Unelected, Unaccountable Governance

Last week, Pergelator opined:

I’ve been hearing about the clown show in Washington D. C. since forever and I’m thinking maybe we need a different arrangement. Instead of having Congress decide everything, maybe we should hire a manager to actually run the country, the way some city councils hire a manager to run their city. That way the clowns in Congress could concentrate on what’s important to them (which is performing on stage for the public) and the manager could worry about actually running the country. The important part is that Congress would no longer have the power to levy taxes, award contracts or borrow money.

The way the Federal government was supposed to work was that we had a manager type: The Executive, aka the President, who was nominally accountable to the people, executing laws passed by the legislative branch, the Congress. However, it has evolved so that unelected administrators in the Executive branch get to make regulations and enforce them–and they’re barely accountable to the people if the people don’t watch closely the announcements of proposed regulations and raise an outcry when some of the more expansive are introduced.

At the more local level, especially in smaller towns but also smaller cities, where the mayor is part time and the city/county legislatures more parter time, they introduced the City Managers, the chief unelected bureaucrat who ends up serving under various mayors and councils. Who become a power onto themselves, unfortunately.

Here in Missouri, several city managers have recently been ousted by elected officials:

On the flip side, we have a police force threatening resignation when an elected mayor planned to appoint a new police chief: Pierce City, Mo. could have a ‘mass exodus’ of police officers:

”He attempted to relieve the chief of his duties and appoint someone that was not only not qualified, but her moral compass is so messed up that it’s unreal,” Hutson said.

The news story gives no real context to it, and the Springfield media has not followed up to explain who the proposed chief was or what the actual positions this person holds are. This actually follows another local town whose police force resigned en masse last year: Kimberling City Police Department chief, all of his officers announce resignations.

There’s a lot of distrust at all levels of government these days, it seems. And adding unelected authorities to the mix is unlikely to improve trust between citizens and government or even between government entities themselves.

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On Taxi (2004)

Book coverThe trailer for this film appears before one of the movies I watch fairly frequently–perhaps The Man Who Knew Too Little on DVD, or perhaps Dodgeball. So I have seen the trailer enough so that when I found the video at the antique mall when I had a gift certificate to spend, I picked it up.

If you’re of a certain age and think Taxi, you hear Bob James’s “Angela” in your head.

But this is not that show.

This is a Queen Latifah movie with Jimmy Fallon in it judging by the titles; it also features a young Henry Simmons (Mac from Agents of SHIELD) as Queen Latifah’s boyfriend and an unrecognizeable Ann-Margret as Jimmy Fallon’s mother. In it, Fallon’s character, detective Washburn doesn’t drive a car well, and in the intro, his antics lead to destruction and a license suspension. When he hears of a bank robbery, he jumps into a cab driven by Belle Williams (Queen Latifah) and orders her to follow the robbers. It’s no ordinary cab–a former bicycle messenger, Williams has modified the car serving as her cab to be a racecar, and she’s a NASCAR hopeful. So they drive really fast on the trail of the bank robbers, who are apparently also models for some reason (well, they can’t all be surfers like in Point Break, I guess). Which means the leader of the band is Mrs. Tom Brady. I tried to lure my boys to watch the film, but that trivium was not enough.. And as they work together, they meet each other’s families and whatnot for some humorous set pieces.

So it has a bit of a bad reputation and rating, but it’s just a piece of early century popcorn action comedy. No worse than most, and honestly better than the Internet would have you believe.

So, about that band of bank robbers.

Continue reading “On Taxi (2004)”

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Misremembering Leads To Errant Music Purchase

In April, I bought a Pat Travers Band album:

Crash and Burn by the Pat Travers Band because someone, I think it was Jack Baruth, posted about him once upon a time recently, although a quick search of his blog does not come up with a post about the band.

Today, while trolling through my archives (sorry, gentle reader: I do not write for you, but I write for me sometime in the future trolling my archives), while trolling through my archives, I discovered a different Pat entirely:

I guess the world wants me to look for Pete Metheny records at book sales.

Clearly, I need a Know The Difference post on these guys.

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Book Report: Mr. Obvious by James Lileks (1995)

Book coverSo I ordered this book from Amazon a while back because although I have read some of his nonfiction (most recently Fresh Lies in 2011(?!) and Mommy Knows Worst in 2005, when this blog was fresh and new–although I have read The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations before I was book reporting), I have not delved into his fiction.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Lileks has four books of fiction: Falling Up The Stairs from 1988, which precedes this book and has the same characters, so this book alludes to that book; this book, from 1995; and then two books released exclusively electronically, Graveyard Special in 2012 and The Casablanca Tango in 2014. I have on the Internet and reading Lileks for a long time, so I remember when he was talking about writing and releasing those books, and it seems more recent than eight to ten years. But when you get to a certain age, a decade was just a little while ago.

So this book is the second book featuring local newspaper columnist Jonathan Simpson, formerly of a big city daily but now writing food columns for the local free weekly (see book #1 for details). After doing a radio spot with a local personality whose ratings are in free-fall, Simpson is hit by a bullet meant for the radio talker. After being in a coma for three months, he starts looking for the assailant. Well, sort of: He can’t actually walk, so he’s around people who kind of investigate and who carry him or push him in a wheelchair for a while. Meanwhile, he deals with the large house that fell into his lap (see book #1) and a potential love interest with alopecia.

I started reading the book thinking it was great. The writing is pure Lileks, with the digressions into different learned subjects and amusing metaphors. But I got about one hundred pages in, and I realized that the protagonist wasn’t really leading the action–things were happening to him. About page 150, he starts taking some agency, but the plot was kind of convoluted and the story-pacing was slow. The whole exercise was a platform for Lileks to, well, Lileks. Overall, his blog The Bleat and columns are better sized for that.

So I was a little disappointed with it, ultimately. I will probably pick up the first of the two books (and by pick up, I mean order from Amazon since they’re not thick on the ground around here) as well as his other nonfiction from the era. But I am impressed that Lileks had a big publishing contract in the 1980s and 1990s. I mean, wow, okay. One might think his career arcked downward early–his biggest book publishing and syndication came before the turn of the century–but I hope he doesn’t think that. After all, I enjoy his columns in The National Review and The Bleat every day.

And even with four novels to his credit, he’s several ahead of me.

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Thankfully, It’s Not Musical Theatre

As I have mentioned, gentle reader, I support friends’ and acquaintances’ artistic endeavours. I mean, I will buy books, I will buy CDs, and I will even go to see friends in musical theatre productions. I prefer CDs and book because I do not like musicals, and musicals tend to cost several hundred dollars instead of $10 or $20.

I mentioned I bought Connor Fiehler’s CD Generation Flee in 2020 because I used to work with his parents. When his mother posted on Facebook that he had a new band, I gave it a listen.

She linked to this performance:

Wow, okay, a soul/funk band with a horn section. That’s better than Generation Flee, and the one lead singer can really wail.

The band, The Pitch Pockets, has a single, “Out My Mind”, available on Amazon.

I have bought it, of course, and hope they’ll release more. They’ve got some other things on YouTube worth watching as well.

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Wreckification of Names

So as I was driving to the dojo this morning, “The End of the World (As We Know It)” by REM came on the radio, and it struck me that the song names three people with similar names: Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein, and Leonid Brezhnev.

And I thought, are those all forms of the same name?

Lenny is short for Leonard, of course, but apparently Leonid is not the direct Slavic equivalent–it comes from a shortened form of Leonidas. However, all three do derive from the Greek for lion (Leon). So is there any meaning in this within the song?

I have no idea; however, in reviewing the actual lyrics, apparently a fourth man is named, Lester Bangs, a rock critic who died in 1982. Lester, apparently, comes from Leicester, the English city, and referred to a person from the town. So I got nothing as far as a grand revelation. And I’m not enough of an REM fan to write a treatise on it.

(Name meanings from Behind the Name, the first result in a search for the meaning of Leonid. Hey, since its search engine optimization is on-point, you can take it to the bank.)

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On Fletch Lives (1989)

Book coverMy oldest re-watched Fletch earlier this year, and I told him to look for Fletch Lives in the watched section of the video library. The video library is only marginally better organized than the book library, which is basically because we own fewer DVDs and videocassettes to randomly array on the too-packed shelves allotted them. He did not find it then, but when I went looking for another previously watched (Coming to America, which my beautiful wife and I had seen, but not the boys had not). The oldest made a run through the stacks looking for that film and could not find it, either. So I took a try and found this film on the first pass through (and Coming to America on DVD on the second pass, but early, as it was like the third film on the upper left shelf’s second rank).

So the boys and I watched it.

In this film, Fletch receives a call from Louisiana that his aunt has died and has left him her plantation, home and 80 acres. He quits his job and travels to the bayou, only to discover that the house is in poor repair. However, a cash offer is immediately made on the place, and after he signs the papers to take over the estate and makes whoopie with the attorney (Patricia Kalember), she dies in bed with him, and he is picked up on suspicion of murder. After his release, a real estate agent (Julianne Philips) approaches him with a better offer, which makes him suspicious. He investigates, with the help of his aunt’s caretaker (Cleavon Little), and encounters a nearby religious-themed amusement park that has been acquiring land to expand. So is it the televangelist, played by R. Lee Ermey, or something more sinister?

Well, the ultimate plot is a little more elaborate than that, something a bit Chandlerian in complexity, but it does give Chevy Chase the chance to chew the scenery and put on some silly disguises. The film does hit some common 80s tropes (televangelists as venal hucksters, toxic waste), so it’s not especially inventive, but it has gotten rapped in reviews for being not as good as the original. Maybe not, but it was not that far off if you watch them one after the other. So never mind the reviewers from its day: Know that my oldest son was disappointed that there is not a third Fletch movie (and before Hollywood gets it into its head to make one thirty-three years later, it’s too late).

So I enjoyed it, and it’s something I have re-watched in the last couple of years (well, maybe seven or eight). So let that be an endorsement as well. For the books as well–perhaps now the boy will read the Fletch books.

But did someone mention Patricia Kalember and Julianne Philips?

Continue reading “On Fletch Lives (1989)”

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It Will What?

City of Springfield seeks application authorization to end youth homelessness

One cannot make sense of the headline, but if one clicks through and reads the story, it makes sense.

Springfield City Council will meet Tuesday and vote on the approval of an application for a grant to end youth homelessness.

Senior planner Bob Atchley is seeking authorization from the city council to apply for the Youth Homeless Demonstration Program Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If awarded, the minimum the city would receive is $1 million.

“This would potentially be huge for youth homelessness in our community,” said Atchley. “It literally will allow us to develop a plan to hopefully end youth homelessness in our community.”

It’s about applying for a one million dollar grant, which some government and governmentish people will spend to create a plan to “end” youth homelessness.

The skeptical amongst us know this will not “end” anything, but certainly it will spend the million dollars. And maybe even yield a paper requiring further ongoing funding to implement. To not “end” anything, because the end would also be the end of the funding.

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You Will Never Hear It The Same Again

Facebook showed me this ad, which spurred a revelation.

“Moon River” is a cult song.

So it really is about worshipping the moon and offering sacrifices to achieve one’s goals. I didn’t know it, but I know it now, and I’ll never here the song the same way again. Also, I will make a gesture warding against il malocchio whenever I hear Andy Williams from now on. Just to be safe.

Here is Émie Morissette doing her invocation:

Apparently, she is only 22 years old. So I checked to see if she is Alanis Morissette’s daughter. Because the math would work out, old man. But she is not. She must be part of the same Céline Dion cloning project that gave us Alanis Morissette. And Justin Bieber and Michael Bublé. I am pleased to see that the Canadian government is getting better, as Morissete2 is better than the others.

AND JUST LIKE THAT, instead of a single gag with a music video, this has turned into a “Know the Difference” post. During the course of the research in this post, which was mainly making sure I got the accent marks correct on the French Canadian names above (Fun fact: I am one-eighth French Canadian–it’s the second most pure line in my blood after German, which gets one-eighth on one side and smaller fractions elsewhere–but I never earned an accent mark in my name, and my surname is actually Welsh), as I was saying, during my research, I discovered a one-name artist Morissette:

Although she also goes by Morissette Amon, and probably now Morissette Amon-Lamar, her married name.

She falls between the other Morissettes in age and might be better than them both. More research is needed.

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour Visits Arkham

From 2018:

I’ve just learned to play a miskatonic scale on my guitar.

Now, what am I to do with all these chthonians I’ve drawn from below?

Yeah, I have not picked up that guitar in a while. I learned a few chords, but I was not very good at changing cords in time as I still had to look at the frets to place my fingers.

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The Jazzy Pajama Pants Of Nogglestead

Every Christmas, I give the family warm pajamas in their current sizes (which will sometime soon be settling into their permanent sizes, as the boys are finta stop growing soon). This year, I gave everyone kinda fuzzy pajamas, which we soon learned should be line-dried instead of run through the dryer, where they started to deteriorate with one or two tumbles. So we hang them in the bathrooms of Nogglestead to dry. My beautiful wife’s garments get hung in the master bath, and the boys’ things get hung in the hall bath. As they are now using the hall shower, we can no longer use the shower curtain rod as a clothesline, so I’ve put the top on the towel hook and the pants on the towel bar.

Which leads to some motion when the air conditioner cycles on.

I can’t walk by that and not here the synth keyboards of Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”:

You know, that music video creeped me out when it came out. I was but a wee lad of eleven with a vivid imagination for things that go bump in the night, and the discombobulated mannequins tripped my switch. The song, and video, was popular when we lived in my aunt’s basement; we saw it on KHTR’s Hot Hit Video television program which came on after the news on Saturday nights (we could stay up that late, but not late enough for Friday Night Videos on Friday nights). That’s how kids who did not have access to cable and MTV watched videos. Unlike today, where kids with or without access to cable go to YouTube because MTV started playing its original, insipid, and cheaper, content instead of music videos.

At any rate, to sum up, if you don’t click either of the above videos to play them, the pants move a little when the air conditioner comes on and the vent below them starts blowing cool air, and the Herbie Hancock video has pants kicking in time with the music at various other parts.

I don’t have any Herbie Hancock records, and I assure you, Future Shock, which I assume has similar pre-electronica stylings, will not be my first. Unless, of course, I find a vinyl copy for a dollar.


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On We’re No Angels (1954)

Book coverC’mon, man, you know this is the 1954 film starring Humphrey Bogart in one of his later roles and not the 1989 De Niro and Penn film. I mean, I guess I could watch that, too, since it is an oldie now–characterized not so much by black and white or bright Technicolor, but the lack of CGI and the presence of a plot.

The plot centers on three convicts who escape, in 1895, from a prison on an island off of French Guiana and arrive at a seaport where a bunch of other recently freed convicts or prisoners on work release work, so they kind of blend in. They offer to “fix” the leaking roof of a local shop–in reality, they just want to hide out until they can stow away on an outbound vessel. But they come to feel some affection for the family running the store as the store’s owner comes from France to check in on the operation–the store is struggling, as it is the only one in town offering credit, and townspeople are taking advantage of it and of the shopkeeper. So they help sell, help cook the books, and help take care of the shop’s normally in absentia owner.

The heroes of the story are actually convicted felons and murderers who sometimes joke about it–so they’re anti-heroes in 1954, which I am assured by popular culture is impossible. Also, it’s a a movie based on a stage play, which you can kind of tell by the limited number of sets, the wordplay, and the talk of going to other locations but not actually going there (the governor’s garden, unseen, is a source for flowers, for example). It’s not badly paced, as the wordplay and humorous situations come with frequency, but it is paced for the middle of the 20th century, so probably a bit slow for the TikTok generation.

It featured Joan Bennett as the shopkeeper’s wife.

Continue reading “On We’re No Angels (1954)”

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I’m Not Saying It’s The Mormons, But….

‘Mind blowing’ ancient settlements uncovered in the Amazon

It’s been a while since I’ve delved into The Book of Mormon, but one of the things I recollect from it is that it’s predicated on family that escapes from Israel before its fall to the Chaldeans who then settle in South America.

Of course, contemporary archeologists and historians discount it, partially because of the known prehistorical “record” of what archeologists have found.

So far.

(Link via Blogodidact on Facebook.)

Which reminds me: I never did finish reading The Book of Mormon. Perhaps I should dig back into it, perhaps after some of the other series/sets I’m working on.

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On Semi-Pro (2008)

Book coverThis film is from the Ferrellverse of the early part of the 21st century, so it features some faces you’re familiar with if you’ve watched Anchorman or Old School, but no Wilsons or Vince Vaughn. It also has Andre 3000 from Outkast in an afro, perhaps a wig, in the height of his “Hey Ya” success. I didn’t recognize him.

The story: The owner, coach, player, and announcer of a fictional ABA team, the Flint (Michigan) Tropics, played by Will Ferrell, learns that the league will be merged into the NBA with only four teams making the move. When he learns that his team is not included, he proposes that the top four teams in the league make the leap instead–even though his team is in last place. A majority of the other owners agree, so Will Ferrell trades for a minor NBA player (Woody Harrellson; this is not his best basketball movie) who eventually becomes coach and teaches the group to play as a team. They start climbing the standings, with all of it coming down to the last game, where they can get into fourth place and maybe the NBA with a win. Unfortunately, the commissioner of the ABA says that the agreement is null, and the original four teams chosen will go to the NBA, so the Tropics play for their pride–without their best player, whom Will Ferrell trades to their opponent, the Spurs, a team going to the NBA.

So it’s amusing in spots, but, ultimately, I am less a fan of Will Ferrell’s boy-man characters than I am of Adam Sandler’s. Sandler plays Little Nicky, Happy Gilmore, and Big Daddy with a bit of vulnerability and pathos; Ferrell is just loud and obnoxious.

However, my oldest joined me in watching the film, so it was a shared experience, which is so rare these days.

Also, the film featured Maura Tierney as the love interest of Harrelson’s character, who signs with the Flint team because she lives in Flint.

Continue reading “On Semi-Pro (2008)”

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Nogglestead Offers Its Own Experts

The story at the New York Post is Your cat does actually love you, it just doesn’t want to be petted. Comma splice aside, our experts on being cats at Nogglestead do want to be petted.

Roark jumped up and demanded attention while I was reading the story, and Chimera got pushy for attention as I wrote this blog post. No photo of Chimera in front of the story, though, as he is more of a roll-around-on-the-desk attention seeker, not a sit-between-you-and-the-keyboard-and-meow attention seeker.

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The Order In Which You Read The Internet Answers Your Quizzes

I saw this on the front page of The Sun: THORPLAY Brit A-lister unrecognisable in new Thor film – can you guess who it is?

I guessed Ralph Fiennes, but no.

If only I had read the New York Post first.

Which is a good reason to not read the Post first. So I can guess.

With this, Bale becomes the latest to appear in both the Marvel and the DC movies. Remember back when, maybe only a decade ago, when this set of actors was small enough to fit into a single trivia question?

Perhaps I should do a study of people who go from DC to Marvel and vice versa to see if there’s a pattern. Keaton and Bale went from Batman to DC villain. Affleck went from Daredevil to Batman. Perhaps we could discover or invent a heirarchy and comment on how actors are progressing on them.

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On Casino Royale (1967)

Book coverAs you might know, gentle reader, my boys and I a couple of years ago went through the main line of James Bond movies in order, starting with Dr. No and culminating in the end of the Pierce Brosnan years. Actually, I started them with the first appearance of James Bond in an American television episode of Climax! that introduced Jimmy Bond. We also watched Never Say Never Again, another studio’s rendition of Thunderball! that brought Sean Connery back after Roger Moore had taken over. We did not, however, watch this fillm, which is a late 1960s spoof starring David Niven, Ursula Andress, and Woody Allen.

I invited the boys to watch it, but they demurred, as they’d already seen it; the episode of Climax is entitled Casino Royale and is based upon the book, loosely, as is this film, much more loosely.

The 1960s were rife with these spy-movie romps. Kids today, and by “kids,” I mean people of a certain age who think they’re still young but are not, think Mike Myers invented the spy spoof when he did Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (actual kids these days don’t watch old movies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery). But you’ve got the Flynn movies and the Dean Martin Matt Helm movies, so they existed, although they were lost in the 1970s pop culture dark age.

So: In this film, the original James Bond has retired. But SMERSH is killing the MI6’s and other agencies’ agents, so they try to lure him out of retirement to help tackle the terror organization. He refuses but changes his mind after his mansion is destroyed–at the orders of M, who is killed in the attack. So Bond takes over MI6, renames all of the other agents James Bond 007 to confuse SMERSH, and takes M’s remains to his estate in Scotland, which has been infiltrated by SMERSH. Women agents try to seduce Bond to knock the shine off of his celibate gentleman reputation, but cannot. He learns that the other agents have been seduced and led to their deaths, so he strives to find an agent impervious to female charms to beat a gambling-debt-ridden SMERSH agent at baccarat.

So that’s the basic outline that leads to the Casino Royale of the title. The film is full of silly scenes and escapades, lots of attractive women, and ends on a note that presages the grimness of 1970s cinema.

So I thought it was interesting to watch as a cultural artifact and in the name of Bond cinema completeness. I was amused in spots, but I don’t think my boys would have liked it–again, they’re a bit young to understand what’s being spoofed.

But it did include beautiful women.

Continue reading “On Casino Royale (1967)”

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A New George Carlin Joke, But From A Dream

From a dream I had last night:


I said this in my best George Carlin imitation in my dream. I was in a school bathroom. A repairman was working on the urinals, so I stepped into one of the stalls, and as I was doing so, a man in a suit came in. So I said this from the stall. And I noticed as I was starting to urinate that there were books in the toilet. So I stopped, and I took the books out of the toilet, and eventually there were 43. I mentioned it to some teachers, presumably after zipping up, but transitions are a little smoother in dreams, and they said it was one student’s book order, and sometimes the kids are afraid of books.


I don’t it’s based off of yesterday’s post or I just had to go to the bathroom (I awakened, and did).

But, c’mon, you can hear that in George Carlin’s delivery, can’t you?

Maybe I should include a TMI category on the blog.

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