included UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5.

Actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on shows including The Day After Tomorrow and Space 1999, told BBC News: "I think a light has gone out in the universe.

"He had a great sense of humour. He wasn't childish but child-like and he had a tremendous love of the universe and astronomy and scientists.

"He got their latest theories, which he would expand on. He was always galvanised and full of energy."

'Great creation'

Celebrities paying tribute on Twitter included comedian Eddie Izzard, who wrote: "What great creation Thunderbirds was, as it fuelled the imagination of a generation."

TV presenter Jonathan Ross wrote: "For men of my age, his work made childhood an incredible place to be."

Anderson, who lived in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, began his career studying fibrous plastering, but had to give it up when it gave him dermatitis.

After a spell in photographic portrait work, a job in Gainsborough films and time spent in air traffic control, he set up AP Films with some friends.

Commissions were few, however, so he responded eagerly to the opportunity to make a puppet series called The Adventures of Twizzle in 1956. It was nine years before Thunderbirds came into being on ITV.

The action was filmed on Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire.

The story revolved around International Rescue, a futuristic emergency service manned by the Tracy family, often assisted by Lady Penelope - voiced by Mrs Anderson - and her butler, Parker.

It included the catchphrases "Thunderbirds are go!" and "FAB".

The show marked the career apex for Gerry and his wife Sylvia, who had honed their "supermarionation" technique on Fireball XL5 and Stingray.

Nick Williams, chairman of Fanderson, the Gerry Anderson appreciation society, described him as "a quiet, unassuming but determined man".

"His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works," he said.

"Gerry's legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world."

 

TV

Fandom, this is what you've done to me...

Posted on 2012.12.25 at 14:05
 Clarence Williams III, Peggy Lipton & Michael Cole in "The Mod Squad."
 

Is it wrong that, whenever I watch reruns of "The Mod Squad" on my local "METV" affiliate, all I can think is, OT3!!!!!!!!!!! ?


Beak-Sproing

It's that time again.....

Posted on 2012.12.24 at 14:53


I find this story really fascinating. There are a lot of interesting parallels I see between the "community" of escorts and clients, and the communities of the fandoms we're all involved in.
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/suzy-favor-hamilton-136952
Click to read the stolen storyCollapse )


Leviathan here again:

For this to make sense, I have to mention something else, another source of information I'm remembering.

There used to be a website called "CLReviews.com," on which clients  left reviews of their experiences with prostitutes. It was subdivided into regions -- Las Vegas, New England, New York, etc, etc -- and really existed as a consumer resource for johns, extolling the virtues of this call-girl, warning about problems with that one, etc. Sometimes girls would post on the board as well, either defending against bad reviews (sometimes with reason, others not so much) and it all sounded very familiar to me at the time.

There were very much community norms. Hookers were known as "Providers," and generally referred to with the same sort of respect you might show for a carpenter or a plumber or any other skilled craftsperson. Johns were "Hobbyists." A hobbyist who provided personal details about a provider -- especially a provider who wished to operate with a low profile ("UTR" for "Under the Radar") -- would be shamed by the other hobbyists on the site. They had their own terminology and slang. When a new provider came on the scene, a hobbyist asking about her would be encouraged to "TOFTT" ("Take One For The Team," meaning go ahead and pay for a session with her, and then review her on the board,) And reviews would be full of terms like "GFE" ("Girlfriend Experience," a style of session that's friendlier and more personal than just sex,) "DFK," ("Deep French Kissing,") "BB" ("Bareback," usually as a prefix on a longer abbreviation, like BBCG for "Bareback Cowgirl," meaning without requiring condoms ["Cowgirl" being a specific position you can figure out,]) and, my personal favorite, "DATY," which stands for "Dining At The Y," meaning a provider allows cunnilingus.

I found the site an entertaining read. I've never been a hobbyist -- too much wife, not enough money -- but I'm not against anything adults do with competent consent, and the reviews ranged from gross-out comedy to "Penthouse Forum" stuff, and knowing that I was reading about real women in my area who could be hired (even though I wouldn't do so) to have sex gave reading it an extra charge.

The reason I'm going into all this is that time spent on that site gave a real feeling for what that world was like to the people involved, and it was very much the same sort of tribal sense of community that we have in the  various fandoms we're all involved in here.

We have our rules, our norms. Where Favor Hamilton says, “He totally broke all the rules by outing me," but "I don’t want to be like him. Because he is scum. And I will not become scum to make myself feel good. I will not do it. I would suffer rather than go that route of being vindictive,” and, when the reporter is baffled by that attitude, replies, “I can’t expect you to understand, you aren’t in that world,” couldn't that be right out of any of our fannish communities?

So I find the whole story really fascinating, and I'd love to see it examined more thoroughly with an eye toward the way these tribal subcultures form, and how those can collide with the norms of outside society.





Captain America

AMERICANS ARE FUCKING CRAZY.

Posted on 2012.12.14 at 16:02

Look, "Gentle" and "Polite" have obviously not worked. It's time to just come out and say it:

AMERICANS ARE FUCKING CRAZY.

WE ARE FULL-GOOSE-BOZO, ROUND THE FUCKING BEND, OUT OF OUR FUCKING MINDS.

The rest of the world knows it. Watch any episode of "Doctor Who" that involves both Americans and firearms. Americans and Guns aren't so much Thelma and Louise, but the two women in the french movie "Basé Moi," who travel around killing, maiming, crippling and disfiguring before they end up destroying themselves.

We're so fucking painless stupid that we think any regulation of any kind violates an amendment that begins with the words "A well-regulated."

We're full past the brim of assholes who fantasies themselves movie heroes, Dirty Harry, and are perfectly happy to see dozens of harmless innocents at a time -- politically active Arizonans, Batman fans in Colorado, now schoolchildren in Connecticut -- than have any risk of losing their "Dirty Harry" prop, their surrogate penis, their masturbatory "No-poke" dildo: Their gun.

Statistics show that the number of people who have protected themselves or their families with guns are vanishing small -- considerably smaller, in fact, than the number who have their own guns taken away, to be killed with them. Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidians tell you all there is to know about rugged American patriots defending their liberty from a tyrannical government. Even if George Washington _had_ said "Guns are our liberty teeth" -- which, to the eternal gratitude of those of us who like to think him capable of eloquent, elegant writing, he never, ever did -- trying to bite back with them has not historically worked out well for the biter.

But America has made its priorities clear. Better endless, infinite innocents die, shoppers and moviegoers and first, second, third and fourth graders, than anyone who wants to pretend he's a Tarantino character have to do so with a plastic toy.

We are out of our fucking minds.


Mandy

Bear-Shaped Thanks...

Posted on 2012.11.27 at 10:16
I can't face going back and responding to every one of the responses I received to my post about the passing of Mandy, the Bear-Shaped Dog. It just hurts too much.

But I want each and every one of you who posted your sympathies to know how greatly I appreciate it, and how very, very much your words of comfort meant to me and Cindy both.

Thank you, one and all. I really mean it.


R/Hr Kiss
Posted on 2012.11.25 at 18:37

Aaron Sorkin

Third Annual Thanksgiving Sorkinbration!

Posted on 2012.11.22 at 00:00
These two clips are my permanent, annual Thanksgiving tradition.






Enjoy.

In March of 2004, my wife and I moved into our current home in Pepperell, Massachusetts. As homeowners for the first time in our lives, rather than apartment dwellers, I was eager to get a dog. We spent some time discussing it, but by the summer, Cindy had agreed, and I began scanning various pet adoption and humane society web-sites looking for a rescue dog to adopt.

I was clear that I wanted an adult dog -- puppies are much more likely to find homes, so adopting an adult is much more likely to be literally saving a life -- and preferred a mixed breed. After a few weeks, on the web site of the New Hampshire SPCA, I saw this listing:





That amazing, regal, ursine face looked out of the web page, right into my soul, and I knew I had to go meet that dog, and that, unless there were real problems, she was going to be mine.

The following weekend, I took the two-hour drive, and discovered that, while Mandy (already her name: Changing the name of a dog who already has one seems to me to be disrespectful) had been there for weeks, nobody had even asked to meet her. The young ladies were very excited that I had.

She was shy, but very sweet-natured, and I ponied up some bucks and brought her home. Even on the drive back, it was clear we were bonding. When I'd stop to go to the restroom, according to my friend Toni, who waited in the minivan with her, Mandy would be focused entirely on me. She'd watch me walk, and stare at any door I disappeared through until I was back in sight.

She was an amazing, beautiful, sweet, affectionate, quiet, happy dog:





From then until now, she's been my best friend, my baby, my companion and my joy.






She had several years of terrible problems with allergies, but in the last couple of years, the right dietary balance was struck, and, having lost much of her hair and being miserable, she reclaimed her Bear-Shaped mojo in all its Bear-Shaped glory.



In recent months, she lost her hearing, which made me sad. I was concerned that she didn't realize she was deaf, and thought I was no longer talking to her. Her joints began to pain her more and more, and she ate less and less. I knew that the end was coming, and that every moment with her was fleeting and precious. About three weeks ago, when I wasn't feeling well, she came to visit me, and I lifted her up on the bed -- she could no longer make it on her own -- and we had a historically epic cuddle:






That memory will have to sustain me, because last night, a little after midnight, she suddenly began barking in alarm. I found her in pain, and looking up symptoms, discovered that she was almost certainly experiencing something called "Canine Bloat." In a young, healthy dog, this is fatal unless immediate veterinary care is received. But Mandy was neither young nor healthy, and, on a Saturday night, her veterinarian was unavailable. (There is, relatively local, a veterinary emergency room, but the cost of even a casual visit there is hundreds of dollars. Any care received brings us easily into thousands. I can say, and it's true, that Mandy was worth more to us than any amount of money, but that doesn't give us that money, and so she had to go without care.)

I stayed with her, and being petted seemed to comfort her, and eventually, she seemed to go to sleep, and so did I, setting an alarm to call my vet's office at seven AM, in hopes of catching someone in feeding the animals. At seven, she was still with us, but very weak, and I was unable to reach the vet. I brought Mandy back to the bedroom, laid her on the bed, and Cindy and I stroked and loved on her as she passed away.

We are, of course, heartbroken. She was my pal, my baby, my darling, my sweetest Bear, and my life will seem so empty without her.

Goodbye, Mandy, the Bear-Shaped Dog. Thank you for making the last 8 years of my life so much more wonderful. I don't know what I'll do without you.

Barack Obama

Rough Truth for the Republican party...

Posted on 2012.11.16 at 12:02
I miss the United States of America having a Loyal Opposition. I miss a conservative party of intelligent, constructive ideas, many of which I, of course, disagreed with.

I don't think any of the punditocracy really understands what's happened to the Republican party, and I don't think they've really got an understanding of the fatal flaws of the Romney campaign.

The problem with the former is, quite simply, the Teabaggers.

First of all, right out of the gate, no, I won't call them "the Tea Party." The reason is simple: Despite what they now try to tell us, "Teabaggers" isn't a crude pejorative applied to them by us nasty liberals. It's the term with which they first labeled themselves, and "Teabagging" their term for their political activities, selected, embraced, and publicized by them, none of them knowing it was already a term of crude sexual slang for an act with which they'd be loath to be identified. Going off half-cocked, without research or due diligence hung a name around their necks that is anathema to them, and that carelessness, that mental laziness, is too entirely emblematic of their movement as a whole for me to overlook. Teabaggers they began as, Teabaggers they coined themselves and, as long as they and I both exist, Teabaggers, in my discussions, they will remain.

You'll hear a lot from Teabaggers that they're a spontaneous grass-roots movement, individuals fed up with government over-reach who have stood up to be counted. It's a lie. They were a political-theater group created by big insurance companies to militate in any way possible against reforming our country's health-care system, which has been 28th in the world in terms of patient care, but a license to print money for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Their success in gathering publicity made them look to the powers behind the Republican party like the solution to their new problem.

Their new problem was simply this: Lots more democrats were voting, and lots of independents, disgusted by the incredibly destructive behavior of the GOP-controlled government that had led to economic catastrophe in 2008, were voting, and voting for Democrats. The Republican party has long prided itself on its "Big Tent" philosophy, gathering together diverse strands of conservatives with different primary concerns -- abortion, social issues, international relations, economic, fiscal and monetary policies -- casting about for new warm bodies to bring into their Big Tent to try to get ahead again in their numbers race with Democrats, reached out to the vast and active pool of toxic right-wing crazies.

These, make no mistake, are the spiritual brothers of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. They believe that the United States Government is an occupying power, taking rightful supremacy away from "real" Americans, and by "real," they mean "white and Christian." They aren't a real natural fit with true patriots like John McCain, or even George W. Bush, who, for all his mental sloth, incurious attitude and simplistic policies, at least truly believed and believes in America. But, given a ballot with a "D" and an "R" on it, they're going to put their Check Mark beside the "R," so, in the far-too-limited vision of the Republican party leaders, these simple-minded, single-minded crazies seemed like perfectly acceptable foot-soldiers. Make them welcome in the party, encourage them to take part, and they will add to the votes for Republican candidates.

The problem, of course, with courting the racists, the anarchists, the "low information" libertarians (that is, those who don't understand that their taxes pay for roads and schools and police and fire departments, weather reporting and safe food and water and a communications infrastructure and so infinitely much more) -- in short, in courting the crazies -- is that they're crazy, and crazy can't be controlled. They swept in and overwhelmed much of the Republican party (Much like, in the early 1980s, followers of the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh gathered in the town of Antelope, Oregon, and took over the government, briefly renaming the town Rajneeshpuran) and created a situation where the only way to be nominated by the GOP to run for any position was to either be, or pretend to be, as crazy as they were. This can win nominations from a party dominated by lunatics, but it can't win elections.

The 2010 bellweathers should have been a warning to the GOP: Christine O'Donnell, who seriously thinks there are secret US Government labs where there are mice with fully-functioning human brains, and Sharon Angle, who was outraged that the press would ask her questions she hadn't fed them in advance, and suggested that a duly-elected congress that didn't toe a line drawn by a small-but-vocal minority would face "Second Amendment remedies" both fell in their elections. But enough Republicans won to blind the party to their peril -- and enough to alert the Democratic voters of the same.

Come 2012, the Republican party doubled down on crazy, and the GOP presidential primary campaign was well-described as a "Clown Car." It's telling that Mitt Romney, who was a transparent liar from the very beginning of his campaign -- remember that his first campaign commercial was a flat-out lie that was condemned far and wide (the "If we talk about the economy, we will lose" ad, in which the Romney campaign presented that snippet of a 2008 Obama campaign speech, while not admitting it was a direct, attributed quote by Barack Obama of a McCain advisor, talking about the Republican record of economic catastrophe) -- looked like Abraham Lincoln next to the bagful of crazy that was the rest of the field candidates.

Sadly -- and, even as a gleeful, gloating Democrat, I mean that honestly -- the Republican party seems not to have learned that lesson. So deep are they in their bubble, listening only to the voices in their own heads (How else do we explain a party that savagely attacked statisticians like Nate Silver, whose predictions, available for weeks and months before the election, proved out with uncanny accuracy, and then reels in shell-shock when its candidate loses, exactly as predicted?) that there seems to be a strong desire to double down again. "Romney wasn't conservative _enough_," we keep hearing. "He's a Massachusetts moderate who doesn't represent true conservative values."

There are glimmers of hope. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal excoriated the GOP for being "The party of dumbed-down conservatism" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83743.html.) The question remains: Will the party listen to him? Will they learn the real lesson of November, 2012? For their sake, I hope they do, but, as a liberal Democrat, it's no skin off my nose if they don't. They'll just keep losing, and that's okay with me.

The above alludes to the second question, the important factor in Romney's stinging defeat that the press seems determined to ignore.

Willard Mitt Romney is an inveterate, unabashed, transparent liar. It was proved again and again from the beginning of his campaign ("If we talk about the economy...") to the end ("Chrysler is going to move its Jeep manufacturing to China.") One of his chief campaign advisers arrogantly told reporters during the Republican National Convention, “We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Somewhere along the way, the Party, having decided that a handsome man in a nice suit with a decent haircut, a manikin of presidential appearance, was preferable to the gesticulating lunatic asylum the Teabaggers had left them as the only alternative, whistled past the graveyard of its own integrity, and the knowledge that the most fundamental "Family Value" that even the most conservative American believes in is honesty.

Everybody knew that Romney was a liar. Everybody knew that his only core conviction was that he should be president, simply because it was the only "promotion" yet available to him in a long career of upward career mobility to the very top of the economic ladder. From week to week, from day to day, he would contradict himself, tailoring his statements to be red meat to whichever crowd he would speak to on any given day, as if unaware that statements made in any given place would be reported to the nation as a whole.

This is not about "flip-flopping," that most dishonest of political criticisms, which makes a virtue of inflexibility and a liability of the ability to learn, or to react in nuanced ways to complex situations. This is about transparent dishonesty, bare-faced dishonesty, about a candidate whose own campaign admitted again and again, from its arrogant dismissal when called out for that first, fraudulent, "If we talk about the economy" ad, through the infamous "Etch-a-Sketch" comment during the primaries, through the "...dictated by fact-checkers" statement to end where they began, repeating out-and-out lies about Chrysler offshoring Jeep production, and a party that somehow deluded itself that Americans wouldn't notice or wouldn't care, that lying would only be unpopular with voters if Democrats did it.

Why do all of those solemn discussions of "What went wrong for Romney?" ignore the simple fact that he both lied to us repeatedly, and did so so obviously and transparently that it amounted to calling every American voter stupid? Surely that was an important factor in his defeat!

Captain America

Guess the Party

Posted on 2012.11.13 at 10:08
Hey, boys and girls! It's time to play, "Guess the party!"

I'll describe a news story, provide a link to it, and you guess which American political party the subject of the story belongs to. In a comment, the reveal!

"Woman strikes husband with car, leaving him in critical condition, because he didn't vote."

http://politi.co/RUOz83

Guess the party!

You Know My Name

"Skyfall"

Posted on 2012.11.10 at 16:11
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy
"Skyfall:" There's a lot yet to process. I'm not pursuaded it was the best Bond movie ever, but I'm not ready to declare that it wasn't.

Putting the pieces in play for a manageable "Bond" series going forward felt "right," but that somewhat nettles me, as it sort of felt like, "See? We're fixing it," and I definitely don't think it was "broken."

I'm looking forward to where Bond goes from here... But wistful for what went before. That was inevitable since "Casino Royale" rebooted the Bond Movieverse, but it didn't feel like a closed door until now.

I guess it leaves me sort of melancholy.

Barack Obama

Election Day

Posted on 2012.11.06 at 03:21
This is the most important truth of American elections:

Until a true third party has been built from the ground up -- until it can field a candidate who's earned national name recognition by rising through the ranks of that party -- a vote for a Third-Party candidate is a vote for the "mainstream" candidate you like the least.

If neither viable candidate really makes your nipples hard, surely one of them distresses, disgusts or just plain scares you more than the other. Your vote can either help stop him, or aid him. It does one or the other. Anything you do with your vote that doesn't bar him from office, works to _put_ him in office. And the only way your vote can help bar him from office is if it's cast for a candidate who can defeat him. Right now, there's only one of them.

Jill Stein, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, however much you may agree with them, are not going to win the presidency. Obama or Romney is. Which of them would your third-party no-hoper most oppose? That's who you're supporting when you vote Stein or Paul or Zagnut.

Don't come whining to me about how it's not true, how your Stein vote supports Stein. That's just not true. Your Stein vote supports Romney -- or, if you hate him more, Obama -- by not helping to defeat him.

That's the hard fact.

You Decide

JK Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy"

Posted on 2012.10.07 at 16:41
So, just finished "The Casual Vacancy," JK Rowling's first Post-"Harry Potter" novel.

Reviewers have called it "satirical," but if you go into it thinking you'll be enjoying GK Chesterton-esque chuckles, you're in for some cognitive dissonance.

It's a very dark novel of dislikable, self-absorbed characters whose callousness and casual cruelty becomes ever more repellent -- in truth, this makes it something of a slog.

It climaxes, though, in an awful tragedy and its aftermath, and I, at least, wept real tears for characters I had no affection for, both in enormous tragedy, and in one or two tiny glimmerings of hope.

If you're easily depressed by a work of fiction, you should probably avoid it -- it's a major bummer! -- but it's an ambitious and insightful and savagely, unsentimentally honest novel, a vicious indictment of a society, no more British than American, that views its least fortunate members as refuse, disposable and unclean.

If you can take it, I recommend it, but don't blame me if you end up crying your eyes out.

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