Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama's Ombudsman
(say *that* five times fast)
is blogging!

It's weird; I've come to expect a far lower level of transparency, after eight years with that other guy.

So when I see that President's Obama ombudsman (Director of the Office of Management and Budget) Peter Orszag is blogging about his job and what they're doing to manage the deficit, it's surprising and cool.

Check it out here, if you're into reading; today's [first] post is titled "Discipline, Efficiency, Prosperity."

Buy my old perfume!

You know you want to smell good, like me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Incredible stop-motion animation video

My wife will be upset because video is still all jumpy when she tries to watch it on her computer.... but the rest of you will enjoy this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More About Typewriters

I had this in the comment field of The Misanthrope's piece... but he suggested it get posted as a companion piece.

This video is probably incomprehensible to many youngsters today -- "who is that guy?" "what's that sound?" "what is the guy doing with his hands?" -- but it was one of my favorite things when I was a lad:

Typewriter Repairman and an Orangutan

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway quotes (1899-1961), writer

There was a man, Martin Tytell, who loved typewriters, so much so that when he passed away back in September 2008, The Economist magazine carried his obituary. I too love typewriters, but it was all I could do to change the ribbon. I realize that last sentence may be over the heads of a number of readers who cannot imagine a world without computers or cell phones, but I am not going to explain it now.

From The Economist:
…they would sit on the desk with an air of expectancy, like a concert grand once the lid is raised. On older models that keys, metal-rimmed with white inlay, invited the user to play forceful concertos on them, while the silvery type-bars rose and fell chittering and whispering from their beds.

From the blog/website The New Nixon:
Mr. Tytell wore a white lab coat and a bow tie while waiting on customers who included writers and journalists such as Dorothy Parker, Richard Condon, David Brinkley, and Harrison Salisbury. Both Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower were among his clients. He was sufficiently established to have letters addressed to “Mr. Typewriter, New York,” delivered to his premises at 116 Fulton Street in lower Manhattan.

I typed many a concerto. However, I suspect it sounded more like a new violinist practicing and probably read just as badly. One of my longest compositions was the story on the orangutan learning to read. Here is a photo taken while I was on assignment interviewing a woman who was attempting to teach the orangutan how to read English. After this picture was taken (circa 1979-'80), I immediately dashed and locked myself in my car until that ape-like creature was locked up. I was younger in that picture than daughter is today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama's Elf

Enjoy this 18 seconds of animation pun fun.

Made by this guy.
[Tip of the hat to BoingBoing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Simpsons in HD

Not sure if this means we're going to have to buy a new TV... I hope not. Of course, it's starting to get annoying how much of our shows we're missing because of the new screen ratio (we miss the edges)... but the Simpsons just had their first episode in HD yesterday, and darn if it didn't look clearer than usual! The title sequence was totally redone as well, and had lots of new details, including this odd shot with God and Satan angrily confronting one another that you'd've missed if you didn't watch it frame-by-frame on your computer afterward (as I did).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dick Cavett Column

“There was also evidence of misbehavior backstage, ... Stubbed-out joints, copies of Jack Kerouac, a copy of Ulysses in the detritus of the dressing room.”
Dick Cavett, writer, former television talk show host

More likely than not, you love reading and writing or you probably would not be poking around here, well, unless you are into all the other crap we post, but in this case I hope to enlighten you by highly recommending a column my Dick Cavett.

Cavett, who frequently writes an online opinion piece "Talk Show" for the NYTimes, has one today that features John Updike and John Cheever when they were both on his talk show. It is worth reading and watching the video clips.

Songs for the Heart Broken

Cupid, n. The so-called god of love. This bastard creation of a barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of its deities. Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is the most reasonless and offensive. The notion of symbolizing sexual love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the wounds of an arrow—of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work—this is eminently worthy of the age that giving it birth, laid it on the doorstep of posterity.
Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914?), writer, from “The Devil’s Dictionary”

What kind of misanthrope would I be if I didn’t offer up songs for the day after Valentine’s Day? While everything maybe hunky dory today just remember there is tomorrow, as the optimistic “Annie” sings. So, looking toward tomorrow and the days after Cupid’s day, I offer you a collection of songs for the broken hearted:

The Party’s Over – (when you wake up Sunday you may realize the truth) – Nate King Cole, The Billy May Sessions

Cottage for Sale – (my personal saddest song) – Nate King Cole, The Billy May Sessions

I’m Hurtin’ – (a honest assessment without sounding heartbroken) – Nate King Cole, The Billy May Sessions

Don’t Worry ‘bout Me – (“Live at the Sands” offers the best version, but the version on “Where are You” released in 1957 showcases the silky voiced Chairman of the Board) – Frank Sinatra

Thanks for the Memory – (this is not the happy Bing Crosby/Bob Hope tune, if you still know who they were) Frank Sinatra “She Shot me Down” released in 1981

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – (this is where you could be in just hours after midnight; this classic captures those lonely hours best) – In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra released in 1954

I Wanna Be Around – (this is one of the best ‘you’ll get yours’ songs) – from the Might as Well Be Swing Sinatra and Basie album released in 1961

Now let’s listen to what the rock and rollers have to say:

Almost Hear You Sigh – (every female who has heard this song likes it, including daughter) – Rolling Stones from “Steel Wheels”

Slippin’ Away – (or maybe this was the song every female who has heard this song likes it, including daughter) – Rolling Stones from “Steel Wheels”

Already Over Me – (Mick being a bit melodramatic, but good nonetheless) – Rolling Stones “Bridges to Babylon”

Melt My Heart to Stone – (see, I listen to some new music, this song is very good, but I enjoy the whole CD months before she appeared on Saturday Night Live) – From the singer Adele and her d├ębut CD “Adele 19”

Hate it Here – (this is the modern version of Cottage for Sale and strikes me as very sad) – Wilco from “Sky Blue Sky”

Love Stinks – (a bit too commercial for me, but good nonetheless) – The J. Geils Band

You’re Breaking My Heart – (this sums it all up) – Harry Nilsson from “Son of Schmilsson”

This is by no means my definitive list, but just quickly scrolling through my list of music, I thought this would be a good starter list for the realists out there.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This is most fascinating thing I've read about pro wrestling since Roland Barthes.

Wikipedia has an entry on "kayfabe" -- the portrayal of events within the industry as "real," that is, not staged.

This used to be a closely guarded secret, and is still held close to the vest by wrestlers, but these days it's not secret. The article is fascinating.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cannabis and a Bottle of Cream, Please

"Marijuana gives rise to insanity -- not in its users but in the policies directed against it. A nation that sentences the possessor of a single joint to life imprisonment without parole but sets a murderer free after perhaps six years is in the grips of a deep psychosis."
Eric Schlosser, author

When I was a youngster when had a milkman (there was no iceman, I am not that old) who would deliver our bottles of milk, he even ran over my tricycle (I don’t recall being traumatized, but maybe the scars have shown up different ways, I suppose it’s all my mother’s fault).

Anyway, the point of this post is that in London, Milkman Robert Holding, 72, delivered marijuana as he made his daily rounds in the town of Burnely, in northwestern England (our milkman didn't at least that I am aware of, maybe he smoked it, which is why he crushed my tricycle). He decided to provide pot to his customers. They would leave their requests for butter, cream, and cannabis. He wasn’t supplying it to the young and hip crowd, no this was for the elderly customers who were suffering from the effects of old age.

According to the BBC report, "He said that customers left him notes saying, for example, 'Can I have an ounce this week or can I have an eighth?'."

He said his oldest client was 92 and added: "Word had got out that he was a man who could supply cannabis to those of a certain age with aches and pains and he misguidedly believed he was providing a public service."

Holding pleaded guilty to supplying the drug and was given suspended jail sentence of 36 months.

Great now what are his elderly customers going to do about the pain?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Veggie Love: PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

When I heard that NBC wouldn't accept PETA's ad for the Super Bowl, I was curious. When I heard it involved lingerie and vegetables, I had to see it.

'Veggie Love': PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On The Mark -- Good Bank, Bad Bank

There's been a lot of talk about the government establishing a "bad bank" where the banks can dump all of their troubled loans and other ugly money to clean up their balance sheets. I think the proponents of this strategy have it all wrong.

Instead of funneling all those billions of dollars into banks that have proven they can't manage money properly, the government should put its billions into a good bank and use that to produce mortgage loans and refinancing, and credit lines for small businesses.

The banks should be left to figure out how they're going to get out of the mess they've greedily gotten themselves into. They've clearly shown that they have no regard for the so-called Mainstreet, and will only use the money to clean up their balance sheets, protect their pay and bonuses. Very little of that money will make its way to Main Street. It's like oil and water; there's no connection between the banks and Mainstreet anymore.

Why should the banks be bailed out when Mainstreet, weighted down with their debts until they die, is not getting bailed out, instead thrown out onto the streets to live in cardboard boxes?

And why did the banks push so hard to restructure the bankruptcy laws last year -- because they saw this disaster coming before anyone else did and they were doing some preventive crisis management.

After a few years, the Good Bank could be sold to the private sector after the Bad Banks have climbed out of their holes on their own, at a tidy profit for us taxpayers.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

On The Mark -- My Time with Notorious B.I.G.

Seeing that a new movie, Notorious, has been released, I realized again that I actually have a Notorious B.I.G. story. Hard to believe for those who know me.

Several years ago I was a L.A. Clippers season ticket holder, back in the day when the professional basketball team played at the Sports Arena. They were horrible then as they are now. But I was flush with cash and I enjoyed watching some of the big stars when they came to town. My seats were a couple rows from the court behind one of the baskets.

One night I sat behind a really big guy. The Philadelphia 76ers were in town and I noticed that Derrick Coleman and a few other players with the 76ers often made some kind of signal to the big guy sitting in front of me during free throws. I didn't know who the heck he was, and soon into the game a long line started to form in the aisle of mostly kids and teenagers seeking autographs.

At first I thought he might be a football player with the Eagles. I leaned over and whispered to a kid in the aisle, "who is that guy?' and he looked at me like I had just had a heart attack right in front of him. "That's Notorious B.I.G., man. You kiddin' me!" I still didn't know who the hell he was.

But I did notice that the other big guy, but all muscle, who was sitting in the aisle seat next to B.I.G. never watched the game. He spent all his time looking over his shoulders and scanning the crowd. I remember it because it annoyed the hell out of me.

It seems like it was the next day, but maybe it was a few days later, B.I.G. was assassinated on the streets of L.A., so the other big guy obviously knew something was up and was looking for snipers or something.

I'm curious now to see the movie and find out if they included his visit to the Clippers-76ers game.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

When Bloggers Meet

“You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your friends.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack from Random Thoughts the other night. We met at a neighborhood diner and the food was good and the waitress knew Jack (I guess that is no surprise to readers of Random Thoughts).

We talked naturally as if we knew each other for years. Well, I guess we have -- Jack started blogging in May 2004 and Toner Mishap burst onto the scene in October 2004. While we had not met previously, we did exchange e-mails and a couple of hair-raising stories.

Jack certainly is more of a misanthrope than he lets on, but by William Hazlitt’s definition. "To think ill of mankind and not wish ill to them, is perhaps the highest wisdom and virtue." And, anyone with half a brain realizes that society, as a whole needs help. I am more than a decade older than Jack, but he seems to know well there is a burden that comes with wisdom.
We talked for nearly two hours that went by very quickly (at least for me and I didn't notice any obvious signs of distress from Jack). It was a nice evening and I do hope we can do it again soon.

I have now met the bloggers of Bitch Ph.D, Sporks for All, Neurotranscendence, and Through the Looking Glass. I have been very impressed by the talent and intelligence of each and everyone of these bloggers.

The Perfect Interview

Dear readers, not all of you will be as fortunate as Jack and the other bloggers that have met me, but you can get a feeling for what Jack and the others endured by watching this interview. Fortunately, I did not make them laugh.

Thank you The Ethical Exhibitionist for posting this. It is laugh out loud funny.