Thursday, December 10, 2009
RIP Gene Barry.
RIP Gene Barry. His three TV series were among my favorites growing up.

AP article by Bob Thomas

LOS ANGELES — Gene Barry, who played the well-dressed man of action in the television series "Bat Masterson," "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game," has died at age 90 of unknown causes, his son said Thursday.

Fredric James Barry said the actor died Wednesday at a rest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills.

Gene Barry essentially played the same character in all three series, which spanned the 1950s to the 1970s. Always fashionably dressed, the tall, handsome actor with the commanding voice dominated his scenes as he bested the bad guys in each show.


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Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer.
Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer. Globe and Mail article by Verna Dobnik.

Thomas Hoving's charismatic but controversial leadership of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is summed up in his autobiography Making the Mummies Dance.

Dr. Hoving died yesterday of lung cancer at his Manhattan home, his family said.

As the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977, he turned an institution he said was "dying" into a happening museum with blockbuster exhibits. The treasures from Egyptian King Tutankhamun's tomb was the most popular exhibit in the museum's history, drawing more than one million visitors in New York, plus another 5.6 million at five other American museums.

But Dr. Hoving also raised dust in other ways, paying $5.5-million for a Velazquez masterpiece while selling works by Van Gogh and others to help pay for it. And he had no qualms about letting people sit and snack on the museum's front staircase, which he had enlarged.

Dr. Hoving's philosophy was: anything to make people notice great art.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Rachel Maddow: "we regret the errors"
If you don't watch Rachel Maddow, at least occasionally, you should. I watch her whenever I'm in a hotel that carries MSNBC and I watch her over the Web. (Our dirt-cheap cable subscription does not include MSNBC.)

Last week Maddow and Pat Buchanan got into a brouhaha over Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court and affirmative action, which Maddow supports but Buchanan does not.

Here is a snippet where Maddow corrects some of the "facts" presented by Buchanan during the debate.

The original debate is here:

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Thursday, July 09, 2009
I’ve never had a problem with drugs, only with policemen.
Keith Richards.

Jessica Pallington West has a book out, What Would Keith Richards Do? Daily Affirmations From a Rock and Roll Survivor, from whence the title gem came.

Amazon info but no free reads inside the book. Alas.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009
Naked, Drunk, and Writing - Adair Lara
Naked, Drunk, and Writing: writing essays and memoirs for love and money by Adair Lara. [an Amazon click]

Adair Lara was talking about her new book this past Wednesday at Book Passage, Corte Madera. (She also teaches classes there on occasion.)

I mentioned her appearance on Facebook (although I didn't drive across the bridge to see her) and added

Adair Lara wrote a column for the Chronicle ... until she didn't. I liked the column. Miss her.

A sample of her column work.

Fun thing about Amazon is that you can (often) poke into a book and see how it begins. On the first page of Lara's new book, I read

If I even think about writing, I find myself in the pantry eating cereal straight from the box. Writing is a scary, vulnerable, and in a way conceited act, one that says the words you set down are worth a stranger's time to read, and that this is a worthy use of your own time.

I may take Lara's book to Camp to read, even if I'm not intending to write a memoir any time soon. ...

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Friday, March 27, 2009
Brooksley Born - Cassandra?
Brooksley Born - Prophet and Loss, an article in STANFORD Magazine, March/April 2009.

An article on his nibs' cousin is the cover feature in the current STANFORD Magazine. Interesting writeup of the happenings at the CFTC in the late nineties.

If they'd listened to Born and implemented her proposals, could it have prevented the meltdown?

Update: She's also getting one of the Kennedy Library Foundation's 2009 Profile in Courage Awards for the days back then.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Tenderloin National Forest
The Tenderloin National Forest

We were at a North Beach Neighbors dinner at Lichee Garden on Powell last night. (Terrific dinner. $28, including tax and tip, for a ten-course dinner. No-host beer and wine, if desired. Fun time was had by all. Interesting conversations. Good food.)

Rigo was with a group at our table at dinner that included Fernando [last name?], from Portugal. Fernando was sitting between Rigo and me and only spoke Portuguese. Although I know Brazilian Portuguese is a far cry from Portuguese, I wished it had been less than fifty years since I last had a conversation in Portuguese. There are not many words I remember.

Talked with Rigo about ONE TREE and TRUTH, two of my favorite Rigo public works, and about what he's up to. Turns out he and Fernando are currently working on a mosaic for the Tenderloin National Forest on Cohen Alley, off Ellis.

(photos of the Tenderloin National Forest from Dave Schumaker on flickr)

I plan to wander by some day soon and see how it's coming along.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Creative bday present
Leah Garchik writes in today's Chron that Joe D'Alessandro's staff at the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he is CEO, created a Joe D'Allesandro Wikipedia page for him for his bday.

Adds Garchik, "This not only was a nice ego booster; it also differentiated him from Warhol-era sex symbol Joe Dallesandro."

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Thursday, February 05, 2009
An Open Letter to Amy Dickinson by Margo Howard
An Open Letter to Amy Dickinson by Margo Howard


In short, when the Tribune hired and syndicated you, that made you their new advice columnist, period. You are no more "the new Ann Landers" than Carolyn Hax, Dan Savage or any of the dozens of advice columnists who were bought by newspapers to fill the space previously occupied by my mother.

By law, the only person who would have been able to become "the new Ann Landers" was me. And that was nothing I chose to do. You see, dear, even I knew that there could only be one Ann Landers.

Sure. Whatevs.

That's why Dear Margo®'s column always finishes off with Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter.

Not that Margo Howard would ever even consider trying to be the new Ann Landers.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
US Presidents - George Washington to Barack Obama
US Presidents - George Washington to Barack Obama

44 US Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama morphed to the music Boléro by Ravel

Must admit that I don't really know what each and every president looked like.

James K Polk was a surprise. He had a sly grin look about him. Reminded me of Baryshnikov somehow. Also reminded me of the They Might Be Giants song.

James Monroe I couldn't've picked out of a crowd.

And then there were the "He's on the $xxx bill" presidents.

John Tyler. Had I ever seen a picture of him that wasn't in a heads-of-all-the-presidents poster?

Grover Cleveland looked like a well-fed beermeister.


gekko talked about the smiling/not-smiling aspect of the morph. I was more fascinated by the facial hair. Chester Arthur. Whoa.

[hattip to gekko, who posted this link on Usenet but I'm using a link to her blog instead of a link to that post.]

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Friday, January 16, 2009
Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce | Video on
Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce

The videos at are pretty cool.

We saw Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and -- most recently -- Outliers and also staff writer for The New Yorker) last night at the City Arts & Lectures series at Herbst Theatre ("in conversation" with Kevin Berger, Salon) with tickets my brother gave his nibs for Christmas.

What a funny, bright guy Gladwell is. Sharp. Verbal. Quick.

I really don't care if you think he dumbs down science or puts his own spin on things. I think he'd be a great guy to hang out with at a coffee shop and discuss the world and what he was working on.

I'll be looking for his writing in The New Yorker even more than I was before.

Bits from last night.

KB: You start Outliers talking about hockey players (and why successful professional hockey players are usually born in January, February, and March). Why?

MG: Well, because I'm Canadian.

Jeb Bush quote about the struggles he had to reach where he is today, which MG characterized as an "heroic struggle against advantage."

MG talked about the Beatles and how they became the best band evah. He mentioned that most people don't consider the fact that for years before they came to America and were discovered, they'd been the house band at a Hamburg strip club where they played eight hours a day for six days a week. Live. On stage. They were playing live (and getting better and better) for thousands of hours before they "made it."

"We have chosen to overlook the extraordinary discipline they devoted to their vocation."

We say, oh, they're talented. Or oh, they're lucky. They were neither. They played over a thousand live gigs before they "made it."

The talk was very interesting. Interesting enough that I'm Googling (Hi, Sergey! Hi, Larry!) as I speak. How many other videos are there out there of Gladwell doing his schtick.

He closed with a discussion of his mother, a brown Jamaican (as he called her), mixed race, and the advantages she had, and her parents, and her parents parents going back that made her what she is today.

His point is that just because you live here and are successful and don't worry where your next meal is coming from or where the fresh water is or the fuel you need to cook ... this all isn't due to the fact you worked so hard and sacrificed and were lucky but is more due to the fact that you were born into circumstances that put you where you are today.

Don't forget that.

Don't forget that those in less fortunate circumstances weren't born to your parents.

Or, as Phil Ochs would say

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
RIP Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan March 19, 1928 – January 13, 2009

Peter Falk ... described McGoohan as "the most underrated, under-appreciated talent on the face of the globe. I have never played a scene with another actor who commanded my attention the way Pat did."

I grew up on Secret Agent. I moved on to The Prisoner. I enjoyed watching McGoohan in his handsome-boy secret agent younger days and his villainous older days.

Talented guy. I'm glad he got his accolades while he was around to hear them.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008
RIP, Miss Eartha.
YouTube - Eartha Kitt - C'est Si Bon (Live Kaskad 1962)

RIP, Miss Eartha. You gave a ton of pleasure to a zillion folks. Here's hoping you wind up with the folks you would want to spend the rest of eternity with.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany - Telegraph
Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany - Telegraph

I don't know this guy at all. I'm certainly not very Christian, if at all, and not Anglican, so his pronouncements are as important as ... nothing.

But man, I love that face, hair, beard, eyebrows.

Especially the eyebrows.

This man could be Gandalf in a different setting.

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Monday, November 24, 2008
The Dunlap Question
Item listed in an upcoming Sotheby's auction.

Item: a sheet of paper with the header, THE DUNLAP QUESTION, with typed questions and scribbled answers from F Scott Fitzgerald. (est: $8-$12K)

The basic question is followed by questions that refine the basic question and answer.

You make a quick survey of your whole life, remembering all your pains and all your pleasures, the humiliations and triumphs, the regrets and satisfactions, the miseries and the happiness. Then suppose you are compelled to make the following decision, with no alternative?

1. Live through your whole life again, just exactly as before, with no opportunity to better it by your present experience, or

2. Die instantly.

Which would you choose?


Interesting question.

The person posing the questions: Gilbert Seldes


I'm still pondering.

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Friday, November 07, 2008
Nathan Sawaya's Lego sculptures at
Amazing work.

I've written about Lego sculptures and sculptors before, but never linked to Nathan Sawaya's Lego sculptures.

Well, for one thing, I don't think they existed the last time I wrote about Legos (in 2002).

Here's an article on his sculptures from (The media show at the first link is from the same source.)

And here's Sawaya's Web site - the Art of the Brick.


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Thursday, November 06, 2008
Name the New White House Puppy!
We were watching Obama's acceptance speech and he was talking about Sasha and Malia and I said to his nibs, "And they get a PUPPY!"

... the next thing Obama said was, "and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

Well, now there's all the yammer about what =sort= of dog they should get and whether it should be a pound puppy or not.

What to name the puppy? is the next question.

Well, here are some ideas from the New Yorker, including "Checkers":

I think they should name it "Chesapeake" and call it "Chess," as a fitting counterpoint to "Checkers."

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008
'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies -
'Jurassic Park' author, 'ER' creator Crichton dies -

RIP, Michael Crichton.

Crichton drove me nuts some times. His skepticism of global climate change and global warning encourage the nutcases.

STATE OF FEAR (2005) was lecturing and personal lobbying at its worse. The science wasn't true and Crichton based his story on "information" that wasn't.

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist and co-founder of* reviewed the book and the science. Read it and see why my teeth grind when I think of that book.

That said, Crichton entertained me over the years. His tales were gripping. He was a smart guy who knew a lot and knew how to weave what he had into intriguing, page-turning books. He helped pay his way through college writing novels, medical thrillers. In 1969, Crichton won an Edgar for A CASE OF NEED, written under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson, probably because of its subject matter: abortion. (We're talking 1968 here.)

ANDROMEDA STRAIN, JURASSIC PARK and ER are fitting legacies.


*(Weather Underground, a weather service of which our uphill neighbor, not William Ayers, is president of the BoD.)

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Sunday, November 02, 2008
His nibs & Sal

Nerds in costume. Prior to wandering around SF on Hallow E'en'

Oh, wait. There I am before the party started!

There we are. We were marvelous. A good time was had by all.

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Wife of former 49er Young voting No on Prop. 8
Friday, October 31, 2008
Love Story–Gold Winner: Los Muertos
Best Travel Writing - Love Story–Gold Winner: Los Muertos

Lovely story and timely with its Día de los Muertos theme.

[via a link from James O'Reilly's twitterfeed]

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Chris Buckley on Rush Limbaugh at The Daily Beast
Chris Buckley on Rush Limbaugh at the Daily Beast.

Hoo boy.


As these words were going out over the Excellence in Broadcasting network, my father's corpse was still warm. It was a day of passions, I know, and things get said in the heat of passion. But reading these words, in the cooler air of October—not that this October has been devoid of passion—well, as me old mater might say, I found them a bit…de trop.

That's French for "a bit much," and I'm putting it that way by way of stipulating that I am a card-carrying member of the Eastern seaboard, proletarian-despising media elite. My idea of roughage is arugula. I have not to date tasted moose meat and hope never to, unless it is served to me at La Grenouille, by Charles Masson, personally and under glass. As for politics, we elites have always inclined toward the black candidate who grew up with a single mother on food stamps, as opposed to the third-generation Annapolis cadet.

I am having these pensées (more French, learned at an elite New England boarding school) about el Rushbo because a few days ago, following my J'accuse! (okay, okay, I'll cut it out)—following my "I'm voting for Barack" teachable moment in this space, I received, amidst other howls of outrage and a pink slip from NR, formal notification that I had arrived, career-wise. It took the form of a headline:



Well, you can mock Christopher Buckley, but reap your whirlwind, sir.

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Monday, October 27, 2008
RIP Tony Hillerman
Tony Hillerman has died at age 83.

My favorite memory of him was his appearance as guest at the first fundraiser dinner for (what now is known as) the Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries back in the early nineties. The Foundation had originally asked Robert Campbell to be guest speaker but Campbell answered (hashhish remembering here) something to the effect that Campbell really wasn't so hot with the public speaking thing. If he had been good at it, Campbell said, he probably would've chosen a vocation other than writing. But he knew this guy. ...

Hillerman signed one of my hardback first editions before the dinner and kept the audience laughing during dinner with his dry wit and self deprecating stories of bloopers he'd made and his life as a writer. Hillerman all-in-all proved to be a generous, charming, raconteur sort of a guy.

Hillerman did a lot for the mystery-writing community and writers in general, a lot for libraries and readers. He earned the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Talking mysteries : a conversation with Tony Hillerman and Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir are excellent introductions to Hillerman the writer and his writing.

Hillerman's writing evoked the Southwest. His mysteries were appreciated by the Navajo nation because of his depictions of and respect for the native culture. The Navajo Tribal Council honored him with its Special Friend of the Dineh award in 1987.

He was one of a kind.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The Last Tour by Wm. Finnegan
The Last Tour by Wm. Finnegan. A New Yorker essay on brothers Travis and Willard Twiggs. Their lives. Their deaths.

Sad, sad, sad.

"I just don't get that. I'm having a real hard time with it. I can't believe he would leave me, can't believe he would leave us, leave our girls."

She took more deep breaths. "But he really left us a long time ago. He tried to come back. But he couldn't. That was not my husband out there."

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Clean out your space. Read something beautiful.
Make your life good. Invest in what's real. Cook a meal for someone you love. Pause before reacting. Clean out your space. Read something beautiful. Treat yourself to something. Go to a city you've never been to. Learn something new. Don't be lazy. Workout and stick with it. GOOP. Make it great."

-- Gwyneth Paltrow. Intro to her new lifestyle Web site: GOOP. Not much there yet, but I loved this intro.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
RIP MJT (1924 - 11 Sep 2008)
Mom's gone home.

Big, boisterous, raucous family of eight now consists of three siblings.
Fourth of six children is now oldest of three remaining family members, by two years.

Not what I expected, growing up.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well done, Hillary.
Amazing speech.

"No way. No how. No McCain."

"Keep going. ..."

Well done, Hillary.

Part I
Part II
Part III

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Monday, August 25, 2008
Michelle Obama @ DNC
Took me a long time to get the vid for this, so if you've been having the same sorts of issues, here you go.

I don't remember other political spouses doing their thing at conventions.

Michelle's was ... pretty good! I think.

... and I think, after labeling this "politics," maybe I should have a "2008 elections" label, eh?

Update: I've added an election2008 label to the stasho'labels. I'll fill it in over the next while.

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Ted at the DNC
Towse's True Confessions...

I have never been a Ted Kennedy fan, for various reasons I won't go into here.

But this made me cry.

(Thought it was interesting that C-SPAN thought they had to identify Caroline Kennedy as "daughter of John F. Kennedy".)

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Sunday, August 24, 2008
Joe Biden and smart women
Adele Stan @ Huffington Post (Careful, Joe! "Smart Woman" Jokes a Dicey Game) isn't the only commentator to hear Biden's crack about his wife Jill's doctorate degree as a slam against smart women with too much education.

"Ladies and gentlemen, my wife Jill, who you'll meet soon, is drop dead gorgeous. My wife Jill, who you'll meet soon, she also has her doctorate degree, which is a problem."

Call me naive or slow to take offense when none's intended, but I interpreted that kidding to be aimed at her doctorate degree not on the fact she's a woman with a doctorate degree.

Joe Biden has a law degree from Syracuse University. Jill Biden has a PhD in Education from the University of Delaware.

In the words of a famous person, "Lighten up, folks."

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
"We become what we think about." Earl Nightingale
I grew up listening to short, inspirational spots on KCBS narrated by Earl Nightingale.

What a voice that man had.

Through some weird click to click to link to click, I stumbled across a free audio of Earl Nightingale's classic The Strangest Secret today over at the Mark Victor Hansen site with added commentary by MVH, but ... well, I stopped the audio to write down a thought and backtrack and had to start ALL OVER AGAIN!.

and again...
and again...

Yeeks. Can't deal with that.

Go over to YouTube and find Earl Nightingale's The Strangest Secret, unfiltered and uncommented.

part 2
part 3

"We become what we think about." -- Earl Nightingale
"A man is what he thinks about all day long." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you want Mark Victor Hansen (he of CHICKEN SOUP fame) and his commentary and Earl Nightingale's classic, here 'tis.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008
Orwell's Diaries
Orwell's Diaries

The Orwell Prize, Britain's pre-eminent prize for political writing, is publishing George Orwell's diaries as a blog. From 9th August 2008, Orwell's domestic and political diaries (from 9th August 1938 until October 1942) will be posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the entries were written.

Orwell's 'domestic' diaries begin on 9th August 1938/2008; his 'political' diaries (which are further categorised as 'Morocco', 'Pre-war' and 'Wartime') begin on 7th September 1938/2008.

The diaries are exactly as Orwell wrote them. Where there are original spelling errors, they are indicated by a ° following the offending word.

[via Laughing Squid]

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Archer gives a summary of the divorce judgment which is online (lengthy PDF) for all to peruse.

The summary is Classic Archer.

And, yes, I trundled off to read the PDF (well, not thoroughly and not all of it) and Archer did indeed capture the spirit of the Judge's decision.


(I confess that I'd forgotten who McGreevy was and then it was, oh, yeah. New Jersey. That Governor. The long suffering wife. The confessions of homosexuality. The aide who swore there'd been Friday night threesomes for years. Now I remember. Lovely.)

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Friday, July 25, 2008
RIP Randy Pausch

U.S. professor of inspirational "last lecture" dies

Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:46pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Randy Pausch, a university professor whose "last lecture" celebrating life in the face of terminal cancer became a book which made him a best-selling sensation, died on Friday at age 47.

Pausch died at home of complications from pancreatic cancer, Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught for 10 years, reported on its Web site.

The computer science professor was best known for his "last lecture," entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," which he gave in September 2007 just weeks after learning he was suffering from terminal cancer.

Footage of the poignant and inspirational lecture became a hit on the Internet, viewed by millions of people.

A book based on the talk, "The Last Lecture," was translated into 30 languages and became an international bestseller, Carnegie Mellon, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said on its Web site.


The server at Carnegie Mellon is swamped and not responding, but when it comes up for air, click here for more Randy Pausch information. (I'd checked in just yesterday to see how he was doing. ... and was glad to see he was still with us. And, now, not.)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Anne Seddon Kinsolving Brown, On Collecting
Friday, June 06, 2008
William F. Buckley
Hillsdale College - William F. Buckley: "This website contains the complete writings of William F. Buckley, Jr. Transcripts from his long-running TV show, Firing Line are available at the Hoover Institution."

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Artists' notebooks

Intriguing what folks have done with their Moleskine notebooks.

Eric Hoffer used Boorum & Pease Memo Books, 4 1/2 x 7 1/4, 98 pages. There are 131 notebooks in the archives, dating from 1949-1977. Hoffer used his notebooks as places to stash his thoughts, which he would later retrieve and craft into his published writings. In all, the Hoover Institute, which holds the Hoffer archives, has seventy-five feet of Hoffer work.

Paul Madonna uses yet another type of small notebook, sketchbook. Neither Moleskine nor B&P, I don't think.

I am an obsessive note-taker, carrying a book on me at all times. I have a theory that we have only so much space available in our brains to remember thoughts. A small percentage of ideas are realized, and if we waste energy holding onto what may later turn out to be a trite idea, we may have missed or forgotten the one of gold. he says.

He revisits his notebooks frequently looking for ideas for his work. In his studio, he has a shelf holding all his notebooks since he began his journey. All his drawings ... he can go back and find something he drew three years ago and remember the angle of a gable or the detail on a portico. Or he can go back to when he first started drawing faces and see how he's changed. He can find snippets of conversation he's overheard or ideas of something to draw. I look at his notebooks and think, wow. This guy is really focussed on what he does. This guy has an archive of thoughts and sketches that will feed his muse for a long long time to come.

I always intend to keep a notebook that captures it all. I have a few Moleskine notebooks that I've bought (because I like blank, bound books) and which the younger nib has given me (accompanied by "Write, Mom!" sorts of notes). I usually wind up, though, with scatterings and scraps of paper with dates and notes and words I need to look up, meanings known but not really, allusions known but not really, quotes that appeal. ... The scraps of paper are often the tab end of a full-page ad on non-magazine stock. Know what I mean? You tear out the ad and there, at the back end of the magazine, is a strip of paper stock about 3" wide and the height of the magazine.

I sorted and stacked Monday for the FirstMonday meeting at my place that night. I wound up with a large envelope (picked out of the daily mail, 'natch) filled with these scraps of paper. (And that's just the bits and pieces lying around uncaged.) Later I'll re-copy them onto blank notebook pages but ... where's the retrieval mechanism except for thumbing through old notebooks?

When world famous author Sal dies, there will be some archive of what made her tick besides the unreachable archives of what she wrote on a computer and posted to the Web lo' these many years past. There will be dozens of half-used notebooks where Sal started thinking about keeping track of her thoughts and where she was and where she thought she was going and then ...

Do you use a notebook to stash and store anything? Pictures? Notes? Thoughts? Do you draw in your notebook? Have a grid that you adhere to? Add color. Write lies?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008
Louise Ure - Muderati - Funeral Music
Louise Ure has a good blog post over at Murderati, the typepad blog that rotates posts by murder writers through the week.

Her post this Tuesday was about funeral music -- specifically, your funeral music. What music would you choose to play at your funeral?

When my cousin died, the family and her friends gathered at Pfeiffer Beach down in Big Sur. The music that played while her dad waded out into the surf to sprinkle ashes was Joan Baez singing Amazing Grace, a capella.

When Elizabeth died, her granddaughter sang Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings, a capella:

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

One of the songs Ure mentions is this one, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's medley of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World.

What is the music of your life, your soundtrack?

My answer later. We're off (on this friggin' hot afternoon -- up over 93dF upstairs) to the Waterfront Restaurant down by Pier 5 the Ferry Building for a Spanish wine tasting.


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Thursday, May 01, 2008
Grapes 2.0
Yay, me! I just caught up on eighty back posts at grapes 2.0, dating back to before we left for Jordan/Egypt in March.

bloglines lets me know just how far behind I get on the umpty ump RSS feeds I've stashed away here.

So, I go away for a while or don't hang out on the computer for a while and before you know it, a blog I track has EIGHTY POSTS I haven't read yet with more added each day.

Fine. Caught up on grapes2.0.

Next up Sara Zarr's blog: 116 posts behind on that one. ...

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Thursday, April 24, 2008
Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This Is How We Lost to the White Man
'This Is How We Lost to the White Man'

Article in the May Atlantic about Bill Cosby's activism and his path from I Spy and the Huxtables to his Pound Cake speech and on.

The Web article includes a link to a vid interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote the article. Both the article and the Coates interview are time well-spent.

Link: The Pound Cake Speech - Bill Cosby, speaking 17 May 2004 in Washington, DC, at the NAACP's 50th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education (text and audio)

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Sunday, April 13, 2008
View from the Hill
In today's Chron ... a view from the Hill


The text was influenced by the mystery I'm allegedly working on. (Nothing about people with telescopes and/or wheelchairs. Honest!)

Update: Updated link to Madonna strip. Previous link was 404.

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Monday, February 11, 2008
YouTube - IT'S OVER Roy Orbison

Amazing what's available on YouTube.

I'm a huge fan of Orbison. I will probably bounce from YouTube to YouTube to YouTube to ... until (not long from now) I decide I'm about ready to crash.

Claudette. Pretty Woman. Running Scared.

Blue Bayou

from Orbison to Patsy Cline

to Hank Williams

to ... well ... oddly enough there's nothing much on YouTube from Cisco Houston.

Joan Baez, however. ...

I bought a photograph of Mimi and Debbie Green, taken while Mimi lived on Alta. The two are goofing off at the corner of Union and Montgomery, with the piers and Bay as backdrop.

Thank you, John Cooke.

Cooke sold me a piece of his life. Man, I love the Web and the John Cookes of the world.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008
Michelle Obama - Be Not Afraid

[Note: Previous link went 404. New link added.]

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Sunday, February 03, 2008
Obama - Yes, we can.
Liked this. 4:30m video. "Obama. Yes, we can" from

Forwarded on to me by the younger younger Guy. Thanks.

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Friday, February 01, 2008
Yaze! for Baze!
Golden Gate Fields Sees Russell Baze's 10,000th Racing Win [KCBS]

Years and years and years ago, I read horse race results at the back of the sports section in the San Jose Mercury News. Didn't take me long to discover that a bet on whatever horse Russell Baze was riding was a good bet to place.

Congrats to Baze, who won his first race in 1974 in Yakima, WA, on a horse trained by his father, Joe.

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Noonan's take on Ted Kennedy, the Clintons, and Barack Obama (oh, and those pesky Republicans too ...)
A Rebellion and an Awkward Embrace
February 1, 2008 / Wall Street Journal

In the most exciting and confounding election cycle of my lifetime, Rudy Giuliani, the Prince of the City, is out because he was about to lose New York, John Edwards is out, the Clintons are fighting for their historical reputations, and the stalwart conservative New York Post has come out strong and stinging for Barack Obama. If you had asked me in December if I would write that sentence in February, I would have said: Um, no.

Noonan's column continues ...

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Monday, January 21, 2008
Letter from Birmingham Jail
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Day, I reprise a view from the Hill.

Read the post and the Letter from Birmingham Jail. (the "letter" on the blog post is 404).

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The World Question Center -- 2008
The World Question Center -- 2008:

So far, 165 contributors, including Alan Alda, John Baez, Greg Benford, Aubrey de Grey, Ricahrd Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil, J Craig Venter ...

Interesting ...

e.g. Stewart Brand


The message finally got through. Good old stuff sucks. Sticking with the fine old whatevers is like wearing 100% cotton in the mountains; it's just stupid.

Give me 100% not-cotton clothing, genetically modified food (from a farmers' market, preferably), this-year's laptop, cutting-edge dentistry and drugs.

The Precautionary Principle tells me I should worry about everything new because it might have hidden dangers. The handwringers should worry more about the old stuff. It's mostly crap.

(New stuff is mostly crap too, of course. But the best new stuff is invariably better than the best old stuff.)

[via Mark Morford]

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People in Order by Lenka Clayton and James Price

100. ... (Is that it?)

Brilliant idea.

[via Laughing Squid]

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Yes! You can live in San Francisco for not much money at all!
Monica (of Sexploration with Monica) sleeps around housesits.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008
Clare T. Newberry
Over at Grapes 2.0 the Sour One is taking a poll asking what we think is the "Most beautiful children's book".

I've answered, have you?

In my answer I mentioned both Chris Van Allsburg and Clare T (Turlay) Newberry as favorite author/illustrators (although beautiful illustration doesn't seem to be the ultimate intent of the Flemish poll that triggered all this yakyak).

I first encountered Newberry's books when I was a page at the San Jose Public Library back in the early 70s. Shelving books in the Children's Room one day, I came across Newberry's book Smudge and promptly fell in love with her cat/kitten sketches.

Check out what I'm talking about. I love the way she was able to convey the cat-ness of the cats and kittens and the texture of their fur.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Better late than never.

Last May, in honor of its one-year anniversary, The Rap Sheet organized The Rap Sheet's ONE BOOK PROJECT.

We invited more than 100 crime novelists, book critics, and bloggers from all over the English-speaking world to choose the one crime/mystery/thriller novel that they thought had been "most unjustly overlooked, criminally forgotten, or underappreciated over the years."

Interesting list. Steve Hockensmith, author of Holmes on the Range and On the Wrong Track, nominates THE DOORBELL RANG (1965) by Rex Stout and explains why. J.D. Rhoades, lawyer, blogger, and author of Safe and Sound nominates Katy Munger's MONEY TO BURN [1999]. Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood, chose Robert Traver's ANATOMY OF A MURDER.

... and the list goes on.

If you're a crime fiction fan, this list will keep you in reading material for a long, long time.

[via The Rap Sheet]

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Sunday, December 16, 2007
Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation
Greenspan must really miss not having everyone hang on his every word now that he's not Fed Chair and Bernanke's doing what Bernanke thinks needs doing to offset the subprime meltdown that's happening (and all the dominos falling after) because of decisions made on Greenspan's watch.

Doesn't seem to be a week go by when I don't see "Greenspan says" "Greenspan sees" headlines.

Who really cares what Greenspan sees or says. He's outta there.

What's Bernanke going to do is the question.

Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation

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Terry Pratchett news.

I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

continues ...

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Check out Geoff Manaugh's BLDGBLOG: Architectural Conjecture, Urban Speculation, Landscape Futures.

A plethora of goodies.

Geoff Manaugh has a book (BLDGBLOG) out from Chronicle Books in Spring 2009 and moved to this fair ville in September to become a senior editor at Dwell.

More about Manaugh here.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007
Watch Daily Show Video Clips Online
By golly they DID IT!

Watch Daily Show Video Clips Online

Comedy Central's putting all Daily Show videos online (paired with subtle and well-thought-out advertising, natch).

1999-Now. Seven thousand one hundred twenty-eight videos so far.

The national productivity index makes a whooshing sound as it plummets by.

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Paul Madonna - Open Studio 2007
Paul Madonna Open Studio
Sat & Sun, October 20 & 21
290 Guerrero St, @ 15th (San Francisco)
(Top Buzzer)

Paul Madonna Web site

7x7 article on All Over Coffee, Paul Madonna's new(ish) collection of drawings.

Madonna's collection is a classic, the perfect gift for the San Francisco-philes of your acquaintance.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
NYC Bride Sues Florist Over Flower Color
NYC Bride Sues Florist Over Flower Color [AP]

The florist sez he told her he probably couldn't match exactly the color she wanted. He provided pastel pink and green hydrangeas when the bride wanted dark rust and green ones.

Ruined her day, it did.

Bride is an attorney and is suing for $400K in restitution and damages.

And get this: the original flower bill was for $27,435.14!

Yikes. I hope her dear husband knows what he's getting into.

[More complete NYTimes article]

[tons of comments at the SFChronicle]

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Friday, September 21, 2007
"If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."
Read/watch this lecture, billed as Randy Pausch's "last lecture."

As an intro, the article in the WSJ that talks about the lecture.

The video of the speech is an hour and three-quarters if you watch to the very end. There's also an edited five-minute video, but it doesn't capture what the full video does.

Randy Pausch's speech (and Randy Pausch), inspirational.

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A coach. An act of kindness. Goosebumps. Tears.
The video this post links to is dashing around the Web this week even though it was taken four years ago.

Made me cry. I'm sure the young woman singing the National Anthem still remembers that night and the kindness of Mo.

Check out this article, written not long after the video was taken in 2003.


Also check out Patti Digh's blog, 37days, which is where this all came from.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Who knew? Brian Hyland
I was reading someone's blog tonight and they mentioned Brian Hyland and Gypsy Woman.

Gypsy Woman? What? I knew Gypsy Woman, of course, but had never associated it with Hyland. Why would I? I knew Hyland because of his big hit in the summer of 1962, Sealed With A Kiss. I know it was 1962 because that was the summer after fifth grade, the school year when I'd swooned over Phil Johnston, whose sister Sheila was in my older sister's class. When school ended in June, Phil'd up and moved away. Sealed With A Kiss, was my anthem that summer as I mooned about. Sealed with a kiss, if only.

Same Brian Hyland? How many Brian Hyland's singing in that time frame could there be?

So, I popped /"brian hyland" "gypsy woman" "sealed with a kiss"/ into Google and found out Hyland wasn't a one hit wonder. He was indeed the same dude and, furthermore, his first and biggest hit (recorded in 1960 when he was a sophomore in high school) was Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini, written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss.

Who knew?

Last, but not least, my Web searching scored me a vid of Hyland lip-synching Sealed With A Kiss on some bandstand show, probably Dick Clark's.

Check out the dancers! There's a classic nerd with black rimmed glasses and plaid jacket and a girl doing what looks like the Frug. (No, not those on the stage behind him. Later in the video. Watch! The guy she's dancing with is dressed in a buttoned cardigan sweater. No lie!)

Nostalgia hits hard tonight.

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We are children of the stars
Love Kristofferson's voice.

Video of a song from last year's album: In the News

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Interview with Elizabeth George
Interview with Elizabeth George in the June 2007 WRITER Magazine. [Caution: PDF!]


You talk a great deal about the craft of writing. What do you mean?

It's important for beginning writers to learn the craft, the basics, of writing. You can't teach somebody to be a creative artist, to have talent or passion, but you can teach somebody craft. Whether they can apply it in an artistic fashion, well, that's in the hands of the gods. But they can certainly learn what the craft of writing is.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
[OBIT] Norman P. Canright
Norman P. Canright

Faced with the need to support his family, Norman plunged into commerce at the age of 40, first working on the docks as a ship's clerk, until he was hired as a temporary clerk with a small importing company, R. Dakin & Company. When the F.B.I. called company president Roger Dakin to suggest that he might not want to hire a "Red," he reportedly told them to mind their own business. Norman quickly advanced to sales manager, then to vice president for sales, and member of the board of directors, as he helped to build R. Dakin into the second largest firm in the nation in the benign business of plush stuffed animals.

Great story of an interesting life well lived.


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Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Greatest Obituary Ever?
Labeled "THE GREATEST OBITUARY EVER" by Poor Mojo Newswire

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

[... Continues]

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Saturday, July 07, 2007
For Villaraigosa: Sex, lies and eyes that pry
For Villaraigosa: Sex, lies and eyes that pry - commentary by Timothy Rutten in the LA Times.

Is this affair a newsworthy tidbit? Is it any business of ours? Is it the business of people who watch Salinas on Telemundo or who live in the city for which Villaraigosa is mayor?

Is it newsworthy only as relates to whether Salinas should've kept covering the news? Had she told her bosses about the relationship? Does it matter whether Salinas and Villaraigosa were "just friends" or lovers? If she told her bosses "just friends" and not "lovers," should that have affected the limits her bosses put on her reportage?

Oh, the questions, the reckless behavior, the conflict-of-interest.

Does it even matter except as a way of selling the news in an industry where the more news sold the better?

My favorite part of Rutten's commentary is his reprise of the late Abe Rosenthal's standard in such cases:

It doesn't matter if a reporter sleeps with elephants, so long as they don't cover the circus.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Maurice Kanbar
The current issue of Northside (not available online, alas) features a cover photo and a profile of Maurice Kanbar, inventor, philanthropist, &c.

Who he? I thought.

Turns out back when he was a young man, Kanbar (who is no longer a young man) invented and patented the D-Fuzz-It sweater comb and made a packet.

Later, Kanbar patented the Safety Glide hypodermic needle protector, a cryogenic cataract remover and the Tangoes puzzle game. He also launched New York's first multiplex theatre back when and, in 1992, founded SKYY Spirits, LLC, corporate home to SKYY Vodka.

He's had his successes and also his failures. Renaissance Man or just having fun?

He doesn't work, he says. If you enjoy what you're doing, it's not work.

Kanbar has made a pocketful of change. The article profiles his passions and his philanthropy. If you can find a copy of Northside, read the article.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007
Baldwin sez sorry for ripping his 11-year-old daughter, but Basinger has driven me 'to the edge'
Baldwin sez sorry for ripping his 11-year-old daughter, but Basinger has driven me 'to the edge'

Yah yah yah. Wah wah wah. Excuses. Excuses.

sniff -- I'm so sorry for ya, Alec.

I think the most telling thing of this (yes, brutal) phone message (text here) left for Baldwin's eleven-year-old daughter is this

I don't care that you're twelve or eleven or whatever, are you pig [or so the transcript reads. maybe should be "big"?] enough to pick it up? I'm a good father, and you're a pig. I don't give a shit. Good father. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you thoughtless pain in the ass?

So. Does Alec think his daughter that he loves so much is twelve? or does he think she's eleven?

Why doesn't he even know fer sure how old she is?

What a darling he is.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007
CBS5 brings you thirty minutes with Gavin un-cut. No question off the table.
KPIX brings you thirty minutes un-cut of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom answering questions from KPIX CBS5's Hank Plante.

An exclusive and you can bet your bottom dollar Newsom's not going through this for each and every one of you newshounds out there. You could almost see Gavin draw in a breath after some questions and thinking, what is he going to ask next.

(And, sweet mercy, when will this be over?)

Plante: "Let me ask you another question. ... There are rumors that you also used cocaine and other substances..."

(The actual news spot was far shorter. That's also available at the site.)

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Craig Ferguson and his heartfelt why-I-won't-trash-Britney remarks
Twelve minutes.

Well worth it.

Craig Ferguson's monologue from Tuesday, 20 Feb 2007.

I'd embed it for you (tried!) but CBS isn't allowing embedding.

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Friday, January 19, 2007
Racism? Or Jealousy and Envy? Or Just Showmanship?
For those who aren't living under a rock (hey, even I know about this and I haven't had the TV on since ... oh, about October), there's a brou going on over at Celebrity Big Brother (over 38K protests already logged) about the interactions between some of the other contestants and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood movie star.

The long time sponsor, Carphone Warehouse, has canceled their sponsorship. Tempers run high, and so do the viewer stats.

I finally clicked over to YouTube this morning to check out some clips of what's been happening.

The Economist has what I think is probably the right take on the situation.

The crap these people are throwing at Shilpa Shetty is less about racism (although the bullies do pick on Shetty's Indian face and clothes and cooking and what-all because they think that's where she's vulnerable) and more about the fact that Shetty is beautiful, poised, well-spoken, well-off and in all ways a success, a celebrity in her own right.

The contrast between her circumstances and those of her bulliers is striking.

They're jealous. They're eaten up with envy. They are showing the world less what is wrong with Shetty and her Indian background and more about what is inherently wrong with them. The more they beat up on Shetty and the more grace she shows, the less she breaks down because of the verbal battering, the more infuriated they become.

What a bunch of jerks.

Shetty is grace under pressure, a lot of pressure. She'll come out of this with her halo intact, nay even polished. Perhaps her grace is a form of passive aggression, perhaps she's classy because she knows it drives them nuts.

Maybe so, but the others? They simply come across as jealous lusers. Bullies. Cretins. Crap.

My take.

Or is it all just theater? The Age comes through with a different slant.

As feminist Germaine Greer, who appeared in a previous Big Brother, argued in The Guardian, Shetty is "a very good actress". "Everything about (Shetty) is infuriating," Greer said. "Everyone hates her because she wants them to. The problem is that most of the housemates are too dim to convey what a pain in the arse Shilpa is without appearing to persecute her."

Some papers are calling Greer's commentary a defense of Shetty.

You think? I don't. I don't think Germaine Greer much likes Shetty either.


We now return you to things that matter.

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: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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