...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

February 28, 2006

The First Annual AJFF: Goldie Hawn, Part Two

Tonight we'll take a look at the second major role in Goldie Hawn's thirty-eight year film career.


There's A Girl In My Soup, 1970

Girl starred the late, great comic genius Peter Sellers, and Goldie's name appeared above the title for the first time. This import was directed by Roy Boulting, a veteran of largely forgettable British movies. Coincidentally, he and Goldie had the same birthday.

soup.jpgOn the surface, There's A Girl In My Soup shares essentially the same plot as Cactus Flower. Both are May-December romance / love-triangle comedies based on stage plays. Interestingly, Roy Boulting was involved in a real life May-December romance for eleven years with former child star Haley Mills (The Parent Trap, That Darn Cat!). She was 33 years younger than him.

In Girl, Goldie plays a 19 year old American hippie chick, living in London with a skeevy drummer. She gets tired of being passed around among the drummer's friends like a tray of tea cakes, so she decides to move out after a chance meeting with a 41 year old tv personality, played by Sellers. The tv personality is a self-absorbed and aging Alfie-like swinger, coming to grips with the handfuls of hair he's beginning to find in his brush every morning.


While the movie starts out prominsingly, Goldie's performance was ultimately inconsistent, a sign of weak directing. There is no chemistry between her and Sellers, who mails in the most colorless performance I've seen from him. None of the comic improvisation he was known for is on display here. I think the character was too constricting for him. Here's what Goldie told Larry King about working with Sellers:

HAWN: Peter Sellers was great to work with. A lovely man. A little bit crazy . . . It was sort of balancing a very delicate spirit on a needle. You know, because you never know where he was going.

But I gave him a birthday party once, and he said to me, you know, Goldie, I'll never have a home like this. I'll never have a house like this, and I would like a piece of me in your home. And he sent me a French armoire, and I still have it. That was after he ate his birthday candle, which is a whole other problem.

KING: Was he a genius?

HAWN: Yes, he was. He definitely was. He was completely in his moment, in his truth, at all times there was never a break. He was able to witness how funny he was, and yet not have any control over his ability to -- inability to stop laughing at himself.

We would have to break for lunch sometimes, because we couldn't bring him back. But, you know, you couldn't get a knife in between who he was playing and his comedy and his truth. It was all there together, which is what made him a genius.

Costume-wise, Girl is nothing special either. The only stand-out is an avocado colored, wide-wale corduroy bikini that Goldie wears while lying on an inflatable raft. One wonders how they got her on that thing without wetting the fabric. Peter Sellers spent a fair amount of time shirtless, which was a major error by the filmmakers. His back was hideously hairy.

Predictably, after a whirlwind tour of the continent, the mis-matched lovers return to London, and reality. The movie ends the same way as Cactus Flower, but in a wholly unsatisfying way. For that reason, I give it two Netflix stars ("didn't like it").

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24 Blogging

Smeagol lovess the Curtissesss.

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February 27, 2006

The New Monday Night Dilemma

dilemma: noun. A situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive. Late latin, from greek, di- meaning two, and lemma meaning proposition or assumption. Example: Starting tonight, NBC will run The Apprentice opposite Fox's 24. Normally, this would not be a dilemma for people with foresight enough to pay the extra four bucks to get DVR with their cable service. But what if you said to the cable guy, "Hey why do I need to spend four more bucks when I already have a VCR, and I know how to program it?" And then the cable guy shrugs because he knows how wrong you are, and also that he will be back, at a price, and with a lot more inconvenience to you. And then on a night like this, when you need the VCR, you suddenly realize that the damn thing won't work with a cable box unless you tape the thing you are watching. In other words, you can't tape one show and watch another. It would make sense for you to be able to do that, but I'm now informed that you cannot. Which is a real pisser. So the only solution, until the cable guy can be recalled, is to watch 24, and then tape the CNBC re-run of The Apprentice on Wednesday. Synonyms: bind, catch-22, difficulty, fix, impasse, jam, mess, perplexity, pickle, plight, predicament, problem, quandary.

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New Least Favorite Ad Campaign

I can't stand that AT&T campaign with Oasis' "All Around The World." I mean, it's on the radio every five minutes, it's on the tv every five minutes. I'm sick of it. I actually hate that song now.

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Pistol Packin' Poet

Poetry for you gun nuts out there. From Wadcutter.

An ode to short recoil

When cases won’t split
because the pressure is low,
no delay is needed
and the slide rearward can go.

But for a little more power,
the breech must then lock.
Even for a moment
Or you’ll kB your Glock.

As they recoil together
slide and barrel do mate:
the big blocky lug
joined with ejection gate.

Down swings the lug
and the barrel stops short.
The slide continues back
and flings brass from the port

The spring is compressed
and the slide does rebound,
coming back forward
with a fresh shiny round.

That’s how it works,
at least you get the gist.
Now pull the trigger again
and double-tap that rapist.

Via Publicola.

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Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are over. I've always liked the Winter Games better than the Summer Games. In almost every winter sport the athletes risk serious injury. You can't say the same about the summer version. But this year's Winter Olympics was pretty lackluster. Utterly forgettable. And that's all I have to say about that.

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February 26, 2006

The First Annual AJFF: Goldie Hawn, Part One

It's Oscar season, and it's time for the First Annual Annika's Journal Film Festival. This year, we will be taking a look at the career of Goldie Hawn, specifically Goldie Hawn's cute years,* from the late sixties to 1980.


Why Goldie Hawn? Because she's awesome. How many of you realize that Goldie Hawn won an Academy Award for her very first picture? That's a fact. Also, people always tell me I remind them of a young Goldie, which was probably more true when I was 20, but is still a nice compliment.

When you think that Goldie stumbled into acting (she started out wanting to be a dancer), her comic genius is even more impressive. I rank her talent as a comedienne on the same level as Marilyn's. In fact, I think Goldie took the next step in the evolution of the female comedienne. She played the ditzy character as well as Marylin, but embodied a new beauty ideal that was born in the sixties: the waif look.

But where Marylin played the dumb blonde so straight that people still think she was dumb in real life, Goldie always played it with a subtle wink. You get that same wink today from comediennes like Heather Graham and Cameron Diaz. They're too hip to be dumb. Thank Goldie for that.

Cactus Flower, 1969

cactusposter.jpgI just got done seeing this one again. I love this movie. The opening credits promise a lot: directed by Gene Saks (The Odd Couple, Barefoot In The Park), starring Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman, screenplay by I.A.L. Diamond (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment), music by Quincy Jones, and Sarah Vaughan singing the theme song. Wow.

The plot reminds me of a Three's Company episode. It's a bedroom farce, and like all great bedroom farce, begins with a lie. Walter Matthau plays a dentist enjoying the bachelor life. In order to "keep things honest" he lies to his girlfriend, played by Goldie. He tells her he is married so he won't have to commit. But then, in a moment of weakness Matthau promises Goldie he'll divorce his wife and marry her. Hijinx ensue when big-hearted Goldie insists on meeting his wife to make sure she won't be hurt by the divorce. Now Matthau needs a pretend wife, and he picks his dental assistant, played by Ingrid Bergman in the title role. Bergman is a frumpy old maid who, like a cactus, occasionally produces a pretty blossom.

Goldie Hawn's performance is a revelation, as they say. This is the one that got her the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar. When she's onscreen, I'm afraid to look at anything else in case I miss one of her facial expressions or funny vocal inflections. There's a scene in which she teaches Ingrid Bergman's character to dance, which is hilarious and embarrassing at the same time.


Walter Matthau is an unlikely romantic lead, but if you remember The Odd Couple and even Charley Varrick, he always seems able to pull the chicks. And there is a sweet onscreen chemistry between him and Goldie. You just have to suspend your disbelief a little bit.


I love Goldie's outfits too. The burgundy velvet suit is very mod. She also wore a nice rust suede miniskirt and boots combo with a yellow turtleneck. And my favorite is pictured above: blue mock turtle, extra love beads, batik inspired capris, and mary janes. Extremely cute.

My rating (using the netflix 5-star system) is five stars. A very witty, sweet and enjoyable romantic comedy with that innocent sixties hipness that you can't find in Hollywood anymore.

* When I say her "cute years" I don't mean to imply that Goldie ever stopped being hot. Did you see her on Larry King recently? I hope I look that good at 60. She looks 40.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

A really heartwarming video. And I'm kind of jaded on heartwarming stuff, but this one is pretty darn cool.

Via Sheila and Ken.

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Jimmy Carter's Attacker Resurfaces

. . . in Norway.

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Don Knotts Remembered

Back in 2004, I paid tribute to the great Don Knotts on the occasion of his birthday. Here's what I wrote:

While a lot of people swear that The Incredible Mr. Limpet is the best Don Knotts movie, i think people who think that are all wet. Knotts excelled at the physical comedy of facial expressions. Limpet was a cartoon, so it by definition cannot be the best DK movie.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is a strong contender. Knotts' character is named Luther Heggs, a perfect name for a DK character. i loved the whole scene where he spends the night in the haunted house. Remember the crazy organ music? Knotts was at his shaky best.

i liked The Reluctant Astronaut just a little bit better, partly because i like space movies. This one came out in 1967, at the height of the space race. The premise is typically DK: he gets a job at NASA, tells his family and his girlfriend that he is in astronaut training, when in fact he's just a janitor, hijinks ensue, his family finds out about the charade, they're terribly disappointed, then even though he's Acrophobic, he blunders onto a spaceflight, actually becoming a reluctant astronaut , more hijinks ensue. It's predictable, but still a must see.

i also liked The Apple Dumpling Gang, where DK teams up with Tim Conway as a pair of stereotypically incompetent but loveable bank robbers.

But the funniest Don Knotts movie, in my opinion, is the often overlooked How to Frame a Figg, from 1971. Here's a couple of comments from the IMDB page:

'How to Frame a Figg is a vintage Don Knotts - frenetic, farcical comedy, and features him at the top of his form as the hysterical, cat-on-hot-tin-roof nervous, persecuted civil servant Hollis Figg.'

'If folks were really this stupid I could be the SRW - Supreme Ruler of the World. In this one Knotts plays a dimwitted bean counter for some little jerk water town run by a group of crooked simpletons only slightly brighter than he is. When things appear a bit shaky for the crooks they go for a frame-up of the patsy Figg. Plenty of laughs as Knotts does his usual bumbling, stumbling act. I especially appreciated the extension cord scene; asininity at it's highest level.'

The opening scene with the ambulance is pathetically absurd, but i won't ruin it for you, it's one of my favorite comic scenes ever.

Best Don Knotts movie: How to Frame a Figg. Go rent it tonight and let me know if you agree or disagree.

There's a pretty good bio at ABC News.com. Did you know Don Knotts majored in speech in college?

Update: Don Knotts' career as metaphor for the decline of American culture?

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February 25, 2006

Bizarre Incident

"...the clerk handed the item back to the man and saw what she thought was a severed penis...


...the microwave will be discarded."

Story here.

Via commenter, Radical Redneck.

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February 23, 2006

UAE, Our Great Ally In The War On Terror...

. . . does not recognize "U.S. economic sanctions on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries," according to the Wall Street Journal. Since WSJ is a subscription site, I will quote the article at length, which I found at Michelle Malkin's blog.

Dubai is believed to have been one of the most important conduits for Iran's nuclear technology acquisition program, according to U.S. court cases and interviews with experts in the field. The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nongovernment advocacy group, last year published a list of 38 weapons-related smuggling cases since 1982 in which the goods moved through Dubai and the other islands that constitute the United Arab Emirates. Most of the illicit goods crossing Dubai go through its ports.

More generally, according to sanctions experts and numerous U.S. court and regulatory cases, Iran uses Dubai to evade U.S. economic sanctions on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. The UAE doesn't recognize those sanctions.

Iranian front companies in Dubai routinely obtain prohibited U.S. goods, federal court records show. In one undercover investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that resulted in a November 2005 guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the representative of an Iranian front company was caught on tape assuring an undercover agent posing as a businessman not to worry about sanctions regulations.

'You are going to export to Dubai, which does not have any regulations. It's a free, uh, country for importing, exporting,' said Khalid Mahmood, according to his guilty plea. Asked if the equipment would then be shipped to Iran, Mr. Mahmood replied, 'Once it comes here, we'll ship it anywhere in the world, no problem.'

Similarly, in 2003, UAE officials refused a U.S. request to intercept a shipment of nuclear technology bound for South Africa by a smuggler named Asher Karni, according to University of Georgia sanctions expert Scott Jones, who works with U.S. agencies on proliferation issues. Mr. Karni was convicted of violating sanctions against weapons of mass destruction last year in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The UAE also was believed to be a nexus for Pakistan's nuclear program and hosted at least two front companies that forwarded material to Islamabad. [emphasis added]

So what. Trust the President. Don't worry. Be happy. Right?

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February 22, 2006

American Idol Blogging: The Guys

Patrick: Not bad looking in a Tom Greene sort of way. His neck is as long as a giraffe's. He picked an Etheridge song??? Slow start, but he picked it up. A solid journeyman performance. Not spectacular.

Looks like Seacrest traded the gingham Maryann shirt for an Alexander Julian knock-off. I wonder if he shops at Marshall's. You know you can get some really cheap designer looking clothes at Marshall's. Not that I'd ever shop there.

David the crooner: Funny, the first guy sings Etheridge, the second guy sings Freddy Mercury. Is there a pattern forming? WTF? OMG! he sucks! It will be hard for anyone to drop a performance worse than that one. He's like the drunk guy on karaoke night. I agree with Randy totally. That was seriously horrible.

Bucky: He's a good looking kid. Let's see what he can do. He's been off key for most of the song. Crap. So far this night has been amateur hour. Did I just hear this guy stutter?

Simon is being nicer tonight than usual.

Will: Reminds me of Bobby Brady or Seth from the OC. When he was in the final two, I thought Sid should have made it instead of him. Ha ha. Nice moves, kid. His voice is not up to this Jackson 5 song, but I like his energy. I see some potential. The most memorable performance so far. Lol, Paula agrees, definitely Bobby Brady.

Sway: He's going to sing "Reasons." Another one of my favorite songs ever, so i'm nervous for him. The song is to high for him. That velvet jacket must have cost him a pretty penny. He's butchering the song. Too bad, because Sway had a good voice in the auditions.

Interesting side note (or not): Did you ever notice that the Cingular Wireless commercials always show five bars? Yet I've never seen an actual phone with more than four bars.

That guy who does the CareerBuilder.com commercials with all the chimps is one brave dude. Those fuckers will eat your face off. Chimps are not nice animals.

Chris the bald guy: He's one of my early favorites from the auditions. He's going to sing Bon Jovi. Cool performance. Excellent rocker voice. Best so far. Simon was wrong, he does have charisma.

Kevin from historic Levittown: What will his D&D buddies say if Kevin makes the big time? "*sniff* hnn hey Kevin. Can I run your character hnn while you're in Hollywood, *sniff* hnn?" When Simon said his performance was vocally excruciating, Kevin's mom looked upset, but dad's expression was like "You know, he has a point there."

You know what? I really like the fact that Becky is so supportive of every guy who gets up there. Did you see her gettin' totally into Kevin's performance? Good for her.

Gideon: This dude talks like a preacher, it's funny. He's singing "Shout?" lol. "Can we dance with your dates?" haha! There were no flashes of greatness in that performance. But he's got potential, given the right song. Don't let Simon get in your head, dude. You have a nice smile.

Eliot Yao Ming: He don't look Chinese. His performance was A'ight. One of the best tonight sure, but that's not saying much. He'll do okay until they get down to twelve. But he's got to bring it up a notch to make it all the way. Simon is whacked. This guy is not the best male vocalist they've ever had, that's just plain off.

Bobby: "Copacabana?" That was fun. He has a real Nathan Lane meets John Goodman appeal to him. I agree with Paula, it looks like he totally commits to whatever he does.

Did you notice they got two singers left and 25 minutes to fill? When I was doing plays, I always sang faster on opening night.

Ace: He is stunning. And Ace Young is such a great rock and roll name. Average vocals, which seem stellar compared to tonight's competition. But I'll predict right now that he will be a finalist. Easy. My suggestion for Ace is to make sure the word "naked" appears in every song he sings this season.

Taylor: This guy is the biggest character in a cast full of characters. "Levon" is about family values?! I think he needs to pay more attention to the lyrics. I'm pulling for Taylor. I became a big fan when he took the long walk playing a harmonica. However, I fear his look is too old for the average AI voter.

If I was going to vote for anybody tonight, it would be Chris though.

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Limbaugh's Sophistry

Surprisingly or not, Rush Limbaugh has come out in support of the administration's decision to back the UAE port deal. His sophistry on the issue is just the type of thing that makes it impossible for me to like the guy consistently.

Rush asks "why would they spend billions of dollars to do something they can do cheaply?" He means that the terrorists could always put a bomb inside a container and ship it. They don't need to buy a port operations company to achieve the same thing.

You see the sophistry? Opponents of this deal aren't saying that Al Qaeda is buying the British concern. Or that the UAE is run by terrorists. That's just silly. And it shows how little Rush thinks of his audience, that he thinks he can slip such an argument past us.

I find myself agreeing with Rush Limbaugh more often than not. But it's only due to the inherent strength of the conservative point of view, not because Rush is especially trustworthy or even likeable. And on this point he's dead wrong.

Rush also says that keeping port operations out of the hands of the UAE won't stop terrorists from infiltrating security. "They can do that now," he says. Well, Rush likes football, so how about this analogy. It's like saying no one should rush Donovan McNabb, because he can always get rid of the ball. In football, and in the War On Terror, you know your opponent is trying to score on you. It's not your job to make it easier for him. Quite the opposite. In war and in football you gotta play the percentages.

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Wednesday Is Washington's Birthday

Hugo asked for more Burns. So I can't think of a more appropriate poem for today than this one.

Ode for General Washington’s Birthday

No Spartan tube, no Attic shell,
No lyre Æolian I awake;
’Tis liberty’s bold note I swell,
Thy harp, Columbia, let me take!
See gathering thousands, while I sing,
A broken chain exulting bring,
And dash it in a tyrant’s face,
And dare him to his very beard,
And tell him he no more is feared—
No more the despot of Columbia’s race!
A tyrant’s proudest insults brav’d,
They shout—a People freed! They hail an Empire saved.

Where is man’s god-like form?
Where is that brow erect and bold—
That eye that can unmov’d behold
The wildest rage, the loudest storm
That e’er created fury dared to raise?
Avaunt! thou caitiff, servile, base,
That tremblest at a despot’s nod,
Yet, crouching under the iron rod,
Canst laud the hand that struck th’ insulting blow!
Art thou of man’s Imperial line?
Dost boast that countenance divine?
Each skulking feature answers, No!
But come, ye sons of Liberty,
Columbia’s offspring, brave as free,
In danger’s hour still flaming in the van,
Ye know, and dare maintain, the Royalty of Man!

Alfred! on thy starry throne,
Surrounded by the tuneful choir,
The bards that erst have struck the patriot lyre,
And rous’d the freeborn Briton’s soul of fire,
No more thy England own!
Dare injured nations form the great design,
To make detested tyrants bleed?
Thy England execrates the glorious deed!
Beneath her hostile banners waving,
Every pang of honour braving,
England in thunder calls, “The tyrant’s cause is mine!”
That hour accurst how did the fiends rejoice
And hell, thro’ all her confines, raise the exulting voice,
That hour which saw the generous English name
Linkt with such damned deeds of everlasting shame!

Thee, Caledonia! thy wild heaths among,
Fam’d for the martial deed, the heaven-taught song,
To thee I turn with swimming eyes;
Where is that soul of Freedom fled?
Immingled with the mighty dead,
Beneath that hallow’d turf where Wallace lies
Hear it not, WALLACE! in thy bed of death.
Ye babbling winds! in silence sweep,
Disturb not ye the hero’s sleep,
Nor give the coward secret breath!
Is this the ancient Caledonian form,
Firm as the rock, resistless as the storm?
Show me that eye which shot immortal hate,
Blasting the despot’s proudest bearing;
Show me that arm which, nerv’d with thundering fate,
Crush’d Usurpation’s boldest daring!—
Dark-quench’d as yonder sinking star,
No more that glance lightens afar;
That palsied arm no more whirls on the waste of war.

By Robert Burns.

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February 21, 2006

American Idol Blogging: The Ladies

Mandisa from Sacramento. This girl can bring it. She's 29 too. Let's hear it for the older girls. The Heart song shows versatility; no one expected her to go Rock right out of the gate. Simon is absolutely right, she has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the girls. Mandisa will be a factor.

Kelly from, Abermarle North Carolina. Cute, small town girl, yada yada yada. I sense that she does not have the emotional toughness to dig down and fight when it comes to the later rounds. But then, did Carrie? Maybe not, but this girl does not have Carrie's voice.

Becky. Too glamour girlish. Guys will love her, girls will hate her. She's frickin annoying too. She relies on too many vocal gimmicks, and she's not that good a singer. Springseen is not for her, either. Bad choice of songs.

Ayla, the athletic chick. She's so tall, I think she could hurt Ryan. I actually like her voice, despite her overuse of the vibrato. I also liked her black outfit. I just don't see her making it into the top two or three. Plus, she thinks she can divide her attention between basketball and AI. I wouldn't be surprised if she were forced to make a choice sometime in the next few weeks. Smiling more would definitely help her chances.

Paris. This girl can also bring it on. Oh and one of my favorite songs in the entire world too, "Midnight Train To Georgia." She has a little trouble with the lower register. But she's having a hell of a good time up there. The judges gush over her. I like her too.

Stevie, Sacramento representin' again. Opera training, multilingual. Where's her breath control? Nervous I guess. I'm such an armchair singer, like I wouldn't sound like shit up there. But as Randy might say, dude that was not good. Why would she pick such a crappy song?

Brenna. I predict this girl is going to bug the shit out of America. And she picks "You Are the Sunshine of My Life?!" Let's see how she does. Okay. Predictably, a bad song choice, and her attitude is all wrong. It's a ballad, what is she doing? I don't know what she's doing. That was shit, dude. Nice grille though. Her ortho did a great job.

Heather. If I didn't know her name, and I had to guess it after taking one look at her, I would guess Nicole. But my second guess would be Heather. I like her personality. But the girl is a shower singer. Her boobs are worth ten thousand votes, and her voice is not ready for prime time. Boring fucking song. And what's with all the altos this year? Lets hear some more sopranos.

Melissa. She's got a different look than the rest of the beauty queens. I'm glad she decided to go brunette. Another alto, but I like the throaty quality to her voice. She's more comfortable at the low end of the spectrum, and she can belt it too. If she picks the right songs, she can go far. At first, I would have said this was a safe song choice, but she nailed it. I agree with Paula, amazing.

Wow, Melissa said she has never been shown on AI until now? I find that hard to believe. Those shows were taped and pre-edited. I can't understand how they could fail to show one of the final twenty four at least once.

Lisa, the sixteen year old. Very pretty and sings good too. A little "pitchy." She's trying to work the crowd. I expected better from her tonight. She'll make it into the middle rounds at least, though. She's got heart.

What drugs is Paula on this year? They're totally different than the ones she was on last year. She's too mellow. I think I liked the hyper Paula better.

Kinnik. I miss Vonzell, and I think the judges did too. Holy crap. When I heard she picked Oleta, I said forget it. But I was way wrong. That was the performance of the night for me. I'm sorry the judges are all whacked. I didn't hear no sharps. Even still, better sharp than flat on that song.

Katharine. A little advice honey. You might want to re-think the whole emulating Barbra thing. As Walter Matthau once said of her: "Great talent... difficult person." She can sing, but it wasn't a standout for me. She does this strange dancing thing. It's weird, like she's having a seizure or something. Dude, she was up there but she was not the best of the best tonight. I'd say she was like number five, maybe six.

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Back To The Cotillion Ball

I have been bad at reminding you all about the Cotillion Ball lately, but do check it out this week. Cassandra of Villianous Company did a great job. I love the 50's domestic goddess pictures.

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Still More Behind The Scenes At Fox News


Hey, this is easier to do than a hot tub post.

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Please Let This Be An Omen

Jennifer and Cassandra both have links which ask the essential question, "What was the #1 song in the U.S.A. the day you were born?"

If there's any justice, I think this should be a more accurate predictor of future life than the astrology charts.

That's because my song is "Rich Girl" by Daryl Hall & John Oates, lol. I love that song.

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President Misplaces Shield

On September 20, 2001, George W. Bush gave one of the great presidential addresses in modern history. In it he made this vow:

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came -- where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.

I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

Today, President Bush asked the following rhetorical question:
I don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East when we've already determined security is not an issue.
And I ask this: What happened to that police shield that's supposed to be in your pocket, Mr. President? What will you tell the victims and their families if port security does turn out to be "an issue?"

This is a big mistake.

Update: Ken sees a parallel with the border situation.

Like the border with Mexico, the President seems to be tone deaf when it comes to guarding our borders. He seems to think it is more important to play nice with Mexico than it is to keep millions of illegal aliens from entering the country. I believe the same mind set the President uses towards Mexico is the same he is employing to rationalize the UAE takeover of our ports. Both situations are wrong and risk our national security.
Update 2: the best argument I have read on the subject was written, not suprisingly, by Hugh Hewitt.

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Planes & Poetry

David Foster has a post about The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour, where a B-17, a B-25, and a B-24 are visiting various cities around the country this spring. The schedule is here. I would sure love to ride in one of those things, if they give me a parachute.

In addition, David excerpts some wonderful WWII bomber poetry. I bet you didn't think there was such a thing.

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February 20, 2006

More Behind The Scenes At Fox News


Previous Dhue blogging installments: here and here.

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February 19, 2006

And What Do We Do With Witches?

Burrrrn them!

A Muslim pop singer has been forced to hire bodyguards to protect her during a visit to Britain next month after she received a string of death threats from religious extremists.

US-based Deeyah is due in London next month to promote a new single and video, released tomorrow. But the track 'What Will It Be?' has already outraged hardline Islamists here as it promotes women's rights.

Her performances with a clutch of male dancers and revealing outfits have also deeply offended many Muslims. In one scene in her latest video, the singer drops a burqa covering her body to reveal a bikini.

Oh the horror!
The 28-year-old singer claims that in the past she has been spat upon in the street and told that her family would be in danger if she did not tone down her work. The situation is now so bad that Deeyah feels she cannot visit Britain without protection. 'I can no longer walk around without specially assigned bodyguards' . . . I would be lying if I said abuse from religious fanatics didn't upset or scare me.

. . .

'I have been on the verge of a breakdown. Middle-aged men have spat at me in the street and I have had people phone me and tell me they were going to cut me up into pieces. I became this figure of hate simply because of what I do and wear.'

More Deeyah biographical info here.

I can't tell you whether I like her music, because I can't find any samples on the web and she's not on iTunes. Then again, it doesn't really matter. Now that Muslim extremists have been granted an absolute veto power over anything "offensive," I don't really expect to be seeing Deeyah at the top of the Billboard charts anytime soon.

Here's some lyrics i was able to find, from the offending song, "What Will It Be."

From the land of the free to the jewel of the empire
Does the truth only come from the top of a holy man's spire?
From three paces back, covered head to toe
Are the rules just for the masses and written just for show?

. . .

Do you stand up, lay down or follow?
What will it be?
Will it all be the same again tomorrow?
What will it be?
You can claim it but the words are hollow
Do you stand up, lay down or swallow?
What will it be?

. . .

We don't take it lightly when you threatinin women,
How you have so much hate and faith in religion.
Fake in the system, need to take a break wit the dissin,
Before you end up in the lake where they fishin.
Hearin bout the muslim madona, asian J Lo,
Lookin for drama (OK) if you say so.
If you that religious and not with trendy clothes,
Then what you doin' even watchin' videos.

I think this chick has a death wish. But as Oprah might say, You go girl!

Update: Listen to Deeyah here.

[cross-posted at A Western Heart]

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The Re-Re-Reconquista

Is this the latest step in Islam's campaign to gradually retake Europe?

The Spanish Islamic council has asked prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero to promote the conversion of Cordoba cathedral, which was previously a mosque, into an ecumenical temple. The council said that the gesture 'would help with the foundation of the Alliance of Civilizations,' and denounced 'a continued campaign of Islamophobia in some media outlets.' Mansur Escudero, president of the council, thanked Zapatero for his 'brave support for alliance and understanding between civilizations, which should not leave out in any way the different religions.' He said that the conversion of St. Sophia's Basilica in Istanbul and Cordoba cathedral to ecumenical temples would 'allow Christians, Muslims, and believers in other religions to pray together to the same God and strengthen spiritual and brotherly links,' and added, 'We are convinced that the Catholic Church, which works for ecumenicalism and dialogue between Christianity and Islam, will receive this initiative favorably.'
Convinced? As far as I know, Cordoba Cathedral, also known as la Mezquita, is still in operation as a Catholic Church. I'm not so sure the Pope would want to turn it into some sort of generic spriritual feel-good center.

Before you go saying "well, the Mezquita was originally a mosque," check this out:

First, the Romans built a pagan temple on the site. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the new Germanic masters of Spain (the Visigoths) replaced it with the Christian church of Saint Vincent. When the Arabs conquered the peninsula in the early 8th century, they tore down the church and began building their great mosque, which - commensurate with Cordoba's importance as the centre of Muslim power in Spain - became the largest mosque in all of Islam after that of Caaba, in Arabia.

When the Christians re-conquered Cordoba in 1236, they did with the mosque what they did in all of the cities of Andalucia - instead of bothering to build a new church, they simply 'converted' the building to Christianity and set up an altar in the middle. In the 16th century, this modest gothic insert was enlarged and given its current Renaissance - and later, baroque - styles, resulting in the strange hybrid which we now see . . .

So perhaps the Italians have the primary right to the Mezquita, since it was originally a Roman temple.

As an aside, the story of the Bells of Santiago is interesting:

[I]n spite of lengthy peaceful interludes and economically-motivated episodes of laissez-faire, there was generally, in the 800-year long war between Spain's Christians and Muslims, an uninhibited desire to cause as much harm and humiliation to one's adversary as possible. This explains many of the apparently irrational acts which took place - perfectly illustrated by the story of how the huge bells of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela were dragged 500 miles south to Cordoba and then all the way back again.

At the height of Muslim power, during the Omega Caliphate at the end of the 10th century, the fearsome warlord Al-Mansur led a bloody raid through northern Spain, going as far into Christian territory as Santiago de Compostela. On the loose in the great pilgrims' city, the Moor had the audacity of riding his horse into the cathedral and letting it drink from the font of holy water, outraging the Christian townsfolk; then, even more insultingly, he had the church's bells carried 500 miles south to Cordoba, where they were melted down to make lamps to illuminate the Great Mosque.

When, two and a half centuries later, in 1236, the Castillian King Ferdinand the Third ('The Saint') reconquered Cordoba, his first action, to avenge the humiliation caused by Al-Mansur, was to have the lamps carried back to the shrine of Saint James, where they were melted down to make a new set of bells.

Yes, this has been a long war.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

This game seems strangely familiar. I don't know.

Led there by Sarah.

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February 18, 2006

The State Of Poetry Education In The Muslim World

It must be pitiful.

Come on, a haiku is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 syllables. How hard is that, now?

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News Flash: Dick Cheney Was Careless

I just don't get all the hub-bub about whether Dick Cheney shot Whittington at 30 yards or at 30 feet or whatever. What's the point of that argument? If he fired at some closer range does that mean he was extra-super careless instead of just careless? Where are the Cheney critics going with this argument?

Oh I know. The theory goes something like this:

If Cheney lied about the distance it means he lied about WMD. We can't have a Vice President who goes around shooting people. He's reckless. He's evil evil evil. Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton. AAAAAAAgh!!!

[head explodes]

You can only clutch at straws for so long until you run out of straws.

Like that? I just made that one up.

I love how people are saying Cheney was drunk. Like that disqualifies you from being a world leader. I think Churchill put that one to rest sixty years ago.

Look everybody. This was an unfortunate accident, but it's not going to get anybody impeached. Bush and Cheney are going to finish out their term. Get used to it.

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Coolest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

The Human Clock.

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February 15, 2006

Plane Crash In Roseville, 2.0

Sheesh, I'm taking unexpected criticism for my "fuel feed problems" statement in my post about the Glasair II crash in Roseville. The manufacturers' reps must be trolling the web. Here's some clarifying points to remember.

  1. I never said that the Roseville crash was due to a product defect. Obviously, I have no idea and if I had to guess, I'd blame pilot error first.

  2. Just as obvious, if the pilot was indeed doing aerobatics over a populated area, he would have been clearly negligent.

  3. One thing that should be investigated is how many hours that particular plane had been flying. There is a rule that you cannot have passengers in an experimental plane until a certain amount of flight time has been logged. I can't remember the requirement, maybe some of you know it.

  4. Perhaps I should have said fuel feed "challenges" instead of "problems." But, come on. There is a difference between low wing and high wing aircraft fuel systems. The difference is gravity. On a low wing plane, fuel has to be pumped to the engine. If air gets in the line the engine could die. The danger is magnified if the plane is doing stunts. I'm certainly no expert, but I did learn that to prevent cavitation in the fuel lines, tolerances have to be exact throughout the system. Also, some low wing planes do not allow a "both" setting on their fuel selector switch.

  5. It may be that kit planes are made with higher quality materials, as one commenter said. That's not my beef. I would much rather be in a plane that was mass produced, since there's a greater likelihood that any design problems will have been previously discovered by some other sucker, and not me. Also, I would expect quality control to be somewhat better at a factory than in Joe Blow's back yard.
That is all. Have at it.

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Gotta Love The Beeb

The BBC, no surprise, was one of the many media outlets that refused to show the twelve Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Their excuse was as lame and hypocritical as any other you've seen:

We recognised that among our users there is a wide range of different cultural sensitivities and that the images would cause genuine offence to some.
Tut, tut. Don't want to give offence you know. So sorry about that freedom of the press thing you Yanks are always on about.

Of course, they forgot to mention anything about that fear of gettin' blowed up thing. There's that too.

Interestingly, the Beeb has no problem with potentially offending Muslims when there is no chance that their offices will become targets for retaliation.

Exhibit A: the BBC didn't hesitate to plaster their website with the newest Abu Ghraib photos. Are they really taking the position that those photographs would not "cause genuine offence to some?" Or is the reason for their newfound boldness the fact that any retaliation would be directed at American troops, not journalists whose lives are, as everyone knows, worth more than the rest of ours.

I also love the disclaimer they added to the link in the main story.

Warning: You may find some pictures disturbing
The obvious rhetorical question seems to be: why wasn't such a disclaimer good enough to allow them to publish the cartoons?

Oh, yeah. It's that darn "gettin blowed up" problem.

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Poetry Wednesday: Sandburg

I stopped in Springfield Illinois a few years ago, just to pay my respects to President Lincoln. Here's an account of a visit by Carl Sandburg, from 1918.


In Abraham Lincoln’s city,
Where they remember his lawyer’s shingle,
The place where they brought him
Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories
From Tallahassee to the Yukon,
The place now where the shaft of his tomb
Points white against the blue prairie dome,
In Abraham Lincoln’s city … I saw knucks
In the window of Mister Fischman’s second-hand store
On Second Street.

I went in and asked, “How much?”
“Thirty cents apiece,” answered Mister Fischman.
And taking a box of new ones off a shelf
He filled anew the box in the showcase
And said incidentally, most casually
And incidentally:
“I sell a carload a month of these.”

I slipped my fingers into a set of knucks,
Cast-iron knucks molded in a foundry pattern,
And there came to me a set of thoughts like these:
Mister Fischman is for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff,
And the street car strikers and the strike-breakers,
And the sluggers, gunmen, detectives, policemen,
Judges, utility heads, newspapers, priests, lawyers,
They are all for Abe and the “malice to none” stuff.

I started for the door.
“Maybe you want a lighter pair,”
Came Mister Fischman’s voice.
I opened the door … and the voice again:
“You are a funny customer.”

Wrapped in battle flags,
Wrapped in the smoke of memories,
This is the place they brought him,
This is Abraham Lincoln’s home town.

I might wonder why Carl Sandburg would need knucks. But then I would be committing the error of assuming that all poetry is autobiography.

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February 13, 2006

Silver Medalists!

Apparently, there is no Mandarin translation for "why why why!" When they bang their knee in China, they finish the program.

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The First Rule Of 24

A hostile with key information is a hostile down.

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February 12, 2006

Dick Cheney's Hunting Foul

From AP:

. . . Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.

Whittington 'came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself,' Armstrong said.

'The vice president didn't see him,' she continued. 'The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good.'

Allow me to be the first blogger to make the "another case of faulty intelligence gone awry" joke.

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Plane Crash In Roseville

A plane crashed into a house in Roseville, northeast of Sacramento today. From the video, it looks like a missile strike. The house is toast. Four people are feared dead, including possibly two inside the house.

The aircraft was a Glasair II, low-wing experimental kit plane. As a law clerk, I worked peripherally on a case involving the crash of a kit plane very similar to the Glasair II. Due to client confidentiality, I can't get into the specifics of the case. But suffice to say, you'd never catch me getting into one of them kit planes.

I don't know what possesses pilots to build their own plane when there are plenty of reliable manufacturers out there. Especially a low-wing plane with it's inherent fuel feed problems. Today's crash occurred after witnesses say the pilot was doing some aerobatics. Not smart over a populated area like Roseville.

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February 11, 2006

If St. Cindy Can Do It, Why Shouldn't I?

You heard that Cindy Sheehan was selling herself over the internet? The ad got pulled by eBay, possibly because the product may produce involuntary stomach spasms.

However, with this auction, no such problems are likely:


As to any other disclaimers, I disclaim them.

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A Critique Of The Pragmatic Approach To Bullies

Kevin Kim, an energetic advocate of free speech, provides a well reasoned argument against those pragmatists who say we should not provoke muslim outrage.

The pragmatic approach, which seems to have gained adherents even in our own State Department, can be summarized thusly:

[F]or the 'pragmatist,' it is abundantly clear that certain Muslims are prone to overreaction. Knowing this as we do, we Westerners would be at fault for provoking such people, because provocation in the awareness of Muslim oversensitivity is malicious. You know the angry dog will bite you if you keep prodding it with your foot, so it's your fault if you get bitten. What's more, provocation is impractical: how can we expect to change Muslim hearts and minds when we adopt a confrontational stance?
Kevin responds:
The West and its allies occasionally shoot themselves in the foot: Kim Jong-il, for example, relies on Seoul's and Washington's indecision to get what he wants, like a child adept at 'playing' his parents. North Korea, in the role of the spoiled brat, knows it can sit back and make demands of its far more powerful interlocutors. In the end, Seoul and Washington gain nothing while Pyongyang continues its illegal nuclear program, its counterfeiting, its drug trafficking, and its systematic oppression of the North Korean people-- all while spewing outrageously self-righteous rhetoric whose crazed tone I often wish we matched, just for fun's sake.

. . .

The pragmatic appeasers want to cut Western action off at the root: they would prefer that we stop openly acting outraged about Muslim outrage. Some . . . seem to feel that we should feel outrage but then do nothing-- that we should, in fact, compromise with oppression by reducing our own range of movement to accommodate the violent Other. This is a comfortable, lazy position that allows us to pretend we have the moral high ground even as that ground is rapidly eroding beneath us.

Others feel that dialogue with the wild-eyed Muslims is the best answer. While I'm a staunch advocate of dialogue (interreligious, intercultural, diplomatic, etc.), I'm under no illusions that the people out there destroying embassies and threatening infidels with death are going to sit down calmly and listen to rational discussion. As far as I'm concerned, most of those people are already beyond redemption. Dialogue is reserved, then, for moderates (in the Western sense of the word, not the Muslim sense). What's more, we need to be focusing on the next generation of Muslims-- the children, the ones who are impressionable. If we don't move to communicate with them directly, they'll grow up just as indoctrinated as the current generation of willful idiots.

. . .

I proudly advocate the right to offend [If you've seen Kevin's blog, you know he ain't kidding], and demand that offended parties unpucker their sphincters and relax. If you want to protest, fine. If you're planning to get violent, don't be surprised if someone shoots your stupid ass.

The whole thing is here.

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This Brokeback To The Future trailer is genius!

Hat tip: Crash & Byrne.

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February 10, 2006

Worlds Apart


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So I'm In Law School Because... Why?

Oh yeah, the money Arthur, the money.

Guest blogger Drobbski, at Clareified:

There are basically three types of partners: the successful, the hungry, and the failing. Although their motivations differ, they are all mean in one way, shape, or form.
The successful partner has a book of busines that is way too large to manage, so she is stretched so thin she doesn't have time for family or work.
So she is mean.
The hungry partner doesn't yet have his book of business, and strives to get it. He is more concerned with self-promotion and client development then billable work. He needs associates willing to put in the non-billable time that does the associate no good. He can't get the support he needs.
So he is mean.
The failing partner does not have enough business and efforts to find more fail. He is hoping to hold on a while longer working on other partners' matters, and he is bitter about it. So he is mean.
See? I told you.
Partners are mean.
It's a rule.
P.S. Shelly, I know you're the exception.

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February 08, 2006

Memo To Sound Board Operator At The Grammys

You suck.

(One of many examples: Sly's first public appearance in 13 years and you'd think they might have shown the man more respect. Or didn't you think people would want to hear the vocals?)

Update: See pictures of Sly's sweet hairdo at Tony's.

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Poetry Wednesday: Verne

Today is Jules Verne's birthday. Here is a translation of one of his poems. Warning: it's a sad one.

Greenland Song

Dark Is the sky,
The sun sinks wearily;
My trembling heart, with sorrow filled,
Aches drearily !
My sweet child at my songs is smiling still,
While at his tender heart the icicles lie chill.
Child of my dreams I
Thy love doth cheer me;
The cruel biting frost I brave
But to be near thee!
Ah me, Ah me, could these hot tears of mine
But melt the icicles around that heart of thine!
Could we once more
Meet heart to heart,
Thy little hands close clasped in mine,
No more to part.
Then on thy chill heart rays from heaven above
Should fall, and softly melt it with the warmth of love!

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February 05, 2006

Dannebrog Again


With all the flag burning going on, I think it's appropriate to refer once again to my old old Dannebrog post. Click here.

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What? Was Hugh G. Rection Unavalable?


I looked all over my favorite humorous blogger sites and I couldn't find anyone who took a shot at the obvious joke. I guess everybody's too busy blogging about the cartoon rioting I blogged about ages ago, although I didn't get any awards for having done so. Do I have to do everything? Well here goes.



Despite stiff opposition, House Republicans selected Ohio Representative John Boehner as Majority Leader on Friday.

"This appointment might be hard-on his family, but Boehner's a real stand-up guy," said one observer. "He always seems to rise to the occasion."

Others were more skeptical. "Woody make a good leader? It's hard to say," said one deflated opponent.

Boehner was visibly excited about his new job. "I'm so pumped up right now, i can barely contain myself," he said. "I look forward to coming to work and plugging away until I'm exhausted."

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February 04, 2006

Can She Do "Positive?"

I just got done watching a tape of Hillary's sit-down interview with Jane Pauley at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. The event was held on January 28th and sponsored by the San Francisco Bar Association. I've never forced myself to listen to Hillary for as long as I did tonight. It was difficult.

The substance of what she said was unremarkable, except for one outrageous statement. She would have us believe that President Bush is deliberately trying to prevent the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast in order to stop democratic voters from returning to the area. Naturally, the fellow travelers in the audience ate that craziness up. Pauley was only there to suggest topics for Hillary to pontificate on, not to challenge any logical inconsistencies in what her guest of honor might say.

Otherwise, Hillary's chat was a real snooze-fest. Her great handicap is the opposite of Bill's great strength. She is simply not a very charismatic person in public. She can do the subtle-cynical dig well enough for a sophisticated an admiring audience of San Francisco lawyers. She can do the criticism thing. She can do sarcasm and condescention. She can be a pompous know-it-all too. But can she do the "positive" thing?

I hate the positive thing myself. But that's because I ― like you, and like the people in the audience at the Masonic ― am a very sophisticated political junkie. We all have a well developed sense of irony and cynicism, which we either supress or put to use as needed, in service of our chosen party.

Of course, presidential elections are not won or lost by the votes of sophisticates like us. In this country, it's the wobbly middle 20% of voters who decide elections. Those folks who can't be bothered to decide until the last minute respond best to a focused, positive message, often repeated.

The simple positive message worked for Kennedy in '60, Carter in '76, Reagan in '80 and '84, and Bush in 2000 and 2004. Guys who couldn't deliver the simple positive message include Stevenson, McCarthy, Ford, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. In 1980, Carter lost the ability to present that kind of message after he had fucked up the country so badly.

I think Hillary will have a hard time with the "positive" thing. She'll raise money alright, and she'll have large cheering crowds wherever she goes. Actually, the cheering crowds and the money are part of the problem for any Democrat today. It's easy to get the money and applause by negativity and vitriol, but then they forget the positive and upbeat mesages that win elections.

Keep in mind that wobbly 20% when you hear the press and the polls telling you how great Hillary's doing two years from now. Hillary can re-work her image only so much. I don't think you can learn charisma, and she's constitutionally incapable of being pleasant or upbeat, let alone positive. But then, she's a Democrat, and her party has completely abandoned positive ideas in favor of unfocused negativity.

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February 03, 2006

Dancing Blogging

Admit it, Casca. You got a little-teary eyed when Tia got booted.

And Barry is great.

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