Friday, June 30, 2006
At Graceland, recently designated a National Historic Landmark, Bush and Koizumi will see the white-column, two-story colonial most visitors see. There are the shag carpets and ceramic monkeys of the Jungle Room, which Elvis famously furnished with a 30-minute shopping spree; the glossy black baby-grand piano near the living room's white, 15-foot sofa; hundreds of gold records, outfits and guitars in the home's museums; and the singer's grave out by the swimming pool.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Enter and sign in please*
I’ve recently become entranced by the Game Show Network’s airings of “What’s My Line.” (Of course I don’t catch it as it airs. Thank you once again, oh great Spirit of TiVo.) I’m a sucker for things retro, and those old black-and-white kinescopes just grab me like I’m actually there in the early sixties, watching one of the three available channels as the urbane action unfolds.
And urbane action it was. The lady panelists wore evening gowns, the men panelists tuxedos with bow ties that I doubt seriously were clip-ons. The strangely employed guests might not have raided Christian Dior’s shop for their wardrobe, but they still put on their sartorial best. You’re as apt to see a coatless male contestant as you are a go-go dancer.
The urbanity went beyond clothing. Host John Daly did sometimes refer to a panelist by first name, but the guests were always referred to as “Mrs. Winklebottom” or “Mr. Figgleforth.” First-name familiarity was still a few years off.
All the panelists—usually Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen (who appeared in “Pajama Party” with, well, everybody from Elsa Lanchester to Buster Keaton, and who played a role in JFK conspiracy theories; a grateful Dale Gribble salutes your memory, Mrs. Kilgallenand a rotating guest panelist—all have the air of someone just in from a smashingly sophisticated cocktail party. Close your eyes and inhale, and you can smell the unfiltered
or Virginia Slims they easily grasped in one hand as they held a martini glass in the other and relayed the latest political joke. (“Well, it seems Ike and Estes Kefauver both died. When they get to Heaven, St. Peter asks them…”) [Corrected to eliminate historical error pointed out by the esteemed Michael DeBow. Virginia Slims weren't around then.]
My wonderful friend TiVo has lots of identical brothers and sisters, and their commercial-skipping ways have advertisers looking for more and more product placement. It’s imperative that they get their products in front of the eyes of a nation, and if those eyes are blipping their way through commercials in 30-second increments, then the advertisers are durn sure going to have Jeff Probst drink a slug of Sierra Mist Mango Madness while he’s telling the contestants that once the votes are read, the decision is final; the person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately.
This product placement has some people concerned, although how someone can be concerned about the integrity of mass-market television is beyond me. It’s not as if the president is saying, “In tonight’s
And today’s placement is nothing the “What’s My Line” folk wouldn’t recognize. The show’s sponsor is usually splashed prominently on the panelists’ dais. Every time you see Bennett Cerf, you see Kellogg’s or Stoppette Deodorant. It’s television, which, despite what the folks at PBS would have you believe, is now and always has been a business.
According to Wikipedia, which is where I always go for interesting but completely unverifiable facts, WML created the “Is it bigger than a breadbox?” question when it comes to playing 20 Questions. (I do wonder how Bennett Cerf and Arlene Francis would react to being replaced by a computer.)
From the Internet Movie Database, we find that John Daly was probably better-known to plenty of WML viewers as the voice of
Of course, television never shows 100% reality. While cultured panelists were trading quips with each other, inwardly marveling at the absolute vortex of sophistication there existed between the four of them, a large percentage of the nation’s darker-skinned residents were unable to vote. Smoking was not only tolerated but downright expected, like crew cuts and hornrim glasses. (Nothing like socially accepted lung cancer to put the quietus on hilarity.) And while medicine wasn’t quite mired in a leeches and bloodletting phase, it did pale in comparison to today. A cat scan meant your tabby was looking you over and hoping you’d drop a sardine.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to kick back in the Barcalounger, tune in an old episode and pretend it’s the good parts of 1962 all over again. As Bennett Cerf might say, “Am I correct in assuming that one would be amused if one were to watch the show?”
*Any similarity between this and James Lileks’ writings is appreciated.
For your Quisp fix
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Ennybody remember these?
More "Talladega Nights"
I'm a NASCAR fan, and a Will Ferrell fan, so last year, when I got to kinda sorta hang around some of the filming of "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" at Talladega, I was more than a little intrigued. When I got to meet and hang out with Will Ferrell this spring, I was even more intrigued. (Yeah, I did. We're best friends now. I call him WF, he calls me J-Rock. It's cool.)
Of course, the movie has some hurdles in front of it. Can it really hope to live up to the cinematic grandeur of other racing-themed movies like "Stroker Ace", "Six Pack" and of course that Tom Cruise masterpiece "Days of Thunder"?
It appears so. Check out a new trailer here and the old one here. I don't think it will be a comedy classic like "Raising Arizona" or "An Inconvenient Truth," but it does appear pretty chucklesome.
Things you never knew existed
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Quote O' the Day
Celebrate the spammers in your life
Lazybones H. Yoknapatawpha
Alma Toady Flashback
Biophysics F. Encyclopaedias
Bookcases T. Cerebrum
Potpie M. Neighborliness
Squiggly H. Miscue
Softball L. Benevolently
Murks D. Promptest
Misrepresents U. Dumbfound
Freaky K. Idealistically
Glibber V. Rimed
Chumminess E. Surge
Dishwater E. Gallery
Communes H. Marrakesh
Abuser F. Dromedary
Powwow G. Decapitates
Palpating G. Flounced
Pregnancy B. Procurement
Undervalued B. Coyote
Streptococcus Q. Softness
Unsaddle H. Lipreading
Stairway A. Discomfits
Rambunctiousness P. Porterhouse
Jewish B. Coagulated
Blotch K. Moistens
Outgrew H. Leapfrogged
Aquamarine R. Freckle
Exchequer G. Psychologists
Feel free to contribute your own in the comments box.
Today's most unfortunate name not belonging to a drag queen
To Hell in a Dodge Viper
Some traditional childhood games are disappearing from school playgrounds because educators say they're dangerous.Well, now I understand. We can't have kids running into each other. That might make the second-graders late for their sex ed class or the multicultural performance art show in the auditorium.
Elementary schools in
, and Cheyenne, Wyo. , banned tag at recess this year. Others, including a suburban Spokane, Wash. , school, dumped contact sports such as soccer and touch football. Charleston, S.C.
In other cities, including...Donna Thompson of the National Program for Playground Safety, verify the trend. Dodge ball has been out at some schools for years, but banning games such as tag and soccer is a newer development.
; Wichita ; San Jose, Calif. ; and Rancho Santa Fe., Beaverton, Ore. , schools took similar actions earlier. Calif.
"It's happening more," Thompson says. Educators worry about "kids running into one another" and getting hurt, she says.
To the educators who say those games are dangerous let me explain something: life is dangerous. Unless you're name is Elijah, it's 100% fatal. But it can also be pretty doggone fun, especially if you're a young'un with such a shameless overabundance of energy that simply chasing your fellow young'uns around for no other reason than to touch them, so that they can then touch you, is the ne plus ultra of funmaking.
But don't let that stop you, educators. You go right ahead and keep Hoovering the fun out of life, swaddling kids in an overprotective cocoon that, once the young'uns actually get a whiff of real life, is ripped off more painfully than a Curad bandage on Robin Williams' leg and leaves them wondering why they haven't been better prepared for actual life experiences.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Because it's so appropriate
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Let's give this a shot
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Y'all see those little comments links?
How can I carry on?
Why'd he have to go and wimp out?
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was discussing the June 7 death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on Saturday when he mentioned 85-year-old Helen Thomas, who has covered the White House for nearly 50 years and is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.Now that's good comedy.
"There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he's at," King said about al-Zarqawi, in a recording transcribed by Radio Iowa. "And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."
More music recommendations
Mike McClure Band: Mike's the former lead singer of The Great Divide. (The band, not the geological formation.) Kinda alt.country with a touch of Van Morrison in his voice. Good stuff.
James McMurtry: Finally got to catch him at City Stages, and he was every bit as good as I figured he'd be. James' politics run a little to the left of mine, but I can ignore that when the music is this good. Literate stuff, which he comes by honestly, being the son of Larry McMurtry.
Webb Wilder: Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em. The last of the full-grown men. (Although I will say that the newest CD, "It's About Time" was a bit of a miss. Maybe a B.)
Drive-By Truckers: Currently my favorite band on the planet. You can say that they're not the great rock band in America, but I'll just point at you and laugh. Mostly Alabama folk, with one South Carolinian thrown in. Skynyrd's 21st-century, deep-thinking successors. Three lead guitars who are also three heartbreakingly good songwriters. In the radio in my mind, every group sounds like DBT. I'm still recovering from last November's post-Thanksgiving concert, when they got Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars to jam with them. That much guitar in one place probably shouldn't be legal.
Michael Warren: From Hoover, Alabama, Warren would be riding in a limo driven by Fiddy Cent while Kanye West was cutting his grass if there were justice in this world. Smooth, soulful R&B, most of it self-written. And a genuinely nice guy.
Charlie Robison: Yeah, his wife's a member of the Dixie Chicks, but you can't hold that against the guy. Go for the older stuff, which is less radio-friendly and therefore better.
Pinmonkey: Yeah, I said Pinmonkey. Weird name (something from a "Simpsons" skit), but pretty good music. Lead singer Michael Reynolds has a bluegrassish tenor, which I normally don't care for, but he makes it work. Starting to get noticed by Nashville, which scares me. I don't want them to get the Jack Ingram/Pat Green talentosuction treatment from the Nashville folk.
10 City Run: Just--I mean JUST--discovered these guys. Three-piece band with an authentic country sound and a lead singer named Hans. (It's cool. He's from Appalachia.)
Probably some more to come before I break off blogging for the weekend. And we all know how painful that can be for a man of my age.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
That's gonna leave a mark
Neal McCready of the Mobile Press-Register says that's not a surprise.
So, Juwan Simpson's penalty for possession of marijuana is a little time in "drug court," followed by the expunging of the charge from his record once he completes the program.McCready isn't really down on UA, just the state of college athletics in general. He told a Birmingham radio station that the same thing would have happened at Auburn, Tennessee, or any other major program. And I think it's right. College football is so important, and such a rat's nest of intertwined, selfseeking threads, that the term "student-athlete" is as accurate as "pork and beans."
Why am I not surprised?
That resolution, reached Tuesday in Bessemer in front of Jefferson County State District Court Judge Eric Fancher, likely clears the way for the Alabama senior linebacker to play football for the Crimson Tide this season, if indeed that was ever in doubt. After all, that's what's most important, right?
Stuff like this makes it easier and easier for me not to care about college sports. I'll go cover some small college games, because they're a little bit closer to reality (and because I get paid to), but don't expect me to sit and watch for fun. Because the fun left a long time ago. When the NCAA can get a pulsing mad-on for one school and come down on them like they were stomping puppies in front of an orphanage, and see worse infractions at another school and barely give them a tsk-ing, wellsir, it's time to watch a sport that makes more sense. Like 'rassling.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Truth at Taco Casa
Sometimes, I see something that’s weird enough, or amusing enough, or real life enough, that I can't help but write about it. Spitting something out (and boy, is that ever an apt metaphor) when I sit down at the computer is so easy I wonder why everybody doesn’t do this. Granted, with all the blogs out there, pretty much everybody does it, but that’s not important right now.
And then there are times that writing something really is like the old writing adage: you just slice open a vein and pour it onto the page. This writing occasion is one of the latter cases. I don’t want to write this, but I don’t see how I can keep from it.
I left my office/cubbyhole for lunch, riding by myself since lately everybody around the office has gotten anthropophobia (no, I didn’t know it either, until I looked it up) when it comes to eating lunch. Which didn’t really bother me, because I was headed to Taco Casa, and I love that place so much that I don’t need company when I eat there. For those of you who haven’t tasted the greasy, fast-food, faux Tex-Mex ambrosia that is Taco Casa, let me just say that when it comes to fake ethnic cuisine, it takes a back seat to nobody. I don’t want to know what the cholesterol level of their food is, because I’m fairly certain it’s just below that of a tallow pit, but I’ll worry about that later. Right now, it’s great-tasting food, and the location near my office has a solid 100 on the old health inspection, so I eat there regularly.
When I strolled into the place and got in line, I noticed a family—mother, father and teenage son about 14 or 16—seated near the cash register. At first glance, I thought the teen was being a teen, which is to say, irritating. He was leaning back in his chair, and I don’t mean just a degree or two off vertical. Just as I was about to start seriously worrying that he’d fall over backward, he righted himself. And then I realized it. He wasn’t leaning back. He had been rocking back, just as he was now rocking forward, bumping his head lightly on the table.
He was autistic.
Instantly, my brain went into “don’t stare” mode, willing my vision anywhere but the table where two parents were earnestly striving to take care of their baby, shouldering the lifelong load that they’d been given, even though the baby was locked deep inside a young man’s body.
The rocking episode ended pretty quickly, and the three, as well as the rest of us, went about eating their meals in peace. The peace lasted about 10 minutes, with just an occasional throaty “hunnh” to break the silence. But then the family was finished, and the teen had to visit the men’s room, an act that also required the attention of the mother and father. All three jammed into what I know to be a small bathroom, and something—the small space, the closed door, the way the paper towels draped—bothered the teen enough to warrant loud grunting bordering on shouting. No one had entered the restaurant for several minutes, so everyone there knew the situation, and we all desperately searched for something to occupy our attention. In all seriousness, I was entranced by the older model minivan outside the front window, and the asphalt it sat on.
After some more groaning and an occasional yelp, the three left the bathroom. The teen evidently wanted something else, because they stopped back by the counter, then started out the door. Something else bothered the teen, because the parents had to coax and pull him into the minivan I’d been staring at. After some more fiddling with seatbelt latches, the three left. The tension in the room dropped like we’d all just been told our meals were on the house.
Amazingly, I didn’t get a judgmental vibe from a single person there. Everyone might have kept their necks locked stiff, lest their eyes command them to watch, but nobody seemed to be doing the small-minded mental “tsk-tsk”ing that self-important people can deliver when the perfection of their day is ruined by inconvenient people.
And this young man was certainly inconvenient. Always had been, and barring a miracle either divine or medical, always will be. Instead of receiving a baby that grew into a child, then a young man, then a grown man, that mother and father received a baby that will remain a baby, and a cranky one at that, one who’s world can be rocked by the wrong pattern on a piece of silverware.
I don’t want to admit it, but I wanted that family to leave. I would never say that out loud, and I don’t believe that my comfort is more important than their enjoyment of a quick meal. I just wanted those people to leave, because they were inconvenient. I think everybody else did, too, or the tension wouldn’t have dropped that quickly after they left.
Why did we want them to leave? What made them so inconvenient? It wasn’t the noise. It’s a fast food joint with country music blaring on the Muzak, not a five-star restaurant with strolling violin players, so I don’t think that’s the case. And like I said, I didn’t get a condescending or judgmental feeling from anybody. If anything, I felt empathy for all three of them.
I think we wanted those people to leave because we knew we were in the presence of something totally outside our control. If the teen had been in a wheelchair or blind, we could have opened the door for him. If the family had been poor, we could have given them money. But these people had been given an almost Job-level burden, one that we could no more mitigate than we could cure, and watching them cope was a heaping dose of our own mortality and weakness.
So ridiculously tired, and some recommendations
Wrinkle Neck Mules: A bit on the "rode hard and put up wet, worldweary" side of things, but still pretty good. And you have to love the name.
Micky and the Motorcars: A Reckless Kelly clone, and that's a good thing.
Patty Hurst Shifter: Twangy power pop, with a lot more power than pop. And Sweet Cracker Sandwich, what a good band name.
Jon Dee Graham: How have I skipped over him for so long? Sometimes my brain's just stupid.
Zac Brown Band: Country rock, with a little bit of Jimmy Buffett (and I'm actually saying that as a good thing).
Marty Stuart: After the staggeringly friendly way he treated me Sunday night, I'm now a Marty Stuart fan for life, unless I find out he's been posting on alt.puppystomping. It's amazing that this guy has made any money whatsoever in the music business, as nice as he is. He's got purty hair, too.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
When it comes to Finnish bluegrass bands,
Friday, June 16, 2006
Fo' shizzle? Rizzle fo' shizzle?
Newly crowned "American Idol" Taylor Hicks will return toIf that's not a biblical sign of the Apocalypse, I don't know what is.
this weekend and sing with Snoop Dogg at City Stages. Birmingham
Hicks, who is in Los Angeles preparing for the "American Idol" tour that comes to Birmingham in August, will fly into town today and perform with Snoop Dogg, who headlines the Miller Lite Stage at 10:50 p.m. Saturday.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
A note about linking
Why Instapundit? Because he just makes too much sense to ignore.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
What's yours is mine
Immigration. Although, in today’s newsflash-a-minute, neverending-CNN-crawl society, spin-the-wheel-of-anxiety world, it might not be at the absolute top of the public consciousness, wait a little bit and it’ll be back. Like a student loan or an AOL account, it never disappears, it just hibernates for a spell.
While immigration might not quite belong in the gun control/abortion/death penalty triumvirate of Topics Best Left Undiscussed Because Nobody Is Going to Change Their Mind About the Issue No Matter What You Say, the issue does tend to generate some heated feelings. And that’s not surprising. It has to do with where people get to pursue happiness, and no matter how much mankind (Can you still say “mankind”?) likes to maintain that we’re all a bunch of altruistic holy people, “pursuing my very own personal happiness” ranks right up there with “an utter lack of kidney stones” on everybody’s internal wish list.
Understand that I don’t begrudge anybody for wanting to come here. I love
But as the old saying goes, “Two’s company, three’s a crowd, and a few extra million who don’t pay taxes but get the benefits of a taxpayer is an anesthesia-free colonoscopy.”
Start saying things like that out loud, and you run the very real risk of being labeled a racist, an accusation that, for the vast majority of us, is steeped in asininity. (Which is a word. As far as you know.) When somebody is causing me financial hardship, neither his country of origin nor his race registers with me. It’s not like I take umbrage at Jose or Guillermo suckling off a government teat that on a minuscule scale is partially funded by me, but then look the other way if Sven or
While I understand why people want to relocate here, I also understand that there has to be limits and regulation on that relocation. A lifeboat is a good thing, if everybody obeys the weight limits and boards in an orderly fashio. Madly cram too many people on board, however, and all you’re doing is making a more poignant story for the survivors who paid attention when they taught treading water at the Y.
If you want to another parallel, here’s one from high school or college days:
Everybody wants in the party. And nobody deserves to be at the party more than anybody else. But that doesn’t mean that the ones at the party let just everybody in because they’re feeling a tinge of guilt for being geographically lucky, being-born-wise. Let Dozer keep check on who gets into the party, and everybody has a good time. Tie Dozer’s hands and throw open the doors, and before long you’ve got a dry keg, a few million people have gotten mad and put their fists through the wall, and city council is instituting a curfew.
Once more, with feeling (whether it will be with talent is debatable)
So I've started this blog in order to spur me on to write more. I haven't set a particular goal of X number of posts per day or week or whatever, but I'm thinking about that. Whatever I decide, you'll be able to come here for a dose of superb wit, trenchant observation and overall class. Or you can read what I write. Suit yourself, I'm easy.