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»  September 25, 2009

What the...?  


El Diablo Makes the Call

My new iPhone wallpaper: "El Diablo Makes the Call." Taken last February during the afternoon Carnaval parade in Mazatlan.


»  September 19, 2009

What the...?  

What Is Panic?: Early in the week I predicted Andy Richter would win the Celebrity JEOPARDY! match on Thursday, as he was up against actress Dana Delaney and lunkhead CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. I didn't know just how right I would be.

I didn't have a particular read on Delaney — as I said Monday, the law of averages would make her at least smarter than Blitzer who is, as mentioned above, a lunkhead — but Richter, like any good comedian, has seemed pretty sharp, which generally means he's got an accumulation of trivia and otherwise useless information floating around in his head. He put it to good use in the match aired Thursday, racking up more than $32,000 by the end of Double Jeopardy! Delaney had a respectable four-digit score, but Blitzer ended the round with -$4,600, losing nearly a third of that by answering "crash" to a question about mid-19th century financial troubles that used the word "crash" in the clue (the J! Archive should have details in a couple of days). It was almost difficult to watch I was laughing so hard.

In fact, Blitzer mostly seemed versed on food-related subjects, correctly answering "What is Kobe beef?", identifying "pullet" as chicken, and almost getting Julia Child's name right before judges came back and yanked his points back for saying "Childs."

Was it an aberration? Was the series of clues (capital of China, leader of the "Long March," Chinese city whose name also meant impression of sailors) just out of Blitzer's experience? Were Delaney and Richter just too damn fast on the button for him to be saved from humiliation?

Richter ran the clip below on The Tonight Show. It's some behind-the-scenes footage from before the contest, including the practice game where Blitzer muffs a pretty easy Final Jeopardy!, and shows his progress up to that point.


»  September 18, 2009


Two Men Bent On Destroying the United States: On the left, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov. On the right, well you know who it is. Inspired by a comment on Facebook that the US foreign policy is now dictated from the Kremlin and my response "When was it not?"

Separated At Birth: Yuri Andropov and Dick Cheney


»  September 16, 2009

What the...?  

Attain? Attain?: I thought I was already there. Fom today's Fu Jin fortune:

You will attain the highest levels of intelligence.


»  September 15, 2009


If Only You Could Vote: Phillip Kerman's the go-to guy these days for companies and conferences who want someone to roast the products they produce or used by their attendees. I helped out with some writing and voice work on a few of his pieces, including a couple of pieces for his Flash in the Can award show presentation this spring, and his Simpsons-inspired take on the renaming of SE 39th Avenue. For MAX, I've supplied some vocal work for his intro to the Sneak Peeks.

I've also entered the contest Phillip is judging — which closes in less than half an hour — for a conference pass to MAX, on the theme: "Is Adobe MAX for developers or designers?"


»  September 14, 2009


Andy Richter Controls the Board: As anyone who knows me is already aware of, I'm still waiting for my chance to either do well or flame out spectacularly on JEOPARDY! And while I wait, I get email from HQ about special events.

Your favorite celebrity contestants return to compete in the "Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational!" Each month, three bright stars battle it out to raise funds for their special causes, with one million dollars serving as the grand prize. The first round of the star-studded competition begins this Thursday, September 17th with CNN host Wolf Blitzer, actress Dana Delany, and comedian Andy Richter.
The show's doubtless already been taped, but I have absolutely no inside information apart from the fact that there's no way in hell I would consider Wolf Blitzer a "bright star." I don't know enough about Delaney to gauge her intellectual chops, but just the law of averages says she's gotta be smarter than Wolf. I didn't watch Richter on Conan O'Brien's old show, but based on what I saw in the sitcoms Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Andy Barker, P.I., my money's on him for the win.


What the...?  

I Touched Iggy Pop: Twenty years ago or so, at the Starry Night in Portland (now Roseland), while he was singing this song and clambering on a stack of speakers to reach some of us on the balcony.

I am a passenger
And I ride and I ride
I ride through the city's backsides
I see the stars come out of the skies
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight

I am a passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city's ripped backside
And everything looks good tonight

Sing: la la la la la la la la,
la la la la la la la la
la la la la la la la la la la lah

Get into the car
We'll be the passenger
We'll ride through the city at night
We'll see the city's ripped backsides
We'll see the bright and hollow sky
We'll see the stars that shine so bright
The sky's made for us tonight

Oh the passenger
How, how he rides
Oh the passenger
And he rides and he rides
He looks through his window
What does he see?
He sees the bright and hollow sky
He sees the stars come out tonight
He sees the city's ripped backsides
He sees the winding ocean drives
And everything was made for you and me
All of it was made for you and me
So this just belongs to you and me
So let's take a ride and see what's mine

Sing: la la la la la la la la,
la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la lah

Oh the passenger
And he rides and he rides
He sees things from under glass
He looks through his window and sighs
He sees the things that he knows are his
He sees the bright and hollow sky
He sees the city asleep at night
He sees the stars are out tonight
And all of it is yours and mine
And all of it is yours and mine
So let's ride and ride and ride and ride

Sing: la la la la la la la la,
la la la la la la la la
la la la la la la la la la la lah

Iggy Pop, "The Passenger"


»  September 10, 2009


Huey Long Died 74 Years Ago Today: As ever, we remember the anniversary of the day Huey Long died with this quote from his autobiography, Every Man a King:



The increasing fury with which I have been and am to be, assailed by reason of the fight and growth of support for limiting the size of fortunes can only be explained by the madness which human nature attaches to the holders of accumulated wealth.

What I have proposed is:—


1. A capital levy tax on the property owned by any one person of 1% of all over $1,000,000 [dp: $14,275,000 in 2005 dollars]; 2% of all over $2,000,000 [$28,550,000] etc., until, when it reaches fortunes of over $100,000,000 [$1,427,500,000], the government takes all above that figure; which means a limit on the size of any one man's fortune to something like $50,000,000 [$713,750,000]—the balance to go to the government to spread out in its work among all the people.

2. An inheritance tax which does not allow one man to make more than $1,000,000 [$14,275,000] in one year, exclusive of taxes, the balance to go to the United States for general work among the people.

The forgoing program means all taxes paid by the fortune holders at the top and none by the people at the bottom; the spreading of wealth among all the people and the breaking up of a system of Lords and Slaves in our economic life. It allows the millionaires to have, however, more than they can use for any luxury they can enjoy on earth. But, with such limits, all else can survive.

That the public press should regard my plan and effort as a calamity and me as a menace is no more than should be expected, gauged in the light of past events. According to Ridpath, the eminent historian:

"The ruling classes always possess the means of information and the processes by which it is distributed. The newspaper of modern times belongs to the upper man. The under man has no voice; or if, having a voice, his cry is lost like a shout in the desert. Capital, in the places of power, seizes upon the organs of public utterance, and howls the humble down the wind. Lying and misrepresentation are the natural weapons of those who maintain an existing vice and gather the usufruct of crime."

—Ridpath's History of the World, Page 410.

In 1932, the vote for my resolution showed possibly a half dozen other Senators back of it. It grew in the last Congress to nearly twenty Senators. Such growth through one other year will mean the success of a venture, the completion of everything I have undertaken,—the time when I can and will retire from the stress and fury of public life, maybe as my forties begin,—a contemplation so serene as to appear impossible.

That day will reflect credit on the States whose Senators took the early lead to spread the wealth of the land among all the people.

Then no tear dimmed eyes of a small child will be lifted into the saddened face of a father or mother unable to give it the necessities required by its soul and body for life; then the powerful will be rebuked in the sight of man for holding what they cannot consume, but which is craved to sustain humanity; the food of the land will feed, the raiment clothe, and the houses shelter all the people; the powerful will be elated by the well being of all, rather than through their greed.

Then those of us who have pursued that phantom of Jefferson, Jackson, Webster, Theodore Roosevelt and Bryan may hear wafted from their lips in Valhalla:



»  September 8, 2009


Busted Flat:

Fair for Fare

Yeah, maybe it would have been a better idea to stick with the electrical engineering degree back in 1980, but at least I don't go around screwing up my joke about penniless English majors by substituting a homonym for the word I meant to use.



A Shooting: On this date in 1935, US Senator and former Governor Huey P. Long was fatally wounded in a shooting at the Louisiana Capitol building. He died two days later.


What the...?  

Snakes: Missoula's The Volumen:

Volumen - Snakes


»  September 6, 2009

What the...?  

Baby, You Can Drive My Xbox: Only three more days to Beatles Rock Band.


»  September 2, 2009

What the...?  

Head-On: Like a horrible wreck, I had to take a look, even though I knew from first sight that it was going to be horrible, ugly, and — figuratively, at least — bloody. ABC's Crash Course premiered last night and it's the TV equivalent to having a piece of metal shoved through your frontal lobes at high velocity.

Two hosts — including the usually-palatable Orlando Jones — crack what passes for wise as five picked-for-stereotypical-behavior two-person teams (Team Married, the henpecked husband and bickering wife; Team Roommates, the over-the-top black guy and loudmouth female counterpart; Team Single Moms, two models/mothers; oh, who cares...) perform in elimination rounds of feats of driving skill near Detroit. There's one where the drivers are towed onto a skid pad and try to stop with a designated wheel on numbers painted on the ground, Another where they try to drive up onto the back of a flatbed truck. An obstacle course. Another course where they try to knock over a series of cars that have been perched on one end.

The whole thing is just so lame and the jokes are so Henny Youngman-esque that perhaps it will find an audience for a time. I don't know (or care) what ABC's plans are for it, although I do see that it's on the schedule again tonight (don't watch it!). I have no idea if the teams are real or contrived, but they've certainly been encouraged to play up their individual schtick for the cameras, which only makes the show even more agonizing to watch. I mean, who would ever have guessed that the wacky, loudmouth Team Roommate guy was going to drive right into the bases of the cars standing on end and do a bunch of donuts when he was competing for $50,000?

What's particularly sad about the whole thing is that I remember Full Metal Challenge, the short-lived UK/US venture with hosts Cathy (Junkyard Wars) Rogers and Henry (Black Flag) Rollins. The conceit of FMC wasn't that the teams were a bunch of idiots there to be gawped at by you, another happy idiot, but that they were car enthusiasts and engineers brought together to build a vehicle and compete. Sure, the games were somewhat silly (a sumo match where cars tried to push each other out of the ring, giant bowling pin with the cars as balls, a deep-water driving course, and others) but the emphasis (as with Rogers's other shows) was on talent and ingenuity.

That, of course, is why it only lasted one season. On The Learning Channel (which is now TLC, the channel of People Who Want to Watch People Who Have More Children Than Even Sitcoms Thought Was Funny and would never have anything like FMC on). And why Crash Course is on ABC.