Thursday, September 27, 2007

Livebloggus Interruptus

Following is my aborted attempt at liveblogging the Dems’ debate on MSNBC last night:

First question goes to Blablablarack Obama and the ‘answer’ is more of the same tired cut & paste stump speech. Yaaaawwwnnn… I’ve never seen the charisma they speak of. He’s damned handsome, but that’s not the same thing as being charismatic.

Hillary defending the Democrats in Congress. Good luck with that, girl.

Why does anybody want this job again?

Oh, here comes Edwards. He’s going to be desperate to make an impression. Yep, he’s the first to go after Hillary. Now they’re sniping back and forth. It’s still not as much fun as a Ron Paul soliloquy or a Mike Gravel rant. Lord, does Edwards go on, though.

Richardson is up. What’s he got cookin’? How long till he flogs his résume, I wonder. But I like his idea about not leaving any Americans behind in Iraq. It would be like saying, “It’s only Osama moving in on your block, it’s not like it’s all of al Qaeda – that’s not gonna be a problem, is it?” Any American left behind is going to be an ongoing irritant/excuse to indigenous maniacs (of which there appear to be plenty) looking to stir up shit.

Dodd also just committed to bringing all troops out of Iraq by X date. All of them.

Biden is flogging his 75-vote win on a toothless measure in the Senate today. Sounds like he also just committed to total troop withdrawal by date X, though.

Kucinich wagging his finger at his stage-mates. Remember how he was famously single during the campaign four years ago and now he’s got this smokin’ hot wife? There’s a book deal right there. I like Kucinich, it’s a shame he doesn’t have a chance.

Mike Gravel – entertain me. Just don’t have a stroke on live TV. That would suck. Gravel trashing Lieberman ohh! And now Hillary! And Obama. And Hillary’s new hearty guffaw. It’s become her stalling equivalent to W’s “in other words…” But Gravel is right if Hillary voted again to give Dumbleyou a fresh saber to rattle at a new Muslim country (which she did — Jesus!). She doesn’t admit mistakes and with this vote — officially declaring Iran’s ‘Republican Guard’ a terrorist entity — she seems to be repeating her signature mistake of trusting W to run foreign policy responsibly. Fuckin’ a... And she’s our front-runner?

[Then Word crashed and The Man Cub got home. Half an hour later…]

Okay, it’s getting boring and Obama isn’t even speaking.

Biden taking on Hillary. Gently, gently now… Don’t want to piss off the eventual nominee...

Ooh, and Russert jumps right to a question to Edwards. I think Hillary should have been given a chance to respond to Biden’s allegations.

Edwards on Universal Health Care, he’s saying all the right things. Russert accuses him of changing his opinion and he concedes he has. Wow, honesty. It’ll never work (see Ron Paul and Mike Gravel’s poll numbers).

One for Obama. Handsome devil. Oh god, he’s introducing another 3-part, canned response. Blablablarack. It’s all boilerplate and chest-thumping. Jesus, how long are they giving him to reply? Maybe it just feels like forever.

Russert is hitting Gravel for his business failings and personal bankruptcy. Now Russert is going after Kucinich’s bankruptcy history. Gravel was great. He said he screwed the credit card companies out of $90,000 in order to promote a ballot initiative. Nobody seemed to have any idea what to make of him. It was hilarious.

Okay, now Russert just bitch-slapped Richardson for something – I guess it’s the time in the debate that the moderator tries to make every candidate squirm. Richardson’s response – whip out that resume! I’m getting bored again. Can we have another question for Gravel, please?

An anti-gay question for Edwards from Russert’s assistant in the crowd. Another reporter looking to play “gotcha.” Edwards has got a nice dodge lined up that should shield him from the left but leave him plenty of wiggle-room on the right. In a nutshell: he thinks it’s gross but sees society heading a different way and if elected, he’ll go along with society’s judgment.

Barack just passed the gay question off to his wife, basically. Smoooooth.

Same question to Hillary: She speaks and speaks but she says nothing. Well, at least now she’s selling an anti hate-crime bill. I like that.

[commercial break. Better check in on the family]

The boy is being impossible. I should really head out there. Oh sweet Jesus, it’s a 2-hour debate! I’ll be back…

[I was wrong about that last part, about being back… I’m beginning to understand what they mean when they call this stage of childhood “The Terrible Twos”.]

Fortunately, there’s still 3,078 more debates to go before the election.

oh dear god...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

There is no cow but “Cow”…

You try to make sure your kid is exposed to good cultural influences at home...

Before he was even born, The Man Cub had been to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Merle Haggard concerts in utero. All his lullaby discs are personally-crafted selections of the most mellow tunes by Bob, Bruce, Merle, Johnny Cash, Mickey Newbury, Sinead O’Connor, Bob Marley and the like… we don’t let him see violence on the TV (Daddy watches a lot of TV with the office door closed these days) and we don’t have any Barney videos. We have TiVo for Sesame Street and “The Muppet Movie” sitting right on top of the TV for god’s sake… In spite (or maybe because of) all that, The Man Cub has recently made his first serious entertainment commitment.

And the winner is: Cow!

That’s what he calls some damned barnyard-themed (thus “Cow”) ‘Baby Einstein’ DVD somebody gave us at some point. This fucking video is like crack to the boy. He’ll jump up in the middle of Sesame Street or playing with blocks or reading books or whatever the hell it is he fills up his day with and run into the room, urgently inquiring “COW?” If you don’t move quick enough, he follows it up with a much more insistent “COW!” If you’re really slow, you get the worked-up, worried “COW?!?!”

The Missus just popped her head in to discuss the trouble she had getting the boy to bed tonight. “We had some intense negotiations regarding Cow,” she said. Apparently he kept looking at her repeating “Cow…?” with various expressions of confusion, as if not understanding how Money (his word for The Missus, not mine!) could have suddenly got so thick-headed. “Cow,” he explained patiently, as if to an infant. No, she said, let’s play with blocks. He covered the bag of blocks with his hands and fixed her with a penetrating gaze. “Cow!” he reiterated emphatically. No, let’s put your pajamas on. “Cow!!!” Much twisting and thrashing ensued, punctuated by heartfelt pleas of “Co-o-o-ow!” And so it went.

I’m sorry I missed his performance. It had to have been superior to anything on the Baby Einstein video in question.

Yes, the allure of Cow is already beginning to wear thin on The Missus and me, and I’m afraid we have a lot more viewings yet to come anyhow. His beloved “Cow” consists of half-assed sock puppetry, stock wildlife footage and cardboard cutouts with monosyllabic voice-overs; strictly South Park-level production values… It’s crazy. We have dozens of hours of high-quality Sesame Street on the TiVo and kiddie CDs and DVDs as far as the eye can see; we have baby toy drifts as high as our ankles, a back yard to explore and an old dog to torture and all he wants to do anymore is watch “Cow.”

And goddamn does he want to watch “Cow.” Even more than his previous television favorite, Sesame Street, which at this point might as well be a big stinky televised turd to him. Even more than life itself, there is Cow first, then there is everything else after that. Everything he loves, everything he hates, everything he’s never even considered now places a distant second to “Cow.”

I see more of myself in him every day. Some day, “Cow” will become booze, or gambling or wicked women or religious zealotry (“I talk to Jesus every day just to piss off my parents…”) or some such ill-advised pursuit that will supercede all others in his life for stretches at a time, only to be replaced when the next compulsive behavior comes along… come to think of it, we should probably encourage him to stick with Cow as long as he likes it and we can stand it.

That clock, however, is ticking...

Friday, September 21, 2007

“Jesus, W and Dale Earnhardt walk onto a cloud…”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

Regrettably, parental responsibilities caused me to miss Dumbleyou’s impromptu-ish press conference yesterday morning, and from the clips I’ve seen, it was a good one. From the old-school swagger ascending the podium to the loaded, pre-cooked “last question/no follow-ups” from an administration stooge at the end, this was vintage pre-Katrina W at his most finest.

When the stooge asked him what he thought about a political ad that had run in the New York Times a couple days before, the president expressed outrage at the idea of besmirching the honor of a courageous American military leader (in spite of his having benefited at the ballot box from a similar politically-motivated smearing of be-medaled Vietnam officer John Kerry in the last election) then added, “‘I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on General Petraeus but on the U.S. military.’” It was his classic “If the table is barking, then it must mean the elephants in the trees are blue” line of hooey, but the punditry ate it right up anyhow.

Of course Bush sounded stupid saying it, but he looked back in campaign mode – confident, cocky, condescending, speaking off the cuff with the gutsy bravado of General McArthur and the intellectual clarity of Lewis Carroll on crack. The impression that came across is of a man who no longer gives a shit. This is a guy who’s given up on the rest of this term and is actively looking ahead to knocking back brewskis with Jesus, Elvis and Dale Earnhardt on a cloud 50 years from now looking down on the mortal idiots who are only just then beginning to figure out what an awesome president he had been.

Boy, everybody but him sure is dumb.

Still, in terms of style, at least I didn’t feel bad for him. Still ashamed that this barely-literate rodeo clown is still our Chief Executive Officer, but not embarrassed for him the way I have been recently; floundering in flop sweat, his voice squeaking… is it wrong for me to have felt bad for Bush on a strictly human level, when he has done nothing that I can think of that would ever earn him such compassion? ... Well anyway, I didn’t feel embarrassed for him yesterday.

Yesterday, I felt embarrassed for the fucking Democratic Senators who wasted their whole day voting to officially condemn free speech.

Apparently, it wasn’t only the punditry who ate up Bush’s line about how criticizing a military man who has allowed himself to become the mouthpiece of a dishonest, secretive, incompetent administration is tantamount to lack of ‘support for the troops’ in the field. Apparently, so did 20+ Democratic United States senators, including Jim Webb, who ran for his Senate seat and won as a former military guy who had a son serving in Iraq.

Yesterday in Congress, our elected officials didn’t manage to get to a scheduled vote on a bill aiming to restore basic human rights and constitutional protections to hundreds of foreigners who are in perpetual detention without charges or trial, or another one relating to setting timelines for troop withdrawal from Iraq (which bill, predictably, just went down in flames as I type this).

No, yesterday, by a 72 to 25 vote, our elected reprehensibles – sorry, representatives – in the United States Senate only managed to pinch out one stinky little loaf, a meaningless piece of official puffery “to express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus.”

The fact that Republicans went along with such foolishness is predictable. God, guns and guts, that’s what they run on, and run to. They would gladly trample each other in heart-felt zeal to vote for a proclamation that the military’s feces officially isn’t malodorous. That’s their gig and I’ve always felt they’re welcome to it. (We just need fewer of them in elected office. We need their voice in the dialogue, but not necessarily their vote.)

Once again, it’s the feckless fucks of the Democratic party that piss me off. I don’t care if your goddamn state is redder than Tommy Chong’s eyes at a Grateful Dead concert, you don’t waste the time of ‘the world’s most deliberative body’ or some such nonsense with slaps on the wrist to expressions of free speech. And this wasn’t even a protest that turned ugly or some act of hate-related violence they were condemning, it was a newspaper ad. Not even a very clever newspaper ad (I’d been thinking of the ‘betray-us’ joke for ages and I’m sure so has everyone else).

A newspaper ad! If this isn’t a free speech issue I’ll eat my hat. And yet the Senate let the president distract them into a meaningless vote that dominated the news cycle for one more day, pushed back the Senate agenda by one more day, prolonged our involvement in Iraq by one more day.

Did any American servicemen or women die in Iraq yesterday? If they did, it was for the Senate’s right to mince and moan about a goddamn newspaper ad.

I think Barack Obama is the only one who got it right, by declining to vote because (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Are you fucking people crazy or what?”

So kudos to the president. Yesterday went to him. Maybe he’s right and we are all just incredibly stupid. And he didn’t have to wait 50 years to have that theory validated, either.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2001

To not forget...

Monday, September 10, 2007

“The Johnny Cash Show,” The Man Cub and Me

I recently purchased from our internet friends at ebay a DVD collection of complete, unedited versions of the first 20 Johnny Cash variety shows, which ran on ABC-TV back when I was a young cub myself.

I don’t recollect watching it at the time it was originally broadcast – television was one of the many connections to the outside world my curiously insular upbringing denied me. If I could sneak it in the afternoon, I was hip (thus I knew that Chicago, for instance, was Mike Douglas’ kind of town and never to call on Charles Nelson Reilly on “Match Game”). If it was prime-time though, it was whatever Dad wanted to watch, and Dad wasn’t big on variety shows (with the exception of Carol Burnett’s). I can still remember staying up late one night to catch Steve Martin on SNL, sitting on the floor busting a gut, while my Dad sat at the dining room table, stoically chain-smoking his beloved Tareytons and looking at me the way he often did, with a bewildered, defeated look in his eyes.

But now I have the first 20 Johnny Cash variety hours, and not just the clip-jobs previously available as bootlegs, and soon to be released officially for the first time, but the whole shows, even the godawful crap. For instance, so far, “comedian” Charlie Callas has turned up twice. In case you don’t remember, his act consisted solely of babbling incoherently like a speedfreak with Tourette’s syndrome trapped in a helium factory. The crowd ate it up both times. Pat Boone defiled one episode with his bland white-bread pop. He really was as inoffensive as you’ve heard and is in retrospect both hilarious and embarrassing. To its credit, the crowd seemed as indifferent to Boone’s crooning as The Man Cub and I were.

On the other hand, in just the first 20 shows, guests included Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, The Monkees, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Melanie, Chet Atkins, Odetta, Roger Miller, Carl Perkins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, CCR, Roy Orbison, Arlo Guthrie, The Everly Brothers, Neil Diamond and Ray Charles. And those were just the A-Listers.

I’ve started leaving the discs queued-up for the morning, so The Man Cub and I can watch together while he’s enjoying his morning sippy-cup of milk and waking up. Just this morning, we watched the Neil Diamond episode. It was terrific! He came out and did a new song at the time, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” and did a spoken section in the middle where he talked about how he came to write the song, and without missing a beat segued back into the rousing climax of the tune. I’ve heard him do that song dozens of times, and it’s never sounded as fresh as it did on “The Johnny Cash Show.”

And even the shows with less-than-stellar line-ups (example, show #4: Buffy St. Marie, The Cowsills and Doug McClure) are redeemed by Cash’s regular “Ride This Train” segment, where he wove back-catalog tunes into a loose narrative about trains and their impact on the growth of America. Again this morning, he pulled out an obscure favorite, “The Whirl and The Suck,” explained what the title meant and then proceeded to delight The Man Cub and I with a spot-on run-through of it. The boy liked it so much he popped his thumb out of his mouth at the end of the tune and clapped along with the studio audience.

Cash also usually sat down for an ‘impromptu’ duet with at least one of each week’s guests, and even though obviously scripted, it’s clear there was plenty of room for improvisation left open for the visiting artists. Roger Miller just about had Cash in stitches and at one point giggled uncontrollably, then explained, “I just told myself a dirty joke!” Cash’s affection for the man was written all over his face.

Also a staple of every show was the gospel number at the end, and his selection of material couldn’t be beat. From time-worn Pentacostal hymns to Carter Family tunes to newly composed songs that the rigors of a weekly television show hadn’t allowed him the studio time to put on record yet, his closing gospel number was always a highlight of the show. And probably, along with the weekly train medley, the main reason Cash agreed to do the show in the first place.

I’ll still buy the official clip-job when it’s released next week, but I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for the rest of the unedited episodes. I guarantee you, most of the true gems (including the train medleys, back-catalog chestnuts and gospel closers) will be left on the cutting room floor of the official clip-job in favor of solo numbers from the big-name guest stars.

Due to rights issues, we’ll probably never see official full-season releases of “The Johnny Cash Show.” But as long as we have the internets and the ebay… only a shortfall of ready cash will keep The Man Cub and me from the rest of the unedited episodes of “The Johnny Cash Show.”

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Only two more shopping days till 9/11!

It must be September again – Osama has a new video out (every 9/11 that Osama is still out there pushing Jihad instead of pushing up daisies in a Gitmo landfill is another 9/11 that goes to the bad guys), and our armchair-cowboy president is preparing to sell another package of sweet-smelling lies and carefully-parsed half-truths (once again about our fabulous ‘progress’ in Iraq) to an easily-spooked America using a Generally-respected surrogate, this time Petraeus instead of Powell.

Then Bush is going to wrap it all up with a prime-time address to the nation later in the week. I know I’ll be wearing my Tony Lamas, and it won’t be for punching cattle.

And just as predictably, the craven Democrats are already backing off of their previous promises to use General Petraeus’ report to Congress (recently revealed to be authored by the White House and only presented by Petraeus) to force a beginning of a pull-out of American troops in Iraq.

Will Petraeus receive a televised grilling by bloviating pols anxious to get their own trumped-up, impotent outrage on the record? Oh, you betcha. More political cover for “leaders” on both sides of the aisle who don’t even have the courage to “cut and run” when the cutting and running is good (ie: supported by an increasing majority of John and Janie Sixpacks across the country). That’s political cowardice on a breathtaking scale, and what’s even more depressing is its predictability. You can always count on these bastards to cavitate then cave in when this President gets to wagging his dick in public. Still. Still!

Getting back to this week’s exciting 9/11 Celebration, Oprah is taking her talk-show to NYC for the occasion (or maybe just to lure David Letterman into her guest chair) as is Larry King, and MSNBC is promising to re-run their coverage of 9/11/01 in real time, starting at 6am EST. I haven’t checked, but I’m sure Fox News has a doozy of a day planned. I see lots and lots of animated American flags digitally fluttering to the rumble of canned thunder…

As a kind of counter-programming, HBO is premiering a new documentary tonight, hosted by The Sopranos’ James Gandolfini, about 10 Iraq War veterans who left limbs and brain matter in the desert sand. You know, I think HBO should make that documentary, “Alive Day,” along with Bill Maher’s show, available to all basic cable subscribers for free the way they used to do with “Comic Relief.” Americans need to see/hear this stuff, especially Americans who can’t afford premium cable prices. They’re the ones statistically most likely to have loved-ones in harm’s way overseas. It wouldn’t cost HBO any ad revenue, it would expose a hitherto untapped potential audience to the channel’s other programming and goddammit it would be the right thing to do.

It’s all well and good to celebrate patriotism; I challenge HBO to practice it too.

As it stands though, it should be an AWESOME week for TV, but another shitty, embarrassing anniversary for America. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ted Nugent; why I still love him anyhow

Check out the cover art to his new CD:

You don’t even have to hear a song titled “Bridge Over Troubled Daughters” to know that the Nuge is still in top form!