Never Gonna Join the Snuggie Cult

Obama imagery


One recent post showed a photo of President Obama tying a bow tie; another discussed the intense fascination with his physical person that seems to have gripped so many people.   That led some of us to compare our favorite pictures of Mr O. 

The original

The iconic image of Mr O so far is probably Shepard Fairey‘s “Hope” poster.  In October, Fairey himself contacted with a link to a collection of spoofs of his poster.  A few I can’t resist copying appear after the jump. (more…)

Melanie Safka- Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)

Ukulele Video of the Year 2008

Ukulelehunt, the great and powerful, is running a contest for Ukulele Video of the Year.  My vote goes to “It’s a Heartache,” from the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra. 

Funny Times, January and February 2009

January 2009

January 2009

February 2009

February 2009

The only thing I want to note about either of the first two issues of The Funny Times for 2009 is a cartoon in four panels.  It’s not available for embedding, so I have to describe it.  Titled “The Stages of Idealism,” panel one shows a man with his head obscured by clouds.  Panel two, he’s bending over, his head buried in sand.  Panel three, he’s standing, his head up his rear end.  Panel four, his head is on a platter.

Harry Nicolaides hopes for royal pardon

Waiting for His Majesty

Waiting for His Majesty

Latest newspaper report about Harry Nicolaides:

THE stress can be seen in Harry Nicolaides’ gaunt face as he leans towards the barred prison window and speaks of his hopes and fears.

“I am so jaded, so cynical,” says the Melbourne writer, hunching his shoulders. “I am placing my faith in my family, my girlfriend, the Australian Government and the reputation of the Thai king. The Australian Government is supporting a pardon for me. But I am gun-shy at the moment. It’s all so opaque.”

Sentenced on Monday to three years’ jail for writing three sentences about the Thai royal family in a novel that sold fewer than 10 copies, Nicolaides, 41, can now only hope for a pardon from Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. There is no guarantee he will get one.

Read the rest in Australia’s The Age.

Mr O

Photoshop at its finest

Photoshop at its finest

From a friend of the blog:

I’ve been reflecting on how, in these very early days of the Obama administration, there is such relentless focus upon the person of Barack Obama himself, as if the man constitutes the real locus of substantiality in this situation.  Ironically, the case is tending so much to the diametric opposite:  Obama is a virtual spectre, a wraith, an empty place-holder.  He is, top-to-bottom, configured by the present complex of circumstances facing the country and earth (although world conditions have chillingly small bearing on the highly-inward gaze which is the hallmark of US political perspective) … This complex of circumstances, the range of plausible methods to engage it, and the particular types of public reaction that these methods will inexorably evoke:  all of this amounts to an essential structure of near-fatalism:  A pine cone will not fall up; water will not freeze at boiling temperature.  In the same way, the deep-rooted urge to ogle Das Leader, whatever it’s all about, certainly is linked to a voracious need to place the mask of a human face upon a disconcerting, and highly impersonal, black vortex of historical forces.  We believe that, because we can see Obama physically upon the TV screen, therefore we can truly see him.  What’s even more frightening than the realization that Das Leader is, at bottom, a social construction, is the uneasy suspicion that that social construction is being – cunningly, indefatigably – moulded and tweaked for public consumption by the mind-nexus of power-wealth.  Consider the recent news that a US “remote unit” in a border region of Pakistan has killed twenty-two people.  Das Leader has not been in power for one week, and he’s already handed down orders to kill people:  no evidence required, no judicial process.  Pharaoh has put them to death, for he is Pharaoh.  And since they (a) were almost certainly not US citizens, and (b) may have satisfied a definition of “terrorist,” they are in consequence right-less subhumans on both counts.  The fact that the sarcastic final clause of my prior sentence would meet with a thoroughly above-board “yeah” of acknowledgment from vast legions of Americans, with no ensuing deeper rumination, is a sobering index of where we are.”

From Acilius’ reply:

“good points about Mr O.  one of the reasons i like to call him “Mr O” is that the letter O does suggest the “empty place-holder” 0.  he is a vacant space which the spectator can fill with any image s/he may wish.  his accession to the presidency invites us to construct in our minds any narrative that may help us to live with “a disconcerting, and highly impersonal, black vortex of historical forces.”  (america’s 44th, and first black, vortex of historical forces.)  that narrative may concern a redeemer prince who embodies our highest hopes or a leering tyrant who confirms our deepest fears.  in either case, we can feel that the processes in which we are enmeshed are familiar, intelligible, human.  it isn’t too different from what we were talking about before.  those of us who don’t understand theoretical physics can listen to an explanation of the big bang, visualize eggs hatching, and tell ourselves that the familiar image we have thereby produced is the way it really happened.  it then seems to us that the physical world isn’t so puzzling after all.  if we can understand ordinary eggs, how much harder could it be to make sense of a cosmic egg?  the social world might also seem less mystifying if we can reduce its larger scale processes to personal narratives.  and not the personal narratives of actual, complex human beings, but the personal narratives of archetypal figures familiar in legends as old as the stone age and as fresh as the movies.” 

Let me clarify my remarks here.  These remarks are from an email discussion that had, the week before, centered on what goes in the minds of scientific illiterates such as myself when we hear experts try to explain the Big Bang theory.  My idea was that as we listen, we tend to draw on the same kind of nature imagery that people have been using since prehistoric times to devise myths that would help make the confusing, dangerous, frustrating aspects of reality seem familiar and comprehensible.  So whatever the physicists on the History Channel’s The Universe may be trying to say, what I and people like me end up believing we heard is a Cosmic Egg creation story that could have been told around any Neolithic campfire.  

In my reply above, I suggest that the fixation on Mr O may be part of a similar phenomenon.  I do not mean to suggest that my correspondent is trying to cast Mr O as a “leering tyrant” and thereby to make his own myth about him.  This last point would likely have been clear in the original context, since my correspondent voted for Mr O and has in the past supported other politicians whom no one would regard as incapable of the “Pharaonic” behavior he laments.  Nor do I mean to deny that there may be situations in which an individual can take an action that will change the course of history.    

Inaugural ties

On the big day

On the big day

Movie Review- Mission to Mars

Mission to Mars (2000)


Don Cheadle, Jerry O’Connell, Kim Delaney, Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise

 Cymast’s Synopsis:

The first human mission to Mars results in the mysterious deaths of 3 of the 4 astronauts.  The remaining astronaut is stranded on Mars, and a rescue mission is sent.  After another accident, the 3 survivors of the rescue crew team up with the 1 original survivor and solve the mystery of the Face on Mars.

Mr. Cymast’s Synopsis:

It’s a rescue mission to Mars gone wrong, and they found a surprise. And it wasn’t a pickle.

—– ” ‘Mission to Mars’ takes bad to a whole new level. This film is mind boggling and stupid, a derivative piece of doo-doo that’s an embarrassment for all involved.”

Roger Ebert: “I can’t recommend ‘Mission to Mars.’ It misses too many of its marks. But it has extraordinary things in it. It’s as if the director, the gifted Brian De Palma, rises to the occasions but the screenplay gives him nothing much to do in between them.”

Cymast: As a fan of fluffy sci-fi, I found the movie mostly enjoyable. The characters, at times, are distracting in their ineptitude as astronauts. There’s a drawn-out, smarmy love scene that I’m sure was included just to lengthen the movie: 2 of the astronauts twirl and flirt in zero-G. Twirl and flirt, twirl and flirt, twirl and flirt . . well, you get it. There’s a climactic space death scene which is slightly marred by the expressionless, Julia Robertsesque acting of Kim Delaney. She does have a convincing scream, though. Don Cheadle’s performance as a sole stranded/rescued astronaut saves the movie, IMO. I particulary enjoyed the Martian landscape and what appeared to be its thermal features. I did not care for the the last half of the ending, as it leaves WAY TOO LITTLE to the imagination. That part of the ending also seems cartoonish, compared to the rest of the movie. But, to the movie’s credit, I’m sure it was a tough scene to write. Overall, it’s worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of alternative theories.

Goat Man Steals Car

Where’s Bat Boy when you need him?