Consider this quote from David Axelrod, “Chief Strategist” for Barack Obama, when asked last Monday about the administration’s plans for Wisconsin’s recall vote: “Our entire field operation is committed to it. We’ve got hundreds of lawyers up there for voter protection programs, so we’re very invested in it and we’re very much in the corner of Mayor Barrett.”
Let’s zero in on this particular statement: “We’ve got hundreds of lawyers up there for voter protection programs.” Hundreds of lawyers. He sounds like an army staff sergeant confirming that an infantry detachment has been deployed to hold a bridge on the Rhine. All kidding aside, it’s an unfortunate truism in today’s world: if there’s even a whiff that something might even be remotely controversial, send in the lawyers. Don’t worry about letting people think and act for themselves – send in the lawyers. In this case, instead of allowing for what should be a simple, time-tested process to take place – 1) voter goes to polling place 2) voter casts vote 3) voter leaves – the government felt the need to send a few coach buses full of tort-fanatics to make sure everything’s on the up and up. I’m not saying the idea was totally pointless, but I don’t think that the expected level of chicanery and strong-arming in Madison was reflective of the need for a “hundreds of lawyers”. Cairo, sure – but not Madison. Sending “hundreds of lawyers” anywhere other than Gingrich Lunar Estates is a bad idea.
Further to that last sentence, I guess I’m baffled by the notion that someone would dispatch “hundreds of lawyers” to anything, as if doing so would actually be helpful and not a hindrance. I wonder if these lawyers billed at a reduced rate because they served the country’s greater good — or if the government paid them overtime because a) the recall went past 3pm, and b) they had to get their asses from DC to Madison. Yes, I’m completely discounting the idea that the government sent hundreds of Wisconsin-based lawyers to do the job, because the idea reeks of practicality.
IOH: -129,357. When Judge Judy is America’s number-one daytime show, there’s a problem.
This is not Judge Judy:
I should preface this by saying that I like hockey when the Chicago Blackhawks are playing. When they’re not playing, there’s as much chance of me watching hockey as there is of me watching a game of competitive foosball. In other words, I’m using the word “beef” loosely. And by the way, I suck at foosball.
Anyways, I be beefin’ with the NHL because of what’s currently happening in the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s a “phenomenon” which seems to occur every year: an ordinarily average/above-average goalie suddenly gets hot in the playoffs and almost single-handedly carries his team much farther than it would ordinarily go. The LA Kings (really? The LA Kings, sans Wayne Gretzky?) are one win away from hoisting the Cup largely because their goalie, Jonathan Quick (who I always want to call Jonathan Swift), has morphed into a hybrid octopus-black hole. As alluded to in the first paragraph, I don’t follow hockey closely at all, so I won’t ply you with stats — but I think LA was the fifth or sixth-best team (record-wise) in its conference, and maybe the twelfth-best in the entire playoffs – and that Quick had a decent year, but not a dominant one. However, come playoff time there’s no other sport where one average/above-average player can get “hot” and have such a significant impact on his team’s chances.
This always happens in the NHL playoffs, and it’s a big reason why I’ve never been a hockey fan – because watching a goalie stop 59 shots a game and “will” his team to a 1-0 victories bores the crap out of me. I’m the opposite of a hockey maven, but I can still recall four goalies that have pulled the “I just channeled Ken Dryden for six weeks – now I’ll go back to being Jocelyn Thibault for the rest of my career” routine: Jonathan Quick, Antii Niemi (2010 Blackhawks), Jean-something Giguere (Anaheim Ducks from several years back), Olaf “Olie the Goalie” Kolzig from the Capitals (in the late 90’s), and Curtis Joseph for the St. Louis Blues (mid-90’s?). My sense is that aside from Joseph, none of these guys is a Hall of Fame-caliber goalie. I don’t think Kolzig lasted for more than a few years in Washington; who knows what Giguere is doing these days; the jury is still out on Niemi, who seems about average in San Jose; and I think Swift is well-regarded, but still too early to tell if he’ll keep it up. And though not all of these guys went on to win the Stanley Cup (namely, Kolzig and Joseph), my point is that NHL goalies can go from ordinary to superhuman with the flick of a switch, carry their team to ridiculous heights in the playoffs, and then revert back to utter normalness. This bugs me because it turns the game from a “team” game into a game of “whose goalie is playing absolutely out of his mind right now”. I like the fact that most goalies are considered “oddballs” who have weird rituals and like to paint cool stuff on their helmets, but I dislike the fact that they can have so much control over the outcome of a playoff campaign.
On another note, I’m not sure these guys can wear any more padding. I realize the puck comes at them at 100 miles per hour on occasion, but they look like miniature versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and it seems a bit excessive. I get the fact that dekes are in integral part of scoring in hockey, and getting the goalie out of position to open up the net is an art form, but seriously – when the goalie is standing straight up and in “ready” position, I don’t think more than eight percent of the net is visible. Every time I watch a hockey game, I’m amazed by how hard it is to score when everything is status quo, meaning that the goalie isn’t stuck behind the net or lying flat on his back.
IOH: -0.7. I like hockey players – they’re by far the most grounded of any professional athlete. But I don’t like how boring the playoffs get when one team’s goalie catches fire and turns into a human Venus flytrap.
The above painting is by Larry MacDougall, a fantasy artist I recently became acquainted with. His work is exceptional, and within a minute of seeing this piece I was inspired to write this poem:
Roots grow cold as Hallow’s Eve draws near,
Timeless tradition commences in deep autumn of year
When wooden wheels shake and wagon ever creaks,
And the smell of fragrant fire doth greet my aged beak
Through the forest to the dell, where brown chimneys stretch high
Sending tendrils of smoke to the sepia sky
Down the hill and o’er creek my silent satyr steers
Towards conical roofs and lodgings queer
“Oh ho, oh hey!” Smiling children all say,
“It’s the Pumpkin Dealer come to visit us today.
His wares are the ripest and than the rest much bigger,
With plenty of room for white candlelight’s quiver.”
On Elder’s Lawn I leave for them one of my wares,
Upon which they’ll conjure a face which scares,
And while they chortle and plan, I move on, past Barley Down,
But my satyr and I do not turn around
Instead it’s up the next hill, and through the next wood,
Toward the next green dale, and the town of Owen’s Good
The sun sets soon after, leaving purple twilight,
And circular windows begin to grow bright
From carriage seat I look up at shining stars above,
And I am eternally glad to be doing what I love.
Larry’s website is http://www.mythwood.blogspot.com/. Beautiful work — highly recommended.
Electricity, as has been made well known in educational programming ranging from Crossfire to She’s the Sheriff, has one source and one source only: Zeus the Almighty, God of Thunder and expert at, among other things, impregnating unsuspecting villagers and throwing a fastball that would make Randy Johnson’s mullet turn yellow. From his great power plant in the clouds above the island of Crete doth the Almighty dole out that most valuable of nature’s resources which powers our alarm clocks, our Zune docking stations, and, for those bars lucky enough to have them, our tabletop versions of Galaga and Dig Dug.
As stated in the Pamphlets of Prestos, which outline how natural resources are to be procured from the gods, obtaining electricity for your home, car or various other tools of pleasure is a simple matter — in fact, there are only three things you must do:
1) Confirm that the product requiring electricity has been manufactured in Greece by the nimble-if-slightly-unmotivated fingers of any one of the 147 Great Greek Labor Unions, otherwise known as the Tornados of Chaos. Any product not manufactured in Greece, i.e. anything manufactured in Sweden, Sardinia or Cicero, IL, is forbidden to receive the quality voltage which Zeus provides. Any products found to be manufactured by those godforsaken Macedonians will not only be denied electricity, but their owners also summarily whipped.
2) Memorize the lyrics to the Metallica song “Orion”, homage to that greatest of all Grecian hunters, he who is ten-time winner of the Richard Dawson MVAK (most valuable ass-kicker) Award. If you did not within three seconds of reading this say to yourself “Aha! This is a trick request, for the song is an instrumental!” you are barred from using electricity and are hereby ordered to choose between kerosene and Soul Glo.
3) Ensure on the day of petition for electricity that you have properly attired any daughters aged fourteen to twenty-two in daisy dukes, six-inch pumps and tube tops sporting the visages of either Mark Slaughter or Kip Winger, for the Almighty Zeus will from time to time appear in person to approve an order and receive any tokens of appreciation for providing his shiny, crackling nectar. Yes, we’re still talking about electricity. For those who have sired only boys, all sons aged twelve to eighteen shall be presented for inspection by Dionysus for possible inclusion in his upcoming production of Caligula on Ice.
Thoth Trismegistus: Progenitor of the Line of Horus, Holder of the Global Zaxxon Record and Smartest Man Alive
If you ask me to explain what could break a man’s mind and cause him to slaughter unarmed women and children, I would submit to you that there is no humanity in modern warfare. When you are able to shoot another man dead from two kilometers’ distance, it is inhuman. When you are able to lay mines under a road and be miles away when your deed causes another man’s body to be blown apart, it is inhuman. When you can pilot a drone from a command base far distant from its human targets and, when the deed is done, simply shrug and say “looks like we got ‘em”, it is inhuman. When men are sent again and again into the same godless breach, thousands of miles from home and burdened with horrific scenes and increasing questions of “why”, it is inhuman. And the repercussions should not be surprising.
I have never seen combat, never enlisted in the army. But I have had a keen interest in war since I was a kid. I read books about military history. I play games which simulate famous battles, or whose goal is the conquest of foreign lands and people, whether fictitious or real. I am fascinated by the reasons why ancient battles were fought; engrossed with the strategies imposed by generals of old; rapt with the colorful characters that populate our planet’s military history. But when it comes to modern warfare (anything post-WWII), my interest is limited. The only two books I’ve read on the subject – In the Company of Heroes and Sebastian Junger’s War – deal almost exclusively with the human experience in modern war, as opposed to technology and tactics. There is, dare I say, no fun in modern warfare. No courage. No cowards. No chivalry. There is only technology, money, and a race to combine the two into the next grand killing machine.
Future wars, I hope, will be fought by non-human participants, i.e. robots, cyborgs, clones, etc. – who will either control themselves or be controlled by a soldier who operates in a capacity not unlike that of a kid playing a video game. But to continue involving human beings in a theater of war ruled by long-distance weapons and vicious killing machines, and thus force upon these human beings the ever-present fear of instantaneous death or dismemberment, is asking too much of the human psyche. Short of creating an army of super-soldiers who feel no psychological pain, it is my belief that human beings were not meant to participate in battles such as the ones currently waged, where one’s survival and success relies too much on luck and sheer force of numbers, and not enough on skill, cunning and bravery.
Technology has not made war more humane – it has only served to shatter the final barrier between the horrors of war and the protection afforded by a man’s mind who, in the past, could at least look the person he killed in the eyes.
This is one of my favorite songs, and the title always reminds me of the movie From Here to Eternity, which has something to do with this post:
There’s a Brazilian soccer forward named Hulk. Hulk! Not “Roberto Hulk”, or “Hulk de los Fuentes”. Just Hulk. How awesome is that? Now, if he named his nuts “Bruce” and “Banner” that would be pretty cool. Or maybe it wouldn’t, since Bruce Banner is just a skinny scientist. Maybe he could name them “Doc” and “Samson” – yes, that’s a super-strong frenemy of the Incredible Hulk’s. Yes, I’m a dork. Anyways, I’m feeling inspired. Here are some other cool comic book names for forwards:
- Doctor Octopus. On second thought, this would be better for a goalie.
- Doctor Doom. Guaranteed to score, and then blow your head off with some sort of weird electromagnetic death ray.
- Cyclops. Only because I’d like to see some dude running around the soccer pitch with a pair of “uni-sunglasses” like George Carlin wore in Bill & Ted’s.
- The Thing. Is he going to shoot on me? Or is he going to punt me into the twenty-second row? Eek!
- Black Panther. Menacing, but only works for a black guy. If you’re a white guy, then you’re “White…” what? Rhino? Too slow. Lightning? Lame-ning. Zombie? Kinda counteracts the idea of scoring. “White” doesn’t really fit with anything cool.
- Doctor Fate. Look, the ball’s going in. You may think it’s not, but it is. Ok, how ‘bout this: if it doesn’t go in, I’ll kill you and dump your body in another dimension. Agreed?
- Red Tornado. He’s a tornado. He doesn’t need to shoot rays from his eyes or change into a chupacabra.
- Elongated Man. I could go a few directions with this. Suffice to say, he’s gonna score. And then he’s gonna score. I love me some double-entendre.
- Invisible Girl and Lady Luck. No explanation needed.
- Whizzer. Hahaha – “Whi –
Alright, I’ve officially left the rails. To wrap this up, Hulk is now the coolest name for a soccer player, besting the previous coolest name, Fred. Is it a coincidence that both these guys are Brazilian? No. The existence of a soccer player named Hulk only reaffirms my opinion that soccer is the coolest sport on earth, and Brazilians are insane. In a good way.
Here’s a cool song:
Caution: The following post is about soccer – or, “football” as it’s referred to in 195 other countries. If reading about soccer, thinking about soccer, or simply hearing the word “soccer” whispered in the next room causes vomiting, hysteria, conniption fits or Cornholio-eque behavior, please do not read further. Thank you.
Here are the current standings for the 2011-12 Scottish Premier League (SPL) season:
1st place: Celtic: 65 points. Goal differential: +37
2nd place: Rangers: 61 points (not counting the 10-point deduction they were hit with for entering bankruptcy). Goal differential: +36
3rd place: Motherwell: 42 points. Goal differential: +2
A super-competitive, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter of a league — if you’re a fan of Celtic or Rangers. Everyone else is in “why bother?” mode before the preseason kicks off, and it’s been this way for years. Celtic/Rangers, Rangers/Celtic, and then everybody else. The identity of the third place team changes every year; sometimes it’s Motherwell, sometimes it’s Hearts, sometimes it’s Hibernian or someone else. Beyond Celtic and Rangers, no other team has established itself on a year-in, year-out basis. This year, of the 12 teams that currently play in the SPL, only three have winning records.
So what’s the point? How much fun can it be as fan of Kilmarnock or Dunfirmline to know that you have less chance of winning your league than the Baltimore Orioles have of winning the AL East? The talent disparity between Celtic, Rangers and the rest of the league is enormous. Gigantic. Unfathomable. The SPL could very well be the most lop-sided league in any professional sport, anywhere in the world.
Of course, this news isn’t hot-off-the-press. The idea has been floated before of the SPL merging with the English Football Association (FA), (whose Premier League is regarded as the best soccer league around) – to which the Scots have reacted as if Edward Longshanks had just declared Prima Nocte and sent his most virile lords on a weekend hunting trip to Glasgow. The Scots’ reaction is admirable from a nationalistic point of view, but totally asinine from a sporting perspective. Scotland is a tiny country with a very limited talent pool to draw from. As beautiful and storied as Scotland is, and as friendly and entertaining as its people are, international footballers aren’t clamoring for a chance to play in Scotland. Meanwhile, the FA has five divisions, which means plenty of opportunities for Scotland’s other 10 clubs to compete on a level playing field with similarly talented clubs, while Celtic and Rangers take up roost in the Premier League.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Celtic and Rangers would be Premier League mainstays. From time to time they field great clubs, but getting fat on inferior competition may have inflated their own sense of self-worth and caused the soccer world to overestimate their talent level. I don’t know for sure – but why not allow them to prove their worth in a “real” league with “real” competition, while allowing the other SPL clubs a chance to post a winning record and perhaps even win a division title every once in a while?
Since the demise of hair metal in the early 90’s, Kip Winger has on a couple of occasions made it known that his band, the eponymously named “Winger” (which wasn’t the band’s original name – that would be “Sahara”, and it would’ve been awesome if they toured with Asia — or better yet, if they’d toured with a hypothetical supergroup featuring Malcolm Young, Rikki Rockett, Mark Slaughter and Alex Van Halen called “Gobi”), was far more than just your average hair metal band, and was simply “lumped in” with the hair metal scene simply because they were popular at the same time as the eight million other hair metal acts plying their trade back then. To bolster his case, Kip maintains — and rightly so — that Winger’s musicianship was such that it transcended most other hair metal acts (except for Bullet Boys – psyche!). He’s even gone so far as to refer to his band as “the hair metal version of Dream Theater”.
I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Winger no doubt had/has (I say “has” because they’re still rokkin’, playas!) a talented lineup. Reb Beach and Rod Morgentstern are first-class musicians, and Kip’s no slouch on bass. But when one of your most memorable tunes is an innuendo-free, jail-bait celebratin’ anthem called “Seventeen”, I really must take issue with the notion that Winger’s “hair metaledness” was simply a case of bad timing.
“Seventeen”! “Seven friggin’ teen!!” C’mon, Kip – after “Cherry Pie”, “Slide it in” and “Tease Me, Please Me”, that’s about as hair metal as it gets! I mean, it’s not like you guys were out there singing about the afterlife, or dragon slayers, or alien invasions, or time-traveling Gjorks from the planet Kazar. Look, it’s real simple: if there was any question Winger was a “prog metal act with a terrible sense of timing”, then “Seventeen” provided the answer. Only AC/DC could come up with a song less inconspicuous. In fact, after reviewing Winger’s song catalog, I was shocked not to find a cover of “Sink the Pink” or “Squealer”.
And speaking of Winger’s catalog, here are some other song titles that don’t exactly have a prog metal feel to them:
- “Headed for a Heartbreak”
- “Poison Angel”
- “Can’t Get Enuff”
- “Loosen Up”
- “Easy Come Easy Go”
- “Little Dirty Blonde”
- “You are the Saint, I am the Sinner”
- “Junkyard Dog (Tears on Stone)” — Huh?
Most of these songs are from Winger’s first two albums, which would’ve seemed like a good time to put down those prog metal roots – that is, if you were a prog metal band and not a hair metal band, which Winger certainly was.
IOH: -0.004. I’m down with Winger, but I’m not down with Kip claiming they were unsuspecting victims of hair metal’s onslaught of awesomeness, only to record a bunch of songs that sounded suspiciously hair metal.
Here’s a reminder of what a prog metal song sounds like, complete with lyrics that are a bit deeper than a tale of Kip’s dalliance with a high school junior named Suzie at Taste of Arvada in 1988.
I read two papers every day – the Chicago Sun-Times and the London Daily Telegraph. By “read”, I of course mean “read on my phone” – seriously, who has time to pull an actual newspaper out of its plastic sheath, unless you’re itching for some Sudoku (which of course is also available on one’s phone) or the nostalgic innocence of reading Dick Tracy with the smell of newsprint in your nose?
I read the Telegraph because I like to get a global perspective on things. I’m sure I could get a similar perspective by simply sticking with the Sun-Times, but by the time I make my way through the “Crime” section, I’m exhausted. The Telegraph is useful because not only do you get breaking news on the international cricket scene and the machinations of Parliament, you also get a heavy dose of coverage on the Euro crisis. This is helpful in case you forgot your morning tradition of banging your head into your bedroom wall sixty-seven times, or if your spouse is refusing to honor your request to smack you in the ass with a cactus because it “builds character”.
The Euro crisis is an insult to common sense, and it’s been this way for months. One day Europe’s headed to Hades in a hand basket. The next day, hope is on the horizon and the continent is suddenly re-galvanized. Up and down the yo-yo goes. I don’t know how a reporter can cover this ridiculousness and not go completely insane. Every animal-related cliché is in play here: the dog chasing his tail, the hamster on the wheel, the donkey trying to lick its own ass, the monkey trying to knock himself off of a branch by smelling his own – ah, never mind.
One morning I read that such-and-such body has approved a three-trillion bailout. Twenty-four hours later, Greece is back on the brink of default because the amount isn’t great enough, and oh by the way, the Germans hate the French. This is pure, unadulterated insanity. It’s self-serving, politico-elitist poppycock that only parasitic politicians could think possesses some shred of dignity and logic, while their constituents suffer on a daily basis. Until the ruling class suffers along with the average person — and until “let’s throw more money at the problem” is flushed down the Crapper of Bad Solutions once and for all — it’s difficult to believe that any politician or banker has a sincere interest in bringing an end to the madness.
Earlier I used the phrase “hope is on the horizon” – unfortunately, when hope is the S.S. IMF carrying a boat-load of money, you’d better grab that rosary again. It’s a sad day when our “leaders” believe that throwing money at a problem like this will actually work. These politicians are so greedy and so enamored with money, and all of the financial spin and mathematical tinkering and economic minutia that exists to inflate its worldly value, that they’re blinded to the sociological/anthropologic aspect of the crisis, and the idea that a workable, long-lasting solution can only come once the problem is attacked from this point-of-view. To think that a country like Greece is suddenly going to “wise up” and start acting the same way the Germans do simply because their coffers are a quarter full again is laughable. Same goes for Italy, Portugal, Spain and Hungary.
I always thought Europeans were more grounded than Americans, and less materialistic/money-driven — but day after day I’m proven wrong. I will temper this statement by saying that the American financial district surely has a hand in “sorting all of this out”, which is the last thing the Europeans should want at this point.
These are dark times – hopefully they preface some reawakening in common sense, values and decency, but for now it sucks to watch.
Looking to the sky for help –
I’ll never figure out the plastic surgery/facial thing. Every person that does it, male and female, ends up looking exactly the same: terrible. Nicole Kidman? Ugh. Jerry Jones? Egad. Shannon Tweed? Yikes. Barry Manilow? Beyaggh. Seriously, if plastic surgery actually enhanced a person’s looks, I could kind of understand why someone on the “wrong” side of 50 and with a boatload of money would decide to slice and dice his/her face in the hopes of hanging on to 40 for a few more years. But though it doesn’t enhance anyone’s looks in any way, shape or form, the people that opt for it don’t seem to give a hoot. For them, it’s all about the idea of not looking old – but instead of paying some doctor $100K to stretch your face out tighter than a snare drum and gigantisize your lips so you look like the victim of a three-nest wasp attack, couldn’t you accomplish the youthful thing by wearing a baseball cap, or changing up your makeup, or staying out of the sun more? Or, I don’t know, why don’t you just embrace the autumn of your life and stop worrying about your effing face?
Of course, it’s primarily a Hollywood thing, a money thing. “Aging gracefully” doesn’t exist in the millionaire’s lexicon. I always found Nicole Kidman to be a very attractive woman. But look at her now – good lord. And the sad thing is, it’s just the beginning, because a few years from now she’ll decide she needs another procedure, and then another, until she ends up looking like a serviceable stunt double for Joan Rivers. Once you set foot on the “I look like crap and only surgery can help me” path, there’s no turning back.
It’s sad because it’s psychological. What these people possess in material assets, they sorely lack in the immaterial kind. I wish Stuart Smalley would lend them a hand.