Thursday, September 22, 2011

Huntsman Has a Lock on the Beefheart Independents

More Beefheart enthusiasm at Slate from Republican candidate Jon Huntsman:

Slate: Do you have a particular favorite era of Beefheart?
Huntsman: I'd have to say that I like Trout Mask Replica, which came out in '68, all the way through Bat Chain Puller -- I mean, they represent the diversity of Beefheart. I'm a fan of the really innovative spirit of Beefheart came with the Magic Band, and they really hit it off in '68.

Me too, Huntsman. Me, too.

See previous post, Jon Huntsman, Stealth Weirdo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grisly Absurdity

Troy Davis was executed in Georgia tonight. What a waste. If you, dear reader, haven't initiated or re-upped your financial support of the Innocence Project, now is the time. In the meantime, watch this, if laughing at the grisly absurdity of capital punishment during this dark time is just what the doctor ordered:

Penn & Teller's Bullshit, Season 4, Episode 3: "The Death Penalty"

Best line: "Manson sucks as an artist; sucks as a human being." But the death penalty is still bullshit.

Reagan Tackles Dean

I saw a clip of this a few days ago at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library. I'd never heard of it before. Ronald Reagan rasslin' with James Dean? A must-see. Above is a longer clip than what's at the library, or maybe it's the full thing. It seems edited, which makes for a great jump cut at about 2:55 when Dean cries out and flees the room, only to reappear a second later where a stationary Reagan and movie-wife just stand there. Despite the stilted script, Dean's performance reveals what he was capable of as an actor: digging deep into emotional wells to produce convincing personal agony. And, y'know, Reagan wasn't bad delivering his own "Go ahead, make my day" -type moment when he calmly tells Dean, "If you're not lucky, that bullet isn't gonna stop me." But Dean is the real force of nature here. Had he lived longer, he surely wouldn't have gotten into politics.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Existentialism Explained in Song

Life is just a bowl of cherries;
Don't take it serious;
It's too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it's the berries;
The strongest oak must fall.
The sweet things in life
To you were just loaned,
So how can you lose what you've never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crackpottery, Republican-Style

The U.S. has a record number of millionaires, according to the Wall Street Journal ("U.S. Has Record Number of Millionaires," WSJ, June 22, 2011). In 2009, there were 2.86 million Americans who had $1 million or more in investible assets. In 2010, that number went up to 3.1 million. Incidentally, 3.1 million is almost the same number as millionaires in all of Asia! Looks like the bank bailouts, deregulation, and pro-business policies of the Obama administration have paid off, for a relative few.

Yet somehow Newt Gingrich can still get away with calling Obama a "socialist" without getting laughed off the national stage: 

And Paul Ryan can say Obama's waging "class warfare" for proposing a modest tax increase on the wealthiest Americans, and yet the mainstream press doesn't call Ryan a crackpot:

Yet it is crackpottery to only call it "class warfare" when Obama's policies might inconvenience the rich a little bit, while all of Obama's job-creation for millionaires is miraculously not "class warfare" against the poor and working class.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dream Journal: I'm Not a Trekkie

I was in a Starbuck's by the cream and sugar table. In my hands was a gallon-size "ziploc" plastic bag in which I had two Star Trek books, or novels based on Star Trek characters. Each book was a slightly used paperback; they were doorstoppers. I also knew they were valuable. I left the bag on the table and walked over to the counter, in order to buy a coffee. Convinced that someone was going to steal the books, I kept glancing back at where I had left them. I also thought, "I'm not a trekkie. People are going to think I'm a trekkie." Sure enough, I glanced back at one point to see my plastic bag of books had disappeared.

I then found myself in a large auditorium, attending a parenting class taught by none other than Patrick Stewart in his Capt. Picard costume.

Friday, September 9, 2011

So Damn Tough

Mel Brooks has it right in the most recent Newsweek. He was asked "What do you think of the job Obama's doing?" Brooks answered:

You got to be so damn tough to get what you want, and he's not that kind of guy. The common man is in a lot of trouble. That's all I can tell you. I sound like The 2000 Year Old Man now.

Here's Obama giving Brooks a Kennedy Center award in 2009. Obama's in his best form doing less formal, PR-type events like this, in which he doesn't discuss policy:

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Summer's Waning: Meat Puppets' "Swimming Ground" (Circa 1985 - Good Quality)

This looks like the Pups when I would've caught 'em, so my best guess is 1985. No description comes with this video, but whoever uploaded it is yet another video-sharing hero. One of the greatest strengths of this great band was the melodies Cris Kirkwood pulled out of his four-string Steinberger bass, an 80s icon-instrument that was never put to better use than in the Pups' tunes.

Up on the Sun was the record to cool you off in the hot summer of L.A. in '85. The title song, "Hot Pink," and "Swimming Ground" especially. This goes on my top ten list of albums that blew my mind and remain impeccably listenable. Yes, timeless is the word. When the band later got its due from Nirvana's memorable MTV Unplugged set, I was happy for them.

However, when I started teaching middle school in 1994, I intercepted a note one of my students passed to another. (I spent considerable time intercepting notes.) This one was a songlist from a mixtape she had made. I'll never forget the first two songs, credited as follows:

1. "Plateau" - Nirvana
2. "Lake of Fire" - Nirvana

My head screamed, "Noooooooooo!" I thought, kids across the country may be led astray by only fleeting awareness of who was sharing Nirvana's stage. But the Pups gained success, and with that some demons were unleashed. See this moving, engrossing profile of Cris Kirkwood's descent into hell...and back...from ABC News (embedding not allowed): Part 1 and Part 2. It's not all darkness; you may find yourself, as I did, laughing with (at?) Curt Kirkwood's disdain for punk rock and punk rockers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heavy Metal Video Interlude, Part 4: "Why Is Nobody Thinking?"

The term "skyclad" refers to the ritual nudity of Wiccans and neopagans. But the band Skyclad appears to be fond of wearing plenty of fabric and boots and leather and, well, puffy shirts (to make Jerry Seinfeld cringe). They are almost pirate-like more than pagan. Is there "pirate metal"? If not, there should be. But I digress. I am just thinking aloud. Isn't thinking allowed?

I give kudos to this band for asking an important question that seems constantly on my mind, too: "Why is nobody thinking?" The shots of the singer in the library stacks ostensibly touting the pleasures of reading sends a good message to the metal militia. I also give them kudos for utilizing the P.O.V. shot on the drumstick hitting the snare at about 0:50.

The mandolin's nice, too.