Monthly Archives: February 2016

Quote Of The Day: Chris Rocks The Oscars Edition

I usually write an Oscar wrap-up post. I’m not feeling it this year other than to quote, and praise, Chris Rock:

But here’s the real question. The real question everybody wants to know, everybody wants to know, in the world, is Hollywood racist? Is Hollywood racist? You know, that’s — that’s a — you know, you got to go at that at the right way. Is it burning cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? No, no. It’s a different type of racist.

<snip>

That’s right. Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist. But it isn’t the racist you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like — “We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is.

Sorority racist. That’s spot-on. Now if he’ll only tell us who Rhonda is. The Kappas may be soon singing a different song. You know the one, Help Me, Rhonda. Of course, that’s pretty damn white too…

Remember all the earnest political types telling Chris Rock to boycott the telecast? They were wrong. It’s the same sort of person who told Bernie Sanders to mention Cornel West to every African-American audience: earnest and clueless. I hate earnestness in the same way that Lou Grant hated spunk. Btw, try googling Cornel West +  Obama. That will clearly help Sanders with black voters.

Back to the Oscars. Chris Rock was brilliantly idiosyncratic as always. The upset win of Spotlight over the bear movie was a delight as were the drunk Aussies who won technical awards for Mad Max: Fury Road. Those wins gave me hope that my countryman George Miller (originally Miliotis) would win best director. Those hopes were dashed, and now Iñárritu is only the third director to win back-to-back Oscars. He’s in good company: Joseph Mankiewicz and John Ford are the others. Does anybody really think he’s a John Ford calibre director? I have my doubts. At least Sean Penn wasn’t there to make a bigoted bro joke this year.

The real winner of the 2016 Oscars was Chris Rock. Bring him back, y’all.

 

 

 

Happy Leap Day

Leap Day William

HAPPY LEAP DAY FROM LEAP DAY WILLIAM.

When I was a younger smart ass, I had a running joke about wishing I’d been born during a leap year. Who wouldn’t want to be able to claim to be 3/4th younger than they actually are? Unfortunately, it led to people saying that was my emotional age, so I eventually dropped the shtick. With a thud.

The twisted minds behind the great NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, created a Leap Day myth in 2012; complete with a goofy holiday character, Leap Day William. I wish I had costumed as Leap Day William for Mardi Gras. The gag won’t work again until 2016.

Happy Leap Day from all of us here at First Draft. It’s time for the Leap Day song. Hit it, William:

I noticed that Jack Donaghy said both Merry and Happy Leap Day. Holy confusing salutations, Batman. I’ll stick to happy.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati -Heisenberg uncertainty edition

Good Monday morning, constant readers!  I was moving some of the newer drums of Freepitude on the loading dock, and I noticed one that had a crystalline blue patina on the top.

Further examination showed it to be crystal meth of astounding purity. I know that meth labs and “the base” go together like Mario and Luigi, but this is a little weird, even for Freepers. I got it into the iso chamber, pried it open, and faster than you can say “Gus Fring skullface”, this popped out:

At least 2 people reportedly killed in Kansas workplace shooting
FOXNEWS.COM ^ | 25 FEBRUARY 2016 | FOX NEWS

Posted on 2/25/2016, 6:20:25 PM by Extremely Extreme Extremist

DEVELOPING: At least two people were killed and up to four others injured in a shooting at a Kansas workplace on Thursday.

The shooting took place at Excel Industries in Hesston, Kan., KSN-TV in Wichita reported.

Victor Ramirez, an employee at the company, told KAKE-TV that at least five people were shot.

1 posted on 2/25/2016, 6:20:25 PM by Extremely Extreme Extremist

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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

Hmmm… what was the shooter’s name?

3 posted on 2/25/2016, 6:24:10 PM by Pearls Before Swine

 .
Hmmm – two replies in.
Not too shabby.
 .

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To: Cicero

Achmed shoot up to the chicken processing plant?

9 posted on 2/25/2016, 6:39:10 PM by VRWCarea51 (The original 1998 version)

.

*drumroll*

To: Conservative Gato

KWCH just released the perp’s name: Cedric Ford

16 posted on 2/25/2016, 7:16:52 PM by Conservative Gato

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More after the not-Muslim-after-all break!

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Science Babies FTW or, Why Chrissy Tiegen’s Critics Can Suck It

I swear, we hate no one in the world like we hate female celebrities. The amount of bile spewed at Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and now Chrissy Tiegen would, if properly directed towards Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, solve nearly all our country’s moral crises.

What did model and actress Tiegen, who happens to be infertile and public about it, do? She chose to have a female embryo implanted in her uterus during an IVF cycle. People are fucking idiots, no thanks to the morning Mommy talk shows, and accused her of “designing” her baby and personally murdering all children available for adoption and being a dumb whore and all kinds of stupid things.

Is this a good idea?

You can find opinions across the spectrum.

Some people believe that using gender selection non-medically is the wrong use of medical and health care resources. Critics worry about the potential gender bias in selecting one sex over the other.

Others believe this is a personal decision that parents should be allowed to make.

Of course they don’t understand how human reproduction and IVF work. Doctors often perform tests on embryos prior to “transfer,” meaning placing them in the mother’s uterus. Those tests will tell parents if an embryo is male or female, among many other things, like if the embryo has certain conditions or genetic disorders that would make life impossible for the little critter.

We conceived Kick through IVF but didn’t do those pre-transfer tests, mostly because our insurance didn’t cover them and they’re thousands of dollars. If we had done the tests, and had known that we had both male and  female embryos, we would have had to choose which ones to transfer first. You have to pick if you have a certain number of embryos; Octomom notwithstanding, you can’t just fling everything you have at the uterine wall in the hopes that something quite literally sticks. Our doctor would have asked us what we wanted to do.

There’s nothing Mad Scientist-y about it; nobody’s splicing genes in an underground lab to create alien hybrids. I know it’s fun to think about that because it allows you to be a bitchy scold to women who can’t get pregnant and thus are going through something you can’t possibly understand. I know it’s fun to shudder about “designer babies” and imagine women, especially pretty and famous young women like Tiegen, as flighty creatures who are just all DOO DAH DOO DAH THINK I’LL HAVE A BLUE EYED ONE. I know it’s hard to take women seriously about their own reproductive choices, but I’m gonna have to ask you to put your shoulders into it and consider some things.

  1. You’re being an asshole. “But she’s a public figure!” I don’t care if she puts on swimsuits for money. I don’t care if she killed Kennedy. If you’re being a dick to her, you’re being a dick. You are responsible only for you.
  2. “Just adopt” is not only trivializing to people who don’t adopt for various reasons. It’s also trivializing and dismissive of those who DO choose to adopt, who work hard to go that route and aren’t “just” doing anything. Don’t use courageous and admirable adoptive parents just to denigrate someone else.
  3. Also what are you expecting people to say when you say, “Just adopt!” HOLY SHIT I FORGOT YOU CAN ADOPT KIDS I’LL JUST RUN DOWN TO THE STORE THEN AND GET ONE THANK YOU FOR THIS SECRET INFORMATION. Again, this is about respecting families, so do them the credit of assuming they’ve considered their options and are picking the best one for them. Assume women are rational and smart. I know it’s tough, but stretch those muscles.
  4. If you support women’s reproductive freedom then you support it, full stop. Even the Duggars. Even Octomom (God, remember that collective cable-news freakout? What a fucking waste of our time). If you support women making their own choices, then you don’t get to bitch about this stuff.

To her credit, Tiegen told everyone on her case to get off it and refused to let them make her all shy and apologetic about her baby.

Damn right.

A.

It Starts Now: They’ll All Fall in Line Behind Trump

It’ll happen. Nobody’s going to save them: 

You are not the only one. Whatever Christie’s motives, he knows he is legitimizing Trump big-time right before Super Tuesday. Trump is already doing well in polls of most of the many states voting that day. This will solidify his standing and intensify the panic among those who believe presidents should unite and calm, not divide and inflame. Oh, and should know something about the job.

The only people who think the GOP is going to get saved are the people who need it to be saved to preserve the fiction that they’re not going to hell by association. They’re not gonna get saved. They don’t want to be saved. They say they hate Trump right now and are horrified, but watch. Just watch. It’ll be amazing how fast they go from prayers for salvation to “we’re better off with him than with Hillary!”

They want power.

Is that really so surprising? Does anyone NOT? And does anyone, ever, give up power once they have it?

Because by asking them all to break with Trump, by asking them to save themselves — they could, any time, by canceling their bullshit convention, disinviting Trump from everything, and reneging on the contract they asked him to sign. They would look like amateurish, nitwitted assholes but when don’t they — we’re asking them to give up power.

The power that comes from party, from a strong (in the loud sense) nominee, from visibility and stability and the established Way Things Usually Go. The power that is the status quo.

Running from Trump right now means running from that power. They’ve never done that in all their livin’ lives no matter what supposed assault was being mounted on their beloved conservative principles. They learned to love racism and they learned to love the military industrial complex and they learned to love the surveillance state and they learned to love vast governmental expansions and they learned to love borrowing and borrowing and borrowing again. They learned to love everything they say they hate, so why not Trump, too?

If anything is permissible in pursuit of power, why not Trump? He’s not any worse than most of them and he might even be better, in that he seems to understand the con’s a con. Your main objection, if you are a diehard GOP’er, is that he is loud and rude. What’s that, compared to money and access and the bright lights of the Sunday shows?

What’s that compared to the spectacle of upsetting everything they’re about? I mean, what can they do? They can’t cancel their convention and they can’t deny him the nomination if he has the delegates, can they? They can whine all they want about how he’s not their representative but anything more substantive — everyone thus dismayed leaving the party, for example — seems beyond them because it would result in an uncertain future.

No one faces that by choice.

A.

Because What Single Mothers Need is Shame

What a shock this bill was authored by two rich white men: 

“Provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member’s name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child. Provides an exception for artificially inseminated mothers. Amends the Illinois Public Aid Code. Provides that a family that does not comply with the Vital Records Act provision concerning birth certificates of unmarried mothers shall be ineligible for aid for support of the child. Effective immediately.”

I was single-momming it this week while Mr. A was on a work trip. I’ve got a bad back right now, joint inflammation in both hips, sciatic nerve fuckery, the lack of appetite that comes from having a cold and/or the flu for the past 3 months, and two very stressful jobs. Mama and Kick Week was a somewhat precarious thing. If my back went out again, if I got sicker, if Kick stopped sleeping, if one of the people who looked after her got sick, if one of my bosses decided to really put his or her shoulder into being an asshole … I mean, there’s not a lot of wiggle room in my days.

And I was born white in America. I really have no problems anyone should care about. I was born white in America and I have spent years building a vast network of people who owe me favors ranging from childcare to food plus we can afford childcare plus my parents live within driving distance. I was still nervy about handing everything myself. So now imagine that’s all the time, and I’m broke, and my kid’s dad is a fuckstick or rapey relative or in jail or married and threatening to kill me or something.

My point is that’s not a life anybody should need to make harder.

The reaction to this odious bullshit was so heinous sensible that its revolting  authors had it yanked: 

The intention of HB 6064 was to provide for the long-term support of hardworking single mothers by strengthening the legal responsibilities of fathers, while also improving the rights of fathers as well as grandparents who provide care for a child in place of a parent. However, the bill as introduced has flaws that would produce unintended consequences. I have therefore chosen to withdraw my support of the bill and thank all my constituents and others who offered feedback on both sides of this issue.

Too bad, so sad, asshole. Yeah, your intent here was to strengthen fathers’ rights. Sure. And you heard from constituents on “both sides” of the issue of whether single mothers should be punished for “refusing” to name their child’s father.  You thought nobody would notice you trying to make it harder to get financial assistance for the poor, or that if they noticed, they’d applaud. So when the Internet collectively asked WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU YOU DICKHEAD, you skedaddled.

Now you not only hate poor women, you’re a COWARD who hates poor women.

I was fond of this solution one of the commenters at Mommyish devised:

Well, it does say that this law is in effect only if the mother “refuses” to name the father…which suggests that an unmarried woman could potentially name ANYONE as the father.

I motion that if this passes, all mothers affected by this law simply list [bill sponsors] John Cavaletto or Keith R. Wheeler as the father.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Diana Krall Live In 2013

Kinda sorta live and direct from the North Sea Jazz Festival:

 

Living Life, Chip by Chip

I always know where it is, unlike almost every other object I own. I rarely, if ever, however, go looking for it.

And yet occasionally, you find yourself doing something that you know will evoke a response that you hate because you need to have that response.

So, this morning, I opened the door to my night stand and extracted the battered shoe box. Beneath the “Thank You” notes from past students, the love letters my wife wrote me over time and surrounded by the pin-based honorifics I received or inherited throughout the years, I found it where I always found it.

My grandmother was an inexplicable part of my life. Before I could go to all-day school, I often spent time at her home. Occasionally, we would get an early morning phone call, which sent my mother into a spin: Grandma couldn’t watch me. She didn’t want me there. Mom would make six other calls and I’d land at another relative’s home. I never knew why.

Grandma during my earlier days could be happy or moody. She married her second husband, the irrepressible Uncle Harry, who spent much of his life on the open road as a truck-driving Teamster out of Detroit. They argued constantly, but there was always a love there. Mom loved to say they reminded her of the bickering couple from the comic strip “Pickles.” One of the few things they agreed on was a good pot of coffee at the kitchen table while they chain-smoked a seemingly unending supply of cigarettes.

As a trio, we took trips to Rice Lake for summer vacations. Because of them, I had a tree house (really a tree stand where I read book after book all summer) and a dog that lived at their house. I had a place to sleep when Mom and Dad had to work and I had a day off of school. I had the chance to learn how to make Bologna Loaf (a delicacy made with an assortment of onions, pickles and mayo mixed into bologna ground by hand).

Christmas morning, when I was 10 years old, we got a call from Uncle Harry. Grandma was sick so we couldn’t come over. I was irate, as I wanted to see my out-of-state cousins at her house and besides, she seemed OK the night before. Mom told me it was the way it was, her anger palpable. It would take me several more years to find out what happened that day.

Grandma had a bad night and spent most of it in the kitchen, drinking straight from a bottle of brandy. Uncle Harry got her to bed and up and told her it was time to get help. When a guy who drank the world’s shittiest beers at some of the best dive bars throughout Cudahy could see it, the issue was clear.

Grandma was an alcoholic.

The wide white ring box had paper sticking out of the edges of it, two photos of an ultrasound that told my wife and I our first child had died in utero. It was surrounded by two holy cards, one for Grandma, the other for my wife’s grandmother. In the ring slot was Uncle Harry’s wedding ring. When he died, Grandma gave me his most treasured items: His father’s watch, his grandfather’s pocket knife and his own wedding ring. In the top of the box was the item I sought: A bronze coin about the size of a dollar.

Grandma’s 14-year chip from AA.

The legend of these chips goes back into the 1940s, according to AA historians. They were totems to mark time and help recovering alcoholics hold their own against the pressures of the outside world. Days and months would be marked on chips of various colors. At a single year of sobriety, a bronze coin with a Roman numeral became the reminder of how far you had come.

When Grandma died, about a month after my wedding, Mom spent time going through her things and dealing with the sale of the house. Grandma had very little at the end of her life. Uncle Harry had died of cancer about a year earlier and she was holding onto her house with almost no money. Each year, we held a garage sale for her, where we sold more and more of her items. The cash helped keep food in the fridge and the lights on.

In her jewelry box were a few small items, mostly costume pieces and things she inherited. However, in that box was a line of coins, stacked like you would roll quarters. 14 in all.

I didn’t understand what it was or why they were there at the time, but when Mom asked me to take anything I wanted, I took the final coin. In retrospect, I wish I had taken them all, as they are now gone somewhere and I can never get them back.

Years later at a college media convention of all places, the folks from AA set up a vendor booth and I stopped by. I asked the nice woman about the coin I found and if it had any significance to her. She slipped her hand into her pocket and produced a coin with XXV on it.

“Did it look like this?”

I reflexively gasped.

She explained about the coin and the process and how these worked. I broke down in tears and this stranger consoled me, as I’m sure she had consoled so many others during her 25 years of sobriety.

She looked at me after I composed myself and said, “Your grandmother was an incredible woman.”

I later learned that Grandma had more years in than coin indicated, 28 by my estimation. When the cancer began to get her, she couldn’t make the meetings and she would rarely get visitors. More chips weren’t coming. Still, she kept to that promise, reciting the serenity prayer.

The items in that small white box were not put there by accident.

The two funeral cards held vigil. I asked those grandmothers to watch over the soul of our little lost one, the older brother or older sister who was supposed to be there for The Midget.

The ring was that piece of Uncle Harry that always captured his goodness for me. He was a tough, gruff, cantankerous bastard and my father used to tie himself in knots when he had to deal with Harry. Still, he loved me. I knew it every time I saw him. I knew it in every effort he made to connect with me in a way his “real” grandchildren refused to.

The coin? That was resolve.

Once I was old enough to understand, Grandma explained how every day was a challenge. She knew of people who went from 10 years to a single day of sobriety in a blink. A bad day, a spousal squabble, a moment of celebration turned wrong all could lead to the bottom of the ladder and the slow climb back. One chip at a time. Nothing was really a given to people afflicted with this disease.

If there ever was a certainty in her life, however, it was that cancer would take her. The sheer volume of cigarettes she and Uncle Harry consumed throughout their lives would inevitably lead to it.

She was hospitalized multiple times, the disease taking her ability to walk or control her own bowels. She had a colostomy, a walker and more. The reaper’s scythe took her one piece at a time, gathering her in with the emotionless rake of a boxman at a craps table.

The one thing she was bound and determined to do was live to see my wedding. It was at least three years between the time my loving wife and I knew we would wed, the engagement and the actual day. In that span, she went from bad to worse, her husband died and her house continued to atrophy. One Mother’s Day, shortly after Uncle Harry died, my parents decided to do a big get together for all the mothers. It was his mom, mom’s mom, my betrothed and her parents along with Mom and Dad at a big fancy restaurant. The love in that room was something I’ll never forget.

However, it was what Grandma told Mom later that still sticks with me.

My lovely wife ordered a martini, as was her custom. Grandma later told mom, it was the first time in forever she felt just a little jealous.

When she heard this, my wife was crushed and guilty, but Grandma told her she should never, ever feel that way. Grandma was strong enough and there was never a doubt that this would be a problem.

All those years in. One day at a time.

I never carried the coin with me. Other representations of Grandma are everywhere I look. The ashtray she made of a bear swiping at a salmon in a stream. The plastic canvas “Wisconsin Badgers” candy holder she made. The wooden monk that reads from a bible, which once sat on a stereo speaker or something in her living room.

Never the chip.

I couldn’t do it because it wasn’t mine. It wasn’t my resolve that earned it. I would have just as soon worn a Bronze Star that I bought at an estate sale than carry that chip. So I put it away where it would do the most good and left it there. Maybe once per year, I find it for one reason or another.

In this case, it was to see if I could still feel.

Life has been horribly difficult this year, and I thank you all for indulging me as I told you that week after week on this site. I’m sure nothing says “Hey here comes the weekend” like Doc Downer’s missives about failure and work trauma.

The volume of bad things has always seemed to reach a critical mass for me, especially when it comes to the actions of a bad actor within our department. It has gotten progressively worse over the past four months, for reasons I cannot comprehend. Everything was fine for almost a year. I left him alone, he reciprocated.

Then, WHAM, the beatings began, gaining in speed and frequency. It got to a point where I realized entire weeks were lost, answering emails and filing reports in response to his accusations against me and my students.

Another thing that increased was medication. My doctor feared for my safety and sanity. I went from occasionally taking a pill to being on a regiment of four or five medicines per day, not counting the over the counter pills she recommended.

It was the only way to keep me from losing it, and that alone made me feel like a loser. Despite her assurances that NO ONE could put up with the sheer volume of crap being shoveled in my direction with out SOME help, I just felt weaker.

And then, suddenly, I didn’t feel anything.

My boss popped into my office day after day, noting another bizarre action or demanding request of me from that colleague. It was my boss who would now be animated or irate about this. Before, I would share his anger and bile. Now, I would listen, comply and complete the task. It seemed the angrier this colleague got and the more exasperated my boss got, the more I just flatlined.

The shrink started to worry about me for the first real time. “We don’t want you flattened out. You need some emotional range.” Yet, any alteration he made to the meds, he feared, would lead me to a spiral, so he told me to hang on and keep an eye on things.

This week, the man finally pushed past the edge. He told several students they couldn’t attend a field trip he had long known about because he “had to investigate” whether it was an excused absence or not. In our field, it’s mostly a courtesy when one professor gives another professor a note saying, “Kid isn’t going to be here, here’s why, do me a solid.” Not in this case. In addition, he was on them about something that happened in the paper. Wednesday night, I had four editors in a room, hurt beyond belief. One kid was sobbing. Another said she had made a counseling appointment. A third told me she was on medication. Even the one “non-target” of his insanity told me she constantly felt pressure and tension. She did her best to hide from him that she worked with me on the newspaper.

They told me all the things I had been telling the shrink for months: How empty is this guy’s life that he has to do this? Why can’t he just leave us alone? Can’t anyone do anything about this to make him stop? Please…

Normally, I would have felt the pain, too. I would have decided to go to a batting cage and beat baseballs until my hands went raw. I would have screamed and hollered and cursed. I wanted to do all of those things.

It just wouldn’t come.

I told the kids to write down all their concerns and email our chair. I told them I would talk to him in the morning and it would be OK.

That was a measured, solid and reasonable response and it scared the shit out of me.

How much medication should have to take to be able to go to work and tolerate someone? How much of who you are has to be medically beaten out of you so you don’t feel constant anger, fear, sadness, anxiety or anything else? How much of that is OK?

I don’t know, but there I was. I could no longer tolerate the insanity, so I became emotionless.

I let this happen to me.

I flattened out.

The moment the chip hit my hand, I knew two things: I could still feel and I still had something in the tank.

The tears came pouring out. Honest emotion, loss and grief all coalesced in salty drops that fell freely. It was all there. I was never more grateful to feel sadness.

The medicine had flattened me out and made me smooth, but I could still break through when it really had to happen. There was still something inside of me that told me I was going to be OK.

But that wasn’t the incredible thing. I had planned, or at least hoped, for that.

The chip reminded me of something else.

In the final months of her life, Grandma was going downhill painfully fast. She rarely got out of her chair-bed-thing in her living room. She was on stronger and stronger doses of painkillers.

At one point, she couldn’t swallow so the doctors put her on liquid morphine. Mom told me that she went to get the prescription filled and found out it was only available at five pharmacies in the state. When Mom found one, she had to show more ID than she did when she went overseas. It was apparently an incredibly powerful narcotic.

After my wedding, we had a gift opening at the house. Grandma was there and saw me open the wonderful blanket she knit for me. Afterward, my wife and I took her home. We each gave her a hug and as we left, I started to cry.

“I have the feeling,” I told my bride, “I have just seen my grandmother for the last time.”

I was right. She died a month later.

Clean and sober.

The thing that I never understood before was why. In her final days, the pain was incredible, even with access to pretty much everything in the Michael Jackson Pharmacy of Fame. She had nothing prove. She had nothing to give. The finality of a “drink before dying” is something even shitty Westerns saw as a noble offering to the departed.

And yet, there she was, refusing to be tempted and refusing to say, “Fuck it.”

Every day was a chance to fail. Each success was measured in minutes and hours of avoiding the demon.

She had one thing left that was hers and hers alone: Sobriety. She wasn’t going to give it up, no matter what.

As I look at each day I have spent, dealing with an increasing level of hostility and harassment, I don’t feel that I can persist. “Better” jobs come along with offers of more pay, shorter hours and the absence of Sling Blade McGee constantly riding my ass.

In an ironic twist, the best explanation I can give to how this person operates is to say this is like living with a true alcoholic: Some days are quiet, others are loud, others lead to beatings. Occasionally, there are those happy days, which leave everyone on edge, wondering when the other shoe will drop and we won’t see the backhand coming.

I often tell my students that the only two things that are truly mine are my scars and my resolve. Every beating I take increases both of them. Yet, each day, I wonder if this will be the beating that will finally finish me. The one that makes me say, “Fuck it. We’re moving to Boise.”

I kept that chip next to me when I wrote this and from time to time, I would hold it. The strength of that 14 years balanced against the frailty of each day that got her there.

Even as I carefully rewrap it with those photos and cards, close the box and place it back with the other items, I think about that incredible woman who just refused to give up.

And now I understand that to make it, I have to do it her way.

Day by day.

Chip by chip.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are

Spectators

Spectators by Jim Flora.

We’re knee-deep in the El Nino season of 2015-16. I have a love-hate relationship with it: I love El Nino during hurricane season and hate it during the winter. The New Orleans metro area had a hellacious storm front last Tuesday. The city wasn’t impacted directly but there were nine confirmed tornadoes in the area that wreaked havoc in the outlying communities of Convent and LaPlace. It was like being an Okie for the day only without Jim Inhofe as your Senator. Of course, I have a whore monger and an empty suit as my Senators. so who am I to judge?

Before being uprooted for six weeks in 2005, the weather wasn’t a frequent topic of conversation in my house. For obvious reasons, I am now obsessed with the weather; so much so that I had twinges of PSTD when the wind was howling outside my door. Unlike Della and Oscar, I can’t hide under the bed when the weather sucks. I wouldn’t fit. Time for a brief meteorological musical interlude from the Brothers Finn:

I don’t really have a dog in the hunt in this year’s Oscar races. I suspect that wearing a beard and looking dirty and smelly will win Leonardo Decaprio his first Oscar. Handsome leading men have to ugly themselves up to be taken seriously viz George Clooney in Syriana. It’s a pity that Leo’s star turns in The Great Gatsby or The Aviator weren’t Oscarworthy but his duel with a bear in Revenant is. Of course, tangling with a bear did wonders for Daniel Boone’s career. Oh well, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Paul Newman won their Oscars for the wrong movies too. It’s a funny old world, y’all.

This week’s theme song, All The Things You Are, was composed in 1939 by Jerome Kern and features lyrics by his Show Boat writing partner, Oscar Hammerstein. It was long a favorite of Jazz musicians because of its melodic and harmonic complexity. Here are four distinctive takes on the song from some Jazz greats:

Now that I’ve provided you with a Kernel of substance, it’s time for the break after which I plan to Hammerstein it up some more.

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One Library, Two Chicagos

You’ve got to be kidding me: 

In late January, over 100 community members attended a meeting to address what the city plans to do repair the library and discuss community suggestions for repairs and upgrades. But the meeting turned contentious when not one city official showed up. Residents expressed their frustration at the city for not attending, with Alderman Brookins saying it was “disappointing and disheartening” that no one from the Chicago Public Library showed up. Chicago Public Library spokesman Patrick Molloy said that the library fully supports the project, but there must have been a misunderstanding and library officials didn’t commit to attending the meeting.

So what is the long-term plan to save the building housing this historic collection of black literature? Melvin Thompson is the executive director of the Endeleo Institute, a nonprofit focused on building up Chicago’s Washington Heights community. One of the group’s primary goals is getting Woodson Library the attention it needs. Since 2013, Endeleo has put pressure on the city to make repairs while watching new state-of-the-art libraries go up in more affluent neighborhoods, such as Beverly and Chinatown.

City officials told Chicago media outlet WGN that a facelift for Woodson carries an estimated budget somewhere between $5-10 million, but city officials couldn’t seem to come up with a reason why the library was neglected for so long.

Yeah, I can’t imagine what the different about this library.

Carter G. Woodson Regional Library opened December 19, 1975, in a two-story building housing the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, the largest collection of its kind in the Midwest. The library was named for Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of African American historiography. A prolific writer and founder of the Association for the Study of Negro History and Life, Woodson made many contributions to the study of African American history and culture.

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Friday Ferretblogging: Scandinavian Wasteland Edition

Mr. A has been renovating his office, which is where Claire’s cage is. She’s not impressed with his whole IKEA aesthetic, but she does appreciate the increased floor space:

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A.

Friday Catblogging: Mambo For Cats

It’s impossible to blog for 10 years and never repeat yourself. The other day I posted four album covers by Jim Flora; one of which was Mambo For Cats. I subsequently regretted not saving that for today since Oscar and Della Street are reluctant divas this week. Here’s the aforementioned cover:

MAMBO-FOR-CATS

The album itself is nowhere to be found on YouTube, BUT several feline tunes from one of its featured artists, Perez Prado, *are* online. It’s time to mambo in the morning:

Today On White Supremacy Theatre

It’s been a busy week on the racist far Right here in the cradle of the Confederacy. Actually, New Orleans surrendered in 1862, so I guess we’re more like a runaway stroller. Anyway, white supremacy continues to rear its ugly head; in part because of the Insult Comedian’s appeal to the “poorly educated,” xenophobes, and morons.

We begin with my old nemesis, Gret Stet Fuhrer Wannabe and former Klan leader, David Dukkke. While not formally endorsing Trump, Duke had this to say about two of his GOP rivals:

“Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” Duke said about Cruz and Rubio, in a segment first reported by BuzzFeed news. “I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact, I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action.”

Nice, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Dukkke went on to urge his neo-Nazi fanboys to volunteer for the fake billionaire’s campaign:

“I am telling you that it is your job now to get active. Get off your duff. Get off your rear end that’s getting fatter and fatter for many of you every day on your chairs. When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer,” he said. “They’re screaming for volunteers.”

“You’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have. Educate them.”

I’m not sure how the Insult Comedian squares the support of the nation’s leading anti-Semite with his love for Bibi Netanyahu, but nothing he’s said so far makes a lick of sense. So why change a winning formula?

David Duke is not the only white “nationalist” who likes neither Tailgunner Ted nor Marcobot Rubiodroid because of their Cubanness. Here’s the text of a robo-call from the racist American National Super PAC:

The American National Super PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump. I am William Johnson, a farmer and white nationalist.

The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called “racist.” This is our mindset: It’s okay that our government destroys our children’s future, but don’t call me racist. I am afraid to be called racist. It’s okay to give away our country through immigration, but don’t call me racist. It’s okay that few schools anymore have beautiful white children as the majority, but don’t call me racist. Gradual genocide against the white race is okay, but don’t call me racist. I am afraid to be called racist. Donald Trump is not a racist, but Donald Trump is not afraid.

Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump. (213) 718-3908. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.

Remember all the media outlets that fell for wingnut stories about the so-called New Black Panther Party and its so-called support for Barack Obama? That was pure fantasy unlike the wave of white supremacist support for Donald Trump. TPM is calling him on it. Let’s hope the MSM does likewise, but I’m not holding my breath. They’ll accept his winking rejection of support from malakas like Johnson and Duke as well as others of their icky ilk. After all, Trump’s love for the poorly educated is pure…

Meanwhile next door in Mississippi, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is trying to pull a fast one:

Two weeks before the Mississippi Legislature allowed 19 state flag bills to die in committee, Gov. Phil Bryant took out a pen and signed an official governor’s proclamation, declaring the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month,” a routine occurrence in Mississippi and several other southern states.

The proclamation, which does not appear on the State of Mississippi’s website with other proclamations, such as about emergency inclement weather, is posted on the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is ferociously against changing the Mississippi flag to remove the Confederate battle flag—which supporters like to call the “Beauregard flag”—from its canton.

This is all very Neo New South of Gov. Bryant. He’s trying to have it both ways: he confirms the biases of the white supremacist past while trying to lock them in the attic lest they come out when company is around. I prefer open racists like Duke and Johnson to those who cloak their bigotry in niceties such as Gov. Bryant. I’m not quite sure where the Insult Comedian fits in here. He’s a bigot who denies being one but he’s not big on niceties.

That was a depressing post, wasn’t it? That’s why I’d like to conclude with some reassuring words from baseball historian and sabermetrics guru, Bill James. I’m a longtime reader of Bill’s and have always thought of him as a sane conservative. Let’s just say he’s more likely to make jokes about Ted Kennedy or Bill Clinton than Ronald Reagan. But Bill James has had a bellyful of the Insult Comedian as you can see from this excerpt from a piece at his website entitled Trump as in Rump:

I don’t think that Trump can win, frankly, because I don’t think there are enough morons to elect him. A certain percentage of the American public is just morons; that’s the way it is. When you divide the public in two and then divide the voters in one of those halves among five candidates or more, a candidate can win by dominating the moron vote because it only takes about one-seventh of the total population to take the “lead” under those circumstances. But when you’re talking about needing 51% of the WHOLE population, rather than needing 30% of half of the population, you run out of morons.

There you have it, sports fans, the straight dope from Bill James: scourge of the morons. I hope he’s not just whistling Dixie.

 

The GOP Doesn’t Need Saving from Trump

For God’s sake, stop begging the arsonists to be on the fire brigade: 

Where are the GOP’s Brutuses, the Cascas, the Longinuses, the Minociuses today? Where are Senators John McCain or Lindsay Graham or Susan Collins? Where is ex-president George W. Bush? Where is ex–presidential candidate Mitt Romney? Where is New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, or California’s ex-governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

These men and women know what Trump is. They have to understand what is at stake here. They have to see that Trump and his followers have now crossed fundamental Rubicons, embracing such antidemocratic, such thuggish views—the mindset of the pogrom, the death squad, the race-and-religion war—that they now represent an absolute and existential threat to the Republic.

And yet not one of these political figures have come out and said they will dissociate themselves from a Trump candidacy—that they will vote for, and campaign for, anyone but Trump. Not one of them has said that democracy comes before party. Not one of them has dared to use the “F” word, calling Trump out for the fascist that he so clearly is.

Exactly which George W. Bush are you expecting to show up to denounce Donald Trump? The one who stood by while his campaign and its stooges implied John Kerry shot himself in the leg to give himself a better bio? The one who started two wars just because he could and acted like the dead people were bothering him out of spite? The one who refused to meet with Cindy Sheehan after her son was killed? The one who destroyed John McCain in South Carolina by implying his adopted daughter was conceived out of wedlock with an African-American woman? That one?

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Malaka Of The Week: Lonn Trost

weiss

Former Yankee honcho and malakatude Hall of Famer George Weiss.

I’d never heard of this week’s “honoree” until my online pal, Joe Casale, blasted him last week. I looked into it and found that he was indeed guilty of egregious and greedy malakatude. And that is why New York Yankees COO Lonn Trost is malaka of the week. He also has a helluva punworthy name even if he’s totally untrostworthy…

I don’t follow baseball as closely as I once did and I rarely pay attention to front office types: they don’t have baseball cards, after all. The only time I notice the baseball suits is when they do something arrogant, stupid, and self-defeating. Trost hit the trifecta last week after the Yankees announced a new ticketing policy. They will no longer accept online printout tickets from entities such as StubHub. It has nothing to do with technophobia and everything to do with money and downright snobbery. Here’s what Get Off My Lonn Trost said about this kerfuffle:

“The problem below market at a certain point is that if you buy a ticket in a very premium location and pay a substantial amount of money. It’s not that we don’t want that fan to sell it, but that fan is sitting there having paid a substantial amount of money for a ticket and [another] fan picks it up for a buck-and-a-half and sits there, and it’s frustrating to the purchaser of the full amount.”

Trost then added a comment that raised eyebrows on social media because of its seemingly elitist undertones. “And quite frankly,” he said, “the fan may be someone who has never sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”

I guess he’s a Trostafarian who takes the old line about the great unwashed literally. He wants to keep that stinky rabble away from the well-heeled gentry who pay big bucks to watch grown men spit, scratch, and fart around. A season ticket holder can pay as much as $20K for the hoity toitiest tickets to see Trost’s team. That was a helluva lot of t’s, which is something I’d never tease y’all about…

The Yankees have violated the first rule of holes in dealing with this PR debacle: they keep digging. They’ve even gotten into a dispute with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. who wrote a scathing letter to the Yankees pompously plutocratic president, Randy Levine:

“Yankee fans have always been the best in baseball,” Diaz said in a statement. “The idea that some of us would recoil in horror because the person sitting next to them paid less than face value for their seat is absurd, and represents the very definition of elitism.”

<snip>

“I have been a Yankee fan my entire life,” Diaz wrote. “Without the everyday, working class fans who make up the vast majority of their fan base, the New York Yankees would not be the successful franchise they are today.”

Ouch. The problem is that Trost and the other one-percenters who run the Yankees don’t give a shit about ordinary fans. They want those premium seats filled with wealthy rumps. It doesn’t matter that the premium seats in most ballparks are filled by fair-weather fans who don’t know a balk from a slider, they’ve got the do-re-mi. That’s baseball circa 2016 in an overpriced nutshell. As Randy Newman would surely say at this point, it’s money that matters:

Watching Trost and his arrogant cohorts drop the ball, reminds me of the Yankees in their 1950’s salad days; you know, the team that inspired the Broadway hit, Damn Yankees. In that era, the Yankees were run by a narrow-minded, bigoted, dreadful man named George Weiss. His ideal fan was a wealthy Republican from Westchester County or the leafier townships of Connecticut. Weiss was a notorious racist, which was one reason that the Yankees were among the last major league teams to integrate.

According to the book Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, Weiss at a cocktail party stated loudly that “he would never allow a black man to wear a Yankee uniform.” The Yankees farm-system, which Weiss oversaw, had in place a policy preventing black players from reaching the major league club, according to the book.Elston Howard, eventually the first black Yankee, was switched from an outfielder to a catcher, the position at which it would be least likely to break into the major league club, given Yogi Berra’s presence.

When Elston Howard finally joined the ball club in 1955, it had been a Lonn time coming. For his part, Weiss thought that having Italian players was enlightened enough. While the other New York teams-the Dodgers and the Yankees-were beating the bushes for minority players, the Yankees were lily-white along with their arch-rivals the Boston Red Sox whose first black player was Pumpsie Green in 1959. I mention that detail because he had one of the greatest baseball names ever to go along with his .246 lifetime average in 5 seasons. Great name, bad player.

I took that detour to point out that the Yankee tradition of arrogance, condescension, and malakatude predated the house of Steinbrenner. Lonn Trost is merely the latest in a long line of asshats and douchebags to help run the Yankees. And that is why Lonn I don’t Trost the masses is malaka of the week,

Karma’s A…Troll

karma_is_a_troll_trump_2

Matt Taibbi:

The same way Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the stump can see his future. The pundits don’t want to admit it, but it’s sitting there in plain view, 12 moves ahead, like a chess game already won:

President Donald Trump.

A thousand ridiculous accidents needed to happen in the unlikeliest of sequences for it to be possible, but absent a dramatic turn of events – an early primary catastrophe, Mike Bloomberg ego-crashing the race, etc. – this boorish, monosyllabic TV tyrant with the attention span of an Xbox-playing 11-year-old really is set to lay waste to the most impenetrable oligarchy the Western world ever devised.

It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.

Well, the GOP certainly built it … a generation plus of people programmed to believe myths to such an extent that a significant plurality will willingly cast in their lot with an admitted huckster and obvious fraud. A reality show host who made at least one appearance on … televised professional wrestling. Which, come to think of it, explains some elements of his style. Candidate as persona.

Well, now the wingers get what’s emerged from the slop…will the rest of us have to deal with the consequences too?

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: NOLA Naughtiness

These covers speak for themselves:

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Quote Of The Day: Cult Leader Edition

You may remember Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand as the guy who David Vitter spied on during the Gret Stet Goober race. The Sheriff is frustrated with obstructionism by his fellow Gret Stet Gopers over our budget crisis. They actually have the chutzpah to blame newly elected Governor John Bel Edwards for the mess we’re in. Sheriff Normand knows who’s to blame:

What a mess. Bobby Jindal was a better cult leader than Jim Jones. We drank the elixir for eight years. We remained in a conscious state; we walked to the edge of the cliff, and he watched. And guess what? Unlike Jim Jones, he did not swallow the poison. What a shame.

Actually, Jones died from a gunshot wound that was either self-inflicted or performed by one of his lackeys. But the analogy is still apt, and I love the word elixir as well as this other statement by Normand:

We’re facing enough challenges today. We do not need to face the stupidity of our leadership as it relates to how we’re going to balance this budget and talking about these silly issues because we’re worried about what Grover Norquist thinks.

To hell with Grover Norquist! I don’t care about Grover Norquist! We’re worrying about the ATR report card? Give me a break.

Arm or leg, Sheriff? I’m glad that he also said this:

We did this to ourselves, myself included, because I endorsed that idiot [Jindal].

A Republican taking responsibility for a failure? It’s a novel approach and one that only someone who got 88% in his 2015 re-election campaign would take. This is *genuine* candor as opposed to the fake variety being peddled by the Insult Comedian.

Good on ya, Sheriff.

 

Supremely Stupid

The Republican controlled Senate has made it official that, absent the zombie apocalypse or a biblical flood, there will be no hearings on *any* SCOTUS nominee submitted by President Obama. Only the most simple-minded and clueless among us will be surprised by this development. Josh Marshall said it best yesterday morning:

No alternative or dark explanations are required when it comes to Republican desires to dictate the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Control of the federal judiciary has been a transcendent goal of the conservative movement for two generations. And in the face of political and demographic change, the Republican Party has become increasingly dependent on the Supreme Court to entrench its political power through attacks on voting rights, unions, one person one vote and decisions like Citizens United, not to mention Bush v. Gore. So the stakes, on the merits, are vast. And yet the manner of the refusal to even entertain the nomination of a President with a year left in office is, as Lauren Fox notes in this story, simply a culmination of Republican efforts not simply to block Obama’s policies but to delegitimize, degrade and denigrate his presidency and the man himself.

Yeah, you right, Josh.

Speaking of clueless, let’s move on to one of the stupidest things I’ve read about the Supreme Court in quite some time It comes from two LSU academics, John Maxwell Hamilton and James E. Shelledy in an op-ed piece for the Advocate. They suggest-get ready for it-that President Obama appoint a political enemy to the court; namely Lindsey Graham or Chris Christie. It’s another attempt to recapture the good old days of bipartisanship that never really existed:

 Obviously, Obama will face a contracted and bitter fight with his Supreme Court nomination. But maybe this is an opportunity to open a door to bipartisanship. Obama, who has decried partisanship, can name someone who does not favor the left any more than Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell would prefer to bolster the right.

And he can do it in a dramatic way that would be difficult for the Republican majority in the Senate to refuse confirmation. He could name not only one of their own but one of their own who has been in the race for the presidency — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Both men possess a compelling set of credentials for the job.

Both men, lawyers, do not belong to the far right of their parties. In their years of public service, they have established themselves as leaders in their party. But they have shown the ability to work with the other side.

The only reason they’re not on the far right of their party (singular not plural, both are Republicans) is that they’re marginally sane compared to the Insult Comedian or Tailgunner Ted. After all, this is a political party that considers Marcobot Rubiodroid moderate. Why? I’ll never know.

The Maxwell-Shelledy op-ed is quite simply one of the dumbest things I’ve read in quite some time. Essentially, they ask Barack Obama to ratify the delegitimization of his Presidency as well as a historic opportunity to push the court in his direction. I’m trying to avoid the clichés about ivory tower academics but these two gentlemen really need to get out more. Given the horrendous weather in the New Orleans metro area as I wrote this, one might even suggest that Professor S seek Shelledy from the storm of ridicule that this piece will surely inspire:

The only good thing about the Maxwell-Shelledy piece is its suggestion that POTUS appoint a non-judge. I’m on the record as favoring this approach but the custom is for one to appoint someone from your side of the political spectrum as opposed to Little Lindsey or Governor Asshole. FDR knew what he was getting with Senator Hugo Black. It’s true that Ike was peeved with Earl Warren but he let Herbert Brownell handle the nomination. Big mistake: the Attorney General was Tom Dewey’s right hand man and a well-known liberal on civil rights. It’s what happens when you have a President with neither political instincts nor experience. Of course, the GOP is hellbent on nominating someone with *much* less experience than General/President Eisenhower. Imagine the Insult Comedian nominating a Supreme. I bet Andrew Dice Clay is available…

President Obama should go ahead with his plan to nominate a qualified Center-Left lawyer and lob that hand grenade in Mitch McConnell’s lap. BOOM. Once again, it will show that they cannot be trusted to govern and could help the Dems retake the Senate. It couldn’t hurt.

It’s time for an antidote to the stupid; one of the best Scalia post-mortems from the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin:

 Like Nick Carraway, Scalia “wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever.” The world didn’t coöperate. Scalia won a great deal more than he lost, and he and his allies succeeded in transforming American politics into a cash bazaar, with seats all but put up for bidding. But even though Scalia led a conservative majority on the Court for virtually his entire tenure, he never achieved his fondest hopes—thanks first to O’Connor and then to Kennedy. Roe v. Wade endures. Affirmative action survives. Obamacare lives. Gay rights are ascendant; the death penalty is not. (These positions are contingent, of course, and cases this year may weaken the Court’s resolve.) For all that Presidents shape the Court, the Justices rarely stray too far from public opinion. And, on the social issues where the Court has the final word, the real problem for Scalia’s heirs is that they are out of step with the rest of the nation. The public wants diversity, not intolerance; more marriages and fewer executions; less money in politics, not more. Justice Scalia’s views—passionately felt and pungently expressed though they were—now seem like so many boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

What’s not to love about an article that quotes The Great Gatsby?

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Jim Flora

I was idly searching for a subject this week when I stumbled upon the work of Jim Flora whose family run web site describes him as follows:

James (Jim) Flora is best-known for his wild jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records (late 1940s) and RCA Victor (1950s). He authored and illustrated 17 popular children’s books and flourished for decades as a magazine illustrator. Few realize, however, that Flora (1914-1998) was also a prolific fine artist with a devilish sense of humor and a flair for juxtaposing playfulness, absurdity and violence.

Cute — and deadly.

Flora’s album covers pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins who fingered cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns. Yet this childlike exuberance was subverted by a tinge of the diabolic. Flora wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives.

Taking liberties with human anatomy, he drew bonded bodies and misshapen heads, while inking ghoulish skin tints and grafting mutant appendages. He was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa like bedspread patterns. On some Flora figures, three legs and five arms were standard equipment, with spare eyeballs optional. His rarely seen fine artworks reflect the same comic yet disturbing qualities. “He was a monster,” said artist and Floraphile JD King. So were many of his creations.

Let’s take a look at Flora’s work. As far as I can tell, there’s no fauna involved:

gene-krupa

Benny Goodman

MAMBO-FOR-CATS

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