please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fun With Friday, Programme name Edition

Oh, so so many things to discuss.
But instead, let's throw out a list of actual names of actual shows on the BBC, radio and telly.

A Many Splintered Thing

Bank of Mum & Dad

Be On a Show (Think of how many extant teevee shows this could actually be the title of.)

Casualty homepage (This isn't actually a show, but it bears inclusion here, I feel.)

Catching Up With Cancer

Chewin' the Fat

Crufts (Which I think are dogs, but I'm not sure. The British, as you know, love to make up words.)

Extreme Dinosaurs

Fimbles (The British, as you know, love to make up words.)

Freaky Eaters


From Trotsky to Respect (Oddly, is what they call "The Biggest Loser" in the U.K.)

Games (Slink) (Compare to the tool manufacturer whose slogan was "Perfection: Schwank".)

Give My Head Peace (What could that possibly be about?)


Hair (Slink) (Okay; it turns out that 'Slink' is the BBC's fashion-oriented website. I just like the juxtaposition, though.)



Higher Grade Bitesize

Historians of Genius (...And superpowers!)

Hitting the Buffers (If you know what I mean...)

Holidays in the Danger Zone: Places that don't Exist

Hunting the Beagle (This from the culture that produced 'toad in the hole' and 'bubble and squeak'.)

It Ain't Half Hot Mum (BBC Comedy) (Good of them to note that it's a comedy.)

Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks

Know Your Place (It's probably ironic, but I love it still.)

Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee (I don't care what it's about, but I desperately want someone in The States to take this shows title and do something with it.)

Long Firm, The

1966 and All That (Response to a question posed by a historian/police inspector; "What's all this, then?")

No Waste Like Home

Only Fools and Horses

Organist Entertains, The (Host: Malcolm Laycock.)


Ouch! - Disability Magazine (Dear BBC: please make more shows beginning with 'o'.)

Pain of Laughter, The

Painting Flowers (Host: Bob Ross's ghost.)

Phoo Action

Pinky Dinky Do (This, from the culture that gave us the condom advertisement that ran, "When it's time for rumpy-pumpy, it's time to put it in the bag.")

Remotely Funny

Rob Da Bank



Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole In My Heart

Should I Worry About?

Strictly Come Dancing (Or be laggardly and do not!)

Supergoose (Meets Historians of Genius!)

Test Your Pet

Tipping the Velvet (Tagline: "It's sticky wicket!")

Touch Me I'm Karen Taylor

Up Pompeii! (What could that possibly be about?)

Watch My Chops

Until next time, make sure to eat your neaps and tatties. Ta.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sympathy for the Entertainment Industry, II

Where have I been? Well, where haven't I been?

Kanye West at the Rose Garden. Strangely poignant, as he talks endlessly about his mental problems...Or his 'character's' mental problems, whatever, right alongside the inevitable screeds against player haters and those who would choose to criticize Kanye. The guy I worked with most closely was a big dude from Texas who chose to just call me 'buddy', in lieu of learning my name. That was fine. I just called him 'boss'.
He barely put a quarter of the necessary asses in the seats, and the remainder were filled with promos and comps. Pathetic. Mr. West has an enormous road show, and is costing his label lots of money to move it all over the place.

Panic! At the Disco at the Expo Center (!)(?). Yeah, this was the Honda tour, who brought Fall Out Boy to the Rose Garden last year, with requisite hollowed-out late-model Honda in tow. It struck me as the corollary to that unfortunate commercial from the middle '90's where the kid says of (I think it was a Honda, actually), "This car is punk rock!"
The corollary? Fall Out Boy? "This pseudo-punk band is a car!"

Anyway, I think that everyone's taking a hit this year, and P!ATD were at the much smaller Expo Center, and again, perhaps a sixteenth of full capacity. The audience was comprised of tween girls ("prosti-tots!", as one of my coworkers described them), who duly threw panties and bras while looking bored.
The stage was owned by a passel of cranked-out freaks who were dangerous to work with. Veins bulging, red all over but not sunburned, wild-eyed and loose-jawed, these were the people who had constructed the stage that, when I unlocked a section of it, collapsed under me.
I slid comically down the former-stage-now-ramp , catching myself with my shins, just as the next piece of stage ahead of me was falling toward my head. It was caught by three of my fellow stagehands before it either crushed or decapitated me, and I walked around for the rest of the night with bloody shins.

Then I built steel towers and truss for a stage in the rain at Mount Hood Community College. I believe this was for a graduation. Climbing a bunch of rickety steel is an iffy prospect even when it's not raining, by the way.
The man who ended up in charge of us was another weirdo from the above-mentioned staging company. He leered and said, "I hear good things about your work. You're an ox," or something along those lines.
Unsure of whether or not I was being baited or actually complimented, I said, "I'm a soldier," then added, "...In a good way."

Two days followed out at Spirit Mountain casino, working for a Beatles cover band. They disliked the term 'Beatles cover band', by the way, and I wasn't the one who asked them this, but...What, then? I mean, you're a band that plays songs by another band. That other band is the Beatles, so hence...'Tribute Act'? 'A Salute To...'?
Casinos are inherently depressing, and this one in particular caters to the Old. The buffet wasn't without interest...The ballroom where the band would be playing (two costume changes, and yes, one of them led to Sergeant Pepper costumes) was cavernous, and the tables were set with nice table cloths and huge floral arrangements.
"I foresee lots of lukewarm applause," said one of the other stagehands.
The band, strangely, could not sing very well, and were a lot too old to be actually impersonating the Beatles. The 'Paul', for instance, was more Sir Paul's age. Their name was actually 'Stars of Beatlemania', which is to say that I believe this was in fact a reunion tour for members of "Beatlemania", a popular stage act of the late '70's, early '80's.

I got about three hours of sleep before going out to Nike for a ten hour day. While I was attempting to sleep in the van, the driver was on the phone with her boyfriend, who bounces at some obnoxious joint in the Pearl. All of her stories about the place either involve women peeing on the floor or men sucker-punching each other.
Well, the latter happened that particular evening, and security seems to have responded by beating the dude so severely that he was vomiting blood. He sent her video footage from his phone, so she could see this while trying to drive us home.
The second day at Nike involved the dismantling of a bunch of high steel towers. I went home and slept for eleven hours.

We went down to Ashland for the Shakespeare. It was nice to be back in that neck of the woods; that city has regained its 'nice' status for me, and I was loath to leave. Saw: A Comedy of Errors (which they chose to stage as if it were in the wild, wild West), Othello (overwrought, and with entirely black or white staging- subtle!) and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I've seen many times, and always enjoy it. They did it as though it were the Sixties.
I don't know if Oregon Shakespearean Festival started this trend of staging Elizabethan dramas in modern context (I doubt it; but the first time I ever saw such a thing -Julius Caesar as set in the Middle East of the Eighties- it was in Ashland), but I sorta think they take it too far some times. Midsummer is supposed to be campy as hell, and it was, and it worked wonderfully. The Fairies were all arrayed like mid-90's dance club boys, and were ridiculously mincing...But in a way that didn't offend the shit outta me.

I fell back in love with Shakespeare (it's easy to forget, sometimes, how good those plays are), I believe all the kids we had with us liked it too...And Midsummers has a nice message: fairies are controlling your emotions and actions at all times, or maybe just; there's probably a lot more going on in any situation than you might be aware of.

Right after that last play, we wandered over to Martino's, which is a bar mere feet from the front door of the theater. As we walked in there, She Bear called me.
"Where you at?" she asked.
Looking around, I noted that I was in a bar surrounded by actors. There was Othello, there was the guy who played Bottom...I pointed this out to the kid, and she was actually jealous.
"Oh, shut up!" she said. "Man, I can't wait 'til I'm..."
"'Older'?" I said. "You will be."

Of course, I didn't say you wouldn't want to drink with these people anyway. Actors...Feh. The best of them -at their craft- have no personality at all, and the greater lot of them are bores and constant sucking vortexes of insecurity.
And too, above all else, they were a bunch of people who just got off work and wanted to sit around and blow off steam with people they knew.

And so, moving from one house to another house, this weekend, followed up by a lightning run to Seattle to see if I can work with their local...Billy Idol at the Edgefield on the Thirtieth...Oh, and best of all? The possibility that I'll be working for KISS in Sturgis, South Dakota while the rally is going on!
(EEEEEEEEEE!) [Uh, but Rich, don't you think motorcycles are stupid, and KISS doubly so?] Yes, yes I do. But dammit, I went to a satellite party of that thing ten years ago, and it was damn fun. Too much fun. Also, paid gas, lodging and food just to go to the middle of nowhere and work for a band that I am developing a late appreciation for. Who doesn't like "Strutter"?

And, as I felt like yelling the other night- well, okay; the members of Panic!, etc. are sitting behind the Expo getting drunk with their entourage for quite some time after the show. They keep looking in at us working, and I swear, making monkey noises at us.
And, as I felt like yelling, "Difference between you n' me? You've got a lot of twelve-year olds horny for your ass, and I'll actually still have a job in five years!"

Or, after dealing with a particularly prickly lighting guy at the casino, who walked away muttering about the stupidity of stagehands, "On the upside, I bet his mom sure is glad to have him out of the house for a few hours."


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Everybody Always Throws Me Peanuts

From what is described on YouTube as "Early 1970's PSA about Racism", but I think just works better as "Racist PSA"

Dig how Mom seems to be trying to remind herself what the motivation is for this character, in those first few uncomfortable seconds. Next, what exactly is the explanation for the arrival of the woman with the kidnapped black boy? Why exactly does she have him, if not to just openly taunt the mookish businessman father, who was clearly about to remark on the awful basketball playing skills of black people, shortly before being shushed.

I enjoy the Recipe For Disaster aspect of this whole thing. First, get yourself a black child; doesn't matter where or how. Next, in the guise of progress, randomly show up at your asshole neighbor's house and foist said child upon them. Make sure the husband really hates black people. He will openly threaten the (perhaps) ten year old, and the ten year old, raised in the mean streets and all, will have no choice but to respond in kind.

Better still, there's this inevitability in the man's eyes that seems to suggest that yes, though he hates being randomly paired with young black children, It's The Law, or something. I believe this may be a glimpse into the scriptwriter's mind: Affirmative Action literally means I will have to adopt a minority type and keep it in My Own Home.

Both parents look like actors who would later achieve a modicum of non-PSA related fame. I don't know where, and I can't place a name on either of these people. Maybe everyone in the Seventies just looked like that.

"Come on out, Bette Davis!": I like too that child actors of that period hadn't really been polished into the preternaturally on things that they are now. I like how the actor-who-plays-sullen-little-boy pretty much is a sullen little boy, and the smallest girl totally butchered her one line.

But above all else, this clip demonstrates the fine line you have to walk with consciousness-raising on a mass level. If you do too good of a job identifying the problem, you might very well seem to be tacitly suggesting that the problem is everyone else who wants to invade my pleasant, quiet home with their stupid ideas of Uplift. We have been doing things in the same way around here for as long as anyone can remember, and that's the way we like it.

Also, why do I find myself eerily reminded of that PSA campaign of only a few years ago that, while ostensibly being about preventing child abuse, in fact seemed to give abusers new and gorier ways to go about abusing their children, i.e.


Finally: "Why don't we adopt Eldridge Cleaver...No really, why don't we?"

I'm gonna try my damnedest to see if there's a part two of this out there, somewhere. Frankly, I'm not sure it's really a PSA; it looks more like a random piece of some shitty made for TV movie.

At what point will Enlightenment arise from this terribly orchestrated scenario? I mean, it's inevitable: you know it will, but how?
Ah, I got it: that mini bar (that ain't all that mini, might I add) at home. This will probably play some role, shortly after (or before) dad literally throws peanuts at Fred Wilcox, young black person, and realizes what a schmuck he's been, all these years.

Then the strange neighbor lady shows back up with a Vietnamese, ferchrissake!, and the laughter washes over us all.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Other Demon

It's always good to talk about race. Unless It's by Matt Davis, who I've always felt is a small-minded, opportunistic little dick. Anyway, he in turn links here, which is a blog that may or may not be written by Catrina Bush.

In my wanderings and commentings, I pointed out how less stupid race relations seemed to be in Chicago, based on my completely limited experiences with that place. I also declined to muse on the possible reasons why things are the way they are, here in Portland:

"Hm. Kinda simplistic and ostensibly about race? Sounds like Matt Davis time (tm)!

I recently visited a wonderous place called Chicago. And you know what? Black people and white people routinely interacted there. When they did, there was nothing whatsoever to suggest that one party was superior or inferior to the other: it was just two people talking.

And gawd help me;I even felt like I could criticize the views of a black person there, and they would understand that I could do that because they're just a person, and not some sort of endangered species who will wilt away under the glare of rational debate.

There was none of the immediate defensiveness that accompanies these interactions in Portland. Now there's a nasty chicken or egg question here as to why that might be- and I'm not gonna be the one to ask it. I'm leaving that to some other arbiter of what is racism and what is not."

** **

Well, a quick reminder: until the election of 2004, it was literally illegal to be black and live in Oregon. This was leftover language from the original state constitution, and was left on the books...For some reason. Probably for the same reason that it was still law until recently (still is?) that, if you drove an automobile in Portland, you needed to have one of your servants running ahead, proclaiming "horseless carriage!", and why there are limitations on how many penguins one may marry in Iowa. That kinda shit.

As we all learned in school, Oregon's motto is "The Union". It was created out of the greater Oregon Territory in 1859, a moment in our country's history that was rife with endless debate about slavery and crap compromises that pleased no one.
So Oregon was created specifically as a non-slave state, which the lawmakers of the time chose to interpret as non-black.

Why? Well, I seem to have sold my copy of The Making of the Oregon Constitution, so I can't tell you right now, nor do I have anything right in front of me regarding whether or not this law was ever officially enforced.
It's more or less a matter of public record that the real estate interests of Oregon took it upon themselves to arbitrarily assign where certain races could and could not live, which may have had far more to do with it than law.
And then of course, there's Vanport.

Anyway, we struck the race-specific language off the books in 2004. In the ballot measure book for that year, there was an argument for removing it, and no argument against, which rarely happens. Would have been fucking hilarious to see someone's rationalization for keeping it there.
Appeal To Tradition, I suspect.

So the thing is, Portland being what it is, and above-mentioned geniuses doing all the debating about race, it has led to this stupid thing where on one hand one must always admit racism for living in such a white state(especially when speaking to some defensive transplant from The South), while at the same time any attempts toward soothing whatever racial divides there are are inevitably met by a ton of folks yelling 'condescension!' and 'paternalism!'.
Basically, you can't win, and professional shit-stirrers everywhere enjoy the hell out of this, rather than working toward some sort of common ground. This may be exactly why it's damn hard to have a decent interaction between the races in Portland; too many opportunists enjoy the set up we already have:
Defensiveness or bellicosity being the only two choices available.

Then of course, the next asshole on that stupid blog comments:
"Matt, you are just full of white guilt. You know, since you hate white people and you hate being white, I know of a way you can at least feel like you're black. All you have to do is call white people racist names and rob a 7-11."

Sigh...This particular asshole signed themselves 'Not Guilty'.

As I've noted before, the realities of equality occasionally involve one being judged by what they say, what they write, what they think. If you would prefer on these occasions to remind me that what you have to say is special due to your race, I'll just file it under all the other racist bullshit I've had to listen to in my life, growing up in the U. S. of fuckin' A., and that goes for all of you.

Walking away, shaking my damn head, as always. The Feast of Pure Reason and the Joy of Being With People.