Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ruth's Chris Michael LouEllen Mae Ralph Steakhouse (Carl) "Bruce" ... and Aloysius Ferdinand-in-the-Fields

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. What's the deal? Was there some kind of mix-up somewhere and there were a whole bunch of these steakhouses owned by different Chris's? And, finally, Ruth stepped up and said to her Chris, "Dammit, all my friends are going to the wrong steakhouse, you've got to change the name to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse!"

Or is "Chris" this Masonic adjective that only expense accounters who have never paid for their own dinner know. Like "Chris" stands for "For those on expense accounts, we kickback 25% of the bill to you in cash, wink, wink". I mean, maybe it is a holdover from Prohibition days or somethun'.

Or are the cows named "Chris" so they are Chris Steaks? And Ruth owns the cows? Since "Chris" is an ambiguous name, they could be female bovines.

It's this weird two first name, possessive case on the first name and the anointing of "Chris" as this noun that I just can't handle. Captain Kirk just should have said "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse" to the computer running the planet to make the computer blow up, rather than out-logicking it.

Or maybe it's a zen thing. Ponder the meaninglessness of "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse" while eating your steak with one chopstick.

Until I get this figured out, it's "Morton's The Steakhouse" for me...

or is it "Morton's The Movie?" or "Morton's The Pizzeria?" or "Morton's The Friendly Ghost"? Or is it "Morton IS The Steakhouse"? Are we sitting on "Morton", like Pee Wee's Playhouse where the chairs and tables and fixtures are living? Will my salt shaker introduce himself to me? "Hi, call me Salty. Say, have you seen that hot Morton's salt girl with the umbrella? I think her name is Ruth. Anyways, once she dumps that Chris steak guy, I'm in like salt on a hot tin Steakhouse."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Faith in My Own Damn Popcorn

One thing about me that you would not have guessed is that I am the avant garde of my generation, the Tyrone Slothrop of the cultural zeitgeist. Many a time I have been in on the precursor of things that soon became hot. For instance, I was an artist in the East End of London a few years before being an East Ender artist became cliche. And now, drawing is the big thing in art (who knew?) and that is what I do (of course, if you don't show anybody your drawings then it won't really matter, will it?). I moved to Seattle a year or two before the internet boom because I had found heaven in drinking a latte during a rainy day movie in a art deco movie theater (and this goes without saying that this was before the carpet bombing of America by Starbucks.) Also, there are other things that I've noticed (pop groups, consumer items, etc.) before the hoi polloi (but, really, are there any music obsessed young men who haven't "discovered" a group before everybody else did?).

And now there is another thing that cements this reputation in my own mind (really, the only reputation that counts.) When I was in graduate school about 15 years ago, I loved wandering the stacks of the main library and just reading whatever I found. One of the books I picked up on one of these walks was a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. In its first printing, it was not presented as sensationally as it is today. But it was a guilty pleasure because it was seriously trying to present the case that Jesus married Mary Magdelene in the south of France and their ancestors became the became the bloodline for Charlemagne and the Kings of France. I love reading these kinds of stories - I don't believe anything they tell me, but the intricate layers of "evidence" and explication are intoxicating.

You probably know where this is going if you know anything about the state of the book industry today. Apparently, Dan Brown sells one out of three books in the US, and another one out of three is related to his books. His blockbuster The DaVinci Code (I won't link it because I believe you can get this book anywhere, unless your are in the antipodes and the street vendor in Tierra del Fuego ran out of his copies - then you should just forget about reading and look at Patagonia's scenery, damn it) took a lot of its plot from Holy Blood, Holy Grail. If only I would have realized that my obsession 15 years ago with that book could have been my Holy Grail for fame and fortune...sigh.

So now I'm looking back at all the other things that haven't taken off in popular culture that I have had a past interest in. There was this one book on a wacky founder (Lawson) of a religion called Lawsonomy that I spotted in the lonesome library stacks. The book was hilarious - If I don't write the book/screenplay on it, then I just know that there will be a huge movie starring Bruce Willis (or Crispin Glover?) as Lawson in about 5 years...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Red Sox Karma

Come from behind victory by a Massachusett team over a much-hated establishment team that always wins by spending more than anybody else?

Hmmm...I like it.

But I still won't get my hopes up. We're still waiting for the October surprise from Rove - though I'm thinking that the widespread voter registration scandal by the Republicans may be it. This has Rove (and Cheney) written all over it. I won't say Bush because he probably hears "voter registration" as "auto registration" and wonders why those two keep bringing up people registering their cars when the federal government doesn't do that as far as he's been told.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Oh, Canada!

So, it seems that if you want a flu shot, you should go to Canada (or be a Congressman).

Also, if you want health care when your multinational employer lays you off in order to get their executives and shareholders more money, you should go to Canada.

Also, if you want your tax money to actually be used for the welfare of your citizens and not be used to unilaterally conquer countries for their oil, you should go to Canada.

Also, if you want a better chance of not getting murdered by a gun, you should go to Canada.

Hmmm...why exactly am I compelled to stay in this trailer park called the United States? Did Thomas Jefferson foresee the day when the nation would be dominated by the sado-masochistic pairing of the Bush Neocons and "patriotic" Red-Staters where the Bush Administration cracks the whip at the working (and unemployed and triple-shift working) class of the Red States and they scream "Yes, Master, more please, hurt me more! Just don't let gays marry or my daughter abort and you can give all the tax-cuts you want and run up the deficit to whatever google trillions and give Social Security to East Coast fat cats and let idiots buy assault rifles but not let us have nail clippers on airplanes and invade any ol' country you choose and we'll be behind you 110%. Because if there is one thing I just cannot stand at all is that somebody in this God Blessed country is the notion of somebody running their life not in the way I approve of!" Just so we get equation right, essentially history's most egregious concentration of wealth and power in the fewest hands is getting worse and worse because some hayseed in Kansas doesn't want Bill and Bob to have legal rights and that a coat hanger was good enough in the 19th century, so why not now.

So let us just say for the sake of argument, that I have a *big* problem with how the Idiot *still* has half the country prepared to vote for him. How is that remotely possible? Half of the country does not sit on the boards of Texaco, Halliburton, Merrill Lynch and the rest of the Fortune 500 or are in the top 1% of wealth. He has failed in *everything* after taking over Kabul, EVERYTHING! And they (I'm talking of Idiot supporters) are afraid of Kerry? What the hell could he do worse than the Idiot? Invade the Cayman Islands and make the "patriotic" corporations pay taxes? Is that what they are really afraid of? Well, I think that isn't going to happen...

I'm thinking of getting some cheap land in the Canadian tundra and with global warming, I should have a nice farm up there in 20 years.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Conversations With A Psychopath

Slate has a wonderful interview with E. Howard Hunt of Watergate and CIA fame. The interviewer clearly had a *lot* of fun with this one - which isn't surprising as he is "colorful" and an asshole. From the introductory paragraph, we read

Howard Hunt has lived in Miami where he met and married his second wife of 27 years, Laura. An expert storyteller, Hunt has had a second career as a spy novelist. The couple live in a modest ranch house at the end of a cul-de-sac in north Miami. Posted around his door are warnings against trespassing, which seems somehow appropriate for a man with a history of illegal entry
. The interview starts out with the interviewer leading Hunt on with some very juicy bait - his role in overthrowing a democratically elected President in Guatemala around 1952. Hunt is clearly very proud of what he did and the interviewer lets him bask in it until the kill:
Slate: Do you think the Guatemala coup went well?

Hunt: Yes—it did. And I'm glad I kept Arbenz from being executed.

Slate: How did you do that?

Hunt: By passing the word out to the people at the airport who had Arbenz to "let him go."

Slate: To whom did you give the word?

Hunt: It was a mixed band of CIA and Guatemalans at the airport and their hatred for him was palpable.

Slate: You were worried they would assassinate him right there?

Hunt: Yeah. … And we'd [the CIA and the United States] get blamed for it.

Slate: Some 200,000 civilians were killed in the civil war following the coup, which lasted for the next 40 years. Were all those deaths unforeseen?

Hunt: Deaths? What deaths?
Oh, those 200,000 people? Phwttt....but let me tell you what the United Fruit company got out of it! He then relates that a few years later the deposed President and Hunt were inadvertent neighbors in Uruguay and ended up in the same restaurant - and it seems Hunt may actually have an inkling of that maybe things he does affects people:
I sent a cable to Washington saying, "In the future when we have important arrivals, please let me know." It's the least they could do.

The talk goes on to Castro, Cuba and Bay of Pigs. Here are his thoughts on Batista (the President of Cuba before the revolution):
Well, I thought he ran a good government there. There was a lot of corruption, but there's always been corruption in Latin America. We can't be too purist about these things.

And finally, we get his real views on Watergate and domestic politics. It seems that he left the CIA because, ...gasp..., there were subversives amongst his fellow spooks:
I found out the CIA was just infested with Democrats. I retired in '70. I got out as soon as I could.
Yes, assassinating foreign leaders and fomenting coups that destroy civil society for generations is all in a day's work...but working with Democrats? Even this he-man cannot cope with that. And it appears that he believes his work in Watergate deserved a pardon:
Slate: Did you get a pardon?

Hunt: No. Never did. I'd applied for one, and there was no action taken, and I thought I'd just humiliate myself if I asked for a pardon.
Okay, applying for a pardon is not *actually* asking for a pardon. But it appears that breaking into a doctor's office for smear material and then covering it up is all hunky-dory because it was *Democrats* - you know, those evil-doers.

But the best part of all this is when we get to the JFK assassination:
Slate: I know there is a conspiracy theory saying that David Atlee Phillips—the Miami CIA station chief—was involved with the assassination of JFK.

Hunt: [Visibly uncomfortable] I have no comment.
Visibly uncomfortable indeed. And finally:
Slate: And there were even conspiracy theories about you being in Dallas the day JFK was killed.

Hunt: No comment.
But, dollars to donuts, wouldn't the mindset that would mastermind assassinations in countries that personally you really couldn't care about (I mean, really, Guatemala? Cuba? Chile?), not be averse to assassinations in your country that you seem to care a great deal about? I mean, JFK was a Democrat an' all, I'm just sayin'.

VP Debates

I'm surprised that nobody hasn't brought this up, but don't you think that the debate between Cheney and Edwards was a teeny, tiny little bit like the scene where George Bailey confronts Mr. Potter (scroll down to see Mr. Potter) in "It's a Wonderful Life"? - notwithstanding that Cheney is an absolutely dead ringer in looks and attitude to Mr. Potter. I'm wondering why Cheney's handlers don't give him a cigar and horn-rimmed glasses to just add the finishing touches...

But anyway, apparently Edwards riposted on Cheney's flailing about his Senate voting record. Slate's William Saletan writes

My favorite moment came when Cheney impugned Edwards' voting record. Edwards replied that Cheney had voted against Head Start, Meals on Wheels, the Department of Education, and the Martin Luther King holiday. It was such a devastating flurry of kidney punches, so blandly and shamelessly delivered, that my wife and I burst into sobs of weeping laughter. At the skill or the gall, I'm not sure which.
Compare and contrast that with George Bailey's
You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money! Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter! In the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider.
God, I wish Edwards would have said that...