October 6, 2012 archive

Oct 06

Who Will Protect the Vulnerable?

The Jewish philosopher Rabbi Hillel asked, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

With our social safety net, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, under attack from the plutocrats who run our government, we need to ask all our representatives these questions.

Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-UT)

I get so damn sick and tired of listening to the little guy, the vulnerable, the veteran – I am a veteran, and the seniors and this and this and this and the meanwhile this country is headed for second-class status while everybody just babbles into the vapor.

I think we are sick and tired of hearing from Mr. Simpson.

Oct 06

Cartnoon

Harold LloydGrandma’s Boy (1922) (1:00)

Harold Lloyd “is best known for his ‘Glasses Character’, a resourceful, success-seeking go-getter who was perfectly in tune with 1920s era America.”  In 1919 he suffered a crippling prop accident when a bomb he thought was a smoke pot exploded in his hand as he was lighting a cigarette.  It took his forefinger and thumb which he disguised with a prosthetic glove and scarred the side of his face and chest.

Oct 06

On This Day In History October 6

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 6 is the 279th day of the year (280th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 86 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1927. The Jazz Singer makes its debut in New York City.

The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, its release heralded the commercial ascendance of the “talkies” and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system, the movie stars Al Jolson, who performs six songs. Directed by Alan Crosland, it is based on a play by Samson Raphaelson.

The story begins with young Jakie Rabinowitz defying the traditions of his devout Jewish family by singing popular tunes in a beer hall. Punished by his father, a cantor, Jakie runs away from home. Some years later, now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer, but his professional ambitions ultimately come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.

The premiere was set for October 6, 1927, at Warner Bros.’ flagship theater in New York City. The choice of date was pure show business-the following day was Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday around which much of the movie’s plot revolves.  The buildup to the premiere was tense. Besides Warner Bros.’ precarious financial position, the physical presentation of the film itself was remarkably complex:

   

Each of Jolson’s musical numbers was mounted on a separate reel with a separate accompanying sound disc. Even though the film was only eighty-nine minutes long…there were fifteen reels and fifteen discs to manage, and the projectionist had to be able to thread the film and cue up the Vitaphone records very quickly. The least stumble, hesitation, or human error would result in public and financial humiliation for the company.

None of the Warner brothers were able to attend: Sam Warner-among them, the strongest advocate for Vitaphone-had died the previous day of pneumonia, and the surviving brothers had returned to California for his funeral.

According to Doris Warner, who was in attendance, about halfway through the film she began to feel that something exceptional was taking place. Jolson’s “Wait a minute” line had prompted a loud, positive response from the audience. Applause followed each of his songs. Excitement built, and when Jolson and Eugenie Besserer began their dialogue scene, “the audience became hysterical.”  After the show, the audience turned into a “milling, battling, mob”, in one journalist’s description, chanting “Jolson, Jolson, Jolson!” Among those who reviewed the film, the critic who foresaw most clearly what it presaged for the future of cinema was Life magazine’s Robert Sherwood. He described the spoken dialogue scene between Jolson and Besserer as “fraught with tremendous significance…. I for one suddenly realized that the end of the silent drama is in sight”.

Critical reaction was generally, though far from universally, positive. New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall, reviewing the film’s premiere, declared that

   

not since the first presentation of Vitaphone features, more than a year ago [i.e., Don Juan], has anything like the ovation been heard in a motion-picture theatre…. The Vitaphoned songs and some dialogue have been introduced most adroitly. This in itself is an ambitious move, for in the expression of song the Vitaphone vitalizes the production enormously. The dialogue is not so effective, for it does not always catch the nuances of speech or inflections of the voice so that one is not aware of the mechanical features.

Variety called it “[u]ndoubtedly the best thing Vitaphone has ever put on the screen…[with] abundant power and appeal.” Richard Watts, Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune called it a “a pleasantly sentimental orgy dealing with a struggle between religion and art…. [T]his is not essentially a motion picture, but rather a chance to capture for comparative immortality the sight and sound of a great performer.” The Exhibitors Herald’s take was virtually identical: “scarcely a motion picture. It should be more properly labeled an enlarged Vitaphone record of Al Jolson in half a dozen songs.” The film received favorable reviews in both the Jewish press and in African American newspapers such as the Baltimore Afro-American, the New York Amsterdam News, and the Pittsburgh Courier. The headline of the Los Angeles Times review told a somewhat different story: “‘Jazz Singer’ Scores a Hit-Vitaphone and Al Jolson Responsible, Picture Itself Second Rate.” Photoplay dismissed Jolson as “no movie actor. Without his Broadway reputation he wouldn’t rate as a minor player.”

Oct 06

What’s Cooking: Chicken Wings

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Whether you’re watching football or the Major League Baseball playoffs, these wing recipes make tasty snacks to nibble on during the game.

Spicy Lacquered Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

3 pounds meaty chicken wings, tips removed

Salt

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice wine or sherry

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated ginger

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 small cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)

6 scallions, slivered

2 or 3 small hot red chiles, very thinly sliced (or hot green chiles), optional

2 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 handful cilantro leaves

2 navel oranges, sliced.

Preparation:

1. Rinse the wings, pat dry, season lightly with salt and put them in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, cayenne and orange zest, then pour over the wings and massage well. Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate (overnight is fine) and bring to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the wings in one layer in a low-sided baking dish or roasting pan (or use 2 pans) and place on middle shelf. Every 8 to 10 minutes, brush the wings with the marinade from the pan, adding 3 or 4 tablespoons water to dissolve the juices as necessary. Continue until well browned, glazed and cooked through, about 40 to 45 minutes. The wings may be cooked ahead and reheated if desired.

3. Pile the wings on a warm platter. Quickly assemble the garnish. In a small bowl combine the cucumber, scallions, chiles, crushed peanuts and sesame oil. Season with salt, toss lightly and scatter over the wings. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Surround with orange slices and serve.

Time: 1 hour, plus at least 1 hour’s marinating

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (18 to 20 wings).

Buffalo Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese Dip

The only hot sauce that I use is Frank’s Louisiana hot sauce. These wings can also be made with boneless chicken breast strips.

Ingredients:

Sauce

4 tablespoons Unsalted butter

1/2 cup Hot sauce , preferably Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce

2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon Dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons Cider vinegar

Wings

1 – 2 quarts Peanut oil (or vegetable oil) for frying

1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Table salt

3 tablespoons Cornstarch

3 pounds Chicken wings (18 wings), cut up (see illustrations below)

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing and Vegetables

2 1/2 ounces Blue cheese , crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons Buttermilk

3 tablespoons Sour cream

2 tablespoons Mayonnaise

2 teaspoons White wine vinegar

4 stalks Celery , cut into thin sticks

2 Medium carrots , peeled and cut into thin slices

Preparation:

1. For the Sauce: Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in hot sauces, brown sugar, and vinegar until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. For the Wings: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 360 degrees. While oil heats, mix together cayenne, black pepper, salt, and cornstarch in small bowl. Dry chicken with paper towels and place pieces in large mixing bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture over wings and toss with rubber spatula until evenly coated. Fry half of chicken wings until golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer fried chicken wings to baking sheet. Keep first batch of chicken warm in oven while frying remaining wings.

3. For the Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing and Vegetables: Mash blue cheese and buttermilk in small bowl with fork until mixture resembles cottage cheese with small curds. Stir in remaining ingredients (up to carrot and celery sticks). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 days.

4. To Serve: Pour sauce mixture into large bowl, add chicken wings, and toss until wings are uniformly coated. Serve immediately with the carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese dressing on side.

5. To Make Ahead: The fried, unsauced wings can be kept warm in the oven for up to 1 1/2 hours. Toss them with the sauce just before serving.

Serve with lots of napkins. Bon AppĆ©tit  

Oct 06

Quantum Leap is a really good show.

The Great Debate

Overture

Part 1- Firing Big Bird

Part 2- You’ve done a great job

Part 3- Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman

He’s not pitching at Coors Field Al.

Oct 06

Popular Culture 20121005: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

Of all of the horrible crap on TeeVee, the TLC program Here Comes Honey Boo Boo amongst the worst.  As a matter of fact, this program is the epitome of redneckery.  This trainwreck revolves around overweight child beauty pageant contestant Alana Thompson, now seven years old, her obese and incredibly stupid mum June, her three sisters (all four of the girls have different fathers), and her father.

I really do not know where to start.  This program is so vile that it would require instruments not yet invented to measure its offensiveness.  But it is my job to give my opinion, and remember I do not always write about things that I like.  

Oct 06

Rare Event: Transwoman wins battle with insurance carrier

Ida Hammer, 34, is originally from Utah and now lives in the borough of Queens, New York City.  Raised a Mormon, Ida is a writer and an activist.  She moved to NYC four years ago and immediately began hormone treatment and living as a woman.

Among the places she publishes her writing is The Vegan Ideal.  She also has published in On the Issues magazine.  Trans Violence Is Violence against Women is from last December.  She organizes Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project.

Ida has won an enormously important battle with her insurance carrier.

Ida approached her insurance company, MVP Health Care, in July, 2011 about having her genital realignment surgery covered.  Of course, MVP declined…twice.

My insurance company denied my claim on the grounds that it was ‘cosmetic’ surgery.  (But) my doctors determined that the surgery was necessary, and the insurance company was second-guessing my doctors.

–Ida Hammer