Thursday, September 30, 2004

Good Newcastle: Glad Eno at least got a good drink out of the evening, and your analysis is right on, sir. This was a sleeper. If I were a pollsters "undecided" I'd still be waffling. Larry King's interviewing Jorge Santos, an advocate of some sort for Latin America, however broad that might be. Bush might have done himself a favor, though, if he had broadened the foreign policy debate into other areas, like LA. His biggest weakness tonight was letting Kerry take the fight to him on Iraq and define foreign policy in the bubble of losses in Iraq. It might have been a more interesting night. As it was, very predictable, graded only on style points. Too bad.
A Pair of Jacks: This'll get called a tie, but in reality, both men lost. Neither did what he had to do. Bush needs to learn that repeating himself is not an argument. Kerry needs desperately to connect with people, not do his lame-ass Pompey-the-Senator act. Bush got in some good hits, but in the midst of an incoherent, rambling argument. Kerry made some good policy points, but buried them in his fourth subclause of the eighth run-on sentence of his tenth monotone paragraph.

You gotta love how Kerry praised the foreign policy of . . . Ronald Wilson Reagan, whom he said he would try to emulate. Kerry spent his first Senate term fighting against everything Reagan did. Somebody call him on it, please.

Final thoughts? A draw, but a lame one. Most Americans switched this off about 30 minutes in, so anything that came up after that just went to the pundits. I'm starting to think that both of these candidates are part of a marketing conspiracy to turn us all into glazed-over tapioca.

The Newcastle was good, at least.

At long last: It's over, and I have peed. Time to begin my wrap-up thoughts.

First, grades.

Bush: C Plus

Kerry: B

Kerry was a better speaker, smoother and more confident. He did a good job of attacking. But I think Bush's weaknesses are his strengths in times like this. His whole attitude is one of "How many times do I have to explain this to you?" He doesn't rack up many debate points, but he makes Kerry look more confused. Like he needs it explained to him. I don't think Bush did squat to convince any Democrats to switch alliances, but he solidified his base. The fact that he got beat rhetorically might help energize Republicans to come out and support their guy. I can't say much more in favor of Bush, sadly. In fact, I expect him to take a quite a large hit in the press, but he would have had to shine for that not to be the case. But I don't think Kerry did much to bring much support to his side, either. I don't think many people will respond to Kerry's mulit-lateral song. I, and not many others, don't to hear that we'll win in Iraq by bringing in the U.N., and Kerry outlined no real plan outside of that. Too bad.

Nuclear proliferation: Yeah, we got the easy shit before Bush was President. That's why we haven't secured more since.
Drunken update: I'm not, three G&T's in. But I am out of ice, due to party crashers. Last cocktail before switching to beer.
Rue the day? Who talks like that? Name the movie for bonus points.
Follow through: Kerry's right with his, "you break it, you own it" line. But isn't that what we're doing? I have a friend who leaves tomorrow for Iraq with the national guard, and he told me that's exactly what they're doing. Working with the locals to fix the problems that exist. Terrorist insurgence is only one of the problems, but it's the hardest to fix. While we're doing that, we're trying to fix the freakin' water system and deliver the mail.
Speaking skills: All right, Kerry is a much better speaker. The only thing Bush has going for him, is he sounds agonized over the decisions he makes. That won't play with the chattering classes, but it might with the public.
A Good Hit: Bush makes a good point. You don't bring allies into Iraq to help by calling this the "wrong war, the wrong place, the wrong time." How do you say (to France, Germany), "Follow me into a mistake, a quagmire"? He's also doing a good job hitting Kerry for flip flops, without using that term.
Allies: Why can't Bush call a spade a spade re: the U.N. The collection of governments that comprises that body have little desire to see us succeed. Abdication of our responsibility is not a plan.
Pinkie's up: Gin is my drink of choice this evening, Eno. In honor of those Imperial Brits, our steadfast allies. The beer's in the fridge, though, being held in reserve for the post-debate follow up.

Clarification: it's Tanqueray, not Sapphire.

Mixed messages: Kerry's used the phrase "mixed message" several times. He's trying to turn the table. Not a good tactic, if he wants to get people to forget the flip flopper tag. Bush will have to nail him on it. Can he? I don't know, but he keeps leaning on the podium. Seems disengaged and flustered, proto-Bush.
Warning: Steven's server is already running pretty slow, so I'll probably be reading his stuff later.
Cutaways: One "cutaway" to Kerry so far. A trend?
Lights, camera, shock therapy?: So there will be lights to show time left in the candidates' answers. My roommate suggests electrical clips on their privates. Maybe on pay-per-view.
Let's Get Ready to . . . point our pinkies as we hoist a glass? What the hell are you laying in as debate juice, Flyer? Sapphire?

Lift a beer with me. We'll still be stinkeroo before Steve finishes frosting his martini shaker (not meant as a euphemism, by the way).

Last minute thoughts: Many are calling this debate the "joint press conference." That's true, as far as pre-planned statements, ignoring questions, and no Lincoln-Douglas style questioning by the candidates of each other. But I look for some surprises, particularly from Kerry. Some say he's got the most to lose, but based on the polls (and his declining numbers) he's got the least to lose. He probably won't pull a Howard Dean and start screaming, but he's got to be animated and (no small challenge for him) funny. He's got to get people to like him. I look for a "zinger" sometime early, and if it's a good one, he'll get more confident. If it's a dud, he'll sleep with the fishes.

And so, the limes are cut, the ice is stocked. Let's get ready to .....drink!

If Only: Hitch, on the Dems holding out for some bad news:
If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news. And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a "puppet"? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer . . . How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?
Read it all, of course.
By the Way: For the record, I think Glenn has the most-foolproof-debate-prediction award sewn up:
Unless Kerry melts into a puddle on the floor, the media spin will be that he did well and helped his campaign. This is for two reasons. One is, as Newsweek's Evan Thomas remarked, that the press "wants Kerry to win."
The other reason, Glenn says, is that the media wants a horse race. But that's twaddle, the kind of thing Chris Matthews thinks is profound. Think CBS was desperate to believe anything about Busg in the Guard because they want a horse race?

Look, neither one of these guys will stray far enough from talking points to get into any trouble. This will be a game of millimeters. My prediction, similar to Glenn's, is this: Think back to the 2000 debates. Remember how painfully silly Gore looked and sounded? Recall, too, that the center-left media was quick to declare the debates ties, with perhaps a technical victory on debating points each time to Gore. Meanwhile, the entire country was chuckling over Gore's rouge, heavy breathing, and stage-stalking alpha male posturing. Slowly, the CW on the debates changed, settling on the "Bush won because of lowered expectations" line. Four years later, everyone knows that Gore flat out lost those debates because he acted like somebody you'd like to "to quote Bill Buckley) "sock in the mouth." At the time, though, the best the press could offer was that "nobody gained any ground."

My guess is that 2004 will be about the same, and that Karl Rove is doing all he can to make it so.

Drunkblogging: As Eno pointed out, Steven will be doing his drunken best covering the debate tonight, and I don't pretend to be competing with him. I think I can handle the consumption part, but he's got me on the actually writing anything part. That said, I'm temporarily set up on a wireless system while I try to fix my computer problems (thanks to the roommate for the loan). So, as long as this tiny keyboard doesn't drive me crazy, I'll be doing a running commentary and post-game of my own. Largely, though, I'll be following the Vodkaman's post to see how his typing skills deteriorate with each drink. Though, at his request, I'll try to keep the refresh button from being overworked, so as to keep his server from crashing.
Lazy? Second thoughts kicking in about watching the debate. Only five Newkies in the fridge. That may not last through the first half-hour, depending on what wattage Bush has his smirk set to and how quickly Kerry can shove his entire self up his own ass. Can't I just read Tim Blair? After all, it's tomorrow in Australia, so the debate is over already. Wait, or is it yesterday down there? (Timmy, bring an umbrella tomorrow.) Never can remember.

To put a good sharp point on this, remember all the give and take we had some months back about wasted votes and third parties? Well, f*ck it, baby. My mind is made up. I'm going all out for Bush. Why? Because of where I live. (Eric will understand.) I want to see the faces of the liberal schmucks in my town on November 3rd, as they wake to the prospect of FOUR MORE YEARS! I'll grant you this, they'll be four years of governance by a Republican president who might as well be a Democrat. In that way, either Bush or Kerry is four years of entitlement nonreform. But at least I can spend those four years in a near-permanent state of schadenfreude.

I was at a party last weekend and happened to overhear a couple of mouthy liberals goofing about anti-Bush slogans and bumper stickers. One of them (the same guy that asked if there were "any dead animals" in the eggplant parm) had the patchy beard, pullover windbreaker, teva/mandals combo look that just belongs on a man who thinks of himself as a feminist -- the kind of guy who thinks he's a metrosexual, but has never lived anywhere more metropolitan that Amherst. The look on his face made me wish for a Bush-Cheney '04 t-shirt. And that's when I realized it. I do want Bush to win, and for purely selfish, mean-spirited reasons. I want Bush to win to see the whole feminist/abortionist/metrosexual/racialist/crunchy-enviro wing of the Dems quite literally sob into their fair-trade coffee.

There, I've said it.

A little behind: Sorry, but travels, work, and a balky computer have kept me out of the loop lately, but i had to respond to this.

I'm sure my comrades have their own memories of "Scottso," but I have a favorite. Muni's voice to me will forever be linked to the day Stevie Ray Vaughn died in that helicopter crash. WNEW was doing an all day tribute and Muni was intro-ing the song Hard To Be off the yet to be released Family Style, done with brother Jimmie. Muni quoted the words from the beginning of the the song as a fitting description of Stevie Ray's life and music: Roll, and I'll just feel somethin'. It was a perfect radio moment, in a time when radio still had an emotional link to the audience, when a disc jockey did something other than push buttons and plug car dealers and vinyl siding.

I haven't been in the tri-state area in years, but in my mind Muni was the perfect DJ. Wolfman Jack for a different generation. RIP.

I think Radley has nailed it: Regarding the debates, Radley espouses conventional wisdom that they're all about appearance, and who the voter deem most likeable, or in his words, "the guy you'd rather have a beer with." Now, despite Kerry's best efforts to seem at ease with the common folk, while sipping a beer and watching the game, he's never going to be a guy you start doing shots of Jaeger with.

So, in other words, Kerry is sunk. Radley has a particularly telling way of pointing out the differences:
Think back to 2000. Gore mopped the floor with Bush on policy. He had a far better grasp of the issues, was far more articulate, and presented a far clearer vision (I thought that back in 2000 -- and I voted for Bush). Problem was, Gore was an asshole. As one analysis I read put it, Bush came off as the affable kid who never came to class prepared, but was likeable, and cut jokes at the back of the room. Gore came off as the kid who reminded the teacher that she forgot to collect the homework.

Voters still open to being swayed by the debates aren't as interested in policy as they are in personality. It's all about the "guy you'd rather have a beer with." That pans out once you go back over the last few elections: Bush over Gore. Clinton over Dole and Bush Sr. Reagan over Mondale and Carter.

And let's face it. Kerry's a schmuck. Or at least he comes off as one. If Gore was the kid who reminded the teacher to collect the homework, Kerry's the prep school trust-funder who drives a Beamer and ties a pastel Izod across his shoulders. If swing state demographics resembled Greenwich, Connecticut, he'd be golden.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

That Was Quick: The Weekly Standard's Joe Bottum has made a bit of a fetish of famous plagiarizers over the past couple weeks. This week's target was Laurence (Don't Call Me "Larry") Tribe, Harvard's Jesus of legal studies on the left. Anyhoo, turns out Larry lifted quite a bit of his book God Save This Honorable Court from another legal scholar, Henry Abraham (who, by the way, sounds pissed).

In no time at all, Big Larry hit the Crimson with the usual story:

[Tribe] said he recognized his "failure to attribute some of the material The Weekly Standard identified."

"I personally take full responsibility for that failure," Tribe said.

Nice to know he's not going to hang it on some grad student, like some other scholars we could name. Still, does "I take full responsibility" cut it? Fer Chrissakes, Larry, your name is on the book. Who did you think we were going to nail for it? Doris Kearns Goodwin?

More to the point, another famous Larry (Summers, Harvard's president) said some strong words after the two other profs (Charles Ogletree and Alan Dershowitz) were publically accused of being Cambridge Cribbers:

Tribe’s mea culpa comes just three weeks after another prominent Harvard faculty member—Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree—publicly apologized for copying six paragraphs almost word-for-word from a Yale scholar in a recent book, All Deliberate Speed.

Last fall, Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz also battled plagiarism charges. And in 2002, Harvard Overseer Doris Kearns Goodwin admitted that she had accidently copied passages from another scholar in her bestseller The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.

University President Lawrence H. Summers told The Crimson in an interview last week—before the allegations against Tribe surfaced—that he did not see "a big trend" of plagiarism problems at the Law School as a result of the charges against Ogletree and Dershowitz, but indicated that a third case would change his mind.

"If you had a third one, then I would have said, okay, you get to say this is a special thing, a focused problem at the Law School," Summers said of the recent academic dishonesty cases.

He declined comment last night.

My emphasis. Summers obviously doesn't know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. (Note, too, that he hasn't lost his golden tongue. You need a pickaxe and miner's helmet to get through that sentence.) If you've had two "situations," you might want to avoid saying that you would have acted upon a third charge. Well, here's the third, Larry. Do something.

Monday, September 27, 2004

I'm Just Saying, Is All: Check-up time. I've noticed that this supposedly political blog has recently taken to any subject at the expense of the policy discussion and media analysis that thousands of devoted readers have come to rely on. And I've noticed, too, the candidates the two major parties have thrown up for this year's presidential race. Coincidence? I'll likely watch the debate on Thusrday, after which I'll be reading the drunkblogging of it here (Note well, Steve, that Flyer thinks he has your ass on drunkblogging; he'll expect a real live, down-home, upended-moonshine-jar kind of session to get back in his good graces.) And then, chances are, I'll check out of this race until roughly 10:00 pm, November 2nd. A man's got to know his limitations.
Hard to Read: This post will be the first of a three-part series on the life and career of Steven Seagal. Yes, Steven Seagal. Now, many of you will scoff, and go off to read the latest from Wonkette, but I bid you, stay. Come with me on a journey of bad-ass aikido moves, cool, three-word movie titles, and ultimately, spray-on-hair and Mafia death threats. You'll be glad you did.

Seagal came out of nowhere and onto the scene in 1988 with "Above the Law". Now bear in mind the environment this movie is entering. 1988 shows both Stallone ("Cobra", "Lock Up" and "Rambo III") and Schwarzenegger ("Predator", "Running Man", "Red Heat") at their peak form. Both "actors" use big muscles and bigger explosions to tremendous advantage; essentially laying claim to a dualopoly on the action movie genre. Simply put, there are no two bigger names. Then comes this un-muscular Italian-looking guy in a ponytail.

The plot is unimportant, but "Above the Law" dealt with something Vietnam, something CIA, something Mafia, all in downtown Chicago. What was important were two things: 1) a new and exciting type of on-screen fighthing using what one might call "combat aikido" - an offensive approach to the most defensive martial art yet created; and 2) a new and different looking action hero - short on muscles, long on greasy hair and "whatuhyoulookinat" attitude. What was also important was me watching this movie on the couch with a certain girl late into the night, but we don't have time for those memories right now.

It may be hard to imagine today, but when Seagal came out, he was taken very seriously, and was very popular. He couldn't act, but he had a strange charisma, and an almost mystical aura about him. Plus there were rumors of CIA and black bag ops which only contributed to the mystery - the thought was "Hey, this guy has done real stuff, so there's something to his movies." Moreover, the guy was a legitimate aikido sensei (of what belt level was somewhat debated), who wasn't just using stunt doubles to throw round-house punches. This guy did it for real, like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. He trained in Japan with the top, top senseis of the day.

And for action movie buffs, this intriguing mixture was too good to ignore. He moved onto a series of essentially copy-cat movies, like "Hard to Kill" (marking his debut with Kelly LeBrock, his former employer [he was her bodyguard], then his wife - and unfortunately, not a long-lived marriage - I am convinced they were the Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire of the late 80s) "Marked for Death" (here the little ponytail is really a focus), and "Out for Justice" (this one marks the peak of Seagal's bad cop/good cop inner conflict - does he remain true to his old ways, or find salvation in his future?). Each one did well, if not exactly spectacularly, giving the hardcore fans more of what they wanted (great fights using a mixture of open-hand and weapons), but still drawing a larger audience than expected.

And yes, at this point, Seagal was starting to drink from his own kool-aid. He was hot and he knew it. But he also knew that despite his popularity, he had to move away from gritty cop seeks revenge for family/buddy/self. He also knew that he needed a two-word title for his movie (see Stallone, Schwarzenegger, supra). Providence came in the form of a big Navy ship, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Busey. A signature performance, melding A-list actors (well, for action films), with a big budget, some cool explosions, and a compelling back story. Yes, it's "Under Siege", and that's for Part 2.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Punk's Only Reaganite? Johnny Ramone is dead. (Long live Johnny Ramone.) He pretty much invented the punk guitar attack -- two fuzzed-out minutes of blister-popping power chords in a progression melodic enough to work for a girl group -- and was violently opposed to guitar solos, especially guitar solo wankery. Very little can be done in rock and roll today that doesn't filter through Johnny. He was the anti-prog rock holly stake, the coup de grace to monsters like Yes and ELP.

My favorite Johnny story is about him meeting the very young members of an unknown group called the Clash in London. They told Johnny they felt they need time to polish their sound before they tried to take their act out publically. "Come see us tonight," Johnny supposedly replied. "We can't even play our f*cking instruments."

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sing along: If you want to get in the spirit of Hurricane Ivan, though, you'll need your lyric sheet. Paul Sanchez is one of my favorite New Orleans songwriters and Hurricane Party was a staple at his shows and every time a blower headed for us. Glad I'm not there anymore, in case this does serious damage, but I'm sorry to miss the party.
Hurricane preparedness instruction: What to do when a class 4 is bearing down? Vienna Sausages, Apocalyspse Now....okay, I'm covered. Here's to a New Orleans blogger just trying to ride it out. Hope it ain't the big one, man, but if it is, may you float away safely on your tins of tasty snacks. And enjoy the Jameson while it lasts. I predict you'll be into the stash of K&B brand tequila by midnight.
Rather Sloppy Wouldn't You Say?: I too wish to hop on the Rather-bashing bandwagon. However, because I have no expert knowledge on typefonts, nor am I an inveterate column-reader, I shall leave the hard-core analysis to others.

No, I'm more interested in what CBS will (or more likely will not) do in response to this. We've already seen Rather go on the defensive offensive, but query this: if Rather wasn't Rather, but oh say, Geraldo, or even just a low-level correspondent trying to make his name, isn't it abundantly clear that CBS would have already put the reporter on "administrative leave pending investigation" and start distancing itself from his/her near abdication of journalistic integrity? If your answer is "no", then you buy into the premise that the media is just over-the-top liberal, and will never see the other side to a story.

I am still not that jaded, and I don't see why CBS doesn't take this opportunity to jettison Rather and finally, at long last, install the next anchorperson (and no, Ms. Chung, we're still not taking your calls). Look, you have Brokaw stepping down after the election, so if there was ever a time to take a chance on ratings, now is the time. CBS is number 3 in any event, and in the competition of making reading a teleprompter look tough, Rather is ahead by several lengths. The downside of this move is minimal; the network can only go up from here.

Face facts, this guy's fastball has never been above the mid-eighties, but now, he's resorting to the jalapeno in the nostrils (scroll down to the quote near the end) to bring in the viewers. He's old, he's delrious, and now, he can't even put together a decent scoop. Let him ride out the election like Brokaw, and then cite to the usual "more time with family" or hell, "gone fishing" would even work. Then bring in some hottie.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Smokin' (but not peeing) in the boys' room: A very illuminating, if depressing, article by ESPN on a former NFL player and the steps he (and likely others) went through to avoid marijuana detection in their urine tests.

Some helpful hints: When you're not ingesting, fill up as many gatorade bottles with "clean" urine as you can, so that when you start smoking, you have a stockpile to use. The samples are tested not only for content but for temperature, so keep your stockpile in the jacuzzi overnight, then move from bottle to pill container or condom, and tape to your car vents on your trip over to the testing facility. Last, and certainly most importantly, don't substitute your own urine for that of a pregnant woman's - apparently being pregnant in the NFL is worse than being high.
This Is Journalism? Read Bill Safire's piece on the latest CBS "Bush Guard Duty" flare up. After he lays out all the reasons to disbelieve the documents that "prove" Bush was given soft treatment (and there are a lot of reasons), he segues into Dan Rather's defense of the story:
The Washington Post reported Dan Rather's response to questions about the documents' authenticity: "Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not, I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill" and questioned the critics' "motivation."
Yep, you heard right. The new standard of journalistic ethics at CBS can be expressed thus: We'll run what we damn well please until someone has "definite proof" that it is erroneous.

This Just In: Dan Rather is a secret vegisexual who has been carrying on an orgiastic, decade-long affair with two turnips, an eggplant, and a wilted bunch of watercress suspected of pro-Saddam sympathies.

We'll run with that until we get "definite proof" to the contrary.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Tennis...anyone?: In typical form of the last decade, the finals are nearly upon us, and we're left with also-rans (Henman), who-dats (Johannson), sure-to-tantalize-but-ultimately-fails (Hewitt), and one committed, proven champion who belongs (Federer). I think that whenever Roddick figures out how to be consistent, he should give the Williams sisters a call, who are clearly more interested in what they will wear over how they will play (paging Anna K, paging Anna K).

But I'm not hear to smear my opponents with negative innuendo, I'm hear to tear down the officiating with snide snarkyness. Why, oh why, can't the umpires get video replays? I mean, we let them overrule linesmen, who a) 99% of the time are much closer to the ball, and b) singly devoted to a portion of the court from which their eyes may never waver. Yet, we give ultimate veto power to guy in the chair who has to not only watch the entire court, but religiously keep score (except when the Wiliams girls play, and then the whole scoring thing is sort of optional). Time after time we see the nifty t.v. graphic which in a matter of seconds transforms a live shot into a digital reproduction, and even shows a nifty outline of where the ball landed so as to remove any doubt that it's the right call. I mean, it's a frigging computer, it cannot err (my comptuer tells me this is so)!

Anyway, it can't be that difficult or expensive (at least for the Slams) to give the guy or gal in the chair one of these screens and then all s/he has to do is pretend to look at the screen and nod condescendingly "Yes, it was in." This would certainly free up some brain power to do that difficult 4-point scoring routine.
These words are mine and mine alone: In a dramatic announcement, which is sure to shake academia to its very core, Harvard law professor writing on Brown v. Board of Education, admits to lifting 6 whole paragraphs from a rival Yalie's book on same topic [strangely however, six words from the lifted section were changed].

Now, the plagiarism is attributed to "editing mistakes" when the author delegated too much responsibility to his (probably unpaid) assistants. Yet the author bravely takes a stand and states: "There is no one to blame but me," So, eight words taking the blame; over three paragraphs explaining how his assistants screwed up. So, in the Clinton mode of apology, what he reallly means is: "Come now old boy, I mean, it's the fu*king t.a.s who should be sacked. Ruin their future, I am a Harvard fricking professor, okay? Hey look, Stephen Ambrose!"

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Oh Yeah: Did you catch Mark Steyn's wonderful tribute to Ray Charles in the Atlantic? Steyn has a knack for the brief obit sketch, with a Brit's eye for the uncanny, the unknown, or the almost known. His obit for Bart Howward, the composer of "Fly Me to the Moon," was an oddly touching story of the prototype one-hit wonder. Sadly, neither of these is online at the Atlantic site, which jealously guards its best material. Anyhow, Steyn is relating the story of Ray Charles's notorious casting couch for his backup singers. "You can't be a Raelette," quipped Charles, "unless you let Ray."

Classic Ray.

By the way, you can go here and read some of Steyn's other obits to see what I mean about his style. Don't miss the farewell to Brando:

In his penultimate moment in the spotlight, [Brando] made the papers a year or two back when it emerged that he and Jack Nicholson had temporarily moved in together. “Get the buttah!” was no longer a roar of sexual liberation to a Parisian bedmate but a reminder to Jack as he headed out to the supermarket.
Odds and Ends: If I buy two odds, will you show me your end? Christ, you know how busy I've been? I haven't watched a moment of the U.S. Open. Can you believe that? I usually start blogging tennis majors about a week before the tourney. I've been watching the numbers, and I think Federer is the man to beat. Tough call, eh? Okay, I'll go further. Henman looked so good on clay this year that I wouldn't be surprised if he went to the finals on hard, too. Yes, he has to beat Hot Rog to do so, but a guy like Henny, who has struggled so hard to win Wimby, is destined to win a major (if he ever does) away from the sweet London turf. Henman and Hewitt would be a bang-up final, to boot.

Telemundo is a wonderful window into so many things. It is exactly, precisely what American television would be if the same guys from the 50s were in control now. I particularly love the requisite eye candy (REC) on every show. Naturally the REC is always blonde. The babes on the soaps, the game shows, and the news are blonde, too. But, look at the cosmetics ads that they show during the soaps: All the women are medium-to-dark skinned with dark hair, the standard Hispanic (and Mediterranean, for that matter) genetic look. Conclusion: The men who watch Telemundo like women with the Norteamericano look; the women, meanwhile, want to see glamorous women who look like them.

Did you watch the Olympics? I did. I'll admit it. When I was a kid, I was an Olympics nerd. I had a scrapbook that I made of Olympic news clippings: The Miracle on Ice, Bill Johnson (Johnston?) stunning the Jean-Claude Killy wannabes at Sarajevo, even Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano made it (though I was always more of a Kurt Browning kind of guy -- and secure enough in my masculinity to admit it). I missed the LA summer games in 1984 (the games come to our back yard and I end up in Japan for the whole time?) and after that I sort of stopped paying attention. I think it was probably the first "dream team" of men's NBA stars that finally killed the Olympics for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was, since this year I cheered for anyone who was beating the U.S. orangeball squad. I do so love it to see the ball-hogging, gangsta-posing, overpaid, cock-walking, $500-hairdo shithead princesses of the NBA get thrashed by (yes, indeed) Argen-f*cking-tina. Beautiful.

Checking In: I should be checking out. The issue du jour is what? Bush in the National Guard? That's so, like, last year. Are we really going to dredge this issue up again? Last time, for the record:

Bush: Ditched on Vietnam, but signed up to fly a pretty tough plane for the weekend warriors. Maybe went to some parties, did a little tootski, and missed a Saturday AM muster or two. Hell, he had transfered to the Guard in Alabama, man. I think even the NVA was probably level-headed enough to start somewhere other than 'Bama when (in the great pinko endgame) the tide of Communism swept the world. ("Communist tide, this heeyah the Crimson Tide. Y'all shake hayunds, an' less have a clean game, awright?")

Clinton: Ditched on Vietnam (and lied about it, repeatedly) but signed up, instead, for important Rhodes Scholar duty. Peeked up a lot of miniskirts, smoked some pot (and tried to hedge about that one too).

Now, yes, I know we went over Clinton's draft dodgery extensively in '92. But it was pretty much a dead issue in '96 (and, as has been observed, in '96 Clinton ran against a bona fide war hero). Fair's fair, everybody. You couldn't nail Bush on skipping Vietnam last time, I say he gets a pass this time. Come up with something else.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Get your freak on: Cool, disturbing, yet oddly dignifying...this site is your one-stop-shop for all the info on various physical deformities/oddities - like going to the Carny in the privacy of your own home. Very cool.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Mr. Ovitz Here: I liked it better with these two yobs (Enocarbus and Fly-boy) nice and quiet. Oh well, just another challenge for the master. And by the way, hands off the beluga, I had Razor buy some Cheese Nips for you. And "Executive Washroom" means Executive - not "contributing poster". Got it?
On Kerry/Edwards: Oh yeah, they gave a rebuttal, sort of. I stopped paying attention after my esteemed Senator (at least he was elected to be one, though that was only a few years ago and he's been in campaign mode for most of the time) started going on about the 4 million new uninsured and the 2 million newly poor and the 3 million dead puppies etc. What I really noticed first, though, was Edwards' left wrist. He was gesturing with that hand constantly and I couldn't help but spot the yellow wristband that has become so prevalent of late. It's the Lance Armstrong bracelet, the badge of the caring and generous, all endeavouring to "Live Strong" as Lance commands. I feel like the guy who actually favors dead puppies here, but I'm so sick of these bracelets. I know, cancer is terrible, do you have to shove it in my face? They're like LiveAid t-shirts, announcing the morally correct nature of the people they adorn. And I don't know where the fuck people buy them. If it's important that everyone support the cause, and supporting the cause is best done by purchasing a yellow bracelet, why can't I buy one at Eckerd's or the Exxon station. Christ, they must come free with a G-mail account.

But Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry were both wearing theirs tonight (I'd spotted Kerry's before; I think he's got a box of them just in case the handler loses one). It just gives of a phony baloney air of superiority that I can't stand, so they've lost any chance of swinging me to their side.

What'll I do if George shows up on the campaign trail tomorrow sporting the yellow badge of courage? Effin' burn my voter registration card, and pour a stiff drink.

Drunkblogging my ass: Stephen Green may be the hardest working blogger tonight (46 posts in under two hours, nice going Stephen) but he's hardly the drunkest. I had to go watch the Steelers lose to the Panthers tonight and get crossways with a bunch of people who couldn't understand that though I live in Charlotte (and rooted for them wholeheartedly last year in their run to the Super Bowl) I actually watched football prior to 1994 and have been a lifelong Steelers fan and I'm not gonna switch loyalties for some meaningless pre-season game, and can I have another beer please honey. Then i made it home in time to catch the last half of Bush's speech and pour a glass of something brown (dammit, meant to Tivo it so I could hear the whole thing "live"). So I can assure you that V-man's two beer/three martini night doesn't quite measure up.

Which is why he actually has coverage of the speech and I don't. Sorry.

But I do have some thoughts. About thirty seconds after sitting down with chilled beverage in hand, I turned to the girlfriend and said, "Christ, this going to be a bad speech." Bush was going on about supporting the troops and I was thinking this was just the usual pap that you could expect from any speech and he hadn't upped the ante for the big night. Really, he sounded flat and disinterested, not because he was being disingenuous, but because it was tired language that he has to repeat so often it just becomes hard to get up for it.

Then he started to work up a little of passion. I swear, for a guy who they say can't string two words together without tripping over them, you can really tell when he cares about what he's saying. He's a totally different speaker, and a damn good one. Some will call this a home run (Susan Molinari just called it the speech of his life, which I think is a bit strong. The speech after 9/11 was untoppable) which I'm not sure about. As I said, I missed the first half and the text probably won't cut it. Anyway, we'll see how big a bump he gets.

Everybody, including Chris Matthews is raving about what a great convention the GOP had, and I can't help but thinking that they just had a kick ass time in New York. The convention seemed fairly average to me, though with a few surprises. I thought Arnold was very good, probably the best speech of the week (though I missed Rudy Giuliani, but I read it and it didn't seem that great. I swear I'm not trying to "get over" 9/11 but Arnold did a much better job of speaking in broad strokes about what it means to be a Republican and what a war on terrorism entails). I like the theme of a big tent Republican party, I guess because it better be pretty big if I'm gonna continue to fit under it, and Arnold was a brilliant spokesperson for that party.

Zell Miller was exciting, and a little scary. The Southern preacher role definitely gets your attention, but I'm not sure how much it does to convert right-leaning Democrats who think the Republican party is already overrun by evangelicals. They were probably just shocked that Zell had waited this long to bail out, and I guess I was too. A lot of things changed after the attacks three years ago, and I can understand if that's what made Zell lose touch with his party, but he didn't say that in his speech. He should have made it clear to people that the world is not as safe as we once presumed it was and that there had to be a reevaluation of priorities. Kerry's voting record is important, but what he thought ten or twenty years ago is not as important to me as what he's done and said in the last three. I think Miller could have made a better case if he'd stuck to that. And I think The Ratchet Jaw had him on the ropes in that MSNBC interview, until he let him start punching back. Miller had no answer for Matthews' questioning, even if Matthews never lets anyone answer anyway. He was just filling dead air this time.

So it was a good convention, if he gets a big bump and wins, but a bunch of gasbags preaching to the choir if he doesn't (wouldn't it be more exciting if the Republican convention were attended by nothing but contributors and the Democratic convention had to address the Christian Coalition? Just a thought.). Either way, my glass is almost empty. Stephen feels my pain.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

One More Thing: Read Chris Matthews's silly account of his tangle with Zell Miller on Hardball. Jesus, for a show called Hardball, people are getting pretty upset about the fact that some guy came on and played it.

Did you see their actual exchange? Sure, Miller's a total oddfellow who has barely been a Democrat since his appointment to the Senate. Still, Miller's not the first dude to make some pretty wild claims this cycle. Put it this way: Try to imagine Matthews interviewing a Republican who is suddenly stunningly critical of George W. Bush. Think that fellow would have gotten the third degree? The correct answer is, Chris Matthews would be waking up today with a horrible rug burn on his knees.

I questioned [Miller] about some of his remarks. Knowing what I know about how they vote on Capitol Hill, I tried to get him to talk about how senators all the time, for legislative reasons, vote "No" as a legislative tactic because too much money is being spent, when they couldn't have backed the bill otherwise. This goes for conservatives voting against social programs just as it does for liberals voting against weapons systems.
Ah, but have you ever heard Matthews blasting some fruity old socialist for trashing the GOP for voting against social spending by saying, "Oh, those were tactical votes!" Yeah, me neither.
Media Menu: Not being a cable subscriber, I've tuned to PBS for my coverage of the RNC. I'm not disappointed intellectually, although the actual mechanics of the show -- the cuts, the camera choices, the timing -- seems to be under the control of monkeys. Perhaps monkeys on drugs.

Some observations:

David Brooks is no Paul Gigot. I like Brooks, and I probably agree with his social laissez-faire more than Gigot's rock-ribbed conservatism, and besides, both of them shine next to the ever lumpier, confused, and tongue tied Mark Sheilds (who last night mentioned the famous rebel/actor/nutfudge Dennis "Hooper"). By the next convention, Shields will be able to boast that he is "now 95% jowls." (I loved watching Sheilds seethe with hatred, jowls a-jiggle, when seated next to Karl Rove. You could see the look of disgust on Marky's face as he sniffed at everything Rove said.) Anyhoo, back to Brooks. He always looks a bit embarrassed, like his mother is backstage ready to cuff him for shaming the family. ("My son who could have been a doctor is arguing with this fat goy?")

Mike Beschloss is well informed, but is as strange as Dick's hat. Some of the things he chooses to say ("I just have to say, Gwen, that was a really great transition") must be jokes. But all said deadpan. Plus, the Vulcan ears are creepy. His co-panelist Richard Norton Smith is much easier to listen to, much more of a raconteur. Rounding out the panel, Meena Bose reminds me that I never had a professor I could really lust after, at least not in a French-farcy sort of way. (I was, briefly, infatuated with one in a whip-me-beat-me sort of way.) I think it is the great tragedy of my college years.

Elaine Chao -- who's pretty cute herself -- edged out Liddy Dole for the Sesame Street voice award. (Sing along now: "President Bushie-wushie wants to give us all more training grants! Yay! Job training is gooooood!")

Finally, I could use just a touch less of the commentators remarking on how "staged" the conventions are. Isn't that observation itself getting to be a little staged? Whattya want, smoke-filled rooms with unknown wranglers rolling logs to come up with a nominee? If you want surprises, you've come to the wrong barbecue.

Shame on You, Ovitz: It's a sign of what you've done to this place that I am forced to ridicule myself in humorous Hibernian meter.

An accursed name to rhyme, Enobarbus --
Discounting the Latinate arbus.
(Though a linguistic push
Can make arbus mean "Bush,"
Such coincidence shouldn't perturb us.)

Think you can do it without the slant rhyme? Be my f*cking guest, bitch.

"That's not bread, it's crap": Ralph Bennett reports that Interstate Bakeries, makers of Wonder Bread and Twinkies is in dire straits, vicitms of the low carb craze. His reminiscence of Wonder Bread in youth is amusing, how it could be folded up and tucked into a pocket without crumbling while on adolescent adventures are probably very common for several generations of Americans. I didn't get much Wonder Bread as a kid, as my mother baked it fresh, something for which I'm grateful, but I remember going to my cousins' house in New Hampshire in the summer and making sandwiches to take to the beach. Wonder Bread it was, with PB&J, or Fluff, if you preferred, although my mother didn't approve of marshmellow for lunch.

I hope Interstate can survive the Atkins fad, and maybe one day "riboflavin, niacin, and iron" will be the diet of the day. After all, it's not the greatest bread in the world, but it still has a place for packing a lunch for kids to take with them, wherever they go.

Separation of Church and State, Part 3,987,544: Some of you may have read about a 16-year old girl who was recently hanged in a public square in Iran, to warn others of the dangers of committing offenses against morality. Her crime? Taking off her head scarf in a court proceeding to complain of being the victim of a sexual assault by an older man. And people are complaining about the Kobe muck-up.

What is more interesting, and as this article shows, is that even under the harshest interpretation of traditional Islamic law, what she did in no way shape or form merited death by hanging. Sex between unmarried people only gets 100 lashes. Sex by a married woman outside of her marriage requires stoning (which has rarely been carried out of late). But this girl gets hanged for her "sharp tongue" and "undressing in court".

Any more questions why they hate us so much?
What the hell is soy chai?: Sounds like something they put in fertilizer so it won't smell like real, honest-to-G*d fertilizer. I'm sure that's what it tastes like. Whatever it is, I don't think it's been introduced this far south. I'm sure our taste in coffee products isn't the only thing that separates me from the Big O, but hopefully we can find common ground on something. Do you think he likes Celebrity Poker marathons on Bravo? I can't get enough Dave Foley. IM me, Mike. I'll make nachos.
Comments: The comments function seems to be well, non-functioning at moment. I rang up Blogger to see what was going on. Their response was "no comment."

Which you really very funny. See, it's like a play on the whole word. Sort of like my tongue-in-cheek thing with the word "function" above. This is why we were scientifically selected as one of the most intelligent blogs of all time. Now, let me say further that....

MR. OVITZ HERE: I told Razor to get his cute little ass (easy Geffen, I'm not in your camp all of a sudden) back to the plumbing issues in my new suite and worry less over the technical problems of his worthless posting.

However as the comments section is no-go right now, allow me two quick replies to this Flyer fella (see how they all come out of the woodwork when the Ov-Dog is in the house?): (1) Lattes are for extras getting day-rate scale. Soy chai is for Players. Got it? (2) Use a godforsaken spell-check, man. This blog ain't for pikers anymore. Got that?
Free Kobe: Kobe Bryant's accuser has pulled the plug on the criminal case against the NBA star. Of course the prosecution says it has nothing to do with their case crumbling bit by bit in every pretrial motion, but only because the victim is too fed up with the attention. Says DA Mark Hurlbert,
"The prosecution wants to try this case. I want to try this case," he said. "However, the victim has informed us after much of her own labored determination that she does not want to proceed. For this reason and this reason only I am dismissing the case."
Yeah, and if my 105 pound girlfriend weren't holding me back, I'd come over there and kick your ass. They dropped this case because their victim was looking less and less credible every day. I don't feel sorry for Kobe, and it's cetainly possible that he really did rape her, but this, and the still to come civil suit, are looking like George W.'s hated frivolous law suits. I know the standards for liability in a civil trial are different from those in a criminal trial, but I don't understand how the accuser can expect to get much of a settlement.

Here's the apology Kobe was made to sign as part of the deal for the criminbal case being dropped.

Damn, dirty protesters: Now, I'm not one to say that the police aren't entitled to enforce order in NYC during the convention. Lord knows the cops there have reasons enough to be a touch jittery, but one method they're using caught my eye:
Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said police have unveiled three tactics this week that have raised concerns: quick deployment of orange netting to encircle protesters, undercover scooter patrols and widely used bicycle officers.

Now, again, I'm all for passive restraint of unruly muck-rakers, but doesn't this tactic seem to smack of something, oh, I dunno, slightly primitive?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Check, check.... is this mic on? It is? Good. Time (well, long past) to dust off the paperweight that is this keyboard and begin to see if I can find my voice again. I haven't been up to blogging for some time, for many reasons, but I've recently begun to realize that I miss the process. Mostly, I found that looked at the news and events in a totally different way when I wasn't trying to evaluate every news item for its post-worthiness, and it was very refreshing. When political conversation came up, I changed the subject and when I watched a movie I didn't try to write a review while I was still in the theater. Now, though, I think it's time to retract my head from the sand (and USA Today) and try to examine things again. There's a lot going on, including, I think, some political campaign (that Arnold fellow's got my vote) so I'll do my best to get up to speed. Time will be somewhat limited, still, but I think I can manage fairly regular posts, on topics ranging from music and movies to the campaign and social issues (always overdress when you're in doubt, I say).

And since I'm the most associate of associate bloggers, I guess I should ask, "Mr. Ovitz, how do you take your latte?"

Mr. Ovitz here: Razor is off finding the right thread-count for my Egyptian cotton finger cots, so that I can start reading this mail that is piling up. Razor keeps assuring me 300 thread count is sufficient - I ask him who he's kidding, and chop-chop with the eucalyptus tea.

Dunno who this Enobarbus fellow is. Sounds a bit mid-western to me, what with all the child-rearing and domestic issues. Don't think he'll be at the Vanity Fair party (reminds me, get Harvey some Cubans quick - that'll get a returned phone call).

This place is a real dump, but don't worry readers, I'm about to bring some major fucking value to the table. Heard of "Google", well this is going to make that look like "Boondoggle" (good one Ov, still got it). I got two calls into Bear Stearns; gonna give them major up-front strike level IPO shit.

Well, this keyboard is for crap (anyone ever hear of ergonomics?). Ovitz out.
Me Talk Pretty One Day: With strong apologies to David Sedaris, it seems our humble little blog was picked through a highly unscientific process, as one of the most "intelligent" blogs known to mankind.

More succinctly, and without pumping out yet another bromide concerning our turgid, draconian yet mellifluous nature, Monkeygrudge went about scanning both Typepad and Blogspot blogs for their use of a certain set of words which are found at Peter Schmies's Word Classification Test. In the Blogspot world, our humble piece of writing here tied for third. The fatuity of this exercise may seem pellucid, yet we at FauxPolitik take no exiguous degree of gratitude from this reverent praise.
Gmail: I have six Gmail invites if anyone is interested. Leave comment below with your email address, and I'll send one along, provided you can provide a haiku mocking Enobarbus.