Monday, April 13, 2015

The long-awaited update of the Secret GOP Playlist

One of the strange and recurring things about the GOP – most definitely including their <airquotes>libertarian</airquotes> wing – is that their battle on behalf of law and order, property rights, and the sacredness of the contract lasts only until the next time someone needs a bracing campaign theme:
[Self-styled libertarian Republican presidential candidate Rand] Paul was supposed to be different. One of his pitches for why he deserves a chance to run for president is that he is better at engaging the young crowd than the typical Republican candidate. That may have been merely wishful thinking, because in less than 24 hours, Paul’s team has been revealed to have about as much grasp on the Internet as your grandparents.

His nascent campaign is failing on every corner of cyberspace. As with Cruz, Paul launched a presidential announcement video to coincide with his big speech. Unfortunately for potential voters curious to see it, the video has been blocked by YouTube for copyright infringement. […]

The video uses the John Rich song “Shuttin’ Detroit Down,” which Paul’s team either didn’t get the rights to or failed to notify YouTube of before their copyright flaggers pulled the video. Either way, Paul’s big announcement is a deadlink.
Paul has attempted, with terribly limited success, to position himself apart from the Republican mainstream. But when it comes to boosting pop music for his campaign, he stands in a long GOP tradition.

So, to update the p3 box scores:

Artist: John Rich
Music in Question: "Shuttin' Detroit Down."
Lyric that makes it sound like a bad choice for a Republican anyway: "Because in the real world they're shuttin' Detroit down/ While the boss man takes his bonus paid jets on out of town / DC's bailing out them bankers as the farmers auction ground"
Did they secure permission to use the music? Apparently not.
Did they use it anyway? Yup.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Public safety pro tip

If you're a cop and you're going to kill someone who is unarmed, and you want to skate on the charges, you can either inadvertently allow yourself to be videotaped or you can be seen putting what appears to be a drop piece by the body, but apparently you can't do both. Any cartoonists who jumped triumphantly on the Walter Scott story from this week (in which a cell video led to an officer being charged with murder) without remembering that the choke-hold killing Eric Gardner in police hands last summer was also caught on video (but the officers walked anyway) might not have made the cut this week.

And, although IANAL, I stand by my position that body cams for police officers are a good idea, but they have to stay on. Shutting off or otherwise disabling a body cam should be the equivalent of refusing a field breathalyzer: Automatic probable cause.

Today's toons were selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Rebecca Hendin.

p3 Legion of Merit: Mike Keefe.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 1): Lalo Alcaraz, Robert Ariail, and Rob Rogers.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 2): Robert Ariail and Signe Wilkinson.

p3 Gold Medal for Recycling Things That Were Settled in the 1990s: Chip Bok.

p3 World Toon Review: Ingrid Rice (Canada) and Agim Sulaj (Italy).

Ann Telnaes is more optimistic than I am. Or than Sinclair Lewis (albeit imperfectly attributed) apparently was.

Mark Fiore has a message for all you squirrel-eaters: Embrace the apocalypse!

Tom Tomorrow has bad news and good news: God is riled, but he's got other things on his to-do list.

Keith Knight looks at the reason white movie-goers are furious. (Background, in case you don't religiously follow Deadline.)

Tom the Dancing Bug watches as a potentially awkward moment at Scientology headquarters finds its happy ending.

Red Meat's Ted Johnson neglects to mention the safety word. Perhaps it's "barmaid."

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon employs a phrase you never thought you'd see – or at least I didn't: Spidey wordlessly peacing out. Walloping web-snappers: that's not how you get an appearance in the next Avengers movie!

Comic Strip of the Day sez: This is what we've come to. Can't really argue.

But laddie – I've got some better dates! Although you'll find a lot of links that say "The Spirit of '43" was banned, there's no evidence that it happened. The Donald Duck propaganda short, directed by Jack King in that titular year, with Clarence Nash voicing Donald Duck (and an early version, some say, of what would become Uncle Scrooge) and Fred Shields as the narrator, stressed the importance – especially in wartime – of paying one's income taxes. "Spirit of '43" was a follow-up to 1942's "The New Spirit," a joint production of Disney and the US Treasury Department, and in fact uses quite a bit of footage from that earlier film. Still more sketchily-documented rumors suggest that the Treasury Departments laggardly payment of their half of "New Spirit" is the reason that production costs were kept down for "Spirit of '43" by recycling old footage. (Also, relax: the filing deadline was moved from March 15 to April 15 in 1955.)

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Bent The Rules And Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman almost, but not quite, gets it right.

Very Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen does a Family Circus mashup that (a) the culprits totally deserve, and (b) gets better and better until the final panel.

Matt Bors updates the war on terror. It's mostly going as well as you think, so that's good news.

Jesse Springer frets: There's mental illness, and then there's mental illness. Good luck, Oregon!

Test your toon-captioning firepower at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday late afternoon tunes: Harmony and understanding

On this date in 1969, The 5th Dimension's cover of "Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In" – one of several songs that charted from the musical "Hair" – began a six-week run at the top of the singles chart.

It's a longer story than you're going to get here, but the short version is our garage band once got drafted to be the rhythm section to accompany our high school band and choir on this medley, and I can tell you from personal experience that the bass line on this is great fun. I'd do it again tomorrow if someone offered me the chance, and I'd probably only need one run-through to have it down after all this time.

And yes, in the video clips from the 1979 film version, directed by Milos Forman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, that is John Savage (who'd just come off of "The Dear Hunter"), and that is Treat Williams, and that is in fact Beverly "Ellen Griswold" D'Angelo. And I'm pretty sure there's a quick glimpse of Nell Carter in there, too. Don't sit there gaping. Go watch it. Yes, of course it's dated. In fact, the 1979 film itself was already some distance from the 1968 stage musical. Why is this necessarily a deal-killer? If it was an exact and precise depiction of the way things are today, what would be the point?

"Kurt is up in Heaven now."

Kurt Vonnegut died eight years ago today. p3 is proud to honor his final request.
I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Kurt Vonnegut,

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Great opening sentences: Hard-boiled edition

A friend recently got me started reading the novels of Roger Zelazny, who's been in the business since the Sixties. He started me out with the full collection of Amber novels, and he followed it up with A Night In The Lonesome October. I liked the Amber chronicles, although my favorite was the first of the ten (!) books, partly because of its noir – even Marlowe-esque – action and tone (which were quickly lost once it became a still-enjoyable, but no longer the same, dimension-shifting story of sword and magic). Lonesome October, on the other hand, will probably become my annual Halloween read. It's that good.

Zelazny also wrote the dreadful Damnation Alley early in his career (it was made into the barely-recognizable yet somehow even more dreadful movie of the same name starring Jan Michael Vincent and George Peppard).

But I tell you all that to tell you this: I'm currently reading Zelazny's The Dead Man's Brother, an ultrapulp mystery thriller written in 1971 but for whatever reason not published until 2009 (the fact that Zelazny died in 1995 could be a factor: Harper Lee, pick up the white courtesy phone; Harper Lee, the white courtesy phone, please).

And it begins with this sentence:
I decided to let him lie there, since he was not likely to bother anyone, and I went to the kitchen to make coffee.
As long-time readers know, I curate a small collection of classic first sentences, and this just made the list. So I figure that, however guilty, this will be a pleasure.

In fact, I think I'll put it in a display next to this little treasure.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday morning toons: The greatest battle, the greatest juggling act

It's not American Republicans versus Iran. It's the Chamber of Commerce paymasters of the Republican Party versus the Tea Party/Neocon/Theocratic base of the Republican Party. Ask Indiana Governor Mike Pence. If he'll answer the phone.

I'm working on this during the NCAA men's basketbal semifinals (although there is local pressure to switch to the Blazers game), and I have to be honest: I was hoping for some kind of live-TV moment that would embarrass Pence, but so far that's not happening. Ah well. Anyone who watches the Final Four (by the way, it's the first week in April – why do we still call it March Madness?) and isn't prepared for the possibility of disappointment has never watched it before.

Today's toons were selected after considerable retooling from the Indiana legislature from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show: Jim Morin.

p3 Legion of Merit: Tom Toles.

p3 Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium (Tie): Clay Bennett and Clay Jones.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 1): Matt Wuerker and Jeff Danziger.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 2): Mike Luckovich and Signe Wilkinson.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 3): Tjeerd Royaarrds and Steve Kelley.

p3 World Toon Review: Wolfgang Ammer (Austria), Paul Zanetti (Australia), and Eray Ozbek (Turkey).

Ann Telnaes nicely captures the GOP juggling act. (By the way, as any juggler will assure you, this guy's doing the standard three-ball in the toughest way: The more common figure-eight pattern looks harder but is easier; the circular pattern this guy's using looks easier but is much harder. And don't even get me started on Chris Bliss! Oops – too late.)

Mark Fiore notes a coincidence.

Tom Tomorrow analyzes Ted Cruz's plan. And stuff.

Keith Knight salutes Indiana's commitment to the people.

Tom the Dancing Bug sympathizeswith the plight of Cafeteria Christians.

Red Meat's Mister Wally considers the intersection of freedom and context.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon watches as Hi and Lois takes a "Ransom of Red Chief" turn.

Comic Strip of the Day frets about – no, wrong word – laments the Disneyfication of the world. And yet finds hope.

Well, no harm in borrowing a little gas: And there you have the plot of "Well Oiled," directed in 1947 by Dick Lundy from a story by Ben Hardaway and Milt Shaffer, Uncredited: Portland's own Mel Blanc as Woody's laugh (only!), Ben Hardaway as Woody, and Jack Mather as Wally Walrus. Watch "Well Oiled" at DailyMotion.

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman does the best Indiana/bracketology mashup.

Very Likely Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen looks at adaptation, Southern style.

Matt Bors notes that the forces of evil came so close to victory!

Jesse Springer finds it oddto say the least – that Oregon Republicans don't think enough money is being budgeted for schools. For non-Oregonians, the punch line is that the OR GOP, which oversaw the dismantling of Oregon's once-envied public education system beginning with the passage of property tax-cutting Measure 5 in 1990, now suddenly cares about the students. Although not the teachers. Definitely not the teachers. And if they could get the state's idiotic "kicker" fund back into the general fund, that'd free up more tax cuts for their patrons.

Test your toon captioning magic at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday afternoon tunes: There's a reason some people say the Sixties didn't really start until 1964

According to This Day in Music:
The Beatles held the top five places on the US singles chart, at No. 5 'Please Please Me', No.4 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', No.3, 'Roll Over Beethoven', No.2 'Love Me Do' and at No.1 'Can't Buy Me Love.' They also had another nine singles on the chart, bringing their total to fourteen singles on the Hot 100.

Sorry we 'urt your field, Mister.

Meanwhile, here were the contents of Martin Luther King Jr.'s briefcase when he was assassinated on this day in 1968.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The unforgiving minute: Economic backlash concentrates the mind wonderfully

Well, the – Indianapolis Star -- no haven for candy-assed liberalism, let the reader be assured – has weighed in prominently on the debacle following passage and signing of Indiana's anti-LGBTQ law earlier this month.

And yet, and yet, and yet . . . Where was the equally bold front page "STOP THIS NOW" message when the law was first proposed by legislators who candidly admitted its discriminatory purpose, or as it was working its way through the legislative process, or when it came up for a final vote (where it won handily on party-line votes, 40-10 in the Senate and 63-31 in the House)? Nowhere to be found, that's where.

I imagine the Star was caught by surprise by the commercial and media backlash the law triggered, just as the bill's proponents and the governor were. Sure, the instigators knew enough not to parade their success – key homophobes joined the governor for a "private" signing ceremony. But the Star, unlike the somewhat challenged Governor Pence, was apparently quicker to see which side its bread is buttered on: Indiana's economy isn't in great shape anyway, and boycotts and high-profile pullouts, as long as they continue anyway, mean less money from advertising. Hence the editors now find themselves shocked – shocked! – to find legislated homophobia going on in their state!

Minute's up.