Saturday, December 31, 2005

Killing the Messenger

Gotta love, love, love that Bush White House. The Double Secret Presidency again demonstrates that liberty is good, civil liberty is overrated and nothing, nothing is more important than the code of omerta.

When The Washington Post revealed earlier this year that the U.S. runs clandestine torture prisons in other countries, it inevitably followed that Congressional Republican leaders would call for an investigation into who blabbed to the newspaper, not so much on the propriety of the world's greatest superpower taking its lead from the KGB.

Now we have a similar response from the White House, where officials have been throwing a temper tantrum ever since The New York Times broke the story (after a year of sitting on the information, mind you) that the National Security Agency has conducted warrantless surveillance of Americans on behalf of the administration.

An honest and open debate on the legality of performing illegalities? Nah.

An upfront "oops, our bad" and follow-up apology? What? Are you f-in' outta your mind? This administration doesn't make mistakes, Hoss.

Instead, the Bushies are vowing to track down and prosecute the whistle-blower -- or "leak," if you're in the Beltway and receiving daily talking points faxed by the RNC.

As the U.S. Justice Department has announced it will investigate the source of the leak, The Washington Post's Dan Eggen reports that the White House denies any involvement in the DOJ probe:

"White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy told reporters in Crawford, Tex., ... that the department 'undertook this action on its own' and that Bush had only learned about it from senior staff earlier in the day.

"But Duffy reiterated earlier statements by Bush, who had sharply condemned the disclosure of the NSA program and argued that it seriously damaged national security.

"'The fact is that al Qaeda's playbook is not printed on Page One, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications,' Duffy said, reading from prepared remarks. 'You don't need to be Sun Tzu to understand that," he added, referring to the ancient Chinese general who wrote The Art of War."

First of all, Trent Duffy is a tool, but not a tool in the way that most tools are useful and perform a specific function. No, Duffy is a tool in the way that a tongue depressor is a tool after it's been smeared in fecal matter for subsequent lab testing. This is the guy who defended the NSA's illegal spying with this patronizing claptrap: "This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches."

"Calls from very bad people to very bad people?" Does the bottom-line rationalization to the American people necessitate talking to them as if they're 10 years old and still wetting the bed? As long as the president and his cronies are intent on patting our little heads and asking us to move along, they might as well pack us a lunch (preferably a PB & J with the crust cut off, just in case the NSA is reading this).

Anyway, back to Trent Duffy's latest nothing-to-see-here warble: When did America's "playbook" in the War on Terrah involve illegal spying on Americans? Should all "playbook" maneuvers be exempt from scrutiny by virtue of their ostensible use in this modern-day war?

Doesn't that pretzel logic pretty much lend itself to justifying anything? And isn't that the ultimate danger here?

And seriously, wouldn't you suspect that real, honest-to-Allah al Qaeda operatives assumed that Uncle Sam was already monitoring their phone calls and emails? What they probably didn't know -- or give much of a shit about, to be honest -- was whether such monitoring is allowable under the United States Constitution.

The folks who probably didn't think their calls and emails are fair game are non-al Qaeda terrorists who perhaps didn't realize the Bush administration is beyond the rule of law.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Best of 2005: Music

Well, it's that time of year again ...

I know it's customary for self-styled critics to deride the film/music/stage/art/etc. of the just-concluded year, but damned if 2005 wasn't, all in all, a pretty schweet year for popular music. So much so, in fact, that I can't really rank the following 12 records, although all were among my favorites.

A quick disclosure: There were a bunch of well-received CDs this year by artists I love but whose albums I never got around to hearing (i.e. Sleater-Kinney, the Rolling Stones, Stephen Malkmus).

Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now
This uber-elegiac chamber pop surely isn't to everyone's tastes; initially, Antony's quavering vocals, a sort of Aaron Neville-meets-Boy George (the latter of whom makes an appearance on the record, incidentally), nearly drove me into seizures. But this album, the group's second full-length effort, grows more seductive with successive listens.

Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
Was Extraordinary Machine as amazing as the hype surrounding its long-delayed release suggested it would be? C'mon, get real. Nothing short of an album that performed magic tricks and fellatio could possibly have met the expectations of such oversized media buzz. Still, Little Miss Freaky did produce a mesmerizing collection of pungent, sharply observed songs of love gone awry.

The Deathray Davies, The Kick and the Snare
As the brains behind this Dallas-based outfit, John Dufilho is one of the best-kept secrets in rock. This album should have blown the whistle on that secret, but alas, it was not to be. Buoyed by sizzling guitars, playful horns and hooks so powerful you need smelling salts to recover, these tracks burst with tangy power-pop goodness.

Doves, Some Cities
A propulsive blend of ragged guitars and swirling keyboards that sprouts wings and flies into that rarefied air of rock anthems that don't suck. Such songs as "Black and White Town," Snowden" and the title tune reveal a band talented enough to reach the level of success heaped on peers like Coldplay and (gasp) Radiohead.

Eels, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
E, the nom de guerre of Eels mastermind Mark Oliver Everett, doesn't scrimp on weighty subject matter: life, death, love, breakup, self-identity, suicide, etc. In other words, this isn't the sort of band that'll show up on Tony Danza's morning talk show anytime soon. But Blinking Lights is -- get this -- the feel-good double-disc of 2005. Its universal themes, haunting melodies and unbridled humanity are just the remedy to all that ails you.

The Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, At Carnegie Hall
The backstory behind this record's release is almost as interesting as its music. Early this year, an administrator at the Library of Congress was moving around tape archives when he came across this long-lost recording from Nov. 29, 1957. Eureka! on this being unearthed. An essential jazz recording that spotlights two singular musicians at the height of their gifts.

The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
Band frontman Carl Newman definitely comes from the more-is-more aesthetic, as demonstrated in this binge of power-pop hooks and songs that rifles through melodies the way Michael Jackson rifles through terminally ill children. "Use It" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno" are among the group's most infectious songs to date.

The Pernice Brothers, Discover a Lovelier You
The greatest album that no one (or few people, at any rate) heard in 2005. And that's a shame. If more ears had heard the achingly beautiful, impossibly ethereal pop of Joe Pernice and his chums, this mortal coil might just be entering the next level of consciousness. Or some such nonsense. "Gorgeous" is a difficult word to use without gagging, but it applies here.

Spoon, Gimme Fiction
For the life o' me, I just can't figure what is the secret sauce that makes this Austin band such a kick. With deceptively straightforward chord changes, bare-boned hooks and opaque lyrics, Spoon crafts meat-and-potatoes, albeit vaguely sinister, rock that shouldn't be quite as memorable as it is. Try to listen to a song like "I Summon You" and deny the inexplicable power of rock 'n roll. Go ahead. I double-dawg dare yah.

Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
It doesn't get much more ambitious than this multi-song suite inspired by the great state of Illinois. Occasionally too pretentious for its own good, you've still gotta marvel at the sheer magnitude of this brazen undertaking. And even better, this young singer-songwriter turns out some truly weird and wondrous songs, particularly "Chicago" and his musical sketch of killer clown John Wayne Gacy.

Kanye West, Late Registration
"I ain't sayin' she's a gold digger ..." That damned song, despite its tried-and-tried misogyny, was just the most radio-friendly (well, precluding the N-word, anyway) among many incandescent gems in this surprising versatile work of hip-hop. While all the genuflecting from music critics this year threatened to obscure West's actual work, there's no denying the allure of this record, co-produced by maestro Jon Brion.

The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
Gritty, stripped-down tales that conjure up ancient sounds of blues, gospel and even country, almost every track on Get Behind Me Satan is a moody, evocative masterpiece. Judging by Jack White's lyrical concerns, the guy has had his heart trampled a couple hundred times as of late (just walk away, Renee), but give the guy his due. White is a tremendous songwriter, perhaps the Pete Townshend of his generation.

So there you have it. In early January, I'll get around to posting my favorite films. This being Oklahoma, some of the more celebrated flicks of the year have yet to hit the cinemplex.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Babies Don't Break

OK, so I promise that even though I'm stumbling around to get a feel for life as a new parent, and even though my past few weeks have solely consisted of washing bottles and changing diapers (and not even my own diapers, natch -- how's that for altruistic?), I hereby vow that this blog will not become one of those testosterone-scented Erma Bombeck gigs where the proud papa routinely coos over how his kid did this adorable thing or did that adorable thing. etc., etc.

But allow me to make this observation about newfound parenthood:

Shortly after our baby was born, it seemed as if everyone I spoke to -- from the nurses in the hospital to baby-centric friends to my dear ol' silver-haired mother -- offered me the same advice. Knowing that my experience with babies was exceedingly limited (I had held exactly two newborn babies in my lifetime, one of whom subsequently hosed me down with infant vomit in the same way that Alabama cops in the 1960s would hose down them civil rights demonstrators), they all told me the same thing: Babies don't break. Presumably, that nugget of wisdom meant I shouldn't be afraid to hold, bathe or clothe my new daughter.

Seriously. I heard this "babies don't break" phrase a lot -- so much so that I began to suspect that these bastards (excluding my mom, of course) doling out the advice doth protest too much.

Still, I took these well-intentioned folks at their word. OK, I told myself, babies don't break. It was good to know.

But then I was taught how to dress the newborn baby.

Specifically, I was told to place my thumb and forefinger up through the sleeve of the child's onesie (a word that, if I'd heard it three weeks ago, would've just made me giggle), thread her tiny arm through it and then make sure that all five fingers had made their way through.

Trust me on this: If you're tentative in the first place about handling a baby, there are more comforting things to be told than you must be careful not to inadvertently destroy the tyke's hand. Moreover, it runs a bit counter to all this bullshit about babies not breaking.

At any rate, I nodded dumbly when the hospital nurse cautioned me to always check the baby's fingers after sliding the arm through the sleeve.

It has since dawned on me that neither that nurse nor anyone else has bothered to indicate what I should do if the aforementioned fingers don't add up to five.

I'm guessing that running away is not a reliable course of action.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Odds and Ends

By Conrad Spencer

According to 3rd century scholar St. Hippolytus, Christ was born on a Wednesday.

Jesus shares a birthday with, among others, professional slacker and singer Jimmy Buffett, Eurythmics half Annie Lennox, and Republican guru Karl Rove.

The average American consumer will spend $738 on Christmas this year. That includes presents, decorations, cards, and food and candy. This Christmas season I've spent nearly this much on booze alone.

One hectare of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 45 people. Then, after 10 years, we cut them down.

Old School Commercialism: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was invented as a Christmas gimmick for Montgomery Wards in 1939. Wards shuttered all their stores in early 2001, but Rudolph endures in song and campy animation to this day.

The Culture Wars: 17th Century: Oliver Cromwell abolished the official celebration of Christmas in England from 1647 to 1660. The Pilgrams in New England forbade Christmas celebrations from 1659 until 1681.

Have a great Christmas!

Merry Holidays

The War on Christmas: Apparently, it's no joke.

(and hat tip to Screenhead for the heads-up)

From all of us here at CTTC, have a Merry Christmas. And go easy on the eggnog.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

And Now for Some Cuteness

By Cassandra D

My thanks go out to The Moderate Voice for the link to Cute Overload, the perfect antidote to all the gloomy news out there.

Blog Round-Up: Spying on America

By Cassandra D

I just don't have words to express my sadness and alarm at the recent revelations of NSA's secret spying on U.S. citizens. There's a lot of commentary and information floating around the Web, though, so here's my blog round-up for your reading, uh, pleasure?

From the Right:
Confessions of a Repentant Republican by Dr. William Frey at Republicans for Humility.
Mark Earnest's Government Out of Control
Bruce Fein's Washington Times commentary.

From the Left:
An S.O.S. from Katherine at Obsidian Wings.
Wiretapping timeline from The Daily Background.
Daily Kos on Rockefeller and Pelosi's letters.
Hilzoy writes about the FISA Court's unhappiness.

Andrea Mitchell clearing up the misrepresentation of Clinton's record by the RNC. (click for the video)
More on this from Think Progress.
Yet more from Daily Kos.

MSNBC's story, "Spy court judge quits in protest"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bad Santa

I'm 39 years old and, in that span of time, I've heard "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" enough times to have my ears dissolve into cartilage burgers. But I never really pondered the lyrics, not closely, until recently.

And ladies and gentlemen, it is some scary shit:

You'd better watch out.
You'd better not cry.
You'd better not pout.
I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is comin' to town.

and this ...

He sees when you are sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good.
So be good, for goodness sake.

Who exactly wrote this song? Freddie Krueger? Michael Jackson? The NSA?

It is mighty strange that the arbiters of Christmas iconography determined once upon a time that children would warm up to a fat guy who watches them in bed and somewhere along the way inserted a microchip that monitored their innermost thoughts.

A friend's 4-year-old daughter has an almost rabid fear of Santa Claus, and I have to say that it is certainly understandable. The more you think about it, I don't see why more kids don't take out victims' protective orders with regard to ol' Saint Nick.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


A team of British academics have recently concluded a study that discovered -- brace yourselves -- millions of little girls actually torture and mutilate their Barbie dolls.

AP details how researchers at the University of Bath quizzed 100 children about their views of Barbie and a slew of other toys.

"They found Barbie provoked the strongest reaction, with youngsters reporting 'rejection, hatred and violence,' [researcher Agnes] Nairn said.

"'The meaning of "Barbie" went beyond an expressed antipathy; actual physical violence and torture towards the doll was repeatedly reported, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender,' she said."

Oh, well. Girls will be girls. Besides, ripping the legs off a blue-eyed temptress is a small price to pay for ensuring freedom.

Monkey See, Monkey Doo-Doo


Federal Judge John E. Jones III has ruled that gussied-up creationism, aka Intelligent Design, cannot be taught in biology classes in Dover, Pennsylvania.

AP reports:

"Jones said advocates of intelligent design 'have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors' and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed.

"But, he wrote, 'our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.'"

Of course, his ruling will not staunch the push by the Christian Right to pursue ID theory in an effort to drown out all that godless Darwinian hocus-pocus.

As we've been reminded many times on this blog, not all ID proponents are drooling, glassy-eyed Christian conservatives; and, indeed, a portion of ID theory is devoted to questioning aspects of evolution other than that regarding the origins of humankind.

Point taken.

Nevertheless, that hardly justifies the teaching of what is essentially creationism in science classes any more than Shakespeare belongs in Geometry.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Democracy in America

By Conrad Spencer

Political discussions flow freely around my house, making my son Ian one of the more informed kindergarteners in his class. He hears opinions and debate, and even helps his parents vote. Still, there are nuances to our system of government that he still doesn't quite grasp.

Last night, as the President was addressing the nation, my wife gestured to the TV, asking him, "Do you see our president giving a speech?"

"That's not our president," he said.

"Yes it is," my wife said. "That's the President of the United States."

"But that's not our president," he insisted. "We voted for the other guy."

Ah, if only...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Laugh Track on "The Daily Show"?

By Cassandra D

Did anyone else not get what the heck people were laughing at last week when Demetri Martin did his "Daily Show" report on the Xbox 360? That was so unfunny, I thought for certain that "TDS" must have resorted to a laugh track to spare the guy's feelings. Or perhaps he packed the audience with his friends. I had already cringed through his previous "Trendspotting" report on the targeting of youth by the wine industry and sincerely hoped I would never see him again. His return made me think that he must be the nephew of someone who holds the purse strings.

Then I read that ol' Demetri is a successful stand-up comic. He's a so-called "younger generation" comedian, so maybe I'm just too old to like him. But, really, is there anyone out there who thinks he's funny? And since he graduated from college in 1995, how much does he qualify as a "youth" anyway? A shaggy haircut doesn't magically make someone 20.

Harrumph. Don't be messin' with my "Daily Show."

"Baby, Sweat, Toil and Tears"

So we all know that virtually all babies look like Winston Churchill. My baby, the newly born Apple Rosebud, is no exception.

But my question is this: What, then, did Winston Churchill look like as a baby?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Owellian Quote of the Day

By Conrad Spencer

Having been recently accused of Owellian doublespeak makes me a bit of an expert, which may be why a quote in this story struck me.

Arguing for renewal of the Patriot Act, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) asks, "Should we take a step forward in making America safer or should we go back to the pre-9/11 days when terrorists slip through the cracks?"

OK, that's fine, but then he concludes, "A nation in fear cannot be a nation that's free."

Apparently, only by courageously disposing of our civil liberties can we truly be free.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't Leave the "Christ" Out of "Crass Consumerism"

By Conrad Spencer

People have said "Happy Holidays" for as long as I can remember, which is roughly a quarter century. As a kid, I always interpreted the phrase to be shorthand for "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Now I am being told that "Happy Holidays" is actually shorthand for "May I and my black-cloaked brethren please sacrifice your children upon the alter of Baal?"

Or so you would think, the way the torches and pitchforks come out at the mere mention of a "holiday" (or "Holy Day").

A word to Christians -- no one is trying to steal Christmas from you.

Granted, "holiday trees" are silly. An evergreen decked out in tinsel and lights and glass balls by any other name is still a Christmas tree. And perhaps a few teachers and principals have made missteps, but who among us envy them in walking that church/state tightrope?

From a little silliness, we've come to Bill O'Reilly chastising those retailers he feels are not making sufficient use of Christ in their Christmas ads (and what says "buy this" better than endorsement from the son of God?).

Christians, Christmas was stolen long ago -- not by the mainstream media, ACLU, or any other miscellaneous liberal do-gooder organization -- but by those fat, cigar-chomping capitalists. "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men" translated from the Greek to mean "Buy more shit for your loved ones."

It's not just the presents. Every product has its seasonal tie-in. It's seems almost quaint these days to deride the commercialism of the season. I vaguely remember a time when that subject got a lot of press, but now it's too commonplace to warrant remark.

Given recent conservative commentaries, it's OK for families to charge themselves into bankruptcy, just so long as they are making Christmas purchases and not "holiday" purchases. With this manufactured front in the culture wars, the moral militia claims to be preserving the "true meaning of Christmas" while usurping the holiday to their own ends.

What better way, after all, to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior than to make up a wedge issue to divide one American from another? What better way to recognize the Spirit of the Season but with petty bickering and, if the Spirit truly moves us, a bit o' hate mongering?

You've met those folks who find seek out ways to "define" themselves for the world. They buy coffee mugs and vanity plates and bumper stickers and novelty toys to tell the world they lawyer for a living, fish in their spare time or burn the midnight oil to study the finer points of Klingon grammar.

Christians are no different, and many, particularly in the fundamentalist set, define themselves by their religion. Group persecution -- whether real or imagined -- fosters group solidarity. The Us-Versus-Them mentality builds a community and creates an identity, but at the expense of the larger culture.

Back when I went to Sunday School, I remember being taught that you shouldn't have to tell people you're a Christian, they should be able to see it from your actions -- What would Jesus do?

He'd probably wish us all a happy holiday.

Yacht Rock

By Daniel Gale-Grogen

For those who always wondered how the plinky, chewy, faux-soul of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" was rendered, here is the first installment of what is likely to be the definitive statement on that wussilificent strain of uber-mellow jazzbo valiumescence known as "yacht rock." Definitely not by Ken Burns.

Set sail here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Quick Note While He's Away

First of all, thanks for the congratulations from all you good people. Indeed, Apple Rosebud McInerney is less than a week old (OK, Apple Rosebud isn't her real name, but since Daniel G-G started that jag, I'm willing to go with the nom de guerre) and she's doing great.

Apple Rosebud McInerney

Secondly ... this new parenting business is -- for lack of a better word -- intense. I know, I know -- everyone, and I mean everyone, had told me that caring for a newborn meant hard work and very little sleep, but I don't think I quite understood that very little sleep meant exactly that. Mrs. Chase is getting even less sleep than I am (the reasons for which decorum prohibits my getting into) so I can't complain too much, or at least not while she's awake.

Anyway, at three in the morning last night, after I had fumbled to change Apple's fourth diaper within the hour, I realized that for the life of me I could not think of the name of that thing with the deal on top out of which the baby drinks.

The name completely eluded me. I asked my wife if she had prepared a (long pause) stethoscope. She was appropriately uncomprehending. Eventually the word came to me after what seemed like an eternity. For those of you keeping score at home, the word was bottle, defined in this instance as "a receptacle filled with milk or formula that is fed to babies."

At any rate, the incident impressed upon me that it might be a long while before I am able to devote the amount of time and, dare I say, intellect to this blog that it deserves. As a result, you might not see much from me for the next several weeks. Just know, dear readers, that my thoughts and prayers will be with you. Especially while I frantically wipe mustard-colored feces from Apple's tiny behind.

Of course, that doesn't mean CTTC will be silent. Thankfully, we have a number of fine contributors to these parts, and I'll be leaning on them to pick up the slack over the weeks to come. And of course there is a whole slew of top-notch sites listed on the sidebar on the right side of this page. So please, keep checking in every so often; otherwise, the terrorists win.

By the way, did I mention that our new baby is beautiful and sweet and adorable as all get out? I know I might be accused of bias in this matter, but trust me: She is -- and that's coming from someone whose fondness for babies ended around the time Roseanne Barr leant her voice to Look Who's Talking Too.

Keep on truckin' ...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chase Is a Daddy!

By Daniel Gale-Grogen

Apple Rosebud McInerney was born at 10:01 p.m. Wednesday. She weighs 6 lbs., 5 oz. and is 19 inches long, and Mommy and Daddy are feeling fine.

Monday, December 05, 2005

To Science -- Cheers!

By Conrad Spencer

It's like Christmas come early to learn that a habit previously thought to be unhealthy may have its benefits.

Tens of millions of Americans who, like me, start the day drinking too much coffee and end the day guzzling too much beer, wine and/or liquor will be thrilled to learn that coffee may significantly lessen the chances of liver damage. In fact, java junkies may develop chronic liver disease at half the rate of the decaffeinated.

There's nothing quite like learning that two of your vices cancel each other out. As the holidays are upon us, don't forget to raise a glass in honor of those scientists whose hard work and studious research we misuse to justify our bad habits.

Now, if only someone will prove that opiates stave off lung cancer.

Quote of the Day

Actually, this would be Quote of the Day for Thursday, Dec. 1, but I'm late getting around to it:

"Most disappointingly, my own Catholic Church is against the death penalty. Pretty hypocritical considering they wouldn't even have a religion if it weren't for capital punishment."
-- Stephen Colbert, "The Colbert Report"

Make Mine a Cheeseburger

So a while ago I was having dinner with some of my family members at Johnnie's (for you non-Oklahoma Cityans, Johnnie's is a much-revered burger joint and something of a local institution), and my brother casually mentions that he is so sick of burgers that he doesn't think he could eat another one ever again.

Now, aside from such a pronouncement sounding like an Arby's oven mitt's wet dream, I was mortified because ... well ... because I love burgers. Frankly, I can't imagine a world without burgers. For a moment, I thought he was speaking in tongues.

Perhaps I need to put my love of burgers in context. OK, so maybe I don't love burgers the same way I, say, love my wife or my still-percolating child, or even in the same way I love my 1960 Carl Yastrzemski Topps rookie card, but make no mistake, I do love burgers. I'm with the folks of A Hamburger Today, a blog after my own heartburn, which celebrates all things burgery. If there is food in heaven (and despite what the Church of Calista Flockhart teaches about the matter, I'm sure there is) I'm betting that Saint Peter and his posse like nothing more than a fat greasy slab of Angus beef topped with melted cheese, onion and tomato, all nestled in the goodness of a hot bun (and get your mind out of the gutter).

The best burgers I have ever had, in ascending order:

5. Red Robin
None around these Oklahoma parts, but a staple of my diet when I lived on the West Coast once upon a time.

4. Fatburger
From a time I spent living in Los Angeles, I have ridiculously nostalgic memories of gorging myself on these monstrosities at 3 in the morning after a night of college-fueled drinking. In retrospect, I'm not even sure they were hamburgers.

3. Johnnie's Charcoal Broiler
An Oklahoma City tradition since the early 1970s, or at least it always was in the McInerney household. My mother is addicted to the joint. If it were up to her, every single family event -- weddings, funerals, graduations, reunions, child-custody hearings -- would be held within the confines of the quasi-original location on N. Britton Avenue.

2. Tommy's Original Burger
A Los Angeles institution. I am reasonably sure I loved their burgers back when I lived in that fair city, but to be honest, I was usually too hammered to know for certain (see #4).

1. Ron's Hamburgers & Chili
Old-fashioned, artery-clogging goodness in various Oklahoma City locations. A single Ron's specialty burger (usually a burger slammed together with a slab of sausage or whale lard) could transform Mary-Kate Olsen into a Viking helmeted-opera singer.

Major disclosure: I have never tried what in these here parts is the legendary Meers burger in the town of Meers, Oklahoma. I know, I know; it's an unpardonable sin.

Addendum: And if such burger talk still doesn't have you singing praise to the all-American sandwich, check out this 1980 training video for Wendy's (via just jared).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Random 10

Another spin with the ol' iPod. Have a wondrous weekend, gang.

1. The Clash, "Death or Glory"
2. The Three Suns, "Autumn Leaves"
3. Bruce Springsteen, "Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)"
4. Jesus and the Mary Chain, "Head On"
5. Otis Redding, "You Left the Water Running"
6. Frank Black, "Another Velvet Nightmare"
7. The Animals, "I'm in Love Again"
8. Ani Difranco, "Manhole"
9. The B-52s, "Song for a Future Generation"
10. The Sex Pistols, "God Save the Queen"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sporting Woody

Happy birthday to Woody Allen. Long before he began schtupping his stepdaughter, long before his movies became embarrassingly irrelevant vanity projects, there was a period of about 12 years when he was America's foremost filmmaker. So here's to you, Woodman, yah lovable neurotic perv.

Oh, and just because I can: Here's my wholly subjective list of my five favorite Woody Allen flicks, in ascending order. (Post yours in the comments section if you would like).

5. Zelig
4. Hannah and Her Sisters
3. Manhattan
2. Crimes and Misdemeanors
1. Annie Hall

A New Wrinkle for Boxing

By Cassandra D

I'm not one to enjoy watching guys (or gals, for that matter) beat each other to the point of brain injury and unconsciousness, though even I can admit that a boxing movie like Cinderella Man (inexplicably poorly received by the public) is fun to watch.

Anything that makes preserving brain function a key part of the sport gets a thumbs up from me. So here's a new twist on boxing that might make even me a fan.

(via Huffington Post)

Sex Tape Derby, Round 35

Howdy, fight fans. Today marks another Sex Tape Derby. The premise is seductively simple: If you were to have to view a video of the physical act of lovemaking (I know, I know, perish the idea!), whom would you rather be the star of the aforementioned sexcapades?

Post your selections in the comments section below, or click here for a more detailed explanation of the humble origins of STD (that being "Sex Tape Derby" and not a terse reference to a particular hotel chain heiress).

Incidentally, today marks what will no longer be a weekly Sex Tape Derby. I'll try to post these every other Thursday, but an impending bout of parenthood is likely to chip away considerably at such salaciously sweetened pursuits.

1. Prosecute this: Patrick Fitzgerald or Ken Starr?

2. Alanis Morrisette or Fiona Apple?

3. Right-wing, mustachioed and horny: Michael Medved or John Stossel?

4. Helena Bonham Carter or Rachel Weisz?

5. Denzel Washington or George Washington?

6. Animated FOXes: Marge Simpson or Lois Griffin?