Monthly Archives: May 2013

Redefining paranoia…

The upcoming George Zimmerman trial would be amusing, if not for the fact that it centers on the senseless death of an unarmed kid.

Defense lawyers for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, will be barred from mentioning Mr. Martin’s marijuana use, fighting or high school suspension during opening arguments in Mr. Zimmerman’s trial, which begins June 10.

At a hearing in Seminole County court, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson denied a string of defense motions Tuesday that sought to portray Mr. Martin as a troubled teenager with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns. Prosecutors argued that the evidence has nothing to do with the seven minutes that led to Mr. Martin’s death on Feb. 26, 2012. Mr. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed by Mr. Zimmerman, who said he shot him in self-defense.

Mark O’Mara, a lawyer for Mr. Zimmerman, argued in court that Mr. Martin’s drug use could have made him more aggressive and paranoid, traits that could have prompted him to attack Mr. Zimmerman.

This is bad comedy. As others have pointed out, there’s a difference between the use of marijuana and being a deranged junkie, which is how Zimmerman’s defense wishes to depict Martin. Junkies tend to not run benign errands for family members. It’s usually a miracle to get them off the couch.

Also, it requires more guts than shooting an unarmed teen to argue that the dead kid is “aggressive and paranoid” when you’re the one pursuing a stranger with a concealed weapon.

O’Mara claims that Zimmerman was “put in a position” to kill Martin while all logic and reason makes it clear that Zimmerman was to one who put Martin in the position to die.

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Social Commentary


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Tim Curry

It’s never a bad time to watch some clips of one of my favorite actors at work.

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Pop Life



Now that’s a Superman outfit!

Now that’s a Superman outfit!

I can’t even talk about whatever Henry Cavill is wearing in the upcoming Man of Steel movie that he’s trying to pass off as a Superman costume. It’s actually worse than Brandon Routh’s from Superman Returns. Is it really so hard to get it right? The lady dancing with Michael Jackson in this clip from a 1979 episode of Midnight Special comes closer to the real deal than Cavill and Routh on their best day. This is back when movies had legs — rather than playing for a few weeks and then showing up on Amazon as a Blu-ray special edition, so it’s likely that the first Christopher Reeve film was still in theaters.


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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Pop Life


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Baldwin vs. Buckley 1965…

James Baldwin just RSVPed to my Writers Group meeting, and although he’s a nice fellow, he is regrettably not the gentleman who wrote Giovanni’s Room or debated William F. Buckley at his smarmiest in 1965 at Cambridge University.

It’s amazing to see the reception Baldwin receives at Cambridge, which in 1965 would have been hard to imagine at an American university.


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The Name of Prince…

I just watched the seventh season finale of the new DOCTOR WHO series, which featured a cliffhanger ending that (obligatory spoiler warning) introduced John Hurt (Alien, Nineteen Eighty-Four) as the Doctor. At that point, my wife turned to me and said, “If this old guy is the new Doctor, you’re watching this show on your own from now on.”

So, John Hurt is the Doctor, except he’s not really the Doctor. I suppose the main character does change faces and personalities every few years, so it shouldn’t surprise me if he also appears to suffer from dissociative disorder. He sort of reminds me of Prince in the 1990s after he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and referred to his former self in the third person. Perhaps the finale would have played out better if it had actually featured Prince.

(PRINCE holds CLARA tight but suddenly reacts with horror when he glimpses a figure in the distance.)

PrinceSlaveCLARA: Who’s that?
PRINCE: Never mind. Let’s go back.
CLARA: But who is he?
PRINCE: He’s me. There’s only me here, that’s the point. Now let’s get back.
CLARA: But I never saw that one. I saw all of you. The Dirty Mind you, the Purple Rain you, the Parade you, the Sign o’ the Times you…
PRINCE: I said he was me. I never said he was Prince.
CLARA: I don’t understand.
DOCTOR: Look, my name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is Prince. The name you choose, it’s like, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise.
(CLARA faints.)
PRINCE Clara? Clara? Clara!
(PRINCE has a bodyguard pick up Clara in his arms.)
PRINCE: He is my secret.
NOT PRINCE: What I did, I did without choice.
PRINCE: I know.
NOT PRINCE: In the name of peace and sanity.
PRINCE: But not in the name of Prince!
(PRINCE’s bodyguard carries Clara and Prince away. The figure turns around to introduce Jamie Foxx as O+>).

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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Pop Life


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Death by Honeymoon…

2013-05-23_200629_Lois_Lane_silver-age-death  I’m a fan of Pieta-inspired comic book covers, but this issue of Lois Lane is one I hadn’t seen until recently. Whatever twisted meaning you might wish to interpret is your own business, but Bob Oksner’s cover is one of my favorites of this theme.

This is a photo of Michelangelo’s Pieta. I had the chance to see it at St. Pieta-aPeter’s Basilica in 2011, and much like David in Florence or Venus De Milo in Paris, the sculpture is almost overwhelming in person.

The Pieta depicts Mary cradling the slain body of her son (“Someone Christ, King of the Jews”). However, it’s not surprising that the male-dominated comic book industry tends to focus on men holding limp female bodies (and occasionally a limp male body).



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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Pop Life


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“Ronald’s not a bad guy”…

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson responded to criticism that the fast-food giant’s advertising directly targets children with perhaps the creepiest statement possible.

“We are not the cause of obesity. Ronald is not a bad guy,” Mr. Thompson said Thursday. “He’s about fun. He’s a clown. I’d urge you all to let your kids have fun, too.”

I’d question equating eating at a fast-food restaurant to “having fun.” And isn’t he basically promoting the marketing strategy that presents McDonald’s as a sort of mini-Disney World with cuddly mascots and good times until the inevitable negative consequences? Actually, it sounds a lot like Pleasure Island from Pinocchio.

Mr. Thompson has been trying to revive sales at the fast-food chain, which recently reported its fourth monthly global same-store sales decline since October, when sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell for the first time in nine years.

Don Thompson is McDonald’s first black CEO — although he never refers to the chain as “Mickey D’s.” Anyway, if he can’t turn things around quickly, I hear Mitt Romney is interested in replacing him.

Mr. Thompson told shareholders on Thursday that the company is seeking to add more healthful items to the menu. The chain has added fat-free milk and apple slices to kids’ meals, recently introduced breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites and, in some markets outside the U.S., is selling skewers of kiwis and pineapples.

“We would like to sell more fruits and veggies,” he said.

When a restaurant uses the term “veggies,” all you should expect are oddly textured iceberg lettuce and those diced tomato chunks that are the same red as a Jersey girl’s tan.

I also can’t believe people still fall for the egg white scam. Most of the nutrients in an egg comes from the yolk, and eaten in moderation (about two a day), the cholesterol level is nowhere near as problematic as the oil-drenched hash browns, the sodium-stuffed sausage, or even the empty calories from the bread that accompany the breakfast sandwich.

I do admire the nine-year-old girl who asked Thompson to stop “tricking kids into eating your food.”

Still, as odious as the kid-centric ads are — especially the one in which Ronald appears to abduct a small child, the commercials that try to present McDonald’s food as part of a “hip” and “active” lifestyle are arguably just as appalling. They can’t even cast just one person who looks as if they might each this stuff regularly rather than size zero models.


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Portland: Home of the Fresh Mouth

Portland , which is famous for its wine, coffee, and sugary, bacon-topped doughnuts, rejected a plan to add fluoride to the city’s water supply. However, they did embrace Ra’s al Ghul’s proposal to lace the water supply with the Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Portland likes to keep it weird.

“There’s a libertarian component to Oregon politics … a kind of opposition to what the establishment might want,” said Bill Lunch, a political science professor at Oregon State University.

I don’t think that’s “libertarianism” so much as being a teenager or that smelly guy at the coffee house who tries to force on you some rambling screed he wrote on looseleaf hemp.

What I found interesting about this vote is that the proposal had a great deal of support from the city’s “communities of color,” which means that the threshold for a community is three people and the tan lady with curly hair and green eyes who has everyone in the office wondering. Oh, and that this wasn’t happening all ready.

For the fourth time since 1956, Portlanders on Tuesday night rejected a plan to fluoridate city water, 60 percent to 40 percent.

Studies indicate that fluoridation reduces cavities and adults and children. Negative side effects are either cosmetic (i.e. fluorosis) or non-existent, crazy-talk conspiracy theories. Because so many other cities drink fluoridated water, there are decades of compelling evidence that it’s not harmful.

Cavities, though, are a long-term problem and expensive to correct (i.e. fillings, crowns, bridge work). However, in fairness, Portlanders can avoid most of that with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. By the way, is it too late for me to go to dental school?


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“I’ll break big in New Orleans and I’ll overspill in Caroline”…

“I’ll break big in New Orleans and I’ll overspill in Caroline”…

Back in 1997, my friend Edie told me that her favorite albums were Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones and Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos. I immediately bought both albums because that’s the sort of thing a 23 year old does when an incredibly hip 35-year-old woman from Brooklyn gives him insight into her music tastes.

Beggars Banquet remains my favorite Rolling Stone album, and I often think of Edie whenever I hear “Parachute Woman.” It sounds like it was written for her — even if she was only six at the time.

Edie was almost 30 and older than Amos herself when Little Earthquakes was released. It intrigued me that hte album had cross-generational appeal. The video for “Silent All These Years” was an unavoidable MTV “buzz clip” in spring of 1992. Tori didn’t register with me then, but I was hooked on her voice as soon as I listened to the album in full five years later. So, thanks, Edie.

My favorite Tori Amos song is actually not on Little Earthquakes, though. It’s a single she recorded with electronica artist BT called “Blue Skies.” It, along with “Parachute Woman,” has turned up on more than a few mix tapes/CDs I’ve made in the 15 years since that first conversation with Edie.

I lost touch with Edie a few years later (in those pre-Facebook days), but wherever she is, I’m sure she’s “laying a solid rhythm down.”

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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Pop Life


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Thank the Lord…

I don’t watch The Daily Show because CNN and FOX specifically are so absurd any comedic take on their “news coverage” amounts to someone pointing at a man walking into a rake.

Here is a clip of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer — who conversed with a hologram on election night 2008 — asking an Oklahoma tornado survivor if she “thanks the Lord” for… well, I guess for randomly choosing not to kill her in the natural disaster that has killed two dozen people.

I’m impressed that this lady held her own and stood by her convictions. She’s an atheist, and she doesn’t “thank the Lord” for her decisions and actions. She maintains her own agency in the world. Well done.

I’ve always said that God has the best job ever — ultimate power and zero accountability. It’s like he’s CEO of Earth, LLC. If he’s truly omnipotent, then tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters that kill people indiscriminately are entirely within his power to control. If they’re not, then he’s not omnipotent. He’s more early 2000s Prince. I can probably get him some legal cover for school shootings and marathon bombings because of the whole “free will” conundrum, but tornadoes and hurricanes are as unjustifiable as The Rainbow Children.


Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Social Commentary


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