Saint Crispin is Crispy Times Two

'This war is lost' -- Lord Harry Reid on the 'surge' in Iraq

From William Shakespeare’s Life of King Barry I, Act 4, Scene iii


O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men (or women)
That are out of work back in the U.S.!


What’s he that wishes so?
My servant McChrystal? Er, no, I mean Petraeus:
If they are mark’d to die, they’re enow
To do your country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men (or women), the easier to sideline and dismiss
As victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.
No, faith, lackey, wish not a man (or woman) or woman (or man) more:
Rather proclaim it, Petraeus, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him be interviewed by the Times.
He that outlives Afghanistan, and comes safe home,
He that ignores the recommendations of our VA deathbook and sees old age,
Will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had in Mazar-i Sharif.’
And the VA Admin will blink and wonder “Who? What? Where’s that?”

Old men (or women) forget: Kabul shall be forgot,
But some Oath Keepers will remember
What feats they did there: then shall our names,
Familiar in his (or her) mouth as barnyard words are in ours:
Barry the king, Gibbs the Jester and Axelrod,
Pelosi and Reid, Barney and Durbin,
Be in their flowing curses freshly remember’d.
Those few, those unlucky few, that band of outsiders;
For he (or she) to-day that sheds his (or her) blood in this
Illegal conflict I inherited from Bad King George
Shall be an outsider — Be he (not she) ne’er so vile,
One of my Czars shall manage to vilify him further:
And Democrat men now a-bed with each other
Shall think them accursed who were there,
And hold each other’s manhoods whiles any speaks
That languished in Afghan upon Saint Crispin’s Day.

For the original version of Henry V’s Saint Crispin’s Day (October 25) speech to the troops before the Battle of Agincourt, go HERE.


Mulholland Senile Dementia

'There it is. Take it.' -- William MulhollandNot for nothing does David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive begin with a collision. Living even on an unfamous appendage of this infamous mountain road means near-daily witness to mayhem. See, for instance, this post about a recent meet n greet not many yards from NiceWork Central. Los Angeles drivers are better at driving supersonically than in turning adroitly or stopping in a timely manner. Corruscating puddles of broken Safe-T-Glass guide the Mulholland Drive traveller on moonlit nights.

So imagine NiceWork‘s chagrin upon learning of the planned closing in October of Disney California Adventure‘s roller coaster Mulholland Madness. It must be demolished to make way for restaurants. We cancelled all our appointments and high-tailed it to Anaheim to grab one last snapshot of the venerable ride.

You see a photo of the attraction’s signage atop this post. And below you see one of the series of panels of a monumental mural which conceal the roller coaster’s maze of tracks from curious passers-by.

Other panels, no kidding, depict brush fires and mudslides.

This fine painting is not to be confused with a similar work, also depicting the twisty Santa Monica Mountain crest road, by David Hockney, and which hangs not so far from its subject in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

Human being included to show scale.

Oh, well. Ars longa, right? The painting endures — at least it was still at LACMA last time I looked — but the thrill ride soon passes into dull memory. Wave at the thrilled thrill-seekers one last time before Mulholland Madness hits that Final Speed Bump.

Is that Charlie Sheen's BMW going off the cliff?

Suspended Disbelief

Your NiceWork movie reviewer received his orders and obeyed them at once. He sped directly to the local AMC Cineplex to sit in smug judgement on M. Night Shyamalan’s new spooker:

The V is a down button on an elevator. If it were an up button the movie would be called DEAIL

No sooner had your reviewer settled down into his plush theater seat than Mr Shyamalan began to unsettle him with upside down shots of Philadelphia from an inverted helicopter. Buildings depended like stalactites behind the opening credits giving your reviewer a bout of reverse vertigo: the feeling that you are about to fall straight upwards.

WHAT HAPPENS: Three guys and two gals get stuck on an elevator suspended motionless around the 21st floor of an office building. One of them is a psychokiller of sorts who takes advantage of the repeated blackouts to psychokill.

BEST TOE-CURLING SCENE: Dwight the custodian heads way up to the roof of the building to see about unsticking the stuck elevator from above. As he steps out of the stairway onto the roof, a gust of wind whips his little cap away. He runs after the cap as it scoots along the tar and gravel then pops over the edge of the roof…

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A NON-HUMAN: There’s a devilish raccoon in the basement walking around the buffers at the bottom of the hoistway.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY NON-MAMMALIAN NON-HUMANS: A pair of devilish pigeons give Dwight the custodian the fright of his life as he descends the hoistway from the roof.

BEST FIGURING OUT THAT SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL IS AFOOT: By the Latino security guard who, thanks to a good Catholic education, knows an incursion of the Prince of Darkness like the back of his amulet-clutching hand. SPOILER ALERT: When assailed by the Evil One, try praying in Spanish.


BEST UNSHAVEN UNBELIEVING PHILADELPHIA PD DETECTIVE: The unshaven unbelieving detective from the Philadephia Police Department. SPOILER ALERT: He never shaves, but eventually he believes.

Was DEVIL a good spooky spooker? Well, yeah, sure. It gave your NiceWork movie reviewer the very heebie-jeebies he willingly sought, but not so much that he couldn’t endure to the bitter end. He sat right there a-twitching until the final credits rolled. DEVIL even had a happy ending of sorts if you don’t count the dozen or so people who get hauled off to Hell in various ways (e.g. by broken glass in the jugular) before the unshaven detective gets everything nicely sorted out.

Like Thornton, but Wilder

Your NiceWork movie reviewer parked his car in the mall lot and walked to the movie theater. That much he remembers.

He bought some treats at the treat stand. A Coke Zero™ and a medium popcorn.

They look scary here in the red light, but they were not really very scary.

They were good. He found a seat up there near the projector. It was quite a climb because the theater had “stadium seating.”

They look scary in the red light, but they really were red velvet, and not at all scary.

The movie involved nuns — or guys who look like nuns — who rob banks in Boston. They all live in Charlestown. One of the robbers falls in love with a beautiful girl bank manager that he had kidnapped for a few minutes during a bank robbery at the beginning of the story. His best friend is one of his crew and is very violent. He hits people with guns and disarms Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). He has a “Fightin’ Irish” tattoo on the back of his neck. This is important to the story. Rebecca Hall plays the beautiful girl bank manager.

That’s all your NiceWork reviewer can remember. As the end credits rolled, he carefully descended the stadium stairs, deposited his drink cup and popcorn bag in an appropriate receptacle, and left the theater. He soon found his car and drove home. There was a container of tuna salad in the fridge!

The crew robs Fenway Park. That he remembers.

Someone Slipped Me a Mickey

Where did you and the entire family go on Friday?

I went with the entire family to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

How wonderful! Did you see Goofy?

Hyuh!Yes. He marked the floor where we parked.

Did you see Mickey Mouse?

Left to right: Some guy, Mickey Mouse.Yes. He signed autographs on Main Street.

Where was Minnie Mouse? Was MINNIE there, too?

This was only one of her physical manifestations.Minnie appeared in her balloon form.

What about Donald? Donald Duck, I mean.

Mary-Ann and Gilligan have an audience with Donald Duck.I know who you meant, of course. Yes, Donald was there in multiplicity. Here an inflated Donald stretches his arms as if to embrace the throng of parade goers.

There seem to be many forms of each of the Disney characters. Was there a flower arrangement depicting the head of Mickey Mouse?

The 102° heat only made the flowers bloom more brightly.Right as you enter Disneyland the great floral Mickey Face welcomes you.

WERE there any images of Mickey Mouse that A PERSON can consume?

The little plastic container holds mustard for dipping your Mickey pretzel.Oh, there are many edible items. For instance, you can eat a pretzel shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse.

Looks good, but it WAS QUITE hot FRIDAY.  DID THE PARK OFFER anything colder?

Pre-bitten for your convenience.Oh, sure. You can eat all manner of frozen Mickey heads.

Did you find the place in Disneyland where you wish you could live?

I would live on churros, turkey legs and Mickey beignets..Right there. Above New Orleans.

I Left My Heart in a Bowl of Rice-A-Roni™

Much more fun than cable TV.The onrushing cable car above hints at where we’ve been.

We spent a couple of carefree days strolling up and down (way up and down) the City by the Bay. Hadn’t climbed those  quadricep-challenging hills in years. We feared we might have to relearn that Awful Truth “What youth deemed crystal, age finds out was dew,” but San Francisco is one of the few places in this disappointing world that is exactly as nice as you remember it.

Even nicer in some ways. This giant hand, one of six, wasn’t there last time we passed through:

Three Heads Six Arms, 2008, by Zhang HuanNor, for that matter, was the present home of the Asian Art Museum where we spent about five times the amount of time we’d budgeted. After all, you can’t just rush by items like this seated Buddha from the 4th century:

There's a date inscribed on the back corresponding to 338 AD.It happens to be the “most published” item in their entire collection. Every book on Buddhist sculpture includes it, says the helpful placard nearby.

Then there’s this stern soldier — a “haniwa,” or Japanese funerary figure in terra cotta, made in the 3rd millenium BC  — who won’t let you pass until you pay your respects:

The entire figure is maybe three feet tall.And what would a sojourn in the Bolshiest city on the Bolshy left coast be without an hour browsing for lewd and seditious literature in City Lights Bookstore? This is the indy bookshop from which, in 1957, extruded Allen Ginsberg’s epic Howl. Signs in the upper story windows exhort passersby to “keep an open mind” and also to “turn left.” But can a passerby do both at once?

The best minds of MY generation were destroyed by Cocoa Puffs.We patriotically held out the palm and sneered “nyet!” to all the Bolshy blandishments, but before we could launch into our chant of “Sarah Barracuda” the Red Youth Brigade (now rather aged) spotted our red, white and blue hearts and ejected us into Kerouac Alley…

On the Road, In the Alley.… into which poor drunken Mr Kerouac had been tossed more than half a century ago from Vesuvio, a bar in which he had been demonstrating once again that the Beat Culture was more acceptable on paper than in the flesh.

But if you have to become so inebriated that crawling along the sidewalk becomes a reasonable mode of transportation, and street signs loom too far in the distance above your lolling head to help guide you to your SRO in the Tenderloin, don’t worry. San Francisco helpfully molds the street names into the concrete at every intersection:

Chewing gum splotches were Photoshopped out to protect your refined sensibilities.Next Post: A visit to San Francisco’s De Young Museum of All Kinds of Art.

Cold Case File

In one of the books, not this one, there are two detectives named Champaign and Urbanik.

If you are snuffling around for a new mystery series, and the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is new to you, and you happen to like the same stuff I do, I have a recommendation for you: the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

There’s the cover [see above] of the fourth book in the series, or what I think would be the cover if the book does indeed exist in the real world and not only on my Android phone. And there’s the cover [see below] of the fifth one, which I am in the middle of.

Take my advice and read them in order.The first book in the series is called A Cold Day in Paradise. It sets the scene: a one stoplight town called Paradise situated on the icy southern shore of Lake Superior in the U.P.. You also get the cast pretty much assembled, most notably Alex McKnight, a Detroit cop retired on full disability — with one of the disabling bullets still lodged near his heart — who mopes around in the snow, chops wood for the snowmobilers who rent his cabins, drinks gallons of Molson’s Canadian, and solves crimes. Many crimes. It turns out murderers swarm on the shores of Lake Superior even more than they do in the vast empty deserts of Tony Hillerman’s New Mexico, which is saying a lot.

So many murders it takes a SEVEN McKnight mysteries even to begin to describe them. Start with the first one, Cold Day, continue with Winter of the Wolf Moon, proceed to The Hunting Wind, then the two pictured above and finish up with two more after that whose names I don’t know.

If you are anything like me, after kicking through the six foot snow drifts for a volume or two, you will phone the author and say, “Author Hamilton, you have done well. Very well indeed, sir. I applaud you.” If you are unlike me, I cannot predict how you will react. Perhaps you will weep. Perhaps you will warble like a nightingale. If you are exactly like me, you will have read the books already and are even now writing an identical post.