Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Judicial retention. Say it enough and it starts to sound like a nasty blockage, the sort of malady that might lead to swelling and stones.

But there is little funny -- and a lot to ponder -- with the current fight over Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan.

In a nutshell, the plan takes pains to bleach politics out of the way appeals-court judges are appointed in Missouri. When an appellate-court seat goes empty, a seven-member commission appointed by the state bar and the governor sends three nominees to the governor. He chooses. Judge run to retain their seats, and do so as nonpartisan candidates.

Some activists want to ditch the Missouri plan; not surprisingly, their plans would fill the judicial-selection process with juicy political goodness. They also want to make this a constitutional amendment and put it before voters in November 2008 (no doubt after an air-wars campaign based on simplistic idea reduction).

The Columbia Missourian has the good read on an issue too serious to reduce to a few sound bites. Worth your time, especially now that three lawyers -- two of them locals -- have been nominated for a spot on the Southern District Court of Appeals. Did the selection commission choose wisely?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Sunday, a woman told Springfield police that she was kidnapped and assaulted near Battlefield Mall.

Monday, police issued this statement:
On November 25, 2007 a female reported that she was abducted from Meador Park located at 1504 E. Sunset. Further investigation has shown that this abduction did not take place.
It's unknown if the woman will be charged with filing a false report, or if she'll be forced to repay cops for the cost of their investigation.

One thing's clear. It's that time of year.


Joaquin Phoenix, actor, explains how he vomits while playing pretend:
"You take a lot of cereal, you drink a lot of milk and you pound down two waters in a row and you jump up and down and you put your hand down your throat and you wiggle it all around until you vomit."
Thanks for that.


Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against CBS spawns a New York magazine piece on the journalist. It's worth your time.

As Rather himself notes: "This is a good story."


Police in Straubling, Bavaria, say a man shaved a swastika and a Waffen-SS insignia into his dog's fur. He's 29 (the man, not the dog) -- too young to remember, too old to be pulling this kind of noise.

Reuters reports:
Police made the discovery when the suspect's ex-girlfriend requested police help to collect her belongings from his apartment because she was afraid of him.

It was not clear if the man, who has not commented on the markings, had shown the dog in public, a police spokesman said.

"That still needs to be proved," he said. "If he only kept the dog inside the apartment, it wouldn't be public."
Grotesque, yes. But not public, and thus not a crime in Germany. Show off a Nazi symbol there, you can go to prison for three years. Keep it hidden and you're simply a sick twist.


Spirit and Opportunity were supposed to last about 90 days.

Forty-seven months and thousands of incredible images later, one of the Mars rovers may be on its last treads. New Scientist reports:
Spirit is stuck in what appears to be loose soil, but engineers hope to free it quickly so it can reach a safe spot to ride out the approaching winter.

For the past two weeks, Spirit has been heading to the northern end of a 90-metre-wide raised plateau called Home Plate. The region boasts relatively steep, northern-tilting slopes that would maximise the sunlight falling on the rover's solar panels during winter in the planet's southern hemisphere.

Mission scientists had hoped it would arrive on a safe slope by 1 January – a deadline made all the more critical because the rover's power is already depleted due to dust on its solar panels. "There's more dust on Spirit now because of the dust storms a few months ago," says rover team member Ken Herkenhoff of the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona, US. "That's making this [journey north] more urgent."

But within the past few days, the rover has become stuck. "Now, winter is getting closer and closer, Spirit has been bogged down in loose soil and we're trying to move out of that area," Herkenhoff told New Scientist.
If you've not gone there, check out NASA's raw images gallery from the rovers. Sometimes government does work, and well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Hola. Three new links added to the CHATTERWORTHY list o' blogs. They include:
Oh Dur, a blog from Dori Olmos.

Marissa Whitley, our friend from Springfield, now working to take over the homeland of Los Angeles.

TV Seen By Me, from Emily Rittman.
Read, enjoy, have fun. Tell 'em CHATTER sent you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Perhaps the oddest blog find of the day: Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians.

The snap of David Coverdale is the best example of what happens when middle-aged men learn the joys of plastic surgery.


Scorpions up to eight feet long once lurked in the oceans. Reuters reports:
The discovery of the 390-million-year-old specimen in a German quarry suggests prehistoric spiders, insects and crabs were much larger than previously thought, researchers at Bristol University said on Wednesday.

"This is an amazing discovery," said university researcher Simon Braddy.

"We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were."

The find was described by Braddy and colleagues in the journal Biology Letters.
The claw they discovered was 18 inches long. Even dipped in butter, it probably wasn't a delicacy.


The late and still great William S. Burroughs gives thanks:
Thanks for the American Dream to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the memories. Hope your bird is a good one.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Dean Stockwell lip-synching Roy Orbison singing "In Dreams." Dennis Hopper huffing poppers through a face mask. Isabella Rossellini, playing the role Molly Ringwald only wishes she would have done.

On the Christmas wish list this year: David Lynch's Blue Velvet on DVD. Nothing disturbed us more in 1986. Watching it again only confirms the creepiness.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Not what you think.

On Nov. 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon talked with National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger. The conversation was recorded, of course.

They discussed Ronald Reagan, then governor of California.

The tape has just been transcribed, just in time for its 36th anniversary. The transcript is a political wonk's wet dream. Excerpts:
President Nixon: What’s your evaluation on Reagan after meeting him several times now?

Kissinger: Well, I think he’s a—actually I think he’s a pretty decent guy.

President Nixon: Oh, decent, no question, but his brains?

Kissinger: Well, his brains, are negligible. I—

President Nixon: He’s really pretty shallow, Henry.

Kissinger: He’s shallow. He’s got no . . . he’s an actor. He—When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, “Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can’t you find a few good lines?” [Chuckles.] That’s really an actor’s approach to foreign policy—to substantive—

President Nixon: I’ve said a lot of good things, too, you know damn well.

Kissinger: Well, that too. ... I just listened to his problems. ...

President Nixon: Can you think though, Henry, can you think, though, that Reagan with certain forces running in the direction could be sitting right here?

Kissinger: Inconceivable.

President Nixon: No, but it could have happened. ...

Kissinger: But (Reagan's) not hostile. He says he’s not—He repeated again, he’s not going to do any opposition. He’s willing to help. He’s eager to help.

President Nixon: Would he take Ambassador to the Court of Saint James? I’m sure he won’t go.

Kissinger: After the election?

President Nixon: Yeah. We’ve offered it to him. He doesn’t want it.

Kissinger: But what does he want?

President Nixon: But see he can’t be in the Cabinet. Well, I don’t know. Christ.

Kissinger: Doesn’t he want to be senator in ‘74? ...

President Nixon: ... No, I don’t think he wants to run for the Senate. No governor of a big state will be happy in the Senate. It’s that easy.

Kissinger: That’s right.

President Nixon: The Senate is a shitty job.

Kissinger: It’s a lousy job.

President Nixon: Well, it’s better than the House, but it’s still crappy.

Kissinger: Yeah.

President Nixon: Unless you’re the leader. ... Back to Reagan though. It shows you how a man of limited mental capacity simply doesn’t know what the Christ is going on in the foreign area. He’s got to know that on defense—doesn’t he know these battles we fight and fight and fight? Goddamn it, Henry, we’ve been at—

Kissinger: And I told him—he said, “Why don’t you fire the bureaucracy?” I said, “Because there are only so many battles we can fight. We take on the bureaucracy now, they’re going to leak us to death. Name me one thing that we have done that the bureaucracy made us do.”

President Nixon: The bureaucracy has had nothing to do with anything.
Shallow, but a nice guy. Little did they know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Nada Nadim Prouty is a name worth remembering. The Department of Justice news release about the mess she's made is enlightening in its blandness.

A waitress from Lebanon visits the U.S. on a student visa and winds up working for the FBI and CIA. Oh, and she accesses an FBI file on Hizballah, even though she's not tasked to the terror group.

This CBS News story offers a little more color, but not much. All very disquieting in a low-key way.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


"The Executioner's Song" may be greater than Capote's "In Cold Blood." It's certainly just as great.

Reuters reports:
In more than 40 books and a torrent of essays, Mailer provoked and enraged readers with his strident views on U.S. political life and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

Mailer's first book, "The Naked and the Dead," is considered one of the finest novels about World War Two and made him a celebrity at age 25 when published in 1948.

Mailer's works were often filled with violence, sexual obsession and views that angered feminists. He later reconsidered many of his old positions but never surrendered his right to speak his mind.
The writer knew his voice and used it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Honky-tonker with an instantly identifiable voice. Sang "The Wild Side of Life." Died of lung cancer. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Mr. Thompson died at his home in Keller, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. "He was battling aggressive lung cancer," said his spokesman, Tracy Pitcox.

His career stretched more than 60 years, and he charted 79 hits in five decades, from his first, "Humpty Dumpty Heart" in 1948 through "Once in a Blue Moon" in 1983. But even after the hits stopped, Mr. Thompson maintained an intensive tour schedule, playing upward of 250 shows a year for most of his career. He performed as recently as Oct. 8 in his native Waco, a day that was declared "Hank Thompson Day" by Texas Governor Rick Perry and Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy.

"He was a stalwart of the honky-tonk and Western swing traditions," John Rumble , senior historian for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, said yesterday. "He stayed right with that through all of country's various experimentations with pop sounds and rock sounds and folk or what have you."

Mr. Thompson, however, moved beyond traditional venues by embracing new performance opportunities, being among the first country stars to host a TV show, to perform in Las Vegas, and to record a live album. He also recognized and nurtured young talent, mentoring the careers of Merle Travis and Wanda Jackson among others.

"The Wild Side of Life," written by Arlie Carter and William Warren and one of the few hits Mr. Thompson had with a song he didn't write, held the No. 1 spot in 1952 for 15 weeks. It shocked listeners for its unvarnished portrayal of a woman who leaves her husband for a life of good times in the honky-tonks: "I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels/I might have known you'd never make a wife/You gave up the only one who ever loved you/And went back to the wild side of life."
He is survived by his wife, Ann.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


You're driving your minivan -- so sorry about that -- along a highway in Washington state. Manna falls from heaven. Or something like that. Reuters reports:
A cow plunged from a 200-foot cliff onto the hood of a minivan on a highway in central Washington state, according to police.

The car's occupants, Charles and Linda Everson, were not hurt in Sunday's accident, but the cow was euthanized at the scene.

"If the cow had fallen a split second later, the animal would have landed right in their laps," said Jeff Middleton, criminal deputy of the Chelan County Sheriff's Department.
The cow weighed about 600 pounds. Mmm. Meat.


Michael Jackson -- musical genius, incredibly performer, absolute freak. And back in the spotlight. features the whitest-ever image of Jackson on the cover of Ebony.

It's been 25 years since Thriller. Wish today's Jackson would do something equally earth-shattering in the studio.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Willard Romney, better known as Mitt, looks and sounds like the perfect presidential candidate -- great jaw, comforting voice, attractive spouse, loving kids.

Too perfect. That's the rub and the death knell for Romney. He has no rough edges. No one can identify with that.

Harper's has the definitive piece on why Romney's campaign is ultimately doomed. It's all in the Romney 2008 internal PowerPoint plan:
The problems holding him back were all identified in the campaign’s PowerPoint presentation: the Massachusetts background, the image of slickness, the fears about his religion, and, above all, mistrust of his ideological transformation. Romney and his handlers portray him as having undergone a political conversion, but they can’t point to any convincing catalyst. ...

The “electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed,” his campaign PowerPoint had concluded; hence, the strategy has been to move Romney where he needs to be to succeed.
And we thought Bill Clinton was slick.


Before you knock Spam noshables, consider the badness that must be a snack made of White Castle bombers. Then consider that there's a contest to pick a winner of said snack.

The Associated Press reports:
Leslye Louis of New Melle, Mo., named her creation "The Latkes You Crave," after White Castle's slogan "What you crave." She made the Jewish pancakes with the usual ingredients, including grated potatoes and eggs, and also incorporated 10 chopped-up White Castle "slyders" — minus the pickles.

As part of her prize, Louis will receive a case of 30 of the burgers each week for a year.
As Producer Dori moaned: That's four a day. With two left over for midnight snacks. Happy Hanukkah, and pass the latkes.


Sylvester Stallone, the thick-voiced lug/actor, plans to remake the 1974 Charles Bronson classic, "Death Wish."

Variety reports that studio bosses are seeing it as another way to milk every last bankable buck out of Stallone's aging carcass:
"We are looking at our library to determine which potential franchise properties make the most sense for us to produce, and 'Death Wish' was clearly one of that jumped out," said MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands. "We hope to get a deal done with Sylvester Stallone to direct and star, and like the 'Rocky' and 'Rambo' films, we see this as another potential franchise for him."
As kids we watched them film part of this movie in the L.A. 'hood (even though it was set in New York). The story is about a man who goes postal when his wife is iced by muggers. Who gets to play pretend-wife to the 61-year-old Stallone?

Thursday, November 01, 2007


He piloted a B-29 Superfortress named the Enola Gay on Aug. 6, 1945, and forever changed the world. Ghastly infamy.

As The New York Times obit notes:
“I was anxious to do it,” he told an interviewer for a documentary, “The Men Who Brought the Dawn,” marking the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. “I wanted to do everything that I could to subdue Japan. I wanted to kill the bastards. That was the attitude of the United States in those years.”
Thirty years after helping incinerate more than 60,000 people -- most of them civilians -- Tibbets flew a B-29 and simulated the Hiroshima bombing at an air show in Texas.

The point goes to Lone Star DC, who sums it up best: [He] gets what he gave. As do we all.