Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Have a wonderful new year...

I've celebrated New Year's for, well, years. And I've never been to a really good New Year's Eve party. I see stuff in movies, and think, "Man, that'd be a great party!" Sure, that's the movies. But I've seen documentary footage of big New Year's Eve parties in New York City and Los Angeles and Chicago from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and they were pretty much like you see in classic motion pictures.

So why aren't there parties like that any more?

You know, in D.C., New Year's Eve parties are confined to over-crowded bars and have no entertainment whatsoever. You don't dance, you don't see bands, nothing!

It sucks.

Myself, when I think New Year's, I think swing and big band. GOOD stuff. Like this. Listen.............



Werq it gurl!

The 300, the homoerotic history film based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, came out in March 2007.

The film is about the Battle of Thermopylae, which occurred in Greece in August or September in the year 480 B.C.E. The Persians (from Iran) under King Xerxes I had crossed from Turkey into Greece with a force about 90,000-120,000 soldiers. His army needed to stay near the shore, because a massive fleet was supplying his troops with food and arms from sea. Xerxes' army had gone inland only twice: Skirting the peninsula between Ampipholis and Salonika, and piercing the mountains of central Greece before reaching the shore again to aim at Thebes, Athens, and the heart of Greece.

But once along the shore, Xerxes confronted a problem: Thermopylae. The cliffs and high mountains to his left forced his army to hug the shoreline. At Thermopylae, the shore was so narrow that only two chariots could ride abreast. (Today, the Gulf of Malis has filled in, so that Thermopylae is far inland.) It was a well-known military choke-point. Indeed, the Phocians had erected boulders and rocks into a series of "gates" which would force an invading army to come in on foot, almost two-by-two. The "Phocian wall" made Thermopylae even more dangerous.

Xerxes had been on the march for more than a year. Most of the Greeks did not believe that the decisive battle would be fought at Thermopylae, but at Thebes. Xerxes' army was so massive, it needed very wide passes and valleys to move through. It moved so slowly that most Greek city-states were content to send their men to the Olympic Festival rather than form an army. Sparta, for its part, also dawdled while celebrating the Carneian Festival.

This idea that somehow Sparta saw the danger long before anyone else is a myth.

There is a lot more about Thermopylae, those homosexual Spartans, and more behind the link.....

The truth is, no one ever gets an erection when you tell them you've got a Ph.D. or a high I.Q. *sigh*

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wasn't this a Coppertone ad?

Dan Byrd is a HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT 29-year-old actor best know for his starring role on Cougar Town. He's short, and chunky, and muscular, and cute and adorable!!

And here he is comparing his hot, sweet, lickable body to that of muscle-boy Nick Zano.

He was once Scut Farkus, the most horrible bully in Hohman, Indiana. "He had yellow eyes. So help me, he had yellow eyes!"

Ward was born in Toronto, Canada, to actress Pam Hyatt. Although he wanted to be an actor all his life, his mother refused for years because she knew what a hard life it was. He made his acting debut in A Christmas Story in 1983. He acted continuously in television and TV movies for the next 11 years, finally returning to film. His biggest roles have been as Christopher Titus' brother in the Fox comedy Titus (three seasons, 2000-2003), 2003's horror film Freddy vs. Jason and 2004's horror film Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

Wanna see what he looks like today?

See what Zack Ward looks like behind this cut...

Melinda Dillon was 44 years old when she appeared as Ralphie's mom in A Christmas Story in 1983. A Tony-nominated actress for the original 1962 production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she'd worked fairly steadily in film and television from 1969 to 1983. She took a four-year break between 1971 and 1975, after the birth of her son (Richard Libertini, Jr. -- now a bass violin player with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra). She married character actor Richard Libertini in 1962, and they divorced in 1978.

She worked steadily on TV and film afterward, notably appearing in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and A Christmas Story (1983).

She's worked every single year since 1983, although she limits her work to about a single film, TV movie, or TV guest-shot a year. Her more notable work includes Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The Prince of Tides (1991), To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Magnolia (1999), and the TV show Heartland (2007), in which she had a three-episode recurring role.

She's now 74 years old, and has not acted in six years.

In addition to her Tony nomination, she was nominated for a Best Debut Golden Globe for Bound for Glory in 1976, a Best Actress Oscar in 1977 for Close Encounters, a Best Actress Oscar again in Absence of Malice in 1981, and a Best Cast SAG Award for Magnolia in 1999.

Feliz Navidad

The nearly-nude elven houseboy has done as much with your hovel as he can... Now he needs to strip stop and clean up. Make sure he's properly scrubbed all over by getting into the shower with him.

This Christmas elf has a gift for you. But you'll need to unwrap him, and then suck hard to get all the liquid out of it.

I'm sorry Santa didn't bring you what you wanted this year... The elves got a little busy with each other, and didn't pack everything into the sleigh.

May hunky beary Santa bring you the "package" you wish this holiday season!

Merry Christmas

CMR - Seein Santa

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Xmas Eve 2010 - 004
A julbuk in the narthex of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

A julbuk (YOOL-buck) is a Scandinavian Christmas tradition. In Norse pagan lore, the god Odin drove across the night sky on Yuletide in a sleigh pulled by two giant goats. Children would leave hay and feed in their boots, and put these boots by the chimney. The goats would stop and eat, and Odin would reward the children with presents. (This has transformed today into leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus; Santa driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer; and Christmas stockings.)

Scandinavians traditionally make a straw goat ("julbuk," or "Christmas goat") each year and display it in the house or as Christmas tree ornaments.

This particular julbuk is a reindeer, not a goat -- and it features a red holly berry for a nose (like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer).

The display features holly, another pagan tradition. The Norse and Celtic druids associated holly with Yuletide. Yule was when the "curtain between this world and the world of the dead" broke down, allowing ghosts to visit their loved ones. (This is why Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" features ghosts.) But it also allowed evil spirits through. Hanging prickly holly around windows and over doors kept these evil spirits away. Holly was also a male fertility symbol, and was supposed to bring good luck and spiritual protection. (Ivy was the female counterpart.) Holly also maintained its deep green color and produced red berries, which looked nice against bland snowy wintry landscapes.

Christians adopted holly as symbolic of Jesus Christ. The prickly leaves mimicked Jesus' crown of thorns, and the red berries his blood shed for sinners.

Julbuk 01 - Narthex - National Cathedral - DC
Nativity scene atop the baptistry at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

This 70-piece terra cotta set, which depicts the birth of Jesus Christ, contains no Caucasians. Every individual in the piece is historically accurate, which is to say that their features are Semitic, African, or Asian.

Nativity set - Baptistry - National Cathedral - DC
Detail of the reredo atop the altar in the Bethlehem Chapel at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

The limestone reredo is of Indiana limestone, and sculpted by John Evans in 1912. The central panel, seen here, is cut from a single piece of stone and depicts the birth of Christ.

Altar 01 - Bethlehem Chapel - National Cathedral - DC

Monday, December 23, 2013

Although Apple's Tim Cook is gay, OUT magazine named him one of its most powerful LGBTQ people of the year in 2013, Upstart Business Journal (the former Portfolio.com) noted he's gay, and Gawker in 2001 called Cook the "most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley" -- Wikipedia thinks that's not notable. Some editors there believe that, until Cook himself reveals he's gay, it is "outing" him and slander. Some editors there believe that Cook's support for ENDA (in a WSJ op-ed on November 3, 2013) and his support for non-discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity are not-notable.

Wikipedia would rather have readers assume that Cook is heterosexual, because being gay is bad.

Here is what Wikipedia doesn't want you to read:

Cook's sexuality is a matter of some speculation. However, as technology reporter Michael del Castillo has noted, "...by all accounts, Cook is a gay man, although he's never talked publicly about his sexual orientation. Gawker in 2001 called Cook the 'most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley' as it quoted 'two well-placed sources' who the site said confirmed the Apple exec's orientation. Out magazine placed Cook on its Power List of the 50 most-powerful LGBT people this year."[1]

On November 3, 2013, Cook published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which he advocated for immediate congressional passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,[2] and sent a memorandum to all Apple employees on December 22, 2013, reaffirming Apple's commitment to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.[1]

[1] del Castillo, Michael. "Tim Cook's Memo Takes Public Battle for Gay Rights to His Employees." Upstart Business Journal. December 23, 2013. Accessed 2013-12-23. http://upstart.bizjournals.com/entrepreneurs/hot-shots/2013/12/23/tim-cook-memo-mentions-gay-rights.html

[2] Cook, Tim. "Workplace Equality Is Good for Business." Wall Street Journal. November 3, 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Barry Rogers aka Johnny Rahm (June 11, 1965 – November 7, 2004)

Beloved. Gone, but never forgotten.

December 21, 1988 -- Pan Am Flight 103 is destroyed by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, UK. 270 lives ae lost to Libyan terrorists retaliating for the American bombing of Libya in 1983.

This is the Lockerbie Cairn at Arlington National Cemetery. It is made of 270 blocks of red Scottish sandstone. The names of the dead are inscribed in granite on the circular base.
Happy Solstice and Happy Yule!

Today, December 21, is the shortest day of the year. The nights of December 20-21 and December 21-22 are the longest of the year. The solstice today occurs exactly at 12:11 PM Eastern U.S. Time.

Solstice is often mistakenly believed to be the start of winter, usually because season winter begins about now in the northern hemisphere. But, in fact, Solstice represents mid-winter.

Solstice is used to celebrate the return of the sun, which begins to strengthen its appearance from here on out in the north. Subsequently, Solstice is celebrated with bonfires -- representative of the sun.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ah, holiday memories. And holiday films! Who can forget Rudolph's first flight? Or Jimmy Stewart running down Main Street?

But one of my favorite Christmas movie moments comes in the made-for-TV movie, "Prancer."

It's a silly little made-for-television movie about a little girl whose parents are divorcing. She finds an injured reindeer, and believes it is Santa's lost minion, Prancer.

My favorite part of the movie?

Prancer has followed the girl to school. The handsome sheriff tries to capture the reindeer. He bursts out of a classroom door, gun raised, surprising Prancer.

Prancer backs up into the corner of the hallway... And about two gallons of reindeer pellets gush out of Prancer's ass.

Ah, Christmas memories!!

Much of our current idea of Santa Claus is a mixture of three sources: Scandinavian legends about Odin, Eastern European concepts of St. Nicholas of Myra, and advertising images concocted primarily by the Coca-Cola Company.

Odin was the father of the gods, although not necessarily the ruler of the gods. He was the god of war, victory, death, wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. Odin was father of the race of Æsir -- gods of desire, the sacred, and the ecstatic. A second race of gods were the Vanir, who represented wisdom, fertility, and prophecy. Odin precipitated war with the Vanir when he threw his magic spear over their heads. The Æsir won, and established a new world (Midgard) in the west out of the sea.

Odin had a number of sons, but the most powerful were Thor, Baldur, and Váli. Baldur was the most powerful, bravest, most handsome, most virile, most wise of Odin's sons. But there was a prophesy that he would die at the hands of one of his brothers. Baldur's mother made all the things of the world promise not to harm Baldur. But she neglected to ask the mistletoe, for she felt the plant too lowly to be worthy of asking. The god Loki then fashioned a spear out of mistletoe. One day, as the gods were standing around hurling various objects at Baldur (and watching them bounce harmlessly off him), Loki induced Baldur's blind brother, Hoör, to throw the spear at Baldur. He did, and killed his brother. Grief-stricken, Odin made love to his wife and the next day Váli was born. Within a day, Váli grew to manhood and then slew Hoör. It is said that Baldur and Hoör will be resurrected at Ragnarok (the sundering of the world), and be reconciled.

During Yule, Odin was said to lead the Wild Hunt across the night sky astride his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. Children would fill their boots with carrots, straw, or sugar and pt then near the chimney. When Sleipnir passed such homes, he would magicially travel down the chimney and eat the food. Odin would then reward these children by leaving behind gifts.

Odin was nearly always depicted as an old man with flowing beard, broad-brimmed hat, staff, and long red coat trimmed in white wolf-fur.

Until Coca-Cola made Santa Claus a fat man, in the United States Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas and St. Nicholas) was depicted just like Odin. He's still depicted that way in Europe.

Now, the attached erotic gay cartoon supposedly depicts Santa Claus.

Except that this is much more like Odin, God of War, than it is Jolly Ol' St. Nick with his tummy like a bowl full of jelly.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Microsoft is approaching bankruptcy Microsoft said today it has 100 potential CEOs lined up. Well, it better hurry because the company is essentially doomed within the next five years unless it jettisons its OS and five fundamental software programs (Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, IE).

Think about it: From the 1940s to the 1980s, mainframes were the only viable computing technology. Terminals could be wired to them, but all software ran on the mainframe. What you saw on your terminal screen was just images, pixels, light.

The mainframe was not a robust technology. If the mainframe went down, all terminals went down, too. If the mainframe failed to store data correctly, all data was corrupted or lost.

The advent of the PC in the late 1970s (it really took off in the mid 1980s) was a far more robust system, since each computer stored its own software and its own data. Microsoft saw the change coming, and correctly understood the dynamic of the PC. That is, you needed an OS that could integrate with the basic software (writing, database, email, presentation, Web) seamlessly. You needed software that was common to the vast majority of users (hence, you needed a company that had a monopoly on software). And the OS should have plug-and-play capability with software produced by other companies. Yes, this meant the OS had major security problems, but the trade-off in productivity was worth it.

Now comes the Cloud. The cloud is essentially a mainframe, albeit one accessed via the Web and not hard-wires running on the ground. The cloud runs its own OS, and runs the software. A user's payment to Google or Adobe or whatever company is out there covers all the software you might need (writing, database, email).

With the Cloud, however, you don't need a huge, fancy OS running on your PC. All you need is a simple OS, with a simple browser. All other software will run on the browser, supplied via the Cloud.

Does this sound like Microsoft? No, not at all.

Essentially, Microsoft's massive, ever-more-complex operating systems are dinosaurs. With only one software program running on your PC (any browser will do), the over-complex OS is dead. There will be no need for MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, MS Access, MS IE, MS Outlook. All that software will be hosted by the Cloud. Even computer programming, architecture software, image and graphics, and other speciality software can simply be offered by the Cloud rather than stored on your own computer. (Adobe already no longer offers Photoshop as a stand-alone program. You access it via their cloud.)

But where does Microsoft get most of its money? From the sales of that mega-complex OS. From the sales of those five or six mega-complex software programs.

No wonder, then, that Microsoft is desperately trying to shift away from PCs. It knows that its future is limited. It knows that its OS is dead, and if it wants to make money off it then it had better extend its OS to other types of technology -- like smartphones, TVs, blu-ray players, video games, and the like -- rather than continue to make ever-more-mega-complex versions of the OS. It knows that its five or six software programs are going to be dead soon: Just a single version will be offered, run by and on the Cloud. it won't sell 10 million copies of MS Word any more; it will sell a single version, to Google or to itself (for hosting on the cloud). So where will Microsoft's revenue come from? From the sale of technology itself -- smartphones, tablets, padds, etc. Which is why Microsoft is desperate to enter the equipment field, and get out of the software field. (It's why they bought Nokia.)

Microsoft is already terrified. That's because Apple and Google have a decade's head start on them, without the huge sunk costs in in personnel, infrastructure, and marketing. Microsoft is terrified that, as its revenues shrink significantly, stockholders and others will see it as a "failure" -- and it could enter a death-spiral in which it can no longer pay off its debts or service its sunk costs.

That's called "bankruptcy".

And Microsoft is desperate to find a CEO who can navigate these treacherous waters.

Sniffles the Mouse tries to stay awake for Santa Claus... A great cartoon from 1940.

Sniffles the Mouse was the very first character created by legendary cartoon director Chuck Jones. Jones, who had left Disney for Warner Bros., was creating characters who who sweetly cute rather than laughably sadistic and violent, and Sniffles was the character he created first at Warners. Sniffles makes an appearance along with a horde of other mice in the 1938 film "The Night Watchman" (Jones' directorial debut), but would not gain a voice or a starring role until 1939's "Naughty But Mice." Sniffles was voiced at various times by Gay Seabrook, Bernice Hansen, and Sara Berner. Seabrook is the voice of Sniffles in this cartoon.

"Naughty But Mice" (1939)
"Little Brother Rat" (1939)
"Sniffles and the Bookworm" (1939)
"Sniffles Takes a Trip" (1940)
"The Egg Collector" (1940)
"Bedtime for Sniffles" (1940)
"Sniffles Bells the Cat" (1941)
"Toy Trouble" (1941)
"The Brave Little Bat" (1941)
"The Unbearable Bear" (1943)
"Lost and Foundling" (1944)
"Hush My Mouse" (1946)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Christmas tree is an American tradition only going back to the 1870s. While some middle-class and wealthy people adopted the tradition around then, it did not become a popular decorative item among m ost lower-middle-class and poor Americans (remember, that's half the population) until the 1920s.

The White House didn't have an indoor Christmas tree until 1929.

Interestingly, the White House had a "National Christmas Tree" outside beginning in 1923. Why? Because electric companies wanted consumers to buy more electric Christmas lights (cheap versions of which had just been invented) and to consume more electricity. That year, Herbert Hoover was Commerce Secretary. One of Hoover's top aides was Frederick Feiker, a guy who was still being paid a salary by the Society for Electrical Development -- an electrical industry trade group. The trade group approached Feiker, and said, "You know, if the President were to light a Christmas tree with electric lights, lots of consumers might do that same thing." Feiker convinced Hoover, and Hoover convinced President Calvin Coolidge.

"Keep Christ in Christmas"??? "Birth of the Savior"????

No. The National Christmas Tree was a materialistic advertising gimmick perpetrated on the American people by duplicitous federal officials.

By 1952, however, presidents had lost interest in lighting the tree. President Harry S. Truman didn't light it for four whole years, preferring instead to spend Christmas with his aged mother in Kansas. President Dwight Eisenhower wanted to spend Christmas away from the White House, too.

But the D.C. Board of Trade (our local chamber of commerce) came up with yet another marketing gimmick: Put on a show. From 1923 to 1952, the National Christmas Tree had been lit on Christmas Eve. Crowds were usually admitted around 4:30 PM, there was some singing by local massed choirs and the Marine Band played. The president or his designate would trot out around 5:15 PM, give a minute-long speech, hit the switch, and then rush back into the warmth of the White House. There'd be another half-hour of music, and then people would get shooed home. The tree would stay lit (and, in some years, there'd be piped Christmas music) until January 1.

Well, the business group thought, why not light the tree around December 15? Then we can have two weeks of constant choirs, religious services, dancing, puppet shows, live reindeer, a visit from Santa, and all that kitschy crap. It'll be a big tourist draw! "Christmas at the White House!" And in order to keep people thinking this wasn't just a gimmick to draw them into the shopping district (which is just north of the White House), we'll call it the "Pageant of Peace."

That's exactly what they did. It was a huge success. There were 300,000 people visiting the first year, 500,0000 the second year.

"The birthday of Baby Jesus"???? "Peace on earth, good will to men"?????

No. It was a tourist trap designed to boost the local economy. It had nothing to do with Christmas, really.

Now, sometimes living Christmas trees were planted somewhere on the White House grounds and these were decorated. Sometimes, cut Christmas trees were erected somewhere on the White House grounds and these were decorated.

If you're a trivia buff like me, you might wonder: Which years did they use cut trees, and which years living ones? How tall were these trees? Where did they come from? What species were these trees?

Well, now you can look it up on Wikipedia.

You'd think there was a "tradition" here of putting the tree in a certain place, at a certain time of year, etc. But no. For 30 years, no one knew what to do with the damn thing! It moved around, it was lit at different times of day and different parts of the season. It was living, it was cut, it was move around. No one really wanted the damn thing! It's really quite funny.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Babes In Toyland is a 1934 film starring Laurel and Hardy. It is only very loosely based on Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta; the screenplay is by Frank Butler and Nick Grinde. The film was directed by Charles Rogers and Gus Meins.

Stannie Dumm and Ollie Dee assist Toyland's Toymaker, but have screwed up a Christmas order: Instead of 600 one-foot-tall toy soliders, they have constructed 100 six-foot-tall toy soliders. They're fired. Meanwhile, the villanous Barnaby (played by 20-something Henry Brandon) is trying to force Mother Peep's daughter, Bo (Charlotte Henry), to marry him by threatening to forclose on the Old Shoe in which they live (shades of the mortage crisis!). But Bo is in love with Tom-Tom the Piper's Son (Felix Knight). Stan and Ollie try two schemes to stop Barnaby, but Barnaby frames Tom-Tom for the supposed death of one of the Three Little Pigs. Tom-Tom is sentenced to live in Bogeyland, but is rescued by Stan, Ollie, and Bo Peep. Barnaby then unleashes the Bogeymen on Toyland. Only the army of toy soliders can save the day.

The original film is in black-and-white, but this is one film where I prefer the colorized version. (The best colorized versions look like two-strip Technicolor, and retain an antique flavor.) Producer Hal Roach fought tooth and nail with Stan Laurel over the screenplay to this film, and Laurel's worsening alcoholism and Babe Hardy's marital problems caused problems on the set as well. But it turned out well, I think.

A little Laurel and Hardy goes a long way. Their Oscar-winning 1932 short The Music Box (one of the funniest films ever made, IMHO) is an example. Just about when you get sick of the constant antics, it's over. Now, there isn't a lot of Laurel and Hardy in this film, and some critics argue that the non-L&H elements slow the picture down. I think it's actually well-balanced. Most of the non-L&H sequences draw on Herbert's operetta, so critics who don't like the film are essentially attacking Herbert's play. That's odd, because critics uniformly say the operetta is pretty good.

The film doesn't pull punches: The Bogeymen are genuinely frightening, and some of the sets and the costuming are so surreal as to be scary. (Watch for that monkey in the Mickey Mouse suit: Creepy!) But like any good Christmas story, there's that element of spirtualism and ghostliness, and it cuts the treacle in this film down to a tolerable level. The finale contains some really outstanding stop-motion in the finale, too.

It's the best of the Babes In Toyland movies, and a superb holiday film worth watching any time of the year.