Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Costume Malfunction

I had hoped to celebrate Halloween as a Triceratops this year. It has been a dream of mine for some time now. The problem is that I can't sew. I have many friends and loved ones who can, but I never think to ask them until the night before I need it. Usually I get looks that remind me of the looks I'd get from my mother when I was in high school when I'd ask her to type a research paper that I had not yet finished writing the night before it was due.

This year, I asked around two weeks in advance (okay, it might have been one week), which was considerably earlier than years past, but not soon enough.

After hearing about how long it would take to do the tail alone, I realized my dream would yet again have to wait.

I tried downsizing my costume to a bear, then a bunny rabbit--but each of these apparently take time as well.

So, I opted to asking for a fez cap, inspired by the likes of Tiki King and Howlin' Hobbit--not to mention Laurel and Hardy.

My friend Do stepped up to the plate, in spite of having plenty to do otherwise. She whipped together a dandy black fez with a reclining crescent moon and star on the front, and two tassels intertwined--gold and black. I did have to attach a couple of hair clips, but it looked beautiful. On the night of her Halloween party, it looked great and there were no problems.

I wore it to school today. I didn't have any hairclips but, miraculously, it never slipped off my head when I looked down. It was kind of warm in my classroom, so I was perspiring under my hat. But I was comfortable.

At the end of the day, when I tried to take the fez off, my hair mysteriously clung to it. My sweat had mixed with the glue that held the cloth to the hat's base. I pulled it off with caution. Fortunately, the glue was pretty diluted, so I didn't lose huge chunks of hair. But my hair stuck like Larry of the Three Stooges until I could smooth it down.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Yardbird by Any Other Name...

Driving home from work, I turned on my XM radio and found myself listening to a live performance by the Yardbirds, one of my favorite bands of the 60's.

Except that none of the original lead guitarists--Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, or Jimmy Page--were there. And, of course, Keith Relph was still critically dead, having been fatally electrocuted in the 70's. I remember hearing, by the way, that he left the group because he was going blind. I don't know about that.

It turns out that only two of the original Yardbirds, guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty, are in the new line-up. Beck played a cut or two on the new album.

They sounded good, but were they really the Yardbirds? The spokesman, I assume one of the originals, introduced the familiar hits as songs "we" did back in the 60's. But the new lead guitarist is a young guy in his 20's. So he didn't "do" anything back in the 60's.

So I don't know. While the two original Yardbirds certainly have the right to recreate the music of their old band, shouldn't they call themselves by a new name?

The same thing has happened with the Doors (two original members and a couple of new guys) Creedance Clearwater Revival (two guys who didn't write any of the hits, but at least have the grace to bill themselves as Creedance Clearwater Revisited).

Two of the surviving Who are touring as the Who. But all of the Who were pretty high-profile within the band and remained legends long after the Who broke up.

Anyway, these new Yardbirds sounded really good. And I guess they have the right to bill themselves as more than just a tribute band. And I guess for them to be marketable, they have to use the name Yardbirds in some way.

But are they the Yardbirds?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Last Refuge of the Scoundrel

I don't remember whether it was Ben Franklin or Voltaire who said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. But, it seemed to me at one point, that last refuge had shifted to religion. I guess that politicians and pundits, having already staked out that territory--patriotism, that is--could not go back and reclaim it once they got their hands caught in the proverbial cookie jar or got caught with their proverbial pants down or both.

So many--Charles Colson during Watergate and Gray Davis when he was recalled, for example--became "born again" when things got hot. Far be it from me to determine whose conversion is legit and whose is not. But it always seems like these guys, when embracing God, don't seem to change much else as far as their values go. They seem to remain the idealogues they were before they got into trouble. Colson, while renouncing his actions as related to Watergate, has never renounced the policies of Nixon. Davis, who made it a point to talk about going back to God during the recall, never renounced any the reckless spending or promiscuous fundraising that caused California to turn their backs on him.

But these days, on the far right at least, everyone seems to be a born-again Christian already. They talk about God and family values and the culture of life and it sounds beautiful. But it leaves them nowhere to go when they get caught doing wrong.

Except rehab.

Maybe they took their cue from Mel Gibson.

Now, I don't know how much of Gibson's recent problems come from alcohol or barely repressed anti-semitism. But he fits the pattern of retreat to rehab that so many politicians seem to follow these days.

If you have already found Jesus and get caught taking bribes or sexually harassing pages, declare yourself an alcoholic and go into rehab. Never mind that you have no history of alcoholism--that your closest friends, the ones who know your secrets, have never seen you drunk.

Unfortunately for Tom Delay, he's already known to be a recovering alcoholic. So there's no place for folk like him to go.

Except maybe to say that he had been assimilated by the Borg.

Resistance is futile, you know.