Oct. 29th, 2003

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...For instance, it's hard to imagine anyone but the cross-dressing Izzard -- an "action transvestite," as he refers to himself -- discussing the peculiar awkwardness a man can experience when one of his prosthetic breasts explodes in the middle of a conversation with the stranger sitting next to him on an airliner. Who but Izzard might imagine the challenges Medusa's coiffeur faced when the snake-haired Gorgon came in for highlights? (This during an exegesis on the Iliad, the Odyssey and the ax murder of a Greek king -- or what Izzard described as "Agamemnon in emergency-chicken mode.")

On Monday night, topics came up as they tend to in Izzard's shows -- seemingly apropos of nothing. One minute he was explaining in Izzardian fashion the parallels between superheroes and transvestites. "Both have to change clothes in order to help people. Only thing is, transvestites don't help people. Other than that, we're quite similar." The next minute, he was describing the origin of fire and its resemblance -- previously unnoticed, one suspects -- to masturbation. Somewhere in between came insights into the War of 1812, the reasons why one dies from gangrene as opposed to gangblue and, among countless other things, the way cats thrown from a car might have influenced Doppler to make his observation about sound waves...
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You can understand the Republicans' concern. With polls showing more than half the American public now doubting the president's capacity to handle both foreign and economic policy, the administration needs an issue to distract the disgruntled. More pointedly, as Karl Rove himself has noted, 4 million Christian evangelicals did not bestir themselves to vote in the election of 2000. At the rate things are going, Bush will need every one of those votes next year. Time, then, to unveil the real risk to our security. No, not al Qaeda fanatics plotting the deaths of Americans at home or abroad. The administration's credibility on military and security matters generally may not be a whole lot higher than the Democrats' when the election rolls around.

Happily, Republicans have identified a threat right here at home on which the Democrats lack all backbone: marauding Unitarian ministers, cruising back alleys, threatening to swoop up same-sex couples and, before anyone can think better of it, marry them. Listen closely and you can almost hear the whispers: "Hey, big fellas -- wanna tie the knot?"

Who says the Republicans don't have an industrial policy? Against all odds, they continue to manufacture wedge issues. Imagine all those Democratic congressmen from culturally conservative districts who will flounder around trying to distance themselves from their all-too-tolerant party. Be it cultural traditionalism or strategic bigotry, the war on gay marriage -- that is, on human equality -- looms large in the GOP's electoral calculations for 2004...
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and today's Claude Rains Memorial Gambling Awareness Award goes to Camille Paglia for this pithy observation in Salon, which sadly I am not able to link to because it's, you know, Camille Paglia:

As a writer, I'm inspired not just by other writing but by music and art and lines from movies. I think that's what's missing from a lot of blogs.

I'd release my inner dionysian for you kids but I've heard you have to dye your hair.
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Hercules in New York: the best movie ever made featuring both Arnold Strang and Arnold Strong. It lacks only a role for Tom Arnold and an Olympic cameo for Arnold the Pig to make it the definitive Arnolds movie. And since it is arguably the pivotal film in the Schwarzenegger oeuvre, what else can it teach us about his future as Governor of the state of California?
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I rarely whine about being left out. Life is not middle school, and if you don't make the A-list, hey, get over it.

I mean, I didn't even protest when I was left off the Nixon enemies list. I was young. The future stretched in front of me.

But this is too much. This hurts my feelings. The leaders of the National Rifle Association have put out a 19-page blacklist, a veritable Who's Who of opponents, an alphabet list of enemies, and there wasn't a Goodman to be found.

How can they do this to me? This is a leadership that has refined paranoia into an art form. The honchos of the NRA actually believe that keeping assault weapons off the streets is the first step to wresting the flintlock out of Charlton Heston's "cold, dead hands."

But the enemies are my kind of people. The American Medical Association. The National Education Association. The League of Women Voters, for gawdsake. The list of "anti-gun" religious groups is nothing if not ecumenical, ranging from the U.S. Catholic Conference to the B'nai B'rith to the United Methodist Church.

The corporate blacklist, for that matter, includes every one of my food groups, from Stonyfield Yogurt to Sara Lee cheesecake. As for the list of individuals in and out of Hollywood, they picked the president and first lady -- of "The West Wing" that is. They listed Harvey Weinstein, the old pacifist producer of "Kill Bill," Sean Connery, whose 007 career involved more weapons than your average weekend gun show, and Britney Spears, whose looks could kill. They listed John McEnroe, whose temper is positively ballistic and Julia Child, who wields a mean kitchen knife.

Before someone did an obit-check, the original list even included some dead people, from Herblock to Ann Landers. But Moi? They didn't even send me a greeting card, which is just as well since they also fingered Hallmark.

How am I going to explain this to my grandchildren? Where did I go wrong?

Of course, I wasn't the only one left out. Even Dustin Hoffman, the star of "Runaway Jury," had to write a letter to the NRA president -- "As a supporter of comprehensive gun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that my name was not on this list" -- before he was included.

If you feel that you too were left off the list through some unconscionable oversight, you can sign up here.
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I'm guessing you've already heard that Our Fearless Leader has now parsed reality into absurdity by claiming that the "Mission Accomplished' banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln was put up by the sailors because when the White House sent it to the ship, the sailors put it up.

The Talking Dog pretty much tracks my reaction here. I can't imagine who in the White House did the thinking on this one - given a choice between saying "Yeah, well, the post-war period may have turned out to be more complicated than we'd originally thought, but the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong but time and shit happen and we felt like it was important to recognize the work the military did gaining control of the country" and saying "Anything that comes out of this administration could hypothetically have any possible meaning of the words involved" _while we're trying to get the rest of the world to give us money_ I might have gone with the one that left us some vague credibility, but that's just me.

Of course, given Mr. Rumsfeld's masterly deconstruction of the concept of "slog" that could have been a policy decision.

Anyway, I have to agree with Kos, who gives the best response laurels to General Clark for this yummy soundbite:
I think it is outrageous. He blamed the sailors for that and it is something -- an event -- that his advance team staged. I guess that next thing we are going to hear is that the sailors told him to wear the flight suit and prance around on the aircraft carrier. This is a president who does not want to take accountability

ahem. snerk.

In other General Clark news (he's my friend today) he had this to say in New Hampshire:
In a blistering review of President Bush's national security policy, Gen. Wesley K. Clark said on Tuesday that the administration could not "walk away from its responsibilities for 9/11."

"You can't blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated in memos with each other," said the retired general, the latest entrant in the Democratic presidential field. "It goes back to what our great president Harry Truman said with the sign on his desk: `The buck stops here.' And it sure is clear to me that when it comes to our nation's national security, the buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush's desk."

"And," he added, "we've got to say again and again and again, until the American people understand: strong rhetoric in the aftermath is no substitute for wise leadership."

I gotta tell you, I haven't settled on anyone yet (isn't it nice to have multiple viable candidates?) but that there General Clark, he sure does talk pretty.

edit: La Sforza del Destino - slactivist has some background on how the banner got there.

yet another edit: Riba Rambles tells us that according to today's WH press briefing, the banner referred to the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln, which was at that time accomplished, except for the sitting around stalled in the water while Our Fearless Leader pointed his package at people part.
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Apparently Donald Luskin of the Poor and Stupid blog (no, his words, not mine), who has made yeoman attempts to breach from his small pond and make his way into larger public notice (like, say, his mom's weekend mailman) has mixed feelings about anonymity for others.

You may remember recently that Mr. Luskin wrote a piece in which after advising his readers of Krugman's publicity schedule for his book and suggesting that they assault him, he himself went to a reading and confronted Krugman, not identifying himself until the end of the encounter.

At the time, he described his behavior toward Krugman as "stalking"

He has since written a piece specifically citing Atrios at Eschaton as someone who has libelled him by referring to him as a stalker. (Apparently Professor Reynolds, who gave the earlier behavior the label "stalking" with the usual approving heh in a previous post, was by this point in complete agreement that only a desperately unstable person would call such a thing stalking, a point on which I suppose he would have more insight than I would).

Now Luskin is threatening to out Atrios, who prefers to be anonymous for safety as well as personal reasons, by subpoena as part of a lawsuit claiming libel.

Since Atrios basically quoted Luskin in his posts, I think it's fairly clear who it was who caused Luskin to be viewed with contempt here, but I suspect that's not the point.

I suspect that the point is to strip Atrios' anonymity.

I really can't imagine a more contemptible way of handling this sort of disagreement, but then I'm not a stalker.

Well, currently, anyway.

edit: you might want to refresh your memory with this.

edit again (I had to clean up some grammar stuff, but my real question is): What the hell is a microlytic?

edit still some more: to give credit where credit is slightly (to me, anyway) surprisingly due, Professor Reynolds agrees that this is nonsense.
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