March 13, 2004

Art, commerce, anomie and the high-tech lifestyle. Here's something I bought. I needed something to carry my laptop around in, so why not a handbag with an Edward Hopper painting of a woman reading on a train? I'll be a woman reading the internet on my laptop while traveling about, and somewhere in the past, there's that Hopper woman, on an old passenger train, reading a book.

I got that Hopper image from this page, which isn't in English, but it has a very lovely collection of paintings of women reading. Here, I'll copy another, which I find especially appealing. It's by Jan Sluijters.

The real difference between Kerry and Auntie Em. I'd like to remove myself from the hook for seeming to portray Kerry as not macho enough here. In fact, I don't like the non-gentle parts of his statement: "lying" and "corrupt." And I don't like inarticulate speech; in this case, "you know" and "lying group of people" (for "liars"). But I've been thinking about it, especially after writing that bookstore post, just below, and I really think that the inarticulate parts of the statement may be the real, and better Kerry showing through. I suspect advisors are telling him to be more masculine and to criticize Bush forcibly. You've got to use words like "corrupt" and "liars." You've got to throw red meat to the Bush-haters. Kerry then tried to do what they wanted and just couldn't bring himself to do it. He started to, but felt the "Auntie Em effect." But I mean that in a good way: it is a sign of character to stop yourself like that. The main difference between Kerry and Auntie Em, is that Auntie Em could not even allow one nasty word out of her mouth. That took real strength. I'd like to see a strong President in that sense.

Of course, Em would have made a terrible President because, despite her inability to mouth off, she also completely lacked the ability to speak up in strong but not profane language and to take action to solve any problems. But at least she knew who the real evil person in town was. Kerry's real weakness problem is one that cannot be solved--or even masked--by mouthing off nastily about Bush. Those who are concerned about the problems Bush is taking action to try to solve are going to want to see shows of strength directed at our real enemies and not just attacks on Bush.
What's this world coming to? Email category. Two more subject lines on email I don't open:
I love you

I'm worried about you

That's rather sad.

MORE: Here's another one:
[re] Democracy.

That was for some impotence remedy. An incredibly lame political joke could be made.

YET MORE: This one's a bit evil:
I've had enough of your lies.

Maybe I wouldn't have wanted to open that one anyway.
Shopping at Borders ... with Kerry. The NYT reports on a Kerry shopping trip to Borders. One of the books he buys is One Hundred Years of Solitude, the Oprah book selection. But how would you like to choose a novel with the press watching? Assuming you were running for President, you'd have to try to pick a book that would reflect on you appropriately. You'd have to pick something like One Hundred Years of Solitude. As he's leaving the store, there's this interchange with a 6-year old kid who's just had his picture taken with Kerry:
"Guess who I hate?" Justin called out as Mr. Kerry walked away. "Bush!"

"Uh-oh," Mr. Kerry said. "We don't want to hate anyone."

That's completely non-macho, and I approve. And by the way, why would the kid say that? He's just an innocent who wants Kerry to like him and has to believe that hating Bush is something to be proud of, like reading a chapter book. He could only have gotten that idea one way.

But what did Kerry say afterwards? No running mike to let us know. Maybe it was "That kid ruled!" or "Even a little kid knows what a corrupt liar Bush is." In my dreams it would be, "Ordinary Democrats are going around casually expressing hatred instead of talking about real ideas. I hope I can help change the political discourse in this country. Clinton-hating was wrong, and so is Bush-hating."

March 12, 2004

"Crooked, you know, lying group." Excuse me if I don't get all excited about Kerry saying , "these guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen." Of course, like the Dean scream, this is the sort of thing that everyone can get up to speed and have an opinion about instantly. It's almost impossible for me to get outraged at this, even though I deplore the overuse of the words "lie," "lying," and "liar," in political debate. But my main two problems with Kerry's current gaffe is that it shows ineptitude (in not knowing when a microphone is attached to his person) and poor speaking ability. Here he is trying get tough with the word "crooked," then he has to stop and say "you know," to collect his thoughts. He thinks (I'm guessing): do I dare say "liars"?--do I dare to eat a peach?--and then decides to tone it down by avoiding the noun and going with the adjective "lying" followed by the excessively pussyfooted "group of people." He goes all Auntie Em in the end:
For twenty-three years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now... well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!

Aw, dammit, now I have to call Campaign Machismo Watch on myself!
Eisner is to Trump as Simpson is to Osbourne? Prof. Bainbridge is thinking of joining me and Prof. Yin in the lawprofs who blog about reality TV shows business. That would be if Disney devised an Apprentice-like reality show to find a replacement for Michael Eisner, as was jokingly suggested.

There will be attempts to replicate The Apprentice, because it's so successful (and it's great too!), but I wonder what they will look like. The Osbournes was (past tense used intentionally, unfortunately) a great show, but could you just follow another celebrity around? It didn't work with Roseanne. But following Jessica Simpson around on the Newlyweds is actually pretty good. That's because Simpson is a great character. Not as supremely great as Ozzy Osbourne, but decently great. Now Trump is a great character, strangely compelling in his loathsomeness. He's the Ozzy of business competition shows. Is there also a Jessica? We'll find out. I'll bet we'll see a Roseanne, though.
Amish day at the Times--Rumpspringa! (Apparently, I think it is my job to detect repetitions.) First, there's this description of Johnny Depp in a movie review by Elvis Mitchell headlined, "Beware of Amish Hitmen and the Anxiety of Influence":
Dressed ominously in a big-brimmed black hat and a work shirt buttoned to the neck — he looks like an Amish hitman — Shooter drawls menacingly, "You stole my book."

(The movie is just some thriller, not about the Amish at all--and Mitchell manages to refer to Popeye and Danger Mouse too, and I will be waiting for random recurrences of these characters.)

The second is the pathetic story "Man Charged After Snack Cakes Stolen" (why report it at all?):
Robert Lee McKiernan, 35, of Cedar Rapids, was arrested Tuesday after an incident in which authorities say he stole a box of Hostess Ho Hos and a box of Cinnamon Crumb Cakes from a barn at an Amish farm near Hazleton, in northeast Iowa.

The third is this correction, surely the Correction of the Day:
An article in The Arts on March 4 about a planned UPN reality show tentatively called "Amish in the City" misspelled the Pennsylvania Dutch term for a rite of passage in which some teenagers experiment with the outside world. Authorities on Amish tradition use various renditions of the dialect, but the most common version is rumspringa, not Rumpspringa.

March 11, 2004

Law school life. A dialogue from the seventh floor, on hearing sounds of revelry coming from the Faculty Library at the end of the hall:
What's going on?
I don't know.
It sounds like some sort of reception.
They seem to be having too much fun.
That's not right.

Back to work. No one investigates.
3/11. A witness, reported in the NYT:
"There were pieces of flesh and ribs all over the road ... There were ribs, brains all over. I never saw anything like this. The train was blown apart. I saw a lot of smoke, people running all over, crying. I saw part of a hand up to the elbow and a body without a head face down on the ground. Flesh all over. I started to cry from nerves. There was a 3-year-old boy all burnt and a father was holding him in his arms, crying."

Very sad.
Websites I hate; high speed access I won't buy. Just when I was about to order high speed access from my cable company (Charter Communications), I go to their website and try to click on "high speed internet help" to find out about the rates and so on. A screeching noise begins, gets louder and louder, and then an animation of a racing car "breaks through" the page and swerves to a halt--an ad for something. I don't read the ad and have to wait several seconds for a button to appear so I can click it away. (Don't go here unless you want to see that sort of thing.) So then I click on the help link and get a page that says:
"We do not support your Operating System. Sorry for any inconvenience."

And sorry if I hate you. My operating system is OSX, and if you don't support it, I don't support you. I was even going to order the cable box, even though I hate the box, because I wanted to get HBO.

Another ridiculous page at the website says:
Get Access to a Great New Start Page! As a result of an exciting new agreement with MSN®, you now have access to a new start page at Start Your Surfing Off Smart. will take you directly to some of the richest and most up to date news, sports, financial and entertainment content on the Internet. It is just a first step towards a more robust offering from Charter scheduled for delivery later in 2004.

So I can "get access"--they'll actually let me go to a MSN® page--and I can even start my "surfing" there? Yeah, that's really "exciting," Charter.
Solving the Jon Peter Lewis mystery. Prof. Yin wrote:
I actually kind of like Jon Peter Lewis' performance, but I don't think there's a chance he'll get through.

Then, it turned out we saw that the li'l guy outpolled even the clearly best person (Jennifer Hudson). Here's Shack's rebuke at Television Without Pity:
You voted spastic dork Jon Peter Lewis into the finals.
Well, I laughed through Lewis's performance and would never have voted for him, but (with hindsight) I understand why he won the vote of the people. The people in question, the ones who speed dial hundreds of times in the alloted two-hour period, are young girls. Personally, I'm not a young girl, but I once was, and I remember very well how I felt about idolizing singers. I was interested in male singers who seemed to be boys, not men. I wrote a few days ago that the group Them wasn't quite what I liked at the time. This was the reason: Van Morrison sounded like a man. For the same reason, I wanted nothing to do with something like, say, Percy Sledge singing When a Man Loves a Woman. Young girls are interested in a singer who is an idealized boyfriend. That's why they liked Clay Aiken so very much. That's why we loved The Monkees.

Gore's raised eybrows. Dowd ends with some approval for Botox:
[T]hink of all the pols who could have benefited from modern cosmetic techniques. ... Richard Nixon could have used Botox to stop his sweating, as Fortune 500 execs do now. And Al Gore could have frozen those condescending eyebrows during the 2000 debate.

Wait ... Gore had eyebrows?
Candidate Machismo Watch. That Cheney joke, as Maureen Dowd's comment below indicates, belongs on the Candidate Machismo Watch list. (The joke is about searching for "missing biowarfare agents in Senator Kerry's forehead" as Dowd recounts it.)
It depends on what the meaning of "don't" is. When Maureen Dowd asked John Kerry if Dick Cheney's joke about Botox was "a way to mock him for an effeminate vanity," he said:
"No, I don't have it," he says coolly. "Vanity or Boxtox [sic]?" I ask, grimacing. "I don't have Botox, but whatever their game is, I don't care," he replies without a wisp of a wince. "That sort of thing is so childish. In the end, people will care about real choices that affect their lives."

Didn't everyone learn from the Lewinsky incident that when someone answers your question in the present tense, you need a follow-up question about the past tense?

Oh, and since Maureen Dowd had gone in search of info about Botox (and was mostly trying to make him react to something, anything, to see if he could still move his face), didn't Kerry implicitly call Dowd childish? But isn't that really why we read Dowd?

March 10, 2004

Movieoke. Now that there's movieoke--good for people who would do karaoke but won't sing in public--I'm ready for the reality show. As karaoke led to American Idol, movieoke must lead to American Movie Star.
Sampling--for painters. What are we to think of a painter who paints from someone else's photos? Should a key point be that the photographer is not purveying his photos as art but is a photojournalist? Should it matter that the painter is selecting parts of the photographs and adding new elements and painting in a painterly not a photo-realist style? Should it matter that the photo is 30 years old?

I'm a lawprof not a copyright lawprof, so I'm just offering the usual array of lawprof-y questions and not an opinion on copyright law. Yet I can't help feeling sympathy for the artist. I often do a freeze frame on the TV--another reason to have a TiVo--and do a drawing. Here, it seems to make a difference whether I'm drawing from a news or talk show, which is casually performed and photographed, and a fiction show or movie, which is an artist's work. Let's say I freeze frames from a beautifully photographed film from 30 years ago, like Taxi Driver, and make a series of large paintings. I don't see how I could sell that. But then, if I find segments within the frame, discovering compositions that are in some way mine (but in some way not), and if painted them on a different scale and in a painterly style, so that the original film couldn't even be perceived--well, that seems entirely different to me. What if I don't bother to paint them but just extract them from a DVD and fool around cropping and redoing the image in the computer? Though I don't imagine copyright law has much to do with the fact that the second work of art may have taken far more effort than the one it is appropriating, it's hard not to side with the painter against the photographer. The artistic photo-manipulator--like Meghan on The Apprentice last week--seems to be another matter entirely.
Gray's Anatomy. We watched Gray's Anatomy last night. My son had rented it a few days ago, before the news came out that Spalding Gray's body had been identified. His (presumed) suicide changes the way I could see the movie: all the closeups compelled me to try to see into that face to find reasons for what happened. Statements in that film about the terrible effects his mother's suicide had on him cannot be heard the same way any more, because he had children too, though one resists blaming the unfortunate man.

The theater performance of Gray's Anatomy, which I saw at the Union Theater here years ago, was far better than the Steven Soderbergh film that is on the DVD. The Soderbergh film is full of extra scenes, interviews with various people who've had eye injuries. These are actually great interviews, beautifully photographed, and worthy as documentary film, but I want to see Gray's theater performance, which has the static, stark visual of a man at a table with a notebook and a glass of water. When Soderbergh does show Gray in his chair, he propels the chair across the screen in front of various projected images and restlessly moves the camera and changes the lighting.

Though he can claim to be trying to express something about failing vision, Soderbergh's implicit message is that the theater piece is not interesting enough for a film, but in fact it's far more compelling--and much funnier--without all the extra embroidery. I'd like to see a deluxe collection of Gray's work on DVD that would include as many of his performance pieces as exist, including both the official films, like Soderbergh's, and films or tapes that have been made of live theater performances. I'd also like to see--if it exists--a filmed performance of the play Our Town that he talks about in Monster in a Box (with or without projectile vomiting).
How is Jayson Blair's girlfriend like Presidential candidate John Kerry? They both spontaneously launch into quoting "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

The info on the girlfriend comes from the great public service feature, "Slate reads the prevaricator's book so you don't have to." The info on John Kerry comes from last Sunday's Maureen Dowd swoon, my aversion to which appears here. Here's the Prufrock part:
But there was Mr. Kerry flying from Boston to New Orleans on Friday, sipping tea for his hoarse throat and reeling off T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."

"There are so many great lines in it," he said. " `Do I dare to eat a peach?' `Should I wear my trousers rolled?' `Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets/The muttering retreats/Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels/And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells."
Well, why not have a big Prufrock revival?

Here's a nice website with the text of the poem tricked up with links (quite a few of them dead though), to miscellaneous things, like the Seurat painting below, for "Arms that are braceleted and white and bare."

Feel free to pick through the Prufrock quotes and find phrases from which to construct wisecracks about Jayson Blair and John Kerry. There are plenty of juicy ones, though you won't find "Should I wear my trousers rolled?"--one of the "great lines" Kerry "reeled off." It's:
I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Jennifer Hudson's dress. I've been a big Jennifer Hudson fan since her first appearance on an audition show--February 3rd. (The topic is American Idol, people.) She was by far the best performer last night, as everyone seemed to agree, so here's my theory about her insane dress, that hot pink rhumba thing that a friend supposedly made for her. I say supposedly because when asked his name, she could only come up with a first name, and even that sounded like she just made it up ("George"). Anyone could see that was a ridiculous dress, so why did she wear it? Her bad clothes have been a topic of merriment on previous shows, so what I'm thinking is, the producers knew she would get through, probably by the vote of the people but if not, as one of the judge's selections. Four people are going through, and there is no question that one of them will be her. With that in mind, the producers had an entirely absurd dress made and convinced her to wear it for the sheer comedy of it all. She would agree to do it for any of a number of reasons: 1. She wants to be agreeable, 2. She has a sense of humor, 3. She likes to wear comic clothing, and (this is the real one) 4. She knew, and they told her, that by calling as much attention to her ridiculous clothes as possible, she was setting the stage for the future occasion when she would redo her image and suddenly look fabulous and receive lavish praise for her brilliant transformation.
Multiple confusions. So I'm trying to figure out how to do some things with my new computer and how to get my images up where I can get a url for them, something I thought I was close to doing last night. I think I'm going to try to operate out of .mac, largely because I'm just a 20 year Mac devotée and so I tend to think by staying with Mac, things will be easier, friendlier--and I never test that assumption by checking out alternatives. But frankly, I got really confused trying to post images through .mac. It's that dual confusion where you're confused about whether something can be done at all and confused about how you would do it. As a Mac person, I expect to just look at a thing and see the answers.
A more active lifestyle. I picked up a new laptop yesterday, a tiny, inexpensive iBook, which I see as key to a more active lifestyle, letting me get out to a café or restaurant. One could just step away from the computer, but it's more realistic just to have a computer that isn't too annoying to carry around (like my old laptop) and has a wireless card. My favorite café sometimes has a laptop on every table, with a nice big cup of liquid right next to it, just waiting to destroy it, and no one seems to notice how they are putting an expensive possession at risk.

March 9, 2004

My Warholized image. This is really mostly just a test of whether I've figured out how to put an image of my own creation someplace on the web where I can then link it to display it here. If this works, I'll probably put up a drawing or a photograph every day. This first image--and I'm hoping it works--is a photograph of me from the 1960s that I've Photoshopped in a way that I like to call "Warholizing." Here goes!


UPDATE: I guess not! I am going to figure this out ...

FINAL UPDATE: Yay!! I did it! I even resized it!!
A front page obituary for Spalding Gray in today's NYT. He deserves it. (When there's a front page obituary, it makes the inside page obituaries seem hidden away. There's one today on the inside for Paul Winfield, who is fondly remembered, especially for Sounder.)

Here's a quote from the Gray obituary:
In addition to his writing, Gray enjoyed skiing and drinking; he once told an interviewer that a 6 p.m. bloody Mary was a staple of his routine.
That's the second Times obituary in less than a week to mention the decedent's interest in Bloody Marys. The subject of drinking is usually suppressed in obituaries. Perhaps there is an artist exception.
"Servicing humanity." People deviate from routine word choice at their own risk. Sometimes they are being pretentious, and sometimes the big words that a pretentious person would use can work nicely as a comic device. Sometimes people are trying to steer clear of cliché or just trying to be striking or original. But please be careful. I was driving to an appointment over the lunch hour, scanning the radio, and there was Rush Limbaugh saying he would be back after the break "to continue servicing humanity." Wouldn't that be a more appropriate expression for his enemies?
service ... TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: ser·viced, ser·vic·ing, ser·vic·es. 1. To make fit for use; adjust, repair, or maintain: service a car. 2. To provide services to. 3. To make interest payments on (a debt). 4a. To copulate with (a female animal). Used of a male animal, especially studs. b. Slang To have sex with.

Ah well, there was once a little market research firm in New York that made a promotional tape bragging about its work by constantly repeating the phrase "It's actionable!" which they seemed to think meant quick and effective.
Bush-v.-Gore-based chortling? Rereading that last post after a break, I'm thinking the part of the excerpted quote that Scalia antagonists will pick up on is the reference to momentous occasions when "the impartiality of even those at the highest levels of the judiciary might not be so clear." He's referring only to trials, of course, since he's talking about decisions whether to admit evidence, but I almost felt I could hear the Bush-v.-Gore-based chortling out there.
"Even Scalia should have problems with this ..." wrote a commenter to a TalkLeft posting last fall after the oral argument in Crawford v. Washington. In the case the Washington state court had allowed the prosecution to use a recorded statement made by the defendant's wife, who did not testify at trial because the state has the kind of spousal privilege where the spouse can't testify without the defendant's consent, and Crawford did not consent. The Washington state court permitted the recorded statement to be used because there was enough evidence of its trustworthiness. Crawford said that violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him and, yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed.

The idea that "even Scalia" would find a right here is inapt because it is exactly the history-based textualism that his critics complain about that leads him to a literal interpretation of the idea of confronting witnesses at trial. Scalia writes the opinion in Crawford:
Where testimonial statements are involved, we do not think the Framers meant to leave the Sixth Amendment’s protection to the vagaries of the rules of evidence, much less to amorphous notions of “reliability.” ... Reliability is an amorphous, if not entirely subjective, concept. There are countless factors bearing on whether a statement is reliable; the nine-factor balancing test applied by the [lower state court] is representative. ... By replacing categorical constitutional guarantees with open-ended balancing tests, we do violence to their design. Vague standards are manipulable, and, while that might be a small concern in run-of-the-mill assault prosecutions like this one, the Framers had an eye toward politically charged cases like [Sir Walter] Raleigh’s -- great state trials where the impartiality of even those at the highest levels of the judiciary might not be so clear.

... Where testimonial statements are at issue, the only indicium of reliability sufficient to satisfy constitutional demands is the one the Constitution actually prescribes: confrontation.

Surely, Justice Scalia deserves credit for the principled application of his methodology. Is he getting any? I only found one reference in NEXIS for "Scalia and Crawford and (textualism or textualist)." That was a brief note in a piece in the Washington Post that the majority included "the court's two leading adherents to a 'textualist' approach to reading the Constitution, Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas." I haven't seen anything Googling either. I'll update here if anything turns up.

March 8, 2004

Spalding Gray. I've written about him before--here, here, and here. I can't say how sad I am to know he's dead. What a brilliant man. There are many monologuists, including one I love as much as Spalding Gray, but there is no one else at all like him. I have driven all over the country listening to my tapes of Monster in a Box over and over. Also The Terrors of Pleasure. Everyone should see Swimming to Cambodia. We saw him perform Gray's Anatomy here at the University Theater years ago, with his plain table and chair and notebook and glass of water. From the NYT:
It was a muted end for Mr. Gray, whose singular talent was closely observed autobiography, performed in a style that alternated between conspiratorial whispers and antic screams as he roamed through topics large and small.

Very, very sad. Hearing his monologues, I always found it hard to believe he could have been as sad and he was saying he was, because he was so funny and so deep. I'd like to think he wouldn't have left us if he hadn't also been in physical pain. Love to his wife and children.
Drop City ... Gloria. I drove in to work this morning listening to an NPR interview with T.C. Boyle, who talked about being really a rock star at heart, forced to be a writer for lack of musical talent. (Hey, that's the way I feel about being a law professor! At least there's a live audience.)
[I]n Drop City, the Van Morrison song "Mystic Eyes" is used to underscore the novel's central conflict between a hippie commune in Alaska and the locals they incense.

I'm going to read that. Me, I liked the early Van Morrison, before his name was known, and he was just Them. I bought the first Them single when it came out ("Here Comes the Night"). It wasn't quite the sort of thing I liked at the time, but it was close enough, and it was clearly good. "Gloria" was even better.

So let me say something about "Gloria," which relates to the single best moment of musical performance I ever witnessed live. It was the mid-1970s, in Greenwich Village, in a small music club that was called The Metropolitan (or something close to that). We had gone to see the folk duo Happy and Artie Traum, whom we liked a lot at the time--this is a good folky album--and were dismayed to see that there was an opening act, and it was just some poet who was going to do a reading. That didn't seem right, and I came close to leaving and coming back later so I wouldn't have some idiot's poetry inflicted on me. Well, the poet was Patti Smith, and there was a guitarist sitting in a chair behind her, sort of aimlessly, quietly noodling, while she recited her poetry in the singsongish way typical of beatnik poets. At some point, it became more like singing, and then, somewhere down the line, with the participation of the guitarist, it became "Gloria." That was the coolest thing ever. A version of her Gloria, appears on the album pictured here. I have that album in a frame on my living room wall.
Blue abandonment continues. I see Tonya--inspired by me!--has changed the background color in the Blogspot Bluebird template. She's taken on a nice dark, possibly Harvard-related red. She's got pictures too. Her cartoon taste diverges from mine. (Scroll down here and on Tonya's blog.)

Meanwhile, Nina had a bad HTML experience trying to put up a picture of storks and is now claiming minimal text-only blogging is much better:
Ahhh the svelte black and white sophisticates – stark sumptuousness –all in the word, nothing else, just pure, sensual, cerebral, elegant text.

Since that sounds like sour grapes to me, and since she wanted to post an image of a stork and one of my first images was a fox, here's a link to "The Fox and the Stork."

March 7, 2004

Candidate Machismo Watch. This is the first entry in a projected series that will concentrate on the ways the Presidential candidates attempt to gain advantage by portraying themselves as more masculine than the other guy. There are two way to do this: by calling attention to one's own masculinity and by calling attention to one's opponent's lack of masculinity. The background assumption, which is offensive, is that the more masculine person should be elected.

In a "Week in Review" piece in today's NYT, John Tierney collects a list of "bests" and "worsts" from the campaign. After awarding John Kerry the "Best Photo Op" honor for his appearance in Iowa with a veteran whose life he saved in Vietnam, Tierney adds:
But there was one even more valuable photo opportunity generously provided by the White House advance team. To rouse an audience, a Democratic candidate had merely to mention the scene of Mr. Bush "playing dress-up" while "prancing" on that aircraft carrier with the "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Well, first, who used those precise quotes, "playing dress-up" and "prancing"? I assume all the Democratic candidates made what they could out of the aircraft carrier event, but who used those quotes, which go beyond criticizing Bush for attempting to display his masculinity and actually try to make him seem as though he were acting effeminate?

Say what you will about Bush, the guy doesn't "prance." It would make more sense to ridicule his excessively masculine way of walking!

Some research will show that "prancing" was Wesley Clark's word, and "playing dress-up" was a Kerry locution. No candidate used both, I'm going to conclude from the fact that a Nexis search only turned up one article other than Tierney's that had both phrases (and "mission accomplished"). The other article, "It's hip to skip the formalities; Presidential candidates, some anxious to shed upper-crust images, use pop-culture phrases to show they're just regular folks. Ain't it cool?", by Renee Tawa, appeared in in the LA Times, on Feb. 7 (it's not linkable). Here's the key part:
Both Kerry and Clark mention Bush's flight deck appearance as a way to underscore their own military service, noted [University of Maryland communications prof Shawn J.] Parry-Giles. "It's creating this kind of hypermasculine kind of discourse," she said. "Clark talks about Bush's 'prancing' on the deck of the aircraft carrier, and Kerry talks about Bush playing dress up," she said. "Clark and Kerry are trying to de-masculinize Bush and his war preparedness."

Okay! Professor Parry-Giles, I completely agree with you!

By the way, Andrew Sullivan himself used "prance" (in the London Times, February 22, 2004--not linkable):
One of the worst decisions that Bush ever made was to prance around on an aircraft carrier in a jump suit gloating that the war in Iraq was "mission accomplished" when it was anything but.
''They said choose: poetry or us.'' After reading the lame praise for Kerry's interest in poetry, I was especially struck by this passage from Elizabeth Rubin's brilliant article in the NYT Magazine, "The Jihadi Who Kept Asking Why":
Abdullah Thabet, the poet in Asir [Saudi Arabia], told me that back in the late 90's, after years of training him to become part of the new generation of religious organizers, the Salifiyya teachers discovered through informers (his friends) that he was reading Hemingway and Hugo and an Arabic Communist philosopher and that he was writing and reading love poetry -- absolute heresy. They beat him mercilessly. ''They said choose: poetry or us.'' He cried for days, not wanting to lose that solidarity. But Abdullah Thabet needed music and poetry more than the harsh Wahhabi creed. Now that he has broken the spell and criticizes Wahhabism, openly writes poetry, advocates women's rights and the teaching of music and painting in school, his parents say they think he's an infidel, and his former Islamic brothers threaten to kill him -- as they did when they saw him with me outside an Asir restaurant.
Yes, poetry is a nice enough thing to dabble in, but would you risk death to keep it in your life? More on Thabet:
[H]e's the image of apostasy -- long sideburns, no beard, jeans, leather jacket, cigarettes. I drove with him around the province one day as a Muzak version of Lionel Richie's ''Say You, Say Me'' strained on his old Ford speakers. ''You can't have a girlfriend in this society,'' he told me. ''It's too expensive to marry, and as a young man, all you're thinking about is sex. So the 'teachers' would tell us, Don't worry, no need now, when you kill yourself you'll have plenty of girls in heaven.'' ... ''If there were girls in our high school,'' he said. ''I never would have joined those groups.''
There's something so sweet and sad about Thabet finding solace in a Muzak "Say You, Say Me." There is much, much more in this article, which is mostly about another man, "the most daring and idiosyncratic of these reformists," Mansour Al-Nogaidan.
Poet or bloviator? Maureen Dowd is drooling over Kerry: he's a poet! Okay, my grandma swooned over Eugene McCarthy because he wrote poetry. (Go ahead, click on that link, you can still be the first person to review his book of selected poems, published seven years ago, which reveals "deep wisdom conveyed with a deft touch," but do hurry, because there's only one left.)

Should we swoon over John Kerry because he responded to Dowd's culture questions with long, long answers, unlike George Bush, who, asked to name his favorite "cultural experience," said "baseball"? Well, consider that, reeling off the names of 37 movies, he doesn't seem to have come up with a single offbeat or obscure title (Dowd cites "National Velvet," "The Deer Hunter," and "Men in Black"). Yet somehow Dowd manages to conclude that, when it comes to culture Kerry is (adopting Kerry's wife's adjective) "insatiable," while Bush is "incurious." She even, weirdly, says Kerry has a "vast palette of cultural preferences." A "vast palette"? Not palate? Well, then let's hope he has a really large thumb. (And, yeah, yeah, don't tell me, I know. And Heinz Kerry was referring to her husband's cultural interests with that adjective, as far as I can tell from Dowd's florid column. Florid column? Now everything sounds dirty. Focus, people!)

But what about poetry, how vast are his interests there? Why they extend to Keats, Yeats, Shelley and Kipling! And he writes it too, so Dowd's just in love. She quotes him:
"I remember flying once; I was looking out at the desert and I wrote a poem about the barren desolation of the desert," he said. "I wrote a poem once about a great encounter I had with a deer early in the morning that was very moving."

Okay, now I just feel compelled to be mean. You want me to love the guy because of this, Maureen? I'm sorry.

First, what the hell was "moving," the encounter with the deer or the poem he managed to author? Either way, Kerry's complimenting himself, and that's unsavory. Either he's saying, I'm a sensitive guy because I have moving encounters with deer in the morning, or he's saying I'm a sensitive guy because I write moving poetry about encounters with deer in the morning. "Great" encounters with deer, no less.

Second, shouldn't a poet have some sort of way with words? It's bad enough to use "moving" ambiguously and come up with nothing more precise than "great" to describe you morning deer encounter, but "the barren desolation of the desert"? I'll pause to say it doesn't take great subtlety of mind to look at a desert and come up with the insight that it's barren and desolate, but I'll assume the poem goes somewhere and compares the desert to some damn thing (life itself!). But what I've just got to rail about is "barren desolation of the desert." As opposed to what? The fertile desolation of the desert? The barren camraderie of the desert? The barren desolation of the fruited plain?

Maureen, the man isn't a poet, he's a windbag!
Celebrity with a handgun and a high, beautiful voice. I see Nina's blogging about the David Crosby arrest. I was going to blog about him yesterday, but then it just seemed too sad. How out of it must you be to abandon a bag with a gun and drugs in it so that the hotel employees feel compelled to open it to try to identify the owner? Is that a cry for help or just utter oblivion? I don't know, I lost a new Pelikan fountain pen a couple months ago and then a burnt velvet scarf, so I know how it is. You can lose things.

I love David Crosby though. Not Crosby-Stills-&-Nash Crosby, but The Byrds Crosby. The first concert I ever saw was The Byrds. Folks, it was their first tour! That's how old I am, though I was pretty young at the time. I've said before that the first group I ever loved was The Four Seasons. That made me a bit resentful of The Beatles at first, and the whole British Invasion set of characters, at least until I discovered one of the groups on my own, listening to a distant radio station late at night. (The song was "I Can't Explain." I loved the early Who, and in fact was a member of The Who fan club before they had even released an album in the United States, purely on the strength of "I Can't Explain.")

But The Byrds were part of America's answer to the British Invasion, folk rock, which took the British sound and made it better because they began with Dylan songs or songs with lyrics that tried to be like Dylan's. So Mr. Tambourine Man by The Byrds was truly sublime. Crosby's voice was supremely beautiful then, and he was a sweet kid who always had a little smile, back in the days when Roger McGuinn was Jim McGuinn and David always wore that green suede poncho with brown suede laces in the front. (Is that thing in a Hard Rock Café somewhere now?)(Want to see how they looked in action then? Get this.)

I hope for the best for David. Part of me wants to say, don't some celebrities need to carry a handgun to protect themselves and why waste any public resources on a guy with a small amount of marijuana? But I can't appreciate a guy with a handgun who leaves it lying around in luggage he doesn't keep track of. I see he got arrested not long after giving a concert in Wayne, New Jersey. That's where I was living in the 1960s when I went to see him that first time. There were no concert halls in Wayne then. Where did I see him? Newark? I don't remember. They played a short set and we all screamed through the entire thing. It couldn't have been more thrilling. Good luck, David.
Hey, I want to make up dialogues too.
Archaic methods still in use. Yesterday, I received a hand-addressed, stamped envelope, containing a handwritten note and a newspaper clipping! You'd think everyone would only email links (or cut and pasted text) nowadays. It seemed so odd, in part, because my mother used to send clippings and she is no longer alive, and in part, because the clipped article was about blogging! It's not as weird as it may seem. I couldn't Google my way to the same article (from the Orlando Sentinel), and it does have a nutty photograph of a smiling graphics-design guy sticking his head in front of a giant painting of a terrified face. (My Dinner With André fans: What does this image remind you of?)

I told my sister about my blog--by email, she does use email--but she's never commented on anything I've written here. Maybe she just read my email, remembered "Ann has a blog, whatever that is," then one day she was reading the Orlando Sentinel, ran across the article and it all came together somehow. But has she ever read the blog? I have no idea! I do post from time to time to cheer on her son, Cliff Kresge, who is on the PGA Tour, but she's never acknowledged it. I'll see if she responds to this!

UPDATE: 5 under for round 4. Nice!
Has Hollywood transformed how we see beauty? Look at these two photographs and observe your own reaction.