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Will Adam Carolla Get Tracy Morgan’d?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

The king of all podcasts is feeling the heat from GLAAD.

Comedian Adam Carolla recently let loose with some corrosive comments after hearing a group wanted to see “Sesame Street” regulars Bert and Ernie get married on a future installment of the kiddie show.

“When did everybody get lumped in with the f–king gays?” said Carolla, according to The Daily News.

“When did we start giving a s–t about [transgender] people?” Carolla said, adding “pre-op, transgender, transneutral, trans fat” population needs to “shut up.”

That drew the ire of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Carolla responded with a half-hearted apology via Twitter, noting he was a comedian, not a politician.

Will that be enough to stop potential fallout from the comments? Or will Carolla voluntarily submit to the sort of re-education comic Tracy Morgan endured after saying he would stab his son if he turned out to be gay during a stand-up routine?

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The Wussification of the NFL

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Chris Chase of Yahoo writes, “Garrett bans hazing in Dallas, except for his helmet star restrictions.”

Wait, come again? What’s that last item?

After reporting that the Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Garrett, beginning his first full season as head coach has banned the training camp hazing of rookies, such as rookies carrying shoulder pads for veterans and the juvenile practice of the vets occasionally taping a rookie to the goal posts for extended periods, Chase then writes:

There’s only one problem with Garrett’s new rule of equality: hazing is still very much alive and well in Big D and the champion of the cause is none other than the coach himself. Earlier this month, Garrett issued a decree that all rookies, from first-round picks to undrafted free agents, would not have the Cowboys star on their helmets until they earned the privilege.

“This team has been around 51 years, and it’s a great tradition,” he said at the time. “You have to earn the right to wear that star, and we’re very clear with the players about that. Just because you sign with the Dallas Cowboys doesn’t mean you earned that thing yet.”

Hazing isn’t just carrying pads or getting a crazy haircut or getting ice water dumped on your head. Denying rookies the same star worn by everyone else on the team (including new free-agent acquisitions who have been with Dallas for the same amount of time as the rookies) is less juvenile and humiliating but an equal mark of initiation. And no amount of coaching double-speak is going to change that.

That’s hazing? Having to earn the decal on your helmet? It’s true that the practice was only begun in Dallas under former head coach Bill Parcells, when his tenure began in 2003. Prior to that, from the glory days of Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson to the ignominious reign of Dave Campo as the head coach who preceded Parcells, incoming rookies all wore the same star-spangled helmets as the veterans. But it’s been a common practice at various NFL teams for decades to assign logo-less helmets to rookies at training camp as an added incentive to make the squad and thus earn the full team colors, which is why Parcells instituted the change as one of many motivational techniques when he took over.

If that now constitutes “hazing” in some sportswriters’ minds, then the manly art of professional football has fallen very far indeed.

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Groceries too Expensive? Grow your Own.

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

Glenn ordered a book called Edible Landscaping that proclaimed “Now You Can Have Your Gorgeous Garden and Eat It Too!” Since I am in the process of growing tomatoes again in my Earthbox, I thought it couldn’t hurt to see what else I might be able to grow in the yard that might be edible. The book shows a number of fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be mixed into your landscaping that provide not only pleasing aesthetics but function as they can be used for food. Given the price of groceries lately, this is a real plus.

The book shows you how to design with herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts. One section (page 142) even shows what foods are best for every zone. “Consider your climate before you choose your fruits, berries and nuts.” Favorites according to some experts (consulted by the author Rosalind Creasy) included Alpine strawberries, Blueberries, and Chestnuts in the North and Midwest and Asian persimmons, Avocados, Figs and Citrus in the south. For the West, she mentions the site of Dave Wilson who runs a nursery.

Overall, Edible Landscaping is a great book with huge, pretty illustrations and details about how to grow your own edible garden.

If you are growing your own food, what do you find grows best in your area?

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Will Apple Dominate Architecture Too?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Roger L Simon

We may have no jobs, but Steve Jobs is taking over our lives. Not only is Apple (depending on the day) the world’s richest company with more cash than the US government (even though, so far, it isn’t printing any – Apple Money, anyone?), the company soon may be setting more architectural trends than any group since the Medici. Up for approval from the Cupertino city council is the new Apple HQ that puts Spielberg and Kubrick to shame as a space vehicle…

And now come the plans for the Apple Store on Santa Monica’s quasi-trendy Third Street with a curved glass ceiling:

Oh, and there’s the retrofitting on that flagship store on Fifth Avenue with yet more glass:

Build, baby, build!

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If You’re Not Reading the Dresden Files, You Should Be…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Patrick Richardson

I admit it. I’m a Jim Butcher fan-boy. I picked up the first novel of the Dresden Files a few years back when a huge ice storm was bearing down, along with a couple other books, because I was afraid the power might go out and I’d need something to do. Well, and because any excuse to buy books…
In any event I went through Storm Front in about — well — one day, and then proceeded to devour them until I was caught up with Proven Guilty, the eighth book and then eagerly awaited each new novel, insisting on buying them in hardcover because I think I’m ADHD and couldn’t wait for the new one.
While waiting on each new Dresden book, I went out and picked up Butcher’s Codex Alera and blasted through those as well.
We’ve now reached the 13th book in the Dresden Files, Ghost Story, and it’s another amazing chapter.Read the rest of the review over at the Otherwhere Gazette, fair warning it’s still under construction!

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Showbiz Assassin: Adam Carolla vs. ‘YUCK,’ Rick Perry as ‘Neidermeyer,’ and More

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Kathy Shaidle

Welcome to Showbiz Assassin, your weekly dose of celebrity dross.

Every Wednesday, I’ll bring you a sort of “Page Six” round-up of Hollywood news — if “Page Six” were written by a snotty, right-wing broad with a GenX sensibility, a 20-gauge shotgun, and appallingly low-brow taste.

(And if you’re wondering about the name of the column, it’s from one of the only Japanese exports I’ve ever enjoyed, a show they used to play on Canadian TV in the 1980s that I called Samurai Babysitter before the internet was invented.)

And now: onward and downward, from the best to the worst in the week’s celebrity news…

 1. Am I the last to notice?

As a cadet at Texas A&M circa 1968, presidential candidate RICK PERRY looks eerily like ROTC rage-aholic (and future fragging victim) “Neidermeyer” from Animal House:

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Fast Food Outlet in Pickle as Activists Attack Foam Cups

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 - by Angela Logomasini

Remember when most “to-go” coffee came in convenient, insulated foam cups?  Remember when McDonald’s served food in foam clamshells that kept your meal nice and warm?  Those were the days, my friend — lost to political correctness.

Today, consumers often burn their hands holding paper cups filled with hot beverages that leak along the rim because the tops are not as snug-fitting as they are on foam cups.  The politically correct solution has been to add paper sleeves around the cup, which mitigates hot fingers, but doesn’t keep coffee hot or prevent leaking.

There are, fortunately, a few holdouts — companies that still use foam cups, like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s.  These companies know that consumers appreciate the benefits of foam — more formally known as polystyrene foam.

Activists would love to see regulations eliminate foam cups completely, but absent the power to do that, they apply public pressure.  During the 1990s, activists at the Environmental Defense Fund launched a public relations campaign against McDonald’s, generating bad PR that placed the fast food giant “in a pickle.”  McDonald’s responded by eliminating foam packaging for their sandwiches, but not their coffee cups.

Activists continue to press for McDonald’s and others to eliminate foam cups as many politically correct coffee shops have already done.  For example, one activist group called “As You Sow” has drafted a proposal for McDonald’s shareholders that calls on the company to phase out polystyrene cups.

Activists have long claimed that foam cups are less energy efficient than paper cups because they were not recycled as much.  More recently, they have levied the charge that the cups are dangerous because they are made with a supposed carcinogenic chemical— styrene.   They are wrong on both counts.

First consider the impact on energy usage.  Earlier this year, the research group Franklin Associates released findings from their life-cycle assessment of polystyrene packaging and alternative paper products.  Such assessments attempt to measure the impact that products have on the environment during their entire lifetime — from cradle to grave.

The company found that the average 16-ounce polystyrene cup uses a third less energy, produces 50 percent less solid waste by volume, and releases a third less of so-called “green house gases” than does a 16-ounce paper cup with a sleeve. Over their lifecycles, polystyrene packaging products require 20 to 30 percent less water than do paper alternatives.

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Video of the Day

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

In honor of Minnesotamajority.org’s “Magical Misery Tour” goof on the Obama “Battle Bus from Mordor,” as the BBC described the president’s blacked-out bus today, the Beatles’ original “Magical Mystery Tour” video:

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A Couple of TV Commercials That Don’t Demean Fathers

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

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My post about tv commercials that demean men in general and fathers in particular isn’t the entire story. While the sheer numbers of doofus dad/man smart wife/girlfriend ads are overwhelming and definitely represent a cliche in the ad industry, there are some advertisers and ad agencies that still recognize that men care about their families too, take care of their kids, and do important things. This Chevy heavy duty pickup track ad hits all three of those notes. It starts with guy getting behind the wheel of a Silverado HD and start towing a piece of construction equipment through hill and dale, then pulling up in front of building, getting out, opening the back door, reaching in and picking up what we see for the first time, his sleeping child and then carrying him/her into what we see as the camera pulls back is a child care center. Comedian and actor Tim Allen does the voiceover with the tag line: “The things you carry are more important than the things you haul”. With all the criticism GM gets, at least they got this one right.

In reality, the 1960s vintage Goodyear ad with the husband concerned about his wife being safe while driving is of a piece with this ad and with the “so much is riding on your tires” Michelin ads, like the one below. It, by the way, is for high performance tires and uses sports car noises on the soundtrack. The Michelin ad isn’t as overtly appealing to men but generally performance tires are indeed marketed in media venues with a high male demographic.

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When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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Just ‘Cause

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin
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The rumor that this represents the Stimulus plan is clearly wrong, however.  While this, like the Stimulus plan, does nothing useful, this project can be explained.

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The Question Details Magazine Didn’t Ask Common

Monday, August 15th, 2011 - by Christian Toto

It’s been a few months since rapper/actor Common graced the White House for a poetry evening, an invitation some conservative blogs and Fox News found a bit … odd.

After all, Common had rapped about burning President George W. Bush and has spoken out against mixed marriages. Naturally, the true villain of this nasty news cycle was … Fox News, not the man who isn’t keen on whites and blacks finding true love together.

Imagine if President George W. Bush asked a country crooner with the same bigoted beliefs over for a beer in the Oval Office?

Flash forward to this month’s new issue of Details magazine. The publication interviewed Common to promote his new book, One Day It’ll All Make Sense. Naturally, the Fox News imbroglio comes up, but does the interviewer ask him to expound on his belief that white and black people shouldn’t marry? Seems like a pretty important “detail” for a socially conscious rapper, right?

Nope. Instead, the story’s headline describes Common as “Fox News’ latest target.”

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Which Automotive Ad Is More Sexist?

Monday, August 15th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

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“Panties all in a bunch”, no, that won’t do. How about, “they got their teats caught in a wringer?” Nope, that’ll get the sisterhood (and those trying to curry favor with it) all hysterical too. Let’s just say that Jalopnik and Autoblog, two leading car blogs, are exercised over the “sexism” of a 40+ year old Goodyear tire commercial, below. Autoblog asks, “Is this the most sexist ad of all time?“, while Jalopnik, part of Nick Denton’s Gawker network, exclaims in certitude, “This is the most sexist TV commercial of all time“. Putting aside the utter lack of journalistic originality, apparently Reddit or Twitter got a hold of the Goodyear video, and the editors of AB and Jalop felt the need to trot out their feminist bone fides. What I find interesting, though, is that Autoblog and Jalopnik don’t seem to have a problem when the sexist shoe is on the other foot, even if the sexist ad is fairly recent, not more than four decades old.

The “misogynistic” Goodyear ad (that’s what one version on YouTube calls it) had the audacity to try to sell men tires based on their concerns for their wives’ safety. The ad shows a woman driving alone, seemingly frightened, with a soundtrack and editing reminiscent of hundreds of horror films. Now nothing in the ad seems to denigrate women, unless you think that Jamie Leigh Curtis is a self-hating misogynist for appearing in Freaky Friday. The mere fact that driver’s husband is concerned about her safety, and the fact that the commercial implies that he makes the decisions about what kind of tires to buy, is sufficient to brand this advertisement as offensive to the distaff side and to the men eager to suck up to them. Or maybe it’s the fact that when she picks him up at the airport, she slides over and lets her hubby take the wheel. Either way you have to look hard to find anything at all in the ad that “hates” women or shows them in a negative light – again unless you think that portraying women as vulnerable is sexist.

I’m confused. On one hand if we show women as vulnerable we are sexists. On the other hand, we send our children to colleges where feminists start teaching our daughters from the time they have freshman orientation that their brothers and fathers are all incipient rapists . So when is it appropriate to acknowledge that females can be more vulnerable to physical attacks than males? Only when men are being demonized?

I’m even more confused. I’m pretty sure that one of the things that annoys the complainers is that the ad assumes men make certain purchasing decisions, thereby infantilizing women. The thing is, though, that most marketers know that in America today over 80% of consumer purchase decisions are made by women, including buying the family car. If you don’t believe me, if you’re a woman, just tell me what your reaction would be to “Honey, I just bought a Corvette”. Feminists tell us that major purchases by a couple have to be “joint” decisions, unless, of course, it’s something that she wants. Then his role is to accommodate her and pay the bills.

That 80% explains how SUVs replaced minivans and now crossovers are replacing SUVs. Car guys of the male variety may love station wagons, but anything that she thinks looks like a mommymobile is likely to be rejected. The chances of seeing something like that last sentence in Jalopnik is about the same as me getting lucky after this post is published, nil. You’re far more likely to see a “joke” about men “compensating” for a small penis on Jalopnik than something about what really drove the SUV craze. Of course if I were to say something about women liking SUVs because it lets them act like macho chicks, that would be considered sexist by the bien pensants at Gawker and AOL.

That 80% figure is why you don’t see ads like this Goodyear Polyglas commercial any more. It’s also why so many commercials deliberate treat men as stupid oafs, incapable of performing even the simplest tasks without the guidance of a wise woman. Make fun of men and they’ll still buy your beer. Make fun of women and they’ll hold a grudge forever. Since so many decisions are made by women, advertisers are loathe to go anywhere near poking anything but the most harmless gentlest fun at the ladies. Furthermore, since women hold the pursestrings, and have already been socialized for the last 40 years to hold men in low regard, it’s a safe way of appealing to and confirming female prejudices in order to sell stuff.

That 80% figure is how we get SUV ads like the one above. It follows the usual plot of doofus guy put right by his long suffering wife. In this case, it’s an 2005 ad for the Dodge Durango SUV. It plays on the stereotype of men being pigheaded and refusing to ask directions, with the husband behind the wheel getting lost in the desert towing a boat rather than checking the navigation system. I’ve known some brilliant female engineers, but the simple truth is that the majority of the people who developed that navigation system and the Global Positioning Satellite system on which it is based indeed have testicles. Yet, according to this commercial, men are so damned dumb that we invent things that we then refuse to use. Unlike the Goodyear commercial, the Durango ad indeed denigrates its male protagonist, making him out to be stupid and a liar (“I’m not lost”). Also, unlike the Goodyear commercial, where the husband greets his wife with an embrace, the wife in the Durango ad looks at her husband with scorn.

I don’t recall Jalopnik or Autoblog ever once complaining about this ad, or about any of the many others like it that revolve around a stupid man put in his place by a woman. By any rational standard, the Durango ad is far more sexist than the Goodyear ad ever was. The woman in the tire ad may be portrayed as vulnerable and dependent on her husband, but it doesn’t stereotype her negatively or denigrate her. She safely completes her task. The SUV ad, though, portrays the man as a fool who endangers his family, getting them lost in the desert. Just which is a more negative characterization?

Just which commercial is more sexist?

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When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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The Alpha and the Omega of the Personal Computer

Monday, August 15th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

For the last 15 years or so, millions of teenagers (and likely more than a few older folks as well) have taken first their laptops, and later their smart phones to bed with them to chat (hot or otherwise) with friends, and to wake up feeling plugged into the matrix.

Researchers never knew who was the first person to take his computer to bed though, until startling footage from 1967 was unearthed recently by the BBC:

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(The first computer I ever used was at St. Mary’s; it was an Altair 8800 connected to one of these repurposed teletype machines, which makes the above footage particularly nostalgic for me.)

But what of the future of computing? Clearly, it’s multimedia all the way. While PJ Media has an extensive Internet television production facility in the form of PJTV, there can be no doubt that the ultimate Internet production house is…

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No word yet when MGM will replace its current logo with one that features a kitten and thick white Helvetica text.

Kthxbai!

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Telling It Like It Isn’t

Monday, August 15th, 2011 - by Sarah Hoyt

My friend Dave Freer, over at Mad Genius Club has a blog about Political Correctness in literature.  I confess I have agreed with him ever since I was first trying to break into writing and found myself reading manuals on how to be politically correct in my writing.

I’ve learned to use the execrable he/she or worse, they instead of he in the type of sentence that now goes “one shouldn’t do that, lest they” simply because it’s not worth to endure screams of outrage over what’s at worse inelegant and agrammatical.  And the type of person who thinks her worth lies in not being referred to under a generic “masculine” pronoun – as dictated by the rules of most indo european languages — inevitably also things screaming about it is an act of civic duty if not virtue.

However, the more serious issues of the thought-binding rule of political correctness over literature have come to disgust me.

It is hard not to stand and cheer at Dave’s comments, including:

What neither of these definition set out is that PC is prescriptive, imposed from above, decided on by a self-selected group (usually those who shout loudest, and have a stake in establishing ‘victim’ status, and yes, by those in power. The PC-police – especially to writers, are the self-elected judges, juries and executioners. They can destroy your career, your livelihood at a whim, there is no appeal, or due process in the first place, and their hate campaigns will indiscriminately attack you, your friends and your family. You have no redress. You’d be far more fairly treated as a woman accused of adultery in Pakistan, let alone by any better justice system.

Their rules are intrinsically imposed – because if it was by broad consent or popular, you would not have to police it or even suggest it – which is why the Zuky interpretation comes in as wholly inaccurate. No-one had to tell everyone to wear yellow ribbons, or jump on anyone who didn’t. Nor were the controlling powers (ruling politicians, and in our field, publishers and editors, decreeing this. They followed a popular sentiment for their own ends, not enforced the sentiment). Of course, reading a little more of Zuky’s posts heesh probably didn’t share the sentiment, and thus felt that anyone else being able to express them shouldn’t be allowed. Yes, tolerance at its best.) Which is another defining feature of the way this operates: It is one way traffic. Those selected for deliberate non-offence are free to abuse those declared ‘bad’, as is anyone else. It sets up a clear hierarchy of who has most ‘right to redress’ (AKA privilege)  as a victim. It has no sunset on those privileges. If your great great grandmother was a designated ‘victim’, and you – with just 1/16 of her blood now live in a mansion and enjoy special privileges as result, which set you far above Joe Average, your grandchildren will still have that 1/64 of DNA outvoting the rest and insuring that they can stand in front of line. And to those who have set the orthodoxy,  even the questioning of individual points, let alone the concept of top-down prescription, is not PC and must be disciplined away. Very Stalinist, and a little historical research should show why that is a bad idea.

I can’t do Dave’s article (or his books) justice here.  Please read the whole thing.

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The Raw Food Diet: Is the Cure Worse than the Disease?

Sunday, August 14th, 2011 - by Helen Smith

This morning, I am reading through a book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox. I know, I know, why am I torturing myself with such stuff? I don’t know. I find nutrition and the way people think about it interesting.

It does make me wonder what the point of a raw food diet is, however, when I read the section on the “Symptoms of Healing” that are a “cleansing reaction” to a diet of nutrient-dense raw foods. Common cleansing reactions include:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • A coated tongue
  • Itching or rashes
  • Slight fever

The author describes his reactions to a cleansing spa in Thailand where he was fatigued and ended up with the “shakes.” He went to bed early with “a mild fever and chill” that kept him wrapped up in a blanket. He did say that he woke up feeling symptom-free but I am left wondering why substituting these symptoms for the symptoms of a non raw-food diet are any improvement.

It’s not a ringing endorsement of the raw-food diet. I have enough trouble without going through all this to “feel better.” Anyway, didn’t they just find out a lot of this stuff is bunk–kind of like colon cleansing?

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Swan Lake in China

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin
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Observe that she’s, among other things, dancing en pointe on that guy’s shoulder.

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AWESOME VIDEO: Disney Villains Mortal Kombat

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Dave Swindle
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How this hasn’t been made as an actual game yet (either officially or by online game programmers) is beyond me. Come on, internet, when are you going to cough that one up?

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Your Saturday Nightcap

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Stephen Green
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The ultimate saloon song, sung by the ultimate saloon singer. Quiet, spare, timeless — perfect.

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Patrick McGoohan, Double-Oh Kafka

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

FADE TO BLACK

OPEN IN BLACK AND WHITE

CUE TWILIGHT ZONE THEME SONG

CUE ROD SERLING ON SET:

 I’m Rod Serling, and you’ve entered The Twilight Zone, a CBS production.

 Submitted for your approval, another CBS television series, The Jackie Gleason Show. It ran throughout the 1960s, but in its place on Saturday nights during the summer of 1968, a rather unusual series aired. One that was very, very different from the tone of Gleason’s light-hearted show. The average fan of Jackie Gleason probably thought he really was in the Twilight Zone, when he tuned into a show that began each week like this:  

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Thanks for the intro and for cuing up the extended version of the Prisoner’s opening credits, Rod, but I’ll take it from here.

Seen in the context of the typical American TV faire of the mid-1960s such as Jackie Gleason’s show, Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner had to have seemed especially surreal and challenging to American viewers, particularly given the year it aired, as 1968 was anything but “the Summer of Love.”

The story goes that McGoohan had gotten bored with playing John Drake, his Danger Man/Secret Agent character, and wanted to try something a bit more challenging. He proposed the story idea to Sir Lew Grade of ITC (who produced everything from Captain Scarlet and UFO to The Muppet Show in the 1960s through the late 1970s, usually with an eye towards the American market). According to the all-knowing, occasionally accurate Wikipedia, It was inspired by George Markstein, The Prisoner’s script editor, who would later write Cold War-themed novels and movies, and who had based his notion out from the legends of World War II:

Part of Markstein’s inspiration came from his research into World War II, where he found that some people had been incarcerated in a resort-like prison called Inverlair Lodge.[11] Markstein suggested that Danger Man lead, John Drake (played by McGoohan), could suddenly resign, and be kidnapped and sent to such a location.[11] McGoohan added Markstein’s suggestion to material he had been working on, which later became The Prisoner. Furthermore a 1960 episode of Danger Man, “View from the Villa”, had exteriors filmed in Portmeirion, a Welsh resort village that struck McGoohan as a good location for future projects.

Further inspiration came from a Danger Man episode called “Colony Three”, in which Drake infiltrates a spy school in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The school, in the middle of nowhere, is set up to look like a normal English town in which pupils and instructors mix as in any other normal city, but the instructors are virtual prisoners with little hope of ever leaving. McGoohan also stated that he was influenced by his experience from theater, including his work in Orson Welles’ 1955 play Moby Dick Rehearsed’ and the 1962 BBC teleplay The Prisoner by Bridget Boland.[11] McGoohan wrote a forty-page show Bible, which included a “history of the Village, the sort of telephones they used, the sewerage system, what they ate, the transport, the boundaries, a description of the Village, every aspect of it…”.[8]

While The Prisoner must have seemed particularly surreal to the majority of CBS’s viewers, in one sense it was surprisingly at home. In the late 1960s, prior to the network’s Great Rural Purge early in the next decade, CBS’s lineup was, at the time, the most conservative of the original three American TV networks, and The Prisoner is ultimately a remarkably libertarian show, asking questions about the nature of postwar government itself. You want to wage the Cold War? You want an ever-expanding Leviathan State? You want loyalty oaths from your employees? You want to implement speech codes and political correctness? You want state-run education? You want cameras on every street corner? Be prepared to face the consequences of living in such a Kafkaesque world.

Backstage at The Village

But while we can debate endlessly the meaning of the show, first the footage had to be shot, on location in London, at MGM’s now defunct Borehamwood studios north of London, and most notably on the grounds of the Hotel Portmeirion in North Wales. Last month, the How To Be a Retronaut Website ran a series of behind the scenes images of The Prisoner in production, which are well worth exploring, both for the show’s unique production design, with touches of Corbusier modernism amidst the eccentric architecture of the Hotel Portmeirion, and for the shots of the giant blimped Mitchell 35mm movie cameras used to shoot the series, and give its rich textures.

Speaking of rich textures, The Prisoner’s theme song was iconic, and is rightly considered a classic from the posh side of the swinging mid-1960s. And then there’s the Bond connection in the form of session guitarist Vic Flick, who also played the raucous Duane Eddy-inspired lick on the bass strings of the guitar for the original and beloved Bond theme song.

But I’m not sure how well that music works to set the tone of The Prisoner, though. Perhaps some of the darker, more dissonant Bartok-inspired background music (not the theme) that Lalo Schifrin was doing for Mission: Impossible might be more appropriate. But it’s impossible to think of anything else now, and it’s certainly withstood the test of time. And perhaps the richness of the overall instrumentation helps to hint at the dangers of the Village, which is certainly attractive on the outside, yet lurks with death and danger just under its stylish surfaces.

Six of One, Half a Dozen of Another

But what of the final episode, which makes The Prisoner’s first outings seem like a Jack Webb police procedural in comparison? In an early Bleat, James Lileks gave one possible interpretation:

In my second year of college I was devoted to the Prisoner, and watched it with religious rapture on Sunday nights, convinced that McGoohan had crafted a perfect show – a paranoid spy drama with Large Looming Themes about the individual and society. But even then in my hemp-addled state I saw the last episode for what it was: an inedible stew of sophmoric allegory that ruined everything that had gone before. So last night I watched it again to see if it was truly as bad as I remembered, and yes, it was. Interesting concepts, but tritely executed. Even so, I’ll give him credit for one thing: having spent 13 episodes defending the rights of the individual to be an individual, he turned the idea on its head at the end, and suggested that absolute individuality corrupts absolutely, that it corrupts society. I didn’t understand that in 1977; I didn’t see that point.

Interesting point, but when it’s being made by 30 robed guys in black-and-white masks pounding a table, you have to roll your eyes and say wow, man, heavy.

That said, the Prisoner was still a good show. What was American TV doing at the time? I Dream of Jeanie.

Out of respect for the original series, I never watched the remake that appeared on AMC in 2009. Though I must say that the casting of James Caviezel, the titular star of The Passion of the Christ as Number Six, and Ian McKellen, who never met a bible he didn’t seek to deface as his tormentor was inspired. If you’ve seen it, how does it hold up when compared with the original? And what did you think of the original series?

Oh and incidentally, in retrospect, how hard could have it really been to escape from the Village?

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Maura Makes a New Friend on Our Morning Walk

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Dave Swindle

For previous PJ Lifestlye pictures of Maura, the Siberian Husky puppy who rules our household with an iron fist, click here.

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Who’s Up for Austin Powers 4?

Saturday, August 13th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Welcome back my friends, to the one-note character that never, ever ends:

Myers is a very particular talent, a guy who likes to workshop a character for a while before he actually makes a movie.  He has not made that many films, all things considered, and a few times over the course of his career, he has actually pulled the plug on things that probably could have gotten made because he didn’t feel they were ready.  That happened most famously with “Sprockets,” the feature-film version of one of his SNL characters.  I liked the script he co-wrote with Mike McCullers, but Myers bowed out just before it was supposed to start, killing the film in the process.

His most successful bigscreen character, of course, is the hyper-horny snaggletoothed secret agent Austin Powers, and there has been much talk about the possibility of a fourth film in that series over the last few years.  For a while, there was talk of a Dr. Evil spin-off film, but I think all of those weird characters need to share the same universe.  Taking one of them into a solo film just seems odd.  Whatever the case, we haven’t’ seen the character since 2002′s “Goldmember.”

That’s about to change, as HitFix can now confirm that Mike Myers just closed his deal to return to the role.  Yep.  “Austin Powers 4″ is coming, officially.

No word yet on who will be directing.  I would hope Jay Roach returns as well, since I think a lot of the kick of the films is the ’60s pop aesthetic, and Roach has been a big part of that since day one.  There’s also no word yet on a proposed storyline, but I will certainly start digging to see what I can come up with.

Gee, let’s see. Odds are, there will be:

  • The Ministry of Defense and/or Michael York’s suave Basil Exposition character
  • Time travel
  • A Bond-inspired super-villain
  • A sexy babe for a co-star
  • Dr. Evil
  • Mini-Me
  • Fat Bastard
  • Scatology galore.

The first Austin Powers movie was both a James Bond homage, and a marvelous goof on the sort of plush, expensive swinging mid-sixties rarely seen in the movies. In place of the usual cliches of muddy Woodstock excess, there were smart homages to Blow-Up, the Matt Helm and the Derek Flint movies, and even a Burt Bacharach cameo, all played with a knowing glance at the era’s silliness and excesses summed up with this brilliant exchange:

Vanessa Kensington: Mr. Powers, my job is to acclimatize you to the nineties. You know, a lot’s changed since 1967.

 Austin Powers: No doubt, love, but as long as people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment, I’ll be sound as a pound!

The sequels were all more of the same, though with the scatological humor amped up to #11. James Lileks once wrote that “If art contains s***, we should take it at its word.” And when comedies rely on it to get laughs, we should both take them at their word, and assume that the writers are totally bankrupt when it comes to new ideas.

Actually, it’s too bad the Sprockets movie never got made; who makes fun of arch Weimar-era German Expressionism? Instead of Nietzsche’s concept of Eternal Return though, I suppose we’re stuck with Austin’s, alas.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9p5ey

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The Middle-Earth Guide to Campaign 2012—Updated

Friday, August 12th, 2011 - by Timothy Furnish

One ring to rule them all/one ring to find them/one ring to tax them all/and in indebtedness bind them.

Two weeks ago the Wall Street Journal likened congressional Tea Partiers to hobbits:

The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against…Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

[emphasis mine]

The trope took off the next day when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) read the article approvingly during debate on raising the debt ceiling. Liberals reveled in this GOP establishment belittlement of the party’s fiscally conservative faction, but that didn’t stop journalists from finding allegedly-offended Tolkien scholars who sliced and diced the metaphor more quickly than Aragorn did the Mouth of Sauron. And like one of the Nazgûl, the issue refuses to die — not two days ago McCain snubbed a call to recant from  a Tea Party Gaffer at a town hall meeting back in Arizona.

So the GOP establishment, via the hobbit metaphor, dismisses Tea Partiers as diminutive Don Quixotes; simultaneously, many Tolkien fans and scholars take umbrage at the very notion that hobbits were anything but bucolic deadbeats longing for official Gondorian government subsidies of their mind-altering pipe weed. Neither is entirely correct. (Nor, for that matter, was Senator Rand Paul in calling John McCain a “troll”— a doctor should know that it’s McCain’s debating skills, not his skin, that turns to stone in the sunlight.)

Tea Partiers ARE very much like hobbits — and hobbits are not prehistoric hippies. Despite Professor Tolkien’s admonition that he “cordially dislike[d] allegory in all its manifestations,” various scholars in the last 60 years have employed Lord of the Rings [LOTR] as a palantir through which to view the world wars, the Cold War, environmentalism and Christian history (to name but the most obvious). Why not, then, do likewise for the contemporary American political scene — especially since the WSJ has already set the first foot upon this road? Let us see where it takes us…

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PJTV: VodkaPundit’s ‘The Week In Blogs’

Friday, August 12th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Let’s face it: this has been such a slooooow week for the news. But somehow, as he does each week, our own Stephen Green managed to round-up four minutes of the Best of the Blogosphere, in handy portable YouTube form:

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Links to the items that Steve mentioned:

pjmedia.com/instapundit/125846/

www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/08/05/john…

minx.cc/?post=319650

pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2011/08/04/should-…

www.breitbart.tv/chisox-ozzie-guillen-to-sean-p…

www.aintitcool.com/node/50715

www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/8/michael…

www.breitbart.tv/small-businesswomans-epic-rant…

blog.heritage.org/2011/08/08/chart-liberal-grou…

www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPm8saNhbuQ

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Video of the Day

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Eric Clapton channeling Freddie King — and like Freddie, on a nifty Gibson ES-335 to boot:

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