Sunday Reads: I’m ugly but I’m proud!

 

Nickelodeon

 

Good morning, I have to tell you from the beginning…this post is peppered with some of my favorite episodes of SpongeBob…. As you may know, the creator of this epic cartoon series passed away on November 26.

Stephen Hillenburg, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator, Dies at 57 – The New York Times

Stephen Hillenburg, the man behind “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with his creation at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2006.CreditCreditJunko Kimura/Getty Images

Stephen Hillenburg, a former marine biology teacher who created a children’s show that ballooned into an unlikely cultural phenomenon, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” died on Monday at his home in Southern California. He was 57.

Mr. Hillenburg announced last year that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurodegenerative condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Nickelodeon, the channel that has been the show’s home since its premiere in May 1999, announced his death.

“Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” the network said in its statement. “His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”

Bikini Bottom is the underwater home of the show’s title character, a good-natured yellow kitchen sponge, or sea creature, or both, who works as a fry cook, has a pet snail and lives in a pineapple.

With its frenetic 11-minute episodes (two per show), “SpongeBob” proved irresistible to the 12-and-under crowd, and eventually to many much older fans as well.

“Those 11-minute episodes of Hawaiian-slacker whimsy,” the critic David Edelstein wrote in The New York Times in 2004, “set against flower-cloud backdrops inspired by Polynesian fabrics and punctuated by ukulele music and SpongeBob’s dolphin-on-a-sugar-high chortle, have made Nickelodeon’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ a phenomenon not only with little kids, but also with big kids, college students, stoners, gays — pretty much everyone who walks on land or shells out, so to speak, for the tie-in merchandise.”

[…]

The “SpongeBob” juggernaut stretched far and wide.

“Someone recently sent me a link to a video of Russian soldiers singing the ‘SpongeBob’ theme song while marching around,” Mr. Hillenburg told The Times in 2013. “It wasn’t just one group, either. It was a bunch of them.”

As you can see, the show has reached a huge audience.

Stephen McDannell Hillenburg was born on Aug. 21, 1961, at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., where his father, Kelly, was based. His mother, Nancy (Dufour) Hillenburg, taught visually impaired students.

Mr. Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University in California in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in natural resource planning and interpretation, with an emphasis on marine resources. He then taught marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute (now the Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, Calif.

He had always been interested in drawing as well, and he pursued studies in experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts, receiving a master of fine arts degree there in 1992.

From 1993 to 1996 he was a writer and director on the Nickelodeon series “Rocko’s Modern Life,” where he worked with a number of people who would help him develop “SpongeBob,” including Tom Kenny, who provides the voice of the title character. In a 2001 interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Hillenburg described how the world’s most famous yellow sponge came to be.

“A sponge is a funny animal to center a show on,” he said. “At first I drew a few natural sponges — amorphous shapes, blobs — which was the correct thing to do biologically as a marine science teacher. Then I drew a square sponge, and it looked so funny. I think as far as cartoon language goes he was easier to recognize. He seemed to fit the character type I was looking for — a somewhat nerdy, squeaky-clean oddball.”

He drew on the work of Jerry Lewis, Pee-wee Herman and Laurel and Hardy for inspiration, he often said.

 

The Music Of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Helped Me Make Friends As The New Kid In School & I’ll Never Forget It via Bustle

 

There was, and still is, a lot to love about SpongeBob. Created by Stephen Hillenburg— who passed away on this week — the show taught us all about the importance of friendship, about the joys of finding happiness and humor in everything, about finding your passion and taking pride in the things you do, and, perhaps most importantly, about embracing the things that made you an individual and maybe even a little weird. It was (and still remains, based on the proliferation of SpongeBobmemes all these years later) relatable and entertaining in equal measure. And in the early 2000s, there was no way to entertain a group of kids easier than to start singing one of the songs from SpongeBob SquarePants.

According to a DVD commentary by the show’s creative director, Derek Drymon, when developing the infamous SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, “Steve [Hillenbug]’s idea was to try to make the most annoying song you can, to — so when Saturday morning, when kids turn the TV on and parents are trying to sleep, you have this pirate screaming in the other room for the kids to jump on the floor.” That mix of obnoxious, childlike nature — the sing-song pattern of the dialogue and lyrics, the cheery, upbeat music, and the proliferation of jokes — exemplifies everything that makes SpongeBob so addicting and entertaining to kids of all ages.

Listening to the music from the cartoon, it reminds me of The Third Man….The Third Man / YMMV – TV Tropes

But back to the Bustle article:

“The show was sweet and kind-hearted, but not candy-assed in a Care Bears way,” Tom Kenny, who has voiced SpongeBob since the show’s first season in 1999, told The Guardian in 2016 about the show’s enduring appeal. “It had everything. It had this knockabout Three Stooges kind of comedy, but also had a Seinfeld vibe: a show about nothing. Sometimes episodes would just be about SpongeBob trying to tie his shoes, but other times he’d be going on quests to find lost cities. I loved that juxtaposition. There was nothing like that on TV, but nobody ever thought it would get this big.”

For me, SpongeBob is special because we started watching it at the very beginning…both my kids grew up with the show, and I have to admit, I loved watching it back then as well.

 

 

 

Ah, Sunday…. Easy like Sunday Morning…

Patrick, we aren’t ugly…we just stink!

Sticking with entertainment…All 17 Coen Brothers Movies Ranked From Worst To Best « Taste of Cinema – Movie Reviews and Classic Movie Lists

The Coen Brothers are one-of-a-kind filmmakers: this duo has created alternately some of the best comedy and drama films in the past 30 years without compromising their inimitable vision.

30 Years?

Wow…

These siblings are two of America’s premiere directors, and it seems the American spirit is represented in their work: always reinventing genres while also mixing seemingly incongruous ones together to form a melting pot of ideas, styles, and stories, the Coen Brothers’ films can best be described as eccentric.

Idiosyncratic and postmodern, surreal and ironic, their films pay homage to film genres–in particular film noir and the screwball comedy–while also reinventing staid conventions, often creating surreal, highly stylized work in the process.

[…]

But perhaps their greatest talent is in blending genres, resulting in dark humor in their dramas and pathos in their comedies, often giving their films a surreal quality that very few directors could recreate even once, much less multiple times, to great success.

Working in different capacities across their films, often as co-screenwriters with Joel taking the directing title and Ethan billed as producer (though working closely throughout the production), they are a singular team the likes of which may never be repeated again.

And although many of their films are incredible–some even outright masterpieces–they have made a few disappointing movies in their career. Keep in mind that lists of this nature are always subjective enterprises, and that more often than not they succeed at creating dynamic films.

See if you agree with the reviewer.

 

 

Rock Bottom

 

Attention art lovers:

Download 569 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Open Culture

You could pay $118 on Amazon for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s catalog The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry. Or you could pay $0 to download it at MetPublications, the site offering “five decades of Met Museum publications on art history available to read, download, and/or search for free.”

If that strikes you as an obvious choice, prepare to spend some serious time browsing MetPublications’ collection of free art books and catalogs.

 

 

Rock-a-Bye Bivalve

Just call me Daddy!

 

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ | Science | AAAS

Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.

Historians have long known that the middle of the sixth century was a dark hour in what used to be called the Dark Ages, but the source of the mysterious clouds has long been a puzzle. Now, an ultraprecise analysis of ice from a Swiss glacier by a team led by McCormick and glaciologist Paul Mayewski at the Climate Change Institute of The University of Maine (UM) in Orono has fingered a culprit. At a workshop at Harvard this week, the team reported that a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed ash across the Northern Hemisphere early in 536. Two other massive eruptions followed, in 540 and 547. The repeated blows, followed by plague, plunged Europe into economic stagnation that lasted until 640, when another signal in the ice—a spike in airborne lead—marks a resurgence of silver mining, as the team reports in Antiquity this week.

A lot more to read in the article.

 

The teacher’s ace in the hole….extra credit!

 

This video gives a quick look at unwanted groping:

Mermaid Man (Ernest Borgnine) and Barnacle Boy (Tim Conway)

Drummer Sheila E. on Prince: “I Will Continue to Uplift His Music” | Miami New Times

In April 1985, Prince played the finale of his iconic Purple Rain tour at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The glamorous Sheila E. was by his side. After the show, Prince suggested they start their next musical phase with a new look: short hair.

“I went to his room, and when he opened the door, I saw he cut only a little bit of his hair, and I chopped my hair off to my neck,” she says of clipping her long, luscious locks that night in her Miami hotel room.

Although it was his idea, Prince seemed surprised. “He said, ‘You really cut your hair?” and I said, ‘You said, “Let’s change our look and cut our hair!”’” she says, laughing. “That was crazy. It was kind of like the Amadeus look.”

But the idea turned out to be a good one. Her short coif became a funky trend for the latter part of the ’80s.

Sheila E., whose given name is Sheila Escovedo, may be well known for her beauty, but it is raw talent that has cemented her place in the annals of music history for almost 35 years.

With Prince, Escovedo pumped out hit after hit, including “Glamorous Life,” “A Love Bizarre,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Erotic City.”

“I wasn’t expecting to sing,” she says of the recording session with Prince for “Erotic City.” “He called me in the studio, and I thought I was playing percussion or drums, and he said he wanted me to sing a duet with him.”

Prince saw something special in Escovedo, who went on to become a Grammy-nominated singer in addition to being an iconic percussionist in a field dominated by men.

Click on the link to read more about this 80’s icon.

It is the panty raid episode:

Mr. Krabs does his best impersonation of a “wild and crazy guy.”

For another article about an 80’s band that was one of my favorites: Simply Red: how we made Holding Back the Years | Music | The Guardian

Mick Hucknall, singer-songwriter

I wrote the song in 1978, while I was a teenager. At art school, a teacher said: “The best paintings are when you get lost in a piece of work and start painting in a stream of consciousness.” I wanted to do music, not art, so started writing lyrics that way. The first song I wrote was called Ice Cream and Wafers. The next was Holding Back the Years.

I didn’t realise what it was about until I’d finished it. It’s about that moment where you know you have to leave home and make your mark, but the outside world is scary. So you’re holding back the years.

The line “Strangled by the wishes of pater” is my dad screaming at me: “When are you going to get a decent job? Tidy up after yourself!” The line “Hoping for the arms of mater” rhymes with pater, but I didn’t know what it was like to have a mother. My mum left when I was three and my dad never remarried.

[..]

After Holding Back the Years became a hit, my mum tracked me down, but I thought: “My dad was there every day. Cooked my meals, wiped my arse and where were you? You think you can walk back into my life and it be OK?” My seeing her was making my dad unhappy. I realised that there was no future in it.

More at the link…

 

And the last video…

This has the song that has become cause celeb for the Super Bowl as a tribute to Stephen Hillenburg:

Over 50,000 Fans Want the Super Bowl to Play This ‘SpongeBob’ Song at Halftime – VICE

On Monday, marine biologist-turned-SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg died at 57. Hillenburg’s iconic cartoon about a porous yellow rectangle brought some light and optimism to our dark world, and even taught at least one kid how to do the Heimlich maneuver. So in honor of his passing, one brilliant fan hatched a plan to celebrate Hillenburg in the best way he knew how: by getting the song from that episode where Spongebob plays a halftime show into the actual 2019 Super Bowl.

The fan, Isreal Colunga, hopped on Change.org and launched a petition calling for “Sweet Victory” to be featured in the upcoming halftime show “as a tribute to [Hillenburg’s] legacy, his contributions to a generation of children, and to truly showcase the greatness of this song.” Apparently, the world agreed—the petition has already pulled in more than 50,000 signatures since it launched on Tuesday, and it’s still climbing.

For those pitiful few who don’t know the entire SpongeBob oeuvre by heart, the song comes from an episode called “Band Geeks,” in which SpongeBob and the gang venture up onto dry land to perform during halftime at the Bubble Bowl.

If you don’t want to see the full episode:

“Sweet Victory” is a truly ripping 80s power ballad, like something Foreigner might’ve written in their heyday if they woke up one morning magically transformed into cartoon sea creatures, and by God, it is exactly the thing the Super Bowl halftime show needs.

“It’s a hugely inspirational song that I listen to when working out and boosting confidence, but besides that I want it played at the Super Bowl to honor the man who gave us one of the greatest and most quotable cartoons of all time,” a petition supporter named Jonathan Hersey said. “I need it,” another wrote simply.

‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Want A Super Bowl Tribute For The Iconic Cartoon’s Creator For This Sweet Reason

In the wake of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg’s death on Nov. 26, fans of the Nickelodeon cartoon are rallying to honor the legendary animator. SpongeBob fans want a Super Bowl tribute to Hillenburg, and they’ve started a Change.org petition in hopes of making it happen. While it may seem like a strange request, there’s a meaningful reason behind their mission to have the song “Sweet Victory” played in honor of the man who made the iconic animated character a reality.

“Sweet Victory” comes from the SpongeBob Squarepants episode “Band Geeks.” And it’s the perfect song to play during the Super Bowl, because of the sweet moment it accompanied on the show. In the episode, SpongeBob sings the song in front of an arena during the halftime show at a sporting event that’s basically the Super Bowl, so it would only make sense.

 

This is an open thread…

Hey, here is an extra episode…just for the road:

“Dirty Dan!”

Advertisements

Wednesday Reads: Unbelievable Misogynistic Bullcrap, a Vulgar Munchkin, and the Pope Talks Turkey

5374c055aeb2343f4fbb9f75e5d4f322Happy

Pre-Thanksgiving Day

Morning

There is just waaaaaaay too much going on in my life right now, and it is too sadly complicated to get into it for personal reasons. Why does it always seem like a constant stream of shit is there ready to hit the fan?

This will be another link dump, and if any of the news reads are repeats, oops.

I have a motherload of hateful misogynistic anti-woman links for you:

Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women – NYTimes.com

When Bode Miller, the Olympic ski star known for daring Alpine racing, met Sara A. McKenna in San Diego last year through the high-end matchmaker Kelleher International, they were both professing interest in finding a marriage partner, she recalls.

The relationship did not last long — but she did become pregnant. And now the skier, 36, and Ms. McKenna, 27, a former Marine and firefighter who is attending Columbia University with G.I. Bill support, are locked in a cross-country custody fight that has become not only tabloid fodder but also a closely watched legal battle over the rights of pregnant women to travel and make life choices.

Or as Ana at  Shakesville blog puts it: Absconding With One’s Fetus

A U.S. court actually ruled that a woman who left California, while pregnant, to attend an Ivy League college, after having been exhorted by her ex-boyfriend to abort the pregnancy, absconded with her own fetus…

[…]

I don’t really know what to say to this, except that this doesn’t occur in a vacuum divorced from the context of, to name two examples, pressure to keep birth control from women (including hormonal birth control on insurance plans and Plan B emergency birth control in hospitals and granting pharmacists the ‘right’ to not dispense birth control unless they really want to) and movement to restrict the abortion rights of women.

If you can deny women the ability to prevent and/or end pregnancies, and if you can rule that pregnant women aren’t allowed to move because it’s abduction of, ooops, appropriation of a man’s fetus, then you can reduce cis fertile women (which are not all women, but are still a shitload of people) to a socially immobile worker class — unable to move out of abusive relationships, unable to move to a better support network, unable to move to a better education or a different job. Corporate dystopia and religious dystopia meet, as always, over the control of women’s bodies.

And if that shit wasn’t bad enough…here is a woman who could lose custody of her kids over an abortion | New York Post

She had an abortion. So what?

That first-trimester abortion, which last time I checked was legal in this country, could make a judge strip Lisa’s custody of the two precious babies she obsessed, agonized and fussed over from the day they were born.

Lisa and husband Manuel John Mehos, founder and CEO of Houston’s Green Bank, split in 2011, ending five years of wedded misery. Now Manuel is waging a scorched-earth campaign for custody of the couple’s daughter, Macy, 6, and son, John, 4 — a bizarre battle in which Lisa’s fitness as a mother is being judged by standards one might see in Texas. Or the Middle East.

“I’m divorced. I’m not Mother Teresa!’’ a teary Lisa told me. “I feel like I’ve been beaten up and raped.’’

Lisa, who lost temporary custody of the kids in August, is now bracing for the possibility that she’ll lose them permanently.

More at this link: Mother Lisa Mehos who lost custody of her children because she had an abortion speaks out | Mail Online

Backstory here: The abortion that could cost a mom her family – Salon.com

While Lisa’s abortion is relevant, according to Judge Sattler, Manuel’s sexual behavior is apparently not. A forensic psychologist testified that Manuel had confessed to visiting massage parlors, where he paid for sex. Lisa sees a double standard: “The court jumped at the chance to use the stigma of abortion to openly scorn, interrogate, and question my ability to be a worthy parent,” she told me.

Court transcripts reveal that Alter has argued — and Judge Sattler has agreed — that the abortion speaks to Lisa Mehos’ credibility. First, Alter says Lisa was dishonest because she claimed to be Catholic but had an abortion. Lisa had requested that her children spend Easter with her family, who observe the holiday, instead of with her husband — who, as an atheist, does not. “I never criticized him for being an atheist,” Lisa said. “I simply said, since you don’t celebrate religious holidays, could the children spend Easter with my parents because we do celebrate religious holidays.” The prosecution suggests that the fact that Lisa had an abortion as a Catholic calls her credibility into question. But 27 percent of the women who receive abortions in the U.S. are Catholic. Are they also untrustworthy?

Full look at the legal side of the case here: New York Court Forces Woman To Testify About an Abortion « Above the Law

Yesterday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler ruled that Lisa Mehos, who is locked in a custody battle with her husband, banker Manuel Mehos, had to testify about having an abortion.

Why would Lisa’s abortion reflect on her fitness to raise her children?

Given that this is happening in New York rather than Mississippi, the argument is not the backward claim that she can’t possibly love her kids if she had an abortion. Rather, the argument is that she demanded custody of the kids over a weekend when she knew she was going to dump them off with a sitter so she could undergo a medical procedure.

Still, injecting the emotionally charged issue of abortion into the matter fits into an overall strategy of demeaning and vilifying a woman’s sexuality under a double standard that brushes past the transgressions of the father…

And then there is this:

A divorced parent neglecting kids on the weekend he or she has them is a fair issue in a custody hearing. However, the children were left with their grandmother during Lisa’s procedure, and honestly visiting with grandma is not neglect. Which brings us to the real issue here. Eleanor Alter of Kasowitz Benson — who represented Mia Farrow against Woody Allen — is super smart, and knows how to get the best for her client. In this case that involves playing to reptilian impulses (or being “aggressive and innovative,” in Kasowitz-speak).

Alter said she should also be allowed to question Lisa Mehos about the procedure because “this is a woman who complains that she’s under great stress only caused by Mr. Mehos. I would be the first person to acknowledge that having an abortion, especially a two- to three-month late abortion, would be stressful.”

She said she also wanted to know whether the kids “were exposed to this man, how it all came about.”

“If this man was coming in the house, if she’s out of the house to see him, if it was date rape, that’s relevant,” Alter said.

So there’s a couple things to unpack there. First, check out the hysterical woman who’s troubled by all her lady business! See, it’s not the man who might have punched her a few months ago, it’s the ovaries.

Second, the abortion is just the setup for a thorough-going “slut shaming.” Could a divorced woman have a… boyfriend?!? Oh no! Alter adds the possibility of date rape because, I guess it’s supposed to be generous to imply that rather than have a consensual sex life, maybe Lisa was taken advantage of? Maybe?

The judge sided with Alter, noting that Lisa Mehos had previously testified she had never had any men over to her New York apartment. “I do find it to be relevant. The children were in her care at the time,” Sattler said.

Lisa Mehos, 38, then testified that she became pregnant after a one-time fling with a longtime friend at his place.

If she’d already testified that she never had men over at her house, why the hell would the fact that she got pregnant suggest in any way that her prior testimony was unreliable? Can women only get pregnant at home now? If they’re in another bed, does the body have ways of shutting that whole thing down? “I watched last year’s Super Bowl” does not cast doubt on the testimony “I don’t have a TV in my house.” Unless you add in all kinds of aspersions about female sexuality that permeate society infecting men and women.

And about that double-standard?

Lisa Mehos wasn’t the only one to be embarrassed in court — she testified that her ex-husband, who heads a bank in Texas, had tearfully confessed to her that he had cheated on her dozens of times with prostitutes.

I get that the Daily News is reporting on the controversy surrounding the forced testimony about an abortion rather than the trial as a whole, but it sure seems odd that a hooker habit doesn’t raise the same ferocity of “OH MY GOD HE’S AN UNFIT PARENT” as having one fling with a friend.

In other news, and another link to Shakesville: This Is Racism

image of a thin, pretty, black teenage girl with shoulder-length natural hair
This is Vanessa VanDyke, an Orlando teenager who has been threatened with expulsion from Faith Christian Academy, the private school which she has been attending since the third grade, because administrators say that her natural hair is a “distraction,” and the student handbook forbids hairstyles that cause disruption in the classroom.

What disruption there has been is that her classmates are teasing her about her hair. So, of course administrators have asked Vanessa to change her hair, rather than admonish her classmates to stop being assholes.

Presumably, this school includes among its staff some teachers and administrators who were alive during the ’80s, when white girls were teasing their hair at least that big. (And somehow, despite virtually every female classmate’s picture in my yearbooks looking a helluva lot like that picture of Vanessa above, we all managed to get an education.) But of course it has nothing to do with race. Ahem.

This is racism.

It’s also body policing of a young woman.

And choice policing of a young woman.

The next link deals with George Zimmerman: ORLANDO, Fla.: Deputies find five guns in George Zimmerman’s home, search warrant reveals | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

And just an observation. 92ea15b686c1c52d42b732446e9e5c61

Is it me, or does the dragon demon in this illustration look like George Zimmerman….

<———-

With those beady eyes kind of sucked into the middle of his face?

Anyway…

From Susie Madrak: Pope to rich: Share the wealth |

Boy, I like this pope. More than ever, I can see that we’re going to have to pray for his safety

On to a few links with legal connections:

Supreme Court to Hear Two Contraception Mandate Cases | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

Health Law Birth-Control Rule Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review (2) – Businessweek

UPDATE 3-U.S. Supreme Court to hear Obamacare contraception cases | Reuters

Coming Soon | BobCesca.com

It still isn’t entirely clear what investigators are looking for in Wisconsin’s latest John Doe investigation, however, judging by the names lining up to oppose the investigation, it must be something bad.

High-powered attorneys line up in John Doe case : Wsj

The identities of the three people seeking to stop the John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and more than two dozen conservative political groups remain a secret.

But the names of their seven attorneys are public, and it’s an impressive list. It includes a former U.S. attorney in Missouri, one of Madison’s top criminal defense lawyers and the former head of the federal task force investigating financial fraud by the nation’s major banks.

Five petitions were filed last week seeking to halt the secret investigation launched in February 2012 in Milwaukee County that has spread to Dane, Iowa, Dodge and Columbia counties. The petitions were filed in the 4th District Court of Appeals against Reserve Judge Gregory Peterson, who is overseeing the probe.

df800bae9bd40b6758c2dec1b26fee47On the Sandy Hook/Newtown front:

Judge orders Sandy Hook 911 calls released

Newtown police response investigated Republican American

Secrecy shrouds Sandy Hook shooting investigation – Chicago Sun-Times

Read the State Attorney’s Full Report on Sandy Hook Shooting with Evidence Photos | Mediaite

Sandy Hook Report: Why did it take 11 months? | Opinion | McClatchy DC

Over on the other side of the world: Karzai details conditions for signing US security pact | Al Jazeera America

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security deal with the United States, the White House said, raising the prospect of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the war-ravaged nation next year.

Karzai told U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice in Kabul on Monday that the United States must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and release all remaining Afghan Guantanamo detainees before he would sign a bilateral security pact, his spokesman said.

On Sunday the Loya Jirga, an assembly of Afghan elders, endorsed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) under those conditions, and Karzai suggested postponing the signing until after national elections — in which he will not be running — next year.

The impasse strengthens doubts about whether any U.S. and NATO troops will remain after the end of next year in Afghanistan, which faces an insurgency by the Taliban and is still training its military, and whether they would be immune from prosecution.

This next link does something cute with the icons of fashion, for a worthy cause: UNICEF Designer Dolls | Styleite

Forty-two fashion designers have been tapped to participate in UNICEF’s designer dolls Les Frimousses initiative, which means it’s again socially acceptable for adults to swoon over dolls the way they did in the springtime of life. The bad news is you won’t be able to procure them with tooth fairy money. Last year, the reserve price for each doll was $647 at current exchange. But since you’re not the selfish brat you once were, you’ll splurge because UNICEF will distribute the funds raised to help vaccinate children in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Get a preview of the pint-sized fashion plates, from the like of Chanel, Dior, and more, below:

chanel unicef doll

Chanel

If you want to see pictures of all the dolls, look here: Toutes les poupées

I think one of my favorites is this one:

frimousse

Gilles Dufour – Lot n°58

NINI PEAU DE CHIEN

“Poupée Rock en Roll”

Née à Paris le 1er Août 2013

Finally another look at creative caricatures. This time, cartoon characters…These Iconic Character Voices Have Shocking Pasts That Will Ruin Your Childhood

Alright, I don’t know about “ruining” your childhood, but when I read where SpongeBob’s voice originated from, my fondness for that little square yellow happy dude suddenly made sense.

3. SpongeBob SquarePants was inspired by a misanthropic elf.

The character:

spongebob

SpongeBob would probably sound a lot different if the character’s voice actor had never run into a bitter, foul-mouthed little person.

While auditioning for a TV commercial many years ago, Tom Kenny came across a group of little people in elf costumes who were trying out for a Christmas-themed ad. The sad fact of the matter is that not every vertically-challenged person can play Tyrion Lannister, so many shorter actors find themselves typecast as Santa’s elves and the like, which must do wonders for their outlook on the world. It certainly did with the elf Kenny ran into, who by the sound of it was one of the most profane people he ever met, loudly complaining about his lot in life and using the words “fuck” and “shit” like most people use commas.

bad santa billy bob

He then went on to play a supporting role in “Bad Santa.”

The combination of the heavy swearing and the actor’s high-pitched, fast talking voice left a pretty big impression on Kenny. So much so that when he auditioned for the role of SpongeBob some time later, he remembered and imitated the voice of the swearing little man in a bright green elf costume, which instantly landed him the part. A part, mind you, that is defined by its wide-eyed innocence and yet traces its heritage to, as Kenny described him, a pissed off, vulgar “munchkin.”

Geez…not only was a midget the inspiration for the voice of SpongeBob…it was a foul mouth midget to boot!

Have a fucking awesome Wednesday y’all…and enjoy this day before Thanksgiving.