Thursday, October 28, 2004

Politics Are Scary

Have a safe and fun Halloween.

[Link via Tom Tomorrow]

I meant to post a few of these yesterday, but blogger was, well... bloggered.

Yes Virginia, Hobbits did exist.

What do you call a guy who trys to run down Katherine Harris and misses? [Ed. Punchline redacted.]

Your President. What a guy.

Long lost Ed Wood film found. Necromania.

Congrats to the Sox. Who believes in curses anyways.

Let's keep this a Qa Qaa joke-free zone. But if you want the real skinny on what's going on around this story, Josh Marshall has the lowdown.

On the nightstand... The Plot Against America.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Jewish Haiku

Lacking fins or tail
the gefilte fish swims with
great difficulty.

Beyond Valium,
the peace of knowing one's child
is an internist.

Left the door open
for the Prophet Elijah.
Now our cat is gone.


After the warm rain
the sweet smell of camellias.
Did you wipe your feet?


Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
of her friend's disease.

Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade.


Testing the warm milk
on her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.


The sparkling blue sea
reminds me to wait an hour
after my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree,
your terrible posture
at my dinner table.

Jews on safari --
map, compass, elephant gun,
hard sucking candies.


The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.

The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Mom, please! There is no
need to put that dinner roll
in your pocketbook.

Seven-foot Jews in
the NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
at Saturday services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.

A lovely nose ring,
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
male-pattern baldness.

And if that whet your appetite, read some real haikus.

[Update: This was one of those anonymous things that one gets sent in emails. It has come to my attention that some persons thought I might be the author. Please let me dispel that notion. I am not he. It has further come to my attention that the actual author has a book of collected verse from which these have been excerpted. So, credit where credit is due. David M. Bader, Haiku for Jews.]
Hiphop 911

Eminem's new video, Mosh. Very cool animation.
Watch it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Fear and Loathing, Here and Now

Tony Pierce is good enough to share an extensive excerpt of Dr. Thompson's latest Rolling Stone piece. In which the good Doctor rates the debates and finds some parallels with the Clay v. Liston fight.
Immediately after the first debate ended I called Muhammad Ali at his home in Michigan, but whoever answered said the champ was laughing so hard that he couldn't come to the phone. "The debate really cracked him up," he chuckled. "The champ loves a good ass-whuppin'. He says Bush looked so scared to fight, he finally just quit and laid down."

Ali has seen that look before. Almost three months to the day after John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, the "Louisville Lip" -- then Cassius Clay -- made a permanent enemy of every "boxing expert" in the Western world by beating World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston so badly that he refused to come out of his corner for the seventh round. This year's first presidential debate was such a disaster for George Bush that his handlers had to be crazy to let him get in the ring with John Kerry again. Yet Karl Rove let it happen, and we can only wonder why. But there is no doubt that the president has lost his nerve, and his career in the White House is finished. NO MAS.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

With Friends Like This

This is probably the most bizzare endorsement I've ever seen.
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."
Then again, Preznit Bush got the endorsement of Iran today as well and some of his cousins have endorsed Kerry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Vote Now, Vote Often

A Message from Florida's (impartial) Governor.
My Favorite Wine, or Daddy can I have a Pony

Finally, a show for me. I like wine. I shop for wine, mostly at Trader Joe's. I make use of the Frequent Flier (TJ'S bulletin), and recommendations from my more knowledgeable friends. But I know pitiful little about wine, and please don't ask me to describe the bouquet.

Well at last there is a show for me. Monty Python's very own John Cleese will be presenting Wine for the Confused, beginning October 23rd on the Food Network. Sounds like it will be both informative and entertaining.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Now 2 Ways to Buy

Prints of many of my photographs are available through That remains the way to purchase limited edition, custom framed prints. But for unframed prints, posters, and things of that sort, a number of images are available at

Click here to visit my Gallery.

Teachout has a very entertaining piece today on blurbwhoring policies of the rich and famous. Or, when do you agree to blurb the back of a book, and when do you politely demur. His concluding graphs include a pointed quotation from Evelyn Waugh, who was a bit of a specialist when it came to pointed quotations.
Evelyn Waugh had a Wilsonesque postcard of his own (“Mr. Evelyn Waugh deeply regrets that he is unable to do what is so kindly proposed”), but he could occasionally be persuaded to supply blurbs, usually for friends and/or fellow Catholics. Strangers rarely fared as well.

In 1961, for instance, Waugh sent this characteristic letter to a Simon & Schuster publicist who was looking for blurbs in all the wrong places:

Thank you for sending me Catch-22. I am sorry that the book fascinates you so much. It has many passages quite unsuitable to a lady’s reading. It suffers not only from indelicacy but from prolixity. It should be cut by about a half. In particular the activities of “Milo” should be eliminated or greatly reduced.

You are mistaken in calling it a novel. It is a collection of sketches—often repetitious—totally without structure.

Much of the dialogue is funny.

You may quote me as saying: “This exposure of corruption, cowardice and incivility of American officers will outrage all friends of your country (such as myself) and greatly comfort your enemies.”

Me, I’d have printed it, but Simon & Schuster thought otherwise.
I was recently asked to write a foreword (together with my collaborator) to a book on a particular piece of graphics software, of which I am somewhat familar. I've also been informed that a quotation from that foreword will appear on the back of the book, which I guess makes me a blurbwhore. So I guess I need to come up with a witty and disdainful policy of my own.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Would you like some Hummus on that?

I used to like falafel. Damn you O'Reilly!

James Wolcott has a very funny piece on the Bill O'Reilly saga. Read: Loof to Loofah, Baby

And if you haven't been following the story, read the complete transcripts at the Smoking Gun, here and here.

Ah schadenfreude. The gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush and JC

No not that JC. I'm referring to what we used to call Junior Colleges or is now referred to as Community Colleges. In his answer last night to the question on outsourcing, Bush mentioned making it possible for workers to return to Community Colleges to retrain. Here is Bush's answer in full..
BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.
We've expanded trade adjustment assistance. We want to help pay for you to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

You know, there's a lot of talk about how to keep the economy growing. We talk about fiscal matters. But perhaps the best way to keep jobs here in America and to keep this economy growing is to make sure our education system works.

I went to Washington to solve problems. And I saw a problem in the public education system in America. They were just shuffling too many kids through the system, year after year, grade after grade, without learning the basics.

And so we said: Let's raise the standards. We're spending more money, but let's raise the standards and measure early and solve problems now, before it's too late.

No, education is how to help the person who's lost a job. Education is how to make sure we've got a workforce that's productive and competitive.

Got four more years, I've got more to do to continue to raise standards, to continue to reward teachers and school districts that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms, to continue to expand Pell Grants to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma.

And so the person you talked to, I say, here's some help, here's some trade adjustment assistance money for you to go a community college in your neighborhood, a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And that's what I would say to that person.
Now that hardly answers the the issue I see in my own field. What does a highly educated software engineer do when his $50 to $60 an hour job goes to India. According to Bush he goes to community college and learns what? Beginning Web Design.

Atrios has more to say on this subject.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rumors and Rumors of Rumors

The Preznitdential Debates have spawned some good conspiracy theories and rumors lately. In fact it brought to mind the infamous Ibogaine rumor started by Hunter S. Thompson, in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
Not much has been written about The Ibogaine Effect as a serious factor in the Presidential Campaign, but toward the end of the Wisconsin primary race - about a week before the vote - word leaked out that some of Muskie's top advisors had called in a Brazilian doctor who was said to be treating the candidate with "some kind of strange drug" that nobody in the press corps had ever heard of.

It had ... long been whispered that Muskie was into something very heavy, but it was hard to take the talk seriously until I heard about the appearance of a mysterious Brazilian doctor. That was the key. I immediately recognized The Ibogaine Effect - from Muskie's tearful breakdown on the flatbed truck in New Hampshire, to the delusions and altered thinking that characterized his campaign in Florida, and finally the condition of "total rage" that gripped him in Wisconsin.

There was no doubt about it: The Man from Maine had turned to massive doses of Ibogaine as a last resort ... It was noted, among other things that he had developed a tendency to roll his eyes wildly during TV interviews, that his thought patterns had become strangely fragmented and that not even his closest advisors could predict when he might suddenly spiral off into babbling rages, or neo-comatose funks.

In restrospect, however, it is easy to see why Muskie fell apart on that caboose platform in the Miami train station. There he was - far gone in a bad Ibogaine frenzy - suddenly shoved out in a rainstorm to face a sullen crowd and some kind of snarling lunatic going for his legs while he tried to explain why he was the only Democrat who can beat Nixon.

It is entirely conceivable - given the known effects of Ibogaine - that Muskie's brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at that crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs.

We can only speculate on this, because those in a position to know have flatly refused to comment on rumors concerning the Senator's disastrous experiments with Ibogaine. I tried to find the Brazilian doctor on election night in Milwaukee, but by the time the polls closed he was long gone. One of the hired bimbos in Milwaukee's Holiday Inn headquarters said a man with fresh welts on his head had been dragged out the side door and put on a bus to Chicago, but we were never able to confirm this.
This little video is quite illustrative of the change in George W. Bush's speaking style over the last 10 years. Whether it is presenile dementia as purported or Dubya's attempt at faux bubba populism, I'll leave it to you.

And Salon has been on top of the mysterious bulge on Bush's back (subscription or daypass required).

[Update: Tom Tomorrow has an idea what that might be on Bush's back.]

Monday, October 11, 2004

Photoblogging From Moraga

Saturday the wife and I attended a graduation ceremony at St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. It is a lovely campus located in a beautiful part of the East Bay near Walnut Creek and Lafayette.

St. Mary's College

The Campus

What a heel

Play that funky music, white boy

A lady

Friday, October 08, 2004

Hard Work

Harry Shearer flexes his well known musical chops with a jazzy remix from the Presidential Debates.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Adam Had'm

Via Crooked Timber we learn that it is National poetry day.

A Fool in the Forest
has some fine poetical blogs in his blogroll, if you seek to pursue the subject. Or spend some time perusing the verse section at

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Air America Radio finally comes to the Bay Area and in a moment of supreme irony, it is Clear Channel that brings them here. Always seemed odd that Air America couldn't find a home in one of the biggest liberal bastions in the country.

They can be heard on 960 on your AM dial, KQKE, the Quake.

Read the whole story here.

Monday, October 04, 2004

"This is My Happening and it Freaks Me Out"

I normally wouldn't do a cut and paste of an entire article, and I probably shouldn't do it this time, but there is some odd redirect at the Chicago Sun Times site. When I go to this link, I'm getting redirected to Roger Ebert's site, and a search of that site does not bring up this essay.

A quick hand on the Stop button in my browser and a cut and paste later, I offer you Roger Ebert's essay following the passing of his friend Russ Meyers.
King of the funny skin flicks

September 22, 2004


Russ Meyer is dead. The legendary independent director, who made exploitation films but was honored as an auteur, died Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 82, and had been suffering from dementia. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said Janice Cowart, a friend who supervised his care during his last years. She announced his death Tuesday.

Such bare facts hardly capture the zest of a colorful man who became a Hollywood icon. Meyer’s “The Immoral Mr. Teas” (1959), hailed by the highbrow critic Leslie Fiedler as the funniest comedy of the year, created the skin flick genre, and after the box office success of his “Vixen” (1968) he was crowned “King of the Nudies” in a front-page profile in the Wall Street Journal. His “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (1970), for which I wrote the screenplay, represented the first foray into sexploitation by a major studio (20th Century Fox).

His films were X-rated but not pornographic. Meyer told me he had two reasons for avoiding hard-core: (1) “I want to play in regular theaters and keep the profits, instead of playing in porn theaters and doing business with the mob.” (2) “Frankly, what goes on below the waist is visually not that entertaining.” For Meyer, what went on above the waist was a lifelong fascination; he cheerfully affirmed his obsession with big breasts.

Meyer was the ultimate auteur. He not only directed his films, but could and often did write, photograph, edit and distribute them, and carried his own camera. In a genre known for sleazy sets and murky photography, Meyer’s films were often shot outdoors in scenic desert and mountain locations, and his images were bright and crisp. He said his inspiration was Al Capp’s “L’il Abner” comic strip, and his films were not erotic so much as funny, combining slapstick and parody. He once told me there was no such thing as a sex scene that couldn’t be improved by cutaways to Demolition Derby or rocket launches.

Meyer was born March 21, 1922 in San Leandro, Ca., and raised in the Oakland area by a mother who gave him his first 8-mm movie camera. He enlisted at 18 in the U. S. Army Signal Corps, learned motion picture photography in an Army school at MGM, and found World War II “the greatest experience of my life.”

He was often assigned to Gen. George Patton, and told of being taken along one night late in the war, to shoot the newsreel footage when Patton assembled a strike force to dart across the lines and capture Hitler - who was believed to be visiting the front. The report was false, Hitler was not captured, Patton issued dire warnings to anyone who spoke of the raid, and Meyer was denied the greatest newsreel scoop in history.

On another assignment, he filmed the original Dirty Dozen before they were parachuted into France, and E. M. Nathanson’s best-selling novel credits Meyer as its source. “In the real story,” Meyer said, “they disappeared and were never heard of again.”

In peacetime Meyer and other Signal Corps cameramen found themselves frozen out of the cinematographer’s union. He made industrial and educational films, and then drifted into cheesecake. More than half of the first year’s Playboy Playmates were photographed by Meyer. Observing Hugh Hefner’s success at retailing nude images of young, wholesome-looking women, Meyer tried the same approach in “Mr. Teas.” Films exploiting nudity had been consigned to marginal theaters and burlesque houses, but “Teas” won mainstream distribution, played for a year in some of its first engagements, and defined the rest of Meyer’s career.

He made one film after another, all of them involving unlikely plots, incongruous settings and abundantly voluptuous actresses. “Where do you find those women?” I asked him. “After they reach a certain bra size,” he said, “they find me.” He disapproved of silicone implants: “They miss the whole point.”

Meyer’s titles were entertaining in themselves: “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and “Mud Honey,” both made in 1965, were taken as names by 1990s rock bands, and director John Waters said “Pussycat” was the greatest film of all time. Other directors who praised his work included Jonathan Demme, who always uses Meyer’s favorite actor Charles Napier in his movies, and John Landis. Mike Meyers used music and dialog from “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” in his “Austin Powers” pictures.

Other titles included “Motor Psycho” (1965-a busy year), “Common Law Cabin” and “Good Morning…and Goodbye!” (both 1967), “Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!” (1968), “Vixen” (1968), “Cherry, Harry and Raquel” (1970), “Blacksnake” (1973), “Supervixens” (1975), “Up!” (1976), and “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens” (1979), which I co-wrote. In the 1980s he announced an epic film to be called “The Breast of Russ Meyer,” but it was never completed. He did publish a massive three-volume, 17-pound, 1210-page, $199 autobiography, (ital) A Clean Breast (unital) (2000). “It keeps you turning the pages even when you can’t lift the book,” wrote Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss, who called “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” one of the 10 best films of the 1970s.

After I wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal praising Meyer’s work we met and became friends, and when he was summoned by Fox to make “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” he asked me to write the screenplay. We produced it in six weeks, making it up as we went along, laughing aloud, although in directing it Meyer urged the actors to perform with complete seriousness. The film cost $900,000, grossed $40 million, and became a cult favorite; the Sex Pistols punk rock band saw it in London in the late 1970s and hired Meyer to direct and me to write a film for them. “Who Killed Bambi?” (1978) shot for only one day before the Pistols’ production company went bankrupt.

Russ Meyer made X-rated movies, but he was not a dirty old man. He didn’t use the casting couch, prohibited sex on his sets (“save it for the camera”), and was a serial monogamist. He married Eve Meyer in 1955, and later photographed her as a Playmate; they had a friendly divorce in 1970 and continued to work together until her death in an airplane crash. His 1970 marriage to starlet Edy Williams was not so happy, and inspired a scene in “Supervixens” where the hero’s wife attacks his pickup with an axe. In later years his most frequent companion was Kitten Natividad, who starred in “Ultra-Vixens.”

He was a loyal friend. He stayed in lifelong contact with his Signal Corps comrades, organizing local and national reunions and sending tickets to those who needed them. He worked with the same crew members again and again. In a field known for devaluing women, he treated the actresses in his movies with affection and respect. Haji, Uschi Digard, Tura Satana, Kitten Natividad and the “BVD” stars Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom and Erica Gavin stayed in contact and attended reunions.

His films were unique in that the women were always the strong characters, and men were the mindless sex objects. The film critic B. Ruby Rich called him “the first feminist American director.” Meyer took praise with a grain of salt. After “The Seven Minutes” (1971), an attempt at a serious mainstream big studio picture, flopped at the box office, he told me: “I made the mistake of reading my reviews. What the public wants are big laughs and big tits and lots of ‘em. Lucky for me that’s what I like, too.”

An excellent obit of the recently deceased Richard Avedon, over at Slate.

Read: Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man - The long career of Richard Avedon.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Faces of Frustration

The Democratic National Committee has a little video posted from last night's debate. Oh so amusing.

Click here.