You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Everyone have a Merry Christmas!!

On the various holidays I like to post a quick message and since I probably won't be posting again until next week I wanted to send my best wishes for this Christmas. I also like to post a holiday themed picture usually so I went searching for images on the world wide web, and this was the winner.

However, when looking for the right Christmas image you can run into many that leave you scratching your head. Here are the ones that I had to pass on.

Ah, that old Christmas spirit. Where'd it dash off to?

Ah, it's Christmas (and yes, of course, Hanukkah and Kwanza, and while I don't personally celebrate these myself, a happy one to those who do) and so, naturally, the television airwaves are filled with images of the Baby Jesus, the magi, trekking their way to Jerusalem under the natal star, the shepards, bewildered and joyous at the sight of Heaven opening up before them and angels pouring forth, proclaiming the birth of Messiah and Lord.

Well, maybe if you're watching Vatican T.V. or the lovely scene at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, where Linus correctly captures the real meaning of Christmas by daring to actually quote scripture. Somewhere a television writer is watching that special and exclaiming, in all honesty, "That's ridiculous! Who does THAT anymore? When do they get to the scene with the flying red-nosed reindeer?"

Yes, for much of the world, Christmas has come to mean nothing more than a frenzied orgy of purchasing, from cards to presents to motor vehicles with gigantic red bows on them (at least according to the latest Lexus commercial.) Coupled with this consumer spirit on steriods AND speed, is the quaint notion peddled by today's media outlets that nothing else says Christmas like fanciful animated characters, chief among them Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Ol' Saint Nick, Kriss Kringle, Pere Noel, Befana, Santa Kuroshu, The Jolly Old Elf in the Big Red Suit.

If the real Saint Nicholas were with us today, I suspect this gentle and noble spirit whom the Roman Catholic Church pronounced the patron saint of all children, would grab a DVD copy of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and stomp it into plastic glitter with his bright red boots, before proceeding to Mickey Rooney's home to dump a pitcher of egg nog on his head.

Is it any wonder people get depressed by the holidays, when among the highlights Hollywood has to offer us of this joyous season is a battle of wits between a daffy untalented magician and a magical snowman in an ostentatious top hat?

The modern Western media simply do not get Christmas. They have managed to squeeze almost every last drop out of what is fundamentally a religious holiday. Why? For the money of course, aided and abetted by those Scrooges who find all religious holidays to be an annoying distraction from their deep and constant devotion to the happiness of themselves.

Christmas is a cash cow these days and Hollywood and business have conspired to milk it with all the subtlety of the way piranha nibble at a piece of floating prime rib.

Whereas the faithful gather in houses of worship to sing hymns in praise to the baby born in a manger, for some in television and the music industry, the spirit of Chirstmas is best summed by elderly matrons being run down and trampled within an inch of their blue-haired lives by a reindeer-driven sleigh.

Whether you celebrate or even understand the central meaning of Christmas or not, I'd hope this would be a shame. The attitude has already spread to Easter, where death and ressurrection have been symbolized by a large, anthropomorphic bunny handing out decorated eggs and chocolate. (Obviously, the world's bunnies and chickens have formed a secret alliance with the Swiss. Neutrality, my eye!)

Soon, the Fourth of July in the US will be marked by Uncle Sam travelling from home to home and leaving large boxes of flags and Whip Inflation Now buttons, in sparkling red, white, and blue. Guy Fawkes Day in Britain will have the dusty ole' spirit of Mr. Fawkes himself, leaving large packages of firecrackers, barbecue lighter fluid, and dynamite under elaborately carved and lighted figurines of James I. St. Patrick's Day will be exactly like the Guiness commercial, where three, college age alcoholics run downstairs to open wrapped six-packs of draught and bitter, only with additional brands of beer added and greeting cards that proclaim "They're magically delicious!".

All the beer companies will want to get into the act. I can see the ads now: "Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like Dos Equis Special Dark Lager!!! Beseme!! Soy irland├ęs!!!"

We need a holiday away from merchandizers and wacked out songwriters and television producers. If only Christmas could be that holiday.

In the meantime, and I'm sure I'll write it again, Happy Christmas. Make the most of it. I may sound grumpy right now, but there really is a reason to be joyful. Something wonderful happened on Christmas Day, and no one's grandmother got run down in the process.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Somehow I feel partially responsible for this.

(Source: The Drudge Report)

You too? I thought it was just me!

A Santa Fe, New Mexico woman has filed a restraining order against David Letterman, claiming that he "used code words to show that he wanted to marry her and train her as his co-host" (quote from the Yahoo/AP article.) Well, this is amazing stuff, and I must say there can be only one response to it:

It's about bleeding time someone caught Letterman!

Listen, I'm a huge fan of Dave's but I've known for years that he sends out secretly-coded messages from his show. He's sent them to me since his morning show in the early eighties. I especially like the ones that include throwing pencils at the camera, because it means that I get to drive over the speed limit in Connecticut.

Here are just a few other examples:

(August 4, 1985) Letterman is speaking to Brother Theodore. He unexpectedly wipes his brow with his sleeve and blurts out, "I'm a big fan. Do you rant like this often?"

The "fan" and "Do" should be obvious enough. The wiping his sleeve was a sign that I should wrap my entire body in plastic and stand in a bucket in my front garden. Oh, how the neighbors complained.

(September 12, 1990) Letterman is asking Tom Hanks about a trip to England. "Did you meet any Earls?" he asked. He then winks once and twitches his left shoulder.

I knew immediately that I must go ten-pin bowling. I shot a 114, 145, and 172. A 7-10 split killed the first game but I got a turkey at the end of the last game.

(February 9, 1995) A rerun was on, but there was a subliminal noise everytime Dave spoke that commanded me to run down to the off-license and buy a six-pack of Miller Light. I must confess, I cheated on that one and got the Miller Genuine Draught instead.

(May 19, 1998) Letterman is asking Cher about her latest album. He says to her, "You have quite a dictionary...excuse me, I mean encyclopaedia of work there."

Almost seven full years before the Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas, he demonstrated that he knew it would exist, and I, after he followed up his comment with a sip of whatever mind-control juice is in his mug, and threw not one, but two index cards over his shoulder, knew that I must become the King of Morocco.

I'm still working on that one, I admit.

(March 42, 1999) There is no such thing as March 42. If there were though, Dave would have signalled me to lie nude in a hammock on 42nd Street in New York City. So I did that on April 1, 1999 instead. Amazingly, I attracted absolutely no notice, except for an elderly woman, who shouted, "Nice wallbanger you got there, hon!"

(December 19, 2005) Dave shouts to the audience as he makes his enterance, "Howdy!" I knew at once that he has instructed me to build a box-girder bridge across the Atlantic Ocean to Portugal. Even now, I'm surfing the web for reliable transatlantic bridge-building firms with solid deep sea diving experience and their own giant octopus (It was a special part of the coded message.) Right now, I'm down to 14 firms.

For my sake, the sake of this poor, set upon, fruitcake-in-love New Mexico woman, and for the sake of the millions of viewers who watch him, this madman must be stopped.

We must insist that he restrict all coded messages to Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise from now on.

I say restrict, because he's obviously been sending them messages as well. Cruise? Bouncing on couches, paranoid rants against psychiatry, marrying Katie should be obvious. He's either getting messages from Dave or the poor blighter is off his nut.

Oprah? How do you think he got her to come on his show?

Speaking of Rocketman...

Some of you may enjoy this clip of William Shatner's interpretation of the Elton John song.

Hark, Geraldo angels sing...wait that can't be right.

Well I missed it. Last night something important came up and I missed the Barbara Walters special on:
Heaven, Where is it? and How do we get there? I had to give the cat a bath and totally lost track of the time. I'm sure it was riveting television and I guess I'll just have to catch it when it comes on next year. In the meantime I have come up with some ideas for Barbara to tackle next time.

Heaven: Where is it? How do we get there? and Will there be a fruit and cheese tray? - Similar to her latest offering but with the additional twist of how heavenly hospitality is handled.

Breaking into Heaven: Can it be done? - A special report with Barbara and old pal Geraldo Rivera, in which Geraldo attempts to break into heaven but finds he's only in a dank basement in the Bronx. An excerpt:

Geraldo: Barbara, we're breaking the wall down now. (sounds of jackhammers smashing brick, then a wall falling down) I think we're in now the dust is horrible but it seems to be settling.

Man: (sitting in his basement drinking a beer) Hey, what the ^$*&% are youz doin'?

Geraldo: St. Peter?

(The man gets up and punches Geraldo in the face breaking his glasses in half)

Cheddar: Is it the most popular cheese? and What about colby? - Thrilling expose of which is the most popular cheese in America and why.

The sun: Is it really THAT hot? - Barbara sends John Quinones to research if the sun is actually as hot as scientists think it is. Let's just is.

John Quinones: Can we contact him in the afterlife? He might know where Heaven is. - Barbara queries various religious experts like soothsayers, mediums, shamen, and carnival fortune tellers on the potential of contacting John and finding out about the afterlife.

I'm sure she can strike off in many directions with this kind of pedantic journalism. Let's just hope for John's sake that she keeps it down to earth. (Pun intended)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One more thought about heaven...

Stew, I was very disappointed that, in your otherwise fantastic interviews about heaven, you didn't ask Donald Trump his opinion.

I realize he would say something like, "I'm looking into having it plowed over into a golf course and casino with lots of waterfalls." but that sort of materialism would have contrasted nicely with the abstract neo-idealism favored by Kid Rock.

I'm sorry, I made a typo above. The words "abstract neo-idealism" should have been spelled "barmy nonsense."

Also, I would have liked to watch The Donald put Tom Cruise into a major headlock before Katie Holmes rushed out of the wings to leap on to his back and ride him around the studio like a dromedary.

None of this is very heavenly, but it would have passed for a beautiful Monday.

Arsenal - Chelsea

Oh, I did hear about the Arsenal - Chelsea match this weekend, in case you were wondering.

Stew, can I take back my banning of Howard Stern-like swear words, just for this post?

Oh, well...use your imaginations. Let's just say that if someone had set a Jose Mourinho bobble-head doll in front of me, I would have driven it into the upper-90 of anything nearby resembling a goal.

...and then stomped on it for good measure. Then the blowtorch and steamroller.

He has got Chelsea playing well. I give him that, the man can coach. He Arsene, and Sir Alex are the cream of the crop among Premier League coaches...and not a one of them English.

The Gooners will be back soon. Bank on it. (Come on, lads!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

We are not amused...missed me!

While researching for the historical blogs post the other evening, I ...

Ahem...Yes, we do research at this blog. We're not amateurs, you know.

Well, we don't get paid either, but our mentality is very professional.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, while researching for the historical blogs post, etc., etc., I was quite astonished to learn that Queen Victoria had survived a number of assassination attempts during her reign, all by pistol. (I always assumed royal assassination attempts prior to the Twentieth Century were by cannon or lance from upon horseback.)

This struck me as rather odd. It wasn't necessarily odd that someone would shoot at Her Royal Highness. Let's face it, monarchs are always the favorite targets of anarchist and other attention-seekers, and it didn't help that the monarchy was still very German in those days. The English locals were still of the mind that anyone with the surname Saxe-Coburg should be in Bavaria downing steins of lager and devouring bratwurst, rather that sitting on the throne, sipping tea and spitting out disdainful cries of "We are not amused" in-between cucumber sandwiches.

No, the feeling I had on learning that the longest reigning monarch in British history was an apparently impossible target was the same as the commander of the firing squad in the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "The Cycling Tour" (known to aficionados of the program as Mr. Pither's Cycling Tour) after they lined up Pither and attempted to execute him:

"How could you miss?"

No offense meant to Her Royal Majesty Victoria Regina, but she was not a small woman.

I quickly grew to believe that the people attempting to shoot her were either the worst shots since the villians in the most recent Arnold Schwarzenegger action film, or the niece of William IV had a few tricks up her sleeve.

I did a little historical research and found a rather amazing early film that demonstrates why this particular queen was no easy target:

PS: There was an actual three frame image, but Blogger won't support this for some reason. Maybe they have something against gifs, one of the two bleedin' primary file formats for the WWW?

Something to think about this Christmas season.

Tomorrow night Barbara Walters will take on one of the toughest subjects she has ever reported on in a very intriguing 2 - hour special. Is it the tobacco industry? Been there, done that. The scourge of radical right-wing conservative Skull and Bones members who are trying to form a Zionist state? Did it, did it, did it, and starting a weblog about it. No, tomorrow night Barbara will try to unlock the secret to: Heaven: Where is it? and, How do we get there? Would it be enough just to tell Barbara that it's no secret, Christ's grace extends to all who call upon him and believe in his life, death, and resurrection? I fear the answer is no, for into this season of Christian symbolism and quasi-Christian symbolism, Barbara brings together a diverse group of everyone from islamic terrorists, Baptist preachers, Catholic theologists, right down to the Dalai Lama himself.

Of the Dalai Lama Barbara asks, "Are we closer to heaven or to hell?" Earl and I are split on this one, I believe that the Dalai would say, "Barbara as I sit here listening to your painfully inept questioning I must imagine that we are about as close to hell as we can get." Earl, however, believes that the Lama would be more the smooth operator, stating, "Barbara it is heaven just being in your presence. I can see the heaven in your eyes." Either way, I don't see us getting any answers to anything in this two hour show, other than to find that all of these people don't agree with one another leaving most viewers right back in the position they were when they tuned in. I decided if we were going to answer such deep, far reaching questions we should have a panel of real experts on the subject. I turned to celebrities Tom Cruise, Madonna, Kid Rock, and Cameron Diaz.


Stew: Where is Heaven?

Tom: I know, I've studied it and I know you don't get there by taking anti-depressants and going to a psychiatrist.

Stew: But where is it?

Tom: You just don't get it do you?

Madonna: I don't think we really know. I think if we knew, then we wouldn't be asking the question.

Stew: Would you please stop gyrating like that.

Madonna: Sorry.

Stew: Kid Rock, are we closer to Heaven or to Hell?

Kid Rock: Man, like wow! I freakin' never thought of it like that... Hell?

Stew: Any reason for saying that?

Kid Rock: (thinks)(drinks malt liquor)(thinks harder)(thinking really hard) Mmmmm, no.

Stew: Cameron Diaz, why are you here tonight?

Cameron Diaz: I'm just here to boost the hits on your site Stew, you handsome beast.

Stew:(snaps out of daydream) I'm sorry.

Cameron: I said I think that it's closer than we think, maybe we live there now.

Stew: If Heaven were one color and hell another color, what colors would they be?

Cameron: Heaven would be paisley and hell would be the color of lime sherbert.

Madonna: Ebony and Ivory, together in perfect harmony.

Stew: Why did you say that?

Madonna: I don't know, I just love Stevie Wonder and I thought the question had a Stevie vibe to it.

Stew: Kid Rock, any idea of what your answer might be?

Kid Rock: Oh man I don't know... seven.

Stew: George, Sam, Andrew and Brandon each had four dates to four different Parish Center Dances with four different girls, named Cher, Connie, Melissa and Kendra. On the second date, George dated Connie and Brandan dated Kendra. On the third date Andrew went out with Melissa and Sam went out with Connie. Melissa went out with George and Cher went out with Sam on the fourth date. Which of them would go to Heaven?

Tom: Are Cher and George on anti-depressants?

Stew: Would you shut up about the anti-depressants!!!!!!!

Kid Rock: Oh, that's easy...Cher ain't goin' to heaven man.

Madonna: Are Sam and George cute?

Cameron Diaz: Does your site have enough hits, I really want to leave?

Stew: Actually I think it's time for all of you to go. Maybe this IS best left to Barbara Walters.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

No one's exactly going ape over Kong...

...or so says this AP article.

Perhaps Peter Jackson shouldn't have used the remake of this giant ape classic to introduce his new innovation: Odour-Rama.

All right, I'm making that up, but still, many box-office watchers expected a much bigger start for this three-hour epic on the rise and fall of the largest ape to crash the Big Apple since Don Trump started The Apprentice series. Plus, Kong has better hair than "The Donald". (Donald - CGI is the answer, not super mousse.)

Do people have something against gorillas? Maybe they just thought Kong was some remake of an old Dian Fossey documentary? Maybe they thought it was a reissue of the 70's version, with Jeff Bridges as the counterculture (or as we say in the regular world, "hippie") hero who gamely steps aside to let Kong have his way with flaky Jessica Lange's "Dwan"? How did they come up with that name? "Dwan." It sounds like a noise Charles Nelson Reilly would make, when surprised.

Perhaps it's the picture of Kong on the website. He looks really brassed off, kind of like Clint Eastwood in a western, just before he guns down everyone in town except the dance hall girls and his horse.

The plot has grown a bit stale since 1933. It seems the only nuance in the latest version is to humanize the gorilla as much as possible. Still, few people, Nagisa Oshima and Peter Singer aside, are going to care in the end to root for a human/gorilla romance. It's not like they can just rent a flat on the East Side and settle down, even if Kong were a normal gorilla. Let's not even think about kids. Ceasarian section delievery for all of them, don't you know.

I think the problem is that Ann Darrow just leads Kong on to much, the tart. She should have slapped him silly when he bounded through the overbrush, toppling trees and told him to go find a nice lady giant gorilla to settle down with in a bed of giant leaves and Tyrannosaurus Rex bones.

At the very least, she could have given him the "It's not you, it's me..." speech from Seinfeld.

About those trees... In the original picture, I always wondered why, if Kong knocked over a bunch of trees every time he showed up to get a human sacrifice, there wasn't a huge swath of shattered timber stretching for miles back? Did the locals rush out and transfer giant oaks from other parts of the jungle, so that Kong would have something to knock over when he made his grand enterance? They made that huge wall, so I suppose they could have rigged something. Maybe they planted saplings and the prehistoric enviornment is like some sort of Miracle Grow on crack? They are clearly master tree farmers.

Also, if there are Pteranodons and other flying dinosaurs, what flipping good is a giant wall anyway? Wouldn't most of the natives get picked off while building the thing? Do they have some sort of primitive air defenses that we don't know about? I don't expect realism from King Kong, but some "0-level" logic would be a nice start.

Anyway, although many of us would consider $50 million U.S. a fair week at the market, Kong appears to be floundering. It could have been worse though. The producers could have panicked and CGI'd in Kong driving the General Lee and ape-handling Jessica Simpson. Yee.....hah.