Sunday, December 30, 2007

Apropos to the Iowa Caucuses

A politician's words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience.
George F. Will, political columnist

As I was adding piles of CDs that did not transfer to my new computer, I came across this song that is very apropos to the Iowa Caucuses:

In My Life

Do not fear death... only the unlived life.
You don't have to live forever;
You just have to live.”
Natalie Babbitt, author and illustrator of children's books

Every year when I see the entire list (this is from the LA Times) of those famously talented who have passed away, I’m always amazed at how much knowledge and talent disappears with them and from us. It seems the grim reaper took more than his share of writers (novelists, poets) and jazz musicians this year:

Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Tillie Olsen, Robert Anton Wilson, Art Buchwald, Peter Tompkins, Sidney Sheldon, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., David Halberstam, William Meredith, Mark Harris, John Graham, Grace Paley, and these are the famous ones. I am sure there are many other near famous who were not mentioned.

In the world of jazz, a number of talent people have left us:
Oscar Peterson, Frank Morgan, Art Davis, Tommy Newsom, Andrew Hill, Danny Barcelona, Joe Zawinul

In tribute a song written from a twenty-something musician who left us a while ago:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Legoland, Part 1

My lovely wife and I took our kids to Legoland this past week (hint: it's empty on Christmas) and had a great time. The best part? Probably the Fun Town store where you can individually select bricks from dozens of bins, organized by shape and color (and a few awesome bins of mixed Lego blocks that yielded quite a few great finds). In addition to the pound of Lego we hand-selected, I also purchased a Star Wars set and we bought the kids another bin of 200 pieces.

But that's not what I wanted to share with you all.

I snapped quite a few pix of stuff that I knew (hoped?) would find an audience out here in cyberspace -- the first is this mysterious Geppetto-like figure, one of the many Lego-built figures in the park.

Geppetto is wielding some sort of knife, perhaps considering ending his sad existence now that Pinocchio has run away (or maybe he's just rehearsing for his role in "Sweeney Todd 2: The Demon Toymaker of Fleet Street").

Legoland also has rides -- not very interesting from a blog perspective. But Miniland, which recreates famous cities completely in Lego... I am *definitely* going to be sharing some of that in the coming days...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Four Stages of Life
1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don’t believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2007

Oscar Peterson RIP

Anyone can learn what Louis Armstrong knows about music in a few weeks. Nobody could learn to play like him in a thousand years.
Benny Green, jazz pianist

What the heck? We are losing jazz greats at a rapid pace here. Again, I have seen Oscar Peterson a couple of times, but the one I remember most was at the Hollywood Bowl and a relatively new comer was the opening act -- Diana Krall.

Here is what the NYTimes said:
...[Oscar] Peterson was one of the greatest virtuosos in jazz, with a technique that was always meticulous and ornate and sometimes overwhelming. But rather than expand the boundaries of jazz, he used his gifts in the service of moderation and reliability and in gratifying his devoted audiences, whether playing in a trio or solo. His technical accomplishments were always evident, almost transparently so. Even at his peak, there was very little tension in his playing.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Frank Morgan RIP bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It's not. It's a feeling.
Bill Evans, (1929-1980) jazz pianist

I discovered the jazz of Frank Morgan at sometime in the 1980s and finally saw him live a year or two ago with On The Mark. The show at Catalina's Bar and Grill was good, but Morgan was old and tired, so it didn't match up to my expectations. I attempted to find a video to post here today, but there were none. If you like jazz you'll love Frank Morgan who captured the spirit and style of Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Toner Mishap
Favorite Books of '07

I always begin at the left with the opening word of the sentence and read toward the right and I recommend this method.
James Thurber (1894–1961), humorist

You will see that my compatriots are avid readers. B2 is a truly a voracious reader. I have mentioned that he and I work together, so I will share this tidbit with you; always around his desk are a stack of books, for him and his family. If I walk into the kitchen at lunch there is a good chance B2 is there reading. If I happen to be outside, the odds are good B2 will be walking to the Library while reading a book.

On The Mark reads in the quiet of the evening. I read more often than not five pages before going to sleep, which I hate. I really get into the book if I can read 50 plus pages in one sitting.

Without further ado just a few of the favorite books the writers at Toner Mishap have read this year.

On The Mark’s list
The Creators, by Paul Johnson
Blackwater, by Jeremy Scahill
Covering Islam, by Edward Said (published 1981)
Dispatches from the Edge, by Anderson Cooper

Three Soldiers, by John Dos Passos (published 1921, first edition)
Hadji Murad, by Leo Tolstoy
Exit Ghost, by Philip Roth
On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan
Falling Man, by Don DeLillo
Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke

Note: I plan on tackling the new translation of War & Peace next summer, so “quantity” will be sacrificed for “quality” next year.

B2's List
Asked how many books he read in a year B2 responded: I’d have to guess about 100, figuring that there are weeks when I read just one and weeks when I read three or four. And possibly more, depending on how you count graphic novels (which can take the same time to get through as a short novel). Of course, I also read at night with each of my kids, so you’d have to add in long stuff like Harry Potter, Inkheart, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as well as the shorter stuff like The Puppy in the Playground and the Junie B. Jones series and princess stories...

Here are 10 memorable ones from the year... but I go through too many to be able to remember back all the way to January with any real recall – I tried my best. In no particular order:

Matisse and Picasso by Jack Flam
What is the What by Dave Eggers
Modigliani by Jeffrey Meyers

Mauve by Simon Garfield

Ant Farm by Simon Rich
Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket
Geek Mafia by Rick Dakan (self-published fiction)
Overclocked by Cory Doctorow
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
I had to eliminate a bunch more... so this is a whittled-down list, for sure. I must stop thinking about it, or I’ll have even more on the list.

The Misanthrope's List
Exile in Hell: A Season with the Rolling Stones

House of Meetings by Martin Amis
Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss
Exit Ghost by Philip Roth
Ghost by Alan Lightman
The Journal of Dora Damage by Belinda Starling
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Fuiz Zafón

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

There is Still More to Come

He ate and drank the precious Words,
His Spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust.

Emily Dickinson (1830–86), poet “A Book”

I apologize for the lack of posts. I will post the 10 favorite books that B2, On The Mark and I have read during the year. However, I had been very busy and now I am just tired, but my energy is returning. I thought the list was rather interesting, I suspect you will too.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Political Promises

One promises much, to avoid giving little.
Luc Vauvenargues Marquis de (1715–47), French moralist

From Mother Misanthrope

Friday, December 14, 2007

This Ol' House

Almost everybody in the neighborhood had “troubles,” frankly localized and specified; but only the chosen had “complications.” To have them was in itself a distinction, though it was also, in most cases, a death warrant. People struggled on for years with “troubles,” but they almost always succumbed to “complications.”
Edith Wharton (1862–1937), author

Here is a momentary conundrum, because once you think about it, it’s really a no brainer. You hire a contractor to remodel your house, who also happens to be an old high school classmate. As he is tearing down a bathroom wall he finds $182,000 in cash that is wrapped in newspapers dating from 1938 and 1939.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

...the money was carefully wrapped in Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper pages dating from 1938 and 1939 and tucked inside boxes contractor Bob Kitts found while working on a client's bathroom. He found one box, containing $25,200 in what the Plain Dealer called "pristine bills," behind the medicine cabinet. Another metal box, which was attached by a wire to a stud, held more than $100,000 in bills. The words "P. Dunne" were written on the bundles of dough, and the ownership of the house during the Depression was traced to a businessman by the name of Peter Dunne. "Dunne apparently died unmarried and childless, leaving behind a mystery [and a lot of cash].

I believe without a doubt that the money belongs to the owner not the contractor. However, the owner should be generous and give the contractor a nice bonus, if he finishes the job on time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Suspicious-looking Nutcracker

I was at Disneyland this past Monday and Tuesday with the wife and kids, and was a little taken aback by this very suspicious-looking nutcracker on the holiday version of the "Small World" ride.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Relief from Department Store Music

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'
Dave Barry, writer

Jethro Tull's "A Christmas Song"

"Father Christmas" by The Kinks (the quality is a bit lacking)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On The Mark Does Magic iPod

On the Mark says: OK. Here are mine:

If Someone Says this Is OK, You Say:
I Am A Child - Neil Young

What Would Best Describe Your Personality:
The Down Low - Nellie McKay

What Do You Like in a Girl/Guy:
The Fall of Troy - Tom Waits

How Do You Feel Today:
Indiana - Sonny Stiff

What Is Your Life's Purpose:
I Should Care - Frank Morgan

What Is Your Motto:
I Me Mine - The Beatles

What Do Your Friends Think of You:
O Grande Amor - Stan Getz

What Do You Think of Your Parents:
Long, Hot Summer Night - Jimi Hendrix

What Do You Think about Very Often:
Thank You For the Music - ABBA (doesn't really count since this is for my wife)

What is 2+2:
Four - Keith Jarrett Trio (I'm not kidding; that's pretty funny)

What Do You Think of Your Best Friend:
I Fall In Love Too Easily - Shirley Horn

What Do You Think of the Person You Like:
Not My Friend - Norah Jones

What Is Your Life Story:
Fanfare & Introduction - The Rat Pack

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up:
All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

What Do You Think When You See the Person You Like:
When Your Love Has Gone -- Louis Armstrong

What Do Your Parents Think of You:
I've Grown Accustomed to His Face - Tierney Sutton

What Will You Dance to at Your Wedding:
On The Way Home - Neil Young

What Will They Play at Your Funeral:
Help! - The Beatles

What Is Your Hobby/Interest:
A Time to Love - Stevie Wonder

What Is Your Biggest Secret:
East of the Sun, West of the Moon - Louis Armstrong

What Do You Think of Your Friends:
Imagine - John Lennon

Led Zeppelin Returned

Rock & roll doesn’t necessarily mean a band. It doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. … It’s that question of trying to be immortal.
Malcolm McLaren, British rock impresario

This is rather impressive that a Led Zeppelin performance can make the front page of the New York Times, at least the online version.

I have no real interest in seeing them in person, but I’d like to watch an HBO or Showtime special. You can read the review in the link above.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Better than Magic 8 Ball

In short, luck’s always to blame.
Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95), French poet

I read this on Judgemental Mel's site and thought it was rather fun. I'd love to read whatever you come up with, if do it let me know.

The Rules: Put your iPod on Shuffle For each question, press the next button to get your answer You MUST write that song name down no matter what!

“Bruised But Not Broken” -- Joss Stone

“A Day in the Life” -- The Beatles

“The Lemon Song” -- Led Zeppelin

“Million Miles” -- Bob Dylan

“Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” -- Elvis Costello

“My Baby Just Cares for Me” -- Sophie Milman

“Sugar Baby” -- Bob Dylan

“Dance Tonight” -- Paul McCartney

“See Your Sunshine” -- Paul McCartney

10) WHAT IS 2+2?
“I Shall Be Released” -- Bob Dylan

“Glad to be Unhappy” -- The Tierney Sutton Band

“Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” -- Ray Charles and Elton John

“Got it Made” -- Crosby, Stills & Nash

“Pony St” -- Elvis Costello

“Jump on Top of Me” -- Rolling Stones

“Butterflyz” -- Alicia Keys

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” -- The Tonight Show Band

“Natural Thing” -- John Fogerty

“A Man and a Woman” -- U2

“I’ve Got a Crush on You” -- Frank Sinatra

“The Seventh Son” -- Mose Allison

I think tomorrow, I will personally select the songs that should answer the questions.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Watching the Wheels

Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. … I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends … and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.
John Lennon (1940–80), musician

It was 27 years ago that John Lennon was murdered.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Los Angeles Times is an Embarrassment

That’s where *[The Los Angeles Times] lives … way out there on the puzzled, masturbating edge, peering through the keyhole and selling what they see to the big wide world of chamber of commerce voyeurs who support the public prints.
Hunter S. Thompson (1939-2005), journalist

This is from Slate’s “Today’s Papers". This is how far the Los Angeles Times news coverage has fallen:

The New York Times leads with more details on the case of the C.I.A.'s destroyed videotapes, including disclosures that several officials from the White House, the Justice Department and Congress advised the agency to keep the tapes. The Washington Post leads with, and the other papers front, demands from Democratic members of Congress that the Justice Department and congressional committees investigate the tapes' destruction. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with a similar story, which also speculates that future terrorism trials could be compromised because the episode might raise doubts about government evidence. The Los Angeles Times leads with a breakdown in talks between Hollywood writers and studios.

The quote: the original quote from Hunter Thompson was about Time Magazine, but it applies to either one as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Santa Called You a What?

The thing has been blown up out of all proportion. PC language is not enjoined on one and all—there are a lot more places where you can say “spic” and “bitch” with impunity than places where you can smoke a cigarette.
Katharine Whitehorn, journalist

This is political correctness gone amok. A department store Santa in the Australian town of Cairns claims he was fired from Santa duties for providing a jolly, "ho ho ho."

Apparently his employer had asked the St. Nicks it sends to stores to say "ha ha ha" instead, suggesting that the usage of "ho" -- in some American circles (even though they are down under) is shorthand for whore and might offend women. The Santa in question, John Oakes, a 70-year-old retired entertainer, said he was told that the three syllable phrase was the reason his services were no longer needed.

Calling Bill “Blowhard” O’Reilly
"They're trying to kill the spirit of Christmas," said Oakes, according to the report. According to the employer it was a poor attitude that got Santa sacked. Oakes is looking for a new Santa gig. Might we suggest “Pimp My Sleigh.”

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holy Sh*t

Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956), writer

Why does Mitt Romney have to give a speech about his religion? Consider this from Lapham’s quarterly:

The number of people in the United States at the moment who believe in the literal truth of the "Book of Revelation" exceeds the number of people who lived in all of medieval Christendom.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News Flash
Michael Bloomberg Third-Party Candidate

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956), writer

The following is all true.

Last night as I was settling in to watch “Life” on the digital recorder, I received a phone call from a polling service (we don't have caller ID). The woman didn’t know who hired them and I believed her, so I agreed to answer some questions.

However as the questions went on, it became obvious that it was commissioned by Michael Bloomberg. By obvious I mean long statements about Bloomberg that I had to interrupt. Here is the announcement: Bloomberg is going to run as an independent candidate for president, if Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are their respective party nominees.

This would be the worse selection of candidates in my adult life, if this scenario comes to pass.

Happy Chanukah

It is the best of all trades, to make songs, and the second best to sing them.
Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953), author

Happy Chanukah. I remember watching this live, well at least three hours from being live. It seems so long ago that Adam Sandler was a regular on SNL.

Borrowed from Jack's with permission even (but no else like adam sandler or SNL), but who cares Jack said it was okay.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Person of the Year

The product of the artist has become less important than the fact of the artist. We wish to absorb this person. We wish to devour someone who has experienced the tragic. In our society this person is much more important than anything he might create.
David Mamet, playwright

Time magazine is gearing up to announce its Person of the Year pseudo-news edition, so they have been asking prominent individuals whom they would choose for the honor. Stephen King’s choice is right on the money.

He selected the following: Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan symbolize the media’s growing obsession with issues of personality over substance. People care more about the details of Spears’ child custody case than they do about where the billions the U.S. government has poured into Iraq have gone. It’s time for a discussion about whether the news media have chucked their responsibilities and run off to Tabloid Disneyland

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

What do you think spies are: priests, saints and martyrs?
John Le Carré, novelist

This is for On The Mark. This series inspired him to karate chop his way into the principal's office and to return all the milk money he stole from kids.

I was reading the Los Angeles Times' Calendar section letters to the editor about the TV series, so I went to YouTube ...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Evil Knievel RIP

Come children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–63), writer

From AP
Immortalized in the Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones (a clip of the jump is posted below) before he retired in 1980.

Though Knievel dropped off the pop culture radar in the '80s, the image of the high-flying motorcyclist clad in patriotic, star-studded colors was never erased from public consciousness. He always had fans and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years.

Another icon from my youth gone
We spent days riding our bicycles jumping over things. We actually stopped traffic with our bicycle jumps. We used a sawhorse and a heavy piece of plywood. We used a heavy piece of plywood as a ramp leaned against a 3-or 4-foot-high sawhorse positioned right at the front of my friend’s front yard grass. We started two houses back and pedaled our little hearts out and went flying through the air (without helmets). There were a number of cars watching us and not a single parent stopped us. I can’t even imagine what we were thinking. No one got hurt, my bike wasn’t as fortunate. The front forks were not made for such trauma, they eventually bent outward. Somehow my dad fixed it.

Eventually, we got real motorcycles. I was in the 7th grade. I had a brand new, green Suzuki 120cc motorcycle. I stripped it down as best I could into a dirt bike in order to become a motocross racer. Every now and again, we would find a field that had a natural hill that served as a ramp to make us airborne. We never jumped as high on the motorcycles as we did on the bicycles, but other little kids enjoyed watching us get our front tire up in the air.

Another signpost of my youth gone.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What were you looking for, exactly?

It's fun every so often to check our stats and see some of the odd searches that bring visitors to Toner Mishap. Here, then, is another list in the conintuing series (and some of my comments on your searches):

parodies of nighthawks (still one of our most popular searches)

cruising urinals (i trust you're not getting the type of answers you're looking for at Toner Mishap)

enormous cocks (it's difficult to avoid rumors)

turn your hamster (into what?)

preparing for the depression (tip: stock up on Morrissey albums)

ashton kutcher jews (I'm guessing this a kabbalah thing)

christmas tip amount (popular at this time of year

your mother trebek (we enjoy Sean Connery impersonations)

that's not what your mother said (I'm *so* glad this phrase makes you think of us)

hard to find porn (is there really such a thing anymore?)

Did I, Or Didn't I?
The Perils of Co-blogging

Earlier today, the Misanthrope and I were speaking about Toner Mishap. He mentioned how much he would enjoy reading a post I had been considering, and though I didn't commit to posting it, the conversation quickly drifted to the efficacy of regular, daily posting in building and maintaining an audience. So did I promise to post for Friday, or didn't I? I honestly don't think I did, but I'm not sure our misanthropic friend would agree. And so, as I haven't prepared the post to which I earlier referred, you get this. Woo hoo!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Republican Debate

The English people believes itself to be free; it is gravely mistaken; it is free only during election of members of parliament; as soon as the members are elected, the people is enslaved; it is nothing. In the brief moment of its freedom, the English people makes such a use of that freedom that it deserves to lose it.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), philosopher

What I have read of the Republican debate last night simply shows two things:

1. people are prejudiced, want their guns, believe in torture, and
2. that the Republican candidates for president are not looking to solve problems, but trying to create wedge issues.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Music that Encourages Debt

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.
Katharine Whitehorn, journalist

As I get into the Christmas spirit, I have assembled all our holiday songs onto the iPod. It’s rather convenient to start from the top with Ray Davies’ “Thanksgiving Day” or play straight through from Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall, Vince Guaraldi, Jane Monheit, Kenny G, Wynton Marsalis, The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severson, Jethro Tull to the one off specialties from "A Very Special Christmas" that features, Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Bob Seger or more one-offs from Mick Jagger and Joss Stone, The Kinks, and John Lennon. Thankfully the iPod allows shuffling to mix it all up.

It sounds good until I start to realize that while I have 150 songs and 8.7 hours of melodious holiday music that I also have to wade through roughly:

6 Winter Wonderlands
5 White Christmases
4 Sleighrides
2 Silverbells
6 Silent Nights
4 Santa Claus is Coming to Towns
2 Come all ye Faithful
4 The Little Drummer Boys
4 Let it Snows
5 Jingle Bells
3 I’ll Be Home for Christmases
7 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmases
4 Hark the Herald Angels Sings
3 Greensleeves
7 The Christmas Songs

Something interesting I noticed is that there are different titles to the same song. “The Little Drummer Boy” is also called “Little Drummer Boy,” “We Three Kings” also has a “We Five Kings” sibling.” Then there is a “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Merry Christmas Darling.”

Okay, I’ll admit that I actually like some of it for a little while, but soon I long for regular music because all these holiday tunes make the season seem like something from “Leave it to Beaver” or “Ozzie And Harriet” when really it’s just music that encourages over spending and debt.

Christmas, Ba humbug!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Daughter, The Artist

First, let me clearly state that this is the work of one of my three daughters, all of whom are talented artists. But this sketch my middle one (six years old) drew of a Giacometti sculpture we saw at MOCA just blew my mind.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Posters for a Monday Morning

I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves.
Bruce Grocott, British Labour politician

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Longs Drugs and Booze

"I drink to drown my sorrows, but the accursed things have learned how to swim!"
Jose Frias, poet

I thought the elderly (yeah, yeah, I know in the eyes of many that includes me, but not to my eyes, yet) only went to Longs Drugs for prescription medicine, but now I know better.

hat tip to B2 for the quote

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Monkees -- Going Down

Stupefaction, when it persists, becomes stupidity.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), essayist, philosopher

Try this test with someone who is knowledgeable about music. Let them hear this clip but don't let them know who it is, I guarantee they will be surprised.

This group (Mike, Davey, Micky and Peter) deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Additional Anti-Consumerist Thoughts

Is it too early for diatribes against the consumerization of Christmas? Or for pointing out disparities between the "have"s and the "have not"s? I guess not, if we consider that Thanksgiving is lumped in with the "holiday season." So given that the Misanthrope has already thrown the first punch, I'll tag him out and join in.

From Tom Lehrer's "Christmas Carol":
(you probably know the various traditional tunes for these verses)

Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.

God rest ye merry merchants,
May ye make the Yuletide pay.

Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and buy!

From the Kinks' "Father Christmas":

Father Christmas, give us some money,
we got no time for your silly toys.
We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over;
give all the toys... to the little rich boys.

But give my daddy a job cause he needs one;
He's got lots of mouths to feed.

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas;
have yourself a good time.
But remember the kids who got nothin',
while youre drinkin' down your wine.

Black Friday Parking

Towns are full of people, houses full of tenants, hotels full of guests, trains full of travelers, cafés full of customers, parks full of promenaders, consulting-rooms of famous doctors full of patients, theatres full of spectators, and beaches full of bathers. What previously was, in general, no problem, now begins to be an everyday one, namely, to find room.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955), Spanish essayist, philosopher

I decided that I would walk to Kohl’s department store this morning, it’s about a half mile from the house, and also get a cup of coffee from Coffee Bean and read the newspaper while people went crazy. I was too late.

Turning the corner to the shopping center, I was shocked. The parking lot was full at 7:30 a.m. This is Simi Valley, not the San Fernando Valley or the West Side. I took a picture and turned right around to make my own cup of coffee and read the newspaper in my reading chair.

A Message for Black Friday

…How can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I’ve just messed up your thoughtless pleasures remember, if you wish,
this is just a Christmas song.

"Christmas Song" Ian Anderson, singer/songwriter for Jethro Tull

A tip of the hat to Monkeys for Helping; from where I pulled this picture, their link is down the right side.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Have a Great Thanksgiving

Society is composed of two great classes—those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners.
Sébastien-Roch Nicolas de Chamfort (1741–94), writer

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Thanksgiving State of Mind

Are you going on Thanksgiving Day
To those family celebrations?
Passing on knowledge down through the years
At the gathering of generations
Every year it's the same routine
All over, all over
Come on over, it's Thanksgiving Day
"Thanksgiving Day" Ray Davies, singer/songwriter

I love Thanksgiving. It’s a day of stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, rolls, pecan pie, and pumpkin pie. Images of Norman Rockwell abound as families come together for a communal meal. It’s a day of tradition in North America where we give thanks to the conclusion of harvest season (I suppose today it’s more like coming to the end of the tax season).

Thanksgiving is better than Christmas or Hanukkah because it is generally a two-day holiday because many companies seem to give the Friday after as an unofficial holiday. Christmas is one day at best, half day for Christmas Eve, and no days off for Hanukkah (that doesn’t seem fair). So, basically, Turkey Day becomes a four-day holiday.

Does Thanksgiving apply to the preparation or the meal? The holiday lasts only an hour if it is the meal, once the dinner is over the day is done until next year. It’s rather anticlimactic to realize that the hours and days of preparation and presentation just end up as a pile of dirty dishes and a week’s worth of leftovers. In reality it’s shorter than Christmas because at least kids can play with their
toys and adults can admire their new gift cards once everything has been unwrapped, but thanksgiving leaves everyone feeling stuffed, sleeping or nauseous.

Friday morning becomes a race to department stores for early morning discounts. Reporters and television cameras line up at the stores to in order to catch a glimpse of the hordes stampeding over the weaker or unfortunate who slip while greedily racing to grab whatever discount the first 50 shoppers receive for making a spectacle of themselves. Saturday and Sunday the relatives start packing up to go home with memories of another holiday that will only improve as the memory gets hazy.

It seems to me that Thanksgiving is more a state of mind than anything else.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jets = Moronic Fans

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), writer

This behavior is barbaric, disgusting and degrading even for the baboons gathered around to partake. And, any woman who succumbs to this or thinks she is being cute or sexy is wrong and is encouraging such despicable behavior.

The following is from the New York Times:

At halftime of the Jets’ home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, several hundred men lined one of Giants Stadium’s two pedestrian ramps at Gate D. Three deep in some areas, they whistled and jumped up and down. Then they began an obscenity-laced chant, demanding that the few women in the gathering expose their breasts.

When one woman appeared to be on the verge of obliging, the hooting and hollering intensified. But then she walked away, and plastic beer bottles and spit went flying. Boos swept through the crowd of unsatisfied men.

The mood of previous Gate D crowds — captured on video clips posted on YouTube — sometimes bordered on hostile, not unlike the spirit of infamously aggressive European soccer hooligans. One clip online shows a woman being groped by a man standing next to her.

Sunday’s scene played out for about 20 minutes, and at least one woman granted the men’s request, setting off a roar as if the former star running back Curtis Martin had just scored a touchdown. Martin was actually nearby, being honored on the field in the official halftime show, which had a far less intense audience.

Throughout halftime, about 10 security guards in yellow jackets stood near the bottom of the circular, multilevel ramp, located beyond the stadium’s concourse of concession stands and restrooms. One of the guards was smoking a cigarette; many fans do the same during halftime on the giant ramps, which are located at each corner of the stadium. Another guard later said they were not permitted to do anything about the chants at Gate D because of free speech laws. Yet when a reporter tried to interview two security guards after halftime, he was detained in a holding room, threatened with arrest and asked to hand over his tape recorder.

The prices for sporting events are too high now for families, so I guess we can expect more of this type of low-life exhibition from the morally deprived who have a few bucks for a ticket or get the office tickets. What a shame.

Why My Wife Doesn't Always Like Watching Movies With Me

I watched the movie "Modigliani" the other day -- starring [Cuban] Andy Garcia as the Italian-Jewish painter -- and enjoyed it, as I do most biographies/biopics of painters. One sticking point: an art director with little sense of responsibility for historic typefaces. One example should suffice to outrage those of you who care about such matters (and though more would increase my credibility, it would do so at the risk of alienating the 99% of the audience who are, naturally, not typophiles).

Eurostile is one of the most important creations of the Italian font designer Aldo Novarese. The font reflects the Zeitgeist of the 1950s and 1960s, giving text a dynamic, modern feel. Eurostile is intended for headlines and small bodies of text. So what better place to put it than on a window in Paris circa 1914?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cleaning Up My Desktop

Meant to share this pic... how hard do you have to work to come up with a tie-in between Easter and Hot Wheels cars? "Easter Eggs-treme"? Really?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Paying a Debt to Society

Why not whip the teacher when the pupil misbehaves?
Diogenes of Sinope [“The Cynic”] (c. 410–c. 320 BC), Greek philosopher, moralist.

Minus the orange vest, an elephant is doing community service for recklessly rampaging through a town after drinking rice beer.

Paris Hilton is pleased.

What Can I Do For Me
Certainly Not You

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly Native American criminal class except Congress [and, especially local politicians].
Mark Twain (1835–1910), author

This is an outrage. The Los Angeles Times has been reporting the past two days that Los Angeles City Council members will receive their fourth pay raise in two years. Other than CEOs or fired CEOs who else can expect such increases?

According to the article:
Municipal lawmakers in Los Angeles already are the highest paid in the nation. The new pay raise is the fourth they've received in the last 2 1/2 years, bringing the annual salary for council members to $178,789, and $232,426 for the mayor. Each has received a raise of at least $35,000 during that period -- a sum that is more than half the median household income for a family of four in Los Angeles County.

One day after elected officials in Los Angeles learned they were getting their fourth pay raise since 2005, six of the 18 said they would turn it down, while the remainder said they'd take it or did not comment.

This is the “let them eat cake” haughtiness of Councilman Tom LaBonge: he said he already works hard for his salary and will work even harder at his higher pay grade.
"I hope the people in the city who know me realize that the work I do -- and have done for 34 years -- is good work for the people of Los Angeles," he said.

I would like to see his constituents demand a new job description for his higher pay grade. After 34 years, I doubt he is still effective.

Council members who have accepted the pay increase:
Richard Alarcon, Councilman Yes**
Jose Huizar, Councilman Yes*
Jan Perry, Councilwoman Yes
Greig Smith, Councilman Yes**
Tony Cardenas, Councilman Yes**
Tom LaBonge, Councilman Yes
Ed Reyes, Councilman Yes
Herb Wesson, Councilman Yes
Rocky Delgadillo, City Attorney Yes
*Will give it to charity. **Had not commented by Thursday. Alarcon, Cardenas and Smith were out of town.

Where do these local politicians rank compared to national political leaders:

The annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year, including a $50,000 expense allowance, effective January 1, 2001.

Vice President's Salary -- The salary of the vice president (for 2004) $202,900

Congress: Rank-and-File Members' Salary
The salary (2006) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year.

Senate Leadership earn a bit more for being the boss
Majority Leader - $183,500
Minority Leader - $183,500
House Leadership
Speaker of the House - $212,100
Majority Leader - $183,500
Minority Leader - $183,500

Friday, November 16, 2007

What is Michael J. Fox Like?

A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn’t know.
H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), journalist

The next time you ask a celebrity a stupid star-struck question, realize that you may have inspired a song or a punch line in a comedy sketch.

Have a question about "Back to the Future" for the guy who played "BIFF?" Yeah, so do a billion other people! Here's a song:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Follower of Fashion

“Fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.”
Henry Fielding (1707-1754)playwright,novelist

Taken from Ethical Exhibitionist; check out his site.

Drunken Pachyderms and Paris Hilton

He that drinks fast pays slow.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), sage

Hello, I'm Dumbo and I'm an Alcoholic .

This is too absurd not to comment upon. Here is the whole story from AP.

We have the woman, who became famous for being an heir to the person who made his last name eponymous with lodging away from home. She has taken being famous for being famous to new levels of absurdity. Apparently, now she is trying to restore her reputation after spending a few hours in jail for drunken driving by rehabilitating elephants. They'll never forget this ordeal.

It seems that Paris Hilton on a trip to Gauhati, India, decided to intervene on behalf of drunken pachyderms and begin a 12-step program for them. I kid you not, well I kid about the 12-step program.

Activists said a celebrity endorsement such as Hilton's was sure to raise awareness of the plight of the pachyderms that get drunk on farmers' homemade rice beer and then go on an inebriated rampage.

"The elephants get drunk all the time. It is becoming quite dangerous. We need to stop making alcohol available to them," said Hilton. And, I might add, to irresponsible celebrities who drive under the influence, neglect to wear undergarments, allow private sex videos to pollute the internet, and have sex and do drugs in public restrooms.

I have to believe that bombed, crapulent, elephants are far less a threat than rich, spoiled celebrities under the same conditions who influence and serve as role models for their mentally bankrupt sycophants. Maybe she should use her famous name to do something truly constructive to help society. There are hundreds of struggling non-profit organizations who could use the attention her name brings to honestly help people.

Where the hell is Elliot Mintz?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Personalized Shakespeare

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more: it is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
Shakespeare, writer--From Macbeth (V, v, 19)

I thought this was fun, so I borrowed it from Sporksforall.

William Shakespeare

Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory misanthrope at me.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Brush with Greatness

A talent for drama is not a talent for writing, but is an ability to articulate human relationships.*
Gore Vidal, novelist, essayist

Leaving the house on Sunday is a big deal for me; I rarely leave. Leaving the house on Sunday before I can even read the newspapers is near impossible, but when I received a group e-mail from Johnna Adams announcing that she was coming to town for a brief weekend stay to see a reading of her trilogy of plays, I had to leave the house. This is not my usual hyperbole; On The Mark has offered me tickets to the theater, the LA Philharmonic and other events and I politely declined.
I arrived at the Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd, at 10 a.m. to watch a reading of “Cockfighters” by Johnna Adams. Johnna arrived shortly thereafter. It was great to see her. We were co-workers for a couple of years; I even took a 10-minute playwriting class with her. I spent two weeks writing my short play about a high-tech toilet I found at Jack’s Shack. Johnna wrote her play during lunch one day and she had a true laugh out loud scene that just took your breath away. The class paused during the reading to wait for the laughter to die down. I didn’t embarrass myself with my play, but Johnna was the star student by a wide margin. She could have taught the class. Her credentials were better than the instructor’s, but it was for the pleasure of writing and encouraging a co-worker.

After a hug, a picture and some catching up, I was put to work collating a couple of extra scripts that still had pages missing. The actors arrived and greeted Johnna.

The seats were almost filled, the actors were seated in position, and the reading was started. This was simply a reading, which means the actors sit on the stage and read the script in front of them.

The narrator set the scene and the actors started reading. Within a few pages, the actors started acting; they could not help themselves as the characters were so well written they easily came to life, the play was engaging and suspenseful. I kept guessing who did what, but I was wrong. The ending was surprising and the entire play engaging.

After it was over and the applause stopped, I felt like some Midwest visitor in Hollywood who sees a celebrity. I didn’t know what to say accept how great the play was. Then her publisher arrived and Johnna gave me a bound copy of her play which I immediately had her autograph. I didn’t stay for the other two plays because I still had the Sunday papers to read and it was a gray drizzly day and I wanted to sit by the fire. There is only so much sacrifice one can make.

I guarantee you are going to hear about Johnna in one of the mainstream magazines very soon and she will be hailed as the next great New York playwright.

To keep current with Johnna check out her blog Blindsquirrel Blogging.

*Johnna has both a talent for drama and writing.