Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fletcher on the Giants and Pats

Probably for Redskins fans only: All-Pro Washington linebacker London Fletcher's take on the Giants, with their stingy defense, and the offensive-minded Pats:
"Absolutely, because of his level of preparation. Because [Brady is] going to know you, he's going to study you, and know what you're going to do and what you like to do. So you've got to be on top of your assignments and execution, because it's going to be as much a mental game as it is physical against Brady.''
 Click here to read the entire article at SI.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Propaganda 101: Control the language

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, I understand some things about a certain strain of conservatism. I know that to some conservatives any idea that challenges the establishment will be called “liberal.”

In the 1960s people who opposed the war in Vietnam were called “pinkos,” which was a pale shade of red -- meaning Bolshevik. Citizens who worked to end Jim Crow laws and segregation in public schools were accused of being in league with Moscow. The pinko label was also applied to those who were environmental activists.

Then, in the 1970s, right-to-life people who were opposed to the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion -- those who wanted the government to regulate women's bodies -- claimed to be the true conservatives.

Today those who stand against the notion of “corporate personhood” are branded as liberals by those who agree with the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. Taxpayers who insist there be no additional regulation of Wall Street appear to think they are being true to their conservative school.

In this view of the political landscape the self-named conservatives appear to see themselves as standing on the sensible middle ground. To simplify their point of view to high contrast, they see feudalism to the right of them and communism to the left. Fascism is frequently viewed as an aberration to be ignored. 

Confused yet?

Please note that none of the characterizations above really have had much to do with classic stances of the “left” and “right” on basic economics issues.

Many so-called conservatives seem to believe the mainstream media in the United States are inevitably left-leaning. Never mind that in order to believe that fanciful notion you’d have to be convinced that the millionaires who run the giant corporations behind the broadcast networks, the largest newspapers and periodicals, etc., are dupes.

Dupes, because over the decades they would have to have been consistently tricked by liberal writers and producers into presenting a left-leaning version of the news that runs against their financial interests.

Don’t most multinational corporations want to pay little or no taxes on their income? Why would big media bosses deliberately hire lefties? Why would corporations that profit from war insist that news reports about a war be presented from an antiwar standpoint?

In the last year we’ve seen conservatives decry the negatively slanted coverage of Tea Party stories, and at the same time they complained that the Occupy Wall Street movement received too much coverage ... of course, they see that coverage as having been too sympathetic.

Now for the unvarnished truth about this propagandistic labeling business: To the pickled-brains fans of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, anything they don’t like is seen as liberal. That’s it. And, anything the Democrats favor, they are adamantly against. Even when they were in favor of it a year ago, if Obama is for it, then it’s another dastardly step toward "European socialism" to be avoided at all costs.

In such a strange world of tortured definitions a “conservative” president can launch an elective war over bogus reasons that drives America way deep into debt. Then, of course, it's "conservative" to blame the war debt on the Democratic president that follows ... while calling for another war to be set in motion.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Biograph's 40th and perhaps a new cinema


At Richmond Magazine Harry Kollatz focuses his blog, The Hat, on the Biograph Theatre's 40th anniversary celebration and perhaps a new artsy cinema in the works: 
The Biograph Theatre closed in December 1987, just shy of its 16th anniversary and amid its “Last Gasp Film Festival,” when the landlord padlocked its doors, ending a consistent run of art-house repertory cinema in Richmond. Since then, in peripatetic fashion, the banner has been taken up by the group known today as the James River Film Society, which is marking the 40th anniversary of the Biograph with a high-quality double feature as part of its effort to establish a “storefront cinema” here.
 Click here to read the entire post.

Click here to see the Facebook page for the event set to unfold on February 11th.

Click here to buy tickets.

Note: Tickets, $20 each, are also on sale at Plan 9 Music, Video Fan and Harrison Street Coffee. Proceeds to benefit the James River Film Society. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How About 139 Worthwhile Movies?

Why another list of old movies?

With the Biograph Theatre’s 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday, February 11, in mind -- "Breathless" (1960) and "Lonely Are the Brave" (1962) will be screened -- my theater manager's instinct to promote good movies was reawakened.

Whereupon, I forced myself to assemble a big fat favorites list and post it at the James River Film Journal. The 139 movies on the list all played at Richmond’s Biograph during my 139-month stint as its manager (1972-83).

For convenience the list was broken up into three posts. To see Part One, the first 40 titles, click here. The second 40 are here. The remaining 59 movies with film notes are here.

Hopefully, this effort represents a fair overview of the sort of movies that were staples at art houses and revival theaters during what was the Golden Age of Repertory Cinema. The James River Film Society is presenting the Biograph's 40th party as part of its focus this year on that Golden Age. Other events will follow.

The Biograph opened at 814 West Grace Street in February of 1972 and closed in December of 1987, two months shy of its 16th anniversary.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Not exactly the Good Samaritan

So, pretend you're an evangelical conservative down in South Carolina. You're a school-of-hard-knocks, retired military guy.

Today you're wondering which campaigning Republican should get your vote. Since all four hopefuls claim to be purebred conservatives, which of them best lives up to your Christian values? And, of course, it matters which one stands the best chance of beating Obama.

Can you vote for a serial philanderer, who's pomposity is off the charts? Can you vote for a Mormon, who's not exactly the Good Samaritan of the business world? What about that eccentric antiwar doc, the one who's ready to legalize pot? Can you vote for a Santorum?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dog fights snake to protect girls

Here's a story lovers of good yarns about heroic dogs will like. 
An Australian family's dog is being called a hero after it rescued two young girls from a snake attack.18-month-old River spotted a two-foot-long brown snake hiding under a children's swing just as 7-year-old Michelle Lynch and 2-year-old Kaylee were headed its way.
Go here to read the entire article.

It reminds me of a true story from my own childhood. When I was about five years old I witnessed an event, to do with a snake, I still remember clearly.

In my back yard I saw a big snake that I was later told was a water moccasin. For whatever reason, I wasn't properly afraid of it; I wanted to see it more closely. My golden cocker spaniel, Pixie, would have none of it. She barked at me and nipped at my legs to chase me back toward the porch. Then she went over to the snake in the grass and kept running circles around it, barking continuously.

Suddenly, a kid about 15 named Bud, who lived next door, came to the rescue. With a garden hoe in his hand he jumped the fence. Then he chopped the snake into pieces. Can you imagine how cool that looked to a five-year-old boy?

Later on, some of the neighborhood's old men, including my grandfather, stood around the trash barrel in the yard telling snake stories. Naturally, I took it all in. The snake remains were in the barrel. One of the men told me we ought to separate the pieces of the snake, or it could grow back together, as the sun goes down. My grandfather laughed.

By the way, Pixie suffered no injuries. Needless to say, it was no easy task getting me to come inside the house as twilight descended on the scene. I recall standing guard over the barrel, watching the chunks of that dead snake for any movement whatsoever.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oodles of Newt

If Newt Gingrich didn't even exist this election year, and, let's say I'm a fun-loving magician. Dig it: I can invent people out of thin air ... and I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat.

Well, I might take a look at awkward-in-his-blue-jeans Mitt Romney -- churning over his tax returns spin -- and say with a smile, let there be oodles of Newt!

Want to make Mitt reveal his tax info?

First you charge that he has paid ZERO taxes in his entire silver-spoon life. He will deny it.

Naturally, the lefty media will howl. Disgustingly, Newt will gain another 10 pounds.

More importantly, Romney is such a chump, it will boost him into admitting that while he has parked zillions off-planet, at times, he frequently paid more in taxes than did anyone in his battalion of secretaries. 

Saturday, January 07, 2012

God Creates Sidemen

1. "And so the great Leader Nebulon did embark upon a search for suitable Sidemen for his orchestra, and he could find none; for in those days there were not many, and those he could find were already working.

2. Some worked the Ark with the House of Noah, and some had the house gig at The Walls of Jericho. And many played behind the scat-singing team of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

3. So Nebulon did return to the Lord and saith, "Lord, there are many musicians, but no Sidemen!", and he rent his clothing asunder.

4. And the Lord did say, "Hast thou looked everywhere? Didst thou call the Union?"

5. And Nebulon did say, "Lord, I have looked high and low, especially low; and only one or two could I find. What shall I do?"

6. And the Lord did afflict Nebulon with boils, saying unto him, "Leave Me to think on this!"

7. And just to buy some time he did also visit a plague of locusts upon Egypt.

8. And the Lord did summon a league of Angels, and sent them forth over the land, commanding them to find Him some Sidemen.

9. And the Angels did go to the four corners of the earth, but the only unemployed Sideman they could find was one holy man in India who did play the horn with the slide.

10. So with great fear the Angels did return to the Lord with the bad news, and filled with wrath He said, "How can this be? At one time the world did teem with Sidemen, as dead oxen do with maggots!"

11. And the Angels did say, "Lord, many left the business, many have become idiots, and some have even become Leaders, and no Leader will work for another Leader."

12. So the Lord did cause drought for 40 days while He thought, and at last the answer came unto Him. He did recall that there was a factory, part of his Beasts Of The Field, Inc. division, that was in disuse.

13. For it had earlier been used to create Golems, for which there had been no great demand, and so He had closed down the operation. And He thought, 'We can retool, and start turning out Sidemen.'

14. And so it was done, and it came to pass that the Sidemen started rolling off the assembly line.

15. But somehow a remnant of the Golem program remained, and the Sidemen did come out acting unpredictably.

16. Some stammered and stuttered, some talked to themselves under their breath, and some would not bathe.

17. Some refused to shave their beards or to have their hair shorn, and some refused to wear the Gigging Toga.

18. And some wore the Toga, but left them crumpled in their chariots in between Gigs, or slept in them, or wore Togas from eons past, with ruffles.

19. And some did not believe in maps, and wandered the land aimlessly looking for the Gig, and some did not believe in the use of the hourglass, and arrived at the Gig whenever they chose.

20. And some loved the wine of dates, and some loved the burning of hemp.

21. And some were created without ears, and some with knuckles where their eyebrows should be.

22. And some did worship the gods Mahavishnu, Sun Ra, Trane, Jaco, Ornette, Cecile, and did therefore mock their Leaders at will.

23. And some did steal food from the buffet line, yea, even before the Guests had dined.

24. And some did try to lay with the Chick Singers, and some with the Guests, and some with the Little Sisters of these, the Chick Singers and the Guests.

25. And some did not Read, and some could only Read, but not Blow. And some could only Read one clef and not another. And some could only Blow in certain keys. And some did Blow the same notes no matter what the "Tune."

26. And some had no social skills, and some had no musical skills. And many of them were Dark, not in pigmentation of the skin, but in the Outlook on Life.

27. But every once in a while the line did miraculously produce a Perfect Sideman: One who followed orders without question; One who believed in the hourglass; One who wore the Toga; One whose chariot always ran; One who Knew all "Tunes" in any key.

28. But these Perfect Sidemen were few and far between, and besides their eyes were glazed, and they were shunned by the rest, for they were boring and knew not how to hang.

29. And soon the land teemed with Sidemen milling about, looking for Gigs, complaining and whining and arguing and occasionally stabbing each other in the back.

30. And the Lord looked down upon his work, and said, "It will do."


Note: This was sent to me a few years ago by Gregg Wetzel (piano and vocals).

Friday, January 06, 2012

In 44 days

In 44 days the Atlanta Braves' pitchers and catchers will report to spring training.

"People ask me what I do in the winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring" -- Rogers Hornsby (pictured above)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Santorum and McDonnell ticket?

Proving she isn’t as crazy as some thought her to be, today Rep. Michelle Bachmann dropped out of the race to be the GOP’s presidential nominee. 

Wisely, most people wouldn't want to be president of the United States of America. Of course, there are still plenty who would gladly take the job, but running for president 25 hours a day for at least two solid years isn't all that inviting a prospect for people who enjoy life.

Is that why most of the Republicans who would have been decent candidates didn't want to run for the office this year? Like, in another year would they have run?

Perhaps they were simply afraid of facing Pres. Barack Obama?

Or, did the best and the brightest in the GOP decide to sit this one out, because they could see that the Tea Party, which seems to be waning in its popularity with most Americans,  is nonetheless determined to ruin the chances of any Republican hopeful who won’t stick strictly to its backward precepts?  

When all the primaries have come and gone, if Mitt Romney can't close the deal, how likely is a Rick Santorum and Bob McDonnell ticket?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Finally, Iowa's year in the spotlight is over

When you add up all the money spent on behalf of the Republican presidential hopefuls in Iowa over the last year, it's enough to build a high-speed railroad to Mars. 

Now, in the time-honored tradition of presidential punditry, based on nothing more than a willingness -- chutzpah? -- to make a guess, here is SLANTblog's worthless, last-minute prediction for the results in Iowa tonight:

Paul: 23%
Santorum: 19%
Romney: 18%
Perry: 12%
Gingrich 11%
Bachmann 10%
None of the above: 7%

Next up: The squabble is off to New Hampshire.