Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday Random 10

It's been a strange week here at the Fire Direction Center.

1. Migraines are scary things. In the course of 4 hours I went from being married to a strong, vital, funny, sexy, smart woman to being the servant of a blind, insensate thing that burrowed from light and sound and was barely capable of movement and coherant thought. And, of course, our friends and neighbors were terrific. "OHMIGOD!" cried Mary, a friend from daycare, "My husband had a horrible headache and it turned out to be viral meningitis!!!"Ummmm...thanks for that, Mary...

Mojo is slowly recovering, but she still says she feels "hung-over", and she was wandering around this morning in her bathrobe and sunglasses looking like a cute, buxom, white Stevie Wonder with bedhead. Thank God the little peeps have been wonderfully gentle with mommy's "head owie", creeping quietly past the bedroom and refraining from leaping on Mommy like she was a pink bouncy house with legs like they usually do.

Oh, just so you know - the "anti-migraine knife"? The migraine part was a hollow handle with camphor in it, a 19th Century specific for headache. I don't think it was bad enough for...naaah.

2. I can't imagine anything that speaks as eloquently of the destitution of the political life in this, the last stages of our Republic, as the "debates" our candidates have been having.

The Palin-Biden "debate" was a joke, what with the utter incompetence of Gwen Ifil to ask anything of substance or follow up on anything else, particularly Palin's blatant refusal to answer questions on subects that she should have been prepared for but clearly knew nothing about.

But the two presidential sideshows have been ridiculous, too, with the parade of talking points and unrefuted spin and outright lies - albeit mostly from the now-desperate McCain, looking ever more like a whacked out bus station psycho missing his meds - that served, possibly, to inform someone who managed to completely miss the preceding nine months of campaigning.

That these pathetic freak shows have been accepted as a legitimate part of the campaign is a telling observation on the barrenness of our national discourse. Its one thing to be lied to by fools. Its quite another thing to demand that you be lied to and treated like a fool. Another thing entirely.

3. And, speaking of loathesome campaign bullshit,

I can't believe that Sarah Palin's "John McCain knows how to win a war" wasn't treated as a laugh line.

Last time I checked, when the enemy shoots you down, they are generally conceded to have "won" that particular encounter. Got it? You shoot them, you won. They shoot you, they won. So by cratering that rice paddy with his aircraft, John McCain did about as much to "win" the war he fought in as George B. MacClellan. But I suppose that you could stretch the incident to represent McCain's having done his bit to take out a $40,000 North Vietnamese antiaircraft missile by...ummm...flying his $2.5 million dollar aircraft into it.

Reminds me of the throwaway bit in the original Rocky where Mick (Burgess Meredith) notices that Rocky has a chintzy new pre-fight dressing gown with an enormous meat packing logo on the back,

and asks what his fighter got for being a walking shill for his brother-in-law's employer.

"I got duh robe" mumbles Rocky

Meredith looks at him with a saddened, pitying expression, and, in that perfect sarcastic gravelly Meredith voice sneers: "Shrewd..."

4. Why are so many Hollywood movies so dopey? At home with Mojo Monday I caught about half of "The Truth About Cats and Dogs". Now I have to confess having something of a thing for Janeane Garofalo; I love her smart, snarky sense of humor and her dark, smouldering intense beauty.

I can't think of a man who WOULDN'T at least give her a moment's attention at a bare minimum. But for the entire picture to work she has to come off as a completely insecure dummy who won't level with Ben Chaplin (who plays the required hunk) about who she really is. The picture is clever and has a bunch of funny moments and Janeane is utterly, deliciously oofy, but that just made it all the more irritating because of the hokey premise.

When Steve Martin made his version of Cyrano at least he had the excuse of the freakish nose. But Garofalo is a luminous delight. The plot's insistence on her insecurity and fear makes her look stupid, and it's hard to be sympathetic with a dope. You just want to shake her character, and that, for me, just kills the picture.


While we're on the subject of Hollywood and movies that don't tax your brain, Turner Classic ran a 1951 gem called "Take Care of My Little Girl", in which we are introduced to the lovely and frivolous "Liz Ericson", played by one of my more favorite classic Hollywood actresses, Jeanne Crain.

Callow Liz goes off to MiddleWestern U. because...well, a less kindly fellow might suspect it's to earn her "MRS" degree. Because she must, must, must pledge "Tri-U", the sisters of Upsilon Upsilon Upsilon being ONLY the most socially desirable, best dressed and popular girls on campus.

Oh, and they sing.

Of course, our little heroine's eyes are opened by the petty and vicious acts of her "sisters" and she ends up in the arms of "Joe" (Dale Robertson), the handsome senior who represents what my father, good Phi Kappa Psi that he is, would have called a "GDI". She returns her pledge pin and rejects the shallow, immoral lifestyle of the Greeks, with their chichi styles and their singing. Oh. Did I mention they sing?

Anyway, Jeanne is lovely, Robertson is manly, the slinky Jean Peters is delightful as the Eeeeevil Queen Bee of the Tri-Us (expand the picture above to really appreciate Jean's comittment to authenticity in her pictures: the shot is a publicity still from her first feature, the utterly awful "Captain from Castile". As terrible as the picture is, Jean is terrific, and note the genuine 16th Century leg hair on Jean - she's wild and positively woolly. And this in the Fifties, mind you, when it was every American woman's duty to shave, pull, depilate, slash and burn every single exposed follicle - God forbid that one of the Mad Men or Cocktail Nation Weenies got the idea that women had, y'know, like, actual body hair!) and the whole thing is good campy fun on the way to being a "scathing indictment" of the campus Greek system.

So "Take Care of My Little Girl" is a total hoot without being as irritatingly dumb as "TTAC&D". Catch it if you can.

6. It's sad to admit, but when it comes to pumpkin pie, the recipe I still like the best is on the inside of the freaking Carnation evaporated milk can.

It's a goddam 1950's artifact (and evaporated milk has got to be the Devil's diaper gravy, anyway, right?) and combined with frozen pie crust has GOT to be bad for you. But I love the stuff. It's memories of childhood autumns in Chicago with the cold wind whirling the fallen leaves outside, cider and pumpkin spices and a warm woolen blanket and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on the black-and-white TV inside.

None of my kids or Mojo likes the orange squash as pie. So I am forced to make the whole thing and eat it myself.

Sad, really. But in a good way.

7. Cats must have very odd little minds. Nitty has been sitting next to the laptop (enjoying the hot fan exhaust, I suspect) licking herself with concentrated effort for a solid ten minutes. And yet, I've seen her unable to do the same thing for more than a second or two. It's like there are two cat brains in there; one with an infinite patience and painstaking attention to detail, the other like a dandelion puffball. You never know which one is in charge at any given moment.

8. I wish that all those ads using scantily clad, painfully thin women to sell stuff would just come right out and say what they want you to think will happen if you buy their crap. Like this (Warning - NOT safe for work!):

Note that the original image went viral on the Internet, long story. But is this all that much skeevier than one of those commercials where the guy puts on the cologne or takes the "male enhancement" or gets the new car or whatever and is suddenly attacked by women who want to have his babies?

I think that Mennen or Enzyte or Accura should just do a spot that has a naked woman rubbing their product on her body (difficult with the Accura,I know, but bear with me) as the voice-over says: "Our product will make women have sex with you, regardless of how disgusting you are." Fade to black.

No shit, if I was 16, I'd have gone out and robbed a bank to buy an Accura. Robbed a fucking bank. I'm totally serious.


Why is rain so enjoyable to watch and soothing to hear, yet the moment you're caught out in it, it sucks enormous pipe?

Oh, and, for the record? When we set out the new rain barrel, Mojo looked it over and noted the attachment to feed a second barrel in series. "Who needs two rain barrels?" she quipped.

Second day of rain?

Barrel's full.

10. I finally got to watch the last half of the U.S. Women's National Team vs. Brazil in the Olympic gold medal game. Tragic. Tragic. I usually love Julie Foudy as a color commentator, but for this game I kept hearing her going on and on about what a back-and-forth game it was, and how the U.S.'s grit and will to win were keeping the game so close and kept I looking at the screen and thinking, Loudy, you have GOT to stop drinking sterno, it makes you babble and you can't see for shit.The Samba Gals knocked us on our ass, and only inhumanly great goalkeeping and pure damn luck kept them from winning in regulation time. The U.S. lost the game in the 71st minute only Hope Solo stuck out a hand. For 90 minutes the Brazilians were robbed, denied, unrewarded for their great can be a cruel game sometimes, and this was one of the times.

There were two teams on the field that night two months ago, a good team and a great team and they both won a medal. But the team that won the gold wasn't the great team and the medal the great team won wasn't the gold.

Extra Credit. I couldn't resist: here's our own Doctor Farley, "accredited Apocalypse Specialist", to help us through the coming economic hard times. Hat tip to Bob Lefarkins of Lawyers, Guns and Money. Ahem:

Dear Dr. Farley,

In view of the impending financial distress, I'm worried about my cats. Should I stock up on cat food, or will it be available in post-apocalypse America?


Worried in Dubuque

Dear Worried in Dubuque,

No. You should concentrate on stocking up on firearms, clean water, and canned goods. Cat food will most certainly not be available in post-apocalypse America; any housecats will only be a drain on your resources. Your cats should be eaten at the first opportunity, followed by the eating of any surplus cat food. Most such food is edible by humans, and while you may be tempted to "fatten up" your cats, much of the energy in the cat food is lost when its eaten by the cat.


But, hey - my wife is Christmas shopping. Christmas! Shopping! In October! And has rearranged the interior of the refrigerator! What does this mean? Is it the Apocalypse? Is she bored out of her skull after having been home sick for a week? Are they the same thing?

Strange week.



You Know Where You Are With said...

I have long and often asked why it is that we eat pumpkin pie only at the holidays. For a while one time, I wanted to start a "pumpkin pie in June" club.

I seriously heart the stuff.

FDChief said...

YK: I asked for a pumpkin pie birthday cake when I was seven.

Never looked back.

MeghanH said...

oh, man -- Truth About Cats and Dogs. I have to confess to having watched that movie on various basic cable channels pretty much anytime it's on. It's a sickness.

But I do feel awfully sorry for Janeane G. that her career required her to play "the ugly girl." Hollywood can kiss my ugly girl patoot.

FDChief said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FDChief said...

Meghan: My problem is that I really want to like TTAC&D. There's a lot of clever dialogue in it, the scene where the two lovers have an entire date (to include sex) over the phone is almost worth the price of admission...but...but...the whole thing rests on Abby (the Janeane Garofalo character), who you love because she's so smart and funny and etcetera, behaving like a total idiot and hiding from this guy, who you love because he's so smart and funny and etcetera.

Meg Ryan made a career out of this crap, there's a ton of it out there and it drives me nuts.

For my money give me the stuff the old screen queens like Bette Davis or Roz Russell or Barbara Stanwyck used to play. They could do wrong, they could do foolish, they could do silly and goofy - but they hardly EVER did stupid. Their appeal rested in large part on our perception of them as smart dames, way out ahead of the guys panting after them. Give me a cunning lass with a yen for a pass and a lusty lad that's a little bit bad and that's my idea of a fine romance!

rangeragainstwar said...

Chief, I had extreme problems with the DEBATE.
Obama actually said we should rebuild the old Soviet Empire with our money.RIGHT ON. Isn't this a European issue .?

McC talked about Georgia and the Ukraine as vital to Europe and that they should be valuable members of Nato.

Both O and McC need a reality check.BTW Putin is doing a better job than Bush/McC/or O will do. His policies actually address the issues facing modern Russia.

Contrary to what McC says this administration and McC have done everything in their bag of tricks and illusions to bring back the cold war.Would America and Nato actually fight Russia over Georgia.? Thts what Nato membership will lead to.


FDChief said...

Jim: From what I can see and read both the parties are heaily vested in the Cold War status quo. Obama would be slightly less insane about his policies than McSame (who truly would have risked global thermonuclear war over friggin Georgia). But neither side is willing to really think outside the duopolar box.

Sadly, or fortunately, the coming financial, and ensuing fiscal, meltdown will severly constrain the next President for the sort of "marching through Georgia" geopolitical shenanagans that both candidates seem to want to indulge in.

But your basic point is sound: neither side is willing to level with the People. McSame and the red-meat Repubs are frankly delusional, Obama and the Dems just afraid - afraid that if they speak the truth the public will reject them.

And the ugly fact is - the public would.

Lisa said...

Alright... to the matters that civilize:

--Pumpkin pie from the Carnation recipe simply rocks. Sweet and nutritious, a thoroughly justifiable dessert. (As an aside, I hear that the scent of pumpkin is an aphrodisiac for men.)

--Good observation on Jean's leg hair. You do not miss the subtleties.

--Gwen Ifil was woefully undergunned for the job of moderator. Then again, so was one of her panelists.

--Re. #8: it's all about sex. I'm fascinated by the transposition that people allow when watching these insipid ads.

--I miss the wit and clever repartee of the better old Hollywood romances. I like my leads to be rapier sharp, but still with goodwill. Too often today characters are forced and dialog and behavior is clunky; sarcasm substitutes for wit. As you point out, Garafalo is unlikely to be insecure.

I notice a general dumbing-down in everything media.

FDChief said...

Lisa: In the same order -

1. Dunno about the association between pumpkin and sex. I know that the best pie can be as good as the best sex...except that you can't talk, cuddle and fondle with the pie afterwards...

2. I am alone in finding women's bodily hair attractive in certain ways. In this case, Jean is playing a gypsy woman of the 1520s - the notion that such a woman would have depilated and anointed herself is silly but wouldn't have been out of line with the notions of femininity in the movies of the 1950s. So more power to Jean for going natural - her pretty unshaved legs and sturdy feet help both play her character and entice the viewer!

3. The really irritating thing was that the GOP borked her ahead of time, trying to cut her off at the knees and it worked. Palin was a dope, but most of her lies flew by because Ifil didn't grab her and force her to answer.

4. Yep. Like I said - there's a part of me that wants these ad agencies to just lay the sex out there and force the public to choose or reject it.

5. Sadly, yes - the "romantic comedy" has become a thought-free exercise. Makes me long for a leading lady with the edge of Carole Lombard or Mae West...those gals were an overflowing of everything delicious about the female of the species. I've met some fabulously witty and strong women; why does it seem that a woman has to turn in her brain before becoming a romantic heroine?

Lisa said...

[1] "I know that the best pie can be as good as the best sex...except that you can't talk, cuddle and fondle with the pie afterwards..."

Well...I s'pose you could, but it'd be rather kinky (unless of course, you're an Abkhasian, and seeing as you appreciate ladies leg hair, they may consider you for honorary membership.)

[2] When it is not egregious. Jean's hair is light, and so not intrusive. I can do without the dark-haired feminists on the beach with what looks like tick-studded legs. (I only shave a couple of times a year, lucky to inherit my Dad's faint body hair.) Mum's another matter, and her jutting underarm hair caused me no end of mortification as a child. Getting my own personal razor and deodorant against her objections at age 13 was my 1st order of business.

[3] Right on with Ifil.

[4] I would LOVE that kind of honesty. Maybe we could all laugh then and be a little less hung up. then again, Madison Ave. might lose some revenue. So we continue to lie and insinuate, causing no end of messed up people and communications and expectations.

[5] I am most perplexed on this one: why must women check their brains to be seen as sexy? Why is loopy, sexy? It seems heroines today are either clueless, or arch and acidic. To me, neither is attractive. Maybe it speaks to the writers' perception of maledom in America(?)

The witty banter is replaced by a scenario in which the players miserably duke it out, ala High Fidelity, or the woman is a ditz, ala "Sex and the City." It is sad if these are the only modalities to which most people can relate.

Lisa said...

p.s.--I don't know where the extraneous "shine" came from (!)

Lisa said...

Dear Chief,

I really must apologize for my snotty reply to [1]. I have been exposed to an onslaught of sarcasm recently, and find it has colored my thinking. And as I acknowledge, sarcasm is a far cry from wit.

The response was uncharacteristic for me. What I feel is, how nice that you are a man who knows something else follows dessert, and you are unafraid to say it. So, I like your braveness and your sensitivity.