Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The US of A breaks the Soviet record

Glenn Greenwald:

Even for the humble among us who try to avoid jingoistic outbursts, some national achievements are so grand that they merit a moment of pride and celebration:

US presence in Afghanistan as long as Soviet slog

The Soviet Union couldn't win in Afghanistan, and now the United States is about to have something in common with that futile campaign: nine years, 50 days.

On Friday, the U.S.-led coalition will have been fighting in this South Asian country for as long as the Soviets did in their humbling attempt to build up a socialist state.
It seems clear that a similar -- or even grander -- prize awaits us as the one with which the Soviets were rewarded. I hope nobody thinks that just because we can't identify who the Taliban leaders are after almost a decade over there that this somehow calls into doubt our ability to magically re-make that nation. Even if it did, it's vital that we stop the threat of Terrorism, and nothing helps to do that like spending a full decade -- and counting -- invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries.


Greenwald's post goes on to observe that the war cheerleaders are in no mood to back down, and they have the loudest and most heeded voices in Washington. We're going to continue this folly, apparently, until all we have left to fight with is sticks and stones. And that's the biggest point here. Putting aside for the moment all the devastating criticisms one can easily make regarding our occupation of Afghanistan, its counterproductiveness in reducing radical Islamic terrorism, the foolishness of "nation building," the rampant corruption of the region's puppet government, the insolubility of Taliban and Al Qaeda entrenchment in neighboring Pakistan, and on and on, perhaps the worst thing about the war from an American point of view is the amount of money and national emphasis we're wasting there.

It would be no different if we built massive bonfires of dollars in Congress and burned them twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, while our senators and representatives roasted weenies and marshmallows. That is, this is essentially what our national priority is if you're part of the political class.

Our economy isn't nearly as weak as the Soviets' was during their ill fated occupation of Afghanistan back in the 80s, but our reaching the nine year mark there is every bit as symbolic of a decaying empire as it was for the USSR: our priorities are so totally fucked up that, even while unemployment hovers chronically at the tumultuous ten percent mark, our leaders persist in fighting an unwinnable and meaningless war that will gain us nothing. Our political institutions are incapable of addressing real problems and issues; instead, we fight a war.

Remember in Animal House when the Delta guys find out that they've been on "double secret probation" for months now, and the shit's about to really hit the fan? They decide to go on a road trip. Fuck reality. Let's have some fun. Their problems were so big, it seemed reasonable to just not face them at all.

That's what we're doing now, but on a national level. Our leaders are out to lunch. A nation that cannot, will not, deal with its problems at home, one that would rather go on road trips instead of getting its house in order, is a nation in its last days. Like I said, it's not quite as bad as it was with the Russians, but it's the same dynamic.

If you read conservative analyst
Kevin Phillips, you can discover all the disgusting details for yourself of how the American Empire is in deep decay. It's actually much worse than you think.


Monday, November 29, 2010


From the AP via ESPN:

Cyrus Gray scores 2 long TDs, carries Aggies to win over Longhorns

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas A&M heaped one final insult on Texas' miserable season.

Cyrus Gray rushed for 223 yards and had two long touchdowns, helping No. 17 Texas A&M beat Texas 24-17 on Thursday night, sending the Longhorns to their first losing season since 1997.

"We set out at the beginning of the season to do this," Texas A&M senior center Matt Allen said. "Beat Texas and win in November."


Again from the AP via ESPN:

Ryan Mallett's 3 TDs lead Razorbacks to upset of LSU

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Bobby Petrino saved his toughest call for Arkansas' biggest game of the season.

Petrino went for it on fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter on Saturday and Ryan Mallett made the move pay off with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Joe Adams. The play paved the way for the No. 12 Razorbacks' 31-23 win over LSU (No. 5 BCS, No. 6 AP), and it kept alive Arkansas' chances for the school's first BCS bowl bid.


And thus ends a very disappointing season.

Well, it's not quite over for me yet: LSU will get some kind of bowl berth, at least, maybe the Capitol One Bowl, or the Carquest Bowl, or the Cap'n Crunch Bowl, or the Summer's Eve Douche Bowl, whatever. Really, LSU hasn't been so bad this year. I mean, they've only lost a couple of games, and in the SEC, that's kind of a big deal. And they were definitely in both the games they lost, until, you know, they lost.

Really, I've been spoiled for years now. I've got to get past the national championship expectation. It's just not reasonable to expect your team to win BIG year after year. LSU has done damned well by that standard this year. Texas...well, Texas is rebuilding. I think. Man, losing to the Aggies always sucks. A season like this kind of makes that loss to Alabama last year rather meaningless in the grand scheme--losing the national championship would be sweet compared to being deprived of any bowl bid at all by hated rival Texas A&M.

Next year. Next year.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

DeLay convicted of money laundering charges

From the Houston Chronicle:

AUSTIN — Eight years after former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped engineer a Republican takeover of the Texas House and state congressional delegation, a Travis County jury Wednesday convicted him of felony money laundering in the 2002 elections.

DeLay, of Sugar Land, was convicted in a scheme to funnel corporate donations to seven Texas House candidates through a money swap with the Republican National Committee. Corporate money cannot legally be donated to candidates in Texas.

He faces two to 20 years in prison on a conspiracy charge and five to 99 years or life on a money laundering charge. He is free on bail, with sentencing tentatively set for Dec. 20.

DeLay and his family did not react when the verdict was read. But after the court was dismissed, DeLay received a hug and kiss from his wife, Christine. His adult daughter, Dani DeLay Garcia, buried her face against his shoulder and began sobbing. DeLay's face turned red as he fought back tears.

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin called the verdict "a terrible miscarriage of justice" and pledged to appeal. "I'm very, very disappointed. This will never stand up."

DeLay, as from the outset, said the case was all politics.


...not with a bang but a whimper. Heh.

DeGuerin is one of the best lawyers in Texas, or at least, he has one of the best reputations, so he may very well be right when he asserts that "this will never stand up." I don't know. This kind of case is said to be difficult to prosecute, and right-wing critics have a point when they observe that Travis County, where the case was tried, is much more liberal than the rest of Texas. So I guess we'll wait and see.

But they did get him. And for that I'm really happy. And hopeful that the conviction sticks.

DeLay is a total scum bag. The kind of guy who thinks it's okay to do something totally anti-democratic if you can get away with it. Just remember the political context back in 2002 when he committed his crime. The Republicans, led in part by DeLay, had only four years earlier impeached a popular President on frivolous charges. Two years after that, they
literally stole the White House from Democrat Al Gore. A year later, a twist of fate known as 9/11 had dropped shitloads of political capital right into the GOP's lap. The Republicans then proceeded to whip the nation into a bloodthirsty war frenzy and the invasion of Iraq was just a few months away. They were riding high, convinced they could do anything.

And if the law wasn't on their side, why, they would just rewrite it so that it was. Why not? That's what they did in Texas with the redistricting scheme that got them the House, but also resulted in DeLay's downfall.

If the former Lizard King is completely convinced that he's being railroaded, it's no surprise. His party's arrogance, pretty intense right now, but in the stratosphere at that point, and especially his arrogance, really do translate into a sense that Republicans are literally above the law, and should never have to answer for their misdeeds simply because they're Republicans. These aren't crocodile tears DeLay is shedding: he really does think the liberals are out to get him.

The sad truth for the disgraced former Congressional leader is that, whatever the outcome of the appeals process, the liberals have already gotten him. Well, the liberals and the Texas state judicial system. Okay, just the judicial system. But the point is that DeLay's not coming back. He's out. And all the stinky reptilian baggage he now carries makes any political second act extremely unlikely.

In many ways, the trial is just a coda.


Friday, November 26, 2010



Be sure to check out
Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Wink of an Eye"

From Wikipedia:

"Wink of an Eye" is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and was first broadcast on November 29, 1968. It was repeated on June 24, 1969. It is episode #66, production #68, and was written by Arthur Heinemann, based on a story by Lee Cronin, and directed by Jud Taylor.

Overview: Invisible "time-accelerated" aliens take over the Enterprise and attempt to abduct the crew for use as "genetic stock".


Watch it
here, another one of those digitally remastered versions.

Notes and pics:

* Scotty in command!

* Quick teasers are always appreciated. I mean, let's just get to it, why don't we?

* You hear the lyric-less singing in the theme song much more prominently with these digitally remastered jobs.

* Good sick bay visit.

* Discovering the force field is a nice moment. Phaser fire is cool, too.

* Kind of plodding so far, but engaging.

* The coffee shots are very Hitchcock.

* Very trippy going into fast-time.

* Nice canted screen. Gives a very off-kilter feeling.

* Kirk smooches a babe.

* I love her psyche-sexua-delic costume.

* Red Shirt Compton: "I'm sorry, sir, entry is forbidden." What a smarmy, obviously gay, butthole surfer boy. He may very well be the best and most fleshed-out red shirt of all time. Of course, he has to die.

* Compton's speech is sublimely bad. But pretty great.

* His death is totally meaningless and anti-climactic. A bit boring, even. The perfect red shirt death.

* Spock: "Mr. Sulu, did you drink your coffee?"

Sulu: "Yes."

Spock: "Did anyone else?"

Scotty: "I had some."

This plot just keeps slowing down, but it's all working as a sort of exercise in frustration.

* This guy is a real Charlton Heston type. I mean, not so grandiose, but in the same family. Love his metallic suit.

* Hmmm. Sex aliens. We're moving into Logan's Run territory here.

* Really long discussion on the morality of kidnapping spacemen to have sex with them for species survival. And the frozen figures of Chapel, McCoy, and Spock give this scene a real Verfremdungseffekt.

* Kirk's ruse in the transporter room is really fucking funny. He's doing that lying thing seen back in "
Mirror Mirror," but he's over the top with it.

* I'm starting to think this is Star Trek's
Brechtian episode.

* Okay, Spock watching a scene from earlier in the episode is f'ing weird.

* Kirk pulling on his boots. Did they just smash?

* Kirk's using his
will of Landru face here. The same music's playing, too.

* Spock drinking the Scalosian water. This is like feeling the acid slowly kick in.

* Nice moment when Spock repairs the ship at super speed.

* Spock: "I found it an accelerating experience." WTF?

* Okay, I really enjoyed this a whole lot more than I was expecting to. It lingers in my memory as being below average, and there's probably a reason for that. It's got some goofy stuff, and moves more slowly than pretty much any other 60s Trek episode, but, in the end, all these seeming disadvantages work in favor of "Wink of an Eye." This is more like weird cabaret avant-garde theater than anything else. If you embrace the slowness of it all, decide to love the still disengagement of the Enterprise crew as seen from accelerated time, dig the hints of what will historically turn out to be a creepy 70s sexual vibe, this one's a lot of fun. Imagine it all done with the actors using German accents, and you'll get the idea.

Four stars.


5 Ways to Deal With Your Conservative Relatives This Thanksgiving


Maybe your brother-in-law works on Wall Street and declares he wants to see the Bush tax cuts extended indefinitely as he scoops himself a generous portion of mashed potatoes. Or perhaps your aunt mentions, while checking on the turkey, that Sarah Palin is her role model and she can’t wait to follow her Rupert Murdoch-sponsored book tour from city to city. Or maybe, over a slice of pumpkin pie and coffee, your grandfather suggests that the Tea Party’s ideas aren’t half bad, and he likes that Rand Paul fella because he’s really getting the government out of people’s Medicare.

Given this month’s volatile political climate, chances are someone’s going to break the no politics/no religion rule and say something to make your blood boil as you sit around the table this Thanksgiving. When that cringe-inducing moment arrives, whether it's over appetizers or dessert, you want to defend the honor of progressives and their ideas without coming across as snotty, snarky, or out of touch. And without letting the situation devolve into violence. (You’re a pacifist, right?)


While I wouldn't particularly choose the actual arguments offered by the above linked essay myself, I do like the overall strategy: light skirmishes designed to muck up right-wing "logic" such that your conservative relatives look a bit foolish asserting impossible ideas, rather than attempting to land a glorious knockout blow. I mean, you're not going to get a knockout blow, anyway, because, you know, the moment you're really talking smack is when you lose them, probably resulting in all hell breaking loose and ruining another Thanksgiving.

So it's a good idea to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. You won't win, but you'll look good.

Actually, this is something of a depressing notion for me when it comes to my own family. My father and two brothers are pretty far to the right, and they're all intelligent, especially my older brother. They are the people with whom I would most enjoy discussing politics. Not to grind any axes, not to prove I'm right and they're wrong, but just for sheer enjoyment. Just to see if my ideas can gain any traction or respect. Just to participate in one of my favorite activities with the people I love most. Just to see how well I can hang in a real debate with that smarter older brother, who happens to be a lawyer, which makes him really good with argumentation.

But it's just impossible.

They are just as passionate about their political ideas as I am about mine. But living in Texas, land of hyper-conservatism, they haven't ever had to learn how to hold their tongues at the right moment. I mean, why would they? Most Texans agree with them; icky yucky liberals are other people who live elsewhere, for the most part. I, on the other hand, lived as a liberal in the Lone Star State for many years. Speaking respectfully to conservatives is something of a survival skill. So while I'm ready, willing, and able to have a rip roaring debate, liberal versus conservative, with my family, my family simply can't do it.

At various times in my life, I've pissed off each one of them with some political remark they just couldn't stomach. And this was years ago when I was much more conservative myself. I think it's very likely that if I told them what I really think, screaming and yelling would result in short order. And it's such a drag! Debate, when respectful, is great fun. It's educational. It is, in many ways, who we are as a people, democracy loving children of the Enlightenment. It doesn't even have to produce a winner or loser. The argument is its own reward. Not only do you learn other people's points of view, you learn more about your own views while they are tested under fire.

But this simple pleasure, this most American of pastimes, is denied me. At least with my own family.

Hmph. Really, this situation is not unlike what faces the entire nation. We can't really discuss politics these days. I mean, sure, we discuss politics, but we don't listen to each other, can't listen to each other. For my part, I blame the conservatives, but I also know that for decades liberals treated their right-wing counterparts in much the same way conservatives treat progressives today, with so much contempt that listening is out of the question.

I guess that's something we won't be thankful for this year.

Ah well, Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm busy tonight, so I direct you to two recent essays by the guy I voted for a couple of years ago instead of the guy we ended up getting. Both from

Bush at Large

George W. Bush is on a roll—a money roll with a $7 million advance for his book Decision Points and a rehabilitation roll to paint his war crimes as justifiable mass-slaughter and torture.

His carefully chosen interviewers—NBC’s Matt Lauer and Oprah Winfrey—agreed to a safe pre-taping to avoid demonstrations and tough questions. Requests for him to speak are pouring in from business conventions and other rich assemblages willing to pay $200,000 for “the Decider’s” banalities. This is “Shrub’s” month in the sun.



After nearly two years out, I can imagine George W. Bush writing his successor the following letter:

Dear President Obama:

As you know I’ve been peddling my book Decision Points and while doing interviews, people ask me what I think of the job you’re doing. My answer is the same: He deserves to make decisions without criticism from me. It’s a tough enough job as it is.

But their inquiries did prompt me to write you to privately express my continual admiration for the job you are doing. Amazing! I say “privately” because making my sentiments public would not do either of us any good, if you know what I mean.


Regular blogging resumes tomorrow.


Monday, November 22, 2010


From the Rachel Maddow Show:

STEWART: Well, no, no. How do we -- Keith is making money. And it seems like the -- I don't think you can separate the atmosphere of FOX and think that network executives don't look at -- nothing succeeds like excess or whatever. Nothing exceeds like excess. You know, if that was a measured network and a measured tone, I don't think you would see people raising the bar on graphics and all those other things. People are fighting -- the problem with 24-hour news cycle is it's built for a very particular thing, 9/11. Other than that, there really isn't 24 hours of stuff to talk about in the same way.

MADDOW: Right.

STEWART: Now, the problem is: how do you keep people watching it? O.J.'s not going to kill someone every day. So, that's gone. So, what do you have to do? You have to elevate the passion of everything else that happens that might even be somewhat mundane and elevate it to the extent that this is breaking news. This is developing news. This is breaking developing news. The aggregate effect of that is that you begin to lose the lexicon. You begin to it lose any meaning of what breaking news means or urgent or look at this or dangerous. That was our montage at the end. It wasn't saying --

MADDOW: Just hype, hype, hype.

STEWART: Right. It was it the language then has to become sharper, louder, to cut through more and more of the noise. And what I'm saying is maybe there is a way to not engage in the idea, not to accept the premise - there is a premise out there.

The premise is: we are all on this access of left/right. Maybe there's a different premise. And I don't mean that in the way of partisanship. I mean it in the way of -- they cover politics.

Watch it
here. You can also access the full transcript for the segment when you're there.

One of the great things about Stewart, when you're either agreeing or disagreeing with him, is that he has clearly thought very deeply about whatever he's asserting. Indeed, his responses in this interview show a guy who is very intellectually involved with the medium in which he's a star. Consequently, he offers what appears to be a fairly fleshed out critique of the content offered by the TV shows we call "the news."

Unfortunately, Stewart misses the forest for the trees. That is, he barely scratches the surface when it comes to analyzing the business of television, and doesn't even try to consider the technology of television itself, and how it shapes and forms the content against which he rails so boisterously.

Here, check out this
bit of summary of Jerry Mander's seminal work Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television:

He concludes this section with "Thirty-three Miscellaneous Inherent Biases," a sampling of which follows:

•Violence in better TV than non-violence.

•Religions with charismatic leaders such as Billy Graham, Jesus Christ, Reverend Moon, Maharishi or L. Ron Hubbard are far simpler to handle on television that leaderless or nature-based religions like Zen Buddhism, Christian Science, American Indians, or druidism, or, for that matter, atheism. Single, all-powerful gods, or individual godlike figures are simpler to describe because they have highly defined characteristics. Nature-based religions are dependent upon a gestalt of human feeling and perceptual exchanges with the planet. To be presented on television, they would need to be too simplified to retain meaning.

•Political movements with single charismatic leaders are also more suitable and efficient for television. When a movement has no leader or focus, television needs to create one. Mao is easier to transmit than Chinese communism. Chavez is better television than farm workers. Hitler is easier to convey than fascism.

•Superficiality is easier than depth.

•Short subjects with beginnings and ends are easier to transmit than extended and multifaceted information. The conclusion is simpler than the process.

•Feelings of conflict, and their embodiment in action, work better on television than feelings of agreement, and their embodiment in calm and unity. Conflict is outward, agreement is inward, and so the former is more visible than the latter.

•Competition is inherently more televisable than cooperation as it involves drama, winning, wanting and loss. Cooperation offers no conflict and becomes boring.

•The bizarre always get more attention on television than the usual.

•The business relationship to natural landscapes as resources is easier to present than the Indian relationship to nature as the source of being.
If you go to the book, you can read for yourself how Mander arrives at these conclusions, but most of you probably find these assertions to be fairly uncontroversial. That is, you may very well instinctively understand these biases already. On the other hand, if you think this is all bullshit, suffice it to say that when you combine limitations of the technology, such as small screens relative to giant movie screens or even the wide and deep perception of your own two eyes, and combine such limitations with standard business practices, such as scheduling content segments around commercials, or having to have new content every hour of the day, you get the above excerpted set of biases.

Really, you should just go read it, whether you agree or not. Hopefully, it will give you the intellectual tools needed to achieve an entirely new understanding of the medium which pervades our lives literally more than any other existing force.

But I digress.

What this means for the likes of Stewart is that, as much as we all want it, television cannot change. The way TV news programs cover the important events of today was foreordained back in the 1950s when the television business was solidifying. TV has to create ramped-up psychotic conflict when it comes to politics because it has no choice. The technology and the business system running it force everything, all content, into simplistic, crude, conflict-oriented, and flamboyant straitjackets.

So we can whine about the news forever. But TV will never change. It can't change. This is what it is. Insisting that television news give us a more nuanced and less conflicted view of the political landscape is like asking pigs to fly. It goes against its very nature.

And, short of blowing up your local cable TV hub, I have no solutions, which is a really big drag because television is so, you know, fucking influential. What we're looking at here is that TV, which we love, is, and has been for decades, heavily contributing to our democracy's decline. What can we do?



From the AP via ESPN:

Texas tops Florida Atlantic to end four-game skid

AUSTIN, Texas -- Garrett Gilbert threw two long touchdown passes and Emmanuel Acho had a 57-yard interception return for a score as Texas snapped a four-game losing skid with a 51-17 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.


Again from the AP via ESPN:

LSU needs late rally to hold off Mississippi's upset bid

Jefferson passed for a career-high 254 yards, threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and fifth-ranked LSU beat Mississippi for the first time in three meetings 43-36 on Saturday.

LSU (10-1, 6-1 SEC) trailed 36-35 with 4:57 left when Patrick Peterson returned a kickoff 34 yards to midfield, setting up a game-winning drive that ended with Stevan Ridley's third touchdown rushing.


Well, this is the rare good football weekend for me this season. Okay,
the Houston Texans lost to the Jets on a last minute TD pass, but I'm not big on the pros. Not since the Oilers dissolved into...some other team some other place. But enough of that. The Saints won. Texas won, albeit against a shitty Sun Belt team, but after four losses in a row, any win would have sufficed. LSU won. Good weekend.

I've been wondering tonight what makes a football team come together and win. Texas and LSU have what are probably similar levels of talent. Both teams send a lot of players to the NFL; both get great recruiting classes. For some years I've thought that Mack Brown is a much better coach than Les Miles, but each of them has a national championship under his belt, and Brown's team this year is playing far worse than any LSU squad Miles has coached. So, when comparing the two teams, you can't automatically declare that it's about talent or coaching. I mean, talent and coaching play big roles, to be sure, but when trying to figure out why LSU is playing great this year, and Texas is playing worse than I've ever seen, and I watched most of Fred Akers' final season in Memorial Stadium back in 1986, so I know what a shit Texas team looks like, it's very likely not talent or coaching that's the culprit.

So what's the deal? How can Les Miles' chronically sloppy Tigers be 10-1 while Mac Brown's usually tight and professional Longhorns are struggling simply to get the six wins you need for bowl eligibility? I suspect that psychology plays some role here, and group dynamics, all that therapy shit, but to be honest, I haven't a clue.

Anyway, die Aggies, die.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


...well...let's see. I'm pretty sure that's Chekov on his back in the foreground. Sulu's slumped over the helm position. I'm pretty sure that's Spock over to the the far right at the top of the steps. That's probably Scotty below him. I have no idea who the red shirt upstage center is, and I suspect the woman to the left is Uhura's sometime-replacement.

I guess I'll know for sure when I watch "The Way to Eden" here in a week or two. It is a cool pic, though.


Friday, November 19, 2010




Be sure to check out
Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Plato's Stepchildren

From Wikipedia:

"Plato's Stepchildren" is a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series
, first broadcast November 22, 1968. It is episode #65, production #67, written by Meyer Dolinsky, and directed by David Alexander. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of an inter-racial kiss on United States television (between Kirk and Uhura).

Overview: The crew of the Enterprise encounters an ageless and sadistic race of psychic humanoids who claim to have organized their society around Ancient Greek ideals.


Watch it
here (another one of those digitally remastered versions, pretty cool, actually).

Notes and pics:

* What's with the dwarf? Well, he's interesting, at any rate.

* This guy's like
J. Peterman from Seinfeld.

* Babe. Wasn't she in "
A Taste of Armageddon"?

* Is it fair to call this one a parallel Earth story? Sure, yeah, another "
sword and sandal" genre hybrid thingy.

* Ericatus and Dionide are
Lenny and Carl.

* These people are strangely alluring in their elitist arrogance. That is, I kind of love hating them.

* Scotty in command!

* Okay, the psychically enforced thrashing around here is pretty darned goofy.

* This dwarf makes me uncomfortable. He's a sort of
Robby Benson or Chris Makepeace type, but short and disproportionate.

* I once performed this song, myself, in front of a live audience.

* There's something gratifying about watching Kirk slap himself.

* Yeah, the psychic puppet thing is really fucking silly.

Pericles' shield is a pretty cool gift, but this whole ceremony is very you-had-courage-already, if you know what I mean. Kirk versus the Wizard of Oz.

* Good discussion on political morality.

* On the one hand, I love the theatricality and absurdity of the K&S laurel wreath performance. On the other hand, my discomfort continues to grow.

* Torturing Kirk lasts for fucking ever.

* Okay, Kirk's scream here, a rehash of his fabulous bellow in "
The Man Trap," is really funny.

* Love Spock's flamenco dancing over Kirk's head.

* Laughing Spock is always cool.

* Crying Spock is almost just as good.

* This entire sequence, from the award ceremony until Kirk the pony boy, man, I don't know whether I love or hate this. I feel kind of sick, but maybe that's a good thing. I don't know.

* I'm not buying Spock's shame here. He's reacting to an unwanted display of emotion with more emotion? That's not very Vulcan.

* Does Shatner have a cold in this one? He's pretty nasal.

* Okay, here's what I hate about Alexander: he's a bad
speech tournament actor. There. I said it out loud. But we've all been thinking it.

* Alexander: "You can keep your precious power!" A bad pint-sized Brando wannabe. I just kind of want to stare at the floor. I'll take
Mini-Me over him any day of the week.

* Okay, Uhura looks hot in her flowing yet form fitting Grecian attire.

* Kirk just looks gay: "Let's concentrate on raising this plate of fruit." Yeah, we know what you mean.

* "A serenade from the laughing space man." Actually, "Bitter Dregs," as performed by Spock ain't half bad. I mean, this is fucking absurd, but not so bad. Anybody ever hear Leonard Nimoy's "
Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"?

* Chapel is the least sexy of all women on Star Trek. This includes

* Dionide: "Oh, how faithless and fickle."

Ericatus: "Make up your mind!"

I don't even know what to say.

* Kirk and Uhura do look kind of hot together. Hey, imagine
Tony Curtis with the Captain, instead of Uhura. It's funny.

* Ooooh! Sadism. Do they realize how gay they're making Kirk look? I mean, a bull whip, really?

* Kirk: "I have a little surprise for you." This is just a final slap in the face.

* I'm really at a loss for how to rate this one. It's bad, definitely. But it's an unusual kind of bad, one that goes into some very weird places. It's like, what if Roddenberry handed the keys over to Yoko Ono for an episode? It's that kind of bad. Sort of
screeching and wailing and scratching on a chalk board while John Lennon and and a grooving rhythm section warble out a repeating blues riff. You want to just get the fuck away, but you're transfixed in absurdist horror, and John Lennon is, after all, on stage with her.

Can I give this episode both five stars and one star at the same time?