Saturday, March 18, 2006

Have I asked you to buy me things from my Wish List recently?

If you look over to the right there and click the View my complete profile link you'll find, among other things, a link to it. If you're amazed at the quality of posts on this site (I know I am), please consider making a small donation to the Buy Ben Those CDs And Books He Can't Score Through The Ink 19 Gig Fund. I thank you.

My God. It's Fluffy and Uranus.

This is a frame from the fine (and long overdue on DVD, if you ask me) cartoon series "Duckman," featuring supporting characters Fluffy and Uranus, described by one site as
Duckman's annoyingly cute, incredibly politically correct office assistants, a pair of stuffed animal temp workers who were mistakenly hired as a result of a computer error.

The site doesn't mention it, but the running gag with the characters was that they were destroyed in almost every episode, usually by Duckman himself, only to re-constitute their little sawdust bodies by the next one. And yes, this pre-dated "South Park."

These are the new Sound Pet rockin' teddy speakers.

Chris Matthews asks the important questions

The increasingly-spooky Chris Matthews distinguished himself last week with two questions that show him to be the proper heir to Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. First, in discussing Hillary Clinton's apparent reluctance to admit she made a mistake in voting for the Iraq war (for which she has drawn much criticism from liberal progressives):
MATTHEWS: You know, Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York, will not say what you just said. She has a way of skirting the issue. We had her spokesman on, Mr. [Howard] Wolfson, on last night who said there wouldn't have been a vote to allow force if the administration hadn't made the case it made.

But she won't say that she made a mistake. Is she hemmed in by the fact that she's a woman and can't admit a mistake, or else the Republicans will say, "Oh, that's a woman's prerogative to change her mind," or "another fickle woman?" Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?

Dig how he says she has a way of "skirting" the issue, too. Pretty nice, huh? Then he went on to exemplify the way in which "Beltway people" like him really are separate from other Americans in their perception and in their thinking, asking this question:
MATTHEWS: Take a look at this very unpleasant bit of polling here. In a recent Pew Research Center poll, the one word descriptions of President Bush have turned incredibly negative with 48 percent -- I checked this twice, this, I couldn't believe it, but it's true -- 48 percent of the people responding to this poll used such words as "incompetent," "idiot," and "liar" to describe our president. Kate O'Beirne, what happened to respect?

Good question, Chris. I'm not Kate O'Beirne, but should you be up late some night running Yahoo! News searches on your own name and stumble across this blog, I think you deserve a good answer.

I think...I think trying to sell control of our ports to a country that gave aid and comfort to the terrorists who killed thousands of our citizens might have happened to respect.

I think packing the Supreme Court with justices who make few bones about their desire to repeal a law most Americans support might have happened to respect.

I think detaining prisoners indefinitely and torturing them might have happened to respect.

I think exploiting the civil rights of repressed minorities for political gain might have happened to respect.

I think the quagmire in Iraq might have happened to respect.

I think Bush showing that he is at the beck-and-call of religious fanatics to the extent of injecting himself and the government into private medical family decisions might have happened to respect.

But that is, of course, just one fellows' opinion.

Items courtesy of Media Matters.

Friday, March 17, 2006

We -Are young but getting old before our time (updated)

Update-I found this paragraph in a book titled The Film Director As Superstar from 1970. It's a quote by Mike Nichols.
I don't even know that I want to go on, at all. When I saw Kubrick, I said: I don't know why the hell I do this. Tell me why you do it, because I'm not so sure I love doing it." And he said, "It's better to do it than not to do it." I suppose that's true. It explains why I keep making films though there are so many things involved that panic or distress me.

Original post: Tell it, brother. Roger Ebert's review of Ask The Dust doesn't make me any more eager to see the movie, but it does tell me he knows something about writers (or at least this writer) and the difficulty of depicting the art on film.

Who is harder to portray in a movie than a writer? The standard portrait is familiar: The shabby room, the typewriter, the bottle, the cigarettes, the crazy neighbors, the nickel cup of coffee...

For the record, I think I may have told one or two of you this privately, but: My favorite depiction of a writer in any film, at least in terms of Getting It Right about what it's like for me, remains Hank Azaria in Cradle Will Rock.

Still, in its wider focus, "Ask the Dust" finds a kind of poetry, because although we may not find it noble and romantic to sit alone in a room, broke and hung over and dreaming of glory, a writer can, and must. The film stars Colin Farrell as Arturo Bandini, who lives in a Los Angeles rooming house during the Depression. He has sold one story to the American Mercury, edited by H. L. Mencken, the god of American letters, and now he tries to write more: "The greatest man in America -- do you want to let him down?"

What the movie is about, above all, is the bittersweet solitude of the would-be great writer. Whether Arturo will become the next Hemingway (or Fante, or Bukowski) is uncertain, but Farrell shows him as a young man capable of playing the role should he win it...

Because all us next Hemingways look like Colin Farrell.

Is it me, or does this picture from X-Men 3 make it look like a musical?

"Memory, all alone in the moonlight..."

Ready to LOL so hard you'll fall out of your chair?

...and others in your household may come to ask you what the hell is wrong? Then take a look at Nathan Lane on Letterman late last year when he did the best parody of Brokeback Mountain anyone ever did.

(Let the clicker beware: Depending on your computer, the clip may be a little stop-and-start and take a long time the first time through. If it's anything like mine, you need to let it go through once doing that and then play it again from the top. But it's really funny and I think you'll think it was worth it.)

Clip is via Mark Evanier, who also reminds us that Al Jaffee celebrated his 85th birthday recently. As Mark notes:
Jaffee, according to the definitive book on people who've drawn for that silly publication, began his comic book career in 1941 at Quality Comics. He later became a writer-editor and occasional artist for Timely Comics and soon segued into a close relationship with Harvey Kurtzman, which led to him participating in some of Kurtzman's last issues of Mad as well as several post-Mad projects. It also led to him working for Kurtzman's successor at Mad, Al Feldstein, and becoming a mainstay of the magazine, first as a writer and later as a writer-artist. Along with the fold-in, he created the recurring feature, "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions," which David Letterman has (actually) cited as a fine summation of all he does for a living.

It's also what...let's just say "inspired" Bill Engvall's hook ("Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's your sign.").

Top of the morning to 'ye

But since it fell into my lot
That I should rise
And you should not
I gently rise and softly call
And joy be to you all

Irish traditional. As quoted on the prayer card from Michael O'Donoghue's wake, itself as reprinted in Dennis Perrin's biography of the writer.


From AmericaBlog:
Donald Wildmon, of the American Family Association, warns against using "Jewish words"
by John in DC - 3/16/2006 11:32:00 PM

From the March 8 edition of the AFA Report:
BENSON: Yeah, I mean, this is -- this is what you call -- what? -- chutzpah. This is -- this is --

WILDMON: That's a Jewish word, right? Be careful.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mark says a lot of what I think about the moves to censure or impeach Bush

So just go read what he says.

Bush continues to inch closer to an approval rating in the 20s

...according to the latest from the Pew Research Center.
Bush's overall approval measure stands at 33%, the lowest rating of his presidency. Bush's job performance mark is now about the same as the ratings for Democratic and Republican congressional leaders (34% and 32%, respectively), which showed no improvement in spite of public approval of the congressional response to the ports deal.

I have to wonder what the approval rating would be like for Democratic congressional "leaders" who realized they had deeply unpopular opponents, and might actually be in a good position to go on the offense, but yadda yadda yadda, you've heard it all before...

Lately I'm just amazed at the extent at which the American people is-clearly-so far ahead of our so-called "leaders," to say nothing of the traditional media. We know that Bush republicans have been revealed as terrible incompetents. It's only in the corridors of power and mock communication that anyone pretends otherwise.

Slipping away

I've been thinking about whether or not I want to blog about this. I don't do a lot of airing of "dirty laundry" here as some people do on their blogs, apart from our occasional trips into the insecure psyche of a writer.

I just feel that I'm losing a friend, and I don't want to, but I don't really know what to do about it. It's somebody I've known for a pretty long time, but we just seem to have hit that point where the emails and calls stop being returned. And at a certain point I have to conclude that I need to take a hint and that-for whatever reason-I don't mean as much to them as I once did, or as I thought I did.

I say "for whatever reason" because it's not like we had a fight or anything. I hate the moments in friendships where you realize they're changing, or just ending. Why do you think I write about enduring friendships?

Part of me wants to say, it makes me sad, but you have to respect the wishes of friends.

Part of me is incredibly fucking angry that apparently they don't value me.

And yet a third worries that this is just going to make things worse-but it doesn't seem like it's getting better on its own anytime soon.

I've had the experience recently of somebody posting their POV of a fight we were having on their blog and even though they didn't identify me, it didn't make me feel great. It made me feel I was being passively-agressively manipulated, and I don't react to that.

I don't want to make anyone feel like that. The person I'm thinking of reads this blog, and I don't want to make them feel like that. But I've just been feeling crummy about this, and thinking about whether I wanted to blog it, and it's late, and what the fuck.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A long time ago, we used to be friends

And a long time ago, I used to watch a cool show called "Veronica Mars" that was well-acted and smartly written. I don't know what happened to it, but the show in its timeslot now has a lead actress sleepwalking through her part. Like a Buffy season-six-and-seven Sarah Michelle Gellar.

And the plots used to be the sort where you thought you knew where an episode was going at the beginning only to be delighted by a truly surprise twist. I had last night's "bad guy" pegged 15 minutes into the show. I even guessed the motive correctly.

(Granted, that may just have been that I'm so used to thinking like lesbians do these days, and it wasn't a fair test)

But, "Veronica Mars" has now moved onto the list of shows that I don't know how many more times they can miss the mark before I give up and stop watching in despair. Thank god the sexond season of Huff is starting in a few weeks.

Sing if you're happy that way

Now the national Democrats' 2006 marquee is ablaze with the names of carefully selected stars. Notably missing from the party's spotlight are candidates who embrace gay marriage; their ranks include strong gubernatorial contenders in two of the largest states, New York and California. So who is cast in leading roles?

Newly elected Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, was tapped to give the Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union address.

Tennessee's Rep. Harold Ford, boosted by national Democrats for a Senate seat being vacated by the GOP, brags of voting in favor of amending the U.S. Constitution to outlaw gay marriage.

The Democrat recruited by the national party to challenge deeply prejudiced Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey Jr., boasts, "The values I live by call on me to fight discrimination wherever I find it." Only trouble is, he doesn't find discrimination when he sees gay couples prevented from protecting themselves and their children by marrying.

And, of course, there will be plenty of cameo appearances by Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is quick to point out she supports the Defense of Marriage Act. The party's leading lady sees nothing wrong with a federal law that keeps elderly gay partners from getting Social Security survivor benefits.

Heart-breaking betrayals, cold calculations, whispered promises. It's another film noir political year. I've been scolded for revealing that Jack and Ennis didn't ride into the Brokeback sunset together, so I won't give away the ending of this year's real-life thriller -- but only because I don't know it.

I do know the national Democratic Party is still taking millions upon millions of gay and gay-friendly voters for granted.

Read it all here. And-

Don't try to kid us that if you're discreet
You're perfectly safe as you walk down the street
You don't have to mince or make bitchy remarks
To get beaten unconscious and left in the dark
I had a friend who was gentle and short
Got lonely one evening and went for a walk
Queerbashers caught him and kicked in his teeth
He was only hospitalised for a week

Sing if you're glad to be gay
Sing if you're happy that way

Tom Robinson Band, "Glad To Be Gay"

Meanwhile, in my stupid state

Washington Considering 'Pharmacist Refusal' Proposal

The proposal would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions like emergency contraception on moral, religious or ethical grounds.

SEATTLE - Getting a prescription filled is pretty straight-forward. Take the doctor's slip into the pharmacy and get the medication.

But some pharmacists are stepping up and saying they won't fill prescriptions on moral grounds.

The debate centers around the so-called morning after pill, or Plan B.

It's emergency contraception meant to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Given how blue this state is, I don't want to think this absolutely indefensible proposal will get anywhere-and Governor Christine Gregoire does oppose it. But then, I don't don't want to believe that most Democratic men, given a choice between standing with women or winning, will throw the ladies to the wolves, and that's apparently true.

I don't want to believe that the Republican stranglehold on our jugular is so strong it doesn't matter that 66% of the country dislike Bush (and more dislike Cheney), the Democrats still aren't going to...oh, what is the phrase..."do anything."

And that's apparently true, too.

ETA: If you missed it, The Daily Show did a great bit last night with former Democratic political hopeful Paul Hackett essentally sticking it to the Democratic establishment that "escorted him out of town."

Good morning.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This one's for James "the" Mann

The rest of you may enjoy it just as much, of course. But mostly, it's for James.

A couple of notes on recent TV watching

One: As if I needed another reason to hate The L Word...they just killed off one of their major characters; she had contracted breast cancer. Since I had no emotional investment in the character-she was little miss "I'm gay, and when I deny that I deny the best part of me..." in the first season-that's not my new reason to hate it.

From what I saw, it was no better or worse than your average "death of a major character" episode. But-following the episode, they showed a 10 minute bit of self-congratulatory bullshit about how-quote-"groundbreaking" the episode was, and how "the loss of the character reminds us of the true heroes..." (women who are battling breast cancer).

As someone whose mother had breast cancer, and her recovery from it was the strongest thing I have ever seen her do. And as someone who values subtlety in his art and entertainment, and real sentiment as opposed to Hallmark.

To the writers of The L Word: Go back to bed, would you please!

Two: They also killed off one of my heroes on 24 last night, someone I actually did have five seasons worth of investment in. BASTARDS!

Republicans get overwhelming support from our military

Except, of course, when they don't.

There'll always be an England

From the Telegraph:

As a trooper in the Special Air Service's counter-terrorist team - the black-clad force that came to the world's attention during the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 - Ben Griffin was at the pinnacle of his military career.

Within a year of joining the elite force in early 2004 and serving as a trooper in the SAS's G-Squadron, he learnt that his unit was being posted to Baghdad, where it would be working alongside its American equivalent, Delta Force, targeting al-Qaeda cells and insurgent units.

Unknown to any of his SAS colleagues at their Hereford-based unit, however, Mr Griffin, then 25, had been harbouring doubts over the "legality" of the war. Despite recognising that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and posed a threat, albeit a small one, to the West, he did not believe that the case for war had been made. The events he witnessed during his three-month tour in Baghdad, and especially the conduct of the American troops, would force him into making the most difficult decision of his life. During a week's leave in March 2005 he told his commanding officer in a formal interview that he had no intention of returning to Iraq because he believed that the war was morally wrong. Moreover, he said he believed that Tony Blair and the Government had lied to the country and had deceived every British serviceman and woman serving in Iraq.

Mr Griffin expected to be placed under arrest, labelled a coward, court-martialed and imprisoned for daring to air such views.

Instead, however, he was allowed to leave the Army with his exemplary military record intact and with a glowing testimonial from his commanding officer, who described him as a "balanced and honest soldier who possesses the strength and character to genuinely have the courage of his convictions".

Monday, March 13, 2006

My god. They're onto me.

Take the quiz:
Which Victoria's Secret Angel are you?

Tyra Banks
You are easygoing, sweet, and care for others!

Quizzes by -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!

If there's war between the sexes then there'll be no people left

Good column by a woman whose name is new to me, Beth Quinn:
...South Dakota has banned all abortions except when the pregnancy or birth is about to kill the woman.

The law is being challenged, of course - which was the point - and will go to the Supreme Court. With Bush's anti-abortion Justices Sam Alito and John Roberts on the bench now, that women-loving Roe v. Wade ruling is probably gonna be toast!

Researchers have developed a vaccine that prevents cervical cancer. You'd think we'd be dancing in the streets over this one - an actual cancer vaccine that could save thousands of women's lives annually. It works by safeguarding women against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

Here's the rub. Women should get the shot before they're sexually active. That means it should be part of standard childhood immunizations.

And that won't do. Bush says removing the threat of cervical cancer would make women promiscuous. Abstinence only, girls! If you get cancer from sex, you're just a slut anyway.

Another right-on Krugman column

Like one or two of my brethern on the left, there have been times when I was quite impressed with John McCain. His apparent candor, respect as a war hero, and given the lack of any truly dynamic candidates in the last election...well, I suspect it's easy to see why some of us fell for him.

Thing is, the longer you look at McCain, the more you notice that for all hus cultivated image as "the maverick republican," he does things just as bad as the rest of them. Whether it's singling out Michael Moore from the dias of the Republican convention to criticize F-9/11 (which he hadn't seen). Or the way he swallowed the dirty tricks Bush and Rove played on him and his family in the 2000 election to suck up.

Or a few things Paul Krugman talks about in this column (via TGW)...
Would Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, have found some pretext for invading Iraq? We'll never know. But Mr. McCain still thinks the war was a good idea, and he rejects any attempt to extricate ourselves from the quagmire. "If success requires an increase in American troop levels in 2006," he wrote last year, "then we must increase our numbers there." He didn't explain where the overstretched U.S. military is supposed to find these troops.

He isn't a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don't have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation's central provision show that he's a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.

Good to have that cleared up

The General found a dandy paragraph in a "polygamist wife wanted" ad from a Pastor(!) who is just not finding his one wife sufficiently attentive to his needs. Or perhaps it's not the Pastor whose needs aren't being sufficently attended, because the paragraph reads:

We do not believe in homosexual relationships! Although we believe that the 'two women' are okay as long as it does not take the place of the male.

How utterly reasonable of them.

Well, good, 'cause you're not getting any

Jennifer Aniston says she doesn't want "pity." Not a problem. I try to make it a practice not to pity people who make more than a million dollars a year, as a rule. It's just a good guideline.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

...Bruce Lee, V For Vendetta & Into The Groove(y)

The New York Times has an article about Alan Moore. For any of you who don't know, Moore is the comics writer whose works include "Watchmen," one of the most acclaimed comic books of the past 20 years if not of all time, as well as the books upon which the movies "V For Vendetta", "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and "From Hell" were based.

He was not best pleased by the adaptations of his work, and has taken a marvelously overreactive position:

With inventions like these, and a body of writing that spans nearly three decades, Mr. Moore, a 52-year-old native of Northampton, England, distinguished himself as a darkly philosophical voice in the medium of comic books — a rare talent whose work can sell solely on the strength of his name. But if Mr. Moore had his way today, his name would no longer appear on almost any of the graphic novels with which he is most closely associated. "I don't want anything more to do with these works," he said in a recent telephone interview, "because they were stolen from me — knowingly stolen from me."

Mr. Moore recognizes that his senses of justice and proportion may seem overdeveloped. "It is important to me that I should be able to do whatever I want," he said. "I was kind of a selfish child, who always wanted things his way, and I've kind of taken that over into my relationship with the world."

He was also immortalized in Pop Will Eat Itself's catalogue of cool, Can U Dig It? referenced in the headline above. And as someone who spends much too much time thinking about what's going to happen to my work once it's "outside my protection," let me just say...

Alan Moore knows the score.