Drinking and Making Commercials: Do Not Mix

So I've been seeing a tv commercial recently for Newcastle Brown Ale:

Way to go, Newcastle!  Make a perfectly good commercial touting the skill and care that goes into your product, and then at the very last second, drop a turd into the punchbowl by saying your female brewmaster is too ugly to have her face shown.

Gratuitous, unnecessary, unfunny and... yeah, really... ugly.

If Newcastle wants people to talk about their commercials, this as is a success.  If they want people to actually BUY their product... not so much.



Welcome news from the Arizona primaries election yesterday:  Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, trying to get back into elected office after losing a recall election earlier this year, got skunked by his opponent, Bob Worsley.  Worsley had a 12-point lead by the time votes were counted.  Pearce, author of the controversial "Show Us Your Papers!" SB1070 law, was reportedly sulking in his tent after evicting reporters from his election-night party.  This defeat should finally put a stake in the heart-shaped vacant space of the former leader of the Pasty-White-Guy wing of the Arizona Republican party.

For an extra bonus, one-term Congressman Ben Quayle also lost his bid to be on the November ballot.  He can now go back to being... whatever the hell he was before being elected. 


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Our token black cat Bastet has matching bald spots on both sides, following a visit to the vet today. She's had occasional coughing spells and unwarranted panting for some months, so we finally took her in for an exam. An X-ray found fluid around the lungs, so she got shaved, then drained like a boxed wine at a frat party.

The fluid's been sent off for testing, so we'll have a better idea of possible diagnosis in a few days.

Our Siamese, Tyr, had an interesting reaction when Bastet wasn't brought back to the house right away; he went around the house with his back arched, tail fluffed, and a wild look in his eyes.  "Am I next? AM I NEXT?"


An Interview With Congressman Odd Fakin

"Congressman Fakin, you stated in a public interview your belief that in cases of rape or incest, a woman's body has natural defenses that will keep her from being impregnated."

"That's correct."

"How exactly does that work?"



"Yes.  A woman has guns, little tiny guns, up inside her hoo-hah.  When a rapist's sperm gets inside her, a woman's body can just shoot each sperm with her little tiny bullets."

"I see.  But what about women who claim they're pregnant by rape?"

"I'm not saying they deliberately choose to get pregnant.  They just choose to not use their hoo-hah guns, because they're a bunch of liberal pussies."

"Liberal pussies?"

"Yes.  You know, the kind that believe in gun regulation, or -- my God, can you believe it? -- not using guns at all.  Jesus Christ, if you don't have guns, how are you going to defend yourself against rape sperm?  With a coat hanger?   You'll never see a decent, God-fearing, American conservative woman bearing a rapist's child."

"How does a woman's body tell the difference between a rapist's sperm and non-rapist sperm?"

"Oh, that's easy.  A rapist's sperm is swarthy."


"Yep.  You know, deep beige to dark brown, almost black sometimes."

"Thank you for sharing your views, Congressman."

"You're welcome.  I'm always glad to share what I learned at church."


Blasts From The Past: Train For Tiger Lily, by Louise Riley

TRAIN FOR TIGER LILY by Louise Riley (Viking Books, 1954)

TRAIN FOR TIGER LILY is a 1954 children’s fantasy written by Louise Riley, a librarian in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

I first read TFTL in grade school in the early 1960’s.  In the intervening years, I’d forgotten the title and author, but still remembered elements of the plot as being unusual enough that I’ve made several attempts to identify the book.  My Google-fu finally got good enough to recently pinpoint the book and re-read it via an Inter-Library Loan request.  (Thank you, Murray State University, for keeping a sixty-year old book still available in your stacks.)

The plot:  One car of a train making a days-long trip across the Canadian plains is occupied by five children of various ages.  Mostly pre-teens; brother and sister Duncan and Cathy, and siblings Mark and Victoria and their younger brother Benjie.  They waken from a night of travelling to find their sleeping car sitting in the middle of… nowhere, apparently, with the countryside stretching away on all sides and only a signpost reading “Tiger Lily”.  Except for a dining car and a railcar holding Duncan’s prize calf Prince Rupert and its watchdog McRoberts, the rest of the train has vanished.

The person behind this is the train’s porter, Augustus (“Gus”) P. Wallingford.  Gus isn’t just a porter, he’s a wizard (Master of Magic, Second Class).  The lack of any other adults in the children’s railcar makes it possible for to spend three days in Tiger Lily, where the initial placid appearance doesn’t rule out adventures and dangers.

Gus is also a Negro, as virtually all train porters were when the book was written.  This was unusual for a children’s book in the mid-20th century, enough so that even at age 10 or 11, when I first read TFTL, that fact stood out to me.  Black characters in children’s books, by and large, either didn’t exist at all, were such minor characters they barely counted, or were negatively stereotyped.

Gus is intelligent, friendly, and responsible.  If he’s led the children to a place where they might face danger, he also helps protect them and advises how to deal with it.

The major fantasy element of the story comes when Seven U O’Leary, a decrepit broken-down old cowboy on a decrepit broken-down old horse, comes onto the scene.  Seven U’s magic horsehair belt, which had kept him and his horse Lightning young and vigorous, has been stolen by a witch.  Helping Seven U recover the belt before their three days in Tiger Lily expires leads the children into risk.

(Shape-shifting is also involved.  The youngest boy, Benjie, finds being a duck so much fun his older sister is afraid he won’t change back.)

Louise Riley’s writing is aimed squarely at about a mid-elementary school audience.  (I was in 3rd or 4th grade when I first read it.)  The writing and vocabulary is kept at an appropriate level.  And while the children find themselves at risk, it’s never portrayed in such a manner as to overly frighten or alarm the book’s younger audience.

(For comparison and contrast, two other books about young people discovering the existence of magic and how to use it are Diane Duane’s SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD, aimed at young teens, and Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY for older teens, both of which go into situations and experiences that are much darker and more troubling.)

Ms. Riley wrote a small number of other books, including at least one that also features the porter/magician Gus.  After re-reading TFTL, I did some research and contacted Ms. Riley’s nephew, who appears to have the rights to her literary estate, suggesting that with so many older books now being re-issued as e-books, it might be worthwhile to make Ms. Riley’s books available again in that format.  He seemed receptive to that idea, and we’ll see if there’s further progress along that path.