Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Monday, February 28, 2005
Kippenberger Doppleganger
We saw this Martin Kippenberger piece at MOMA and couldn't resist goofing on it. Especially, when the sister related this story about the artist:
The Kippenberger story is that when the internet was just a "newborn," in '97, I contacted a German woman online for housing upon my arrival in Cologne/Koln. I rented a room in her flat for the first week I was there that was most recently occupied by Kippenberger as his studio.

She was devoted to him and put up a website (when websites were new) documenting his work and the many places around Cologne/the world that he frequented and/or held court. I helped her with some of the translations for the site.

The other thing is that Kippenberger is a GOD in the German contemporary artworld but is only marginally represented in the US. In the last Carnegie International, they gave the whole sculpture court over to him (posthumously) for his "Kafka/Amerika" installation but he's just now gaining that ground on this side of the pond. Christina, my friend w/ the room, is a pretty accomplished digital/conceptual artist in her own right.

Kippenberger Doppleganger
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:15 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
The Gates - Photoblog
As promised - this is a sample of some of the (56+) weekend photos from NYC. My sister is a MUCH better photographer than I am (with a much Be$$er camera), so if she sends me some good ones - I'll post those as well. Also, speaking of better photographers, pop over to BaLtiMoRe RoLL and check out seadragon's photos.

Honestly, it was hard to take a bad photo of these - they were just wonderfully photogenic


Fluttering Gates

Infinite Gates

Azure Gates - the sky really was this blue - I didn't touch this photo

Reflected Gates

Glowing Gates
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:49 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
The Velvet Store
I am posting The Velvet Store exclusively for my sister, who, as an art history prof., keeps her tongue firmly planted in cheek with what has to be one of the largest private collections of black velvet paintings in the world hanging in her office at the Upstate NY Liberal Arts Univ. (UNYLA Univ.) where she teaches.

After all the highbrow culture and art we got to see this weekend - it's good to be reminded of the common man.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:24 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
I Heart NY
Back. After a mere 32 hours in Manhattan, but enough to feel invigorated and refreshed with an infusion of great culture, good food, and giggles with my sister.

NYC is like an old, dear friend. One that you might not always talk to very often, but that you've known forever. And whenever you get back together, it takes just a few moments of awkward pleasantries and body language to fall back into the relationship, pick up where you left off, and talk as if not a single day has passed, or a single moment has been missed. And at the end of the visit, even though you know that friend will always be there for you, and you can talk to them whenever you want to, you wish they lived closer and that you visited far more often.

It's hard to reconcile yesterday's late winter brilliant sunshine and azure skies with this morning's grey foreboding ones and dropping temps. March is coming in like the proverbial lion this afternoon with what they are claiming will be the worst snowfall of the year for our area. We'll see..... I'm just glad I had the weekend to enjoy.

I took lots of great photos, some of which I'll post this evening, but I had a 7:00 a.m. meeting this morning and I'm under a big budget crunch with deadlines today, and weather staffing issues to work out, so blogging will be much delayed until I trudge home in the snow to weather out the storm.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:29 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Friday, February 25, 2005
How Much Are Those Kitties in the Window?
Friday Cat Blogging. Cats and sunshine in my box window - a natural mix.

No blogging this weekend. I'm headed UP to NYC this weekend to meet my art prof. sister coming DOWN from Upstate NY to see Christo and Jeanne Claude's The Gates project before it blows away, and to check out the (relatively) new MOMA.

We might also check out this place for dinner, do some serious culinary / foodie shopping, and have some good Dim Sum in Chinatown on Sunday while we're at it.

I have to walk over to Penn Station at 6:00 AM tomorrow (napping and listening to Podcasts will make the < 3 hour train trip go quickly), and I still have laundry to accomplish - so Peace. Out.

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:30 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
We Have to Operate, but Let's Play First
If you think only the military uses video games as training / skill building tools - you'd be VERY wrong. You don't EVER want to go up against any of my docs in a game of Xbox, Playstation 2, or Nintendo. Only my 8 year old nephew can take these guys on. Seriously - all the best gaming geeks are medical dudes. Surgeons like to think they are the best(obviously).

We use the da Vinci Surgical System which consists of a surgeon's console, a patient-side cart, a high performance vision system and additional instruments. Using the da Vinci Surgical System, the surgeon operates while seated comfortably at a console viewing a three-dimensional image of the surgical field. The surgeons' fingers grasp the instrument controls below the display with wrists naturally positioned relative to his or her eyes. The technology seamlessly translates the surgeon's movements into precise, real-time movements of the surgical instruments inside the patient.

Get to the second level and you win access here.......
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:21 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
OPEN Act Protects Bloggers
BIG hat tip to Mark for this link. Trish Wilson reports on the Open Government Act which protects bloggers under an extension of the Freedom of Information Act.

posted by Broadsheet @ 8:01 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Ah, for heaven's sake!
Come ON people. This is taking the political correctness thing a little too far don't you think? Road kill candy angers animal rights activists
Guess I better get my hands on some before they become contraband. And why are these bad, but eating bears and worms are OK?? Don't you people have anything better to do? Sheesh!

UPDATE: Ann Althouse agrees with me.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:38 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Love, Hannity Style
Hannidate 2005. Fox News yenta Sean Hannity's on-line matchmaking service.This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a parody.

And what's with the funny hats?
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:54 AM   4 Editorial Opinions
Welcome to the 28th Carnival of the Recipes
I love when this goes up every Friday. I think I'm going to have to submit my Mom's Gravlox recipe. The one here is good, but Mom's is awesome. There are a couple of interesting drink recipes up this week too.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:54 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Don't Get Me Started - aka Kevin gets Drum_ed
A seemingly innocent question: So why ARE men better at playing the blogging game?? Judge for yourself

As Mark was kind enough to give honest criticism to me the other night regarding my Opinion posts......"You're too NICE".

Yeah, well, maybe others can take a lesson. Doesn't mean I don't have opinions, or that I'm afraid to express them, but perhaps if the gloves need to come off - that should happen off-line, and I think many bloggers miss that point. I'm a feminine voice in a gentleman's room. Would be nice if we could all act as "gentleman" when our ideas, views and comments are subject to wide public scrutiny. Often times, I feel like I'm a feminine voice in a jungle, not just a room, but it's still not as bad as this comparison!

What was he thinking??!! What was Slate thinking? This is one of the most strained, obtuse, irrelevant, references between rappers and ANYTHING that I have ever seen.

Josh Levin - I'm sorry you were the last guy on the assignment pole this week. It SO sucks to be you right now.

{Mark - was that last bit mean enough??!! I mean, if it's too harsh, I could tone it down I suppose. I mean, I don't have anything against Josh personally or anything, and I think he was forced to run with this story idea, but, I mean, REALLY, I can't overlook the silliness any longer. Sorry if that sounds harsh, OK?}

UPDATE: As usual Ann Althouse makes some really terrific points.
And, quite seriously, the real way to win at blogging is to create a place for yourself that you find energizing and intrinsically rewarding, which is probably going to be at odds with the goal of getting the most traffic and the most links. It's the readers that you get and keep by writing in a way that you find intrinsically valuable that matter the most, sort of like the way your best friends are the people who like you when you're being yourself. So those traffic and link rankings do not show who is really winning. You'll have to look into your own heart to find out if you're winning.
Yep, pretty much. "Nice" works too. :-)
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:08 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Helter s 'Keller
Has anybody else been watching this exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Bill Keller from afar? It's one of the most engrossing and entertaining exchanges between MSM and the blogosphere I've read in a long time / ever.

Even Slate has been watching, and I have to tell you, Keller gives as good as he gets. This could be it's own blog if they keep it up much longer. At the risk of becoming a blogger cliche "I encourage you to read the whole thing".

"Sorry for the digression. A little case of blogorrhea." - Bill Keller

Go back about your business......Talk amongst yourselves.

UPDATE: James Wolcott weighs in:
Not since Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains strolled together into the backlot mist at the close of Casablanca has a more beautiful friendship been forged than that between Jeff Jarvis and NYT editor Bill Keller....
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:49 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Gummi Road Kill
I'm not sure if these come in a sugar free variety, but I sure know someone who wants them!
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:37 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Funny Man
Folks - when there is a little green arrow on the title of any post (Mark), it's also a link. Just click the title bar.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:02 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
You know you've probably had too much to drink when,
Fla. Man Finds 6-Foot African Rock Python In Toilet
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:54 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Adding Insult to Injury
This is sooo sweet. Red Sox to Get Rings in Front of Yankees

The Boston Red Sox will ring in the home portion of their schedule by getting their World Series rings at their home opener April 11 before a full house of 35,000 fans - and the New York Yankees.

"This is the kind of quality problem I hope we're going to be able to have with some frequency," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said, "sit around at spring training and decide just when, oh when, do we give out the World Series championship rings."
My friend Liz calls this a "luxury problem". We try to create as many of them as possible when we get together.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:56 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Today's Blogs
I suppose this was inevitable. Slate now has a column covering what's going on in the blogosphere, just like they cover the daily news headlines in MSM newspapers.

The first column is a round up of most of the better known political blogs. It will be interesting to see if they expand on that theme and cover other stuff going on in the blogosphere, or link to lesser know blogs that do a good job of presenting issues or are just plain interesting.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:27 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Pierced glasses
I suppose these would be fine, assuming you didn't have any ears. Otherwise, Ick? Ouch?
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:11 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The Secret Genocide Archive
I have no words for this: These are the photos of our indifference.

PLEASE go here, or here and become more informed. Make a difference. DO something.

posted by Broadsheet @ 5:19 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
I Was a Child Protestant
Thanks to a recommendation from this guy, Mark and I were lucky enough to see this guy play here last night.

Terrific music, great lyrics, and a superb guitarist. He played a lot of stuff from his new CD, but if you're not too familiar with him (we were not), I would recommend picking up a copy of this CD first. That's not a criticism of his new CD - not in the least, but in listening to him last night, some of the stuff he wrote in the mid-late 80's was really, really good. Almost Dylanesque in the lyrics. And a lot of other artists (Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Tina Turner) have recorded his stuff as well. Give a listen to the clips on Amazon, but some of the highlights from last night were:

Don't Try To Please me
Locked Up in Heaven
Nobody Knows
Living for the Corporation
Sail, Sail On
Paradise Is here
Luck of the Draw (recorded by Bonnie Raitt)
Helpless Heart
The Homes of Donegal
Beyond The Reach Of Love (this one just makes your heart hurt)

and perhaps my favorite.....The Lakes Of Pontchartrain

There were a couple of distractions last night. First, it was clear that this tour has been draining. He was very tired and admitted as much, and I think it affected his singing early in the evening, but he found his voice quickly enough and everything was great. His audience banter was a little subdued, although his honesty, warmth, wisdom and emotion were clearly evident. I think this was also do to his being tired. Mark and I both agreed that the take away line for the evening was "I was a child Protestant".

The other take home message that is clearly evident in his music is one he stated repeatedly in trying to explain his lyrics. "If you feel something, just say it. Get it out. The sky isn’t going to fall, and it’s going to be better than if you sit on it and let it fester."

The other distraction occured one third of the way into "Smile", ostensibly the last song of the evening before an encore song or two. A woman suddenly stood up in the audience and called out for a doctor because a man had collapsed on the floor. Paul calmly stopped the song, had the house lights brought up so that the man could be attended to, and sat on the edge of the stage quietly watching people try to revive the man. 911 was called, and in literally a matter of minutes, he was wheeled out on a stretcher, and although he was conscious by then, he was very grey looking and pale indeed.

Paul asked the audience if they wanted him to continue, and he wrapped up the show in great fashion with a terrific encore.

If Mark has any specifics in the review to add - I'll happily post them here. I'm very glad we had a chance to see him in concert. Thanks, Steve!
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:25 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Pfizer's Funk
Disclaimer: I used to work for Pfizer and have very dear friends who still do. They are committed scientists who do outstanding research into life changing products. I can also state with some impunity, that Pfizer was perhaps the best employer I ever worked for in terms of benefits, percs, and overall support.

But - in biting the hand that fed me, I can honestly say that I was uncomfortable with their marketing and sales practices from Day 1. So much so, that I made a conscious decision to leave the pharmaceutical industry altogether after four years, and return to graduate school so that I could go into an area of the healthcare industry where I could apply my scientific background and management skills and still sleep at night. I should point out however, that the $$ and stock options I was able to save in my short tenure with Pfizer, along with some significant scholarship monies, allowed me to go to grad school full time and not have to take out any loans.

Not a whole lot has changed since I left - other than Pfizer's profits continue to grow at unbelievable (and as this article points out - unsustainable) rates.
Pfizer now spends twice as much on sales and administrative expenses -- $16.9 billion last year -- as it does on research and development. And it employs 15,000 scientists and support staff in seven major labs around world. As long as those labs are churning out a steady stream of blockbuster drugs for Pfizer's gargantuan sales force to promote, this mass-market approach is extremely profitable.
The steady stream of blockbuster drugs has slowed to a trickle however, and now there is the threat of pulling Celebrex off the market along with the other COX2 inhibitors. There are also charges that Pfizer may have known Celebrex presented a threat, which, if true, will make them a target for billion dollar lawsuits along with Merck.

While it's true that there are plenty of niche drugs and top level research going on at Pfizer (some of the stuff my friends are doing is just mindblowing research) - marketable, ready to sell drugs are also much farther away than the usually well spaced launch of consistent money maker blockbusters that Pfizer had in the 1990's. Some of this is due to the increased cost and scrutiny involved in clinical trials, as well as FDA bureaucracy. Both of which have caused the cost of bringing a drug to market, where it only enjoys 10 years of patent protection in which to recoup the cost and make a profit to rise dramatically. So....
There's only one problem: The blockbuster model doesn't really work anymore. Pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer being the leader, have sent so many sales reps into the field that they're tripping over one another.

Each of Pfizer's sales reps costs close to $170,000 per year including car, computer, and benefits, estimates Credit Suisse First Boston (CSR ) analyst Catherine J. Arnold. That figure doesn't change a lot if the company's sales are soaring or falling. So a big-selling drug can generate fantastic margins as sales ramp up. Pfizer generated an astonishing $45 billion in gross profits last year. That works out to $1.2 million per sales rep. Celebrex, with 90% gross margins, according to analysts, contributed some $3 billion of that.

...If Celebrex gets yanked from the market, profits per sales rep immediately drop to $1.1 million -- a 7% decline in productivity. If several drugs fall dramatically, which will inevitably happen as patents run out, and if others fail to take off quickly, that massive sales force quickly becomes a massive millstone.
As the article points out, Pfizer needs to be more bottom up in it's management style, and perhaps diversify into other areas of healthcare like medical device manufacturing if they are going to subsidize the company's investments into the current R&D development pipeline and wait for the "next big thing" to get approved by the FDA.

I still think there are serious and obvious changes that need to be made in the way prescription drugs are marketed and sold in this country. Pfizer is the fourth largest advertiser there is. I have to believe that much of that money could be spent in better ways, and I know most of the physicians I work with would welcome the idea of not coming in to work in the morning to find more drug reps than patients waiting for them in their offices.

Perhaps instead of focusing their efforts on SELLING drugs, they should refocus their efforts on investing in the excellent research they've always done to create safe, effective, medications at reasonable prices. What's wrong with that model?? The FDA may regulate drug safety in this country, but when healthcare corporations begin to act like Enron or Worldcom, a lot more is at risk than stockholders profits and employee retirement plans. I believe the pharmaceutical industry should be held to a different standard than other industries. Their actions have the potential to directly affect lives - not just goods and services.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:35 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Designer fashion for the homeless
This actually happens from time to time.

The Sr. Managers here take turns being what is called the AOC (Administrator On Call). What this means is that you carry a beeper 24/7 and are responsible for essentially running the hospital after hours and on weekends. Generally, the pager tends to go off at 3:00 in the morning with irate patients wanting to lodge a complaint with "the President of the Hospital" - "Now!". My job is to make sure they never get that far and resolve the problems. Often times, they can be very serious calls - abductions, child abuse, VIP patients - anything that might land on the news, or "escalate". There is a lot of fodder in this experience for blogging, and I'll get to some of them, but this one story brought to mind an incident that occurred a few years ago.

One of the reasons I kind of like being AOC (aside from sleepless nights and stress), is the fact that it lets me work in areas of the institution and deal with people I normally have very little contact with. I had gotten called in to the hospital on Saturday afternoon to deal with a problem (no heat in the NICU. Neonatal intensive care - cold babies are not a good thing - they have to be kept VERY warm.), and since I was there, I paged a colleague who was working that day to see if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee. He happens to work in the Psychiatry Dept. as a therapist. "Sure" he says, I'm just finishing up a group therapy session. Why don't you stop by?"

Well, given the clientele we tend to attract here at the Baltimore Knife and Gun Club, crazy homeless people tend to be our stock in trade. So I go waltzing over to Psych and ask for my friend. "Oh - he's just finishing up in the conference room - pop your head around and let him know you're here". Imagine my surprise to see him holding court (literally), at a table of about 20 homeless women.....All dressed in a variety of formal gowns and looking as if they were off to meet the Queen (or their high school prom). A lot of the dresses didn't fit well. Zippers that didn't quite meet at the end, sleeves that were way too tight, and let's not even talk about some of the necklines and cleavage shall we? There are things left best to the imagination (my eyes! My eyes!).

Apparently, a bridal shop had gone out of business and had donated boxes of excess inventory to the shelter we run, and the ladies got their pick.

And you know what? Their entire attitudes were changed. They sat taller, with an air of self confidence and elegance that might not have been justified, but was very, very real nonetheless. They were proud.

I asked my friend how he held a session and kept a straight face given some of the outlandish getups (the footwear was unbelievable). His response was that the dignity and self respect that the women got from being able to wear these dresses - even if they were really just costumes, was better than any counseling or drug therapy he could prescribe. You just never know.

But there are some 'ho's on the mean streets of Baltimore wearing serious designer prom gowns.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:13 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Worst TV Clips of the Week
I don't get this.

The Parent's Television Council doesn't want anyone to watch these shows, so it collects all the best highlights and then posts them on the internet??

Gee thanks. Enjoy!

And just in case you were'nt sure what's offensive about these shows, they even provide transcripts

"Warning - Graphic Content"
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:52 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Monday, February 21, 2005
Doppelganger and Family Ties
This is my relative, Richard Rittelmann, the opera star. He finally has his own website after we've tried to keep track of his growing career and appearances over the last two or three years.

The running joke in the family, goes something like this: "Gee - do you think he secretly wants to be an architect?". Inside joke. Anyway - enjoy the link. He's really brilliant, and the family resemblance is striking if you know any of us, and some of you do!
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:15 PM   4 Editorial Opinions GarveyBlog by Ed Garvey
This is a blatant plug for the blog of a very dear old friend of mine.

Ed Garvey was basically very much my stepdad during college. His daughter and I were, and are, very dear friends, and I spent many, many hours at their home in Madison, WI enjoying the graciousness of Ed and his wife Betty and their hospitality during Thanksgiving breaks, summer vacations, and other holidays when I wasn't able to go home, as well as return trips to Madison to visit them and Pam, and take in a football game over the years.

Ed has a long an varied history both nationally and in Wisconsin politics. When I first met him, he was the Director of the NFL Player's Association and oversaw the league's negotiations through one of the worst labor disputes in NFL history. Ed is perhaps Wisconsin's best known rebel lawyer. He is also a former Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General and was the 1998 Democratic nominee in the gubernatorial race, in which he was outspent 13-1 by his Republican opponent-President Bush's recently resigned Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. I still have his campaign button on the bulletin board in my office "Strange Individuals for Garvey!"

His blog is very Wisconsin centric as you might imagine, but he's always an interesting character and I just love him to pieces.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:35 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray
Hunter's last column. an original to the end.
The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points. But if you miss and your enemy holes out, he (or she) wins two points when his ball hits and stays on the green.

posted by Broadsheet @ 10:02 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, February 20, 2005
"The Crackers"
"The Crackers" are an awesome parody - really well done - scroll through all the photos at the link.

posted by Broadsheet @ 4:39 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Lubbers quits over UN sex claims
Thank goodness!! The interview I saw with Lubbers on the news last night left me gobsmacked. Here was a guy who by many counts has carried on this behaviour for years and yet he was in complete and angry denial about it. His attitude was so appallingly arrogant I couldn't believe it. If he is innocent as he claims, then calmly work through the investigation and cooperate. Don't angrily obsfucate the investigation. The other thing that is unbelievable, is that even if the UN, or rather Kofi Annan, stood by him, the women accusing him have absolutely NO recourse of action to sue him in civil court or otherwise bring this to light. As a UN commissioner - he is above the law. Untouchable. Now that he has stepped down, he is still untouchable for any behaviour that allegedly took place while in his official capacity as a UN high commissioner.

This is obviously a problem deep within the UN. The book I just finished reading and HIGHLY recommend, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures : A True Story from Hell on Earth details any number of atrocities by UN peacekeepers and other staff members during the course of their assignments - simply because they could, and they'd get away with it and did. The complete lack of oversight and accountability in the UN is a theme repeated again and again in this book, and the three UN staffers who wrote it were either reprimanded or dismissed as a result. One staffer had already quit. The two remaining staffers, Heidi and Andrew, have retained legal counsel, but it's pretty safe to say their UN careers are over. It's a GREAT book - I highly, highly recommend it.

Kenneth Cain, a Harvard educated lawyer, and one of the book's authors, wrote a good op-ed article in the WSJ just before Christmas. It highlights issues in the book regarding Annan's failure in preventing genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, and why it's past time the guy should step down.

Liberal multilateralists on the left, like me, are often skittish about offering too pungent a critique of Mr. Annan, because it offers aid and comfort to the "enemy" on the conservative unilateralist right. But if anyone's values have been betrayed at the U.N. over the past decade it is those of us who believe most deeply in the organization's ideals. Just ask the men and women of Rwanda and Srebrenica.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:02 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
I like you... you look healthy
Ummmm, what the researchers should realize is that during this "phase", most women are affected and abide by the same rule that men do. You know, the one that says there are no ugly women in a bar at 2:00 AM.

Sheesh - they call this research? On the right day - even the garbage man looks appealing.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:47 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
The White House Stages Its 'Daily Show'
I won't spend a lot of time on this post since I nearly bored Jwer to tears over coffee this morning about the same subject, but please take the time to read Frank Rich's article in the NYT.
By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.
Your tax dollars at work folks....
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:29 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Mungo Bush
I Knew it! I just knew it!! Where the men are men and the sheep have Texan twangs.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:53 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Me and Barb
The last three times I've gotten my hair cut, Senator Barbara Mikulski has been at my salon. The last time I was there, we struck up a conversation and chatted. She asked very good questions about healthcare policy, and in particular, about the issues facing academic medicine. This time, we talked about the malpractice crisis in MD and insurance reform. We talked about travel, movies and books too. I had Tracy Kidder's latest book, Mountains Beyond Mountains with me and she asked about it. It's about Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard trained physician working in Haiti. It's really a book about humanitarianism, and I encourage you to pick it up. I'll post a review of it when I'm done.

Anyway, after our haircuts, we walked upstairs to the cafe on the corner and had lunch. Very nice. Smart lady. Very "Baltimore", and very, very, SHORT. Dr. Ruth short.

After lunch, I had to drive here to spend $$$ on new granite countertops for my kitchen. It was a gorgeous, late winter day here, so I decided to take all the windy back country roads I could on my way to Columbia. Went through some very pretty Maryland horse country, with the Thoroughbred horses out in the fields wearing their barn jackets for the most part, and saw deer and a couple of pheasant along the way. The late afternoon light this time of year is just remarkable. Everything glows.

After emptying out my wallet at the Design Center (the countertops will take 4-6 weeks to get here, and I have to go to Rockville (appropriately enough) to pick out the specific slab of the color granite I requested), I stopped here and proceeded to spend even more $$$, but comforted myself with the fact that they were heavily discounted.

Now home - and need to decide what to make for dinner. It's supposed to snow again tomorrow night (3-6 inches they say), so I suppose I need to make a trip to the market with everyone else tomorrow. I'm almost out of everything, and I desperately need more of these.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:02 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Guckert / Gannon sells out - again
This guy is unbelievable. Literally.
Five days after telling E&P that he was no longer speaking to the press because it was not helping him, former White House reporter James Guckert, a.k.a Jeff Gannon, said today that he had changed his mind and was seeking the right media outlet to tell his side of the story.

Asked this afternoon about reports that he was scheduled to appear on the Anderson Cooper's CNN show tonight, he denied it strongly. One hour later, a CNN spokesman told E&P, "He's taping it right now."
He sits down with E&P to "tell his side of the story", and proceeds to tell them absolutely nothing and lies to them about other appearances.
"There are a lot of people out there left hanging and bewildered by this," he told E&P. "I need to speak to a couple of issues. I need to talk about my relationship with the White House and whether I was a plant or not -- that needs to be brought out."

When asked to address those issues to E&P, Guckert declined. He also would not confirm or deny reports he had worked as a male prostitute, but said he would address those questions as well soon.
The transcript of the CNN interview with Anderson Cooper is here. The guy has absolutely nothing truthful or forthright to say. I could care less about his personal life, and I'm sure most people feel the same way, but this guy is a joke as a "journalist".

Watch this space - I'll bet he announces a book deal or ends up on a reality TV show any day now.

And lest anyone take any of this too seriously, Jon Stewart makes sure we keep it all in perspective.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:05 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Friday, February 18, 2005
American Idol
First posted on 2/11: Well, not really, in fact, not at all....but if you want a laugh out loud moment on a Friday, check out this guy.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

UPDATE 2/18: This kid is EVERYWHERE. He was on Good Morning America this morning, and the Today Show had this piece about him. He's been plastered on VH1, and the kid is a complete nerd. Cute - but a nerd nonetheless. I bet he loses his rather obvious virginity over this one.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:30 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Friday Cat Blogging
A tisket, a tasket, Peanut in a basket.....With Pumpkin looking on in front of the fireplace.

And if any of you better photographers (i.e. everyone but me), has hints as to how to avoid the luminous, devil eyes of cats - please let me know.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:31 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Why Blogs Are Like Tulips
Bill Powers has a good article up over at the National Journal comparing the current obsession and popularity of bloggers and the blogosphere to the Dutch Tulip frenzy, or the boom of the nineties.

MSM, journalism and politics are all being shaped and changed by this phenomenon. It's created a new dynamic. A new playing field with a new set of rules, and those rules aren't always as clear as say, in a game of chess. It's more like Dungeons and Dragons or other fantasy games where themes are laid out, but the players create the game as it unfolds based on scenarios, the choices they make, and sheer imagination. I should also point out that the immediacy that the internet affords also makes this a game of lightning speed rounds where the facts and opinions can change before you hit the "comment" button on a new post.

I commented on the NYT article a few days ago about the growing influence of blogs - especially as it relates to journalism, and the fact that some in the MSM seem a bit scared (OK - "alarmed" is the word they used), in some circles about all the attention and scrutiny bloggers are paying them. As Powers says:

And why are we having all this intra-media warfare, anyway? Because we can, and because it's good for us. Anyone who isn't exhilarated by the bloggers and the havoc they're wreaking has lost touch with what American journalism at its best has always been about: making trouble to get at the truth.
I couldn't agree more. Still, he cautions that MSM shouldn't worry too much. As I've stated before, without the economic model to support blogging, it will, and has reshaped the media landscape, but it ain't gonna replace the MSM anytime soon. It can't. Relax big guys. Powers again:
Still, is this really a revolution? Bloggers are a fantastic addition to the media club, but I don't see them taking it over. So far they've proven adept at several tasks: 1) bird-dogging factual errors and other crimes that the mainstreamers are ignoring; 2) speaking in a chatty, irreverent voice that's refreshing after decades of stilted establishment formality; and 3) having fun -- a skill the mainstreamers lost long ago
Yep, pretty much. And I'd be remiss in not hat tipping Gawker for the article.

UPDATE: Jack Shafer over at Slate offers additional opinions about the article that I think are worth sharing.
Next time he's in Washington, I'm going to invite Powers over for dinner. The first course will be a tulip salad drenched in lemon castor oil.
And that quote, right there, is why the blogosphere is so much fun to watch. Especially since the Shafer review was posted at 3:47 pm and Powers' article hit the net at about 2:00 this afternoon. However, in response to Shafer's assertion that bloggers CAN and DO have access to the "resources" afforded major media outlets, I still stand by the fact that the economic model does not, and will not - in the near future, exist to support bloggers in the way that it currently supports and promotes MSM. Seriously, what blogger can drop into a war zone with a camera crew and the logistics to support that?? At best, bloggers can report on the feed from other bloggers feeding from a region (i.e. Iraq) and promote those stories on the internet, but without BEING there to verify them, research them, and develop balanced views - they are simply passing along second hand info - and THAT is not journalism. There is still too much "parroting" going on in the blogosphere to make much of it original "news", but it has earned a VERY important place in MSM as a watchdog and another check and balance to the public. And that's a very good thing indeed.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:00 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
My Mother's Ex-Boyfriend's Blog
Yep - you read that right, Jerry Brown has a blog. You read the other part right too.... Mom dated some interesting guys.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:06 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Olympics 2012
Both London, and New York City are pulling out all the stops this weekend in the hopes of impressing the IOC that they are the cities to be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.
The three most important factors of an Olympic bid are the financial package, the planning and the site acquisition," Lord Coe said outside 10 Downing Street.
No doubt, and NYC has perhaps the biggest issue with site acquisition - there is no Olympic Stadium to show the IOC officials, and worse yet, the sweetheart deal that the city and the NY Jets have to build one, is about to fall through due to some last minute land grabbing by Madison Square Garden officials who see the new stadium as serious competition.

English bookies are listing NYC chances as 16-1 for the games, with Paris currently in first place as the favorite.

IOC officials are having dinner with the Queen at Buckingham Palace this evening. The best we Yanks can do is dinner at Mike Bloomberg's place with Donald Trump and his hair. Yeah, right.

The Palace will be floodlit with a Royal Standard flying on the roof, while guardsmen in bearskins will be on sentry duty.

The Grand Entrance will be illuminated by Olympic torch-style lighting, with the 46 guests - including the Princess Royal, the prime minister and Zara Phillips - to be greeted by the music of the Coldstream Guards String Quartet.

A pre-dinner drinks reception will take place in the Blue Drawing Room, with a harpist playing before the guests move to the State Dining Room for the meal.
Ummmm - The Gates may be very cool, but I'm thinkin we can't compete with that.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:42 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Carnival of the Recipes
This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up over at Inside Allan's Mind. I sure hope these recipes are better than the Thai Shrimp Curry and Coconut cakes I had for dinner last night. Or rather, DIDN'T have for dinner last night - blech!! They ended up in the sink after about three bites. They sure looked good in the seafood case when I stopped at Wholefoods on the way home from work last night, but God - they were simply awful. The curried noodles with chiles and snow peas I made to go with them were fine, so that's what I had instead.

No cat blog today unless I have more cooperative cats this evening. I think the little scanning episode from Wednesday night has made them shy. I was going to try to get pics of my neighbor's cats, Patty and Tarzan, but they were also camera shy when I went next door to feed them last night. I'm pet sitting for them all this week while their owners are skiing in Colorado. Day's not over yet - Stay tuned.

Woke up this morning to a very pretty dusting of snow. Nothing big, just icing sugar snow. Very dry and fluffly, and the roads are COMPLETELY clear. What do they do? Close or delay all the schools by 2 hours. WTF? Glad I'm not a parent that has to deal with that.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:25 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, February 17, 2005
What's up with this Doc?
Did you see this? I can see updating the characters, but this is really awful!!! Instead of cute and cuddly, they've made them all dark and sinister looking.

Six of the original Looney Tunes characters have been "reimagined" (in studio parlance) for a new series called "Loonatics," set in 2772. The show will feature new versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, the Tasmanian Devil, Road Runner and Lola Bunny.

Allright, call me old fashioned, hell call me old, but I like the originals better.

I just can't imagine the new Bugs chomping on a carrot, and asking in a wise guy voice "Eh...What's up doc?", or Daffy Duck (who looks more like Digi-Duck than Daffy), calling Bugs "Silly Wabbit".
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:41 AM   5 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Cat Scan
Ever wonder what happens when you scan a cat? Now you know! Introducing the Peanut scan:

Yes, we're a little bored over at Casa de Linda tonight.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:50 PM   7 Editorial Opinions
A Happy Ending After All
Awwww....Penguins can stay gay

The Bremerhaven Zoo had earlier flown in four female Humboldt penguins in an attempt to encourage three couples discovered to be all male to reproduce.

The zoo originally defended the experiment, claiming that the birds were an endangered species, but following protests from gay rights groups, director Heike Kueck has said that the zoo is abandoning the plan.

She said: "Everyone can live here as they please."

Gay groups had earlier protested against "the organised and forced harassment through female seductresses" in an open letter to Bremerhaven's Mayor Joerg Schulz.

posted by Broadsheet @ 10:33 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Christo's next project
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:17 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
The list we've all been waiting for is finally out! Read it and weep people. I will be here in the Big Easy for 5 glorious days with 12 of my best friends to hear people like:

Elvis Costello, The Neville Brothers, Jamie Cullum, BB King, Jack Johnson, Nickel Creek, Better than Ezra, Martha Redbone, Dave Mathews Band, Madeleine Peyroux, Isaac Haayes, The Radiators, Ravi Coltrane, Maria Muldaur, Tracy Nelson, Creole Zydeco Farmers....and the list just goes on and on and on......

Laissez les bon temps roulez!!!
(thanks Jwer ;-) )

...Long live the Sweet Potato Queens - and you know who you are ladies....see you (and the men that put up with us) in April!!
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:11 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Dell moves to Scotland
In their latest attempt to ensure that customers can't understand WTF the Customer Service Center in India is saying....Dell decides to improve their service by relocating to Scotland.

"Ello, whit dae ye want tae ken hen? Right ye are - ye want tae see whot's wron whit ye compoooter, dae ye? Wi' nane o' yer exaggerated scrievin', mind! If I'm gonnae help ya dae it, i'll dae it richt. Ye'll unnerstaun' that. I'll no' use ony o' thae Scots words that naebuddy kens. I'll jist keep it tae the wye we spik. So spik up - whit dae ye want tae ken? "
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:58 AM   4 Editorial Opinions
Monday, February 14, 2005
Jeff Gannon - over exposed
Warning - link at your own risk. AMERICAblog has a very "in depth" expose on the recently exposed faux Talon News correspondent and Whitehouse stringer, Jeff Gannon and all of his various "extracurricular" websites and activities. It's mostly salacious crap, but I had to laugh out loud at the tag line on one of his gay military escort sites:

"I don't leave marks - only impressions"
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:11 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
True Hearts
Now, if we just had a day for people to tell each other how they REALLY feel.....

posted by Broadsheet @ 2:01 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Candy Hearts
Update! A new and improved Heart Maker with lots of extra space! I kind of like the forced creativity of the 4 letter format. Kind of like writing a haiku poem.

posted by Broadsheet @ 11:05 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, February 13, 2005
The Secret Lives of Houses
I love my neighborhood. I have enjoyed living in this eclectic, elegant, bohemian, community more than anywhere else except my parent’s home. Considering that includes some 20 different addresses in 8 cities since I first left home – I think that’s pretty definitive. I can’t imagine living anywhere else (well, maybe I can, but that villa in the South of France is a bit of a fantasy, although a pied-a-terre in NYC, London, or Paris might be nice).

Last night was a lazy, mid-winter Saturday night, and Andrew and I decided to hang out, order some pizza, drink some wine and watch a movie. Since his couch is probably the most comfortable piece of furniture I’ve ever lost consciousness on, the location was to be his brownstone a few blocks from me – I told him I would walk over at around 7:30 pm.

Walking through my neighborhood at night is simply wonderful. I sometimes go out of my way to catch another block just to see the houses. Tall, elegant, stately Victorian row homes, most of them built in the mid to late 1800’s. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were walking along a quiet tree lined street in Beacon Hill in Boston, or in Kensington, London. You half expect to look in a window and see Mary Poppins tucking children into bed. More likely, you see what I saw last night.

Tall, ornate windows with wrought iron window boxes on them, framing interiors so varied and so eclectic, it’s hard to believe they are all in the same zip code. There are twelve and thirteen foot ceilings with ornate plaster cornices and moldings, crystal and glass chandeliers in most of them, high tech track lighting and halogen spots in others. Grand pianos and huge Chinese vases are visible in some windows, and overstuffed Victorian and Louis XIV sofas and settees in others. Most have massive marble fireplaces with mantels and huge mirrors or artwork above them. Some of the houses have been restored to their original splendor; some have been stripped to a bare, modern, minimalist, austereness worthy of Bauhaus with their large, modern art pieces to match; and others are comfortably chabby chic, with kid’s finger paintings on the fridge, mismatched pieces of furniture, and toys scattered on the hardwood floors.

Some of the homes have been carved into apartment buildings. Mostly, they house the students from the local Art Institute, and mostly, these apartments are dark at 7:30 on a Saturday evening, their inhabitants already out at Happy Hour or some other social function. There was a lively group of students assembled in front of the dorm getting ready to head out for an evening’s festivities, but even the dormitory is elegant in this neighborhood. It used to be an old, turn of the century hospital; the “Lying in” Hospital for Women and Children, a Victorian era women’s hospital. After that, it spent time as a Nursing Home, and then spiraled into decrepitude as a rooming house, before being boarded up for years and housing the occasional vagrant. The Maryland Institute College of Art bought it, and restored it into a truly remarkable building, creating an anchor within the neighborhood and bridging the past with the present.

Three vignettes stood out last night during my short walk to Drew's. The first, a woman sitting comfortably in an elegant Victorian sitting room, reading the newspaper, the ubiquitous cat curled up along the length of the sofa. The second, a family moving from kitchen to dining room getting ready to eat dinner with the TV on and lots and lots of books in the built in shelving of the library off the well appointed dining room, and finally, in one of the grandest homes in the neighborhood, I stopped to admire the interior of the living room that was visible from the sidewalk with its ornate furnishings and artwork, and then noticed that the basement windows, which rise at half level out of the sidewalk were also lit and visible. In the basement, which had been well finished into a comfortable family area with sofas and Berber carpets, was a girl in her early twenties sitting cross legged on the floor, happily sucking on the end of a water bong and watching cartoons.

All in a Saturday night in my ‘hood.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:54 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Yeah, Pretty Much...

Published in The New Yorker February 14, 2005
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:18 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
CNN Executive Resigns Post Over Remarks
Well, this finally made the NYT. "Eason Jordan , a senior executive at CNN who was responsible for coordinating the cable network's Iraq coverage, resigned abruptly last night, citing a journalistic tempest he touched off during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last month in which he appeared to suggest that United States troops had deliberately aimed at journalists, killing some."

I hadn't bothered to comment on this, although I was following it pretty closely, only because most of the blogosphere (particularly the more conservative sites) was abuzz over it already. If you haven't heard about this, and want to get caught up, just go over to where it's covered in much greater detail. At last count, there were something like 15 or 16 posts about it and a ton of links. And why this "scandal" deserves it's own website seems a little over done to me.

Like most people, I'm a little perplexed as to why Jordan just didn't request a release of the video from his remarks at Davos, or at least a transcript of them, and just say - "oops - I might have overstated / mispoken in this regard", or "see - I was taken out of context". But instead he obfuscated the whole thing and ended an otherwise well respected career at CNN.

I'm just not sure I get it. And to be honest, I'm not sure why it's such a big deal, because even the THOUGHT that the US military has a policy directed at killing journalists just seems like whacky conspiracy theory stuff. Journalists are more "embedded" in this war than many previous wars, and when you're all decked out in military fatigues and a flak jacket, and hoist a shoulder mounted video camera unit onto your shoulder and aim it in the direction of a gun battle, from a distance, that's gonna look exactly like a shoulder mounted grenade launcher. Makes a good target.

Now while I may not be a conspiracy theorist in regards to Eason's statements, I have to believe that not everyone at CNN (cough, Jonathan Klein, cough) is sorry to see him go.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:18 AM   3 Editorial Opinions
Friday, February 11, 2005
Bonus cat blog

Have a good weekend everyone.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:27 PM   7 Editorial Opinions
Carnival of the Recipes
Hosted this week by Anywhere But Here, stop by and check out the recipe for Cinnabon Cinnamon buns! Yum.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:44 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Gay penguins won't go straight
In an update to an earlier post...Uhhh - I could have told them this.

The female penguins were flown in especially from Sweden in an effort to encourage the Humboldt penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo to reproduce.

But the six homosexual penguins showed no interest in their new female companions and remained faithful to each other.
UPDATE 2/12: Well, I guess this was inevitable.
A plan by a German zoo to test the sexual appetites of a group of suspected homosexual penguins has sparked outrage among gay and lesbian groups, who fear zookeepers might force them to turn straight.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:14 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Here, I turn my blog over to my sister, the "bitter professor", to share her words of Valentine's Day wisdom to her hapless undergraduate Art History students:

posted by Broadsheet @ 12:13 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
Friday Cat Blogging
I'm cute! I'm cute! Here, let me type that for you scdwterfdcvcxygsdyervcyhmaxtgertufgvdwf

Love, Peanut

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:01 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Valentine Hearts
Well, here we go then. My sister, the art history professor who linked me to the wonderful Acme Heart Generator, sent me this Valentine's Day card she made for one of her less apt students:

lrn2 rite
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:52 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, February 10, 2005
ACME Heart Maker
Haven't found the perfect Valentine's Day message for that special someone? Make your own with the ACME Heart Maker!!


Hat tip to my sister for the link!

If you make some good ones - send them to me and I'll post them.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:08 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Last week, I mentioned that since I started blogging, a few friends had complained that I no longer email them as often as I used to. One of those friends lives out on the West Coast. She's a doctoral candidate in Health Policy at UCLA and one of (if not THE) brightest women I know. We've known each other for more than 15 years. She gave me my first job in healthcare administration. Anyway, she sent me an article from the NYT that I had recently blogged about, so I linked her to the post.

I got an email in response:
So, should I make your blog my homepage instead of the NYT? :-) Yours is actually the first one I've ever looked at.
Well of course you should make it your homepage, but aside from that, it floors me that she hasn't run across weblogs even inadvertently before. I mean, nowadays, if you Google just about anything or anyone, you're bound to generate links to at least one blog or another. And many mainstream news articles mention, or link to, some of the more well-known blogs.

Of course, I just figured out how to download Podcasts to my iPod the other day, so perhaps I'm one step (or more) behind the techno revolution myself.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:35 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
O'Malley rumor controversy
If you folks across the pond thought that Charles and Camilla were big news, you should read today's Baltimore Sun regarding our Mayor and his long rumored infidelities. I mean, geez, you'd think Jen and Brad had just broken up or something.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:33 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
"Body fluids are not usually a big part of our collection"
True "Red Sox" memorabilia. Can I just say -..... ick.
Curt Schilling's bloody white sock is now an official part of baseball history. The Sox ace's in-laws, Don and Patsy Brewer, delivered the blood-soaked sock that he wore while winning Game 2 of the World Series to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Tuesday
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:27 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
You could die of a broken heart
Sigh..... I hesitate to post this NYT article right before Valentine's Day because I have more than one friend going through some really tough personal times right now, but perhaps it will let them understand that the physical pain they feel could be very real and related to what they are going through.

To be fully honest, I also post it of course, because the research was done by my colleague, Ilan, and it really is interesting, groundbreaking stuff.

There is some good news - it appears the effects are often temporary. But then, we've always known that about "heartbreak" - right?
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:23 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Zoo tempts gay penguins to go straight
A German zoo has imported four female penguins from Sweden in an effort to tempt its gay penguins to go straight

Keepers at the zoo ordered DNA tests to be carried out on the penguins after they had been mating for years without producing any chicks.

It was only then they realised that six of the birds were living in homosexual partnerships.
Ummm, good luck with that one ladies......

posted by Broadsheet @ 4:38 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Creature from the deep
This is seriously cool. A rare, but very dead Oarfish washed up on the city beach in Perth Australia yesterday. And people wonder how the legend of sea serpents got started?

posted by Broadsheet @ 4:22 PM   5 Editorial Opinions
Gannon Quits After Blogger Inquiry
Oh man, talk about Dirty Laundry...

I'd been following this the last couple of days. Kind of like a buzzing that you couldn't quite locate its source, but then this morning.....Bam! The flyswatter came down.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:52 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Mean streets of Baltimore
The New York Times today has an article about the homicide rates in Baltimore. So proud of this fact:
After trending downward from a record 353 in 1993, homicides in Baltimore have ticked back up since 2002. They hit 278 last year, putting Baltimore in line for the title of deadliest big city in the nation, with a homicide rate three times greater than Los Angeles and five times greater than New York
So, deadly, and yet, the overall crime rate is dropping. Why? Because the drug gangs are simply killing each other off. As my friend and neighbor, Peter, says in the article:
Baltimore is actually a very safe city if you are not involved in the drug trade," Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said......This is the smallest big city I've ever lived in," Dr. Beilenson said. "Violence is very personal, because everyone knows everyone else or is a relative. If you shoot someone, the retribution will be fast and sure.
Sadly, I've grown immune to the sounds of "urban woodpeckers" (i.e. automatic gunfire), that I can hear a few blocks away from my house on a summer evening with the windows open. I feel perfectly safe in my neighborhood, and have never had a cause for concern (although I use alarm systems, gates, and common sense). But just 3 blocks west of my house? It could be Iraq.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:56 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Breaking News
Agggh. There is a CNN film crew outside my office as we speak. At least they have a rep from our PR Dept. with them. God, I hope this is good news......

Hey - at least it's not "60 Minutes".

Stay tuned.

Very weird day around here - did I mention that?

Does my hair look OK?

UPDATE 5:30 PM: No biggie. Seems one of our Fellows had a paper published and CNN was doing a short healthcare segment on it and wanted to film an interview with him and one of his patients in a room with a lot of high tech equipment in it for "background". I've got plenty of "background".
posted by Broadsheet @ 2:12 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Bushism of the Day
Bush explains Social Security. I don't think there is one coherent, complete sentence in the entire thing.

"Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled*. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."—Explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005
See? Simple. God help us....

*Yeah - "it's kind of muddled all right".

posted by Broadsheet @ 1:30 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Inside College Hockey | INCH Power Rankings
In response to Jay "Sieve" Thomas' gloating about the "Beanpot" rivalry going on this weekend in Beantown, I would like to remind him that Inside College Hockey Power Rankings, currently list the Badgers as No. 4 - down 1 from an embarrassing loss to the MN Gophers on Saturday. The Gophers are far and away the most hated team in the WCHA. They throw dead rodents on the ice when they come to Madison to play. Meanwhile, the little BU Terriers are still languishing at #14 - oh Hi. Just to point out how critical a win for the little pups is on Valentine's Day, the Terriers haven't gone two years without a Beanpot title since 1993-94.
But Hey - no pressure. See you at the Frozen Four, Sieve.
posted by Broadsheet @ 12:34 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Grand Rounds XX
Grand Rounds XX is up. Best collection of Health/Medical blogging on the internet. Two of the more interesting links this week are :
"Mike Pechar of the Interested-Participant notes that the current problem with leishmaniasis among military units in combat areas is that doctors are foregoing routine treatment of the disease on the basis that travel to a medical facility could be life-threatening to the troops.

And John steps in for Matthew at The Health Care Blog, wringing the necks of pharma for their greed, likening their atrocities to tragedies ordered by Ceausescu in Romania. I think that's a bit mean spirited, but I appreciate the sentiment."

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:30 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Britain to welcome MacArthur home
That's Dame MacArthur, thanks very much!!

She crossed the finish line at 2229 GMT on Monday, completing her 27,348-mile voyage in 71 days 14 hours 18 minutes and 33 seconds.

That time meant she smashed the previous mark, set in 2004 by Frenchman Francis Joyon, by nearly 33 hours.
Very, very cool.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:15 AM   8 Editorial Opinions
Monday, February 07, 2005
Not an auspicious start to the week
How could such a beautiful day go so terribly wrong? For the out of town and overseas readers - we had an unbearable tease of spring all weekend. Today, it's so nice out that I think the groundhog was smoking something. Sunny, mild, almost warm enough to open the windows and wash the car kind of weather. You can now see more pavement and grass than snow for the first time in a month.

Today was supposed to be a nice, productive day. I had a business luncheon at a favorite restaurant scheduled with people from a company we are negotiating a new venture with - and they were paying. The negotiations have recently been strained at levels above me (i.e. lawyers), but the woman I work with most directly is engaging, bright, pleasant, my age, and we've become friends in spite of these negotiations, so despite the partisan bickering, I was looking forward to a pleasant lunch conversation.

Since the luncheon was scheduled in the same suburban area as one of our satellite clinics, I asked my assistant to try and schedule some other meetings at the clinic so I could accomplish a couple of other pressing things, and scheduled myself out of the office today to work off-site.

I also took the opportunity to call the guy who needed to measure my replacement windows to see if he could stop by first thing this morning since they don't seem to make evening or weekend house calls.

So....All ready to go, and because the window man wasn't scheduled to come until 9:00 a.m., this meant I got to sleep in an extra 2 hours past the usual 5:30 a.m. (on a Monday!!!) and have coffee at home. Of course, at 9:15 he calls and cancels. Sigh. Oh well, we reschedule and I head out.

I realize that I forgot to leave an "out of office" message on my office voice mail, and start dialing in to leave one on my cell. If your system is like ours, it has lengthy numerical menus which I've memorized over time, so that changing my message is simply 1,1,3,4,"Hi - I'm out today, call me on my cell",2,4#. So I'm doing this on the cell while I'm driving, and the system hangs up on me. What the $^%$#@? Call again, 1,1,3,4,blah, blah,2,4#. Hangs up again.

So now I call my assistant. "Don't you remember?" she says, "We changed over to a completely new voice mail system a week or so ago and they've changed all the menus". So now I actually have to LISTEN to them all to make the right choices without getting a hang up. This took slightly less time than building the Great Wall of China...

My next meeting is at 10:00 with one of our architects and one of my managers to discuss expenses and changes in a recent construction project. This was a very complicated project that involved a lot of structural support and shielding for some delicate imaging equipment and had cost me about $100K more than projected, and I intended to find out why. Well, 10:15 comes and no architect. We call, and discover that the poor girl fell and broke her leg hiking over the weekend. Decent excuse - but couldn't her office have called?

Now I'm stranded for the next hour and a half. To drive downtown and back is an hour roundtrip, so I stop in one of my cardiologist's offices and find and empty office and attempt to catch up on e-mails and phone calls with not too much success, mostly because the oddity of having me in their office causes everyone to stop by and chat (i.e. suck up).

I go to the lobby to meet my luncheon appt., and she calls to tell me there is an accident on the Beltway - so sorry, she's running late.

I get to the restaurant and long story short, it takes until 1:00 before everyone arrives, gets seated, and places an order. We talk business, have a nice lunch and everyone leaves by 2:30 p.m.

At this point, I go back to the clinic in the hopes of catching some people as planned, but it is now the busiest part of the day for patient care, and is 3:00. "We were hoping you'd be here earlier" - I tried!

At 3:30, I headed home, answered all my voice mail, e-mail, and text messages, and now it's 5:00 p.m.

I had lunch today - that's about it folks.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:24 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Super Bowl Ads
In case you missed any, here are all the Super Bowl Ads that aired last night. As usual, the Bud Light spots were pretty funny. Pepsi's ads blew, and the spot was just awful. I think my favorite ad was the Fed Ex spot with Burt Reynolds and a bear dancing. Oh, and the Career monkey butt ads were amusing as well.

UPDATE: You can read a review of the Super Bowl ads at Slate Magazine
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:13 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Kite-flying event claims 13 lives
Ummm, so maybe theThe Lahore Kite Festival just moved down a few spots on my wish list....

THIRTEEN people have been killed and more than 500 injured during an annual kite-flying festival in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

Seven people with severe head injuries died in the city's General Hospital alone, and about 220 people were admitted with a variety of injuries including broken bones, hospital officials said.
. Who knew kite flying was such a dangerous sport??

posted by Broadsheet @ 7:46 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Who He?
Last night, Andrew, myself and this guy attended the grand opening of a new architectural salvage store called "Housewerks" in South Baltimore. They have a great selection of artifacts from all over the country including Chicago and New York. They bought the former BG&E Valve house and have fixed it up making it a truly remarkable space. The Baltimore Architecture Foundation sponsored the party, which featured a great oyster bar, BTW.

Afterwards, we retired to Andrew's for some wine, a Bill Hicks and Billy Connelly DVD, and general hanging out. Not sure whether it was the wine, the Karamel Sutra ice cream, or something else(??!), but one of us took a little nap before the evening was over......

guess who?
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:05 AM   7 Editorial Opinions
Lahore's kite festival kicks off
Like a lot of people, I have a list of things I want to do / see before I die. A real list on paper. I've been VERY lucky to have had the opportunity to travel pretty extensively, and I've been a lot of places, but it's a big world, and there are events that take place every year that I would also like to see someday. The Lahore kite festival is on the list. A Partial list of other events (not places) - are: (not listed in any particular order)

*La Tomatina Tomato Festival in Bunyol, Valencia, Spain
*The Running of the bulls in Pamplona
*Carnivale in Rio, Venice, Ivrea, etc......
*NY Eve in any number of major cities: Sydney, Paris, etc.,
*Fasching in Oberammergau
*Las Fallas in Valencia
*St. Patrick's Day, Dublin
*Day of the Dead, Mexico City
*Biennal, Venice
*The Tour de' France
*Opening ceremonies to the Olympic Games
*Mt Hagen Show, Papua New Guinea
*The Burning Man Festival, Blackrock Desert
*Chinese New Year in Hong Kong
*Octoberfest, Bavaria
*Taurids Meteor Shower, Hawaii
*Rose Bowl Parade and Game (Go Badgers!!)
*Summer solstice at Stonehenge
*Spring equinox at Chichen Itza
*Barbados Congaline Festival
*Fête des Cuisinières, Guadeloupe
*The Flower Carpet, Grand Place, Brussels

Some events I've been lucky enough (you may legitimately question this in some instances) to attend already:

*The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival
*The Blessing of the Fleet in New Bedford, MA
*Mardi Gras in New Orleans
*The New Orleans Jazz Festival
*The Birckenbeiner Races and the Annual Lumberjack World Championship in Hayward, WI
*Octoberfest in Racine, WI (almost as good as the real thing)
*Halloween in Madison, WI (you have no idea what you're missing)
*New Year's in Time Square NYC
*Newport Jazz Festival
*Fourth of July in Washington DC
*Boston Pops and the Fourth of July in Boston
*World Pumpkin Chunkin Festival, Long Neck, DE
*Mummer's Parade, Philadelphia
*Bicycling through the Tulip fields of Holland during Tulip season and going to the Kukenhof
*Attending an Opera at the Vienna Opera House
*The Oshkosh Air Show
*State Fairs: MD, PA, WI, IA.......
*Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI
*Taste of Chicago
*Chesapeake Oyster Festival
*Ten Days of Ekka, Brisbane, Australia

What's on your list?
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:33 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Georgia state official found dead
Note to self: a career in Russian politics is inversely related to life expectancy.

I'm not a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but doesn't this just seem a "little" coincidental?? I mean, first Yuschenko, and now the guys in Georgia (which, too be honest is known to have a little bit of a mobster problem), are dying under admittedly mysterious circumstances.

UPDATE: See? It's just not me: Publius Pundit reports on the same thing = too many deaths/attempts, and not enough explanation. Why isn't anyone from outside investigating?
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:16 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Bush Budget Calls for Cuts in Health Services
Bush wants the government to cover Viagra, but then turns around and plans to announce Cuts in Health Services on Monday??!! WTF?

Mr. Bush would cut spending for several programs that deal with epidemics, chronic diseases and obesity. His plan would also cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 9 percent, to $6.9 billion.

Mr. Bush requests money to expand a national stockpile of vaccines and antibiotics. But the public health emergency fund of the centers, which helps state and local agencies prepare for bioterror attacks, would be cut 12.6 percent, to $1 billion.

A Public Health Service program for "chronic disease prevention and health promotion" would be cut by 6.5 percent, to $841 million in 2006. The program finances efforts to prevent and control obesity, which federal health officials say has reached epidemic proportions.

The president's budget would also eliminate a block grant that provides $131 million for preventive health services. Under federal law, the money is used to "address urgent health problems," which vary from state to state.

The budget for training nurses, dentists and other health professionals would be cut 64 percent, to $160.5 million in 2006. The president would cut $100 million, or 33 percent, from a $301 million program that trains doctors at children's hospitals.

Mr. Bush seeks a $38 million increase in programs promoting sexual abstinence, which would bring the total to $192.5 million in 2006, an increase of more than 50 percent since 2004.
My worst fears about this election are coming true. While I knew that in order to pay for the Medicare Prescription Drug program, other areas would suffer, I never in my wildest dreams envisioned a $38 million dollar increase in funding to preach sexual abstinence. What about relying on the PARENTS to teach their kids values?? By cutting funding for programs targeted at chronic disease prevention and health promotion, obesity, and training health professionals, he's creating a doomsday scenario further down the road. I'm all for job security, but having a job managing a heart disease program, when your government is willfully doing whatever it can to make sure heart disease still exists 10 or 20 years from now in even greater numbers, is not a "feel good" moment.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:12 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Friday, February 04, 2005
The Passion of the Art Director
I did a coffee snort when I saw this:

Original links:
The Nation
The New Yorker
and Hustler NSFW
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:28 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Carnival of the Recipes #25
Carnivale of the Recipes is up at the Glittering Eye, with a very appropriate graphic for Mardi Gras next week! Can't wait to try the Lamb and Red Lentil Curry
posted by Broadsheet @ 2:24 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Go Red For Women
Warning - shameless plug coming: Go Red For Women.

Click here

Seriously, this is an issue near and dear to my heart (rim shot). You'd think it was Valentine's Day today around my office. Absolutely everyone is wearing red today (present company included). And check out the Washington Monument in DC tonight when it goes red for Women's Awareness Day for heart disease!

OK - go back to what you were doing.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:42 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Friday Cat Blogging
I'm blogging someone else's cats today. Mine are still sleeping (thankfully). Meet Bucky and Gracie. They live in Hope Valley, Rhode Island with their Mom, my friend Diane.

Here, Bucky and Gracy perform synchronized bird watching on the unsuspecting flocks in Hope Valley:


and here's Gracie enjoying the morning sunshine:

sleep mstr3

I wish I could take Gracie's position and head back to bed, but I have to go to work... have a great day!
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:42 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Sports, and the Fans that love them
This is sad. The NHL is going to cancel the season this Friday barring a last minute ruling regarding salary caps.

If the season is cancelled, the NHL would be the first North American sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute. The Stanley Cup has been awarded every year since 1919, when the great flu epidemic wiped out the final series between Montreal and Seattle.

This is why my favorite sport is NCAA College Football. They play for the fans and the alumni and the glory that goes with that. Of course, the cynical, grown up side of me realizes that they are also playing for future endorsements, NFL Contracts, and advertising, but I also think the scrutiny placed on the NCAA in the last few years has gone a long way to reducing the graff that used to be the status quo.

But, back to hockey. My Dad was a hockey player. He played both in high school and in college for Rensselaer Polytechnic University (and yes, this link is a blatant source of pride for a building he designed for his alma mater). Later on when we were in school, he coached our high school team as the goalie coach.

As little kids, he made us scaled down hockey sticks so we could play family hockey games on the frozen lake near our house. We would go to the lake in mid morning and Dad would lace up our skates one by one, as we were sitting lined up next to each other on the gate of the old Ford LTD Station Wagon. He ALWAYS laced the skates too tight. After an hour, my calves would be throbbing and I couldn't feel my toes.

Also, my sisters and I had the "Dorothy Hamill / Peggy Fleming" skates. The skates were white leather, looked like roller skates with blades attached, and had these nasty toe edges in them in case we wanted to suddenly burst into a Double Salchow, but were relatively useless if you wanted to check the opposing player and steal the puck.

Meanwhile, the boys all wore "Mustang NHL Jr." skates. Their skates had long, smoothed, curved blades like scimitars, and did not have annoying toe ridges to trip them up. They also had metal ankle supports (imagine that!) to keep your feet straight. This meant, the Boys feet were always straight and linear, and ours were always falling in on themselves - doomed to be perennially knock kneed and pigeon toed, which did little to correct that general impression of me as the tallest girl in the 7th grade.

Mom always brought hot cocoa to the lake as a pablum to sooth our frost bite and sore ankles, but I could always tell she was humoring Dad in making us his "little team" and in teaching us how to skate.

I still don't skate well. I like it, but it's like I almost have to learn it all over again every time I do it. Maybe because I only do it once a year - if that. It's kinda like the guitar. I was pretty damn decent at one point, and now, I have regressed to "Michael Row the Boat Ashore", and a few Beach Boys/ Springsteen/ Kansas riffs.

Anyway, my brother stuck with hockey, and played at Penn State. He later played roller hockey with his buds until fairly recently. I remember calling him at Penn State on Valentine's Day one year when our folks were out of the country (as usual), and I was in college in Wisconsin. It was a Sunday morning, and he sounded as if he had been on a bender the night before. Slurred speech, awkward phrases. It turned out that he had been broadsided/slapsticked in a hockey game the day before with a stick to the face. The hit stunned him, but it wasn't until the next morning when his eye was blood red, his face looked sunken, he had trouble chewing, and he had a VERY bloody nose, that he realized all was not right. Turns out he had broken his face / cheek with that slap shot, and they had set his face by going up through his mouth/cheek.

"Don'd tell Mum N' Dad", he mumbled with clenched, wired jaws. "I'm fine. Jess can'd ead real food ride now".

So - canceling the NHL Season is canceling a piece of family history in some ways. I love the sport because I was taught to love it - both at home, in Pittsburgh, and at the University of Wisconsin (where there are more Canadian hockey player jokes than dumb football jock jokes -eh? )

Face Off!

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:45 PM   5 Editorial Opinions
Tucker Gets a Job, and Schieffer Get a Chance
According to TV Guide,

IT'S OFFICIAL: MSNBC confirmed Wednesday that bow-tied conservative Tucker Carlson will headline his own prime-time show this spring. Carlson's hiring comes just weeks after CNN fired him for, as Jon Stewart so eloquently put it, "fail[ing] miserably."

Also: it looks like CBS is looking to Bob Schieffer to fill in when Dan Rather steps down next month - at least at first. CBS Chairman, Les Moonves has stated in the past that there may be a series of revolving anchors, or "another format". Schieffer is a well respected, veteran newscaster, but I don't think he's going to do much to boost the ratings. At best, he's a placeholder until they come up with a person and a format than can get them out of a distant third place. Good luck with that.

posted by Broadsheet @ 10:48 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
The George W Bush 2005 State of the Union drinking game
Because you'll need to numb the pain...

The George W Bush 2005 State of the Union drinking game.

Word of caution: If you actually follow the rules on this one, you could lapse into a coma. Hell, you'll probably be comatose regardless (or as Bushy would say "irregardless").
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:19 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
SOTU - in summary
This says it all - hat tip to Bruce Beattie - Daytona Beach News:

Bruce Beattie

posted by Broadsheet @ 3:21 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Stephanopoulos switching with Koppel?
Hmmm - The New York Post is reporting a possible switch at ABC between Ted Koppel* on "Nightline" and George Stephanopoulos on "Sunday Morning". I haven't been terribly impressed with George since he took over the show. I'd much rather watch Tim Russert, but I would probably tune in to see Ted. Have to say, I think it would be the kiss of death to "Nightline".

*Full disclosure: Family Trivia - My Mom dated Ted Koppel in college.

posted by Broadsheet @ 10:44 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
I love this review of a speech that hasn't even taken place yet.

I'm going to miss it for a couple of reasons: (1) my buddy Mark is turning the big FOUR OH today and we are celebrating his descent into middle age this evening; (2) I'm not sure I can sit through an hour of Bush mangling the English language combined with the interminable standing ovations and partisan fawning; (3) Jwer will be blogging his own spin on the speech, and I'd much rather read that anyway; but the biggest reason is this:

Previewing the speech to reporters, a senior administration official said it is a "unique" speech in that it so closely follows the president's second inaugural address, and offers Bush an opportunity to build on the "ideals" outlined in that speech and make clear his specific goals and legislative blueprint for the second term.
It's "unique" because it's a repeat! Get it? Oh, wait, it's unique because it's a repeat of inaugural rhetoric with padding!

Guess it really is Groundhog Day after all......

posted by Broadsheet @ 8:52 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Erections prescribed only when medically necessary
Yeah, RIGHT.

Medicare is planning to cover Viagra and Cialis??? Otherwise known as: when old white men make the rules.???

How the F----K about having universal coverage for birth control pills and other contraceptive devices for the uninsured and underinsured?? Obviously Medicare coverage for contraception is a silly notion, but MANY health insurance plans don't cover it at all, or severely limit coverage. Once a new drug or treatment is "sanctioned" by Medicare, most insurance companies fall into line and cover it as well, because if it's good enough for the government to pay for, then.....

Argggh - this one just burns me.

Women have to pay full load for contraception in most cases - a full 40 years after the pill was originally developed. After only 4 years on the market, Viagra becomes the next aspirin.

According to the Contraception Report, in 1998, fewer than 15% of indemnity plans covered all five leading reversible prescription methods (OCs, injectables, implants, intrauterine devices, and diaphragms). Nearly half (49%) covered none of the five leading methods. Only one in three indemnity policies covered oral contraceptives.

Yet, the responsibility for contraception is supposedly still the women's responsibility. Men seem to feel we should take responsibility for the use of pills and other forms of birth control, but men can purchase condoms like they purchase aspirin. But try and get birth control pills or other physician prescribed remedies through your insurance, and it's suddenly - "optional", " additional coverage", or - "this is not included in the co-pay".

And don't even get me started on the cost or coverage of HIV / AIDS drugs.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:41 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
House of Flying Daggers
Last night, a group of 6 of us, including this character, went to see "House of Flying Daggers". Our friends A. and D. couldn't attend (work commitments and illness respectively) and asked me to blog a review.

House of Flying Daggers is a deliriously romantic martial-arts extravaganza directed by Zhang Yimou ("Hero"), and takes place at the end of the Chinese Tang dynasty in 859 AD. The story opens with a struggle between the Emperor's army, and a deadly grassroots insurgent coalition that has gained widespread support in the rural areas (sound familiar??). The insurgent group is called "The Flying Daggers" for their deadly use of, well, daggers of course.

Meanwhile, rumors in the province lead local police to suspect that the new showgirl at a local brothel is a key member of this group, and they set about to infiltrate the group through her and bring them down. Mei, played to porcelain perfection by Zhang Ziyi, is actually the blind daughter of the recently assassinated leader of the "Flying Daggers" and is out to avenge her father's death. Mei is the new showgirl working at the Peony Pavilion. She is all ethereal, balletic beauty, athletic grace, and deadly force in every move.

The movie itself is ravishing in its art direction and cinematography. There is so much lush eye candy from the detailed sets; richly brocaded costumes; textures of the materials used.... It had me gasping more than once. I can't even begin to describe the lavish and imaginative use of color in this movie for both visual impact as well as metaphor. Just focus on the color green and you'll see what I mean. I had no idea there were so many shades, or meanings of green in my life. As for the scenery; from the virgin birch forests, to fall fields and meadows more reminiscent of Maryland than China, to prehistoric woodlands, and finally - to the eerie otherworld of a giant bamboo forest where army assassins fly at will through the trees and spears can imprison you in moments, Yimou uses the landscape to his every advantage.

The first major scene is in the brothel, where to avoid being arrested, Mei agrees to play a game of "Echo" with the police commander. He flings a bean at a circle of elaborate drums, and Mei has to immediately replicate the location of the sound by striking the same drums in the same sequence with her robes. As the tempo rises, so does the sexual tension, which is only realized much later in the film. From this first scene to the final and inevitable death struggle, the slow motion, martial arts scenes are more like ballet than fight scenes. The daggers don't fly so much as act repeatedly like boomerangs, hurtling through space before straightening out and then stopping in mid air before settling into their directed target. As dramatic as this is - it does require a complete suspension of belief. Of course, these are all done in point of view (POV) perspective from the dagger or arrow itself.

Being a Chinese language film, the dialogue comes across as very quaint and parochial at best, corny and stilted at worst. The love scenes are amusingly modest and hopelessly over dramatic, but poignant. The most erotic scene in the movie is when Mei tries to identify / visualize her rescuer/captor by running her hands across his body and face starting from the bottom up.

To say much more might spoil things. This is a movie of double crosses, triple crosses, betrayal, love, jealousy, patriotism, mistaken identities and reveals. No one is whom they seem to be, and everyone has a vested interest and goals that are in direct opposition to the person they claim to love, and those that love them in return.

As a love story, it is overly dramatic, Shakespearean in its plot, and quaint by US standards. As a film, it is ravishingly visual, epic, and more beautiful than most movies we're accustomed to. Well worth your hard earned $$.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:25 PM   1 Editorial Opinions

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