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Friday, January 29, 2016

If fashion writers covered the crime beat

As a follow up to the post about how history would read if it were recorded by fashionistas, a few examples of what they might do with the crime beat:

Nothing says trustworthy like a tweed jacket, and Ted knows how to wear one with panache! The tie, the white shirt, and the jacket with structured shoulders all exude a staid respectability. You can tell Ted is a deep thinker from his serious expression, as he sadly reflects on man's inhumanity to man. Or  women. And look at that handsome face: our Ted must be a real lady-killer!

Only a kindhearted soul will set aside his dignity to cheer others up! In the wonderful tradition of Patch Adams, John has made it his life's work to befriend young boys who didn't necessarily have a strong father figure around. The red, white, and blue makeup bespeak a certain patriotism, which is only fitting when you consider that his namesake is John Wayne. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, Mr. Gacy can also dress quite respectably:

Here's John with none other than First Lady Rosalynn Carter herself. That crimson sport jacket with lapel buttons shows that this is a man who will one day make his mark and become famous!

Look at those angelic baby blues: don't you just want to eat Jeffrey up? Jeffrey is the epitome of hipster chic with three days growth and an alternating blue and yellow striped shirt with spread collar. Is that dreamy expression because he's thinking of all the finer things in life that a sophisticated man has a taste for?

Some men love football, some love basketball, and some love the Olympics. Andrei is obviously one of the latter, and he's not ashamed to wear his heart on his sleeve! That shaved head shows that he's ready for action himself -- Mr. Chikatilo is one competitor with a killer instinct!

Just because you're 6'9" and 300 pounds doesn't mean you have to get your fashion sense from the Big 'n Tall stores. Edmund has obviously modeled his look after the Beatles from their Sgt. Pepper phase:

When you're as imposing as Mr. Kemper, all the more reason to project peace and love in order to gain people's trust -- especially when you offer them a ride. Smart move, Edmund -- your mother and grandparents must be proud!

Who's that glamorous man behind those aviator sunglasses? A movie star? No -- it's Richard, looking stylish with his Mick Jagger do and his casual sport jacket! Maybe those specs are for sensitivity to the light -- some people are simply night owls! All we know is, with that sexy look, Mr. Ramirez must have a devil of a time with women stalking him all over Tinseltown!

Son of a gun! David certainly doesn't dog it when it comes to fashionable collars! New York City is the world's capital of fashion, and David loves to roam it all -- even the outer boroughs! Note that David is wearing cotton -- like any true animal-lover, not only does he disapprove of wearing fur, he'll even let animals have their way! In fact, David has such a highly developed moral sense he even disapproves of public displays of affection!

Richard looks quite stylish in a patterned tweed jacket with matching tie. The jacket may be a tad large, but the impression of a boy wearing his father's clothing seems only appropriate once you've looked into those innocent blue eyes. Richard is definitely a nice boy, not the type to nurse a grudge.

Who says that fashionistas have a stranglehold on style?! Even a door to door salesman like Albert wants to look good -- because you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Albert is just breathtakingly dashing!

Most people grow more fashionable as they age, but some move beyond fashion. At 14, Charlie was quite the snappy dresser. But eventually, as you can tell from his peacefully ethereal look below, he realized that earthly possessions were no longer important to him:

But even though he's moved beyond fashion, he still pays attention to his grooming, never letting his locks go helter skelter. Why, with those soft, luxuriant tresses, he could model for Clairol! How many guys can claim to be both a family man and a style icon?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Filial respect, Part VII

We were watching Bone Tomahawk, a gritty Western/horror movie the other night. Towards the end of the movie there's a brutal scene where the "Troglodytes," a renegade cannibal Indian tribe, take one of their captives, strip him, hold him upside down, pull his legs apart, and then one of them, using an oversize tomahawk, cleaves him, bisecting him.

The scene happens at about 10:20 on this Youtube video, but I don't recommend watching it.

As soon as the scene was over, my son said, "Look Dad, there's the prostate surgery team from Sloan Kettering."

Friday, January 22, 2016


A friend, Dave Moriarty, just pointed out that most of the articles which have come out in the last couple days about the snowstorm which is about to hit the East Coast are treating us as if we've never seen snow before.

He's right. These articles have all been wonderfully informative:

The snow will make travel difficult. Flights will be cancelled. Some businesses will be shut down on Saturday. In the meantime, snow shovels are selling briskly. If you need to stock up on food, do so now.

You don't say.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I had a physical in August in which I got a PSA score of 5.5, a little outside the safe range. The second test in November came back at 5.6, so I scheduled a prostate biopsy on January 5th.

I had planned to write a funny post about the nature of the biopsy. Beforehand, I did ask the physician's assistant I made the appointment with, "There's nothing undignified about this procedure, is there?" (She didn't realize I was kidding.)

I had intended to ask the doctor, once the ultrasonic/needle-injecting wand was up my butt, "Say, I hope you don't think me self-indulgent, but does this thing have a vibrate function?" Once actually in that situation, though, I somehow forgot to ask.

On January 8th, I was told I have prostate cancer. Since then, I seem to have lost my sense of humor about it.

The odds are on my side, however. If it's caught early, as mine seems to have been, the survival rates are 99% five years out. It's a slow-growing and relatively easily treatable form of cancer. (Mine is intermediate in terms of aggression.)

My cancer doesn't seem to have spread yet, though I shouldn't waste any more time in dealing with it. I'm getting a second opinion Thursday at Sloan Kettering, and after that I have to make a decision about the course of treatment. At the moment I'm leaning towards radiation, which may have fewer side effects.

It's those potential side effects I'm mostly worried about: impotence, and even incontinence.

(My sex life has always been a tawdry, sporadic thing. But, it was the only one I had, and I would miss it.)

All of this has taken me by surprise. I feel fine physically, and am otherwise healthy. And, I'm in good shape --

(Boasting alert….)

-- The last week of December was a sort of high water mark athletically. On December 24th, an abnormally warm day in the Northeast, I did a 200 meter run in 27.9. On December 26th I did a one arm clean and jerk with a 75 pound dumbbell. And on December 30th I swam a 100 yard butterfly from a pushoff in 1:01.

I challenge any younger guy to hit all three of those marks in the space of one week. (The clean and jerk should be weight-adjusted; I weigh 160.)

I'm lucky to have people who are helping. My brother will have accompanied me to both consultations. My son has made a heroic -- though losing -- effort to cheer me up.

There are a few people who hate read this blog, and I hate to give them the satisfaction of knowing I have cancer. But, I owe the rest of you an explanation for why I won't be blogging as much while I deal with this. I'll continue to post your comments, but won't be as assiduous in responding to them. Don't take it personally.

Speaking of "personally," that is the direction the cancer seems to have taken my thoughts. So far, I'm thinking all the usual cliched thoughts. But if I come up with anything original, I'll let you know. In any case, be forewarned, this blog may be about to get embarrassing.

Then again, some people would say it's always been embarrassing.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

History test

A month ago, when I wrote, If history were recorded by fashion writers, I was a little afraid that people wouldn't get all the semi-hidden references. A couple days ago I asked an Ivy-eduated guy if he'd gotten them all, and it turned out he'd only gotten a few of them.

If you haven't read the post, please do so. Then see how many of the following references you recognized.

Scroll down.

Scroll down.

Attila the Hun:
"The scourge of everyone who finds grunge acceptable" -- Attila was known as "the Scourge of God."

Vlad III of Wallachia (popularly known as Vlad the Impaler):
"The prince's piercing gaze….If fashion were a car race, Vlad would be sitting in the pole position!" -- Vlad was known to kill people by sitting them atop a long pointed stake placed in their anus which would gradually sink into their intestines.

"Count Dracula wouldn't be caught dead in anything less!" The vampire Dracula was said to have been based on Vlad.

Francisco Pizarro:
"Francisco is one macho peach, you can't deny that!" -- a reference to Machu Picchu, the most famous site of the Incas. (This one was a little forced, I admit.)

Benito Mussolini:
"The black shirt reflects Benito's point of view perfectly." -- Mussolini's squads of goons were known as the "Blackshirts."

"The hands of his German Leica sweep around their axis reliably" -- a reference to the Axis powers.

Adolf Hitler:
"Adolf's final solution was pure genius" -- You probably know what Hitler's "final solution" was.

Mao Tse-Tung:
"Political power may come from the barrel of a gun" -- from a well known Mao saying.

The "long march" was what his troops engaged in during their successful revolution.

Manuel Noriega:
Noriega actually did help both Escobar and Castro, and was said to have homosexually sodomized his prisoners during torture.

Idi Amin:
"One does not earn that kind of hardware by cannibalizing others' heroism." -- Amin was widely thought to have eaten some of his enemies.

Muammar Khaddafi:
"Woe to the man who does not let that locker be!" -- a reference to Lockerbie, Scotland, where Libyan terrorists, on Khaddafi's orders, took down a passenger jet.

If you spotted all the references, you get an A in History.


Watched Sicario (out on pay-per-view now) two nights ago, and my son and I liked it so much we watched it again last night. It's about an interagency force tasked with disrupting the Mexican drug cartels.

The soundtrack isn't really music, it's more just background noise designed to amplify the intensity of the movie. But it's still one of the greatest soundtracks I've ever heard.

The casting was near perfect. virtually every role was filled by someone who made you think, ah, that person is perfect for that role. The only possible false note was Emily Blunt as the nominal protagonist, a Phoenix FBI agent. But, it always helps to have a beautiful woman onscreen:

Blunt seems to be one of the few women who looks better without makeup (above) than with (shown below, at the Cannes premiere for the film):

I have no idea whether US law enforcement does the types of things they're shown doing; but it all seems plausible. And it certainly captured the destruction wrought by the cartels in Juarez.

As my son pointed out afterward, "This isn't exactly a let's-throw-open-the-borders movie." (He also said the military characters seemed realistic.)

Definitely worth watching.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bill Clinton as campaign fodder

When Hillary recently accused Trump of being sexist for some of his comments, including his offhand remark that she had gotten "schlonged" in the 2008 Presidential primary, the issue then came up of whether she should be held accountable for any of her husband's misbehavior.

The answer is pretty obviously, of course not -- which is why the media phrased it that way. You could say she shouldn't have stayed married to a known abuser and probable rapist. But marriages endure and dissolve for all sorts of mysterious reasons that sometimes even the spouses themselves don't fully understand. And, really, it's unfair to criticize anyone for staying married.

But one thing Hillary is definitely responsible for is her own actions when it came to those women. Especially in light of her statement in September: "Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault. Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed and we're with you.

Clinton also stated the need for "increased prevention effort" to discourage sexual predators.

Those were not exactly her reactions to her hubby's various "bimbo eruptions," as they were called by Bill Clinton's handlers.

When Gennifer Flowers claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton in 1992, Hillary disparaged her as "trailer trash."

When Juanita Broaddrick said that Bill Clinton had raped her, Hillary implicitly threatened her and told her to keep quiet.

And Hillary famously dismissed Monica Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony tune."

(Not a bad description of herself.)

So, no, Hillary shouldn't be held responsible for her husband's actions. Only her own.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Moderate testosterone and trust

While looking at pictures of Barack Obama for the previous post, it occurred to me how much he has benefitted by not being an overly masculine guy. Because he came across nonthreatening, he was a lot more palatable to the white electorate. He had a big smile, could speak the King's English, and was the type of black man whites are generally comfortable with.

In the immortal words of Harry Reid, Obama had Presidential potential because he was a "light-skinned black with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Or, as Joe Biden said in 2007 about Obama, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Key to both of those impressions was that Obama wasn't physically intimidating. He didn't look in any way like a cartoon style bully. And so people were at ease with him, and thus more inclined to trust him.

Another guy who must have benefitted from that effect is Martin Shkreli. If you hadn't known anything about him, but were introduced to him a few years ago --

-- you'd probably have been positively predisposed toward him, simply because he's not in any way a threatening physical presence. And if you were told that he was a hedge fund manager, you'd likely have thought, "Ah, boy genius!" 

But a lack of male hormones doesn't necessarily equal honesty, or decency. In fact, there's no correlation at all. Shkreli, as we now know, is merely a con man. 

And, frankly, so is the other guy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


It's rare you see a country's leader go through the kind of 180 degree shift in image that Angela Merkel seems to have undergone.

A year ago, when she was dealing with the Greek debt crisis, she appeared to be a flinty-eyed realist who saw right through Greece's attempts to worm out of responsibility for years of financial profligacy. She was a hard bargainer who insisted until the end that Greece's government put in place a program of austerity -- or else.

Now she looks like a patsy. It's almost as if in the intervening year, someone kidnapped her and brainwashed her, stuffing her head with unrealistic liberal ideals. Now, after the New Year's Eve wilding party by her new guests, she looks like a woman who's just been molested: glassy-eyed, in shock, and unsure about what just happened.

(Not unlike one of those women who were just attacked in Cologne.)

Unfortunately for Angela, it's the latter image that's going to stick.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

College kids

A friend, Dave Moriarty, sent The Ten Most Ridiculous College Protests of 2015 to me yesterday. 

I hadn't even heard of some of those causes.

But it occurred to me, a big part of the problem is the way the media takes them seriously. Young people have always felt the need to do crazy stuff to blow off steam. Once it was panty raids and seeing how many students could fit inside a Volkswagen Beetle. 

A little later it was protesting the Viet Nam War, then, streaking. 

Now it's all the silly stuff described in the article linked above (plus a lot of racial tension which the author carefully sidestepped). 

But really, some of this should be written off to hormones and youthful stupidity. As in, you know, kids will be kids.

Not all of it, though. Some of the more recent protests -- not the ones listed above -- have taken on a more sinister hue, setting students off against each other on the basis of race. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Different personalities

In the previous post I mentioned how Austin Shifflett was unrecognizable after he lost all that weight. It appears to go deeper than that: he looks as if he has a different personality in each of the shots:

But what if the three photos actually were of three different people? What would each be like?

The guy in the center looks like a Bubba, a friendly, somewhat slobbish type who'll wrap his arm around you in a friendly gesture (he won't feel awkward about it, but you will). He likes to drink beer and watch football. He actually played football his freshman year, but decided not to go out his sophomore year because he didn't like having to do the wind sprints. He's relaxed, outgoing, and would probably like both the fellow in the left and the one on the right.

The guy on the left looks like the type who'd run for Class President. He's a future businessman, an aggressive go-getter who'll give you a hearty handshake and an insincere smile. He likes to brag about his conquests to his buddies. He has nothing but contempt for the "lardass" and "faggot" (his words) in the other pictures.

The guy on the right is a bit of a fashionista (who else would wear a scarf and semi-matching hat indoors?) He despises the guy on the left, but doesn't say anything because he's afraid of him. He likes the fellow in the center, who seems to accept him for who he is, and has even encouraged him to try to lose weight so he can wear more stylish clothes.

Okay, I've just indulged in a lot of obvious cliches. And I'm obviously not suggesting that there's any truth to these stereotypes, at least as far as Austin is concerned. But I don't think I'd be alone in imputing those personality types to each physique.

What's amazing, of course, is that he looks as if he has a different personality in each picture, even though it can't possibly be true.

But it would be interesting to find out if Austin Shifflett's personality has actually changed at all since his physical transformation. You occasionally hear about the "pretty girl personality" (expects the world on a silver platter, thinks she's more interesting than she is). You never hear of the "handsome boy personality." But it's probably just as real.