Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm gonna sit right down

…and write myself a letter…

Here’s why.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Last Gasp of Spring

It was unseasonably warm in New York today. It threatened rain (and eventually delivered), but it felt, in some small way, a bit like spring. It was a good day to walk to work.

Most of that has to do with someone I’ll never see again, a stunning woman who walked out of the subway at Greeley Square and headed toward Park at pretty much my pace. She was dressed well, but not fancily, wearing a light pink sweater and gray pinstriped pants. She was a skinny girl, but the pinstripes took a few pleasant detours before they reached the ground just the same.

She had everyone’s attention. At one point, I was walking ahead of her, and I heard a guy maneuvering a hand truck say to her, “You’re really beautiful.” Not lasciviously, but like she had done him a favor just by being there, and he wanted to acknowledge it. I heard him over my headphones. She never broke her stride.

Wherever I looked, people’s heads were turning. Every man's, and quite a few women's. She crossed the street, and some workers unloading boxes stopped moving just to watch her. I liked seeing them slow down, one by one, as the realization of her presence shot from one guy to the next. This is from forty feet away.

Looking so good – having the world react to you in such a way – may be a blessing or a curse. I suspect it’s a little of both, and that I’m not doing her any favors by writing about her here. Still, it was an entertaining start to the day, watching people’s expressions as this unassuming beauty passed them. But I’d be lying if I said it was more fun than watching her walk in the first place.


National Strategery

The Prez is two and a half years behind the curve, but it’s nice to know it’s still on his mind.


It's not all dead celebs...

Seriously. Play Mark's new game.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Take Your Smiles Where You Find Them

Pies in the face are good. Egg is better. Ha.


I got it from KTBuffy...

... who got it from Yi Shun:

10 firsts:
...first boyfriend/girlfriend: Beth Kinder
...first best friend: Dave Holdsworth
...first screen name: grimmbeau
...first kiss: Bridgett (last name lost to time)
...first piercings: ain’t got no
...first crush: Colleen Clendennin
...first music: Styx – “Too Much Time On My Hands”
...first car: silver Mercury Tracer
...first stuffed animal: Dapper Dan (and all that dressing-myself practice shows, don’t it?)

9 lasts:
...last cigarette: Folk Fest, 2003
...last alchoholic beverage: Margarita. Lunch. Today.
...last kiss: hmm. This morning. My beautiful grumpy wife.
...last movie seen: Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
...last phone call: to the bank to order new checks
...last cd played: Rumor and Sigh by Richard Thompson
...last bubble bath: The night of April 26, 2003
...last time you cried: who knows? Probably the last time I heard Cat Stevens “Father and Son” on the radio.
...last date: Heck what’s a date? We do everything together. (I should probably work on that.) Depending on the definition, either last week or this summer.

8 have you evers:
...dated one of your best friends: yep
...skinny dipped: check.
...kissed somebody and regretted it: ditto.
...fallen in love: certainly.
...lost someone you loved: yep.
...been depressed: oh yeah.
...woken up and not known where you were: got that covered too.

7 places you've been to:
...Quebec City
...San Diego
...Las Vegas
...Dominican Republic

6 things you've done today:
...ate half a burrito
...rode the train
...proofread some magazine pages
...catalogued five different types of land mines
...bought two belated birthday gifts
...listened to podcasts

5 favorite things in NO order:
...Folk Fest
...Mardi Gras

4 people you can tell [almost] anything to:
...Drew (or Sharon, but if it's husband stuff it's Andrew)

3 wishes
...long & happy life together
...make a comfortable living writing exterior to the house that’s not pink

2 things you want to do before you die:
...retire in New Orleans
...publish some comics

1 thing you regret:
KT wrote: not spending more time with my dad – and yeah, that’s about right.

Kung-Fu for Peace

The BBC is reporting that the Bosnian city of Mostar has unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Bruce Lee, who would have turned 65 this weekend. The story reports:

Lee was chosen by organizers as a symbol of the fight against ethnic divisions.

"We will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats," said Veselin Gatalo of the youth group Urban Movement Mostar.

"But one thing we all have in common is Bruce Lee."

What can I say? I love the global village.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

R.I.P., Pat Morita

Pat Mortia passed away yesterday. Mark Evanier has a nice post about him on his blog. All I can add is that Pat secured a place in American culture with his role as Mr. Miyagi. I've never seen any of the Karate Kid films, and yet parts of it have been familiar to me for years. And generally those parts feature Pat Morita.

Wax on, everybody.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In this time of Thanksgiving...

There's one thing we can all hope for.

Happy turkey day, all...


Golden Age Heroes

I don’t know how long they keep these up for, but check out this Worth 1000 gallery for your highbrow crimefightin’ kicks.


Monday, November 14, 2005

It Finally Clicks

So I've been hearing great things about Shopgirl, the new movie starring Steve Martin and Claire Daines. It's based on Martin's novel, which I read and enjoyed, about an older man who falls for a younger woman. It's more complicated than that -- or rather, it's just as complicated as that, which makes it more complicated than the simplistic treatment most books and movies give that subject.

I haven't seen the movie. But I've heard some really nice reviews about Steve Martin's subtle, nuanced performance of the well-off suitor. And for a few weeks now, I've been trying to reconcile this in my head with the character I remember for them book -- a neurotic, agoraphobic guy who had tics that make Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets seem like the man in the gray flannel suit.

And then it hit me -- I'm thinking of the main character of The Pleasure of My Company, the novel Martin wrote after Shopgirl. I listened to both on audio, Martin read them both, and they blended in my head. Both of them are good reading, but the two leads couldn't be more different.

What a weird movie I was expecting.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where I Stand, and Where I Turn

I’m at one of my satellite locations in Pennsylvania. I started writing this post about a newcomer’s impression of NJ, and to give the readers at the Center of NJ Life an idea of where I’m coming from, politically. The post totally got outta hand, as you can read, below:

I used to be registered as an independent in Pennsylvania, although I would tend to vote for the more liberal candidate. Then, after the 2000 election (or whatever it was), as the Republican party got more and more conservative, I felt the only way to fight their hard-line fire was by having a strong party to oppose them, so I registered as a Democrat – first in PA, and then once I moved here. And I’m happy to say that the Democrats are finally showing a little of the backbone I’ve always dreamed of them having. I thought Reid’s closed session maneuver was magnificent, and like how the terms of the debate in Washington is changing.

Now, that’s all national stuff. On a local level, I have to confess – I’d vote for anyone, Democrat, Republican, or Satanist Party of America, who would let me make a left turn on Route 1. One of the biggest shocks of living in NJ is that, after a year and a half in Edison, I still feel like I don’t know how to get anywhere. I know a few different ways home from the train station, but my brain just doesn’t connect these routes with my home. I don’t have a visual map of any kind – it’s almost like some form of teleportation – just make a left, a right, a left, keep going, a right, and ping! I’m home.

There’s a ton of traffic out there, and I know that it’s not just a problem in New Jersey. There are more and more cars on the roads everywhere in the Northeast, on roads that in many cases weren’t built for that sort of capacity. Solutions to this problem fall into three different categories:

Civil Engineering: Widen the roads, adjust traffic patterns, that sort of thing. These are the most common solutions. This, of course, means giving more space to our roads – space that is almost certainly being used for something else. New public transportation might also fit into this category, or the next, depending on what’s being proposed.

Technological: Change what it is we drive on the roads. Smaller vehicles need less space. The Segway is an example of this – although since the President and then Gob on Arrested Development have made it a laughingstock, it certainly won’t take off like its inventors intended.

Sociological: This is, in a certain way, the most drastic sort of solution – but it leaves no physical footprint at all. If we were to shift into a 24 hour lifestyle – with almost every job having a second and third shift, with almost every workspace shared by one or two other people – there’d be no more rush hour. Or rather, there’s be three rush hours, each cut down by a third, and traffic would unjam as the roads operate at the proper capacity.

That last idea may be a crackpot solution – it’s certainly a Rube-Goldbergesque way of solving a specific problem, turning every aspect of our lives upside down to stay out of traffic jams (and maybe make a left turn on Route 1). But I can’t help think that we’re almost at a tipping point, and our current car and road system won’t be viable much longer without some changes. Maybe those changes are coming – with higher gas prices, people might drive less, or combine trips when they do. Traffic certainly isn’t Public Enemy Number One – but I hope someone comes up with some options while we still have some room to maneuver.


(Cross-posted at The Center of NJ Life)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Development Arrested

Fox is putting Arrested Development on hold. Not entirely unexpected, but horrible news just the same. I really don't understand why a show this funny gets such lousy ratings.


Bush at 36%

Per Newsweek poll.

The last time Bush saw numbers this bad, he got them from a professor.

I also notice these figures on Sploid: Is your country heading in the right direction? 47% of Iraqis think so; only 26% of Americans.



My Main Street

I thought I'd take a moment to highlight the excellence that is downtown Metuchen. Metuchen has one of my favorite main streets in the world. A couple of highlights:

Afghan Kebab House #7: This is fantastic Middle Eastern food, served in a cozy atmosphere. There’s a dish that comes with this pistachio rice that’s to die for. I recommend opting for the lamb over the chicken; the do a really nice job with it.

Main Street has a couple of nice ice cream shops, as well as Café Paris, a neat little French bistro. My wife and I honeymooned in Paris, and it’s great to have a local source for crepes. We haven’t really been able to master them at home yet.

There’s a liquor store on the corner that I’ve only stopped in once, but I had a great experience when I did. I bought a saki set for a housewarming gift for some friends. When we were picking it up, the proprietor (an Indian man) asked if I liked saki. I said I hadn’t had it in years, but this set was a gift – and what really drew my eye to that corner of the store was the soju. He told me how much he loves a cold shot of soju after coming home from work on a hot day. He keeps it in his freezer. I’ve still got to go back and buy a bottle from him, because man, that’s good stuff.

But my point is: one Saturday afternoon, an Indian guy and a Caucasian mutt stood around for a minute, talking about Japanese and Korean liquor. That’s America, right there, boys and girls. Cheers.

Probably my favorite place on Metuchen’s Main Street is a bookstore called the Raconteur. Their motto is “Get Lit,” and I think that’s a great example of their attitude. More than simply a bookstore, they’re becoming more and more of a cultural hub in the town. They show old movies in the back of the store (or, in the summer, in the parking lot), and serve complimentary snacks and drinks. They sponsored the first annual Metuchen Film Festival (I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a chance to go). They have readings and meetings (a new Sherlockian Society is starting up Nov. 29th) in the store, and on top of that, they’ve got a great selection of new and used books. Give it a look.


(Cross-posted at The Center of NJ Life)

America, the Beautiful

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo offers about a hundred and fifty reasons why, with his 100 Greatest Americans list. There are some nice surprises there, and it's a great list all-around. (And Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. made-it -- woo-hoo!)

Congratulations on hopping to the finish line, Skip.


(cross-posted at The Center of NJ Life)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

And Special Guest Villain... The Joker!

I'll be guest-blogging at The Center of NJ Life through the weekend. Thought you might like to know.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I just got word. Apparently National Guard members who have been recalled through IRR have been give the option to resign their commissions. They're sending the paperwork to my brother-in-law now. He's not going.

Whoever is responsible for this decision, thank you. Thank you so much.


Weird “Science” Defeated

In what was probably the most closely watched school board race in the country, all eight members of the Dover, Pa., school board that introduced creationism (so-called “intelligent design”) into the biology curriculum have been shown the door by voters.

Word is that the defeated school board members plan to spend more time with their families, including a possible group vacation to see the edge of the earth.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Good News, Everybody!

John Corzine is New Jersey's new governor. And, surprisingly, Tim Kaine is Virginia's new governor, even after (some might say because of) President Bush's last minute push for the Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore.

But the squeaker of the night for us was mayor of Edison. The Democratic candidate, Jun Choi (who had beaten our incumbent mayor in the primary), was challenged by "People's Choice" candidate Bill Stephens. There was no Republican candidate. When I had checked in a little earlier, Stephens was ahead by a considerable amount, but in the end Choi pulled it out by 201 votes.

Mr. Mayor, Misters Governor, congratulations.


The Videotape

Some New Jersey bloggers have been hinting around about a videotape that will "dramatically change the direction of this race,"meaning the NJ governor's race. It should be showing up any time now, since it was promised in "the next 48 hours." Of course, that was almost two weeks ago. It's apparent that this was just a weaselly tactic to put an inkling of doubt into supporters of Jon Corzine. Maybe the blogger pushing the tape's existence was taken for a ride by his source, or maybe he was intentionally putting out disinformation to help his candidate win. At the moment, it doesn't really matter.

Nonetheless, this morning I've got to say he's probably right. . In the next 48 hours -- hell, in the next 24 -- a videotape will emerge that will dramatically change the nature of this race.

And I, for one, will enjoy watching Doug Forrester's concession speech when it airs.



In Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut writes:

"Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"

Makes sense to me.


Monday, November 07, 2005

It's the Torture, Stupid

I think Fareed Zakaria is exactly right in this piece for Newsweek. Not only is torture morally amd ethically wrong, and not only is it ineffective at providing trustworthing intel, but it undermines our war effort at every step. Zakaria wrote:

This is a case of more than just bad public relations. Ask any soldier in Iraq when the general population really turned against the United States and he will say, "Abu Ghraib." A few months before the scandal broke, Coalition Provisional Authority polls showed Iraqi support for the occupation at 63 percent. A month after Abu Ghraib, the number was 9 percent. Polls showed that 71 percent of Iraqis were surprised by the revelations. Most telling, 61 percent of Iraqis polled believed that no one would be punished for the torture at Abu Ghraib. Of the 29 percent who said they believed someone would be punished, 52 percent said that such punishment would extend only to "the little people."

When you think of the victims of torture, you think of that grotesque human pyramid overseen by Lyndie England and the other "bad apples." But the fact is, as the insurgency grew, some of their recruits were people who turned against us specifically because of those practices. The very people so eager to torture to keep us safe are putting our troops in greater danger.

We can't be successful in any measure in Iraq until we hold the administrators responsible for the torture debacles of the past few years, and we come clean on the so-called "black sites" where we're holding unaccounted, unmonitored prisoners. (And, of course, the Vice President stops being the cheerleader for torture that he is today.) We have to renounce this behavior. We have to end this behavior. We have to let people know that it will never happen again.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry... Or Would You?

Luke at the Comics Cave directed me to this amazing optical illusion. I've never seen anything like it. It's a far cry from the Vase/Face, I'll tellya that.


Imus & Santorum

Santorum Exposed has a Quicktime clip of Senator Man-on-Dog's impromptu call to Imus's show yesterday. Brian at SE gives a synopsis, but give it a listen just to hear Imus tell Santorum he's "so misguided it's almost disturbing." And to wonder how so much horseshit can get stuffed into such a small package. He's like a neutron star of neocon propaganda.

Oh, and Santorum brings up a threesome. Funny how these self-appointed Moral Arbiters like dirty jokes the same as the rest of us, isn't it? Somebody call the FCC!


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Set the wayback for November 1973

CBS News has Bush at a 35% approval rating. They also show comparison charts to where other two-term presidents were on the first anniversary of their reelections, as well as approval ratings for presidents in scandals. In November 1973, Nixon had 28% approval.

Now, as Josh Marshall says, "once you get down below, say, 40% you've really, really gotta earn every new lost point on the way down." But Bush has never been one to back down from an challenge. And Nixon is only 8 percentage points away. I think he's up to it.



I just logged on to the blog at work and noticed the odometer had flipped. 5000 hits. Which is 4,999 more than Dexy's Midnight Runners ever got.