Monthly Archive: October 2013

Oct 31

Why Has the Democratic Party Abandoned Barbara Buono?

I just saw a segment on All In talking about why it is that the Democratic Party hasn’t gotten behind Barbara Buono for governor of New Jersey. Steve Kornacki was guest hosting and he was on with E J Dionne. I admire both of those men and usually agree with them. But I thought they …

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Oct 31

Rand Paul’s Pathetic Plagiarism Excuse

I’ve been more or less on Rand Paul’s side in the whole Wikipedia plagiarism scandal. From a legal standpoint, there is nothing because Wikipedia is not copyrighted. And from an ethical standpoint, it just isn’t that big a deal. The obvious (And correct!) reaction would have been for Paul to admit that one of his …

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Oct 31

Odds and Ends Vol 5

It’s only been a couple of days since the last Odds and Ends and I already have stuff piled up—a lot more than I talk about here. There seems always to be too much good stuff to get to in any depth. As it is, these articles take long enough to write. This time, we …

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Oct 31

Johannes Vermeer

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Its iconography is the best of any holiday. Oh the things you can do with some balloons, sheets, and a body suit! And what could be better: you get to give out candy to kids! My raison d’etre is to corrupt children in the way of The Rocky and Bullwinkle …

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Oct 30

GOP Still Has No Healthcare Ideas

Jonathan Chait makes a good point today, The Republican Health-Care Plan: Repeal and Cackle. He quite rightly notes that while the Republicans having much fun with their faux outrage about the Obamacare exchanges and the fact that some people are going to have to give up their terrible insurance plans for something that will work, …

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Oct 30

Obamacare’s Small Portions

Has anyone else noticed how much the GOP position on Obamacare resembles the classic borscht belt joke about the two ladies at a Catskills resort? Lady #1: “The food here is so terrible, it’s inedible!” Lady #2: “And the portions are so small!” Republican #1: “Obamacare is slavery!” Republican #2: “And it’s so hard to …

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Oct 30

The Sad Reality of Duck Dynasty

As I’ve discussed before, there is very little “reality” in Reality TV. For example: Reality TV Not So Real. And: More Proof Reality Shows Are Fake. So I was quite interested to see a headline, “Duck Dynasty” Is “Fake”! Star Phil Robertson Confesses How TV Editors “Arrange The Scenes” & Rewrite His Reality. Even under …

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Oct 30

GOP Needs No Mother and Child Reunion

This morning, Charlie Pierce wrote, The Reign Of Morons: Absurdity In The Senate. It is about a remarkable bit of political posturing in the Senate. The 27 Republican senators who voted to reopen the government and lift the Debt Ceiling just voted to repudiate the vote. In other words, “We voted to raise the Debt …

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Oct 30

I Can’t Stop Loving Madeleine Peyroux

Really. She’s just so great:

Oct 30

Tom Bodett Jokes

Since 1986, humorist Tom Bodett has been the spokesman for Motel 6. You have undoubtedly heard the commercials with Bodett’s unique midwestern drawl ending each one, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” He’s a very funny guy as you will hear if you listen to NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! And it’s got …

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Oct 30

Fox News Exists Game Show

It’s time for lying with graphs! In fact, it’s time for lying generally! That’s right, it’s time to play everyone’s favorite game show, Fox News Exists! This episode is brought to you by the fine folks at Media Matters. They monitor Fox News so you don’t have to. On Monday’s episode of Fox & Friends, …

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Oct 30

The Difficult and Beautiful Ezra Pound

Ezra PoundOn this day in the 18th century, two very famous early Americans were born. The first was John Adams who was born in 1735. I loved him in 1776, but as an actual man, he wasn’t all that great. In particular, although he was against the British aristocracy having power in America, he really very much wanted a native aristocracy. And guess what? He got it.

Also born on this day was Martha Jefferson, Thomas’ wife. Again: she was great in 1776. But as far as I’m concerned, Betty Buckley in the original cast was far superior to the mousy Blythe Danner. Anyway, Martha was not the first lady Martha Jefferson—she died almost two decades before he became president. She is thought to have suffered from diabetes, which was not made better by having popped out six kids. All but two died in infancy. One of the remaining only made it to 25. The eldest, Martha, lived to the ripe old age of 64. She, and not her mother is who people referred to as the First Lady Martha Jefferson. Here is Buckley killing “He Plays the Violin”:

Normally, I’d just shuffle the following man off to “other birthdays,” but his story is too interesting. Georges Gilles de la Tourette was born in 1857. He is the first person to document what he called “maladie des tics” (You don’t need me to translate, right?) but what was eventually known as Tourette Syndrome. In 1893, one of his former female students shot him in the head, claiming that he had hypnotized her against her will. This is most clearly not possible and I figure that what she meant was that he seduced her. The wound did seem to turn Tourette into a manic-depressive and eventually killed him, but he still managed to live another 11 years—most of it quite productively.

One of the great talents behind the Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick is 74 today. Much of her solo work is very good. But I only mention her here to show this:

Henry Winkler is 68. I very much like his acting work, especially in Arrested Development. And my sister says he does great work for people with learning disabilities and he “writes” clever children’s books. That’s all great. Still, he will rot in hell for hocking reverse mortgages on every cable channel in the known universe. I accept it from Fred Thompson. He’s an asshole. But Winkler is supposed to be a good guy. Don’t get me wrong; if Winkler were in financial difficulties, I wouldn’t mind at all. Everyone’s got to pay the bills. But that clearly isn’t what he’s doing. So it is just completely unacceptable. Sit on it, asshole.

The comedian Kevin Pollak is 56. I like him very much as an actor and comedian. He is also a fine impressionist. But again, I have only one reason for listing him above the “other birthdays,” and that is Rob Pearlstein’s excellent short film, which he starred in, Our Time Is Up. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself:

Other birthdays: playwright Richard Sheridan (1751); English impressionist painter Alfred Sisley (1839); actor Ruth Gordon, who was a total honey when she was young (1896); musician Clifford Brown (1930); and actor Jessica Hynes (41).

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath. Ready? The day, however, belongs to one of the greatest poets of the 20th century Ezra Pound who was born on this day in 1885. He was a very interesting guy and I do love his work. If it weren’t for all that fascism, he would be just perfect. Look, I don’t want to harp on it. Go read about him if you must. He came by the belief honestly and he was an Italian style fascist, not a German style one. And people are allowed to be wrong. And difficult. Anyway, he is largely responsible for anyone knowing of a lot of the great 20th century poets, most importantly (for me, anyway), Charles Olson. And then there is his work, which was always wonderful—pretty much from his early days to his last. The Seven Lakes canto (Cantos #49) is reproduced after the fold. Wikipedia writes of it, “Canto XLIX is a poem of tranquil nature derived from a Chinese picture book that Pound’s parents brought with them when they retired to Rapallo.”

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