Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is Paris Burning?

More YouTube linkage! I have been commenting elsewhere about the McCain oppo ad seen below.




All the attention is going to the truly odd decision to include clips of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears near the beginning. It's a little sequence that goes starlet*fade*starlet*fade*Obama. The obvious message, the one that my right-wing pals are buying, is that like these other two figures, Obama is famous and good-looking but without substance. I had responded that the juxtaposition was a sneaky attempt to make us afraid that Obama would take our white women. We're all wrong.

Mea culpa - I hadn't actually seen the ad.

I had read about it but we don't have flash installed at work, so I didn't get to actually WATCH it until just now. The blondes are nothing more than magician's assistants, meant to distract us from the real message of the ad.

Watch it again, and pretend you don't speak English. Without the narration, which has little to do with the visuals anyway, you're left with this - a mob of millions of people chanting Obama's name, ominous music, and say, wasn't he speaking in GERMANY last week?

That's right, the point of the ad is that Obama is Hitler. Not the cerebral point but the important, deep-in-your-amygdala point. Kudos to the clever ad people who figured out how to keep you from noticing. I'd say it was the people who got Bush elected, but I can't imagine McCain would work with those guys after the 2000 primaries. He sure did learn from 'em though!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake!

5.4? Big deal. I won't roll outta bed for anything less than a 6.5.


If' it's anything below this, I just don't care.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Liberal Media Hates Obama More, Study Says

This issue probably fascinates more than it ought to. Really, how can you prove that the entire Main Stream Media has a bias one way or the other? Individual examples abound, but on the whole, it seems impossible that all the commercial news enterprises would lean one way or ther other. There's no profit in alienating the other half of your audience. Except at Fox, which has proven that there is money in skewing right as long as you lie about it.

However, this study (hat tip LA Times) suggests that the media hates McCain less than it hates Obama.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.
What does it prove? Nothing. Honest, nothing at all. Except that whatever bias you think there is, most likely you're mistaken. It happens that there were more juicy negative stories floating around during the study, and the media like trouble. Had McCain been accused of being brainwashed by Christians AND being a secret Muslim, I'm sure numbers would have been closer. By the way, speaking of brainwashing, prisoner of war? Why isn't anyone a little worried about this happening? Because John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life, that's why.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reevaluating Steely Dan's Copycats

I'm going to back down from my snarky tribute band comments last week to give props to PretzelLogic, the Steely Dan tribute band at the park tonight. They rock! And it's not the easiest material to rock with.

I suppose I'm more impressed with these guys because if you hear a Beatles song done well, it's easy to ignore. The sound of Beatles is like breathing, it's so familiar. Steely Dan, to quote Steely Dan, is the mechanized hum of another world. It LOOKS more difficult.

Badly typed on my iPod

** Nota Bene: Early in the show, these four teenage boys on skateboards stopped near me (I was situated near the edge of the crowd) and one of them said, "who's playin'?" I told them it was a Steely Dan cover band. They laughed and skated away. With them, they took the last trace of my perceived hipness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Man Bites Dog - Hot Dog!

I have been looking for my golden counter-argument to this liberal-media-bias talking point about the disparate coverage given to Barack Obama's campaign. After all, if dozens of reporters show up for Obama's appearance in Baghdad and only one greets McCain in New Hampshire, there can only be one explanation, right? What could drive the far left nutroot journalists out to see McSame, anyway?

1. "Look Smitty! It says here McCain will be touring New Hampshire! And after Obama made that big deal about McCain not being in New Hampshire for over 900 days! That's news! Send all our guys out there now!"

2. "New Hampshire! We've got a bureau out there anyhow, covering the recent rash of bears coming out of the woods and knocking over trash cans. Let's send a few to this McCain thing."

3. "This is the story of the century - old white guy runs for President Of The United States! We gotta cover this like Dutch Boy paint!"

Point is, I guess, you can't blame everything on political bias. Look here, where MD complains that the coverage of John Edwards sex scandal isn't getting the attention of Larry Craig's sex scandal. Why is that, I wonder? I suppose that maybe there's less irony because Edwards didn't chair several committees seeking to limit heterosexual activity. I suppose because Edwards looks so much like a Ken Doll, the only surprise is how long it's taken to get a decent sex scandal outta him. Larry Craig, on the other hand... let's face it, it's news that a guy who looks like that would be involved in ANY kind of sex.

And by the way, wasn't it the liberal media who ran with the Clinton sex scandal stories for five solid years? Maybe it was only three solid years. In fact, this Edwards thing is such a non-issue that even Warner Todd Huston hasn't brought it up yet, and he's the king of liberal media bias accusations. He thinks the Weather Channel has an agenda. He avoids ESPN and gets all his sports from Fox.

Counting down to WTH's posting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Right Meets Left In the Neutral Zone For Steaks

So Madeline's Dad is in town this week (actually he's in region, but I persuaded him to drive into town) for dinner. Actually, he persuaded me to come out and meet him, because he's a more sociable guy than I am. In any event, he drove from Orange County and I drove from the San Fernando Valley and we met at Sunset Plaza, one of the least gay parts of West Hollywood.

We wound up eating at BLT Steakhouse, a pricey but exquisite steak place that doesn't, of course, serve BLT's: the initials stand for Bistro Laurent Tourondel. If you want bacon, you better order it raw, wrapped around a duck liver. I went widely off my diet for this meal. I think even my goatee gained weight.

MD (not his real name) is quite a guy. Pretty tall, and not a foaming-at-the-mouth conservative in real life. Then again we had the good sense to keep off politics, sticking to show biz, appreciative murmurs about the attractivness of the waitresses, and college drinkin' stories. After a while one of his old college buddies, also visiting from out of town, showed up and we all had good times.

It went so well, maybe I'll try to have coffee with Warner Todd Huston next.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tribute Bands: A Tribute

Last night I attended another free concert in the park - this time it was TICKET TO RIDE, an excellent Beatles tribute band. I wasn't close enough to see how they handled the string parts but I'm guessing that they either used some sequenced playback or they had an unseen faux fifth Beatle (maybe "George Martin" in the backstage area) handling the trickier parts. And of course, maybe there was a "Murray the K" around the front, shilling for them. No "Yoko" in sight, which is good for band stability I guess.

Enjoyable but it got me thinking of tribute bands in general. I'm totally down with the concept of a Beatles tribute band. For one thing about half the songs they performed were never performed live by the Beatles themselves - too complicated, and you wouldn't have heard them over the hysterical screaming anyway. So Ticket To Ride perform the valuable service of allowing the communal live enjoyment of this material. Next week, however - a Steely Dan tribute band called REELIN' IN THE YEARS.

I'm going to see them, but I have serious reservations about this. The obvious one is, of course, the need for a Steely Dan tribute band when Steely Dan is out there, healthy as a horse and available for bookings. Maybe not for a free concert in the park, but if you offer them enough money they'll happily play the Greek Theatre a few miles down the freeway. The other reservation is about the quality of the imitation. It's not so difficult to duplicate the Beatles's smooth Liverpudlian harmonies, but Donald Fagan's chalky whine is largely considered inimitable. Probably because, really, do you WANT to make your throat do that? So there's that, then there's the fact that Le Dan sound the way they do because they used the best studio musicians and did 1000 takes for every song. They are the Stanley Kubricks of music. That's why they take 25 years to make a record.

A few months ago this girl took me to a ZZ Top tribute band at a local club and we got to go backstage to meet them as they were gluing on their beards and practicing their "circle pointing finger" move. And I was thinking with the money they spend on spirit gum, they could be buying better amps. With the time they're spending learning to keep the hair out of their strings, they could be writing new material. And again, ZZ Top is still available. Not only that, they look almost exactly like they did in the eighties. Though under all that hair, they probably look like Aaron Spelling or something.

If the R.I.A.A is suing 90-year-old ladies, 6-year-old girls and in one notable case, a networked printer for file sharing on the grounds that it takes money out of the pockets of the artists, why don't they go after tribute bands? These guys are keeping Steely Dan and ZZ Top from getting gigs, aren't they? Maybe Instead Zeppelin and Grey Sabbath are the real reason why the music industry is failing. Go get 'em boys.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Famous Shawties

I'm 5'8", which is said to be average for my generation, but all my life I've been sensitive about my height. For that reason, I'm pleased to see this on Mental Floss: A list of famous people shorter than I. Aw, what the hell, I won't make you click it.

10 Famous Short People
1. James Madison, 5′4″ (Shortest President ever. He only weighed about 100 pounds.)
2. Charlotte Bronte – 4′9″
3. Charlie Manson – 5′2″ (Who knew such a little guy could be so terrifying?)
4. Danny DeVito – 5′0″
5. John Keats – 5′ and ¾ an inch
6. Edith Piaf – 4′8″
7. St. Francis of Assisi – 5′1″
8. Pablo Picasso – 5′4″
9. Alexander Pope – 4′6″ (Pope had tuberculosis which stunted his growth.)
10. Martin Scorsese – 5′3″ or 5′4″ (Sources vary.)

I wonder where George Stephanopolous and Michael J. Fox would be on this list? I don't care, the point is I tower over 'em. If only I could say the same about my younger brother, or practically everyone I went to high school with. I matriculated in the land of the giants.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Plan to Drop the Price of Gas

For the US to bring down the price of oil significantly enough to benefit me as well as Exxon we'd have to do the following:

1. Open up ANWR for drilling. Not just ANWR, but all the coastlines, all the national parks, all the places that the oil companies have been spoiling for over the years. This will increase supply to meet demand.

2. Probably double refining capacity. Every summer when the price of gas goes up, a press release is issued saying that the refineries are processing as much as they can, but the demand is greater. And one of them is always being repaired during the peak summer months. We want to keep that price stable, we need redundancy in the refinery system. Besides, they system we have now can't handle even the small amount of American oil we put through it.

3. Forbid the oil companies, who are investing their money in new drilling and refineries, from marketing American product outside the US. This isn't actually that big a deal because the demand is there. However, it will likely mean a lessening of imports as they shift that product to other markets. If we produce more oil and import less, the net effect could be the same amount of oil. So for the scheme to work, we have to import the same amount and increase domestic supply. So look for increased regulation of the oil industry. And sorry, we have to give up the dream of "less dependence on foreign oil."

4. Okay, here's the tough one: convince the oil companies that it is in their best interests to charge less. This will be a hard one because they have just spent all that R&D money, plus as businessmen they will be turning down profits, leaving money on the table. After all, if we're used to paying X for gas, why sell it to us for X/2? Unless the Government steps in to the oil business in a big way (much like they do with the savings and loan business) we can assume the prices will be about where they are now.

As you can see, this plan depends a lot on the good graces of the oil industry. In fact you can say that it boils down to whether you think Bobby or J.R. is in charge. My money is on J.R. but hey, who knows? Maybe these guys feel bad about charging what they do now. As a goodwill gesture, they could drop the price of a gallon a couple of bucks for a while.

Of course, if you believe that the price of oil is purely dictated by supply and demand, we could test that by bleeding the strategic oil reserve a little. Just to prove it.

Maybe I Won't Move To Orange County

This billboard, with the Twin Towers burning on the left, has gone up in Orange County, Florida. Oddly, the incident referenced happened while Republicans were running every branch of government. Kind of counter-intuitive, I'd say.

What is the Republican Song anyway? Queen of Denial.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Psychological Hypothetical

I've heard this said: that merely ANNOUNCING that we will allow domestic drilling will bring down the price of oil. And yet (hat tip to commenter Nicole at CROOKS AND LIARS) today when President Bush rescinded the executive order put in place by the flaming liberal OTHER President Bush to prevent offshore drilling, the price of a barrel of oil climbed slightly. So what does this mean?

A. Announcements like this have no effect.
B. People assume that anything Bush does to help will make things worse.
C. Speculators aren't driving the price of oil as much as oil companies are.
D. It's Clinton's fault.

You tell me. I'm flexible.

Snow And Cartoons

First a note to people watching for these things - farewell to Tony Snow, a classy guy and thorough professional, better than both his predecessor and his successor. My good wishes go out to his loved ones.

I also have a few good wishes to the publishers of THE NEW YORKER, which is reaping a mailing-list-full of controversey due their satirical cover of a Muslim Barack Obama giving his camo-clad militant wife the terrorist fist jab in the oval office. Come on people, lighten up a little! I have to admit this is the first time I've disappointed by one of Obama's responses - the correct riposte would have been "Michelle and I laughed our heads off when we saw this." Ah well, maybe we ARE a nation of whiners after all.

Funny people everywhere are dying a little.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

HoJo Just Now

7/14 note - the sound file failed to upload, which is probably for the best given that I was probably attempting to break a dozen laws and singlehandedly bring down Howard Jones' post eighties career by allowing you to hear him without making you give him money. He sounded just fine, by the way. A little sunny and un-ironic for my taste but the dude knows his way around a keyboard-based hook. And after all, things could only get better.

Liveblogging Howard Jones

I'm at Warner Park, where the Valley Cultural Center is presenting Howard Jones. As usual I'm too far away to SEE Howard Jones, but he sounds great. Sample to follow.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writer's Block

I don't know what to tell you guys... I tried to write something yesterday (it was another one of those stop-picking-on-Obama things) and I just couldn't complete a thought. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe I want Obama to purify himself in the fire of crazy Republican attacks. (Republican and Jesse Jackson, that lovable pixie.) In any event, nothing about O.

I just went through two pages of WONKETTE and still no ideas. I give up. I'm going have some butternut squash ravioli and a diet coke. Talk to you later.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I'm Your Shill

I didn't realize it until just now, but I'll sell myself out for a handful of seeds. Or you know, almost anything. For example, last month a publisher contacted me out of the blue and offered to send me a book if I'd blog about it - and look, I did! It's actually a pretty cool book and it looks great on my black kidney-shaped bachelor pad coffee table, but the point is I wouldn't have given it a second thought in a bookstore. Not that I go into those places any more. NOBODY does.


Meanwhile, a week ago I attempted to attend a record release party at an exclusive club in Hollywood and didn't make it in. I wrote to Chelsea E, the sexy chanteuse who threw a party at a place so exclusive that it wouldn't even let her own guests in, and she was suitably mortified. She mailed me the gift bag they were giving out (that I would have received had I been allowed inside) and it contained candy, a scented candle, a CD, a green condom, and a T-shirt, which I wore to the park yesterday for the 4th of July concert.

video

So attention, purveyors of merchandise! If you got it and it's free, I want it! And I'll talk about it! I only own two t-shirts which are devoid of advertising. Your message here! I'm always looking for low-carb tasty snacks! I'll happily test software or gadgets for you and report the results. And the results will ALWAYS BE FAVORABLE. 

And ladies, do you wish you had a little more of a reputation? I can help you out with that.

Look, I might as well do this. I'm running out of crackpot political opinions fast. And once Obama is president, what am I gonna complain about? Endorse my efforts to endorse you! 

PS: You know what? I think while I'm waiting for my laundry to dry I'll head off to The Stand (5780 Canoga Ave in Woodland Hills, a block north of Burbank) to pick up my a free hot dog and fountain drink. They were passing out coupons at the park yesterday.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Latest Political Outrage

The latest campaign season outrage has to do with Gen. Wesley Clarke's comment on Face the Nation this last weekend:
"Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President."
How dare he say such a thing!

Well, he's right of course. Not every POW is qualified to run the country. Not every Veteran is qualified to run the country. In the last election the same people who are expressing outrage over this comment voted for a non-veteran over someone who fought in Viet Nam... who VOLUNTEERED. So obviously they agree.

McCain does have all kinds of qualifications to be president, and Clarke is just pointing out that service isn't one of them. Obama is also qualified, and I just happen to prefer him because he's less about the fear and more about the hope. 

It'll be fun to see how many people we all wreck in the next four months on the way to the White House, instead of simply listening to the candidates and judging them by their own merits. Fun in a slowing-down-for-a-bad-traffic-accident kind of way.