Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday's Quote: The conundrum of higher education

Here's more about Mamet
Allen Mendenhall is one of the more refined young thinkers of our time.  A prime exemplar of Libertarianism in its truest form, the well-educated Mendenhall recently featured a piece by The Weekly Standard senior editor Andrew Ferguson highlighting a January 2009 speech at Stanford University by David Mamet, wherein the Pulitzer-winning playwright offered his take on the current state of higher education.  Have a look:

"Higher ed, [Mamet] said, was an elaborate scheme to deprive young people of their freedom of thought.  He compared four years of college to a lab experiment in which a rat is trained to pull a lever for a pellet of food.  A student recites some bit of received and unexamined wisdom — 'Thomas Jefferson: slave owner, adulterer, pull the lever' — and is rewarded with his pellet: a grade, a degree, and ultimately a lifelong membership in a tribe of people educated to see the world in the same way.

"'If we identify every interaction as having a victim and an oppressor, and we get a pellet when we find the victims, we're training ourselves not to see cause and effect,'" he said.  Wasn't there, he went on, a 'much more interesting .  .  . view of the world in which not everything can be reduced to victim and oppressor?'"
– from "Andrew Ferguson on 'Converting Mamet'" at The Literary Order; May 16, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: Peretti & Appleton

c/o IGN
These two were possibly the best cop duo ever.  For my money, their mojo remains tops among the shield-carrying good guys in cinema history.  Indeed 1991 was a mighty fine year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Editorial Sketch of the Week: Kids today

Here's yet another new feature to my blog, because sometimes it's better to let the pros do the talking:

© Jeff Stahler, The Columbus Dispatch

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Howard Stern

c/o Hot Read Sports
Protagonists say Howard Stern is a valiant champion of the First Amendment whose resolve for delving into largely offensive themes and subject matters has become the trademark of a radio program that will likely never be equalled.  Stern's legion of detractors insist that he merely possesses an unconscionable drive to draw from a bottomless well of social outcasts who evidently don't have the self-esteem to realize they're being exploited, which is matched only by Stern's legendary willingness to expose himself in every imaginable way.

Whatever the case, the often larger-than-life antics that initially drove the show -- practically to the brink, no less -- are what turned the Queens, NYC native into a celebrity whose legend is still being written.  As luck would have it, that celebdom ultimately propelled his show into becoming the flagship of the once-fledgling Sirius XM satellite radio.  Yet despite his many successes, viewing Howard as an exemplar of the First Amendment seems a stretch, as it remains unreasonable to believe the Founding Fathers inserted Freedom of Speech into the Constitution so anyone such as Stern would be enabled to spew a brand of verbal pornography that even his most steadfast devotees sometimes struggle to defend.

Toward the end of his 30-year run on terrestrial radio, Stern claimed he hadn't fully implemented the kind of show he had wanted to do in a decade.  As it turns out, many listeners and advertisers frown upon games like "Lord of the Anal Rings."  Still Howard is not a man devoid of talent and congeniality.  His interviews with exercise magnate Jack LaLanne, former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle and Senator Arlen Specter, among several others, were mostly respectful.  Yet the self-described "beast" inside of him, which has kept Stern in psychiatric therapy for over 10 years, will always bring Howard back to his obstinately provocative roots.

Perhaps fronting a radio program that allows for the perpetual rehashing of innumerable life traumas has worked to his benefit.  But judging from the quotes below -- originally collected by yours truly during the week of September 27, 2004 for a project that was eventually scrapped -- one has to question the kind of show Stern aspired to host, prior to his departure for satellite radio, if the FCC didn't allow for a leash long enough to suit his preferences.  Maybe that question is answered by a list of his current advertisers, which includes (adultery-on-demand website), (the opposite of, and something called "Fresh Balls" (you can figure that one out yourself), which makes his Last of a dying breed farewell speech on December 16, 2005 more pretentious and comical than triumphant.

But I'll let you be the judge.


Note: You are likely to be offended by at least some of what you are about to read.

* "I'm wearing these tighter, sexier jeans, but I don’t know whether my balls are sweaty or what, but I've got bat-wings going majorly... I want to put talc on my balls, but I'm afraid of cancer.  I know there's some sort of powder like cornstarch you can use for your balls... Wouldn't there be more warning about your balls getting full of cancer from talc if that was true?  Like wouldn't you read that more often? ... I'm constantly trying to get my bat-wings off my leg."
– Stern expressing concern over his repulsive testicles

* "Did you take anything off? ... Did Jenna take anything off? ... [Did] you just start, like, rubbing against each other and stuff? ... Did you feel her boobs? ... And she felt yours? ... Did she touch you below? ... So did she touch you under the bra, or were you not wearing a bra? ... Did you get, like, aroused? ... Was your underwear wrecked?"
– Some of Stern's questions to television personality, Jillian Barberie, regarding her encounter with porn star, Jenna Jameson

* "Yeah what about that?  How about that?  How about getting naked in the studio and letting me bang you hard? ... Do you talk a lot in bed when a guy's doing you? ... Like 'f-me hard'? ... Still using a vibrator?  Imagine if I gave it to you hard. ... I got enough man meat for you.  I got enough man meat for all you girls. ... I had sex with my girlfriend last night, she had two orgasms."
– More questions and comments from Stern's interaction with Jillian Barberie

* "...and no fake boobs, I like it... I'm not a big fake boob guy... You've done threesomes? ... So you’re saying you would have a relationship with me that would be purely sexual... So how could I take you up on this?  Let’s say I want to have sex with you... But now seeing me here live in person, do you feel maybe you don’t want to have sex with me? ... Oh I'd ride the Perry train, hard and fast. ... When did you have sex with the chick? ... Were you drinking?  Were you doing pot?  Were you doing hash?  Ludes? ... Making a lesbian move is interesting. ... You mean, giving a woman oral [sex], you tend to be good at it... And then you did the guy?  The both of you did the guy? ... When was the last time you had sex? ... If I was a hot chick, I’d just go out get some sex. ... You got a little vibrator?  What, you got the pocket rocket? ... What about your rear-end?  Is there any fun going on back there? ... Do you ever have any fun back there?"
– Some of Stern’s questions and comments directed at VH1 personality, Rachel Perry

* "I used to pleasure myself to her ten times a day."
– Stern referring to his admiration of the original "Catwoman," Julie Newmar

* "Yeah, I'd bang her hard."
– Stern commenting on "According to Jim" actress, Courtney Thorne-Smith

* "We're gonna work on getting the 'World's Largest Hemorrhoids Contest' on there, too."
– Stern referring to an upcoming contest that was to appear on his E! Channel show

* "Imagine me sitting there, waiting for my erection.  Hours, hopelessly waiting."
– Stern scuttle-butting about the "low cost Viagra" e-mail spam he frequently receives

* "The religious Right owns him, and he likes it.  He bends over for them, and he is their bitch."
– Stern glossing about George W. Bush prior to the 2004 presidential election

* "I wonder if those Desperate Housewives do anal."
– A comment Stern was apparently inspired to make just as "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher was to make an appearance on his show

* "G-d damn, you look luscious. ... I might consider having sex with you. ... Did I blow it when I sent you that sexual e-mail?  Did that do us in? ... Your body looks awesome. ... When's the last time you had sex? ... How hot must it be, Teri Hatcher is like in her room at night, has no man.  She gets completely nude, she's spread eagle and doing the vibrator to herself.  How hot is that? ... As far as I'm concerned, you can never be too thin.  If you were my girlfriend, you’d weigh four pounds. ... You have the most perfect set of boobs I've ever seen in my life. ... Are they fake?  Did you get a lift? ... You're a C-cup, right? ... I wanna know what I'm in for when I finally have sex with you. ... I was so busy bangin' women after my divorce, I accidently, I think, might've even banged my ex-wife.  I don't even know. ... Would you ever go lesbo with any of them ["Desperate Housewives" co-stars] ... Did you use a vibrator while you were married? ... Anal beads? ... So you went out and bought a gangsta dildo... Would you ever wear high heels if I had sex with you?  Negligees?  Dress up?  We could videotape one another granted that we erase it? ... Oh man, I'm so aroused. ... Hey Teri, you wearing panties?  G-string? ... Oh would I have just banged you so hard. ... When I'm doing you and stuff, let's keep the kid out of it."
– Some of Stern's comments to "Desperate Housewives" star, Teri Hatcher

And one final thought from the man himself:

"I've got a real f--king issue.  I'm mentally ill, I know that."
– Howard Stern, from his April 2006 interview in Entertainment Weekly

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): A bit more about the South

c/o Beauvoir
Kevin Levin of Civil War Memory is an example of one who scorns the individual who is perceived to cling to an unsubstantiated illusion that legitimizes certain perspectives which may not fit well within the box of the more easily accepted mainstream.  Indeed he has rejected the following story as a neo-Confederate fantasy solely intended to challenge the public image of Southerners' universal disdain for those of African descent.  So for those who think that we blindly hate everyone, here's an interesting piece I recently caught from --

"Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina fostered a slave child during the war.  On February 16, 1864, the Southern diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote in her journal that, while visiting the Confederate executive mansion in Richmond, she saw a 'little negro Mrs. Davis rescued yesterday from his brutal negro guardian.  The child is an orphan.  He was dressed up in Little Joe's [one of the Davises' sons'] clothes and happy as a lord.'  The mulatto boy's name was Jim Limber, and he and young Billy Davis became friends.

"In her memoirs, Varina Davis said her husband 'went to the Mayor's office and had [Jim's] free papers registered to insure Jim against getting into the power of the oppressor again.'  When federal forces caught the fleeing Davises in May 1865, they gave the boy to an old family friend, Union General Rufus Saxton.  'He quietly went,' Varina Davis wrote, 'but as soon as he found he was going to leave us he fought like a little tiger and was thus engaged the last we saw of him.'"

Original source: The Seven-Day Scholar: The Civil War by Dennis Gaffney and Peter Gaffney

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did You Know (or Care): Athletes and their families

Former University of Nebraska cornerback and New York Giants first round selection Prince Amukamara has five sisters.  They are named Passionate, Peace, Precious, Princess, and Promise.

Also, a recent feature about Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko – a dead ringer for Ivan Drago – and his unbelievable back tattoo (pictured) led me to an ESPN magazine story from 2006 about Andrei’s wife Masha, who allows her husband to have sex with another woman once per year.  Says Masha, "Male athletes in this country are extremely attractive.  They get chased by women.  It's hard to resist.  It's the way men are by nature."

Fascinating, I suppose.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Chesterton

The perpetual battle among the factions of Right and Left is not new.  The following statement was spot-on accurate when initially spoken 87 years ago by one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.  And little has changed since:

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives.  The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes.  The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), English author, philosopher and Christian theologian, as quoted in Illustrated London News; April 19, 1924

Left Wing checklist

I believe most Liberals actually mean well once you get past the characteristic sanctimony and condescension.  Yet I found this neat little creation to be quite accurate (except for #8):

(original source unknown)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: One down, many more still to go

Our allied soldiers can overwhelm all the terrorists in the world.  Certainly no other assemblage of warriors has ever executed such a challenging task with more precision and valor.  Yet their painstaking efforts will go for naught if civilized nations insist upon circumnavigating both the initial source and the resulting philosophy of what produces the abundance of likeminded extremists who have been a relentless thorn in the side of peaceable societies for well over a millennia.

There's no need for a lengthy diatribe.  Put simply, we will chase our tails ad infinitum until the international community and its leaders become bold enough to confess, finally and collectively, that tolerating those who refuse peace and assimilation is a formula for continued upheaval and ultimate conquest.

Enjoy Hell, Osama.  You earned it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Her sweet, brave smile

A year ago, almost to the day, I posted a Sunday's Quote about Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old who immigrated with her family to Massachusetts in the autumn of 2009.  Hit with a relentless barrage of bullying almost as soon as she arrived, the young Irish lass felt she could tolerate the abuse no longer and committed suicide in January 2010 just a few months after she reached American soil.

Nine students from South Hadley High School were charged with numerous felonies.  Six of them recently struck deals by which they were allowed to plead guilty to lesser imputations.  Although the majority ended up with what amounts to a slap on the wrist, the national attention this story received will hopefully serve as a reminder about the reasonless nature in which we sometimes treat others.

One might argue that justice has not been served.  Understandably some may feel that these smug little heathens all but got away with murder.  It would be difficult to disagree considering that most of Phoebe's aggressors will serve no time inside a prison cell.  Yet whatever the consolation, the memory of Phoebe Prince -- an innocent teenage girl from Ireland who hoped to somehow fit into her new and unfamiliar surroundings -- will remind us that terrible and irreversible things can happen when people refuse to intervene.

"Nothing is to be preferred before justice."
– Socrates (470 BC-399 BC, Greek philosopher)

"God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice."
– John Donne (1572-1631, English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest)

"Justice is the truth in action."
– Joseph Joubert (1754-1824, French essayist)

Friday, May 6, 2011

On This Day in History: A fascinating day

One of my least favorite pictures. Ever.
1527 – In an event generally considered to mark the end of the Roman Renaissance, Rome is sacked by Spanish and German troops aligned with the Holy Roman Empire amid the War of the League of Cognac (1526-1530).  Nearly 150 Swiss Guards died fighting the forces of Emperor Charles V in order to allow Pope Clement VII to escape.  To commemorate the bravery of the Swiss Guards, new recruits are sworn in every year on May 6.

1861 – Arkansas secedes from the Union on the same day Richmond, Virginia is declared the new capital of the Confederate States of America.

1863 – Outnumbered by nearly 73,000 soldiers, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson lead the South to victory over the Army of the Potomac in the final day of the Battle of Chancellorsville in northern Virginia.

1889 – The Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris.

1937 – The German zeppelin Hindenburg (pictured) catches fire and is destroyed within a minute while attempting to dock at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey.  The 12-story blimp was over 800-ft. in length and filled with seven million cubic feet of pure hydrogen.  Thirty-six people were killed in the incident, and why the airship ignited into flames remains a mystery to this day.

1940 – John Steinbeck is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath.

1941 – Bob Hope performs the first of his nearly 200 USO shows at March Field Army Air Corps base in Riverside, California.

1954 – Roger Bannister becomes the first person to run a sub-four-minute mile at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England.

1984 – Having suffered religious persecution throughout the 19th century, Pope John Paul II canonized 103 Korean Martyrs in Seoul, South Korea.

2000 – I was 15 minutes late picking up a girl named Sarah for our first date.  Of the girls who have been in and out of my life, this little golden-haired cutie is the one who sticks out in memory the most.  In the end, I was only successful in turning her affection for me inside out because of what I could not do.

As I once wrote, years ago, about our first evening together...

"I knew that look on her old man's face.  Most fathers go through it at least once or twice.  I imagine it's similar to how an accomplished violinist would feel about handing a Stradivarius over to an unruly ape."

I hope Sarah is doing well, wherever she is.

Initially published 5/6/10 and republished with a few minor revisions; most information obtained via Wikipedia and confirmed through various sources.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guilty Pleasures: Woodchuck Amber

c/o Healthy and Sane
I'm not what you would call a drinker.  Sure, I was a lightweight "social drinker" during my early 20s amid most of my undergraduate days at the University of Memphis.  But it wasn't until I discovered one beverage in particular, barely a year ago, that my pious sensitivity concerning alcohol would face a mandatory overhaul.

Being of the Southern Baptist tradition means eschewing secular entrapments that frequently lead to a path that nobody ever intends to take.  Although I've made my share of idiotic gaffes from which a wealth of knowledge has been brutally acquired, the requisite trials of life have, on occasion, steered me toward several pleasant twists of fate.

One momentous evening, almost by accident (for lack of a better way of describing it), I took a sip of something called Woodchuck Draft Cider.  A few minutes later, I was enthusiastically on to my second ice cold bottle of the Amber-flavored beverage.  I've been a devotee of the Vermont-based independent brewery ever since.

These fine northeasterners include a list of "mixables" on their website; a list of suggestions intended to enhance one's Woodchuck experience by which my own unpretentious concoction ultimately evolved.  The recipe for those interested, which I have branded Amber Max, is as follows:

Step 1 – Allow a bottle of Woodchuck to chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Step 2 – When ready to consume, place said bottle in the freezer for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Step 3 – Remove from freezer when liquid is partially frozen.

Step 4 – Pour half the contents, which should be somewhat slushed, into a glass.
Step 5 – Take a Pepsi Max from the fridge and pour half the contents into the aforementioned glass.
Step 6 – Repeat steps 4 & 5 until both swills combine into one brew.
Step 7 – Drink, enjoy, and thank me later.

Because the Woodchuck is partially frozen, you will notice the carbonated drink does not mix thoroughly at first, which is why Step 6 is crucial.  So be sure to follow the seven-step process methodically for maximum enjoyment.

Some people drink for the sole purpose of getting trashed, but not me.  In fact my preferences have never been hardcore.  I simply don't find most beverages that flavorsome.  But this one is.  Indeed I think I might've created a new classic.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Southern Defenders Series: Albert Pike

c/o Revolution Harry
It's been a while, so I thought another summary about one of the lesser known (and Northern born) defenders of the South would be in order:

Born and raised in Boston, Albert Pike was accepted into Harvard at age 15 but chose not to attend. He settled in Little Rock, AR eight years later and worked as a writer for the Arkansas Advocate.

Noted for stance against secession, Pike said the South should remain in the Union and seek equality with the North, but if the Southern States "were forced into an inferior status, she would be better out of the Union than in it."

In 1859 Harvard awarded Pike an honorary master's degree for his work in poetry.  Moreover his rendering of "Dixie" possesses a robustness that makes it perhaps the best and most well-known of the numerous versions of the Southern anthem.

Two years later, Pike was commissioned a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army and oversaw the training of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole regiments.  He lived in Memphis for a time after the War and worked as an editor of what is now The Commercial Appeal.

Having served as Sovereign Grand Master for the last 32 years of his life, Pike is buried at the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Washington, DC. Brigadier General Pike is also the only Confederate figure to have an outdoor statue in our nation’s capital, located in Judiciary Square in the northwest portion of the District.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Iconic Shot(s): Justice is served

Authorized by Vice Admiral William H. McRaven, a former SEAL and commander of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command, and in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency via direct order of President Obama, an indeterminate number of elite soldiers from the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group – formerly SEAL Team Six – dropped into Abbottabad, Pakistan yesterday and bestowed a particular brand of justice that Osama bin Laden has deserved for well over a decade.

Obviously the maneuver was a remarkable success.  Our warriors suffered no casualties, bin Laden's lifeless body has already been disposed at sea, and America's role as de facto international police force, for better or worse, has never been more fortified.  Of course the War on Terrorism is far from over, but for the moment our world is a better place now that the Saudi-born founder of Al-Qaeda is burning in Hell.

Spirits among my fellow Americans haven't beeen this uplifted and unified in quite some time.  The following pictures from the UK's Daily Mail, per the Associated Press, speak volumes.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday's Quote: Gaga for GaGa

Good luck trying to comprehend the success Lady GaGa has garnered over the past couple of years.  Sure, the New York City native has become a media darling who enjoys the full support of both a massive record label (Interscope/UMG) and an impassioned Far Left base, whom she unwaveringly champions, that has coronated her as the newest co-Queen of pop music alongside Britney Spears and Madonna.  Yet for all her self-exploitive chicanery -- the infamous "meat dress" comes to mind -- I find myself struggling to grasp the scope of her relentless and seemingly unlimited mass appeal.  And as luck would have it, I am in good company:

"Why does Lady GaGa provoke so many questions in me?  How can she be so fascinating while being so utterly boring?  Why is she so famous?  How is it possible that I can hear a ringtone of 'Poker Face' during the intermission of a classical piano concert at Carnegie Hall one week and the same song blaring from a decrepit radio in a tin-roof fruit stand in the cloud forest of Costa Rica the next?

"How has she become as recognized and as global as the American dollar?  How can she mean so little and so much to so many?  And how does she contain so many contradictions that seem to pass unnoticed by both her high-art sycophants and her mass audience?  For example: How has she become a sex symbol when she has no tits and no ass?  How can she be called a musical pioneer when she produces the blandest and most forgettable music, not just of our time but perhaps of all time?

"Aren't her fifteen minutes up yet?"
-- from the opening to "Lady GaGa: Fifty-Nine Questions" by Stephen Marche; Esquire, May 2011