Friday, February 27, 2015

Pornography + Time = Art


For those of you who were home-schooled and are therefore deficient in art history -- especially this kind -- that is the Venus of Urbino by the great Renaissance painter Titian.

No less an art authority than Mark Twain himself called this painting, "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses." Tongue fully in cheek, I presume...

I have actually seen this painting, with my own naked eyes, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Yeah, I know: Place dropper.

BTW, Blogger says that as of March 23, all blogs containing "images and videos that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity" will be banned.

While they do say they will "still allow nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit. For example, in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts", that's some cold comfort -- it's not at all clear whether that ban will or will not include this picture. My first question is this: How will they know?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christianists Fight Back With "Bigotry Map"

The American Family Association has apparently hired a web-programming whiz kid of about 12 to come up with something they are calling their Bigotry Map, where they identify "anti-Christian" groups by geographical location. There's a "slick" zoomable map complete with little symbols to show what threats to Christianity exist in various locations. These threats are conveniently broken out into easily-digestible categories for you: Homosexual Agenda, Anti-Christian, Atheist and Humanist.

It turns out, though, that their whiz kid is also a plagiarist -- their map is a blatant copy of the Hate Map created by the Southern Poverty Law Center which shows the locations of various Hate Groups in the US.

I am proud to say that if you zoom in on the State of Washington, you'll see me represented, with the symbol for Anti-Christian, defined as "Actively engages in the complete eradication of the Christian faith from society, government and private commerce. These groups file lawsuits and use intimidation to silence any reference to Christianity from the public square."

I'm not identified by name, but I am the chapter leader of the local branch of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which the AFA has designated as being on their "enemies list" -- they might as well call us a "terrorist organization". The funny thing, though, is that AU is not anti-religious, but rather pro-First Amendment. In fact, the executive director of AU, Barry Lynn, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, but as we already know, the UCC is "not really Christian"...

You can read more about this "informative" map at Fuzzy Map: Religious Right Group Accuses Americans United And Its Allies Of Being A Bevy Of Bigots on the AU site

I actually feel a little slighted, since I am also a supporter of what they dismissively call "The Homosexual Agenda" as well as being a Humanist and a card-carrying atheist -- or I would be if we actually had cards.... I don't actually belong to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, but I do support their agenda, so that means that of the "enemy organizations" identified on their front page, I've got four out of four.

So when the Religious Right finally wins in their long struggle to establish their theocracy in this country, it's likely I will be on the first train to the concentration "re-education" camp. But I trust that I will see many of my literally dozens of readers there...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More on Bill O'Reilly, the Serial Liar

Over at Wonkette you will see the story that goes with this mostly-unrelated picture:


Jeez, it turns out that our friend BillO was an earwitness to history. He was on his way to interview the strange George De Mohrenschildt, a shadowy figure connected to the assassination of JFK through his odd friendship with putative assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

According to BillO's own words, he was on De Mohrenschildt's front porch when George blew his own brains out with a shotgun rather than provide testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1977.

There's just one little problem with that narrative. BillO was in Dallas at the time, a fact verified by numerous sources more credible than the Official Faux News Bully-in-Chief.

Wonkette calls it Ace Reporter Bill O’Reilly Killed Lee Harvey Oswald, Ran Area 51, Co-Piloted Amelia Earhart’s Plane on the Glassy-Eyed Knoll.

Is Bill Orally the Jack Crabb of the 20th Century?

I hate to jump on the heap with all this piling-on abuse of Poor BillO -- I know I should probably feel bad for fanning the flames, but come on. It's Bill O'Reilly!!!

BTW that picture is one of my favorite mockup Photoshop photos of all time, one that the Dead Kennedys should have grabbed for an album cover.

The Demise of "Niggardly"

According to Dictionary.com, the word "niggardly" is defined thusly:

niggardly
  Adjective:
  1. reluctant to give or spend; stingy; miserly.
  2. meanly or ungenerously small or scanty: -- "a niggardly tip to a waiter".
  Adverb:
  3. in the manner of a niggard.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, its etymology is thus:
niggard (n.) "mean person, miser," late 14c., nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests French origin (see -ard), but the root word is possibly from earlier nig "stingy" (c.1300), perhaps from a Scandinavian source related to Old Norse hnøggr "stingy," from Proto-Germanic *khnauwjaz (source of Swedish njugg "close, careful," German genau "precise, exact"), and to Old English hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in Middle English.

Because it is so close in pronunciation -- or in hearing at least -- to the notorious "n-word", it has pretty much fallen out of polite conversation. I am language scholar enough to realize that words fall out of our vocabulary all the time. The "ruth" in "ruthless" for example, was in use just a hundred years ago or so. It's still a word that exists, but it might as well not since no one uses it except as the first part of its negative, ruthless. The "gruntled" in disgruntled is another that exists only in its negative. When was the last time you heard of anyone who was "gruntled" except in the form of some semi-clever wordplay?

All languages change and grow over time. New words are added, old words are cast aside and fall out. I really can't get exercised over the loss of "niggardly" -- if it is routinely heard by black people as a racist term, it ought to be retired.

Once I had a black woman on my staff come up to me completely pissed, livid, that our computer geek had used the word in her presence. I think I handled it pretty well, given the circumstances. I led her over to the office dictionary and together we looked it up, she found that there was nothing racist about it, neither in the word itself nor in its etymology. And that pretty much defused the situation, but it was a signal to me to watch my own language for these kinds of accidental racisms, words which are in context not racist at all but that sound racist to a hearer who was already attuned from birth to routinely hear the "N-word" coming out of a white person's mouth.

So it is good bye to "niggardly". It is, in fact, still a perfectly usable word, but it freights too much unintentional baggage to be used in a conversation. Probably not in written communications, either.

And it is of course even worse with the base of the word, "niggard", a noun for someone who is niggardly. That is even more likely to be misheard and misinterpreted.

Must-See Cinema: The Exiles (1961)

In 1956 USC film student Kent MacKenzie shot a short film documenting the impending displacement of pensioners from the Bunker Hill section of Los Angeles, which was slated for "urban renewal", i.e., the destruction of ramshackle apartment buildings and down-at-the heels Victorian houses to make way for "progress" -- banks, office buildings and eventually the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

MacKenzie was so taken with the area and its residents that he returned two years later to film The Exiles, a full-length documentary look at the Native American residents of Bunker Hill, who were in a kind of exile from their tribes and reservation homelands. It took three years of filming and editing to produce this film. It took so long to document what is, on screen, just one night in the lives of his subjects that several of the principle characters were no longer around by the end, and the film had to be re-edited accordingly -- a couple of characters we meet early on have just disappeared by the end of the movie. In reality, they had gone to prison, a fate that has befallen so many "Indians" who are in exile from their homes.

The Exiles is one of those glimpses into a life that no longer exists. It's sad to think that, even by the time the film was released, it's likely that most of these buildings had already been flattened and the residents displaced.

You will recognize Bunker Hill when you see it. The Angel's Flight funicular railway and the 2nd Street Tunnel are both iconic landmarks in many Hollywood movies of the 40s and 50s and later. Television, too.

I first saw this in one of those film classes that I took in college ("Documenting Urban America" or something like that). I loved the movie, and I had almost given up hope of ever seeing it again.

But ... Fast forward to the DVD revolution and the advent of Netflix. It's now available on DVD from Netflix. The disk also includes as a bonus MacKenzie's student film, Bunker Hill (referenced above).

More reading:
· The Exiles on the IMDB.
· Angel's Flight Railway in movies and television (IMDB).
· 2nd Street Tunnel in movies and television (IMDB).



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reading The Reviews of My Book

I don't do it very often -- and I probably shouldn't do it at all -- but yesterday I dropped by to read the Amazon reviews of my book, A Bad Attitude: A Novel from the Vietnam War, to see what people are saying. The average customer review score, according to Amazon, is four-and-a-half stars out of five. A bunch of people loved it, but if I read those five-star reviews too often it'd just give me a swelled head.

There are three people, though, who wrote "hated-it!" reviews and gave it only one star.

Well, in a quote that is usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw, but was actually from a guy named Max Reger,"I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

My favorite of these Hated-Its was one entitled "Disgrace and dis honors [sic] Vietnam combat vets", in which someone calling himself Sgt Maj EMP says:

(Note: All of this is exactly how it appears in the original--I didn't edit it at all; you'll see my comments in red inset between brackets)
First, did not finish. Couldn't take it after 200+ pages.
Fragging? Want to talk about fragging? Lifers got publicity but in the field, folk like Dennis didn't finish their tours [Sounds like a personal threat to me]. Anyone who read this crap and was there can figure out why.
USMC, 67-68-69. Hill and border fights, northern I corps. Ton of issues in rear if you ever got there. Grunts rarely got there. Never had more than 120 - 125 people in what was supposed to be a 200 man company. Had to have damn good excuse or shot to get there [Unclear what this means...]. Then you get to meet real heroes like Dennis, I guess.[Nothing in my book paints me as a "hero"] Telling it like it was...... BULLS***. [How would you know? You were in the field and not in "the rear"]
Race? Huh? Take a good look at 60's America. I think there were a ton of race riots [So? There was one at Long Binh Jail as well; it's in this book -- what do those others have to do with whether or not that happened?] , with a whole lotta other stuff, going on then. What's the matter Dennis ? A few brothers hanging together got you and some other whiteys scared? [Where did I say I was scared of black people?] I'm white, Caucasian , German Polish , Chi-town, west side. What's the fuss? Some stuff going around but hell, there were a ton of NVA that had us outgunned, outmanned and they tried to kill us anyway possible. And you want to talk about race, lifers, drugs, fragging.... all the stuff that people that dissed us way back then to now [Are you saying that none of that happened?]. Vietnam is the most misunderstood and historically inaccurately portrayed war [Because of people like you going all Rambo on it since 1982] -- down to our written history [Written by academic historians in accordance with historical facts.] -- because of all the Dennis s that did and did not serve.[Not clear what this means...]
Speaking of lifers, yeah, a ton of s*** who didn't know which way was up. But I also got to serve with some SNCOs who did WW II and Korea. They taught me a lot -- I was only 19 then. They were my mentors, my heroes. I've used their life lessons every day after. [Again, so what? They weren't around where the events of this book took place   -- our lifers were pretty much all dicks.]
As soon as my time in Nam was up -- yes, I spent 20 months there in a rifle company -- I got out. After a few years and dealing with folk who give 5 stars to this kind of sensationalized crap, I rejoined. Needed to be around some real folk -- you take the good and the bad. [Do you really?]
Okay, let's dial it back a little there, Rambo. I can guess from the fact that you have been out of the service for what, 30 years, and you still insist on being called by your rank -- Sergeant-MAJOR -- that you were likely the kind of dick NCO that draftees hated. By your own admission you spent all your time in the field, so how can you presume to even know what was going on in "the rear"? "Disgrace and dis honors [sic] the...combat vets"? There aren't even any future "combat vets" in my book. ???!!!

But opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one. Sorry if this book didn't adequately provide for your needs and wants and desires, Sarge.

But, to be charitable to you here, you are in your dotage (I'm the same age as you and I know dotage when I see it...) and likely read only the blood-and-guts war stories that shore up your own fantasies (see How Do We Know What We Know? from earlier this month).

At least you claim you got 200+ pages into it before you realized that. Sarge, I don't believe that you didn't you read any of the other reviews before you bought it. It's not like you didn't have a clue going in as to what this book is about. From your comments, though, it looks like you tried to read a completely different book -- I don't think you actually "get it"...

But, as I've often said, everybody is "Rambo" in his own war movie.And that's you, Sarge.

So, Sarge -- 'scuse me, Sergeant-MAJOR -- old buddy, know this: Since -- fact -- it took nine men in "the rear" to support one grunt like you in the field, I'd say that my book is the better description of what Vietnam was "really" like for 90% of the soldiers who served there than all those blood-and-guts books you love.

I was a draftee and I had the same chance as anybody else -- like 80% of my fellow soldiers in my basic training platoon -- to end up in the infantry. I lucked out and got sent on an alternate path. It's not one that I chose -- nor likely would have chosen for myself -- but it was my duty and I did it, and I'm proud of that fact. I am frankly getting a little tired of all you fucking latter-day combat-snob neo-Rambos looking down your noses at REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers") like me.

Okay, diatribe over. Let's get back to the real world. And from now on I hope I will be a little more philosophical when it comes to mentally-challenged and thinking-impaired reviewers.

Exploitation Movies: Slaves in Bondage (1937)

The 1930s produced a cornucopia of grindhouse exploitation films (aka "sexploitation" movies), usually disguised as "educational" movies that were ostensible cautionary tales about one social problem or another.

Here from 1937 is Slaves in Bondage. The title alone ought to explain it all.

Full movie:


Yeah, it ought to, but about the most titillating thing about this movie is its name. The phrase "White Slavery" is a titillatingly catchy early-20th-Century name for sexual slavery and human trafficking. Thanks to the Yellow Journalism of the media of the time, It was actually a socially-shocking Very Big Deal back in the 1920s and 1930s, and this movie exploits that to the hilt: Young girls lured into prostitution by answering an innocuous ad in a small-town newspaper for "manicurists" -- attractive girls only, no experience necessary. Apparently that wasn't enough to bring up any warning signals, since the manicure shop that fronts as a prostitution recruitment center doesn't seem to have any lack of applicants for the jobs. The "job interviews" are unintentionally funny: "I'm sure we can find some ... 'work' ... for you..." after the chief manicurist/procurer named Belle, played as a hard blonde, looks them over from head to toe.
This movie really has a little "something for everyone": A smart-but-naïve girl, a young gung-ho wanna-be reporter, a couple of male acrobats who act out some faintly homoerotic tumbling routines in a boarding house living room, and a sexual smorgasbord at the roadhouse/brothel/nightclub that a customer can choose from, including a couple of -- shock! -- "fetish Lesbian spanking" girls. You pays your money and you takes your choice...

This movie doesn't even pretend to be "educational" ; there's no crawling text -- the so-called "square-up" disclaimer -- at the beginning, and the closest it comes to any kind of lesson is when a grumpy detective lectures the weary seen-it-all editor about it being "the same old story" with the ads in small-town newspapers luring innocent country girls to the bright lights of the big city.

After some boring and kind of confusing subplots featuring pasteboard characters in this cheap mess, a fleeting glimpse of the head Bad Guy (all the bad guys have mustaches!) with his hand on -- again, shock! -- Good Girl Dona's breast, and a fight scene in the nightclub that looks like it was lifted from a Mack Sennett comedy, it all ends well with Dona and the wannabe reporter getting married, him getting a job at the paper, the bad guys going to jail, and everyone living happily ever after.

Except for the "manicurists". After they've served their purpose by parading around in their skivvies -- I guess you could call some of it lingerie -- in several scenes, and acting as sadly comical spanking Lesbians, we don't hear any more about them. Like most of the women in these movies, they are ultimately disposable.

Sidebar: It is not my intention to make light of the very real problem of Sex Slavery and Human Trafficking as it exists now (or then) -- but this movie isn't really about that, any more than it is "about" the so-called White Slavery rackets of the first half of the last century. It's all about exploiting the tittering "naughtiness" factor in the audience.

Oh, and there are no drugs. What kind of self-respecting 1930s exploitation movie doesn't have at least one joint, a line of coke or a syringe in it? Come on!

The money shot: Gotta be the "fetish Lesbian spanking" in the checking-out-the-goods-on-display scene.

Lessons learned: Ads promising no-experience-needed jobs to attractive girls are suspect, manicurists are hookers, and guys with mustaches are always the bad guys.

Directed by Slaves in Bondage on the IMDB
Help Stop Human Trafficking
Stop Trafficking on the Live Your Dream site


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Men My Father Hated

My father didn't really hate a lot of people, although he joked a lot about his "cancer list" -- this was a list of a dozen or so people he was going to rub out if he ever got inoperable cancer and had only six months to live. The people populating this list varied from year to year, depending on who had pissed him off the most in the last year. But it was always just a (sort of) good-natured gibe -- "He's on the list!" or "You're off the list!"

In any case, he didn't get cancer, he got some god-awful wasting kidney disease and was not in good enough shape to even lift a gun, let alone shoot someone with it. Ultimately that list never came to its terrible potentiality.

But there were three men who were on his Permanent Hate List and in the family we learned never to even mention their names in front of him unless we were willing to listen to a ranting-and-raving hour-long (but entertaining, I'll grant) diatribe about how fucked up it was that they were still taking up space on this planet and still breathing his air.

One of course was Herbert Hoover. My father came of age in the Great Depression and, along with everyone else cast into unemployment and poverty, my whole family put the blame squarely on Herbert Hoover, who was president when the Stock Market crashed and the US economy, followed by the world economy, went into the shitter. His mother, my grandmother, widowed at an early age with a litter of children, was forced to "crawl" (her word) before a church-affiliated relief agency just to get marginally-sufficient food for her family.

People have debated ever since the Great Depression whether all the blame could or should be assigned to Hoover, but that didn't matter to the families who were suffering in poverty and hunger. Hoover was president and he refused to do anything to help The People. End of story.

The second man was a guy named Ezra Taft Benson. That name might sound a bit familiar to you since he was, at the end of his life and his career, enthroned as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Mormon Church, i.e., President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka "The One True Church"). But that is not what earned him my father's enmity.

No, in 1955 Benson was still Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, and pulled a "free-market" removal of all the federal price supports for milk. The small dairy farmers who depended on agricultural subsidies to eke out an existence had to sell their cows for pennies on the dollar to big factory farms and were forced off their land and into a nomadic latter-day neo-Grapes-of-Wrath-like flight to the west. Many of them made the time-honored trek to California. We ended up in the Pacific Northwest, where my mother's people all lived. My parents lived in Oregon and Washington for the rest of their lives, but he always missed Oklahoma.

But the greatest amount of my father's wrath was reserved for General Douglas MacArthur. He could hardly stand to see the old general appear on television to reap the praise of, in my father's view, "the stupid people who idolized the bastard" even after his reckless arrogance had gotten him fired from his command in the Korean War.

So it was MacArthur's arrogant attitude and his imperious behavior, sure, but it was way more personal than that. My father's cousin had joined the Army in 1938 and was stationed in The Philippines when the Japanese invaded. Douglas MacArthur and his wife were evacuated by submarine to Australia, leaving behind all of the soldiers under his command to go on the Bataan Death March and then suffer years of cruel captivity at the hands of the Japanese. But what really cinched it for my father was the story that Mrs. MacArthur insisted that her furniture also be rescued with them, and that furniture took up valuable space on the submarine, space that should have gone to other soldiers who could have been evacuated as well. My father's cousin survived the Bataan Death March, but died in a prison camp later in 1942.

I don't even know that the furniture story is true, but in many ways that doesn't matter. The old man hated MacArthur with a burning passion, and if he had ever gotten the opportunity to ... well, we'll never know. It's just a good thing MacArthur never showed up at any events in Portland or Seattle during his retirement years.

Monday Music Break: Jerusalem

Here's incomparable soprano Lesley Garrett singing what is pretty much the only religious hymn that I can really stand*:



As you might imagine, the song itself has interesting history, and it has been proposed for England's National Anthem on several occasions. It's based on a longer poem by mystic English poet William Blake, and a phrase from the song lyrics and the poem, "Bring me my chariot of fire", appeared as the title of the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. The hymn itself, performed by the legendary Vangelis, is played over the final credits of the film. But, given my predilection for sopranos, Lesley's version is still my favorite.

The movie won many accolades and  numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1981.


* Although, probably because both of my grandmothers had Scottish roots and I am an enrolled member of the Scottish Clan Kincaid, I am also kind of partial to Amazing Grace on the bagpipe. I intend for both of these to be played at my funeral/memorial, which ought to shock the shit out of all the people who know that I am anti-religious...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why I Love Crows

Watch this Caledonian crow:

That is a crow making a tool to get a small basket of seeds out of a deep glass container. Man the Toolmaker, move over. That's probably as smart as a human six-year-old.

Oh, and speaking of crows:

That's a crow showing off for the camera during a time lapse of Levi's Stadium showing it being readied for a hockey game.

Looking Under the Theocratic Robes

Well, the cat is finally out of the bag. We over here in the freethinking part of conventional reality have been complaining all along that the Religious Right wants to establish a theocracy in this country. Finally one of their spokesmen, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, made it plain.

The United Church of Christ won a stunning victory for both gay rights and religious freedom with their lawsuit to overturn North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage.

While the thinking population of the reality-based community applauded the decision, our ole good buddy Tony Baloney felt a little differently:

The UCC "is not really Christian, and those who support gay rights don’t have the same rights as conservative Christians—because ‘true religious freedom’ only applies to ‘orthodox religious viewpoints’.” [emphasis added]
There you go. It's like pulling off a band-aid and seeing a writhing mess of Ebola maggots in the wound. You can have your "true religious freedom" all right, but only when your beliefs conform to "orthodox" theology.

All of you pagans, heathens, homosessuals, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, Sikhs, Zoroasters and especially all you stinky Islams -- get to the back of the bus. On your way to our concentration/extermination "re-education/reparative therapy" camps.

If that is not a true indication of the kind of brutish theocracy those people are intending to shove down our throats -- but only down our throats, none of that "gay stuff" here, thank you -- then I don't know what is.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

So Bill O'Reilly Was in a "Combat Situation, Okay"?

Normally I am pretty willing to give a little slack to people "misremembering" shit that happens to them. See for example How Do We Know What We Know, about the whole Brian Williams fiasco. So I was willing to cut Bill Orally a bit of slack over the years on his claims that he was "in a combat situation, okay?"

But if you as a "newsman" are going to pitch shit on a fellow reporter, you ought to make sure your own skirts are clean. Which is why I experienced a certain amount of schadenfreude glee when I read the Mother Jones story, Bill O'Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem.

BillO of course was not so happy. He immediately doubled down by saying that he never said he was IN the Falklands for the Falklands War, just that he covered the war. From Buenos Aires and Montevideo. You know, where all the combat was -- NOT!

Media Matters has combed through various transcripts and compiled a bunch of quotes from BillO on this topic. Read them and then you tell me if he did not claim that he was in combat in the Falklands War. Maybe he didn't say those exact words, but context is everything, and the kind of people who are his normal audience are a little short on the nuance thing: "Because I was in a situation, one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands, where my photographer got run down and then hit his head and was bleeding from the ear on the concrete." Look at that and you will see that even the average listener, let alone the Bill Orally fan, would think that he heard that BillO said he was "in the Falklands". Also, an aside from the 12-year-old that lives inside my head..."this one time? at band camp?"

Like I say, I'm willing to give a guy a little slack if, for example, he says he was in combat and we learn that he wasn't actually IN combat but was actually a block away and saw it go down. Everybody does a little "résumé enhancement" from time to time, but I'm not going to claim that I was in the 1968 Tet Offensive when I was actually half a world and three months away from Vietnam at the time. I can, however, say that I was in the so-called "Little Tet" of 1968, literally almost from the time my boots hit the ground at the Bien Hoa airfield on the 10th of May.

Speaking of that, BillO, you were born in 1949, which means that you were 18 years old in 1967. Why didn't you go to Vietnam? Why didn't you avail yourself of the opportunity for that real "war experience" you apparently craved so much that you thrust yourself onto the Mean Streets of the "war zone" of Buenos Aires at the very end of the Falklands War.

On the March 19, 2008 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly used his "war experience" to criticize Bill Moyers: "I missed Moyers in the war zones of Falkland conflict in Argentina, the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I looked for Bill, but I didn't see him."

Yeah, BillO,  I looked for you in Vietnam but I didn't see you, either.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What's the Matter With Oklahoma?

Regular readers know that I've always considered Oklahoma to be pretty much my home state. Even though we moved out of state when I was ten years old, my most formative years were spent there and it's to those years that I inevitably go back when I find myself awash in rosy nostalgia for a bygone time -- those years on the farm were actually a lot of fun for me.

And that's why any oddball news from the state invariably catches my eye. Like this story: State Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Buttfuck) has introduced legislation into the state house of representatives that would prohibit state expenditure of funds on an Advanced Placement US History course that, in his words, "fails to teach 'American Exceptionalism'. He belongs to something called the Black Robe Regiment, a Glenn-Beck-affiliated outfit, that argues that "the church and God himself has been under assault, marginalized, and diminished by the progressives and secularists." Even worse, it attacks the “false wall of separation of church and state" and warns of a “growing tide of special interest groups indoctrinating our youth at the exclusion of the Christian perspective.”

Exclusion of the Christian perspective. You know, that's an argument the constitution guarantees governments can't get in the middle of: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...etc." -- First Amendment to the United States Constitution

Jesus, Oklahoma. You've already banned any consideration of Shariah Law. But you're not satisfied with that; you have to attack the contents of a scholarly and scholastically agreed-upon history course because it dares to claim (I presume) that George Washington didn't really chop down that cherry tree, that the Europeans were not the friendly white brothers from across the sea who were only concerned for the welfare of the savages, and slavery was not actually good for blacks?

Of course you do live mostly downhill from What's the Matter With Kansas, so a lot of the shit they pull out of their asses gets washed downstream to you. But that doesn't mean you have to pick up that pile of shit muffins, dust them off and get them gold plated.

They are still shitmuffins.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Barack Obama the Finger Jihadist

Here's an image that's making the rounds of the wingnuttery, especially on a site called American Thinker, the very title of which, given its overall content, is an obvious oxymoron:


Yep, that's our Jihadist-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama giving the "Islamic Gang Sign" of the one-finger salute. (No, not THAT finger, dirty-mind!). It's the "distinctive and well-known" Islamist index finger salute to Allah (blessed be his name), so Obama can let the leaders of the African nations know that secretly he is with them.

But if that is the case, then what are we to think about this?


OH MY GOD!!! It's worse than we ever thought!!! Yeah, we "get" the Billary Clintons -- that goes without saying. But sweet Jesus, Richard Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush and for fuck's sake, is that Ronald Reagan???!!!

I hate to be all smug about this, but it all goes back to those goddam hippies. Check this out:


Yes, that is none other than Mister Natural, who happens to be my personal guru, and just look at that fucker. He's doing it too!!!

OMFG, we are SO fucked!!!

Tennessee Wants the Bible for "Official State Book"

 A Tennessee state rep, one Jerry Sexton (R-Fartknocker) wants the state to designate an official State Book. Not just any book, mind you, but the Big One itself, the so-called Holy Bible.

Aside from the obvious constitutional church-state issues (First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...") it is not clear to me what that particular book has to do with Tennessee. It seems to me as though an official "state book" ought to somehow reflect the history, the culture, or the literature of the state it is the offical book of.

There are dozens of famous writers connected to Tennessee, from James Agee to Alex Haley to Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren, all of them having written significant books suitable for consideration. I personally would like to see either Haley's Roots: The Saga of An American Family or Warren's All the King's Men be chosen for Tennessee's official state book.

While we are at it, I note that Tennessee doesn't seem to have an official "state film" -- I'd like to remedy that by nominating Stanley Kramer's great 1960 classic, Inherit the Wind, the story of the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial" starring Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (the Clarence Darrow character),  Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan), Gene Kelley in a non-singing and dancing role as E.K. Hornbeck (H.L. Mencken ) and a young pre-Bewitched Dick York as Bertram Cates (John Scopes).

This is another of my "must-see cinema" entries. You can watch the trailer here:


But to see it in good quality, you need to get the DVD from Netflix.

See also the Inherit the Wind page on the IMDB.

Are you listening, Rep. Jerry Sexton?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Must-See Cinema: Night of the Living Dead

Okay, while the original Night of the Living Dead should be at the top of everyone's "must-see cinema" list, I am sure that everyone has already seen it like a million times. It's the most influential made-on-a-shoestring movie ever made, and it is the stuff of cinematic legend.

If by some off chance you have not seen it check it out here on YouTube (in Hi-Def!).

But it's not that Night of the Living Dead that I'm talking about here. No, I am talking about the parody-spoof version done by an improvisational  comedy group called The LA Connection, who had a syndicated television show way back in 1985 called Mad Movies with the LA Connection.

This group would parody classic films by using the What's Up Tiger Lily? approach of making up a comic alternate dialog, overdubbed onto the screen images. In their short run on television, they did comic versions of some 24 movies, all of which are available for viewing on YouTube.

But my very favorite of all of these spoofs was their take on Night of the Living Dead:


Watch it. If you liked the original movie, you'll love this spoof! Hell, even if you didn't -- it's still fucking hilarious! Even with the poignant touch added by Lesley Gore's death a couple of days ago.

Watch it, you'll get it...