Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Straight Talk, Straight Talk

Before I get into the crux of this blog post, let me offer up to you a sampling of the lyrics to "Straight Talk" by Dolly Parton, from her 1992 film of the same name:
Gimme some straight talk, straight talk -- and hold the sugar please
Straight talk, straight talk -- sounds plenty sweet to me
Don’t talk to me in circles in some mumbo-jumbo jive
Gimme just straight talk, straight talk and we’re gonna be alright
’cause I like to know just where I stand, I don’t like guessing games
And I hate a bunch of gibberish, so just spit it out real plain
Don’t use big educated words from your bs degree
Straight talk, straight talk -- don’t try b.s.-ing me

Straight talk, straight talk -- turn loose and let it go
You can tell me anything -- just like on oprah’s show
Just tell me how you really feel, be on the up and up
With questions I can understand -- for answers you can trust

Pick up the ’phone, you’re not alone -- we’ve all got something to say
So listen in and listen up -- we’ll find a better way
With honesty and common sense, it’s really hard to miss
Straight talk, straight talk -- just tellin’ it like it is

Straight talk, straight talk -- there’s nothing like the truth
Just tell me all your troubles -- pretend I’m Donahue
So don’t be shy, ’cause we can talk -- you know you’ve got a friend
Call me, call me -- for simple straight talkin’

What’s cookin’, America?

Straight talk, straight talk
Straight talk, straight talk
Now, I have no idea if Senator John McCain took the name for his "Straight Talk Express" from the Parton film. I like to think he did, because that idea is a whole lot more endearing than the notion that he actually meant it to be taken seriously. If I've confused you, let me clear things up. Here's McCain during the 2000 presidential campaign:
I am a pro-life, pro-family fiscal conservative, an advocate of a strong defense, and yet Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and a few Washington leaders of the pro-life movement call me an unacceptable presidential candidate. They distort my pro- life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters. Why? Because I don't pander to them, because I don't ascribe to their failed philosophy that money is our message.

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
Admirable. Sort of rad, right? The kind of things you like to hear from people you don't exactly intend on voting for. But McCain, in his ongoing Evangelical gangbang, has decided to give us a little less straight talk, straight talk:
American military hero and Arizona Sen. John McCain will deliver the Commencement message at Liberty University on May 13, at 9:30 a.m., in the Liberty University Vines Center.

While Sen. McCain and Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell have had their share of political differences through the years, the two men share a common respect for each other and have become good friends in their efforts to preserve what they see as common values. This will mark his first ever appearance at Liberty University. Falwell said McCain's appearance at LU's graduation is another sign that McCain is wooing evangelical Christians.

"He is in the process of healing the breech with evangelical groups," Falwell said.

Falwell said McCain has expressed a willingness to support a Federal Marriage Amendment, an issue dear to conservative Christians.
Now, maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe this is straight talk, straight talk from McCain. Maybe everything else has been...what's the word...oh yeah...BULLSHIT. Maybe he didn't really mean what he said in 2000 and he only said it because he thought that would work and now he thinks it behooves him to sound like those he claimed to oppose. Maybe in "healing the breech" and efforting to find "common values" with a petty, dickless fascist endears him to voters he feels he needs to win the election and that need trumps all other needs, like, say, integrity or honesty or, as Dolly might say, a little straight talk, straight talk. But even Dolly knew there was no going back to that listless douche Michael Madsen, that she had turned a corner, begun anew, found herself, schtupped James Woods, etc. I don't expect much from politicians, but unlike McCain, I do have a few standards when it comes to my "friends." Oh, and I hate a bunch of gibberish. (Via Sully)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Friendly Advice

At Fluxblog, get yourself the new hotness from Phoenix, "Long Distance Call." Saunter on over to You Ain't No Picasso and get "Skinny Boy" off of Amy Millan (of Stars) new solo record. (You can also pick up the new Walkmen jawn while you're there.) And then get your Aviator on and get to The Rich Girls Are Weeping and download Rufus Wainwright's version of the Gershwin standard, "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise." I mean, I'm not going to force you or anything. But you'll kick yourself if you don't.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Crit of the Day

"If there exists a device called a Procedural-O-Matic, then it created this show. The Evidence mingles the most familiar elements of contemporary forensics programs (jittery and jaundiced close-ups of fatal wounds, charmingly eccentric lab techs, the sort of leads that offer pretenses to enter sex clubs) with the most durable cop-show clichés (the bit where the fuzz toss the punk into a chain link fence along the sideline of a basketball court). As Cole, Rob Estes (Silk Stalkings, Melrose Place) is compelled to keep mourning a wife whose murder was never solved, whose voice is still on the outgoing answering-machine message, and whose smile is playfully coy in gauzy flashbacks. As Bishop, Orlando Jones (Drumline, 7-Up ads) tries to lift his buddy's spirits in a series of moderately homoerotic encounters. As Dr. Sol Goldman, Martin Landau does nothing disgraceful. And fog, in a supporting role, handsomely veils the Golden Gate Bridge." - Slate's Troy Patterson

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hellmouth Diary

Working for the government (the man, the system, ZOD), one is afforded court holidays, on top of the already existing holidays that most everyone gets (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Tu' bshvat...wait, what?). On top of President's Day, we also celebrate Lincoln's birth. On top of Labor Day, we also get Cesar Chavez Day. Themes and all. Now, our office does not give us a full day off for these holidays, but instead a casual dress half day (Hawaiian shirt optional). On these half days, one employee stays later than the rest, until about 2 or 3, for some bureaucratic reason that I've never understood, nor wish to understand at any future date. Until recently, this task (staying past the noon evacuation) generally fell to me, being young, male, and white, all the usual traits of the oppressed. But, then, that stopped happening and it started getting spread around and, then, it was proposed that a rotation be set up. This led one employee to freak the fuck out.

Crying. Manic pacing. An insistent and bizarre line of questioning (directed at me for some reason) revolving around whether or not this meant she'd have to make her son quit karate. (At this time, it should be noted that this woman mispronounces her son's name and told him so when he turned eight. He agreed with her that the proper pronunciation of the name he was given was kind of stupid and that mommy was right to take the easy route. Sub-note: This woman also kept her maiden name because she felt her husband's name was too complicated. To this day, she cannot spell the name, of both her husband and two children, without several minutes of deliberation.)

Well, the freakout worked and she was exempt from the rotation. But the drama didn't stop there. Trenches were dug. Middle-aged women with beef, okay? So, then came tit for tat. Grumbling. Back turning. Hissing. One employee kept a log of grievances (like, say, the killer from Seven or former Florida Sen. Bob Graham) which was then used in meetings to discuss the relations between that employee and her arch nemesis. Another employee was roped into the proceedings, all the while, pretending to know nothing, as any good stooge would. She also plays up her age, her mediocre health, and thanks to the general stupidity of everyone around her, it works. This portion of the proceedings came to a head with a screaming match between the employee we'll call "Charo" and the aforementioned "Oldy McGee." "Oldy McGee" walks off in a huff over perceived to be rude whispering. "Charo" calls her out. Fight ends with "Charo" screaming, "I ain't afraid of you!" "I ain't afraid of you!"

This duo and the killer from Seven are "admonished" for their behavior. And post-admonishment: The Silent Era. No one speaks. "Oldy McGee" bumps and elbows "Charo" in the hallway 3 or 4 times. (I doubted this, at first, and then I witnessed it.) The Killer from Seven pretends to be unphased by it all (as exemplified by idle chit-chat about shows she doesn't watch, articles she's half read, and the death penalty, exclaiming "hang 'em high" after our supervisor asked "whatever happened to a good old fashioned lynching?"). Having achieved her first goal, she seemingly cared very little about its ramifications. But the killer from Seven overestimated her power, as many a mouth breather has done before. She determined I felt left out and that if I felt left out, it was her job to engineer a few alterations to my work habits. Now, look, I'm a pretty miserable fucker as it is during the hours between 8 and 5. Work = dread. 'kay? But I'll let it play out. I'll see what's what.

The directives: I must watch what I say. (Nothing specific is cited.) I must understand that certain words and/or phrases offend. I should not read at my desk (books, or as they were reffered to "reading books"), although the Internet is still allowed, as long as it's not in excess, to the offense of others. (Feeling as if I was at the worst summer camp evs, I pondered spending my lunch break at Michael's, shopping for popsicle sticks, glue, and an ample amount of glitter, in order to then construct Barbie's Dream House (with pool and waterslide) at my desk for the remainder of the afternoon.) But, you see, the killer from Seven didn't brief "Oldy McGee" on this plan of action and "Oldy McGee" (being a good Jahova's Witness) took out the "Good Book" and started reading at her desk yesterday. Whoops.

I took my supervisor aside. In the spirit of brevity, allow me to summarize the conversation succinctly: "Bitch, are you fo real?"

Thirty minutes later, our supervisor put it all to rest. She "admonished" the three witches, apologized to me, and told everyone, in general, to shut the fuck up.

Petty victories are sweet.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Piss on Pooh.

If you don't know Thomas Kinkade or his exemplary work, you've missed out. His brush is guided by God (after all). Upon reviewing much of Kinkade's work, one might come to the conclusion that God is a Care Bear or at least a Care Bear part of the time, what with his many forms and all. Kinkade is, of course, "The Painter of Light," a moniker which should always be intoned with as much James Liptonian verve as you can muster, without cracking up and Horatio Sanzing the bit. But now, in a twist worthy of a cliche-ridden TV movie, Kinkade's being sued, and in the process, has been revealed to be a little less messianic and a lot more piss drunk and grabby:
It's not just Kinkade's business practices that have been called into question. Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior also belies the wholesome image on which he's built his empire.

In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.

And then there is Kinkade's proclivity for "ritual territory marking," as he called it, which allegedly manifested itself in the late 1990s outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

"This one's for you, Walt," the artist quipped late one night as he urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure, said Terry Sheppard, a former vice president for Kinkade's company, in an interview.
This twist comes about a half hour and two commercial breaks before Kinkade is revealed to either have a second, secret family or, more likely, a kiddie porn dungeon.

Now, of course, no Kinkade piece would be complete without the observations of his fans:
"It's mainstream art, not art you have to look at to try to understand, or have an art degree to know whether it's good or not," said Mike Koligman, a longtime fan who with his wife owns Kinkade galleries in San Diego and Utah.

"This is God-given talent," [Karen de la Carriere] said of a favored print, "Sierra Evening Majesty," with its snowy peaks, red-gold skies and smoke wisping from a cabin chimney. "He is a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci or Monet. There is no one in our generation who can paint like that."
It's like this...when Thomas Kinkade pisses on something (canvas, Disney characters, you), one doesn't need some hoity-toity art degree to get it. It makes perfect sense. "That's piss. And I like it!"

Friday, March 03, 2006

Oh, it's a 3-4 year plan. Why didn't you say so? I'll stop screaming now. My apologies.

If I were asked to make up a list of my least favorite people, Knicks owner James Dolan would likely be in the top five. I've never met Mr. Dolan and based on my experience of being in the same room as Scott Layden, I'd likely just stand a fair distance away and comment to a bystander what I'd do if they came up to me.

I have, however, endured his reign of terror. I have seen the team's franchise player banished to Seattle because Dolan, like many others, believed that the Knicks would be "better off" without Patrick Ewing "clogging" the middle. I watched as Scott Layden was hired to "fix" the team, after Ernie Grunfeld and Dave Checketts had, presumably, harmed the team somehow. (Apparently, making the playoffs and knowing how to even spell "salary cap" are the signs of a sinking ship in need of righting.) In that era, a first ballot hall of famer who led the team to two Finals and perpetual playoff berths, was traded for Glen Rice who was traded for Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley who were then handed to new general manager Isaiah Thomas who saw fit, as he's wont to do, to trade them for more heinous contracts attached to heinous players within a heinous context, also known as the roster assembled by a group of people whose sole intent, it seems, is to hurt my feelings. This year, the thought was that a mini youth movement (Curry, Frye, Robinson, Lee, Ariza) accompanied with the hiring of Larry Brown would save the collective asses of everyone already mentioned. (Yeah, not so much.)

On top of all this, Dolan has, as you well know, approved the acquisitions of two more heinous contracts attached to two players (Jalen Rose and Steve Francis) whose notion of "team" begins and ends with "I." Francis is known to some as "Stevie Franchise." It's a self ascribed moniker. They also happen to both play the same position on a team with more players at said position than should ever rationally be considered.

Recently, after a loss to San Antonio, rumors swirled that Dolan had come to whatever senses he has left, and determined that Isaiah needed to be fired, things needed to be changed, etc. And, being an idiot, I believed the story. Perhaps, I deserve this:
I can't say it any plainer than I've already said it. I'm not making a change, guys. We're going to continue on with the strategy. I believe in the plan. I believe in the strategy. I believe in the guys who are executing it. I fully expect you to kill me in the papers tomorrow with this, but I'm going to stick with it. I'm going to stick with it until we stop making progress. I think the course is to stay the course, not knee-jerk.

Maybe some people think I'm brain-dead because of that, but time will tell. I understand people will be unhappy when you're going through this process. You're characterizing [this season] as making a big mistake. It's not a mistake. It's an underestimation what it would take to start off this strategy. So we're 15-41 now. You have to look at how you're doing on your 3-4 year plan. It's still early. I know it's hard to take when it's 15-41, but the mistake would be to say the strategy is wrong. The strategy is right. It's just more painful to execute than we thought. It is harsh. There is no doubt. I think [the fans] are already upset.
One must have a brain for it to be dead, James. (Sigh.)