Saturday, December 26, 2009

Straighten Up and Fly Right

Jeez, it's not like flying on the holidays sucks big time, all by itself.

Terror Attempt Seen as Man Tries to Ignite Device on Jet

This is going to get ugly, and fast.

I am surprised, that Liz and Dick Cheney weren't on the tube last night (Faux News, of course), perhaps still donning Christmas stocking caps, wagging fingers, saying "I told you so", over-and-over, as well as planting conspiracy seeds that President Obama, himself, planted a bomb on the plane ... Or that he was rushing to Detroit, to embrace the wanna-be terrorist, and give him a Cabinet post.

It shouldn't take too long, today, for the Flying Monkeys of the Right Wing Freak Show, to start connecting-the-dots, between loser terrorist in Detroit, and the woman who attacked the Pope (only knocking him down, damn it) and how that means we're all being fucked by Obama, and that the new Healthcare Reform Bill will be extended to cover terrorists (and, there'll be a new "Birth Certificate" controversy tucked in there, somewhere, since the hapless terrorist was from Nigeria, which is close to Kenya, or, you know, in Africa, thereby making it a slamdunk).

Josh Marshall, at TPM, shows a hint of that, reporting that "9:07 PM: In advance of being briefed, Rep. Hoekstra (R-MI) uses the Detroit incident to attack President Obama and tie it to the Fort Hood shooting."

Hoekstra, if you recall, teamed up with Rick "Man Fucks Dog" Santorum a few years back and, irrefutably, discovered the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Unlike the Congressman, Steve Benen was a bit more pragmatic;

We'll no doubt have a better sense of what transpired in the coming days, but at this point, plenty of key questions have gone unanswered. How did Abdulmutallab, whose name appears to be included in the government's records of terrorism suspects, get his materials on board? How dangerous were the materials? What, if any, ties did he have to larger terrorist networks?
And, Jeff Fecke, on Alas, A Blog, sets what should be the tone;
No, this attack is not reason to panic. It’s reason to laugh long and hard at those who want to scare us, reason to invoke bad double entendres about this wannabe’s crotch fire, like the one in this sentence. And most of all, it’s reason to cheer the demise of al Qaeda, a truly terrible organization that now has been reduced to setting small fires. I just hope no terrorist decides to egg my house. That could be horrible.
Take it away, Nat;

Nat King Cole - Straighten Up and Fly Right

Bonus Links

Ben Frumin: White House Believes NW Incident An Attempted Act Of Terrorism

Sarah Wheaton: From a ‘Pop’ to a Headlock, Passengers Recall Flight 253

Faiz Shakir: Hoekstra Quickly Politicizes Attempted Terrorist Attack, Suggests Obama’s Clueless On National Security

Larisa Alexandrovna: The no-fly-list fail...

This Date ... On The Garlic

26 December 2008... On The Garlic

Top Ten Cloves: Other Things The CIA Tried To Use With The Afghan Warlords

26 December 2007... On The Garlic

Oscar Peterson

Boppin' Around The Christmas Blogs (Herb Caen-Dot-Dot-Dot Style) ...

Top Ten Cloves: Things Overheard In The Returns Department of Retail Stores Today

26 December 2006... On The Garlic

Twelve Days of Dubya ...The Second Day

26 December 2005... On The Garlic

Weekend Special - Sautéed Cloves 26 December 2005

Special Announcement - Barry Crimmins 2005 Year-In-Review

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! ... What Is A Santa Claus

Here's to the big day, and for one that is the merriest to all.

As to the title, ahhh, we got a good one for you on that.

Gather the youngin's around, and lend your ears, for Stanley Newcomb Kenton;

Stan Kenton - What Is A Santa Claus

Merry Christmas!

Paging Clarence Oddbody

Phil Leigh writes a great newsletter, and blog, 'Inside Digital Media', and, last week, he posted a piece, on being pro e-book, illustrating it with what has become a very popular holiday tale;

A Christmas Lesson for Publishers

One February night in 1938 Philip Van Doren Stern had a dream. The 38 year-old published historian also had a deep interest in fantasy and the macabre. As with most dreams his morning recollections were vague and conflicting. It had something to do with a man who had never been born, or wished he had never been born.

Stern decided to write down his recollections. A narrative began to take shape and with later revisions became a short story he titled The Greatest Gift. It was a simple celebration of things taken for granted.

Regrettably he failed to interest a publisher over the next four years. Consequently, toward the end of 1943 Stern printed two hundred copies at his expense and enclosed one in each Christmas card envelope. One recipient was a Hollywood agent who asked if she might show it to some studios. Surprisingly, RKO bought the film rights for $10,000 in the spring of 1944. By December, Good Housekeeping finally published the story.
Hollywood screenwriters set to work on the manuscript until the essence of Stern’s story shrank into the Third Act. Eventually it would pass through nine writers, including Dorothy Parker and Frank Capra after Capra purchased RKO’s rights for $50,000.

The movie was finally released in 1946 but fell modestly short of break-even on its first run. It rose to 26th place in 1947 box office receipts. Although nominated for five Oscars it failed to win any. Thereafter the rights passed through a series of owners ending-up at Viacom.

During the 1980s local TV stations began to run it during the Christmas season. They regarded it as opportune low cost programming for time slots not allocated to the network shows. In 1984 an aged Frank Capra commented that the rise in popularity “was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen”. He felt like “the parent of the kid who grows up to be President – but it’s the kid who did the work. (He) didn’t think of (the child) that way.”

By 1998 the American Film Institute ranked It’s a Wonderful Life as the 11th best movie of all time and rated George Bailey as the 9th most popular hero.

Over on Zoetrope's All Story site, ''The Great Gift' in it's entirety;

Here's the intro;
Unable to find a publisher for "The Greatest Gift," Philip Van Doren Stern printed two hundred copies of the story and used them as Christmas cards in 1943. From this humble beginning, a classic was born. Van Doren Stern's story captivated Frank Capra, who said he "had been looking for [it] all [his] life." Capra's beloved adaptation, It's a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore, was released in 1946, and while the film, which received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, didn't take home an Oscar, it has secured its place in the American holiday tradition.

We highly recommended you sign-up for the daily email from 'Inside Digital Media'.

And, remember, as Clarence Oddbody inscribed in the book (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) he left for George Bailey, that is solid, not just at Christmas, but all-year round;

"No man is a failure who has friends."

Magnifique! ... Jacques Tati, Coast to Coast

Here's stocking stuffer, and, Oh Boy!, what a gift this is going to be.

We have, a few times (Here and Here), referenced the legendary comedy actor-writer-director Jacques Tati here on The Garlic.

If you love comedy, subtle (and at times, over-the-head), intelligent, ingenious, brilliant comedy, and you are not hip to Jacques Tati, then use one of the gift cards you'll be getting for Christmas, go out and pick up some of his films - you will be spending wisely and well-rewarded.

Or, maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch this;

Jacques Tati, Coast to Coast

"The Museum of Modern Art's retrospective of the French screenwriter, director, and actor Jacques Tati (born Jacques Tatischeff, 1907–1982) features newly struck, gloriously restored 35mm prints of his six feature films," brags the Museum, and well they should: "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, Playtime, Mon Oncle, his long-dreamed-of colorized version of Jour de fête, the revelatory Traffic, and the little-seen Parade - along with three short sketch films." The series runs through January 2 and Jordan Hruska (T Magazine) notes that, architecturally, "MoMA is a perfect venue" for it, while Nicolas Rapold (Voice) notes that it follows "the huge Cinémathèque Française exhibition" and: "Besides a 1936 René Clément short with gangly Tati as a farm boy recruited for sparring (sports-based routines were initially his specialty), MoMA also shows the delightful Cours du soir (1966), shot during Playtime downtime, in which Tati presides at a night school for pratfalls and mime. It's quite an education, but then, Tati was always good at training us all as observational comedians."


Updates, 12/22: Mr Hulot's Holiday "is likely the purest distillation of Tati's aesthetic," argues Brian Darr. "It's a film in tune with the elements: wind, water, sand, etc. The director gets great comic mileage out of the most seemingly insignificant things, like the sound a door makes when opening and closing, or a tennis swing, or the tide rolling onto the shore.

Here's a few short snips you can check out.

Jaques Tati - Mon Oncle (Kitchen Scene)

Playtime - Jacques Tati - Window Cleaning

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) - Jacques Tati

Bonus Links

The Jacques Tati Website, Tativille

Jacques Tati 1908-1982

This Date ... On The Garlic

25 December 2008... On The Garlic

So, This Is Christmas ...

Jingle Bells!

25 December 2007... On The Garlic

Merry Christmas!

25 December 2006... On The Garlic

Twelve Days of Dubya ...The First Day

Happy Holidays! ... Coming Soon - The 12 Days of Dubya

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Swinging ... Jingle Bells!

Yesterday, we posted the hippest, swingest Xmas Tune, and today, we follow-up with the old chestnut, Jingle Bells, equally drenched in the Cool Yule spirit of finger-snappin', toe-tappin' Bebop.

Duke Ellington kept his orchestra together for decades (no small feat), and his sax section was comparable to Murderer's Row, of the powerful New York Yankees - simply the best, anytime, anyplace.

If you have never heard this, strap yourself in, for you are likely to jump out of your shoes.

Duke Ellington Orchestra - Jingle Bells

As a "Bonus Bonus", check out how hip a small trio can be;

Gene Krupa Trio - Jingle Bells

Merry Jazzmas!

This Date ... On The Garlic

24 December 2008... On The Garlic

Christmas Time is Here

Top Ten Cloves: Things About Christmas Around The Nation's Capital

24 December 2006... On The Garlic

Twas The Night Before The New Congress

“Really, It’s Just A Coincidence" ... The Results - The Garlic Week Poll

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Hippest, Swingest Christmas Tune ... Evah!

Oh, do we have a treat for you this evening.

Finally found a the Christmas tune we have been searching for (well, at least a 'Free" version of it), and it is one, even on the most downbeat jazz radio stations, doesn't always make the playlists.

It is the hippest, swingest Christmas tune - Evah!

We have to thank that showman-of-showmen, Louis Prima, for being, well, Louis Prima

Click through, wait a few moments for it to buffer, and, when it starts playing, don't be surprised if your fingers are snapping, and toes'a tapppin'

Louis Prima - What Will Santa Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')

Bonus Bonus

Here's another from Louis ...

Louis Prima - Shake Hands with Santa Claus

A Dubious Anniversary

Unfortunately, it can't be said that it was the inspiration for the movie 'Slapshot', as the incident took place two-years after the movie was made.

Perhaps, it was the movie that inspired the real players.

Dave Seminara, in today's NYT marks the 30th anniversary of when "the players went into the stands", a game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden.

Over the Glass and Into Hockey Lore

Thirty years ago, on Dec. 23, 1979, Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury whacked John Kaptain, a Rangers fan from New Jersey, with a shoe during a bizarre altercation in which all but one Bruins player went over the glass and into the stands at Madison Square Garden. The incident, after a 4-3 Bruins victory, resulted in three players being suspended, lawsuits and the installation of higher glass in the arena. It remains one of the most memorable fan-athlete confrontations in sports.


As a scrum of players exchanged words, Kaptain, who was 30 and owned an executive recruitment firm, reportedly reached over the low glass panel and hit Stan Jonathan, the Bruins’ enforcer, with a rolled-up program, drawing blood beneath Jonathan’s eyes. He then made off with Jonathan’s stick.


O’Reilly insisted that he had entered the stands merely to “detain” Kaptain.

“There was no way he was going to strike one of my teammates and steal his stick, wield it like a weapon and then disappear into the crowd and go to a local bar with a souvenir and a great story,” O’Reilly said. “As soon as I got him into a bearhug, I felt like I was being pummeled by multiple people. All I could do was cover up.”


Eighteen Bruins went into the stands. Milbury said, “If you watch the tape — and I can freely throw my teammates under the bus now after 30 years — people were throwing some serious shots down below us that were obscured by the fact that everybody was focusing on the idiot highest up in the stands hitting somebody with a shoe."
As they say on the Sports show, "Let's go to the tape!" (It is the original local, Boston-hometown broadcast, and, it is obvious, the film, or videotape, didn't remain in good health)

1979 bruins invade MSG stands

Well, if you miss that kind of "Old School Hockey', and have, exhaustively, poured over all the YouTube entries of the fisticuffs, and still want more, you can always rent 'Rollerball'.

Or watch 'Slapshot', over-and-over.

Paging the Hanson Brothers...

This Date ... On The Garlic

23 December 2008... On The Garlic

We Free Kings

23 December 2007... On The Garlic

Happy Holidays - All of Them!

23 December 2006... On The Garlic

Garlic Christmas Special - David Sedaris Christmas Letter

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have Yourself a Satchmo Christmas!

With our schedule thrown out-of-whack, for the past month+, we got off to a late start (yesterday), indulging you in some of the best Christmas Jazz out on the World Wide Web.

So, today, we give you a tripleheader of some gems.

In the world of music, there's only been two human beings that can take any song, any genre, and make it their own. You, undoubtedly, no matter who did the original, how many stars covered it, always go back to this person's rendition.

Ray Charles, certainly, is one such artist.

The other is today's feature, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, swingin', as only he can, on some Christmas spirit.


'Zat You, Santa Claus?

Christmas In New Orleans

Christmas Night In Harlem - Louis Armstrong (1955).wmv

This Date ... On The Garlic

22 December 2008... On The Garlic

Our Ignorant Dolt of the Week .... President-Elect Barack Obama

All I Want For Christmas Is A Brand New Handgun!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Sad News ... 'To Kill A Mockingbird Director' Robert Mulligan Passes Away

Editor's Note ... Baby It's Cold Outside

22 December 2007... On The Garlic

Yes, Virginia, There Is, Sadly, A William Kristol ...

Good Post Alert - Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Print

22 December 2006... On The Garlic

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis The Season ... White Christmas

Thanks to the wall-to-wall snowfall this weekend, it will be a White Christmas, for a whole bunch of folks, from North Carolina, to New Hampshire.

And, we did our part, shoveling, just about 12-inches of it yesterday.

And, they did something other than shoveling, down in the the Nation's capital, where there was a "Twitter Snowball Fight", complete with firearms (shoot, when we were kids, people just got out of their cars, empty-handed, and chased you a block, or two)

So, between the on-going recovery from that, and a somewhat jammin' day otherwise, on the Homefront, we will kick off getting into the season's spirit, on this first, official day of Winter.

I believe we posted this last year, but that doesn't matter ... It's The Bird, and a kick-ass tune

Charlie Parker -White Christmas

This Date ... On The Garlic

21 December 2008... On The Garlic

White Christmas

21 December 2007... On The Garlic

Top Ten Cloves: Other People Mitt Romney Saw His Father With

21 December 2006... On The Garlic

Top Ten Cloves: How Rep. Virgil Goode Believes His Letter and Comments Against Rep Ellison and Muslims Are In The Christmas Spirit

21 December 2005... On The Garlic

Editor's Note: Merry Christmas

Top Ten Cloves: Signs That It Is Christmas At The White House

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ohhhh ... That's What Avatar Is About ...

I don't consider myself to be a dolt, when it comes to movies, cinema.

It's been a life-long passion, including, working my teens years at the legendary Brattle Theatre, exposing me to hundreds-and-hundreds of movies, from all over the world, that, had I gone the route of the most of the neighborhood, I would have been bagging groceries, and, thereby, less enlightened.

Over the past week, or so, seeing the trailers for the new James Cameron film, 'Avatar', I was, kind of, scratching my head, saying WTF!

It shows some military, blue people, giant birds, unseen since the Flintstones were on the television, the tease of a love story, and some kind of war, or battle.

So, we have to thank Annalee Newitz, for her post, "When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar?", for hipping me (and, likely, saving 10-bucks).

It's a sci-fi 'Dances With Wolves'.

Which means, that it is a long movie about how cool certain white people are, for trying to help (in their white-of-white ways) people of color, or, at minimum, different then themselves.

Newitz starts off;

Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest scifi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Spoilers


This is a classic scenario you've seen in non-scifi epics from Dances With Wolves to The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member. But it's also, as I indicated earlier, very similar in some ways to District 9. In that film, our (anti)hero Wikus is trying to relocate a shantytown of aliens to a region far outside Johannesburg. When he's accidentally squirted with fluid from an alien technology, he begins turning into one of the aliens against his will. Deformed and cast out of human society, Wikus reluctantly helps one of the aliens to launch their stalled ship and seek help from their home planet.

If we think of Avatar and its ilk as white fantasies about race, what kinds of patterns do we see emerging in these fantasies?
If you want to find the answer to that, go read Annalee Newitz, it's a great post.

SEK, over on Lawyers, Guns and Money, picks up on it;
In order for the audience to support the transformation of Jake Sully into Braveheart Smurf, it must accept the essentialist assumptions that make such a combination possible ... and those assumptions are racist. In football terms, this is a variation of the black quarterback "problem."

For decades, coaches and scouts wished they could find a black body with a white brain in it. ("If only someone could find a way to stuff Peyton Manning's brain into JaMarcus Russell's body!")


*I'm analogizing race and species here because Cameron's space fable encourages me to do so with all the subtlety of a fry pan upside my head.

Sean Paul Kelley, on The Agonist, sees the above, but offers a different perspective, that this is a common narrative;
Several friends who dogged on Avatar have seen it recently. And every one of them tells me, "go see it." Of course, every one of them says, "it is like an alien version of 'Dances With Wolves' and is all about white, post-colonial guilt and race."


The archetype is a common foundational myth, pops up in many national literatures and historical writing for a reason. It's been used by the Turks, the Mongols, the Mayans and others. It's not about colonialism, it's about the fluidity of tribes, a much older human grouping and one that is much more primal.

Sean John Scalzi, on Whatever, has a review of 'Avatar' (and, he "My Sister-My Daughter's" Cameron);
2. I spent almost no time at all thinking about the fact that most of my time was spent looking at computer animation. The Na’vi (I hope I got the apostrophe right, there) exist on the other side of the CGI uncanny valley; between the actors and their animators, these are real performances. Also, note to James Cameron: The extra time spent animating eyeballs paid off.


I won’t get into the story except to say I found it serviceable, if predictable, and while I don’t really feel the same sort of moral outrage other people have about the “noble savage” stereotype as it applies to this film, it certainly does leave itself wide open for criticism along that line. But as you can tell from the pullout quote above, I go into Cameron films assuming I’ll need to compensate for storytelling anyway. That said, unlike, say, George Lucas, Cameron actually does attempt to tell a story and to give his actors something else to do except stand there. The story was serviceable, and serviceable, lest we forget, is actually a positive.

I don't know.

Blue people, running around, doing crazy things, on, or with, outlandish props?

Maybe the Blue Man Group should sue.

Bonus Links

One For The Film Buffs ... Max Ophuls

Rififi Director, Jules Dassin, Blacklisted, Dies at 96

Swedish Film Icon Ingmar Bergman Dead At 89 ; Police Depressed, Working Through Emptiness, Not Ruling Out Foul Play

This Date ... On The Garlic

20 December 2008... On The Garlic

Finally! (Head Slap!) ... But It's Still Stuck Up There

Cue The Gloomy Organ Music ...

Sleigh Ride

20 December 2007... On The Garlic

The Garlic's 2007 Sounds of Christmas

The Garlic's Recommend Late, "Save Your Butt" Christmas Gift Ideas

20 December 2006... On The Garlic

Top Ten Cloves: Signs That Christmas Is Coming In The White House

December 20 2005... On The Garlic

Woodward Said To Be Jumping To The New York Times

Google Begins Talks With White House To Digitize Wiretaps

Top Ten Cloves: Other Powers President Bush Believes The Constitution Gives Him