I Got the Right Street

… but the wrong direction:

  • My own Congressional race (NH1) gets the national spotlight, as the Onion compares and contrasts candidates Carol Shea-Porter and Frank Guinta:
    Campaign promise:

    • Shea-Porter: Will double the maple syrup subsidy and impose a tariff on foreign foliage
    • Guinta: Vows to eliminate wasteful government bodies like the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, and the Coast Guard
    Don't get your hopes up, libertarians. It's a joke.

  • In the allegedly more serious Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty highlights today's UNH Survey Center polling from NH Congressional District 2, which puts Democrat Ann McLane Kuster up by three percent over the former dreadful Republican Charlie Bass. Commenter "Hoover" alleges that the poll oversampled Democrats, and Bass is copacetic.

    On our side of the state, the poll has Republican Frank Guinta up by 7% over current Congressperson/Toothache Carol Shea-Porter.

    So: we'll see. Whenever quoting the Survey Center's polling, I feel it's necessary to point out that they had Barack Obama beating Hillary Clinton by 9% in their final poll released the day before 2008's New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Hillary wound up winning by 2.6%.

  • Pun Salad doffs its cap to The Economist's blogger who notes the magazine's headlines on stories dealing with Chinese currency:
    A yuan-sided argument
    Yuan small step
    Yuan up, yuan down
    Tell me what you yuan, what you really, really yuan
    More moan-inducing examples at the link. Because if you're punning on the Chinese monetary unit, it's difficult to stop at yuan.

  • George F. Will deserves thanks for (in his pre-election column) noting the campaign slogan of Mark Grannis, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland district 8: "Less we can".

  • Making the rounds is this quote from Bjarne Stroustrup (perpetrator of C++):
    I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.

Last Modified 2017-12-04 7:36 AM EST

Spoiled Rotten America

[Amazon Link]

Larry Miller is a stand-up comedian, and has a decent acting career in TV and movies. I think his performance in 10 Things I Hate About You should be required watching for all fathers, past, present, and future.

But I bought this book because of his columns in the Weekly Standard, which were always full of wit and sharp observation. He's no longer writing there, apparently, but here are three samples.

So I was expecting, especially with a title like Spoiled Rotten America, that the book might be a P. J. O'Rourke-style broadside against liberal weenies, maybe veering a little more to the conservative side than does Peej. Wrong. Larry (I call him Larry) is nearly politics-free here. The essays are (still) funny and full of sharp observation, they're simply about less controversial topics: family, friends, activities, shopping, career. You know, stuff like you and I could write about.

However, you and I might write about Little League; Larry writes about what it's like to have Annette Bening selling hot dogs at the games. You and I might have one or two funny stories about buying clothes; Larry will be able to tell you what he overheard Jimmy Stewart saying at Brooks Brothers. (OK, I'll tell you: "Gray flannels. Long as you've got 'em.")

As I type, Amazon has this book for a pretty good price.

Last Modified 2012-09-30 9:28 AM EST

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?)

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

For a few years in the 1970s, I was a fan of Harry Nilsson. And then my interest faded. This movie explains why.

Nilsson, it turns out, was almost a parody of pop star biography clichés: humble beginnings in a dysfunctional family; inexplicable talent and creative genius eventually bringing him wide attention; a breakthrough performance provides him awards and vast riches; concurrent substance abuse wrecks his career and shortens his life. (He died in 1994 at age 52.) Oh, I almost forgot: dishonest business manager absconds with piles of his money.

However, this documentary deftly fleshes out those bare-bones facts with sensitivity and skill, and illuminates the human being behind the parody. Everyone agrees: Harry was a pretty good guy. Although his career hit the self-destructive skids in the mid-1970s, he went on to have a successful (albeit third-try) marriage, fathered six kids, and seemingly never lost the ability to smile. Although he also apparently never lost his prodigous appetites for tobacco, alcohol, and less legal substances.

The documentary is filled with interviews from his colleagues, family, and friends, some famous, others not so. As the movie cruises along, listening to their tales of chemical-fueled havoc, it's difficult not to think of them as "survivors". A sampling: Yoko Ono, Eric Idle, Jimmy Webb, Micky Dolenz, Randy Newman, the Smothers Brothers, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson. Most of whom no doubt look at Harry's life and think: There but for the grace of God…

But somehow the documentarians left out a fascinating bit of ghoulish trivia: Nilsson's London flat was where both Cass Elliot and Keith Moon breathed their last. The heartbroken (and probably spooked) Nilsson sold it to Pete Townshend, who is still alive, as far as anyone knows.

Last Modified 2012-09-30 9:28 AM EST