Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A baker's dozen of girls with tattoos

I'm on record as saying unkind things about tattoos. It comes from my upbringing, and from the general shock of seeing illustrated men and women pop up everywhere. It's not that I don't appreciate the artwork and skill of tattooing, but they are so permanent. I don't like tattoos on faces for that reason. My most general observation is that what looks beautiful on a canvas of young supple skin will soon enough sag...not to mention fade. I'm not the only one to have opined that someday we will have a generation of senior citizens with wrinkled tattoos competing with liver spots.

But so what? I'm almost 65-years-old. What do I care? I won't be there to see it! Holding onto that thought, I can put aside my prejudices and at the very least appreciate decorations on attractive young women.

Thank god I won't be around when these girls turn 65.





Nice illustration of Poe, but I haven't been able to figure out what part of the body this is tattooed onto:








Sometimes less is more:


These pictures are reblogged from the amazing site, Fuck Yeah, Girls With Tattoos, which has hundreds more of these photos, uploaded by readers.

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Rich likes rich

In Michigan, according to exit polls currently posted by CBS News, Romney runs strongest with Republicans who report incomes of $200,000 or more per year, running 26 percentage points ahead of Rick Santorum (55 percent to 29 percent). He runs ahead but by a much smaller, seven-point margin among those earning $100,000 to $200,000 per year (44 percent to 37 percent) and trails Santorum by four (35 percent to 39 percent) among those earning $100,000 or less.

In Arizona, the pattern is similar: Romney is leading Santorum by a whopping 48 points (63 percent to 15 percent) among those earning $200,000 or better and by smaller margins among those in lower income groups. Santorum only comes close in Arizona among voters earning less than $30,000 per year, trailing Romney by just two percentage points (32 percent to 34 percent).

This pattern has been remarkably consistent, as shown in the following table, based on the seven states for which National Election Pool exit polls are available. In each case, Romney's vote is much higher among voters earning $100,000 or better than among voters earning $50,000 or less. --Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post

Romney Asks For Cash

Mitt Romney made his first public plea for donations during a major campaign speech while speaking Tuesday in Michigan -- not coincidentally at a time when his campaign is burning though money.

‘I need your support,’ Romney said after winning primaries in Michigan and Arizona. ‘I'm asking for you to get out and vote and I'm asking for you by the way to go on MittRomney.com and pledge your support in every way possible. I'm asking you to join the fight for our freedom.’

The Romney campaign spent a whopping $18.7 million during the month of January, averaging $603,225 per day. The candidate took in only about $206,451 per day during that period.

-- Elise Foley, Huffington Post

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mitt Romney's sense of entitlement

Mitt can't just wave off all those dumb things he says.
If people think there's something wrong with being successful in America, then they'd better vote for the other guy," said Romney, who headed the private equity and venture capital firm Bain Capital before entering politics. "Because I've been extraordinarily successful. And I want to use that success and that know-how to help the American people. --L.A. Times, article written by Maeve Reston.
Mitt Romney made the remark after being called for his statement that [his wife] “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs."

One wonders how Mitt Romney can continue to speak with one foot in his mouth while simultaneously shooting himself in the other. He often commits gaffes like this. That's because, despite his protestations of "being for the middle class," he really has no idea how the middle class lives. Yes, it is true that most American families have more than one car, and some even have more than one Cadillac. But he continues to remind us that he is rich beyond most American dreams of wealth, and like those pressed jeans of his he wears his wealth everywhere he goes. In his response to the criticisms of his two Cadillacs remark he said, "We have one [Cadillac at our house] in California and one in Massachusetts." That statement, supposed to mollify those who took offense to his original remark, is another jab in the eye. Just how many of the middle class have houses on both coasts?

It doesn't matter that Cadillac as a luxury car was passed up decades ago by other manufacturers. It still has brand recognition and public perception of being a rich person's car.

Romney was born to wealth. He's never known any other life. So trying to convince us he understands what the great middle class of America wants or needs is just another transparent ploy to get our votes. Even more than his verbal faux pas' he tells whoppers. He says he will represent the working middle class, but his real constituency is the Billionaire Boys' Club.

Forget that Romney is a Mormon. Forget that he was a Republican governor of a liberal state, or that he ran the 2002 Winter Olympics. Boil Romney down to his essentials. He's a second generation multi-millionaire who has been born with a sense of entitlement. He seems baffled that everyone doesn't see that he was born to be President.

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I found this photo on the Internet. It's from 1921. Things really haven't changed much in 90 years, have they?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making that perfect cup of coffee, 1948 style

A short while ago I told you how coffee helps prevent Alzheimer's and diabetes. You can read about it here.

This Hills Bros. pamphlet, published in 1948, has some good advice on making that perfect cup of coffee. We now know that coffee has special medicinal powers, but we don't want it to taste like medicine.
















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Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm an admiree of Jackys Diary

I found these great strips on a blog called The Fabulous Fifties. The blog comes from Holland, but its writer, Ger Apeldoorn, knows more about American comic art history than most Americans. I've always been a fan of cartooning, comic strips and comic books, but Apeldoorn is always teaching me something.

What inspired me to do this post is that he reproduced several examples of a great unknown and unjustly forgotten comic strip from the late '50s, Jackys Diary, by Jack Mendelsohn (age 32 1/2). Mendelsohn was a cartoonist and a writer. He went into television and did very well.

Jackys Diary was a bold and brilliant experiment, which means it was unappreciated in its time. Mendelsohn did it from a kid's perspective, even drawing it like a kid. That was the problem. Newspapers who carried the strip got notes from readers, "My kid can draw better than this!" Well, maybe so, but drawing like a kid isn't all that easy. You have to know the rules of cartooning, and then forget them while you draw. Readers who thought it was just poorly drawn didn't "get it."

I loved this strip when I was 12-years-old, and I "got it." I knew even then it was a parody. That came from being raised on Sid Caesar's TV show, Stan Freberg's records, and Harvey Kurtzman's Mad comic books. These men honed my appreciation of comedy, satire and silliness.

I hope someday Jackys Diary will be collected in book form, and maybe this time readers will "get it."







Friday, February 24, 2012

Food porn

I walked through the room when Sally was watching a re-run of the show, Man v. Food, on Travel Channel.

I was disgusted—or more properly, horribly fascinated—by host Alan Richman's speed eating mass quantities of empty calories, in this particular show a gut-busting, giant plate full of nachos.

Man v. Food, which is not currently in production, but in a cycle of re-runs, has been called "food porn." Charlie Brooker, of The Guardian [UK], was largely critical of the show's celebration of excess, stating "if food is the new porn, this is an all-out orgy between wobbling gutsos and farmyard animals – a snuff orgy, no less, since the latter end up sawn in half and smothered in BBQ sauce." Based on the almost sex-like pleasure—or pain, depending on how far into the plate the host is in any given show—I can see why. The camera is right in Richman's face while he stuffs down his challenge food for that episode, much like the close-ups of working genitalia in pornography.

In each episode there are restaurant patrons cheering him on.

Richman looks like a younger, fatter Billy Joel in this picture. He's reacting to a woman's whoops of encouragement.

Richman gets closer to the bottom of the plate, and grimaces in pain.

The show either attracts or repels, based on comments by critics. On the one hand, I think TV critic Alan Sepinwall let the show off easy with his comment, "It ain't deep, and it certainly ain't healthy (I could feel my arteries clog just from watching), but it's fun.” On the other hand, fellow television show host Alton Brown, of the Science Channel's Good Eats, may take it a bit more serious than the television critics: "That show is about gluttony, and gluttony is wrong. It's wasteful. Think about people that are starving to death and think about that show. I think it's an embarrassment." One plate of nachos, or a five-pound cheeseburger (from another episode I saw last year), won't save the starving of the world. But Brown is correct about gluttony, and despite Sepinwall treating it lightly, it's what is killing Americans in droves. It starts at an early age. Parents, trained by years of McDonald's commercials, get their children hooked on this sort of food. While most of us don't eat ten pounds of nachos in one sitting, when people eat enough of that sort of thing then over time it does its damage.

Oh, yeah...in the interest of full disclosure, my diet isn't all that much better, except when my wife makes sure I'm eating more healthy. Given to my own devices I'd be plowing through plates of nachos or pizza every night. Sally loves to cook, and makes sure that besides a main dish, I have fruit and vegetables, something I'd most likely sacrifice if I planned my own meals. The good news is a statin drug keeps my bad cholesterol down. I have no idea if Adam Richman in Man v. Food, who is said to have exercised twice a day on filming days, and not eaten those days except for the challenge food, supplements it with a cholesterol drug. He's still fairly young (born in 1974), but old enough to have caused some damage if he's eaten much of the type of foods I see him eat on Man v. Food.

*Credit where it's due. I got the quotes from critics from Wikipedia. The photos of the television screen are mine.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy birthday, George Washington

Happy 280th birthday, George!

Popular Landmark Book for young readers from the 1950s.

"Washington taking prisoners," original art by Fred Ray.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paperback tough

The Extortioners by Ovid Demaris, Gold Medal novel, 1960

Angelo Rizzola is smalltime, Jimmy Gracio is bigtime, but they're both bad-to-the-bone hoodlums. We know that because they have Italian names, and that's shorthand for Mafia members. The word "Mafia" doesn't come up in the novel, but we know these are guys, when giving you an offer, you can't refuse. They won't let you.

Hugh Dewitt is a good guy. He's a hardworking business owner, who has made his money in the oil drilling business. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty, and he's not afraid to tell a thug no.

Angelo is tipped to the fact that two percent of Dewitt's drilling business will be coming available for investment. He gets excited, because if there's anything the mob likes it's getting its dirty hands into a clean and legal, money-making business. So Angelo tells Jimmy, and Jimmy tells him they'll both put up $5,000 and buy the two percent. The problem, as Angelo finds out, is he was given a bum tip. The two percent is already sold and no longer available. He tells Jimmy, but Jimmy, he's the kind of mobster who won't take no for an answer. And so begins a pattern of harassment of Dewitt, his family and closest business associate.

Dewitt, being tough, doesn't give in. There is no two percent, he insists. Not so, says Gracio, because I want it whether it's available or not. Things turn ugly. After a long ride into the desert Hugh's friend Neil is worked over and put in the hospital. Still, Dewitt isn't in any mood to do business until his own 17-year-old daughter is attacked and barely escapes a hitman.Then Hugh is ready for business...the business of ending Gracio's threats once and for all.

The Extortioners reminds me of the type of novel Elmore Leonard writes so well. The hero is never afraid, he just wades into whatever bad situation, no matter the odds. Ovid Demaris (pseudonym of Ovide Desmarais), a newsman who wrote fiction like this, but also true crime books like The Last Mafioso, has a feel for the material. There is no private eye protagonist in this novel, for instance, just ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

I love Demaris's gift for observation, as in this description of Las Vegas, fifties-style:
Las Vegas was the same. Loud and flashy and cheap. Floozy blondes and fat-lipped mobsters. Slot machines in the men's room and quickie divorces in the parlor. Air conditioned lobbies and singeing-hot patios. Spectacular neon signs and phony fa├žades. Cold drinks and hot dames. High-class prostitutes in low-cut gowns; and low-class whores running naked from stall to stall. Colorful umbrellas and frosty drinks. Bikinis and bald heads. Low-priced chuck wagon dinners and high-priced, foul-mouthed comedians. Glazed pastel hair and high-heeled cowboy boots. Figure eight swimming pools and hot, burning, desert sand. And everywhere the rattle of the dotted bones and the click, click of the roulette wheel; the suckers gaping and wide-eyed, hypnotized by the tinseled glamour, rubbing elbows with the world's dirtiest and Hollywood's brightest. A melting pot of legalized corruption. The square john matching plastic chips with the hip rocco. Laughing and drinking and gambling and swimming and fornicating, and one helluva good time, brother, was had by all.

On the other hand, No Tears From the Widow by Carter Brown (pseudonym of Alan Yates), published in 1966, is the usual pulp-styled private eye novel. Rick Holman is a tough guy, a smartass Hollywood private dick.

Yates, who was Australian, wrote series books featuring different private eyes, but all of his stories were told in the first person, full of wisecracks, shootings and sex. I'm saying that after reading a description of his work, because I've never read one of these books all the way through. I found a stack of them recently in a thrift store and bought them for the classy Robert McGinnis covers. I decided to once again attempt to read a Carter Brown novel. I was reading a part with Holman coming on to the sexy secretary of a wealthy man. On page 28 Holman is gently rebuffed with an implied promise that he can have sex with her if he works at it. He says, “I matched her smile with my own white, uneven teeth. ‘I’d like to keep you naked in a cage,’ I murmured dreamily,‘ and everytime you opened your pretty mouth, I’d ram a fistful of birdseed down your throat.’”

I don't know about you, but I'm sure that line would have a woman jumping into bed every time. I put the book down after reading that paragraph and haven't picked it up since. It's on my nightstand in case I decide to try it again, though.


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Monday, February 20, 2012

More dumb jokes to tell at a party

A magician worked on a cruise ship, and the audience was different each week, so he did the same tricks over and over again. The captain's parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick.

Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show, "Look, it's not the same hat!" or, "Look, he's hiding the flowers under the table!" or "Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?"

The magician was furious but couldn't do anything. It was, after all, the captain's parrot. Then one stormy night on the Pacific the ship sank, drowning almost all who were on board.

The magician found himself on a piece of wood floating in the middle of the sea, as fate would have it, with the parrot.

They stared at each other with hatred, but did not utter a word. This went on for a day, then two days, and then three days.

On the fourth day the parrot could not hold back any longer. He squawked at the magician, "Okay, I give up. Where's the fucking ship?"

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A man was sitting at home on the veranda having drinks with his wife. He said, “I love you.”

She asked, “Now, is that you or the beer talking?” He replied, “It’s me...talking to the beer.”

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A successful rancher died and left everything to his devoted wife. She was a very good-looking woman and determined to keep the ranch, but knew very little about ranching. She decided to place an ad in the newspaper for a ranch hand. Two cowboys applied for the job. One was gay and the other a drunk.

She thought long and hard about it, and when no one else applied she decided to hire the gay guy, figuring it would be safer to have him around the house than the drunk. He proved to be a hard worker who put in long hours every day and knew a lot about ranching. For weeks, the two of them worked, and the ranch was doing very well.

One day, the rancher's widow said to the hired hand, "You have done a really good job, and the ranch looks great. You should go into town and kick up your heels." The hired hand readily agreed and one Saturday night went into town. One o'clock came, however, and he didn't return. Two o'clock and no hired hand. He returned at three-thirty. Entering the room, he found the rancher's widow sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine, waiting for him. She quietly called him over to her.

"Unbutton my blouse and take it off," she said. Trembling, he did as she directed. "Now take off my boots." He did as she asked, ever so slowly. "Now take off my stockings." He removed her filmy nylon stockings gently and placed them neatly by her boots. "Now take off my skirt." He slowly unbuttoned it, constantly watching her eyes in the firelight. "Now take off my bra." Again, with trembling hands, he did as he was told and dropped it to the floor.

Then she looked at him and said, "If you ever wear my clothes into town again, you're fired."