Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BONE-DEEP BLUES!

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[This review was originally published at BigBitch.com on March 13, 2005.]
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GOOD HANDS
Danny Caron
2003
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Look, I'm 45 years old (my arthritic knees feel at least twice that age) and most people my age are rarely buying new music. I'm no exception. By 45, you know what you like and you've owned it for years. Because the tape deck in my truck broke several months back, I've been forced to listen to the radio while driving.
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Going home from work after midnight a few weeks ago, I put on the local pseudo-Jazz station. Late, when they figure nobody's listening anyway, KYOT sometimes shelves the Kenny G and Dave Koz and spins stuff a little more adventurous. About halfway home they started playing some hot guitarist whose style I did not recognize. Damn! This guy was GOOD! I pulled into my garage, shut off the engine and just sat there listening -- unable to go into the house until the track concluded. (And I'm thinking: "You KYOT Airheadzona DJ better tell me who this is, doggone it!") "That was DANNY CARON with THE PROMISE", he announced. Now, I know from past experiences that whenever a musical piece commands my attention to that degree upon first listen, I've got a winner.
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I ordered 'GOOD HANDS' from Amazon and when it arrived I found myself staring at a middle-aged, balding guy who looked like the archetypal late night television talk show host. My first impression: Well, yeah it's good, but maybe I didn't really need to own it. That opinion was radically reversed by my 4th or 5th trip through the nearly hour-long disc. By then, my ears had picked-up on what he was doing with that guitar, and now I'm thinking, "OH, HOKEY-SMOKE, MAN!".
While I have no doubt that CARON could trade blazing licks with virtually any "guitar god" out there (and although he does cut loose on the brief GATE WALKS THE BOARD) that's not what 'GOOD HANDS' is all about. These are mostly slow to mid-tempo deeply smoldering Blues, but played with awesome Jazz chops. The first thing you'll notice is the impeccable cleanness of his sound: sharp, single-note runs possessing an extraordinary finesse and rhythmic sense!

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But after your ears become "educated" you begin to notice the brilliantly executed shadings he employs to wring out the genuine emotional content of each piece. Hey, I love my Blues guitarists, but even the "Kings" (B.B., Albert and Freddie) could learn a thing from CARON about Blues nuance. Dang! This is just an exquisite Blues guitar album of uncommon sensitivity -- as soulful a recording as I have ever heard! If you're a young guitarist and you want to learn a thing or two about imbuing your music with an authentic feeling, a deep passion, 'GOOD HANDS' has a lot to teach you.
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And speaking of "HANDS", what's up with Caron's digits? The photographs indicate that either this guy is the size of Yao Ming, or else he has the most inordinately long fingers! That explains how he maneuvers around the neck of that guitar so nimbly.
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The tracks also contain some first-class accompaniment, notably: John Burr's romantic piano, Jim Pugh's funky Hammond B-3 organ, and a riotous tenor sax solo by Charles McNeal on HEY JIMMY. (Although I could do without the Charles Brown vocals on cuts #5 and #11.) If you like the classic Jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and early George Benson, then you'll SURELY want to add Danny Caron to your collection.
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My favorite piece is RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA. No, on second thought, I'd say IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD. Check that! It's definitely SHINE ON.
Alright, I really can't decide.
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But did you notice that I didn't even mention THE PROMISE -- the head-turning track I heard on the radio that caught my attention to begin with? That's how impressive this album is! What a travesty of justice that so much acclaim is lavished on each new long-haired, Hard Rock speed-freak guitarist who comes along, but a player like THIS remains unknown. He's never going to get the recognition that he deserves, but hey, you can forget all about Allstate, man, because you're in REALLY 'GOOD HANDS' with DANNY CARON!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, March 20, 2017

“THE KID WHO CAME TO THE PARTY AND PEE’D IN THE LEMONADE”

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McCARTHY
by Roy Cohn
published: 1968
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“I was beginning to feel scared and a little sick. We were being hounded, pushed into a blind alley... For a few brief moments I felt that the best thing would be to pack my bags and get away from Washington and its intrigues. But then a contrary emotion took over. When some people feel trapped, they have the instinct to turn on their foes and fight to a finish. The role of underdog, I discovered, can give one courage.”
~ Roy Cohn; McCARTHY, chapter 9.
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ROY COHN, chief counsel for the Senate Investigating Committee under Senator Joseph McCarthy, opened his book, McCARTHY, with the following statements in his Prologue:
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The full portrait of Joe McCarthy and the era in which he rose to such remarkable prominence and power must await the historian’s special training, insight, and distance from the events ... Emerson said, “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.” To the best of my ability it is this I try to do in the pages that follow.
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Roy Cohn’s honesty in recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly about the anti-Communist “McCarthy” years makes his book a truly compelling and essential account for anybody who wants to gain a clearer understanding of that monumental American epoch.
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The full historical perspective that Cohn anticipated in 1968 is nearly upon us:

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M. Stanton Evans, the historian considered by many to be the preeminent authority on Joseph McCarthy, is due to release his magnum opus, BLACKLISTED BY HISTORY: The Real Story Of Joseph McCarthy And His Fight Against America's Enemies in late March of 2007. I preordered the book 15 months ago, but the release date has been pushed back several times, and I’m now salivating on myself and champing vigorously at the bit. (My greatest fear has been that Evans will go to his grave with the book unfinished. I swear, if he dies before it’s done I’ll k!ll him!)
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But I’m so eager now to get Evans’ definitive account into my hands that I recently decided to revisit my old copy of McCARTHY by Roy Cohn, and to post a review of it. (Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed that I’ve waited this long to review this important book while having previously posted junk for some silly stuff on this website. All I can say is -– for the godzillionth time -– “Uhp! I’m an idiot!”)
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McCARTHY is the book that cemented Senator Joseph McCarthy in my mind as one of America’s greatest unsung heroes, and inspired me to adopt his last name as part of my pen name well before I began contributing reviews to Amazon.com (aka BigBitch.com). Certainly it’s the ultimate “insider” view of this chapter in our history -– it doesn’t get any more intimate and behind-the-scenes than McCarthy’s friend and confidant throughout the Army-McCarthy hearings and the Senatorial censure.
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One might assume that Cohn’s relationship to McCarthy and his involvement in the war against Communism and our government’s cover-up would make him incapable of delivering an objective account. One would be surprised, however, by the degree of honesty presented here. The 14 years between the censure of McCarthy and the writing of Cohn’s book undoubtedly gave the author the distance necessary for the emotional impact to subside and make possible a limpid assessment. Cohn doesn’t flinch and shy away from calling attention to his and McCarthy’s shortcomings. For instance, of his first appearance in the Army-McCarthy hearing witness stand, Cohn calls his own testimony “rambling, garrulous, repetitious, brash, smug, smart-alecky, pompous, and petulant.”

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He says of McCarthy, “His statements were frequently hasty and ill-prepared ... He played rough politics, occasionally took unfair advantage of people, and said harsh things in public ... I quarreled with him frequently [about his broad-brush approach] and stressed that by using this technique he sometimes placed himself in an indefensible position. But,” Cohn adds, “I never disagreed with the substance of his thesis. ... He had more real personal courage than almost any man I ever knew. ... When he became convinced that Communism was an evil, he took up the battle against its inroads into American life and fought the tough way he had learned how to fight early in life.”
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McCarthy comes across in Cohn’s book as fully human, with all of his strengths and weaknesses on display, and if you can read it in its entirety and feel no sympathy for the Senator, then it is you whom I fear is not fully human.
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Through this book you’ll come to know the “man” behind the myth, and you’ll see “the devil in the details” of his great political cause. I tend to think of McCarthy as a Western (Civilization) hero –- kind of a “John Wayne Goes To Washington” character.

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There’s a great line in the Wayne Western THE UNDEFEATED, where The Duke shoots a villain after an argument erupts during a discussion. He rides back over to the group of people whom he’s protecting, and a properly “civilized” woman berates him, “You went out there to talk! Why did you have to shoot the man?” And John Wayne responds in that famous drawl, “Conversation kind of dried up, ma’am.” Likewise, Joseph McCarthy felt that the time for “nice” talk was over; it was time to take action against Communist infiltration in our government -–  take action against communists determined to wreck our Constitutional Republic, to put the people of this nation in great peril and to overturn the American way of life.
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Senator William Jenner, one of the 22 Republicans who voted against censure of Senator Joe McCarthy, told him, “Joe, you’re the kid who came to the party and pee’d in the lemonade.” In other words, McCarthy wouldn’t shut up and just go along to get along; he raised a ruckus when everyone else just wanted to “socialize.”
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I urge EVERY American to read McCARTHY, no matter what you may think you already know about the Senator and “McCarthyism”. If all of your information has come from mainstream publications and movies, then trust me, you’ve seen only one side of a two-sided coin. You’ve examined the “Tales” side, now let’s also look at “Heads.” Roy Cohn’s McCARTHY is a great book.

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While Cohn’s chapter titled “Why They Hated” is an interesting look at the philosophy espoused by the forces that opposed McCarthy, to get a better understanding of the macro view, let me also recommend the books, THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND by G. Edward Griffin, and THE NAKED CAPITALIST by W. Cleon Skousen.
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“It has been a bitter lesson to come to Washington and see a reputation, gained at some effort, torn to shreds merely because I was associated with Senator McCarthy, who has become the symbol of hatred for all who fear the exposure of Communism.”

~ Roy Cohn; McCARTHY, chapter 16.
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Senator McCarthy, wherever you are, I just want to say, “GOOD NIGHT, AND THANK YOU!”

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Friday, March 17, 2017

McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE (Episode #172)

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TORTILLA  FLAT
directed by Victor Fleming; starring Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, Hedy Lamarr
1942
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INTERVIEWER: Welcome back to 'McCarthy At Hollywood And Vine'! We’re here again with Stephen T. McCarthy and discussing the Hollywood classics .In Glorious Black & White . Tell us, Stephen, what makes TORTILLA  FLAT, the 1942 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, one of your favorite films of all time?
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McCARTHY: Well, there’s a great deal of wine-drinking in it.
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INTERVIEWER: Ha!-Ha! Alright, but really now, why does Tortilla Flat rate so high with you?
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McCARTHY: Because in watching it –- or even just discussing it -– I get a kind of contact high. I mean, they drink AN AWFUL LOT of wine in this movie! But beyond that, it’s simply a wonderful production of a truly funny and heartwarming story. Also, one of the prime examples of how some of those marvelous character actors of yesteryear could sometimes steal a picture right out from under the stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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INTERVIEWER: The stars in this case being Spencer Tracy and John Garfield?
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McCARTHY: Right. And Hedy Lamarr is the high candy. Excuse me -– EYE candy. Lamarr plays Dolores “Sweets” Ramirez, the Paisano girl who drives young, headstrong Danny insane with desire. The virile Danny is portrayed by Garfield. When he unexpectedly inherits two houses in Tortilla Flat, it sets off a whole chain reaction of events that soon threaten to dissolve his old friendships and undermine the sway that the cunning and manipulative Pilon -– played by Tracy –- holds over him. Soon, Pilon and “Sweets” are engaged in a power stwuggle –- uhm, STRUGGLE –- for influence with Danny, while his oddball collection of loafing friends shpend their days trying to devise new ways of acquiring more wine... short of working for a paycheck, that is. It’s fabulous fun!
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INTERVIEWER: Some viewers have expressed dissatisfaction with how the story deviates somewhat from Steinbeck’s book.
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McCARTHY: Sure, but what some people fail to realize is that novels and movies are two separate mediums and each has its own requirements -– a certain form that must be adhered to generally in order to successfully relate a story. A novel has plenty of time to unfold, but a movie has 90 to 120 minutes in which to tell its tale vishually. Uhm, visually. You don’t build a house like a boat and you don’t build a boat like a housh. House. A film demands a centwal conflict, and the third wheel “love twiangle” -– which occupies only a small segment of Steinbeck’s novel -– becomes the catalysht... catalysht... [hic!] ...becomes the thing that dwives the film. I think it was beautifully adapted to the big shcreen, retaining all of the charm and the overall tone of the novel. And in shome ways, the movie is even better than the book!
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INTERVIEWER: But in the book, Danny--
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McCARTHY: Yeah, Danny dies! How fun is that? And “Sweets” Ramirez is descwibed as “Not pretty. Her voice is swill... shrill. Her face is hard and sharp as a hatchet, and her figure ish lumpy.” Who wants to shee a lumpy woman? Huh? Tortilla Frat was directed by Victor Fleming. He diwec... he directed GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ, too; he knew what he wash doing! Steinbeck wrote: “What ish a Paisano? He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexshican and assorted Caucasian bloods. He speaks English with a Paisano accent, and Spanish wish a Paisano accent.” I don’t know what shortta accent Spensher Tracy was doing, but it’s loushy. But you get ushed to it after awhile.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, you mentioned the character actors.
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McCARTHY: They’re mahvelous! Shtupendous! They practically shteal the show! John Qualen as skinny Jos[hic!]... Jose Maria. And Akim Tamiroff as big, dumb Pablo. And Allen Jenkins ash Portagee Joe, who fallsh asleep everywhere. Sheldon Leonard as the jailer who breaks out of hish own jail. And eshpecially the great, great theshpian, Frank Morgan -– he was the wizard in THE WI[hic!]ZARD OF OZ. He playsh Pirate, the old man with a long beard who lovesh hish dogs. Hish dogs are “good boys.” There’s Enrique, and Paja[hic!]rito, and Fluff -– he’s a pug. And Senor Alec Thompson, whosh a kind of an Airedale. And Rudolph –- he ish “an American dog.” And Portagee Joe stealsh the money, but they get it back and dwink wine, an’ the dogs go to church, an’ Pilon cuts shquids, an’ Danny buysh a vacuum cleaner, an’ they shing bawdy [hic!] shongs about Arabella Gross an’ Missush Morallush when they dwink wine. An’ Shaint Franshish of Ashishi ish in the twees, an’--
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DIRECTOR: CUT! CUT! Look, somebody get some hot coffee into him, QUICK! Meanwhile, we’ll get our establishing shot taken care of and do some pickup shots, and maybe by then Stephen will be sober enough to complete the interview. ... Why, oh WHY?! And to think that I could be directing MTV videos for Rock stars. Tons of money, scantily dressed women, and all the Dom Perignon I can drink! Instead, like an idiot, I take THIS gig and my career goes tortilla flat.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

'McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE' (Episode #124)

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[FUN FACT: This "review" was originally published at Amazon.com in 2006, when Hillary Clinton was making noise about running for the 2008 Presidential election. In the comment section, a liberal woman named Joan M. Padilla excoriated me for using a masterpiece movie like '...Cuckoo's Nest' as political propaganda. She concluded her angry rant by stating that she hoped Hillary Clinton WOULD get me and all of my "ferret faced fascist friends". I complimented Joan on her comment, because that alliterative expression cracked me up, and it later became the inspiration for the title of my politically incorrect blog 'Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends' found (link:] HERE.]
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ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
directed by Milos Forman; starring Jack Nicholson
1975
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{*Note: spoiler alert*}
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INTERVIEWER: Hello, and welcome back to McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE. We’re here today with Stephen T. McCarthy and discussing one of his very favorite films, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Tell us, Stephen, when did you first see this highly acclaimed film?
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McCARTHY: CUCKOO’S NEST was released in nineteen seventy-five, and I saw it numerous times at The Avco Cinema Center in Los Angeles. I and a group of friends –- some who later went on to become police officers -– sneaked into the theatre repeatedly during its initial run. To this day, it remains entrenched on my all-time Top Ten movie list.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, you little criminal, we never would have thought it of you! I understand that you have a rather original perspective on this classic film. Want to share that with us?
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McCARTHY: Well, back in seventy-five, I thought I was just viewing a magnificently crafted and masterfully acted film centered on the important theme of individualism and finding and being true to one’s own "voice". I had no way of knowing that the movie was actually remarkably prescient with regards to the American political situation that would manifest over thirty years later.
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INTERVIEWER: Would you care to elaborate?
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McCARTHY: To the viewer in nineteen seventy-five, this movie, which won five Academy Awards, appeared to tell the story of a man who feigns mental illness in order to avoid his prison work detail. While he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation, his rebellious, individualistic spirit “infects” the real “nut cases” who begin to assert themselves much to the resentment of the domineering head nurse at the mental institution. But here in Aught Six, we can see that the movie was actually foretelling the political situation that this country now finds itself in.
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INTERVIEWER: To you, the characters in this movie represent something completely different, don’t they?
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McCARTHY: Yes. Actually, CUCKOO’S NEST is about the 2008 Presidential Election. The mental institution itself symbolizes the United States -– a loony bin if there ever was one. The domineering, manipulative, and vindictive head nurse, Mildred Ratched, represents Hillary Clinton –- a power-hungry woman driven by her insatiable quest for control. It should be pointed out that Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for her remarkable portrayal of Mrs. Clinton. Capturing every aspect of the senator’s traits, she paints us as good a portrait of Clinton as Clinton herself could have done.
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INTERVIEWER: But the senator’s road to The White House is not without obstacles, is it?
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McCARTHY: No. Standing in her way is the rebellious underdog, Randle Patrick McMurphy, a man who seeks to bring the nuts around him back to their senses. McMurphy personifies the true American spirit opposed to the Socialism of Nurse Ratched.
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There is one scene in particular that forcefully illustrates this friction: McMurphy petitions to have the television in the community room turned on so that he and his fellow Americans –- or “the mental defective league”, as he accurately refers to them -- can watch the second game of the 1963 World Series. Baseball, being “America’s Pastime”, is naturally repugnant to the Leftist Nurse, and so she resorts to her unique brand of sophism in order to prevent genuinely American traditions from being broadcasted into the community (room).
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INTERVIEWER: And Nurse Ratched is aided and abetted by--
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McCARTHY: She is voted into power and protected by women and minorities. This is conveyed by her ever-present subordinate female nurse and by the mental institution’s watchful and protective Black orderlies. Ratched’s eventual success in quashing all sense of individualism and driving the country deeper into the pit of Socialism is “shockingly” revealed in the eventual castration of America’s spirit, that being R.P. McMurphy. The symbolic castration, however, is thinly veiled by the fact that the scalpel is actually wielded against his “Northern” hemisphere.
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INTERVIEWER: Is there no happy ending here?
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McCARTHY: No, I’m afraid not. With the true American spirit now impotent, Mrs. Clinton occupies the ultimate position of power that she coveted, and the principles of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Mason -– those formerly enduring ideals NATIVE to America –- “fly the coop”, or leave the cuckoo’s nest. This is represented by the “Native American”, Chief Bromden, who heads for the hills.
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INTERVIEWER: And isn’t it true that--  Hey, wait, Stephen, where are you going?!
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McCARTHY: To pack my bags! I’m afraid that Nurse Ratched really is going to win the 2008 election, and I also need to be ready to escape this insane country and “head for the hills.”
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

'McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE' (Episode #71)

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[Note: This review was originally published at Amazon.com circa 2005.]
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THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES
documentary
1996
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INTERVIEWER: Welcome to 'McCarthy At Hollywood And Vine'. We're here again with Stephen T. McCarthy and we're discussing documentaries. Stephen, you don't watch many of them. Why is that?
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McCARTHY: I tend to read a lot of books, which are able to explore their topics in much greater detail. Usually, if I'm interested in a subject, I want to learn more about it than a 90 minute or two hour film can teach. There are a few documentaries I would strongly urge people to view, however. Certainly, 'In Pursuit Of The Shroud' is one. It's a good program on a fascinating subject, and if a copy can be located, it should inspire the viewer to pick up the book 'THE RESURRECTION OF THE SHROUD', Mark Antonacci's remarkable study. Of a political nature, 'Waco: The Rules Of Engagement' is a must-see.
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INTERVIEWER: How about 'THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES'?
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McCARTHY: Absolutely! 'THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES' is a 105-minute documentary that will open the eyes of all but the most desperate half-wits to the dastardly abuses of America's former Philanderer In Chief, Billy "Bubba" Clinton.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, a lot of people claim that this documentary is nothing more than a spurious, Right-wing attack, filled with unsubstantiated allegations and unsupportable innuendo.
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McCARTHY: Look, there's more than enough evidence presented here to warrant a full-fledged investigation. There's eyewitness testimony from people who were intimately familiar with Clinton's cocaine habits. We have several of his personal Arkansas State trooper bodyguards being interviewed about his many adulterous affairs.
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There's information on the laundering of money by Clinton's Arkansas Development Finance Authority. Gary Johnson, former attorney for Larry Nichols, displays the horrific scars he received from being beaten by several goons who stole his footage showing "Bubba" entering the condominium of Jennifer Flowers numerous times. Remember, Bubba claimed never to have been there. The scars are REAL! And so is the abundance of circumstantial evidence tying Clinton into the Mena, Arkansas, cocaine smuggling operation.
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Check the demeanor of law enforcement officers Duncan and Welch, who saw their intensive investigation of Bubba's wrongdoings quashed -- are they lying? Are ALL of the people interviewed in this movie lying? Is it simple coincidence that EVERY TIME an individual came forward with some sort of allegation against the Clintons, the media machine went right to work with unfounded character assassination pieces on said individuals?
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Anybody who actually watches this program and remains unconvinced that a full criminal investigation -- and indictments -- of the Clintons and their creepy cronies is justified, that person has the critical thinking capacity of a retarded earthworm. Either that, or they're as dishonest as... well... as Bill Clinton!
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INTERVIEWER: Don't pull any punches, Stephen. Why don't you tell us how you really feel. Ha!-Ha!
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McCARTHY: OK, I will! I think one of the biggest problems in America is that most citizens have been effectively divided along party lines. They no longer view themselves as Americans, but as defenders of their political party. They don't care what their representatives do, as long as they have fingers to point at the other party's transgressors. They're politically and spiritually sick. The people of the United States have been SYSTEMATICALLY DE-SPIRITUALIZED AND LOBOTOMIZED! Not one in ten possesses any discernible brain wave activity. They're a significant part of the problem.
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INTERVIEWER: But what about George W. Bush? Didn't he--
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McCARTHY: You see? That's what I'm talking about, right there! Don't get me started on Bush. There are many GOOD REASONS to believe that our two most recent presidents are accessories to murder. But anyone who dismisses 'THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES' as much ado about nothing, has their head shoved so far up their Southern orifice that they're not likely to ever again see the light of day! They're political dogs in heat, nosing after the underside of their own party, and lifting their leg to urinate on anyone from the "other" team. They're an embarrassment as Americans! Furthermore, they're too stupid to realize that unseen puppeteers have them well under control.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, surely YOU realize that this vituperation will garner you a passel of NEGATIVE RESPONSES, and could even get your program cancelled.
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McCARTHY: Well, as I've said before, the NEGATIVE RESPONSES don't bother me. In fact, I welcome them; I wear them like Badges of Honor, separating me from "them." The day I find most Americans agreeing with me is the day I'll reevaluate my positions. As for this show being taken off the air... that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing either. It would finally give me the time I need to follow my real dream.
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INTERVIEWER: Which is?
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McCARTHY: To open a Charm School and publish my book on Etiquette.
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Link To The Full Documentary:  
THE NEW CLINTON CHRONICLES
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

'McCARTHY AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE' (Episode # 26)

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LIFE IS TOO SHORT
by Mickey Rooney
published: 1991
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*RING!* .... *RING!*
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McCARTHY: Uh.... hullo?
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INTERVIEWER: Hello! We are here today with Internet reviewer Stephen T. McCarthy who is going to give us his impression of 'Life Is Too Short', the autobiography of Mickey Rooney.
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McCARTHY: Do you have any idea what time it is?
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INTERVIEWER: It's 3 A.M., but I'll ask the questions, Stephen, if you don't mind. We understand that unbeknownst to you, your Mother had an autographed copy of this book in her bookshelf for 13 years, which you just recently discovered and read.
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McCARTHY: Uhm.... yeah.
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INTERVIEWER: Tell us about it. In your Amazon.com review of The Black Stallion, you raved about Rooney's performance, calling it one of filmdom's finest. Did you also enjoy his book?
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McCARTHY: Uh... not really. It relates a lot of interesting stories about Tinsel Town in the 1930s and '40s. And it will appeal to people who wish to learn more about the stars and the Hollywood Studio System of those times. It also delivers the inside scoop on Mickey's eight marriages, and his relationship to Judy Garland.
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INTERVIEWER: What were some of the more surprising things you learned?
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McCARTHY: ZZZzzzzz....
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen?
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McCARTHY: Huh?... Oh! ...Uhm, well, according to Mickey, his discovery as a performer came as a result of a timely sneeze, and his life was narrowly spared a couple of times under odd circumstances. He seems to think it's every kid's dream to own an English sheepdog. The owner of Seabiscuit once spontaneously gave him an unsolicited opportunity to ride the famous racehorse hard for five-eighths of a mile. Mickey claims that during a chance encounter with a youthful Walt Disney, the artist decided to name his cartoon Mouse after him.
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INTERVIEWER: You sound skeptical.
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McCARTHY: Well... I dunno.
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INTERVIEWER: Stephen, we know that you consider laughter to be the liquor of life. Was there any humor in this autobiography?
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McCARTHY: Yeah, quite a bit. Of course, Mickey pokes fun at his well known lack of stature frequently. He once fought rival suitor, Howard Hughes, over Ava Gardner: "Soon we were wrestling on Ava's front lawn, a gangling genius and a Hollywood gnome."

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He jokes that he lost sixteen dollars at his first horse race and then spent the rest of his life and millions of dollars trying to win that sixteen dollars back.
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He tells of a stupendous night of hard drinking with Astaire, Cagney and Powell. Waking the next morning with stupendous hangovers, Rooney said, "I'm afraid I'm going to die." To which Cagney replied, "I'm afraid I'm NOT going to die."
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And Mickey declares, "There WAS a time when I wasn't married. I forget when. Fifteen or twenty minutes, I think, in 1968."
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There's also a hilarious fan(?) letter from a Mrs. Ellie Jones of Idaho reprinted.
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INTERVIEWER: Well then, Stephen, why only the 3-Star rating?
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McCARTHY: ZZZzzzzz...
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INTERVIEWER: STEPHEN!!
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McCARTHY: What? Oh... well... Just what is it about these gauche celebrities that compels them to publicly boast of their bedroom conquests? I hardly think we needed to know who Rooney got horizontal with, and when, where, and how many times. The guy seems to think he was writing for some skin magazine half the time. Describing in detail his wife's private parts was entirely uncalled for! He revels in telling us how he did this blonde and how he did that brunette, and how he did the sixteen Japanese gals in a Tokyo lovefest. Frankly, a good deal of this book is embarrassing, disappointing, classless, and too self-promotional. I dunno who "loved" Mickey the most, his rabid fans or his randy tarts.
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INTERVIEWER: Would you agree then that 'Life Is Too Short' could be summed up in the following verse?:

It's true that the author is a man of renown
But his 'Life Is Too Short' may be partly tall tale
In which Mickey Rooney, the bad boy of 'Boys Town',  
Bets the horse's nose and beds the Hollywood tail.
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*CLICK!*
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INTERVIEWER: Hello?.... Hello, Stephen?.... Hmmm. Well, folks, there you have it. Be sure to join us here again next time on 'McCarthy At Hollywood And Vine', when Stephen T. McCarthy will be reviewing the 1946, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall Film Noir classic, THE BIG SLEEP.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, March 6, 2017

DON'T BE A HORSE'S PATOOT -- SEE THIS MOVIE!

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THE BLACK STALLION
directed by Carroll Ballard; starring Mickey Rooney & Kelly Reno
1979
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You don't want to miss out on this wonderful family film about a boy and his dog. The fact that Caleb Deschanel was not even nominated-- Huh? ...A horse? Oh, yes! A horse, of course. A wonderful family film about a boy and his horse.
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The fact that Caleb Deschanel was not even nominated for an Oscar for his extraordinary cinematography in THE BLACK STALLION goes to prove what a dog and pony show the Academy Award presentations really are. (Dang! How'd that little dog sneak back in here again?) Deschanel's poetic work in this film belongs in an elite class which also includes KOYAANISQATSI and ONE FROM THE HEART.
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Kelly Reno's work also belongs in an elite class of highly developed performances by child actors, which also includes Bobs Watson in ON BORROWED TIME, and Haley Joel Osment in THE SIXTH SENSE.
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But what I really want to focus on with this review is something that only my fellow reviewer Candace Scott seemed to fully appreciate and noted in her July 3, 2003 assessment:

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I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to do a little (VERY little) professional acting in the late l970s and early '80s. It was a craft that I took very seriously and studied for many years. Having learned a bit about it, I wish to say that MICKEY ROONEY's naturalistic performance in this movie is one of the finest ever filmed! I watch THE BLACK STALLION every couple of years and end up slack-jawed every time!
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In acting there is something known as "False Notes", and these occur when a performer falls out of character and/or plays to the camera or audience. Even the greatest of thespians are guilty of committing False Notes in every performance. MICKEY's performance as horse trainer Henry Dailey may be the only PERFECT performance I have ever seen.

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Does it seem like he just isn't doing much? Does it seem like he's hardly even acting? EXACTLY!!! The viewer simply can't catch him "acting", and that's the whole point! His actions, his reactions, and his speech patterns are so organic to the character he's playing that he really ISN'T acting -- he's BEING! He's Henry Dailey IN THE MOMENT! He may have played a False Note for a brief moment in the scene where he reassures Alec who sits on the car bumper in the rain-soaked night. Maybe. Just maybe. It's arguable. I've seen many an extraordinary performance in my 57 years, but this one is really something special. There are many excellent reasons to see this film, but Mickey is the best of them. At least for me.
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I suppose I should mention the movie's one notable flaw even though it is of such little consequence: The editing in the horse race always disturbs me a little. As they cut from the long establishing shot to the thundering hooves, and then back to the long shots, it leaves the false impression that "The Black" changes his position in the field of horses a couple of times. (As if he's closed on the leader, and then fallen back again.) But c'mon, are we gonna let a little detail like that spoil such an overall artistic success for us? No way! The bottom line is: THE BLACK STALLION is a real winner -- you can bet on it!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, March 4, 2017

BIG MACK ATTACK!

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MACKIE
perfume by Bob Mackie
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“How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!”

~ Song Of Solomon
(The Holy Bible)
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I read through my Bible entirely each year, always dreading the day I’ll come to Song Of Solomon. Although I find it embarrassing, some people really seem to get off on it. Dr. Chuck Missler writes, “No book of the entire Bible has given rise to more commentary or difference of opinion. Some think it is just an allegory, others that it is literal, and still some as a handbook for sensual lovemaking… Great stuff. The rabbis wouldn’t let anyone study the book until they were over thirty.” 
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Yeah? Well imagine saying to a beautiful woman at a cocktail party, “Your hair is like a flock of goats going down from Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep which have come up from the washing…Your neck is like an ivory tower… Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus.” Would you like some cheese to go with that wine… that you’re wearing?
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And then there’s the passage in chapter seven: “How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! This stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts like its clusters. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches.”
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That always reminds me of the Steve Miller song The Joker, in which he sings, “You’re the cutest thing that I ever did see; I really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree.”
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For me, the only redeeming aspects of Song Of Solomon are a couple of verses (such as the one I opened this review with) that remind me of the perfume MACKIE For Women.
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My most serious and long-lasting romance was with a woman I called “The Countess”, based on Jeanne Moreau’s character in filmdom’s greatest tragic romance, 'MONTE WALSH' (1970). In 1994, after five years and five months to the day, the Countess and I finally called it quits for good and went our separate ways, however, happily retaining our friendship.
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But we used to like to test the many perfumes and colognes at department stores even though I could never find any I cared for. They were always too “_____” (floral, chemical, overpowering, sweet, stinky ...you name it). With me, it was always ACK!, UGH!, YUCK!, GACK! and PHEW!
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But then one day the Countess said, “How about this one?” I inhaled and said, “MMMmmmm...” She had found MMMmmmmackie. And since the Countess liked it too, that became her scent.
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I wish I had some MACKIE now so I could accurately describe that fragrance, but relying on a 22-year-old memory, I recall it as being only lightly floral, more like luscious fruit, drizzled with warm honey, sprinkled with spice and talcum powder, then mixed with white lace and promises and a twist of “Come hither”. What’s “Come hither”? Danged if I can explain it, but believe me, a guy knows it when he encounters it. Take it from a “Real Man” whose nose knows.
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And that reminds me, we now have a term: Girlie Girls. These are females who revel in their femininity. In my youth, there was no need for such a category because nearly all girls were girlie; they all played to their “natural” strength of femininity. They knew how to manipulate men with their tender qualities. They knew how to be ladies and how to make men feel good about being men. And the men loved them for it.
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But now, most women I see come off more masculine than most males I know. (I think that with the death of Waylon Jennings, my Brother and I, and one other guy I’ve read about who lives in Chicago, are probably the only “Real Men” left. And really, my Brother may just be a little TOO “Real.”)
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But MACKIE For Women is a scent for that rare breed of woman today who still remembers what it means to be one, and who wants to present herself accordingly. If you’re one of those butch babes, tattooed and truck-driving, putting MACKIE on is going to be like putting a gold necklace on a grrrl gorilla. I’d say, save yer money instead for a really nice tattoo of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
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MACKIE is a standout scent -- it isn’t just another perfume. Some time after the Countess and I went phfft, I found myself speaking with a woman who had a familiar aura about her. “Are you wearing MACKIE?” I asked. She was stunned that I was able to identify it. I let her go on believing that I was simply a knowledgeable, finely cultured gentleman. (Now that I think about it… maybe she thought I was one of those “funny” fellas. No, I don’t mean comedians.)
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And later still, I thought I caught a whiff of it emanating from a woman on the street. I nearly had a big Mack attack! Under ordinary circumstances, I would have immobilized her against a wall and said, “I wanna shmell ya!” But in this case, she happened to be walking an extraordinarily large and high-strung looking dog, so I somehow managed to pull myself together and let her walk on by.
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If you want to revisit a time when “girlie” was common, when women were ladies and ladies were so smart they knew how to get their way with men without even having to compete with them, then MACKIE is your first move on the way to “checkmate.” It’s probably not going to change your whole life, just your love life (of course, sometimes that too creates a wide-ranging rearranging).
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Just think how enjoyable it’s going to be to send men the olfactory signal that you’re a real lady, and to see them mysteriously compelled to treat you like one. ...But just to be on the safe side, you might want to keep Rover nearby -– a lotta guys are gonna wanna shmell ya!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"VENGEANCE IS MINE," Saith The Blonde (Coulter 12:19)

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GODLESS: The Church Of Liberalism
by Ann Coulter
published: 2006

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Oh, Ann, Ann, Ann, what are we gonna do with you? Don't you know that you can't just go around telling the truth and grinding poor, defenseless Liberals into powder? It's not done in polite society and it's not... well... I dunno... it's just not NICE. Why you wanna do that for? Especially to Liberals who are such nice people... other than their propensity to lie, slander, and teach immorality to the school children who managed to survive their legalized amusement park, Abortionland.

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OK, I'll be more serious now that I've gotten rid of all the Libs. I really enjoyed Ann Coulter's new sermon, 'GODLESS: The Church Of Liberalism', which has the potential to jimmy open the minds and eyes of a lot of people if only we could get anyone outside of "the choir" to actually read it.

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'GODLESS' is classic Coulter: 281 pages that spill the beans on the degenerate Liberal (read: Communistic) agenda while simultaneously and often humorously piercing the most notorious Libs with that sharp "devil" tongue of hers.  Ann loves to roll around in the mud pit with the nastiest boys 'n' girls from the Left. And why not? The chick pins 'em nearly every time! The text had me laughing out loud and shaking my head one minute and then raising and shaking my fist at our society-razers the next.
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Coulter preaches this time by framing her political discourse in a Judeo-Christian BELIEVER VS. UNBELIEVER format, and while at times her religious theme is tenuous at best (Chapter 3 - The Martyr: Willie Horton), at other times it is perfectly apropos (the four chapters dealing with Evolution, for instance).

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I knew Ann was going to be in fine form when the following sentence from page 19 got me some curious stares while I was having breakfast in my local IHOP. I was laughing so uncontrollably that I shook my sunnyside ups into scrambled eggs!: "Throughout the 2004 campaign, the Democrats were looking for a Democrat who believed in God -- a pursuit similar to a woman searching for a boyfriend in a room full of choreographers."
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By now, everyone has heard the great controversy about the comment, "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much" from the fifth chapter which deals with the 9/11 New Jersey Widows. Just the other day, I said to a friend in an E-mail: "That remark appears in what I consider the book's weakest chapter and I don't care for the comment either. Even for Coulter, that was a bit over-the-top and I wish she hadn't written it because it gives the Liberals one little "sound bite" (text bite?) they can replay over and over again to turn people against her book without having to deal with the 99.9% of the book that is right on target and needs to be answered."

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I consider that the book's weakest chapter because I believe that it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt that numerous people in the current administration knew in advance when and where the 9/11 attacks would occur and allowed them to take place as justification to invade the Middle East. (You study it THOROUGHLY, like I have, before labeling me a "loon.")
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However, Ann's best chapters are the four that address that Monkey Business called "Evolution." Because this is a high-profile Ann Coulter book, I am heartened to know that now many Americans who didn't know any better will be exposed to the truth about Evolution. (Did I just use the words "truth" and "Evolution" in the same sentence? Hokey-Smoke! How funny is that?!)

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Also from that same E-mail to that same friend: "I was already aware of almost all of the information in the Evolution chapters, but the average American who hasn't studied the subject will find it new and revealing. And because Coulter reaches millions and millions with her books, the lie about Evolution is about to become commonly known amongst the American people. I love that. I love that they won't be able to pull that bullshit on the sleeping populace for much longer. I predict that -- thanks to this one book -- we're going to see some powerful movements in this country to either remove the teaching of Evolution in this country's classrooms, or else see it being balanced in some way with the introduction of Intelligent Design."
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Coulter cuts through the "crapola" (that's a Liberal landscape colored over with an excrement-hued Crayola crayon, in case you didn't know) in typical Coulter fashion with logical insights like this:
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In 2004, Gloria Steinem cited Hitler's opposition to abortion in order to compare him to President Bush: "Among the first things [Hitler] did when he came to office was declare abortion a crime against the state." In a column titled "Hitlers Great and Small," Ellen Goodman said Pro-Lifers "surely know that Hitler was a hard-line opponent of abortion." (Did that make him Pro-Life?) Hitler also loved dogs -- that doesn't mean we should beat the little creatures. [Pg. 273]
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Although I don't always agree with her, Ann Coulter is currently one of my favorite living writers. No one else makes me laugh harder or more often. No one else made me open my eyes to the fact that Janet Reno looks eerily like Elton John. Just mere coincidence that we've never seen them together at a Democrat fund-raiser? Hmmm....
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Everything From "D-O-G" To "CANINE LEPTOSPIROSIS"

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RANDOM HOUSE WEBSTER'S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY

published: 2001
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Reviewed from "A" to "Z" :
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A Bang-up, Crackerjack Dictionary -- Etymologically Fabulous.
Gargantuan -- Heavy!
It's Just Killer, Linguistically.
Material's Nicely Organized.
Paper Quality? Really Sturdy.
Terrific, Unabridged Verbosity.
With "Xeroradiography"? Yep, Zestfully!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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