please stop tickling me

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

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home of the Classy Boozehound

It's sad that after all these years, you can hardly see the mural of Stars of Yesteryear at the Sandy Hut anymore. It's too dark in there, a Golden Tee machine covers most of the last panel, and while I approve of the archival thinking that caused them to put a sheet of plexiglas over the
damn thing, it's kinda too little too late, and now the reflection it causes makes it almost impossible to take a picture of it.

When I first encountered the Sandy Hut, it was dark in there like it is now. It was entirely the purview of old men and hookers. As the years went by, more and more people realized that you could get a brain-damagingly strong drink there for pennies, and they were none too diligent in their carding. So lots of young 'uns like me started patronizing the joint. The lights came up a lot higher, almost to industrial cafeteria strength.
This revealed exactly how nasty the place was. A fine sheen of brown gravy covered everything: years of neglect and airborne nicotine had made it so. At some point, a dancefloor that could house perhaps two and a half dancing patrons had been installed and forgotten. There was a shuffleboard table.

But of most interest to me was the mural. The way Sinatra is depicted says that it dates back to the early '50's, and the only sort of signature was the enigmatic tag line, "Color by Vera". Its conceit was that of The Bar in Showbiz Heaven, where all the great ones got sauced.
And I used to annoy my friends by asking them how many of these highly recognizable faces they could put names to.

The first panel actually starts out with an indistinct bit of anonymous customer and a waiter with his back to you, signalling an order. Then comes Danny Kaye, Adolphe Menjou ("The Best Dressed Man In Hollywood". His grandson lives in Portland, and we worked together for a while), Harold Lloyd, Bette Davis, Dame Edith Sitwell, Arturo Toscanini, Frank Sinatra sitting with Marilyn Monroe, someone that is either Clark Gable or John Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson and Marcel Marceau as 'Pip'.

The middle panel is given over to comedic stars o' yesteryear. W.C. Fields has an enormous bottle, while Buster Keaton has a tiny, tiny shot glass.

Charlie Chaplin has his back to you. Groucho and Harpo Marx are there, but no Chico. (Much less any Gummo or Zeppo.)

Laurel and Hardy are present, but does that rightfully cancel out any sort of Abbott and Costello presence? "Who's On First?" (like it or not) pretty much provided the template for most modern American comedy.

Exactly why Harold Lloyd isn't in this panel is anybody's guess. Or for that matter, George Burns, Fred Allen, Jack Benny...

(Or Bob Hope! Or Bing Crosby! Anyway...)

The final panel has Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong crossing clarinet and cornet over the action below, which happens to be an unlikely table at which Jimmy Durante and George Bernard Shaw might mingle, with Peter Lorre looking ominously on. Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein are also present, but so is Veronica Lake. Someone that is either supposed to be Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo is ignoring all of them.

Behind that stupid video golf machine is Pablo Picasso (that one stumped me for years, and then someone pointed out that both of his eyes were on one side of his face) and Kate Smith. It's easy to forget how much of a star she was, once upon a time.

I had the idea over the years that maybe someone should do the same thing on the wall opposite, but with stars of today. But who would that be? A bunch of people who you wish you saw less of anyway? People whose work you might appreciate, but frankly aren't especially distinctive looking?

Especially when in charicature, Tyra Banks would look like Beyonce who would strongly resemble Vivica A. Fox. You would recognize Obama, or Schwarzenegger, but do you want to look at them while drunk? I like Catherine Keener and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (for instance), but would they make any sense as cartoons?

And besides, to be really true to the idea, you would need to include statesmen and philosophers. Famous artists. (And, I suppose, any famous mimes you could think of.)

Funny too that the Sandy Hut ("Home of the Fat Man Sandwich," it said for decades on its sign, while having discarded it from the menu long ago) was probably never a classy joint, but the conventions of the day caused it to somehow need to present at least the cultural signifiers of classiness, because drinking alcohol is always to be presented as fun.

In short, it didn't promise you an evening with Garbo, just the idea that any evening spent drinking was going to be a romantic adventure. Even on a flatiron block at NE 15th and Sandy Blvd. in Portland, Or.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Smarter Than Einstein

Bee has already written about Yahoo Answers, of course. It is every bit as awful as has been previously pointed out, and is served even better by the retarded behavior of those who administrate it.
The administrators seem to enjoy the endless parade of bigots and waterheads who comprise much of the traffic on their site. And if you have the temerity to tell people exactly what you think of their little question, your 'content' will be removed due to "insulting and demeaning language" or even your failure to "adhere to the question/answer format".

So let's review. Using insulting and demeaning (to say nothing of a-realistic and generally incoherent) language in your original question (which -nine times out of ten- isn't a question at all but some silly strawman argument like "Why do all women think that men R cashpockets and think they can laugh at me all the time?") : just dandy. But using any manner of pejorative to respond to said strawman argument -or worse yet, failing to "answer" the "question"- is enough to get the form emails a-comin'.
Above all else, I just feel dirty after using this section to vent my many frustrations. It went from Guilty Pleasure to Something I Don't Even Want Near Me in the course of about a week.

Naturally, when you get tired of the 'Gender and Women's Studies' section, it's a good idea to head right over to 'Religion and Spirituality'. I found a question ("Is atheism a religion?") that suited me as being one where you could answer very easily, call a fool a fool, and leave.

Then some guy named 'Jake' with a picture that showed him to be...Hm. How do I put this? He is attempting to look soulful, searching. But that doesn't change the fact that he's one of those guys who will say some half-clever joke and then stand there waiting for your mind to explode at all the profundity. He thinks this is his Big Scene In The Movie. And he answered the question with a much, much larger question.
Which I then answered.

He basically opened with Pascal's Wager: "... but if you don't believe in God and are wrong, you'll be punished eternally in hell..."
Well, according to all I've read, God is way less concerned with my lack of belief than the many, many other things I've done, so I'd be screwed if there were actually such a thing.

"You're only saying you're an atheist to rebel against authority. " Oh, okay!

"Why are you mad at God? God is love so something emotional is wrong with an atheist."
God spends a lot of its time acting in ways that are entirely un-loving, I'd say, based on what religious people have to say about it.
And why would I be mad about something that doesn't exist?

"Deep down you really believe in God." Do I? Prove it!

"You can't prove God doesn't exist. If he doesn't why are you trying so hard to disprove him. We all know what this means."
I have all the proof I need to form my own opinion about it. You can believe whatever you want, friend. I'm not trying to disprove anything because I Don't Care.
And that last sentence reminds me of how lucky I am to not spend my Sundays stuck in a building with other people like you.

"Without God there is no morality." How d'ya figure? It seems like *with* God there is only tribal taboo. Morality is the good that you do when no one's looking. And God's Always Looking, right?

"There is also no reason for living because that would mean there is no afterlife, which means there is no meaning to live and no point for you to ever be born if you will cease to exist forever when your life is over."
Actually, that sounds great. The fact that I am living right now is exactly everything that it should be, and some weird belief on my part that I should go on forever and ever would only mean that I'm some weird narcissist who thinks I'm (sob) just too special to dieee!
Which I'm not, and neither are you.

"If God didn't create humanity in his image, why isn't the world full of only wild beasts?" If sheer proportionality is the basis here, then God is a beetle.

"Christianity is big in the world and throughout history, and is the foundation of our nation, do you think billions of people throughout history are crazy? I'm sure you have a good answer for this."
I've got a Great answer for that: have you looked at history? Most people are crazy. And stupid! Just saying, 'Wull ev'rybody else wuz doin' it...' is bad reasoning and you know it. It is not the foundation of the United States, either. The Magna Carta is more like it.

"Jesus was either a liar, a crazy person, or the son of God." In this, he is exactly like lots and lots of people littering the Near East in those days. Or anywhere you look, today.

"He spoke against liars, and his behavior wasn't crazy because scholars and teachers marveled at his words of wisdom, there were eye witnesses that Jesus worked miracles and rose from the dead like he said he would, so the only remaining possibility is that he was the son of God."
Hey, I speak against liars, too! And you believe scholars and teachers from a couple thousand years ago, but got no time for that darn science now, I bet. Especially scholars and teachers whose words have undergone so many revisions and translations during the millenia that -unless you read Aramaic- you'll never know what they said.

"I know from personal experience that God exists." If a person said that because they were on LSD, people would either just laugh at them or lock them up for being crazy. What does it say about you that you're probably stone cold sober as you say that?

"You can't see air, but you believe in it. You can't see love, but you believe in it. You call yourself an atheist but you have 'faith' that God doesn't exist."
And I've never eaten dog poop, yet know with a great certainty that I don't want to. There goes that argument for what I hope is the last time.
And I don't have "faith" on the whole God thing; that's Your word. No, I just don't see the hand of a creator at work here. Just to pre-empt the follow-up: the universe looks ordered and planned to you because you lack another universe to compare it to.

"You say you don't believe that God exists, but the word 'God' is meaningless if there is no such thing, so you are admitting that God exists even as you deny his existence in detail. How can you describe in detail someone you don't believe exists?"
You should really stop trying to put words in my mouth, because you're not a good enough observer to do it in any sort of realistic way. Then you wander over into semantics. Yes yes...You cannot define yourself entirely in opposition to a thing without at least somewhat conceding that the thing you oppose exists. This is why I don't call myself an Atheist: even they are more doctrinaire on this subject than I will ever be.

" Why do atheists participate in religious things like marriage, funerals, Christmas etc? Isn't that being religious?"
No, it's being related to people. It's living in America. It's being nice to people that you like. And I do know atheists who won't exchange gifts around Xmas-time. I think they're silly. Who doesn't like presents?

"Einstein believed in God. Do you think you're smarter than Einstein? " Einstein was also wrong about quantum physics. BAM!

"How does humans evolving from monkeys make more sense than someone actually creating us? And how does the world just randomly exploding into something make more sense than someone actually creating it? I know this will make some of you think."
Actually, I've already answered this one above, so I'll use an answer that You would use: Learned Teachers and Scholars of The Past Believe It To Be True, So It Has To Be. See how silly that sounds?

"Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics." How so?

"And evolution is a theory and Creationist have already disproved evolution point by point." They haven't even come close. Unless they have scientific proof of God.

"Charles Darwin at the end of his life regretted even creating the theory of evolution and fellow scientists refused to let him say it was all bad science." Shaddap. He was probably just sad about all the trouble he caused.

"Besides, In atheist mythology how did the universe create itself?" Nuclear fission. Happy?

"There are so many wonderful things in the world that require a master artist, no random thing can create a hand, color, water, concepts of love sight, oxygen and a perfectly balance ecosystem all working in unison by precise calculations (some beyond what humans can understand), how can you say there is no God?"
Because there isn't one, and if there was, he would actually have some serious design flaws to answer for.

"What explanation is given to the questions, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' and 'Where did it all come from?' As an example: If you say that the universe came from the big bang, well, where did the big bang come from? Surely it didn't come from nothing, right?"
Why couldn't it? And hey; since we got you here: why is there hate?

"Atheists do not pray. They do not observe feasts. fasts and ceremonies. They consider nothing either holy or unholy. Then where is discipline in their life? Where is scope for joy in the life of atheists?"
Actually, atheists do everything. Including prayer at various points in their lives, generally as an experiment to see what all the fuss is about. Where is my...'Scope for joy'? In everything, man! You're the one that seems all closed up and dour, not me.

"What is the source of math and logic?" Lots of people generally hated by the religious authorities of their time. Glad you asked.

"The existence of this remarkably fine-tuned universe aside, how is it that we have these 'languages of reality' to so elegantly describe and interact with it?"
You don't know the first thing about perception, do you? Like I said up there; the universe looks fine-tuned to you because it's the only universe you've ever lived in. Your brain takes undifferentiated stimuli and information and channels it into something it can use. If it didn't, you'd be schizophrenic. And the people who came up with math and science? They lived here too.

"Life looks dreary. Some times I feel like committing suicide. Why should I not? What is the atheist remedy? What is the purpose of life, if there is no other-world?"
What kind of crazy person would only live their lives on the basis of a life beyond? It looks dreary because you're no fun!
And what is the meaning of life? Dunno, but I'm living it right now.

"For atheists, there is no objective meaning and value to human existence. Yet your deepest longing is for your lives to count for something. Humans intuitively know that humans have rights and dignity. What is the atheist remedy?"
Took you a long time to come up with a decent question. (Or recycle it, most likely.) Well, the answer is solipsistic because the question is more or less unanswerable: the meaning and value are inherent within themselves. Except when they are not. The rights and dignity doubly so.
I would say again that the history of religion is mostly a long, depressing tale of people being denied their rights and dignity by some bastard who thinks he talks to God. My life will have some worth no matter what, but only in that limited way that all people do. I'm okay with that. Are you?

"Are you prepared to accept the idea that no one is really morally responsible for their bad behavior and, conversely, that virtuous behavior is not commendable?"
Not in the least. Good thing I never said that.

"In what way will you seek to convince me that I am really not a conscious and self-aware being; that"

And that's where it finally cut off. I notice that Jake's original religio-trivia challenge has since been deleted. It was probably Jake who did it, because unlike pretty much every other place on the Internet where I engage in debate, this one actually has the highest proportion of people that fold completely when they are disagreed with at all. They themselves lack the courage of what even somewhat passes for their convictions.
You also can't post multiple responses in single threads, so discussion is limited by that too. It encourages simplistic answers to what could be interesting questions, had they not been posted by dumb shits.

I really mean it: Yahoo Answers, along with providing a welcoming home to the dumbest fucking people this side of RedState, it is also a place where people pretty much never bother to defend their points, outside of (generally effectively) whining to get you "blocked".
If you say something to them at all, especially in a tone that is somewhat belligerent, they will totally fold. It's like they've never had a conversation, or that other thing about how the Internet makes playground bullies out of people who -if they were standing right in front of you- would be perfectly nice otherwise.

Hey, what can I do? I'm not God.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Adult Babies, Virgin Killers


(Sorry. The experiment continues.)

Also, here is the Ziggy Circus that most recently caught my eye.
Yet again, Ziggy is mistaken for someone's father, and Jeffy's idiotic anger takes on ominous new dimensions.

And...Oh dear...

Well, this is an album cover image I've heard about for years, but have never actually seen. I have the album myself, but the photo on the jacket is a pretty innocuous one of a buncha German longhairs lunging at you, faux-intimidating-ly.

The Scorpions have a long history of banned album covers. Lovedrive features a man in the back of a limo with a shirtless woman. He is attempting to get a goodly amount of bubble gum off of her breasts. It was replaced by a big, blue scorpion on the U.S. release.

Love At First Sting had a lovely black and white image of a guy and a girl on a motorcycle. He has decided that this might be a good time to give her that scorpion tattoo on her thigh that she always wanted. She is smiling. In the U.S. release, they/we briefly panicked and replaced it with another black and white image of a buncha German longhairs walking faux-intimidating-ly at you while wearing leather. Then everybody remembered that there was absolutely nothing offensive about the original cover, and put it back like it was.

Animal Magnetism's cover features a woman and a German shepherd kneeling obediently in front of a tight jeans-wearing man who is enjoying a Carlsberg beer. In the U.S. release, it was exactly the same.

So that one up there? I found this picture of what certainly appears to be someone a great deal younger than 18 in an article about it not being viewable on Wikipedia, "despite the lack of obvious vulgarity."
Oh, I'd say that it's vulgar. Even "While the girl is clearly naked, her genitals have been subtly covered by the imposed image of cracked glass centring exactly between the legs."

(Dig the use of 'subtly'. Also, just so we can be certain of pure journalistic intent and no accusations of merely appealing to prurient interests can be made, the image itself on this page is fucking huge.)

And lastly, "The album’s original cover design has never been banned, and is still available to this day." Well, I've owned the album on both cassette and LP, and both had the entirely tamer cover. So despite being banned, apparently Mercury decided to police itself a bit -voluntarily- this side of the pond.

Virgin Killer is actually a pretty good album. It suffers from lyrics that are written in English by non-speakers of that language, but they have grown up with American and British rock n' roll and have lived pretty much all of their lives with a U.S. military presence in their country.

So that's why it's not hard to see where they got their bizarro-world ideas about what your average rock n' roll customer would view as An Ideal Life: "And you like the rock and roll-a/ a better life/ with whiskey-cola!"

It also features the talents of Uli Jon Roth, the "German Jimi Hendrix," or at least that's what he called himself. This leads to hilariously-overplayed songs like "Hell Cat," where embarrassing attempts at amazing guitar pyrotechnics sit alongside weird attempts at street-wise raps.

But best of all, for all who know, is The Message Song. Now again, I know that I'd embarrass myself if I tried to write an album in German. Lucky for me, most of the world's rock and roll is sung in my native language.
So up the ante a lot when you note that if you're going to release a rock n' roll album in the Seventies, you're going to need to do a Message Song. The Message Song is supposed to do many things: it should identify the problems that you -The Youth, that is- face. There should be a note of hope; a suggestion perhaps about what The Youth should do. There needs to be some mockery of Some Who Say. The song should be anthemic; it's okay if it's melodramatic.

"Crying Days" is all of these things, minus any sort of specificity as to what it is we are discussing here ("A question mark up in the skyyy!!!" notwithstanding. That would be a problem, though. I imagine it being purple and enormous, hanging over Stuttgart, say.)

And the condemnation of Those Who Say is kind of off, too: "Some people say we'll do it better/ some people say everything's goood!" Well, I'm gonna have to stop you right there. Nobody ever says that everything's good. Well, except hippies, but they don't really mean it.

Oh, I could go on. But anyway, now we have juxtaposed Lars' name with both an Adult Baby and a piece of what could easily be described as child pornography. Excelsior!


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fred and his Family

Here's a bunch of wonderful shots of the counter-protests to the Westboro Baptist Church, courtesy of Laughing Squid. Apparently they were there to protest Twitter, which further confirms my idea that maybe they really are just a performance art troupe, because having a problem with Twitter (outside of its idiocy) is like having a problem with the ocean.

WBC Tries to Protest at Twitter from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.

In my own take, back in 2005 on these people, I suggested that it might be pleasing to stand outside the door of their church in Kansas, holding a sign that reads, "You Are Not Christians." And it would, but I think a sign that reads, "I HAVE A SIGN" is much better. It fights absurdity with absurdity.
And absurd they are! The Westboro Baptist Church, along with all of the other things they are, are a fine example of that subset of American society that will never be pleased. Even if, for some reason, we as a nation decided to erect burning pyres for all known homosexuals in the public square of each n' every burg n' hamlet in this great nation of ours, it would still be too late, according to these people, since God has already made up his mind on the subject.

In other words, they're not looking for any converts. So what are they doing?

Dan Savage is talking now about the commercial that will not be aired regarding a gay dating website, and the commercial that will be about how abortion kills football, or something. His thoughts, and my own nasty thoughts on the subject are over on the Merc blog. I didn't say very much, just because I am so tired of this shit.

Tired of how Being A Bigot is bucking for "protected class" status. And how corporate America, as always, is glad to give it to them. Tired of how whenever corporate America isn't screaming about the evil of regulation and the need for unfettered competition, it is whining for regulation to save them from what tends to come from unfettered competition (endless mergers and prices dropping through the floor).
Tired of the worst and least credible among us being put up as paragons of truth. Tired of football, too, but that's been there a long time.