January 2016

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Leni was crazy. Genius but crazy.

Leni was crazy. Genius but crazy.

Yeah. Her. She was famous for doing Hitler’s Olympic propaganda film.

She was a gifted photographer and cinematographer. What got overlooked along the way. I’m thinking that what she loved wasn’t nazism so much as beautiful human bodies. Take a look at what she did after the war. Went to Africa, found the most beautiful tribe on the continent and took their picture, all day every day for months. Some of the highlights:

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Not a Nazi. But there’s no moral component to her character. Why she remains a flawed and damaged figure in history.

He has two babies. A cat and a stuffed cat.

He has two babies. A cat and a stuffed cat.

And then he has competition for his breakfast.

He dropped the cat in the bowl. Why? Now way to know.

He dropped the cat in the bowl. Why? No way to know.

“Writing America Down” is on its way to Amazon. Featuring cover art by yours truly. My wife is a machine. She’s discovered this goldmine of works past and she will not stop. Ambrose Bierce has his Devil’s Dictionary. I had my own response. The Glossary. Better than he could do.

The next one has an alphabetic theme. Another 40,000 words. The Glossary, the American Gazetteer, and Who’s Who 2000.

About The Glossary. My challenge to Ambrose Bierce.

By all accounts, even more charming in person than I am. Which is plenty.

By all accounts, even more charming in person than I am. Which is plenty.

He was deadly. So am I.

The Debate

This is for Helkenberg. He’s the only one who will get it.

So she had her best Brigitte Nielsen on tonight.

Ve vill kill you.

Ve vill kill you.

Except that Trump’s alternative programming absolutely killed.

Guess I should provide the end of Rocky IV. Because we win.


Megyn Kelly not happy about losing. Sad, sad, sad.

Can’t tell you how much I loved this show. Never realized that it was letting my inner gay out. Those skintight pants, that pansy mask, the solitary male companion, the phallic white horse called Silver. What a closeted fool I was.

I mean, really, darling. Silver bullets? What, they matched the horse? Of course they did. Who let the unh’s out?

If only I had known. I could have been dead of AIDS by now. If only I had known.

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I really like Isabella Rosselini when she’s not wearing any clothes. And Streep as Hillary is a terrific casting choice. Both wildly overrated stupid women. One went to Vassar, one went to Wellesley and Yale. Tag end of the alphabet, where we enter On Beyond Zebra territory.

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Go ahead. Buy it here. Better than that sickening movie bio of Hillary.

A gift for our granddaughter Anna. And a gift for all of you.

A gift for our granddaughter Anna. And a gift for all of you.

More than fifty years ago, I got this children’s book. It was a book with sentences and paragraphs and some illustrations. Magical. Three mice who embark on a mission to free a Norwegian poet being held prisoner by some unnamed regime.

A swashbuckling seafaring mouse named Nils. An upright low profile mouse named Bernard. And a femme fatale white mouse named Bianca.

Three mouse-keteers.

Three mouse-keteers.

Here’s a solid gold tip. If you have a daughter or granddaughter aged ten or under, get this book. She will love it. You will love it because you will read it before you wrap it up as a present. It is an honest-to-goodness book with a great story and lovely drawings. Then, if you’re really smart, you’ll do what we are doing, augment the book gift with a silver Bianca necklace.

What Anna's getting with the book.

What Anna’s getting with the book.

Use the Comments to say thank you. You’re welcome.

Most of you have no idea what it's like returning to the U.S. by sea. I do.

Most of you have no idea what it’s like returning to the U.S. by sea. I do. Via the Italian Line Leonardo da Vinci. We survived a hurricane to get home.

An edge I have on most all of you. I confronted my own mortality at the age of nine. The ship nearly, very nearly, went down. I spent an afternoon and evening watching grand pianos roll across the ballroom, people vomiting in their frightened sleep, women hugging their children in panic so tight you were afraid they’d suffocate them. And outside the windows of the Promenade deck waves so high and threatening that each one seemed aimed at taking your life. But I was nine and therefore immortal. My fears were for my parents and my sister. Extreme fears. Though I knew I, in the worst case, would bob to the surface like a cork. Boys. You know.

We had been living in Paris for months. I had fallen in love, for the first time, on the French Riviera. Her name was Edith. She was a singer in a restaurant. She kissed me. My family never stopped ribbing me about it.

Our return was premature, unexpected. Our home had been rented out. So we had to rent another one. Which is where one of the great affiliations of my life was born.

His name was Cassius Clay. The sports press didn’t like him. He was brash, boastful, and vain. He’d won an Olympic gold in boxing and was working his way up the professional ladder. He narrowly escaped a career-ending knockout because he had a canny trainer. He broke all the rules. Hands are supposed to be up by the face, not at the hips. But he insisted he was the greatest. I, who had already fallen in love on the Riviera and nearly died in a hurricane at sea, was all in favor of breaking rules.

So. On the night Cassius Clay fought Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world, I was listening on my transistor radio, under the covers, keenly aware that all my other classmates were rooting for Liston because he was favored 7-1.

Under the covers you sweat a lot. But I also read a lot under there. Hot stuff makes you sweat too.

Under the covers you sweat a lot. But I also read a lot under there. Hot stuff (“I Capture the Castle”) makes you sweat too.

Cassius Clay won. Dazzling speed, a jab like a spear, and a right hand like a club. Hurrah. Then he crossed us all up by declaring himself a black Muslim.

Hell. Where he lost most of all of you. All of you who cannot imagine what it’s like to climb into a ring with a man perfectly able to kill you. The others, the ones who cannot imagine, yell “Coward!” when he says he has nothing against them Viet Cong.

Truth? Never ever been a prizefighter with the speed, accuracy, and footwork of Muhammed Ali. Why he had to be destroyed by mass media.

They took away his title. I saw him in person in the Harvard IAB and he was more than I expected. He was beautiful physically, impeccably suited, and he recited an address he had obviously written himself and memorized, no TelePrompTer involved. He got a standing ovation, nothing patronizing about it.

You could have written his bio then. The fastest, dancingest, greatest heavyweight boxer ever. Then came the return. Older, fatter, slower, Ali set about reclaiming his crown. He lost to Joe Frazier. Knocked down by a 15th round punch and yet back on his feet in a second.

The moment that demarks the second half of Ali’s career. No more dancer. The fighter you can’t knock out. Completely at odds with his early bio.

Seven rounds against Foreman in Zaire. The greatest puncher, probably in history, pounding on your middle for 20 minutes. Coward? I saw this in grad school after a midterm exam. You should have heard us yell when Ali finally came off the ropes and demolished Foreman with about 20 punches in 10 seconds.

But Ali is a self promoting narcissist, right? Why he retired after the Foreman fight. Never gave Frazier a chance for a rubber match. Oops. He didn’t retire. Old, slow, and shuffling, he still gave Frazier a final shot. Seemed like a poor decision through round 13. Ali was beaten. Unless…

The bio we’d write today would say here’s a fighter who took more knockout shots to the head than anyone before him and stayed standing. a miraculous combination of Sugar Ray Robinson and George Chuvalo. Because, you know, no able man ever changes. He just sends more money to Yale. Kewl.

When Jabba the Hut gushed at her, it made her all wet.

When Jabba the Hut gushed at her, it made her all wet.

She and a considerable percentage of the “pure” conservatives think Donald Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly.

Let me disabuse you of that delusion.

Everybody is so distracted by their conviction that Trump is an idiot, they fail to see what a masterful politician he is.

Here’s his calculus. Sure, he can trade barbs with Megyn Kelly and endure the ambush Fox News has set up for him. But how does that help? She’s an ambitious flibbertigibbet and is riding the crest of a ratings wave based on her irrational disdain for The Donald. So the debate could be about Trump and Megyn, which can’t help but elevate her and lower him, or it can not occur at all.

Not occur at all is the rational alternative. Trump does not need the debate. He has participated in, and won, all the debates so far. He’s not afraid.

So who is taking a beating, who is diminished, by this contretemps? Fox News and Megyn Kelly. Fox News because it has chosen to go Mano a Mano as a network against a mere candidate. Megyn Kelly because she’s traded her journalistic credibility for a commentary role she’s ill suited for. As a TV journalist she was passable. As a political commentator she’s a shallow and vituperative egomaniac.

Whether he shows up at the debate or not, Trump wins. If she restrains herself and asks reasonable questions, he wins. If she goes on the attack, he wins and can say, I told you so. At this point he has no downside. If he holds his alternative event for the wounded vets, Fox debate ratings will plummet after the first five minutes.

Thing is, he’s rewriting the rules of presidential campaigning. In that grand double envelopment maneuver, Megyn Kelly is merely a marker on the battlefield map. While she, silly girl that she is, regards herself as a star.

Seriously though. The media are not the gatekeepers who decide for us who is qualified. They are supposed to be the medium by which we voters decide who is worthy of our trust. All the MSM, including Fox News, have clearly forgotten that. And the Trump campaign is as much a revolt against that as against the DC ruling class. In this context, Megyn is like a stripper extra in an episode of the Sopranos.

Bang Bang

Had all these conservatives not liking me and thinking I never read. Pretty funny. I’ve been reading since the age of six. E-v-e-r-y t-h-i-n-g. Guy de Boer thinks you’re illiterate if you don’t do Kevin Williamson, chrome dome of the Conservative Thunderdome. I unprint me of that. (Yeah, look that one up, brilliantisters whose roots extend basically only as far back as Star Wars…)

The poster Lautrec would have done if his liver were only as strong as mine.

The poster Lautrec would have done if his liver were only as strong as mine.

What amazes me is that you old jerks don’t even recognize your elders, the ones who actually have an education and a command of the language, the ones who are just as pissed off as you, while you want to fight like a bunch of sixties radicals for nothing. Cruz or nothing. Go for nothing. You’ll just love nothing, take it from me.

Because Trump, who might actually win, is just too awful to vote for. If we’re really conservative, we’d rather vote for Bernie the Socialist or Hillary the fucking criminal. Because bad hair. Do you even have hair, Zincavage?

Not participating is cowardice, is it? How many years did it take Reagan to talk to the Ruasians. He was obviously afraid of them. Now Trump has decided not to participate with Megan “black slip” Kelly. Must be a coward. Unless Fox News just experienced the biggest ratings tank in its history. The way things go when you lose against a guy who knows how to win.

Calling Ryan, McConnell, and the editors of National Review, keepers of the Conservative flame.

Oops. I guess you had more lucrative things to do. Bang Bang.

All figured out.

All figured out.

Because we want a Pulitzer. Which we don’t know exactly how to pronounce. Pullitzer. Or Pewlitzer. But you can see my Albany Law School intellect on display every weeknight on Fox News. I have no cleavage. I must be a fucking genius. Meaning, I am a STAR.

Every night I thank God for invisible desks, Jimmy Choo shoes, incredibly expensive French panties, and a viper tongue I learned from Keats.

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d; 50
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf, 55
Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete: 60
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake, 65
And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.

Until I came into my own. I am Lamia.

And God help you all.

She bit Mommy in her final seizure. Hard. Wish it had been me.

We had her a year and a month. You love them even if you only have a day. And now we have to wonder how we get along without a Scotty.

Who never had an un-photogenic angle. Never kissed either of us once. And never seemed happier than to be here in her pack.

Pat is weeping quietly. Not me. Like Muffy, I’m a fucking Scot.

Muffy Laird. RIP.

Muffy Laird. RIP.

Because I think I look good doing stuff. I had other reasons I may remember later on. But I’m old. So we’ll go with this for now.

There was this book by Margery Sharp. Which Disney totally ruined.

There was this book by Margery Sharp. Which Disney totally ruined.

It was called The Rescuers, published in 1959. Charming illustrations and story. Three mice — I can’t remember how — are conscripted to rescue an imprisoned Norwegian poet. Don’t know how Disney wrecked the plot because I never saw saw it, but I’m going here on my memory of the book.

There was Miss Bianca, a pampered white mouse with a silver necklace (gold on Sunday’s if I remember rightly — it’s only been 56 years), Nils the Norwegian seafaring mouse with the stripey stocking cap, and the unassuming, incredibly loyal Bernard.

The prison has a cat to guard against mice. Nils has a stripey hat.

The prison has a cat to guard against mice. Nils has a stripey hat.

Nils is the swashbuckler, Miss Bianca is the femme fatale, something Zsa Zsa about her, and Bernard is just the guy who keeps plugging along wondering why anyone needs him except that he knows he has a personal duty to protect Miss Bianca from her silly, ill-considered decisions. Which happens a lot.

Bernard gets himself into some serious fixes looking after Miss Bianca.

Bernard gets himself into some serious fixes looking after Miss Bianca.

At times it gets really really bad. Dank places, lots of small spaces to squirm through, and always the cat.

You wouldn't want to look up and see that.

You wouldn’t want to look up and see that.

What the hell are you telling me this for, you’re probably saying. We live in the country, and in the country in the winter the mice try to move in. It’s Elliott’s job to hunt them down and kill them. Which he does in his, you know, free time. Thing is, he doesn’t spend much time in the garage, which he regards as a mere passageway to the out of doors, where he goes every night to reassert his Fight Club championship. Meaning, there’s a mouse who is clever enough to dodge Elliott and eat a hole in the 30 pound dog food bag that sustains two sighthounds, a Scotty, and a pug.

He’s a bold little bastard. He clearly knows about dinner time because when I enter the garage about 6 pm I almost always see his little ass and tail escaping outside. I mean, he waits that long before he makes his move. I admire his nerve.

And there’s the problem. I’ve come to think of him as Bernard. He’s a nuisance, even an annoyance, but now he has a name. Killing him would now be murder. Part of me wants him to keep getting away with it and find his true love.

What's one lovelorn mouse in the scheme of things?

What’s one lovelorn mouse in the scheme of things?

On the other hand, I want Elliott to get off his ass and nail the little bastard.

See the dilemma?

Run, Bernard, run! I promise you don’t want to meet Elliott.

I just did a brief post about Mariska Hargitay, wishing she could let her hair down into the bleach and cut her dresses down to there and up to there like her mother. I mean, she is getting ample these days, and, uh, I guess I should explain what I mean by the term “ample.”

Tired of seeing these stick models and actresses with hips like dislocated shoulder joints. Why do they even aspire to being Size 2, Size 0, Size –4? Have we all become so weirdly homosexual that women don’t want to look like women for fear of turning off their TG lovers?

This will be totally uninteresting to all men under the age of 50. So don’t read or look any farther. Because there was a time when women had a certain avoirdupois. They had extraordinarily fake hair color and extraordinarily real big breasts and child-bearing hips. They were, to a generation long lost to Viagra, a total replacement and preemption of need for same.

Everyone knows the archetype. Considered then by manly men, and perhaps even now to male homosexuals and transvestites, the most desirable woman on earth.

Booty didn't have to be surgically implanted in those days. It grew naturally somehow, nourished by chocolate.

Booty didn’t have to be surgically implanted in those days. It grew naturally somehow, nourished by chocolate.

Mostly, life in the far long ago was in black and white, as you will see. But at times it burst into startling color.

This one's name, I believe, was Marilyn Monroe. She was a heifer.

This one’s name, I believe, was Marilyn Monroe. She was a heifer.

And not only did every woman want to be her, every country produced one of their own. The formula was simple. Lots of bleach, pasta, and lipstick.

Even England had one. Her name was Diana Dors. Who also lived in black and white.

The Brits try hard and always come up a teacup short.

The Brits try hard and always come up a teacup short.

A looker nevertheless.

She was hot, in her fifties dress.

She was hot, in her fifties dress.

Whereupon the French had to have one aussi.

Name of Bardot.

Name of Bardot.

She also lived in black and white, usually with Jean Paul Belmondo, but when he was taking a shower she had her colorful moments.

Got to pick the right time to get your roots done.

Got to pick the right time to get your roots done.

The Scandinavians, who cares which nation, had their own exceptionally pneumatic version.

Anita. Ekberg.

Anita. Ekberg.

Beautiful too.

Look in the eyes, sport.

Look in the eyes, sport.

And where the English and the French and the Nordic master race goes, so go the Germans.

Of course, Germans are much more demure.

Of course, Germans are much more demure.

As a rule. Unless you’re Elke Sommer.

Unless you really really want men to see you.

Unless you really really want men to see you.

Which brings us back full circle to Mariska. Mama knew what she was about.

Jayne Mansfield. Generously built and inclined.

Jayne Mansfield. Generously built and inclined.


She also had a 140 IQ. Remember that.

140 IQ

140 IQ

Why her daughter has known better than ever to take her top off for the camera.

Ample is great. Just because some of us want Jayne and Marilyn back doesn't mean we can't learn to see them in other guises. N'est-de pas?

Ample is great. Just because some of us want Jayne and Marilyn back doesn’t mean we can’t learn to see them in other guises. N’est-ce pas?

Tough Duty

Cat gloves are smaller.

Cat gloves are smaller.

You think it’s easy what I have to do every night? You got no idea.

It's an old time ritual. Aged trainer puts gloves on the champ. See Rocky.

It’s an old time ritual. Aged trainer puts gloves on the champ. See Rocky.

The opponent has beaten everybody in three townships.

They call him "El Tigro Knock-You-Off-Your-Ass-O." Undefeated in 147 county fights.

They call him “El Tigro Knock-You-Off-Your-Ass-O.” Undefeated in 147 county fights.

But Elliott is undefeated too. He just doesn’t go out much. He has laps to see to. And dogs to sleep next to. He’s a 7-2 underdog. We couldn’t even afford a good threatening picture of him.

He told the photographer to F___off and stormed out for a nap with Raebert.

He told the photographer to F___off and stormed out for a nap with Raebert.

Then there was the fight. Which ended this way.

Monster Thor Killer of Mannington knocked cold after a 36 second fight with Elliott. The red stuff is what's left of his gloves.

Monster Thor Killer of Mannington knocked cold after a 36 second fight with Elliott. The red stuff is what’s left of his gloves.


Elliott’s winning gloves will, of course, as usual, be available for auction on e-bay.

Elliott. Hands a little swollen after the thirty punches he threw in the 36 seconds of the fight.

Elliott. Hands a little swollen after the 30 punches he threw in 36 seconds.

Winning isn’t everything. But it sure is one thing.

The U.K. Telegraph is concerned. Past couple of weeks have been like mass murder in the rock pantheon.

With David Bowie’s final curtain-call, we are witnessing the end of an era, as the original stars of the explosive rock culture that convulsed the world in the second half of the 20th century are slowly extinguished. We are entering the Twilight of the Rock Gods.

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Deaths of the famous compel us all to contemplate the meaning of our own lives and times, and the deaths of rock stars carry a very particular sting. Its most iconic figures – those great, symbolic archetypes of an age whose art, lifestyle and spirit was substantially defined by the egotistic and energetic values of youth – have turned into old men.

Whatever your reaction to Bowie’s death (the most elegantly stage-managed exit in pop history), we can be sure of one thing: that there is more of this to come. And for a while, at least. I don’t want to tempt fate – indeed, I try not to even think about it – but when Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, we may have to mark the entire rock and roll era over. Who knows what forces of collective shock and sadness that will unleash.

I mean, let’s see. Casualties in the past couple weeks. Motörhead lead. Mott the Hoople (two). Founder of the Eagles. And, of course, David Bowie.

Point of clarification. The era of rock and roll is already done. Long gone. The kids of today prefer obscenely talentless androgynes of both sexes and rap’s various obscene derivatives while they insist nobody anywhere offend them.

By the same token, the era of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Elvis Presley is over, along with the era of the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and the Spinners.

And the era of Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Doris Day.

And the era of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong, and Benny Goodman, and Miles Davis and Bill Evans and a whole golden seam of jazz.

And the era of showtunes.

And the era of ragtime.

And the era of high Italian opera.

They all die. But the gods of music never die. Their music lives on.

Only millennials think that things before their birth never existed and things that die during their brief attention spans are gone for good.

Something about being dead before you ever live.

There is not and has never been a “safe space.” Only men who summon the bravery to fight and express themselves. And the ones who just consent to hide from lives they don’t dare to try. I feel sorry for them, not for the rock gods. They left their own monuments. The 27s weren’t victims. They just got mowed down by the machine guns that await everyone who goes over the top into the teeth of it all.

Sarah Shahi. She was in this thing called Fairly Legal. Cute, you know. Disbarred lawyer working as a moderator in legal issues. Always late. Always scatter brained. Hot looking. You know. And sweet.

Now she’s on Person of Interest. Not the same girl. Completely different.

Absolute stone killer. Love her. She’s mirroring Jim Caviezel.

Who’s the best hitman since Timothy Olyphant.

Just threw that in for fun.

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