Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Proud Godpapa

I'm a proud godfather of my nephew Brian. I saw him with his brothers and mom (and lots of other fam) tonight, and he was standing in the middle of us, commanding our attention, saying "Cobbin Tibe! It's Cobbin Tibe!" His mom didn't know what he meant, until I figured it out: "It's clobberin' time!" the Thing's catchphrase. He probably picked it up from Fantastic Four previews.

This kid is so cool.


Nice Goin', eh?

Congratulations to our Canadian brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters. Lead the way, folks.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Paul Winchell, R.I.P.

I have to confess, I'm not familiar with the bulk of Mr. Winchell's work. Mostly I know him from his voice acting, from Tigger to Gargamel to many, many others. But he was entertaining people long before the Pooh movies and the Smurfs. Oh yeah ... and he also invented the artificial heart.

No kidding.

If you'd like to read an obituary for this amazing man, start here at Mark Evanier's site. Then go here and here for more.


I’ve been remiss…

I’ve been meaning to add these two links to my weblog for months now. The first is Nicole Maynard’s homepage. Nicole is a phenomenal artist and a good friend. Take a look at her online portfolio. The jpegs can’t compare with the power of her works face-to-face in a gallery or a home. Some things are too much for a monitor to convey.

On the other hand, monitors are the perfect medium for seeing Chris Ready’s work – considering he designs web pages. Chris is one of the greatest guys in the world—friendly and straightforward, he’s one of the few people who can combine earnestness with the ability to make me laugh until milk comes out my nose. (Even if I’m drinking birch beer – does that count as a miracle?) In all seriousness, you can take a look at his portfolio and judge his design talent for yourself. But take my word: you’ll be happy you did business with him.

So here they are: more of my friends. That’s where you’ll find them, in the list-o-links to your right.


Rooby Roo Runts Rains!!



A D-minus still passes, right?

I heard on the radio this morning that Rumsfeld said the insurgency could be going on for “five, six, eight, ten, twelve years.” Yet Veep Dick says the insurgency is in its “last throes.” Those must be long throes.

Rummy also changed the military’s mission over there. We’re no longer trying to stop the insurgents, you see. “We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win.”

That creaking sound is the bar being lowered yet again.


P.S.: A quote from Rummy's Greatest Hits, pre-war edition: "I can't say if the use of force would last five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that." Certainly not, like, twelve years.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hear, hear

The Bull Moose directs our attention to something that mustn't be forgotten.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lying Low

I haven’t had much to say in the past few days. Or rather, I have had things to say, but I haven’t been quite sure how to phrase them. One of the things the Patriot Act has done is get me to question the limits of my freedom of speech. Sure, I can say whatever I want. But how much can I say before they start a file on me? I don’t trust this administration, I don’t like this administration, and every day I wish it were 2008. I don’t know if what we get then will be better, and I won’t kid myself that it couldn’t be worse. The government has taken a big step toward intrusiveness and schoolmarmism, and a big step away from reality and science. But there are more steps along that road; W is a herald of things to come, the Silver Surfer to the Religious Right’s Galactus.

What’s really made my blood boil these past few days is the statements made by Karl Rove in New York a couple days ago. Here are the relevant quotes (from the NY Times):

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.


"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Essentially, he’s not just saying Durbin’s words put American troops in harm’s way – he’s saying that that was the liberal plan all along. That Durbin’s a traitor. That I’m a traitor.

Now I know, I know, I know he’s trying to bait us. And I vacillate between thinking the best thing to do is fight back with all the venom and fury we can muster, or to calmly say that he’s wrong and demand an apology. I feel like giving in to anger is simply acting according to his plan, but to not strike back with rhetoric of equal weight and bile would be to show weakness – also, what he wants. It’s like forking your opponent in chess – whatever way they react, they lose a piece.

I have to admit, he makes me furious. Being called a traitor isn’t something I take lightly, whether its from hacks like Trannie Annie Coulter or bullshit merchants like Karl Rove.

Of course, we know who’s truly undermining the troops, sending them into a manufactured war without adequate body armor, freezing the budget of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the like.

We know who’s working to collapse our economy, lining the pockets of his bosses with fat oil cash while we wring out the world like a sponge.

We know who’s working to cut the government’s income until it can’t continue to support essential services.

We know who’s doing his best to cut through the ropes holding up the social safety net. Gutting Social Security in favor of risky pyramid schemes they figure they can come out on top of when it all comes tumbling down.

We know who’s doing this. And they call us traitors?


Friday, June 24, 2005

The Shame of MAD

Read all about it.


Monday, June 20, 2005


The family room is its various shades of blue, and the trim is white, and we're exhausted. I'll try to post some before and after pics once we get the dropcloths up and the furniture back in place -- I'll be particularly glad to have the sofas out of the kitchen -- they make it hard to open the dishwasher.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Second Coat

Looks like it's necessary and inevitable. I am filled with dread.




Til Blue!

It's 12:30, and three out of four walls are blue. We've just got the fourth, in a slightly darker shade, to do. It's mostly small work, so it won't really be worth taking out a roller (or more to the point, cleaning a roller for 2 or three swipes of it). Either way, we're in it for the long haul, so we can just worry about painting trim tomorrow.

It looks pretty good so far. And no pink!


Friday, June 17, 2005

Optimus Prime!

Priming is done. Resting can begin. Until it begins anew...



Well, half-primed. We got all the edges done, so tomorrow night is just painting the walls and celining with a roller. Then we get to see color come back into the picture. But I can't begin to tell you how gratifying it is to see all the pink on the walls on its way out.

We moved the stereo into the dining room so we could listen while we painted without having to fumble with dropcloths to change CDs. Kathy picked the first one at random: Leonard Coen's Greatest Hits. To put it mildly -- not good painting music. I thought I might kill myself before the project was over. (And I had bought the freakin' album in the first place! His later album, The Future, kicke so much ass that I figured his greatest hits would be, you know, great. Shows what I know.) But once we got through the CD, we heard some Cake and some Ben Folds Five before I popped in the final-stretch CD of the night: The Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

House of Secrets

Every now and then, we find something in our house that the previous owners left behind. Most of the oddball items we found in our first week or so: a build-your-own-pistol kit, a swordfish nose, that sort of thing. But last night, while prepping to paint the family room, I found something else that I can’t explain. (Or can’t explain accurately, I suppose.) Tucked behind the mirror over the bar, there was a 2003 restaurant review from the Star-Ledger. It wasn’t the whole page – just the review, cut out (although it was a full-page review, the edges were trimmed). This leads me to believe the paper wasn’t there for some inexplicable way to help the mirror installation, but because someone was saving it – and not just saving it, but hiding it. As for the why, who knows? But an explanation will certainly show up in some story or other.


Batman Begins

From what I hear, there's no Egghead OR King Tut??!! I swear, I don't know what these people are thinking.

I guess I'll find out Saturday. But if there's no Batusi, there'll be hell to pay.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fight Songs

Thanks for the optomism, encouragement, and fighting spirit, folks. I'm feeling better, and will be getting back into it soon. In the meantime, I've got a family room to paint, so we'll see what I'm able to post between now and when the room is at last no longer pink.

In the meantime: hum along, even if you don't know the tune.


Friday, June 10, 2005

This Just In

People magazine reported that Penn Jillette has named his newborn daughter Moxie Crimefighter Jillette. Beats the fuck out of Apple, wouldn't you say?


Downing Street

I haven’t written anything about the Downing Street Memo yet – mostly because I haven’t really had anything to add. It seems to me as pretty clear (albeit circumstancial) evidence that Bush and Blair planned to go to war when they told us that they were working to avoid it. Yeah, I’m outraged. But I’ve been outraged about this long before the DSM was made public – so what am I supposed to do now, turn my anger up to 11? Well, Abu Ghraib did that. To 12? 13? How high does this thing go?

Andrew makes a good point about Bush – nothing seems to stick to him. And I think I’m a little worn out by it all. I know, in my heart, if we chip away at this guy, something’s got to give. But man, I’m tired of it. I just read something new about a law passed to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and I just as there in my chair at work for a moment, doing nothing, feeling a sour sting in my throat. Our priorities are out of whack. And there are times I feel there’s nothing I can do about it.

This is one of those times.

I’m sure it’ll pass, and I’ll be back to kicking up shit and spitting acid in a few day’s time. But there are times when I just want to close my eyes until 2006, and then 2008, and if a change doesn’t come then, then get the fucking rapture over with and send me to hell already, will you? At least then I’d know where I stand.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

If there's a smile on my face's only because the women of New York City have gotten the memo: It's warm outside.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Big Weekend

Lotsa fun this weekend. On Friday night, Kathy and I saw Crash. There's no better moviegoing advice I can give you right now than to see it too. It's excellent.

Saturday, we went to the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival. We caught lots of music, including Bet Williams (who has a new album out), Phil Roy, the phenomenal Mavis Staples, Aimee Mann, Loudon Wainwright III and his son Rufus Wainwright. A great day, under deceptively overcast skies. Later that night, sunburnt stoplight-red, we watched the bizarre Dudley Moore/Peter Cook movie, The Hound of the Baskervilles, with Greg. The movie is downright insane, but the little dog with the big bladder is right where we left him. I can't really comment any more than that -- sunburn fatigue took me out for large patches of the movie.

The next day, I hit Wizardworld East in Philly, a sizeable comic convention. I got to meet Carmine Infantino. He's one of the creators of my favorite superhero, the Barry Allen Flash, and the uncle of Jim Infantino, who fronts the so-cool-it-burns-when-I-listen band Jim's Big Ego. Big thank yous went to Carmine.

I also got a cool little sketch from Walt Simonson, and met Kenny Baker (who played R2D2). Both good guys -- and if you ever get the chance to be taught by Walt Simonson, do it -- I caught the last fifteen minutes of his comics art seminar, and it was riiting -- even to someone who doesn't pick up a pencil unless it's to correct somebody's grammar.

I bought a TON of graphic novels though -- almost all independant, at ridiculous prices. A wonderful shopping experience, to be sure -- but seeing so many remaindered books makes me acutely aware of what a precarious business I want to be in. At any rate, I'll have some short reviews of the books I bought as I read them... starting with Scott Morse's The Barefoot Serpent and an Italian noir tale called The Iguana.

The best part of the day was seeing friends, though - Mike Bencik, his sainted lady Jessica, and Scott Neely, as well as making new ones. Dinner with even an exhausted Raven Gregory (writer and creator of The Gift from Image) was a blast -- and that was some of the best tequila I ever drank, and hands DOWN those were the best friggin' cheese stick ever consumed.

Got home near midnight on Sunday, wiped out but too wired to sleep. But I've caught some zees now and then since.


Election Results

Well, here in Edison, I've just discovered our mayor George Spadoro is a lame duck; he'll be replaced by Jun Choi as the Democratic condidate on November's ballot. The anti-Wal-Mart democrats have spoken. Congratulations, Mr. Choi.

And, surprising no one, Jon Corzine has won the Democratic primary for governor. In other news, the earth revolves around the sun. (Somebody tell the Republicans.)


Thursday, June 02, 2005

T-t-t-Time Warp!

For the next series of posts, you might want to start here and scroll up.


The Exception

When are words as dangerous as actions?

When words are actions.

The book I have in mind is called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and it’s conspicuous by its absence on the Human Events list. While all of the books on their list were written by their listed authors, the Protocols were published in Russia in 1905 as a way to sway Tsar Nicholas II that there was a Jewish plot against him, and of world domination in general. It was bunk, of course. It was written by a forger named Mathieu Golovinski, cribbed from a political tract written by Maurice Joly in France in 1864. (His book, The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, had nothing to do with Jews, but was instead a thinly veiled attack on Napoleon III.) Golovinski changed some phrasing around, and submitted it as a recovered document from a secret meeting of Jewish elders in 1897.

Since then, it’s been at the foundation of antisemitic thought. It was discredited in 1920 – proved conclusively to be a forgery – but that hasn’t stopped its publication and dissemination around the world.

I got this information from Will Eisner’s excellent (and sadly, final) graphic novel, The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He put the tale of this forgery into comic-book form in order to spread the word about this lie that’s at the heart of so many acts of violence even today. It’s working: Up until I heard about Eisner’s book, I’d never heard about the Protocols. Maybe you hadn’t either.

I believe in free speech, and question anyone who says this or that book is dangerous or “harmful.” But the Protocols isn’t a book at all. It’s a frame.


One Caveat Before the Exception

Okay, the folks at Human Events called the books "harmful" instead of "dangerous." And I suppose a case could be made that the books can be judged harmful by the way they were used in history, rather than by the danger they inherently possess. So if you want to make that case, by all means, go ahead -- I'm receptive to it. But for now, I've got to write about the exception.


(and yes, I realize you're probably reading this backward. Damn you, laws of time and space!)

The World’s Most Dangerous…Books?

It sounds like some reality library-chase show on Fox. But it’s more like another piece of excremental propaganda squeezed out by Fox News: The crackpots at Human Events have cobbled together a list of the “Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

And some of the usual suspects are there. Main Kampf. The Communist Manifesto. The Feminine Mystique.

The Feminine Mystique?

Also on the list are The Kinsey Report and John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, the book FDR based much of the New Deal on.

Can these guys hold a grudge or what?

Essentially, they’re equating Feminism and the New Deal with Marxism and Naziism.

The runners-up are even more revealing. Origin of Species. Silent Spring. Unsafe at Any Speed. Jeez, it’s pretty clear who signs their paycheck, isn’t it? Evolution: bad. Environmentalism: bad. Consumer activism: bad. It makes me wonder why they limited themselves to the past couple centuries. Relax the rules a bit, and head straight to Gutenberg. Life was so much simpler for the rich before the serf class knew how to read.

And the thing is, not one of these is a truly dangerous book. Yeah, Mein Kampf was written by a bad guy, and has some truly repellent ideas in it, I’m sure. (I’ve never read it, but I think it’s safe to assume.) But the fact is, like any political tract, it’s pretty much one guy’s opinion. The people who acted on these ideas – including the author – are dangerous, certainly. (Judging by the point score, they were almost twice as dangerous as FDR!) But it’s actions, not words, that are dangerous.

With one exception.

(Next: The Exception!)