Friday, August 29, 2014

Bill Maher's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Has a Cheney Challenge

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rachel Maddow Discusses ISIS and Ferguson on The Late Show with David Letterman

"Knee Defender" Airplane Device Ignites Air Travel Battle: To Recline or Not?

This cartoon--overstating things a bit--is from Slate.
I've written in this space, recently even, about the extreme divide between Americans, on a variety of subjects. Usually, these battles fall directly along partisan lines, but there's a new one. New to me, anyway. And that is, the subject of whether or not an airline passenger should recline their seat in flight.

This never occurred to me as a "me vs. them" issue. I mean, never. I don't always recline my chair, but I often do. The comfort level increase is marginal, but it's often easier to catch a few Zs, or even get a better vantage point of your electronic device, book or movie from the ever-so-slightly-reclined position. Ellen DeGeneres used to do a bit on the laughable difference between reclined and upright, with a tiny shift of her upper body deciding her fate in an emergency: "[upright] live. . . [slight tilt] die."

The "Knee Defender", Image from USAToday
But, with the news item about a diverted United Airlines flight, sparked by two passengers fighting over leg room (and the use of a "Knee Defender" gadget that locks another passenger's seat upright), two camps have emerged: a) people who think that passengers who recline are unfathomably rude; and b) people who recline, and are mightily pissed that they're being called rude!  The no-recliners claim that the other passenger is invading their space, and the recliners claim that the other passenger is preventing them from using the space they've paid for.

There is no way this is a new issue, but I'll be damned if I've ever heard of it. Certainly, occasionally, a seat will over-recline, and I can see politely asking for someone to adjust a bit. And I'm aware that not everyone is 5' 8" like me, and are more cramped than I am. And I'd get it if I was over-hogging an arm rest, if I were grotesquely obese, and overflowed into another passenger's seat. I'd get it if by reclining my seat, I was doing something that is somehow not allowed, breaking the rules by misusing the seat. But these seats are designed to recline!

You can put me firmly in the "I am inclined to recline" camp. If you ask me nicely, I may accommodate you. If you're rude to me about it? Forget it. I'll wallow in that reclined seat.

[Excerpt]

United flight diverts over 'Knee Defender' fight

On Sunday, a fight between two passengers over personal space, a thrown cup of water and the use of a controversial plastic gadget that prevents airline seats from reclining caused United Airlines Flight 1462 from Newark, N.J., to Denver to divert to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the AP reports. . .

Read more at: USAToday

And here is a link to a previous story about the appropriateness of reclining: The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization

Lars Larson: Images of Foley Beheading "Perfectly Fair" for GOP Ads

Lars Larson, FOX "News" guest, and irredeemable
cretin. Image from source, RawStory.
I'm actually very interested to see--though I can wait until my dotage, trust me--to see how a conservative Republican presidency is treated by the press, and the talking head class, post Obama. Particularly the Right Wing World part of the media world. Because, I still remember the days of George W. Bush, when it wasn't just frowned upon to criticize the President in a time of war, it was un-American, unpatriotic, and worse. Am I the only one who remembers phrases like, "why do you hate America?" out of the mouths of the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world?

With our current president, all of that is of course out the window. There is nothing that can't be said, no mud that can't be flung. Remind me, are we still at war? Yes? Does that mean the GOP and its apologists are being supportive of the president's policies, or at least holding their tongues? Why, no they are not, are they? In fact, they'll take some of the ugliest, most awful war crimes, and use them for political advantage. I'm just curious if they'll pull another 180 if they ever reclaim the White House.

Oh, and by the way, I'd also like a little consistency in the faux outrages we seemingly are required to endure. The vacations and golfing thing? STFU. You know, I know, everybody knows that President Obama has had less recreational time than any other recent president. Again, STFU.

[Excerpt]

Fox pundit: Images from Foley beheading video are ‘perfectly fair’ for GOP campaign ads
 
Conservative radio host Lars Larson told Fox News on Tuesday that it was “perfectly fair” for Republican candidates to use images from a video of an American journalist being beheaded in campaign ads attacking President Barack Obama. A campaign video advertisement released on Monday by New Mexican Republican Senate candidate Allen Weh includes a frame from a gruesome video which showed the beheading of American photographer James Foley. The ad crops out Foley so only the disturbing image of the masked killer holding a knife is visible. . .

Read more at: RawStory

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Happens (Outside of) Vegas: Shooting Instructor Shot and Killed by 9-Year-Old Student

Oh, my. You hear about tragedies like this, and depressingly often, but usually it isn't at a place you're familiar with. The Last Stop is a tourist trap in northern Arizona, most of the way to Hoover Dam. It's literally the last stop for much of anything before you get to Nevada. Along with Rosie's Den a little ways south, they offer gas and food, and touristy things like trips to the Grand Canyon, and lottery tickets. You might be surprised to know that lottery tickets are forbidden by the Nevada state constitution. I'll let you puzzle out how that got in there on your own

From their web site, at
BulletsAndBurgers.com
So, if a Las Vegan gets it in his head to buy some PowerBall or Mega Millions tickets, they can head down to Primm at the California line (where you're virtually guaranteed heavy traffic), or to Arizona. And The Last Stop is the first place you come to. Plus Rosie's burned down some time back, and has never really returned to its former glory. So, every so often, I'll go down there, most recently two or three weeks ago. One thing I probably noticed, but didn't mentally register was the "Bullets & Burgers" outdoor gun range. I have made a mental note of some of their more militaristic and "America, F* Yeah!" kind of d├ęcor, but mostly ignored it. After all, it's mixed in with signs for Aliens and other articles of whimsy. But, I'm sure nobody's feeling whimsical tonight.

[Excerpt]

Officials: Girl Accidentally Kills Gun Instructor
A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday. Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff's officials said. Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said. Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. . .

Read more at: ABC News

The Gay Thing: Pastor Proposes Amendment to Jail Gays for 10 Years

Yeah, I know, why give this crazy guy a platform? But it's already out there, and there's another reason to highlight stuff like this: it seems to be spreading. As marriage equality spreads--and it seems likely to become the law of the land nationally sooner rather than later--the anti-gay backlash is starting to get nutty. Or rather, nuttier than usual. This guy is bananas, but there are a bunch more just like him.


The good Pastor Williams. Nice red neck you've got there.
Image from source, Raw Story.
So anyway, this guy likely sees himself as a patriot, but he doesn't seem to understand what the Constitution is, what's in it, what it's for, and how you amend it. I mean, if we just put the odiousness of what he'd like to do aside for the moment, his proposed amendment would be in conflict with the first amendment. But beyond that, the amendment would require massive support in both houses of Congress, as well as in a supermajority of the states. Constitutional amendments are extremely difficult to pass, and for good reason.

I'm not sure this punishment has
been completely thought through.
Beyond that, this guy wants to criminalize private sexual behavior. Behavior--it should be pointed out--that is practiced by straight people as well as gay people. That should freak everybody out. But even with this extreme proposal, the guy is a chickenshit. The Bible doesn't call for imprisoning gay people, it calls for the death penalty. As long as he's shooting for the moon here, he might as well go for it, right? But he wussed out. Not that his proposal would enjoy an ounce more support either way.

It's time for people to stop proposing changes to the Constitution that sever no other purpose but to limit rights. That's totally outside the purpose of the document. And you would think these "strict constructionist"-types would know that.

[Excerpt]

Pastor calls to imprison gays for ‘ten years hard labor’ with new constitutional amendment
 
A pastor who uses his Internet platform to teach political lessons based on conservative Christian ideology has proposed a constitutional amendment to punish LGBT people for “ten years in prison at hard labor.” In a video posted to his PreachingPolitics.com website last month that was flagged by the Good As You blog on Monday, Pastor Michael V. Williams asserts that Christians have been “increasingly tolerant” of gay people over the last 50 years. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Monday, August 25, 2014

Billy Crystal's Emmys Tribute to Robin Williams

I'll just be over here, I think I have something in my eye. . .
 

Blast from the Past: Pop Culture Rivalries, or, Which is Better?

This week's edition of Blast from the Past is being written between social engagements. So, please forgive me if it's a little long on concept and short on details. I got to thinking about the different camps that settle on any topic. These days, that would be right vs. left, GOP vs. Democrats. Not obvious things, like social issues. Everything. And of course there are rivalries with sports teams, and in other areas of life. But there are also Pop Culture rivalries. Almost everyone has one side or the other (or neither, of course). So, let's get started

1. & 2. - The Brady Bunch  vs. The Partridge Family - This could also be seen as Marcia vs. Laurie or Greg vs. Keith. I was always a Brady.



3. & 4. - The Munsters vs. The Addams Family - Two short-lived but well remembered monster-themed sitcoms ran during the same seasons back in the 60s. Some like both, but most prefer one over the other. I'm an Addams.



5. & 6. - Bewitched vs. I Dream of Jeannie - This one is really Samantha vs. Jeannie, and though I adore Barbara Eden, for me, the clear winner has always been that winsome witch, played by Elizabeth Montgomery. In fact, I'll put her miles above anything else on this list!



7. Gilligan's Island vs. Gilligan's Island - This rivalry is within one show, another short lived, but well loved sitcom. Of course, this battle is between Ginger and Mary Ann. So, I included both theme songs, the one with "and the rest," and the one with "the Professor and Mary Ann!" I fall on the Mary Ann side of this fight.



8. & 9. Lost in Space vs. Star Trek - How this is a contest, I don't even know. Obviously Star Trek is the superior program and concept, but Lost has its fans.



And that's going to have to do! Have a great week, and Happy Monday!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Right Wing World: Perspective on President Obama, Vacations and Presidentin'

I knew that President Obama was going to have a tough row to hoe as President, and said so back then. I knew that the opposition would be unrelenting and unapologetic. It frankly amazes me that the American public can have such short historical memory, and even ponder voting GOP in the fall. It makes no kind of sense.

This GOP House of Representatives and minority Senate has been the least effective, and most obstructive Congress in American History. Their leaders are John Boner Boehner and Mitch McConnell. . .the bronze bomber and the sleepy tortoise. McConnell failed in his efforts to make Obama a one-term President, but has been just as intractable in doing anything whatsoever that might be something Obama wants to do--even if it was originally a Republican idea. In short, voting Republican because you're unhappy with the state of things MAKES NO SENSE.

Image from source, NewsCorpse
But look no further than the current Right Wing World freakouts about Obama golfing or Obama going on vacation to see the cognitive dissonance at work. It's only one of many examples where every president does something, Obama does it less, but Obama is the devil. It. Makes. No. Sense.

[Excerpt]

STFU About Obama’s Vacations Already And Remember Where Obama Was May 1, 2011
 
The incessant and ignorant fixation on when, where, and how often President Obama takes vacations is becoming surreal in its frequency and fervor. The President’s critics seem to be obsessed with the issue. Never mind that Obama has taken far fewer vacation days than his predecessors, or that there has never been any negative incident arising from his holidays, or that the presidency travels with the President wherever he goes, the compulsion to relentlessly attack this President is irresistible to the politicians and pundits on the right. And they are not above outright lying about it. . .

Read more at: NewsCorpse

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters Takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to a sCARRIE Level

His dirty pillows are showing. Hat tip to my li'l sis for the link. Thanks, Jen!
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oh, Good! MItch McConnell Promises Shutdown if GOP Takes Senate

You know, this isn't the first time Mitch McConnell warned us how awful he is. When he says shit like this, believe him.

[Excerpt

McConnell eyes more shutdowns following GOP gains
 
It’s tempting to think the 2014 midterms may not matter much. Assuming Republicans keep their House majority, which seems very likely, the legislative process in 2015 and 2016 will probably look an awful lot like the legislative process since 2011 – congressional inaction. GOP lawmakers will continue to reject compromises and negotiations no matter who controls the upper chamber. . .

Read more at: MSNBC 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rick Perry Booked on Felony Charges

Oops. Image from source, AOL
I know, I know. My conservative readers (both of you, hi guys!) may say that the charges on Perry are flimsy and won't hold up. That might be true. There are plenty of pundits on the left saying that very thing. That's something you'll rarely see on the right, by the way. The John Boner Boehner lawsuit against President Obama is flimsier, but Right Wing World drools at the prospect, or wants it to go further to impeachment!

So please, let me take a little joy in that headline, willya?

[Excerpt]

Texas Gov. Perry arrives for booking on two felony charges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry arrived at a county courthouse Tuesday for booking on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors. "I'm going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail," Perry said before walking into the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, where a grand jury indicted him last week. . .

Read more at: AOL

Don Pardo, the Voice of Saturday Night Live, Dead at 96

Well, this was of course inevitable. But sad. Don Pardo has simply been a voice on NBC practically since there has been an NBC. My first knowledge of him was as the voice of Saturday Night Live from episode 1 in 1975, and right up to the present, missing only a season. Pardo's voice is so distinctive, I'm curious if they'll just drop an announcer from here on out. Who could replace him? RIP, Mr. Pardo

[Excerpt]

Don Pardo Dead: Voice Of 'Saturday Night Live,' Dies At 96

Don Pardo, television and radio announcer best known as the voice of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," died on Monday, August 18 in Tucson, Ariz., his daughter and an NBC representative confirmed.
Cause of death has not been released at this time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. . .

Read more at: Huffington Post

Rick Perry's Fool in Prison Blues (Another Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

Yes, I know this is a cheat; using a Rocky Mountain Mike parody, two posts in a row. But I tell you, the news isn't snarkable at the moment, at least not with my meager talents. So, I'm leaving it to Mike, a professional! Plus, it was an unexpected work night, so I have that as my excuse.
 

G.I. Cop (A Rocky Mountain Mike Ad Parody)

Leave it to Rocky Mountain Mike to find a nugget of humor in the ongoing crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. Though, hopefully we're getting a consensus that the militarization of the police is at the very least disturbing.

If you want more Rocky Mountain Mike, go here.
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rick Perry Indicted. Oops.

Yes, Governor Oops McGoodhair has found himself in a bit of a pickle. And though he brushed off the charges as "sketchy," it's never good to be charged with dual felonies. Whether they get him on this is open to speculation. But do I think Rick Perry is a vindictive prick? I do.

[Excerpt]

What the Hell Just Happened in Texas, and Why Was Rick Perry Just Indicted?
 
Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted Friday on charges of abuse of power—a first degree felony—and coercion—a third degree felony. The charges stem from a 2013 scandal that has been quietly rumbling in the Lone Star State as Perry has been floated as a viable contender for the Republican nomination in 2016. This is a complex case, which might be why it has not made national headlines the way other recent, state-level scandals (like Bridgegate, in New Jersey) have. Below, I have outlined a somewhat confusing short version of events, and a longer, more colorful explanation that involves alcohol, police, and masks. . .

Read more at: The Daily Beast

Blast from the Past: Class of '84, The Movies

This will be my last Class of '84 edition of Blast from the Past for a while. But my 30th class reunion was this weekend, and I missed it. So, I've still got that year 30 years ago on my mind. There were actually quite a lot of very good movies in 1984, and of course, a lot of schlock. My list is mixture, and includes some of my favorites.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street - Most horror franchises are fairly thin on plot, heavy on mayhem. This one, by Wes Craven, started strong, at least as strong as the original Halloween in style and impact. It remains one of my favorite films from that year, or any year. Plus: Johnny Depp!

2. Ghostbusters - The silly theme song sticks with you (even if it was a ripoff of a Huey Lewis number), but the movie is timeless. Oh, sure, it's clearly an 80s flick, but the humor is transcendent. It's one of Bill Murray's (and Harold Ramis' and Rick Moranis') best.


3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Yes, everyone thought this one was a weaker installment than Raiders of the Lost Ark. But they didn't know what was coming with Curse of the Crystal Skull, now, did they? I worked at a theater for this movie's entire run. I know every line. Harrison Ford is fantastic in it, and I don't care what anyone says, so was Kate Capshaw.

4. Supergirl - A flop, but a charming flop. Without it, we may not have had Helen Slater to kick around (and she was great in Ruthless People a couple of years later). Plus, you've got Faye Dunaway chewing the (cardboard) scenery, and dreamy Hart Bochner! It's time to revisit Kara Zor-El.



5. Gremlins - This is a very cute film, with a very cute puppet creature, and very cute leading actors of both sexes. Hard to top that. Plus, it's funny/gory. Maybe a first for that. My brother told me the story, line by line, and ruined it for me. But I won't do that to you, because I'm not a douche nozzle.

6. Top Secret! - By the same guys who did Airplane! and Police Squad!, this one spoofs cold war spy movies, war movies, Elvis movies, beach movies and The Blue Lagoon. Yes, it's kind of scattershot, but it's hilarious. It's in my top five all-time favorite comedies. And Val Kilmer was really great with his own singing and dancing. If you've never seen it, check it out.

7. The Terminator - Not nearly as slick and shiny as its immediate sequel, this one managed to grab you by the throat on a budget. Arnold Schwarzenegger found a role that he embodied perfectly.

8. Sixteen Candles - I came late to this one, which is odd, since I was part of the target audience. But when I finally got around to it, I did see the charm. And finally understood what "Long Duk Dong" was.



9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - It was far from the final chapter. But it was--at the time--the best of the series, and the biggest money-maker as well. A notch above the rest of the sequels, but still just mindless fun. And hey, Crispin Glover!

10. Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy was only a smidge behind Michael Jackson in popularity in the early 80s. This film (with an assist from a very funny Bronson Pinchot) put Murphy further into orbit.



And that'll do it for the week, and for the topic for a while. Here's hoping this is a better week than last. Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

David Gregory Out as Host of Meet the Press

Image from source, Politics USA
I started watching Meet the Press (and often one or two of the other Sunday shows, Face the Nation, This Week and FOX "News" Sunday) some time during the George W. Bush administration. Oh, I'd caught it a few times in my life, but not regularly. I thoroughly despised the entire Dubya cabal, and will even cop to having a moderate case of Bush Derangement Syndrome for a little while. So, I was more politically plugged in, and this is one way to do that.

Unfortunately, these shows are also really horrible, in many ways. Awful. Almost every guest (with rare exceptions) is thoroughly rehearsed in their side's talking points, and will steer the argument back to them at all costs. In fact, they'll often go to talking points that don't even relate to the question. Which side is worse about distortion, spinning and even lying probably depends upon your political leanings. But there is no doubt who gets more coverage: Republicans. In study after study, the GOP gets more guests by a mile, regardless of who holds the White House or Congress.

Distressingly, it's the old, (pasty) white, male variety of Republican that gets the most opportunity to
Good luck, dude. You're going to need it
sling their spin, notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who appear to be joined at the hip. If the green room had a bridal suite, it would be occupied by those two. If it's Sunday, it's the John and Lindsey Show. It's tired, oh so tired.

David Gregory is not the worst host of this type of show. Chris Wallace is worse. But David Gregory is an odd figure, as these things go: nobody seems to like him. Conservatives think Gregory is a liberal hack. Liberals, conversely think, Are you freaking insane? He's a conservative hack! They may be both right. But I'd rather just say, "hack." His questioning style is very surfacy, and geared toward making his own news, with "gotcha" questions. He very often seemingly frames his questions from the perspective of the opposition's talking points. He's smug. He's smarmy. And I'm not sorry to see him go. As I'm sure everyone is saying about this story, he's no Tim Russert.

You know who else isn't Tim Russert? Chuck Todd. His interviewing style may prove to be better than Gregory's. But otherwise, he seems to be almost exactly the same sort of figure: not liked very well by either side. I suppose an argument could be made that such a quality is a good thing, but probably not if you're looking for ratings.

[Excerpt]
 
David Gregory Is Officially Fired as Chuck Todd Takes Over NBC’s Meet The Press

The axe finally fell today as David Gregory confirmed that he is out at Meet The Press, and is leaving NBC. Chuck Todd will be the new host of the Sunday morning staple.

David Gregory got the boot fast. This was a literal don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out. According to CNN, “The sources confirmed widespread speculation that David Gregory, the moderator of the iconic Sunday morning public affairs program for the past six years, will be replaced by Todd. One of the sources said the transition will be swift — so swift that Gregory will not even host “Meet the Press” this weekend. . .”
 
Read more at: Politics USA

Friday, August 15, 2014

L-E-S-B-I-A-N (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

If you missed it, Jonathan Saenz, the President of "Texas Values," ironically lost his wife to a lesbian lover. Which is hilarious, I don't care who you are. And to prove it, here's the Rocky Mountain Mike song parody, to the tune of D-I-V-O-R-C-E by Tammy Wynette. Enjoy!

And to get more Rocky Mountain Mike, go here.
 

Rand Paul's Your Man (A Rocky Mountain Mike Song Parody)

I missed this fantastic Stand By Your Man parody by Rocky Mountain Mike. So, here it is!

Get more Rocky Mountain Mike here.
 

Lewis Black Blasts Rush Limbaugh on Robin Williams Suicide Comments

Image from source RawStory
As I have stated on this blog in the past, Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat, disgusting pig. He proves it endlessly, and did it again this week when he blamed Robin Williams' suicide on liberals.  And as is typical for Limbaugh, when he got sufficient heat for it (even from some on his own side), he walked it back. Well, sort of. He--of course--did not apologize. He claimed the liberals (of course) took him out of context. They did not. He knows his listeners will believe anything he tells them, so he lied  to them. But I guess they deserve what they get.

Comedian Lewis Black, a friend of Williams', didn't take Limbaugh's comments well. Who could? So he gave Rush both barrels (or middle fingers, more aptly) in a Facebook message. And he couldn't be more on the money.

[Excerpt]

Lewis Black blasts Limbaugh: ‘F*CK YOU’ for making light of Robin Williams’ death
 
“F*CK YOU Rush Limbaugh,” Black wrote on his Facebook page. “Your statements were beyond cruel and stupid. They were intolerable. Enough is enough from you. You are an idiot. Don’t you ever demean the death of another human being. He was my friend. You disgust me.”

Read more at: Raw Story

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Maddow: Iraq Engagement on "Constitutional Autopilot" with Absent Congress


So, Ferguson, Missouri. What's Up With That?

Is this the new normal in small town USA? Creepy.
Image from source, New York Times.
If you're a regular visitor to this blog, you may have noticed that it's been rather thin around here, of late. Though I do tend to post less in the summer, there's more to it than that. I just can't wrap my hands around some of the horrible news going on in the world. You know? I mean, when it comes to the problems in Ukraine, Israel and Iraq, what can be said? These are long-running, war-prone regions, and I'm not going to pretend I have the answer. And shoot, most of the people who are paid to be experts don't seem to know what they're talking about either, most of the time.

Now, the news out of Ferguson, Missouri is a little closer to home. And my instinct in this case would be to reserve judgment until all the facts are in. I'm not one to immediately jump to the defense of the police or the accused. But I have to say, the cops are coming off badly here. Very, very badly. And I agree with the meme that is ricocheting around the internet: what does a small town police force need with all of this military gear? They look like an army invading a country. Is this what we want American towns to look like, occupied territory?

So, here's a little more on that. I'm going to try to get my brain in the game, but summer's not over yet. I still have that excuse.

[Excerpt]

Amid Protests in Missouri, Officer’s Name Is Still Withheld
 
In the five days since an unarmed young black man was fatally shot by a police officer here, the selective release of information about the shooting, and especially the anonymity granted to the officer, has stoked frustrations in this largely African-American community north of St. Louis, where residents describe increasingly tense relations with the police. . .

Read more at: New York Times

What Happens in Vegas: Celine Dion Cancels. . .Everything

You would think that I'm Celine Dion's target demo. After all, I love powerful, female singers. But I go for rockers like Pat Benatar or Melissa Etheridge, and pop divas like Cyndi Lauper, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. The overwrought power balladeers are just not my thing. But I will concede that she's got an amazing voice, and is an amazing talent. She also has a legion of fans.

Which is why this is rather big news. Dion is one of the biggest draws on the Las Vegas Strip, and has cancelled all of her shows into next year, due to health issues of herself and her husband. Here's hoping for a swift recovery for all concerned.

[Excerpt]

Celine Dion cancels Vegas, showbiz schedule for health, husband

Celine Dion has canceled all Las Vegas shows through March and an Asian tour, and postponed her entire showbiz schedule, to focus on her husband’s cancer fight and her own struggle with an inflammation of her throat muscles. “I want to devote every ounce of my strength and energy to my husband’s healing, and to do so, it’s important for me to dedicate this time to him and to our children,” Dion said in a Caesars Palace news release emailed to the media at 6 a.m. Wednesday. . .

Read more at: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Movie Legend Lauren Bacall Dies at 89

Image from source, CBS News
It's actually hard to believe that actress Lauren Bacall was only 89 years old, when you consider the era in whih she became famous. But for the longest time, I took an odd comfort in the fact that she was still around. I don't know why, I guess it was because she was among the last of her generation of movie stars, and it hasn't been all that long since she last worked. In fact, I remember checking the IMDb credits for an episode of Family Guy, and indeed, it was her!

Beyond her classic movies, she was also a voice artist, voicing countless commercials over the years. Small wonder, with that trademark husky voice of hers. And she was in more than a few "modern" (compared to her classics) films, from Stephen King's Misery to the comedy My Fellow Americans to the Barbra Streisand flick, The Mirror Has Two Faces. But oddly enough, I'll always remember her first and foremost for The Fan, a cheesy 80s horror flick! RIP, Lauren. You were a class act all the way.

[Excerpt]

Legendary actress Lauren Bacall dies at age 89

Known for her husky voice and sultry looks, Lauren Bacall, the model-turned-actress who starred with husband Humphrey Bogart in classic movies such as "Key Largo" and "To Have and Have Not," has died at age 89. Her son told CBS News that she died Tuesday morning in New York City. The Humphrey Bogart estate also confirmed the death. . .

Read more at: CBS News

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sarah Palin Channel's Latest Folksy Video

'Cause ya know ya wanna see it, also.

[Excerpt]

Sarah Palin Channel's Latest Video Is Just A Bunch Of Word Salad


 
The latest video on Sarah Palin's eponymous online network was billed as a rebuttal to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) Netroots Nation speech, but some of Palin's points were just too incoherent to follow. In the video posted Friday, Palin responded point by point to eleven "commandments" that Warren outlined in her speech to the progressive confab last month. Warren's sixth point, that fast food workers deserve a living wage, drew so much scorn from Palin that she stumbled over her words a few times. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Gay Thing: Tennessee Stalls Marriage Equality's Winning Streak

Since the Supreme Court ruled part of the (badly named) Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in 2013, the marriage equality cause has been on an unbroken streak of victory, at least 30 wins, depending on how you count them. Inevitably, that streak was broken by a contrary decision in the State of Tennessee.

Image from source, TPM
There is a very strange wild card in play that has so far been dismissed, but in the Tennessee case was ruled valid. It's called Baker v. Nelson, a Minnesota State Supreme Court case, which ruled against same-sex marriage in 1971. The next year, the Supreme Court of the United States dismissed the appeal, but somehow--I'm not a lawyer, so I'm really not getting this--the Baker decision is precedent. Other courts have decided that times have changed in the past 43 years (imagine that!), and Baker doesn't apply. Tennessee apparently thinks otherwise.

So, it's a wrinkle. It was pretty much bound to happen, and I'm sure the National Organization for Marriage and its allies will undoubtedly be doing cartwheels, and trumpeting that the tide has turned.

[Excerpt]

Judge Ends Marriage Equality's Undefeated Streak Since SCOTUS Ruling

A state judge in Tennessee has upheld a law banning recognition of same-sex marriages, snapping the extraordinary winning streak for marriage equality in several dozen state and federal courts since the Supreme Court ruling U.S. v. Windsor in June 2013. Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons ruled that Tennessee need not recognize the union of Frederick Michael Borman and Larry Kevin Pyles-Borman, who married in August 2010 in Iowa. The judge invoked Tennessee's state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Robin Williams, Dead at 63

Image from source, LA Times
Few celebrity deaths hit me with any oomph. Michael Jackson. Gilda Radner. Madeline Kahn. And now, Robin Williams. I heard the news on my drive home from work, and it had apparently just broken. My mouth hung open for close to a minute, as I drove. "Suspected suicide." I just. . .some people aren't supposed to end.

I was the perfect age for the character of Mork, when he was introduced on Happy Days. 12 years old, and--like every other kid in America--a fan of both that show and Laverne & Shirley. Williams' zany character took off instantly, and helped turn the already burgeoning ABC TV schedule into a juggernaut. For a pop culture fan like me, it just put me deeper in. He was so funny and bizarre in the role, it somehow felt both safe and dangerous. I think Williams was often like that. Inconceivably, network meddling killed Mork & Mindy, after its very first season, but it took three years to die. Cast and timeslot changes caused a huge amount of viewer loss. I never left, but the audience eventually did. It's a shame too, because when Williams' hero, Jonathan Winters joined the show as his son, there were some classic moments.

Image from source, LA Times
I continued to be a fan of Williams, though not to the degree I did as a kid. I've always enjoyed his brand of humor, and thought he was a great actor. I just wasn't a fan of some of the roles he picked. Still, whenever he's pop up on Letterman or elsewhere, he was just a hoot to watch. Then, when he returned to television, with The Crazy Ones (a terrible title, unfortunately), I had to watch. To be fair, it had something to do with costars Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Wolk, but Williams' part was part of the draw. I watched every episode. It gelled into a wonderful ensemble, and it's really sad that it didn't make it. I've got to wonder if his spirits wouldn't have been better. . .or better enough. . .had the show been renewed instead of cancelled this spring. RIP, Robin.

[Excerpt]

Robin Williams dies in apparent suicide; actor, comic was 63

Robin Williams, a comic and sitcom star in the 1970s who became an Oscar-winning dramatic actor, died Monday at 63 in Marin County. The Marin County Sheriff's Office said he appears to have committed suicide. The news of the beloved actor’s death rocked the nation. Channels broke into their usual programming to make the announcement, and within minutes, Williams dominated online trending topics. Even President Obama noted his passing. . .

Read more at: Los Angeles Times

 

Blast from the Past: Ugly Cars of the 70s!

Yes, kids, it's a rerun this week. But it's from two and a half years ago, so it's time for a revisit anyway. It's personally topical, because I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the 2015 Jeep Renegade. While I think it's great looking, there is a contingent (mostly Jeep purists) who think it is ugly. Enjoy!

ORIGINAL POST:

I don't think the new Dodge Dart will land on many
"ugly" lists. Image from MSNBC.
I got the idea for this week's Blast from the Past from the news story that Chrysler is bringing back the Dodge Dart. The new one is a much different critter from the old 60s and 70s Dart, which started kind of classic, and became desperately ugly by the mid-1970s. But so many did!

There is no doubt that Detroit made a lot of ugly iron in the 1970s. Whatever brand loyalty and reputation they may have earned in the previous 50 years was all but destroyed by those crappy cars. Some of them became classics anyway, whether ironically or not. But most of these beasties can only be loved with buckets full of nostalgia thrown on them.


1. Chrysler Cordoba - Only remembered for Ricardo Montalban's "rich Corinthian leather!"
2. Chevrolet Chevette (1976) - This ugly duckling debuted with fanfare it didn't deserve. It never, ever turned into a swan.



3. AMC Pacer - Ugly inside and out, even with a Chevy Nova inside.
4. AMC Gremlin - They took a reasonable looking Hornet, chopped off the trunk, then made it as ugly as possible.



5. Ford Pinto (1970) - Much like the Chevette, Ford tried to make this sound like something wonderful and exciting, and "care free." If you don't care about fires. . .
6. Dodge Dart Swinger - Ten kinds of ugly, swinger or not. (Cheating a little, this is a '69 commercial)



7. Plymouth Duster (1972) - This one actually looked uglier to me in its original time. Given how ugly so many other cars of the era look now, this one is growing on me.
8. Oldsmobile Omega Brougham (1976) - I picked this car because almost nobody remembers it. Unlike the others, it doesn't have a legend that goes with it. But it is a great example of how little thought went into making cars attractive in America in the 1970s. (The original ad is missing, I had to substitute an '80)



That will just about do it for me for the week. I know there are many unrepresented ugly 70s cars, so I tagged this as "Part 1."And we've got other decades to hit too! Happy Monday!

Friday, August 8, 2014

President Obama Authorizes Air Strikes, Humanitarian Aid in Iraq

Image from source, TPM
Ugh. I don't like any of this. I don't like the hovering threat of a renewed Iraq war. I don't like that we have to be involved at all. I don't like that the Twitter comments from #TCOTs was overtly negative before the President had finished a sentence. "Thanks Obama, you screwed up Iraq" is a paraphrase of the comments I saw rolling in.

Sure, Iraq was going perfectly when Dubya left office, right? And the end date he settled by treaty, the one that President Obama followed? Mistake! But Obama's mistake. Dubya was just goofin', seeing if the radical Kenyan socialist would fall for it, right? In reality, we should have stayed in Iraq forever. Right?

Listen, I don't pretend to be an expert on Iraq, the Middle East, or much of anything going on over there. Like most Americans, I kind of cringe, and hope it resolves itself before it gets out of hand, but I don't know why it's our problem. Other than that pesky "Pottery Barn Rule." But I sure would like to see conservatives act like Americans when there's a crisis, instead of blaming everything on the President as a reflex.

[Excerpt]

Obama Authorizes Military Air Strikes, Humanitarian Aid In Iraq

President Barack Obama announced Thursday night he had authorized the U.S. military to launch targeted airstrikes if needed to protect Americans from Islamic militants in northern Iraq, threatening to revive U.S. military involvement in the country's long sectarian war.
He also said the U.S. military had carried out airdrops of humanitarian aid to Iraqi religious minorities under siege by the extremists. . .

Read more at: Talking Points Memo

Christian Radio Host Ties Ebola to Atheism, Homosexuality

Christian Radio Host, Rick Wiles. Nice hair.
Ebola is a horrible virus that kills quickly and gruesomely. Most of us know what we know about it from terrifying novels by Robin Cook, and scary medical thriller movies. So, when it rears its real head in the world, it can kind of freak people out. Which is why the CDC immediately came out and said: you can't get this easily, it's only transmitted through body fluids.

The infected doctors who came here are in isolation, and presumably not sharing any body fluids with anyone. If another healthcare provider gets a needle stick or something, they're sure to be popped right into a plastic bubble. This is not a third-world country. Ebola is very unlikely to become a runaway plaque in the States. It's not airborne. But fearmongers know that there is money to be made by scaring the crap out of people. And they've coupled it with other well-known pocketbook opening boogeymen: atheists and homosexuals (oh my)!

Honestly, can anyone make excuses for this guy? And he's not alone either. I heard our local right-wing radio doofus, Kevin Wall, trying to tie Ebola to the border immigration story. I mean, WTF? Ebola, untreated, kills rather quickly. The quarantine time is something like three weeks, because by that time, you either live or die. How likely is it that these kids can traverse all the way across Mexico from Central America with a disease that wipes you out and quickly? And how did it get there from Africa? It's absurd.

[Excerpt]

‘Christian’ Radio Host: Ebola Will ‘Solve America’s Problems Of Atheism And Homosexuality’
 
Some people, when they look at the worst Ebola outbreak in history, hope for its quick end and for the safety of those in the communities affected. But others, like Christian Radio Host Rick Wiles, hope it spreads to the US and wipes out every last atheist and gay person in the country. . .

Read more at: AddictingInfo

EDITED: I got an odd tweet, taking me to task for not knowing what a virus is. It is totally possible I zipped this post out more quickly than I should have, so I've fleshed it out a little more. Funny, the guy was an atheist (and proudly so), so we'd actually probably get along.

Sean Hannity Challenges Stephen Colbert

Image from NewsCorpse
I had trouble with the headline. I kept wanting to type, "Challenged Sean Hannity," because that man is just not quite right. He has a talent for broadcasting, I'll give him that. But he's rather a savant. Dumb as a box of rocks outside of talking points. But he's the kind of guy who believes his own hype.

Why else would he throw down a challenge to a comedian? And not just a comedian, but a comedian who is playing a character. Hannity makes fun of the fact that Stephen Colbert has writers, which comes off like Hannity making Obama teleprompter jokes. Hannity has writers, and a teleprompter. But the point is moot, because Colbert is an improvisational comic. He does live interviews, and adlibs every single show. He also ran The Colbert Report completely without writers during the writers' strike.

It's no contest, brilliant comedian, verses doofus talking head. You've got Hannity taking Donald Trump-worthy mean jabs in one corner, versus a seasoned, smart performer. I'd watch it though!

[Excerpt]

Chickenhawk Sean Hannity Issues Lame Challenge To Stephen Colbert

Among the ranks of pseudo-patriots who lip sync to the “Star Spangled Banner” while recruiting other people’s children for every war that comes along, Sean Hannity stands out for his unparalleled hypocrisy and cowardice. This is the same torture advocate who once promised to be waterboarded for charity to prove that it isn’t torture. That was five years ago and he still hasn’t kept that promise. . .

Read more at: NewsCorpse

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Right Wing World: A New Party to Split from the GOP? Great Idea!!!

I thought that the Tea Party was supposed to be "better" and "more conservative" than the establishment Republican Party. But when the establishment cowtows to the Teas, and the Teas all run as Republicans, who can tell them apart? So, someone has gotten the bright idea to start a breakaway party. And, get this. . .with Sarah Palin as its figurehead. Yeah!

I couldn't have scripted it better. This would be so amazing. Do it! Do it now! Don't wait until after the midterms, strike while the iron is hot!

Image from FreakingNews
[Excerpt]

Conservative Activist Proposes Third Party With Sarah Palin As Its Leader
 
Steve Baldwin, a former California lawmaker and onetime executive director of the Council for National Policy, believes that Tea Party and Religious Right activists should form a third party to “do to the GOP what the GOP did to the Whig Party 150 years ago. . .”

Read more at: Right Wing Watch

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hillary Clinton "Surprises" Stephen Colbert

Well, I'm sure Stephen Col-BERT wasn't surprised, but his character was, as was the audience. And me! Hillary came off very well in a scripted bit, I thought, and looks great. I can only see this helping her.

The GOP's Latest Money Beg: "I Miss W" Mugs

The only thing these things are good for is as
a substitute for clay pigeons.
If you really can't live without it,
you can get your mug by following this link. But I'm going to assume you're using them for target practice.

GOP

Behind the Blogger: My New Obsession is the Jeep Renegade, But It's Not Out Yet!

Over the seven-plus years of this blog, I've written several times about cars. Specifically, my cars. I've written and rewritten a "Cars I've Owned" post, which began as one of those internet trends. After re-reading it though, it's in desperate need of a complete rewrite. Was I drunk when I wrote it? Wrong years in a couple of places, repeat sentences, I don't know. It's not my best work.

High-end Trailhawk on the left, mid-range Latitude on the right.
But I'm going to hold off rewriting it until I get my next car. That wasn't supposed to be until several years from now. My most recent vehicle, a 2009 Mitsubishi Galant, was bought four and a half years ago, to replace a 1998 Jeep Wrangler I'd had for nine years. I even bought an extended warranty that doesn't run out until 2018. But you know what? I've got new car lust.

My mom is to blame. She gifted my siblings with some car-buying help, and offered the same to me. My first response was, "I don't need a car." And I don't, my car's in good enough shape. Upon reflection, however, I thought "Am I NUTS?" Why would I turn down an offer like that? So, I embarked upon a plan: accept whatever she offers, couple that with the proceeds or trade-in from my car, plus some cash of my own. If all of those puzzle pieces come together correctly, I could actually buy my first brand new car ever! If I stick to a reasonably-priced one, of course.

The super-nifty interior (I think the red is only available on Trailhawk)
And I know, buying new is a gamble. They say it depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot. Which is why I was initially focusing on a Toyota product, namely a Scion xB, just like The Other Half drives. They barely depreciate, and when they do, it's at a much slower rate than most. I thought this was a great idea. Mom thinks the car is ugly (yeah, Mom, but funky ugly!). Mom's got other ideas, and I'll entertain them when her summer of travelling is over.

Meanwhile, I've fallen head-over-heels for a vehicle that hasn't even reached our shores yet. A Jeep Renegade. I know what you're thinking. "Jeeps are made in Toledo, dummy." Yeah, but the Renegade is based on a Fiat, and is built in Italy. "An Italian Jeep? They were part of the Axis!" Sure, but Chrysler is owned by Fiat, and used to be owned by Daimler-Benz, the Germans!

See? Similar, but different. Better different.
Except for the lack of air conditioning (in Las Vegas), and the high cost of maintaining a 12-year-old vehicle, I really miss my old Jeep Wrangler Sport. I'd wanted one since childhood, and I just loved it. This new Jeep has enough flavor of the brand to suit me. It's almost exactly the size of the xB I was also considering, but with a nicer interior, more attractive exterior, available dual sunroof, backup camera/touchscreen stereo, more hauling ability, the possibility of a trailer hitch, and four wheel drive.

All of this has me over-anxious and a little obsessed. I have a Google alert set up for it, and even triggered it myself by writing on the Jeep Renegade Forum! I've dwelled over the spec sheets, trying to figure out what iteration (Sport, Latitude, Limited, or Trailhawk) I want, with which options. Which things are deal breakers (no A/C, no sunroof, no 4-wheel drive), and which I can live without (leather seats, fog lights, tow hooks, rock-crawling package). And this might be a complete waste of time, because I have no idea when it will be coming out, or how much it's going to cost.

There are tons of guesses out there for price and timeline, but little in the way of definitive information. I'm just hoping that Jeep doesn't price this to the stratosphere, and that the dealers don't tack on thousands in "just because you want it so bad" fees.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rush Limbaugh is Still a Big, Fat Pig, Part MCMLXXXVIII

With apologies to Senator Al Franken for stealing his title, Rush Limbaugh just seems to keep trying to outdo himself in piggishness. He's just disgusting.

[Excerpt]

Rush Limbaugh: Liberals will politicize Ebola like they used AIDS to ‘undermine’ Reagan

Radio host Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners on Monday that liberals would make Ebola into a political issue and use it like they had used AIDS to “undermine” President Ronald Reagan. In an audio clip flagged by Media Matters, the conservative talker explained that he had received some complaints from listeners who said that he should not be spending time talking about the Ebola outbreak in Africa. . .

Read more at: Raw Story

Scandal: Can We Finally Put Benghazi to Bed?

Seriously, if this current Trey Gowdy-headed group still doesn't find anything to smear President Obama or Hillary Clinton, can we put it in the vault? After the healthcare reform fight, I didn't think it was possible for me to get more tired of a subject. But the Benghazi thing may be worse.

[Excerpt]

Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi setback: New humiliation for GOP’s scandal hunter
 

Congressman Trey Gowdy
In case you were at all concerned that the relative lack of Benghazi news of late meant that the issue was finally receding after nearly two years of intensive and fruitless investigation, fear not: in just a few short weeks, Benghazi-mania will live and breathe again. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair of the House select committee tasked with beating whatever Benghazi bushes and dead horses remain, announced on July 30 that his committee’s first hearings will take place in September. If past is prologue, then Gowdy’s people will likely take advantage of the slow August news cycles and leak a few stripped-of-context tidbits to some bored and easily misled reporters. With the midterms bearing down, you’ll have all the necessary ingredients for yet more obsessive Benghazi “scandal” coverage. . .

Read more at: Salon

So, That Happened: A Kids Book on Open Carry

A couple of decades ago, when people would travel to countries that had armed soldiers at airports, carrying large weapons, they'd remark on it. It was odd. Scary. Foreign. Now, gun nuts advocates are trying to make "open carry" of large and/or small weapons a normal thing. To most of us it's still odd, scary and foreign. But when pressed, a lot of open carry advocates will tell you that their showy demonstrations at Chipotle, Home Depot and other ordinary locales, are meant to familiarize the populace with the concept. To normalize it.

I think I speak for a sizable portion of the populace when I say I don't want deadly weapons on random citizens to be normal. And let's be honest, if this is so "normal," why don't they demonstrate in banks? Airports? And what would the reaction be if The New Black Panthers or a Muslim group began holding the same sorts of demonstrations? Frankly, that I'd like to see! Just for the cognitive dissonance meltdown.


Now, I'm about to veer off into a place that you might not see the point of at first, but bear with me. Many of these same people are anti-gay, or at least anti-gay marriage.  One of the big allegations is, that the "Gay Agenda" is to normalize homosexuality, by desensitizing people to it. They will (falsely) tell you that gay people "recruit" children, or at the very least, we wish to "indoctrinate" them into believing that being gay is normal and natural. They see this as something of a sinister infiltration.

How is "Open Carry" different from that (exaggerated) scenario? They're trying to get us to think of openly carried weapons as normal. And, they're indoctrinating children.

[Excerpt]

There’s Now A Book To Teach Your Kids About Why They Should Pack Heat While Shopping

Do you wander around with a Glock on your hip, so you are prepared for the day when you’ll open fire on an armed assailant? Do you worry about how you will explain to your kids why you wander around with a Glock on your hip, so you are prepared for the day when you’ll open fire on an armed assailant? Well, Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew, two advocates for openly carrying firearms from Michigan, have a solution for you! The two men have authored “My Parents Open Carry,” a book for children that tells the tale of a young girl and her family as they “turn an otherwise ordinary day into an open carry adventure!”. . .

Read more at: Think Progress
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