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Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Musing: Just Over Five Years Ago


[NY Times, March 24, 2003]

To see why Chicago became the movie of the year in a year when America sleepwalked into war, you do not have to believe it is the best picture of 2002 (mine would be Almodóvar's Talk to Her). Nor must you believe that musical comedy is making a comeback in Hollywood (it's barely holding its own on Broadway, where even Hairspray has empty seats). All you have to do is watch a single scene.

That scene is a press conference in 1920's Chicago. A star defense attorney, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), wants to browbeat a mob of reporters into believing that his client, Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger), did not murder her lover when in fact she did. "Now remember," Billy coaches Roxie, "we can only sell them one idea at a time." The idea: Roxie acted in self-defense. "We both reached for the gun," Roxie sings to the reporters, who obediently turn her lie into a rousing chorus, repeating it over and over in a production number that portrays them as marionettes, bowing and scraping to the tug of Billy's strings and spin.

For history's sake, this spectacle should be paired on the DVD with George W. Bush's fateful White House press conference of March 6, 2003. This was the president's first prime-time faceoff with reporters since a month after 9/11 and certain to be his last in what remained of peacetime. The former Andover cheerleader had failed to convince America's friends to come aboard. The economy was tanking. But the journalists at hand were so limply deferential to the president's boilerplate script that the subsequent, good-natured "Saturday Night Live" parody couldn't match the gallows humor of the actual event.

One reporter, April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, asked, "Mr. President, as the nation is at odds over war, how is your faith guiding you?" — a God-given cue for Mr. Bush to once more cloak his moral arrogance in the verbal vestments of humble religiosity. "My faith sustains me because I pray daily," came the president's reply. "I pray for peace, April, I pray for peace." Far be it from Ms. Ryan to ask a follow-up question about why virtually every religious denomination in the country, including Mr. Bush's own, opposes the war. She might as well have been Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski), the sob sister reporter in Chicago, who tosses Roxie an image-burnishing softball at her press conference by asking, "Do you have any advice for young girls seeking to avoid a life of jazz and drink?"

At Mr. Bush's sedated show there were no raised voices, not a single query about homeland security or Osama bin Laden. As Billy Flynn says, one idea at a time is enough for the journalistic pack — in this case the administration's idée fixe of Iraq. And like their Chicago counterparts, the Washington press corps were more than willing to buy fictions if instructed to do so by the puppeteer. "Eight times [Mr. Bush] interchanged the war on Iraq with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," wrote The New York Observer, "and eight times he was unchallenged." The unproven but constantly reiterated White House claim of a Qaeda-Saddam Hussein connection has now become a settled fact, not to be questioned at a press conference any more than any Chicago reporter challenges the mythical pregnancy Billy Flynn flogs in his propaganda campaign to save Roxie Hart.

The movie's press conference ends with Billy Flynn's message spreading from the servile reporters' lips directly to the next morning's paper: "THEY BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUN" is the banner headline we see rolling off the press. At Mr. Bush's press conference, under the guise of "news," CNN flashed the White House's chosen messages in repetitive rotation on the bottom of the screen while the event was still going on — "People of good will are hoping for peace" and " `My job is to protect America.' " No less obliging were the puppets at CNN's rival, Fox News, whose Greta Van Susteren sharply observed: "What I liked tonight was that in prime time he said to the American people, my job is to protect the American people." Though Mr. Bush usually appears on TV in front of White House backdrops stamped with the sound bite he wants to pummel into our brains, this time he didn't even have to bother. As he knew — and said, in his one moment of truth that night — the entire show was "scripted." It has been from the start.




That Chicago should catch the wave of an American moment in 2003 is remarkable when you consider that its roots go back to a Broadway play of 1926. Coolidge was in office when it had its premiere at the Music Box Theater under the direction of George Abbott — more than a year before the arrival of the most famous stage incarnation of Chicago city rooms, "The Front Page." Chicago was the first and only durable work by Maurine Watkins, a one-time Chicago Tribune reporter who had covered the Leopold-Loeb case and served as a movie critic. She was not enamored of her former profession. "They're awful dumb, reporters. Never get anything right," says the jail matron in a line that is paraphrased by Billy Flynn in Bill Condon's current screenplay.

When Watkins's play was reborn as a Bob Fosse musical on Broadway in 1975, it was seen as reflecting the cynicism of Watergate; the onstage band played a sardonic "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the finale. When the musical was revived in 1996 — in the production still running on Broadway — Billy Flynn was identified with Johnnie Cochran and Roxie with O. J. Simpson. This year Miramax, the studio that produced the film Chicago, is trumpeting the movie's social relevance in one of the relentless commercials of its Oscar campaign. The movie is "all about American institutions being corrupt," says its director, Rob Marshall, as we see black-and-white photographs of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and of the disgraced Richard Nixon's departure from the White House.

That doesn't sound much like fun. But as concocted by Mr. Marshall, Chicago is nasty, clever fun. The director is a bit of a Billy Flynn in his own right. He has edited the movie within an inch of its life — or, more accurately, within an inch of Ms. Zellweger, Mr. Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones's feet. You're never quite sure if the stars can really dance or if the dazzling montage is merely spinning the brilliant illusion that they can. But if the film is a "flimflam flummox," to quote its anthem, "Razzle Dazzle," that stylistic shell game could not be in more apt unison with the cynical content.

No one expected Chicago to become this big a hit (including me, though I've known two of its executive producers since they optioned a book of mine pre-"Chicago"). The movie's domestic box office is now double that of Moulin Rouge, the only other movie musical to fly in years, and, unlike that predecessor, Chicago didn't have to throw in David Bowie and Beck to entice the musical-phobic youthful demographic thought to spurn show tunes by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Young audiences have turned up anyway. Everyone has. The film has touched a nerve this year as no previous incarnation of Watkins's play (there were two previous film versions) ever did.

In a case of life imitating art imitating life, Chicago is even mirrored in the year's juiciest Oscar scandal. Miramax, no wiser for fielding a TV ad trumpeting the Watergate bona fides of "Chicago," was caught in its own Watergate last week by John Horn of The Los Angeles Times. He reported that a publicist for the studio was the real author of a widely promoted OpEd piece carrying the byline of the director Robert Wise, now 88, endorsing Martin Scorsese as best director for another Miramax nominee, "The Gangs of New York." In angry response, some Academy voters demanded their ballots back so they could cancel their Scorsese votes — a mission as doomed as the reballoting demanded by Palm Beach County's hapless Pat Buchanan voters. No matter: Mr. Scorsese has lost anyway, even if he wins. His would-be benefactor, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, has made him look craven.




Such Oscar battles are welcome comic relief when set against the backdrop of a real-life war. Which is not to say that this year's Oscar nominees don't take war seriously. In Roman Polanski's World War II drama, The Pianist, a Nazi is moved to save a Jew's life after the Jew, starving and half-dead, plays an exquisite Chopin nocturne at the piano. This sentimental notion of art's transcendence über alles was echoed early last week in the vow by the Oscars' producer, Gil Cates, that the show (if not the red carpet) would go on tonight no matter what. After all, the Academy considered and rejected the notion of canceling in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Should Mr. Cates have reversed himself by now, he will have committed the cardinal Oscar sin of good taste.

It's hard to picture George W. Bush fretting about the fate of the Academy Awards, let alone seeing Chicago, but he knows his westerns. Last weekend Vice President Cheney spoke admiringly to Tim Russert of how the president "cuts to the chase." In the Azores last Sunday, Mr. Bush instructed his erstwhile allies to "show your cards when you're playing poker." On Monday night, he gave the Hussein gang 48 hours to get out of Dodge. In the days to come, we just may finally learn who is brought back dead or alive. © NY Times

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Song of the Week: It's Gay Pride in NYC


This Dusty Springfield single was released on June 25, 1990 in the United Kingdom one day prior to the 21st anniversary of Stonewall. It was during her Pet Shop Boys phase and about four years before she was to have another rebirth via Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction's use of "Son of A Preacher Man." By this time, it was well known that the British pop star and perennial blue eyed soul favourite was a daughter of Sappho. She has been featured often in the posts of this web log . Dusty is one of those gay personalities that has entered the movement's martyrology not because she was by any means an activist, but because she struggled with her sexuality for most of her adult life. Still she made no attempt to have a merkin and was not once remotely publicly connected to a man. She was also well known for her gay male following and because of their presence at her Royal Albert Hall concert in 1979, she declared, "Glad to see that the royalty wasn't confined to the box," referring to the royal box where Princess Margaret was seated. (Dusty had to apologize.) Dusty wasn't perfect, but she related to her sexuality much the same way many gay people do--beneath the weight of her cultural upbringing. This song puts a lot of what she (and others) went through into perspective. Homosexuality is a fact of life.





Also, noteworthy about this recording is Dan Hartman's vocal along with Dusty's. Dan died from a brain tumor that was caused by complications from AIDS in 1994 the same year Dusty was diagnosed with breast cancer which eventually took her life in 1999. Hartman's homosexuality was not revealed until his death, but he, too, has a musical legacy. With OUT magazine's recent revelation of people living in the glass closet, it is remembered that La Springfield resided there for decades. As another Stonewall anniversary approaches, it is good to shed a light on the closet door, glass and otherwise, with the hope that it opens wide.










Some people know what they wanna be
Some people see what they wanna see
Everyday needs some kind of dream
But the complexities of life escape to an ideal scene, yeah
People try to tell you how to live your life
Let the blind lead the blind
Well, that’s all right
So make up your mind
The fool or the wise
There are things in this life
Which you can’t compromise
Break away
And take the time to know your mind
And leave it all behind you
And say
That’s the way I am
Yeah - I was born this way
Can’t you see it in my eyes
Yeah, yeah, yeah

(written by geoffrey williams and simon stirling)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Beefcake: Classic Dessert


So sweet

Saturday Beefcake: Veal Roll Ups Adaptation



This recipe was adapted from Sunny Anderson's terrific stuffed pork chops. However, if pork is not your thing, there's always veal.


Veal Cutlets, four
Flour, for dredging
Pancetta, small cubes, half pound
Sweet Onion, half chopped and half in wedges
Fresh Thyme, four sprigs stripped
Fresh Sage leaves, two teaspoons chopped
Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin
Butter, unsalted, room temperature, two tablespoons
Lemon/Lime, fresh, one and a half cups
Dry White Wine, two tablespoons
Nutmeg, one quarter teaspoon ground
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive Oil
Orange Zest, from one orange
Flat-leaf Parsley, two teaspoons, chopped
Preheated oven 350F.



1. In a medium oven-proof skillet over medium heat, sauté the pancetta, chopped onions, thyme, and sage until the onions are beginning to caramelize around the edges, about 10 minutes.
2. Pour mixture into a bowl. Add apples, butter, 2 tablespoons of juice and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Dredge cutlets in flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4. Roll each piece of meat with mixture and hold together with skewers.
5. In same skillet over medium-high heat, add enough oil to coat the pan and sear both sides of the meat until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
6. Add one cup juice and remaining onion wedges around the meat. Salt and pepper.
7. Bake for about twenty minutes. Baste 2 to 3 times.
8. Remove cutlets from pan. Add remaining juice and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
9. Add orange zest and parsley. Pour sauce over cutlets.



Adaptation is all about survival. It is well known. Survival is all about the sex drive. It is. While pork may be more appropriate as an edible euphemism, veal is more like the young men presented here. Hey, there's sauce--appropriate in all of these scenarios.

Saturday Beefcake Lunch: Beefy Tomato


Mr. Michael Chiarello is one of the brighter and more palatable presenters on the Food Network. It's no wonder that Progresso exploited his talent and charm last year to help sell their products.



To embellish this recipe, accompanying this recipe are a few images of a juicy beefy tomato homo sapiens. Indicative of the truth that tomatoes are one of God's finest gifts.

Tomato Steak with Baked Goat Cheese and Herb Salad
Recipe by Michael Chiarello for Progresso Foods

Ingredients:
Progresso Parmesan Bread Crumbs, one quarter cup
Coarse sea salt (gray salt)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Water, one half teaspoon
Egg
Fresh Goat Cheese, four rounds, two ounces each
Beefsteak Tomato, four thick slices, ripe
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, two teaspoons
Fresh herb leaves (such as basil, chervil, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chives (1-inch lengths) or young watercress), two cups
Progresso Red Wine Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil




1.In small shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, dash salt and pepper. Add water; work with your fingers to moisten crumbs lightly. In another small shallow bowl, beat egg just until blended.




2. Dip one flat surface of each goat cheese round into egg, then into bread crumb mixture, patting crumbs in place. Repeat on other flat surface of cheese, leaving sides of rounds uncoated. Refrigerate coated cheese rounds about 15 minutes.
3. Place tomato slices in center of individual salad plates. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.



4. Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil; heat until almost smoking. Add cheese rounds; cook about 45 seconds or until lightly browned. Turn cheese rounds; cook about 45 seconds or until cheese is softened depending on thickness of rounds. Place cheese round on tomato slice on each plate.
5. In bowl, toss herbs, splash of vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, additional salt and pepper to taste. Take all stems off herbs carefully so guests can enjoy just the soft leaves. Mound herb mixture evenly on top of cheese rounds. Serve immediately.




4 servings

Michael's Notes: This salad looks best when the tomato slice and the goat cheese slice are about the same size. So if you can only find goat cheese in small logs, you may want to serve 2 goat cheese rounds to each diner and perch them on slices from small tomatoes.



# # #

Saturday Beefcake: It's A Beautiful Morning



How about we start the day with something uniquely delicious. The use of the word scrumptious was somewhat confusing. However, these young men, among whom is a young Spaniard named Pedro provides new impetus for the use of the word.




Main Entry: scrump·tious
Pronunciation: \ˈskrəm(p)-shəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: perhaps alteration of sumptuous
Date: 1830
: delightful, excellent; especially : delicious
— scrump·tious·ly adverb




Main Entry: sump·tu·ous
Pronunciation: \ˈsəm(p)(t)-shə-wəs, -shəs, -shwəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin sumptuosus, from sumptus
Date: 15th century
: extremely costly, rich, luxurious, or magnificent ; also : magnificent 4
— sump·tu·ous·ly adverb
— sump·tu·ous·ness noun



It's berry season. Why not start the day as well with something that is high in anti-oxidants and is quite delicious. Blueberries.



Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Night Might: Get Tested


Saturday June 28, 2008

South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council Block Party & Health Fair
1115 Calhoun St., Columbia, SC 29201
12:00 noon-5:00 pm

www.schivaidscouncil.org/2008-NatlTesting.html

FREE Admission
FREE Confidential Rapid HIV Testing


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gay Thursday: Chris Isaak Redux

In June of 1993, Chris Isaak performed at the newly revitalized TLA on South Street in Philadelphia. Tower Records just down the street was the focal point for his venture and the employees, especially the young females, were, all of them, titillated at the proximity of the heart throb.

Chris Isaak embodies the ideal of the strong, sensitive and handsome man who seems somewhat sincere, to coin a musical phrase, let alone he can sing and write songs. Perhaps in an attempt to cut through all the excitement the sales representative from WEA, the company distributing Isaak's label, announced that he was gay. Perhaps it was someone simply embellishing a persistent rumour, although there was insistence on visual evidence.

Be that as it may, it may have diluted the female excitement, or not as the case may be, but the possibility that someone of the sex symbol status of Chris Isaak might be gay, put simply and equivocally, fanned the flames.

Mr. Isaak, ever the accessible and gracious rock star, held a meet and greet following the concert; he was selling one of his best albums, San Francisco Days. The best surprise at that reception was that Chris mentioned that his mother was Italian. Of course, he wasn't about to announce that he loved men. The fact that Mediterranean blood coursed through his veins was enough for some attendees to place him on a higher pedestal, although the flames continued to burn. He suddenly became more interesting because he was suddenly more ethnic. Soon the phrasing of Dean Martin became more evident in a reevaluation of his style. Well, maybe. But, immediately the proximity of his music's emotions made more sense. Of course, he was Italian! It's been evident all along. How great for his Italian American fans to find out he was one of them. By the way, Bruce Springsteen's mother is Italian.

Anyway, many times the idea that a major sex god might be gay is just a lot of wishing and hoping. Still the revelation would be a liberating one for those who live their day to day lives both in and out of the proverbial closet. There is absolutely no bona fide evidence of Mr. Isaak's proclivities, unless one happened to speak to the WEA sales rep back then. Still just the idea that might spring forth from one's fantasies is eternally hopeful. It is much more than having one's fantasies come to life, althought that's not half bad. It has much more to do with validation of who and what a person is and having that validation come from the public arena. It also has to do with who does it. No one blinked when K.D. Lang came out and no one would have if Ellen hadn't had a hit TV show. Theoretically if Michael Jordan or somebody like him came out as gay, just imagine ...

There are those who hope that Mr. Isaak is gay. There are those who hope that so many of his contemporaries are, just because it validates their own realities. For that same reason many gay people will insist on and repeat stories of the sexual activities of the well known whether or not those stories are verified. Sometimes even when the stories are verifiable people choose not to believe. It is still very much a dirty secret if not a dirty joke. It's okay to drag Brad, Jennifer, Angelina, Ben and whoever else gets involved in the hetero-go-round through the public consciousness ... still, a sad love story between a fictional Jack and Ennis is a very big deal.

His early influences were Sanford Clark and Johnny Burnette, exemplars of fictional unrequited love. He is known for sweetly sad songs both lyrically and melodically -- how thoroughly appropriate would his participation have been in the sweet sadness of the love story between Ennis and Jack. Putting their genders aside, it is pretty much what Chris Isaak has written and sung about for the last 23 years or so.




This was originally written in 2006 following Brokeback Mountain's success and musing on how great Chris Issak's might have been included in the Soundtrack. Anyway, today as we are on the verge of the 39th anniversary of Stonewall, it is also Mr. Isaak's 52nd birthday. Two anniversaries in one. June is busting out all over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Word: Cowering


Main Entry: cow·er
Pronunciation: \ˈkau̇(-ə)r\
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Middle English couren, probably from Middle Low German kūren
Date: 14th century
: to shrink away or crouch especially for shelter from something that menaces, domineers, or dismays

From the New York Times:

Here is something you might not know about Senator Barack Obama: His musical tastes are pretty mainstream. His reading list is, well, a little dark.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to be published on Wednesday, Mr. Obama revealed that his iPod was full of dozens of selections from, top to bottom, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, Jay-Z and Yo-Yo Ma. (Joining perhaps every other Democratic politician alive, he also confessed a deep love for Bruce Springsteen.)

When asked what books have most inspired him, Mr. Obama named “the tragedies of William Shakespeare” and Hemingway’s novel of the Spanish Civil War For Whom the Bell Tolls — incidentally, a favorite of Senator John McCain, who is known to quote from it at random.



For the second time, Mr. Obama will grace the cover of Rolling Stone this week, and Jann S. Wenner, the magazine’s editor and publisher, conducted the interview on the Obama campaign plane on June 12.

It was not all about pop culture. When Mr. Wenner asked how Mr. Obama might respond to harsh attacks from Republicans, suggesting that Democrats have “cowered” in the past, Mr. Obama replied, “Yeah, I don’t do cowering.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Talent: Jeremy Davidson


Watching Jeremy Davidson as Chase Moran in the last two episodes of Army Wives can only solidify the dedicated viewer as a fan. He was showcased as the prerequisite army husband: desired, sexy and somewhat inaccessible, much like the object of a fan's obsession. It is even more visceral given that Mr. Davidson has that je ne sais quoi which encouraged BGR Design to set up a web site dedicated to this very fine actor.

Here are snippets from his recent portrayals:

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2004)




“As Brick, the former athlete stuck in an alcoholic stupor ever since the death of his best friend, Jeremy Davidson delivers just the right aggressive nonchalance for the role. It was one of Williams' contributions to American culture to require of male actors raw and exposed sensuality, and Davidson's got it. As he stumbles around the stage with his crutch -- Brick has just broken his ankle in a failed attempt to relive past glories -- we believe that even the fogginess of the liquor only adds to Maggie's unquenched sexual desire for him.” Variety

”Jeremy Davidson, blessed with the godlike physique that the role of Brick requires, clearly communicates the deep hurt that lies beneath the character's alcohol-besotted sullenness.”Theatermania

Little Chenier: A Cajun Story …




A mere 31 days after filming wrapped, Hurricane Rita devastated the Louisiana coastline, virtually wiping out the community in which the movie was filmed. Writer/director and Lake Charles native Bethany Ashton Wolf's movie footage is the last look at Little Chenier before it was destroyed, leaving most of its inhabitants homeless.

"It is very important to us that we give something back to the community which opened its arms to us and embraced the cast and crew as their own, even after the tragedy of Hurricane Rita," said Wolf. "We are extremely pleased that a portion of the movie's profits in Louisiana will go to help those affected by the storm."

According to the Austin Texan, "Little Chenier could be the only movie to ever realistically capture the intricate beauty of Cajun life." The film has already won accolades at some of the country's most prestigious film festivals, including nine Best Picture awards.

Little Chenier is the story of a young man who lives a simple life on a houseboat in the Louisiana bayou with his mentally handicapped brother until one is accused of a crime in the small town. The film stars Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do), Fred Koehler (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), Tamara Braun (General Hospital), Jeremy Davidson (Windtalkers), Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote, Traffic, Tigerland) and Chris Mulkey (Broken Trails, Twin Peaks).



It must be remembered that he is the writer, producer and director of Tickling Leo starring Eli Wallach soon to be released. He is all that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Musing: Hoping and Waiting

"Gee, if only they'd attack us again, say around October 15th."


From www.polticallore.com (5 May 2008):

[Charles] Black has been a key player in the Washington scene for close to three decades, holding his first high level position as a senior advisor in the Reagan administration. Black then went on to be a senior advisor to Bush (41) and played a key role in the Bush (43) 2000 Presidential election campaign. He also has been heavily involved in a large number of Republican Congressional election campaigns. However the interesting connections in Black’s past relating to McCain’s campaign effort come from his extremely lucrative lobbying career.

Black held the chair position at BKSH & Associates until March of this year, when he finally made the decision to publicly step down as chairman and shift all of his energy to working in McCain’s Presidential campaign. (It was Charlie Black whom Obama referred to when stating that McCain had lobbyist running their firms from the campaign bus.) In the years that Black worked at BKSH, their client list contained the mega-giants of the American corporate world, giants such as Philip Morris, General Electric, AT&T and General Motors. While these connections are eye-opening to the extent that they may be a window into just how committed the McCain campaign is to distancing themselves from corporate America, it is not until one looks further down the list of Black’s former clients that it becomes a truly chilling experience.

The two clients on Black’s former client list that are the most troubling seem to be Blackwater and Ahmed Chalabi.

… Black’s affiliation with Chalabi was much more extensive. It appears that Black was pleased with the work that Chalabi’s organization, the Iraqi National Congress (IRC), was able to accomplish from this quote, “The INC became not only well known, but I think the message got out there strongly.”

The INC which Black is referring to is now known as the leading disinfo team that lobbied heavily in Washington, with the guidance of Black and BKSH, for regime change in Iraq via an American led military invasion. Chalabi’s hope was to have the IRC, as essentially an American client regime, installed in Iraq after Saddam was ousted.

Having complete knowledge of Black’s affiliations did not stop McCain from sending Black on the talk show circuit in the wake of the campaign’s only major damage control operation, namely the Vicki Iseman scandal.

Since stepping down from his post at BKSH Black as taken on an increasingly vital role as spokesman for the McCain camp …

From ABC-TV’s Political Punch:

McCain Adviser: Terrorist Attack Would Help McCain in Election

June 23, 2008 4:05 PM

McCain adviser Charlie Black told Fortune Magazine that national security events help Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an 'unfortunate event,' says Black. 'But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.' As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. 'Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,' says Black."



Per ABC News' Bret Hovell, McCain distanced himself from the remarks today.
"I cannot imagine why he would say it," McCain said. "It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear. The Armed Services Committee, and pieces of legislation. Sponsoring with Joe Lieberman the 9/11 Commission so we could find out the causes and how to fix the challenges that we face to fix the security of our nation. I cannot imagine it. And, uh. So, I would … If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree."

UPDATE: Hovell reports that outside McCain’s Fresno fundraiser, Black read a statement: “I deeply regret the comments—they were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country.”

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Songs: Light the night up with my soul on fire


"Higher Love" (Steve Winwood)

Think about it, there must be higher love
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above
Without it, life is a wasted time
Look inside your heart, Ill look inside mine
Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind and we try to see
Falling behind in what could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Wheres that higher love I keep thinking of?

Worlds are turning and were just hanging on
Facing our fear and standing out there alone
A yearning, and it's real to me
There must be someone who is feeling for me

Things look so bad everywhere
In this whole world, what is fair?
We walk blind and we try to see
Falling behind in what could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring be a higher love
I could rise above on a higher love

I will wait for it
I'm not too late for it
Until then, I'll sing my song
To cheer the night along
Bring it...oh bring it...

I could light the night up with my soul on fire
I could make the sun shine from pure desire

Let me feel that love come over me
Let me feel how strong it could be

Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Bring me a higher love
Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?

Steve with a little bit of help from Chaka Khan sings about the quest for love reminding us that all love is good meeting the right requirements. This song is posted along with two other of his tributes to passion.



The opportunity of posting "Higher Love" is used to acknowledge two very interesting happenings in an otherwise dismal Daytime Emmys broadcast. One is that, while Van Hansis did not get the recognition that many hoped for, he and his co-star Jake Silbermann presented together. The other is that Heather Tom was very well dressed because she reached out to Jack Mackenroth from Project Runway to design her gowns. It says a lot about Ms. Tom.

from Jack's website: Jack Mackenroth to Create Couture Gown for Nominee Heather Tom’s Emmy Appearance; Dress to be Auctioned off to Benefit AIDS Charities and to Promote National Testing Day






Honourable mention is given to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi being out there as a couple. Sherri Shepherd won points [gasp] snuggling with DeGeneres.




Gay people are just that--people--not campaign issues. All of the above have done just a little bit to enhance that concept.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Beefcake Dessert





Some choices are just too difficult

Saturday Beefcake: Paglia e Fieno




Pancetta, diced, about one cup
Garlic, one clove, chopped
Onion, one half chopped
Dry White Wine, about a cup
Chicken Broth, one half cup
Olive Oil
Tomatoes, about one cup, chopped
Salt, Pepper
Farmer's Cream, half cup
Peas, one cup, cooked
Fresh Oregano
Green Tagliatelle, half pound, cooked
White Tagliatelle, half pound, cooked
Pecorino al Primo Salato, grated




1. Saute the pancetta in the olive oil. Add the white wine and saute until the wine is reduced about half. Add the broth.
2. Add the garlic and onion. Cook for about three minutes more.
3. Add the tomatoes, lower the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Salt and Pepper to taste.
4. When the mixture has reached the desired texture, add the cream. Stir for a minute or two. add the peas.
5. Add the fresh oregano to taste right before you toss the sauce with the pasta.
6. heat the pasta again in a very large skillet with the sauce.
7. Serve lightly sprinkled with the pecorino.



Paglia e Fieno is easily one of the best pasta dishes to come out of Central Italy. The young man discovered in DNA magazine is called Vincenzo. With a name like that, he could very well be an Italian creation as well. Enjoy.