I hold with those who favor fire…

Lyndon always used to call me Sarey, and I always used to call him Beej.

At least, if I am being entirely honest, I always called him Beej to his face. When it was just Bird and me, then all bets were off, particularly if Bird had been on the gimlets, and we used to refer to him as “Ol’ One Gallon”, “the Senator from Texarcana” or, once Bird was well under the sauce, “Old Fuckface”. Christ, that woman could drink. Drink and scheme. She was a good hater too. She was like the entire George W. Bush administration without the Jesus. She was one of my dearest friends.

I quite liked Beej. He always reminded me of a big, dumb hound that just wanted to be loved, and maybe have his balls scratched very now and then.

The two of them fought just like a cat and a coonhound too, even though they loved each other madly. On their honeymoon, they had four blazing rows (although Bird always said the first one didn’t count because she hadn’t pegged anything at Beej’s head). By the time they arrived home, they’d both gotten the taste for make up sex, and it had all spiraled horribly from there, until, like some fucked-up and almost-extinct North African swallows with tails so long they can’t find their own cloaca with a map, they just ended up fighting all the time and forgot about the fucking entirely.

I’d turned Beej down in ’60 when he asked me to help him with his “campaign”, on the basis that I was much more likely to get stoned and/or laid hanging around with Jack Kennedy. Jack always had the cutest groupies and the best painkillers, and the whole bit between then and Dallas is, mercifully, a bit of a blur.

In mid ’64, I ran into Beej in a dive bar outside Houston. He had been stood up by an assassin-for-hire he had arranged to meet with the aim of engaging said assassin to rub out Barry Goldwater. He bought me a beer and caught me up on the Sixties. Someone had been sending him beefcake postcards with the eyes scratched out and holes stabbed into the mesh posing pouches, signed “Hubert”. Beej had convinced himself the perpetrator was either Bobby Kennedy or Goldwater, decided to do something about it and had plumped for snuffing the Pisstream from Phoenix first, on the basis that (as he put it) “I hate that fuck anyway”.

Anyway, I convinced him that it might be better if he let me handle it. As I pointed out, if I could get Jack Kennedy through 16 primaries, three years as president, one funeral and the fucking Warren Commission without anyone finding out about his missing leg, tracking down who sent some porno to the White House was going to be a doddle.

A few days later I was back in the White House again, as LBJ’s Special Investigator. I had drinks with Bird the first afternoon. I told her that she needed to donate her little stash of Bruce of Los Angeles pics to Goodwill and move onto tormenting Beej some other way. Then we got tanked on some very nice rum I’d picked up the month before in Havana, and later that night Beej got luckier than he’d gotten since about November 8, 1960.

That calmed him down for a couple of days, but then Goldwater made some offhand remark to Kissinger at a togas and tarts party at Bohemian Grove (Barry was a toga, Henry a quite well-endowed tart) about LBJ being a corncob-pipe pussy, which got back to Beej through the usual sources.

Beej sent Barry a telegram telling him he was (so far as I recall) “a wore out, brokedown, molly mule, sat at a trough an’ stuffin itself, packed to the bunghole with corn, wind and mulepucky”.

From that point it was on like grease on a piglet.

I don’t remember exactly when the nuclear bomb got installed onto Air Force One. Bomb, singular. Certainly not more than one, as I have seen bandied about.

I’d heard rumours something odd was going on. Then again, something odd was always going on. I put out some feelers, made some calls to a few flyboys of my acquaintance. Then I was called away to Cuba for a few weeks. Castro was playing up. He’d found out that Chernenko (also one of ours, at least at that point, and a pain in the arse to keep in line) had wangled a dozen cases of French bubbly out of his handler, and now Fidel was demanding equal dibs. Don’t talk to me about inconvenience until you’ve gone through Cuban customs with a half dozen bottles of Besserat de Bellefon 1932 stuffed up your skirt.

Anyway, a week later I arrived back at Dulles, about midnight, having had no sleep for two days, to be met by a brace of White House muscle, whisked off in a car and wheeled onto Air Force One. Beej gave me a big hug and told me I smelled like a drunk hog in a bearskin rug – he was entirely correct, although in my defence that’s what Havana smelled like in 1964. He patted me on the back and said, “It’s good to see you, Sarey. We’re off to fuck up Phoenix,” burped royally and then he was gone, back (presumably) to the airborne Presidential Throne where he did most of his actual thinking.

Down the back of the plane, the usual hangers-on were already making inroads into a three gallon jug of Beej’s hooch. Jesus, that stuff. He called it Texas White Lightning, vintage about five minutes ago, and he made it in his own still which was stashed in a storeroom off the Executive Office Building bowling alley. The jugs had to be opened outside in the Rose Garden, ever since one exploded at dinner and wiped out about half of the Truman china. It made your ears tingle, and tasted like an axe to the face. You couldn’t get hooch like that at the White House again until January ’93.

Rusk and Bob McNamara were yet again taking poor old Marv Watson for next month’s booze money (and, apparently, his socks) at seven-card strip, although they were having a bit of a hard time of it because Helen Thomas was in her normal spot, displaying the true spirit of a free press – on the table, one shoe on with her knickers twirling around one ankle with each high-kick, singing something rude. Beej tended to keep the Corp off the plane, but Helen always got a jersey ever since she beat him in a chillidog eating competition at Camp David in ’62, and then burped so loud three secret service agents came running with a pair of pants in case Beej had shat himself.

George Reedy, who’d only had the Press Secretary job for a few months, seemed to be the only one who wasn’t enjoying himself. He sat there, head slumped on his hands, staring at his drink, seemingly a little concerned about his ability to sell the atomic devastation of even a minor US city like Phoenix as a good-news story at the next day’s presser. I tried to reassure him, but he was inconsolable, so (after I’d rolled a big fat one of Havana’s finest) I grabbed the half-empty jug and climbed up on the table with Helen.

Forty minutes out from Phoenix, I could feel the plane start to descend very slowly as Beej came in for a drink and a bit of a dance. Twenty minutes out, Jimmy Cross came to fetch us. He sat himself back down in the pilot’s seat, and the rest of us all crammed in around him – Beej, Bob, Deano, Helen, Marv, George and me, all drunk as lords, all stuffed into the cockpit of Air Force One to watch Phoenix burn.

We saw the lights of Phoenix coming up, getting closer as the plane got lower. “Bring us in close,” said Beej, “I want to see that the tiles on that fucker’s roof.” Closer, and it felt like I could see cars and little houses flashing below us and the bulk of Camelback looming ahead of us.

“Go,” said Beej, and Jimmy pressed the button. There was a solid, satisfying clunk from the back of the plane, and then Jimmy started to take her up. I looked at him, and I swear that fucker held my eye for five whole seconds, and he didn’t wink until a second before the flash.

Beej whooped like a quarterback at a chicken ranch, grabbed a pair of goggles and ran towards the back of the plane as the controls seemed, at least, to jerk in Jimmy’s hands and the plane rocked in the air. I went back to Beej to watch the fireball. He seemed oddly sad. “It wasn’t a very big explosion,” he said, so I explained to him that it was just a little nuke, but big enough to do the job and, after he’d make a dick joke, we stood in the window and watched the flames fall swiftly behind us.

It was a big explosion, sure enough – the kind of thing you’d see if you happened to be flying by in a dangerously low-flying plane as someone set off a round dozen of the US Army’s finest thermite charges and a shit ton of smoke flares right in the middle of a 500 foot wide scale model of Phoenix and its surroundings, just like the one the entire staff of Luke Air Force Base spent several weeks building out of painted chipboard and sand, somewhere deep in the Sonoran Desert.

For the rest of his life, Beej was convinced that Barry Goldwater had escaped by the skin of his balls from the smoking, radioactive pile that was Phoenix, Arizona, and that Barry wasn’t man enough to call Beej out about it.

Still, he must have seen something in Barry – a little bit of the Barry who later said that good Christians ought to kick Jerry Falwell in the nuts – because the last time I saw him Beej said to me, “I’m glad that fucker Goldwater survived, Sarey, even if it was just so I could kick his ass”. Then he smiled, give Bird a kiss, and we wandered off to dinner.

– For Ron Capshaw, and for Helen with love.


Happier than a dog with three balls

Hello, dears. Just popping my head up above the water to say hello and bring you a quick dump and run of delights.

First, I’m popping out the oldies with Lenny Bernstein’s slick version of Exultate Jubilate. The recording is very Lenny – a big church filled bombastically to the formerets with an orchestra consisting of every single fucking person in Bavaria who can play an instrument (cute violinist alert at 5.04) and a deathly silent audience, stunned into submission by the music and the stark staring terror that they might cough and Lenny would gut them with his baton. However, Arleen Auger’s voice is lovely, and this recording is the one I hear in my head if I happen to think of Lenny. It was playing one night at one of his parties, and he was serving drinks and bopping around like he usually did when he got to hear his own performances, like a drunk bullfrog that has been connected to the mains, and at the height of one particularly spastic conniption he managed to tip an entire jug of margaritas over Nancy Reagan, so it always makes me laugh. The recording of the Great Mass in C minor that goes with this on CD is a cracker, by the way.

Next, following on from Cole’s mustard abduction, a charming little story by Theodore Sturgeon called “Yesterday Was Monday” which was pointed out by KBS, and which explains everything.

Random food blogness: Fat Yu, who apparently IS FAT YU! (and also a tiny little bit racist on the Japanese), but who writes otherwise entertainingly of his eating exploits around Shanghai.

If you like a bit of tentacle in your tale and can “Ïa! ïa! Shub niggurath!” with the best of them, you might enjoy Innsmouth Mazazine. I have been working my way through them very happily, even if they do give me odd dreams.

Last, and then I am off to bed in my upside-down down-under bed, I suggest you go and see the website of sculptor Thomas Doyle to see the coolest things ever.

Goodnight my dears. Sleep well and dream of Ted Cruz slowly slipping down a slavering and drool-bespattered maw. Ïa! ïa! Cthulhu fhtagn!


It is an unnecessarily time-consuming demand to expect anyone to provide you with proof

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I’ve been here in Australia for about six weeks, and if it hasn’t been been piss-steamingly hot, it has instead been dumping cockloads of cold rain on my head. I was shat on by a koala that looked more stoned than I did. I had to go to a cocktail party attended by both Rose Fucking Porteus [Youtube] and Gina Bitchface Rinehart. Thankfully they kept them on opposite sides of the ballroom, pointed Rose at the gin buffet and distracted Gina by waving Fairfax share certificates at her. I went to dinner at Parliament House, all done up in my best soup-and-fish, and got stuck next to Christopher Pyne – the stupid person’s idea of a clever poodle. [Also Youtube]

Now there’s going to be an election. In September. Which will be all the media here will talk about for the rest of my stay.

What a fucking country.

Anyhow, I realised that I have fallen down on my duty to you all. It has been a long time since I last fished a gleaming urinal cake of stupid out of the piss trough they call the Corner, and then held it up for your delectation. Thus, I remedy my fault.

For today’s bagetelle, I thought I might use Obamacare Punishes Smokers: Why not the Promiscuous? By Wesley J. Smith, in which Wesley J. Smith responds to an AP story which reports that health insurers will be able to charge higher premiums to smokers buying individual policies.

Living unhealthy lifestyles has become the new Scarlet Letter. That’s what happens with centralized health care. But once we go down that road, it won’t end there. Smokers today, the obese tomorrow.

This financial stick is entirely political. Notice we never hear experts wanting to “punish” the promiscuous for the cost burden they inflict on the health care system. Yet people who sleep around, like smokers and the obese, cost the rest of us plenty–what with promiscuity leading to sexually transmitted diseases, some cancers, HIV, unwanted pregnancies, mental health issues, etc. Why isn’t what is good for the goose also good for the gander?

That won’t happen because society celebrates promiscuity and the popular culture glamorizes licentious lifestyles the way it once extolled smoking. Consider: Girls. We applaud basketball players who sleep with 20,000 women. We ooh, and ah over Reality TV celebrities, with no talent other than living provocatively before the camera, who sleep around and get very publicly pregnant. We even tend to think something is wrong with virgins who are older than 18.

If we are going to outlaw underwriting, it should apply across the board. But if we are going to punish unhealthy lifestyles with higher insurance premiums, that too should apply across the board. After all, “equality” is the new buzz word, right?

Now, the title had promise and, aside from the fact that Wesley J. Smith and I agree that penalty pricing insurance is wrong, there’s a lot of stupid in there to mock. However, most of it boils down to a smug and slightly sweaty man in his basement typing “hoors” over and over again with one palsied hand. Which is disappointing.

However, let us forge ahead, for today, today it is in the comments that the real gold lies. Read the rest of this entry »


Sympathy for the terrible

I feel for Mitt. My tax returns are complicated too.

I have investments scattered all over the globe, the odd bit of this and that, here and there – two box factories in Chicago, a couple of floors in the One57 (Bob Costas wanted to buy one of the apartments off me for twice what I paid, but I told him to go fuck himself in the ear (it’s going to be bad enough living next to the fucking Beckhams)), a couple of ad agencies, cattle ranching and wool in Argentina, gold and uranium mining in Australia (I pay my workers three times market rates, just to piss off that bitch Gina Rinehart), a little discreet organ harvesting in China, a pile of gold in a safe in George Town (along with some very salacious photographs of Joe Biden and a ski bunny, complete with two sets of bunny ears), three coffeshops in Amsterdam, assorted trusts (family, blind and “going on”) and a nifty little Swiss Verein that owns more Apple shares than I am allowed to admit – all of them with their various profits and deductions and capital losses and tax amnesties, across seventeen tax jurisdictions with 92 different filing dates.

Then there’s my charitable and political donations – my church (we’re trying to rebuild the steeple after Father Eustace drove a dumptruck into it three weeks ago while under the influence of too much altar wine), the greenies, the godbotherers who want to go to Africa, the saving of various endangered fluffy things, no less than fifteen young men in Brazil and Botswana whose villages have access to clean drinking water and modern gymnasium equipment on my purse, sundry donations and purchases for local council members, two mayors, three governors, fifteen reps, seventeen senators, two cardinals, one president and a sizable annual bequest to the St Filbert’s Home for Wayward and Orphaned Boys in New Orleans, of which I am the founding patron.

Each month, when I get to the Spokane offices of my accountants, Bumble, Curtin and Run (an English firm which has handled my family’s finances since just after the Battle of Flodden Field), I have a coffee and perhaps a little eclair in the client drawing room while the young Mr Bumble (the great to about twenty grandson of the original Mr Bumble) tries to find his pants and my file. Each month, I am ushered into his office – the poor man always looks thoroughly flushed – and I am confronted with a pile of about thirty two hundred pages, all of which I am supposed to have read, all of it festooned with red and purple and yellow stickies denoting various levels of importance, bound together with a summary file which has a summary memo clipped to the front, which has a section marked “Conclusions” right at the very top, which is printed in big print and short soothing words, and which essentially reads just like Mitt’s PWC memo.

Let me tell you, that fucker is the only bit I have ever read. I pay five hundred bucks an hour for Senior Clerks to read that shit for me. I just flip to the “sign here” stickies and sign away.

Still, small sympathy aside – after all, I am not running for President – I am filled with a feeling not too dissimilar to schadenfreude (if I weren’t 93 I could get away with a Mittelschmerz joke here) seeing Harry the honey badger getting his teeth right back into Mitt’s trouserleg.

Reid has been quick to dismiss the PwC letter, calling for Romney to release the full returns and saying in a conference call with Nevada reporters that an “outline by some accountant about his blind trust, that’s not going to do it.”

The lovely Imani (is that what we’re calling you now, dear?) has picked on one of my favorite bits – that Mitt admits on the record that he didn’t claim $1.75 million in charitable deductions in his 2011 return, with all of the contradictions and ability to get his money back that that entails.

Benjy Sarlin at TPM (via Sullivan, I think) goes even further:

Did Romney artificially inflate his tax rate using the same strategy in other returns? That’s the biggest question raised by the disclosure of his move to take fewer deductions in 2011.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to questions over whether Romney amended any of his previous returns

Ryan Grim at Hufflepuff (from whence that first quote came) has a great round up of other glaring holes in Mitt’s letter. For starters, Grim notes:

According to the letter from PwC avowing the number, it is based on Romney’s adjusted gross income. That means that, for instance, if Romney made investment profit of $20 million, but had losses of, say, $19.9 million, his adjusted gross income would only be $100,000. Paying 20.2 percent of $100,000 would cost Romney just over $20,000.

If Reid’s comment is interpreted strictly — that Romney paid literally $0 in taxes over 10 years — then the PwC letter undermines that charge. But if Romney paid only a very small amount — say, $20,000 on $20 million — it would be hard to award Reid many pinocchios for calling that nothing.

Hee. Glenn Kessler will forever be a punchline. Life is just sometimes.

Grim (who is doing sterling work) notes that:

Romney’s claimed rate is misleading in another way. Boston College tax law professor Brian Galle noted that Romney’s IRA has grown since 1999 at a rate of roughly $9 million to $10 million per year. Yet he pays no taxes on those gains. Adding $10 million to his 2011 income of $13.8 million, for instance, nearly doubles it, meaning his tax rate is roughly half of what his real gain was.

while over here Grim quotes Mr Galle on Mitt’s takes backsies charity bit.

Grim points to Greg Sargent, who has an interview with Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center about PWC’s claim that “Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.”

“Let’s say you have 10 years in which you paid 13 percent in taxes, and 10 years in which you paid 27 percent,” Williams told me. “If you average those rates, you’ll get an overall rate of 20 percent. But if the 13 percent years were high income years, and the 27 percent years were low income years, then his total taxes paid as a share of total income over the 20 years would be less, perhaps significantly less, than 20 percent.”

I warn you, don’t click on these next links. This sums up the mood at the Corner:

Mitt Romney’s tax release shows that he is rich, that he makes most of his money from investments, and that he gives a lot of it to his church. Politically aware people knew all of these things already. So unless there is a big surprise in the fine print (e.g., a contribution to the National Association of Puppy Stranglers), the release is unlikely to have much impact on the race.

while there’s radio silence on the whole thing at Red State, although Erick who was Begat by Erick does have time to point out that Hopey McChangeburger is a loser and a crook and a terrorist, and to solicit funds to buy Mountain Dew and porn and paintball billboards.

The time has come for us to launch our National Billboard Campaign. We have invested in the printing of 24 “Get Hope, Fire Obama” billboards, 2 per swing state; we just need you to find a home for them. For $1,500 you can put up one of these billboards. You get to pick which key swing state you would like your billboard to go in. We are targeting these 12 key swing states:

SELECT HERE TO PUT UP YOUR BILLBOARD!

Florida Ohio Virginia

North Carolina Pennsylvania Wisconsin

Iowa Colorado Missouri

New Hampshire Nevada New Mexico

And Mr Krugman hasn’t even posted about Mitt’s tax returns yet.

I suspect this is another Romney fail. Oh, happy day.


Tampa? I hardly knew her!

Well dears, the convention is over. I had intended to write so many posts keeping you up to date on what was what, but what with this and that, and that and this, I somehow could not find the time. I’m writing you a long post with all of my adventures, from the minor Paulite revolution I fomented to the rather odd orgy I ended up at in the Bachmann’s suite. It was remarkably like the video above.

I blame grindr. More on all that later.

In the meantime, I note that I also omitted to follow up on my thread to find the best personal ad from the convention. I checked on my gays every day and, frankly, I was a little disappointed. The boys of Tampa just didn’t seem to be putting in much effort to snare some Republican arse, and the Republican Youth seemed to be keeping it indoors at the convention. I popped into one toilet at the Times Forum and all the lightbulbs had been removed. Thankfully I had my little torch. I’ve never seen so many lily white white arses moving quite so quickly before.

Anyway, aside from the Gay Joe Cool that JGabriel found, the only ad that really made me laugh was this one:

Much love. Have a drink on me. I’ll be back to you once I’ve managed to get Michele Bachman out of my closet so I can check out and get on my plane out of this shithole.


I’m in love with a married man (NSFW)

The boys over at the Corner have made themselves nice, dimmed the lights, gotten out the lotion and the scented candle, and have settled in for a quiet night giving Vice-President Paul Ryan the tongue bath of his life.

Jeffrey H. Anderson:

To be sure, each of Romney’s finalists or near-finalists has merit. But Ryan would benefit Romney’s candidacy in unique ways. Here are just a few:

* Picking Ryan would excite and unite the party.
* By putting Ryan on the ticket, Romney would add the party’s single best spokesman on three huge issues: Obamacare, the budget, and the debt. Imagine Ryan debating Joe Biden — or Hillary Clinton.
* By adding such a heavyweight to the ticket, Romney would convey to the electorate how high the stakes are in this historic election.
* The pick would also show strength. By making it, Romney would (rightly) indicate that he’s not afraid of being overshadowed by anyone.

The 23-year age difference between Romney and Ryan makes them seem more like natural complements than like rivals, and by all accounts the chemistry between them is excellent. Moreover, younger voters are increasingly disillusioned with Obama, and putting the 42-year-old Ryan on the ticket would encourage many of them to give Romney a second look.

Because the only thing that would excite the young peoples more than one smug lying merchant wanker with helmet hair is two of the fuckers sitting there, looking like an outtake from the Chuckles and Bozo Variety Hour.* Read the rest of this entry »


Book thread

I saw quite a bit of Jacqueline Susann (take that how you will) during the war. Jack and I had been rewarded by our respective agencies with a cushy temporary assignment keeping an eye or two on a rather dishy German agent who was trying (and failing) to seduce Truman Capote.

Now, failing at seducing Truman is quite an achievement, given that young Fritz (for that was the German’s name) was available, adorable and Aryan, and that Truman would bang a duck if you slapped some Bay Rum on it and stuck a bottle of poppers under its wing.

The failure was none of our doing, I must add. Our bosses didn’t particularly mind if Fritz rogered Truman blind and legless and then extracted everything that Truman knew during the post-coital guilt. If Hitler wanted to know about the divine boy that Truman had sucked off at the Y last night and how yellow was Truman’s favorite color and how war was so, so sad, it was none of our concern.

Nevertheless, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances (including a dodgy curry, a spurned Sicilian-American dancer with a flick knife, an amusing misunderstanding about the meaning of the English word “submissive”, and three separate bouts of herpes), Fritz never quite got into Truman’s pants. Jack and I spent most of the time drinking gimlets and spiking Truman’s drinks with Pervitin when he wasn’t looking.

None of which is the story I originally set out to tell you, by the way. And yes, I will get to the book thread. I’m old and my mind wanders. Fuck off if you don’t like it.

Jack and I lost track of each other in the fifties because I was spending so much time in Cuba. I didn’t hear from her until 1969 when she wrote to invite me to dinner at her DC apartment – just (as Jack put it) a small dinner with close friends, a dinner with some meaning to it, a dinner that would be a celebration of something. She was, apparently, trying to get over her abortive affair with Ethel Merman, and had embarked on a rather less public dalliance with Pat Nixon.

Pat, of course, had become a lesbian the year before, more I suspect as a reaction to Dick’s chronic flatulence than any real desire for the love of a good woman. Or indeed a bad one.

Bitsy Trump and I cadged a lift from Gloria. She always served spectacular champagne, so by the time we arrived we were all several under the pump. Truman came in a little later with a brasileiro rent boy called João, who immediately began flirting with Pat, which caused Truman to retreat in tears to the bathroom, so we spent the afternoon drinking gimlets, getting baked on a pan of particularly fine double-fudge rum-n-raisin brownies that Pat had whipped up, and lying around drawing monster eyebrows and a lazy eye on all the pictures of Sally Quinn in the society pages while listening to Brahms and the gentle sounds of Truman whimpering.

Gloria, Pat, João and I played a lengthy game of Twister, and at one point I came out of a quick nap for long enough to see Pat poking Truman with a broom handle while shouting “Cry it up, Streckfus!”, but most of the rest of the evening is a blur.

I do remember that one of Pat’s security detail brought burgers and fries and shakes, and Jack turned the news on so we could throw our pickles at Nixon. Just as Bitsy got Dicky fair in the gob with an onion ring, Jack looked across at me, raised her glass and declaimed “Nixon. Capote. I hate both those fucks. I hate their beady eyes and their stupid noses and their lying fucking mouths. Those fucks will ruin us all.”

At which Pat laughed like a drain and had to be heimliched after her olive went down the wrong way.

I have no idea what any of that means, but I’m scared to think what Jack would have said about Mr Romney or the Twilight books.

Now, it’s been a while since we had a book thread, so here you go.

My reading has been all over the place this month. I’m halfway through David Wong’s John dies at the end, an odd and disconcerting little story about small town kids, sex, drugs and the malevolent forces that live beyond the bounds of our universe and watch our world with hungry eyes. Wong is very funny and ably handles a plot in which the peace can be broken at any time by the abrupt appearance of a cloud of flying flesh eating worms or a golem made of slaughtered deer parts.

Gareth Roberts’ novelisation of Douglas Adams’ Shada was particularly good, both as an evocation of the book that Adams might have written and of Tom Baker’s Doctor and Lalla Ward’s Romana. Getting those things right without veering into pastiche or, on the other hand, bland unrecognisability is hard – just ask Michael Moorcock. Roberts pokes happily at some Gallifrey Base obsessions, including the argued overuse of the sonic screwdriver, the gay agenda and this (which is just cruel):

As Skagra watched, he learnt of the Doctor’s early history, academic achievements, his family ties on Gallifrey and elsewhere, and the exact reasons for his first flight from his home world. But all of that was irrelevant.

There’s even a very fine Monty Python joke about halfway through.

I also read The Time Travellers by Simon Guerrier, which I thought was an exceptional book. The first Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara are stranded in London in a 2006 in which Great Britain is at endless war after being devastated by the evil computer WOTAN, who will later (or earlier, depending on your level of wibbliness) be defeated by the second Doctor in The War Machines. All four leads are beautifully drawn, and Guerrier’s description of a conversation between the Doctor and Barbara about changing history towards the end of the book is passionate and tender and quite masterful.

I love The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. The book is divided up by flavours, with each flavour cross referenced against most of the others to see what memories or recipes or random thoughts the combination brings to Segnit’s mind – from bacon and chicken (the proper number of bread slices in a club sandwich), to bacon and clove (a recipe for barbecue baked beans), clove and vanilla (which meet, along with coconut, in wine stored in French oak) and vanilla and cherry (Cherries Jubilee!). Fascinating enough to read from cover to cover, and perfect for dipping into for ideas if you happen to have a surfeit of oranges or cucumbers that you need to use up.*

The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer made me laugh, and the divine Phryne Fisher mysteries (this month, Murder in the Dark) make me wish that I had been born 20 years earlier so I could have hung around in Melbourne between the wars – although I do suspect there wasn’t quite as much cocaine and shagging as Ms Greenwood describes.

Well, kiddies, that’s me. What have you been reading?

* I’ve been making pickled oranges and a French orange wine aperitif and bread-and-butter cucumbers all week. I smell like vinegar and booze which, frankly, isn’t unusual. Let me know if you want recipes.


Bookmark it libs

Well, my dears, I’m back from my little jaunt over to London for Betty Windsor’s Jubilee.

I haven’t seen that much mindless fawning and avid slobbering over one woman since the time I got stuck in a lift with Megan McArdle and Tina Brown. Mind you, that was only about three weeks ago, so it’s been quite a month for the brown-nosing.

I did enjoy the Jubilee flotilla. I was delighted to be invited onto the Royal Barge (although I was confused for a while because that’s what Phillip always used to call Fergie).

However, after a few glasses of bubbly and half an hour listening to Kate wittering on about how big her castle is, I did consider taking a fire axe to the bottom of the boat and drowning the whole bloody lot of them (except Harry, of course, who is such a dear and who hooked me up with some smashing coke (but then the sweet thing doesn’t have a Saxe-Coburg gene anywhere in his little ginger body)).

Thankfully I was distracted by a lustful look from a particularly dishy Gurkha, so a major international diplomatic incident was averted for the time being.

Anyway, I arrived back at Shady Pines to find that the righties at the Corner have been smoking the post-Wisconsin crack pipe and worked themselves up into jittery, pock-marked frenzy and are now wandering the streets muttering Halperin quotes:

“With five months until Election Day, Barack Obama faces a grim new reality: Republicans now believe Mitt Romney can win, and Democrats believe Obama can lose…”

in between trying to cadge subscriptions from the punters so Kathryn Jean can buy her own blow-up Timothy Dolan doll.

Nooners, never one to turn down a passing bandwagon (particularly if it has a Smirnoff logo on the side), is actively crowing about how Obama has lost the election six months out because he doesn’t lie and dissemble like his opponent. I shit you not:

Mr. Obama has become actively bad at politics. Here is an example of how bad. Anyone good at politics does not pick a fight with the Catholic Church during a presidential year. Really, you just don’t. Because there’s about 75 million Catholics in America, and the half of them who go to church will get mad. The other half won’t like it either.

If you’re good at politics, you quietly allow the church what it needs to survive, which actually is no more or less than what’s long been provided by the U.S. Constitution.

If you’re good at politics but ideologically mean, you string the church along throughout the election year, offering “temporary full waivers” or some such idiotic phrase—politicians love to make up idiotic phrases—on conscience, and then revoke all protections in 2013, after you’ve been re-elected, and have the fight then.

Even worse, Obama is apparently a loser because he’s attacking his opponent:

A more important example, and then we’ll move on. The president opened his campaign with a full-fledged assault on his opponent. This is a bad sign in an incumbent! An incumbent should begin his campaign with a full-fledged assertion of the excellence of his administration—the progress that has been made, the trouble that has been avoided, the promise that endures. You’ve got to be able to name these things. Then, once you’ve established the larger meaning of your administration—with wit and humor, and in a tone that assumes fair minded Americans will see it your way—you turn, in late summer, to a happy, spirited assault on the poor, confused, benighted and yet ultimately dangerous man running against you.

All of which means, in the warm haze of Nooners’ post-Wisconsin bender, that

The Obama administration suddenly looks like a house of cards.

The collective Tarantos are also excited. You can almost see the desperation oozing off the page as they try to paint Wisconsin as the penultimate victory in a string of Republican triumphs, which will culminate in the crowning of King Mitt in January.

To be sure, it’s possible that Obama will stage a comeback and defeat Mitt Romney. Only time will tell. But it’s not as if time took a vow of silence in January 2009. The other day Commentary’s John Steele Gordon provided a helpful list of events that “sure looks like a trend to me”: the emergence of the Tea Party in early 2009 and the town-hall confrontations that summer, Republican victories in New Jersey’s and Virginia’s governor races in November 2009, Scott Brown’s upset in January 2010, the Republican landslide in November 2010, and Walker’s vindication Tuesday, along with the approval of ballot measures curtailing public-sector pensions in California’s second- and third-largest cities. …

“If Republican Mitt Romney is inaugurated as president in January, history may look to June as the month in which President Obama’s fate was sealed,” writes National Journal’s Reid Wilson. If so, we would argue history will be wrong. The crucial month was March 2010, when ObamaCare became law. Obama’s determination to push it through despite overwhelming public opposition was the apotheosis of his contemptuous approach to governing. Pundits who took until this week to notice that Obama is out of touch were themselves out of touch.

Now, I know there are no sure things in politics, and the stupidity and self-destructiveness of a major part of the American electorate is never to be underestimated.

Nonetheless, I think Obama is going to win and win handily.

The more the electorate sees Willard, the more they will dislike him (particularly that part of the electorate which is brown or gay or has a vagina and/or something functioning above the level of their brainstem). The debates are going to be more of a disaster for the Republicans than that time when Uncle Cranky McCain wandered around the stage looking for his doggy mid-debate.

My money’s on the smart black guy that most of the country likes, rather than the dull, awkward, unpleasant, unprincipled trull who thinks that cops, firefighters and teachers are parasites holding back the American economy.

Bring it on.

[Image: Hans Makart (1840-1884) - Der Triumph der Ariadne]


BREAKING – The illusion of FDR’s War Room leadership

This photo is going to blow the lid off, sheeple! VICTORY!!! !

Next up: how the cloning tool was used on George W. Bush’s codpiece.


Good Friday Grifters

I quite like Good Friday. The chants at the morning service at the Convent of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen down the road are always so lovely. Although I’m Catholic, and therefore not particularly religious, I do find the stark dignity of that empty tabernacle quite stirring.

Neverthless, we did get our praying out of the way pretty quickly this morning, so we could get on with the important business of gossip, showing off our new hats and handing round pictures of the grandkiddies, interspersed with the odd bit of actual business so that we didn’t have to deal with it at morning tea. There may well have been some man or another up the front of the chapel, wearing a dress and yammering on, but none of us was paying much attention except during the hymns.

This morning we worked out who was bringing what to the next bring-and-buy – I’m doing Cherry Bakewells and a caraway seed cake – set the date for the next Convent Fair, and managed to find a nanny job for poor Mary McKenzie.

While she was on holiday in New York a few months ago, she got rather too excited in a nightclub toilet with one of the boys from Jersey Shore. She’s not sure which one. All she can remember is muscles, big hair and a cloud of Axe body spray which really isn’t much help. Now she needs the work to pay for a nice new pram and some DNA tests.

We aren’t missing out on much by not listening during mass, as we do have a rather uninspiring roster of priests thrown our way each week.

Father Seamus, who I seem to recall lead the service today, is a nice and pretty young man. Unfortunately he’s frightfully stupid and exceptionally fond of the Virgin Mary, if you get my drift. He can speak about her pure, forever untouched femininity for hours. The poor dear will come crashing out in a few years and be much more entertaining, but for the moment he’s a dreadful bore.

Father Flarety only ever talks about birth control, homosexuality or and the environment (he’s against all of them), but in the heat of his oratory the poor sot usually forgets which of them he is denouncing. It doesn’t seem to make much difference anyway. He also has a tendency to wander off during communion and not come back, which makes for a nice early mark. Last Sunday he got his hip flask mixed up with the communion wine. The blood of Christ had a kick to it that day, let me tell you. We had to take old Sister Luigi out into the vestry and fan her for a while.

And Father MacDonald is now so old and so wizened that he can’t be seen over the altar or the lectern, even when standing on a milk crate, so no one has any idea what he talks about.

Anyway, I really just wanted to wish you all a happy non-denominational Easter/Passover for this weekend and share with you a personal email I received from Marcus Bachmann reminding me that it is Michele’s birthday today. How lovely that the day of her birth falls on Good Friday this year, the day when Jesus died for us, the day when the tabernacle is as cold and dark and barren and empty as Michele’s heart.

Dear Sarah,

This Friday, April 6, is a very special day in the Bachmann household – it is Michele’s 56th birthday!

This past year has flown by, and Michele has spent the year working incredibly hard fighting day in and day out across this country for the conservative values we hold near and dear. In addition to being the voice in Washington we always know we can count on to tell the truth, Michele has worked extremely hard as a wife, mother and conservative activist.

I really want this birthday to be special for Michele, but I know that what would mean the most to her is if she was able to hear from you.

I’ve put together a special online birthday card for Michele and I hope you will follow this link to sign the card. On Friday, I will compile the messages to show her that people from every corner of the country appreciate the hard work she does.

Michele is facing a formidable election this year, and the Democrats would love nothing more than to see Michele be defeated. Please sign the card to show you stand with Michele, and afterwards you’ll be given the opportunity to make a special donation to show Michele just how much you support her work.

Please consider making a $56 – one dollar per year, or even $112 – two dollars per year, contribution. But, if you can’t afford to give that much, a gift of $10 or even $25 is greatly appreciated. Every donation received is one step closer to ensuring Michele’s campaign is victorious this fall.

On behalf of the entire Bachmann family, I want to personally thank you for your continued support of Michele. It is not easy to stand up to the liberals and mainstream media who attack her and our values, but I know that your support means the world to her.

Michele and I are blessed to have your friendship.

Sincerely,
Marcus Bachmann

P.S. Not much time remains until Michele’s birthday, and I need your help to ensure she has a great day. Please sign the birthday card for Michele and afterwards make a donation to her campaign. Thanks, Marcus.

I hope that Marcus has found a nice present for her. Perhaps a stepladder and some nails so she can climb on up there next to Jesus and show him how a martyr really dies. I must send her a basket of muffins.

I will leave you with two things to properly sweeten your day after Marcus’ dish of saccharine and suffering.

First this song, which I have linked to before, but which I play for myself almost every day. It’s dedicated to the Senegal national football team, the Lions of Teranga, by a Swedish girl of Senegalese ancestry called Mary N’diaye. It’s so joyous, it has a great beat, she has such a lovely voice and the video has awkward straight boy dancing, so it always brings a smile to my face.

Secondly, if you will indulge me, I’m going to link to one of my old stories, which I reread the other day and which I think deserves another whirl. It cheered me up anyway. It involves Bill O’Donoghue, an adorable baby, cake, lesbians, graphic vengeance and a rather sweet ending.

Happy Easter weekend to all. I hope you have a pleasant weekend and that you find an opportunity, on this Good Friday, to reflect upon the importance of sacrifice and self-denial.

Now I’m off to buy a cheeseburger and a quart of gin.


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