Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ghosts Of Republicans Past

And so the relentlessly slow onslaught of pre-election nonsense goes on in the United States, and we're still over a year away from the big day. You know, here in Canada, we have ourselves a few weeks of an election campaign, the day comes, votes are counted, and it's done. It's not one long, endless election campaign that starts the day after the last election. Not that we have anything to brag about. We did, after all, vote in a majority for a school yard thug, his pack of neo-cons, and his ideology trumps everything way of doing business. It's going to be a long four years in these parts...

Anyway, while the President waits for the Republicans to choose their candidate for next year (it's a marathon process, which isn't helped by the fact that the candidates keep running into each other like a pack of blind mice... oh, excuse me, visually impaired rodents), the Republicans have fielded a group of candidates, some of whom have already given up and gone home, others of whom haven't actually declared yet, and one of whom seems to have been declared the front runner despite the fact that he seems to be utterly lacking in intellectual skills. I know, don't worry, you say, but this is the same party that gave the nomination to Dubya, and look how that turned out...

For some reason, Rick Perry, neo-con governor of Texas (and regular signer of death warrants for the convicted), is touted by some pundits as the front runner. This, despite his being from Texas. Again, remember what happened the last time a Texas governor got the nomination and then the Presidency. For that alone, I would submit that Texas must  be demoted from statehood until it can learn to behave itself.  Yes, I know such sentiments are going to result in a bounty being placed on my head by the state of Texas. Don't remind me.
 What happens if he should get the nomination? Let's speculate for a moment. I imagine Governor Rick could go the unconventional route, and nominate country singer Toby Keith as his vice presidential candidate. They both think along the same political lines. They're both slightly crackers.

And worse... if he actually wins in November 2012 (God help us all), does that mean Alan Jackson's going to perform at the inauguration?
Governor Rick hasn't been doing all that well during the debates. He tends to wander about (verbally speaking). He rambles. He gets lost. He makes Dubya look like a genius. He talks about how a President has to "love America." How deep and thoughtful. I wonder which of his speech writing chimps wrote that one up. Proof positive, ladies and gentleman, that he wants to be a country singing President.

From this side of the border, Governor Rick (Lil Ricky to his buddies) looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Either that, or Dubya in a mask pretending to be Ronald Reagan.

Not that the rest of the field of candidates are that much more impressive. Particularly in the intellectual department. To prove my point, need I remind you about Exhibit #2, also known as Michele Bachmann?

And by extension, there's a woman who looks like a rocket scientist when compared to Michele. Which is odd, because no one would ever call her that otherwise. Yes, I'm talking about the Rogue. The Mama Bear. The former Alaska governor who can't bring herself to finish anything she's elected to. The former television reality show centerpiece and Tea Party darling. Sarah can't bring herself to decide if she should actually run, so the debates are going on without her. The reason for her strangely prolonged absense? She's back at the Cheney Project, where she was once created under the auspices of a mad scientist to be the first Republican neo-con woman President. She was supposed to be Cheney's finest achievement. Unfortunately the programming process went wrong somewhere along the line...

Cheney is aggravated by the failure of the project, and has gone back to having his people genetically engineer flying monkeys and minotaurs for his personal use.

Meanwhile, the President waits for the Republicans to get their act together (this may take awhile). He's got a lot on his plate, from economic worries to military engagements to wondering how stern he should look at any given time. Rumors that he's considering just rebooting the whole thing remain unconfirmed, though he did have two consultants in the other day...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Mountie And The Con Artist Take Off Their Knickers

Before I get things started today, I thought I'd let you know that over in our joint blog, Basking In The Afterglow, my partner in crime and I under our alter egos of Scarlett and James, have been doing several of these Underwear Challenges. Come on over, have a look, and if you're not already following us, you must do so post haste. Just a word of advice: you might want to avoid reading with kids or the uptight around. It gets a bit racy. And by a bit, I mean a lot.

We've done four of them, the first as our alter egos, and the other three with characters in our collaborative work in progress, Same Time Tomorrow. Here are the links:

Taking Off Our Underwear

Chloe and Gabriel
Dana Butler
Olivia and Rachel

Now then, to the business at hand. Today I'm returning to the underwear challenge, bringing two of my characters without a book, RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich and con artist Mary Ducky, together to take the quiz.

Thank you both for coming today, please... make yourselves comfortable.

Lars: I hope this won't take long. I have a detachment to run.

Mary: And I have a group of investors to swindle.

Lars: What was that?

Mary: Nothing! Nothing, nothing at all. Did I say that out loud?

Shall we get to it?

Mary: Oh, yes, most certainly.

1. What do you call your underwear/undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?

Mary: Well, I usually call them panties. They're often silk, made by the finest tailors in Paris. You know, when you're as good as I am in stealing money from the unsuspecting, you can afford to buy the finest things in life.

Lars: RCMP Logistics Issuance Item #45. Boxers, if you must know. We all get them. They've got these silouhettes of Mounties on horseback printed all over them.

Mary: Oh, could I see?

Lars: Miss Ducky, you should know that there are warrants out for your arrest by Interpol, and as soon as we're done here, I'm taking you in.

Mary: In that case, Mr. Kendall? Would you mind taking your time with the questions? I'd really rather delay as long as I can until I can figure out a way to make my escape.

Lars: You said that out loud.

Mary: I did?

2. Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?

Mary: Yes, of course I have. You know, it just so happens that I was giving a seminar in a dream once, and there I was, in a bra and panties, going on about the Mary Ducky Financial Protocol. The audience members were speechless as I strode back and forth on stage. I had thought of using the technique in my actual stage scam... er, stage speeches. Sorry about that, must have been a Freudian slip.

Lars: A Freudian slip?

Mary: Look, the simple fact of the matter is that you're making me nervous, Mr. Mountie, with all this talk about arrests and warrants. Why don't you go ahead and answer his question?

Lars: Yes, only once. I dreamed I was on stage during a Mountie graduation ceremony in my RCMP Logistics Issuance Item #45. And my hat. And nothing else.

Mary: I wouldn't have minded seeing that.

3. What is the worst thing you can think of to make underwear out of?

Mary: Subpoena papers. I'm allergic to legal proceedings. I really prefer to avoid them altogether.

Lars: Birchbark, if you must know.

4. If you were a pair of panties, what colour would you be?

Lars: Red. Just like the dress uniform jacket. And with a gold trim. But why would I be a pair of panties?

Mary: I would have to be emerald green. The colour of money, baby. My favourite, favourite colour in the whole world. You know, when it's just me and the money alone together at night, well, the things we get to doing... Is there a clinical term for someone who goes to their happy place when they feel the soft brushing of money against their naked body?

Lars: Yes. Weirdo.

I would have to agree with Lars on that one.

5. Have you ever thrown your underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your underwear at, given the opportunity?

Mary: I once threw my panties at the Enron board. Long story.

Lars: Mr. Kendall, I'll ask you this question, son. What the hell kind of questions are these?

Just the kind of questions that need to be answered.

Lars: Oh, I see, I see. Yes, well... if I could throw my Issuance Item #45s at anyone, it would have to be Kim Campbell.

The former Prime Minister?

Lars: Yes, well, there was that picture of her behind legal robes, baring her shoulders... let's just say it left quite the impression.

Mary: You have heard of the expression too much information?

6. You're out of clean underwear. What do you do?

Mary: I don't run out of panties. I've got plenty of them, so I never run out.

Lars: Do an emergency wash in a nearby creek or stream. You know, when you're out on the trail of a suspect in the far north for a couple of weeks at a time, you learn how to improvise. Oh, sure, it might mean you're naked while waiting for the clothes to dry, but it's not as if there's anyone out there in that vast, trackless wilderness. Aside from the bears.

Mary: I'm sorry, I'm getting distracted by the thought of a naked Mountie. Can we carry on?

7. Are you old enough to remember Underroos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?

Lars: Dudley Do-Right. I'm from a multiple generation family of Mounties.

Mary: No, I can't say I did have them. My mother raised me with certain standards, and something like Underroos would be beneath us. You have to look classy so that the wealthy accept you when you're fleecing them for every penny you can get.

Lars: You said that out loud.

Mary: I did? Forget I said that. Can I strike that from the record?

8. If you could have any message printed on your underwear, what would it be?

Mary: Money, money, money, money, money. 

Lars: Well, I'm not sure. My Issuance Item #45s already have the horses and riders on them. How about if I could have Damn it, I am not that Lars Ulrich printed on them?

9. How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?

Lars: Son, tell me, what kind of question is that supposed to be? You don't mistreat goats like that. You leave them alone. Everyone knows that. Putting panties on a goat would just get the animal mad at you, and that's something you don't want to get mad at you.

Mary: Can the goat with panties be used as a distraction to buy you time to flee from angry investors?

Lars: Are we done now?

Yes, we are.

Lars: Good. Mary Ducky, I'm placing you under arr...

Mary: *pointing* Isn't that the anchor for Access Hollywood over there?

Lars: *turning* Where?

*Mary sprints away and out the door.*

I think she just scarpered on you.

Lars: *turning* Damn it!

At least she didn't ask you if you were with Metallica.

Later that night, Mary tried a Mountie tunic on for size....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stunning Revelations From A Vice Presidential Memoir

When you've been the Vice-President of the United States and your term in that position is done, it usually means one of two things. Either you've just successfully run for President and won, or you slip back into obscurity. There aren't that many former Vice Presidents around, of course. We have Al Gore, who after losing the 2000 election (well, sort of, but it's so convoluted to begin with, and Al's not the subject today) turned himself into an environmental guru, travelling the world in big jets and preaching the ways of environmental stewardship (apparently Al doesn't see the conflict of interest). He gives his patented Al Gore lectures* to crowds (* in short form, Gorture). And he drones on and on.

There's also Dan Quayle, who spends his time writing the definitive work on the proper spelling of potato, while chasing down Candace Bergin and challenging her to settle their vendetta once and for all in a duel. Rumor has it Little Danny prefers either a contest of rock paper scissors or an epic clash of thumb wars.

Then there's Dick Cheney.

The former Vice President, Dark Lord of the Sith, scourge of liberals and human rights activists, hunter of lawyers, and walking heart attack has never really gone away, spending his time on Sunday morning talk shows railing against the Obama administration, justifying himself, putting his record in the best possible light (no easy feat), and generally finding it impossible to just shut up.

Now he's out with a new memoir, continuing to make no apologies for his actions, taking cheap shots at pretty much everyone he ever knew, and, no doubt, justifying his ideology trumps facts as a wonderful idea. Today I thought I'd look at some of the more unexpected revelations from the Cheney memoir....
Dick never did understand why people love the Star Wars films as much as they do. The whole series comes to a conclusion with the good guy (the Emperor) getting betrayed and murdered by his apprentice, who, up until that point in time, is a stand-up kind of Dark Lord of the Sith.

Dick occasionally let Dubya in to play in the Oval Office while he ran the country, but he never let him near the buttons that set off the nukes. One couldn't be too careful, and Dick knew better then to trust a Texan around nukes.

Dick always broke down into tears at the end of It's A Wonderful Life, because he'd have preferred to see that villainous George Bailey carted off to jail, or throw himself off a bridge. "What kind of ending is that?" Dick was known to bellow each December 24th.

When he wasn't busy waterboarding people, Dick made Powell and Rice play hide and seek, telling them they couldn't come out of their hiding places until he'd find them. That way they were out of his (sparse) hair for seven or eight months.

Dick admitted that he's on his seventeenth replacement heart, thank you very much, and he's looking at arcane rituals that'll allow him to live forever. No, it doesn't involve cryogenics.

Yes, Dick waterboarded suspects. He freely admits it. He even waterboarded Carrot Top, but even the human rights activists who are after him for war crimes find it hard to find anything wrong with that.

Dick acknowledges that he's got some issues. He thinks it comes from being called Dick early on, and while he wishes he'd gone by Richard (he might have turned out to be a kinder sort of fellow), what's done is done.  He remarks that there's an old expression about stealing candy from babies. He never saw anything wrong with that...

As to the whole shooting lawyers thing... well, Dick does bring that up. He remarks on his all time favourite story, The Most Dangerous Game, which is about a man who's hunting human beings. He sees nothing wrong with that. He thinks it's admirable and challenging. Dick doesn't come out and say it, but hypothetically skirts the issue in a remark about how thrilling it is to have a lawyer in your gunsights. He also adds that he wrote a lifetime worth of pardons for himself so that if... accidents happen while on a weekend hunting excursion, he's free and clear. Very handy when you can write your own pardons, isn't it?
Strangely though, he bemoans the fact that nobody takes him up on going hunting anymore.... You wonder why that would be.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Justice, Vengeance, And Conspiracy

"You're my witness. Should I not expect you to tell me the truth?"

On April 14th, 1865, with the Civil War at its end, President Abraham Lincoln took his wife to the theatre. There, assassin John Wilkes Booth shot him in cold blood, the culminating act of what was meant to be a three pronged attack by he and his associates, decapitating the leadership of the Union in one fell swoop. What followed in the days afterward included a manhunt for the assassin and his confederates, mass arrests, and an appetite for vengeance in the North that would have long lasting consequences. The story has been told in many accounts by historians, including a recent update by James Swanson called Manhunt. It has also found its way into novels, and to both the small and big screen. In recent years, the cable movie The Day Lincoln Was Shot depicted the assassination and its fallout.

In the second of my what was I thinking when I missed this in the theatre reviews, I'm turning my attention today to The Conspirator, which made a quiet debut last year in theatres, and has moved to the home video market. The film, by director Robert Redford, tells an often overlooked part of the Lincoln assassination: the trial of the other accused in the conspiracy, particularly the story of the only woman to be tried in the case.

The movie opens two years earlier, introducing us to a young Union officer, Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), wounded on the field of battle. Then it proceeds to the conclusion of the war, with celebration in Washington. With the surrender of Lee and the certaintly that other Confederate forces in the field would soon follow, the Civil War is at an end, and after years of bloodshed and calamity, it seems that finally, a page has been turned.

Looking back at it, we all know better. Booth, the famed actor and sometimes Confederate operative, cannot accept the turn of events, and he gets an unexpected opportunity when he learns of the President's theatre plans. He launches a spur of the moment operation, assassinating Lincoln, while sending one of his men after the Vice President and two more to kill the Secretary of State.

The assassination sequence at the theatre is familiar to most people, and Redford gives it the gravity it requires. He does the same with the other two aspects of the conspiracy, where we see the failed attack against Secretary Seward and the failure to attack the Vice President. Aiken, in Washington, witnesses the removal of the President from the theatre to the home across the street where he died a few hours later. It's a moment that impresses upon the young lawyer. From there, of course, Secretary of War Stanton (Kevin Kline) takes control, launching a manhunt, doing whatever it takes to root out the conspirators, and the manhunt ends with the death of Booth.

Of course, the film's not about Booth, and it's not about Lincoln. Their ghosts do hover over the rest of the film, but the story is about Aiken himself, drawn into defending one of the accused in the conspiracy trial, Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). His mentor, a Senator named Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), asks him to take the case. He's a Southerner who stayed loyal, and he believes that Mary needs a Yankee attorney. Aiken is reluctant, understandably. He believes Mary is guilty, and she's not exactly helpful in her own defense. Her boarding house was a meeting place for Booth and his gang, even before the assassination plot. Her son John was one of Booths' closest confederates, and while he had no part in the assassination, the government is still looking for him.

Aiken finds himself drawn into the case. He prepares a defense, finding inconsistencies in the case, meeting Marys' daughter Anna, who's ostracized and isolated because of her family. He's bothered that a civilian is being tried before a military tribunal, rather then by the civilian courts. He believes that basic constitutional rights are being trampled. And he comes to see that the lead prosecutor, Joseph Holt (Danny Huston) is actively stacking the deck against him and his client, interfering with witnesses. He pleads with Mary to reveal where her son is, something that as a mother she cannot do. His personal life and reputation suffer because of the case. And he increasingly wonders about her guilt, or degree of guilt, or innocence, while pleading with the tribunal not to let themselves give in to revenge.

The film is, at its heart, a courtroom drama. It brings up troubling questions that remain relevant today, about justice versus revenge and the rights of everyone to a fair trial. The tribunal wasn't about justice. It was all about revenge. Redford directs from a script by James Solomon, based on years of research, and he brings gravity and weight to the film, which has a deliberate, methodical tone to it, and an enormous amount of attention to detail. From my own knowledge of the story, I didn't seen any liberties taken with history.

Painstaking efforts for accuracy was made during production, and it worked. From the architecture of buildings and sets to the small details of costuming, props, and even gas lighting, the film feels very much like it's drawn out of the mid-nineteenth century. 

The casting of the roles is well done. Kevin Kline as Stanton is an interesting choice; you have to look twice at him to recognize him, though the voice can't be mistaken. There are things he says that would seem familiar coming from Dick Cheney, including being willing to ignore the rights under the constitution if it means saving the country. Still, as much as Stanton might be seen as an antagonist, his actions are still understandable. In those hours and days after the assassination, the magnitude of the shock on the country was something that wasn't felt again until the Second World War. Stanton and Lincoln had been friends, and the War Secretary was convinced the conspiracy was far larger then it was. Stanton wasn't right, but he wasn't quite wrong either. Kline gives the character a tremendous presence and a decisiveness at a point in time where, in effect, Stanton was the entire federal government.

Tom Wilkinson is one of my favourite actors. He brings a lot to each role. In this, he brings tenacity, a certain scrappiness and cynicism, and depth to his role. And as Holt, Danny Huston comes across as overbearing, but it's entirely appropriate for the role. He should feel like a formidable opponent, and Huston has that kind of presence.

It's wise of Redford to have cast general unknowns as Lincoln and Booth. Both actors do look the part (particularly Toby Kebbell, who's got Booth's look and personality perfectly), but appear briefly at the beginning and in flashback. Bigger names would have distracted.

The two leads are well cast. Robin Wright gives her role as Mary Surratt a distinct dignity. She holds back from Aiken, evading his questions, leaving the audience to wonder about her guilt, to come to their own conclusions. Robin does look dressed down, so to speak, but gives Mary a strength and sympathy that we can connect to, regardless of our opinion on the Confederate cause. Fundamentally, she wants to protect her child. We can understand that. And the bond that develops between she and Aiken is one of mother and son, so that as the film progresses, Aiken sees her in an entirely different light.

James McAvoy is the driving force of the movie, the idealistic attorney who's seen war, who believes in the law and in justice. He pleads to the better angels of our nature, to quote the President, but it's a plea that goes unheard. He makes the effort to exonerate his client, fights for her, and is there with her through to the end. McAvoy, who's quickly building an impressive resume of films, gives Aiken an earnest, sincere depth.

Redford the director has become one of the great craftsmen of film. He has a fine talent for telling a story, for making the best use of his cast and crew, and he uses this film to shed light on an often overlooked aspect of that time, with questions that still haunts us to this day. The Conspirator is a powerful, compelling, and dramatic film that you should see.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time Is Running Out Before We Blow Up Again, And I Haven't Had My Morning Coffee Yet

"What would you do if you knew you had less then a minute to live?"

One of the many questions in and about the film Source Code, which arrived in theatres earlier this year. And today, in the first of two reviews for films, I'm kicking myself for missing it in the theatres. I recently had a chance to see it, and I came away impressed. The science fiction film stars Jake Gyllenhall, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright, and is directed by Duncan Jones. It deals with themes like time travel, fate, destiny, and family, and it requires repeated viewing. In fact, you'll like picking up on things you missed the first time.

The film opens on a commuter train on its way into Chicago, where a soldier named Colter Stevens (Gyllenhall) wakes up in confusion. He was last aware of being on a mission in Afghanistan, and has no idea how he came to be there. His seatmate Christina (Monaghan) sees him as someone else, a teacher named Sean who she's dating. While he tries to understand what's happening to him, a bomb goes off, killing everyone on board.

Stevens comes to in a strange capsule, where a military officer, Captain Goodwin (Farmiga), seen on a computer screen, informs him he's in an experimental system called the Source Code, allowing him access to the final minutes of a dead mans' life in an alternate reality. A bomb has indeed gone off earlier that day on a train, and the bomber intends to detonate a much larger one later in the day. He's told that he can't change the past, but through Source Code, there's a chance that the bomber can be identified in the prime reality and the bombing prevented. The project leader (Wright) lurks in the background, rather less sympathetic then Goodwin. He's more interested in ensuring that his program is viable.

Stevens is re-inserted several times into alternate realities, checking off potential suspects and gathering information. He tries to change fate, to save lives, even though he's been told it won't change the past in his own reality. And he comes to understand the full nature of what brought him into the program, something that he has to piece together on his own.

The premise is preposterous, of course, but ingenious and exhilirating at the same time. I was reminded of Quantum Leap, which had the premise of inserting a time travellers' soul into another body (in fact, there's a bit of an Easter egg linked to that television show in the cast). And then there's also Groundhog Day, the comedy that featured Bill Murray experiencing the same day over and over again. Memento also came to mind through the film, since that movie played around with the concept of fractured time. Lastly, I was reminded of Vantage Point, which, while not science fiction, dealt with the idea of examining the same few minutes of time from several points of view. One of the pleasures of a film like this is watching out for small details, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The audience is drawn right in there with Stevens, wondering who the bomber is, trying to piece together what's happening before the clock runs out.

Duncan Jones has only directed one previous feature, Moon, which I haven't seen, but this film certainly impresses. With much of the action through the film contained to a train and a peculiar capsule, and some of that action deliberately repetitive, Jones does a good job telling the story, ratcheting up the tension, drawing the audience along in this trip down the proverbial rabbit hole. His production and special effects crews really do their work well; the destruction of the train is seen several times in different ways, and feels harrowing. The effects used drawing Stevens into and out of the timeline have a suitably disorienting effect. And the music score is tense and haunting. 

The casting works well. Gyllenhall is a sympathetic lead, conveying initial confusion when he first finds himself where he doesn't expect to be. As the film progresses, we see his desperation, determination, his wish to save lives, and his choice to try to subvert fate. And he has personal things to come to terms with. Gyllenhall does a fine job making us empathize with Stevens, and brings a sincerity and likeability to the role. Michelle Monaghan, whose work includes Mission Impossible III (rumor has it Cruise had to stand on a ladder to come eye to eye with her) and Gone Baby Gone, is a likeable leading lady, even while her character finds herself confused by the behaviour of a man she thinks she knows. Jeffrey Wright, a character actor who's been around for years in many roles and has, of late, been appearing in James Bond films, is suitably grumpy as the Source Code project director Rutledge.

The standout of the cast, however, is Vera Farmiga. She really came to prominence in Up In The Air (if you haven't seen it, remedy that anon!), and she continues to shine here. As Goodwin, she's the friendly face each time Stevens comes out of figuratively being blown up again. She's sympathetic to him, wants to give him the answers he's looking for, and ultimately helps him in a way you might not expect. As an actress, she brings warmth, empathy, compassion, and professionalism to the role, and it's what she doesn't say that intrigues me. Her eyes convey so much that she doesn't need to say, and that's a credit to her skills as an actress. Someone else in the role would have been far less intriguing.

The film isn't perfect, of course. I have some issues with the ending, which I won't go into, since that would be spoilerish. Regardless, I admired the technical aspects of the film, the pacing, the cast, and the very premise of playing around with time. As preposterous as the concept at its heart, the film is compelling, clever, and ultimately very human. Like good sci-fi is supposed to do, it makes you ask questions, and it makes you think. Which, let's face it, you're not going to get from a movie with lots of explosions and robots that turn into machines and a dimwitted mouthbreathing troglodyte named Shia.

Get your hands on this film. You'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Falling Off The Piano In A Little Red Dress

It started out so simply.

Christina asked Norma and I to contribute short bios and photos for the Blog Entourage, since we've occasionally contributed over there. That's not a problem. I've got a decent picture of myself out there on the web (one of the few pictures of me; I'm usually the one with the camera, and rarely the one getting photographed). It was taken at the Visitor Centre in Algonquin Park, and I look all serious and moody. I like it, and for awhile now I've been using it in various social media sites I belong to. Incidentally, there are much less serious pictures of me out there, usually making faces with another relative or two (often my younger brother, who is just as noisy as I am when we get around each other). They're the sort of pictures that make my father sigh in chagrin.

Anyway, Christina suggested that I could just as easily have a picture taken of myself with a rose in my mouth on top of a piano. Just like Michelle Pfeiffer, in The Fabulous Baker Boys.

You've all seen the scene. Michelle plays a singer who joins the Baker brothers, the pianists played by Jeff and Beau Bridges. At one point, she's singing Makin' Whoopee in a profoundly sultry way, lying on a piano in a very sexy red dress. It's just the sort of thing to get a guy's imagination running in all sorts of naughty, naughty directions. And a few girl's imaginations, for that matter. It may have been awhile since you've seen the scene, so have a look.  We'll wait for you.

Steamy, huh? Among the many thoughts I've had watching that scene is the following: what a lucky piano. 

Before you start tut-tutting, I've had the same kind of thought watching Faith Hill and her video for Breathe. If you need to refresh your memory, here it is. It was along the lines of what a lucky bedsheet. Now that I've admitted that, you can tut-tut and wag your finger at me.

At least my parents don't read my blog. I think they'd have more then a few choice words about my lusting after Michelle Pfeiffer and Faith Hill. And if by chance they do... hi, Mom! I swear... I can explain everything.

My first thought was imagining myself sitting on top of an upright piano, singing some Sinatra, and promptly falling off. I can see myself singing. Regrets, I've had a few, but all in all, I did it... oh, hell, ouch!!!! Who made the piano so slippery?  It would either be Sinatra, or some Great Big Sea, which doesn't really qualify as the right kind of music for singing on top of a piano. Although The Old Black Rum would be an understandable reason why the singer in question would be falling off the piano.

Apparently such an image isn't nearly enough for my fellow instigators of mischief and mayhem. Norma and Christina would much rather have me in a red sequin dress and heels on top of the piano. I'm not sure I could pull that off. It's safe to say that I'd tear the dress. It's not like such dresses are made for someone of my build, right? Besides, my legs just couldn't pull that look off. And I suspect that high heels were invented by a sadist.

And as it is, the closest I'll come to wearing a dress is a Scottish kilt (no, we're not supposed to say what we're wearing underneath, lassie, so stop asking and get me my trousers, it's getting cold, and I can feel a draft where there's not supposed to be a draft).

They just want to get a picture of me in drag. Of course, the lovely thing about the internet is that once there's a picture of you out there sprawled on a piano in a little red dress and pumps, it's there forever. And it'll come back to haunt you. If, for example, I should, in twenty years time, become the Prime Minister, or even better, Supreme Majestor of the world (my world domination plans continue to proceed smoothly, by the way... thanks for asking), it'll still be deeply embarrassing if a member of the press asks that pivotal question one day:

"Supreme Almighty One, can you explain this footage of you singing I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt in a red dress on a piano?"
"Fellas, get my shotgun. I've got a blogger lusting after my wife who I want to shoot... I mean, talk to."