Friday, February 29, 2008

Movin' on up out of the second round

"See that out there? That's my job, sucker."

First, there was some early wheeling-and-dealing. Gone? Our second round pick. Arriving? Fifth-year Packers defensive end Corey Williams.

Second, there was the three-year deal given to Derek Anderson.

I leave you with what local Browns beat writer Tony Grossi said:

So now the Browns have a quarterback controversy, a defensive tackle and no picks in the first and second rounds.

There's got to be more to this.
Gee, you think?

Kindred spirits

"They don't care for most things."

Oh, and happy birthday to all the fucking weirdos born on this sporadic day, such as burlesque performer Tempest Storm, Brazilian cartoonist Jaguar and that noted sybarite, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I wouldn't honk the honk if I couldn't tonk the tonk

Beer? Really? I would've figured this gang for moonshine. Man, that chick in the blue and white looks a little like Anne-Sophie Mutter, doesn't she? And here I thought she was from Deutschland.

If I was their landlord, and they started playing this crap at all hours, their lease wouldn't be broken, but something would be.

Um, derby-wearing banjo guy, what the hell are you doing with that pocket watch? Hypnotizing me? Not bloody likely!

*eerie music in the background*

Everyone knows H-A-R-R-I-GAN.
Everyone loves H-A-R-R-I-GAN.
They're the life of every party.
They encourage everyone to get "into the act."
Because it's a real party.

Get "into the act." Y-E-S-SIR.

Hey you there with the glasses!
The Honky Tonks want you.
The Honky Tonks want you at the front!
They've wanted to do this for years!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The subject of today's post -- no, not this crap -- comes from a suggestion given to me by the lovely and talented Betty C., who just happens to reside in France. Normally, I'd drop the defense mechanisms and happily submit to the pain of jealousy, displaying said emotion through a fit of juvenile vulgarity, but since I'm a lazy, lazy man -- hell, I am gleefully using her suggestion -- I'll refrain from that deadly sin. But just for today.

Anyway, ten movies that I've intended to watch, but haven't, in the order that they stumbled into my thought processor:

1. The Third Man
2. Band à part
3. Les yeux sans visage
4. Umberto D.
5. Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie
6. Metropolis
7. The Big Sleep
8. The Asphalt Jungle
9. Hearts and Minds
10. Manos: the Hands of Fate (I haven't even seen the MST3K episode!)

It was harder to come up with that list than I would've anticipated, and I'm wondering why I've never gotten around to seeing these flicks (it rhymes with 'cracker'). En plus, I had to use my brain. No more suggestions, people!

One final bit of housekeeping crap. Apparently, I'm supposed to pass this thing on to ten other suckers after signing -- in triplicate -- my receipt of it:

Everyone on my blogroll deserves one, so take it, please. If that means you will have two, or even three, so be it! That means you're, like, super gnarly and not at all skilled in spoon gaggery.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm so excited!

Wow! Both Tweety --

-- no, the other one --

-- and Pumpkinhead --

-- no, the other one --

-- listen, asshole, the other asshole --

-- thank you. Sheesh. Those two Manly Men of Aqua Velva Reporting Manliness, complete with Codpiece accessory, will be in my hometown, not all that far from where I live and work!

Be right back, I have to go projectile vomit and find an American flag lapel pin. That's how we knew Larry Craig's wide stancing gay bathroom sex and David Vitter's deviant diapering were patriotic acts: they had on their lapel pins. I don't want to be labeled as a commie pinko homo Hitleristic jihadist while I watch the debate with my equally commie pinko homo Hitleristic jihadist wife and our children, a future squadron of the suicide bomber corps of that Unholy Imam, Barack Hussein Osama.

P.S. This great American will be here too!

Who's a fan of this even greater American!

Why am I telling you this? In case the concentration of such gooey stupidity in one place coagulates into some blob-like creature that decimates the surrounding environs, you'll know why Cleveland will have disappeared off the face of the planet.

For a list of quality questions compiled by tomcat that in no way, size, shape or form, whether magic circle, cube, cylinder, trapezoid, dodecahedron or other assorted polygon, will be asked by Pumpkinhead -- or any talking hairpiece for that matter -- go here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Paint me something pretty

Yep, it's birthday time. Today's? Pierre-Auguste Renoir, probably most famous these days for an 1881 painting, Le Déjeuner des canotiers, a work recreated over and over by old man Dufayel in Amélie.

Unlike for an author, I can't exactly toss up a link about purchasing a celebrated painter's work -- unless you've got a few extra hundred million lying about -- but what I can do is toss up a link about purchasing a book about a painter and his or her work. Smart, huh. I knew that college edumacation would pay off someday, bringing me vast gobs of capitalist scratch in the process.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let the good times (blog)roll

Nothing beats lazy man blogging, but this is lazy man blogging for a good cause. Sure, not as good as donating money to the ASPCA, but good, nonetheless.

See, even I can be a nice guy now and then, payback for you fuckers being even nicer by having a blog worth visiting or being the nicest by braving my crappy one. Thanks, one and all.

American Street
Atomic Romance
Bicycle Built 4 Two
Birmingham Blues
Bob Harris
Brad Blog
Crooks and Liars
Current Jam
The Dean's Office
distributorcap NY
The Divine Democrat
Doghouse Riley
Dr. Zombie's Midnight Theater
Electronic Cerebrectomy
Evil Mommy
Freida Bee
The French Journal
From the Left
Function of Time
Gathering Up the Pebbles
Glenn Greenwald
Guys From Area 51
House of the Rising Sons
Idle Musings
If I Ran the Zoo
Impeachment and Other Dreams
The Invisible Woman
I, Splotchy
I Was Just Wondering
The Jade Gate
Jesus' General
Kelso's Nuts
La Belette Rouge
La France Profonde
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Left of Centrist
Let's Talk
Little Bang Theory
Little Country Lost
Mauigirl's Meanderings
Media Matters
Mock, Paper, Scissors
Monkey Muck
Morning Martini
My Inner French Girl
My Saturday Evening Post
The Nefarious Lair of LGPPP, Inc.
No More Mister Nice Blog
No Smoking In The Skullcave
Pam's House Blend
The Phil Nugent Experience
Phydeaux and Phriends
Pissed On Politics
Politics Plus
Poverty Barn
Roger Ailes, the non-stupid one
The Rude Pundit
Sadly, No!
Sarkozy the American
Suzi Riot
Talking Points Memo
Think Progress
A Tiny Revolution
Tom Tomorrow
Various Ecstasies
Voyages of the HMS Swiftsure
Watergate Summer
Welcome to Pottersville
When Will I Use This?
The White House (Don't laugh, some of their shit is funny as fuck. Wait.)
Who Hijacked Our Country
the world according to b
Wyld's Q & A
Yazoo Street Scandal
Zaius Nation

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Greatest Story Ever Told Better Kept Under Wraps

"Homer, you didn't tell me Mr. Burns went broke and lost the nuclear power plant!"
"Now I can't remember every little thing that happens in my day."
"You told me about that candy bar you found three times."
"You found a candy bar?"
"Oh yes. Gather around, my son, and I shall tell you a tale!"

A few lines will appear on a sheet and, in time, a complete and finished poem will be staring me in the face, daring me to laugh. And though my critical faculties certainly -- and deservedly -- wish to catalog the cornucopia of errors both technical and aesthetic, they are often silently shouted down by the emotions that feed that flowering of my all-too-often purple verse. Yet if I peel away the layers of sentiment and memory, I will sometimes uncover another, far more ominous, problem: the part-time delusions of grandeur of someone certainly not capable of even those lowered expectations.

Dude, Randal, what the fuck are you talking about, you say. Mellow out, 1.3 readers, I'm getting to that. Every now and then, after having written more than one poem within close chronological proximity, I cannot help but notice that some of the imagery will have been shared (like I'd willingly break up the sensual series of 's' sounds in the piece below). I would wager most poets have that so-called dilemma, you say. No, you don't understand, I'm always thieving myself (after first having stolen from others far better than I, naturally) and churning out one-track crap -- and pulling this off the shelf doesn't always clear the situation. But even the supreme Baudelaire suffered from the primordial desire to drink from the same wellspring on occasion, as another luminary, T.S. Eliot, pointed out once upon a time, you say. That's all well and good since they were masters whereas I am merely ranked among the most amateur of the amateurs. My point being -- yes, I do have one -- is that every now and then I summon forth a vision of a 'great' -- I use the term as loosely as a neocon uses ethics -- series of poems threaded with a narrative, if a not necessarily coherent and linear one, flowing through the same rivers of the spirit, the same tributaries of the heart.

A few completed pieces, miscellaneous stanzas, tossed-off fragments and a firm conviction to never try anything as foolish again is the typical end result of this first type of stubbornness, for such an attempt is inevitably fraught with melodramatic danger [cue appropriate music]: if I alter a word or a line, the narrative thrust might be improved, strengthened, but the poem itself permanently weakened.

Au fond, the least cringe-inducing example of the few that I've 'finished,' i.e. the ones I cannot take apart and rebuild any further either through deficiency of the requisite skills or subconscious self-deception. Given their collective lack of cohesion, I couldn't begin to say whether this one would appear near the beginning or the end, or would work best smack dab in the middle. Oh well, one more incomplete 'work.' It's a miracle worthy of Jesus-on-toast that I ever polished off that fucking novella.

And like a court jester, if merely to entertain only myself, I inevitably juggle such literary swords one more time. Hardee har har, look at what the dumbass is trying again. You're going to cut off your arm, you clown. Certainly worthy of mockery, but this court remains mine, nonetheless. For when one is, in addition to the fool, king of his own little imaginary kingdom of letters, one can do as he pleases. Of course, once the fruits of labor are displayed beyond the borders, well, don't be surprised if condemnation and an outright invasion by an army of insults ensues. Thus, a shift in strategy to the second type of such stubbornness, creating fresh pieces from the inspiration of a single poem -- extrapolating the sentiments contained within, exploring the shades and hues -- which is a safer route for the soul because one doesn't have to slice and dice. But fire up those pens and gather at the foot of a mountain of paper because you're going to be writing a whole hell of a lot. Maybe it's not safer, after all.

I reread the piece, and the surrounding air still resonated with the emotions that I failed to capture in the words, watching as images materialized into the real, as real as they could be à l'intérieur. The result? More pretentious, disordered poems about writing about longing about pining and faux-introspective, self-absorbed repose in evening hours from the realities of the world with some lovey-dovey gobbledygook thrown in for good measure. It's a truly awful and wonderful mess, full of half-baked symbolism, allusions to personal memories and junk that would only make sense to me -- no, it's certainly not as overloaded and linguistically and historically pointed -- or quite as long -- as Mr. Eliot's The Waste Land, thank Beelzebub, Belial and Mephistopheles. Fucking yikes. At least the source itself seen below isn't completely askew, but rather vague and pedestrian, so it makes for better reading I suppose. Anyway, I can give you fluidly erratic impressions until the cows come home, and they usually come home quite late, but a concrete, well-fabricated story underneath? Ha. I'll leave that up to the real writers. And what's with the proliferation of sonnets all of the sudden?

This ashen coil

Darkness draping shadow upon the floor,
broken volumes of the tenebrous sound.
The hour chimes, pages creep towards the door,
words slip asleep, whispers shimmer the ground.
Moonlight curls above, dreaming of a bloom,
a reliquary flush with memory
grasping hands. The face that lies in the tomb
searches far and wide for her alchemy.
To conjure heaven, the silent tower
brings forth from plucked pebbles the endless stair.
Neither scent nor sight of her rich flower
grows in this ancient gloom, no vision fair.
Cast eyes behind, naught but dust on the breeze;
past shattered glass, the blue of trackless seas.

Since I cannot separate emotions from words, the goddamn thing isn't vague and pedestrian at all. The outer surface may well be, but underneath? Churning as the storm-wracked ocean, which is perhaps better than what's hidden in that last line. A stout, yet graceful, wind, pushing away, gently, rhythmically, what I wish to remain.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tales from the Crypt

Now that's my kind of boatmanwoman. Every Tomb, Dick and Hairy will be after her. She can spook me anytime.

It would be a grave disservice to pass on listening to this album. Perish the thought, for if I had that skeleton in my closet, I would just die. But since we're all in good spirits, go on and bury whatever fears may be haunting you and open your heart. Just remember, you'll have to open your chest cavity first.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let's blow some shit up

Despite rumblings by talking sports hairpieces, this certainly caught me a bit off guard. Get it? Off guard?

Who would've thought at the beginning of the season that the Bulls would end up sucking as much as an elected Republican official that they'd all but give up in mid-February by trading their defensive (and yes, overpriced) centerpiece to a hated division rival while taking on said rival's salary cap albatross?

Sure he was inconsistent but I liked Drew Gooden, yet once we get our injured players back (Tweedledum, Tweedledumber and Boobie), I think we can challenge Boston and Detroit for the Eastern crown. Why? The Man With The Amazing Afro is going to have something to prove and we've added a legitimate outside shooter in Wally World. Sure, Wallace is indeed overpaid and aging not all that gracefully, but let's face it: the window is going to be slammed shut in a few years once LeBron leaves for shinier pastures.

Anyway, our roster as it currently stands:

5 Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Dwayne Jones
4 Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao
3 LeBron James, Joe Smith, Sasha Pavlovic
2 Wally Szczerbiak, Daniel Gibson, Devin Brown
1 Delonte West, Eric Snow, Damon Jones

Detroit is probably deeper with a more experienced starting five and Boston has the big three and an improving, youthful bench, but we have the one thing they don't: the best player in the league, and that gives us a puncher's chance.

Trickle up economics

"No, no, give me your money!"

Oh. Your. God. Someone wants to help someone less fortunate!

Let's get him!

It isn't a high-profile bill, but the Global Poverty Act has lit up the conservative blogosphere, and even Rush Limbaugh has gotten into the act.
Once they found out it wasn't about increasing global poverty, then yeah, they were all pretty pissed off. Can you blame them? The third world is rich with jungles full of fresh fruits and vegetables and many tasty tigers and giraffes and hippopotamuses. They certainly don't need a handout.
Quietly approved by the House of Representatives last fall with bipartisan support, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., would require the president to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to help reduce extreme global poverty.
Mark it down, kids. The first -- and last -- time that a gaggle of wingnuts publicly came out against anything associated with an 'Adam Smith.' But what has their collective panties in a not-at-all sensual Gordian knot?
Conservative critics, including Limbaugh, Tony Perkins — who heads the Family Research Council — and others, claim that the measure would cost U.S. taxpayers $845 billion over the next dozen or so years. They also charge that it would tie the United States to the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which, among others things, calls for banning "small arms and light weapons" and ratifying the Kyoto global-warming treaty, the International Criminal Court Treaty and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Preach on, Brother Perkins. Nothing says pro-family like small arms in every set of small arms, more monsoons and typhoons and environmental degradation destroying livelihoods thereby precipitating a surge -- yeah! surge! -- in the usage of said small arms that will lead to no charges whatsoever.

What? The lack of punishment is only reserved for white, Western warmongers? My bad. Sorry.
"This is how the Washington game of spending more of your money works," he [Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy In Media columnist] wrote. "This is a budget buster that siphons your hard-earned tax dollars to the U.N. and the rest of the world."
Damn right. Everyone knows your hard-earned tax dollars should be siphoned off to the likes of Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater.

And Obama was a Senate sponsor, so he eats Snowflake babies, or something equally horrid. Use your imagination.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Semper Dowland semper dolens

Per-Olav Kindgren plays Sir John Smith His Almain.

The origins and early life of composer and lutenist John Dowland remains quite the mystery to this day. What is as clear as the tears that flow from a pair of lovelorn eyes was that the guy wrote some of the most beautiful, haunting and melancholy instrumentals and songs in not just the English repertoire, but of all time.

The man was buried on this day in 1626, and since my consecutive posting streak died yesterday, I figured this was a fitting submission. More importantly, it's a dead man's party, so don't worry about baking a cake, POP. We'll all spin some sad and mournful Dowland and get drunk instead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hail (frog of) Satan!

"Vive la France, suckers!"

Sorry Anton, you missed out on having one of these for a pet by about 65 million years. Which is about 3000 years on the Fundie Jesus calendar.

The Devil Frog vs. Hypnotoad? Now that would be a pay-per-view worth purchasing.

Oh, when bad posts go marching in!

It's five o' clock halftime somewhere. So, I don't know, go drink beer, or something.

I'm not sure this particular album cover qualifies for filing under 'weirdness,' though. There's nothing especially weird about it --

-- although the referee's face does reveal the fact that he was once a former Nazi guard now in dire need of reconstructive surgery --

-- for the Lions do often loose*, and loose big, especially under a man who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of bad general managers. And we all laughed at the Wayne Fontes regime. Shame on us.

I don't know what the hell the NFL has to do with bad college marching band music.

Yes, I'm obviously scrambling. To see what an actual, gut-spilling, bloodied-human-emotion post looks like, go here. All you get today chez Randal is funky vinyl. Break out the brass!

*'loose' is a stronger version of 'lose,' in case you were wondering.
I believe it's Dutch.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

[clever title composed by your host]

[relating to the body of the post]

[with a fancy link or two]

['cause I've got nothing for you]

[save a pithy comment below]

[so on with this lame show]

[wait! a comical caption for good measure]

[the denouement of my bestest post ever!]

Saturday, February 16, 2008


What Bush and the rest of the neocon war criminals on both sides of the pond will sadly never have the chance to attempt. And if they did, it's not like they wouldn't have well-funded friends willing to reciprocate the scratching of the backs. For a price.

Oh, if only the enemy didn't have that seductive twinkle in her eye.
Then we wouldn't have to sleep with her, really, we wouldn't.

Oh, if only we knew a magic spell!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dirty little secrets

"Betcha can't guess what I'm doin', heh heh."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Forget chocolate, flowers and a fancy dinner

You didn't think a single post about a crotchety old lunatic would suffice on today of all days, did you? Come on.

Everyone loves love, no? Especially this time of year when countless fools wait until the last minute to scrounge through the Hallmark leftovers, vacillating between a red, pink or white envelope while hoping that there's still some of the good -- but not too good -- chocolate remaining. Oh, and cashier? One of these two dollar roses in the plastic wrap.

Bah, I say. Bah.

This is the stuff that works like a charm.

At least that's what my wife tells me, despite my clockwork failure, and she wouldn't lie to her husband.

Would she?

Oh well, even if that was the case, it's not like I still wouldn't write.

In honor of this inscrutable holiday able to combine, with more success than any other, the entire spectrum of emotions from dark to light -- and back again -- I shall offer up some poets well-versed -- now that's funny -- in l'amour, those that I tend to pilfer from read for inspiration in order to aide, along with a generous helping of music and the occasional glass of spirits, bien sûr, the creation of the godawful verse that I present to my sometimes-better-half. At least she cringes less than she used to.

"If you don't watch the violence, you'll never get desensitized to it."
"Please tell me when the scary part's over."
"It's over."

For starters, you can't go wrong with this lovesick dude plein de regrets of the French Renaissance, Joachim Du Bellay:

L'Olive, XXVIII*

My tongue, madame, would eagerly express
My thoughts to you when you bide far away,
But when I feel you close, naught can I say:
Suddenly it falls mute and powerless.

Thus hope both calms and kindles my distress;
Nearer I draw, yet farther seem to stay:
My pleasure is my woe, ah, welladay!
What most I crave, the least dare I possess.

Joyous by night and sad by day am I:
Sleep brings me what my waking hours deny;
The good I feel is false, the ill is true.

Woman I blame, yet faultless is she, quite;
Thus, Love, to ease my pain, I pray that you
Cut short my days, or grant me endless night.

I hear you, DB. Far easier to spill your guts in verse -- or in dream -- than in the spoken word. And how about his partner in poetical crime, Pierre de Ronsard, this one in the original French because let's face it, English may be the better language for rocking out, but it certainly isn't as sultry when it comes to versification. There's a reason it's classified as a 'romance' language, muah:

Le Second Livre des Sonnets pour Hélène, XIV

À l’aller, au parler, au flamber de tes yeux,
Je sens bien, je vois bien que tu es immortelle:
La race des humains en essence n’est telle:
Tu es quelque Demon ou quelque Anges des cieux.

Dieu pour favoriser ce monde vicieux,
Te fit tomber en terre, et dessus la plus belle
Et plus parfaite idée il traça la modelle
De ton corps, dont il fut lui-même envieux.

Quand il fit ton esprit, il se pilla soi-même:
Il prit le plus beau feu du Ciel le plus supréme
Pour animer ta masse, ainsi ton beau printemps.

Hommes, qui la voyez de tant d’honneur pourvu,
Tandis qu’elle est çà bas, soulez-en votre vue.
Tout ce qui est parfait ne dure pas long temps.

Sure, you may not know what it says -- I still have to reach for my bilingual dictionary from time to time, myself -- but it sure does sound beautiful. Moving forward in time, I'd be painfully remiss if I didn't mention the Romantics. No, not the fucking band, but all the literary and poetical figures to come out of that grand movement one reads in order to have their fragile ego brutally crushed under the inexorable weight of their collective genius. Here's a bit o' Shelley:

'Love's Philosophy'

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Cheesy by our sensibilities? Perhaps, but we live in a jaded, postmodern age where everything must be ironic and satirical, where love is gleefully murdered only to be brought back from the grave in the mummified film of a formulaic romantic comedy. I've nothing against a heaping dose of snark and ennui, evidemment, but the sap in some of us needs nourishment, lest it die, too.

And thus, we arrive at last to the work of a twenty-first century clown with no delusions of adequacy, who merely continues in the gently shadowed vein of the above, better composed, pieces. But I like to write, my wife feigns her enjoyment of reading them, and it closes out the post on a down note, in both quality and tone, and if I'm about anything, it's ending things poorly.

L’étoile seule

Words fail to take hold in the superheat,
marooned in a street where no one speaks my language.
And if I’d try and translate what I’d say,
the same as a blank stare anyway.
I ask only that you sing my verse, feel the liquid
of every bon mot in line, the note of a letter,
the curve of each sound resonate, all to serve as
the coursing of nothing through your veins –
watch how easily your heart cleans up my mess.

Everything grows more complex by the hour,
vagabond wisdom cast aside for emotion to glide in,
to reign with a beautiful tyranny;
a sentence of melancholy carried out with immediacy.
Pleasure thrown in prison, you guard with a blind eye,
for you know escape from experience is impossible.
I breathe, I feed the shadow you cast,
captured and made to disappear in a spell –
maybe you don’t see me because I have so much to say.

I thought I caught a smile, a copper remembrance
of a crime once shown with purpose to deceive.
I’ve etched it again and again in my flesh so many times that
nerves have gone numb and the blood has dried up.
Locked away for so long, I’ve been redrawn as the dirt
for you to sweep away to the corner of an endless frame,
into the cracks of your soul; there let me stay
to pass these remaining days fulfilling your transient need –
leave me as the dust revolving around your star.

*English translation by Norman R. Shapiro. What, you didn't honestly think I did that. It would've been an incoherent mess.

John McCain is so old...

Tough call, huh.

"John McCain is so old, he actually remembers 'blank.'"
[just pretend that you're hearing The Match Game theme]
"Mary from Encino?"
"Um, the dark ages of the universe?"

"Okay, Mary, let's see what our panelists say. Brett Somers?"

"The Roman Empire."

"Richard Dawson?"


"Charles Nelson Reilly?"

"The dark ages of the universe."

Yeah, The Maverick® is indeed a bit medieval, but that's a pretty cool find.

Go astronomers!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Drapery Falls

And the curtain drops on one more feeble, and ultimately futile, attempt to win a local radio station's annual Valentine's Day love poem contest. First prize: A romantic weekend for two at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in beautiful downtown Cleveland, replete with deluxe accommodations, a rose-petal turndown service, gourmet truffles, a bottle of chilled champagne, and breakfast for two.

Sorry, dearest wife, we get to spend it at home with our crazy kids as we scarf down hot dogs and macaroni and cheese while watching The Simpsons on DVD. Hey, I tried. Next year, I'll write from the guise of a Viagra-saturated, pill-popping senior comedian, the apparently preferred modus operandi of the entrants. Anyway, the losing entry:


Far from your embrace, the pleasant madness,
sensations lured to sleep in ornament.
Rustling colors spark scenes of your caress,
memorials smile in the firmament.
The splendor of gardens in dark of night
lies withered, its enchantment disappears.
Solitude thunders, your absence a blight
that draws heaven down, a cloudburst of tears.
Harvesting ardor, verse of sorcery
shapes my final hope with this magic spell;
casting words, a homage to your beauty,
l'amour ablaze as the fires of hell.
Through smoke and fever comes the scent of bliss;
borne on the wind, the rich bloom of your kiss.

Oh, that's why I lost. Now I get it. Nevermind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Amnesty International

"If I can't spy on you, I'll kill myself! I fucking swear!"

31-67. The halftime score of a Big East power versus some Division II cupcake?



At least we have the first eighteen on the list of whom to vote out at the next opportunity. Corporate chickenshits.

Giant kudos to Obama for not being a scared little child.

Fancy book learnin'

"Lookie here, he be gone done tryin' to read!"

There's a doins a transpirin' in the world o' meme-ery, but thankfully, this one involves one of my favorite things, books. En plus, I was tagged by my favorite nun, so it makes it extra special or religious or something like that.

Here are the rules, suckers:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.

2. Find page 123.

3. Find the first 5 sentences and read them.

4. Post the next 3 sentences.

Easy as freshly-baked pie cooling on the windowsill, no? Not exactly. Given where I sit at home while typing up some of the ridiculous posts of this crappy blog, the final book on not one, but two separate and distinct shelves rests equidistant from yours truly. It would seem that I was presented by the Fates with a dilemma, but rest easy, for it was a problem that offered its own solution.

I had the choice of excerpts from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, or from the book pictured below. See, told you it was a piece of cake pie.

Given Proust's proclivity towards enormous sentences, the five that I was required to read took up nearly all of page 123. Therefore, the bulk of these three sentences appears on the following page, where the narrator has just left a swanky soirée at the Guermantes' place and is traveling in their coupé.

I was to tire myself out seeking vainly to imagine, during the months when my desire turned rather to young girls, what the one whom Saint-Loup had talked to me about was like in her person, or who she was, and during the months when I would have preferred a lady's maid, that of Mme Putbus. But how restful, after being perpetually troubled by my anxious longings for so many fugitive creatures whose names even I often did not know, who were in any case so hard to find, even more so to get to know, and impossible perhaps to conquer, to have selected, from out of all this scattered, fugitive, and anonymous beauty, two choice specimens complete with their descriptions, whom I was at least sure of procuring for myself when I wanted! I deferred the moment of starting on this twofold pleasure, as I did that of working, but the certainty of enjoying it whenever I wanted excused me almost from taking it, like the sleeping pills that it is enough to have within reach of our hand for us no longer to need them but to fall asleep.
The following victims are tagged, standard disclaimers apply: Marjorie, La Belette Rouge, Colleen. And LBR, I apologize for not changing the page from 123 to 122, for contained in the five sentences was a mention of -- you guessed it -- red shoes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Love never dies --

-- it just gets recast in the next film post.

It's cold as hell outside, and since the kids will be off to school shortly and work isn't an issue today chez Randal, I figured the wife and I would spend some quality time by romping around the house in a state of undress, misbehaving ourselves.

Thanks to snowy conditions and a ridiculous wind chill, the schools are of course closed, thereby putting the kibosh on our lusty plans. Hence, the permitting of our lunatic offspring to sleep in so I can type this post about a timely flick my sometimes-better-half and I both enjoy -- moi, through my nigh inexhaustible reservoir of syrupy ridiculousness, and her, through constant exposure to my toxic sap. That sounds a wee bit odd, doesn't it. Anyway...

Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the greatest -- for me, the greatest -- composers in the history of human civilization, a pinnacle of profound creative genius. He was also a thoroughly unpleasant man, rude, obstinate, churlish, and thus unquestionably unfamiliar with any concept of love, right? You couldn't be more wrong. He certainly fell in and out of that emotion like the rest of us mere mortals and among the mostly unrequited pining stands out one woman known only to posterity as his Immortal Beloved.

With the incomparable Gary Oldman offering a masterful portrayal of the man himself, writer and director Bernard Rose, despite taking liberties -- albeit plausible ones in an alternate universe kind of way -- with the historical record, crafts a beautiful and moving tale of a love just out of reach.

The film opens with the funeral procession of Beethoven, which was indeed attended by over 20,000 Viennese. Shortly thereafter, we are in a room where the composer's secretary, Anton Schindler (Jeroen Krabbé), is going through his papers. The question of the hour is who gets the music and the money that Beethoven left behind. Since it was stipulated in his will that everything was to be split among his two brothers -- one of whom, Kaspar, is dead -- then it's evident that Karl is to receive the musical and pecuniary remains. Why is there even a discussion in the first place?

Because of you-know-who, that's why. A letter carefully tucked away in a nondescript cabinet, perhaps never sent, carries his final, deathbed will and testament, a final wish that supersedes whatever legalese previously existed. All possessions will go 'to my immortal beloved.'

Despite years of research that have led to various and sundry theories, it's likely, barring the discovery of some heretofore unknown remnant of Beethoven's writings, that we'll never know the identity of this woman. Within the film, Schindler remarks that Beethoven never spoke in detail of such a person, thus hasn't a clue as to who she is and yet, despite the protestations of Beethoven's surviving brother, is determined to find her, the rightful heir to the Beethoven estate, such as it was.

Schindler's first stop is at the palatial estate of Countess Giulietta von Gallenberg (Valeria Golino) where she proceeds, via flashback, to tell us that she was "the great love of Louis' life."

In scoring the film, Rose made an obvious, yet brilliant choice: the music of Beethoven himself. The scene when Countess Guicciardi and her father observe the ever more deaf composer at the piano is spellbinding (trust me -- watch it with your significant other instead of via the YouTube below). Struggling to hear the notes, making a godawful racket, Beethoven places his ear upon the wood. The sad, mellifluous sounds of the Moonlight sonata fill the room as he lifts his head back into the air, the steps of the Countess moving nervously and lovingly towards him. Her hand so close to touching his shoulder as he strikes a heartbreaking chord, tears down her cheeks, she hesitates - well, I'll just let you watch for yourself.

Coming to realize that she wasn't the one, Schindler next tracks down Anna Marie Erdödy (Isabella Rossellini), once a countess adrift in European high society, now home in her native Hungary. She recounts her initial meeting with the composer, a concert where "the world learned of his deafness."

When you see the film, wonder no longer -- that is indeed Oldman himself fingering the fiendishly difficult cadenza of the Emperor concerto. Ouch. Beethoven comes to stay with the Countess and here, while observing preparations for the premiere of the Kreutzer violin sonata, the maestro explains to Schindler the secret of music:

"Music is a dreadful thing."

Is Anna the one? Perhaps, perhaps not. There is one final avenue to explore. No, of course I'm not going to tell you who it is, but here's a bit of the Ninth symphony from a scene near the end of the film.

Come on, you welled up at least a smidgen during the Ode to Joy, didn't you, you cold-hearted bastard. Okay, maybe it was just me.

To be passably familiar with Beethoven's life adds a bit of extra zest to the twist -- no, it's not The Crying Game-esque -- but is not required as the film is wonderfully acted, the score is obviously beautiful and the backdrop of love tries its damnedest to refuse the inviting welcome into mawkish territory -- and to my perception, generally succeeds. On the other hand, if you're a die-hard über-realist to whom all that isn't gritty is by definition maudlin, you'll probably disagree, and Satan help you if that's the case.

Lastly, I would submit that instead of music, love is the dreadful thing, all the more so when one is as passionate as Beethoven was about his art; those passions cannot help but spill over into every facet of life. If you harbor any schmaltz-like tendencies as I, then I can do nothing but recommend this film in the highest.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh the pain, the pain of it all!

Once upon a time, I waxed stupid on some things that I love. Maintenant, I can do nothing but let that sentimentality pass into the overflowing dustbin of history and, in the grand and majestic tradition of dour romanticism nearly choked to death by the commercialized, shining gunk of the upcoming holiday, drown in abject misery now that The Church of the Ellipsoid Orb* is discontinuing worship services for a few months.

Oh, sure, through streams of painful tears I hear their claim that they'll reopen soon enough, and indeed I know they will, but -- and yet -- sniff -- sigh. No, I will remain strong. In fact, stronger than strong. Stronger than Army Strong®. Stronger even than Chuck Nor -- oh no, no fucking way I'm going there. Every Sunday, I'm going to settle in my Homer-esque ass groove and be zombiefied by something nearly as groovy. Pass the chips. Hey, don't use all the dip! Greedy fuckers.

One last thing: Messrs. Anderson, Winslow, Cribbs, Thomas and Edwards, please, please, please, please, please, please, please don't blow out a knee today. Thanks.

*coined by tomcat, patent pending

Saturday, February 9, 2008


"Gang, let me answer your query with a resounding 'nothing.'"

-- All my love, Mikey.


-- The Maverick®


Friday, February 8, 2008


How I feel today.

Luckily, these fine fuckers don't:

That smoke you see? dguzman tells us that it's the residue of warning shots from you-know-who.

And you-know-who has a plan, proclaims jen clark in painful detail. Read the whole series, dammit.

I'm not sure anyone is on more of a roll than distributorcap.

When I grow up, I want to rant just like fairlane and PoliShifter.

But don't you dare use these stupid fucking words, demands dcup, unless you're slicing them into tiny little bits of bloody, quivering flesh.

Dry those tears now that Willard is gone. It'll be alright, for tomcat dissects the toxic sludge that was his withdrawal speech. Wait, you can't cut slime, can you. Well played, wearer of the Magical Underpants!

Parts of the south have experienced some humanity-assisted natural fuckery, and jess tells us very nicely to help out. I'm not telling you nicely: help the fuck out. You too, Chimpy.

Since we're on the subject of stimulating things, Kevin Hayden speaks the truth: it won't stimulate dick. Not even if you provide a month's supply of Bob Dole's favorite drug.

Yet, despite all the blasphemy against decency outlined above, the cunning runt provides the visual evidence that the world is indeed still beautiful, especially in winter.

Oh, and POP's been around for two years now. I feel so young. Let's send her a fruit basket -- no, how about a cake since she likes baking them so much for the incessant birthday celebrating chez Randal. Speaking of celebrating, a dude that some of us know and some of don't, but have most certainly seen leaving Hemingway-esque commentary throughout the series of tubes, has returned home from the sands of Iraq. Welcome home, Wyld.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

That little Dickens!

Trying to come up with a post a day is akin to being shackled in a Dickensian workhouse, no? Sure, the grime and injuries are mental instead of physical, but the pain is the same, right?

Oh, I exaggerate, mes amis.

A second post a day is where true suffering lies!

That, or listening to a Republican withdrawal speech.

But what isn't a tall tale is the greatness that was the output of Charles himself.
I don't need to tell you to go read his stuff, but I'm going to, nonetheless.

Go read his stuff.

Before we all turn into cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Los(t) Degas

I sure could go for a glass of that right about now. I'm all politicked out.

Thus, I submit to you, gentle reader, a mystery. It's not a mystery brimming with subtle complexity, nor as conspiratorial as Foucault's Pendulum, bien sûr, but hey, we are talking about Degas' pastels here, and thus, worthy of comment.

Tucked away beside a dry cleaners in a dark Paris courtyard, the firm that supplied Impressionist master Edgar Degas with the brilliant pastel colors used in some of his most famous pictures is still in business.

"La Maison du Pastel", a bare, unadorned boutique in the Marais district which appears virtually unchanged since the 1920s, is only open on Thursday afternoons and there is little from the outside to suggest its long tradition.

Until quite recently it was an almost clandestine operation run by three elderly sisters carrying on the work of their grandfather, Henri Roche, who took over the business in 1878. A worn tin plate marked "H.Roche" is still fixed to the door.
Sounds very noir, no? Secret passwords leading to a grim repository of alchemical formulae no doubt cloaked in the shadow cast by locked doors. The exorbitant price only adds to the tenebrous nature of the operation.
The end products are expensive. One small stick sells for about 12-18 euros ($17-$26), according to color and her biggest item, a box set containing all 567 colors costs 8,500 euros.
Yikes. I'll stick with acrylics, thanks. But Mademoiselle Roche, what about the secret ingredient?
But she keeps the formulas, some contained in handwritten notes from the 1920s, a secret and is even reluctant to reveal the exact location of the workshop.
Oh, mademoiselle, vous pouvez me dire. Je suis américain !
We're very trustworthy.

Dammit! La politique ! Je jette un mauvais sortilège à vous !

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Love is in the air!

"Oh, Georgie, I hope you will like the Get Out of Impeachment Free card I got you for Valentine's Day."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

À rebours, suckers!

Bonne anniversaire to one of my favorite authors, J. K. Huysmans. Wait. Is that Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless? Flash! Aaah! I hope I look that diabolically intellectual when I'm an old fucker. Assuming of course that we haven't all been melted into glass by the 'more wars and less jobs' of Emperor McCain.

Besides my general blogging laziness and a distinct lack of desire to pen a Not-All-That-Super Tuesday round-up -- trust me, someone somewhere is going to, and with far more zesty goodness than I or even Wolf himself could ever hope to muster -- I do have an additional ulterior motive skulking in the shadows of this post. UK publisher Dedalus Books has put out the works of Huysmans and those of others for nearly a quarter of a century, whether semi-known, not-known-enough or of a thoroughly modern cast. The Arts Council has decided to pull their funding, no doubt justified by some pro-capitalist legalese.

Thus, I ruthlessly demand - hey, works for the moneyed fuckers, so why not here? - that you, at the very least, sign this petition pledging your undying love. I hope that if any of the stuff these folks put out seems intriguing, that you'll bust out the plastic and support an independent publisher. If it's not your thing, at least spread the word. I can't be the only weirdo that you know.

That's super!

"Johnny, which one of those babies do you want me to eat?
How about that one right there."
"Um, no thanks, Rudy, I think I would like their parents to vote for me."
"But I'm sooooo hungry. You didn't bogart all the ferrets, did you?"

"Yes, wingnut press, I have boobies. No, you can't see them."

"Some of my best friends are black!"

"Yeah, right. Hey, let go already. I've got another thousand to shake!"

"Damn sons. Where did they hide the bikes? Ouch, my hammy! I'm gonna feel that come morning. Worthless magic underpants."

"Kneel before Zod! I mean, Jesus!"

I love the smell of snake oil in the morning.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ah! Zombies!

It's George Romero's birthday. 'nuff said.

May you capture the charm and the beauty of zombiedom until you become one yourself and eat all of our brains to your dead heart's content.

Relax, POP, we bought the cake. Just make the drinks.

I predict this post will suck.

I predicted that the Browns would win the 1986 AFC title. I was wrong.
I predicted that the Browns would win the 1987 AFC title. I was wrong.
I predicted that the 57-win Cavs would get by Chicago. I was wrong.
I predicted that I'd never get married. I was wrong.
I predicted that I'd never have kids. I was wrong.
I predicted that we'd beat Atlanta in the World Series. I was wrong.
I predicted that we'd beat Florida in the World Series. I was wrong.
I predicted that Al Gore would be the next president. I was wrong.
I predicted that the Indians wouldn't win the division in 2007. I was wrong.
I predicted that Rudy! would be the Republican nominee. I was wrong.

Notice a theme?

I predicted that the Patriots would wallop the Giants. I was wrong.

I predict that the next president will be a Republican.

Come on, cosmos, you know what to do.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Subpar Bowl?

Ah, memories.

N.Y. Giants (13-6) vs. New England (18-0): Since the dawn of free agency back in the early 1990s, we've had more close and entertaining Super Bowls than not when compared to the heyday of NFC dominance. Sure, there's the occasional ass-whipping here and there, but that usually results from an odd set of circumstances - Oakland imploding in the face of their former coach, Chucky; the Bears inexplicably making the game with insanely hot-and-cold quarterback play that became as frigid as the equator is not. And since we're on the subject of oddities, even The Other Manning has been playing quite well of late -- a little too well if you ask me. Zoinks!

Comparing positions head-to-head is kind of stupid - the New England offensive line isn't going against the New York offensive line - but the Patriots win nearly every personnel grouping, save defensive line, and even then they have the potential to match Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and company. Their entire roster is so goddamn deep and comes out ahead in nearly every conceivable matchup of strategery.

The Giants' big weakness is their secondary, and Randy Moss' disappearing act notwithstanding - it's a non-issue people - there's a reason why the Patriots scored 589 points, they spread the fucking ball around - why am I using so many hyphens? - Belichick will use every weapon at disposal, air or ground. He's not the best game-day coach in NFL history for nothing. Would've been nice if he had been a bit sharper in the personnel department while here, though. Really, Todd Philcox? But I digress...

Thus, barring some miracle of miracles - Tom Brady getting Theismann-ized and Matt Cassel tossing half-a-dozen picks - there really is no way the Giants can win. Bah-ston won't brutalize you on defense like the 1985 Bears - still the best single-season team I've personally witnessed - but simply outscore you. James Bond, Jrs. 34-20.

So, if those fuckers win...

...the Good: the 1972 Dolphins can finally shut the fuck up.

...the Bad: the 2007 Patriots are only beginning to talk.

...the Ugly: yet another professional sporting season will have passed where the 1948 Browns garner zero recognition. Yet another professional sporting season will have passed where a Cleveland team won jack shit. You know, this is getting tiresome. Come on NBA, you stepped in when Ted Stepien was fucking things up, can't you do it again and force the Nets trade Jason Kidd here for a measly second round pick? We have the best player in his sport for the first time since Jim Brown was bowling over defenders before Lee Marvin came calling and I can't help but feel LeBron's presence will end up being wasted. Then, once his contract is up, the bright lights of the big city come calling and it's back to years of 28-54.

At least Johan Santana is out of the fucking league, so that makes things a bit easier for the baseball team with the worst logo in professional sports. Now, if the Browns can only find a mighty defensive tackle -- oh, don't mind me, I'm just wallowing in my natural state of sporting misery.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ulysses? I'll grant you that.

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

A vulgar, incoherent flâneur? How appropriate.

Except for the Greek folk hero thing. I'd rather write.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Secret Strings of Fish

Huh? What? Oh, sorry, I was just resting my eyes. Seriously, I was. Shut up. Ho hum, another Friday evening. The kids are off doing whatever it is that young people do - setting things on fire and honing their kleptomania - and the wife is no doubt conspiring against me. What to do, what to do...

I could sit on my ass and watch some ridiculous teevee program. No, I think I'll keep those last few remaining brain cells relatively active. Shall I pen some more verse? What a bloody bad idea.

The labyrinth lies where the sun doth rest,
seducing my wish with a frightful ease
to bring from sleep --
-- 'oh, stop, please stop!' screams the gallery of assorted nuts. That should give you a taste of what I churned out earlier: a veritable crime against the sonnet form. To the stockade, butcher! The muses have the divine right to judge, but Will, your barbs are beyond cruel and unusual so I beg of you, cease that infernal tootling!

How about imbibing some spirits to ease the pain of my transgressions against poesy? No, I have to work tomorrow and a hangover would only make that time even more unbearable than it already will be. Wait! I've got it!

Methinks I'll putz around with some shadowy, arcane and, yes, esoteric, cryptographical formulae.

While jamming to some rockin' lead guitarwork.

Since I'll no doubt be starving after such an intense intellectual and emotional workout, a heaping pile of fish heads should do the gastronomic trick. Feel the rejuvenating vibes just bursting forth from that aquatic effluvia, mes amis!