Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Please Hold

Wouldn’t it be great if when you called Nintendo and were put on hold, you would hear the Super Mario Brothers music?


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

Turtle &%#&!-in' Good!

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the Daily Show. Enjoy.

(I can't link directly. Click on the link that says "Daily Show Video -- Cooter Festival" on the right. You'll be happy you did.)


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.


New Favorite Band

I heard about these guys at work today. A little death-metal band called Hatebeak. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Imperial March

Okay, I was going to write something about my thoughts on the war, and what will come from it, which was extremely depressing, and believe me, you would have found it depressing too. But instead, I just brought Kathy down with it. Sucks for her, but you get to be happy for another day.

Instead, I’ll talk about my morning radio experience. I was listening to this piece about film restoration, and how there’s no decent original print of Star Wars because so many prints were made from it. While they talked about this, they played the Darth Vader music: Dum, dum, dum, dum Da-dum, dum Da-dum…

… and I thought of Dick Cheney.

And not even in the context of a comparison to Darth Vader. That’s already too internalized. It was like they were playing Dick Cheney’s theme, which made me think of Darth Vader, if that makes any sense.

So I guess they’ve even ruined Star Wars for me. At least, the part that George Lucas hadn’t already.


Monday, September 13, 2004


... to the Fightin' 69th Posting Pesterers on a job well done.

Stealing, Liberally

I wanted to get a little blogging done today, but I’m pretty swamped (and sweet potatoes are currently in the steamer, so I have to be quick). But when in doubt, steal. Here are some thought on the current campaign, and the Bush Administrations performance, that you may not have read. Presented in easy-to-read list form!

But please, click on the links to read the whole stories.

First up, William Rivers Pitt offers this list of things that are going unnoticed in the rush to say who was (and wasn’t) doing what 30 years ago:

Issues we are not hearing about because we have spent so much time talking about television advertisements:

· Millions of jobs lost in the last four years;

· Unbearably expensive health care;

· A total loss of confidence within the international community in our moral leadership;

· The underfunded farce that is the Department of Homeland Security;

· The underfunded farce that is the No Child Left Behind bill;

· The fact that military assault weapons will soon be making a perfectly legal return to a neighborhood near you;

· The deeply illegal outing of a deep-cover CIA agent by Bush administration officials, who did it because they wanted to silence a critic;

· The rape and torture of men, women and children in the Abu Ghraib prison, horrors that were sanctioned in writing by Bush's own lawyer and the Secretary of Defense;

· The allegation by Senator Bob Graham of Florida that Bush torpedoed any aspect of the 9/11 investigation that came within spitting distance of his friends in the Saudi royal family;

· The allegations by several generals that Bush's people started stripping necessary troops and resources from Afghanistan to bolster their ill-conceived charge into Iraq;

· The myriad accusations by a dozen insiders that Bush and his people ignored the terror threat until the Towers fell, and then used the attacks to scare the American people into an unnecessary war in Iraq and a mammoth payday for their friends in the weapons and oil business;

· The fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq;

· The fact that no connections between Hussein, bin Laden and 9/11 have been established beyond the bloviating hyperbole of a few senior Bush officials who haven't yet gotten the memo;

· Does anyone even remember Enron?

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of September 11th. We deserve better than this.

Then, Eric Alterman provides these insights, as he remembers Sept. 11th.

Even so vociferous a critic of the unelected Bush, Cheney, the Neocons, and the religious right as myself could not bring himself to imagine in that horrific week with the smell of the smoking ruins literally polluting the sky above my house, that America’s president, its vice-president and their advisers would be capable of the following:

· Bush and company specifically ignored multiple warnings of just such an attack.

· Bush and company lied to the heroes of 9/11 about the health and safety implications of breathing the air down at Ground Zero—my own family included.

· Bush and company immediately sought to manipulate the grief and anger of the attacks to launch an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq which has resulted in over a thousand needless American military deaths and U.S. soldiers turning into occupiers and in some case torturers.

· Bush and company lied to the nation about the responsibility for the attack, trying to pin it on Saddam Hussein who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

· Bush and company allowed its friends in the Saudi royal family to hide its relationship to the killers. Bush and company made only a lackluster effort to capture the killers, allowing many to escape at
Tora Bora and pulling agents and resources out of Afghanistan to feed its obsession with Iraq.

· Bush and company did everything they could to prevent and later, undermine an investigation of why 9/11 was allowed to happen.

· Bush and company continue to ignore their responsibility to protect the nation from another attack, failing to protect its ports, nuclear and chemical plants, and its most vulnerable urban targets and instead, have actually gone out of their way to inspire more such attacks, despite intelligence warnings on this very topic.

· Bush and company have destroyed the sympathy our nation enjoyed (and deserved) in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have instead turned that sympathy into global hatred and disgust, further endangering our citizens.

· Bush and company have repeatedly manipulated the powerful imagery of the attacks for their own partisan political purposes.

Bush and company have repeatedly cowed the media into ignoring, and when that’s impossible, apologizing for, much of the above. For all of the above, the men and women who people this administration deserved not merely to be repudiated politically but held accountable both morally and legally. Instead it is they who attack and impugn patriots like lifetime public servants Richard Clarke and Anthony Zinni, whose only crimes were to call them honestly to account for their catastrophic dishonesty, incompetence, and ideological fanaticism. Since September 11, President Bush and company have accomplished what the terrorists could not; they have divided us against ourselves.

They've said it more eloquently than I could. Besides, lists can keep you focused.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Work it!

So Kathy & I joined the Y yesterday. Gonna get all buff and what-not. But, after taking a tour of the fitness center, I noticed there's one piece of equipment they didn't have.

Luckily, there's a phony infomercial I can order it from. As a bonus, it even has the lovely and talented Sarah Silverman!


Friday, September 10, 2004

City of Miracles

So this morning, as I was walking to work, I see this skinny guy hunker down like a sumo wrestler, facing this woman who’s trying to cross the street. He shifts his weight from foot to foot, then walks away, shouting “Why’s everyone gotta be starin’ at me?”

Outrageous, and the highlight of my morning.

On the exact same corner, walking to the train after an exhausting day putting the magazine to bed, I see what may have been the world’s homeliest transvestite. Mop of curly blonde hair like Robert Plant over a chiseled, fortyish face with lipstick and eyeliner. A loose blue shirt with what looked like boobs underneath, positioned on a torso balanced on manly man-hips.

And suddenly, I was grinning like a baby. Like a kid who had never seen any of this before. Everything was new.

I’m walking down 32nd Street, noticing the bald guy in the headphones and the too-chubby girl in the low-rider jeans and belly tee, and thinking that look HAS to be working for someone, some guy is finding it attractive on her, because otherwise she wouldn’t be wearing it. And there are a hundred different languages yammering on in the city, and a million different thoughts all running through our heads like stock market ticker-tape.

Anyone who tries to convince you that we’re all the same is full of it. We’re all different, we’re gloriously unpredictable, every one of us a freak and a hero.

So go for it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

New Mission

Like I said a while ago, Greg has a blog. Problem is, he's been doing jack with it. One very nice post about roller coasters, and that's it. Granted, I haven't written about the Folk Fest yet (Taj Mahal is the coolest person in whatever state he's in, and you can bet his range is even wider with those red shoes on!), but this isn't about me. This is about the new mission. This is about flooding Greg's site with comments until he knuckes under and gives us another damn post.

I've already double-posted, and I'm gonna keep doing it until he listens. So if you have a minute, drop him a line. Even if you don't know him. Tell him he must post more! There ain't a lot of us, but we might be able to make quite a racket inside his skull. (The echoes, don't ya know...)

Because, really, I need to be shamed into posting more myself. And if Greg keeps it going, I'm sure I can do the same.


Sunday, September 05, 2004


Yesterday, Kathy & I went to see the newest addition to our family: Thomas James Burke, My sister and her husband's second son. Coincidentally, it was also the birthday party of their oldest, the ever-adorable two-year-old Daniel, who now says "karate" with glee. (I'm going to teach Tommy to say "tae kwon do." Or "Godzilla.")

Anyway, here are the stats: He was born Sept. 2 at such and such a time (I think around 10:30 at night). Tommy (not TJ -- never TJ unless you want the wrath of my sister, and I can assure you you don't want that) weighed 8.2 pounds and was 22 inches long upon his entrance into the world. Like his brother, he's a cutie. Unlike his brother, he'll probably lose patience with being compared to his brother very quickly. With the assortment of Toms running around in our fam, it's tough to say who he was named for, although James is for Brian's dad. Tom Selleck, maybe? This is another good guess.

Children, behave.