Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work 

Joe Barton, is a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. So naturally he thinks it's his business to investigate college football's BCS series. "The current system of determining who's No. 1 appears deeply flawed." They're going to have hearings next week.

Hopefully, Congressman Barton is just interested in getting his name in the paper and wasting our money and isn't planning on actually doing anything about it. The BCS system may be farked, but just imagine it once a House committee gets through with it. I'd hate to have my team miss the championship because the transgender community was underrepresented on special teams.

Or because it wasn't from Texas.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Tip-Toe Through The Fat Cats 

You heard about that Bat Mitzva where the dad paid to have a troop of rock stars shimmy through the party at a cost of 12 bazillion ferengi. The left's angle was 'Creepy war profiteer', the right's angle was 'Hello, he makes body armor'.

Nobody that I know of commented on how retro '80s the whole thing seemed. Remember the decade of greed?

I was there.

I once was a waitron for a party some Wall Street slickster threw for his girlfriend's mother. It was on a party boat that was a converted WWII minesweeper. It was refitted and decorated with pots of money and no taste whatsoever. I'm talking flocked red wallpaper and disco balls. I'm talking lighted dance floors and bathrooms with four mirrored walls and a mirrored ceiling.

I'm talking silver souvenir coke spoons. Okay, now do you remember the '80s?

I spent the morning helping load ice sculptures and a couple hundred cases of Dom Perignon. As I passed out canapes I reflected that what the guy paid for the stinky fish eggs on one of the crackers on my tray would pay my rent for a month. As we circled Manhattan and the evening wore on, the boat's captain asked for volunteers among the wait staff who were strong swimmers to post themselves along the rail. The behavior of the guests was becoming erratic.

For entertainment we didn't have Steve Tyler or Tom Petty and I don't think 50 Cent was born yet. We had Tiny Tim.

He only performed for about a half an hour late into the evening (and, bless his heart, that was plenty) so for the rest of the day he was hiding out in the kitchen with us peons. I can tell you that was no act. A sweet, good humored, profoundly strange man.

He wanted a bite of everything we were serving, but by 'bite' he meant a smudge. No matter how many times you cut it in half it was far too much and he would shriek and clutch his heart and declare we were trying to ruin his performance. People who get the vapors can be pretty tiresome, but that boy lived in the vapors.

All of the waitresses patted and fussed and coddled him, which was pretty annoying, but I have to admit, there was something, something essentially decent and even genuine about him. I have no idea what, but something.

To the guests it was just a freak show and it went perfectly with the rest of the party, but the real freak show was watching that crowd try to get down the gang plank around midnight.

Tiny Tim, who was born as Herbert B. Khaury, died in 1996 on his way to play at the Ukulele Hall of Fame. Swear to god.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sometimes You Have To Fight 

I just finished Philip Roth's The Plot Against America last night and I can't recommend it too highly.

I suppose you'd have to call it alternative history, but you're not in Harry Turtledove's hands here, but rather a true master.

The premise is that F.D.R. is thwarted in his bid for a third term in 1940 by the charismatic Charles Lindbergh who establishes a cordial relationship with the Third Reich and begins laying the groundwork for a soft Final Solution here in the States as the Japanese extend their sway over all of Asia and the Soviets and Great Britain struggle to hold on against the Nazis.

It's told, mostly, from the perspective of a boy named Philip Roth, growing up in comfortable, yet struggling circumstances in Newark, NJ in the late '30s and early '40s.

The book is terribly unfair, of course, to Lindbergh, the national Republican Party and, oddly, to liberals.

Lindbergh was undeniably anti-Semitic in a cerebral, yet clueless way and Roth uses a number of direct quotes to establish the fact. His portrait of Lindbergh shows a man without any personal animus toward Jews, in fact an admirer of the Jewish 'race', but one who firmly believes that the interests of the Jews and those of 'Americans' conflict. Charles Lindbergh, meet Patrick Buchanan.

'History' lessons are interjected into the story of the Roths and, while these are necessary to the plot, they are the weakest parts of the book. Lindbergh has nothing but his celebrity, charisma and glamour to push his agenda, but during his long assault on the Constitution and the American way, almost no one stands up to him or even seriously questions what is going on. Only Walter Winchell and the old liberal New York paper PM were screaming. F.D.R. barely rouses himself. Northern liberals of neither party are heard from. One has to accept that the desire to stay out of the European war was so powerful in this country in the late 1930s that all it needed was a leader to translate that desire into national power. And if that leader kept his promise, the average American was willing to accept fundamental changes in the way the nation conducted itself. I'm not going to make the mistake of saying it couldn't happen here, but I do protest that it couldn't happen that easily or noiselessly.

Perhaps. Roth makes as good a case as can be made, but he can only make it by silencing the many powerful interests and groups who would have opposed it.

The reason I unhesitatingly recommend the book is that Roth is one of the greatest of all American writers and his command and power grows with every book. The story of the Roth family is deep, rich and engrossing. The paranoia that is central to the book is not just 'Jewish' or Liberal, but fundamental to the perspective of a nine-year old during tumultuous times. It's not a large book, but it's a remarkably populated and convincing canvas.

I can't resist comparing the America First movement portrayed in the book to the liberal opposition to the war in Iraq. It's no secret that F.D.R. did want us in WWII and most people would concede that he maneuvered with Japan with that in mind. Only a fool believes that he knew about Pearl Harbor in advance, but if he was not looking for a confrontation with Japan, many of his actions make no sense. And, yes, he did lie about his intentions with respect to the war. Let's not forget that the Germans, whom he was most eager to take on, never attacked us and did not pose a threat to us, imminent or not.

I happen to believe he was correct in every particular. There are times when you have to fight and that certainly was one. Remarkably, many of today's America Firsters also point to the sly oriental finger of the Jews as guiding the powerful secret cabal sending our boys off to die in a pointless foreign war. In the '30s not one American had lost their life to the enemy when America First organized itself around the principle of isolationism. Today's isolationists demand retreat despite thousands of lives lost and dozens of attacks. Despite a large, wealthy enemy's repeated vow to destroy us, backed up with countless acts.

This is another time to fight. If the Democrats have a plausible alternative, let them say it. If the isolationists have a case to make, let them organize it around a principle other than America's sins. But, for God's sake, don't blame the Jews.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

'Death To Smoochy' Rocks! 

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Black Comedy
In your life, things are so twisted that you just have to laugh.You may end up insane, but you'll have fun on the way to the asylum. Your best movie matches:
Being John Malkovich, The Royal Tenenbaums, American Psycho

If Your Life Was a Movie, What Genre Would It Be?

Stolen from DarkoV at Verging on Pertinence.

According to the informal, self-selected survey over at DarkoV's, dark comedy runs strongly in the blogging community.

I like that kind of movie, but, you know, there's very little margin for error. They've got to be just right all the way through or they are tedious, smug and self-indulgent.

Hm. Sounds like me.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Help Meee! 

I crossed a line today. The Goddess is off doing Goddess things and I made a somewhat complicated deal with Grace involving the Giants' game, a show on Nick she wanted to watch and dinner. Suffice it to say, when it came time for her payoff, I was free to go watch the game upstairs, but, instead, I sat and watched her show which involved Jimmy Neutron and Timmy Turner, from Fairly Oddparents, switching lives and cartoon styles and the usual inter-gallactic meltdowns.

To repeat: I could have watched the first half of the Giants-Seahawks game, but I chose to watch Jimmy figure out how to reverse the polarity of a semi-scientific, semi-magical cobbled-together gizmo which enabled him to open a worm-hole, enabling Timmy to recover his Poofer, thereby reopening his fairys' capability to fulfill his wishes. Which were: return to his cartoon universe, win the science fair and give the slip to Jimmy's nemesis-girl friend while retaining the cred for attracting the interest of a chick at all. I'm leaving out Mr. Crocker because you've suffered enough.

I enjoyed every moment of it. I understand the Giants were ahead at half time.

Carnival of The New Jersey Bloggers, Number 28 

Gigglechick has it. She does a terrific job.
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