Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy MMIX

The inclement weather meant a half-day at work today. Yup, I can handle that. Then a chancy trip to the supermarket, but that worked out okay. Hung out at/near home for a while, then had dinner and then drinks with a few friends. A most convivial New Year's Eve. So I'm feeling fairly up now.

Hope 2009 treats you well, my lovelies. Especially those of you--and I know there are some--who may have gotten some rude shocks from 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Okay, so they're a little pale

Totally not seasonal at all, but rather charming I think. Yes, puppets Porgy-and-Bessin' it with the voices of Ella and Satchmo. Feel yourself transported.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Joined at the Strip

In response to recent rocket attacks, Israel is once again going to town on Gaza militants. Actually, you can pretty much drop the "militants" part, by the IDF's own account.

After this operation there will not be a single Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game," said armed forces deputy chief of staff Brigadier General Dan Harel, quoted by the YNet News website.

"We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings," Harel said.

At least 57 Palestinian civilians, including 21 children, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment, a UN spokesman said.

Now with the Gaza Strip taking a further pounding in addition to the blockade that's already wrung the civilian population, where do you think The Wall Street Journal sits? Go ahead, guess.

Israel's air assault on Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks is inspiring familiar international denunciations. But the best commentary we've heard might be this one: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

Barack Obama said those words in July while visiting Israel as a Presidential candidate.

Now as President-elect, Mr. Obama is maintaining an appropriate silence while deferring to the Bush Administration before his Inauguration. But his July remarks capture the essence of Israel's right to self-defense. Moreover, the more successful Israel is this week in damaging Hamas as a terrorist force, the better chance Mr. Obama will have to make progress in facilitating a genuine Mideast peace.

All this is rich in ways the average WSJ reader can only imagine being? First of all, "familiar international denunciations"? Seriously? Familiar to whom? Not to most of the American people. If you're hearing more than the mildest criticism of Israeli actions, it's from the foreign press or some left-wing newsweekly. One with a circulation under 300 and a publishing office located in a dorm.

And with all due respect to President-elect Obama, it's a very good thing to imagine how the other guy feels. As your predecessor might know, Jesus spoke highly of this kind of exercise. But the imaginations of our political leaders only seem to extend to one side here.

Try projecting yourself into the mind of a Gaza resident. Your government is of the wrong party as far as Israel and the US are concerned. The party is supposed to be a terrorist front, which no one has ever tried to prove to you. So your whole province suffers: lack of electricity, lack of power, difficulty in buying food and medicine. Punctuated by attacks on civilian homes and hospitals. Now how much will you care about a lasting piece with Israel and America, or even believe it possible?

Not to mention the fourth Geneva Convention, which is pretty clear.

Article 3
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

There is not a lot of wiggle room here, which is the kind of thing your supposed to tell your friends and allies when they're on the wrong track. And in more than one way, it looks like our Mideastern ally is:

Michael Hudson, professor of international relations at Georgetown University said that by backing Israel's position the US was opening itself up to attack.

"If you're identified with an Israel that is bombing indiscriminately and disproportionately, this is really good for Osama Bin laden, it's good for extremists all across the region and I fear that Americans as well as Israelis will now suffer," he told Al Jazeera.

I, for one, have not forgotten September 11th. And if our Mideast policy is making life easier for those who committed that atrocity or would like to repeat it, that's something we need to stop doing! Our not-so-friends in the region have gotten used to sticks. Maybe we should remind them what carrots taste like.

UPDATE: Turns out Greenwald had a lot of the same concerns and expressed them well. As to Marty Peretz, he's semiretired I guess but sold TNR to a multinational that replicates all his prejudices. Life is good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The last Friday Saturday Random Ten of '08

Nice weekend, although this past week's quick accumulation of snow, followed by an almost complete thaw within a couple of days, is kind of creepy.

My hopes for the coming year? That my family and friends stay healthy and happy. That Final Crisis has a satisfying conclusion. That Barack Obama bitch-slaps anyone who tells him that we have to balance the budget right now.

Anyway, the roster of songs.

1. Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross--Two for the Blues
2. Battles--Race:In
3. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention--Brown Shoes Don't Make It
4. 8½ Souvenirs--L'Amour Toujours
5. They Might Be Giants--Someone Keeps Moving My Chair
6. Ben Folds Five--Jackson Cannery
7. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach--The Sweetest Punch
8. The Go Go's--Our Lips Are Sealed
9. Ladytron--Burning Up
10. The White Stripes--As Ugly as I Seem

Keep it real, y'all.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Raise a glass to the muy cool Eartha Kitt, who passed Christmas Day at age 81. She was truly one of a kind. Yes, even in a hall of mirrors.

Lazy-ass blogger update.

Sheez, I know. Friday Random Ten is not in the cards tonight, however. My recharge/refresh schedule got thrown off, a little. So this may be another Saturday Random Ten week. But we'll get this crazy thing back on traxxx.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Random associations (or not)

A Japanese woodblock print. Birds over the city. Beautiful and serene, right?

Well, beautiful at any rate. Who knows what else could happen?
(This may be the most micro-targeted blog post ever, so don't worry about it.)
Merry Christmas, folks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh my stars and sabers

Via The Comic's Comic, Vanity Fair has a retrospective on the making of the Star Wars Holiday Special, widely known as a television event that will live in infamy. Actually I'm pretty sure I saw it when I was a kid, and I don't think I found it agonizing. Still, I'm not surprised that Hamill, Fisher, and Ford were less than thrilled to be there. Nothing short of a kidnapped granddaughter could have made Sir Alec show up, I'm sure.

Here's a clip.

I like to think that what Artoo is really saying is, "Holy shit! These hairy crackers just started shooting meth. We need to get out of here before things get ugly."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All the best cowboys have hornrim glasses

Elvis Costello. Singing Merle Haggard. In a ten gallon hat. Today--with him interviewing Elton John and Bill Clinton on his talk show--it might not raise an eyebrow. Back in 1981, it was like, "Is this a put-on?"

Still boycotting YouTube, as you can see. Actually it's not really a boycott. It's just that their videos keep stopping every three seconds to buffer. Don't need it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A warm Friday Random Ten for when Winter kicks in

Yes indeed, we got that snowstorm I pretty muched wished for the other day. Well, except for a certain erraticism in roads and buses, I've got nothing to complain about. They kicked us out of work at one, before a single flake had fallen, at least in RI. Now I'm bundled up at home, writing this.

1. Chris Thomas King--Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
2. Joni Mitchell--A Strange Boy
3. Fiona Apple--Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
4. Ben Folds Five--Philosophy
5. 8½ Souvenirs--Dancin'
6. Roxy Music--Bitters End
7. Charles Mingus--Spur of the Moment
8. Outkast--The Rooster
9. Nat King Cole--Thou Swell
10. Ladytron--They Gave You a Heart, They Gave You a Name

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nature's blanket

We're not seeing this yet.

Watch snow in Travel Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at
But we could soon, and I really don't mind. A lot of people I work with hate snow more than anything. For me it's a natural part of winter, one that lets you know where you are. Of course it may help that I don't have to shovel out a car. But it's also a kind of annual cleanup, something that soothes the ground.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's just not his bag, dad

What can I say? Those Iraqis sure have a quirky way of greeting liberators.

Seriously, though, that dude by now I'm sure has bigger worries than whether or not he'll get his shoes back. But it does poke a hole in the party line that we've done so much for those Mesopotamians and we've left them such happy campers. If Bush has to duck at a staged, screened event with Maliki, what would they throw at him in Anbar province?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Random Ten with weather updates

This morning it was wet, windy and warm. Now it's dry and cold, like German humor. Ach, sorry, shouldn't stereotype. Anyway, it's still windy.

1. Talking Heads--The Great Curve
2. Roxy Music--Sea Breezes
3. Mika--Love Today
4. Sarah Vaughan--I Wish I Were in Love Again
5. Soul Coughing--St Louise is Listening
6. They Might Be Giants--Twisting
7. Dressy Bessy--If You Should Try to Kiss Her
8. The Stanley Brothers--Too Late to Cry
9. Joni Mitchell--Amelia
10. Don Byron--Frasquita Serenade

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It's been raining all week. Heavy and sometimes hard. The kind of rain that makes people hide. The kind of rain that makes you sound like a half-assed movie detective.

Seriously, people aren't really into going out now. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a little baby boom in nine months. Not the greatest economy to start a family, but what are you gonna do?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting to the bottom of the barrel story

God bless Philip J. Berg. Thanks to him our "president" "elect" may be forced to answer some tough, necessary questions. Such as the following.

Mr. Obama, you say you were born in Hawaii, a place real Americans have never heard of. Can you prove that this "Hawaii" exists? Or the laughable claim that it is part of these United States?

Your Kenyan born father was named Barack Obama. You are named Barack Obama. The two of you have not been seen together in well over three decades. Can you prove that you and your father are not the same man?

When your parents had you, was it more fraud for Communism's sake or Communism for the sake of fraud?

Are you positive you were born in Hawaii? Absolutely sure?

Caught you! No one remembers their own birth. Except for Martians!

Would you be willing to name the other members of the Martian scouting party?

And on it could go, into sweet eternity.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Over the counter medical advice

The wrapping on some packages of cough drops advertises "soothing syrup center." Stating outright that this syrupy goodness is what will ease your ailing throat.


If you have a bad cough, what you need is time, patience, and a clean sensation to distract you from your pain. If your lozenge breaks apart after a minute or so and leaves you with a moughful of sugary goo, that could be billed as "counterproductive."

We hope this item from our consumer affairs desk helps.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcomme to the Friday Random Ten

Things'll pick up again, at some point.

1. Duke Ellington--The Sidewalks of New York
2. Randy Newman--God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)
3. The Go Go's--Head Over Heels
4. Bonzo Dog Band--You Done My Brain In
5. Soul Coughing--Maybe I'll Come Down
6. Nellie McKay--I Will Be There
7. Roxy Music--The Bob (Medley)
8. Outkast w/ Khujo & Cee-Lo--Reset
9. Thelonious Monk--In Walked Bud
10. The Beatles--Ticket to Ride

Thursday, December 4, 2008


A suitably shambolic look at artist Jason Rhoades' final installation, "Black Pussy." Why? Well, the title subject interested no less a personage than Thomas Jefferson.

More seriously, I'm interested in artists--Rhoades among them--who work in disorganized styles. Note that this assemblage is basically just a big pile of stuff in a room. While he did pass away while working on this pooject, his untimely death is not really the reason it looks like that. Piles of stuff were basically what he did. But interesting stuff. Where did the interest come from, then?

This intrigues me because I am myself basically a black hole of indiscipline. Certain artists--Sarah Sze, maybe Matthew Ritchie--show signs of overpowering energy, again, out of all proportion with the level to which they are organized. It's an intriguing idea to me: using creativity without harnessing it in any conventional sense.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Foreign perspective

Blogging may have been a little lighter than usual recently because I've had a raw throat, trouble sleeping, fatigue, etc. Just waiting it out at this point.

I have been reading East of Eden though. Reading and reading and reading. It's a big book, and it will be significantly overdue when I return it to the library. The length ultimately works for it, though. What it allows Steinbeck to do is present every evil and trauma you can imagine without the novel being a constant onrush of doom and despair. There's plenty of room for good conversation and fleeting happiness. Accent on fleeting.

From what I understand--not having seen it--Elia Kazan's movie version adapts only the last quarter or so and drops a large number of significant characters. Pragmatic, so as not to wind up with a seven hour film, but no substitute I imagine. Anyway, it's such a rich volume that I'll likely return to it blogwise when my head's a little more together.