Sunday, November 30, 2008

And There Yugo

I actually rode in one once. Up a steep hill with at least two other passengers plus the driver. It was a slow trip, but we made it.

From Derek.

Crunch Time

The mood was modestly upbeat among the kinfolk and the kind strangers who roped me into conversation, betraying little distress over the prospect that next Thanksgiving many of us may be living in rusty sheds and hunting squirrel for food, depending on how all those stimulus packages go.
I can always count James Wolcott for a sane perspective.

Silk Stalking

In case you ever doubted that: (a) some people have entirely too much free time, and/or (b) there's a Web site devoted to just about everything.

From Laura.

From Leslie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

End Times

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.

Testing ... Testing ...

I aced this.*

* The second time around. Did better than the November average on my first effort, but not by much. Crappy public schools.

Thanks to Terry for adding to an already crushing sense of inadequacy.
On a tube train actor Ralph Richardson attacks comic actor Jack Hulbert.
They are being directed by Walter Forde (aka Thomas Seymour) in the
Gaumont British film Alias Bulldog Drummond (aka Bulldog Jack)
at Shepherd's Bush Studios, 1935. (William Vanderson)

From Riley.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dark Habit

"You see, this is my life. It always will be. There's nothing else. Just us ... and the cameras ... and those wonderful people out there in the dark."

Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

We didn't realize at the time that we were starting a tradition.

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, sifting through a stack of videos, we picked The Silence of the Lambs. Not your typical holiday flick, but we enjoyed it thoroughly - and now we make a point of screening something inappropriate. This time we watched Sunset Boulevard before dinner and In Cold Blood* after.

* The original, of course. Did you really have to ask?

Thanks to Marty for the transcription - and for the company.

The Queen and I

Good times.

From Riley.

Hold It Right There

What a kick.

From Derek.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zapata Rex

Cloudy eyes, sharp mind
And still the boss of us all
Zap’s fourteen today

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever."

Napoleon Bonaparte

Today's Top Story

From Alan.

Noteworthy Names

Winona Fogg
Storm Sears
Tanner Blaze
Violet Glaze
Diablo Bell
Tisa Horky
Crystal Forgy
Lulu Fluckey
Princess Savoy
Geoff Grewcock
Mary Pettus Cocke
Dick Joy
Dick Hyde
Amy Abel
Birdie Nuckols
Dusty Rhodes
Nobby Stiles
(Ms.) O'Neal Foglesong
Cozy Baker
Savora Matzo
Serenity Morsell
Grace Proud
Blessing Gross
Fairey Swann
Hazel Stone
French Stone
Napoleon Prince
Napoleon Royal
Rexie King
Tyler Taylor
Molly Jolly
Mary Ferry
Mary Berry
Terry Berry
Iris Berry
Prunella Scales
Raine Worme
Rhonda Wilt Keister
Hurdalene Chester
Pernevlyn Coggins
Rhodetta Grasty
Elervisia Cleckley
Icelia Foy
Jinjer Snapp-LaPlace
Ginger Fox
Delite Fox
Elwyn Tinklenberg
Penda Hair
Dr. G.D. Batty
Dr. Edward Staab
Angel Staab
Dawn Venus
Crystale Rose
May Pearl Flower
Amber Olive Greene
Sandra Tsing Loh
Pearl Farmer
Forrest Hunter
Forrest Fewster
Kareema Wheat
Mary Divine
Vardell McPhatter III
Lt. Col. Early Losey
Angeline High
Phil Hollows

Betty White, budget analyst
Thomas Jefferson
Mary Magdelene
Daisy Miller
Nancy Dew
John E. Carson
Kevin J. Bacon
Anthony Perkins

Stuart C. Law, attorney
William W. Headline, journalist
Herb Score, baseball player

Thanks to all who contributed.

Almost Infamous


From Peggy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, Brother

The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it is -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

Bad Language

And I thought it was an American scourge.

I take strong exception to the "foremost language expert" who sympathetically described apostrophe usage as "complicated." Please. Only periods and commas are easier. If you haven't mastered the apostrophe, you should give back your high school diploma. In fact, stay in the house. And don't touch the computer. Ignorance is contagious.

Cliché should have an accent, but we'll forgive it. Their heart is in the right place.

Having worked at a PR agency, I could write my own list. A long one. At this point in time, 24/7, pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, big picture, results oriented, value added ... Temples throbbing ... Must stop ...

Crowds take advantage of the skating conditions in St James's Park
in the 'Great Frost' of 1895. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Fall Guy

The evening began unremarkably, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

My friend Craig was in town for the weekend, and we went out to dinner, then headed back to my apartment to prepare for whatever late-night activities we’d planned.

The resident manager was hovering in the service elevator like a bat, and when she saw me she swooped out, flapping her leathery wings in a state of agitation.

“Thank God you’re alright!” she gasped.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked, bewildered.

“The fire department was here!” she said. “They broke down your door because they thought you needed help.”

“Why on earth would they think that?”

“Someone called them,” she said.

It must be a prank, I concluded, unaware that I was both the victim and the perpetrator.

The key lay in a small box on my desk.

As Craig and I caught our breath, our heads still spinning, I noticed the light blinking on my answering machine. There were two messages.

I recognized the first voice immediately. It was that of a brainless woman who’d called on several occasions, looking for her sister. Each time I told her she had the wrong number, yet she always tried again after a month or two, apparently hoping for a different outcome.

This time she was clearly distraught:
Oh my God! I have the wrong number, but now I don’t know what to do! Hold on! I’ll call 911! I’ll call 911!
The other message was from an emergency operator:
Ma’am, this is the fire department. Can you hear me? Don’t worry; we’ll be right there. Do not try to move.
Why would a pair of strangers think I was a damsel in distress? By the time I heard the second message, the ice-cold truth had slapped me in the face: It was my outgoing greeting.

Not long before, I’d recorded what I thought was a funny message, a parody of a much-mocked commercial that was ubiquitous at the time. In a high, quavering voice, I mewled:
Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up. And to make matters worse, the battery in my LifeCall alert system seems to be dead. So please leave a message, and I’ll call you back … if they find me in time.
It blew my mind (and still does, all these years later) that two different people – one of them a 911 operator! – could be stupid enough to think someone who’d lost their balance would have time to record a message on the way to the floor. But you can bet I changed the greeting.

A decade and a half later, after a dread diagnosis and a fall that broke my arm, I actually did get a monitoring system. Who says irony is dead?

Thanks to Derek for the reminder.

Latter Day Hate

[T]he Mormons are particularly vicious homophobes. Gay people are rendered invisible, their personhood erased in this church. The cruelty the Mormon church inflicts on its gay members is matched only by the Mormons' centuries-long demonization and hatred of black people.
More than a thousand ice sculptures representing human silhouettes by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo slowly melt away, Florence, Italy. (Olycom SPA/Rex Features)

From Riley.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's Top Story

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

From Derek.

Super Natural

From Peggy.
The UK's Princess Royal is visiting New Zealand, where she was given
a Maori welcome at the Burnham Military Camp in Christchurch.

From Riley.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's Top Story

Another gem from Kristine, who contributes more to my blog than to her own.

Face Time

Some time ago I opened a Facebook account, thinking it might be a useful resource for stalking. When that proved disappointing, I pretty much forgot about it. Periodically I’d get a message that someone wanted to “friend” me, but it was invariably a person I barely knew, if at all – a friend of a friend. How desperate they must be to pad their friend count, I thought; they obviously mine mailing lists. Finding the whole thing slightly unnerving, I ignored the requests with only faint pangs of guilt.

There were no second thoughts until a couple of months ago, when I got a request from a cousin, followed closely by one from a friend. A real friend. Up to that point, I’d assumed that Facebook and its equivalents were the province of teenagers, not middle-agers, but now I was forced to reconsider. Not only were these two in my age group, neither was socially challenged, and I respected their judgment. So I clicked “confirm” twice, sighed, and dipped a tentative toe into the stream.

I filled out my profile, posted a couple of pictures, and started trolling for friends. Not “friends,” mind you, but friends. I’m 41 years old. I have plenty of friends; I don’t need “friends.”

That lasted a couple of weeks.

Around the same time I began to tap out of real friends with Facebook accounts (many remain holdouts), I discovered that quite a few celebrities have pages. Hosanna! Would they respond to my overtures? Well, I reasoned, I’d already kicked myself back to high school; the experience wouldn’t be complete without social anxiety and the fear of rejection.

But they didn’t reject me. Tina Fey? We’re girlfriends now. Enrique Murciano? Mi amigo. Eros Ramazzotti? Paesano! (Evidently I’m still a band geek the second time around, but now I’m also a theater fag.)

The only one who’s snubbed me so far is Andy Roddick, and I was over him anyway. Are you reading this, Andy? I bet Djokovic will be my friend. Then you’ll be sorry, you dumb jock.


Cows are milked by machine at a dairy farm in Hohhot, in Inner Mongolia.
China ordered more than 5,000 inspectors to be posted at its dairy
factories as the tainted milk scandal continued. (AFP/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Kristine, who always has a scoop for me.

If I Had a Mallet

From an obituary in yesterday's Washington Post:

"She was mostly a homemaker, known for her cooking skills and for croqueting blankets for her grandchildren."

Signs of Dissent

These were taken by Dan's old friend Peter, who lives in L.A. More here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small World

Remember this guy? Now a video has turned up, impressing me all the more.

From Clark.

'What Is It to You?'

Keith Olbermann's "special comments" can be a little tiresome, but last night's was right on.

Thanks to Eugene for the link.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hello Kitty

Baby kneads some lovin'.

From Derek.
15th November 1936: Tennis player Miss Mary Heeley in an exercise wheel
being given a push by fellow athlete Miss Hardwick.
(Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Today's Top Story

Paging Dr. Laura

Ben was visiting his mother in a Catholic hospital in Colorado recently when he overheard a novel explanation for the Social Security shortfall.

It's those damn Democrats and their abortions, one nurse opined to another. If they'd been paying into the system, we wouldn't be in this fix.

'We All Rise'

Maya Angelou on Obama's election.

Trampolines are more dangerous in Montana.

From Pat via Mom.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good Times

Apocalypse now?

From Peggy.

Yes We Did

I know I speak for roughly five thousand fellow media lackeys when I say, sweet Lord, I am just so glad this damnable beast of an election is finally over. It's like a combination of the day after Christmas and post-coital orgasm and giving birth. You can only sit in the wobbly afterglow, warm and buzzing and dizzy, insanely grateful you didn't get a stocking full of Satan and Alaskan moosemeat and dirt, or a baby with three tiny heads and a nail gun where his arm should be.
Mark Morford on what happens now.

Oh, No, You Don't

The hope for equality can never be extinguished, however hard our opponents try. And in the unlikely history of America, there has never been anything false about hope.
Andrew Sullivan on the passage of California's hateful Proposition 8.

From Michael.

'Fired Up'

"Here's the thing, Virginia ..."

Sent by Tia Teresita with the notation "Why we won."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

News Flash

Some of our neighbors - how shall I put this? - stand little chance of ever appearing on the Nobel dais.

We were watching TV last night when something clattered through the mail slot. It was a photocopied article headlined: "'I Would Make A Bad President,' Obama Says In Huge Campaign Blunder."

Two portions were carefully outlined:

"... I think I would make a bad president...."

"My youth and inexperience would definitely make me an awful president," said Obama, whose seven-minute misstep was further exacerbated when he called himself "no expert" on the economy. "To be perfectly honest, I'd be worried about putting me in charge of the most powerful military in the world because I'm not any good when it comes to making important decisions. Also, I'm not sure how much I care about keeping this great nation of ours safe."

"I'm an elitist, I hate Israel, and I want to lose the war in Iraq," Obama concluded....

This precious lamb - or was it a whole flock? - took the time to make who knows how many copies, mark each one by hand, then deliver them door to door. Only one tiny detail eluded them: The source of their damning story was The Onion, a satirical newspaper.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm lying: I laughed. A lot.

'Flick a Switch'

[C]alling yourself a maverick is a sure sign that you’re not one.
David Sedaris on choosing a candidate.

An American suffragette proclaiming "Women! Use your vote," circa 1920. (APA/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Stearn Countenance of Death

For the past several years, my friend Ben has decorated for Halloween in a uniquely Washington way, erecting a "cemetery" memorializing the latest political bullshit. God knows this administration's given him ample material.

Not only are the gravestones wickedly clever, they're quite realistic. This year's display even made The Post.

Ben Stearn and his family pay tribute to the political afterlife
in their front-lawn display in Washington. (Susan Biddle)

Hate's Last Stand?

Mark Morford dares to hope.

Top 5 Top 10

Further fruits from Riley's quarantine.

From Peggy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Little Empress

My goddaughter's been spending the week here, protecting us from squirrels, trick-or-treaters, the mailman, and my mom.

At 14, Andie has mellowed a bit but is still firmly in charge. Just ask Zap and Devo, who defer to her in their own home as they do chez elle. Smart boys.

When she started balking on a walk the other day, Dan plunked her into my lap, where she remained as we pressed on, pointing staunchly forward like Napoleon at Austerlitz.

Photo by Dan.

Type Cast

From Riley, who was sick this weekend. Evidently his treatment involved a great deal of Oddee.


Palin punked.