Drooling on the Pillow

Thursday, September 29, 2005

It's Certainly The World's Best 

Today we're heading off for a long weekend in Warrensburg, NY to attend The Worlds Largest Garage Sale. There are several Podunks who dispute the claim, but we've been going to this one for more than ten years and I will match Warrensburg's blooming onions with anybody's.

See you on Monday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Like The Hat Better Than The Wig 

Cindy Sheehan and the late Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley on the Dick Van Dyke Show).

Just saying.

Gregor at What A Sad Old Goth has a different pairing.

Endless Highway 

The last two nights I watched Martin Scorsese's documentary on Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, on PBS.

I wonder if younger people can understand what a huge figure Dylan was for us Boomerheads. I have one of those gobsmacked memories of sitting in Billy Byrne's bedroom listening to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan for the first time. When the album was done we just sat there poleaxed, unable to think or respond because our brains were on fire. Weren't even stoned at the time.

The first part on Monday dealt with his life in Hibbing, Minnesota and the early days of the folk scene in New York. They had a remarkable amount of footage and audio tape from back then and it added up to a portrait that more or less filled in what you knew or suspected.

There's two things you have to remember about Dylan: first, trust absolutely nothing that comes out of his mouth, and, second, listen carefully to everything he says. When he talks he's offering either clues to something that just passed through his head or deliberate misrepresentations that have more to do with where he's going than where he's been. But he feels absolutely no responsibility to the literal truth. Joan Baez was on hand to testify how difficult that made working with him or caring about him, but without that 'quality' he never would have accomplished what he did and, I think, part of his genius was that he knew it.

It may surprise some to see how ambitious, driven and calculating he was, but on the operative level, there's really no difference between artistic and entrepreneurial ambition. It's all about an overpowering and sometimes cruel desire to win; just the prizes are different.

Watching him pushing his way out of the sticks and taking (sometimes literally) from everyone he met who interested him, trying this and that, soaking up musical styles and then moving on is like watching a freight train passing through a prairie town. He was funny looking in a very uncompelling way and he had that strange, hostile voice that knocked over the melody rather than follow it. He never even wrote songs until the year before his first album. In his mind, he was a performer and all he wanted to to go big.

And then came 1961. Viet Nam, Civil Rights, Free Speech. Just when the house started going up, there he was, fully formed, complex and a lot to say. Apparently, Like A Rolling Stone originally had 50 verses. I was fascinated to note that in 1961 and 1962 he was suddenly good looking, having lost his baby fat. It's like he was saving it.

The second part of the film deals with what life was like after the Dylan bomb went off and the remarkable hostility and anger that surrounded him when he went electric.

You meet people like him all the time, except for the fact that they don't have talent. They move through life with an area of devastation around them. Dylan left plenty of wreckage, but who the hell cares?

UPDATE: Here's John Derbyshire's take on it.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hitchens on the Demos 

I don't know where we would be without Christopher Hitchens. At times the Kultursmog rises off the current issue with such obscuring intensity that the struggle for clarity overwhelms some of the most intrepid and honest observers. And then Hitchens puts down his beverage and says, "Excuse me, but 'Anti-War' really isn't the right word for this group. And here's why."

Scourge of bullies, tireless investigator, he's a bright, knowledgeable, funny, ferocious defender of the West and moonbat undresser. Even though I don't always agree with him, it'd be nice to have a few more like him.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Tommy Bond, RIP 

Tommy Bond, who played Alfalfa's archenemy Butch in the Little Rascals and Our Gang series, died on Saturday at the age of 79.

I have to admit that I yearned for Butch to give Alfalfa a real smacking and enjoyed it whenever Darla took off with him. Something about Alfalfa really disturbed me, even at a young age.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Inimitable Red Smith 

To my mind, Red Smith was far and away the premier sports writer of my generation.

Today was the 100th anniversary of his birth and the Times ran an article by his son and a column by Smith which he wrote on the occasion of Hank Aaron's historic 714th home run.

I believe it's telling that none of the regular columists for the Times was given the job of honoring him, because there isn't one of them with the chops to do the job.

Dave Anderson isn't bad, but that's really about the best you can say and that puts him head and shoulders above the others. The rest of the crowd write copy that happens to concern sports, but they always seem to be writing for an Ivy League sociology department rather than for your average guy who loves sports and appreciates fine writing. If there is not a racial or gender angle to it, their hearts just aren't in it.

Smiths columns were graceful and witty, allusive and charming, but so very easy, conversational and calm. He had an agenda, a point of view, but it was something you got to know about him, as with a friend, not a punishing sword held out in front of the story.

I can't think of anyone in his class on a regular beat in New York today. Lupica at the Daily News is good. He's clever and he can write. But when something happens, a big fight or an amazing horse race or when the pennant race gets intense, it would never occur to me to look forward to what he's got to say. I'd never buy a paper just for his column. But Red Smith was always worth the price of the paper.

The Miami Gentle Showers 

To my knowledge it hasn't been asserted anywhere that the Miami Hurricanes' nickname is insensitive and racist.

Only a matter of time.

This also presents a unique problem/opportunity in marketing for The University of Tulsa, which has one of the odder nicknames in college sports -- "The Golden Hurricane". Odd for a team in northeast Oklahoma and odd just for color-coding a weather system. It is, though, one of the few appropriate uses for the modern fad for using singular nouns. You don't want eleven hurricanes taking the field, after all.
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