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A Dark and Stormy Night in the Kiddie Pool

It's a highlight of my year---plopping down in a Victorian wingback chair with a frosty beverage and basking in the brilliant badness of the winning entries in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest---"a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." The Class of 2014 was just announced by the English department at San Jose State University. A sample:

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The contest is named after Edward
"It was a dark and stormy night"
Bulwer-Lytton, the English writer,
politician, and chin-on-hand rester.
The Contessa’s heart was pounding hard and fast, like an out-of-balance clothes washer, which can get that way if you mix jeans with a lot of light things, though the new ones have some sensor thing to counteract that or shut off, but the Contessa’s heart didn’t have anything like that, so she had to sit down and tell Don Rolando to keep his hands to himself for a while.
---John Hardi, Virginia (Purple Prose: Dishonorable Mention)
Hard-boiled private eye Smith Calloway had a sinking feeling as he walked into the chaotic crime scene, for there, as expected, was the body dressed in a monk’s habit; there was the stuffed cream-colored pony next to the crisp apple strudel; there was the doorbell, the set of sleigh bells, and even the schnitzel with noodles---all proclaiming that the Von Trappist Killer
had struck again.
---Joshua Long, Ohio (Runner-up: Crime)
When the call came in for grammar expert Professor Leland Saige to analyze the President’s latest speech just five minutes after Saige’s indispensable assistant, Mary Anne Detwiler had gone to bed (Mary Anne was notoriously impossible to awaken fifteen minutes after she retired), the Professor’s receptionist hurriedly burst into his office and breathlessly announced, “If you’re going to parse, Lee Saige, rouse Mary in time!”
---Chris Lovegren, Washington (Dishonorable Mention, Vile Puns)
Every once in a while Cletus would feel the inconceivable, unintelligible force of loneliness come down from the far reaches of the cold, dark universe and crush him in a manner that left him pondering the significance of his sad, meandering existence in the face of this meaningless mass of nothing we call life, but not today, because today is Taco Tuesday.
---Tyler Miles, Vermont (Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention)
You can read the full list, including the grand prize winner, here. Preferably while a dog barks in the distance.

Your west coast-friendly edition of  Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Friday, August 8, 2014

Note: Today is World Cat Day. your gifs.

Wyoming State Fair logo
And cowgirls too!!!
By the Numbers:
Days 'til the midterm elections: 88
Days 'til the Wyoming State Fair: 1
Percent of America's prison population made up of blacks, who make up 12 percent of the total U.S. population: 40%
Percent chance that evidence suggests white people back harsher criminal penalties when they're told such penalties get more black people arrested: 100%
(Source: Think Progress)
Minimum amount President Obama pledged to provide for his Power Africa initiative, which will increase electricity access to 600 million people: $12 billion
Weekly unemployment claims, the second time in three weeks it's been under 300k: 269,000
(Source: Labor Department)
Age of Smokey the Bear as of tomorrow: 70


Friday Michele Bachmann Departure Countdown

Michele Bachmann and her googly eyes leave Congress in 148 days.

And with the Iowa State Fair now in full swing, please enjoy this Precious Moment from the 2012 fair, when she was at the top of the polls for the GOP presidential nomination. (That is not a misprint.)


Puppy Pic of the Day: This reminds me: only 16 months 'til Episode VII: The Phantom Woozle!!!


President Barack Obama meets with his national security advisors in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Obama in the Situation Room yesterday,
still cleaning up after Bush's mess.
JEERS to being between Iraq and a hard place.  President Obama announced last night that we've sent humanitarian aid to the Yazidis and other ethnic minorities that are getting terrorized in northern Iraq by a group of trigger-happy religious zealots that even al Qaeda calls---and this is a rough translation, my al Qaedese is a little rusty---"nasty little peckerheads."
Throngs of refugees, many of them Iraqi Christians, are on the run---their largest city, Qaraqosh, now occupied by fighters who gave them an ultimatum, "Convert to Islam or die."  Obama also said he'd authorized targeted airstrikes "if necessary" to help Iraqi forces protect civilians trapped on the mountain.
The upshot, according to Juan Cole, is that W's 2003 Iraq war had the effect of stuffing the region into a time machine, pushing the wrong button, and zapping it back to the time of his daddy's 1991 Iraq war a couple years before a Clinton became president.  Now it's couple years before another Clinton becomes president, and maybe after that the next Bush in line can start a 2026 Iraq war and reverse time again to bring us back to the 2003 war, after which another Clinton can be followed by another Bush who will bring us back to the present and then we get a great big do-over.  Why do I drink?  Because I think too much.

CHEERS to political disclaimers.  I'm Bill in Portland, and I approved the message on the right:

Adding injury to insult: Junior's vote is gonna cancel out Pop's.  Kids these days…

JEERS to stupid Republican tricks.  Forty-one years ago today, on August 8, 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew called accusations that he took kickbacks as governor of Maryland "damned lies."  He maintained his innocence until October 10, when he issued another statement: "Oh, you meant thoooose kickbacks!  Why didn't you say so?  I quit, buh-bye."  Meanwhile, on this date in 1974, Agnew's boss Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace after getting busted in the Watergate of all Watergates.  Watch him yuk it up as he prepares to deliver his resignation speech:

They made such a lovely couple.

CHEERS to dune buggy's second year.  The Mars rover Curiosity has been roving over the red planet's hills and dales for two years as of this week, and all is going according to plan:

Earth from the Mars rover
What our wars and other parasitic earth-
destroying behaviors look like from Mars.
During its second year, Curiosity has been driving toward long-term science destinations on lower slopes of Mount Sharp. Those destinations are in an area beginning about 2 miles (3 kilometers) southwest of the rover's current location, but an appetizer outcrop of a base layer of the mountain lies much closer -- less than one-third of a mile (500 meters) from Curiosity. The rover team is calling the outcrop "Pahrump Hills."

For about half of July, the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, drove Curiosity across an area of hazardous sharp rocks on Mars called "Zabriskie Plateau."  The one-eighth mile across Zabriskie Plateau was one of the longest stretches without a suitable detour on the redesigned route toward the long-term science destination.

See some of its best pics here.  One day, long after we're gone, a rover from some distant galaxy will land here and probe our own history of Earth's changing environmental conditions and conclude that intelligent life never could've lived here.  But the horny parasites with opposable thumbs who walked on two legs and destroyed their own civilization---fascinating.

CHEERS to great advances in libationology.  On Sunday's date in 1889, Dan Rylands patented the screw cap for bottles.  Our rule: if it curls my nose hairs when I sniff it, the bartender is free to pour it.

Shark Week logo
Starts Sunday...and that's the tooth!
CHEERS to home vegetation.  Apart from Steve and Melissa tomorrow morning on MSNBC and John Oliver Sunday night on HBO, the tube will probably stay mostly off this weekend unless I fire up my switchgrass-powered DVD player.  New DVD releases include the Hunger Games knockoff Divergent and road race flick Need for Speed.  Your baseball schedule is here.  (As usual, there will be an opposing team on the field, but the Red Sox will just stand there playing with themselves.)  The PGA Tournament continues in Louisville, Kentucky.  On Bill Moyers & Company, Bill airs an encore of a show he did with Maya Angelou 30 years ago.  And Sunday is the start of---Dumdumdumdumdum---Shark Week.  And here's your Sunday morning lineup:
Meet the Press: Their website isn't updated yet, so let's go with a dozen crazed cows and steers chasing David Gregory around the set while Rep. Steve King (R-IA) demands to see how much marijuana they have in their calves and Rand Paul backs away slowly when the cattle spot him chomping on a burger.

Sunday on CNN, McCain will sing "Bomb
bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iraq."
This Week: Retired Army Gen. Carter Ham, former commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Mosul; SIM medical missionary Dr. Frank Glover, Jr. and Amb. Robin Sanders, former ambassador to Republic of the Congo and Nigeria; roundtable with Matt Dowd, Cokie Roberts, ESPN’s LZ Granderson, and journalist Sharyl Attkisson.

Face the Nation: Senator Jack Reed (D-RI); Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate at 40; former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey; Dr. Kaiji Fukuda of the World Health Organization.

CNN's State of the Union: This week it's Candy Crowley's turn to babysit John McCain while Cindy goes shopping; General Jim Jones (Obama’s first National Security Adviser) and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (under Bush) Zalmay Khalilzad;  midterm election roundtable with Ken Cuccinelli, Ted Strickland, Stephanie Cutter, and Kevin Madden; tribute to James Brady, who died at 73 this week, with Joe Lockhart, Ann Compton and Al Hunt.

Fox GOP Talking Points Sunday: Sen Chris Coons (D-DE), who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, and former Michigan Governor John Engler on traitorous companies that are re-incrporating overseas ("inversion") yet still sucking on America's public teat; Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) on the erosion of etiquette at debutante balls; roundtable with Jackie Kucinich, George Will, Ron Fournier and Laura Ingraham.

Happy sleeping in!


Five years ago in C&J: August 8, 2009

CHEERS to a dose of cold, hard justice.  Let's check in and see how the trial of William Jefferson (D-LA), the former congressman who got caught hiding bundles of cash among the flank steaks in his freezer and was charged with 16 counts of bribery, extortion, racketeering and being an idiot, is going: Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty.  On the bright side (for him, anyway), the federal court acquitted him of five counts of not re-filling the ice cube trays.  But that decision is now being appealed by his wife.


And just one more…

CHEERS to the amazing life of Mr. Mellow.  Nineteen years ago tomorrow, Grateful Dead icon Jerry Garcia died at a Northern California residential drug treatment center.  He was felled by a heart attack at 53.  Or, as I like to say, too effing young:

Jerry Garcia
The Dead used their global influence to advance environmental concerns like saving the rainforest as well as other charitable causes. As the band's patriarch, Garcia became a larger-than-life figure to his fans. Those close to him knew him as a sensitive man with a spiritual side. As Garcia put it, "I love great art, poetry, all the things that enrich human life are things that I like. Also, there's tons of music that I love. I mean I don't really think I'm gonna be able to get around to everything that I potentially like in this lifetime."

Onstage, where the Grateful Dead launched extended jams, Garcia's guitar solos sent Deadheads into ecstatic dances and trances. But Garcia remained humble. "I'd like to learn how to play the guitar before I die. Yeah, that'd be good."

Yeah, their concerts were legendary.  (I hear someone might've discreetly passed around a joint at one of 'em)  But for a gang of marauding hippies they warbled a pretty awesome Star Spangled Banner, too.  And here they are for an encore to sing us out:

Have a mellow weekend.  (I hear Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia is wonderful this time of year.)  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?



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