Wednesday, January 30, 2013

They Torpedoed the Cinnebon!

Say you're a consortium of real estate developers, and you want to cash in on the "Hollywood Renaissance."  Well, you could erect a shopping mall next to a major landmark -- say, the Chinese Theater -- and build it around a huge courtyard to take advantage of all that foot traffic on the Boulevard.  Then you could give a nod -- or at least a head fake -- toward the town's history by decorating it with massive reproductions of the elephant statues and the Great Gate of Babylon from Griffith's Intolerance (because your Peachtree development in Atlanta has already snatched up that plum Birth of a Nation theme).  Finally, you could fancy it up with mosaics that vaguely recall the Yellow Brick Road from The Wizard of Oz, and add one of those "dancing water" features that ejaculate from the pavement in perfect unison, kind of like a bukkake fetish video starring the USMC Silent Drill Team.

Just to give you an idea, this is what the place looked like at Christmas:
It contains exclusive nightclubs, fine dining, a Broadway-style theater where they hold the Academy Awards, and in daylight you can even see the Hollywood Sign neatly framed by the Babylon Gate like a lunar eclipse viewed through the trilithons of Stonehenge.   It couldn't be more picture perfect, right?  So after all that time and money and attention to detail, what happens?  You turn your back for one minute, and a Russian submarine breaks through the flagstones and breaches in the middle of the courtyard like it's Ice Station Zebra. (Click to embiggen.)
I gather The Americans is an upcoming series on FX about Soviet sleeper agents in the Reagan Era, and I'm sure they're excited about it, but you know what?  Even if I were a tourist thrilled to be in Tinsel Town, I think I'd rather watch a network promo after How I Met Your Mother, or read about it in TV Guide than be bent over, squinting at the mall directory and suddenly take Red October up the ass.
The flag at the rear of the conning tower was two-faced -- American on one side, Soviet on the reverse -- and occasionally one of the crew would use it to communicate in semaphore with Sephora.

The uniforms looked amazingly authentic, the sailors standing guard would periodically march around the sub while the Soviet national anthem blared and the officers on deck shouted orders in Russian; and I must admit, I was kind of impressed they went to all that trouble.  Then I remembered that it's Hollywood, and you can find people shouting in Russian pretty much anywhere, including the elevator when I got home.
Very well, Tovarishes...We will expropriate bluejeans and decadent American brassieres, then sell them on streets of Moscow and live like kommisars!

So anyway, we can call off the Hunt for Red October.  Turns out it was next to Lane Bryant the whole time.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Toad in the Hole

 When it comes to Concern Trolls, I don't claim to be a connoisseur, but I do prefer the imported variety.  Call me a snob. Perhaps it's because I know Toby Young not from his failed stint at Vanity Fair, or his memoir about it, How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, which sounds like it ought to have been ghostwritten for Sarah Palin, but because he was a judge on the sixth season of Top Chef.  Here's a bit of his bio from the show's website:
Young has appeared as a judge on a variety of food reality programs, including Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Criminals and most recently, a 20-part BBC series called Eating With The Enemy. In addition, he was a contestant on Come Dine With Me, a popular Channel 4 reality show, which he won.

[I]n 2005, co-wrote a sex farce called Who's the Daddy?
I find the news that someone is still practicing the fine old art of British sex farcing delightfully quaint, like watching a cooper assemble a firkin in Colonial Williamsburg.
President Obama's socialist agenda will divide America – or, rather, make the existing divisions even more bitter and rancorous
What a contrast last night's Inaugural Address was compared to the one President Obama gave four years ago. Gone was any attempt to reach out to his Republican opponents.
Well, in all fairness, you don't reach out to John Boehner, you reach around to John Boehner, and even then you might have to grope around for a bit.
In its place was an aggressive assertion of modern liberalism, with the emphasis on gay rights, gun control, gender equality, combating climate change and – if his remarks about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and income inequality are anything to go by – redistributive taxation. 
Ah, Modern Liberalism...aggressively asserting rights we should have had in the Seventies, and tax policy we did have in the Sixties.
This is a fully-fledged socialist agenda that will leave the the 47.2 per cent of Americans who didn't vote for Obama feeling ostracised and angry.
My great aunt, a rock-ribbed Republican who has lived her entire life in a small rural community, no longer dares to show her face in town, thanks to carbon offsets.
 If this is going to be the tone of Obama's second term, the next four years are likely to see America more divided than at any time since the 1960s. 
Toby has a point.  Obama's predecessor brought together a much higher percentage of the American people; in November, 2008, 75% of them thought he was an idiot.
Obama's opponents will claim – rightly – that he has no mandate for his egalitarian agenda.
Winning a clear majority of votes used to be sufficient to claim a mandate, but English is a fluid, dynamic language, and now the term is reserved exclusively for Australia's Number 1 Adult Male Review.  So while you're in decent shape for a man your age, Mr. President, you're gonna have to swing a pretty hefty banana hammock before you can assert the right to increase the progressivity of the tax code.
 He made numerous attempts yesterday to claim the mantle of previous presidents who've advanced the cause of equality, including Abraham Lincoln. But he overlooked the fact that in almost every case they were able to take the majority of the American public with them thanks to exceptional historical circumstances. 
It's always polite to hold off on promoting gay rights until a war starts, or the stock market crashes.   It's like waiting for the hostess to pick up her shrimp fork.
Lincoln, for instance, would not have been able to get the 13th Amendment through Congress if the North hadn't been about to declare victory over the South in the Civil War – and even then he only managed it by the skin of his teeth, as Spielberg's recent biopic makes clear. Similarly, Franklin D Roosevelt would not have been able to persuade Congress to embrace the New Deal if it hadn't been for the Great Depression.
Of course, Lincoln had the advantage of a Congress free from the kind of Southern reactionaries and bigots who are obstructing progress now.  But perhaps if that same group would take arms against the lawful government again, he could rack up a similarly impressive legislative record.  True, nobody's fired on fort Sumter yet, but they're already making noises about nullifying federal laws, and in America, nullification is like the Soup Starter of bloody insurrection.
Just add Treason!
Obama's circumstances are less like those of Lincoln or Roosevelt and more like those of John F Kennedy. 
Or so the patriots calling for his assassination seem to hope.
Kennedy had a similarly ambitious liberal programme, 
He planned to create vast new federal bureaucracies tasked with adding extraneous vowels and consonants to all our words!
but was unable to get almost any of it through Congress. To take just one example, his civil rights bill was successfully obstructed by a Senate dominated by conservative Southern Democrats.
And now conservative Southern Republicans are obstructing legislation.  Why?  Because old times there are not forgotten.

In Kennedy's favor, he did end discrimination in federal housing, but he had to do it through an executive order.  I trust it's not too late to impeach him.
 One of the clear lessons of the fourth volume of Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson is that, without Kennedy's assassination, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would never have been passed.
So while conservatives obstructed equal rights for African Americans, a Communist with an itchy trigger finger facilitated them.  I'm not entirely sure what Toby's point is here, but I think he's advising us to stock up on magic bullets in the event of a filibuster.  I'm sure Hogwarts has a pawn shop...
The vision outlined by Obama yesterday was, in its own way, as ambitious as anything set out by Lincoln, Roosevelt or Johnson. But there's no corresponding historical crisis to provide Obama with the political opportunity to realise that vision. In the absence of that, Obama has little hope of getting a programme of liberal legislation through Congress. I'm even sceptical about the passage of a gun control bill. Instead, Obama will just end up dividing America – or, rather, make the existing divisions even more bitter and rancorous. 
"Congratulations, Mr. President.  You endured a long and brutal campaign to win an exhausting and thankless office, during which you became a repository for the hopes and dreams of millions of struggling Americans, and according to our extensive polling, the best and most rational course now would be to give up."
He is leading his forces into a civil conflict he cannot possibly win and unless he reverses course the next four years will be among the ugliest in America's history.
Sure, Vietnam, the Depression, Jim Crow, the Civil War all seemed pretty ugly at the time, but if Obama doesn't turn Caucasian and veer to the right of Mitch McConnell immediately, people might circulate some intemperate emails.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

15 Years? That's Your Shootin' Iron Anniversary

So I stumble out of the bedroom this morning, and as I head for the kitchen, I pass Mary sitting at her computer, staring intently at the screen.

Me:  Morning.

No response.  Figuring she didn't hear me, I start to make coffee.  A moment later:

Mary:  It's Gun Appreciation Day.

Me:  (Innocently)  Already?

Mary:  Yes.

I peek around the corner.  She's staring at me.

Me:  Right -- I knew that.   It's just been such a crazy week, what with the deadline and everything--

Mary:  (Stares)

Me:  Busy, busy, busy!

Mary:  (Stares)

Me:  And the weather really made it tough on my back.  Boy that was something, wasn't it?  That cold?

Mary:  (Stares)

Me:  Okay!  Fine!  I forgot!  I admit it!  Go ahead and shoot me!  Oh wait, you can't -- because I didn't get you a gun!

Mary:  (Stares for a long moment, then turns back to her computer)  Not bad.  But you do realize if we're having this same conversation on Valentine's Day, that's not gonna qualify as satire.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Okay, Now We're Keeping It a Little TOO Real

I was thrilled -- as I'm sure you guys were -- to hear that our friend KWillow is on the mend from  emergency surgery, thanks to the Miracle of Modern Morphine® (now with Retsyn™, Chlorinol-3, and Flavor Crystals®!)! But I'd barely had time to heave a sigh of relief, when Annti emailed to tell me that the Universe has decided to sneak up behind another esteemed member of the Crapper Community and clout him over the head with the ACME Clown Hammer of Fate™ (Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.).

Realist, who has been enlivening the Comments at WO'C for many years, has been struck twice in quick succession by the Lighting Bolt of Bad News® (sorry for the excessive branding, but if there's one thing I've learned from Google, it's to patent everything), which entitles him to tell Probability to go suck it, but otherwise has no obvious upside.   The unhappy gist of it all is that his wife, Madame Realist, recently suffered two potentially fatal health problems which put her in the hospital (she's still there, at last report) and required major surgery.

I understand the prognosis is optimistic, but Annti figured a little support and positive energy couldn't hurt, and asked that we post a virtual Get Well card and send our "best wishes, kindest thoughts, and depthless wealth of love" to the Realists.  So if you can, please drop a comment below.

Thanks everyone.  Keep safe, stay well, and barring any further disasters, we should be getting back to regular blogging in the next day or so. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Get Well Soon, KWillow

Well, I thought I'd been having a crappy New Year (and one which is about to get either much better or much worse next week), until I read this comment from our friend KWillow:
I just had my gall bladder out. Holy crap, does a gallstone HURT hurthurthurthurthurt. Even the new & improved morphine just barely touched the agony. Okay, it reduced it a lot. So I went into the ER at about 3pm, and had the laparoscopy surgery around 11pm. Spent half the night and half a day, and was released at 11am. Quite amazing. 
First of all...there's new and improved morphine?!  Just imagine if this stuff had been available in the 1950s!  I bet Bela Lugosi could have done two, maybe three more Ed Wood movies before he finally keeled over, although I think we're all agreed that it's just as well he keeled before Ed began making soft core porn movies.  (Or maybe we're not agreed...Frankly, I wouldn't put anything past you people.)
But advances in opium derivatives and outpatient microsurgery aside, this is exceedingly unhappy news, as K is one of the nicest, wittiest, most thoughtful and Empire-waisted women we know, and I'm sure I speak for everyone here (except possibly for the person who came here from Google looking for "hobo sex santa girls") when I wish her as speedy and painless a recovery as possible.

Get well soon, K!