Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sticking My Neck Out

I usually have a bet going with my friend Mike about the Oscars. So far, I've won every time, although the deluge of hobbit-related little gold guys last year made me sweat. This year. Mike jetted off to Florida, so it looks like the bet is off. But here are my pics for the big Oscar categories, just the same:

Leading Actor: Jaimie Foxx, Ray.
Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Leading Actress: Hillary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Animated Feature: The Incredibles
Directing: Martin Scorcese, The Aviator
Adapted Screenplay: Sideways
Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby

So those are my picks. A bit of hedging: I'm pretty confident about most of my choices, but I think Million Dollar Baby could easily take best adapted screenplay, and I haven't seen The Aviator yet, so if it's underrepresented here, that may be why. Also, the only reason I've beaten Mike on our bet most years is because of a strong showing in the lesser-watched categories, not listed here. We're about even for the big movies, although he was dead-on last year picking so many hobbit awards. If I hadn't picked the name of the Best Short Film sight unseen, he'd have my ten bucks instead of the other way around. (Not that I have his ten bucks anymore. Don't even know what I spent it on. Probably went to see a movie.)


Love is in the air...

Mark at the Comics Cave pointed out this fun site full of reworked romance novel covers.

Share the love.


Friday, February 25, 2005


You know what's cool? Someone surfed over to this site after searching yahoo for the words "trannie" and "hotels."

Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face.


Our Coward President

According to this report, President Bush had originally scheduled a “town hall” style meeting to take place in Germany during his tour of Europe. Those plans are now scrapped, since the German government wouldn’t agree to Herr Bush’s demand to pre-approve all the questions the German citizenry would pose to him.

Pardon my French, but I can’t believe this pussy is the face we show the world.


(Pardon, also, my impugning of one of my favorite reproductive organs. Wish I had another word so blunt.)

Softballin’ the President

So, the Jeff Gannon story seems to be floundering. For some reason, the homophobic gay prostitute right wing hack getting essentially a perpetual 1-day press pass so he can lob softball questions to our fearless leader and his lackeys was good for a bunch of late-nite jokes, but just doesn’t have traction in a country completely controlled by the President’s party, with a media so cowed that even common-sense questions about the whole sleazy operation get overlooked.

What I’m wondering is this: How did Gannon meet these guys? Did he first make contact with Rove? McClellan? Who bought who a drink? Did he approach them? I can’t believe they recruited Gannon; despite my lack of faith in this administration’s competence, I expect their security guys can still do background checks. So, I figure, they knew – about the websites, the prostitution, everything. No matter what his political beliefs are, I imagine the Bushies would have preferred to stay as far away from him as possible.

But they didn’t. And the only reason I can imagine that they sanctioned this pressroom cuddlefest is because Gannon has something on one of them. Something that’d look very bad for the administration, particularly to its homophobic cheerleaders. He may not know where the bodies are buried, but I bet he knows in what closet to look for a skeleton. So to speak.

Gannon’s website describes him as a “top only”. Who’s his bitch?


Fridge Update

Kathy & I seem to be 2 for 2 with Sears. The delivery guys came early on Wednesday, and the fridge is installed and running fine. Makin’ ice like a mutha, too.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Homicide: Life at FOX

Paul Waldman at the Gadflyer notes an interesting piece from Media Matters about the Fox website changing the words of AP stories to suit the administration's propaganda needs. Specifically, they change "suicide bomber" in the AP stories to "homicide bomber," the term BushCo prefers.

It's one thing to let your own reporters (and copy editors!) be ground into chewy bits by the administration's ever-changing style guide (are they "personal accounts" this week? "Privatization"? "Your private hard-earned money hoarded in a mattress of stocks?" Whatever). But changing wire reports so it looks like the AP is going along with this ridiculousness? Wrong, wrong, wrong.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Divorcee Non Grata?

As my friends will attest, I have a pretty low opinion of the President. When I hear something about him that seems underhanded, close-minded or shortsighted, it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t trust him, I don’t like him, and I think he’s leading our country in the wrong direction.

But then I read something like this, from Paul Gilfeather at the UK’s Sunday Mirror:

GEORGE Bush has banned Camilla Parker Bowles from the White House - because she is a divorcee.

The unprecedented snub has effectively sabotaged Charles's plan to take his bride on a Royal tour of America later this year.

The trip would have been the pair's first official tour as a married couple.

But the US President - a notoriously right-wing Christian and reformed alcoholic - told aides it was "inappropriate" for him to be playing host to the newly-weds, who
are both divorcees.

This just plain doesn’t make any sense. So much so that I don’t think it’s true at all.

I mean, what would be the point? I understand pissing off gay folks, making them feel like their relationships are substandard, because it energizes the bigots of the religious right. And now that the election’s over, and the conventional wisdom says that it was the turnout of evangelicals that tipped the scales, the President understandably would want to take a small break from doling out corporate largess to throwing the religious right a bone.

But this is a weird-ass bone. Is it worth it to snub our staunchest ally because their antiquated faux leadership got divorced and remarried? I don’t see how this even caters to the religious right – as unpleasant as divorces are (and as weird as the oddball “covenant marriages” that are springing up in certain states are), is the religious right that strongly against divorce? If so, why is there such a high divorce rate among born-agains?

Surely Bush works with people with a divorce or two under their belts every day. And heck, his own brother just got one (and just to bump the search-engine hits for my blog, I’ll add that underage Thai prostitutes were involved. Hear that, Google? Underage Thai Prostitutes. And… my hits just went through the roof*). Does he mean to tell so many of his constituents that their new marriages are worthless?

Nah. Can’t be. I think someone – probably at the Mirror – is misinterpreting something wildly. That is, if this story wasn’t fabricated out of whole cloth. But something smells here – and for once it doesn’t smell like Bush.


*If I break 30, that’s “through the roof” in Rob-land.

Monday, February 21, 2005


For one of my many meals today (I'm supposed to eat six small'uns thanx to Body For Life), I decided to stir-fry some of my leftovers from Korean barbecue the other night. Pretty much what was left over was entirely octopus or squid, with a single lone scallop to remind me what normal seafood looked like.

As I dumped the tentacles into the the skillet and they started to sizzle, I couldn't help but think how strange it looked. It's one thing to eat this food in the psychological safety of a restaurant, where professionals are telling you (by implication) that this or that is edible. It's quite another to see tentacles the size of my pinky bouncing around in sizzling canola oil. I felt like a conehead cooking his dinner. Beer and styrofoam insulation, anyone?

After a few minutes, I added a little Korean stir-fry sauce we had in the fridge -- just a few drops to coat it. They started sizzling like crazy, and I soon took them off the range.

And then I ate them. And you know what? They were damn good leftovers, my initial squeamishness be damned.


They're doing it again.

Karl Rove has driven the Republican Slime Machine to the AARP's door. Expect to see lots of ads, and hear lots of the usual blowhards on TV talking about how the AARP is cheating seniors, is a bloated organization getting tons of money from the government, is anti-millitary and pro-gay marriage, and is generally bad for America.

What the AARP is, in reality, is against the president' plan to dismantle Social Security. And when it comes to getting in the President's way, it doesn't matter how innocuous you are, or how ridiculous the claims are -- the usual gang of liars is going to paint you as Tokyo Rose. (These were the same people that were perfectly happy to get the AARP's endorsement on Bush's Prescription Drug Bill, I might add.)

We've seen it with the Swift Boat Liars. And now, the same people are organizing against the AARP. Josh Marshall has the goods.

But remember -- whenever you see one of these ads, one of these idiots on TV -- remember it's horseshit, top to bottom. And that they've lied to you before, and they'll do it again.

UPDATE: Here's more from the New York Times.


Our deck is covered in snow again...

In case any of you are looking for a place to put some beer. It'll be in good hands -- promise!


Sad News

Hunter S. Thompson shot himself yesterday.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

3 pounds 1 ounce

Just as I'm starting to work out again, I'm close to ending my stripping career. Today I tackled the floor molding while Kathy (successfully) set up the pipes to accept the new fridge and dealt with some other electrical and plumbing issues (with mized results). The belt sander and palm sander -- even at 40 grain- didn't do very well against the three to four layers of paint on the wood, so it was back to the chemicals for me. I pretty much finished off our second can of stripper, but got a coat (in most cases, two) on the molding, scraping it all off and calling it quits just a few minutes ago.

The number above? That's how much paint I scraped off the wood today, not counting the many gobs that didn't make their way to the garbage bag.


Various Updates...

I've shaved my head again. This will make it easier for me to join the Olympic diving team. It's never really been a dream of mine, but I figure, what the hell, my head's shaved. Might as well go for it.

Kathy and I bought a new fridge. It arrives Wednesday. I'm aquiver with excitement, what with the ice maker and the water dispenser and the keeping milk fresh over a long weekend, none of which our current fridge can do. No more slimy lunchmeat!

Of course, every fridge has risks. Kathy and I -- despite numerous warnings -- bought our refrigerator from Sears. Dave and Marilyn had a horrible experience with Sears delivering a fridge to them. This is chronicled on their blog, I think, but I can't find where.

Today is house day! After a visit to the gym, Kathy and I are going to spend the day working on the guest-room-to-be or installing a water line to be hooked up to the fridge. Expect accomplishments aplenty in this exciting episode!


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Million-Dollar Baby

I just saw Million-Dollar Baby tonight, and it was every bit as good as people are saying. Seems like every year, I go to the theater on my own to see a Clint Eastwood movie. Kathy, sadly, doesn't care for the guy -- and since the movie's about boxing, that's just one more strike against it. I love 'im -- but the man just doesn't make happy movies anymore, does he?

Clint, you know what would cheer you up? Co-starring with an orangutan again.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Screen Cleaner

Mark Evanier directed me to this website that will clean your computer screen. I pass it on to you.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Twilight at the Well of Souls

Arthur Miller has died, and I expect plenty of people will have plenty to say about him. He was a giant, and plenty of people more eloquent and knowledgeable than me will have something to say about him, I’m sure. As for me, I always liked All My Sons and After the Fall, and hope I never get any more empathy for Willie Loman than I already have.

But I just heard some surprising news – surprising because I didn’t realize I missed him. Jack L. Chalker died today.

For those of you who don’t know, Jack Chalker wrote a number – an enormous number – of science fiction and fantasy books. I haven’t read any for years, but when I was in junior high and high school, they truly knocked me out. Looking back, they were the next stepping stone for me after Piers Anthony’s Xanth books.

The first one I read was called Midnight at the Well of Souls. It featured a strange cast of characters, all transplanted onto a planet that looked like a giant hex map, with a new environment (desert, jungle, tundra) and lifeform on every hexagon. A total patchwork world. And these characters all had to work together to find out what was going on and get their lives back. (If I recall correctly, they were each—with one exception—transformed to the dominant lifeform of the hex they teleported into.) The book and its sequels were full of page-turning adventure and neato-cool science fiction ideas, and I read ‘em past when the paperbacks were held together with rubber bands. (That sounds more impressive than it is – a stiff wind could blow apart those flimsy Del Rey bindings.) As I was rereading them, I remember thinking that the essence of science fiction was putting familiar people – our heroes – in unfamiliar places, situations, and even bodies, confronting the unknown. It’s my first memory of ever examining a book like that – like a writer instead of a reader. It would have happened regardless, but I certainly owe Mr. Chalker thanks for bringing it out of me when he did.

He wrote so many books, and I read a ton of them, but the other series that really grabbed me was the Dancing Gods series. Beginning with River of the Dancing Gods, these lampooned the clichés of fantasy novels, while still telling an exciting fantasy story on their own. The world operated by a book of rules, seemingly cobbled together from the clichés that J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard put in motion, such as “all beautiful maidens in distress must be scantily clad,” and similar dress codes for barbarians and the like. Although I’m sure he didn’t invent it, I’d never seen that sort of comedic trick pulled before, and Chalker opened my eyes about that, too.

Sooner or later, I stopped reading his books. The formulas and tropes I identified in earlier books seemed worn a little too much on the sleeve, and I was looking for more resonant drama and subtler humor. But his books were exactly what I was looking for at the time, and there was a two or three year period where, if you had asked me who my favorite writer was, I would have said Jack L. Chalker.

I guess what I’m saying is rest in peace, Jack. I wish I’d realized earlier that I’d appreciated you as much as I do.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Social Insecurity

There's a lot of talk about Bush's plan to demolish (did I say demolish? I meant privatize.) Social Security lately. (Did I say privatize? I meant set up private -- no, make that personal -- accounts.) I'm sorry -- all the new terms the Bushies run up the flagpole when their old ones crash and burn are getting me dizzy.

I have neither the time nor the expertise to write about it more than passingly here. But I can point you in the direction of people doing some very vital work on the issue.

First, there's Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. He's makin' a list, and checkin' it twice, of all the Democratic legistlators who are waffling and making noises about supporting the President's plan. (He calls 'em the Fainthearted Faction.) Then there are the surprisingly numerous Republican lawmakers who are peculiarly unwilling to commit to his plan, some of whom have already stated that they oppose it. (He calls 'em the Conscience Caucus. You'll call them delicious.) So from that end, he's covering the political maneuverings about the plan. But he's also doing yeoman's work in explaining Social Security, what it's there for, the extent of its problems, and the levels of deception the Bushies are using to sell America on the fact that: Social Security is IN A CRISIS and their privitization plan will solve the problems (even though they've actually said that the switchover wouldn't make things better one bit). A few of his more recent posts have dealt with the increasing evidence that Bush is laying the groundwork on defaulting on the Social Security Trust Fund -- despite that being a violation of his oath of office. Good stuff, believe me.

Also doing a great job at explaining this complicated stuff is Paul Krugman of the New York Times. He's an economist, but he really seems to know what he's talking about anyway.

Give 'em both a look.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

In case you hadn't heard

I know I'm late on this, but prepare to smile.


Sunday, February 06, 2005


Our fifth annual Mardi Gras party -- the first one at our new house -- has been declared a success by a panel of impartial arbitrators, who noted the record levels of rum consumed, the conspicuous lack of any leftover jello shots, and the fanciful designs painted on the foreheads of the remaining participants. "It's clear, judging by these factors and others (including the amount of jambalaya eaten, the numbers of other sweet and spicy dishes brought and consumed by revelers, and the beads absolutely everywhere), that this party was an unqualified success," one of the judges whispered grogily. "Now where's that goddamn Tylenol?"


Friday, February 04, 2005


Ossie Davis, Actor, Is Dead at 87

Marshall: They just pay me to drive the limo, sir. I'm not here to tell you who you are.

Joe: I didn't ask you to tell me who I am.

Marshall: You were hinting around about clothes. That happens to be a very important topic to me, sir. Clothes, Mr. . .

Joe: Banks.

Marshall: Banks. Clothes make the man. I believe that. You say to me you want to go shopping, you want to buy clothes, but you don't know what kind. You leave that hanging in the air, like I'm going to fill in the blank, that to me is like asking me who you are, and I don't know who you are, I don't want to know. It's taken me my whole life to find out who I am, and I'm tired now, you hear what I'm saying?


I'm letting batch two of three of the jambalaya simmer. Sometimes I forget what an iron man competition stirring the pot of rice, veggies and ham is before I get to put in the beef broth and it becomes so much easier to stir. Ah... blessed broth....

One more to go. Hopefully I'll be in bed by 1:30. But honestly, once the jambalaya is done, I feel like Mardi Gras has truly begun.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

What I'm Talkin' 'Bout... Is Ettics!

Okay, I'm cooking tonight, so I want to get this angry post out of the way so it doesn't get into the jambalaya. I'm not even that angry, really, and certainly not disappointed. We know what to expect from these creeps. But the sheer lack of surprise is no excuse for their actions.

So yesterday, snuck into a news cycle where the State of the Union speech would eclipse it, Dennis Hastert (the Unspeakable) relieved three Republican members of the ethics committee of their duties. Seems they had some ethical problems.. meaning they had them.

These were the three guys -- Joel Hefley of Colorado, Kenny Hulshof of Missouri, and Stephen LaTourette of Ohio -- who voted against the rule that would have let Tom DeLay keep his leadership position if he was indicted with a crime. Consequently, they got the axe, in favor of three Repugs with no such ethical lapses (we here in realityland might call it a conscience).

So it's even less likely that any Republicans will be investigated by the ethics committee, unless they start biting the heads off puppies (in public, I mean). 5 republicans, yes-men all.

Here's a story about it in the Washington Post. And here's what Josh Marshall has to say about it.

This is fall o' Rome stuff here. It's quiet, but if you listen hard enough you can hear it.

The only good thing about all this is that sooner or later they'll turn on each other, old-school. Lord-of-the-Flies school. But for now, Piggy's got the conch.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Best Crap Ever!

Got back from Vegas on Monday, and had a general run of good luck, bookended by a little bad.

To start off, a couple of days before leaving, a pipe froze and burst in our basement. Soon after landing, I was on the phone with Kathy and found out it would cost $650. I hadn’t set foot in the casino, and I was already in the hole.

Next, I managed to steal someone’s luggage. I pulled the wrong suitcase – pretty much identical to mine – off the back of the shuttle bus, not noticing until I went to unpack it. My first thought was “someone stole my sports jacket!” but then I realized what was going on.

I called up the shuttle service, and they were trying to track it down, when I got a call in my hotel room from the woman who tracked me down. Seems she had taken MY suitcase, and started calling the hotels she’d stopped at previously to track me down. She got me on the first try. Two quick cab rides later, I had my bag in my room. But I’d missed my only chance to see Mac King. Que Sera…

I hooked up with my coworkers and had some nice meals on various people’s expense accounts. And we played craps. Lots of craps. And man, there I kept getting lucky. The first night I pretty much broke even, then left to play some cheap blackjack, only to get clobbered by the dealer. After that, though, I kept on leaving better off than I started. By the end of the weekend, I was $750 up, and pickled in gin. Some of the money stayed in Vegas, in the pockets of cabbies and the purses of showgirls. But I still brought home $500 (after a miserable flight), which in less than 24 hours was in the hands of a plumber. But we’ve got the new pipes I’ve always dreamed of … or at least, that I’ve dreamed of since we lost heat in the bedroom.

There’s more to my Vegas trip than this little overview, and I should be getting to it soon. But I wanted to get this quick post out there, in case any of you were wondering if I’d lost my shirt.

Answer? Doesn’t matter, as long as the heat’s on.