Mel Gibson

1. I can't say I'm surprised. I grew up among right-wing Catholics. Right-wing Catholics are a population vulnerable to anti-Semitism. It's like their sickle-cell. I don't want to paint with too broad a brush: Wojtyla seemed pretty free of it. I'm not so sure about Ratzinger. But then Wojtyla seemed to have a modus vivendi with the modern world that Ratzinger doesn't.

2. That some Jewish groups would still be willing to get into bed with Mel Gibson when his movie came out just shows you what a powerful force modernity is. Ditto Catholics getting into bed with your fundamentalist types -- don't they know what they fundamentalist types would do to them if they had the power? (After they first dealt with the Jews, presumably.) Have the Catholics forgotten the election of 1928? But such is the force of the enemy (hippies, women, etc.) that strange alliances must be made.

3. I am highly confident that people who have worked around Mel Gibson have had to hear these sentiments before, and it is to their bewildered, fixed grins and dead eyes that I dedicate this post.

Black tot day

But not what you think -- not what I thought, anyway. From Jimmy's Cocktail Blog:

"This day in 1970 is known as Black Tot Day. On July 31, 1970 the Royal Navy discontinued the long-standing practice of providing daily rum rations for all of her sailors."


Climate: Ethanol stinks

I haven't been doing much climate blogging because a lot has changed in six months; I feel like more people are paying attention, so my widow's mite isn't as needed. But, for the casual reader, I do want to point out that ethanol won't solve climate change, and it's a poor substitute for oil in any case (because you need energy to grow the damn corn). And this Ergosphere post is a good summary of why, and what we should be doing instead.

(Another AGW post I liked this week was this one.

Hangover cure?

Lifehacker has this post concerning Pepto-Bismol ice cream. As an occasional cocktail blogger I feel it is my duty to bring it to you.

That reminds me -- time for a Negroni!


Dodger lies

Via Dodger Thoughts, some Dodger PR guys says this:

"Please don't get me wrong - I'm not looking to bash Plaschke. I actually respect him immensely, his years of covering the game and his right to voice his opinion. He's truly one of the best writers in the country."
He cannot possibly mean this. I've been reading sports pages all my life, and Bill Plaschke is the worst columnist I ever read, and I read Dick Young when he was old and thought night baseball was the work of the communists. Bill Plaschke is worse than my hometown paper columnist who called basketball players "cagers" and rebounds "caroms". I would rather read Stuart Scott, if he had a column, than Bill Plaschke; I would rather read old press releases where the words are rearranged in random order. The guy's a douche; he's everything wrong with print sports media today. Bill Plaschke makes your average weekend sports talk radio host seem like Dorothy fucking Parker. He's worse than T.J. Simers, even.

Inheritance taxes

Even though I made a lot of money at one time, I've always been in favor of hefty inheritance taxes. I like nice paved roads, for example, and bombers, and the money's got to come from somewhere, so why not take it from the dead? Better it come from American dead than live Chinese bankers, is what I say. And better we take dead people's money than their delicious brains -- don't get me started on that!

However, this effort -- and it's just an example -- to tie "Paris Hilton" to "inheritance taxes" won't work, in my opinion. I don't think people hate Paris Hilton. She's like a cartoon character. So when you say, "we can't do X because Paris Hilton has to have more money," I don't think it gets people as steamed as it's supposed to. It's like saying that Lisa Douglas from Green Acres makes shitty hotcakes. Of course she makes shitty hotcakes! That's why she's so funny!

I would pick on the CEO from Exxon who has a double chin the size of my home county. Or Sean Combs -- that might work, once people realize that rich black people get to keep their money they'll probably want to change that law tout suite. (Cf. urban policy.)


I've been writing all afternoon, and as a conclusion I think "afterall," like "anyway," should be one word.

Also, I want a nickel every time this happens.

A most awesome sentence

I was in Venice yesterday and picked up my copy of The Free Venice Beachhead. I, myself, find it awesome and 100% pure America that such hippies and lefties are still putting out a paper -- especially in Venice, it's like in the DNA of Venice -- not least because they still put fiction on the front page containing this awesome sentence:

"Deborah had baby sat Sheila through the emotional flotsam and jetsam of the breakups of her various journeys on the stormy seas of love"

You can watch global warming while you cause it!

From this morning's LA Times, about the random blackouts we had during the heatwaveHeat Wave Caught DWP Unprepared:

"Moreover, the DWP's projections didn't fully account for the increased energy use of today's larger, highly electronic homes — including the growing popularity of big-screen plasma TVs, which eat up about as much power as a large refrigerator and about a third the energy of a central air system.

Nationally, power companies are expecting a 50% increase in the power used by televisions as more people convert to more sophisticated sets."

I don't know why this bugs me particularly; it's not like air conditioning is any less of a luxury item. Maybe it's just my ambivalent attitude toward TV, which I blame for all societal ills -- Fox News, hippies, everything. So when people, as they increasingly do, really get into their TV, home-theater style, it just feels like they've built a guest room for Satan. And, because of all the power it uses, it's certainly making it hotter!



From tonight's National Weather Service forecast discussion:

Emphasis added. But how much emphasis?

Short stuff

• Mrs. D and I saw "Little Miss Sunshine" tonight. A little bit of pointless originality (it's not just Grandpa, it's Grandpa with a heroin habit), but that's not so bad. Think of it as the most heartwarming episode of "Arrested Development" ever!

• Also: if you're in a grocery store late at night, never get in line behind a woman buying cat food. Something is bound to go wrong. True story.

• I really enjoyed this post on the UniWatch blog, of the Mets broadcasters talking about socks:

Hernandez: That was the one thing, when I came over here, the Mets didn’t have stripes on their socks, and it so disappointed me, because I was used to the Cardinals’ stripes…

Cohen: The Cardinals are famous for the stripes. Rick Ankiel, before he melted down, used to wear those striped socks.

Hernandez: The Red Sox and the Cardinals have the best socks in baseball. [Hernandez is apparently unaware that the Red Sox hose have been stripe-free for several years.]

Cohen: But nobody sees them anymore.

Hernandez: Exactly.
That's the sound of time being filled, my friends. That's the sound of summer.


Breaking: Kings re-sign bigot.

Sean Avery, hater of the French Canadians, and (allegedly) others, has been re-upped by Al Campanis Dean Lombardi.

Somebody ask him about gay marriage, I'm dying to know.

LA Times notes

FIRST OF ALL, they used "illicit" for "elicit" in this story. ("So that's just what Greenberg did to illicit tears from the 27 or so 2- and 3-year-olds featured in her latest exhibition, "End Times," recently at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.") Once again our 30-year campaign to maleducate Americans bears fruit!

The item I was really interested in, though, was this soccer story, about Chivas USA playing a friendly (great noun) against Mexico's Club America:

"For some time, America has been investigating the possibility of investing in MLS. Should that happen, it probably would create a rivalry beyond what MLS has in Chivas USA and the Galaxy."
But what will they call it? Club America USA? Club America America? Club America "Fuck Yeah"? I dunno. And if MLS wants to stir up Chivas USA-Galaxy passion, they need to take advantage of the immigration debate, and make it more like Celtic-Rangers. That'll be fun for the kids!

"Illicit tears." On the front page of Calendar, no less. Sheesh.


Old-timey photos

If you like pictures of men in fedoras buying 25-cent "Sportsman" pipes from other men in fedoras -- and who doesn't? -- then you'll like this Flickr set of Ansel Adams photos from LA in 1941. No beauties of nature here! -- just supermarkets with crazy windmills on them. (Via Franklin Avenue)


Annals of journalism

From my Wall Street Journal morning e-mail:

"The issue of stock-options backdating has roiled corporate suites across the U.S., in Silicon Valley more than anywhere else. And Kevin Ryan, the U.S. attorney for northern California, sought to highlight the show of force his office has made on options backdating even as a crowd of reporters sought to ask him about the higher-profile case of baseball player Barry Bonds in the steroid scandal, the San Jose Mercury News reports."

Of course it's not really the journalists' fault. They're just giving the people what they want. "Hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable!—mon frère!"

Let us now praise dead trees.

I don't have a huge take on this, I just thought it was interesting. PBS | I, Cringely . July 20, 2006 - They Wrap Fish, Don't They?:

"So news lives longer on the Web. Is this good or bad? ...[A]s a columnist I'm actually paid to have opinions and mine in this case is that this news stickiness is bad, very bad, because it means we read less and ultimately learn less than we did in the past....

Newspapers, because they are printed daily, have a lifespan of one day. And because they generally have several stories on each page, we have the opportunity to SCAN the news in parallel. These are two huge advantages of print journalism over its electronic counterpart. "

That's the thing I note when I sit down and read the newspaper -- which seems like work compared to just looking at my RSS feeds: you're allowed to be surprised by a news story. Also, a first-rate paper has much more news than you think it does. I'm reminded of I.F. Stone's line about the Washington Post -- you never know on what page you'll find a page 1 story. That was a criticism then. Now, maybe, you could understand it differently -- somewhere in that paper is a Page 1 story.


Regulation and neighborliness

I want to write a little bit about this post, which is about tear-downs in LA.

Specficially this paragraph caught my eye:

If additions and teardowns are inevitable, what can we do to make them less unpleasant? To impose arbitrary limitations on square footage, floor area ratios, and lot occupancy that make teardowns virtually impossible (as is the stated goal of many teardown opponents) is pissing into the gale-force wind of economic reality. I also object to publicly imposed architectural controls on the grounds that they are a form of aesthetic fascism, with good taste enforced by the Denim and Suede Police. However, since most people don't want to annoy their neighbors too badly, creating a set of recommended best practices for additions and teardowns would prevent a lot of hard feelings, litigation, and ill-advised government regulation.
Some comments:

1) "Publicly imposed architectural controls" indeed can be misused. The argument from historic preservation advocates is that a neighborhood built at the same time has, more than good taste, a common taste: there's an effect to the limited range of the design of houses that gives an overall effect. To wreck one, then, is to weaken all of them. Consider this the "broken and then garishly replaced windows" theory.

I am inclined to support the HP advocates: once the old architecture is gone, it's gone for good, and I feel like well-maintained old architecture, over time, turns into a civic asset. You need a mix, of course, or it's a museum, but in a town the size of LA I think there should be some room for McMansion-free zone.

That said, in a perfect world I would prefer such controls to be enforced fairly loosely and unfascistically. (A house painted purple isn't fated to be purple forever, for example.) The counter to this is the "slippery slope" argument, but I have always hated slippery slope arguments as excessively deterministic -- even if they're right. (They let Elvis get on Ed Sullivan, and now Lance Armstrong is making assfucking jokes on the ESPYs.)

I think the other reason I might support regulation is

2) I don't believe people care much about their neighbors. I mean, even if most people don't want to annoy their neighbors, how much is "most"? 60%? That's 40% annoying. Even 10% annoying is pretty annoying indeed, especially in a city like LA where being annoyed is not part of the civic culture like it is in New York. And we're talking about people's houses, here -- the biggest investment they'll ever make. Do they really care about what a bunch of people they don't even know yet think?

In a society where people are concerned about their neighbors there is less need for custom to be replaced by law; custom keeps everyone in line. When you get to big cities with millions of people from all over, what customs can you rely on?

All that is solid melts into air, as we were warned. Or rather, all that is solid is torn down and replaced with a big-ass "entrance hall" that's impossible to heat or cool.

Sports: The LA Times ventures into humor

From this morning's summary:

"The normally reliable Sele (6-3) had his second poor outing in 12 starts..."
I also called to complain about the hockey coverage, and to cancel my Sunday edition (which I'd been meaning to do for weeks now, ever since I noticed that I weeded the five pounds of shit out of the paper and then never read the rest). Instead they offered to cut the price in half for Monday-Sunday. What the hell, I took it. My voice has not been heard but at least I stuck it to the man. I do like Mark Heisler, anyway.


LA Times gets the hang of blogging

Check out the near-Defamer-levels of bitchiness:

"Among reporters who cover TV, Dawn Ostroff is known as the corporate executive version of Sleepytime Tea. No matter what you ask, she can brew an answer formulated to lull you to a deep, home office-approved slumber. Even her off-the-cuff remarks sound as if they were pounded out by committee at a weekend retreat. Like Walt Disney Co.'s Anne Sweeney, another press-conference cyborg, Ostroff must have a TelePrompTer hard-wired into her brain."

On the other hand, this makes me unhappy. As does this. Reading words on actual paper's getting to be such an affectation -- which only makes me love it more, naturally.

The Chicken Post Came First.


For CBS’s Fall Lineup, Check Inside Your Refrigerator - New York Times: "The network plans to announce today that it will place laser imprints of its trademark eye insignia, as well as logos for some of its shows, on eggs — 35 million of them in September and October. CBS’s copywriters are referring to the medium as “egg-vertising,” hinting at the wordplay they have in store. Some of their planned slogans: “CSI” (“Crack the Case on CBS”); “The Amazing Race” (“Scramble to Win on CBS”); and “Shark” (“Hard-Boiled Drama.”). Variations on the ad for its Monday night lineup of comedy shows include “Shelling Out Laughs,” “Funny Side Up” and “Leave the Yolks to Us.”...Newspapers, magazines and Web sites are so crowded with ads for entertainment programming that CBS was ready to try something different, Mr. Schweitzer said. "The best thing about the egg concept was its intrusiveness."

Shit, now every time you go in to pitch a show they're going to ask you, "It's funny, but it's too complicated -- what are you putting on the egg?

UPDATE: It occurs to me that "The best thing about the concept was its intrusiveness" could also be applied to the Iraq invasion.

Schmaltz Will Save Us!

I'm not very excited about biodiesel -- it seems overhyped to me -- but this could make a convert out of me.

Green Car Congress: GS Cleantech Inks Poultry Fat for Biodiesel Agreement: "GS CleanTech Corporation, formerly named Veridium, has executed an agreement with an Arkansas-based poultry processing facility to extract more than one million pounds per year of poultry fat from the facility’s waste streams for conversion into a biodiesel feedstock using GS CleanTech’s proprietary animal fat recycling and conversion technologies."
Emphasis added -- for flavor!


Never got a funeral

I see where Red Buttons died. Not too long ago we decided to throw a bachelor party in the form of a roast -- which I highly recommend, by the way -- and three of us quite independently did "Never Got A Dinner."

Thank you, Redman. Thank you.


"Mr. T, why do you pity the fool?"

I would not want to be a TV critic, myself, but I would have liked to have been at TCA for this exchange:

Question: Mr. T, why do you pity the fool?

Mr. T: That is a good question. That is a good question and a legitimate question. And I'm the man to answer it. You pity the fool because you don't want to beat up a fool. You know, pity is between sorry and mercy. See, if you pity him, you know, you won't have to beat him up. So that's why I say fools, you gotta give another chance because they don't know no better. That's why I pity them.

Comment: Mr. T's answer is about 80% not insane enough.

WSJ.com - Got a Better Letter Opener?

I like this idea:

...a broad effort by Staples to develop a stable of exclusive products to differentiate its own-brand line from those of competitors...

I wish they would make something like this available; my wife got me a pad like this in London and it's fun to write in.


Sports withdrawl

Hockey playoffs, into the World Cup, and then the All-Star Game (which I still like despite the shit-flavored modern-sports-marketing quotient they wrap it in)...and then nothing today. It was so bad I watched "Good Eats."

Annals of Capitalism

The first two items in my morning Wall Street Journal e-mail:

Memo Reveals Details Of Options Backdating
In a lawsuit against Sycamore Networks, an internal memo that has been turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission shows employees discussed how they could alter the dates of stock-option grants while hiding their actions from company auditors, The Wall Street Journal reports. ....A former human-resources director at Sycamore contends in a lawsuit that his employment agreement was terminated because he told executives about the memo...
part of a broader examination by the SEC and Justice Department into past option grants by more than 50 companies.
* * *
EU Fines Microsoft
The European Union fined Microsoft $357 million for failing to obey a 2004 antitrust order to share its program code with rivals.... "I regret that, more than two years after the decision ... Microsoft has still not put an end to its illegal conduct," said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, [who] added that she was convinced Microsoft had known what it had to do to comply, saying "I don't buy Microsoft's line that they didn't know what was being asked of them, because the March 2004 decision is crystal clear," the Financial Times notes.


Conservative assignment desk, seriousness edition

The Enervating Game -- Why Europeans obsession with soccer shows that they are sports-mad unserious people, and why our sports enthusiasm shows the exact opposite

How has George Bush, a leader of acknowledged power and vision, nevertheless produced record budget deficits? The answer: residual Clintonian unseriousness.

Looking for proof that the Left has led us into a morass of unrefined unseriousness? Look no further than Sugar in the Raw.

more to come, I hope...

The All-Star Game: Dull on Fox!

I like Joe Buck as a play-by-play guy, and I give him credit for not strangling Tim McCarver, but he is a sucky PA announcer. Introduction of the All-Star starting lineups is about 57% of the fun of the All-Star game, and he handles it like it was a Rockies-Pirates game in April. Plus, don't we want the local guy? How else will we know what it's like to go to Pittsburgh?

Let me be the millionth to say, "Fox sucks."

PS -- and I am old, old enough to remember when McCarver was an exciting new announcer with the New York Mets, and his shitty puns numbered in the mere hundreds of thousands.

UPDATE: Good liveblog of the game here.

UPDATE (2): Bud Seilg makes Gary Bettman, whom I loathe, look like a commissioner men want to be and women want to be with.

When I become a critic, I am going to provide pullquotes like this

Susie Felber in the TNR soccer blog:

"I can't say, 'I laughed, I cried.' But I can say, 'I laughed...and my nipples got hard (not from the promise of a nude Shep Messing, that was awesome but fell under the laughing category) watching the a-fooking-mazing slo-mo footage of soccer greats set to great opera.' "


Soccer stuff

I was sick last week and watched the semi-final games and found the soccer to be pretty absorbing. No commercials helps a lot, plus there's always the threat that something might happen. Other thoughts:

1. I liked the headbutt, mostly I guess because I didn't have a dog in that fight.

2. The diving is awful. Would it help if the reward were reduced? A penalty shot is a huge deal, so's a yellow/red card. If the prize were less maybe you'd see less of it.

2a. Also if you could increase scoring that would reduce the importance of each individual goal. As a hockey fan, though, I know it's hard to increase scoring -- something I attribute to the increased size of today's players (the fans are also bigger, but that's just in the ass). There's just less space to create in soccer, hockey, basketball.

3. But given the low-scoring it's remarkable to me how few upsets there are. You'd think someone like Ivory Coast or someone would get a couple or three 1-0 and PK wins and slip into the final. Yet it's hard for a Cinderellla to get in the final four.

4. I liked Marcelo Balboa. So sue me! At least I don't dump a lot of overpriced vodka in a satellite dish and call it a "martini"!

“Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

That chestnut of my 70s youth popped into my head today, and I thought, What the hell is up with that? What better thing does God have to do? Why can’t God finish? (This is a chronic problem – look how he needed Jesus to close for him.)

Maybe God can’t finish because he has a fear of success.

Notes On Comedy (or, Everyone Is Stupid Except Me)

One of the things that I would like to do now that I’m blogging again is talk more about my business, TV comedy. I didn’t staff this year, so I ought to have plenty of time to stew about it. And why should my wife be the only one who has to hear my theories about it?

One thing I’ve been chewing on lately is YouTube. I think YouTube is a much bigger threat to TV comedy than drama. A network drama like “24” really uses all the resources a studio and network have at their command, and you can’t duplicate that experience on YouTube. But comedy? Why watch, I don't know, “Courting Alex," when you can see something actually funny on YouTube?

So -- until we understand that our jobs are to give people comedy they can't get elsewhere, there are going to be a lot fewer jobs overall.


I wish I didn't agree with this

Billmon says what needs to be said:

" In my darker moments, it sometimes seems as if the entire world is in the middle of a fierce backlash against the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the ideological challenges they posed to the old belief systems. The forces of fundamentalism and obscurantism appear to be on the march everywhere-- even as the moral and technological challenges posed by a global industrial civilization grow steadily more complex.

Climate change is only one of those challenges, and maybe not even the most urgent one -- at the rate we're going, civilization could collapse long before the Antarctic ice shelves do. Maybe as a species we really have reached the same evolutionary dead end as Australopithecus robustus -- intelligent enough as a species to create problems we're not bright enough, or adaptable enough, to solve."

He also mentions something I've believed for a long time -- that the reason the New York Times et al have turned to the right is not because they're so weak, or lickspittle -- it's just a good way to try to sell papers.


Dovish on Chablis

I refer to this comment in the Washington Note:

"You write, 'first of all, editorialists should stop referring to everyone who OPPOSES THE IRAQ WAR as 'anti-war'.

This is not a battle between pacifists and hawks within progressive circles.' But surely the LAT chooses its words EXTREMELY CAREFULLY. The LAT editors fully intended to refer to Iraq war opponents as anti-war. You seem to think that these verbal inaccuracies can be settled between friends, over a good chablis and brie, after which we'll get accurately phrased LAT editorials. Are you really such a fool?"

First of all I find this rude since Steve Clemons is trying to fight the good fight; left-wing ultramontanes are irritating me these days for some reason. But mostly I want to save Chablis from this calumny. Good Chablis is awesome, even to me, a cocktail drinker. The writer does himself in with this carelessness.

Had he used Chardonnay, however, I would have been with him. I hate Chardonnay.


Here's something

One of the things I have been doing is commenting at Deadspin a lot -- it's high-quality sports-spackle that fills the gaps in your soul, and you can quote me.

I helped participate in their Chris Berman obsession by writing this Wallace Stevens parody, which I'm going to post here for the record. You kind of have to read this post, and maybe some of the other ones under the same tag, first. But anyway:

Thirteen ways of looking at Chris Berman
(h/t: Wallace Stevens)

Among twenty “J.T.” snowy mountains,
The only thing moving
Was the eye of the blackbird.
You’re with me, blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
You’re with me, leftmost blackbird.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
Why would I go and do that?
What are you, stupid? That is so stupid.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman he sees in a hotel bar called, I don’t know,, “Sensations” or something
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of pickups
Or the beauty of the pickup leaving the hotel room.
“You’re with me, leather”
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
Our top play of the week, though,
Involves the New York Football Giants.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Is, or is about to be,
With me?
Don’t be stupid.

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
Who the Packers are about to take with their top draft pick.
Let me spoil it for you.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
He went back back back back back back back.
Actually, we all saw that he didn’t.
But that’s the catchphrase.

“At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.”
How do you like my Howard Cosell voice?
He was a fearless, crusading journalist.
Just like me!

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
Was leather not with him?
She was.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
Sean Salisbury, you disagree.

It was evening all afternoon.
Chris Berman was talking
And he was going to talk.
The blackbird sat
in the cedar-limbs
Hating himself for watching.
I’m with you, blackbird.

As we stumble along

I was hoping to write a mission statement for Delicious 2.0. But fuck it. I think I'm just going to go on posting in the same half-assed way I always do. "Half an ass is better than no ass at all," right? "I was sad because I had no pants until I saw a man who had no ass," right? Of course!

Anyway, being unemployed, my hope is that I'll be able to post a little more. But we'll see. There's an awful lot of time sucks for the unemployed man.

A big self-welcome to myself! Huzzah!

PS -- Title is a reference to a song in The Drowsy Chaperone, which I saw when it was here in LA and which I loved.