Monday, April 30, 2007

Dan Simpson Against The World

Well, well, well. It looks like the rest of the world has discovered what I have known for over two years now: That Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette editor and columnist (formerly U.S. ambassador to several African and Middle Eastern nations) Dan Simpson is a raving loony. His weekly opinion pieces usually resolve around foreign affairs, and are characterized by anger and hatred directed at the current President of the United States, George W. Bush, and Republicans in general. (The discerning reader can also detect his tone in the paper's unsigned editorials dealing with Bush administration foreign policy.) At one time, Simpson's screeds provided me with ripe-for-the-picking Wednesday morning blog fodder. I got bored with him after a while. Why bother reading something when I know it's just going to piss me off? That's why I don't pay for newspapers anymore.

The column that has set the blogosphere ablaze ran in the P-G's sister publication, the Toledo Blade, last week, and appeared in this past Sunday's Pittsburgh paper. To sum up, Simpson outlines a plan for disarming the American public in order to prevent another massacre like the recent Virginia Tech shooting. The column has been analyzed to death by worthier bloggers than I, so I won't pick it apart here.

I should have been on this last week, but I didn't find out about it until Saturday afternoon when Mitch and Captain Ed were discussing it on the NARN show. (Audio archive should be available here soon.) They did a fine job of picking apart every aspect of Simpson's proposal. Some have suggested that it was clever satire. I hold that it was neither clever nor satire. Dan Simpson has not demonstrated a sense of humor in the past, and I doubt that he would suddenly become a comedian now. People take him seriously (at least they did before last week.)

Almost everyone, that is. There's another Pittsburgh daily that frequently takes exception to his columns. For the most part, the Tribune-Review is our last outpost of sanity in the southwestern PA media. That is the paper to read here.

Dan Simpson, meanwhile, is reason enough for any subscriber to stop doing business with both the Blade and the P-G.

Men Of Straw

GOP Bloggers is running yet another (as commenter Warren pointed out there) Ron Paul-free straw poll for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination. Once again, I indicated my favor for Fred Thompson, though I have been hearing very good things about Duncan Hunter. I'm not strongly committed to Fred just yet; anything can happen in the next year.

If you're interested:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Integrated At Birth...Or Something

Someone at the Tribune-Review has been conducting bizarre human genetics experiments...or so it would seem, from this image that appeared on the Trib's web site this morning:

Yikes! It was not quite 5:30 this morning when that image appeared before my eyes. It was a little too early for me to comprehend such inconceivable weirdness, especially over a bowl of puffed rice in skim milk. Happily, I can now report that Mr. Mike Seate has stepped in and put an end to the disturbance:

You can bet that I am right now breathing a sigh of relief that the Trib's layout engineers didn't try to splice Pat Buchanan with Mike Seate. That is one nightmare that I really do not wish to contemplate right now. Or ever.

Monday, April 23, 2007

All This Has Happened Before, All This Will Happen Again

I may have mentioned once or twice that BattleStar Galactica is my favorite currently running TV show. So it was back in 1978, when the original version of BSG was on the air. It was a popular show to parody; I remember seeing a spoof on The Donny and Marie Show, and I owned the issue of MAD Magazine with the BSG satire.

A lesser known take-off was "BattleShip Ethnica", another goofy SuperHost skit that was viewed by a lot of people in northeastern Ohio, a few in western Pennsylvania, and pretty much no one anywhere else. It's not one of Supe's better skits, but there was something about his performance as Commander Anemia that made me sit up.

On of the running themes in the new BSG revolves around a prophecy which states that "all this has happened before; all this will happen again". Check out Commander Anemia: He act more like Edward James Olmos than Lorne Greene, and he communicates with the bridge via telephone. TELEPHONE.

Think about it. In 1978, science fiction shows just didn't use telephone technology. It was too backwards, and too familiar, to fit in with an advanced alien society. In 2003, when reimagined BSG debuted, telephones became an important part of the show's human society. They are meant to be more like us, hence they speak through telephones and shoot bullets instead of laser beams. SuperHost, back in 1978, presaged Edward James Olmos as William Adama.

The prophecy has been fulfilled; the circle is complete.

Satan's Little Toolshed

If I ever die from laughing too hard, it will be because of stuff like this.

Candidates At Large

I've only posted a couple of times this month, before now, because...I dunno. Maybe I lost the fire last year after Election Day. Maybe I get tired of ranting about the bunch of idiots who write for the local paper week after week. Maybe I've readjusted my priorities in the wake of my recent hospital stay.

Or maybe the local politics just sucks. Yeah, that must be it.

A month ago, I was interested in learning about the three candidates for Allegheny County Council Member-At-Large, Republican edition. Since then, one of the candidates dropped out of the race and endorsed one of his former prospective opponents, who is on the verge of dropping out due to stupidly weird (or weirdly stupid) ethical issues. I'm not sure if I like having this choice taken away from me. This would have been the only race where I would have to exercise my brain and figure out which button to press. Now I'll just be going through the motions.

It would have been an interesting primary. The two top candidates have some issues with one another, and got into a nice verbal scuffle when I heard them speak in person at 9 AM on March 17. What better way to start off Saint Patrick's Day than to watch a fistfight between two Irish Catholics during breakfast? The exchange took place in a hotel, so we could have ordered in a few bottles of whiskey to get the two gentlemen liquored up before setting them on one another. As a grandson and great-grandson of Irish drunks (Protestant edition), I've heard enough stories to know how what a momentous event this could have been.

Alas, one guy had to leave early to march in a parade. And with the other guy's imminent departure from the race, there won't even be a rhetorical battle to look forward to. That SUCKS. I'm so disgusted by the whole thing that I might just forgo the remaining candidate and write someone in.

For those Allegheny Republicans who can't get their act together, I but one word:


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And Eleven Long Haired Friends Of Jesus In A Chartreuse Microbus

When I was a lad, cable TV came to my neighborhood. This meant two things:

  1. The regular VHF stations, plus one or two selected UHF channels, came in clearly for the first time; and
  2. We could now watch two channels from exotic locales called New York City and CLEVELAND.

It was Cleveland that got me. I was less than ten years old, and was blissfully unaware of the longstanding rivalry between that city and mine. (The first time I visited Cleveland, about 16 years later, is that it is just like Pittsburgh, but stretched along a lake. I didn't sense a rivalry.) The New York Channel (WOR, later WWOR) had wrestling on weekends, but WUAB-TV Channel 43 was cool ALL of the time. Especially on Saturday afternoons, when Superhost took over the studio.

For four hours each weekend, I was exposed to stuff like this:

This was, as you can see, put together quite cheaply in the station's studios, but that didn't register with me when I was nine years old. It had the small metal Tonka trucks of the sort that just about every boy in the neighborhood owned, it had footage of real trucks doing some amazing things, and it even had tanks in the desert attacking trucks on the highway. Best of all, we got to see the infamous "chartreuse microbus" that served as the transportation for "eleven long haired friends of Jesus". It was a Tonka truck. A Tonka truck! Hippies were suddenly cool!

Some people consider "Convoy" to be a silly novelty song, or plainly one of the worst songs ever. I beg to differ. The "chartreuse microbus" lyric is one of the best lines in the history of music, and this video (which starred Superhost as Rubber Duck) is perhaps the greatest music video of all time -- and it was made at least two years before the debut of MTV.

To truly appreciate the genius that was Superhost, I suggest you just go and watch some of his other skits. This kind of quality children's programming doesn't exist in the 21st century, folks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Health Care

Hello there!

No, I haven't posted since sometime late last month. No, I'm not dead. Yes, I was "sick", though I didn't know about it until a random blood pressure check landed me in the hospital for a week. I won't say how how the pressure was, but the initial readings astounded everyone who saw them or were told about them. I've discovered an entirely new way of making people's eyes bulge and jaws drop that doesn't involve me removing even a single stitch of clothing.

Fortunately, my professional position is a classic example of a "crappy pay with great benefits" job, so I didn't mind being in hospital for so long. It was a nice vacation, too, if you don't mind being scanned by machines and stabbed with needles in the bargain. In a way, I feel like I rediscovered popular culture.

About a year ago, I cut my home cable TV package from Standard to Basic. I saved a bunch of money each month by doing so, but on the downside I had to get used to not being able to watch anything between channels 24 and 100. The hospital gets the channels up to around 46. That's 22 channels that I don't get at home. It was like a telly adventureland.

For the first time in ages, I watched Fox News. I hadn't realized how much I missed it, but when certain fringe elements of the political culture can influence mainstream politicians to make decisions based on the premise that "Fox News is evil", then I can't help but love Fox News. It was especially nice seeing the ladies. Jane Skinner is still one of the most beautiful women in the history of TV news, and every time I see E. D. Hill, I gain a new appreciation for her. When she worked here in Pittsburgh using her maiden name, Edye Tarbox, I really didn't find her attractive at all. (I blame her old extra-hairspray, stand-up-loud-and-proud 1980s hairdo for that.) She's gotten better looking over the years. The woman ages backwards, and I for one am grateful. It's almost enough to make me switch back to the more expensive package.

I also watched some Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games. I haven't followed baseball in years. I got tired of the "labor" strikes, the millionaire ballplayers, the drugs...basically all of the things that took the fun out of baseball. At heart, however, it is still a game, and a fun one at that. Naturally, the games were broadcast on a cable channel that I don't get at home. Dammit!

There were also an inordinate number of Steve Martin movies, as well as Lindsay Lohan movies, being broadcast that week. And they were all fun to watch.

You're probably beginning to suspect that I was having so much fun in the hospital that I might have wanted to stay. In a way, I did want to. But I'm quite content to wait until I'm an old man to do it again. More on my good time later.