August 1, 2009

Layers of Life.



We're here for a reason.

Why aren't more people going to the beach?

This NYT article attributes the phenomenon to the reverse-global warming we're having. Nah, just kidding. It's a cool summer, and that's the reason given for the low beach attendance, but, of course, there's the predictable denial of the denial of global warming:
William D. Solecki, a geography professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York and co-chairman of a mayoral panel on climate change, warned that this summer’s unusually mild temperatures should not buoy global warming skeptics.

“Ask them to visit Seattle,” he said, where a record temperature of 103 was recorded on Wednesday.

“On average, going back decades, we would only have a few days above 90 in any given summer,” he said, “and while we haven’t hit that mark yet, there’s still a lot of summer left.”
I love that we are "warned" not to feel optimistic. How twisted we've become! It's like people are rooting for disaster. I also love the way we're instructed not to take any cool weather as evidence of what the climate is becoming, but any hot weather will be used to "buoy" our belief that disaster looms ahead. (You're going to need a buoy when those oceans rise up.)

But I want to raise the question whether it's the low temperatures that are keeping so many people away from the beach. There are plenty of other reasons not to go to the beach: it's a hassle, we've got air conditioning, we love indoor activities like movies and computer games, we're concerned about skin cancer, we've gotten fat and don't want to be seen in a bathing suit, etc. etc. It's really quite silly to think that — in the modern world — going to the beach is the natural and automatic response to hot weather. Most of us can get some cool at home, and if we can't, it's much simpler to go to the movies or a restaurant.

As the generation that grew up without air conditioning ages and dies off, maybe beach-going will become an old-fashioned, occasional activity, not the main idea of summertime.

Cur Knee.

A respelling of the place where I am, right now, having a coffee and WiFi break.

We spent last night on the largest inland island in the world — or rather, a town named for its location on the largest inland island in the world. (The town was subsequently moved, but the name was kept.)

What are we up to? Some readers have a clue.

ADDED: Actually, I should have titled this post "Car Knee," not because I'm cramped from all the driving, but because that's proper pronunciation. We did hear someone say "Cur Knee" though.

Sports headlines toy with the brains of nonfans.

I've long been annoyed by the NYT blog called "Bats." I was bitten by a bat once and had to get rabies shots. And I've had other run-ins with the leathery-winged fiends. Actually, I love them when they are outside, eating mosquitoes and so forth. I might like reading a blog about bats. But Bats is not about bats. It's about baseball. (Maybe if I cared about baseball, I'd still hate the blog title "Bats," either because it disrespects pitchers or because I would still think it was about bats.)

Now, today, The Washington Post has a front-page teaser: "Do Juicers Belong in the Hall of Fame?" And I'm thinking, so there's an Appliances Hall of Fame? Where is it? What was the first inductee? Refrigerator! I'll bet it's refrigerator! But I click to the article —which is (obscurely) re-titled "Do Juicers Belong in Canton?" — and see that it's about drug users and the Baseball Football Hall of Fame. Oh, I don't know. But if there's an Appliances Hall of Fame, it's scraping to low too let in the juicers.

I swear that was an accident.

I did not mean to create that Theme of the Day!

The new Robin Givhan column is not, as you might expect, about what Gates, Crowley, Obama and Biden wore to the beer fest.

It's about a man's naked ass!
... his beautifully muscled shoulders -- light glinting off his sturdy tush -- poised to break through the water like an elegant and potent torpedo. The rip in his skintight black suit runs from the middle of his back all the way down to the bottom of his bottom. The tear exposes a significant portion of [Ricky] Berens's backside anatomy. Suffice it to say that the rear end of a championship swimmer is a magnificent example of how glorious the human body can be. In an era when so many of this country's backsides have gone wide, flat and flabby from too much couch-sitting and cupcake-eating, the Berens buttocks were a visual rebuke of Americans' deep-fried bad habits.
His ass is rebuking us!

It's not enough to say that his ass is sturdy, poised, elegant, potent, and glorious. Givhan must also say that our ass is not.

Let's cut Obama some slack about this photograph.

Thomas Lifson says:
Sergeant Crowley, the sole class act in this trio, helps the handicapped Professor Gates down the stairs, while Barack Obama, heedless of the infirmities of his friend and fellow victim of self-defined racial profiling, strides ahead on his own. So who is compassionate? And who is so self-involved and arrogant that he is oblivious?
But here's the thing. Remember this? Obama had to worry that if he turned around to help Gates, somebody was going to be able to take a photograph of him looking at Crowley's ass.

July 31, 2009

Gates's daughter gets catty about Crowley's daughter: "she was wearing an appropriately heavy and charmingly untrained amount of green eyeliner."

Elizabeth Gates poses as empathetic as she swipes a paw at the policeman's daughter:
As our family rounded the corner to the White House library and I first caught sight of Sgt. Crowley’s lovely daughter; she was wearing an appropriately heavy and charmingly untrained amount of green eyeliner on her lower lashes, and I saw my former self in her.
Now, can the 2 girls get a picnic-table summit with — hmmm — Michelle Obama? Let's begin a great national conversation about how women judge and maybe even hate other women. In the fourth chair — the Biden seat — Hillary! Instead of beer, various girlie drinks — maybe Focus Vitamin Water or something. Cosmos for the older ladies.

At the Red Martini Tavern...

An Eric in Asheville Picture

... carry on!

(Picture taken with my camera by Agent 95 in Asheville.)

"Astronaut Koichi Wakata didn't change underwear for a month."

"Wakata’s special clothing range was designed ... by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, and is known as J-Wear. Made of cotton and polyester with a silver coating that gives it its special properties, it also includes socks, T-shirts, trousers and leggings."

I don't know what your days-old underpants are coated with, but Wakata's are coated with silver!

At the Eat-a-Flower Café...


... come on! It's delicious! And after the flower is gone....


.... let's dance the beetle dance!

"He would have sex with as many as 10 or 15 men in the course of a normal day, while still logging a full day's work at the typewriter."

"He puts his lifetime total at something on the order of 50,000 partners. 'I don't know whether it resolves any particular conflicts,' he says. 'You learn a lot about different people, different groups — and it's a lot of fun.' Although he does not practice safe sex, he has remained HIV-negative, in part because he engages only in nonpenetrative sex."

"What other kind of too-narrow focus provides, for one and all, a diagnostic name for itself?"

"If you're ethnocentric, does your culture include a folk dance acknowledging the limitations of your outlook? Is there a beeper that goes off when you get too technocentric? If you're iconocentric, where's the visual image that's going to tell you that you are?"

I'll tell you who's saying that and what he's talking about after you bandy the question around a while.

ADDED: The quote is from "Alphabet Juice," by Roy Blount Jr., and he's talking about the word "logocentric."

"'It was one of those things where they put you up against the wall and hold you down by your elbows.'"

"I assume she’s talking about being manhandled by the cops, but no — chiropractic."

"Urbane New Jersey."

A funny expression I didn't expect to see in mainstream media:
President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has quietly agreed to move a pornography prosecution out of socially conservative Montana to more urbane New Jersey – fueling perceptions by some attorneys that the new administration is stepping back from the aggressive approach the Bush administration took to prosecuting obscenity.
"Urbane New Jersey" was deemed apt — apparently — in the enterprise of contrasting the much-maligned mid-Atlantic state with Montana — that state full of — oh, the unsophistication of it all! — social conservatives.

Actually, the dictionary definition of "urbane" is "notably polite or polished in manner."

What's as polite and polished as porn? Or is it that polite, polished people quietly tolerate things?
“This is a substantial change of position,” said Louis Sirkin, an attorney who has represented many in the pornography industry, including Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.
Isn't that's what you want in porn — a substantial change of position?
“The new administration has come in there and made a new determination….It certainly is different than what we have seen in the past.”

“I think it has a lot to do with the change in administration,” said a former federal prosecutor, Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School. “It makes you wonder how far they were pushing the envelope before…..These cases are fraught with problems and are not a high priority.”
Blah blah blah... why are they not dropping this prosecution altogether?
Since Obama’s inauguration, prosecutors have pressed on with pending obscenity cases and accepted guilty pleas in one high-profile prosecution brought in Pittsburgh. However, there have been no announcements of new adult obscenity indictments, a trend that Justice Department officials declined to discuss....
Presumably, they want to end it all quietly, so shhhh....
Obscenity cases are politically sensitive for the Obama Justice Department because the deputy attorney general, David Ogden, was criticized by Republicans during his confirmation for his past legal work for Playboy and other purveyors of sexually explicit material.

The Clunker Clunker.

"Cash for Clunkers" got a lot of folks jazzed up, but it flamed out in 1 week.

Is this just some oddball quirk of a program, or should we see it as a sign that all those other programs loaded with money and big ideas are fatally ill-designed?

AND: Ha ha. Instapundit drives a clunker.

AND: "House seeks $2B more in cash-for-clunker aid." Rule of thumb: After a program goes into operation, the estimate of its cost will increase by >200%. Not fair? Why? Because it's too high or because it's too low?

July 30, 2009

At the Great Blue Heron Café...


... you can wade into anything.

The photo was taken with an iPhone from the shore of Lake Mendota, this evening.

"The national conversation over the past week about my arrest has been rowdy, not to say tumultuous and unruly."

"But we’ve learned that we can have our differences without demonizing one another. There’s reason to hope that many people have emerged with greater sympathy for the daily perils of policing, on the one hand, and for the genuine fears about racial profiling, on the other hand. Having spent my academic career trying to bridge differences and promote understanding among Americans, I can report that it is far more comfortable being the commentator than being commented upon. At this point, I am hopeful that we can all move on, and that this experience will prove an occasion for education, not recrimination."

Professor Gates, nicely put. I especially like the phrase "genuine fears about racial profiling," which — perhaps — gracefully concedes that his own fears made him interpret the incident as something that it was not, while at the same time asking us to feel real sympathy for those fears.

Gates also acknowledges the police officer's fear. Both men had fears, and, quite apart from whether the yelling or the arrest was justified, it is good for us to understand these different fears that come from different places. I would guess that the disjunction between the stories the 2 men told may be accounted for by the different nature of the fears that filtered their perceptions.

If that is so, and if we want to move forward, then more important than figuring out what really happened is for us all to see how way things look through another person's fears. Maybe we can see that in time to avert the next ugly confrontation.

About that handbag strap murder...

Gatti hanged himself. It "would have been impossible for her to suspend and hang a man of that size."

Reflections upon watching the White House beer event on CNN.

1. Why's Biden there? (Link to print coverage with photo.) Unfair to Crowley. He's outnumbered 3 to 1, and he's the one in the most unfamiliar situation.

2. It was 86° when this happened — the hottest time of the day — and Crowley and Gates are in dark suits and ties? When it was decided that this would be a picnic-table setting, why didn't they ensure that the invited guests dress for the casual environment? Biden and Obama are in shirt sleeves, which isn't appropriate either, but they are at least cooler. Nothing like making the guests comfortable. This doesn't even give the remote appearance of a bunch of guys having a beer.

3. We don't get to hear anything they say, but somehow it's supposed to convey a message to America and the world about racial harmony. Look! These men can do that. Uh, what? Sit awkwardly in suits and sip from mugs?

4. The "RACE IN AMERICA: AFTER THE BEERS" frenzy of non-analysis on CNN was truly absurd.


Was this a "teachable moment" and, if it was, what was taught? Wolf Blitzer asked again and again to various hyper-articulate/utterly empty commentators.

5. Chez Althouse, we had some laughs at that CNN frenzy. And we weren't even drinking. Now, I'm thinking about what Rush Limbaugh said earlier today: "Drinking beer before dinner is the wrong message to send to obese Americans. I mean they're trying to tell us we need to fix our diets, right? They have targeted and demonized the obese. And they're doing it in a vicious way and now what is the message — drink a beer before dinner? If we're going to micromanage Americans' weight we should at least start sending out body fat correct messages, and that does not include drinking beer before dinner.... You don't drink beer before eating. It's a horrible message to send to the obese, and to make a huge deal about this — overweight Americans are under assault as a drag on health care and as a drag on the budget, and what's the president doing? He's showing people how to pack on calories the easy way, have a beer with a cop and an elitist professor at a picnic table in the kids' playground before dinner."

6. News conference coming up? Ugh. Guess I have to watch. Obama may teach me something. We may have our "moment" yet. I'll update.

ADDED: 7. Crowley gives a press conference in which he mainly says that the discussion was, upon agreement among the men, private. It was all "cordial." "No tension." Okay.

"[Roseanne Barr] nails the Fuehrer’s facial expressions with twisted glee..."

"... and as she takes the burnt gingerbread 'Jew Cookies' out of the oven ...."

Hairy back-vertising.

Ha ha ha ha....

(Via Instapundit.)

I don't disapprove. As long as he stays at the beach (or puts his shirt on). And keeps his distance.

At the Zinnia Café...


... zero in on whatever you like.

"Close your eyes and see green. Money up to your armpits, a roomful of money and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool."

Reverend Ike. Rest in Peace... or in a swimming pool of money....

"Marriage changes passion. Suddenly you're in bed with a relative."

Melanie Gideon, in "The Slippery Year."

"Auto-Tune the News."

"'Auto-Tune the News' is the brainchild of [Michael] Gregory, 24, and his two brothers and sister-in-law. Using the software program Auto-Tune (which is used by musicians — like Cher — to simulate perfect pitch) and a green screen (which places one image on top of another in a video, as in weather forecasts) they’ve produced six videos — which have been viewed at least 6 million times."

Here's what we're talking about:

"The claim that the House health care bill pushes suicide is nonsense."

And in the words of the President: “That would be kind of morbid.”

"The post title was originally 'Stop Law Porn,' since these mailings are sometimes called 'law porn.'"

"But I changed that, since there's nothing at all titillating about them."

Eugene Volokh has second thoughts.

"Obama’s top science adviser, John P. Holdren, advocated the 'de-development' of the United States..."

John P. Holdren wrote: "A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.... [O]ne key to saving world society lies in a measured and orderly retreat from overdevelopment in today’s ODCs (overdeveloped countries) — a process we will label, for want of a better word, de-development."

So... should we relax and enjoy the recession?

"20 Best Stoned Faces of All Time (Or at Least the Past Six Months)."

I didn't go to the Village Voice looking for stoned faces. (I went looking for something about Obama's beer with Gates and Crowley and had Googled up "Obama Will Drink Piss Beer at Gates-Crowley Summit.") But "stoned faces" in the sidebar distracted me. Don't go there. It's not that funny. And the "piss beer" is Bud Lite, so you don't need to go to that other link either. Ignore this post. Ignore the Village Voice. It's piss journalism.

"Same-sex couples in Dane County that register as domestic partners with the state beginning Monday won't get all of the same rights..."

"... as their married peers, but they’ll be equal in at least one way — signing up will cost $115, the same as for a marriage license... By signing up, same-sex couples will get a document that formalizes their relationship and can be used in a variety of ways..."

What ways? The more similar domestic partnership is to marriage, the stronger the argument that it violates the Wisconsin constitution:
[Wisconsin Family Action] filed a petition for original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking the Court to declare the domestic partner registry Gov. Jim Doyle authored in the 2010-11 state budget unconstitutional and to issue a permanent injunction against it....
Here's Art. XIII, sec. 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution:
Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.
It's all about "substantially." Proponents of the new law want it to be as substantial as it can be without being substantial within the meaning of the constitution. Similar, but not that similar.

Meanwhile, the state will accept your $115 fee for... almost nothing... or nothing at all if it's is too much not nothing and therefore unconstitutional.

"Stunning Eva Mendes needed therapy to appreciate her beauty."

Hilarious headline.

Reminded me of this:

(What accent is that? The made-up "I'm beautiful" accent?)

July 29, 2009

At the Summer Grass Café...


... you don't have to talk about lobsters anymore.

"The enormous, pungent, and extremely well marketed Maine Lobster Festival is held every late July in the state’s midcoast region..."

"The assigned subject of this article is the 56th Annual MLF, July 30 to August 3, 2003, whose official theme was 'Lighthouses, Laughter, and Lobster'":
2003 Festival highlights: concerts by Lee Ann Womack and Orleans, annual Maine Sea Goddess beauty pageant, Saturday’s big parade, Sunday’s William G. Atwood Memorial Crate Race, annual Amateur Cooking Competition, carnival rides and midway attractions and food booths, and the MLF’s Main Eating Tent, where something over 25,000 pounds of fresh-caught Maine lobster is consumed after preparation in the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker near the grounds’ north entrance. Also available are lobster rolls, lobster turnovers, lobster sauté, Down East lobster salad, lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and deep-fried lobster dumplings. Lobster Thermidor is obtainable at a sit-down restaurant called The Black Pearl on Harbor Park’s northwest wharf. A large all-pine booth sponsored by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council has free pamphlets with recipes, eating tips, and Lobster Fun Facts. The winner of Friday’s Amateur Cooking Competition prepares Saffron Lobster Ramekins, the recipe for which is available for public downloading at There are lobster T-shirts and lobster bobblehead dolls and inflatable lobster pool toys and clamp-on lobster hats with big scarlet claws that wobble on springs.
I'm doing a lobster theme today, following the pattern of previous theme days on this blog, which is to work a theme only after I've perceived an accidental theme present in the first 2 or more posts.

Putting "lobster" through a Google news search just now, I see that "Lobster fest starts today in Rockland." An odd coincidence:
Lobster lovers and others come from all over the U.S. and other countries to the volunteer-run festival, which [the prez of the festival] estimated generates as much as $2 million annually for the area economy.

“It’s gained so much national and international recognition,” she said.

She said many of this year’s showcase activities — such as the crowning of the Sea Goddess from a court culled from local girls — are tried-and-true crowd pleasers which have been around for decades. Others, such as Sunday’s “Real Maine Man” pageant, are relatively new.

Last year, organizers had a “Real Maine Man” cooking contest, but they’ve upped the ante this summer. Cash prizes totaling $225 will be awarded to those who can prove their Mainely manliness after competing in categories such as Best Real Maine Man Outfit, Talent, and Feats of Strength and Endurance....

There also will be a parade, an art show, Navy ship tours, and a lobster crate race, among many other activities planned over the five-day festival.

But the star of the show, Kolmosky emphasized, is everyone’s favorite sea creature.

“I think the highlight of the festival is the delectable Maine lobster,” she said.

One must-see is what organizers proudly refer to as the “World’s Greatest Lobster Cooker,” a behemoth that can cook 1,600 pounds of lobsters every 15 minutes at its peak capacity.

“It’s a show in itself,” Kolmosky said.
That's from today's news article. The quote that starts this post is from a much darker account of the festival, David Foster Wallace's 2004 essay "Consider the Lobster." Wallace has a lot to say about the World’s Greatest Lobster Cooker:
So then here is a question that’s all but unavoidable at the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens across the U.S.: Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does “all right” even mean in this context? Is it all just a matter of individual choice?...

[T]he whole animal-cruelty-and-eating issue is not just complex, it’s also uncomfortable. It is, at any rate, uncomfortable for me, and for just about everyone I know who enjoys a variety of foods and yet does not want to see herself as cruel or unfeeling. As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing. I should add that it appears to me unlikely that many readers of [G]ourmet wish to think hard about it, either, or to be queried about the morality of their eating habits in the pages of a culinary monthly. Since, however, the assigned subject of this article is what it was like to attend the 2003 MLF, and thus to spend several days in the midst of a great mass of Americans all eating lobster, and thus to be more or less impelled to think hard about lobster and the experience of buying and eating lobster, it turns out that there is no honest way to avoid certain moral questions.

There are several reasons for this. For one thing, it’s not just that lobsters get boiled alive, it’s that you do it yourself—or at least it’s done specifically for you, on-site. As mentioned, the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker, which is highlighted as an attraction in the Festival’s program, is right out there on the MLF’s north grounds for everyone to see. Try to imagine a Nebraska Beef Festival at which part of the festivities is watching trucks pull up and the live cattle get driven down the ramp and slaughtered right there on the World’s Largest Killing Floor or something—there’s no way.
He's just getting rolling at that point... just getting roiling. It's a festival of agonizing over there at the link.

"OK, I understand the psychologists' point. I do think they should consider seeing a psychiatrist about their explosive anger."

Funny line from an excellent post about how the NYT is overreacting to some stuff in Wikipedia revealing things about the Rorschach test.


And, hey, this one's a lobster or you're crazy...

... and I see an invisible woman in a blue bra and green stockings with yellow pincer-hands...

Jeffrey Goldberg says "Dahlia Lithwick is a Haiku Genius."

"She's condensed a week of Senate blather about Sotomayor into exquisite little poems."

I'm no poetry expert — maybe you are — but I don't see why these should count as even marginally good haiku. I suppose the whole thing is that it was done at all — making Senators' statements about Sotomayor into haiku.

Here are some teaching materials on haiku, focusing specifically on haiku in English:
The haiku poet cultivates awareness so that s/he may experience some unusually forceful impact coming from ordinary life or from everyday surroundings....

In 'haiku spirit' the poet adopts a self-effacing and faithful attitude towards the object s/he perceives. S/he does not set out to be moralistic or didactic or judgemental. The haiku form has been used successfully to write adages and epigrams, but because the aim of adages and epigrams is to mould opinion they are not haiku in spirit....

[M]any successful haiku result from a long process of draughting and re-writing, during which the poet clings hard to the original perception.

The pain is to give readers the means to feel as the poet her/himself felt at the time, or maybe differently, without any explicit (and so directive) statements about actual feelings. Some typical attitudes are humility, serenity, compassion, acceptance of transience and man's lonely state, joy in resurgence and company, wonder, wistfulness, as well as humour of a whimsical and sometimes paradoxical kind.
Now, those "typical attitudes" are so obviously not what one finds among Senators that the idea of writing bad haiku in the voice of a Senator is a very good one, but if you're doing bad, be really bad — there's a blog, Bad Haiku — and I think — I think — that would have to exclude anything that Jeffrey Goldberg would proclaim as the work of a genius.


And I know, I know, I know: How can you take advice about taste from someone who writes "S/he" and "her/himself"?

UPDATE: And curses! What a missed opportunity to keep up what began as an accidental Theme of the Day. Permit me to compensate via this update:
Dead Sea Shells Worship
Lobster Fangs In Hades Door
While I Sleep Dead

Lobster and artichokes
Slather with spirits
Canine hurls protein yak

Snip my buttons off,
With your shearing claw, my sweet
Lobster in my pants

Though warm tasty and
delicious, urine should not
be served with lobster

Such a tasty meat,
Drenched in succulent butter
Lobster dies for me
All right. Enough. I am satisfied.

UPDATE #2: Jeffrey Goldberg is not amused.

Things found behind the radiator.

I tend to put magazines on the radiator when I'm clearing away the clutter that accumulates on the dining table, so it didn't surprise me that an old magazine had slipped into the rarely inspected space between the radiator and the wall. But if, at the point when the magazine had been spotted, you had asked me what old magazine I'd hoped had hidden out back there and escaped my routine recycling, I'd have said the issue of The Atlantic with the David Foster Wallace essay "Host."

I have the essay in the book "Consider the Lobster," but the book had taken the magazine's big pages that had little colored boxes around text and wide margins with corresponding colored boxes of additional text and reduced it to small black-and-white clutter, and I'd been avoiding reading it for years.

I exult when the magazine is the issue of The Atlantic with "Host." I display the layout, note the colors, and bitch about the book.

Response: "It's like hypertext."

I look on line and immediately find the essay with all the boxes moved out of sight and words and phrases neatly hyperlinked. How deflating! Is the magazine discovery nothing at all — or nothing more than a prompt to Google the old essay, which now all of you have too?

I scan the magazine version. There's something nice about the way they found to graphically depict hyperlinking, I suppose, but more than anything, I think about how much I love reading on line, fully at ease with clicking through things I'm in the middle of and flowing all over everywhere for hours, completely enthralled, perhaps never to return to the place where I started. There's nothing at all like the copy of "Consider the Lobster," sitting on my bedside table for years, reminding me of the unread essay it contains.

"Movies have long relied on half-cooked turkeys colored with motor oil, fruit made of plastic, and ice cream carved from Crisco..."

The work of movie food stylists. (Did you know there's a new movie with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child? It's called "Julie & Julia" — and the "Julie" is a blogger.)
A good [movie food] stylist always has enough replacement food. That’s not so easy to plan for. Often, no one knows what part of a dish an actor will eat until the scene is shot or how many takes the director will want....

Johanna Weinstein, a food stylist based in Toronto, said, “It’s guerilla kind of stuff because you are all about making quantity so the actors have enough of the one thing they have to eat 100 times and then correcting things on the fly.”

And things change fast. For the 2000 movie “American Psycho,” Ms. Weinstein had prepared several vegetarian dishes for the actor Willem Dafoe, who, she was told, didn’t eat meat. But at the last minute, he decided his character was a carnivore. In deference to his Method acting technique, she had to send out for steaks and figure out how to cook them on the set.
What a complicated, brilliant way for a committed vegetarian to finally get some steak — and look even more committed!

A few more tidbits:
There are a thousand little ways to make it easy on the actors.. Parsley needs to be used sparingly so it doesn’t get stuck in teeth. Toast can’t be so toasty that it crunches too loudly. Low-fat options like apple slices need to be tucked on top of a high-calorie dish that an actor has to nibble on repeatedly....

Then there are live creatures on a set that must be dealt with properly. On “Titanic,” which was filmed in Mexico, the food was constantly sprayed down with pesticide to keep the flies off....

On the set of “Julie & Julia,” the lobsters posed a special challenge. Ms. Adams appears to plunge two live lobsters into a pot of steaming water. The steam is actually a cool mist, and just off camera representatives from the American Humane Association monitored the creatures’ health.

July 28, 2009

Let's talk about "The Hot Issue" of Cosmo.

I was just waiting in line at Walgreens, trying to buy some toothpaste, and this grabbed... well, I don't want to say it grabbed me by the balls, but that's the kind of thing it would say, just like it would say "5 things that can BLOW a JOB interview."


Cosmo is just so sexually aggressive. It tires me out. It makes me want to to find out how not to look tired. Get hit on all the time? Get hit on to annoy your friends? Can't I just quietly contemplate whether my breasts are normal or what pittance I might spend to make my skin amazing?

And now you want to tell me about 125 sex moves — in rank order, no less. 125! What if I'd just like some — maybe 40 — little tiny ways to connect with a guy? (One guy!) Not even sex ways, you know? Duh! Sex is just the 41st way, and we already know about it. It's so desperate to need that one thing broken down into 125 parts.

And maybe I don't want thousands of men sent over the edge. That sounds dangerous! Like some kind of war. Over the edge! Come on, back off a bit, ladies. Cosmo has been handing out secrets to drive men wild for decades, to the point where I've been wondering why the streets aren't, by now, teeming with rampaging wild men, all these secrets being so widely dispersed among so many women for so long.

Then there are the 5 things — always with the lists — you should never let your "gyno" do. That underlining, frankly, scares me. You mean there are some rather disturbing things you might occasionally let your gyno do, but there are 5 of them that you really never should let him/her do? What kind of crazy shit are gynos trying to get away with, anyway?

And that leaves us with the Orgasm Whisperer, which I guess is like the Horse Whisperer or the Dog Whisperer, but for orgasms, so supposedly this is a man — woman? — who is has a special, highly effective way of talking to orgasms and extracting appropriate behavior from them. I don't really understand. Maybe it's a little like playing Mozart recordings to unborn babies in the womb. Still, if the orgasm is there, what's the problem? And if the orgasm is not there, what are you whispering to?

Oh, lord, I just want to know some beauty tricks from top models and the real deal on the guys Taylor Swift sings about.

At the Critter Cafe...


... you are so delightfully creepy.

(Knoxville readers should recognize this bas relief.)

"Cut health costs by banning divorce?"

Think about it. Yesterday, we were talking about how the government "has ways of changing behavior" to deal with the supposed medical expenses studies attribute to obesity.

If studies show that divorce damages health, then horning into our marriages will become the government's business too. Obviously another blue pill. You expect us to pay for the red pill, when there's a blue pill?

"I don’t believe that Judge Sotomayor has the deep-rooted convictions necessary to resist the siren call of judicial activism."

"She has evoked its mantra too often. As someone who cares deeply about our great heritage of law, I must withhold my consent."

Jeff Sessions, one of 6 Senators on the Judiciary Committee voting no, just now. But 13 Senators voted yes — all the Dems, plus Lindsey — so the smooth path to confirmation is as clear as it's always been.

It suddenly dawned on Conan O'Brien that the Palin speech is "a poem."

So here, as it was — per Conan — intended:

Something about the way Shatner peaks at "north" had me not laughing — as intended — but thinking about Glenn Gould's "The Idea of North." I can't find the audio on line, but it's here, along with 2 other things, on a CD that I have listened to many times and highly recommend.

Here's 10 minutes of Gould talking about it:


"The Idea of North" is also one of the "short films" in "32 Short Films About Glenn Gould," which, you may have noticed, has always been listed in my Blogger profile as one of my favorite films.

Here's the scene in the movie where Gould — who puts ketchup on his scrambled eggs — is getting the inspiration to do sound montages:

Madmenize yourself.


Commenter Ron made this one for me:

Senator Grassley: Sotomayor "doesn't have a clear role of what the Supreme Court is."

Doesn't have a clear role of what the Supreme Court is?

He can't talk right, but he has a vote, and he's voting against Sonia Sotomayor.
Grassley said his vote in part is based on second thoughts he has had about Souter, confirmed in 1990.

"I can say my vote for him is probably the only vote for 11 or 12 Supreme Court justices that has come back to haunt me from time to time," Grassley said. "I think Judge Sotomayor's very lukewarm answer that she gave me left me with the same pit in my stomach I had as a result of my vote for Souter."
Pit in my stomach? Oh, good lord, he really can't talk right. From Common Errors in English:
Just as you can love someone from the bottom of your heart, you can also experience a sensation of dread in the pit (bottom) of your stomach. I don’t know whether people who mangle this common expression into “pit in my stomach” envision an ulcer, an irritating peach pit they’ve swallowed or are thinking of the pyloric sphincter; but they’ve got it wrong.
So, Sotomayor either does or does not make judicial decisions emanating from empathy and Wise Latina experience, and Grassley feels his decisions in his stomach and when they feel like the part of a fruit that he shouldn't have eaten — or when he's haunted — he votes no.

Does anybody have a clear role about anything anymore?

The NYT is running pictures of dogs, sent in by readers.

At first I thought this was a really lame manifestation of the newspaper's slide into mediocrity, but... oh, the doggies are cute... I mean, the presentation is clever and elegant.

July 27, 2009

"Susie, one of the longest borders on earth is right here between your country and mine. An open border."

"Fourteen hundred miles without a single machine gun in place. Yeah, I suppose that all sounds very corny to you."

"I could love being corny, if my husband would only cooperate."


DVD — "A Touch of Evil" — screened as the sky behind the TV darkened to a tornadic yellow-green and 2 large bowls of popcorn were consumed. It's a wild movie, and here's my favorite scene:

My favorite thing in the movie is the figurine of a chipmunk on the table there. It made me think of the evil "woodland critters" from "South Park":

"Rants are not all childish tantrums.... Many erupt from those who believe they’ve seen enough, and done enough, and complied enough..."

"... they’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore."

(I'm watching Axl's rant.)

(If rants are the thing, let me use this occasion to own mine.)

Did you know Bob Dylan played the Barrymore Theater here in Madison for 3 days last month?

It was all quite secret:
The rock icon hid in plain view for three days and nights inside the Atwood Avenue venue, rehearsing his summer show from 10 a.m. to about 8 p.m. on June 28, 29 and 30....

According to [house manager ] Lucy, for a while one night, the theater's bank of four front doors were wide open to Atwood Avenue. This allowed a full Bob Dylan rehearsal to spill out toward the patio diners at Monty's Blue Plate Diner. Imagine finishing your meatloaf sandwich and vanilla malt that night. "Hey! The Dylan thing sounds good over there!"
Ah! I didn't know Dylan was in town. I've seen many great and not so great concerts at the Barrymore over the years, but there wasn't any way to get into that theater when Bob was in town. But if he was here, he had to stay somewhere. Where? Did he walk our streets? How cool it would have been to pass by him. Would I even recognize the old man? If I did, I'd stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right. Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day, time passes slowly and fades away.

At the Prairie Café...


... reverie alone will do.

Boasting about sex in Saudi Arabia.

Tearful apology ensues.

When you play with dolphins, the dolphin decides when playtime is over.

Not so cute then, is it?

"We have ways of changing behavior..."

A chilling locution.

Health economists assert that the obese consume $1,400 more in medical spending per year than those of normal weight. Do you think you're going to just be allowed to continue taking more than your share? Expenses must be cut.

The Gatesgate tapes have been released to the media.

And apparently, Gates's voice is not heard clearly, so I suppose it will take a while to get a transcript, and that it will be dotted with "[indecipherable]."
What is clear is that the caller, Lucia Whalen, a fundraiser for Harvard Magazine, did not know the race of two men she saw trying to push in the front door of Gates's house.... Crowley did not know the race of the suspects when he answered the call.
And Whalen, through her lawyer, does not appreciate being called a "white woman" either:
"Contrary to published reports that a 'white woman' called 911 and reported seeing 'two black men' trying to gain entry into Mr. Gates home, the woman, who has olive colored skin and is of Portuguese descent, told the 911 operator that she observed 'two men' at the home."

"Restless echinacea."

Chip snags another one of my photos and runs with it:

Sculpting the toilet paper roll.

Craggy old faces emerge from crushing and bending the cardboard. Add some paint....

Strangely, all the faces look like George H.W. Bush. To me, anyway.

Via Metafilter, where I'm finding a lot of cool things this morning.

The artist is Junior Jacquet.

"May I be the first to say that I believe Malcolm Gladwell is overconfident of his ability to write about science well."

The scoffing begins with comment #1 in the Metafilter discussion of the new Malcolm Gladwell article about overconfidence ("Cocksure").

Things found in old books (including a kick-ass kiss-off letter).

"I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books."

Click through to the blog, Forgotten Bookmarks, and scroll. I liked this one, a handwritten letter to David, found in "Remains of the Day," and containing the sort of prose that maybe someone who likes that book would like:
... I hope you understand that I do and will care deeply for you and that I have every bit of confidence in the beauty of your unique David-ness. I am just selfishly at a point in my life at which I can not make the sacrifices and take the risks that are necessary to make any relationship that we would have work. We are both at such profound transition points in our lives, and our situations are too unstable to offer the foundation necessary upon which to build the tremendous life changes that we idealistically believed possible.
Wow! Raise your game, kiss-off-ers!

Did you see how Glenn keeps talking about "maintenance sex"?

What's going on here?
And, finally, this. Preacher: InstaPundit needs more sex. I respond with this post.
"This post" says:
“MAINTENANCE SEX?” So what do you think? Is this important in a relationship? I wonder if we’d see something of a male/female split on this. Maybe not!
"Maintenance Sex" goes to this book "Lube Jobs," by Don and Deborah Macleod, about which Library Journal says:
"Maintenance sex,"say the Macleods..., can keep intimacy going with a husband who may want sex more often than the wife or when she's not really interested. It's a realistic rather than a sexist assumption, given power couples, having-it-all womanhood, roller-coaster hormones, and real-world parenting. Such "lube jobs" consist of affectionate, speedy, varied, and regular sexual encounters that ensure a husband's orgasm with minimal effort and optional arousal on the wife's part — not as a replacement for but a supplement to more leisurely and shared sexual sessions. Some 20 suggested scenarios include creative manual, oral, toy-enhanced, and coital approaches, including body shots (a porn staple), front-seat fellatio, backseat bonking with porn on the laptop, bathtub blow jobs, and closet canoodling. While the constant servicing-a-car wordplay may annoy some readers, the advice is sound and fun. Lighthearted illustrations would have been a nice touch, but the book does quite well as is. Most people spend the largest part of their adulthood slogging through committed relationships, and they need books like this. Recommended for public libraries."
Recommended for public libraries? Are there some library scenarios? Oral sex near the audio books? Canoodling among the cookbooks? (What the hell is canoodling anyway? I think noodles are involved. Meade says: "How about in a canoe?")

At the Wild Grain Café....

... maybe you can calm down from your surrealistic weekend....


... and come to terms with the reality of Monday....


"It is because I love Alaska this much... that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics as usual, lame duck session..."

"How does that benefit you? No, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, for truth. And I have never felt like you need a title to do that."

Here's the transcript — as printed in Huffington Post, missing innumerable commas and periods, because you wouldn't want to interfere with the incoherent-rant feeling HuffPo readers crave when the speaker is dumb, crazy Sarah.

Let's watch the whole thing:

ADDED: The Politico's headline is "Sarah Palin resigns, blasts press, 'starlets.'" Now, here's the text in the speech with the word "starlets":
Let me tell you, Alaskans really need to stick together on this with new leadership in this area especially, encouraging new leadership... got to stiffen your spine to do what's right for Alaska when the pressure mounts, because you're going to see anti-hunting, anti-second amendment circuses from Hollywood and here's how they do it. They use these delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets, they use Alaska as a fundraising tool for their anti-second amendment causes. Stand strong, and remind them patriots will protect our guaranteed, individual right to bear arms, and by the way, Hollywood needs to know, we eat, therefore we hunt.
In the effort to make Palin look bad, Politico exposes itself as a poor (or dishonest) reader. Palin doesn't "blast" "starlets" at all. She says that "They use these delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets..." Who are "they"? "Anti-hunting, anti-second amendment circuses from Hollywood." She's talking about powerful media elites, not the "delicate, tiny, very talented" young people they use to convey their message.

It's compelling when a beautiful woman (Palin) seems to criticize other beautiful women (the starlets), so it's important to get it straight. Palin is — or at least appears to be — conveying her own message, but the starlets she criticizes are — as she puts it — used by others. Also, the starlets are "delicate" and "tiny," but Palin is... oh, maybe she too is delicate and tiny! But she is minimizing them, both in their individual agency and in their size. Now, there's implicit criticism in there, but she is blasting Hollywood generally, not the starlets. She's needling the starlets a bit.

"We await the President’s evidence that the nation's pediatricians are striking it rich with unnecessary tonsillectomies."

"'You come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats,' President Obama explained at Wednesday’s press conference. 'The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, 'You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out.' If that’s what he really thinks is wrong with U.S. health care — and with the medical profession — then ObamaCare is going to be even worse than we thought."


Is the government's approach to medical care going to be more solidly based on science and less focused on dollar amounts than the system we have now? Or is it the other way around? Obama impugns doctors, because, supposedly they care about money more than science, but, without evidence — and considering the rarity of tonsillectomies — he doesn't seem too well grounded in science.

And he's been presenting his program mainly as a way to save money, so he's openly admitting he's about the money, in which case, why bash doctors for being about the money (if that's what they are)? Obama talks as though he'll only deny us expensive treatments that are less effective than cheaper ones, but I'm trusting that far less than I trust my doctor.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bissage writes:
At this very moment, presidential aides are lining up pediatricians to invite to the White House for a beer.
Donald's Designated Driver says:
Personally, I'm glad that our President has the balls to take on Big Tonsil.

"When you gather together 100,000 people who are in love — that's pretty good, isn't it? — so many lovers in one place..."

"... they all love the same thing and you can feel the ambience of their love."

Ray Bradbury, at 1:25, at the linked audio.

"Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years."

Are you as smart as a crow? Take the test.

July 26, 2009

"She's really not stepping down. She's stepping up to do something bigger and better."

Sarah Palin stepped down up today.







Iridescent things seen on the road today.



"Gates wryly suggests Crowley got the line ['Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside'] from watching 'Good Times' as a child."

Gates plies wryness.

Now, Gates knows there's an audio recording. I've got to assume Crowley lied, completely made up that "your mama" stuff. Because otherwise, I would have to believe that an utter fool is a Harvard professor.

Release the tapes!

At the Backlit Café...


... you take on such a lovely glow.

"New York magazine derided [Dash Snow] for making art by ejaculating on copies of The New York Post...."

"... he blew up that section of the article, ejaculated on the copy and displayed it at an art show in Los Angeles."

Dash Snow, dead of a drug overdose, at 27.
His sadness and his money and his drugs were a powerful dynamic, said Jack Walls, a close friend of Mr. Snow’s who is a former lover of the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe: the sadness was abetted by the drugs, the drugs abetted by the money.

Mr. Walls distinguished Mr. Snow from working-class addicts like William S. Burroughs, Herbert Huncke — and himself. “It was like his money never ran out,” Mr. Walls said. “When it came to doing drugs, he could do these marathons for days and days on end. In my day, in Huncke’s day, in Burroughs’s day, when we wanted a fix, we had to go work — we couldn’t just sit around getting high for three straight weeks.”

What if your adorable family dog is an incurable biter?

If the only other choice is euthanasia, would you have the dog's teeth surgically altered? Like this:
[Dr. David Nielsen, a veterinary dentist]cuts away 4 millimeters of tooth using a CO2 laser. He acid-etches the live pulp within, fashions a bell-shaped cavity that he packs with two kinds of human-grade composite, and light-cures the top for a smooth, flat finish. He also blunts the extra set of pointy incisors....

For all the technology, Nielsen says the most profound effect of canine disarming is psychological. "You can see it in their eyes almost the moment they wake up from the anesthesia," he says. "It's like they're wondering, 'who took away my knives?' " An epiphany that humbles and subdues them for all time....

[After the surgery, Cotton] seems to be in denial. When he gets the opportunity, he still pounces at any man who ventures onto our property. A few days after the disarming, our gardener Guadalupe Davila obligingly offered his booted foot for Cotton's delectation. After 30 seconds of ferocious gnawing, Cotton had only succeeded in lightly scoring the thick leather.

The next day, when Cotton bolted out the door to discover handyman Julio Miranda building a new handrail, he grabbed a mouthful of cedar post. After some unbridled gnawing, he only lightly scored the soft wood.


"'Call me Jimmy,' Crowley said. Obama said to call him Barack. They spoke for five minutes..."

Wait a minute! The President shouldn't be telling people to call him by his first name, should he?

Should the President tell people to call him by his first name?
No. It's not presidential.
Yes. It's a breath of fresh air. free polls

ADDED: A second poll:

Should Sgt. Crowley accept the invitation to have a beer with the President and the Professor?
Yes, warmly, with an attitude of conciliation.
Yes, coolly, standing his ground.
No, because he will be manipulated and used.
No, to express his disapproval. free polls

Crazy rage peaked on "American Idol" with the wild and hilarious Alexis Cohen.

See for yourself: "The battered body of Alexis Cohen, 25, was discovered along a road in Seaside Heights about 4 a.m. by two passersby, authorities said. Paramedics fought to save Cohen's life before she was rushed to Community Medical Center in Toms River, N.J., where she was pronounced dead about 6:35 a.m. 'It appeared she sustained multiple injuries as a result of a motor vehicle hitting her and leaving the scene'..." "I'm going to show you guys that I can be victorious. I'll make it one day. One day, somehow, someway." And, remember this, (previously blogged here)?

Things Howzerdo discussed with her husband after watching — on my recommendation — "My Dinner with Andre."

I opened this email from longtime commenter Howzerdo, and it's a list, and I'd just said I love lists.

-grittiness of pre-Giuliani NYC
-Wally is 36? Looks a decade older, awful hair
-both look so shabby for such a nice place
-nervous about who would pay?
-Poland story a snooze-fest, felt sorry for Wally, how long will this go on?
-The Matrix was maybe inspired by this?
-Andre's experiences reminder of Don Quixiote / mushrooms
-Andre’s name dropping seems pretentious (my husband didn't agree)
-Wally chews with his mouth open - yuck
-irony of mention about status v. them not paying attention to waiter
-irony of mention of people not “seeing,” when they are oblivious to restaurant environment
-sympathetic to Wally’s view, that why aren’t mundane daily tasks enough, even profound
-cold coffee from night before? Ugh
-dead fly / cockroach - ugh again
-did they actually eat?
-sympathetic to Ande’s view at same time, for the need to be “clear”
-violence, trivia, etc. of mass media, art even more overwhelming since ‘80s
-mid-life crisis of hip NYC folks
-totalitarian reference reaction to Reagan's election? (I didn't think so, film may have been in works earlier)
-so many Nazi and fascism references
-moral conflict (reminded me of Rosenthal’s comments about what is our responsibility to starving people across the world in Kitty Genovese documentary)
-in the taxi, Wally finally "sees" NYC streets at the end

Buy the DVD — here — and maybe you'll email me a list of what you talked about afterwards, perhaps over dinner in a restaurant, where you will be oblivious to your surroundings while talking about the importance of achieving heightened awareness.

"4 out of 5 of the people who disapprove of Obama, strongly disapprove. Did even GWB ever have such skewed disapproval numbers?"

Incredible that Obama's "strongly disapprove" number has hit 40%.

I'd say this is the phenomenon usually identified by the phrase you either love him or you hate him. So Obama is becoming one of those characters that people don't feel lukewarm about. Another way of putting that is: He's polarizing.

And yet Obama was going to bring us together.

Hey, remember Vicki Lynn Cole?

Jack Kerouac did not text.

I need to get some blogging up, and I actually have about 5 things I've been meaning to write, that is, after the completion of various Sunday morning activities, such as transforming the corn leftover from last night into breakfast and analyzing why I didn't quite replicate my mother's corn fritters. But somehow, I'm reading the comments over on Richard's blog — not even my own blog.

(I did read some of my blog's comments on my iPhone in the middle of the night, and I'd just like to say, Lem, I'm sorry no one was in the buckets of flowers with you last night to say, yes, we're your friends and thanks for telling us that you've found comfort here.)

Anyway, over at Richard's, Penny commented:
I just noticed your new blog header. NICE! I like it a lot. I do have one comment though. Pen authors need to watch out for what I will call "texting creep".
That refers to the quote in Richard's banner:
Kerouac wrote "yr," long before anybody was indulging in rampant abbreviation for texting purposes. I'd read that quote in Richard's banner many times, but this morning was the first time I was moved to Google the quote. I wanted to make sure of what I was already sure of, that the abbreviation was Kerouac's. And the cool thing about that, for which I offer a penny to Penny, is that I found the whole context, "Belief and Technique for Modern Prose," which is written — Richard elides this — as a numbered list. I love lists, especially numbered lists.

(We've been eating salads from that 101 salads list, and, for example, #2 really is — as billed — "[a]stonishing.")

There are only 30 items on Kerouac's list, so it's easier to read than not to read. Nevertheless, I'll copy a few here, with commentary:
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
And don't even yell as if u were drunk outside yr house, especially at a cop.
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
Consider it done! Since 2004.
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
I often write bottomless. Much more than topless. Because I like to write in bed.
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
Would all the political bloggers please take a day to do exactly this? Then, if you can do it, do it all the time.
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea...
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
See? Blog!

And text, if u want 2.