Saturday, May 31, 2014

One More Time: Obama Doesn't Wear "Mom Jeans"

Sarah Palin, ever the original, has hauled out once again, a joke about the president wearing "mom jeans." I've written about this before, and it's really not a case of me defending the president. It's a case of me defending a joke. The joke is--as is made abundantly clear in the original Saturday Night Live sketch--that some moms wear jeans with enormous rises, with vast expanses of denim betwixt waist and crotch. This makes a pooch in the front, and a long, flat butt in the back. It's a specific thing.

President Obama on the other hand, tends to wear relaxed-fit, or loose-fit jeans. Like virtually every American who would actually be laughing at a "mom jeans" joke. Of course, the joke itself has a lot to do with homophobia, and casting Obama as either woman-like or gayish. Don't tell me it's not. Where else does the joke go, since the accuracy of the charge is so off? Anyway, I decided to make a graphic, just to show you what I mean. So, here you go.

 
And in case you still don't understand what I'm getting at, here's the original bit:
 
 


Friday, May 30, 2014

This is Who the GOP Calls Leaders?

The Duck guy, from source, Washington Post
I keep saying it: GOP, find better heroes.

But "hero worship" is one thing. Wouldn't you think that a Republican Leadership Conference would showcase leaders, and not a clown car full of "You're fired!" "You betcha" and Dukes of Hazzard-style rednecks? I'm surprised that recently-borderline-newsworthy Joe the Plumber wasn't a keynote speaker. You've got clueless boob Donald Trump, fellow reality star Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty with his religious bigotry, and Sarah Palin, cracking very stale (and inaccurate) jokes about "mom jeans."

It's lunacy. This is a party that is changing its image?

[Excerpt]

The Duck Dynasty guy epitomizes this weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference

Republicans will gather here over the next three days for one of the bigger presidential cattle calls in advance of the soon-to-begin 2016 campaign: The Republican Leadership Conference. But the crew of speakers who will take the stage at the confab -- formerly known as the Southern Republican Leadership Conference -- is notably devoid of many of the top 2016 GOP contenders, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and even Southerners like Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul (who is known for his prolific travel and speech-giving schedule). . .

Read more at: Washington Post

Jay Carney Steps Down as White House Press Secretary

As my Swiss friend Romie might say, "What the big deal is?" Why should it be suspicious or controversial that a press secretary would resign? It's a position with a rather high turnover rate. George W. Bush had four of them in eight years. Jay Carney was President Obama's second.
[Story continues below]




I'm also seeing a bunch of Twitter and other commentary from Right Wing World, calling Carney a "serial liar," and worse. Which I find kind of amusing, since the position is about "spin," though not everyone would call that lying. It's a rather thankless position, one that does not lend itself well to blunt honesty. And I wonder, who would the right consider an honest press secretary? Ari Fleischer? Ha! Dana Perino? Haha! The late (and former FOX "News" Sunday host) Tony Snow? No way.

So no, I don't think Carney set himself apart as particularly worse than any of his predecessors.  But frankly, I haven't been a fan of very many of these guys (and gals). Historically, I rank them right in there with the heads of the DNC and RNC for people I don't particularly like to listen to.  All of them are in a position of spinning to their own advantage, all the time. But that might be the difference between a liberal like me, and your typical hardcore conservative: I don't love the person in this position simply because he's "on my team." What do I mean? Scroll down below the excepted article below, and I'll show you.

[Excerpt]

White House press secretary Jay Carney leaving

Jay Carney is stepping down as White House press secretary, President Barack Obama announced on Friday. Obama said Carney told him of his decision in April, and Carney later said he plans to leave the position in mid-June. The President announced that deputy press secretary Josh Earnest will step into the role. . .

Read more at: CNN

Now, what did I mean by the hero-worship some on the right have had of the president of their party's spokesman? Well, here you go. Right wing outpost FreeRepublic.com had a love-fest with Bush era press conferences, particularly those of Tony Snow, who was himself--it is alleged--a "FReeper." This image would accompany any post regarding a White House press conference. Can you imagine a fawning graphic like this for any other politician?


General Shinseki Resigns Over VA Flap

Image from source, MSN
I haven't written about the VA troubles much lately, mostly because I've been busy, but also because of my own difficulty in coming up with a defined opinion. Like the myriad troubles over many years in this scandal, It's hard to pin down exactly how I feel.

Troubles at the VA with waiting lists and other difficulties go back over a decade (in fact, over pretty much the entire history of the organization, as Jon Stewart famously showed). When only 19% of people polled laid the blame at President Obama's feet, I was pleasantly surprised, since everything is his fault and "a scandal" in they eyes of FOX "News" and Right Wing World. While it's true that the president promised to do something about the problems, it's also true that the problems didn't originate with him, nor are particularly his fault. Still, I wish he had followed through on those promises.

See? It's hard to give an opinion on something where there isn't a clearer "villain." Some do of course, as the usual suspects have acted as though this scandal is new, when in fact it is very old. Truthfully, I'd like to get past the noise, and just have somebody fix the problems. And apparently, General Eric Shinseki is not that guy. So, kudos to the administration for pulling that particular plug. Might I suggest appointing Jon Soltz or Paul Rieckhoff in at least an advisory role?

[Excerpt]

Shinseki resigns amid veterans' health care uproar
 
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned in the privacy of the White House on Friday, driven from office by a mushrooming scandal over the agency's health care system that serves millions of the nation's former warriors. . .

Read more at: MSN

Science is Cool: We're All Milk Drinking Mutants!

Well, except for the lactose-intolerant, I guess. But the rest of us? Mutants! Not a very exciting member of The X-Men though, is it? Milk Man!

[Excerpt]
 
If You Drink Milk and Don't Get Sick, You're a Mutant

Image from XOHappyEmo

Milk is full of a sugar called lactose, which needs a special enzyme called lactase to break it down. But children used to stop producing the enzyme around the age of 4 or 5—and those of us who still make it are, in fact, mutants. . .

Read more at: Gizmodo

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou, Deat at 86

Image from source, ABC News
I will not pretend that I am a Maya Angelou expert. She's one of those people with enormous gravitas, a woman of obvious intelligence and talent. And as such, she left a very positive impression on me, even though I didn't follow her works or career. It's sad when someone with such a bright light passes. But it's also nice that she got to live such a long life, and to have her gifts be appreciated up to the end. How many people get that? RIP, Ms. Angelou.

[Excerpt]

Maya Angelou, Celebrated Poet and Author, Dies

Maya Angelou's story awed millions. A childhood victim of rape, she broke through silence and shame to tell her tale in one of the most widely read memoirs of the 20th century. A black woman born into poverty and segregation, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history. "I'm not modest," she told The Associated Press in 2013. "I have no modesty. Modesty is a learned behavior. But I do pray for humility, because humility comes from the inside out. . ."

Read more at: ABC News

Right Wing World: Cliven Bundy Jumps from Republican to a REALLY Nutty Party

In this installment of Republicans Really Need Better Heroes, we have Cliven Bundy. He's the Nevada rancher who is grazing on federal land, but doesn't want to pay the bill. For some reason, this has inspired a following of alleged "Constitutionalists," who were--for a time--interrogating fellow citizens. That "I don't get it" would be to state, and understate the obvious.

But ol' Cliven isn't happy with more people than just the BLM, and liberals, and O'Bummer. He's dumping the whole GOP! So where'd he go, the Tea Party, right? Well, no, since the Tea Party is just the base of the Republican Party. Instead, he picked the party that was tea bagging before tea bagging was cool: The Independent American Party. These are not independents, you understand. It's an actual collection of like-minded people, and they're bananas.

I remember when I first moved to Nevada almost 20 years ago, reading about the Hansen family, all of whom were IAP. They're anti-federal government, like Bundy. But they went significantly around the bend on most issues. The oddest thing is, these uber-conservatives are against government issued ID, which puts them at odds with the uber-conservatives who are trying to implement Voter ID. here's a link. And remember, her platform is presented with a bit of polish for the election. But I think you can see where the IAP is coming from. And since Cliven Bundy apparently doesn't believe the federal government exists, he should fit right in.
Image from source, Wonkette
Anyway, I don't know if the Hansens ever secured any significant office, but they keep trying. Janine Hansen is running for Congress, and if you want to see what she's all about,

Again, Republicans: find better heroes.

[Excerpt]

CLIVEN BUNDY QUITS REPUBLICANS, JOINS FORCES WITH SOMEONE EVEN MORE UNTETHERED TO REALITY

Those sensitive to such things may have sensed a great disturbance in the Loonosphere over the weekend, as Cliven Bundy left the Republican Party and signed up with the Independent American Party of Nevada, the local version of the rightwing Constitution Party. And why does this matter? It is not insignificant, because Cliven’s new party is also the home of the awesomely batshit David Lory VanDerBeek, who we profiled a while back when he was predicting civil war and expecting Obama to come and kill him. Mr. VanDerBeek (motto: “I don’t put spaces between the three chunks of my last name”) is still out there — way out there — being a Sandy Hook Truther and running a can’t-lose candidacy for Nevada Governor. . .

Read more at: Wonkette

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blast from the Past: This Has Been a Miller-Milkis-Boyett Production!

This past weekend, I watched The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas on DVD, on a whim. I was surprised to see that it was a "Miller-Milkis-Boyett Production." This is curious to a pop-culture geek like me, because, they're not known for movies. No, MMB (or some combination of the three) were responsible for several huge (and not so huge) sitcoms of the seventies, eighties and nineties. So, in this late edition of Blast from the Past, I thought I'd revisit some of them. See how many you remember.

1. Happy Days (1974-1984) - Fonzie, Richie, Potsie and Ralph were a huge part of 70s pop culture, and their show put Garry Marshall (and his family) on the map, and spun off a few more shows.
2. Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) - By far Happy Days' most successful spin-off, Garry's sister Penny and Cindy Williams actually eclipsed the parent show for a couple of years.


3. Mork & Mindy (1978-1982) - Robin Williams broke out, and shot into the stratosphere with this Happy Days spin-off, and then sputtered out after inexplicable executive meddling.
4. Angie (1979-1980) - Rather short-lived for a show with a lot of promise. Robert Hays (Airplane!) and Donna Pescow (Saturday Night Fever) starred with Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond). Also a death by executive meddling.


5. Bosom Buddies (1980-1982) - Can you believe a show starring Tom Hanks would only last two seasons? Or that co-star Peter Scolari often out-shined him in the talent department? It's true!
6. Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983) - One of television's punch lines, this spin-off of Happy Days was actually (briefly) a hit. And then collapsed.


7. Perfect Strangers (1986-1993) - Balki wore thin after several seasons, but for the first few, this was a really fun sitcom, mostly due to Bronson Pinchot.
8. Family Matters (1980-1998) - Spun off of Perfect Strangers, this show was--to me--horrific. But to kids of the time, it's kind of their Happy Days, and apparently Steve Urkel is their Fonzie. Whatever. . .


9. Valerie/Valerie's Family: The Hogans/The Hogan Family (1986-1991) - Originally a starring vehicle for Valerie Harper--whose character was ultimately killed off in an awful contract dispute--ultimately it became The Jason Bateman show despite its various other titles, and new star, Sandy Duncan.
10. Step By Step (1991-1998) - Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy in a pointless, rice-cake of a sitcom. Just bland as hell, but again, if you were a kid at the time. . .maybe. . .it was just okay?


And with that bit of fluff, we'll call it a day. But since Monday's over, I'll wish you all a happy short work week, with a faster weekend!
PS. I'm well aware that I skipped Full House. Horrid show.

Over Time with Bill Maher, May 23, 2014

The Gay Thing: My Thoughts on The Normal Heart

I was in high school when there started to be scattered reports of "gay cancer" in New York, and other large cities. As a Columbus, Ohio teenager who had sussed out long-term suspicions, and inwardly accepted that I myself was gay, I was attuned to any scrap of news that came out. In those days, with no internet, and being terrified of being "found out," it's kind of a mystery to me how I managed to keep up to date on the story, but I did.

HBO's The Normal Heart begins just before any items I may have heard about in the news, before anyone knew there was a coming plague. As I was getting my developing sense of self intertwined with fear of a deadly disease, the actual people that the film's characters are based on were living it. It had to be terrifying, and enraging. The film centers upon the activists who were desperately trying to get a handle on what began to be known as "GRID," and later AIDS. These activists weren't just at ground zero of the disease, they were present for the waning days of the sexual revolution, and the height of 1970s/early 80s excess, which was magnified in the gay community.

Remember that the gay community, such as it was, hadn't even existed for very long. Not until after Stonewall in 1969, was there a community outside of the shadows. Imagine if you belonged to a group of people who were marginalized, demonized, and forced to hide your life away for most of recorded history, and suddenly you were free to do what you wanted! Add to this freedom, the fact that what binds you together with this group is sexuality, and that you're all men. That things were excessive and unbridled isn't really a surprise, then, is it?

But the ultimate party had a hell of a hangover. Put a sexually transmitted disease into a group that has lots of sex, and you have the perfect storm. Throw in other "undesirables" like IV drug users, and you get a shrug from the general public, at least at first. I remember hearing things like "AIDS is a punishment from God," and "Hey, it's killing all the right people." Getting people to care was difficult, and getting people to help was even harder. Add to that, the disease itself was amazingly adaptable, and difficult to pin down, and also easy to spread. It was (and still is) a horror show.

Somehow, as this was evolving, I was able to see through the negative public take on AIDS, the biased and unflattering portrayals in the media--even from hard news sources--and see what was happening. That's one thing that I always felt about being gay, and I really don't know how I arrived at it: "I'm not wrong, everyone else is." I never felt guilty, or ashamed, or bad for who I was. And I didn't assign those things to AIDS sufferers either. But it sure would have been easy to in those early days.

The protagonist in The Normal Heart is based upon its author, Larry Kramer, and played (very well) by Mark Ruffalo. Kramer in real life is an abrasive guy, and quite polarizing, even in the gay community. The film doesn't pull punches there. It follows him (or rather, his avatar) as AIDS starts taking his friends, and ultimately his partner (Matt Bomer, who goes from stunningly gorgeous to wasted away and covered with sores), while local and federal government stands on the sidelines.  The film is ultimately a snapshot in time, covering the early development of the AIDS crisis before it really had that name. As such, there is no happy ending of course, and no resolution. As HIV is still not cured (though much more manageable and preventable), it still kills people in great numbers today.

The film is worth a view, particularly if you--like me--were not at the heart of it. I was 19 by the time Rock Hudson died, and the disease went "mainstream".  I basically sat out the worst years of the crisis, having been young, stuck in an unrequited love situation and being terrified to do anything about it. So, I didn't lose any friends, and have to date known very few people with HIV (that I'm aware of). And while nobody would lament not having lived through it personally, it does make me feel a bit disconnected from it.

That's why films like this are important though, to connect you to what happened. To realize what our community has been through, and to see how far we've come. And when it is done like this film was, with excellent actors, treated with a measure of reverence, it's even better. I will be shocked if The Normal Heart doesn't pick up a number of Emmys and other awards. It's worth your time, I highly recommend it. But get your box of tissues ready.

The Normal Heart is available on HBO Go, and HBO On Demand, and also stars Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts and Taylor Kitsch.

Friday, May 23, 2014

What (Doesn't) Happen in Vegas: Las Vegas Withdraws RNC Invitation

As a lefty, liberal moonbat, you'd think I'd be doing cartwheels that the Las Vegas Convention Center will not be hosting the Republican National Convention in 2016. But I'm not, really. It would have been fine, would likely have been good for business, and would have given the hookers a lot of business!

[Excerpt]
 
Las Vegas withdraws GOP convention bid; arena, timing difficulties cited

Las Vegas’ effort to host the Republican National Convention in 2016 ended Thursday in disappointment after the city withdrew its bid rather than face rejection because of arena and scheduling difficulties. The Las Vegas 2016 Host Committee sent the withdrawal letter to the Republican National Committee on Wednesday, the day before the party’s site selection committee could announce the latest cut among six cities still vying for the major event. . .

Read more at: Las Vegas Review-Journal


But guess who is doing cartwheels?

Check this out too: NEVADA: Tony Perkins Cheers After Las Vegas Withdraws Its Bid To Host The 2016 Republican Convention

Sarah Palin Derps Some Racism Again

I almost didn't use this image (from Wonkette)
since the beyond awesome Lynda Carter
does not like Sarah Palin. But I figure
this his how Palin sees herself.

I'm always torn about writing a Palin post. She's a pointless, ridiculous political celebrity, and she thrives on attention, even negative attention. Kinda like Ann Coulter. But the she-beast of the north has gone and blown--not a dog whistle--just a regular loud, racist whistle. Again. So, the only way I can handle her today is by finding a funny write-up about it. This fits the bill.

[Excerpt]
 
World’s Laziest Half-Term Governor Says Obama Killed All Those Vets Because He Is So Lazy, Also Too The Media

Oh em gee, you guys, the ghost thinker for Sarah Palin’s brain has informed her that she is SUPER empissened about the just discovered BREAKING news that America does not treat its veterans so good, actually. . .

Read more at: Wonkette

Hannibal Recut as a Cooking Reality Show

Hilariously disgusting!

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

France Spends Billions on Train that Won't Fit in Station

This story caught my eye, because it has happened before! Not the billions, but the train not fitting thing. Back in my amusement industry days, one of our projects was a monorail that got its doors ripped off on its first trip into the station! And then there were the canal boats that were too heavy for their shallow stream, and just sat on the bottom. These things happen. Usually, people get fired, and companies go out of business, unfortunately.

[Excerpt]

France Spent $20 Billion on Trains That Can't Fit in the Station

French officials admitted this week that they may not have taken the most thorough measurements before writing a $20 billion check. France's national train operator, SNCF, admitted this week that it ordered the fleet of new trains without double-checking the measurements. Now, officials say, the new trains are just too big to fit through many of France's regional train stations. . .

Read more at: Gawker

The 9/11 Museum has a Gift Shop. So?

Image from source, Think Progress
Honestly, the things people get energized about. Every museum--whether very serious, or more light-hearted--has a gift shop. Sometimes more than one. And often a cafĂ© or restaurant. I can understand the museum being very cautious and careful about what they sell in the shop, but the existence of a shop at all? We have more pressing things to worry about.

[Excerpt]

Why The 9/11 Museum Has A Gift Shop

There is a gift shop at the 9/11 Museum. Like just about everything else involving the museum, the decision to include a gift shop has been fraught with controversy. The visceral dislike of a gift shop in this space is easy to understand: there’s something about it that feels tasteless at best and heartless at worst. We’re talking about a place that still houses unidentified human remains. Should this also be a place where you can buy “blossom earrings”? . . .

Read more at: Think Progress

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Gay Thing: Add Pennsylvania to the Marriage Equality Pile

Wow. Amazing, really amazing. And no stay? The map is filling in like the electoral map started to do in 2008. Remember that? It was a vast sea of red, and it started to fill in blue from the edges, and down from the top and up from the bottom. It's happening so fast, it's hard to keep track of. Is this 19 now? 19 states, plus DC? And with this precedent, it's hard to see it slowing down. There are 29 states where marriage equality is wending through the courts. Seeing those numbers flip, and keep going is going to be so much fun.

And the fact that Right Wing World is all wobbly on its axis over it is icing on the cake.

Image from source, MSN
[Excerpt]

Pennsylvania gay marriage ban overturned by judge

Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was overturned Tuesday by a federal judge in a decision that makes same-sex marriage legal throughout the Northeast. Pennsylvania was the last remaining state to outlaw gay marriage in the Northeast, a region that tends to be socially liberal and Democratic. An appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely. If the decision stands, Pennsylvania would become the 19th state to legalize gay marriage. . .

Read more at: MSN

Unexpected Major Purchase Throws off Blogging for the Night

After a year full of household renovations, I didn't expect to have to make another major purchase for a while. But as I noted yesterday, I came home to a blinking, flapping, noisy refrigerator when I came home from work. I scheduled a repairman for Tuesday afternoon, and took off early to meet him.

Here's where repairmen get you: I'd already laid out the problem to the call-taker. The repairman had the information. It's a common problem with my particular refrigerator. But he had to come out to the house, charge me 50 bucks, and then tell me he can't do anything that day. In fact, they'd have to take out a part, send it to the manufacturer, and have them fix it, if they can fix it.

Minimum, this was going to cost me $600, and take anywhere from now til June. All of that time would be spent with no refrigerator in the house. I realize this is a whine, since I have the old unit in the garage, but it annoyed me anyway. So, I paid the guy his fiddy, and sent him away.

Then, I got in the car, and headed to Home Depot. Having already looked up three selections on my Mac while I waited for the repair guy to get me a quote, I went right over to them and compared. I narrowed it down to a Samsung, an LG and a Whirlpool. Then I zipped over to both Lowe's and Sears Outlet for a quick comparison, and back to Home Depot for the purchase, narrowed down to a Whirlpool, both on advice of the salesman, and due to features I liked better.

The  fridge will be delivered Friday, and they'll wheel the old (hey, eight years doesn't seem old for a fridge, but there you go) beast away for free. And my Discover Card got a bit of an unexpected workout. I thought I got a better deal than I really did though. It's true, the original price was $400 higher, and indeed at Lowe's, it is. But a search after the purchase found a price just a little higher than I paid everywhere else. So, the artificially-imposed "ending soon!" sale at Home Depot didn't make much difference.

In any event, I'll finally have a brushed stainless refrigerator, and the price was about what I paid in 2006. Now, I have to wonder, will this one need replacing in 2022? Oh my god that sounds far away, doesn't it? But now, I guess I'm not going to get much if any blogging done today. We'll see if I can find something before time to turn in.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ice2-Oh No!

Way back in 2006, I had recently dug myself of a decade-long debt hole. I was free! Free at last! But I was advised to strategically rebuild my credit. Buy a largish item on credit, pay it off over two or three months. Wait. Repeat with small items, big items, etc. Never take a bite too big that you couldn't pay for it all at once. And I tell you, it worked like a charm! I really did rebuild my credit rating, and by 2010, it was doing pretty well. And then after buying my car that year and paying it off, the credit is sterling. The aim now, is to keep it that way.

But back there in the beginning of debt-free life, it was a little daunting. For my first strategic purchase, I'd decided on a new refrigerator. Prior to this, I'd never bought an appliance that expensive. Other fridges were either provided with an apartment, or were hand-me-downs. I'd decided that I wanted a Maytag Ice2O refrigerator. It was the first model with French doors, a bottom freezer drawer, and water and ice through the front. It was a big purchase, but I managed to find a floor model at Home Depot, and I'd settled for black rather than brushed stainless.

It started us on an appliance-buying trend over the next year, mixing the stainless with the black, and it looked great. But from the first couple of weeks, there were problems. I've detailed them here in a previous post, and I just noted that I started the post almost exactly the same way! Anyway, as noted, the water through the door never really worked. I was foolish in not insisting that the water line be properly fixed, while I had a warranty. So, it's never been fixed.

When I came home from work on Monday, I was greeted with a different problem. Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! The ice machine trap door was popping open and shut on its own. The control panel was blinking like a 60s sci-fi movie computer. I tried tripping the circuit, unplugging and replugging. Nothing worked. Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! Endlessly.

So, I've got a repairman coming tomorrow. I've managed to squeeze all of the food into the garage refrigerator. The Ice2O is unplugged and empty. Pulling the beast out was a trick, after the new granite (which has it wedged in pretty tight), and the fact that it's always been missing a screw-foot. So, since this is going to cost me through the nose anyhow, I'm going to see if this guy can also fix the water and the missing foot! It's worth a shot. And if the price estimate goes over a certain dollar, I'm booting the repairman, and going and buying a new fridge. Goddamnit.

The Gay Thing: Oregon Makes State #18 for Marriage Equality (Plus DC)

When I started "The Gay Thing," as a story heading, I didn't intend for it to appear on the blog so frequently. Though it's obviously an interest, and has always been a part of the blog, it's not supposed to be the focus. But with the marriage equality movement racking up success after success (something like 17 straight victories since Windsor), there's no way around it!

Image from source, LA Times
The state of Oregon is not fighting the marriage equality decision. The National Organization for Marriage, the hate group whose only mission is to stop gays from marrying, tried to inject themselves into Oregon's politics, but were smacked down. So, we can be fairly confident that Oregon will remain the 18th marriage equality state (in addition to Washington DC). States like Utah, where equality was in effect and then was stayed, and those like Ohio where the stay prevented any marriages, could start to flood in, pushing the tally over 20 and beyond in short order. Not short enough for me, but I'll take it!

[Excerpt]

Same-sex couples marry in Oregon as judge strikes down state ban

For Portland attorney Julie Engbloom, "the biggest stress of the last 48 hours" wasn't waiting for U.S. District Judge Michael McShane to decide whether to overturn Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. It wasn't whether she had popped the question to the right woman — Laurie Brown has been her partner for 10 years. . .

Read more at: Los Angeles Times

Monday, May 19, 2014

Over Time with Bill Maher, May 16, 2014

Blast from the Past: The Song is Also a Dance

You know 'em, you love 'em. Songs that have their own dance. Not all were what you'd call dance crazes, but most were. Some are flat-out embarrassing. One was included in last week's "Novelty Hits" installment, but simply couldn't be left off here. Most can be done by most anyone, some are a little trickier. Get your dancin' shoes on, and join me!

1. Walk the Dinosaur by Was (Not Was) (1989) - This one breaks down the steps for you, in case you want to dance along. It went to #7 on the pop chart.
2. Stand by R.E.M. (1988) - Strictly speaking, not a dance. But the dance in the video was emulated on dance floors anyway. One of R.E.M.'s peppier numbers, it hit #6.
 


3. Vogue by Madonna (1990) - This song did not inspire the dance, but it sure dragged it into the mainstream. It went to #1, naturally.
4. The Hustle by Van McCoy (1975) - The quintessential 1970s song and dance. It's kind of light weight, but boy is it dripping with nostalgia.  Also #1.



5. The Electric Boogie by Marcia Griffiths (1989) - Cheese, to be sure, but nowhere near as cheesy as the next one. The dance was called "The Electric Slide," not "Boogie," and the song itself went to only #51.
6. Macarena by Los Del Rio (1992) - This is the one I mentioned that was featured last week. #1 for an absurd 14 weeks, this one is embarrassment for anyone who might sing a verse and be overheard. But since I featured this last time, this time, I'm using the video that teaches the dance.



7. Velcro Fly by ZZ Top (1986) - Not a huge hit, though it got a lot of airplay on MTV. And the dance was choreographed by Paula Abdul, before she was nationally famous. Only hit #35.
8. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by BeyoncĂ© (2008) - I almost didn't feature this one, since I thought it was too recent. But guess what? It's six years old. Solidly in the past, and one of the most copied dances in that past six years too. Also a #1 tune.
 


And now that you're danced out, it's time to start a new week. Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Happens in Vegas: Apparently, Straight Guys Considering "Down Low" Action?

You've got to give the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority credit for being unafraid to ruffle a few feathers. Their "What Happens Here Stays Here" campaign is usually racy, but their new ad goes where it hasn't before.

"Operation: American Spring" an Embarrassing Failure

I know, I know, the weekend isn't over. The throngs of patriots could arrive in DC on Saturday or Sunday. And winged monkeys could fly out of my nether-regions. No, the ridiculously named and ludicrously conceived Operation: American Spring is an embarrassing flop, a devastating splotch of FAIL on the tea bagger movement. And by movement, I mean tootling along at 5 mph in Rascal­­­® scooters.

Their goals were to compel by force the removal of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Speaker of the House John Boner Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They were going to do this--apparently--by sheer force of will. Or something.

[Excerpt]
 
'Operation American Spring' Is Still Waiting for Its Millions of Patriots
 
Operation American Spring, the mass D.C. rally aiming to force several top government officials — including the president — to resign, spent a portion of its first day at the capital assuring people tuning into its livestream that more people are on the way. The protest's lead organizer, Harry Riley, promised 10 million to 30 million people would show up for his event; Friday's crowd appeared to be in the dozens to hundreds. . .

Read more at: The Wire

Friday, May 16, 2014

Liberal Talker Randi Rhodes Retires Today

Sigh. Yes, I know that Barbara Walters is retiring today. And as a pop culture icon, journalist and celebrity interviewer, Walters has really left a mark. If only the Saturday Night Live parodies of her were to be remembered, she would have really made it! But Barbara is nearing 85, so her retirement is no surprise.

Randi Rhodes, a liberal radio host with close to a 30-year career is also retiring today. And while she's not as well known to the American public, I'll miss her more. I understand that if you're a conservative, if you know of Rhodes at all, you probably have a negative impression of her. That's to be understood, because the only things you'd have heard would have been from right-wing sources. But Randi is not the liberal Rush Limbaugh. As brash and perhaps even abrasive as she might occasionally be, Randi never intentionally mislead her audience, or twisted a news story into  a pretzel in order to somehow blame the right for something.

In fact, routinely, Randi tells her audience that she knows the company she keeps on the radio dial, and that we shouldn't trust her contemporaries, or indeed she herself, and to do our homework. In fact, on her web site were homework links. Links to every important story she was discussing. I'm going to miss her a lot. As much as I love The Stephanie Miller Show, appreciate Thom Hartmann, and tolerate Ed Schultz, there's no one like Randi Rhodes. It's going to leave a hole in my day.

I've been listening since mid-2004, shortly after the 5-year experiment of Air America Radio started. Looking for The O'Franken Factor, less for its political content than because I was a fan of Al Franken, I found Randi Rhodes. And I've listened every work day since. On my computer of course, since Las Vegas has never had an outlet that airs liberal talk, though we can field more than one conservative station. And there's the rub. That's a big chunk of why Randi Rhodes is leaving while still at the top of her game: why put in 60-hour weeks of show prep, time on the air, and follow-up on the web site, when your outlets have dwindled to barely double-digits? As a hobbyist blogger, I get it. Why pump that much time and effort into something that has such a shrinking audience?

I've disagreed with Randi on several topics, so I'm no Rhodes ditto head. She has a dim view of bloggers, and other punditry. She has a dim view of people like Rachel Maddow and Franken, who used radio as a stepping-stone to career enrichment, rather than trying to grow liberal radio. But I'd be worried about myself if I found myself in 100% agreement with a radio host. And that's something I really dug about Randi: she makes you think, and occasionally scream back at the radio. She's engaging. And I doubt she'd ever have pulled a Rush, and made merchandise like bumperstickers saying, "Randi's Right!" or tell people they need no other source for news.

So, if you happen to be free and near a computer at 3:00 pm Eastern/Noon Pacific, tune into IHeart.com, and type Randi Rhodes in the search box. It's her last show. I'm recording it. And I'm really going to miss her. Randi, I hope you get some rest, enjoy your time off, and then return in some way, perhaps writing a--horrors--blog of your own, or at least calling into Steph's show on occasion, or even as a regular bit?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cliven Bundy Institute for Higher Learning (A Kenny Pick Ad Parody)

Cliven Bundy's unbelievable oddness and overt racism has been upstaged of late by the Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. Poor guy! Kenny Pick, of Turn Up the Night and The Stephanie Miller Show has come up with a way to get poor ol' Bundy Back in the spotlight!

 

What Happens in Vegas: Wild Cat Roams Neighborhood, Kills Chicken


I'm not sure which is weirder, a wild cat in a neighborhood, or a lady with multiple chickens. But anyway, bad kitty!

[Excerpt]
 
Metro, animal control track down escaped wild cat

Metro Police and city of Las Vegas Animal Control helped to track down a wild cat that escaped Wednesday morning. According to police, they got a call just before 9 a.m. about a large cat escaping from its owner and roaming a neighborhood near Cheyenne Avenue and Jones Boulevard. . .

Read more (with video) at: 8NewsNow

Sneak Peek of The Flash

"My" Flash, from the 60s, vs. The Flash on CW.
Honestly, I'm a little worried.
As a comic book fan since I could pick one up, I've written many times about my frustration that DC Comics (my favorite) has lagged so far behind Marvel Comics in getting their characters to the big or small screen. I honestly can't figure out how DC, which is owned by Warner Brothers, has such a hard time with such iconic characters in its stable. Superman had to be rebooted because of a lackluster installment (though honestly, I liked Superman Returns), they got no love for Green Lantern (I liked that one too), and the less said about Catwoman, the better.

But on TV, DC has had a bit more luck. Smallville ran for 10 years. Arrow has been getting rave reviews, but I've been leery of getting attached. Now that it's spinning off The Flash, though, I'm taking notice. The Scarlet Speedster is one of my very favorite characters. At one time I had an unbroken string of Flash comics, from the mid-70s to its cancellation in the 80s. But I'm worried that WB is going to muck it up.

Marvel has managed to have three simultaneous movie universes going at once (though they'd love to have them all under one roof, I'm sure). There is some attempt made within them at some internal consistency, especially in the Marvel Studios movies, with Iron Man, The Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, The Incredible Hulk and even with their TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the upcoming Daredevil. DC, on the other hand, has usually had stand-alone movie and TV universes. Lois & Clark was its own thing, the original Superman movies are their own thing (with Supergirl), the original Batman movie series stands alone, and the Dark Knight Batman movies are a self-contained trilogy. Smallville seemed to be going somewhere with a Justice League, but when it ended, so did that universe.

DC seems to be going somewhere, tying things together. Man of Steel will have a spinoff that includes a new Ben Affleck Batman and Wonder Woman. But will it tie to Arrow and The Flash? Will the new Gotham have anything to do with any of them? Does Warner have somebody helming these different projects, to try and create synchronicity? If not, why not?


Lawrence O'Donnell Updates Recovery

Lawrence O'Donnell and his brother were in a serious taxi accident a few weeks ago, while out of the country. Beyond that, and that he and his brother were recuperating, there was very little news. On Wednesday night, Lawrence called into his own show--currently being hosted by Ari Melber--to give viewers an update. Sounding snarky and in good spirits, he relayed that he'd be out until sometime in June, that he's not enjoying physical therapy, and that he'd broken a hip.

 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Gay Thing: Idaho Joins Arkansas in the Unconstitutional Sweep!

You know, it's kind of gratifying that the marriage equality successes are starting to rack up so rapidly. Startling, a little, particularly when you see ARKANSAS. IDAHO. It's a little stunning. But it's a long time coming. To anti-gay marriage activists (and just what is their deal, anyway?), it's got to seem like this is all happening too fast. But this movement began in 1969. And that's if you don't count quiet groundwork laid for decades before that. We endured a lot in the decades in between, and spent the first days of the 21st century watching state after state erect legal barriers to our civil rights.

Through it all, we had to hear some of the most vile, hateful, nasty things said about or lives and our loves. We still do, amazingly enough, as we hear citizen testimony as these things start to get undone. The hatred and vitriol is almost always cloaked in religion, and if we don't take it well? We're called intolerant! I'm still amazed by this, from seemingly ordinary people. I'm grateful that I rarely come against that sort of people in person, I'm not sure how I'd react. And still, even with this dramatic tearing down of the walls built to keep us out of equal citizenship, there are still delays. Stays. But we'll get through it. And through all of the frustration and incoming verbal fire, it's all so exciting!

[Excerpt]
 
Idaho's Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down By Federal Judge

A federal judge has ruled that Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The ruling, handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Tuesday, followed oral arguments on May 5.  Earlier Tuesday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) filed a preemptive motion asking for an immediate stay if Dale did rule against the gay marriage ban. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

What's Wrong With Karl Rove?

I still see it in my dreams.
The question asked in the headline, and in the excerpted article below is rather vague, isn't it? What isn't wrong with Karl Rove? The man is made of wrong. Wrong is his thing, his schtick. And I mean that both in the sense of "that boy ain't right" kind of wrong, and just plain old incorrect. I will always lament the fact that Rove wasn't frog marched out of the White House. If anyone ever deserved it, it is that bag of pus. It was great to see him lose his shit on live TV, right there on FOX "News," on election night 2012. But it wasn't enough!

My biggest question is, after that humiliating event, and after Rove threw tens and hundreds of millions of Republican donor money into the crapper, why is he still making pronouncements, getting gigs, and being treated as though what he says means anything? Just how does he legally manage to be a big GOP fundraiser and an on-screen commentator? And it bears repeating: he's just a hideous human being.

[Excerpt]

What Is Wrong With Karl Rove?



Karl Rove is smart. A cynical master of dark arts, sure, but clever about it in a self-interested way that this current crop of inept kamikaze conservatives isn't. Which is why it's weird to watch him degenerate into another conspiracy whisperer. Has he had a serious health episode?
Rove made waves, as he is wont to do, over the weekend when he reportedly said at a closed-door appearance that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a health issue. . .
 
Read more at: Gawker

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Daily Show: Jon Stewart Creates #F**kYouRush Hashtag

Without the asterisks, naturally.

[Excerpt]

Jon Stewart blasts ‘rage heap’ Rush Limbaugh: ‘F*ck you’ for mocking missing Nigerian girls

Daily Show host Jon Stewart found himself with two choices regarding the #BringBackOurGirls online campaign: either he could side with activist Malala Yousafzai, who expressed solidarity with the drive to rescue nearly 300 missing Nigerian girls, or with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called First Lady Michelle Obama’s own gesture of solidarity “pathetic. . .”
 


Read more at: Raw Story

Ann Coulter Gets Thrashed by Twitter

Proving that there is literally nothing either the President or First Lady can do that won't inspire outrage, Right Wing World is in a tizzy over a photo of Michelle Obama holding a card that says #BringBackOurGirls. It's part of an awareness campaign over the Nigerian girls who were taken to be sold into slavery. It's a horrible issue, and it's a widespread awareness campaign. But for some reason, Michelle is just awful for having participated. I have no idea why.

Ann Coulter--long past her sell-by date, but apparently unaware of that fact--still thinks she's relevant, apparently, and decided to join in on the "whack-the first lady" game that was going on, and took a parody selfie with a sign that said "BringBackOurCountry." Since Coulter herself is a horrible person, the Twitterverse reacted with wit and bite. And though Coultergeist thrives on attention, any attention, it's still fun to see her get a drubbing.

[Excerpt]

Twitter Trolls the Hell Out of Ann Coulter’s Attempt at Hashtag Activism

This is what happens when Ann Coulter tries to mock hashtag activism on Twitter. On Sunday night, Coulter decided to take what appears to be a shot at First Lady Michelle Obama by posting an photo of herself holding a sign with the hashtag #BringBackOurCountry (instead of #BringBackOurGirls, which the first lady recently posted in support of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria). . .

Read more at: MediaIte

John Oliver: Climate Change "Debate" in Perspective

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has turned out to be a very good show in its two short weeks on the air. It bears a strong resemblance to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, naturally, but has its own vibe. And it can go places that Comedy Central just can't, at least at that hour. Google "John Oliver Mitch McConnell ad" if you don't believe me!

Anyway, one segment from Sunday's show had to do with global climate change, and how it is treated in the mainstream media. As Oliver rightly points out, the drag out Bill Nye for the side of science, and then a climate denier for "balance." But the scientific consensus isn't 1:1. It's 97:3.
 


I loved the example. And it bears pointing out that it isn't just climate change that is treated this way in the media. I swear, the next time I see Tony Perkins or some other church fart brought on to give balance to a gay rights story, I'm going to scream.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Gay Thing: Marriage Equality in Arkansas?

If you weren't paying attention to the news this weekend (like most people), you might not know that gay couples have been marrying in Arkansas. I know! Same-sex marriage in the South! Now, as these things usually go, there will likely be an "emergency" stay issued putting a stop to the weddings, leaving some gays married, and others barred from marrying. How stopping weddings rises to the level of an emergency, I really have no idea. But the fact that the South has been breeched is a fantastic sign for the marriage equality movement.

[Excerpt]

ARKANSAS: What Will Happen Tomorrow?

The Associated Press reports that 15 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses yesterday in Eureka Springs, Arkansas before the office closed at 1PM with many couples still in line. County clerks across the state took part in a conference call yesterday afternoon to discuss what they will do tomorrow. . .

Read more at: Joe.My.God.

Saturday Night LIVES

I thought this past weekend's Saturday Night Live was a return to form. It was light on clunkers, and funny--or at least amusing--throughout. The (many) featured players are melding well into the main cast. The new guy on Weekend Update seems to be getting more confident (if still looking a bit green), and the guest host, Charlize Theron, was really good. And now that they're all getting gelled into a cohesive whole. . .the season is almost over! There is one more episode next Saturday, to be hosted by Andy Samberg, an old vet. Can SNL hold it together, and start season 40 with a bang? Time will tell. Meanwhile, here are some of the hits from this weekend.

 


It wasn't perfect, but it felt fully cooked for a change. Maybe we're set to head into another "good" patch with the show. As a viewer of the very first show as it aired in 1975, I hope so.

Over Time with Bill Maher, May 9, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blast from the Past, Novelty Songs that were Hits (Part II)




Thanks to my brother Jason, and husband Andy, I have a list that rivals last week's installment, so let's just get started, shall we?

1. Junk Food Junkie by Larry Groce (1976) - Reached #9 on the hot 100, inspired by the 70s health food craze.

2. Tie Me Kangaroo Down by Rolf Harris (1963) - Went all the way to #3! And that woop-woop sound in the background is one of my earliest childhood memories.



3. King Tut by Steve Martin (1978) - First sung on Saturday Night Live in its glory days, Martin's song made it all the way to #17.

4. Short People by Randy Newman (1978) - Misunderstood by some as an actual put don of short people, this clever little track put Newman in the public consciousness, and went up to #2.



5. Spiders and Snakes by Jim Stafford (1974) - A surprise #3 hit from a man with more than one novelty hit to his name (with Wildwood Weed making an appearance in our next edition).

6. Earache My Eye by Cheech & Chong - (1974) - In '74, I was too young to understand much of what Cheech & Chong were talking about. But I thought it was funny anyway. This one managed to hit #9 on the pop chart, and allegedly featured "Alice Bowie."



7. Convoy by C.W. McCall (1975) - There was a CB radio/trucker craze in the mid-70s, and Convoy was right at the center of it.  It was enough to take it to number 1.

8. Telephone Man by Meri Wilson (1977) - Very, very dirty by the radio airplay standards of the day, this one squeaks by on its seeming innocence. And it worked its way up to #18 on the pop chart.




9. Brand New Key by Melanie (1971) - A real piece of the early 70s, this one might be that decade's equivalent of The Macarena. Speaking of which. . .

10. The Macarena by Los Del Rio (1996) - Probably still a wedding reception staple, this song was huge, worldwide, and then became an international embarrassment that almost no one will acknowledge, even as a guilty pleasure. But it was number one for fourteen weeks.



And though there have now been two editions of novelty hits, I can probably scare up eight or ten more for a part three. But we may hold off and do another topic next week. Until then, have a great week, everybody. Happy Monday!

Benghazi Making Me Dizzy (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Well done again, Mike! Right Wing World is obsessed with Benghazi, so the only way to not get grouchy about it is to make fun of it. And Dizzy by Tommy Roe is one of my favorite all-time songs. So this is the best we can make of this ridiculous mess. Enjoy!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blast from the Past Extra: David Letterman's Holiday Film Festival, PMS: Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

This feature is usually presented on Sunday, where I come up with a theme, and present 8 or 10 videos on that theme. But while watching The Late Show with David Letterman, I remembered something. Back in the 80s, on the old Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, there were two "David Letterman's Holiday Film Festivals." They weren't holiday themed, but were short films by famous people, or at least famous people of the 80s. These films were too good for a micro-boxed compilation. They need to be presented singly, appreciated for what they are individually.

Here's one, on the subject of PMS (something that seemingly was discovered in the mid-80s), with two of the funniest women alive, Catherine O'Hara and Andrea Martin. Enjoy, and please be on the lookout for more from this series (or look for them on your own).

 

Right Wing World: Beirut Barracks vs. Benghazi

Everyone is aware that four Americans died in Benghazi, and nobody thinks their deaths are irrelevant. I say this to state the obvious, but also to avoid the claim that I'm disregarding their deaths. I'm not. But very few if any of the people raging about #Benghazi! are really trying to avenge those deaths. They're trying to claim political scalps. Denials of this fact are as transparent as the FOX "News" slogan, Fair & Balanced.

Proof comes from the lack of outrage at other presidential administrations who suffered similar--often worse--attacks at US installations overseas. As has been often stated, over sixty Americans died in such attacks during the previous administration. They made the news, but did not inspire outrage from Right Wing World, at least not toward the administrations in power at the time. What is different this time? And why the obsessive focus on Ambassador Susan Rice? Yes, her statements on the Sunday morning talk shows turned out to be partially incorrect (though she framed the information as tentative anyway). What that day has to do with today, I have no idea. Why her appearance is so much more interesting than, say, Dick Cheney going on the same shows, and citing a story he himself had sourced, saying that 9/11 was tied to Saddam Hussein. A flat-out lie, one with far worse ramifications, leading to an event far, far more deadly than Benghazi.

Image from source, The Daily Beast
So, excuse me if I call bullshit on Republican Benghazi outrage. I don't believe you. You wanted to stop President Obama's reelection with this, and you failed. Then--when you couldn't believe it failed--you kept banging the drum, hoping against hope that something, anything would stick. Not much did. So now, you're frothing at the mouth to either a) try to impeach Obama or b) thwart the election of Hillary Clinton. This has very little to do with the death of four Americans.

The excerpted article below is one of the best I've read on the subject of Benghazi. It points out that the sort of tragedy that happened in Benghazi used to be cause for rallying 'round the flag, and supporting the president, not attacking him. For drawing the country together, not using it as a political bludgeon. Think back, if you will, to the national reaction to 9/11, and then imagine if the exact same scenario happened under Obama. And then imagine how Republicans would respond. Not pretty, is it?

[Excerpt]

Beirut Barracks vs. Benghazi

One of the most maddening things about this Benghazi nonsense is the way Republicans have gotten a lot of Americans to go along with the idea that 10 investigations of something is normal; that as long as there’s one unanswered question, one area where the administration’s position is ambiguous or where its cooperation has been anything other than the immediate handing over of any conceivably related document, we still need to get to the bottom of matters. . .

Read more: Daily Beast

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Colbert Report Has a Replacement: Larry Wilmore

Image from source, Daily Beast
Not a bad choice, and not a predictable one either. I thought they'd go for Chris Hardwick, who's having quite a bit of success with his show, @Midnight, which airs right after The Colbert Report. But apparently, either Comedy Central didn't want to monkey around with that show, or more likely, Jon Stewart had more to say about who would replace Stephen Colbert than the network.

The Daily Show had a lengthy roster of regulars that could have handled the gig, including Jason Jones, Samantha Bee and Kristen Schaal. But Larry Wilmore, while not as knee-slappingly funny as those choices, is consistently funny, and a bit more substantial. It also makes him one of the only non-white males in late night, though he is still male. I wonder where Chelsea Handler is going to turn up.

[Excerpt]

Meet Larry Wilmore, Stephen Colbert’s Replacement and Host of the New Series ‘The Minority Report’

The most recent development in late night’s version of Game of Thrones will see Wilmore, who serves as The Daily Show’s “Senior Black Correspondent,” take over the post-Daily Show 11:30 pm ET time slot now occupied by The Colbert Report. Wilmore’s show will be called The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore and the move, which comes in the wake of Colbert taking over David Letterman’s Late Show on CBS, will go into effect in January 2015. . .

Read more at: The Daily Beast
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