Monthly Archives: December 2013

Let It Snow

We’re supposed to get snowed in tonight and tomorrow. Mr. A and I will likely burrow in tonight — NYE is Amateur Night in Chicago, and you pay $300 to get $12 champagne dumped on you by strangers — and I’ll make a valiant attempt to stay up untli midnight.

Little Kick, who is 25 days away from her debut on the planet, dictates much of my sleeping schedule these days. From what I’ve read, that’s unlikely to change.

2014’s going to have someother big announcements, including a First Draft anthology, because WE ARE TEN YEARS OLD THIS YEAR BITCHES and I feel like we should kill some trees to celebrate. That’s like 1,000 in regular human media years, and going back over our archives as I’ve been doing for the past 12 months I’ve realized more clearly than ever how much I love this place and how lucky I am that you all come here each day and hang out and chat with us. We’re not the biggest blog, but I’ll fight anybody who says our readers aren’t the best.

Happy New Year, all of you, and I hope you’re safe and warm and happy, wherever you are.

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Skaters at Rockefeller Center, 1937.

A.

There is no such thing as Obamacare

I’ve been reading and watching a lot of end of the year coverage and regardless of viewpoint everyone uses the term Obamacare instead of the Affordable Care Act or ACA. I realize this horse is already out of the barn (feeling vaguely rural right now) but the ACA was dubbed Obamacare by its opponents. It’s gotten to the point where many supporters of health care reform call it that as well. I wish they wouldn’t. That label is a way to make the ACA seem temporary when it’s here to stay. We don’t call Medicare, Johnsoncare or Truman-wanted-it-care, after all. In the UK nobody calls the National Health Service Atleecare or Bevincare. I suppose I should file this away under lost causes but it still makes me grind my teeth and enamel is a terrible thing to lose.

Oh well, what the hell. I’ll give the Kinks the last word:

Malaka Of The Year: Rob Ford

Grant_r_Ford_Rob_Leafs_576

2013 was a vintage year for malakatude of all types. I considered going with a Tea Party Republican but there were too many to choose from so I’m posting a link to a piece in Salon about GOP rebranding fails. I also considered doing a year in malakatude post but Dave Barry has that coveredeven if he doesn’t use the M word.

There was one towering figure in the annals of 2013 malakatude. A guy so schmucky and creepy that he dominated TPM’s Golden Duke Awards.I am, of course referring to the one, the only TORONTO MAYOR ROB FUCKING FORD. Ford is not only malaka of the year, he’s a stereotype shattering motherfucker. Canadians have a well-deserved reputation for niceness and political moderation but Rob Ford has shown us that they can be just as awful as Americans.There was a great piece in the Guardian by Matthew Hays that views Mayor Malaka as a trailblazer:

Pope Francis might be Time magazine’s person of the year, but for Canada, there can be little doubt who our main noisemaker has been. Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, with his acknowledgments of crack smoking, drunken stupors, driving while under the influence and socialising with drug dealers, has made Canadians cringe in an unexpected way.

Consider that Canadians view much of the world through American media, which places us in a very odd, existential state: we experience much of the world from the perspective of a country that barely knows we exist. When Canada does make the news, either as a Simpsons one-liner or a news story about some extreme weather, it sets off a collective frisson – a brief but thrilling sensation of being acknowledged.

Ford’s ongoing fame is that much more agonising, given its epic scope. He has become one of the most famous Canadians in the world, attaining the kind of recognition usually only granted to one of our citizens once they have left the country, like William Shatner, Celine Dion or Justin Bieber.

But Ford’s notoriety, which now includes the opening sketch for Saturday Night Live and a New Yorker cartoon, is horrifying to Canadians for another reason. It’s the terror of recognition. Sadly but truly, Ford has become the very personification of what Canada has become.

This is difficult news for non-Canadians to digest. After all, many, if not most of you got your impression of Canada through Michael Moore’s hugely popular documentaries: we are kind, gentle people who don’t lock our doors at night, believe in universal healthcare and gun control and stayed out of the invasion of Iraq.

As some critics have pointed out, our prime minister, Stephen Harper, has remained remarkably silent on the Ford debacle. Harper needs the support of much of Ford’s pugnacious voter base, many of who remain staunchly loyal despite the snowballing scandals and gaffes. (Last week, in a TV interview that can only be described as ludicrously sycophantic, ex-con Conrad Black spoke to Ford, who insinuated that a reporter covering his story might be a paedophile. The reporter has served him with a libel notice.) While different in their public demeanour, Harper and Ford are flip sides of the same hard-right coin.

And that makes the image of Ford all the more unsettling. What was once Canada the cool, the country a 1991 Economist cover story called the “post-modern nation-state”, has now devolved into a rightwing hellhole. Ford was elected in 2010, one year prior to Canada’s Conservative party winning a majority in the national parliament. Since then, Harper, a man who once referred to global warming as “a socialist conspiracy”, has pushed Canada’s policies sharply to the right.

That was a longer quote than I usualy post, but it points out the new Canadian reality wherein a crack smoking, drunken lout who assaults his colleagues can survive in public office. I know, I know: who am I to talk: Diaper Dave Vitter is one of my United States Senators. But Bitter Vitter apologized and kept his head down instead of partying like Chris Farley on a non-stop bender.Viiter is a mere common garden variety horndog whereas Ford has style. It’s a crude and obnoxious form of style but he’s got style nonetheless. He’d fit right in at the DKE frat house at Tulane…

I was one of the first people to compare Rob Ford to Chris Farley, but there’s another comedy legend he reminds me of as well. Ford is all id, which means that the greatest Stooge of them all, Curly Howard would have been superb casting as the wackadoodle Mayor. It’s easy to imagine Ford dancing the Curly shuffle, after all:

Finally, as a New Orleanian, I’d like to thank Rob Ford for being a bigger clown than former Mayor Clarence Ray Nagin. It took a lot of heat off my city when Ford burst upon the scene with a hearty nyuk, nyuk, nyuk that exceeded C Ray’s most egregious malakatude. And that is why Rob Ford is malaka of the year.

Don’t put metal in the science oven

That’s my favorite line from my favorite film of 2013, American Hustle. It’s one of those rare 2+ hour films that felt as if it ended in the blink of an eye, and left you wanting more, which is one of the biggest compliments I can pay any movie. Writer-Director David O. Russell has been on a roll of late with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook but American Hustle is the best of the bunch and that’s saying a helluva lot, y’all.

In addition to the Abscamtastic plot, likeable characters, and witty dialogue, American Hustle has got big hair. Really big hair. From Christian Bale’s elaborate combover to Amy Adams’ perm to Jeremy Renner’s pompadour the hairdos are spectacular. I also love Renner’s character who is a semi-fictionalized version of former Jersey pol Carmine Polito.American Hustle has the guts to present a politician who’s on the take to help his constituents. That’s a classic form of corruption here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. The so-called reformers and goo-goos (i.e. Buddy Roemer and PBJ) never do anything for the people whereas rogues like the Longs and Edwin Edwards did a lot of good things in between feeding at the troth. The fake Carmine Polito is in that tradition whereas the Bradley Cooper FBI agent character is a careerist fuck. So it goes.

I *adored* American Hustle and have a feeling that I’ll be seeing it many times over the years. What’s not to love about a movie with Jennifer Lawrence as a character that would have been played by Judy Holliday in the 1950’s? Great stuff. I give it 4 stars, an A+ and remind you to use your science oven carefully…

Update: My friend Luke Gordon pointed out in a comment that Renner’s character is based on a Joisey pol named Angelo Errichetti. I like the name Polito better for a pol…

Safety Food

Friend J posted this on Facebook before Christmas and I’ve been kicking it around ever since:

Buffalo, meet Popeye’s Chicken. Some transplants already familiar with the national chain swear it was worth the wait.

“Wouldn’t classify Popeye’s as fast food. It’s something else. It’s like a culture, a way of life, a cuisine I guess,” Buffalo resident Rob Fussell said.

But, even the owner didn’t expect this kind of reception. Drive-thru traffic lined up into the city’s busy Elmwood Avenue, Tuesday evening.

“We keep up. We’ve got enough food already for tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, so the truck is coming to bring the food,” Lal Sultanzada, the location’s owner, said.

But for some people it appeared the anxiety got the best of them.

“They were just swearing and yelling and then everyone started beeping the horns and the cops came and took care of it,” Guido said.

Witnesses said a fight broke out after somebody attempted to cut in the drive thru line.

I was thinking of when a Panda Express opened up in my old hometown. They went apeshit for Panda. Drive-thru lines around the block, people running out of stuff, etc. Stories on the local news. It was the restaurant equivalent of a celebrity showing up.

Now, you could argue pure novelty; this was the first Panda in town. And I love me some Panda. This isn’t snobbery, I love that greasy, sugary, deep-fried trash food. It’s designed to be delicious and addictive and it works.

But this town already contains the best Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been to and that includes eating in the Chinatowns of three major cities. So why is there no line out the door every weeknight for Whey Chai? Why the fuss? It’s not like the denizens of our sleepy hamlet were unaware Chinese food existed and OH MAH GOD ETHEL EXOTIC FOREIGN FOOD. What does a chain place have that a bazillion locals don’t, besides a friendly mascot?

Part of me thinks it’s something to do with the safety of a strip mall, with the safety of a line and a recognizable brand and a drive-thru window. You know what you’re getting with a place that’s next to an Arby’s and a Buffalo Wild Wings. You don’t have to speak to someone unfamiliar and you don’t have to go to a neighborhood you’ve never been to and you know for sure the menu’s in English and goes chicken, beef, shrimp, spicy but not too. You know there’s a parking lot.

And when you only have X amount of dollars, do you want to take risks? Our economy is not exactly encouraging adventurousness these days.

I don’t know. What do you guys think?

A.

Media Companies Have No Money!

The Internet IS A MURDERER:

Media malpractice like this didn’t trigger the collapse of traditional revenue models, but it’s hastening the job. Everyone wants everything for free now—news, music, movies, etc.—which means the companies don’t have any money to pay people to produce original work. None of this is anything you haven’t heard before, but it bears repeating. In order to make a living, those of us who had the bad sense to shackle ourselves to a career in media before that world ended have to churn out more content faster than ever to make up for the drastically reduced pay scale.

The majority of this epic whine-fest, which I found via Balloon Juice, is a lament over the lack of fact-checking that is apparently destroying all that is good in America. To which end, 2012 media company revenues:

Tribune Company: $3.145 billion

Condé Nast: £117.8m

NYT Company: $575.8 million

If they’re not paying their writers, it’s not because they’re broke. Stop listening to them when they bitch that they can’t afford you. They have no incentive to tell you the truth any more than any other entrenched power structure does. They have plenty of money. They’re just not spending it on you and you, Mr. Noble Skeptic, are buying their argument without looking at the numbers.

Christ, journalism was using the horseshit noble-poverty-of-the-artist “if you want to make money, do something else” dodge for decades before the Internet came along and made the argument even dumber.

This conflation of newsiness with news, share-worthiness with importance, has wreaked havoc on the media’s skepticism immune systems. It didn’t happen out of nowhere, it’s a process that’s been midwifed by the willful blurring of the lines between fact and fiction on the part of a key group of influential sites, that have, unfortunately, established a viable financial model amid the wreckage of traditional media. It’s why companies are so eager to shuffle native ads—content produced to appear as if it were a site’s regular content—into the regular mix. They’re hoping we won’t know the difference. They’re right, we often don’t. That’s part of the reason native advertising revenues are up 77 percent this year, according to a new study by BIA/Kelsey. There are practically no consequences anymore.

What the fuck is a “skepticism immune system?” And how did it atrophy all by itself? Way to let people off the goddamn hook. It’s not that a number of human beings took a look at their bullshit detectors and decided there were no profit centers there, and then made the choice to be irresponsible assholes, no.

It’s that some kind of gullibility virus tore through America’s newsrooms and there was no vaccine. It was a spontaneous event. Nobody could have stopped it, so nobody is to blame. Except the Interwebs.

Yes, newspapers have long printed lifestyle puff pieces next to hard news, but the analogy between that practice and the current model doesn’t hold. As someone who’s written hundreds of newspaper entertainment pieces in my day, I can tell you they still, thankfully, do not take inaccuracies lightly, even minor ones.

HAVE YOU NEVER GOTTEN SOMETHING WRONG ONLINE? God Almighty, a hundred people will e-mail you if you make a typo, just for the pleasure of pointing out how bad you are at this. Instead of one fact-checking copy editor who has a thousand stories to do that night and isn’t getting paid a fraction of what she deserves, you have a thousand of them, they’re pissed off all the time, and they LIVE to tell people how they fucked up.

Having been on the internet since the olden days of the early 2000s, one of the great values of political blogging was its ability to point out inaccuracy and lack of accountability in traditional media, when appeals to this apparently long-gone sense of noble truth went absolutely bugfucking nowhere. But I guess because 20 people shared something bogus on Twitter, that value’s gone up in smoke.

Look. Nobody died because people — like me, I admit — really thought that guy’s Twitter fight with Pace Salsa was real. Thousands did die, however, because the Old Media New York Times Kingdom of Miraculously Well Researched Stories that Stand For All We Have Lost gleefully republished every single bit of bullshit churned out by the Bush Administration. People’s privacy rights have been gutted by reporters’ willingness to swallow whole the justifications of the Obama Administration for every shady trick the NSA pulls, and people have been blown up at wedding parties because far too many of us think that’s just the price you have to pay to keep terrorists from our shores.

Get back to me when a fake viral video does worse than point out to your entire family that your one cousin is a total moron.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Pete Townshend Deep End Live

Here’s the classic 1985 concert featuring Pete’s large band with the great David Gilmour on lead guitar:

Shorter A&E

Phil Robertson the cranky bigoted teevee quacker is back.A&E has issued a statement claiming to explain why, but I think this Randy Newman song sums it up quite nicely:

Snow Neighbors

When I was 4 years old, we moved into the house my parents still occupy, a two-story brick home in a small off-shoot of Milwaukee’s South Side. That winter, heavy snow pounded the area from about late October through the early part of the spring. This included about a foot or more that hit us thanks to the infamous “Blizzard of ’78,” which was crippling Ohio and Michigan that year.

The drifts and piles were so bad that my father liked to remark he only found out we had 6-foot bushes separating us from the neighbors after everything melted in early April.

One of our neighbors was Mrs. Scheffler, a widow in her 80s who had lived in the house for almost her entire adult life. She had a thick German accent that made it hard to converse with her, especially given that I was terrified of her for reasons I still can’t explain.

She drove a late-1960s muscle car (a Chevy Nova, if memory serves) with a bit of reckless abandon that came from a touch of blindness. Her children had placed carpeting along the wooden frame of the garage door, so she wouldn’t scrape the paint off the car when she bounced it from side to side as she parked.

That first winter, however, all I knew about her was that she was our “snow neighbor.”

Dad owned a state-of-the-art Toro snow blower that he used to clear the sidewalks of whatever nature threw at us. During one of his sorties outside, he had seen Mrs. Scheffler trying to push the snow off her steps with a broom that had a warp in it the size of a hairpin curve, so he decided to be a good neighbor. Dad always said once he got out there and the machine was running, he might as well keep going.

He cleared her sidewalk, driveway and the backside of the corner lot. She tried to pay him. He flatly refused. The next day, she presented the family with some sort of sticky cake delicacy, the likes of which I had never seen. Turns out, she was a diabetic, but she loved to cook and bake.

From then on, when the weather got ugly or when the snow got deep, Dad would plow her out and she’d ply us with food. Some sugar-free candy, a loaf of bread or something sweet she just had to make.

Eventually, her children placed her into a nursing home when the car became too dangerous, the stairs became too burdensome and the trials of daily life were too much of a chore. The lady who moved in was “well-to-do” in the parlance of the neighborhood (a polite way to say she felt she was better than the rest of us) and she hired crews of men to shovel her snow. Our snow neighbor was gone.

Still, we had folks who we helped and who helped us from time to time. One year, Dad was away at a convention when about 8 inches or snow hit us on a weekend. (Aside from “wind-chill factor,” the other compound modifier you feared at our house was “lake-effect snow.”) I was about 8 years old and neither Mom nor I could get the Toro running. We struggled with shovels until a neighbor named John, a dour man who would rarely say a kind word to anyone, pushed his snow thrower across the street and did the entire sidewalk for us. He never said a word about it before or after, but I think he knew how grateful we were.

The same was true the year I came home from Missouri to take Mom to the Rose Bowl. We spent the first week or so of 1999 digging out every morning before heading out to help Mom’s mom and Dad’s mom find their own pavement. By about the sixth day, it was so bad at Grandma Syl’s house that we couldn’t pile the snow any higher without it falling back down upon us. Eventually, we had to put the snow into an old wheelbarrow and move it into the backyard.

Back closer to home, the folks who lived across the street were struggling with their own snow. When I was a kid, I was best friends with their son. Now, both he and I had moved away from our folks and they were on their own for snow. The husband had been involved in a workplace accident and the wife was trying to make the snow blower work under his direction. As this kept failing, Dad and I pushed our snow blower across the street. Dad blew the sidewalks and I shoved the porch and steps. We did a couple time that week and each time, it felt really good to help.

When The Missus and I moved to Indiana, we became first-time homeowners and as such, per Wisconsin tradition, we had our own snow blower. It was a hand-me-down from Grandma Syl’s estate, but it still had some good oomph to it.

During that first year, we got hit with what passed for a blizzard in Muncie: 8-10 inches (or a “dusting” in the parlance of my in-laws, who live near the UP).

I can still remember that day because it was so quiet in the neighborhood. Everyone had shovels and they were working diligently to make a small path to the road.

When I fired up the snow blower, the engine’s roar cut through the silence and everyone within earshot stared at me as if I had just invented fire.

I blew out the drive way and then looked next door. A lady named Dorothy who was in her upper 70s stood on her porch with a broom. Her daughter, a woman named Jude who was in her mid-50s, was struggling to clear some space near the front step. Jude was suffering from some sort of bronchial problem, which was being exacerbated by the cold. In addition, she suffered some sort of back injury at work that landed her on disability.

I ramped up the snow blower and cut a path through the street from our house to theirs. I then blew out the snow from the driveway and surrounding area as they looked on in gratitude.

They offered money. I refused. They had become my “snow neighbor.”

Each time it got ugly out there, I’d blow my snow and theirs. When The Midget was born, they repaid us in candy and Christmas presents for her. One year, they snuck a check in the box with a note that told our 1-year-old daughter, “Give this to your Daddy for his snow blower gas.”

To this day, I hate snow. Bing Crosby and whoever else can wax poetic about the glory of a “White Christmas,” but to me snow has the appeal of a giant pile of manure: It’s a ton of shit you have to move.

However, I can say that I loved the days when a giant blizzard would bring the best out of people around me. Dad hated shoveling but he knew Mrs. Scheffler needed the help so he did it and it made him feel good. There were days I finished my driveway and just wanted to go back inside, but I also wanted to surprise Dorothy and Jude with a clean driveway of their own when they came back from church.

You could always argue that people could pay for a service or that they had family or something who should be helping out. However, it was that sense of kinship that came from people who were in the same boat pushing back against the worst nature could offer us at that time. Even more, I have to say there was nothing better than putting some of Dorothy’s homemade apple jelly on a piece of toast once I got back inside to thaw out after a job well done.

It was something we did without complaint, offered without an expectation of recompense and done in hopes of instilling joy in others.

When we moved back to Wisconsin, I went from King of the Jungle to Runt of the Litter in terms of snow-removal devices. Neighbors had ATVs with plows on them, giant Ariens snow throwers and other equipment that looked like it could bulldoze my house. I eventually gamed up and upgraded to a giant orange monstrosity, complete with a three-sided plastic cubby that kept the blowback out of my face.

On Christmas Eve this year, we drove home from Up North late at night. Somewhere north of Appleton, it started snowing. By the time we cleared the city, it was a full-on blizzard that bordered on a whiteout. Three lanes of freeway traffic had been compressed into a row of several cars operating in one set of tire ruts in the middle of the road. No one passed, despite the 45 mph speed we all maintained.

When we got home, we found that on top of this disaster, we had gotten about 5 inches of snow somewhere between when we left and when we returned. By morning, at least 10 inches of white misery coated our driveway, complete with a giant barrier of ice and crud left behind by the city’s street-plowing efforts.

At 2 a.m., it was far too late to go out and deal with this crap. At about 8 a.m., The Midget woke us excitedly noting that Santa had arrived. We opened the presents we had placed under the downstairs tree and enjoyed the cozy camaraderie that comes from seeing people happy with gifts and grateful for family. At 9, I figured it was time to go up and deal with the snow so we could begin our trek to Milwaukee for another family gathering.

As I mounted the steps, I heard a roar getting closer and closer. By the time I reached the landing and looked outside, it was practically deafening.

It was Mary, our neighbor, on a riding snow thrower, cleaning out our driveway.

I went back downstairs with smile and snuggled in for some more family time.

Of all the things I got this year, this was best Christmas present.

Thanks, snow neighbor.

Media Companies Have No Money!

The Internet IS A MURDERER:

Media malpractice like this didn’t trigger the collapse of traditional revenue models, but it’s hastening the job. Everyone wants everything for free now—news, music, movies, etc.—which means the companies don’t have any money to pay people to produce original work. None of this is anything you haven’t heard before, but it bears repeating. In order to make a living, those of us who had the bad sense to shackle ourselves to a career in media before that world ended have to churn out more content faster than ever to make up for the drastically reduced pay scale.

The majority of this epic whine-fest, which I found via Balloon Juice, is a lament over the lack of fact-checking that is apparently destroying all that is good in America. To which end, 2012 media company revenues:

Tribune Company: $3.145 billion

Condé Nast: £117.8m

NYT Company: $575.8 million

If they’re not paying their writers, it’s not because they’re broke. Stop listening to them when they bitch that they can’t afford you. They have no incentive to tell you the truth any more than any other entrenched power structure does. They haveplenty of money. They’re just not spending it on you and you, Mr. Noble Skeptic, are buying their argument without looking at the numbers.

Christ, journalism was using the horseshit noble-poverty-of-the-artist “if you want to make money, do something else” dodge for decades before the Internet came along and made the argument even dumber.

This conflation of newsiness with news, share-worthiness with importance, has wreaked havoc on the media’s skepticism immune systems. It didn’t happen out of nowhere, it’s a process that’s been midwifed by the willful blurring of the lines between fact and fiction on the part of a key group of influential sites, that have, unfortunately, established a viable financial model amid the wreckage of traditional media. It’s why companies are so eager to shuffle native ads—content produced to appear as if it were a site’s regular content—into the regular mix. They’re hoping we won’t know the difference. They’re right, we often don’t. That’s part of the reason native advertising revenues are up 77 percent this year, according to a new study by BIA/Kelsey. There are practically no consequences anymore.

What the fuck is a “skepticism immune system?” And how did it atrophy all by itself? Way to let people off the goddamn hook. It’s not that a number of human beings took a look at their bullshit detectors and decided there were no profit centers there, and then made the choice to be irresponsible assholes, no.

It’s that some kind of gullibility virus tore through America’s newsrooms and there was no vaccine. It was a spontaneous event. Nobody could have stopped it, so nobody is to blame. Except the Interwebs.

Yes, newspapers have long printed lifestyle puff pieces next to hard news, but the analogy between that practice and the current model doesn’t hold. As someone who’s written hundreds of newspaper entertainment pieces in my day, I can tell you they still, thankfully, do not take inaccuracies lightly, even minor ones.

HAVE YOU NEVER GOTTEN SOMETHING WRONG ONLINE? God Almighty, a hundred people will e-mail you if you make a typo, just for the pleasure of pointing out how bad you are at this. Instead of one fact-checking copy editor who has a thousand stories to do that night and isn’t getting paid a fraction of what she deserves, you have a thousand of them, they’re pissed off all the time, and they LIVE to tell people how they fucked up.

Having been on the internet since the olden days of the early 2000s, one of the great values of political blogging was its ability to point out inaccuracy and lack of accountability in traditional media, when appeals to this apparently long-gone sense of noble truth went absolutely bugfucking nowhere. But I guess because 20 people shared something bogus on Twitter, that value’s gone up in smoke.

Look. Nobody died because people — like me, I admit — really thought that guy’s Twitter fight with Pace Salsa was real. Thousands did die, however, because the Old Media New York Times Kingdom of Miraculously Well Researched Stories that Stand For All We Have Lost gleefully republished every single bit of bullshit churned out by the Bush Administration. People’s privacy rights have been gutted by reporters’ willingness to swallow whole the justifications of the Obama Administration for every shady trick the NSA pulls, and people have been blown up at wedding parties because far too many of us think that’s just the price you have to pay to keep terrorists from our shores.

Get back to me when a fake viral video does worse than point out to your entire family that your one cousin is a total moron.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Pete Townshend Deep End Live

Here’s the classic 1985 concert featuring Pete’s large band with the great David Gilmour on lead guitar:

Friday Night Music: When Push Comes To Shove

I’ve decided to do a malaka of the year post next week, which gave me an earworm. Any guesses? Leave a comment here:

Shorter A&E

Phil Robertson the cranky bigoted teevee quacker is back.A&E has issued a statement claiming to explain why, but I think this Randy Newman song sums it up quite nicely:

Don’t put metal in the science oven

That’s my favorite line from my favorite film of 2013, American Hustle. It’s one of those rare 2+ hour films that felt as if it ended in the blink of an eye, and left you wanting more, which is one of the biggest compliments I can pay any movie. Writer-Director David O. Russell has been on a roll of late with The Fighter andSilver Linings Playbook butAmerican Hustle is the best of the bunch and that’s saying a helluva lot, y’all.

In addition to the Abscamtastic plot, likeable characters, and witty dialogue, American Hustle has got big hair. Really big hair. From Christian Bale’s elaborate combover to Amy Adams’ perm to Jeremy Renner’s pompadour the hairdos are spectacular. I also love Renner’s character who is a semi-fictionalized version of former Jersey pol Carmine Polito.American Hustle has the guts to present a politician who’s on the take to help his constituents. That’s a classic form of corruption here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. The so-called reformers and goo-goos (i.e. Buddy Roemer and PBJ) never do anything for the people whereas rogues like the Longs and Edwin Edwards did a lot of good things in between feeding at the troth. The fake Carmine Polito is in that tradition whereas the Bradley Cooper FBI agent character is a careerist fuck. So it goes.

I *adored* American Hustle and have a feeling that I’ll be seeing it many times over the years. What’s not to love about a movie with Jennifer Lawrence as a character that would have been played by Judy Holliday in the 1950’s? Great stuff. I give it 4 stars, an A+ and remind you to use your science oven carefully…

Update: My friend Luke Gordon pointed out in a comment that Renner’s character is based on a Joisey pol named Angelo Errichetti. I like the name Polito better for a pol…

Weekend Question Thread

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Eventually I want to get back to running this year. I was doing pretty well still working out until I sprained my ankle in August, and then I figured take the hint already and take it easy til the baby was born.

Now I see runners on the street and want to chase them and ask them to take me with them. I miss it tremendously.

A.

*incoherent fangirl screaming*

Snoop Dogg. John Kerry. Together.

Please, Santa, all I want is Kerry/Snoop Dogg 2016.

(A reminder of Snoop Dogg’s thoughts on politics. “He’s a Mormon but he ain’t got no hoes.”)

Thank you, Elsbeth.

A.

*incoherent fangirl screaming*

Snoop Dogg. John Kerry. Together.

Please, Santa, all I want is Kerry/Snoop Dogg 2016.

(A reminder of Snoop Dogg’s thoughts on politics. “He’s a Mormon but he ain’t got no hoes.”)

Thank you, Elsbeth.

A.

Friday Ferretblogging

“Do I HAVE to get up, Mom?”

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Weekend Question Thread

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Eventually I want to get back to running this year. I was doing pretty well still working out until I sprained my ankle in August, and then I figured take the hint already and take it easy til the baby was born.

Now I see runners on the street and want to chase them and ask them to take me with them. I miss it tremendously.

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Still, With the Pajamas

Are we not past this yet?

Mr. Miller was more than happy to explain his N.S.A. segment, which he said he would not change if he had the chance. As a reporter, he has a blend of insider knowledge and careful inquiry that has been lauded by many, including me, especially during the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. He is nothing if not confident, dismissing his critics as ankle-biting, agenda-ridden bloggers who could not be compelled to get out of their pajamas and do actual reporting.

“I fully reject the criticism from you and others,” he told me. “The N.S.A. story has been a fairly one-way dialogue. There has been no conversation and when you do hear from the N.S.A., it is in a terse, highly vetted statement.”

“We went there, we asked every question we wanted to, listened to the answers, followed up as we wished, and our audience can decide what and who they believe. As we constructed it, the N.S.A. was a story about a debate, not a villain, and we added to that debate with important information. I fail to understand how a shrill argument for the sake of creating televised drama would have accomplished anything.”

Seriously, are we not done yet? I know in terms of measuring the lifespan of media we’re larval, but is this asshole really unaware that the Interwebs contain reporting? And that even if they did not, media criticism is older than the Interweb blogging machines, and is or should be raising questions when a major news program is less critical of a presidential administration than that administration is of itself.

But no, we’re still in this stupid YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE place, where your name tag and e-mail sig are more important than whether you’re correct. I keep waiting for it to get old — and we’re better, don’t get me wrong, I used to have to explain “blog” every time I went to a party — but it seems this is still the go-to defense whenever somebody points out you’re full of shit.

As if WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL HUH is an actual argument.

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