Topic: The Culture
Barney Does Paris
As a break from the war – the top commanders in our military risk angering the president and reluctantly admit things are getting worse and worse - and our guys won’t be coming home any time soon – along with all the other dismal news – it may be time to consider why kids like dinosaurs.
They do. I did when I was a kid – always off to the natural history museum to see them bones. These days the children of my nephews have movies and television - check out The Ten Best Dinosaur Movies of All Time where Godzilla (1954) come in fifth, and Pat Boone and James Mason in Journey to the Center of the Earth (1958) comes in eighth. Of course Jurassic Park (1993) is number one. This all may have started with the first really popular dinosaur movie, the animated Gertie The Dinosaur (1914) made by one Winsor McCay. Tiffany and JT prefer the cute Disney sort of movies one gets these days.
And there is, for the real young kids, Barney on PBS – “Barney is an incredibly lovable, warm, and friendly six-foot purple dinosaur who comes to life from a plush toy by way of children's imaginations. Barney serves as a guide or facilitator for the children to use their imaginations to problem solve and to discover the world around them… Barney is a friend to all children-they feel safe with Barney and look to him for reassurance and security.”
Much has been written about this Barney – but my favorite comment comes from the New Yorker writer, Adam Gopnik, in his book Paris to the Moon (Random House, 2001) - on living for many years in Paris with his family while writing the New Yorker’s Paris Journals - “Bill Clinton is Barney for adults … Barney and Bill are not amiable authority figures, like the Friendly Giant and Ronald Reagan. They are, instead, representations of pure need: Wanting to be hugged, they hug.”
Barney is creepy. Clinton could be too.
But as a diversion you might want to check out what Keith Stewart Thomson has to say in Dinosaurs as a Cultural Phenomenon in the May-June issue of The American Scientist - Volume: 93 Number: 3 Page: 212
Thomson digs deep into the origins of this all -
And Thomson provides this illustration from Camille Flammarion’s Le Monde avant la Creation de l'Homme (1886) – which is pretty cool.
But as much as dinosaurs have captured the popular imagination, and kids like them, there are problems.
Given the recent hearings in Kansas which resulted in the Intelligent Design folks winning equal time in the public schools there with the evolution theory pushers ? covered in these pages here, here, here and here - what are we to believe? A few witnesses on the winning side argued that early man and dinosaurs lived together at the same time ? and the scientists say no, the evidence shows not. A few witnesses on the winning side argued that God ? or Satan ? messed with our minds and placed them bones in the sediment or whatever to test our faith, and all this geology is wrong as the earth couldn?t be more than six thousand years old, if you read the Bible carefully.
What is one to believe?
Paul S. Taylor has one answer. In DINOSAUR MANIA AND OUR CHILDREN first published in Impact in 1987 ? the magazine of the Institute for Creation Research - and republished last year, he explains. And he is, after all, Production Director of the Films for Christ Association.
So what?s the problem?
Dangerous misconceptions corrupting our youth? Maybe so ? in Kansas. But they are fixing that problem!
David Albrecht offers a satire about that:
Kansas Outlaws Dinosaur-Themed Toys, Cartoons
"Barney Ban" Will Protect Children, Says State Attorney General Kline. Legislative Leaders' Goal: "Healing Wounds of Darwinism"
May 13, 2005 ? posted at Democratic Underground
And on it goes. It?s pretty amusing.
It ends with this -
Satire? I guess it is.
An additional irony is, of course, that Barney the Purple Dinosaur, like George Bush, is a TEXAN! - "A six-foot purple dinosaur, Barney is the star of the children's TV show Barney and Friends. Barney began in 1987 as the star of direct-sale videos created by Dallas teacher Sheryl Leach. The tapes caught the eye of the Public Broadcasting System, who put Barney and Friends on the air in 1992."
Well, Texan or not, Barney is not really in trouble. That was satire above. On the other hand, Barney has been in court.
You will find this of at Case Law - and it is quite real -
What the heck is this about? Here is E. Grady Jolly, Circuit Judge:
Oh, the humanity! The poor kid.
But from the record -
But wait! There?s more!
You see, Giannoulas is claiming that, through careful use of parody, he sought to highlight the differences between Barney and the Chicken. He says he was not merely profiting from the spectacle of a Barney look-alike making an appearance in his show. Instead, he was engaged in a sophisticated critique of society's acceptance of this ubiquitous and insipid creature.
But, you ask, who won, Barney or the chicken?
So score one for the chicken. The dinosaur loses. "Chicken step on Barney."
This is, course followed by a long discussion of the Lanham Act and copyright issues. Go to the link and read all about Elvis Presley Enters. v. Copeck , 141 F.3d 188, 194 (5th Cir. 1998); Conan Properties, Inc. v. Conan's Pizza, Inc., 752 F.2d 145, 149 (5th Cir. 1985); Armco, Inc. v. Armco Burglar Alarms Co. , 693 F.2d 1155, 1159 (5th Cir. 1983). Or don?t. Lyons cites to Elvis to argue that a strong mark can be relevant even in the context of a parody. In Elvis, however, the issue was whether the Elvis trademark had been infringed by a nightclub titled "the Velvet Elvis." In that case the parody was not of Elvis but of cheesy sixties bars. Therefore, because Elvis was not the brunt of the joke, the fact that Elvis is a strong trademark could be regarded as an endorsement of the nightclub. Geez!
But kids still like dinosaurs. Go figure.
Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, defends Barney (somewhat) ?
Topic: The Media
Midweek Ennui: What to say…?
Max B. Sawicky over at Max Speak: You Listen sums up how many of the left feel given events so far this week -
Yeah, I suppose.
That business with the Koran and Newsweek and the riots and all - see Newsweek, Suckered, Sucks the Air Out of the Room - will not go away.
From Baghdad, the noted local blogger there - ?Riverbend? - says this -
Ah, but we say it?s not a war against Islam. And the administration says this unhappiness all the fault of that badly sourced item in Newsweek.
Kevin Drum, in the Washington Monthly has this to say about that: ?By the time this is all over, I suspect the Pentagon is going to be sorry it ever made a fuss over the Newsweek item in the first place. Every reporter in town is now going to start investigating this stuff, and the results are not likely to be pretty. Stay tuned for a fusillade of deeply researched stories about allegations of religious desecration by American troops starting in about a week.?
Oh, that should be fun.
Andrew Sullivan cites the White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, this week ?
So the news magazine should print what the White House says they should print? Well, if they are patriotic and support our troops they will.
Some of us caught a bit of the reaction to that at the press briefing. Reporters asking if Scott thought he should be editor of Newsweek and decide what stories to run. No, he didn?t mean that! Then why the pressure? No guys ? it?s NOT pressure, just a suggestion. Scott, what?s the difference ? is the White House telling us what to say? No guys ? it was just a suggestion! And so on and so forth. It was amusing.
Sullivan adds this -
This is getting good.
Jacob Weisberg over at SLATE.COM argues here that this whole business is just your run-of-the-mill attempt to shut down the free press ?
Well, no one likes criticism, do they?
Weisberg also points to an interesting New York Times item containing this -
No kidding, Marvin!
So who are we to believe? We are told the press is the problem.
Fred Kaplan in Kaboom! How to enrage Iraq's Sunnis points to a front page story in the May 17 Philadelphia Inquirer, by staff reporters Hannah Allam and Mohammed al Dulaimy, headlined, "Iraqis Lament a Call for Help." The piece is about last week?s Operation Matador where we fought all those foreign jihadists in the desert villages of western Iraq. Our government says this was a great success, and for the first time since the Vietnam War, we were provided with body counts to prove it. The problem is Allam and Dulaimy say it was ?a grave disaster.? It seems that Iraqi tribal leaders in the area had formed a vigilante group called the Hamza Forces to stop all those Islamic extremists coming in across the Syrian border. They were outnumbered and at least three of the tribal chiefs asked the Iraqi defense ministry and the US Marines for help. We rolled in and flattened the place. But we weren?t exactly careful. We killed a lot of the Hamza guys too, and their families ? and their homes are gone. Now they?re pretty ticked at us. And obviously, they?re not too happy with the new Shiite government in Baghdad. The prospect for a unified Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish everyone-is-happy Iraq gets dimmer. But we did the body count.
We won - depending on who you believe.
Who are we to believe?
You might want to read - Afghan Poppycock - Hamid Karzai's halfhearted jihad by David Bosco ?
And Bosco goes on to explain it all in detail.
No wonder the administration is frustrated. Some folks are calling them out. So they work to stop it.
And there was the Scottish MP - George Galloway ? doing the mother of all call-outs this week ? see The Scots are known for being blunt? from earlier in the week.
I found a good item on that, from Jeanne at Body and Soul of course. It?s also on rhetoric ? how one makes one?s points.
Usual domestic method: ?? if the facts aren't with you, and you can only win by scoring cheap points here and there. Pulling off a sharp insult. Twisting a fact to good effect. Bullying the messengers into parroting your message. Ha! We win!? (think Ann Coulter, Bill O?Reilly)
UK method: No cheap shots and bitch slaps. Tell the truth ? and, oh yeah, use anaphora.
She says this -
Well, our friend, the systems guy in London, Ontario ? a bilingual French-Canadian but born out here in Yorba Linda, Nixon?s hometown ? suggests telling the truth is, shall we say, something you don?t do down south here -
Probably true. The administration has a problem with news that reports what is actually happening. We have a bigger problem with our leaders saying anything we don?t want to hear. And they know that.
Topic: World View
Paris: Trademark Violation Gone Bad
As noted at the beginning of the month in Trademark and Public Domain Issues with the Eiffel Tower, if one takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night there now is a licensing fee to post it.
But some things can be done for free. The Associated Press reports this from the city of dreams, or lights, or whatever -
This was unauthorized, of course. One is not supposed to do any parachuting from the tower, and this Norwegian clothing company obviously didn’t ask permission, if that is what this was about. It was at night.
So what was this about?
Our Man in Paris lets us know. Received Wednesday 18 May at 5:52 am Pacific Time from Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis -
Well, this is a mystery - and wouldn’t be in the news if the fatal jump had been the Tour Montparnasse – the only skyscraper in the city proper, a big black thud of a thing. No romance there.
Want to see a successful parachute jump from the Tower?
This week on cable here in Hollywood one could watch a rather tired old James Bond movie, A View to a Kill (1985) - the last one with Roger Moore as Bond – where Grace Jones (as the evil villainess May Day) parachutes from the Eiffel Tower and lands on one of those Bateaux-Mouche and an odd chase ensues involving a Citroen that Bond drives, losing more and more of the car in various crashes until it’s just the seats and the front end (kind of like the chopped-up knight in the Monty Python movie). But that really was the Eiffel Tower, and a real jump - but not Grace Jones. The parachutist was a stuntman named B. J. Worth. Ah well.
So catch it if you can...
From the Just Above Sunset archives. Those are not safety nets. They were painting the thing.
Topic: World View
The Scots are known for being blunt…
Not everyone in the UK is like Tony Blair.
British MP George Galloway testified Tuesday to a senate committee in Washington about the oil-for-food business.
Best let the BBC, with their British spelling and punctuation, explain the event: Galloway takes on US oil accusers
Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
And Oliver Burkeman in the fully left-side UK Guardian the next morning gives us this: Galloway and the mother of all invective
Ah, politics is often so dull. This was good.
As for Christopher Hitchens, he?s the hard-drinking acerbic defender of the war(s) and reluctant apologist for George Bush (we need to show that middle-easterners a thing or two and Bush is just the right guy to do that) ? who used to be of the left ? who could be called mordantly insightful in that British way, or maybe just grumpy. He has been mentioned in these pages before - here taking on the dead Pope and the then brain-dead and later completely-dead Terri Schiavo, and here fulminating about the Abu Ghraib photographs, and here ragging on Michael Moore and his film, and here dismayed about the new evangelical Christian Republican Party. You get the idea.
But what did George Galloway say? Check out this excerpt from the CNN transcript -
I believe you might call that unloading with both barrels. The man is blunt ? but if you have watched the open question sessions from the British parliament on C-Span one or twice each week, you realize political discourse in the UK is a bit more direct than it is here. Blair goes before parliament each week and answers direct and often hostile questions directly, without notes. He has to think on his feet and say what he means. There?s no hiding, and it gets lively.
George Galloway comes from that tradition. One suspects our senators know that, but were still stunned, and looking for their own feet. Galloway wasn?t playing by our rules.
The Times of London reports Galloway saying this -
Our senators looked bewildered.
George Galloway wasn?t bewildered at all. According to The Scotsman (UK) -
He knocked them for six? Not a term much used on this side of the pond.
Well, this whole business was reported widely, but there hasn?t been much comment.
Our high-powered Wall Street attorney, from his office high above lower Manhattan, asks ? ?Where is the reaction? I want to know how the Senators responded.?
They didn?t respond much.
Our friend, the systems guy in London, Ontario, commented ? ?I'd be willing to bet it wasn't a standing ovation. But if they're towin? dubbya's line, they'll just throw out some standard catch phrases about freedom and democracy. And lots of ? em. If ya can't hit back with the truth? Bury ?em in BS. And while I'm in a wagering mood, I'd also be willing to bet that a few of those paragraphs ? two and three above especially - do not get any air time on your average TV news coverage. Blunt indeed!?
No, it was covered. It was just that no one knew what to say, and that could be because we are just not used to straight talk.
There was this -
Well, I?m not sure stunning embarrassment is what I saw ? but that is pretty close to what any of us watching this business saw. Close enough.
Somehow this is bringing back old times. Remember this?
That was Malcolm X - "Not just an American problem, but a world problem" - February 16, 1965, Corn Hill Methodist Church, Rochester, NY ? from Malcom X: The Last Speeches, edited by Bruce Perry.
Here we go again. That Malcom X bit was pointed to by A. J. Benjamin over at Left End of the Dial who added this, given what is being exposed now, and with all the crap with the recent Newsweek scandal -
Protests around the world, and this MP from Scotland calling the pretentious, smug senators out? no one loves us.
Oh, and on that topic here?s another appropriate flash from the past.
Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, often cited in these pages, grew up out here in Pacific Palisades, a few miles west of Hollywood. His next door neighbor and playmate was Randy Newman. In the seventies, on Newman?s breakthrough album Sail Away, you?d find a song called ?Political Science? ? with these lyrics -
Listen here if you have a high-speed connection - and the FLASH animation is cool ? Bush sings it.
We are living in interesting times, once again.
Guest Photograph – and Today in Hollywood
Our columnist Phillip Raines – the musician and mason – cleaning glass blocks.
Phillip Raines in Just Above Sunset:
The Boogie (Phillip Raines plays North Georgia)
Saint Simons Island - March 28, 2004
I Was Just This Close - November 9, 2003 on James Brown
Phillip's Tale - June 1, 2003
The Treehouse ? the summer of 2003
Phillip Raines Photographs
Real Work - March 28, 2004
Hollywood this morning ?