Friday, December 31, 2004

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.


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.

Wise words.


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.


World's Finest Burgers?

I've been reading comics all my life, and there's one thing I can tell you... This is the sort of misunderstanding that leads to a team-up.

(Thanks to Randy for the link.)

Okay... Now I Can Bitch

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

Hooray for Charlie Brown

St. Paul, Minnesota, where Charles Schulz spent his boyhood, has erected these statues in Rice Park to honor him. Take a look; they're awesome.


Late-Night Pissed-Offedness

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

Healthy Enough to Strip

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

Ho ho ho

Merry Christmas, everyone.


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.


Back when it was cold...

I was riding on the train next to a woman so bundled up in a heavy brown coat and big brown hood, I could only thing one thing: She was a giant Jawa.


Congratulations Christine O. Gregoire

It ain't over til it's over, but lookee that: it looks like Democrats can win when every vote is counted. Why don't we do that more often?


Sunday, December 19, 2004

Xmas Xtravaganza

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.)

Santa will come out, and do and say rude, funny things. (Um.. he didn't exactly stay completely clothed this year, as he sang "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear." Were our nephews and niece traumatized? It's tough to say. Their psychiatrist says it's confidential.)
Carlton Brown, the most dapper man in the universe, sings "Merry Christmas Baby."
Willie Nile will tear the house down with a balls-out rockin' "O Come All Ye Faithful."

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

Getting better all the time…

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


Since Friday night. I'll be back soon's I'm able.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Fatalism? Or Fatal Realism?

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...)


Have you checked today?

Click here.


Babs sings Christmas songs... why can't you?

Further evidence that O'Reilly is a knob.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Say Hello to My Little Friend

In case you haven't seen this yet... the VICE president!


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Busy Bizzy

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

Ho Ho Ho.

A rundown of the 10 least popular Christmas specials ever. Put that in your stocking and smoke it!


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Confidential to George

Just because I'm not blogging about you every day doesn't mean I don't think you're vile. Just so you know.



Have I told you lately...

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?