29 April 2009

Vegas, Baby! Burgers, Baby!


"Vegas, Baby!" That's how many-a-bad-weekend has started. You go off feeling so money, only to return with no money and feeling so Minnesota. This bipolar nexus with the land of the one-armed bandit is primarily due to the amateur-hour factor of youngins hittin' the town with nary (or barely) a buck in their pocket, no real plans for a good time, and coming home with the case of the "lost wages" blues.

That's why many folks (viz., the grown-up version of your former college self) look to websites like LuxeVegas.com (a website I co-founded, which is more Vegas than luxe, unfortunately these days) to help them plan ahead and to get that all important "front of line service." You not only want to feel money, but you want to be able to get into a nice club or restaurant and spend your money now that you're out of your college days and have a dwindling 401(k) burning a hole in your portfolio. Go on! Playing craps in Vegas could not be worse than what happened that last 18 mos. to your money market accounts (am I right?! ... kidding ... barely). Planning ahead is key to having fun in Vegas. But, you don't want to over plan and agenda yourself out of any spontaneity. Play it loosey-goosey and let the player in you fly his/her freak flag and see who salutes it, cowgirl. And, when you've made the rounds and painted the town red (or mauve), you'll need a nice burger (with bacon and cheese and grilled onions piled high!) and fries and a $10.00 milkshake (which is only $7.00 -- look at that, you're already up $3.00!!) to top-off the night or start the morning.

BLT Burger will handle that nicely for you, plus, their website is very retro-cool with the cool soundrack, à la Pulp Fiction. (Click just above to go there now.) But, if all else fails, and you're finding yourself cash-poor and crazy hungry, there is no better burger on the planet than In-n-Out Burger, which now has locations in Las Vegas. And, the price is right, dear friend. Oh, and if you've really hit the town a bit too hard (and nothing is staying in Vegas for ya), just look at the bottom of your soda and read the Bible verse ... then, take two milkshakes and you should feel better in the morning.

Burgers, baby!

28 April 2009

How much does an ostrich egg weigh?

I don’t know a lot of things, but here’s a few that I do:

  • My vanilla latte from Coffee Bean in Malibu stays hot all the way home 18 miles to my tiny carriage house in LA. They make a mean vanilla latte, but are always out of the chocolate muffins I like.
  • Dads do not like their sons calling their new step-dads “dad.” While it's true that I love my step-dad and have called him “dad” since I was almost 4 yrs-old, I still would rather my parents never separated.
  • Metrosexual is a word that was used by folks unaccustomed to straight men with style or good taste (of which I have neither).
  • I did see the underside of a dragon flying through the opening of a cloudy night when I was about 9 years-old just shy of midnight on Christmas Eve (the same year I received a used bike for Christmas).
  • I never tire of telling my sons funny stories that make them laugh (the kind of laughter where they're begging you to stop and they can't breathe and tears are rolling down their faces). I sometimes get tired of them having me repeat the same stories four times in a row; but, I do it anyway because I love their laughs ... plus, I'm a big ham.
  • If L.A. were inhabited solely by Armani-clad Cyclopes, Oliver Peoples would make the best monocles and they would cost a lot (and mine would be tortoise shell).
  • It makes me happy that my sons were born on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. The changing of the seasons is a wonderful, life-affirming thing -- like my sons.
By the bye, the ostrich egg weighs in at 2.5 pounds, and is the largest single cell known to man.

23 April 2009

Obey the Obama

Shepard Fairey created probably the most recognizable U.S. street art with his "Obey the Giant" series. He has come under some scrutiny for his oeuvre's liberally borrowing (and profiting) from the intellectual property of others. The NY Times runs an interesting article about Fairey's iconic image from 2008's election based upon an AP photo. It's a good read.

How soon before we have his "Obey the Obama" series plastered all over town at every fwy on-ramp, construction site, and/or bus stop? Say it with me, "Obey the Obama ... Obey the Obama."

20 April 2009

Comity, Civility and the Au Courant Liberal Line

During the recent Ms. USA Contest, Ms. California (real name, Carrie Prejean) was asked by that paragon of virtue, Perez Hilton (real name, Mr. Mario Lavandeira, which ironically means “he who is squeaky clean, though confused”), what she thought of Vermont’s legalizing same-sex marriage. Her brave answer resulted in a minor brouhaha that only one familiar with the politically correct world of the left could have predicted. In the world of the left (aka, judgmental thought police), to speak one’s opinion honestly is to invite at least ridicule and typically slander. Anyone with differing opinions -- from the left’s au courant party line -- that stick their neck out, are quickly hammered down like a wayward nail and sent to cultural re-education camps (which means to be reported and commented upon by the mainstream media as an example for other rebels who might consider straying).

The problem for my liberal friends is that there are many who share Ms. Prejean’s opinion. I do. Others do. History and its iconic figures also do (viz., Moses, Confucius, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jesus, et. al). In fact, a majority of Americans believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. (Did I just write that!? The horror!!) Am I now some white, racist, homophobe? Have I unequivocally proved I belong to some ugly, misanthropic cult seeking to suppress the rights of our fellow Americans? I guess that answer is up to you, dear reader. However, let me say this: it is time for the left to stop calling those who differ with them a Nazi, racist, miscreant, right-wing Neanderthal, or fill-in-the-blank (or "dumb b*tch" as Mario/Perez would later call Ms. Prejean). It is just wrong. Many Americans, like yours truly, have friends who are gay, have been married to those of another race, who routinely reach out to improve our communities with neighbors and friends of differing faiths. However, for these so-called educated and enlightened eastern elitist sophisticates, they purposely continue to narrowly classify dissenters as hate-filled, and laugh ever so smarmily down their noses at us poor hayseeds.

Even though many conservatives (yes, even religious conservatives) strive for comity over conflict and confrontation, we are shouted down. If we do not say something or take a stand in some form now, we deserve the current election results, judicial decisions, and cultural slide.

I believe that my gay friends know that I want them (and their partners) to be as happy as any straight couple. And, if California someday chooses to legalize same-sex marriage, then so be it. I have been to their (very large, well planned) swanky parties. I routinely have lunch with several gay friends, play sports, and yes even cocktails. I don’t chose my friends on whether they agree with me politically; if they are good people, and funny and erudite and dress impeccably well (joking), then I welcome their friendship and hope they reciprocate. My gay friends know that I'm not one to call those I disagree with politically names; I trust that one day their liberal friends will return the favor.

I know, I know. You have a bridge to sell me in Brooklyn, right?

Btw, check out what the Brits have to say about this in the Daily Mail. Read the article and then read the comments; they seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of free speech.

FatScribe Wordle of the Day

or this!

To create your own Wordle visit here: http://www.wordle.net/create. But, be careful, you can get hooked messing about with them.

Quentin Tarantino: This Dog Has No Reservoir

Quentin Tarantino: This Dog Has No Reservoir was originally published on NeoPolitique.com

There's a maxim in politics that says, "Attitudes shape policy." That small phrase also speaks volumes about film‐making. Whether it's Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, attitudes shape film. It seems obvious that such a statement is true. But, how many times do we leave a movie without thinking about the worldview of the film's creator, let alone the message of the film?

Today's movie audiences, although quite knowledgeable, seem intent on being entertained, not challenged. To critically examine one's viewing habits requires too much effort; euphemistically, we're cerebrally challenged; realistically, we're lazy. This article seeks to confront this laissez faire attitude and asks the question: are there significant worldview differences between the film‐makers of today and yesterday, and if so, what are the effects on society?

16 April 2009

Crookshank: the Prequel Prologue

At 53 years of age, Crookshank hadn’t set foot or sneaks on a basketball court in almost 25 years. He had become a shell of a man of what was once a life in full. His wife and baby daughter died tragically during labor when he was 28, and the loss of his great love and the little girl who had already stolen his heart before she was born, devastated Crookshank. Where once he loved and was loved, he now was aloof, occupied simply with busying his life with work. Young Crookshank moved kicking and screaming to Kentucky to live with his father when he was in high school. He found love there and then lost it. It was clear that life had lost its flavor for Crookshank, like chewing the same piece of gum on a long bus ride to California, and things like basketball and friendships were not as important to him as they once were.

That doesn’t mean that Crookshank hadn’t touched a basketball or shot around during that time; because he had. Every day, or almost every day, weather and schedule permitting. It was the one thing he allowed himself to do. But it was on the hoop hanging on a pole out behind the garage in the dirt. And, shoot he did. First his 100 free-throws, right-handed of course. Then his shoot around. Though no longer in his father's jersey as he once did as a boy. Crookshank played ball in work pants and boots, in his shirt and suspenders. And he still never missed. Or rarely.

He eventually became a gentleman farmer like his forebears and father before him, and worked as an accountant for many businesses in Prospect, Kentucky. His mathematical skills that he strengthened as a “sinister” left-hander in school had served him well. So, along with his seasonal farming duties, Crookshank also had seasonal book-keeping duties. But, it was the winter months with no duties -- the loneliest season -- that had their harshest impact on Crookshank.

When Crookshank looked in the mirror each bitter and cold morning before starting his day at 5:45am, he saw a bug-eyed, balding, middle-aged man with a crooked spine and splotchy skin -- sun spots where his hair had once occupied valuable real estate. This poor wretch of a man routinely wore a weathered blue suit with scalp detritus positioned accordingly on strong yet slumped shoulders. Crookshank walked the streets of Prospect, Kentucky with a limp from his crooked spine, and one could swear that an audible, painful groan, though ever so faint, could be heard every other step as Crookshank placed one size-13 black laced-up wing-tip in front of the other.

Of course, none of this was reality; this twisted visage was all in his mind. What was once a random thought, or a feeling sorry for himself had slowly become Crookshank's self-image and "reality." This poor, poor wretch (I say wretch, because that’s what he allowed himself to become) of a man needed help. Not the sort of help from a psychiatrist or group therapy session (though those are quite helpful and appropriate at times); but the sort of help one gets from oneself when you decide to take a stand. To make a mark or draw a line in the dirt of one’s life and say, “it changes right here, my life.” He needed that kind of change.

But, someone else needed help more than Crookshank did, and it was only Crookshank who could assist this person if only he could get out of his own way. If Crookshank could see and face reality as a whole man should, and must, in fact, if he is to help his family, community, church or neighbor.

And, here’s where the legend of Crookshank begins again. I sort of get a lump in my throat because I’m very happy to share this story with you, dear reader. It’s the kind of story that makes your parents happy, and your little brothers cheer (loudly, in your ear). And, it makes you glad that you didn’t make the same mistakes that Crookshank did. The minor legend of Crookshank started when he was 13 and came to its glorious and humble fruition when he was 53. That’s 40 years separation – almost two generations of Crookshanks were born and around to see their most talented Hoosier warrior grace the homestead. Let’s go back to when Crookshank was 13 to set the stage once again, again. Well, one more time. You know what I mean! Shall we?

15 April 2009

A Moment's Rest

FatScribe is pleased to post the following by Kayla Gautereaux-Trees.

A Moment's Rest

A perfect life is fiction,
As faultless life’s not whole,
Thus, sorrow always finds me,
And aims to ail my soul.

But that is not the purpose,
That sorrow brings to me,
My mourning gives me knowledge,
My eyes fear not to see.

And forging on through heartache,
Always makes me seek,
To find my strength in sadness,
To love that I’m not weak.

Real failure bears no precept,
Through life’s and lovers’ scorn,
And proves it thus a vision,
To dwell far from forlorn.

This psalm was ne’er taught to me.
I learned it more than less,
From rampant hours of torment,
That left me in distress.

In times without a mother,
And permanent goodbyes,
T’was then my heart knew mourning,
Sending seas from my eyes.

But oceans led to dry lands,
Of trust and love, but grief,
The proverb learned though living,
Let never sorrow be a thief.

The woe has bowed to concord,
Some peace to write this verse,
To tell that strength from sorrow,
Is the beauty in the curse.

For FatScribe, Kayla Gautereaux-Trees

(Kayla is a sophomore at California State University, San Diego)

12 April 2009

Back to the Future (Your Past)

FatScribe is pleased to post the following guest piece by Caleb Garcia.
I am convinced that God orchestrated my birth in beautiful Southern California for the singular reason of my being able to attend American Film Institute movie screenings. For 42 years, A.F.I’s been in the dream-making business with these screenings, and as a recent beneficiary, I am eternally grateful for their choosing 1985’s Back to the Future (BTTF) to screen at the ArcLight Cinemas here in SoCal.

While the option of my watching time-traveling magic via a flat screen plasma and a couch often suffices, celebrating Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s epic adventure with a cheering crowd ready for some 80s nostalgia is a unique thrill and my preferred choice of venue. Looking around the comfy seats in this modern theater, I see every age group represented and feel a collective bond for ready-made escapism into the non-linear world of BTTF brilliantly crafted by Robert Zemeckis and exec. produced by the great Steven Spielberg.

Young audience members aside (who may not appreciate the nostalgia), when the circa 1985 Universal Globe spins on the opening credits, and the camera pan reveals a plethora of ticking clocks (while names that have been epically written into every BTTF aficionado’s memory roll in the credits), the audience, prepares to journey into a trusted story of familiarity and warmth. As an audience, we simultaneously laugh at Christopher Lloyd’s silent era expressionism, root for Marty’s skateboard getaways and way-too-loud guitar solos, and jointly ogle Lea Thompson’s hotness. After the fifth, eighth, twelfth viewing (only sixth for me), the love affair that began 24 years ago for so many people still burns with fiery passion. Huey Lewis and the News’s “The Power of Love” is head-bopping fresh (yea Oscar nom.), and the film’s ending milks every ounce of suspense out of the viewer with a story packed with plot devises to catch on later viewings. It’s a wonder the screenwriters for Witness were able to beat-out screenwriters Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale for the Oscar win.

07 April 2009

For Those Playing at Home

We are officially in an age of equality: between mainstream media and blogosphere; between wives and husbands; and between Sovereigns and parvenu First Ladies. Much ado is being made re: President Obama "deeply bowing" to the Saudi King at the G20 Summit in the UK. Not sure if it's that big a deal. Here's my take, dear reader:

First, to First Lady, because in the modern American home, the wife is first truth be told -- a queen in her own right. And, when Michelle met the Queen in jolly ole, this was in fact, one sovereign meeting another. At least, that's what we Americans believe. What queen curtsies when she meets another? A royal doff or some such gesture will suffice. ("Remember, your Highness, the wave is smartly twisted thusly below the crown and above the pearls!") Michelle is our gal, and when abroad we have to have her back when she's futzing about with G20 better-halves, or ex pat rock stars acquiring English lilts, or, yes, even sovereign queens.

I love that not only did our gal not curtsy, but she even gave the grandmotherly "pat-pat" rub on the Queen's back. Curtsy no, pat-pat yes. Priceless. That'll show those royals how we brazen Yanks roll!

Now on to President Obama. Even though he's on his way to rewriting the modern handbook of the American Presidency (The American monarchy? Hmmm, nice ring that.), he was not abnegating the sovereign status of the U.S. of A. when he said hello to King Abdullah. I mean, remember, this is the king who held hands with our last president for gawd's sake! How much more embarrassing can it get when your president is seen strolling about his ranch, holding the elderly king's hand for all the world to see?!

Nah, when Obama bowed to King Abdullah in London as the G20 leaders were queuing up for the group photo, it was more like being at a party when you see your golfing buddy, or a long lost fraternity brother, sometimes you sort of bow like "hey man, long time no see" with a cheeky "my liege" sort of thing. That's all that was, the venue was not a formal greeting line with sycophants lining up to kiss a ring or something. Sure there may have been 18 other world leaders around to witness this gaffe, but, hey, we cool. (Btw, notice France's President Sarkozy in the background laughing. He's either in on the joke too, or laughing at the gaffe.) This age-old question routinely rears its head when the president meets the Pope. Does one genuflect? Grovel? Kiss the ring of the pontiff? Oh, what to do! Cultural liaison where are you?!

But, just so we're clear for those keeping score and playing at home: Michelle Obama, zero curtsy, one pat-pat back rub. President Obama, one bow, one gaffe-gaffe. (And, President Bush, one lover's stroll.) We now know who wears the titular pants in the titular American Queen and King household. We have arrived in a new day to be sure, and we got your back, girl, especially when you're rocking your J-Crew ensemble abroad.

06 April 2009

Quote for the Ages ...

This little nugget of wisdom is from John Bogle's (highly recommended!) appropriately titled book, Enough. If you want to read what a professional thinks about the Wall St. fiasco and recent meltdown of 2008, why not sit down by the fire with a glass of port (or cocoa), and prepare to be disgusted. Really tragic to see so many smart, nihilistic ne'er-do-wells chasing after derivatives and sub-prime instruments in the name of greed and larceny (you'll see what I mean). Btw, John Bogle is the genius behind the Vanguard Funds.

Here's the quote, though, for the ages. It's tucked away neatly, hidden like an avuncular pearl discovered aboard his uncle's weathered lobster boat:

"Press on, regardless.

It is a rule of life that has been a motto of my family for as long as I can remember, and has sustained me through times thick and times thin alike. The motto's provenance was an old lobster boat named Press On owned by my uncle, investment banker Clifton Armstrong Hipkins. On a little bridge was a framed copy of these words from President Calvin Coolidge:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press on" has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race."
Kind of says it all, no?

01 April 2009

With a President of "Firsts," the Individual is Last

President Obama wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope." I like the title; nice hook. Evocative, effective. Obama then campaigned extensively around "Change" and "Hope." A step back in my opinion, albeit effective campaigning. Rhetoric-wise, as vapid as any campaign sloganing to come through a whistle stop near you. But, then again, all rhetoric is fairly innocuous and empty as the balloons on the ballroom floor the morning after election night. The last solid campaign sloganing was the Reagan-era "It's morning again in America ..." I still get a warm feeling, kind of like Chris Mathews gets a charge of energy down his leg over BHO. (Okay, okay, I'll admit that "It's the Economy Stupid" was pretty good, too.)
"What we got, instead, is a president not of change, but of radical change. A president of firsts."
Most Americans took at face value what Obama and the Dems meant by change, i.e., "we'd like a departure from the former administration, please." Or "out with the bums!" type of change. I get that. You get that. What we got, instead, is a president not of change, but of radical change. Obama is set to bestride the globe, impacting domestic policy and foreign statecraft as a president of firsts.

It started innocuously enough with Obama being the first US president of color. Good for us all, in my opinion (see Obama the Chama). To be a president of radical government-centric "firsts" is an alarming thing, however, and the citizenry (especially those who worry about things as mundane as liberty and freedom) should be concerned. We are not yet 100 days into this administration, and already we have more radical and substantive changes than the Roosevelt administration had in its first term.
  • First: Obama is now the titular Chairman of General Motors, dictating management changes in absentia (nay, Government Motors).

  • First: The Obama administration is looking to arrogate private sectors until itself, viz., (evil) banking, (slothful) insurance, and (environmentally wasteful) automotive

  • First: Obama has initiated the largest spending program in US history, with another Trillion-dollar shoe of "incentives" to drop with a sickening and crippling economic thud. (Short-sellers are licking their chops!)

  • First: Obama convened global discussions to effect monetary policy changes within our sovereign US border: with individual foreign states as well as the G20.

  • First: Obama's first interview as president was not with sycophant Chris Matthews, or Dame Barbara Walters, or even the NY Times. It was with Al-Arabiya TV. If you think this was serendipitous, I have one word for you: not.
The times they are a changin', and BHO's fairly radical worldview is behind all of them. His administration is riding atop a perfect storm: radical agenda, with an accomplice Congress, and a Fourth Estate media with tingling sensations running down its collective leg.

Perhaps his biggest impact on the country culturally speaking is soon to come. He will possibly appoint 2 or 3 justices to the Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (health) and John Paul Stevens (age) are both likely candidates to retire early in this administration. Although he will be replacing liberal justice with liberal justice, he will be extending the "living, breathing" jurisprudence of the left for another generation, in effect keeping the culture on its pro-secular, anti-religion, anti-property rights tract. But, these appointments are perks of the job, and it's why public policy folks work tirelessly in backwater voting districts and fly-over states.

Being president matters, especially with one who is hell-bent on making his administration first on the list of big firsts. The more government arrogates (our) power unto itself, the less we the individual can withstand that encroachment into our lives. If this administration governs as if the individual shall be last, then this President of Firsts will most likely not have a second term. Until then, this could get ugly.