Saturday, March 27, 2010

Learn to speak Teabag!

Happy Saturday, everyone. The boys and I are getting headaches from the race-cars' window-rattling racket (the St. Pete Grand Prix is taking place just a few blocks from our apartment), so I'm off to the country, where I plan to indulge in some truly communist sunbathing by the lake followed by a big fascist pasta dinner with my own darling Il Duce Sr.

What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sinéad O'Connor on the Catholic Church's ongoing child rape scandals

Readers, I commend this well-written and moving WaPo op-ed to you with my highest praise. I've long admired Sinéad's musical gifts but did not know much about her background, only that her exquisite voice always seemed laced through with an aching emotion the shape of which suggested something darker than the garden-variety lament of the lovelorn. Upon hearing her singing, I often have a lump in my throat, much as I do when listening to certain string pieces, like Samuel Barber's Adagio.

Now, at least, I have a sense of where Sinéad's pain comes from.

The writing is compelling and I can't decide which grafs to excerpt, so I'll just point you to the Post and tell you to read the whole thing.

(H/T Minstrel Hussein Boy)

A motherly come-to-Jesus talk that might save rightwingers from jail, if not political irrelevance


Come here. Right now. NOW, I said. Sit your bottoms down and listen, because as much as I don't like having to deal with this, it's high time you faced facts.

I've had enough. Everyone has had enough. You know what I'm about to say, because I've said it before, but I made the mistake of speaking to you as though you were intelligent almost-grownups, and clearly you've got a long way to go before anyone in his right mind would call you grownups.

Your behavior is unacceptable, and if you keep it up, you're going to wind up in history's rubbish pile and no-one will want to help you or even talk to you ever again.
But, but...HE DOES IT TOO!!! He's just as bad. He was making fun of my favorite President, Ronald Reagan...
Stop it right there, mister. There is a big difference between drawing political cartoons with your new Photoshop program and standing on the steps in front of your school with a megaphone and telling your friends to reload their paintball guns, it's time to show that school who's boss. Yes, I'm talking to you--everyone heard you say that, it's on YouTube now, and you can't deny it.
Well, the school deserved it. They gave us so much homework this week, it made us mad.
Mmm-hmm. Is that your position, then? Is that your excuse: your brother does something that annoys you, so you're allowed to do whatever you want to get back at him? Or wait, let's try the other excuse: your teachers do something that's good for you, but you don't happen to agree with it, so you can do anything you like in retaliation?

You will to go to your rooms, right now, and read quietly. Yes, I know you've finished your homework, off you go anyway--you're going to do some important reading for the next several hours.

First, here's some information on something called the principle of imminent lawless action. Essentially, it says that when you rally your friends to do something illegal that could hurt people, something dangerous or destructive, and they then get busy doing those illegal things--hurting people, destroying things--before the authorities can get there to protect people from your friends, the words you were yelling into that megaphone are themselves a crime; they're not considered protected speech because they caused imminent lawless action.

Then, I want you to reflect on all the horrible things you've been saying and doing and think long and hard about them. Not just the words and actions themselves, mind you, but the long-term effect they have and the shame they've brought to your family and country. Here, a lady named Digby says it really well with this list of some absolutely dreadful behaviors--examples of what I'm talking about--and the risibly pathetic excuses you've been using:
I can hardly believe it, but apparently America's wife beaters have actually decided to use the defense that these Democrats are "asking for" death threats from the right wingers because they are "making them mad." I documented Sere and Cantor's warnings this morning, but there are more:

Breitbart: Congressional Black Caucus members went "searching for ... racism" by walking through Tea Party crowd

Graham tells Beck -- Beck! -- Tea Partiers "get mad" because they "don't like being called racist

Michael Graham: Pelosi was "asking for" response by carrying Medicare gavel

Rove warns Dems that discussing threats against them may "inflame emotions"
Now. I want you to stay there, in your rooms, reading and reflecting. I'm disconnecting the XBox and the Internet until you can prove to me that you're willing to try hard and do better, which means you're going to have to start over, okay? Hey, you're always saying that when you're losing a game--Waaah, let's start over!--well, now I want *you* to start over. Show me that you want to be a part of this family even if we don't all agree on everything; that you finally realize that you're not the only human being on the planet--not even close!--and that you truly, honestly, deeply understand that what you say and do affects all those other people.

In the meantime, I'll be keeping a close eye on you.

Also at Cogitamus.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vel Omarr sings Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come

Such a perfect--and perfectly beautiful--song, don't you think?

I've been peeking in on the debate throughout the afternoon and evening, and I honestly can't stomach too much more Republican ridiculousness.

Republicans: we get it. You oppose the bill. You'll never vote for it; but then, you were never planning to anyway. Can you please stop the pathetic grandstanding now? There is only so much localized hypocrisy and lying one planet can handle before it gets thrown off its axis.

Happy Sunday, everyone. Change has been a long time coming, but I really believe it's here. At last. And I've a feeling we're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the coming months.

(H/T Jaqueline, who sent me the original audio-only Sam Cooke version.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's musing and Open Thread: Pascal Toussaint, Je suis malade

Meet Pascal Toussaint, male soprano with an angel's voice. The multitalented and generous author and artist Amy Tan--dear friend, prolific writing idol, and world traveler--came across Pascal singing in a Paris nightclub one evening and decided that the world ought to hear his extraordinarily beautiful voice, starting with America. (That's Amy's little Yorkie, Bombo, in the video). Amy writes:

I discovered Pascal in a Paris cabaret Aux Trois Mailletz in the 5th arrondissement on rue Galande. He is the star of a contingent of performers each night.

His voice is that of a boy soprano, which never changed with pubescence due to an anomaly. Some say his voice is like the great Jimmy Scott. But his style is purely his own.

He was born in Guadeloupe, won a singing contest at age 14, was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire, where he received classical voice training for opera. In addition to opera, he branched out into jazz, rock, and cabaret. He is also a composer, actor, and writer.

Thus far, Pascal has performed in San Francisco and New York; I hope to make it to one city or the other when returns, undoubtedly as a serious star next time.

(Dear Petulant, I knew you'd get my reference immediately!)
Je suis malade

Je ne rêve plus;

Je ne fume plus;
Je n'ai même plus d'histoire.
Je suis laide sans toi; je suis sale sans toi; comme une orpheline dans un dortoir...

[I don’t dream any more;
I don’t smoke any more;
I don’t even have a story any more.
I am dirty without you; I am ugly without you; like a little orphan in her room...] is everyone this morning?!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Your Monday motivation: Bend it like Grayson

I've decided I'm going to make a concerted effort to bring more Alan Grayson goodness to the rest of America--he really is too wonderful a politician, writer, human being, and all-around wit to keep to ourselves here in the Sunshine (finally!) State.

This weekend, former half-governor Palin descended on Orlando, which city is just a couple of hours from my door and smack in the middle of Grayson country. No, we couldn't hear the screeching all the way out here on the coast (heh) but there's plenty of YouTube footage of her speech, should you wish to subject your eardrums and sensibilities to it. Unsurprisingly, Palin rudely slammed Congressman Grayson, a Democrat who was elected by the very district--a largely conservative one, by the way--in which she currently spoke, tossing out lines like, "What can you say about Alan Grayson? Piper is with me tonight, so I won't say anything about Alan Grayson that can't be said around children. [Good one, Sarah!] But thank you, Florida, for allowing candidates in a contested primary to duke it out over ideas and principles and values, all with the same goal, and that is unseating those who have such a disconnect from the people of America. That's what the goal is here in this race against Alan Grayson."

But over in the leftmost corner, in the non-shrinking violet trunks, one of the few politicians blessed with both wit and the will to use same, Alan GraaaAAAaaayson:

In response to Palin's attack on Rep Grayson, Grayson actually complimented Palin. Grayson praised Palin for having a hand large enough to fit Grayson's entire name on it. He thanked Palin for alleviating the growing shortage of platitudes in Central Florida. Grayson added that Palin deserved credit for getting through the entire hour-long program without quitting. Grayson also said that Palin really had mastered Palin's imitation of Tina Fey imitating Palin. Grayson observed that Palin is the most-intelligent leader that the Republican Party has produced since George W. Bush.

But enough with the pie-fighting, though. We know better than to be distracted by it (we do know better, don't we? Please say Yes.) There are more than enough Big Issues to which we must turn our attention. War profiteering, for example, and its less-than-upstanding players and the Caymans accounts that love them. Now, here in the States, this would seem to be yesterday's news, at least it would seem so judging by the paucity of coverage on American networks (not here, though--come on, you know I'm never getting over that noise, not as long as otherwise perfectly logical people keep insisting we can't afford to provide Americans with health care). Over in England, though, the BBC is just getting started. And of course, they're talking to Alan Grayson, since he's been banging the accountability drum for a while now. Watch this and ask your own Congresscritters where the hell THEY stand on the billions (and billions and billions) of tax dollars that have gone missing, that were, in short, lost down what the BBC calls "the back of a very big sofa in the desert".

Keep at it, Congressman Grayson. Please. We've got your back here in sunshine-land.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Divine Comedy: Jon Stewart on the Beck-Massa interview

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sour Gropes

This is one of Jon Stewart's best and funniest segments ever, I think, which may have something to do with the state of my sense of humor these days. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glenn Beck targets litbrit

Oh dear. It seems Glenn Beck has discovered the truth about me. I hope you'll still be my readers and friends. ;-)

Carpe diem! Aaron Copland, The Promise of Living

Several weeks ago, reader Jacqueline sent me this gorgeous YouTube creation: it's Aaron Copland's haunting piece, The Promise of Living, set to a montage of old 8mm and 16mm films of human beings doing what we do best: living and loving. I wonder if you can make it all the way through without tearing up. I certainly couldn't.

I'd also like to share this gem, by tripsadelica, from the comment section beneath the video:

Snippets of light captured upon powdered silver, of a time long ago. Gone, but somehow not gone...preserved forever as if light was the essence of life itself. Most all of these people have left this earth but here they are, walking, dancing, You know the expression, "they live on in our hearts"...they live on here in light; light captured with fine silver powder. Luminous argent.

Here in Florida, it's sparkling and sunny outside for the first time in a long while. Spring is almost here--hooray!--the boys will be on break next week, and I have visions of sugar cones and sandy shores dancing in my head. Carpe diem! I say, as I will say next Monday morning when I wake the boys and haul them off to Fort DeSoto for some much-needed vitamin D and fresh air. What will you be doing when it warms up?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Avoidance Therapy: A favorite show; familiar voices

Top Gear (on BBC-America in the U.S.) is one of my favorite television programs. It's a car enthusiast's weekly thrill ride laced with plenty of humor from the Homeland, and this recent episode happened to feature a family friend and fellow ex-pat-turned-Florida-resident (when he's not touring), a man my boys know simply as "Uncle Brian" (and who refers to me as Li'ul Deborrrrrrah, me darrrlin'). Jeremy doesn't mention it, but Brian is actually an accomplished race-car driver, which immediately becomes evident in the segment when they "Put a Star in a Reasonably-priced Car" and send him around the track. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Mrs. Johnson is also a formidable driver, perhaps even...ah, no, must not go there. Ginger Rogers, dancing backwards, high heels, and so on.

I'd like to post one more video, if you'll indulge me, featuring another Brit. This time it's John Cleese, whom I hope to meet one day and thank for the many times his witty words have pulled me (and who knows how many others) out of the darkest doldrums. Herein, he speaks at the memorial of a fellow Python, the late Graham Chapman, and as you'd expect, it's not a terribly, um, proper eulogy, nor is it safe for work. (H/T Driftglass.)

Apologies for the chronic light posting of late. Sometimes, as Jon Swift would have said, there are no words, you know? Better times, and better states of mind, lie ahead. Surely.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Frank: City of Tiny Lights; Paris, 1980

The weekend must begin right now. I have declared it; so shall it be.

I also wish to say that I adore Ike Willis' voice. And Frank's solo, which begins at 2:45.

We're taking the lads to see Alice in Wonderland tomorrow morning; other than that, I think it will be a make-it-up-as-we-go kind of weekend. The very best sort, in my opinion.

What will you be getting up to?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

R.I.P. Jon Swift: A monument more lasting than brass

Exegi Monumentum Aere perennius
"I have made a monument more lasting than brass".
From the title page of Works (1735): Swift receiving the thanks of Ireland.

The brilliant blogger known as Jon Swift has died. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Jon was a gifted, profoundly funny wordsmith as well as a generous and encouraging friend to other writers. I want to honor Jon properly, but I'm struggling to find the right words. I want him to come back, you see, he has to come back because he's going to do the year-end roundup as he always does, and I can't find the right words because this doesn't exist for me, not really, not yet. That must be it.

Jon, I've been missing you for many months now, ever since the blog went quiet. I'm not ready to miss you forever.

UPDATE: Here's a link to The Best of Jon Swift. Fans from days of yore will love revisiting what is surely some of the finest, wittiest writing to ever infiltrate the blogosphere; newcomers, well, you've got a lot of catching up to do--many hours of laughter and reading pleasure lie ahead, lucky you!

And here is the real-life website of Al Weisel--writer, son, brother, and beloved partner. He was the incomparable Jon Swift to most of us; to his loved ones, he was everything.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Something tells me Jon/Al would like it very much if people remembered him with laughter as opposed to (or at least, in addition to) tears. Accordingly, I'll send you over to this wonderful post: Jonah Goldberg's Shining (Liberal Fascism with LOLcats).