Looks like I can't bitch no more.
Bush just multiplied our earthquake aid by ten: up to $350 million, with possibly more if the situation warrants. I heard it on the raido, but the New York Times has the story too.
Thank you, Mr. President. This is much more appropriate.
Friday, December 31, 2004
Looks like I can't bitch no more.
Oh... We're Halfway There
Not that 2004 is all out of weirdness. I just popped a cd into the burner, and to my surprise, there was already a track burnt on it. What else, but Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."
Remember: We gotta hold on to what we got. It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.
In Nine Hours...
...we can welcome 2005.
Personally, it was a mighty good year. We bought a house, had a great vacation, and had a lot of fun with friends and family. Our jobs are good, we've lost a little weight, I've gotten some writing done and some work done on the house. Not enough of either, but that's why we have 2005 coming up, and not 1978 again.
If the new year offers more of the same, I should count myself lucky that the biggest thing I have to complain about is our dimwitted government. Everything else is fi-yi-yine.
Here's Jim's Big Ego, kicking 2004 to the curb.
The one thing I didn't do the other night (since it meant creeping into the bedroom to get my wallet), which I have since rectified, is that I hadn't yet given any money to relief efforts myself. But now, that's done. We gave to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. If you prefer to give somewhere else, The Washington Post has an impressive list of agencies offering aid.
I'm a bit embarassed at my earlier post -- sometimes I feel like being over-the-top, and I figure this is the place to do it. At the same time, I have to realize that when I do that, it tends to trivialize my concerns, which is not my intention. In short, I've got to figure out a way to blow off steam AND raise issues I think are serious. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I'll work at finding some way to do both in the new year.
I still think that our government can do more than what's being done. And I think it's shameful that the President has squandered what used to be an enormous surplus into an overwhelming deficit, so that critical international aid winds up getting short-changed. But as of today, American individuals have donated $18 million to the Red Cross to help the earthquake victims, which is pretty impressive.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Okay, it's way too late and I should be in bed, but I just can't get over these figures: The U.S. is sending $35 million in aid to the African and Southeast Asian countries devastated by the tsunami, which has so far racked up a death toll of 80,000, which will go up as the water-bourne diseases take hold.
Elsewhere, our troops -- the ones the President and the Secretary of Defense and so on claim to "support" are scrounging in trash heaps for scrap metal to add some makeshift armor to their humvees.
And we're also spending $45 million to celebrate President Lowest-Common-Denominator's coronat--sorry, inauguration.
I understand that the President doesn't really give a shit what happens to brown people in other countries unless he can send some of us to kill them personally. I've grown to know that about the guy -- it's one of his most endearing qualities, in that it gives me the cold satisfaction that he will spend eternity getting his rectum chewed out by weasels in hell. (I don't know what bad stuff the weasels did to be sent to hell, but it was probably pretty awful too.)
But my god, could he at least pay more than lip service about our own people? Some of us voted for him, right? Shouldn't he care about 52% of us? Not me, certainly. But good god, make sure the national guard folks you've shanghaied from, y'know, guarding the nation can live to see another day. Can we at least protect ourselves a little better while we're immersed in this quagmire?
But seriously, Georgie -- $35 million? $10 million less than your fucking coming-out party? Be a good little debutant and donate some of it to charity, okay? People are dying faster than you can spell your goddamn middle initial, so maybe the bigwig donors can do without the chocolate elephants and cowboy boots on their fucking pillows at night.
I know -- without the parties, the donors won't be around to write more checks to fuel more fundraisers and more campaigns to keep your friends' parasitic asses in office. And I know how important that is to you. But surely a fratboy like you knows how to throw a cheaper party. $45 million can buy a lot of kegs and blow, but I'm guessing you could get by with $20.
We can do better in Iraq and in Asia. In Washington, too, come to think of it.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Well, my illness is, for the most part, over. I'm still a little short of breath, and still cough every now and then, but I've been out in the world for a while now with few ill effects. Even my ear is (mostly) clearing up.
Which means it's back to that old standby -- stripping!
I've spent the afternoon in what will be our guest room, stripping paint from one of the window sills and the closet door frame. Aside from a few moments of vertigo (which I'm sure I would have had in any even, standing on a ladder scraping an area above me, relying on my always-dubious sense of balance), things have been going fine. Well, some of the &%#(*@ paint is clinging to the wood like Paris Hilton to a trust fund, but other than that, no complaints.
Motivating me now is Sharon and Andrew's new living room and dining room. Andrew injured his thumb while he and Sharon worded on it, but it looks awesome -- worth the entirety of the thumb, to be honest. He got of easy.
For my own blood sacrifice -- which is quite a ways down the road, at this rate -- I'm thinking of stray cats and such. It's just a guest room, after all -- Kathy and I won't be spending much time in it. Probably strays will do the trick. Besides, I've got to hold something back for the family room. And the bathroom, although thinking of an appropriate sacrifice for there makes me woozy.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Set the time machine for September 2005
Why? Funny you should ask. Because that's when I'll need to find a deep, deep discount to buy this fine book: The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. 1440 pages of stuffed-tigerry goodness!
Of course, if I have a time machine, I can go to September 2005, see which stocks have risen, come back to now, invest, and then go back to September and cash in and buy the book. But that's like, three trips. Which is kind of a drag.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
I wanted to write a bit about the Xmas Xtravaganza, even though it's no longer fresh in my head.
Last Friday, a whole heapin' helpin of us went to the State Theatre in New Brunswick to see Glenn Burtnik's Xmas Xtravaganza, a somewhat free-form Christmas show he puts on every year. He gets a ton of musicians (some famous, some not, all talented) to donate some time and perform holiday songs. The proceeds go to charity -- Elijah's Promise soup kitchen and various New Jersey food banks.
Kathy and I started going on our second date, in 1998; this was our seventh Xtravaganza. There are some things we've come to expect:
Glenn's hair will be dyed. He and some kids (originally his own, but they're now grown) will perform the Chipmunk's "Christmas Don't Be Late."
Everlounge will sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," sounding like Thurl Ravenscroft on methamphetamines.
BB Brauswetter will grove with some Christmas blues (usually it's "Backdoor Santa" -- this year it was "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.")
Christine Ohlman and Joe Hurley will usually sing The Pogues' and Kirsty MacColl's "Fairytale Of New York," the Paradise by the Dashboard Light of Christmas songs, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye, despite the lyrics: "You're a bum/You're a punk/You're an old slut on junk/Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed/You scumbag, you maggot/You cheap lousy faggot/Happy Christmas your arse/I pray God it's our last." It really does wind up sweet in the end.
Jigs will dance the "Twelve Days of Christmas." (Usually he does Day Twelve in his underwear. This year, possibly because he was being aided by the Jigsettes -- two little girls -- he stayed clothed. Probably for the best.)
Antonique Smith will raise it back up with a haunting "O Holy Night." This year she upped the ante by following it up with a more contemporary soul Christmas song, the name of which I've forgotten. "Blue Holiday," I think.
Some other performances of note:
The Youth Ahead, a Jersey punk band, blasted out Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song."
Dibs, Beau Burtnik's band, played Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Marshall Crenshaw sang a cool Christmas song, the title of which eludes me completely.
Fritz's Polka Band sang a couple of songs, including one (I believe) called "Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho" which included the headscratcher line "Happy Hanukkah Ho Ho Ho."
Joy Askew sang Joni Mitchell's "Skate Away," which gets sadder every time I hear it.
Tom Brislin's band Spiraling knocked it out of the park with a blend of "Do You Hear What I Hear" and the Who's "Baba O'Reilly," following it up with a kickass "Nutcracker." (That sounds violent, I know.) They've done this a few times before. It's always gooooood.
The show, as it has for several years now, ended with John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," sung by everyone who performed.
It was a great night, marred only by the fact that I was starting to die.
But I've gotten better since then.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Well, now I am. Up until Wednesday, I was actually getting quite a bit worse.
Friday night – as I was watching Glen Burtnik’s xcellent Xmas Xtravaganza (more on that in another post), I began to get cold. Really freakin’ cold. And I kept on having to run to the bathroom, which I attributed to the Mongolian barbecue we’d had earlier, even though it had never affected me that way before.
I made it through the show, but then Kathy drove us home. My plans were to go into the city on Saturday and Sunday for my comic book writing class. Didn’t happen. On Saturday, I was just way too sick in the morning, and though I felt a bit better in the afternoon, by the time I would have made it there, class was over. On Sunday, I started to feel better, but still really didn’t feel well enough to sit on a train, write all day, then sit on a train again. I was pretty beat.
Sunday night was awful.
Monday, sick again. “Just a cold,” I thought. “I’ll get though it.” I was downing every old piece of medicine we had in the little basket we use to keep the stuff in. It was like Easter for Rush Limbaugh.
Tuesday – okay, I need new medicine. Went out and got some. It did a bit of its job – at least the Cepacol soothed my throat for like, five minutes. But by Tuesday night, hanging ornaments on the tree, I had to stop after hanging two or three to catch my breath. My ear was also starting to pop, or throb, or whatever. (I’m not sure whether popping is the good thing or the bad thing. Let’s just say it started to hurt when I closed my eyes too hard.) I went upstairs and updated my primary physician online, so I wouldn’t have to drive to Hightstown to get me some cure.
Wednesday – My ear was killing me. I called my new doctor as soon as I could. He had a really busy day, but could fit me in at one. I sounded awful. (He asked me how old I was. I told him 35. He said “Oh, so you're not some really old guy with all sorts of problems.” That’s how bad I sounded.)
I watched some episodes of Oz until it was time to go. That was the only thing that could keep my mind off the pain – inmates doing to each other what I felt like was being done to my ear.
When I got to the doctor, I waited. I read the remaining four issues of my Usagi Yojimbo trade paperback, then I just stared at the fish in the tank in the waiting room. When my turn came, the doctor – a very nice guy – looked in my ear and said “Oh, that’s bad. That’s real bad.”
He had his assistant make an appointment for me at an ear, nose and throat specialist. This took some time. I waited. My ear was killing me.
I hadn’t taken any medicine because I thought it might interfere with whatever the doctor would prescribe, so I was in crazy amounts of pain. I noticed that I had some Tylenol I had bought in Las Vegas last year when I was also crazy sick (but which went away on its own, like good colds do), and downed a couple of them without water on my way to the new doctor’s office. I don’t know my way around here very well, so it took a few frustrating wrong turns to get there.
The Ear Nose & Throat guy looked in my ear and said, “Whoa, that’s bad.” (He also asked me if my nose has always been this way, or if I had ever broken it. Turns out I do most of my breathing from my right nostril. The left one is pretty sad – it’s not mechanically conducive to intake. This was news.) He mumbled a bit, which isn’t a good combination with a guy who can only half hear you.
I had a big bubble of fluid between my ear drum and middle ear, which is what’s causing the pain. And he wrote me out four (!) prescriptions. So now I’m taking two pills, nose spray, and ear drops.
And judging by today’s progress, they’re working like a charm. The bubble has burst – my ear has been leaking goo all day. I originally thought it was just the drops oozing out, but now I realize that there aren’t enough drops in the bottle to make this much slime against my cheek. The nose is getting better (although still no real intake from lefty) and my throat doesn’t hurt anymore. My voice suddenly and inexplicably changed into gravel late tonight (“Holy Shit! I’m Selma Diamond!”), but every other message from the magic eightball has been positive.
I’m still staying home tomorrow – more than anything else, I don’t want to put my ear through the pressure change of the tunnel during my commute – but I have some work emailed to me. I’ll be happy to concentrate again.
So here I am. Hopefully I’ll get a post in on the Xmas Xtravaganza tomorrow.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Friday, December 10, 2004
Rob's post brought this to my attention, but I wanted to put what he said another way:
This president is going to get me killed. (This may be your last chance to buy me Christmas presents, so make 'em count.)
(And thanks so much for making Bernie "cut-and-run" Kerik the new Homeland Security secretary. That should last until we go to code orange again...)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Not much time for blogging in the week ahead. (Or in the week behind, actually.) I'm taking a 1-week intensive comics writing class. From Monday through Thursday, I'll be in the city or on the train from 8 am to 11 pm, and I'll be going in on Saturday and Sunday too. (Friday's a well-needed day off.)
I've already surprised myself. I went in to class with three springboards, all jazzed to start writing one story, and by the time I finished talking about them, decided to write a different one, called (at the moment) Nothing Can Stop Buzz Bixby. Not because I knew it better, but because I didn't know it as well. I can write the one I know really well later on, I figure. Now's the time for exploring.
And after all, nothing can stop Buzz Bixby...
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Thursday, December 02, 2004
how much I love Mark Morford? Twice a week, I get his column emailed to me at work -- it never fails to give me a subversive smile.
The headline of his new column? "America Loves Kinky Sex" Go read it.
Oh, and speaking of Kinky...
meet the next governor of Texas. Why the hell not?
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Just wanted to share one little thing that's been giving me a lot of joy lately. It's a song by Taj Mahal called "West Indian Revelation," that just absolutely rocks with a hot Carribbean vibe (steel drum and all!). And when he sings "shake it shake it shake it shake it shake it shake it let your backbone slip," it just pulls me over the top. "Shake it shake it take it take it baby take a pull of rum again": I'm back in the islands.
Mm-mm. Good song.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
So please don't spoil it for me. But I can say that Lost is one of the most fascinating TV shows I've ever seen. Every character is a surprise, and the environment is just as intriguing. I just saw the episode that focused on Sawyer, but I won't be able to see any more until next week at the earliest. But judging from the next-episode preview, I'm DYING to know what's going to happen to Said.
Oh, and FYI -- the episode featuring Pippin the rockstar was written by Paul Dini, who's been the guiding force for the Batman, Superman, and Justice League cartoons, and one of the co-creators of Harley Quinn.
Monday, November 22, 2004
I just found out that Guy Maddin's short film Sissy-Boy Slap Party (the praises of which I sang here) is included on the new DVD for his movie The Saddest Music in the World. Combine that with Isabella Rossellini playing an aputee beer heiress who dons glass prosthetic legs filled with beer, and you know that puppy's jumping up my Netflix list like a chicken on a hot plate.
Anyone up for watching this one as a group?
Sunday, November 21, 2004
One more thing: Just because you don't have to be a racist to criticize Condi's competence, that doesn't mean that racists aren't criticising her as well. Case in point:
MILWAUKEE Nov 19, 2004 — A radio talk show host drew criticism Thursday
after calling Condoleezza Rice an "Aunt Jemima" and saying she isn't competent
to be secretary of state.
That's racist without a doubt, and we owe it to ourselves to call people on this whenever it happens. There are plenty of well-founded reasons and ways of expressing ourselves to challenge Rice. Let's use them, and draw a clear line between ourselves and idiots like this.
One more thing about this huge spending bill. Reuters says there's a presidential yacht in it. (See second paragraph.)
Some people might think of this as a bad thing. Some might question spending taxpayer money on a presidential yacht while our troops are underequipped, our chemical plants and ports are unguarded and our public schools are in trouble. Me, I'm all for it. Anthing that keeps President Dimbulb on vacation can't be anything but good for the country.
The Senate nearly passed a huge omnibus spending bill which contained language that would have allowed high-ranking legislators to look at your tax return for any reason -- regardless of any privacy laws or what-have-you.
Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma apparently added this language (I assume when the differences between the house and senate bills were being ironed out, since he's a congressman and this is a Senate bill). As of this writing, no one has fessed up to the other fingerprints on it, but surely SOMEONE had to approve it. I imagine we'll soon see who that was -- or at least, a convenient patsy.
No one told the Democrats of the new language in the 3,300-page bill. They spotted it at the last minute, and were able to shame the Republicans into quickly backtracking, calling this language a mistake.
"Hereinafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the Chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such Chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."
That's some typo, but completely understandable. Anyone using MS-Word that presses CTRL and then types INVADE PRIVACY AND PERSECUTE TROUBLEMAKERS with the caps-lock on will get the same paragraph. It's a little easter egg put in by our friends at Microsoft.
Seriously, though -- this is a heapin' helpin' of disingenuousness and ill will. Josh Marshall is on top of it.
Want to see the absolutely perfect guy to play the bumbler-in-chief? Click here.
(This link, like so many others, pointed out to me by Mark Evanier. I swear, I don't know why you even read my blog when you could just eliminate the middleman and read his.)
James at his Rittenhouse Review blog gives a Santorum update. He's right on the money. Taking up the offer of, essentially, free tuition, would be a mistake -- and not one I think Santorum will make. Then again, the thought of those poor kids getting their education from Senator Man-on-Dog makes me shudder.
Friday, November 19, 2004
No offense to those who love the Desiderata, but as Mark Evanier notes, Norman Rose -- the voice of God in many films and such -- has died. He voiced this parody of it, called the Deteriorata, and I remember it well from Dr. Demento shows received on a portable radio.
Do yourself a favor, though -- open the window, but don't watch the flash animation until you've heard it once. Most of it it simply printing the lyrics, and you can read faster than the jokes are spoken -- which kills the timing. Start the flash animation, then close the window or close your eyes.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
All strippers are not created equal. Kathy & I have been stripping paint in what will one day be our guest room, and after lots of coats on one door and window frame, we ran out of our first can on Bix paint stripper. We picked up a second can from Lowe's, and I broke into it for the first time tonoght. The new can is called Jasko's Speedomatic, and if we'd been using it all along, we'd be a lot closer to painting the place and staining the wood. It took off in one coat what the other did in three.
Jasko -- it's Stripperific!
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
It looks like Senator Man-on-Dog might be in for a little legal and ethics difficulty. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Here's a further look, courtesy of Rittenhouse Review.
And of course, there's this. Never forget the true meaning of santorum.
Well, lemme put it this way. I'm taking a class at NYU called "Inside the Comics Creator's Studio," wherein instructor Danny Fingeroth hosts different comic creators every two weeks to come in and speak with the class -- a la Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio. Tonight, Jimmy Palmiotti (Hawkman, Monolith, Punisher) and Amanda Connor (Gatecrasher, Mad Magazine, The Pro) spoke with us, and a good time was had by all.
At one point, Amanda mentioned that she and Jimmy had recently done a Vampirella story which was probably the first and only time anyone will ever see Vampirella on the toilet. And I asked, "So how does a steady diet of blood affect her stool?" And I thought: Rob, you are such a geek.
Amanda took it in stride: "Well, she's not on the toilet because she drank blood, exactly -- well, you'll have to just read the story." And I will. And not just because I'm now doubly curious to know what makes Vampirella poop. Mostly because Jimmy & Amanda's enthusiasm for their work is infectious, and I know from past experience that they deliver the goods, fun-wise.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Welcome to the third world. WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.
These are more the actions of a generalissimo after a coup than a president after an election. Hey George -- why not purge the people who gave you bogus information? Oh, that's right -- that was the bogus information you asked for.
Good luck with your new coverups.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
This, of course, is a momentary longing, and it will pass. But within the course of 12 hours, I wanted to go to Mexico very much not once, but twice.
First, Kathy & I watched Y Tu Mama Tambien on DVD. It’s a terrific movie, and the centerpiece is a series of scenes on a gorgeous Mexican beach they’ve named “Heaven’s Mouth.” I really wanted to go there. I also wanted to be seventeen again, and get all the parts I got right, wrong, and vice-versa. It’s a mighty good movie.
Then, walking along to work this morning, I happened upon a truck that said “Mexico” on the side, parked on 5th Avenue. It was a big truck, and over the lettering was a large picture window – one on either side, it turned out. Apparently the cargo bay was heated, because inside it, visible to any passersby shivering in the chilly morning air, were three models in bathing suits, lounging on beach chairs. There was sand on the floor, and it looked for all the world like a little piece of transportable beach. Complete with a guy in trunks and two girls in bikinis. Relaxin’.
Yeah, Mexico looked good last night. This morning, it looked like a mirage.
Hark! I bring thee links!
First off, Heidi MacDonald of The Beat! explains why everything in The Polar Express looks so damn creepy.
Pascal's Diary gives an interesting graphic rendition of the blue-state/red state split.
And here's a place I absoultely have to have a drink at in NYC. (And MamaGoose, if you ever get into the city, this is right up your alley!)
Did you have a traumatic childhood? Was there a goat involved?
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Fire IS cool. Huh huh. Cool. Burn. Fire.
Kathy & I built our first-ever fire in our first-ever fireplace in our first-ever house last night. And we watched it. And watched it. I swear, we were like cats looking out a picture window at squirrels.
Except the squirrels were on fire, so it was cool.
Two More in the Ranks
Of bloggers, that is.
First off, there's my friend Kath*, who's posted comments here, in her ever-firey way. Right now she has a very calm plan for peace in Jerusalem up on her blog. I don't expect calm from Kath, so I worry.
And my old buddy Mark, way down in Panama City, Florida. I drink coffee from the mug that he gave me for being a groomsman at his wedding every day at work. Drinking the coffee, that is. I was only his groomsman once. It'd wear me out, doing it every day.
I 'spects I'll get their blogs up in the permalink section any day now.
* Yep, in case anyone was wondering, the Kath that posts here is not my wife Kathy, who so far has never posted. But she stops by to read now and then.
UPDATE: And now they're there, to the right. (Higgledy Piggledy and The Roost is wot they calls em.) Also a few more links, in my slightly redesigned sidebar.
Monday, November 08, 2004
As Andrew has already mentioned, we all had a great time in the city this Saturday. Our first stop was Slainte, an Irish pub playing inexplicably chipper music. (It's pronounced "Slan-cha," because the Irish are crazy.) But we did get to drink Kathy's favorite beer, Smithwick's (pronounced "Smiddick's," because the Irish are crazy). Plus, we bought some potato chips (pronounced "crisps," because the Irish are... well, you know) which offered the enticing chance of winning a buffalo. Unfortunately, only Irish need apply, buffalowise.
Then we went to Nicole's show. Nicople Maynard's art is currently hanging in the Bowery Gallery. Much of her work reimagines feminine power within the context of women in various relationships with some semiotically-charged mythical beasts, such as minotaurs, centaurs, and unicorns. It's powerful, and the looseness of its physical representation allows the images -- or rather, the concept of the images and how she frames them -- stay with you perhaps longer than a more photorealistic depiction might. You can see for yourself here. Like Andrew, the one image that I found most haunting with the juxtaposition of the Abu Ghraib prisoner with the Statue of Liberty, but that certainly wasn't the only image I took home with me.
After that, we had dinner and drinks at the Chelsea Brewing Company (pronounced just like you'd expect, even though Americans are crazy). I must remember to buy cinnamon and pepperment schnappes (schnappeses?) to flavor hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Becuase tasty though it was, $8 for a little mug was insane.
Andrew's also right in that it was good to hang out with so many friends. Hi friends!
The Death of Politics
Well, not really, But I think I'm going to try to pull back a bit from the political stuff on this blog. Mostly because until I have a direction to focus my anger, I'd rather not just feed on the anger of others -- or feed my anger with theirs. I want to have something to say, and not just post snarky comments like my last one. (This isn't to say that I won't snark now and then ... just that hopefully my snark will be better, purer, and running at 100% efficiency.)
I do have one more political post in me -- about the time bomb in a so-called "Defense of Marriage" amendment that should worry the hell out of straight folks -- but I want to let it percolate for a little while longer.
Plus, I'm sure that the Bush Leaguers will do something that merits all sorts of scorn any day now, and I'll be back to help pour it on. But good God, I hike, play D&D and Texas hold-em, work out, go to work every day, watch tv, see movies, read comics, and have a new house I'm trying to get in order. I should have something else to talk about every now and then.
And that time, for now, is now.
Bottom line: I want him out. You (probably) want him out. And by the time four years are up, some portion of the 51 percent that voted for him will be slapping their collective foreheads saying, "What were we thinking?"
Watch and wait. And when the time comes, act.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Okay, enough with Canada.
I get it already.
Liberal friends have sent me a number of maps showing a merged blue-state U.S. with Canada, a fantasy that it’s kind of nice to indulge for a moment or two. (My favorite of the maps labeled the remaining red-state America as “Jesusland.”) On the other hand, a conservative friend has been telling me about the number of hits on Canada’s immigration web page.
To the former, I have to say if you’re going, you’ll need a parka. Because Canada ain’t coming here. But you’d do us all more good if you moved to Ohio or Florida instead. To the latter: You’re not getting rid of us that easily. To my wife, I say: We just bought this house! And we’ll never be able to sell it until we finish redoing the guest room anyway, so we’re pretty much stuck here until 2006. (That’s a joke, honey. Put down the scissors and my early Alan Moore Swamp Thing.)
And sure, I know the Canada thing is just a joke, a way of letting off steam. The people actually thinking about moving to Canada are few and far between, and they were probably already thinking about it before. But I think something very important gets lost in the shuffle when we talk like this.
This country is great. We have so much to be proud of, and so much to be thankful for, in both the red states and the blue. I like to see off-Broadway shows, but I want to sit in a sweltering Preservation Hall and hear kickass Dixieland jazz too. I’ll bodysurf on the Jersey shore, but I’ve rarely known such peace as I did floating in the still waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I want bagels and southern barbecue. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Mann’s Chinese Theater belong in the same country.
Forty-five percent of Virginians voted for Kerry. Forty-eight percent of Nevada did. These people don’t deserve the scorn liberals have been throwing at the red states, and they don’t deserve to be abandoned, either. More Texans voted for Kerry than did Michiganders, but Michigan is blue and Texas is red, and we’re gonna break it down that way? Nonsense. There’s no way on earth we should give up the South by Southwest Music Festival.
Look, this Canada talk is silly. I’ve tried lasagna in Quebec City. It’s inedible. I love the place, but the food? Not so much. Trust me, Bush or no Bush, you would not vote for this lasagna.
And neither would you vote to secede, when it comes right down to it.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Millions of people turned out for Bush on election day, and a sizable chunk of them are Christian. And it started me to thinking: What would Jesus have said to do in response to 9/11?
And the only answer I can come up with is to turn the other cheek.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying this is the smart thing, or even the right thing to do under the circumstances. But – and please, correct me if I’m wrong – isn’t it the Christian thing to do? Should we be seeking retribution, or even justice, for this? Isn’t that God’s job?
I haven’t read a whole lot of the Bible, so maybe I’m missing some nuance. But if I’m right, then why haven’t I heard any clergy advocating this course of action? Why haven’t any of our Christian politicians, including the President, try to stop this cycle of violence?
I know part of the answer – “Because the real world doesn’t work that way.” And I can see the point. But isn’t one of the tenets of Fundamentalist Christianity that the real world DOES work the way the Bible says it does? That Jesus’s way is the only way into heaven?
If so, how do they live with themselves?
(And if not, what am I missing in the equation? I'm not just trying to stir up trouble. I’m genuinely curious.)
P.S. Yes, Jeri, your book really did a number on me.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Hopes for the new term
I’d written a piece longhand on what I think this election says about America, but looking it over, it’s pretty depressing. It may go up on the blog later, but for now, I want to talk about my hopes for the new term.
In his concession speech, John Kerry enjoined all Americans to work together for a common cause. That’s an excellent thing to hope for, but it’s not very realistic. It’s like hoping that one day I’ll hear the news that John Ashcroft was found dead from choking on the semen of a male prostitute. It’s just not that likely.
So here are some things I’m hoping for in the next four years.
I hope Bush makes some genuine, rather than merely cosmetic, headway against terrorists, instead of creating an environment that breeds more.
I hope the news media is not cowed by the White House the way it was during the first term. I hope it shines a bright light on its activities, and that people pay attention when it does.
I hope that the more moderate Republicans in the House and Senate will take stands against some of the administration's truly repellent ideas. I doubt that Arlen Specter will be seeking reelection when he’s 80 in six years – it would be nice if he’d take point on this. (He can’t be happy with the Republican establishment for his treatment during the primaries.)
I hope that Democrats will find a way to appeal to Southern and Midwestern voters in congressional and senate races.
I hope Fox News will try to restrain itself from cheering whenever we kill innocent people in other countries.
I hope Bush appoints no more than two Supreme Court justices, and I hope his appointments are either very old or have angered the Mob.
I hope everyone has the good sense to keep their grubby mitts off the Constitution.
I hope Karl Rove gets gang-raped by hillbillies. Or orangutans. Or sharks.
I’m sure I’m hoping for other things too. I’ll let you know when I figure out what they are.
Woke up, voted, drove to PA, canvassed for Kerry/Edwards in Glenolden and Yeadon. I've never seen so many people as fired up to vote as I have in Yeadon -- it was a wonderful experience.
On the drive home, I pulled over twice to nod off for a few minutes.
And now I'm home, and they want me to wait for Ohio? I need my sleep!
Catching Zs now. President can wait. Friggin' buckeyes.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
It's been a long, ugly campaign. Good luck to both candidates.
(Of course, I think the luckiest thing that could happen to Bush is for him to lose the election, and not have to finish what he started. He might also manage to avoid some of the avalanche of scandal teetering in his direction.)
We'll see tomorrow night, I hope.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
The Osama Endorsement
I've already written that trying to pick who bin Laden would want for president is a fool's game. But Mark Evanier put it much better in this post:
My guess is he doesn't care who's in the White House any more than we care
who Al Qaeda names Employee of the Month.
If you aren't already checking out his site, you oughta. He's a clearheaded fella, and funny, too.
I'm an Alligator...
Taking a break from all the political blogging for a moment to ask -- what's your favorite opening line to a song? Not the whole verse -- maybe not even the whole thought -- just that first gulp of music that practically forces you to listen further. My example is David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." This two guitar chords and his declaration "I'm an alligator" are all he ever needed to get my interest. I mean, WTF?
So what's yours?
Saturday, October 30, 2004
The T-Shirt Speaks!
... which means I’d better wash it soon.
But the T-shirt I’m talking about in particular is one I was given during a production of The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival years ago – in the summer of 2000, I think. It’s a great show, funny as hell. For one part, I was lucky enough to be called up on stage to run in circles and shout some line that was supposed to represent Hamlet’s subconscious or superego or something. (Anyone who’s seen me run knows that the scene was probably twice as funny as usual because of this.) Be that as it may, when the scene was over, T-shirts dropped from the ceiling for every audience participant. The shits had quotes from Shakespeare on them. Mine was from Richard III, and read: “Woe to that land that’s groverned by a child.” The first R in “groverned” was crossed out with a red x, correcting it.
Naturally, I thought of George Bush, who was poised to win the Republican nomination.
(Okay, I probably thought of Dan Quayle, too, since he was a lousy speller, in public, at least. But, as usual, Bush was on my mind.)
And when I look at all the mistakes he’s made, I’d have to say the T-shirt was a bit prophetic. I’ve known that for a while now. But the T-shirt is speaking in a whole new way, that I’ve only understood just now.
For some reason, the red x – and ONLY the red x, not any of the other red on the shirt – has completely faded away. Disappeared completely. And it’s occurred to me that that’s a symbol of how much worse this administration is than what I expected. Because, stupid mistake though it was, at least it got corrected. But now I’m just walking around with a misspelled shirt, pretending that nothing’s wrong. Sort of like saying “I support the troops” while sending them over to die for a series of lies. Except without all the widows and orphans left behind, because it’s just a stupid T-shirt.
It’s time to correct this groverning child. Let’s give him an F and leave him behind.
UPDATE: Then again, nobody's perfect. As soon as I posted this, I noticed I had written "when the scene was over, T-shits dropped from the ceiling." Which is a helluva lousy thank-you gift.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Still the One? Not so fast...
Speaking of music, the thief-in-chief got called on a copyright violation. From the AP:
Bush Asked to Stop Using 'Still the One'
WASHINGTON - The Bush campaign said Friday it would stop using the 1970's
hit "Still the One" at campaign rallies after the songwriter, no fan of the
president, claimed the Republicans never got permission.
John Hall, a former Democratic county legislator in upstate New York, co-wrote the song and recorded it with his band Orleans in 1976. He complained Friday morning about the campaign's use of the song at the president's events.
Hall, still a working musician at 56, wrote "Still the One" with his then-wife, Johanna D. Hall. The two, as well as surviving members of the band, are supporters of Democratic Sen. John Kerry and didn't want their work used to promote Bush's re-election.
"I'm not just some guy that's stoned out and happened to write a song, and even if I were, it would still be a problem, because you should always ask permission to use the work," Hall said.
That's just too rich.
Everytime I think I've posted my last post about 'em...
... they pull me back in. Here's Jim's Big Ego's newest tune, WTFMFWTFAYT, in an easily downloadable mp3 form.. with their blessings, o'course.
For everyone who's as frustrated as I am about the dabacle-in-chief, who'll have 79 days to pack. 83 if he starts now.
UPDATE: Don't have kids around when you listen. No, really.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
More on Abu Ghraib
Phillip Carter has written an excellent article for the Washington Monthly on how the abuses at Abu Ghraib were a result of the Bush administrations policies, including the suspension of the Geneva convention. He also explains the ways that simple, seemingly innocuous methods (like "sleep deprivation") turn into nightmares, and details how our actions there will come back to haunt us in the future.
You can, and should, read it here.
My brother Tom and I have been emailing each other about my last post (the letter to Mom), and I've posted the letters to that post's comments section. If you don't normally read the comments, you might want to take a look. It's a pretty good discussing, and I'm not sure where it will take us next.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
This is a letter I wrote to my mom the other day. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. Since I think it’s my best writing I’ve done about the election, I asked her if I could post it here. (She said yes.)
Yesterday, you asked me why I didn’t think the President had “moral strength.” I had a hard time putting it into words – I find him outrageous on so many levels that I often don’t know where to begin.
But I’ve found it. Looking back, it’s the moment when it crystallized for me that GWB was not simply a bad president, but a disastrous one, one who, despite his easygoing manner, is actually undermining everything that makes America great.
That moment was Abu Ghraib.
Mom, seeing those pictures turned my stomach. I couldn’t believe that Americans were doing these things. When I was younger, I didn’t have a very high opinion of soldiers, but that’s changed in the last few years. I’m sure there are plenty of soldiers I wouldn’t like personally (although probably just as many that, like Mark G., I would like a whole lot), but I’ve grown to respect what they do and the peace they keep a great deal. They’re often called on to dirty their hands in a way that I don’t think I could ever do. They do it to keep me safe, and you safe, and people in other countries safe. Often, it’s in high-stress environments, keeping an already bad situation from becoming incalculably worse.
These men and women deserve our respect. And in most cases, they earn it.
But then there was Abu Ghraib. There were pictures of naked prisoners, prisoners threatened with dogs. Prisoners forced to stand motionless for 12 hours at a stretch. People, men and women, were raped and sexually humiliated. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything more horrifying to me – because I knew that my own people did this. Not the Germans, not the Japanese, not Osama bin Laden. My people. People who grew up in towns like ours.
It turned my stomach for days. The photos kept coming, and all I could think about was how wrong it was. We’re Americans, I thought. We don’t torture. We’re Americans.
To my mind, there are two people ultimately responsible for this (aside from George Bush himself). One is Donald Rumsfeld, who is in charge of the military, and who let this happen. The Red Cross estimates that 70 to 90 percent of the Iraqis detained were held in error, on his watch. The other is John Ashcroft, whose Justice Department wrote a memo that blurred the line between torture and acceptable interrogation techniques.
Looking at the situation, I have to ask: What would a moral person do, if this happened on his watch? Ask yourself what Dad would have done if he were President when it happened. What would you have done? What do you think Rev. Ev would do, or me, or Tommy, or anyone else who you can think of as moral?
Here’s my answer, for every one of these people: They would get to the bottom of why it happened, and they would make sure it never happened again. In doing this, they would hold the right people accountable – not just the people who got their hands dirty, but the people who encouraged or allowed it to happen. They would replace these people and move forward. And they would take personal responsibility for their own oversight, and assure America and the world that it would never happen again.
That didn’t happen. The administration scrambled to put a lid on the photos, trying to crack down on the people who took and shared the pictures, rather than the torturers themselves. Soon after the story broke, the President stood by Rumsfeld and called him one of the best Secretaries of Defense the country’s ever had. Instead of focusing on the problem, he focused on political damage control, hoping the story would blow over.
And amazingly and sadly, it did.
But whenever the President has been asked about any mistakes he’s made, he never mentions Abu Ghraib. It’s understandable that he doesn’t want to dwell on it during an election. But neither he nor any of his staff have ever taken any sort of responsibility for the horrible treatment prisoners received there. That’s neither moral nor strong.
And that’s why I can’t vote for him.
I know you’re planning to vote for Bush, Mom. I can only ask, please consider his actions, rather than what he says about himself. Does he measure up to your standards of what a good man should be?
I can tell you he doesn’t meet mine. Not by a long shot.
I love you, whatever you decide.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
The shelling has begun
There was just an enormous barrage of fireworks somewhere near my neighborhood. We could barely see them from our attic window. Does anyone have any idea why? Because we're completely in the dark -- aside from the bursts of light we can see just beyond the trees, that is.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Who can protect you?
In the end, domestic policies aside, this election all comes down to terrorism. We’ll vote for who we think can keep us safe. And in the end, that’s the main reason I’m voting for John Kerry.
I work in New York City. Terrorism isn’t some abstract concept to me. It’s not something that will happen to someone else. I work two blocks from the Empire State Building. I take the train to and from Penn Station (right under Madison Square Garden) every day. These are targets. The next time a terrorist attacks, I could die. This is real to me. This is what I think when I get off the train in the morning. Not every morning, but enough.
When I walk past the Empire State Building, I keep an eye out for people with walkie talkies. I called 911 once about a suitcase left near a trash can.
I’m not kidding.
President Bush’s response to the terrorism threat has been ineffectual, and in many ways counterproductive. He sends Tom Ridge out to raise the terror alert any time he needs a bump in the polls (studies show the boost lasts about two weeks, but is shrinking – expect one next weekend, another little scare for Halloween). And Bush has let the Republican Congress dole out the antiterrorism money to all sorts of porky pet projects, rather than spending it sensibly, focusing on high-threat areas like NYC, DC, and LA. And he hasn’t taken proper steps to keep our ports, nuclear reactors, and chemical plants safe. These places tend to be privately owned, and Bush steadfastly refuses to regulate businesses, even when imposing new laws limiting individual freedom. The gap in our security is as big as his blind spot.
Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft hasn’t yet made a single conviction for terrorism – this, after detaining over 5,000 people. Not one conviction. Zero for 5000 isn’t exactly a stellar batting average, particularly with using the big red fat bat of the Patriot Act. Now he wants to expand the act. Hey John – show us you can do something with what you got, first. Besides disrupting thousands of lives, that is.
And Iraq? More and more, it just seems to paint a target on us here at home. Not only hasn’t it helped us in the fight against terrorism (if that were a really our priority, we would have taken out Abu Musab Zarqawi on one of the several chances we had before the war, rather than keep him around as a pretext to go to war), but it presents us as weak. We’re losing ground there and terrorists are getting bombs into the supposedly safe “Green Zone”, all because our president didn’t think the overwhelming force we normally present was necessary.
But an even bigger sign of weakness is the target he chose. Instead of focusing our efforts on the one who attacked us, we soon turned our attention to the one he thought we could beat. We’re flailing our arms wildly, hoping to hit something – anything – to show we’re tough. In middle school, we had a word for that: spaz. And no one respects a spaz.
On the other hand, Kerry perceives the War in Iraq and our antiterrorism efforts as two different things. They’re linked, but they are not one and the same. I’ve no doubt he will use force when necessary, but not without judgement. He’s an intelligent man, one who isn’t afraid of reading. Someone who would read a Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” and actually do something about it, rather than continuing his vacation.
Yes, I blame Bush for not preventing September 11. I blame him for not taking the threat to American lives seriously. I blame him for his deer-in-the-headlights inaction when the attacks took place. I blame him for going after Saddam Hussein when we had Bin Laden in our sights. And I blame him for putting on a dog-and-pony show of terror alerts, airport security, and bogus detentions to make me think I’m safer, without actually making me safer at all.
This is the worst president we’ve ever had. None of us are safe while he’s in office.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Team America: World Police
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are funny guys. They know how to be funny. they do it alost every week with South Park. The South Park movie was one of my favorites in the last decade.
All of which makes Team America: World Police so disappointing. It's a waste of 9 bucks, and it's a waste of your time. There are a couple of funny moments, but in no way were the worth the hour and a half of boredom and pain that we sat through. See something else. Stay home. If you get the urge to see this movie, drop your car keys down a sewer. Or chop off a finger every minute until your urge to go to the emergency room becomes greater. It's just bad. I wish I'd been offended by it -- getting pissed off galvanizes me. But this movie was so feeble, even when it tried to rile me, it just left me cold.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Anyone Feel a Draft?
Josh Marshall raises an excellent point, and gives details about the Bush Campaign's latest attempt at supressing free speech.
In a nutshell: Rock the Vote has been using the possibility of a draft to motivate young people to register to vote. Considering how many troops we have in Iraq, and how long they could be there for, it's certainly a possibility, however distateful it might be. And the people who would be most concerned are the very people that RTV is trying to reach. (Of course, their parents and toehr loved ones should be very concerned too. And if your kid isn't draft age now, just remember that they're growing every day.)
The Bush administration, all the way up to the President himself, have said that there would be no draft, that our all-volunteer army is doing just fine. (This, despite the fact that a substantial chunk of the National Guard isn't, y'know, guarding the nation. At least not our nation. They're in Iraq, because we can't spare more troops from the regular army.)
And so, the chairman of the Republican National Committee has sent them a cease-and-desist letter (.pdf link) to shut them up, threatening to revoke their IRS advantages that come with being labveled a "non-partisan" group -- because the idea of a draft is purportedly so preposterous that they're obviously just doing this to cause trouble.
And his proof of this? A few soundbites from Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Essentially: "Because we said so."
That's not good enough. Not from anyone, but especially not from these guys. This is thuggery, pure and simple.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
I think Kerry took this one by a hair. He just seemed more substantial than Bush. His answers were more complete, and he seemed like a solid man -- someone you can trust.
But enough about that...there's a sex scandal abrewin'! Is it any surprise that onscreen bully Bill O'Reilly is a sexual bully off-camera?
Warning: Disgusting behavior.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Completely out of left field, let me recommend No Ordinary Time, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s an amazingly detailed yet human portrait of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt and their time in office. I read it a few years ago, and loved it.
So, who’s your favorite Universal monster? There are basically seven pics from the old Universal Studios horror movies – Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I’m a fan of the Gill-man. I even have a little stuffed animal of him.
I'd go back in a second.
One of the best places we went on our honeymoon was this little town south of Paris called Nolay (not an auspicious name for a town to visit on your honeymoon, I know). This town was wonderful. It was the perfect little French village. We took a twelve-mile walk around the countryside with wine and cheese in out backpack, and relaxed at this Tabac (a tabacconist shop/café) and drank great wine and was introduced to one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the chevre chaud. It’s goat cheese, ham, gouda and tomato on a baguette, warmed in the oven. Delicious doesn’t cover it. I didn’t know comfort food came in other languages.
Steve Martin is one of my favorite writers. He’s had some clunkers, but ever since LA Story, he’s had this sad whimsy about him that really draws me to his work. And happy news, his fantastic play Picasso at the Lapin Agile is in pre-production to be a movie. I've seen this play three times, and loved it every time.
Kathy & I stopped at the Lapin Agile when we were in Paris. Sadly, we never got there when it was open – hopefully we’ll have a chance to go back someday.
I figure I’d cheat a bit, and continue the modern myths thing here. I remember something Peter David once wrote which struck a chord in me. It was an idea that said that myths are fictional characters that we think of as real. Not in the sense of being living, breathing people, but in the sense of being able to see them without their fictional context.
The example he gave was Captain Kirk. If you asked a dozen people on the street who Captain Kirk is, most of them will tell you he’s the captain of the Enterprise... instead of saying he’s the lead of the Star Trek tv show, and was played by William Shatner. They’ll know those things too, and probably give them to you right after, but the foremost thing in their minds would be he was the captain of the Enterprise.
I was thinking about this on the train today, thinking about characters that have this same resonance with us – that we think of their reality first, before we think about what they are in our own reality (fictional characters).
I think Charlie Brown meets the criteria. So does James Bond. I’m not sure about Indiana Jones – I think he’s probably too closely associated with his three movies (despite appearing in other media, including TV, novels, and comics) to be there yet. But I think the Simpsons certainly have made the grade. I think constant exposure is important, and that’s where Indy falls down, but Homer and his family certainly qualify.
Can you think of any characters created after the Simpsons that have reached this point? I have a couple ideas, but I want to hear your thoughts.
I’m reading the first volume of The Complete Peanuts. Fantagraphics is publishing the entire strip, in order, in a huge series of classy volumes. Most cover two years of the run, but the first also covers the tail end of 1950, when it began.
And it’s fantastic. Reading the later years of the strip, I forgot how funny it once was. And it’s a joy to see Charles Schulz inventing the characters, one by one. Did you know that Schroeder showed up before Lucy? Fact. And Snoopy is a great character, even better without speaking/thinking. I don’t know if I’ll pick up all of these books, and I’ll certainly look for discounts, but they’re worth keeping an eye on.
Because Charlie Brown is one of our modern myths.
Month of agony
It’s been about a month since Kathy & I joined the Y and started working out. I haven’t lost much weight, but I’ve been much less out of breath when I’ve run to catch the train, so I guess that’s something.
Seriously, things are going well with it, and I’m feeling more fit because of it. Not that you could tell with any mass-measuring scientific instruments. But that’ll come, I’m sure.
The other night, Kathy & I were watching Action, tivoed from around 2:30 or 3 in the morning on Comedy Central. It’s a great show, cruelly funny in all the right ways. But as I was fast-forwarding though the commercials, one caught my eye enough that I went back to it later.
Yes, it caught my eye because it had strippers on it, and cheap graphics. It said “sleaze” loud and clear, and really, can you blame me for being curious? But what I found was pure entertainment gold.
It was a help wanted ad for strippers. Some show bar in NJ is so desperate to get quality dancers that they’re advertising on Comedy Central. Because all the hotties are watching Jay Mohr at 3 a.m.
Kathy & I have been stripping on the weekends. It’s a lot of work. I really did a number on my shoulder last week – heck, I was sore all over. But how else are we gonna get the paint off this wood?
Oh… what did you think I meant?
Actually, we’re using white disposable surgical gloves to keep the paint thinner off of our hands. And I have to say, whenever I snap a glove against my wrist as I put it on, my brain gets a signal that something frightfully kinky is about to happen. “All right.. bring out the gimp!'
Chris clued me in to a bit of a tempest in the online news sources—it seems like the Hand Puppet is wearing a wire. An article on Salon.com has the skinny on Bush’s bulge, and what it might be. It might be so that he can get answers to debate questions, or maybe he needs help from some GOP Cyrano to practice his love like an OBGYN. Heck, maybe he’s just listening to smooth jazz—reason enough to boot him from office.
Me, I prefer to think of it as an endless loop of Mark Wahlberg saying “I’m a star. I’m a big, big star!”
I just changed the time back. Otherwise, I'd have to remember to change the time for EVERY post I made, and I'm just not willing to make that effort to remember. So keep in mind, this is all happening 3 hours later than what the clock says it is, or 3,000 miles east of where you think I might be, or something like that.
Let's do the time warp again, baby!
Batterbatterbatterbatter SWING batter!
Kathy just called me downstairs because she had some angel food cake batter. I can't convey how yummy it is, but let me try:
Lick your computer. Seriously. I'm trying here. Lick your computer.
See? It's like that, only a hundred million times better. Because what you did was just gross. And this batter is divine.
Batter. Truly chicken soup for the blogger's soul.
I have to say, I’m really digging this Tivo contraption. I can watch Celebrity Poker, Family Guy, or Good Eats whenever I want. Plus, I’m not missing Smallville, Jack & Bobby, The Daily Show, The Venture Bothers, or any other cool shows. Of course, this means that TV is taking over my life. But I can look away! I can look away!
Oh, and I changed the time. It's 8:06. I think this is why my brother asked me if I was posting blog entries from work.
Time …. Flowing like a river…
It’s taking forever to load my Queimada post. I’m two posts later in MS Word – post post-post, you might say, and it’s still uploading. Is it even POSSIBLE to blog 35 entries in one day? In an hour? I’m stalled at 75%. Well, at least I got a post out of it.
The Big Dog
Bloodhound continues to rock, by the way. It’s one of my favorite comics. Hopefully, the new issue will be out soon. I think Travis Clevinger is the best character comics have seen in years. Whether he’ll survive low sales is anybody’s guess. I hope he turns it around.
The other night, when New Jersey Transit shut down for a while due to a transformer explosion, I decided not to squeeze onto the Path with ever other commuter in the city, but instead to go see a film. I caught Queimada, which was released in the US as Burn! in 1969. It was a terrific film. Brando plays an enigmatic Englishman who comes to the Carribean island of Queimada to foment a revolution against the Portuguese. Having doen that (and establishing British foothold in the new government and its sugar business), he leaves. Ten years later, he’s called on to go back, to put down a second revolution, led by Jose Dolores, the same revolutionary he trained years ago.
Brando is dubbed into Italian (the language of the production), and still his performance is vibrant. He’s amazing as he slowly begins to realize he’s the villain of the piece, and wants to make restitution, because he doesn’t have a villain’s heart.
The music is by Ennio Morricone, who did all those creepy whistly soundtracks for Sergione Leone’s westerns. The soundtrack to this is haunting in ways I can’t fully describe, although it probably won’t affect people who haven’t seen this movie the same way it did me.
Man, what a cool movie.
There’s a place in NYC that sells the food of my people. I’m talking about Carl’s, which does a damn good cheesesteak. And even with trying to eat heathier food, I broke down today to have one and some cheese fries for lunch.
Heritage is important.
Headlight Savings Time
I can’t wait for Daylight Savings Time. When is it? Because when I drive home from the Y after working out, the sun is so completely in my eyes at one point that I can’t see a damn thing. I’ll rear-end someone for sure. Or someone equally blind will rear-end me. Neither is an acceptable option, so if we could just all agree to move dawn back an hour, I’d appreciate it.
Lightning in my Brain
I was at the gym today. It was a cardio day, and I decided to use the treadmill. At one point, I flipped the discman to Jim’s Big Ego’s “The Ballad of Barry Allen,” and started to run. Listening to a song about the Flash while jogging? It felt like my birthday.
And yes, I can’t stop talking about this band.
Lemme link to a couple of friends who have blogs that are worth paying attention to. Jeri Smith-Ready’s Seething in the Wilderness is consistently a good read. Her posts always turn out more literate than mine;I think that’s because she actually puts time into them. She’s got more of the do-gooder impulse than I do, or at least she doesn’t suppress hers as successfully. Her chief concern has always been the environment, whereas mine has been making snarky comments from the sidelines. So the fact that she can do both is astonishing and worthy of respect.
Jack Curtin has been blogging a lot longer than me, but his concerns (politics and beer) tend to line up with my interests pretty well. He’s a comic reader, too, or at least he was years ago, and the things are like crack, so I can’t imagine he gave ’em up. I met him when I used to edit his Liquid Diet column at The Suburban and Wayne Times. Drop by.
Mark Evanier is one of the fathers of blogging, at least to my mind. His News from Me site is chock-full of Hollywood history, comics, politics, and just plain stuff that he amazes me. He’s a fantastic writer, and you’ll be hooked quick. Even on his supermarket reports. Really.
A very conservative friend of mine is thinking of giving up politics after the election. Just stop thinking about it, stop talking about it, all of it.
It’s an interesting idea, one which might save my stomach lining. But I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
Best. T-Shirt. Ever.
Y’know, Greg (or He Who Blogs Only At the Full Moon) gave me the best T-shirt ever years ago. It shows a Calvin Klein ad with Homer Simpson on it. On the front is Homer, shirtless, with his Calvin underwear peeking over the waist of his pants. The back shows the same thing, but a read view.
And I can’t remember the last time I wore it when someone hasn’t told me how much they love it.
So thanks Greg.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Outlook Murky. Try Again Later.
I’m curious. Did Dick Cheney’s suit look sorta blurry-fuzzy on anyone else’s TV during the debate? I talked about it with Kathy, and decided the insubstantial black murk around him was his “shroud of evil.” But a friend suggested it might have been the result of Cheney actually being a hologram beamed in from an undisclosed location.
Did any of you notice this? If you have any other explanations, I’d love to hear them.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
One bad mutha...
My favorite moment of the debate came at the very end, where Kerry, in his closing argument, said:
... who's the person who could be a commander in chief who could get your
kids home and get the job done... and win the peace.
And in that pause, I turned to Kathy, and chirped: "Shaft!"
Friday, October 01, 2004
Okay, it probably comes as no surprise to most of you that I think Kerry won the debate. For one reason, I’m pretty virulently anti-Bush, so I was rooting for Kerry anyway. Second of all, because Kerry flat-out won it pretty handily.
Really, though, the winning conditions weren’t all that high. Heck, Bush beat the same conditions last year – to be a plausible candidate for President. To not be the caricature that the other side says you are. And, in Kerry’s case, to hold the same stage with the President without being diminished by him.
Kerry handled it wonderfully. He spoke clearly, and kept on-message without using the same words over and over and over again. (Kerry would repeat himself once or twice; Bush sounded like … ah, what the hell is it that he sounded like now that technology has made broken records obsolete? A macaw. A well-trained macaw.)
Granted, there were times that Bush held his own. The discussion about what to do about Korea really impressed me – not so much because I agreed with him, but because he actually seemed engaged in what he was saying. But in general, Bush looked peevish, and completely unaccustomed to someone standing up to him. (Which is probably because he is – he hasn’t held a press conference for months, and his public-speaking stops are carefully screened so that no one who disagrees with him can get in.)
But Kerry was in control. He jabbed at Bush, and Bush deflected most of his criticisms, but not all. (The fate of Osama bin Laden was a major source of contention, and, I thought, one of Kerry’s most effective attacks.) Bush tried to nail Kerry on the flip-flopper thing, and Kerry turned it right back around on him – “I made a mistake when I talked about the war, but the President made a mistake by taking us to war. Which is worse?” Bush didn’t land a punch.
Kerry didn’t knock Bush out, to continue the boxing analogy, and I don’t think Bush was every really on the ropes. But there were times where he looked like he thought he was on the ropes, and in those moments, he looked decidedly unpresidential.
I think Bush will be better prepared for round two, in the town-hall-style debate. But frankly, this was his strongest subject. He needed a win here, and he didn’t get one. Suddenly, Kerry is as plausible at national defense as Bush is – and Bush’s defense numbers were really what’s been keeping his campaign afloat in the polls. If they drop, Bush drops.
And we all might actually start becoming safer come January.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Saturday, September 25, 2004
My Kinda Boss...
You know what always makes me laugh? When I'm watching a cop show and the angry police captain wants to take an ornery detective off a case after some sort of mistake. "As of now, you're on vacation. I don't want to see you again for two weeks."
This is punishment? I've gotta start letting some typos through at work. "On page 42, you've left tree stand as one word, and you called the plural of deer, deers. Go to Bermuda."
Ah, for the life of a TV cop...
Letting the Anger Speak
Rob Makes the List!
I’m sick of it. Sick of reading about the government, sick of writing about them, sick of the news, sick of this fucking hand puppet who claims to be our president. I feel like some vitriol. Come along!
I propose buying giant microwaves to install in Texas and Connecticut. Wheel the fuckers up to Kennebunkport and Crawford and set ’em on full power. I’d like to see the entire Bush family sterilized by the cooking machine of the future. We’ve had too many years of Bushes in power – there’s been a Bush in six of the last seven Presidential elections. We’re through with them. We’re not a monarchy, and they are not the fucking royal family. So, my grand microwave ovens of urban legend*, sterilize away. Let ’em live out their lives, just don’t let them breed. Don’t let this blight plague another generation. We need new leaders. Or whatever it is they think they're doing -- we need someone else doing it.
It doesn’t matter if Jenna and Barbie have no political aspirations right now. You think Georgie had any ambition greater than finding greater quantities of new and expensive powders to suck up his nose? Imagine if he HAD gone to the National Guard physical he was ordered to go to. He wouldn’t have been able to sit still. Whenever I see Chevy Chase blinking up a storm on old SNL episodes, I think of Georgie, coked to the gills in his National Guard uniform. Damn, I hope that image goes away someday. I like Chevy Chase.
And it IS the family that’s the problem. Without his family connections, little Georgie would be selling pencil stubs from a can on some street corner, or maybe turning tricks for fatcats like Dick Cheney so he could get his next fix. I guess that’s not too different from now, except Bush is using our asses to do the job.
So yeah, John Ashcroft, put me on your list, I’ve said some naughty things about the President, and I’ve fantasized about irradiating his genes with giant imaginary cookware. But it feels better to be on the list, saying this stuff, than to be constantly looking over my shoulder for the mildest criticisms, wondering when John Law would call me up and tell me my first amendment rights no longer applied.
I’m sick of being polite about this. I’m sick of being nice. I’m sick of even making goddamn sense. All I’ve got are hate and fury and the truth, and as the Bushes and the Swifties and Karl Goebbels Rove have taught us, no one gives a fuck about the truth anymore.
*because, you know, microwave ovens actually don’t sterilize people. Truth.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Get Back, Honky Cat
Okay, I’m sure I don’t have the correct transcription of this. I was on a crosstrainer at the gym this morning, watching a closed-captioned broadcast of the Today show. So I’m relying on my sponge-sharp memory of someone typing as fast as they can to represent a person’s remarks.
They were talking about Cat Stevens – or Yusuf Islam, as he’s called today – being denied entrance into the country, sent back to England once his rerouted plane touched down in Maine. The show cut to someone they identified as a “security expert.” I don’t know if he was a representative of the government or what, but I’m pretty sure he had some authority. It’s not like he was the night watchman of a shopping mall. At the same time, it seems like he was criticizing the Department of Homeland Security for letting Stevens onto the plane in the first place.
So here’s what he said, in essence: “Sure, we can all laugh about it being Cat Stevens, but the next time it could be a real terrorist.” Yeah, that’s a laugh. If Cat Stevens is no threat, why was he on the no-fly list? Innocent people being detained and restricted is a hoot!
Now, Cat Stevens is no saint. The man endorsed the fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, years ago. Or did he?
Over at catstevens.com, he addresses the question. His comments were made during a lecture, when someone questioned him on the topic of the book. According to Cat, this is what he said:
After confirming that Islamic Law considers Blasphemy without repentance as a
capital offence, I stated clearly, “Under the Islamic law, Muslims are bound to
keep within the limits of the law of the country in which they live, providing
that it does not restrict the freedom to worship and serve God and fulfill their
basic religious duties (Fard ‘Ayn). One must not forget the ruling in Islam is
also very clear about adultery, stealing and murder, but that doesn’t mean that
British Muslims will go about lynching and stoning adulterers, thieves and
murders. If we can’t get satisfaction within the present limits of the law, like
a ban on this blasphemous book, ‘Satanic Verses’ which insults God and His
Prophets – including those Prophets honoured by Christians, Jews as well as
Muslims – this does not mean that we should step outside of the law to find
redress. No. If Mrs. Thatcher and her Government are unwilling to listen to our
pleas, if our demonstrations and peaceful lobbying does not work, then perhaps
the only alternative is for Muslims to get more involved in the political
process of this country. It seems to be the only way left for us.”
In essence: Yeah, it’s a capital crime under Islamic law, but that’s not the law that has jurisdiction in this case. We need to work within British law to get justice.
As far as I know, writing a novel is not a capital offense in England – so Cat isn’t advocating killing anyone. He just wants redress for what he perceives as blasphemy.
Now, this is Cat’s version of events, so it’s not a disinterested account. But I don’t find it hard to believe that the media distorted what is a fairly complicated position into an attention-grabbing soundbite. At the same time, Cat may be distorting what he originally said, after the fact. I looked on Snopes to get the real story, but they had nothing on it.
Either way, I think he’s wrong about Rushdie’s book–blasphemy is a religious offense, not a legal one. Stevens is within his rights to get offended, but any decent legal system will look at the evidence and wonder where the crime is. Freedom of speech supercedes the anyone’s “right” to not be offended.
(And strangely enough, the offensive passages of The Satanic Verses might not even correlate with Rushdie’s opinion. There has to be a conflict of ideas – and the stronger, more worthy the conflict, the better the novel’s potential to be good. No decent novel has all its characters parroting the same philosophy. Robert Heinlein, I’m looking at you.)
Arrgh – but this was a huge digression. What prompted me to write this in the first place is: either Cat Stevens is a threat or he isn’t. If he’s not, why can’t he fly here? But if he is, a) it’s no laughing matter, and b) why the hell was he let on that plane in the first place?
Which may have been the “security expert”’s point, at that.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Yeah, I'm a ray of sunshine...
Okay, back to what I was doing before I got happy.
This is how I feel about the upcoming election. This is how I feel about the choice we have.
I’m writing about the future.
No matter what, the next four years will be hard. We’re in a war. More and more people want to kill us. We have laws in place that allow authorities to overreact to minor signifiers of threat (lists of books borrowed from the library, for example), while we leave our ports, power plants and chemical warehouses ludicrously undefended. It’s difficult to sneak into the country, but considering how many people do it each year, it’s by no means impossible. But it’s important for the government to know what audiobooks I’m taking out?
But I’m digressing. I have a hard time resisting it--this administration frustrates me in every way, and makes me want to make lists, long lists of clever lies and stupid mistakes. But it’s not what’s going on here and now that concerns me so much.
I started thinking about the Iraq War, and came to the conclusion that it won’t be the last one. This war, and the way we went about it, will set in motion things that will start the next two or three wars, maybe more. More and more terrorists are being born with every gun fired, with every bomb dropped on a mother or a kid. Some of these people my have hated us already—but most of them had better things to do than try to kill us. They had families to raise, businesses to run. But when we kill those families with a show of shock and awe, when we leave their homes and shops in rubble, priorities change. Wouldn’t yours?
And so, there’s more war in our future—five, ten, fifteen years down the line, fueled by old hatreds but fanned by our arrogance and aggression. Some wars will be against states, some sparked by terrorists. Terrorists whose numbers would be dwindling if we were still in Afghanistan, instead of growing at alarming rates. And you and I won’t be fighting these wars. The chances of either of us dying in them is minimal—after all, we’re staying home.
No, it’s your kids, my nieces and nephews, people’s grandchildren who will be asked to fight these wars—and since there’s been discussion of reinstating the draft, they may not be even asked nicely. They may just be given a helmet and a gun, and flown to where the enemy is. This is what the President and the people he appointed have done to their future. Our future.
We don’t have a choice about the next four years. They’ll be awful, no matter who gets elected. But we’re on the brink of something horrible--an apocalyptic future George Bush brought us to, in his scattershot response to Sept. 11. Sometimes, I don’t know if it’s possible to pull us back from the brink, back to safety. I just know that the man who brought us here doesn’t even see the chasm up ahead, and he’s got his pedal to the metal. We need someone who knows where the brake is. We can't stop on a dime, but we've got to end this somehow. Because Bush's plans have led to chaos in Iraq, neglect in Afghanistan and misery at home.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Okay, really: New Favorite Band
Jim's Big Ego is a helluva band. Fizzy pop with a great sense of humor, plus the do a song about the Flash! What's not to like?
But instead of directing you to The Ballad of Barry Allen, you should check out this flash video for "Little Miss Communication." Guarantee you'll be humming it after a listen or two.
Give a few more things a listen -- I recommend Stress, Math Prof Rock Star, and Mix Tape. I'm not sure if they're on Radio JBE, but if not, you'll find other good stuff.