Today's Double Dactyl

Opinions on steroids
Sportswriters' processors
Daily extrude:

I don't need the moral
From professional watchers
Eating free food.

Today's Double Dactyl

Bong Hits 4 Jesus!
Gang of Five Justices
Say Equal Protection's
Not something you need:

It's not that they mean to be
Resegregational --
It just that it happens
With deliberate speed.


The good life: it takes $$$

George Skelton, in something on the front page of the LA Times that belongs there:

No, the lesson from the Tahoe wildfire is this: There's no economy in numbers because of an exploding population — no growth discount for taxpayers funding the services they need.

It's precisely the opposite: The more people we cram into California — not just beneath the pines and along the waterfronts, but into the comfy suburbs and struggling inner cities — the more it's going to cost each of us. Cost us not only to retain some semblance of the California lifestyle, but often to survive. There's a premium to be paid for living here, and it keeps rising...

Here is one example of how ridiculous our tax system is:

My wife and I are partners with some other people in a condo on Tahoe's north shore. Because the place has been, for tax purposes, under the same ownership for decades, our property tax bite is a laugher: only one-seventh of our neighbor's, who bought his condo just last year. Mind you, ours isn't even a personal residence. It's a vacation retreat.

A lot of us aren't paying our fair share, especially we who live in tinderboxes.

Preventing and suppressing wildfires is just one government expense that increases for each Californian as the population grows.

We also have to pay for water supply and flood protection. The water gets harder and more expensive to find; people keep crowding into flood plains near leaky levees. Because all this is so pricey, we have to borrow at double the cost, counting interest.

Never mind natural disasters. Just packing people into densely populated areas causes problems.

I call this the chicken coop syndrome, observed as a boy while growing up on a small citrus ranch in Ojai. The more chickens we'd cram into the coop, the more they'd act up, compete, fight. That's nature. And it's human nature.

It requires big bucks for gang suppression — and also for locking up bad guys in separate pens. Isolating criminals is something the public favors in concept, but doesn't want to pay for with higher taxes.

Just getting people into crowded cities for work requires increasingly more tax dollars to build longer, wider freeways — or improving rapid transit. Either way, it's public money.

The more people there are, the heavier each Californian's tax burden. ....

But we can have it all — the mountain paradises, affordable universities, civilized commutes — if we're willing to pay, which is something anti-tax Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to hear.
See, I'm not in favor of more socialism out of idealism; if I had ideals, I wouldn't have come to Hollywood. It's just that we need a little more socialism.


Today's double dactyl

I rise from my sickbed, but probably it's the scansion that's nausea-inducing:

Read all some about it!
News Corporation
Adds to its empire
The WSJ:

Its power is quasi-
Its taxes are something
The rest of us pay.


Today's Double Dactyl

Ashes to oyez
Our virtuous senators
Corrupted for dollars
(Also, tickets to sports).

All men aren't equal in a
Or so say the wise men
On our supreme court.


Today's Double Dactyl: The President's Balls Are Missing

Special Sunday edition!

"Whatever you say, Dick!"
Our bold "Chief" Executive
Lost in the musky Vice-
Presidential mystique:

Was George's decisveness
Eternally Cheneywhipped,
Our W's weak.


Cleaning out my net news wire.

• Hey, it's one of my pet peeves: Everyone in public life -- certainly every actor -- needs voice lessons. Talented young actors with untrained voices bug me the most. Learn to use all your tools, people!

• A discussion of Ken Dryden's The Game. You'd think that I, a pretentious Canadiens fan, would like it, but I've never cottoned to it: Mr. Dryden approaches hockey as if it were a painful duty. That was some fucking great team though; and I do appreciate Dryden's appreciation of Guy Lapointe.

This is why I like Stoat. There's no denying climate change, or how serious it could be, just a bit of skepticism that it's going to End The World As We Know It. I find that reassuring, although I still wonder how we are going to get water here in LA in 20 years.

• Great interview with the dude who runs LACMA. Sample quote:

I don’t think philanthropy is a weird word, but you’ll find people will only use the word investment. They don’t like the idea of just giving away things. But on the other hand, a lot of people invest in their museums and in their cities on that level, I think largely for themselves. I mean for their sense of self, because your sense of self is that you come from and inhabit a great city. And they contribute to it so that they can share in the pleasure of it.
LA's not quite there yet -- I wish people would wake up and feel like they're living in the greatest city in the world. That requires, as noted, a certain amount of civic identity. But I think it is coming, and will come. That's what makes LA so fascinating in a way that New York, which has finished its project and is now doing revisions, can't be.

• From Dial M for Musicology
Frankly, I still like to listen this way, to care this hard about music I hear to the point of tearing off slices with my teeth. Perhaps this accounts for my impatience with concert hall behavior—sitting as if in church, enduring the performance, and at the end applauding oneself for having attended.
Emphasis added for emphasis. You see this a lot at the theater too -- people rooting for their money.


TV note: In which I finally have an opinion about The Sopranos

I never really watched the Sopranos, because I just cannot commit to hour-long shows*, but it occurs to me that no one has made a connection between the fuck-you-audience-these-are-not-nice-people ending of The Sopranos, and the fuck-you-audience-these-are-not-nice-people ending of Seinfeld. And Larry David and David Chase both seem cut from the same difficult New York cloth.

I actually liked the Seinfeld finale, because finales are impossible anyway, so putting your characters in jail is as good an ending as ever. And I thought it was a great antidote to the "How will we live without these loveable characters" kind of hype that surrounded the run-up to the show's ending.

I also suspect (or project) that the two Davids have a similar attitude toward TV in general: that good TV is great, yet TV as a whole is kind of evil, and people who over-like TV are probably barking up the wrong tree.

*The only hour shows I think I have ever watched regularly are Rockford (in reruns, late night in college), and The Tudors, which was magnificently awful, but hypnotic, almost "Meeting of Minds"-like, for the fan of the period. I take Wolcott's enjoyment of the show as the pose of a contrarian dandy (which is a good thing).

Today's double dactyl

Invasive procedures...
Vice President Cheney
Found some new theories
To do as he pleased:

Leaving aside that it's
Unconstitutional --
If he's the fourth branch, then
The tree is diseased.


Today's double dactyl: Scalia

Like a gavel on knuckles
Wise Justice Scalia
Whose footnotes in future
Say, "Op. cit., 24."

But torture for Tony's a taste
E.g., his opinion
In Bush versus Gore.

The paramount issue

I hate to disagree with Joshua Micah Marshall, from whom I steal all my double dactyls, but when he says:

"Whichever side of the debate you're on, few can dispute that the paramount issue facing America today is the war in Iraq."
I believe he is wrong. I believe it is climate change, which is about, at some level, our citizens having water and crops. That's pretty paramount. But then JMM is one of those liberal conversation-makers who I wished would talk about climate change back in 2005. But no one would, except for Kevin Drum once in a while.

Also, I had the "Brave Rudy" trope last week.


Today's double dactyl

I am afraid this is all I'll have time for in the next little while -- don't blame me, blame my laziness.

Alaska Alacka
Cranky Ted Stevens
His door hinges greased
With lobbyists' lubes:

If there's more proof of his
His career will be going
Down a series of tubes.


Today's double dactyl

It's a little parochial today, but it is my team and my blog:

Baltimore Oriole
Once famed as a proud bird
Now only found dead --

The inquest won't need to be
This bird, like a fish does,
Rots from the head.

Cleaning out my net news wire, real work beckons edition

Just a couple because some of the ones I flagged are too old:

• Climate: 66 bottles of beer in the sun

• Farewell, Guy on Cream of Wheat box. Make God breakfast.

• I agree that the Morgan is awesome, and it was a great refuge in my poor NYC temping days. Anyone can go to the Metropolitan, don't you know.


Your tax dollars at spin

As if there aren't enough problems with immigration, now moths:

Russ Knocke, a homeland security spokesman, disputed the notion that the federal agriculture agency would do a better job. “If someone in this department said everything is working properly and everything is perfect, that person should be removed,” Mr. Knocke said.
See, but if that person worked in the Department of Justice, why...he'd be Attorney General.

At 2 in the afternoons I will be very sad

I have a job. After years of the network teat I'm back in cable, on a new show that's supposed to be popular with the young people (not if I can help it, though).

This means that posting will get even lighter, but it's worth it for the regular salary.

American comedy needs me!

Today's double dactyl

The hole in the floorboard
Fly-by-night mortgages
A danger where but
The innumerate dared:

It's Capital's typical
Legerdermanity --
Make all that is solid
Melt into air.


Internet outage

Stupid internet!

Although I have to say, Time warner hasn't blown me off nearly as bad as they did the last time this happened.


Tonight's double dactyl

Emergency perjury!
I. Lewis Libby
Whose honor is sullied by
Taking the stand:

Scooter's defenders are
Quite Washingtonian --
"When we're between friends, what's
The law of the land?"


Today's double dactyl

The wrong end of the plunger --
Brave Mayor Giuliani's
Platform: "Fuck you and your
(If you rode in on one) horse."

But where the issues are
He offers evasiveness
(Bravely, of course).

The Wall Street Journal freaks out about chiasmus

I rarely read the Journal editorial page, on the advice of my physician, but I see from today's letters page (scroll down) that they freaked out over Congressman Markey using the phrase "Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable" at the BC Law School graduation.

I mean, we all know that the Journal editorial board is against both those things, but my first thought was that they must have hardly no Catholics up there, because I heard that phrase more than once at my parochial high school -- a place where the only political magazine in the library was National Review.

There's only the paranoid style on that page now, I guess.


Today's double dactyl

An echo of dribbling
NBA Finals
Ignored by the masses
Boring to geeks

Yet for all its deserved
It's folks who like hockey
Who're thought of as freaks.


Double dactyl

Heysanna hosanna
Jesus H. Brownback
Welcomes babies aplenty
To this plutocrats' Earth:

Welcome, you kids, to his
Life begins at conception,
Becomes hellish at birth.


Actual dialogue today:

Me: Well, maybe, if the times get worse, people will want to see comedies again.

My Dad: Or maybe you guys are like the guys who used to write Westerns. All of a sudden that genre was gone.

Another Double Dactyl

I'm going to keep doing them till I get sick of them, so too bad, America:

Oy, the stupidity!
Bombin' Joe Lieberman
Sending Persians a message
In megaton text:

The tactic is classic
Start war without wond'ring
What might happen next.

Rags to Riches

I don't know what it's doing in "The Highbrow", but Meghan O'Rourke does remind us that that was a hell of a Belmont on Saturday. And, like her, I found the whole "battle of the sexes" thing to be a little tedious, especially because I remember watching the Ruffian match race where that was the only hype.

Nothing like a horse race for excitement, though. I hope she runs the Travers.


If there's arterialsclerosis in Heaven...

If this country were true to its ideals this man would get a state funeral:

Edwin Traisman, 91, Dies; Helped Create Iconic Foods - New York Times: Edwin Traisman, a food scientist who helped standardize McDonald’s French fries and develop Cheez Whiz for Kraft Foods, as well as researching the risks of E. coli bacteria, died Tuesday in Madison, Wis. He was 91 and lived in Monona, Wis.

The cause was heart disease, his daughter Jenny Denise Traisman-Waddell said.

Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s, said of Mr. Traisman yesterday, “He truly made a significant contribution to McDonald’s fries.”


Another double dactyl

Hissing of kettles
Group of Eight Nations
Putting noggins together
With an audible knock:

"This climate is getting so
Damn equatorial
The solution is obvious --
To sit and to talk."


Great moments in fake blogging

You may think this fake blog for some downtown LA lofts is lame, but I think it is fantastic:

As I cruise the hallways of the prestigious Milbank Real Estate offices located in close proximately to one of their newest developments, The Roosevelt Lofts located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, I can't help but feel like I want to share all of the inner secrets of construction, and permitting, and progress associated with the project.
I've written a ton of awkward sentences here, but nothing like that. Who on earth really wants to share the inner secrets of permitting? I think there is a great -- no, a prestigious saga to be written in this voice.

(Via Blogdowntown.)

Drought: What you can do

If it's yellow, let it be mellow. 'Nuff said!

More hockey: Helene Elliot buries the lead

At least she got the front page:

Hockey will never be as popular here as in Canada or Minnesota, but the Ducks are carving out a distinctive niche. They've sold 14,000 season tickets for next season and Ryan said sponsorships are up too.

The next step is to expand the TV audience. That's complicated by the scarcity of homes that get Versus, the cable network whose lack of visibility may yet kill the NHL, if Commissioner Gary Bettman's unbalanced schedule and inability to promote the skill and terrific personalities in his league don't kill it first.
(For an interview with Helene Elliot, the only woman in the Hockey Hall of Fame, go here.)

Double Ducktyl

Quackity quackity
Plain Ducks of Anaheim
Ditching the Mighty
Butching it up;

Won in a manner most
Keeping Canadians
Far from their Cup.


Dick Cavett has a blog! (Or, "Dick Cavett has a blog?")

And Woody and Groucho are in it! Times Select, alas. Still, he has some interesting things to say about the compulsion of gag writing, and how it's more like reflexes -- or a pathology -- than a craft.


Anaheim 3, Ottawa 2

I just watched it on the Tivo. I'm enjoying NBC's coverage...about halfway through the game, I realized, "Hey, they haven't interviewed anyone's mother in the stands yet." I think they realize that all American hockey fans are, by definition, hardcore. Enjoy having your championships ruined by the presence of Joe Buck, almost everyone else in America!

Nice job, LA Times

How to get your column killed: "He used it to write often, though not exclusively, about labor, worker and class issues. His May 11 column, for example, urged a 'real, honest debate about implementing a citywide living wage.' Well, that's not the most popular beat with today's Times editors, as ex-labor writer Nancy Cleeland opined recently."

Inquest: The Sitcom

Caryn Mandabach weighs in. She notes in passing vertical integration, but makes too little of it, IMO. However, I'm really feeling it as we begin another development season -- one only wants to Be Understood, and one is more likely to Be Understood at a littler production company than at a division of News Corp. or GE. And when one is not Understood, then one second-guesses oneself, until oneself becomes twoself. And that way lies madness (although it doesn't matter what way madness lies if you're already mad).

Vermouth, bitches!

There's plenty of people trying to fight climate change. But who will stick up for vermouth?

I urge martini drinkers to try some decent vermouth in their martinis. You will quickly taste the can-do, midcentury optimism that gave us NATO and the Interstate Highway System!

Also, as the article says, sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist is an excellent little drink, if you don't mind seeming pretentious and European. I, needless to say, don't.

"I can say with confidence that this forecaster has never seen the likes of this"

Hurricane Gonu in the Arabian Sea.

Attention climate skeptics!



I just saw Pronger's hit from last night's game. That guy should have gotten suspended for the series. I've been rooting for Anaheim, but I didn't follow them much this year, and it's just dawning on me that I'm rooting for a dirty team. Not being from Philadelphia, this troubles me.

For more, see Mirtle, here.

Steve Gilliard

has died. I hope that, sometime soon, The News Blog will post an anthology of sorts so we can all remember what a wonderful, vivid writer he was.

For all that I'll miss his writing on Iraq, military history, and race, I think I'll miss his writing on cooking the most. These are darkening times, and Steve blogged pitilessly on that; but there is more life in being for something -- how and what to grill in New York City, say -- than merely being against everything.

The things of this world break, and they break your heart. Yet they can be delicious in their time. Steve Gilliard knew that.


Terroism is for morons.

Back in the days right after 9/11, when I found myself making sure the windows to my house were locked to keep Al-Qaeda out, I consoled myself with this: you'd have to be pretty stupid to be a terrorist in this country. There's plenty of other things to do with your life here, plus we Americans do walk the pluralistic walk pretty well. To turn to the horrors of terrorism, one must be very depraved or very stupid. I thought this was a rationalization but maybe this think about the JFK plotters confirms it.

Two other notes:

1. Is it possible that our dreadful anything-goes pop culture keeps everyone's brain in a spongelike consistency that's not conducive to terrorism?

2. Apparently there was a pilot someone wrote about an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell in the US that had gone native and no longer wanted to do terrorism, so the show was about their hilarious subterfuges to keep Osama off their backs. I never read it, though -- I can't tell if it's brilliant or stupid.


The point of the piece was that, because state government is too cumbersome etc., why don't we reduce the size of the two Houses of the General Assembly?

Well, why don't we just make the State Legislature unicameral? This is one of my pet causes. I'm in favor of unicameral state legislatures because:

1. There's no intrisic reason for them. It's not like we're balancing the needs of the small states.

2. It would reduce the size of government, while

3. At the same time making it more responsive. I feel that citizens would have an easier time keeping tabs on their state representatives if they only had to keep track of one of them.

4. You could also make the one house bigger and have fewer net state representatives, while giving each representative a smaller district.

Result: Utopia!

Very clever of the Wall Street Journal

I was going to blog on an article by some Pennsylvania state senator, but if you don't take the advertising cookie, they won't let you see the article. Diabolical!