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September 30, 2003



Everyone loves boobies and everyone loves charities. Combine those two things together and what do you get? Something where everyone wins!

Robyn has embarked upon her second year producing a Boobies for Charity Boobiethon.

That's a fun word to type. Boobies.

Last year, the Boobiethon raised $1250 for breast cancer research.

This year, the first $359 raised will go into a blogger's purse. Several people voted on suggested charities and the purse this year will go to Run For Their Lives - PAWS Chicago 8K. All additional proceeds will go towards the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

You can participate by making a donation and showing off your boobies. Yes, you get to look at boobies while the 'thon is running. Blogger boobies, in fact. It's the least we can do for the philanthropists who donate to the cause.

Did I say we? Yes, I did. My boobies will appear there at some point. Anything for charity, I say.

Head over to the official Boobiethon site to get all the info you need, plus pretty buttons to use to link to the cause.

The action starts tomorrow, so get those boobs (guys welcome, too!) and the wallet ready.

toys for iraq update

I've been working hard - along with several other people who are working harder - to get a site up and running for the Chief Wiggles Toys for Iraq project. It's going to be huge. The support has been astounding.

As Dean says:

The non-profit corporation is up and we have our tax ID. We have the beginning page up and in place, and a domain registered and ready to go.

We think we have a hosting service, and may have our first sponsor.

We're hoping to open early next week.

Stay tuned.

idiot of the day, part two

Mepham coach apologizes.

Ok, I can't really figure out how this is an apology. Seems more like a "pass the buck" speech to me.

"I would apologize and say I'm sorry we couldn't take care of your son, but we did everything in our power to do so," Kevin McElroy said in a news conference, when asked what he would say to the victims' families

McElroy said he was disappointed that the accused players or the other members of the team did not immediately come forward. "They were responsible for reporting it to the coaching staff at least and do what was right, but instead they chose to do the wrong thing."

[His attorney] stressed that the older boys' families should be held accountable for the alleged actions of their sons. "The conduct of these students is not the product of anything they learned from the coaches," he said. "I think you should look to the parents to explain such vicious criminal acts by these young men."

In the official statement, he said:

We are confident when all voices are heard that the authorities will be empowered to make the proper judgements. As parents/educators, there is nothing more important than the well being of the boys who were victimized.

I'm glad his attorney was able to draft such a resounding apology for him. I'm sure the victims and their parents are rushing to the school to forgive him right now.

He owes the entire community an apology for the way he and his staff and his team behaved after the incident. And don't give me that crap about the kids not getting it from him. Sure, the parents are to blame as I've been saying all along, but I hardly think this coach is a paragon of virtue in the locker room and on the field.

idiot of the day

Presented without commentary. Because I'm busy.

A Texas high school has apologized after the school band waved a Nazi flag during a performance on Friday, the start of the Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashana. “We had an error in judgment,” band director Charles Grissom told the Dallas Morning News.

[link via twenty different people]

sparky sterling: monkey at bat

Bruce Sterling is a monkey at a typewriter.

I was going to write a long screed about his idiotic "Ten Technologies That Deserve To Die" (prisons, DVDs, but Arbiter over at Spathic not only beat me to it, but really sunk some teeth into it.

And there is today's required reading. Go.

inquiring minds want to know


I am home from work today because both DJ and I are sick.

I am NOT home because the Yankees start their playoff run at 1pm today.

It's just a great big coincidence.

Minnesota people? Care to wager?

I am going to take my sister's advice (in the comments) and not place any bets on this series.

Today's Mepham stories

[previous stories on this topic: Most recent and then here, here here here here here, here, here and here]

We'll start with this piece by Josh Plotnick of Cornell University. In it, Josh takes the whole town of Bellmore, Long Island (where Mepham High School is located) to task:

It is absolutely clear that good, family values are completely lacking in this Long Island community.....Bellmore residents need to question their own morals, and their own humanity. Because right now, my opinion is there is a lack of both.

There are 34,546 residents in Bellmore. The crime index there is, in all categories, below or on average with the rest of America. Can we really determine that an entire community is guilty just by the virtue of living in the same town as badly behaved boys and self-centered parents? If one person in a town commits a crime, does that mean the whole town committed it?

Perhaps it is just the school that has a bit of a behavior problem:

A former Mepham High School football player was arrested over the weekend in connection with a Labor Day assault that left the quarterback of a rival team badly injured, police said.

The player in question graduated in 2001. He played under the same coaches, beneath the same administration that exists today.

Of course, my contention that the problem lies within the school can be proved wrong just by extending the the search for blame to the parents of the students. We cannot blame a school for the way a parent raises their child. Still, I refuse to condemn the entire town because of one group of badly behaved boys and self-centered parents.

Today marks the day that the coaches of the accused players will finally speak out on the incident. Not by choice, of course. They will be facing a grand jury in Pennsylvania.

More people are coming forward to cooperate. Perhaps they have been shamed into talking. Perhaps they are just fearful of having to appear before a grand jury and they think that by talking to a police and/or a prosecutor they will be able to get away with that duty. Of course, once a prosecutor knows what a witness knows there is no way that witness, if his testimony will help the prosecution, will get away with speaking before the grand jury.

At some point today we may know what the coaches knew. It will also be interesting to see if anything comes out of the this information I gathered last week.

Either way, this case is much more complicated and drawn out than it had to be. It's the secrecy and the silence that has taken it this far.

Will the town suffer because of it? Will it forever be branded as that place where those boys did that thing? Can we really judge 34,000 residents by the behavior of 50 or so?

It all depends on how the media represents the community, of course. Because America, in its vastness, can only know what the media reports in a "small town" case like this.

You want to know about the good residents of Bellmore? Ask me. Ask some of them. Get out there and find the story. But don't assume, as Josh Plotnick of Cornell did, that the entire town is full of selfish, violent, arrogant boys and the parents who feed on those traits.

media manipulation in iraq

This will teach you to trust all the dreadful news coming out of Iraq.

[Transcript provided by Alan E. Brain.]

Australian reporter Gina Wilkinson, in this video shown on tv:

The missiles are filled with volatile rocket fuel and two hundred kilograms of high explosives. Locals fear their children could be injured or their homes destroyed by these deadly weapons.

The video shows two children playing near missiles as if they were part of a playground.

If you saw that video on the news, you would be saying things like "these soldiers don't care about the Iraqi children! Look at those kids, playing on missile launchers. Why doesn't anyone keep them away?"

Ah, but let's look at the uncut, unedited version of this videotape:

(trans)- You want to show the children on there?
Gina Wilkinson: Yeah, that would be good. Yeah, if they don't mind.
- (trans) You want them to stand over there to be filmed?- (trans) Come on sweetie. What's her name?- Noona
- (trans) I'm worried about them.- Sit. Sit on this.
- (trans) I'm worried about them.
- (trans) Sit on the edge.
Gina Wilkinson: Please God, don't let this thing explode now.

Here's the video.

[Read the entire transcript and the half-hearted clarification of the events here]

I wonder how much of the other dreadful news coming out of Iraq is staged or scripted. And this bit of deception leads one to wonder: how much of the good news is not recorded if they are spending so much time staging bad news?

September 29, 2003

how steve hogan ruined my appetite

Pork brains in milk gravy? Does such a thing really exist? And who eats it, zombie pigs?

There are plenty of digusting foods out there, but I don't think there are many companies that would dare to be so bold as to stick a name like Pork Brains In Milk Gravy right on the can.

They couldn't come up with something more creative? Pleasant Pork? Cream of Pig?

Eww. After further research I have come to the undeniable fact that this product really exists.

And I was wrong about Armour being the only company to so name a product.

Potted Meat Food Products by Hormel. Yes, that's the name on the can.
Pork Liver Paste

I think I may never eat again after seeing some of the stuff at the Potted Meat Museum.

Mmm...sheep tongue!

Novak-Gate: Q & A

Q: What sound does a scandal make as it loses steam?


Novak speaks

'Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives'... [via Drudge]

An aside: The main reason I posted my feelings about this case (here) is because I knew I would get feedback. I've discovered that you learn a lot more from bloggers and blog readers than you do from the media. Sometimes I write because I know something, sometimes I write because I want to know something.

it's got a good beat and i can stick a thumbtack in it

Taking on VH1's list of the 50 best album covers all in one sitting would be daunting. I have too many complaints with their list, plus too many favorites of my own to list.

My criteria of what makes a good album cover is probably different than yours. As one who has been around since vinyl was the only choice in a record store, album covers mean a lot to me. I would often thumbtack the covers to my bedroom wall, leaving the album itself in its paper sleeve.

This is what I don't like about CDs; there's so little room for really good cover art. Even if a CD cover is striking or beautiful, it's still small. You can't stick a thumbtack in it and call it a wall decoration. You can't put a piece of tracing paper over it and try to copy all the intricate details. You don't get a really good idea of all the work that goes into the art that represents an album.

So, VH1's list. I suppose they have their reasons for picking the albums they did. I suppose some of them make statements and some of them are just eye candy and some of them are just porn lite. Are they pleasing to look at? For the most part. Are they works of art? Hardly any of them are, at least to my eye.

It would take too long to list all my favorite cover art here. Instead, I will share some of them with you every few posts. Please share your own favorites. In fact, if you send me a link to an image and write a little something on why it's one of your favorites, I'll post it.

The one above is from Stabbing Westward's Darkest Days, art by Dave McKean.

No, I'm not playing favorites just because McKean is my favorite album. It just happens to meet my criteria for choosing favorites: a) It qualifies as a piece of art; b)It is relevant to the music (though that's in they eye of the relevance-holder) and c), it's thumbtack worthy.

[you can see more of McKean's album art here]

here's to me, mrs. robinson

Once again, I was way ahead of a trend.

naming names: and thus ends 'no politics' day at ASV

I've spent the past two weeks taking high school kids to task for the wall of secrecy that is surrounding a sexual assualt/hazing case, so it stands to reason that I need to take the same stand with adults who run our country, and those who write about it.

and someone is going to take the blame. Something went wrong in the White HouseWhether or not the person who actually takes the blame is the real culprit or a fall guy, we may never know. No one is talking.

Let's suppose for a minute that Rove continues denying his involvement in this and eventually a low level White House staff member comes forward to admit he was the one who leaked the name.

That would still leave an important question to be answered: Why would a low-level employee have knowledge of such a CIA secret?

This is a serious matter that will only cause greater damage the longer it goes on. Will Novak name his source? Will the CIA go at this full tilt because it was their employee whose cover was blown? Will the remainder of Rove's employment in the current administration end up on the cutting room floor? Did Bush know anything?

There was a law broken here and someone has to face the fire because of it. The best thing this administration can do right now is cooperate instead of deny. I'm not saying confirm it, just don't deny it and make it a point to say how they are cooperating in the investigation and when the real evidence, and real name, comes out, that person needs to be dealt with by the criminal justice system of the United States of America.

Otherwise, this will be the story that could kill Bush. The more the White House goes into denial phase, the more they look like they are hiding something. If and when the truth comes out and it turns out all the wrong people knew about this, those acts of denial are going to push those poll numbers down to new lows.

Of course, if the truth comes out that Bush had nothing whatsoever to do with this, it will be too late to wipe off the pre-emptive stain that the anti-Bushers have thrown on him.

This is a win-win situation for the Dems. Someone is to blame and even if it isn't Bush, it's someone who works for him.

Meanwhile, Novak has the power to make all the speculation stop. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

and the number one funny thing ever to happen in music

In regards to this post on VH1's list of funny music moments, and apropos to my making fun of David Lee Roth through the whole thing, I have discovered the specifics of what the "accident" that made Mr. Roth cancel his tour:

"It was an incident onstage where he was doing a kung fu maneuver and he got hit with a staff that he uses," spokesman Todd Brodginski said. "He was doing a very fast, complicated 15th-century samurai move."

The former Van Halen frontman needed 21 stitches on his face because of the Sept. 17 accident in Philadelphia. He called off seven dates in the tour of clubs and theaters because of the injury.

Beat that.

I can't stop laughing.

today's psas: french interview, mepham links

French novelist and essayist Maurice G. Dantec, has granted is interviewed by Merde in France. He discusses US-French relations, literature, and blogging.

Today's required reading. Go.

And, once more, for those coming here from various links, my posts on the Mepham hazing areToday's and then here, here here here here here, here, here and here.

Monday fluff: VH1's list fetish

I woke up in a great mood today and lest I tempt fate and the Gods of Mood Swings, I am going to do my best today to stay away from politics, war, etc. and I'm certainly going to scrap that post on religion I had ready to go. All filler, no killer. Until I read a story somewhere that pisses me off.

Until then, we have non-political (though not non-controversial) things to get on with, for instance: How VH1's Listmaking Is Getting Out Of Hand.

I had to make a decision. Do I take issue with VH1's list of best album covers ever (Born In The USA? Please, spare me) or with their Funniest Music Moments list?

Well, the album covers list would require research, as I can probably come up with 50 pieces of cover art that are infinitely better than anything on their list. So we'll stick with the funny.

Right away, I see a problem on this list.

50. American Idol - Bad Auditions There's a big difference between funny and pathetic.

48. David Lee Roth - "Just A Gigolo" Video See number 50.

35. Tom Green - "My Bum" Song Sigh. See number 50.

Now, judging from the number of recent (meaning post-funny) Saturday Night Live sketches in the top 50, and considering how long the concepts of both music and funny have been around, one would be inclined to believe that the inclusion of all those lame-ass skits is what one would call product placement.

I do agree with a good portion of the list: Spinal Tap, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Homerpalooza, South Park, Ren and Stimpy, to name a few. I do think their choice of Beavis and Butthead's moment with Cher is all wrong; the duo's video reviews were much funnier and much more quotable. But Cher is VH1 friendly and they can show the video after they guffaw over it's funniness, so Cher it is. The obviousness that the list was molded to fit around VH1 programming should really go without saying. So, I said it anyhow. Sue me.

Like I was saying, I'm sure we could come up with funnier moments than more than half of VH1's list. Of course, their idea of funny and my idea of funny are two different things:

  • Fred Durst thinks he has talent (tied with Fred Durst, heartbroken over being used by Britney Spears, falls in love with Halle Berry).

  • Madonna goes on living as if she still has a relevant career.

  • Dashboard Confessional (tied with: people crying in the audience at Dashboard Confessional concerts)

  • Hair Metal. Specifically, Men armed with six gallon jugs of Aqua-Net and wearing leopard-motif spandex singing about how much they love girls.

  • The Dixie Chicks claiming they are a rock act.

  • Bruce Willis embarking on a singing career.

  • Jewel's poetry.

  • Post-crack Whitney Houston.

  • The SNL skit where Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder get together and record a record called Ebony and Ivory. Oh, wait. That was real.

  • The 1988 Grammies when ODB ran up on stage and screamed, “Wu-Tang is for the children. We teach the children!"

  • David Lee Roth in assless pants.

  • David Lee Roth: hair plugs.

  • 2003: David Lee Roth smashing his face open on stage doing a stunt leftover from 1984 and having to cancel his tour.

  • David Lee Roth.

I think you get the point. Your turn. And don't piss me off or I'll have to start posting about politics again to get my aggression out.

ironic news of the day

Justin Timberlake wins black music award.

Quick, someone call Eminem's agent. I bet he's pissed.

When you're done pondering just what that says about the state of R&B, go over and stare at Kelley's large sac. Damn thing just keeps growing. I may make fun of Kelley's sac every week but I am serious when I say to go check it out. It's the Reader's Digest version of what's gone on in the blogosphere the past week. People don't submit these things; Kelley does all the footwork herself.

i dream of blogging and other unnatural disasters

The horrifying part of the dream was not that we were under attack; I dream that often. It wasn't even the way the attackers were marching down the street in formation, guns pointed, the desire to kill in their eyes.

It wasn't even the way we had to board up our houses to protect ourselves against these terrorists, or that I couldn't get to my kids, who were in the boarded up house next door without any adults to comfort them.

It wasn't the helicopters and warplanes zooming overhead, showering the street with fire and brimstone, nor was it the realization that we were all very close to dying in a most gruesome way.

The horrifying part was this: my insane obsession with blogging the whole thing.

As the streets ran with liquid fire and as my neighbors went down in a hail of poisoned bullets, I darted from house to house, looking for a way into any of them so I could get to a computer and blog what was happening in my town. I snapped pictures of enemy soldiers walking towards me with futurized weapons pointed at me. I hid in a garden, laying on my back with my camera pointed upwards, taking panoramic shots of the underbellies of huge flying machines that poured molten lava on top of my parents' home.

I went from house to house, trying to find a computer whose modem wasn't already down. I had to blog this. I had to post those pictures.

I emailed Glenn Reynolds to tell him what was going on. I emailed Ken Layne and even Hesiod and then I emailed Strongbad. I told them they needed to post my blog entry for me. I was obsessed.

And then, the sky fell and with it fell Arafat and Wesley Clark and they were holding hands and praying. They fell in the river of molten lava that my street had become and swam as if they were in a pleasant lakeside retreat. They each had a tropical drink floating on a tray next to them.

As the world around me burned and crumbled and the screams of my dying neighbors and crying children surrounded me, all I could think of was the hits I would get from blogging a first hand account of this disaster.

And then I threw up on a rose bush. I saw the face of Hilary Clinton in my blood-tinged vomit and I woke up, sweating, panicky and digusted with myself.

September 28, 2003

your mission

Should you choose to accept it....

Is to partipate in a lmy new blogging game, Pre-Emptive PMS Panacea.

Tired of the Friday Five? Had it with the Saturday Scruples? Bored with the Tuesday Tits?

Fooled you. There are no Tuesday Tits. That's Thursdays, you silly rabbits.

Well, I've never participated in any of those daily question things because I never, ever run out of things to blog about. Ok, so I do, but that's where Thursday Tits comes into play.

Yes, getting to the point.

Go to this post, where I asked for song lyrics that ask questions. Pick three questions from the comments and answer them to the best of your creative ability.

I'll accept answers all week and post them as I see fit.

The winner is the one who makes me laugh the loudest, and your prize is that you save all of humanity from the dreaded, feared and fully flammable case of PMS that is about to hit in 5....4...3..2....

Hey, I just got the urge to kick a puppy.

Mission on.


For all those emailing and for the Google searchers, here are the links to my posts on the Mepham hazing.

Today's and then here, here here here here here, here, here and here.

and another one gone, and another one gone (updated)

This is getting ridiculous. Everyone with a SAG card should be worried.

Elia Kazan dead.

At least he made it all the way to 94, unlike the past few who dropped in their 50's. Here's his pedigree.

He was an author, director, actor and producer and Oscar winner.. He also squealed on some of his fellow Hollywood brethen during the McCarthy years. Which, of course, does not take away from his vast talents at all.

Go rent: On The Waterfront

Althea Gibson, the first black tennis star, has died. She was 76.

I think I could just make a hobby out of sitting her reloading Fark every few minutes to see whose turn comes up in the wheel of death.

How soon is now?

I've always wanted to make one of those little quizzes like Friday Five or Tuesday Torturings or Sunday Snoozefest. But I wanted to make a quiz that only asked questions that have been asked in song lyrics.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

What have I done to deserve this?

Why can't we be friends?

I know there are a million of songs like that, but I can't think of any so I thought it would be fun to ask you to do the work for me and list any songs that ask questions. Doesn't have to be the title, but it's preferable that it is.

I appreciate your efforts in my great attempt to take over the Ask A Million Questions meme. It's really not an attempt to keep you all interested while I go about the business of working on another website and/or gathering links and facts for my upcoming series on the the life of awkward teenage circus contorionists with acne.

Questions, lyrics. Get singing.

good morning, hesiod

This link is for Hesiod:

Bush Administration Is Focus of Inquiry: CIA Agent's Identity Was Leaked to Media

At CIA Director George J. Tenet's request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist, government sources said yesterday.

The operative's identity was published in July after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly challenged President Bush's claim that Iraq had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore from Africa for possible use in nuclear weapons. Bush later backed away from the claim.

Ok, Hesiod. I'll give a comment here, but it's probably not what you were looking for.

If the inquiry proves that this is true, it's appalling. Not to mention a crime.

That's all I'm going to say on this for now. It's Sunday and my son has challenged me to a video-game playoff at the Arcade.

I'll be Bush, he'll be Dean. We'll see who wins.

the protesters' own quagmire

Thinking about some things just makes my brain hurt. For instance:

Protests around the world on Saturday called for an end to the US-led occupation of Iraq and Israel's claims on Palestinian territories.

In London, about 20,000 people were estimated by police to have demonstrated against continuing military involvement in Iraq.

So, these people spend months and months claiming that the Iraq war is quagmire and now they want us to just pull out and go home, leaving the Iraqi people to stumble around in the darkness of that quagmire.

Of course, if we did that, the moonbats would spend the next few months staging protests against America for leaving the Iraqi people so vulnerable.

Wouldn't pulling out of Iraq now only hurt the people there? Wouldn't the rebels who still worship Saddam just take over, instill Islamic law, rule by torture and put the fear of Saddam's legacy back into the citizens?

The lack of patience on the part of the protesters is astounding. How quickly did they think democracy would happen? Free countries are not built in day, not even in a year. They refuse to see any of the good that is happening in Iraq and instead focus on bad news only.

Protesting a war that has already taken place is counter productive to the rebuilding that comes after.

Then again, these idiots never cared about the Iraqi people at all. They only care about their own agenda, which is to see Bush and his administration fail at all costs, even at the cost of lives and peace.

today's mepham coverage

[Previous entries on the Mepham hazing are here, here here here here here, here, here and here.]

We start with Newsday's Paul Vitello, who has been covering the human interest aspect of the case.

The comparisons to the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal are hard to resist.

In both, there is a religion at the heart of an afflicted institution - Catholicism and football - and in both, the religion itself is not the issue.

The issue shared by both scandals is a self-protecting silence at the core that permits children to be hurt.

This is an idea that has been running like a small current of electricity through my mind, prodding my like a tazer every once in a while.

Trust - the one thing that kids almost instinctively give to those who are supposed to protect and nurture them. You trust you parents, your teachers, your clergyman, your coach.

So when something bad happens to a child on their watch, one could assume they feel let down. They perhaps lose a little bit of that trust. Imagine that poor child now put in the position of knowing that the person who was supposed to watch out and care for him is complicit in that something bad. Silence does equal complicity.

Almost a month after the crimes took place in a closed universe of 60 players and five coaches in a few small buildings in the middle of the woods, the Pennsylvania state police still don't have what they consider enough supporting testimony to bring charges.

The only word for that is shameful.

Moving on to the Newsday sports section, Steve Jacobson takes on the case.

Jacobson also bring religion into the mix:

I much prefer conversation with Msgr. Tom Hartman of "The God Squad" telling me, "Keep on this. We need to say, 'Never again.'"

If not now, when? The subject should have been on every pulpit on Long Island last weekend. Clergy and social workers are obligated to know what's in children's heads, and sports occupies a large space. It's not enough for church, synagogue or mosque to say this incident is not in the curriculum. Teachers are taught that the first rule is to make things relevant. Here it is.

He's right. Other schools should be talking about this. Coaches of sports teams across the Island - hell, across the country - should be using the Mepham incident to teach some valuable lessons to their athletes.

And let's not stop at athletes, take it to all the students. As much as so many columnists are harping on the "football mentality" of the hazers, this is not something that is specific to sports. Go back and look at the links I posted yesterday. Hazing is prevelant in all forms of school structure.

Selena Roberts of the New York Times:

But long before the woes of technology, and the detachment of stressed-out parents, there was the culture of the locker room. To understand how much courage it takes to come forward, imagine the consequences for breaking the boundaries of a distorted team concept.

This is not Mepham; this is everywhere, at levels far above prep.

Roberts then lists several instances in pro sports where silence was the rule of the day.

I think columnists are doing a great disservice to the Mepham community and their readers at large by making this a locker-room mentality issue. Hazing is an epidemic. Hazing is about power, and it's not only football players who seek that power over others. Even within the geekiest of fraternities, there are hazing rituals that would stand your hair on end.

Make it relevant, as Steve Jacobson said. Use this story as a starting point to talk to your kids, your students, your friends. Ask them, what would you do in this situation? Ask, how can we make sure this never happens to in our district, to our kids?

Newsday has a related story today on overnight school trips:

Educators in many districts said the Mepham incident has spurred them to review their field trip policies. Chaperoning ratios, tightly booked itineraries and firm communication with students and parents are strategies they have used to ensure student safety on overnight trips.

My own daughter, only 13, is going on a three-day, two-night trip to Washington D.C. in November with her class. Am I worried? Of course I am, what mother wouldn't worry?

But you bet I am going to take this Mepham case and make it relevant. We not only learn from our own mistakes, but from the mistakes of others.

famous last words

Donald O'Connor, on his deathbed:

"I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get."

If you've never seen Singin' in the Rain, go rent it, just for O'Connor's Make 'em Laugh.

September 27, 2003

comment spammers beware

I am devoting the rest of my waking life to tracking down and maiming the person who keeps spamming my comments with ads.

I have already banned eleven IPs. This guy seems to be working with a team.

Do you hear me, asswipe? I will find you. And, as has become my standard, I trail you, follow you home, piss in your garden and barbecue your cat for dinner. And that's just for starters.

If that fails, I'll just put a hex on you.

UPDATE: These are the IPs I've banned just today. Commit them to memory, bloggers.,,,,,,,,,

Just added:


I finally got around to starting Ender's Game today.

Just as a way of explanation for my absence today. Meaning, I can't put the book down.

playing the part of reporter

I decided to act the part of investigative reporter and came up with a very interesting - and very disturbing - story. Sources will remain unnamed for now and forever. Sources were present at the Nassau County Courthouse yesterday, in the vicinity of people involved in the Mepham hazing hearing. Sources are not employees of Nassau County court or any court.

Two Pennsylvania residents, a husband and wife who live next door to the football camp where the abuse took place, have stepped forward to say that they heard screaming coming from the camp the night of the alleged attacks. They went to the camp to investigate and managed to gain entrance to the area where the dorms are, and where the rather distressed screaming was coming from.

After they called the police, they tried to get into the dorms to see what was going on, and they were stopped by two coaches who said they would handle whatever was going on.

Which means, if the story is true and I have no reason to believe it is not, that the coaches absolutely had knowledge of what went on that night. Heads are going to roll over this. As well they should.

Now, I'm sure most of you are pretty bored with my repeated posts on this issue, but there are some people who are very interested in this.

As I was Googling for hazing stories, I hit upon a blog I know and read; it seems Christine of Color Me Pink was the cousin of Chuck Stenzel, a young man who died as a result of hazing and who is mentioned in the footnotes of the post below. Chuck was from Long Island and I remember his story as if it happened last week, not 25 long years ago. Finding out that he was related to someone I know, even if just through reading her blog, just made me more determined to keep talking about this. It matters to some people. It matters a lot. It make not make one difference in the world that I write about this every day. Perhaps I will educate someone, perhaps I will just piss others off. I just want to make everyone - students, parents and teachers alike - think.

The Mepham story; a short history of hazing

[this is a pretty long piece, there's even footnotes; I've put most of it in the extended entry. It would probably be easier to read by clicking on this permalink]

[Previous entries on the Mepham hazing are here here here here, here, here and here.]

Let's begin with the newest developments in the Mepham hazing. More importan than the hearing that took place yesterday is this telling paragraph from a New York Post article:

When three Long Island junior varsity football players were allegedly sodomized by three older players in a hazing ritual last month, an audience of as many as 15 other team members - some of whom were cheering - watched the assault, a lawyer in the case said yesterday.

Most of those witnesses, students at Mepham HS in Bellmore, have still not come forward after the attack during football camp in Wayne County.

This is not a case a three young men gone wrong; it's a case of mob mentality and entire group of people who make up that mob, and the culture that exists in that group.

Out of 15 people who watched, most of them have still not come forward. Knowing what they know - that one of the victims of the "hazingA" needed surgery to repair the damage; that what happened was not just a hazing but a series of crimes; that it's no longer a school district issue but involves police and courts, it is astounding that these people are not being more forthcoming with the details of what happened that night in Pennsylvania.

We need to ask two basic why? questions here: Why did these boys feel it was okay to perform these acts upon their younger teammates and why are most of the events still shrouded in mystery?

I had a conversation with a relative last night; he insists that the assaults were a sexual act and the boys who committed them - indeed, anyone who has committed a sexual assault such as those - have some kind of inferiority complex when it comes to sex or some deep rooted mental/sexual dysfuction. I vehemently disagreed with. An assault like a hazing that comes in the form of a sexual attack is about power and humiliation. It has nothing to do with sex at all. It's about making the victim feel as if he is powerless, a lesser being. It is to show that power is might and to establish some sort of bizarre pecking order within a group.

Why the witnesses remain silent is part of that order. If one wants to retain their established place in the heirarchy of the group, they must consent to what the group does; in a situation like this, if even one person performs the act, it's as if the whole group has performed it. To squeal on the person actually holding the instrument of assault is to squeal on yourself and to disturb the power that exists between all of those present.

Of course, there is fear. What will happen if a person tells? Will the group come after them? Will they be ridiculed, mocked or perhaps even beaten? Will they, in turn, end up on the receiving end of the art of power of humiliation the way the original victims did? People in this situation tend to not think of how their actions will affect those outside of their group; they think only of the direct affect on themselves, their immediate peers and their place in the hierarchy.

Hazing, criminal or otherwise, is not limited to those who are part of athletic teams. Hazing happens in fraternities and sororities, whithin informal cliques in high school and within the military.

Here is a chronology of hazing incidents within athletics, dating back to 19031 and occurring as recently as 20022.

Recorded hazings by non-athletic team members goes back as many years, these examples stretching from 1903 to present. Even in long ago history, we see the same denial from school officials as we see now3 and. more recently, the same refusal from some students, even the victims, to press charges or come forward4.

As you can see if you view this list, as the years went on, injurious or violent hazing became more frequent and more demeaning and intrusive in nature.

Even as the rituals of hazing, specifically in college fraternities, became more public, and the dangers of the rituals were spelled out in no uncertain terms as a rash of hazing-related deaths occurred, the acts of violence and humiliation continued. Laws that were passed against hazing in various states did no good simply because most of the people that commit these acts feel they are above the law; it's what made them the fearless leaders of their groups to begin with. Grass-roots orginizations, most founded by parents of hazing victims, sprouted up with regularity.

It's a sad testament to the widespread practice of hazing rituals that sites such as StopHazing.org need to exist, and that they are filled with so many stories, links and articles on vicious, violent and sometimes deadly incidents. How can a practice that has received so much negative media attention and resulted in so many deaths and injuries, not to mention psychological damage, still exist in such blatant form today?

40 out of 50 states have hazing statutes. In many states, including New York, the punishment for breaking these laws do not reflect the seriousness of the crimes. Also, in review of these statutes, too many of them automatically link hazing with drinking. While that is a big problem on college campuses - and these hazing often result in death5 or severe damage - in high schools most of the acts are ones of violence and have little to do with alcohol.

Does the real crux of the problem lie within the schools, the parents or those who commit the acts? Parents who are complicit in hazing, or those who remain silent, keeping their knowledge of incidents away from authorities, they are just as guilty as their children. When school admistrators adopt a kids-will-be-kids attitude or deny any charges against their students, they too are guilty.

Which brings us back to the Mepham story. Yesterday, Nassau County Court Judge Donald E. Belfi oversaw the hearing in which twelve people involved in the hazing agreed to appear before a Pennsylvania grand jury investigating the case. Belfi made a statement afterwards, saying, "Authorities are willing to accept any complaints ... as to any schools in Nassau County or anywhere else [on Long Island]," and his law clerk stated that the judge believes that if this happened in one school, it is happening in others.

Pennsylvania prosecutors were forced to issue subpoenas for witnesses and administrators to appear next week before a grand jury due to the relctuance, or outright unwillingness, of most of those witnesses to speak up, speak out and tell the truth about what went on at football camp.

There is an awful lot of blame to be passed around here and we should not forget that even though the parents and school officials and football staff all share a responsibility in this, it is ultimately the three young men who physically committed the acts that need to be held responsible for their actions. The rest can fall in line after that is done.

I believe that no amount of publicity, no lectures or articles or videotaped interviews of kids who have been victims of hazing before will every stop this practice from taking place within our schools. Some kids are unreachable. Some parents are oblivious. Some teachers are cowards. It's sad, but it's true. There will always be those who have the power and those who are subject to that power. How do we undo this? How can we, those who know better, those who care enough, ever reach the parents and kids and administrators who turn a blind eye to all that is going on around them or even encourage it?

The simple yet daunting answer is, we can't. Somehow, this has all become a nearly acceptable part of our society. While hazing is by no means a new fashion, we did not do ourselves a service by spending most of the late 80's and early 90's creating self-esteem monsters.

[To be continued]


ADefinition of hazing as described by the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group:

"Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the chapter house; wearing of public apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution."

"1. If you have to ask if it's hazing, it is. 2. If in doubt, call your advisor/coach/national office. If you won't pick up the phone, you have your answer. Don't B.S. yourself.' 3. If you haze, you have low self-esteem. 4. If you allow hazing to occur, you are a 'hazing enabler.' 5. Failure to stop hazing will result in death..."

11923 Hobart College (New York): Two senior football players were expelled after freshman Lloyd Hyde was beaten and thrown into Seneca Lake.

22002 New London High School; Wrestling Team (Ohio):A 14-year old player's statement that he was sodomized with fingers by teammates is under investigation

31917 New York Military Academy (Cornwall, NY): Student Bertram Haigh contended his hearing loss in his right ear was a result of hazing. The school superintendent said Haigh's hearing loss was caused by an infection before he came to the academy.

4 1984 Hamden High School (New Haven, CT): Although 17-year-old Todd Depino was paddled so hard and often that he was hospitalized and his skin was discolored, he refused to turn in the hazers.

5February 24, 1978: Alfred University, New York: Chuck Stenzel was kidnapped from his dorm, locked in a car trunk in freezing weather with the other pledges, and forced to consume a lethal mix of bourbon, wine and beer. Chuck was dead within hours due to acute alcohol poisoning and exposure to cold.

September 26, 2003

and another one bites the dust

Detective Encyclopedia Brown Found Dead In Dumpster

>Detective Brown's death is a great loss," said Idaville Police Commissioner Rupert "Bugs" Meany, a longtime critic of Brown's unorthodox investigative technique who nevertheless appeared to be shaken by the murder. "Thanks to him, Idaville has the highest arrest-to-conviction-due-to-obscure-trivia rate in the nation. I believe I speak for everyone in Idaville when I say that Encyclopedia Brown was truly the greatest sleuth in sneakers."

I don't believe anything Meany says. He's wanted Brown dead since they were kids.

And really, how does the town bully and village idiot grow up to be Police Commissioner anyhow? Hello, corruption!

I think I'll take this case on as soon as I finish The Case Of The Missing Blogger.

RIP, Detective Brown.

[thanks to Alex for the link]



L'shanah tovah. Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends. May Israel remain peaceful for the holidays and may your year be filled with prosperity, love and hope.

I will be joining my family for our annual Rosh Hashanah dinner (for my brother-in-law, whose family is in Florida). I'll be back later on tonight.


Playwright Herb Gardner, author of I'm Not Rappaport, died today.

He also had very bit part in Ishtar, and wrote some stories for the feel-good-about-yourself hit of the 70's, Free To Be You And Me.


somebody keep on eye on the pope

First there were the Johns: John Ritter and Johnny Cash.

Now there are the P's: Palmer and Plimpton.

P stands for Pope. The Pope's name is John. See where I'm going with this?

Can we quickly change Arafat's name to John Price?

George Plimpton's greatest line?

For those who asked about the George Plimpton/hot plate reference in the comments below (and shame on those who did):

I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can Simpsons episode #303

Lisa, tempted by George Plimpton's offer to "guarantee you a scholarship to the Seven Sisters college of your choice" (plus a George Plimpton - endorsed hot plate) if she takes a dive in the Spelllympics finals, dreams of meeting the colleges personified à la the Muses of Greek mythology.

BARNARD (wearing glasses): We are the Seven Sisters. And you can attend any one of us! Like Barnard, Columbia's "girl next door."

RADCLIFFE: Come to Radcliffe and meet Harvard men.

WELLESLEY: Or come to Wellesley and marry them.

MOUNT HOLYOKE (slurring, champagne glass in hand): No. Party with me! (Falls face first.)

VASSAR: Or nonconform with me! (Raises arms, reveals hairy armpits.)

LISA: Uh . . .

SMITH (muscular, carries lacrosse stick, husky voice): Play lacrosse with me!

BRYN MAWR: Or explore with me! (She and SMITH kiss with passion.)

LISA: No, I don't want to pay for college by throwing a spelling bee!

SISTERS (in unison): Give in, Lisa! Get a free ride!

PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!

SISTERS (holding hands and dancing in a circle around Lisa): Free ride! Free ride! Free ride!

PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!

(LISA wakes up screaming.)

[copied and pasted from electric tao]

just call me the obituary writer of the blogosphere

What the hell is going on? This is my third obituary in less than 12 hours.*

plimpton.jpgOne of the most colorful figures in all of literature, George Plimpton, has died.

Aside from founding Paris Review and writing a plethora of books, essays and magazine articles, Plimpton was known for the level to which he took participating in the subjects of his words.

He boxed with Archie Moore, pitched to Willie Mays and performed as a trapeze artist for the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus. He acted in numerous films, including "Reds" and "Good Will Hunting." He even appeared in an episode of "The Simpsons," playing a professor who runs a spelling bee.

Plimpton was resonsible for the greatest April Fool's joke ever - the creation of one Sidd Finch, the one-shoe-on-one-shoe-off New York Mets prospect who could throw a baseball at a blazing 168 mph.

Millions of Sports Illustrated readers believed Plimpton's creatively written story on the amazing Finch. Alas, it was too good to be true.

George Plimpton actually left an obscure hint that the story was a hoax within the article itself (the non-obscure hint being that the story was absurd). The sub-heading of the article read: "He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga —and his future in baseball." The first letter of each of these words, taken together, spells "H-a-p-p-y A-p-r-i-l F-o-o-l-s D-a-y."

George Plimpton: Author, actor, speaker; a true Renaissance Man.

i would prefer not to write another obituary today

*four, if you count my little tribute to edward said

i'm a loser, baby, so why don't you play me?

With a play on the new Dilbert slot machine, Ed invents a few of his own "loser" slots:

A Michael Moore Slot Machine (You win, but you piss off everyone in the casino and then spend the rest of your weekend in the buffet.)

september is the month for dead celebrities

robertpalmer.jpgRobert Palmer dead at 54. He suffered a heart attack last night.

Robert Palmer pretty much defined the stylized, video-friendly music of the 80's. He's one of those artists who has MTV to thank for his fame; I believe more people were fans of his videos featuring leggy backup singers than his actual music.

He was a barely known quasi-soul singer until the 1980 release of his album Clues. Looking for Clues and Johnny and Mary were great, quirky songs that preceded the new wave explosion of the early 80's.

Following that album, he released Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley, featuring members of Little Feat, and this effort showed off his funky and soulful side, something which the Robert Palmer fans from his new wave cycle would barely even recognize.

In 1983, he released Pride, which contained the funkadelic You Are In My System, gaining him a bit of popularity.

His break came at the height of the new wave craze in 1985 with the release of Riptide, featuring Hyperactive and Addicted To Love - the song that most people associate Palmer with and the one that shot him to fame.

His next album. Heavy Nova, came out in 1988 and he garnered a hit with that one also, the catchy Simply Irresistible. At this point, his songs began to all blend into eachother, as he used the same basic formula for each subsequent hit.

In 1985 he joined up with other 80's new wave stars Michael des Barres, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards to form the "super" band Power Station. They scored big with Some Like it Hot and a remake of Marc Bolan's Bang A Gong.

For those who know only of Palmer's post 1985 efforts, it would be worth your while to check out his earlier stuff and to realize that the man was more than a video star with catchy riffs.

Rest well, Mr. Palmer.

[I have no personal stories to tell about Palmer or his music except for the time we made up new words to Addicted to Love and ended up with Mike Ditka for Lunch.]

bitchslap ted rall day, volume infinity

Ted Rall on why people hate George Bush.

I want you to guess. Come on, guess what's Ted's number one reason for hating George Bush. Three guesses, the first two don't count.

Bush is guilty of a single irredeemable act so heinous and anti-American that Nixon's corruption and Reagan's intellectual inferiority pale by comparison. No matter what he does, Democrats and Republicans who love their country more than their party will never forgive him for it.
Bush stole the presidency.

This is after he goes through various other reasons why some people hate the President, and all the usual keywords are present: stupid, AWOL, frat boy, ignorant; and, of course, all the usual blatherings about people disappearing in the middle of the night and Jose Padilla and the concentration camp that is Gitmo.

Hey, Ted? Jose Padilla is a terrorist and traitor. Just so you know.

[M]ost Americans now consider Bush to be no more legitimate than Saddam Hussein, who also came to power in a coup d'état.

Well, let's see. Saddam had no one else on the ballot. Saddam had thugs at the voting boths, whose machine guns and stoney glares reminded you what you were there to do. Saddam had the same thugs going from house to house, dragging people out to vote, making sure that every ballot had his name checked off by every voting-elligible citizen in Iraq.

So, quite the difference there. But Rall and his buddies just love playing up that Bush=Saddam angle, almost as much as the Indymediates love playing up the Bush=Hitler meme.

In case Ted is unaware, this is what the 2000 electoral map looks like. While the majority of the states are red, there are quite a few blue states, leading one to believe that this wasn't so much of a coup d'état as a contested election.

Now, before you start criticizing me for being a Bush flag-waver, note this: I did not vote for Bush in the 2000 election. Yet, I was able to move on and accept him as my president without becoming mired in the slinging mud that's been thrown for too many years now.

I can say with some certainty that there are several ways in which I think Bush could be doing a better job as president. However, I'm not the kind of person who can spend four years, or maybe more, obessing over the fact that my candidate did not win.

One might think that Rall is just a four-trick pony; 2000 election, SUVS, the Ashcroftian Boot of Dissent Crushing and Quagmire! [which covers all aspects of both Iraq and Afghanistan]

Looks like today it was election time, seeing as that last week he covered SUVs.

Two months after 9/11, when Bush's job approval rating was soaring at 89 percent, 47 percent of Americans told a Gallup poll that he had not won the presidency legitimately. "The election controversy...could make a comeback if Bush's approval ratings were to fall significantly," predicted Byron York in The National Review.

The election controversy making a comeback? To Rall, this is the equivalent of middle-aged woman realizing that bellbottoms are back, going through her old trunks of clothes with glee. Except the clothes are faded, they don't fit quite the same and middle-aged woman just shouldn't wear wide bellbottoms.

If the controversy does come back, Rall would have outlived his usefulness in the whole topic. He has already written hundreds of articles and drawn a hundred comics on the subject of The Stolen Election. His jokes are faded, his cliches worn out. Hackneyed columnists shouldn't try to rehash those heady days of 2000. Rall will end up looking like a mid-life crisis woman in go-go boots and hot pants.

But I bet when he's in his room alone at night, Ted Rall lies in bed and fantasizes about a media frenzy bringing the 2000 election back into the limelight. And what will Rall be muttering under the covers?

To quote the dear Captain Murphy, My nipples are hard just thinking about it.

Sorry about that imagery.

September 25, 2003

how to entertain children

Both Nat and DJ had friend over after school today - another brother/sister team, which means there was lots of screaming and yelling going on.

Nat and her friend asked Justin to "entertain" them after I chased the boys outside to play hockey.

So he did. By crushing a Coke can on his head, which was an act requested by Natalie's friend.


Then he had to repeat it for the boys.

All those video games, movies and sports equipment, and this is what passes for entertainment in our house.

harry goz, dead at 71

sl_murphy.jpgSo, you may ask, who the heck was Harry Goz? Goz played Tevye in the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof for many years.

However, you may know him better as the voice of crazed Captain Murphy on SeaLab 2021.

It was quite a thrill to hear the voice of Tevye, who once belted out "If I Were A Rich Man," saying things like:

Pudding can't fill the emptiness inside me! But it'll help.

My nipples are hard just thinking about it.

I will slaughter them like a wolf among lambs! The seas will run red with the blood of my enemies!

Visit the Captain Murphy soundboard for more great quotes.

More on Goz's work.

Hank Goz was a Long Islander, just so you know. Some good things do come out of here. Besides serial killers and teenage nymphs who like Italian auto mechanics.

[I realize this is old news, but I just found out about it today]

prinicpal caught in the headlights: a Mepham hazing update

[Previous entries on the Mepham hazing are here here here, here, here and here.]

Several Mepham football players are coming forward to say older teammates sexually abused them at a preseason training camp.

I take this to mean that other players are coming forward. This new bit of information means several things; first, it means that people are finally coming forward about the abuse. Second, it means that the tide is changing.

Parents want the principal fired. They are raising questions about the coaches and administration. As soon as the wave of adrenaline over this story crashes onto the school, people will talk. Perhaps they were waiting for the spotlight to be turned off of the actual abusers.

I've been complaining that people are blaming everyone but the people who committed these acts. However, the new spotlight on the principal will serve as a means to an end. Finally finding someone to lash out at, the kids and parents who have, until now, kept quiet, will come forward with more stories and facts about the camp abuse as well as any other assaults or threats that had taken place previous to the trip. The more facts the D.A. has, the more likely it is that the perpetrators will be charged with crimes.

Tomorrow, those who were issued subpoenas by the Pennsylvania DA's office will be able to go to Nassau County Court to fight the orders. It will be very interesting - and telling - to see who still doesn't want to speak up.

Still, one has to wonder why so many parents are clamoring for the principal to resign, but no one is screaming for the guilty students to be suspended for the school year. Another case of misplaced blame, though this time both parties seem to be guilty of something. The poor kids who were "hazed" are now the victims of both abuse and neglect.

this day in anti-Semite history

A rock-throwing anti-Semite died today.

Meryl says: Schadenfreude

In news of other dead anti-Semites, Rachel Corrie's parents today visited with terrorist-producer Yasser Arafat to present him with a portrait of their daughter, who died while protecting the home of a Palestenian terrorist. Corrie, an American, was in the area teaching Palestenian kids how to hate America. It's no wonder Arafat is enamored enough of Rachel's deeds that he would accept a portrait of her. And, apparently, Rachel was an apple that didn't fall far from the tree.

[click for bigger image; photo from Yahoo News]

Feel free to caption.

busy busy

I've been pretty busy in the after work hours both getting Four Color Hell ready for relaunch and working on a site for Chief Wiggles Toys For Iraq project.

If you are interested in getting your co-workers, family, friends and neighbors involved in the project, here is a flyer you can print out and distribute to them.

mental health will drive you mad

At least when your mental health devolves on a Thursday, there's a new Acid Keg to hmm...make it worse.

(Hey, that's a compliment, Steve. Now update your weblog)

If that doesn't make you smile, perhaps Penny Arcade's Photoshop mastery of the Doom 3 preview will [scroll down a bit].

Or maybe your funny bone is tickled by making fun of the 9th Circuit.

Hmm, ok. Then start here to see how Pat's friends use the Anarachist Cookbook to play a prank on him. Hilarity ensues. Unless you're Pat. Then it's not funny at all. But obviously, I'm not Pat.

This has been a message from your Mental Health Emergency System.

I am bad hair woman, hear me roar!

[click for bigger image] Meryl wants me and Andrea to join her on a fisticuffs spree, I think. I'm all for it, as long as we find a person/group worthy of our beatings. I'm not a bully, you know.

I'm having a Bad Hair Day. I'm not a vain person, by any means. However, Bad Hair is about more than just walking around looking like a blind person constructed a wig for you. No, Bad Hair encompasses the entire body, soul and mind of your being. It weighs you down, it makes you grumpy, it takes that last shred of human decency you had and shoves it over the cliff of dignity so you are left with an attitude that would maim the most hardened terrorists with just a glare from your frosty, evil eyes.

Bad Hair is not a bad coif. It's not a brush or comb away from sanity. It's miles and miles away from any sane place in the world. Bad Hair combines every aspect of your body, mind and soul, taking you on a strange journey from your mutterance of death wishes upon every person in the world to the sharpening of your fingernails so you can better gouge out the eyes of your co-workers.

So let's go, Meryl and Andrea. I'm waiting. As soon as someone nominates an entity, human or otherwise, who is deserving of our wrath, I am there.

I am Bad Hair Girl. Superhero to the sufferers of split ends, savior to the follicly challenged, avenger of the too-much-conditioner victims.

Here I come to save the Bad Hair Day. With blowdryer and hot oil treatment packed in my bag to take care of that hair, and my trusty spork-of-death and fists-of-rage ready to take care of your emotional outlet needs.

I think I need a mental health day.

[comic by Rene Baur]

two readings on one subject

[Previous entries on the Mepham hazing are here here, here, here and here.]

Reading 1: What Becomes A Bully Most

"These children who have come forward are the heroes of this town and I want to stand up for them the way they're standing up for my son," she said. "They need to know that we appreciate it, that we know how hard it is and how strong and brave they are to sit there and say what they saw and heard, with the boys who did it staring them straight in the eye."

Those words are spoken by the mother of one of the assaulted players in the Mepham case. It’s not a surprise that the only one to think the kids who are speaking out are heroes is a parent of one of the victims.

"We see it on the TV talk shows and the news and I can't believe they're talking about us," said the father of the other boy, who is 14, shaking his head, amazed his family's pain is now public domain. "You move out here, you know, to make a better life for your kids. This isn't what we came here for."

Suburbia isn’t the safe little haven it used to be. While the cities have gangs and drive-by shootings, little Levittown-like enclaves have their equivalent as well, in the form of school bullies and cliques. They may not carry switchblades, but they have other weapons just as powerful in their arsenal. People out here in the burbs have a false sense of security. Their sleepy little towns are well groomed, caressed by trees and beautiful landscapes. Most of the schools don’t need metal detectors like their city counterparts. The police can more often be found chatting up neighbors than chasing down criminals. But they forget the one thing that every school - urban, suburban or rural - have in common: the hierarchy of power. Those who are stronger, prettier and quicker tend to lord it over the kids who don’t have those qualities that make one popular. And even among the cliques of popularity, there are sub-cliques within them, where the leaders and followers are defined by egos. You can still be in with the in crowd - the football crowd, instance - and be hanging from the bottom rung of the hierarchy so that you are nothing more than a jester in a king’s court.

And what happens to the kids who are constantly bullied and picked on an assaulted? What happens when they can’t take any more and the district is protecting the abusers instead of protecting the victims? What happens when day after day, they are used as a scratching post for the sharp tongues of the powerful and elite and everyone assumes that they must be the problem, that they must be sending out the wrong signals to the wrong people?

Eventually, some of them go ballistic and shoot their tormenters. Some of them kill themselves. Some of them live lives of quiet desperation. The bullies go on to live like they are the king of the hill. They go to parties and graduate high school and maybe some of them get football scholarships. Later on in life they will become that boss you despise, the neighbor you fear, the youth baseball coach who screams obscenities at 13 year old umpires. They are the ones driving through stop signs and parking in handicapped spots and demanding special treatment at every turn. Once a bully, always a bully. Especially if you’ve been trained that you can get away with it.

I’d like to see where the three young abusers from Mepham High School end up in a few years time. Here, they are being taught that power buys silence, that popularity buys secrecy when needed, that being a bully has its rewards.

[Below is the second reading, an essay I wrote on this subject almost three years ago (and printed here before)]

Reading 2: Playground Politics

Bullies. Bullies beget angry children. You want to know where those loner kids come from? Where the angst ridden, black clothed, dark poetry writing kids come from? It's not where you think.

The leaders (elected, appointed and self-anointed) of the world would like to place some blame. Movies, video games, and music - their holy trilogy. But I know better. I know where it all begins. School. That nice brick building where the future of our world trots off to five days a week, that place that is supposed to teach, educate and inform...it is there that most the blame lies. In the hallways, the cafeteria, the library, and especially on the playground. It’s where you learn the hard lessons of life. It’s where you first get the notion that life isn’t fair. It’s where you discover the inequities of life, learn about the haves and the have-nots, where you first feel the pains of hurt feelings, bruised egos and dodge ball.

Your kids spend a good portion of their life in school. We send them off to kindergarten, knowing that we are setting them on the path to some glorious future. We head off to work, assured that your kids are in the safest environment possible. But are they? Are they safe in school? And I don’t mean physically safe. I’m not asking if they are afraid of knives or guns or sharpened pencils or flying mystery meat. Are they emotionally safe in school? No. Our kids are not. School is a place where gangs can roam free. What is a clique really, but a glorified gang? Teachers, administrators, they let it all go. They let the leaders lead and the followers follow and they see that there are kids who cry all through recess and find a reason to go to the nurse’s office when it’s time to pick kickball teams. They see the tears, and the shame and the embarrassment and the hurt and they turn the other way because, well....kids will be kids. I know, I know, they say. Kids can be so cruel at this age. You just have to live and learn. Stand up for yourself. Go to the library during recess instead. Read a book. Find other friends who are more “like you.” Be more like them. Stop calling attention to yourself. Call more attention to yourself. Talk more. Talk less. Be more aggressive. Don’t be so aggressive. Ignore her, she just wants to get a rise out of you. It will pass. These are the kids who end up hiding in a corner, who are told not to stir the mix, not to rock the boat, just let it go. Just let that anger and hurt build up. Don’t talk about it. Don’t worry about it. Just let it sit there in their gut and rot away their insides for a while. Let the acid seep into their soul and heart where it will fester until say...high school, and then everyone will wonder why your child is so angry. Why she are such a loner. Why he still gets picked last for kickball, why he still ducks out of dodgeball games, why she still hates lunch time, why he isn’t a “joiner,” why she stays in her room all night listening to depressing music and searching for the razor. Just to look at it, to hold it, to wonder if anyone would miss her.

Meanwhile, on the playground....

Look, there she is. The leader. The boss. She’s a Heather. She’s Hilary Clinton running for office and she wants your vote. So she plies you with compliments and math test answers and you follow like a butt sniffing puppy. She wants favors. She wants the snack in your lunch box. She wants your lunch money. She wants to borrow your CDs and your hair gel and you know somewhere deep down that you are never going to get them back. And you know, too, that this isn’t right. This is not how friendship works. But you do it anyhow because this is your first friend, the first time someone has wanted your attention and it’s not just anyone..it's Hilary, it’s Heather, it’s the leader of the pack. So you become “friends.” You laugh at recess, you get picked fourth for kickball instead of last. You go to her house after school and meet her mom and play with her dog. It’s been a good week. Monday comes. You try to talk to her at line-up before class. You offer her gum. She looks at you like she doesn’t know you. She turns to Amanda and rolls her eyes. You were in. You’re out again. Because Amanda, who was the outcast last week, is now in. Because Amanda has better snacks in her lunchbox. And better toys at her house. And her clothes are cooler. You’re back to the end of the line, the corner in the cafeteria, volunteering to stay in and clean the classroom at recess. Because Heather can’t be friends with two of you at once. And Amanda, who invited you to her birthday party just a month ago, no longer wants anything to do with you. If the boss doesn’t want her to play with you, well....she won’t. She can’t jeopardize her standing in the playground politics.

And this is the way it goes. You spend your grade school years fluctuating between being in and being out. Middle school is more of the same. By the time high school rolls around you are loitering in the alcove outside, smoking and hiding under your walkman. You no longer care whether the Heathers like you. You no longer want to be liked. And the older you get the more reasons there are to be disliked. You talk funny. You walk funny. You live in a trailer. You’re a rich snob. You’re a poor slob. You’re a cheerleader. You’re not a cheerleader. You listen to death metal. You have a wart on your hand. You read too much. You don’t know how to read. You’re a democrat/republican/facist/socialist/commmunist. You’re Jewish/catholic/buddhist/born-again. You’re fat. You’re too thin. You watch Dawson’s Creek. You smoke pot. You don’t smoke pot. Your hair is blue/green/purple. So you do what anyone in this situation would, and should do. You lash out. Your mother sends you to a psychiatrist. The school makes you spend your lunch hour in the social worker’s office. The social worker asks if you thought about a nice a trade school. The psychiatrist blames your mother. Your mother blames your father. Your father blames Marilyn Manson CDs and the internet. But you blame Heather. You blame the lunch lady in first grade who watched the de-evolution of your social life without sticking her neck out for you. You blame the second grade teacher who raised Heather’s already made pedestal another foot or so. You blame the gym teachers who can’t see that dodge ball is not a game, it’s mass execution of the outcasts. You blame Amanda for being Heather’s whore all those years and forgetting that in pre-school you were in inseparable. And you feel relieved that you still have a bit of your dignity left, a tiny bit of sanity stored away in your brain somewhere. You think about blowing up the school, but you don’t. You think about drop kicking Heather into the East River but you don’t. You think about razor blades and nooses and a bad impression of Kurt Cobain’s last few moments on this earth but all you do is think. And you wonder about the other kids...the ones like you, the outcasts, the weirdos, the freaks, the geeks, the school shooters waiting to happen and you wonder. What if? What if you didn’t have that last shred of sanity left? What if you weren’t still a somewhat stable person? What if you took all this a little too much to heart? What about all those kids who do? When the next kid takes a gun to school, plots a classmate’s death or hangs himself from the gym rafters, you will know who to blame. It’s not Marilyn Manson. It’s not Quake. It’s not the endless barrage of MTV or R-rated movies. It’s Heather, and the school system that allowed Heathers behavior to go unchecked. It’s the class system of school and playground politics, the hierarchy of leaders, followers and losers that pervades our lives from pre-k to the workplace to retirement.

writing about hamas while eating hummus

Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as Saruman.

In other Yassin news, he has stunned - I mean stunned! the world by declaring that Hamas will not commit to a truce with Israel. I am shocked. He also lashed out at the United States, saying President Bush "declared war on Islam" and that America will be defeated by Muslims.

He should actually be grateful to Bush that Hamas still exists. You know what I mean.

And I really wish these extremists Muslims would make up their minds. Do they want to defeat us, destroy us and wipe us out or do they want to convert us? There is a difference and that small difference means a lot to me; I mean, do I prepare to die or prepare to remember which way to turn to face Mecca?

Seems to me that the ranks of Hamas "militants" are growing rather thin. Of course, they can always pick up new recruits for the Muslim jihad over at Guantanamo.

September 24, 2003

a question for all the parents out there

Have you ever had one of those nights where you want to run out the door, get in your car and never, ever come back?

meeting mr. g.

I had the pleasure of meeting DJ's fifth grade teacher last night.

I've written about Mr. G before, when DJ came home talking about Wesley Clark and gun ownership.

Mr. G. started off by telling us that New York State is about to pass a law requiring all teachers to share their backgrounds with the parents of their students. So, Mr. G. jumped the gun a little and shared some pieces of his life with us.

He attended military and boarding schools when he was young. He graduated from a Naval Academy and then went on to Fordham where he got his business degree, then to Hofstra where he got his law and teaching degrees. He began teaching 38 years ago.He is also certified as a principal, but has never felt the urge to become an adminstrator.

He went to high school with Alan Alda and once spent a day of a family cross-country vacation in a trailer park teaching Muhammed Ali how to set up a barbecue and fix things in his Winnebago.

He fought in the Korean War. He has four kids and four grand kids. Two of his children are teachers.

He believes that good discipline is the hallmark of love. He treats every one of his students as if they were his own kids. He thinks learning should be fun and is furious that New York State makes teachers take so much time to prepare for state mandated testing. He has 21 kids in the class and requested two student teachers so each child could get a good amoung of one on one help when needed. He comes in early and stays late every day in case any of his students need extra help in any subject.

In addition to doing things like donning a wet raincoat when teaching about the water cycle, he squeezes in little lessons like giving vocabulary words in Portuguese or Italian. He teaches the math textbook from front to back back to front because he thinks the kids will learn the hard stuff more easily in the beginning of the year when their minds are fresh and not full of summer.

He has photos of his past students hanging up on the wall. He keeps old textbooks around because sometimes he likes to teach without all the political niceness that pervades textbooks today.

While he is lecturing about fractions or verbs or the Philadelphia Convention, he manages to throw in side lessons about driving and politics and anything else they don't teach kids in books, but that they need to move on to middle school and life in general.

He's a good teacher and even better, he's a good man. I'm glad he shared those parts of his life with us, because it makes me feel as if I am sending my somewhat unsure of himself son to school every day with a teacher who not only has every confidence in DJ, but makes learning a comfortable and pleasant exeperience while not taking away from all the facts and figures he needs to know. It's very rare to find a teacher who can do both and succeed at it.

setting the record straight...again

I swear, I am either going to turn off my email or make a separate email account for hatemail@asmallvictory.net, so I can just make a standard reply form.

For those of you who assume that I love everything Bush does, you are absolutely wrong on so many counts. I am not a blind loyalist.

For those of you who assume that I am voting for Bush in the next election, try again. I still don't know who I'm going to vote for and I probably won't for a long time. Just because I am a registered Republican - and pro-war - does not mean that I vote Republican all the time.

I am not, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be, a member of Free Republic. Extremists on either side of politics scare me.

Are we all clear now?


If you are looking the Mepham hazing stories, they are here here, here, here and here.

9/11 widow sues bush; the left engages in typical irony

A New Hampshire woman whose husband died in one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center sued President Bush and other government officials yesterday, contending their negligence of airport security resulted in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

And the anti-Busher at Democratic Underground cheer and applaud.

But, wait...aren't these the same people who denounce every single effort to make airport security tighter and better as attacks on our freedoms and civil liberties?

Just asking.

dirty politics

As we gear up for Election Day, the radio spots and tv spots for the hopefuls in all races abound with degrading, demeaning and sometimes slanderous comments about their opponents. Low-blow ads are the norm, for the most part. Slinging mud and heaving vitriol at your perceived enemy in the polls is pretty much standard. That doesn't make it any more pleasant to see or hear.

Now, I've seen some nasty mud slinging in my time. I've seen vicious, knife-wielding attacks that cut the metaphoric throat of many a running man/woman.

But never have I seen anything so vile, so disgusting, so horrific in its resonance as John Kerry's attack on Howard Dean.

He called him a Yankee fan. He said it with all the insulting force that one reserves for calling a playground enemy a doody-head or a retard. He said it like it's a bad thing.

Of course, Dean did have some grief coming to him, as he his now declaring himself to be a Red Sox fan in order to garner votes. That, in and of itself, is grounds for abuse to be heaped upon him. It's tantamount to sacrilige to switch allegiances from Yankee blue to Red Sox green (the green is for envy).

However, Kerry has proved himself to be the greater of two transgressors here. To hurl the phrase "Yankee Fan" with such distaste, such vitriol, such digust, just proves that he is not worthy of the presidency of this country. Anyone with any sense of pride or even a modicum of common sense knows that to be a Yankee fan is to be a true American, a believer in all that is good and a citizen to be held in the greatest regard.

I can now cross both Kerry and Dean off of my list of contenders for my vote, though Kerry never had a chance to begin with.

on toys and hypocrisy

Some people speak of doing good things; they speak of action and inaction and altruism and social justice. And some of those people sit back and let their words just hang in the air, as if everyone should grab them and go ahead and make them their own. They feel as if just saying something, just thinking something is as good as doing something.

And then there are people who do, people who put their actions where their words are and get off their asses and turn their words into reality, without thought as to means and ends and without a philosophical discourse on the innuendos and hidden meanings of their actions. Simply, because they believe there are none. They have an idea that is meant to help others and they just do it, instead of analyzing every aspect of what their actions might mean to other people in the end. They have one goal, they make that goal happen regardless of politics, religion or ideology because of the one main purpose of that goal: someone needs help and that someone is going to get it.

Chief Wiggles is that kind of man, one with a big heart and that heart is in the right place. His intentions are noble and it does no one any good to disseminate those intentions and to cast shadows upon them because it will only serve to make the recipient of his heart felt intentions be neglected once more.

The Chief is in Iraq and he keeps a blog while he's there, letting everyone in on the day to day operations of finding peace and democracy in a country that has never known either. In one of his recent posts, he mentions an Iraqi child who was so pleased with receiving a toy, and the Chief's subsequent thought that all the children of Iraq should be that pleased; that if one small token, one small gesture made one small child that happy, it would be an even greater act of kindness if all the children of Iraq were that happy.

In my own little way, I am influencing and affecting the attitudes of Iraqis one person at a time, taking baby steps, one experience at a time. My sphere of influence is small in comparison to the task at hand, but who knows what the ripple affect will be of my small effort to calm the tears of one sweet little girl. Thanks to my team mates back home who made this moment possible by sending me the toys to hand out to Iraqi children. I have only one request of them and others please send me more toys.

And from that, an idea grew. The Chief's readers picked up on it and spread the word. Chief had no idea how strongly his words would resound with others who, like him, move on their ideas and turn their words into actions. Toys for Iraq was born out of one small instance, one tiny little moment in the life of a little girl who probably had not smiled in a long time.

So it disturbs me to see members of the left basically pissing on the Chief's parade. As I pointed out last night, a MetaFilter thread about Toys for Iraq quickly derailed into a snarling snark fest in which lefties of all sorts took issue with the war, with the president, with Chief Wiggles' idea itself and turned the entire point on its head.

What is it with the left that everything they speak about is in the form of protest? We know everything they are against, but does anyone know what they are for? All of their actions are in the form of a fight against something; an idea, a presidency, a war, a specific person, a treaty. What do they stand for besides brick throwing, spray painting and anti-ism?

It's disheartening to see that people who call themselves humanitarians, people who claim to care about social injustice, would be so full of their anger and righteousness that they would deny the good in giving children of war some toys to play with. Who are they hurting by demeaning and picking apart the Chief's idea? They are hurting the children who, by all appearances, is something the left care greatly about.

I watched Hair the other night. I've seen the movie at least twenty times. When I was younger, I owned the Broadway version of the soundtrack (which is infinitely better than the movie version). I once believed, like the characters in Hair, that everything was peace and love and happiness and the world should just all get along. And then I grew up. As I got older, I believed less and less of the message of the original far-lefties of the 60's. I became a realist.

This was the first time I watched the movie since I made the full swing from teenage liberal to an adult who is somewhere right of center. I still enjoyed the movie; I love the music, the story and the ironic ending still chills me. But I can't help watching it now with a spark of bitterness at the irony present in the modern form of the hippies.

Where is the something
Where is the someone
That tells me why I live and die

Where do I go
Follow the children
Where do I go
Follow their smiles

Is there an answer
In their sweet faces
That tells me why I live and die

That's from one of the songs on the soundtrack, Where Do I Go? In those words, we see the core of what the left is about. The Children.

But what children, I do not know. Whose children are they looking out for? What future are they trying to preserve and for what babies and future babies? Surely it can't be the Iraqi children. Even though the left protests this war with a fervor not seen since the Vietnam protests, they still have not shown me that they actually care about the people affected by this war. What do they care about, then? They care about their own sense of self satisfaction. They are protesting a war, therefore they are noble and responsible and they throw words out there in the form of slogans and slurs and hey, isn't that enough?

It seems arrogant and self-centered to me that the lefites cannot put aside their distaste for this war just for one minute, in order to do something For The Children. Sending a soccer ball to a kid in Iraq is not going to give the liberal crowd Right Wing Cooties. They won't be infected with a sudden love for George Bush or the desire to vote Republican. They will just be making a child who has nothing to do with American hegemony - the enemy of the left - smile. Instead, the anti-everything people are giving a giant, collective middle finger to the children and parents of Iraq by saying, we don't really care about you. Your happiness is not as important to us as following our ideals. Perhaps if one of those children was on the front page of a magazine with injuries caused by an errant American missile, the lefties would flock to give the kid toys and candy and even money because he would represent all that is evil about American and war. That's how screwed up their priorities are.

Me, I'm going to give some toys because this is not about my feelings or my ideals or my happiness. It's about some really poor kids who are learning how to smile, how to enjoy life like a child should. That's the bottom line. Some people are just too shallow to see that.


You can find all the information you need about the toy drive, including do's and don'ts and the address right here.

There's an update, with plenty of suggestions and ideas in the comments.

Dean posts about a similarity between Chief Wiggles and a long ago toy drive run by another Wiggles.

Chief Wiggles could use some buttons for people to link easily to the project. If you're good with that kind of thing, maybe you could make a few and send them to me or post them here in the comments, as Dean and I are going to put together a page with links, buttons and all the info you need for the toy drive.

UPDATE: Stacy has posted some great buttons in the comments. Feel free to use them, just please save to your own server.

Here's one my sister made:


presented without commentary


September 23, 2003

more on mepham: not the first time

While admistrators and coahes were being subpoenas today, the news came out that Mepham High School was sued in 1995 when a freshman on the JV football team was injured in a hazing incident.

In 1995, Berger said, several older players, some varsity and some junior varsity, grabbed him in the locker room, stripped him, held him upside down, stuck his head in a urinal and flushed.

When he tried to get away, they kicked him with their cleats on and hit him with football helmets, cracking one of his teeth, he said.

Berger and his family sued the district, which settled the case for about $6,000, Berger and school officials said.Four of the players implicated in the attack split Berger's medical costs of about $4,000, Berger said.

While Berger maintains that it was a hazing incident, the school at the time defended the boys charged in the case, saying it was just a case "a dispute among the players."

And what did the district learn from that lawsuit? Apparently, nothing.

[Previous posts on this issue here, here, here and here]

why metafilter pisses me off

Couldn't retire to the couch without linking this one.

Someone does a good thing (more of which I will write about tomorrow) and the MeFites tear it to shreds.

i wish him nothing but the worst fate possible


You've brutally and systematically killed your small daughter.
You've been disbarred.
You've spent 17 years in jail for manslaughter.
And now, you are finally being released from prison. What do you do now?

If you're Joel Steinberg, you get a tv show. Steinberg will be employed by none other than Sidney Biddles Barrows - the Mayflower Madam - and her husband Darnay Hoffman. Hoffman, an attorney, was the lawyer for subway "vigilante" Bernard Goetz. Not suprisingly, one of the first features of Barrows and Hoffman's new show, New York Confidnential, will profile Goetz. Joining the cast of this show in addition to Steinberg will be ODB himself (Ol' Dirty Bastard of Wu Tang Fame), a man incarcerated so many times he uses Rikers Island as his main address, a man who has so many children he lost count - and refuses to pay child support for any of them. What a stellar cast.

So, for those who don't know, who is Joel Steinberg and why am I so infuriated that he has been handed a job as a tv reporter upon his release from prison?

He is a monster.

Joel Steinberg stole infant Lisa from her mother, who thought that Steinberg was an adoption lawyer who had found a good home for her child. Instead, Steinberg kept the baby and relegated her to a life of misery and pain.

Lisa Steinberg was six years old when she was killed by her adoptive father.

Lisa Steinberg was abused and neglected for most of her life.

Joel Steinberg's final act against his daughter was to beat her on the head with a rubber hammer.

And now, after serving not nearly enough time for his crimes, Joel Steinberg has a job on a tv show that highlights the criminals of New York.

Lisa is dead. Lisa's biological mother still grieves for her child.

And Joel Steinberg is a free man with a job.

a storm with no name

In the week proceeding Isabel, we had warnings galore; take in your furniture, buy lots of water, make sure you have batteries, etc. Isabel came and went and when the remnants of her came through, it was barely but a whisper.

Today, however, is a different story. With no warnings ahead of time, we are experiencing driving rain, flash floods, hurricane-strength winds and tornado warnings. I saw three large tree limbs in the street on my way to work.

So, they can predict hurricanes a week in advance, but they can't predict severe thunderstorms and hurricane-like weather the night before it happens?

So what's the difference between a hurricane and what we are experiencing now? A name.

Storm, I dub thee Jezebel.

Just sounds good, that's why.

more on mepham: the snowball effect

[Previous posts on this issue here, here, here and here]

Parents and students at Mepham have twisted the blame once again, and are now chastizing the school district for failing to cooperate with Pennsylvania police.

This is an interesting development, seeing as that most of the parents and students, from the beginning, were failing to cooperate with the school district.

Athletes of other Mepham teams, like track and soccer, are being harrassed by opposing players.

Perhaps if people came forward immediately and the investigation was done in a timely manner, Mepham High School would not be the media event it is now. The media is interested in this for the very reason that parents and students did not cooperate; and now that the school district is being taken to task for the same thing, the story only gets bigger and develops a wider audience.

The Bellmore community is losing sight of the original crimes; now the story is focusing on who is passing the buck and who is not speaking and who is to blame for the investigation dragging on. As this happens, the three football players who committed the crimes slink slowly into the background, as if they were just a sidebar to the story.

And still, no one talks about the victims. They talk of seasons ruined, of school days distrupted by media, of lost scholarships and the black mark on the town of Bellmore. It's as if the town is the victim, and not the boys who were brutally assualted by their class mates.

Paul Vitello of Newsday is doing a good job covering the more alarming aspects of this story, namely how a breakdown in communication - not to mention a breakdown in the morals of right and wrong - led to a bungling investigation that has left a laundry list of blame a mile long.

This is only going to get uglier; the more shit that hits the fan, the deeper the circle of silence will go.

And still, not one person quoted in any story, not one student or parent or administrator is talking about how this will affect the victims. They only talk of how it will affect them. That's a pretty telling fact.

i'm livin' on the air in cincinnati

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

Gordon Jump, aka "Big Guy" Carlson, aka The Maytag Man, dies at the age of 71.

today's required linkage

For those who are interested in sending toys to Iraq via Chief Wiggles, all the information is listed here.

Spread the word, link the Chief.

September 22, 2003

leave the gun, take the zeppoles

You people are insane. Were you not listening?

A zeppole is NOT a fritter, a donut hole, a funnel cake, a biegnet, Malasadas or elephant ears. Zeppoles are different than all those things. They are better. They are made with the blood of old Italian grandmothers and sprinkled with the ashes of Don Corleone.

Ok maybe not. But they may be similar to the above mentioned items. However they are not those items. Remember the zeppole fairie. She has a mean streak, so don't be surprised to find a miniature horse's head under your blankets tonight if you argue with me about this.

hazing story, part five

DA Implores Witnesses to Mepham Abuse to Come Forward

It's a sad state of affairs when witnesses to abuse have to be implored to come forward.

"Please do not let a bunch of high school bullies intimidate you into letting extremely serious crimes go unpunished," said Mark Zimmer, district attorney in Wayne County, Pa., whose jurisdiction includes the camp where the alleged attacks took place.

I wonder, though, who the witnesses are more afraid of; the bullies on the football team or their parents.

It's nto a stretch to think that some of these parents are telling their kids to keep quiet. Reputations to keep, scholarships to think of and all that.

Zimmer, in a news conference at the county courthouse in Honesdale, said he has been frustrated by the lack of cooperation from witnesses and the reluctance of Bellmore-Merrick school officials to turn over their information on the alleged attacks without a subpoena. School officials have said they were acting upon the advice of their lawyer.

So the school, in all the past articles on the subject, claims to be horrified and outraged at what went on at the football camp, but now they are holding back on cooperating. The bare truth strikes fear into the hearts of adminstrators.

Zimmer said police have interviewed some witnesses, but would not say how many. With more cooperation, he said, "I think I would be a lot closer to telling you that the investigation would be completed at the very least."

Once again we are left to wonder just who is being protected here. It's certainly not the victims; if anyone cared about them at all, the interviews with police would have been done immediately. Surely witnesses, parents and people who had just heard rumors would be swarming outside the door of the Pennsylvania police if anyone had taken the victims into account.

But no, we have a community shrouded in silence, upstanding citizens of suburbia forming a tight circle in order to protect criminals. And why? Because, as Zimmer says:

"all the information available to make me comfortable that ... the crimes charged have been committed and ... that I can convict."

Just imagine those poor football players having criminal charges lodged against them. Imagine them in court. Imagine them being tried and convicted. Good-bye scholarship. Good-bye Big Ten college. Good-bye to daddy's dreams of placing his son's football trophies on the mantle. What middle class, suburban, white collar family wants to hang an arrest warrant in a frame next to the Athlete of the Year award?

There is at least one sane parent:

"I've put my neck out and now I need other people to step up," said the woman, who did not want to be identified. "I can't understand any reason for someone not to cooperate. The police are not looking to arrest or prosecute their children. They're just looking to do the right thing."

Odds are ten to one that she will be an outcast at the next PTA meeting.

Several students interviewed Monday say peer pressure and fear of retribution is what is keeping many players from telling what they know.

"The other football players will be ... if people tell," said one 16-year-old junior. "I'd be afraid ... it could be their friends going to jail."

Ah, the old climate of fear. Yea, these players must be some real upstanding scholars and athletes. Real pride of the parents.

Among the charges the three accused players could face are a slew of first-degree felonies, including involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated assault and kidnapping, Zimmer said. The prosecutor is also considering lesser charges, including unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and conspiracy.

All those charges, all those heinous crimes, and no one wants to come forward and talk about it to the police. Not even the parents. Football scholarships should be the least of their worries now. If anyone from that school grows a pair of balls, those kids will be watching college football from the rec room of a county jail instead of the sidelines.

Please someone, do the right thing. You will live with your conscience so much easier in the years to come.

variations on a theme

Sluggy Freelance: What's in god's name is a zeppole?


it's that time again

Aww, the kiddies at Indymedia are becoming obsessed with me. It seems that every time there's a troll running around the IMC sites stating right-of-center views, they assume it's me.

''ANTI-SPAM'' exposed as ''MICHELLE''

The cop who has been spamming IMC in an effort to suppress the use of the word "zionazi" exposed him/herself ... by using the word zionazi in a post at a wingnut site announcing he/she was going to troll IMC exactly at the beginning of the current spam campaign against the word "zionazi" by "anti-spam"

They once thought me to be a right-winger named Blah. I've also been accused of being various other people who post on the IMCs under psuedonyms. The only problem is, I generally don't comment on Indymedia because I discovered that all my comments get deleted eventually. What's the point?

"Anti-spam's" latest attack on indy began shortly after the post below by michelle on a wingnut website September 16th! Compare the focus on "zionazi" by both michelle (below) AND anti-spam (above), who are obviously the same person.

He is referring to this post, when I used the term zionazi.

Hey, jackass - I used the term zionazi because one of your IMC faithful bestowed that description upon me a while ago.

Because michelle/anti-spam is actively involved in sowing confusion here and shutting down IMC (see the rest of her website which defines IMC as "enemy", e.g. the image http://asmallvictory.net/archives/im_enemy.gif and plenty of anti-imc text in which he/she is self-described as a zionazi,

Again, not self described. Nor have I ever made a comment on any IMC site calling myself anti-spam. I am not afraid to use my own name, my own IP (not a proxy). Hell, I even once posted where I would be having dinner one evening last month so all you IMC freaks could come and confront me face to face. Of course, no one showed. I am not afraid of any of you.

...any posts exposing the nature and range of his/her activities are quite relevant, especially when he/she is presently engaged in an orchestrated covert attack with her pals in "Little Green Footballs" to suppress the perfectly legitimate term "zionazi" which led (for example) to Google News suppressing SF-IMC.

Well, I had no idea I was engaged in anything with Charles, though I would not be opposed to joining up with Charles in showing all of you for what you really are - anti-Semetic terrorist supporters.

Oh, by the way, my name has only one L. If you are going to slander me or call me out or whatever it is you are doing, at least get my name right.

Now, I expect that, unlike Vince of Indymedia, you will not take three months to publicly apologize for spreading false truths about me. Because I know that you guys are all about truth.


come mangiare uno zeppole

Several people have asked, in respose to this post, what a zeppole is. These are zeppoles. Basically, they are clumps of deep fried dough covered with powdered sugar. But there's so much more to them than that.

You know the second you walk into a street fair or carnival if there are zeppoles present. Just wait for the umistakable smell of heavy oil mingled with a teeth-clenching sweetness and follow your nose. Don't be put off by the leaden weight of them or the way they drip with grease. Just eat one. Just one. It will melt in your mouth and you will savor it, delight in it, until it finally hits your stomach in one sodden lump.

If you do come upon these treats at a fair, be sure to go on the rides before you begin eating the zeppoles. Trust me on this one. It's not a pretty site when you witness a grown man, filled to the brim with deep fried dough, walk off of a ride that just spun him around and around and upside down and runs for the nearest garbage pail or curbside and disposes of all those zeppoles right in front of you.

There are many ways to make zeppoles; some people dip them in chocolate or cover them in garlic instead of sugar or fill them with custard. Don't be fooled by these imposters. If that's what you want, just head to the deep-fried Twinkie booth and spend your money there. If you want to taste a true, Italian, tastes-as-if-it-were-made-by-my-gradmother, fried in old, crusty, deep dark brown oil zeppoles, coated with confectioner's sugar that soaks up the fat and grease so that it clings to the roof of your mouth when you take your first bite, then go to an Italian street fair or feast and buy a half dozen or so.

UPDATE: A zeppole is NOT a funnel cake. Zeppoles have been around long before funnel cakes were even a thought. Some anglo-saxon person just decided that they would rip off the Italians and slap a dumb name on their invention and make it into a shape so it looks like a turd. A zeppole is made with the magic of the old world. Every zeppole is officially blessed by the Spirit of Zeppoles, a fairie with long black hair and bushy eyebrows who flits around from fair to pizza parlor to feast, sprinkling her fairie zeppole dust onto every fried piece of dough that bears her name.


If you are daring and want to try your hand at zeppole making, I've included the original recipe below:

Ingredients :
2 c. flour
1 pkg. yeast (dissolved in 1 c. hot water)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preparation :
Mix into a soft batter. Let rise for 2 hours. Fry in deep oil.
Dust with confectioner's sugar. Eat. Complain about a stomach ache. Take some Pepto-Bismol. Eat some more.


perhaps there will be justice

Grand Jury Investigating Mepham Abuse

Wayne County District Attorney Mark R. Zimmer said state police and the grand jury are investigating whether members of the Mepham High School football team in Bellmore, N.Y., sodomized younger players with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls during a five-day trip to the Camp Wayne for Girls in Preston Park, Pa.

Finally, some talk about criminal charges.

the black dots of irony

Today is the day that Adbusters' Unbrand America tv spot finally airs.

The basic premise of the spot, and of AdBusters in general is this: America is made up of evil corporate empires and the equally evil consumers who devour products made by these satanic corporate entities.

They want you to take back your country. Not rely on capitalism, consumerism, corporatism.

So what do they do? They pay good money for a tv spot to air on a corporate-owned television conglomerate, giving them dollars to spend on various nefarious activities, like making more products and more news shows and paying exorbitant salaries to their CEOs.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this action is. Do the people of AdBusters, the people who sport their black spot logo and the people who support this type of action realize that capitalism and corporatism and the buying and making of goods is what keeps America going?

How exactly is it they want us to take our country back? Give up money and goods? Knock down the strip malls and put up a paradise?

Well the AdBusters gangs has an idea. Not only will they air their 30 second, million dollar tv spot on CNN, they will then encourage of all their followers to go stick black dot stickers on everything they can find that represents capitalism;on store windows and newspaper boxes, on gas pumps and supermarket shelves. Open a magazine or newspaper - it's there. It's on TV.

This is the mark of the people who don't approve of Bush's plan to control the world, who don't want countries "liberated" without UN backing, who can't stand anymore neo-con bravado shoved down their throats.

This is the mark of the people who want the Kyoto Protocol for the environment, who want the International Criminal Court for greater justice, who want a world where all nations, including the U.S.A., are free of weapons of mass destruction, and who to take their country back.

Wait just a minute. Now I’m really confused. I thought this was about Unbranding America. But no, upon further view, it’s just another We Hate George Bush rally round the flagpole of mixed causes.

Well, what do you expect from a group who thinks wearing brand names are akin to carving a 666 on your head, yet they go ahead and market their own Black Dot sneakers, not realizing that they have just “branded’ their own brand of a product.

So we have anti-Americanism, anti-war, anti-capitalism, anti-corporatism, anti-branding, anti-Bush, anti-liberation all rolled into one big, powerful cause, represented by having its followers stick a black dot on gas pumps and store windows and by marketing their own brand of sneaker.

Irony check, anyone?

So I asked my sister Lisa to take the black dots from AdBusters and make a few modified versions. Of course, she came through with flying colors. Feel free to make your own and send them over, or post them here. I'll be printing mine out to carry around with me so I can stick them over any AdBuster black dots I see in my neighborhood.

monday psa

Kelley's Sac gets bigger every week.

Where is the outcry on behalf of the victims?

[Third in a series on the football "hazing" incident. Parts I and II here and here]

Newsday's Paul Vitello heads to the pizza shop on the corner near Mepham High School, which is home to the sodomizing football players.

He first encounters the pizza man himself, who waxes nostaligically about his football playing past:

"You only get one shot," said Louis Merando, the owner of Luigi's, who calls himself pizza man, "and I'm thinking how I would have felt if they had taken that one shot away from me."

Why is it that when interviewed about a current news event, most people - instead of talking about the event, per se - will respond with only how they would feel if they were in that situation. Pizza Man makes no reference to the fact that no one on his football team had a pine cone stuffed where it doesn't belong. No one on his football team, 45 years ago, was raped.

You only get one shot is a fallacy. All three kids who participated in the rape of their teammates, and all the players and students who knew of the incident, knew who the perpertrators were and didn't report any of it, they will, sadly, get another shot.

They'll still play football and probably succeed at it. There is no shortage of colleges and universities around the country who wouldn't hesitate to recruit a kid who has been tainted by the accusation of having raped his teammate with a golf ball, provided that kid looks like The Next Big Thing.

The other kids involved will go on with their lives and eventually the hazing incident will become just a footnote to their high school years; they will probably scribble cryptic notes about it in each other's yearbooks come graduation time. They will graduate, go to college, get jobs and, with any luck, come to that point in their adult lives when they look back upon what they were part of and begin to live with the guilt and shame that should be theirs right now.

Like this young man, for instance, who hopefully will have these words come back to haunt him some day:

"It's atrocious what happened in camp. I'm not saying it wasn't," said the former captain of wrestling. "But you can't take football away from the entire team. The football captain, the kid on the front page of Newsday [Friday] with his hands up in the air - the nicest kid you ever want to meet - he's beside himself. I mean, my God. He's captain of the football team! Do you know what that means? It's like being class president!"

Such a nice kid. So nice, in fact, that he refuses to tell the truth about his team mates, the ones who are the real victims in this horrid scenario. How the above quoted student gushes over the football captain is, quite frankly, sickening. I would like to take that boy by the collar, shake him around a bit and say "My god. Rape. Sodomy. Do you know what that means? It's like being scarred for life!"

And lest anyone think I am putting too much emphasis on the victims of what was, according to some, just a school hazing, let me say that the victims are being raped again and again, metaphorically speaking, every time one of these idiots opens their mouths to protest the treatment the football team is getting. How must these young boys feel, knowing that, instead of students marching out of school to demand the criminals face charges, to demand accountability from their class mates, the students instead are marching in support of those responsible for their rape? They are bemoaning the loss of their football season, the loss of possible scholarships, and no one is even talking about the victims. No one.

Pizza Man says: "If they'd done that to me, I'd never have my memories." He's talking about cancelling the football season. And what if they raped you, Pizza Man? What if they sodomized you in front of the whole team and no one reported it and you had to get surgery to repair the damage and not one person in the school, not any of the parents even, stood up for you but instead supported the team? What kind of memories would you have then? Would you even want them?

Here's a charming quote from a player: "Some people are just gay!" said one boy who claimed to be a member of the football team, but who wouldn't give his name when approached outside the school Friday. "They got caught doing [things], and now we all have to pay for it!"

Vitello then tried to interview two girls coming out of a 7-11 by the school:

We're not allowed to talk," said one.
Who won't allow you to talk? she was asked.
"The ..." she started to say.
"Shut up!" said a friend, pulling her away.

The teachers? The football team? The parents? Either way, the silence is damning.

And still, no one talks about the victims.

[I am having half a mind to pose as a reporter and cover this story myself, if just to put myself at ease a bit by finding students and/or parents who actually feel sorry for the victims, not the criminals. I just may....]

September 21, 2003

fair thee well

A street fair: Corvettes lined up, gleaming in the midday sun; smiling faces, crying babies, yelling mothers, screams of delight; military marchers, uniformed guards, army-green vehicles; wares and crafts, yards of lace and country store boutique charm, wooden signposts, sliced up beer cans made to fly; the smell of zeppoles and sausage and peppers, the twirl of the cotton candy machine, tart, fresh lemonade, animals roasting on an open fire; magic shows and poodles too large to be real, swords of balloons, glad handing clowns; box cars that twirl in the air, seats that do a hurly-burly in the sky; green-hued faces and dizzying heights, the rush of speed; crowded walks and baby strollers, bicycles and skateboards and scooters that weave through the throng; giant slides and funny mirrors that make you look tall or short or stretched to the limits, ice cream mustaches and real egg creams - the Brooklyn kind; money turned over and turned over again, coins exchanged, tickets given, gasps of parents with thinning wallets and $2.50 Snapples going to waste, laying in gutter in the form of vomit; teenage girls with bad fashion sense, young boys with earrings and tattoos and mullets hanging around the Corvettes; babies asleep in strollers, worn out, exhausted, much like the adults that push them towards the parking lot; another fair come and gone. Fall must be here.

by the way

Saw Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Loved it.

Best line: Are you a Mexican or a Mexican't?

off to thee faire

Light blogging again today - we are headed out to the Bellmore Family Street Festival - rides, games, crafts, Bobby Nystrom and a beautiful fall-like day.

I wonder if they will have a booth where the Mepham High School football team demonstrates the various means of raping your teammates?

That was uncalled for, I know.

i might be wrong

radiohead.jpgThis is a piece of art from a fifth grader who was forced to listen to Radiohead as part of a class experiment. My interpretation of this artwork is that the poor child wanted to kill himself after being made to listen to Hail to the Thief and Kid A. Fifth graders, to the best of my knowledge (and I own such a child so I should know) are more likely to be impressed by punk rock and rap.

Ok, so the object of this lesson was not to impress the kiddies, but to get their impression. That said, I think listening to OK Computer in its entirety would have been a better idea. Kid A and Thief are above the levels of what a fifth grade brain can handle. The subtleties and undertones of both albums are barely palatable for adults; a cursory listen by a ten year old would result in just what the above picture demonstrates: a please kill me now before I go insane line of thinking.

To be fair, my own ten year old does like the latest Radiohead; to be also honest about it, it's because he likes the videos. However, given OK Computer and The Bends to listen to, he takes to them like a bee to honey; devours them, in fact and wonders how it is possible that this is the same band who came up with packt like sardines in a crushd tin box, a song which made my sensitive son cover his ears in pretend agony.

I wonder how the classroom experiment would have turned out had they listened to only The Bends or only OK Computer. Perhaps the poor children would not have been made to suffer, like poor Stephanya, who obviously had her little brain muddled and was left feeling despondent and confused. Or Adam, who was left feeling as if he had been haunted by ghosts and a cactus.

The complexities of OK Computer are rich and magnificent, yet they are understandable and reachable to a ten year old, while Hail to the Thief would make any student feel like little Hannah, who was obviously trying to sell her soul to Satan in exchange for his making the music stop.

Which leads me to believe that this was not really a class expirement in thought and art at all, but a punishment for some transgression the entire class had participated in, namely having the unfortunate experience of ending up with a teacher who has found new and improved ways to torture her young charges.

Clearly, this is a sadistic form of abuse and this teacher should be fired immediately, or at least made to write a thesis on how Radiohead has gone from a powerful, thought-provoking band to a parody of a parody of Thom Yorke.

three is a magic number

Yes it is.


Three is a magic number.
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.
The past and the present and the future,
Faith and hope and charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three.
That's a magic number.

It takes three legs to make a tri-pod or to make a table stand.
It takes three wheels to make a ve-hicle called a tricycle.
Every triangle has three corners,
Every triangle has three sides,
No more, no less.
You don't have to guess.
When it's three you can see it's a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family.
That's a magic number.

3, 6, 9... 12, 15, 18... 21, 24, 27... 30.
3, 6, 9... 12, 15, 18... 21, 24, 27... 30.

}} {Multiply backwards from three times ten.}

Three time ten is... }} 30
Three times nine is... }} 27
Three times eight is... }} 24
Three times seven is... }} 21
Three times six is 18, three times five is 15
Three times four is twelve
And three times three is nine and three times two is six.
And three times one is three of course.

}} {Now take the pattern once more.}
}} {Three!}
3, 6, 9.
}} {Twelve.}
12, 15, 18.
}} {Twenty-one.}
21, 24, 27... 30.

}} {Now multiply from 10 backwards.}

Three times ten is... }} 30
Three times nine is 27
Three times eight is... }} 24
Three times seven is... }} 21
Three times six is 18, three times five is 15,
Three times four is twelve
And three times three is nine and three times two is six.
And three times one... {What is it?}
}} {Three!}
{Yeah} That's a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family.
That's a magic number.

September 20, 2003

research librarian for the deranged

Some people arrive her from Google or whatever other inferior search engine they may be using and they read the post they happen upon and assume that I am here for their benefit, like a retarded library clerk just waiting to answer their semi-coherent questions about constpiation, the Middle East and how to make wine.

I get requests for help with homework and term papers. I get people who want to know where they can find feety pajamas for adults. I get people wanting to know if The Venture Brothers will be back on Adult Swim or if Ted Rall ever dated a girl in high school named Marianne who was flat-chested but rich.

I'm sure all these people are waiting patiently for an answer to their questions. Unfortunately, they are not going to get them. I am not homework buddy and I am not privy to information about Cartoon Network scheduling and I don't want to know about your Depends fetish or your quest for pajamas.

Well, far it be it from me to be cold and uncaring all of the time. Maybe we should help this one guy out. I know someone must know the answer to the burning question:

Can someone please inform me of the extent to which Mohammed's love of
prepubescent children resulted in anal trauma?

I'm assuming they mean Mohammed's anal trauma, but who knows. This is probably the same guy who wanted to know if I could help him with a research paper on the sexual preferences of French prositutes in the 1800's, broken down by their religion.

and you may ask yourself

Why the light blogging this weekend?

And I would say, well the ex has decided that the kids no longer need to come to his house every weekend if they don't want to and well, they don't want to.

So I've been spending quasi-quality weekend time with the kids, which is something of a rarity and which looks to become more common place. And that's a good thing, and something I've been looking forward to for four years.

So there's the explanation. I have some blogging and email to catch up on and all will go back to its normal alignment again, which is to say, I've got to get posting before I get withdrawal symptoms.

I can stop anytime I want to, though.

death becomes us

I went to a wake last night. As wakes go, it was the kind where the deceased was expected to be deceased at any moment now, and where people are almost relieved that the deceased has "gone on to a better place." There's laughter and friends seeing old friends for the first time in a long time and lots of backslapping and people huddling outside smoking and telling stories. You go up to the family of the deceased and kiss their cheeks and say you're sorry and they smile at you like it's so damn good to see you, even if this is a funeral parlor and your mother's very dead body is on display in the front of the room. It's almost like a "meet and greet" after a rock show, but with a lot of older people in suit jackets and khakis. And the aforementioned dead body. Which, one would guess, you could find backstage at some concerts.

I'm well versed in the way of wakes; I've been to - I would guess - more than 200 or so in my lifetime. Italians are very big on all things death and even the little kiddies are dragged to funeral homes, so they can sit and be petulant while relatives try to kiss their cheeks or maybe they just make a scene by peering into the coffin and saying something like "ewww, grandma's skin feels funny!"

I've been to wakes that are somber and mournful, where the family is inconsolable and the tears flow freely. I've been to wakes (my grandmother's comes to mind) where people (brother-in-law specifically) set up a mini bar outside in the back of their Explorer and everyone gets drunk and have to be told to be quiet and respectful at least a dozen times. I've been to wakes of young and old, of relatives and friends, of strangers who were family members of co-workers and once, to the wrong wake, which was in the room next to the wake I was supposed to be attending.

All these wakes had one thing in common, and that would be - you guessed it - the dead body.

You sit in this room, with the folding chairs set out as if you were at an AA meeting, and when you sit down you face the front of the room and there on display, like Lenin forever preserved, is the prone body of the person you are there to mourn. They often look nothing like what they did in life; too much make-up, or the wrong shade of lipstick or a maybe wearing a tweed suit that they wouldn't have been caught dead in except now, they are just that.

This seems wrong to me on so many levels. Where did this tradition of honoring the dead by staring at their corpse? Does anyone besides me think it's just a little creepy to be gathering around a body that's been drained of its blood and had makeup carefully applied and was dressed up to be put on display?

Well I do, and I'll have none of that. This weblog is sort of public record, right? So I will go on record right now (are you listening, sisters of mine?) as saying if, when I die, my family members deem it necessary to display my corpse to my friends and family, I will see to it that I get an express pass from whoever runs the afterlife giving me permission to haunt you all forever. I will come to you in the middle of the night and sing really bad songs in your ears. I will drain remove the distributor cap from your car and drink milk out of the carton in your fridge and yes, I will make sure that spitback gets in it. I will fast forward all of your video tapes and replace all your CDs with the Best of Kenny G. Trust me, you do not want to be haunted by me.

So, here is what you will do when I die: You will dispose of my body immediately by burning it. Well, you will have it done professionaly and by that I don't mean Uncle Vinny from Staten Island will roll my corpse in a carpet and throw some gasoline on it. I want to be cremated.

Then, you will rent a hall or something to that effect and you will have a nice little memorial service for me, which will consist of some food and some drinks and a little Nick Cave played in the background. You will read past entries from this weblog, especially the ones where I talk about relatives I don't like. And when all the drunken cousins leave, and the last aunt has wrapped up the leftover food in a napkin to take home with her, you will all (all meaning immediate family, not the whole lot of you) get in a car and drive my ashes (stored in a simple Tupperware(tm) container (not to be confused with TupperWar(tm)) and you will dispose of my ashes in the proper manner.

Scatter them over Yankee Stadium. Or Lambeau Field. Or just dump them down the toilet bowl. Just don't try to smoke them, ok?

now that's what i call a rivalry

A Los Angeles Dodgers fan was shot and killed by a San Francisco Giants fan following a dispute in the parking lot after a game, police said.

This gives me an idea.

Mike Hersh would like to wager with me on whether the Yankees or the Red Sox win the pennant. We just can't seem to come to an agreeable payoff.

So, I say the winner gets to shoot the loser outside of the winning team's stadium at high noon.

No? Wuss.

bloggers blowin' in the wind

Quite of few members of the Axis of Isabel make the news in Knoxville.

via OFJ

Oooh, go look at the pictures Alan snapped from high above Isabel.

the blame game

[Previous discussion on this story here]

Mepham: Athlete-Suspect Had History of Harassment

One of the Mepham High School football players accused of sexually assaulting younger teammates during a football camp was warned by the principal and coach before the trip not to harass other players, school officials and a parent said Friday.

Unfortunately, this will give plenty of opportunity for people to blame the school instead of the kids who actually performed the "hazing" and the kids who watched and said nothing.

Let's look at the factors here:

  • One of the younger players was threatened before the trip actually took place. The parents of that boy told the principal about the threat.

  • One of the attackers had previous discipline problems in school and had been suspended more than once.

  • A parent complained in July that the older kids on the team were verbally abusing the younger players.

  • School administrators met with one of the accused players before the camp trip, telling him he better behave; this indicates prior knowledge of the kid's behavior problems.

We can conclude from this that the school is partly to blame for some of what went on. I question the school's policy of actually letting this kid participate in the sports program when he has been suspended before and was obviously a discipline problem. I also fault the school for not addressing the whole team and parents at a meeting before the camp was to take place on the issues of expected behavior and to give guidelines as to what would happen should the expected behavior not be adhered to.

However, this does not let anyone else off the hook and I fear that the lawsuits will start flying now, accusing the school of allowing the camp to take place in an atmosphere rife with fear and abusive behavior.

Several players witnessed the alleged attacks and others have said word of them spread quickly through the camp, although no one told the coaches.

"They're trying to blame the kids," another parent said, "and they were afraid because these kids were still walking around in school."

See? Immediately the blame shifts. The kids aren't to blame, the school is!

The fault for this whole episode begins with the parents of the accused players, for raising kids who think that they have the right to do this to people; the attackers themselves; the kids who watched and said nothing; the kids who found out later, knowing who the attackers were, and still said nothing; and the school for allowing a serious discipline problem to go unchecked and permitting this previously suspended football player to go on a school-sanctioned trip.

Just watch. The next few articles about this incident will center totally around the school's guilt in the matter. It will mention lawsuits, court injuctions to get the football season back and there will be at least one parent quoted as saying "boys will be boys."

Said one parent: "There were a lot of people involved in the intimidation besides the perpetrators." Absolutely, and they should all be held accountable. But the perpetrators, once enough people come forward to identify them, should be held on criminal charges and made to face the legal consequences that come with raping someone. Playing football should be the least of their worries right now.

They would do best to remember that three New York City police officers went to jail for doing the very same thing.

With all the various aspects and scenarios of this incident, I'm left with one recurring thought: How does a kid get to that point where he thinks that he has the right to do something like this? How was he raised, and what leads him to believe that raping a school mate with various objects is just hazing or playing around? How much are the parents to blame here?

I have no answers, I don't suspect anyone will. It's just mind boggling.

September 19, 2003

today's must read: chief wiggles

Chief Wiggles has an excellent post about what's really going on in Iraq. It's the kind of story the big media rarely reports.

Look towards the end of the post for an idea put forth by a reader in response to Chief Wiggle's tale of an Iraqi child: Send toys to Iraq.

Let's put our money where our mouths are. We talk of wanting to help the people of Iraq; now is our chance to really do something about it.

avast, ahoy and all that

Mark Morford made it through a whole column without once referring to George Bush.

I swear.

Meanwhile, I'm still feelin' miserable and I haven't moved much from t'couch today. David says I can blame it on Isabel; somethin' about air presaye. I feel like I have been madet'walk t'gangplank into a seao'pollen.

yarrr, i be busy, mateys

But I do have time to post some Talk Like A Pirate Day related lyrics.

Rated ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR for sex and violence. We pirates love that stuff.

Sex Pistols - Friggin in the Riggin

It was on the good ship Venus
By Christ, ya shoulda seen us
The figurehead was a whore in bed
And the mast, a mammoth penis

The captain of this lugger
He was a dirty bugger
He wasn't fit to shovel shit
From one place to another

Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
There was fuck all else to do

The captain's name was Morgan
By Christ, he was a gorgon
Ten times a day he'd stop and play
With his fuckin' organ

The first mate's name was Cooper
By Christ he was a trooper.
He jerked and jerked until he worked
Himself into a stupor


The second mate was Andy
By Christ, he had a dandy
Till they crushed his cock on a jagged rock
For cumming in the brandy

The cabin boy was Flipper
He was a fuckin' nigger
He stuffed his ass with broken glass
And circumcised the skipper


The Captain's wife was Mabel
To fuck she was not able
So the dirty shits, they nailed her tits
Across the barroom table

The Captain had a daughter
Who fell in deep sea water
And by her squeals we knew the eels
Had found 'er sexual quarters

Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
Friggin' in the riggin'
There was fuck all else to do

don't talk like these pirates

[I suppose this story is appropriate for today as it has to do with a football team called The Pirates]

Here's the background on this story:

Several high school football players sodomize two younger teammates while at football camp this summer. The molested boys are, of course, threatened with violence if they tell anyone. Quite a few team members witness the sodomizing (administered with broomsticks, golf balls and pine cones) or hear about it soon after it happens.

The attacks are not found out about until one of the molested boys requires surgery to repair the damage done to him and he confesses the whole sordid scenario to his mother.

No one wants to talk about it. Parents are silent. Students are silent.

The media gets a hold of the story and all hell breaks loose. Adults become defensive. School officials feign horror. The students of the school become divided, with some saying - remaining anonymous in interviews - that the participants should be expelled, while the cheerleaders and football players rally 'round the molesters.

The school board holds a meeting and votes unanimously to cancel the football season.

And that leads us up to two days ago, when an impromptu protest was held at the school by students. Kids walked out of class and marched on to the football field, screaming out cheers in some warped version of a pep rally.

Oh, it wasn't all the kids. It was just the football players, the cheerleaders and a few stragglers who thought it was a good way to get out of class.

In addition to the cancellation of the season, the three teens accused of doing the sodomozing have been suspended from school.

So, why cancel the whole season? Why punish the whole team? At least that's what many of the protesters were asking.

There's a good answer for that. It's because the whole team is to blame. If you witness a crime or know about a crime that has happened and you do nothing about it, your are as guilty as the perpetrators of the crime - if not in the eyes of the law, then in the eyes of any decent human being.

There was a wall of silence built around the guilty players. No one would speak up, no one would speak out. Finally, the names of the three were discovered. But no one is confessing to actually being there or knowing about it, even though one would assume that all of the senior members of the team had knowledge of the event, considering it was a hazing.

The students who protested the decision of the school board were more or less supporting the criminal activity of several of their teammates. By rallying around the team, they rally around the acceptance of hazing, the victimization of the JV players, the macho, power-hungry attitudes of the kids present during the sodomy and the zipped mouth silence that prevailed in the aftermath.

The loud protestations of those who are fuming at the school board makes you wonder who they think the victims of this whole thing are? Do they honestly think they have been wronged? What kind of homes do these people grow up in that they have the audacity and the smugness to prance around like they have been wronged when there are three boys - school mates of theirs - who have been basically raped by their fellow students?

Who is holding a rally for the real victims? Who is protesting against the rite of hazing and the players who caused such great harm to others? No one. And you know why? Because the ones who know who the real victims are, the ones who right now feel shame at being a part of this school, the ones who look in disgust as the cheerleaders and jocks run around on the football field protesting a just decision, they are afraid. And so they are silent.

It's just a testament to the culture of sports that is pervasive in high schools all across the states. Said the father of one football players:

"These kids have been practicing since July. We spent money for camp and for equipment and now what happens? All they want to do is play."

Money? Is that what this parent is worried about? What about the kids who are probably scarred for life over this?

Sitting at the same bar, another customer could barely contain his anger. "It [stinks]," he bellowed, not wanting to give his name because his son plans to try out for the football team next year. "There's no way you should take football away from all the kids. The other kids should not be penalized."

Of course they should. They knew. They didn't say anything.

Watch this video of the protests. The parents of every single one of those boys and girls should be ashamed. Maybe when criminal charges are finally filed, these self-centered, spoiled brats who are acting like this is all a big joy ride to notoriety will wise up and realize the gravity of the situation. Maybe not:

"We're just trying to show our unity," said Candace DeFina, who watched from the bleachers. "We want everybody to know that we're going to stick together, that we're going to be a team."

"We're upset. This has been our dream since were freshmen. I guess dreams aren't supposed to be sometimes."

Do I need to tell you why those statements make me sick?

Who's sticking up for the victims?

two problems, one solution

The industrial band Hell on Earth wants to stage a live suicide during one of its concerts in Florida. Unfortunately, "the St. Petersburg police the does not condone public displays of suicide."

Over on the other side of the world, we have Arafat, who is just dying to make himself a martyr and claims he will commit suicide rather than be expelled from his makeshift castle and kingdom.

Here, we have a classic peanut butter/chocolate situation.

Send Hell on Earth over to Arafat's compound and let them stage the concert there, with Arafat as the show-stopping suicide victim.

Hey, you got your Arafat in my rock show! Hey, you got your rock show in my suicide! [light bulb goes off] Wow! Why not combine two great things in one?!?

Yes, that's how great ideas are born. I'd even take up a collection to charter a plane to fly the band over there.

everyone knows it's windy

Was Isabel more hype than substance? Yes, there are millions without power right now and some states on the Eastern seaboard are experiencing flooding, but the way this storm was presented for the last week (Axis of Isabel postings notwithstanding), you would have thought Armageddon was approaching. At least, that's what Washington would have you believe, as they closed down yesterday and today, which looks to be a gorgeous, if windy, morning.

There was a death attributed to Isabel on Long Island, but I am going to correct those reports and attribute the death to stupidity. When you are warned that the waters of the ocean are dangerous, you don't tempt fate and go bodysurfing.

The aftermath of Isabel on Long Island is this: an incredibly picturesque sky.

Most of the clouds are huge and white and rise from the ground like fortresses. Black and gray wisps of thinner clouds move in front of them like ghosts. They are speeding through the sky on a mission; I've never seen clouds move so fast. I stared at the sky for a while as if I was watching a movie. There was one cloud that reminded me of one of the Four Winds from an old fairytale whose name I cannot think of right now. It was all puffed cheeks and fierce strength, looking like he was blowing Isabel straight out of here.

It is still very windy here; the streets are littered with tree parts large and small.. In fact, it looks very much like a great forest threw up. The traffic lights are still swinging and the light poles are bouncing up and down. I would guess that the gusts are ranging from 30-40 mph and when the wind isn't blowing you can tell that it's going to be very humid once Izzy blows her last strands out of here.

I hope we hear from all the Axis members soon, especially Kevin, who was right in the direct path of the storm.


[Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day]

Isabel came in last night with strong winds and poundin' rain. She was a mighty tropical storm, and rages still. There be leaves and branches scattered along t'streets. We be very lucky t'have escaped t'wrath that t'lower states felt. I'm aye it's because Isabel feared me that she strayed so far westo'us. [English to Pirate translator]

Pirate matching game
The legend of Blackbeard
A pirate's blog
Pirate lingo
Find your pirate name

September 18, 2003

a day in the life: Worst.Post.Ever.

Man, you don't blog for a while during a hurricane warning and you get a hundred emails asking if you lost your power.

Well, if I lost my power, I wouldn't be able to read your email, would I?

No, the only thing I've lost is the will to live.

Yes, that was hyperbole. But let's run down the second half of my day, ok?

1 pm: Get major sinus headache.
1:15: Start to feel the usual sinus/allergy related mouth pain from clenching my teeth.
1:30 p.m. Leave work early (note to boss: I meant to leave you a note and forgot).
2pm: Get home, pass out on couch.
2:45 pm: Get woken up by sister screaming at me that I promised to go to the gym with her.
3:00 Steal a Zertec D from sister, hoping it will make the allergies go away, and take the toothache with it.
3:10 Begin workout.
3:30: Start seeing black spots in front of eyes, feel suddenly lightheaded and maybe a little bit stoned.
3:31: Realize that perhaps I should have asked my doctor before I mixed a Zertec D with Paxil, knowing my sordid history with medication.
5:30 Home again, tooth is throbbing. Do not call dentist. Instead, ask bloggers what to do for toothache, knowing full well what they will say.
5:45: Drown tooth in Chivas Regal.
6:00: Other teeth begin to ache and I realize it's not a toothache at all, but my sinuses.
6:15: Drown all the other teeth in a deadly combination of Chivas Regal and Anbesol.
6:30: Get back on couch. Husband is watching Bob Ross paint mountains and clouds. As I drift into unconciousness, I have a waking dream that Bob Ross is talking about sex.
6:31: Become fully awake and appear horrified at the thought of Bob Ross engaging in sexual activities with paintbrushes.

7:00: Try to convince kids that it's really 10pm and they have to go to bed. Give up and decide to just ignore them for the rest of the evening.
7:10: Stare at Weather Channel.
7:30: Stare at Weather Channel.
7:35: Talk to Alan on phone and decide against telling him that there's something really wrong with him if he's going to hook up the laptop to the dial-up so he can blog while his power is out.
8:00: Stare at Weather Channel.
8:30: Go through emails, look at emailed links relating to zionism, 9/11, Arafat, and Wesley Clark and become completely mystified by words that have more than three letters. Get bedspins even though I'm not in bed.
8:40: Look at weather reports and keep reading Isabel as Israel. Hilarity ensues.
9:01: Blog about my day. Take another Chivas/Anbesol cocktail. Forego the Zertec.
9:02: Curse. A lot. Plead with Satan for him to take the pain in exchange for my soul. Satan laughs and tells me that I have no soul.
9:04: Realize how futile it would be to try to post anything serious tonight. Listen to the wind roaring outside. Beg for mercy. Apologize for this post.

psa for Axis of Isabel

WVEC has started an Isabel weblog and they want you to submit your pictures and stories.

Hey, looks like this new-fangled weblog thingie is catching on!

potpourri for 500, Alex

CNN was showing some idiot standing out in the hurricane trying to moonwalk. Or maybe that was just the wind blowing him back. He could barely stand up straight and it was obvious that if the wind got any stronger, the guy was going down. I was rooting for Darwin.

WXNation, which says it is America's live weather station, has a weblog. Today's entry has some good Isabel links, including webcams.

A person who stands out in a hurricane just to get on tv is called an idiot. The person who drives right into the heart of the hurricane because it is her duty to bring you the worst scenarios possible is called the Leader of the Axis of Isabel, a/k/a Meryl.

Here on Long Island, the wind is starting to kick into high gear and the skies are a dull, mean looking gray. We've begun with the soundtrack of a tropical storm: banging gates, rolling garbage cans, car alarms and branches falling to the ground. It is a weather symphony.

So yes, I do have things to blog about besides the weather. But you're going to have to wait until I find a home-made cure for this exruciating toothache, which may be part of allergies and sinuses or may just be a good old toothache. I'm looking for gin or rum. Mom said it worked on me when I was a baby.

Coming up later: high school football goons; the myth of zionism and Red Sox bashing.

And Meryl, you need to add Alan to the Axis. He's got some good Isabel blogging going on.

One Fine Jay is also doing some stellar huri-blogging.

DJ's teacher: update

I no longer care what this man's political leanings are; I spoke to him on the phone today about the bully problem and he said the words I wanted to hear:

"I will not tolerate any kind of bullying in my class and I am not one of those teachers that coddles bullies or looks for the deep psychological reasons why a kid would torment another. It's obvious that S. has a problem with everyone, not just your son and if I were you I would be making a big stink over the fact that they put these two kids together again. Oh, and if they ask you about removing DJ from the class, you tell them that I would want S. removed before DJ. And you tell me any little thing that goes on that DJ tells you and I will take care of it immediately. This will NOT go on in my classroom."

Amen and thank you, Mr. G.

Axis of Isabel Roundup

As a member of the Axis of Isabel, I suppose I should be making weather statements and giving tips on a regular basis.

We are under a tropical storm watch here, which makes me a lesser member of the Axis. It also makes me an Axis member who is not in danger of losing her power. At least not until tonight, when winds should gust to around 70mph. I've seen our power lines go down when a bird flaps its wings near them, so I'm thinking we may be in the dark tonight.

So how are the other members doing? Meryl has left her post and headed over to Heidi's house. Windy is blogging up a storm. Hah, a storm. Bill is drinking heavily and probably going through a gallon of hair gel an hour so the wind doesn't ruin his part.

Hey, here's some traffic cams where you can watch Isabel's wrath come down.

Drudge has covered this hurricane with such passion and fervor, I'm thinking the guy has a bit of a fetish. I can almost hear him..underneath the covers...all alone, yelling "You're a bad girl, Isabel. Bad girl! Flood me with your waters, you bitch!" Ok, maybe not. But he is a bit overboard on this.

Bill made up a drink called the Hurricade, which you can get the recipe for here.

I just saw a headline that said "Isabel's eyewall moves over NC" and I thought it said Israel's eyeball moves over NC. Which would have caused far more mass hysteria than a hurricane, though probably not as many flashlight sales.

why everyone should want the yankees to win it all

Ben Maller reports on rumors that Steinbrenner will retire if the Yanks win the World Series this year.

I think this is something all baseball fans can get behind.

By the way, like the Pennant Race Version of ASV? No? Too damn bad.

hell is for telemarketers

Everyone once in a while I get a phone call from someone trying to sell me life insurance. It is my cynical belief that these people aren't really selling life insurance at all, but are just trying to weasel my personal information out of me. Usually I hang up on them. Then I realized that this only keeps them calling back, hoping to perhaps catch me at a vulnerable time, or wear me down with persistence, hoping I'll just give in and listen to them.

I think I got rid of them last night.

The guy goes into his speech about the necessity of extra life insurance, especially during times of drastic weather. Tornadoes and hurricanes and rainstorms, oh my!

So I listen to him a minute because it was better than listening to my kids fight and finally he stops talking. I say:

Well thanks for asking, but I have no use for life insurance.
Why not?
I'm immortal.

[complete silence]

And then I closed the deal by saying "You know, the road to hell is paved with the bodies of frozen telemarketers." [which I ripped off from Good Omens]

He hung up on me. A slimy, phony, cold-calling salesdemon hung up on me.

If he calls back again, I'll just read some Dante to him.


An addendum to the post about DJ and his teacher. This morning he asked another question related to his teacher's musings:

Do you think only cops should be able to have guns?

Hmmm. Could be a verrrry interesting year.

obviously, arnold would be he-man

[click for bigger image] From The Hill:

Which political figure looks most like Skeletor?

I'm definitely going with Maria Shriver, even though she's more of a side attraction in the political game. She really does have that gaunt Skeletor look.

axis of isabel: where's the conspiracies?

[This post brought to you by the Axis of Isabel]

Here's what's really interesting about Hurricane Isabel: It is the one big story in the news that has no dividing line, no conspiracy theories attached to it, no political undertones.

The blackout? Some people claimed that it was caused by terrorists or blamed the Bush administration.

West Nile, Sars or any other rampant disease? Of course, they were introduced to the enivornment by terrorists or, you guess it, the Bush administration.

Look at the other stories; Gilligan and the BBC, the California recall, Wesley Clark, Iraq, Iran, Richard Grasso; all those topics will turn friendly converstations into brutal brawls in which the tin foil hats and fists come flying.

But I have yet to see anyone attribute Isabel to the secret underground cabal of fascists supported by George Bush. In fact, run by George Bush.

Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping for at least some wingnut or moonbat to find a way to link the current White House staff to the high winds and driving rains approaching North Carolina right now.

Come on, where's the Bush's Weather Machine theories? You know, the one that says he created this hurricane in order to take the nation's mind off of Iraq.

Where's the capitalist pig theories? How come no one has claimed that Home Depot and Target have figured out how to harness and control the weather so as to drive up sales in an otherwise slow economy?

I would like to see at least one story relating how The Great Satan is bearing down on us because we are sinful, evil people who masturbate frequently.

Oh, maybe some west coast people can start a feud saying that the east coast people always want all the attention and sympathy and how the news better give them this much attention next time an earthquake strikes.

I am losing my faith in humanity. I thought for sure that I would find at least one story, just one person, going off the rails over Isabel.

You people aren't getting sane on me, are you?

September 17, 2003


I just want to apologize to all the people who emailed or left in the comments new stories for the Voices project since last week.

I just needed to step back and take some time away from it. I'll begin adding more stories again this weekend.

Thanks for your patience, and for sharing your stories.

a whole year of this?

I'm beginning to wonder what goes on in DJ's class during the day. In our nightly "what did you do in school today" discussion, he ended up asking me more questions than I asked him. To wit:

Did you know that Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar?
What do you think of Wesley Clark?
Do you know what a dictatorship is?
What do you think of Wesley Clark?
Could you explain to me about the 2000 election?
What do you think of Wesley Clark?

So, we talked about Clinton, Clark and dictatorships. And I told him, "When you go to school tomorrow tell your teacher that Wesley Clark is a war criminal."

I just like to shake things up a bit. I don't really mean anything by that. Just trying to get a handle on Mr. Teacher's political motivations.

I'm furious with the school again, anyhow. Remember DJ's bully from last year? Guess who's in DJ's class this year? Yes, the bully. And we are having problems again.

Time for a few phone calls.

UPDATE: Jonathan says I should tell DJ to tell his teacher that he doesn't trust Clark's instincts, seeing as that Clark almost started WWIII.

the night the lights went out on Tatooine

Looks like Izzy is going to skirt by us - I hope - but we still have gale warnings and we're inching towards a tropical storm warning.

We're prepared, all our outside stuff is tied down or put away and we've got enough batteries to power an entire fleet of these.

I'm almost hoping for the power to go out. See, we bough two mag lights which, more than just shine a spot of light in front of you, emit a beam of light clear across the room. When the power goes out, we'll cover the heads of the mag lights in colored plastic wrap, turn them on and have lightsaber fights. I figure if the beams are powerful enough to attract attention, we could set up some kind of neighborhood Rebel Alliance v. The Empire showdown, providing entertainment (and a money making venture, perhaps) during the long nights with no electricity.

I'll have to remember that idea during the next blackout.

Anyhow, that martini/onion soup/buffalo wing combo at lunchtime wasn't a very good idea. I'm going to lay down and watch the weather channel until it's an appropriate time to go to bed.

Good luck to all of you in Isabel's path. Stay safe. Don't play with downed power lines, ok?

just so you know

Don't let anyone ever tell you that having several martinis during your lunch hour is a good idea.

You know what happens? The liquor numbs your tongue and then you have no idea how hot your soup is so you just eat it as if it were the coolest thing in the world. So when you get back to work, you're not only drunk but your tongue feels like someone scraped it with the dull end of a razor blade. And that's not the end of it. You try to tackle the pile of work on your desk and He-Man and Skeletor just stand there and mock you. The mock you.


Saddam speaks.


Lucky for you, I have super-secret agents who managed to obtain a full copy of the unedited first cut of the tape for me.. I would put the video itself up, but I don't want to mess with the bandwidth, so I'll just have to transcribe it here for you and you'll have to trust me on this one.

Voice Purported To Be Saddam's (VPTBS): Thiiiiis isssss Saddaaaaam Husseeeeein!
Off Stage Voice (OSV): [whispering] What are you using that voice for? He's supposed to be still alive, not a ghost!
VPTBS: Leave me alone, I do this my way or no way!
OSV: Whatever, just be convincing.
VPTBS: Ahem. This is Saddam, your Great Leader! I speak to you now in importance! You must listen to my words!
[sound of rustling paper]
VPTBS: Umm....Oh, yes. Kill the Americans! Now!
OSV: That's it? Kill the Americans? What kind of message is that? You need something more, something dynamic, something...
VPTBS: Shut up, you idiot. I am working on it. Now, what did you do with those old Arafat and bin Laden speeches?
[more sounds of rustling papers]
VPTBS: This is the word of Allah. He says, kill the enemy. Drive them away. Kill them dead! And umm...do it in the name of me. And Allah. And all the dead Iraqi terrorists....shit. Fuck.
OSV: Terrorists? Jesus H. Christ. We don't have time to do this over, either. Maybe they won't notice.
VPTBS: Of course not. They are enchanted by the sound of my voice. Thiiiiiiis isssssssssss Saddaaaaaaaaaaammmmmm! You, all you Iraqi citizens. All you boys and men and horses and great followers of the mighty Saddam and Allah's blessed ones and...I'm forgetting someone...
OSV: Women.
VPTBS: Women? Bah.
OSV: You have to include the woman or they get mad. Americans, they change things around here too much. They make women think!
VPTBS: Hah. You make funny joke, Jacques. Anyhow, now I command you....errr..to go out and kill, and umm....I need a prayer here, Jacques, help me out.
OSV: Can't you do anything on your own, Gerhard?
VPTBS: Never mind, I know what to do. Ok, you all listening now on the radio and tv. I want yo to repeat after me, to say the mighty prayer of the forces against American hegemony. Ready? Ok. Oh-wah. Ta-Goo. Siam. Good, again. Oh-Wah, Ta-Goo, Siam. Faster!
OSV: What the hell are you doing?
VPTBS: Hahahaha I crack myself up!
OSV: [yelling] Saddam says don't give up!

[end tape]

dear izzy

Ok, Isabel.

I can handle your fickleness. I don't mind you changing directions and strength levels constantly. I'm even ok with some rain and a bit of wind.

However, I am supposed to get together with LT Smash this weekend in New York City. If you ruin these plans, I will be forced to do....something. I'm not sure what, but I'll do something drastic!

You know what, Izzy? I'm going to call Pat Robertson right now!

Don't worry Smash, I've got it covered!

today's pretend guest blogger: Ted Rall

teddyboy.gifHi, my name is Ted Rall. You may know me from such entertaining memes as Bush Didn’t Win, Bush Lied and Mark Morford Wants My Love Child.

I’d like to talk to you today about SUVs. I’m pretty sure that I’ve covered this subject before but it bears repeating. Repeating is what I do best. See, I only have a few ideas in this big head of mine, and I have to find ways to make those three or four ideas sound fresh and exciting each time I write a column or draw a strip. Obviously, I haven’t quite figured out the solution to that yet.

So, where was I? Oh yes, SUVs.


Well, I can’t think of anything to say that I haven’t said before, so let’s just go over that, ok?

If you drive an SUV you are a pig. If you have even thought about buying an SUV you are a pig by proxy. SUVs are the cause of every problem in the world. They pollute the air, use too much gas, make the baby Jesus cry, gave my mother acne, retroactively caused Chernobyl, ate the last piece of pie in the fridge, made me sleep with 300 women in one month - all of them ugly, killed Joey Ramone, instigated the Middle East crisis, made Arafat’s hair turn gray, broke the voting machines in Florida, caused 9/11 and broke up Ben and Jen.

So, as you can see, I’m not really against ecoterrorists burning down Hummer dealerships. You deserve to have a piece of your property destroyed or burned and it’s ok if you receive bodily harm in the process because, well, you deserve it.

Well, as you can see, I’m having a hard time putting a new spin on this SUV thing, and I’ve run out of funny nicknames to use for Bush and Cheney and Ashcroft and I have nothing else to say about the year 2000 that you haven’t heard already, so I guess this lecture is over.

Come to think of it, you never have to read another one of my columns again, because everything I believe in, and every topic I obsess about is right here in this one convenient space. How about that?

Let’s go over all of my topics in one turn:

Bush Lied. Bush is Hitler. American deserved 9/11. Soldiers are baby killers. Ashcroft wants to eat your infants and SUV owners should die.

There. I can retire now.

[disclaimer: this was a piece of flimsy satire that you may or may not find funny, depending on your sense of humor and your ideology. whatever floats your boat, just keep in mind that ted rall does not, as far as I know at least, have a login to my moveable type page, nor would anyone think that he does so therefore no one in their right mind would assume that this was really ted rall writing this and so ted won't try to sue me for making fun of him. i mean it's not like ted would do something like that anyhow, but...oh, nevermind. he would.]

today's required reading

Happy Anniversary, Carnival of the Vanities!

Axis of Isabel

As a member in good standing of the Axis of Isabel, it is my duty to offer you hurricane hints and tips.

Meryl, the fearless leader of the Axis, has already provided a worthy guide with topics such as How To Tell If You Are In A Hurricane (When did we install a sun roof in the kitchen?) and helpful instructions like:

Put a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave. Turn on the microwave. Wait several minutes. If the popcorn does not pop, you have no electricity.

Other members of the Axis are being just as helpful. Sort of. Bill Cimino just plagiarizes Dave Barry, but it's worth reading anyhow. Besides, he gets extra credit for calling Isabel a big, fat, nasty bitch.

So what do I have to offer you today besides the things I've already covered? Something that the mainstream media, for all their blustering and fear-mongering about Isabel, has forgotten about; that segment of the population that will suffer greatly in the event of a power loss: Bloggers. We are the Silent Minority. Well, if the power goes out, we are.

See, the hurricane and its wrath will not just affect those of us in its path; should the power lines go pffft up and down the east coast, that's an awful lot of blogs that will remain silent while the various power authorities try to get the electricity back on. Yes, you will suffer from this, too even if you don't live anywhere near the Atlantic! Suffering by proxy!

Tips For Bloggers Who Are In The Midst Of A Hurricane

  • Charge the Batteries for your digital camera.
    There's no point in blogging your Adventures With Isabel [when the power comes back on] if you aren't going to show us pictures of you standing on your neighbor's fallen tree.

  • Make your adventure more dangerous than it needs to be - this makes for better bloggng later on.
    Purposely park your car under the great big oak tree down the block, or "accidently" switch your husband's allergy medication with Demerol. Then you can tell everyone your husband passed out from fear and cowardice while you went on to save the family, the pets, the photo albums and autographed picture of John Stamos on your own. Trust me, this story will get a lot of links and trackbacks later on. So will your impending divorce.

  • Halloween decorations are on sale at Target and Wal-Mart. This will come in handy in case Isabel weakens by the time she gets to you and you feel let down and left out that you have nothing of interest to blog about, save for the neighbor's garbage can that nearly ruined your squash plant. Buy some of those fake severed legs or, better yet, a severed head. Put it in your garden. Take picture. Blog it. Get called tasteless, crass and unfeeling towards the other victims of the hurricane. Watch your stats go up.

  • Take notes for future blogging reference. Be very descriptive. Write things like "and then 18 year old girl down the block came running down the street screaming about her cat, but she was wearing a short, flared skirt, and Isabel kept kicking up that wind and there was my own private Marilyn Monroe with Isabel playing the part of the air vent. Upskirts, ahoy! Cat? What cat?"

Well, that's all the tips I have for now. I have to go tie down my lawn gnomes and pink flamingos.

I would tell you to check to see what Wind Rider, another member of the Axis has to say on all this, but he's too busy worrying about his contest. He'll be sorry later when he goes to make mircowave popcorn and can't figure out why it's not popping.

If you have any tips, feel free to add them. I'll be back later with How To Handle Isabel Like A Video Game.

September 16, 2003

it was as if it had hallmark© written on it

Laurence in a rare diversion from his usual snarkiness, decided that I could use some nice words hurled at me instead of insults. So he emailed:

You are a caramel-covered monkey swimming in a pool of strawberries
and cream under marshmallow clouds and a lemon-drop sun.

Best. Compliment. Ever.

have no fear, pat robertson is here!

Don't you be worrying about old Isabel anymore.

Pat Robertson is on the job.

The Reverend Pat Robertson, whose Christian Broadcasting Network could be hit by Hurricane Isabel, has asked God to turn the storm away from Virginia Beach and the U-S East Coast.

On today's broadcast of "The 700 Club," Robertson gave God credit for turning past hurricanes away in response to prayer.

Praying "in the name of Jesus," Robertson said he believes that God will put up "a wall of protection."

He added that he and those praying with him "command this storm to go out into the sea and to pass land harmlessly."

At least this time he's wishing them out to sea. The other times he tried this tactic he just sent the hurricanes to other states.

Robertson claims to have used the power of prayer to steer hurricanes away from his Virginia Beach, Virginia headquarters. He took credit for steering the course in 1985 of Hurricane Gloria, which caused millions of dollars of destruction in many states along the east coast. He made a similar claim about another destructive storm, Hurricane Felix, in 1995.

Don't hold too much stock in Robertson's power of prayer. He's still waiting for those liberal judges to die.

Listen up you primitive screwheads!

This is the LAST time I am addressing the free lunch issue, and this is only so I can clear up a few misconceptions. I will not be making another post about it and I will no longer be adding to the comments on any of my previous posts on the subject. It has all gone to hell and back and it's become nothing but a name-calling contest.

1. I said from the beginning that I was not addressing the specific school lunch program John Hawkins linked to - the one in NYC where free lunch would be available to everyone who needed it but the prices for those who paid for lunch would go up. I do not think that is a good idea at all. What I was addressing was the comments in John's post, which derailed the whole subject of the specific program at hand, and John's attitude that people who used the free or reduced lunch program were either lazy or bad parents who should be getting on their knees and thanking the taxpayers - conveniently forgetting that most of the people getting the free lunches are still taxpayers. If you wonder why this ended up being about ad hominen attacks and insults, it's because it started that way at Right Wing News.

2. Many people took issue with me for getting personal in my posts. Of course I got personal - I felt that the broad attacks made on people who use the program were insults to me as well.

3. As the subject dragged on - here as well as on other blogs - the comments sunk lower and lower, from people who claimed that those who had to use the program should go to jail for child abuse, to those saying that women should keep their legs closed and they wouldn't have these problems. The subject became broader and broader and less about the lunch program and more about pointing fingers at single mothers, to one blogger who thinks that kids who use the program should call him daddy.

4. There is no point in this discussion and there will be no point at which those of us on either side can compromise or civilly agree, if we haven't done so after more than 200 comments all told. Thus, it does us no good to keep going on with this. I'm done with it and I'm sorry to the people I dragged into the fray.

5. This is all getting in the way of my hobby of trolling Indymedia so I can catch moonbats with my tin foil net. I'm going back to my zionazi roots!

Now, go make up some limericks while I make of for lost time at Indymedia and Democratic Underground.

Over and out.

and then they took my free lunch away and i had to kill the ice cream man and eat his flesh!

[click for bigger image. art by mark ryden. view the art of mark ryden here. You will never be the same. see this whole image here]

Well, I thought it was funny.


I'm sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when one of my bosses comes and says

What for?
The award.
What award?

He puts a yellow flyer in front of me, announcing our union's annual dinner dance. He points to my name under the heading The Medal For Merit.

I had no idea about this. Apparently, the medal is for doing TroopTrax. Thing is, no one from the union has come to let me know about this. The dinner-dance, which I had no intention of going to, is on Halloween evening. I've already promised Natalie she could have a few friends sleep over that night, so I have a ready-made excuse for not attending.

I wouldn't have gone to the dinner anyhow. First of all, I hate those things. Second, I hate being put under a spotlight.

I'd like to get this medal anyhow and make thousands of copies of it and give them away to every single person who spread the word, donated money, or sent CDs, magazines and other assorted goodies to my house or to Keith, who deserves a medal of his own, made of pure gold, for all he did.

So to anyone who particpated in Trooptrax in any way, shape or form - Congratulations! You have won a Medal of Merit. Wear it well.

Not done yet...

Looking around at the other sites that have taken on the free lunch topic, I've seen these comments:

I expect poor people to not have kids if they can't afford them.

If you're so friggin' irresponsible that you can't feed your child - you shouldn't be a parent. You ought to be jailed.

if you can't afford to buy the things to make your child lunch, then the child has much larger problems than that meal. Those people shouldn't be parents.

I'll go so far to say that if you can't feed your own kids, you ought to be jailed for gross negligience.

My issue is not poverty, but the lack of priorites you'll find with these "dead beat families." Their financial irresponsibilty is not my problem.

Just simply say "I wouldn't do it again now that I have more information" and we conservatives will be satisfied.

The SIMPLE AND FAIR SOLUTION would be to give all public school children - rich or poor - the choice for a free lunch or a refund for unused meals. But i suppose then nobody would have the vaunted "badge of shame" to bash evil rich conservatives?

"Why should my taxes pay to feed a child whose mother who is too lazy too work or keep her legs closed? "

And on and on.

How do you debate rationally with people who think like that? Should one even try? Is this what the far right is thinking these days?

I am in complete awe at the smug, self-centered, arrogant, nasty vitriol that has been thrown around on this subject. We've gone from debating about taxpayer's money and tuna sandwiches to telling women to keep their legs closed.

I'm just wondering why so many of the comments from males center around what the female half of the parents of these kids have done wrong to get into such a situation. Defend yourselves, please. Tell me why so much of the plight of a low-income family has come down on the shoulders of the women of the household?

And what is with the Vaunted Badge of Shame? Is this something I should have received in the mail from my local Congressman? Should I have been wearing it all these years so people look at me and know at a glance that I should be pitied for my past? Damn, I always miss out on the good things. Would someone make me a badge, please? I feel really left out.

what the world needs now is another limerick contest (presidential edition)

Ryan says what this site needs is another poetry contest. And he's right. all my levity seems to be vanishing as my anger and ire increases over the free lunch issue.

I think limericks would be a good form to follow here as they allow for the most amusing poetry. Now, for a topic. Free Lunches. Kidding.

The topic is: The Race for the Presidency - 2004. You can use any candidate, it can be for or against the candidate and it doesn't have to be one of the main characters in the race. Do a Google search and you will find a lot of little people throwing their somewhat twisted hats into the ring.

The prize? A tuna sandwich, a pint of milk and an orange.

a funny thing happened.....

When I went to the Dairy Barn last night.

But I'll let Doctor Frank tell you about it.

Also in the great world of blogging, my beautiful friend David has some news to share:

Oh. My. God. In all the excitement, I almost completely forgot. The short story I did with Dr. B has hit the stands. And HOLY FUCK! There's a story by none other than Neil Gaiman himself in there, too!!

So, I said to David: I'm going to order it right now. And then I'm going to mail it to you and you are going to autograph that baby for me. And then someday I will meet you and make you put on pink lipstick and kiss the inside cover.

And I'm going to make him do that, I swear.

Speaking of the incredible Mr. Gaiman, I'm reading Good Omens for the umpteenth time. And it just occurred to me this time around that the character of Scarlett (a/k/a War) is Tanya.

Those who have read the book and know Tanya will know what I mean, and that it is a very large compliment.

UPDATE: Go congratulate Dr. Grosz, who won two very deserved Web Awards. Hurry, before his ego eats up his site!

free lunch: the topic that would not die

Today, Vinny posts a whole slew of information for those lazy, rotten parents who would dare accept the offer of free lunch for their children. After listing the costs of various lunch items and the sundry things that could be given up by the parents, hew writes this:

I'll tell you one thing... The case of a parent not being able to afford lunch or breakfast for a kid is pretty damned weak. If it weren't so damned easy to get, you could bet that somehow parents would do what my parents did when we were piss poor and damn near kicked out of our apartment for having trouble paying the rent: Find a way.

Yes, they would find a way. Somehow, before handouts, we found a way to provide for ourselves. You know why we don't now? Not because we're lazy. I don't believe that. Not because we don't care, I do think we care. Nope, it's because we've made it too damned easy to not provide what's necessary and still have the void filled anyway.

If kids can survive in the summer, they can survive while school is going. It's time compassion stopped being equated with handouts. All the handouts do is create a permanent underclass of people dependent on the system.

Permanent? Not here. I used the free lunch "handout" for less than a school year. Once I got back on my feet again, I took my daughter's name out of the program.

I think Vinny, and several other people who are foaming at the mouth over this, missed my one main point yesterday, so I will say it again:

I did not call the school and tell them it was their job to feed my kid. I didn't demand a free lunch. It was offered to me, just like it was offered - with guidelines and forms to fill out - to every single family with a child in the school district. I took the offer because it was there and because the money saved by not buying lunch a few days a week meant I could buy extra school supplies needed for special projects or vitamins or something better for dinner than macaroni and cheese.

It was there. I took it. I didn't demand it, I didn't assume that the school district had this responsibility to feed my daughter. Had they not offered, I would have made her peanut butter and jelly every day. But it was there and I had no idea that it was stealing or theft or whatever you people are calling it by filling out the form given to me, signing it and saying thank you very much, I would like a discounted lunch for my child.

Repeat: I did not expect the school to feed my child. In fact, I did not know about the free lunch program until a kind friend pointed it out to me. I would have made do by scrounging together a lunch for my kid, but I thought the program was there because they wanted people who needed it to use it while they had to. I didn't ask. I was given.

Vinny's examples of what one parent could give up every month in order to make their child lunch instead of begging for scraps from those better off than them is almost laughable. He assumes an awful lot by speculating that the lazy, shiftless parents of kids on the free lunch program all order WWF pay-per-views and their kids are all wearing Nike sneakers. I shopped at garage sales for my kids' clothes, Vinny. Our video entertainment did not come from Blockbuster, but from the library. Where it was free. Where your taxes paid for my free video rentals. But, hey. Everyone gets it for free there, so I guess you don't mind if a few bad parents use the library system as long as you get to use it as well.

I pay taxes. I pay a lot of taxes. State, county, school, etc. Those free lunches came out of my money, too.

Do you know what else your taxes pay for, Vinny, John, etc.? They pay for the computers in the schools. They pay for the textbooks. They pay for the playground and gym equipment and the libraries and street signs and sidewalks. They pay for the volunteer fire departments.

Which one of those services would you like to not pay for? Surely your child doesn't use every textbook the school has, so why should you pay for something your kid isn't using? Would you like to pick and choose where your tax money goes?

Again, I don't condone any free lunch system that forces kids who can afford it to pay more for their lunch in order to offset the costs. But I do condone a program that let's a parent save a little money and a kid get a good lunch in the process. You would be surprised at how many poor people there are in your neighborhood. In fact, you might be surprised at what qualifies as poor these days.

I've probably said all this before, but it bears repeating. I am so disheartened at the slurs and insults that have been hurled at those people who accept free lunch for their kids. I was not a bad parent. I was not lazy. I was not neglectful or abusive or spending my money on beer, liquor or lottery tickets.

You never know where circumstances, fate and and a myriad of other forces may lead you one day. Just know that if you ever end up in the situation I was in, I would be compassionate and empathetic. I would not stand here and insult you and assume the worst.

I don't believe that schools are responsible for raising kids. I think compassionism should only go so far. I think that, utlimately, parents should be held accountable and responsible for every aspect of their child's life and no one else should be blamed when their kid gets fat or lazy or flunks out of every subject or goes on a killing spree. I don't have some socialist view of the world.

I just know that help was offered to me once and I took it because I needed it desperately, not because it was there. I took exactly what I needed and then took no more.

And now I am just sick over the assumptions people make about me (yes, me - when you write those words about people who use the free lunch program you are writing about me just a few short years ago) because I took the help that was offered and didn't send a thank you card to every taxpayer in my town.

I am really, really disheartened at the rabid, nasty comments being thrown around about this. Walk a mile. And don't tell me about what your parents did. Walk a mile, now. In these times, with these prices and this cost of living. I'll lend you my shoes.

UPDATE: There are some people who think that the system is abused because no one checks on whether the people who are getting free or reduced lunches really "deserve" them.

For the record, I had to fill out about five forms and hand in photocopies of W2 forms and tax returns and give two references and have the damn thing notarized before they would accept my entry into the program.

UPDATE 2: Vinny has now fisked me.

September 15, 2003


If anyone has been waiting for email from me from either my command post or ASV email address, please note that I just realized that the last two days worth of sent mail were never actually sent. Outlook frustrates the hell out of me sometimes.

So I'm not ignoring you. I'm just sitting here cursing Outlook for making you think I'm ignoring you.

Just so you know, today was brought to you by the letter B. As in Beautiful but Brutal.

i bleed yankee blue, i swear!

You all thought I forgot.

For the uninitiated, I had a bet with the fine people linked above that should the Red Sox win 2 out of 3 against the Yanks a couple of weekends ago, I would wear the logo of the enemy. Lesson learned. Never put your money where your heart is.

I did not forget. And I could not find anything with the Red Sox logo on it around here and even if I did, I just could not in good conscience spend my hard earned money on something that I would just have to burn later. But I am not one to back off a bet, so below you will find just what you were looking for, suitable for blackmailing.

I hate all of you.


I'm going to cut out my own heart now. I bet I bleed blue and white pinstripes.

And I am whatever you say I am

I get mail. And when I make posts like the few I made about school lunches I get a lot of mail.

According to today's mail, I may be one of many things, one none of a couple of things. For instance:

baaaa.jpgI am a socialist.
I am a bleeding-heart liberal.
I am a conservative who was hit on the head with a brick.
I am a an embarassment to Republicans.
I must hand in my Right-Wing Conspiracy Club Card.
I should go hang out with anarchists in communes.
I am a zionist pig (well, that had to do with a previous post, not the lunch thing).
I have my head up my ass.
I am a thief.
I am ungrateful.
I need my head examined.
I am a Republican scum bucket (again, on a different subject).
I am a twit.
I am a Marxist.
I am half a socialist, which is just as bad as being a full-on socialist, according to the author of that email.

So, what am I? Damned if I know. They haven't made a label yet that would fit me. And I'm guessing that a lot of you fall under that no-label category as well. I just find it very interesting to be called a socialist and a Republican scum-bucket on the same day. Quite amusing, actually.

It seems there are an awful lot of people out there who think that one must join a party and then subscribe to every single idea put out by that party. Toe the party line, so to speak.

People who do that are not called Republicans or Democrats or Greens. They are called sheep.

I do not say baaaaaaa.

So let's just call this whole subject a giant clusterfuck, because that's what it is, and you can all stop assuming that just because I happen to be a registered Republican and just because I happen to be a friend of Israel and I side with Bush on the War in Iraq, that does not disqualify me from thinking outside of the Bush party lines.

I mean, I love the Yankees yet I still hate Roger Clemens. Get it?

Now, if you'll excuse me I must go find out if there are any Web Meet-Ups for SocialistZionistBleedingHeartConservativeScumBucketAnarchistWarMongerer-

did someone say yoko ono naked?

Jules did.

The picture below is not recommended for people with heart problems, anxiety disorders or good taste. Not responsible for puking, trembling, hysterical fits of crying, brain seizures, sudden onset of depression, thoughts of suicide or the inability to ever get it up again.


Did you really think I was that cruel?

Hey, you're the one who looked.

don't bother making any future plans

I don't know about you, but when I see the headline Yoko Ono To Recreate Naked Art Performance, all kinds of apocalypse scenarios come into my head. Surely, this must be the seventh sign.

psa (another izzy post)

For those of you in the projected path of Isabel, don't wait to get prepared.

I just got back from Target, where I bought the last flashlight. They will be out of batteries before the end of the day. They were stocking up on Poland Spring water, but they are out of gallons already, I had to settle for a case of 16 oz. bottles. The lines are long, the cashiers are already grumpy and the hardware/camping department looks like, well, a hurricane hit it. Even the coolers and plastic ice packs were selling fast.

Home Depot has nothing. Not a flashlight, not a battery, not a generator.

Don't wait. Go now.

[And, according to this post, Scott is in a heap o' trouble]

I was thinking that this might all interfere with my plans for Talk Like A Pirate Day (Friday) but then I realized that it will only add to the pirate ambience. If the streets flood at all, I'm going to stick a pirate flag on the antenna of my car.

Arrrr, me hopes that Scotty has a lot of grog on hand, for he is going to end up like a bilge rat in the bunghole according to his map. Prepare to be boarded!

tracking izzy and some helpful hints

This is one crazy storm. We have as much chance of knowing exactly where this one is going as we have of knowing who's going to win the California election. As many choices, too.

Right now, I would like to prod Meryl (Virginia) and Kevin (North Carolina)into panicking. Quick, get to a store! Stock up on liquor! Canned food! And don't forget the can opener!

And despite all my posting on how I don't panic and don't rush to the store in times of emergency, I am taking Izzy as serious as one should take a Category 4 hurricane. I'm going to Target during lunch and stocking up on essentials.

Just don't ask me what those essentials are. But they do include duct tape. That's for keeping the kids quiet when they panic.

For those in the put-upon areas of Izzy's fury, I've compiled a list from various sources to help you be prepared in the event this one tracks you down. Really, it's a serious list. No jokes below.

I think this list is if you are going to a shelter, but some of the stuff here is good to have anyhow:

1. 3 days supply of water (1 gallon per person per day)
2. Ready to eat canned and prepackaged foods.
3. Manual can opener. Prepackaged juices, milk and soup.
4. Disposable eating utensils (paper plates, plastic forks, spoons, knives, etc.).
5. Flashlight with extra batteries and bulb.
6. Portable radio with extra batteries Important personal and family documents (in a water proof container).
7. Change of clothes, sturdy shoes.
8. Bedding.
9. Prescription Medications
10. Extra car keys, credit cards, or traveler's checks.
11. Sanitation supplies (toilet paper, garbage bags, etc.).
12. Personal Identification.
13. First Aid Kit.
14. Provisions for pets
15. Special need items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.

Here’s More:

1. Make sure you have a working, battery powered radio or TV and a good supply of fresh replacement batteries.
2. Have flashlights available for all family members.
3. If an electric pump supplies your water, fill spare food-grade containers with water for cooking and washing in anticipation of a possible power interruption
4. Make sure all motor driven equipment, such as garage door openers, can be operated manually.
5. When using a portable generator, make sure all LIPA-powered equipment is disconnected. This will avoid severe hazards when reconnecting the power to your home or business.
6. Have a first aid kit at home and check its contents to make sure they are complete and up to date. If you have family members with special medical needs, such as insulin or other prescription drugs, check to make sure you have an adequate supply.
7. Do not use charcoal to cook indoors, deadly carbon monoxide gas can accumulate in your home.
8. If you have an elderly neighbor, be a Good Samaritan and check on his or her status. Even a quick telephone call during a storm can provide much appreciated assurance that help is nearby if needed.
9. Should an electric power interruption occur, all sensitive equipment, such as computers and TV's should be disconnected until service is restored.

Securing your home:
1. Stock up on non-perishable food and water supplies in case of a power outage.
2. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
3. Make sure your trees and shrubbery are trimmed and dead limbs removed.
4. Fuel and service family vehicles.
5. Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
6. Prepare to cover all window and door openings with shutters or other shielding materials such as plywood.
7. Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water and medications.
8. Bring lawn furniture and other loose, light-weight objects such as garbage cans and garden tools inside. They can become dangerous projectiles during high winds.
9. If you have a boat, moor it securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure your boat to a trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground or your house.
10. If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone or area prone to flooding, move furniture to a higher floor.
11. If you have to leave your home, remember to unplug your appliances, turn off the electricity and close the main water valve.
12. When you leave your home be sure to lock it and take small valuables with you


tales from the courthouse: raising a stink


Putting Encyclopedia Brown to shame, my boss has taken to calling the current decision on my desk The Case of the Pungent Provolone.

It contains therein the line: The defendant is putting the plaintiff’s provolone on trial.

You may commence with the one-liners. We've been at it all day.

[Thank you to my graphic genie Robyn for the picture]

20 not-so-simple rules

[tongue in cheek, please. thank you.]

I'm more than a week behind on this topic, but I got sidetracked and I'm just now clearing out my list of "things to blog about" from the last ten days or so.

Shell from Across the Atlantic made a list of 20 Ways To Make A Woman Melt. Jim gave it a sort of fisking and the Group Captain responded with 20 Ways To Keep A Man Happy.

After perusing the posts and all comments involved and taking stock of the situation I discovered that I, too, have some things to say on the subject.

Shell's suggestions are in bold; my suggestions follow:

1. Give her the remote (and no groaning when she doesn't click fast enough) I don't need to take the remote from him because we like mostly the same things. TV watching is a shared experience. Besides, if he was annoying me with his click-click-click way of watching tv, I would grab the remote out of his hand and then whack him across the head with it.

2. When she's upset about something, don't try to fix it. Hold her. Don't ever touch me when I'm upset. Ever. Just get me a drink and a cigarette and let me curse up a storm.

3. Surprise her by taking her shopping for a new dress and helping her choose something that makes her look fabulous. I don't wear dresses. Take me shopping for comic books or a DVD. Don't take me to Frederick's of Hollywood so you can dress me up like a hooker and yell out "you like that, don't you?" during sex.

4. Know her favorites: One of the most romantic things I ever read was a man who saw his wife's brand of lipstick on sale and picked her up a tube in her favorite color. Just knowing those little things means a lot. Acting on them--like bringing home her favorite candy bar from the machine at work or having her favorite cd playing when she gets out of the shower--means even more. Ok. I'll live with this one.

5. Corollary: We don't measure gifts in dollars. We measure them in effort. A man who has his assistant order two dozen roses to be delivered on her birthday will not get as much credit as the one who stopped at the florist and picked a single white tulip because he knows it is her favorite. Similarly, taking her shopping for that single dress above means more than sending her to the mall with a credit card. Do not take me shopping for a present. Get it yourself. Think a little. Use your imagination. And don't buy me flowers, which die in a couple of days and there's nothing left to show for them. I'd rather have a book. Or a new set of kitchen knives. The sharper the better, wink, wink.

6. Dry her after her shower. I'll kill you. Dead.

7. Show her respect and affection in public. When my mom met my partner, she commented later that he treats me like a precious treasure. There's nothing quite to compare to hearing your lover complimented by friends and family. My family has banned public displays of affection from my husband and I after that last incident at the park with the police and the cameras and whatnot.

8. Corollary: Treat her friends and family with respect. Only if they deserve it. Which, most of the time (cough*Lewis*cough), they don't.

9. Always take her side. If she's ranting about her boss, sister, neighbor, whoever, don't jump in and defend the other person. Don't think you have to fix the relationship. Just listen. If you can honestly say, "You're right. He shouldn't have done that," then do it. But if you can't, then listening is fine. Whatever you do, don't say, "I'm going to go straighten him out!" If I'm wrong, tell me. If I'm wrong, don't take my side just to make me feel all better. Defend the other person if you think I was being a complete ass. There is nothing more pathetic than a man who agrees with every single thing you do and say. Coddling sucks.

10. When she's working on something, come up behind her and kiss the back of her neck. Just because. Don't interrupt me when I'm writing. Even with a kiss.

11. Compliments work, so long as they are sincere and specific. "You look beautiful" is good. "I love the way that skirt shows off your fabulous legs," is better. To which I will reply, "Then why are you staring at my ass?"

12. Remind her if she's due for a trip to the beauty salon (every 6 weeks for most haircuts--4 weeks for ultra short) and insist that she treat herself to the full shampoo, cut, and style. Take her out afterwards. Tell her she looks so good you want to show her off. Update: Every woman but me thinks this is a terrible idea. All I can say is, my guy can pull it off. YMMV. Bad idea all around. A) If he reminds me that I am due for a trip to the "beauty salon," he will need a trip to the emergency room. B) If you love me, be prepared to take me out even when my hair looks dried and brittle and I'm wearing a hooded sweatshirt and running pants.

13. Rub lotion into her hands. Or feet. Or legs. Or her entire body. Lotion only means one thing in my house and I have days marked off on the calendar when that is allowable.

14. Write a message on the mirror with your finger. When she gets out of the shower, the fog will show it. And then I'll shove a bottle of Windex and some paper towels up his ass.

15. Schedule a professional portrait sitting for the two of you. Or borrow a friend and have him take a roll of snapshots. Have at least one framed picture of you in the home and one in the office, and put the rest in an album. Oh, riiiight. I remember the last time one of his friends took pictures of us. I mean, we made a lot of money, but that's besides the point.

16. Be good to her pets. Walk her dog or dangle toys for her cat. I thought that said strangle the cat. Which would work just fine for me. I have no pets. Two kids and a husband are enough. But the husband does dangle toys in front of the kids, if that counts.

17. Buy a book of short stories, fables or fairy tales and read one to her every night. You know what works even better? Penthouse letters.

18. Brush her hair. Do. Not. Ever. Touch. My. Hair.

19. Surprise her one day by washing, vacuuming, and gassing up her car. Suprise me one day by not leaving your cigarette butts and fast food wrappers in my car.

20. Cuddle. Touch. Kiss. Say I love you. And not just during sex. Please note that touching does not mean poking me repeatedly while making a point.

So there you have it. My revised rules. Keep in mind this is all coming from someone who thinks having a water pistol fight is romantic. And yes, I have personal space issues.

I'll respond to the Group Captain's list next.

last word on school lunches

[See here and here for reference]

For all those [and this issue is spreading around like wildfire] who assume I was a bad, lazy parent for using the school's free lunch program when Natalie was young and I was very poor (and I only used the discounted program, not the full free lunch), I say this:

I did not call the school and tell them it was their job to feed my kid. I didn't demand a free lunch. It was offered to me, just like it was offered - with guidelines and forms to fill out - to every single family with a child in the school district. I took the offer because it was there and because the money saved by not buying lunch a few days a week meant I could buy extra school supplies needed for special projects or vitamins or something better for dinner than macaroni and cheese.

It was there. I took it. I didn't demand it, I didn't assume that the school district had this responsibility to feed my daughter. Had they not offered, I would have made her peanut butter and jelly every day. But it was there and I had no idea that it was stealing or theft or whatever you people are calling it by filling out the form given to me, signing it and saying thank you very much, I would like a discounted lunch for my child.

Apparently, by engaging in this "scheme" for one part of one school year, until I no longer needed the "handout," (and the day I went full time in my job I called the district and told them to take my name off the program) that I was therefore labeling myself a socialist, a bad parent, a lazy parent or a child abuser.

Don't worry, John and Vinny and the rest of you. I'll have my kids make that macaroni art thank you card for you tonight. After all, I must be an ungrateful, selfish woman for taking the money right out of your wallet. When we are done doing that, I will tabulate just how much money I used from the school's lunch program and I will write a check to Mr. Wait A Minute from my comments so I don't suddenly find myself at the end of a lawsuit because I stole his money right from his pocket.

Of course, I won't be taking this tactic with others who are getting free lunches now that I'm financially comfortable. I have no problem with giving a kid a sandwich for lunch if it helps his parents get by while they are down and out. I also have no problem when my money goes towards gym equipment that all the kids use, desks, chairs and computers that everyone's children uses, supplies and teacher's salaries that benefit everyone.

But hey, that must be the bleeding heart liberal socialist in me.

Last word on that.

[For the record, I am not in favor of giving everyone free lunches and breakfast and raising the prices for those who can afford it. This issue, for me, was simply about the attitude some people have towards those who participate in the free or discounted lunch programs in various school districts]


The usual Monday morning madness means that I'm running late again.

Go read Kelley's Cul-de-Sac for all the links that are fit too print and then some.

September 14, 2003

kurt cobain's brains

Scene: In the car with DJ today. Radio is on, K-ROCK playing Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Mom, is this Nirvana?


That guy is dead, right? Kurt Cobain?


How did he die?

Shot a bullet through his brain.

How did they know that's how he died?

Well, his brains were probably all over the floor and the walls.

No, I mean how did they know he killed himself?

I think he left a note.

Oh. Did you know that if your head got cut off and you stuck a knife in your brain you wouldn't be able to feel it?

Hmm. Who told you that?

My teacher. He always tells us stuff like that. Like, about bloody car crashes and things. That's how he gets us to pay attention to science.


So, is it true?

Is what true?

If you head gets cut off and you put a knife in it - would you feel it?

How do you suppose you would be able to put a knife through your own head if it's been sliced off your body?

Oh, I see what you're getting at.

Right, you would be dead.

Well, I was thinking that you just wouldn't be able to aim right because your eyes would be on the ground with your head, so how you could you see where the sword is going?

Sword? I thought it was a knife.

Does it really matter? I mean, either one would work.

No, I guess not. But still, you would be dead so it wouldn't matter.

The spinal cord could still send signals to your neck, you know.

You think?


[A few seconds of silence]



Do you think Kurt Cobain lived long enough to see his brains splatter everywhere?

No idea, DJ.

I bet he did. And I bet he thought, damn, I could have written a really great song called Brains On The Wall if I didn't JUST KILL MYSELF! I'M SUCH AN IDIOT!! [said in a screaming tone that sounded very much like Kurt's voice on Lithium]

I bet.

And then we proceeded to make up a song called Brains On The Wall. It's just a stroke of fate that Cobain rhymes with brain.

[There's going to be hell to pay for this post when I go to sleep tonight, I'm sure]

dear john

It's good old Slippery Slope Time over at Right Wing News. In response to Alison and myself, John writes:

Now about clothes, some kids can't afford nice clothes and they need them to go school. After all, they can't go to school naked can they? Is that what you want? A bunch of poor kids going to school naked? What are you, some sort of sick, cruel, twisted character from an Oliver Twist novel? You're not? Great, that's why we want you to support our "free clothes for kids" initiative, etc, etc, etc....

Dear John,

We are talking about a $1.50 a day lunch for some kids. Just because I want to give a meal to a hungry kid because that kid can learn better on a full stomach and not flunk out of school and go on to become a drain on the system does not mean I support some ridiculous socialism-inspired theory of giving and getting based on needs and abilities.

We are talking about a god damn bologna sandwich and a pint of milk. Maybe an orange or a cookie to go with it. For all the talk of compassionate conservatism I'm seeing very little compassion from you. We all pay taxes. We all give to the community in that respect. Our school tax money goes towards the education of the children of the community and if that includes some rubbery chicken nuggets and a coke, then so be it. I find it hard to believe that anyone, rich or poor or in between, would be so self-centered and hard assed as to think that giving some disadvantaged child a warm lunch every day would somehow bring along armageddon. This all reminds me of the people who vote down the school budget because they no longer have kids in the school system and don't want their taxes raised to pay for new textbooks or gym equipment, forgetting all the people without kids who paid their school taxes without flinching years ago when the selfish pricks' kids were in school. Poor isn't what it used to be. There are plenty of poor people who work and provide for their kids and spend quality time with them and clothe and feed them but are feeling the pinch of the economy and are having a hard time making ends meet. At $1.50 a day for a whole school year for one or two kids, that accumulated savings can mean a lot to one family that isn't home doing crack or watching soap operas or trying to pay for beer with WIC coupons. Life is not made of white, middle aged men in business suits brokering deals and then going home to a nice little family in a comfortable house. There's all kinds of people out there and you might be surprised to find out how many of your acquaintances qualify as poor according to the latest standards. No, I don't want to feed and clothe every child that comes into my school district asking for a free lunch. But damn, it's not a real big deal to give the kid a sandwich without asking them to "make macaroni pictures dedicated to the US taxpayers who are paying for the free pizza they're getting at lunch." Most of these kids don't even know they are getting a free lunch. But hey, let's make them feel really ashamed by beating out erasers or sweeping the hallways. All kids get their textbooks for free - why not make all the kids work after school hours in the basement putting plastic covers on the music sheets or greeting cards for the rich while you're at it? Hell, turn the schools into sweatshops so those snot-nosed little kids know what it's like to have to work for their education! One freaking sandwich a day. Is that really too much to ask? I guess so.


be prepared

So perhaps I was a little flippant in my post last night about Hurricane Isabel. I should clarify that I like bad weather, not deadly weather.

Bad weather would mean rain and wind and leaves blowing all over the street and garbage cans ending up in your neighbor's yard; a fascinating greyish-brownish sky with clouds that look like assasins; perhaps a few small tree branches lying in the gutter, making for a nice photo-op the next day.

Deadly weather, I could live without. Isabel appears to be deadly. As of now, she is marching across the Atlantic and up the east coast and it looks like Jersey may be in trouble. Isabel, being the womanly sort that she is, could very well change her mind at the last minute and pound Long Island or even Virginia. Most likely we won't know for sure until toward the end of the week.

I'm not taking any chances and by that I mean not taking chances with the hordes of people who cram into supermarkets at the last minute before hurricanes and snowstorms, all fighting over the last half gallon of Lactaid milk. I'll get out there early, go food shopping today and avoid the local news people standing in front of Waldbaum's with their hair blowing in the wind and yelling at people "SIR, WHAT DID YOU BUY TODAY?" And the guy yells back to be heard over the howling wind "WHAT? AM I GOING TO DIE TODAY? YOU SICK BASTARD!"

They really do that, you know. I mean, stand in front of supermarkets to get the latest on what kind of snacks and staples people are stocking up on because, you know, that's big news. [A lesson to anyone attempting to interview me: remember what happened to the last guy who did this]

So anyhow, I made my list of necessities for the week. Cereal, milk, vodka, beer, ice cream, coffee and cigarettes. We've got plenty of canned goods and if worse comes to worse the kids can live on that 400 piece container of Twizzlers I bought at BJs last week. I just knew they would come in handy!

All smirking aside, it is very important to make sure you have batteries, etc. on hand in the event that a hurricane is coming. The deadliest hurricanes in history took a lot of lives because in those days, there was very little time to be prepared. Now, with radar tracking and Costco stores on every corner, you have a good enough head start on Isabel to be ready if and when she does hit.

Skywarn mailing lists
Storm Tracking
Weather Underground
Make a Hurricane Disaster Kit
National Weather Service
Hurrican Safety Tips

they were a parody to begin with


In the newsday story room

Things like this hazing incident happen all the time. You see the stories on CNN, you cringe, you move on. And then it happens just around the corner from you so you get a local feel to the story, maybe a bit more than the mainstream news feeds are getting. Or not.

I'm reading the Newsday story and I'm trying to figure out what went on at the story meeting.

"Hey, let's go see how the people in town feel about this sexual molestation of some innoncent boys on a high school football team."

"Ok, Ann. Why don't you go down to the hair salon and the local kid's dance school to see what the word on the street is?"

"Great idea, Bob. I'm sure I can get a real inside feel for what is going on in that high school by interviewing the women waiting for their little daughters outside Dorothy's School of Dance."

"Right. And when you are writing this hard-hitting story about high school students hazing other students by ramming a stick up their asses, don't forget to include phrases like she threw up her hands so fast she nearly smudged her still-fresh manicure.

"Got it. And I'll make sure to interview teenage girls who didn't go to that particular high school, instead of boys who possibly know people on the football team."

"Well, just throw in something about how the kids at the hazing school will get in trouble if they talk. Then no one has to know we didn't bother finding out what the people who are affected by this story think."

"Ok, we just won't mention that ABC got them to talk."

"Or that one of our own reporters got some people to talk."

"Well, Paul's story takes a different angle - the mass web of lying, deceit and silence that will ensue from this story and the unspoken high school creed of not getting star football players in trouble. I mean, he doesn't say that, but it's there."

"Good point. Umm..what angle is your story taking?"

"The ladies with manicures and doting mothers gasping in horror angle. I thought this would be a good opportunity to further the generalizations people make about Long Islanders, while at the same time adding absolutely nothing of worth to this story."


sunday comics


September 13, 2003

notes from the democratic underground

An article in Sky News today says that babies smile in the womb.

Apparently, this is just Right Wing Propganda.

Also learned while reading the posts linked above: Breastfeeding doesn't work for most American women because we are trained that our breasts belong to our husbands.

You can learn so much in one day from moonbat watching.

waiting for izzy

[click for bigger image]This is my cousin Isabel. This post has nothing to do with her except for the fact that the hurricane I will refer to is also named Isabel. That, and it's a great picture.

Hurricane Izzy (and I call it Izzy because that's what I call cousin Isabel) is back up to a category five and headed for the east coast. As of now, it's got its eye on the Mid-Atlantic region but it is a very fickle storm and has not yet settled on a precise direction, nor has it made apparent where exactly it will touch down on land. So we are waiting.

Long Island is just that. A long island. Hence the name. It juts out into the water like a finger pointing at the southern Maine coast. It's not nearly as wide as it is long and one can traverse from one shore to another in the time it takes to write to read a Denbeste essay. So if I stand in front of my house, which is right about where the blue dot is on this map, I would have water to the left and water to the right. That's north and south to you map afficianados. Basically, any hurricane activity would come from the south or the southeast. But where would one go to escape that activity when you are on an Island with nowhere to go but water?

Oh yes, there's Queens and Brooklyn and New York City. That's what the Coastal Evacuation signs along the parkways are for. I will dutifuly ignore those signs if and when the signal comes to get out of Dodge.

No, I'm not one of those people who wants to go down with the house. I don't have that much attatchment to my material possessions that I would brave the wind and rain and flying street signs to guard my DVDs and action figures. I would rather, as I have stated here before, get sucked into a whirlwind of debris and water than be swept out to sea while stuck in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway. Think about it - there are about three million people living on Long Island. Imagine the sirens going off, the radio emitting that long beep that signals an emergency, the local news anchor crying in a panicked tone for everyone to leave town. Three million people packed into cars and trucks and SUVs all with one point in mind: a bridge out of town.

So we all head to the Triboro or the Throgs Neck and we all get stalled in traffic that backs up to Montauk and Izzy comes hailing down on us while we sit in our cars watching the sky turn black.

Not likely. I'll just sit at home, probably poised at the window with my camera, delighting in the high speed winds and bending branches. Maybe, just maybe, I'll put some duct tape on the windows so they don't blow inward and I'll put the garbage cans in the garage and lock the kids in a closet. But nothing will make me get in my car to head west, and nothing will keep me from staring at the storm close up.

The last big one that came through here was Gloria in September of 1985. We lost power, lost some trees and had a grand time the next day driving around surveying the damage. What can I tell you, I'm one of those bad weather freaks; the Weather Channel is my favorite station. In a way, I welcome the excitement of impending hurricanes. I'm sure I would feel differently if I lived in the Carolinas, who get hit much harder than we do up on Long Island. When we do get hit hard, and all those rich folk out in the Dunes lose their homes I sort of shrug my shoulders and say something like "that's what you get for building your million dollar homes on the water, in a spot that is known for its ongoing erosion."

Anyhow, I'm waiting on Izzy now. Got the camera battery charged up, got film for the SLR and I have duct tape on hand, just in case. No need to fill the gas tank; I'm not going anywhere.

nominations open for....

The Rock and Roll Hall of Hell.

in which i make a For The Children(tm) plea

John Hawkins writes about free school lunches:

First off, there is no need for a school lunch program in the United States of America. Nobody starves to death in this country, not even the homeless. So whether these kids get free food at school or not, they are going to be able to ultimately get enough eat one way or another.

.....Even if you don't want to get rid of the school lunch and breakfast program, we should at least make the kids work to earn the food. Let the older kids spend some time beating out erasers, sweeping the hallways, or doing something else to pay for their food. Even the little kids could at least -- I don't know -- make macaroni pictures dedicated to the US taxpayers who are paying for the free pizza they're getting at lunch. Let them learn that there is no "free lunch" or "free breakfast" for that matter and that you should have to work for everything you get. Even that would be preferable to putting these kids on the dole and teaching them that the world owes them free food...

I'm about to serve myself up to the wolves here.

Have you ever been poor? Near poor? Have you ever had to scrape around between the cushions of the couch hoping you could find enough change to buy a half gallon of milk? Have you ever had to cash in the bonds your kids got from relatives when they were born so you could go food shopping or get school supplies?

I have. And I know that free school lunches are a saving grace. Yes, I understand the lunch isn't really free, that someone's taxes were going towards my kids' sandwiches. What comes around goes around. Years later I am far from poor and I know that part of my taxes are going towards another kid's free lunch and I don't mind.

This is not a matter of uncaring parents or people not wanting to work for what they get. Some people really, honestly need that food for their kids. Sometimes the only thing in their refrigerator is what little they have to make a decent dinner and breakfast for their kids - a free lunch is a blessing. It's not about nutrition - it's about putting some food in the empty stomach of a poor child.

What got me more than John's ideas were some comments:

1. I went to a boarding school, and my parents had to pay for my lunches. Day pupils at the school had to buy their own lunches. Nobody got a state-funded lunch.

2. It makes parents responsible for their kids' nutrition, and that's exactly the way it should be.

3. It induces an element of competition where you compare lunch-boxes and food, and that's a good thing because it encourages kids to succeed economically.

Obviously if this person went to a boarding school, they don't know poor from piss poor. And "inducing an element of competition?" Are you kidding? What kind of encouragement does a kid get from "Oh, I see you have a peanut butter sandwich for the fifth day in a row. Can't you afford anything else?"

The families that qualify for free food at school probably get assistance already in the form of welfare, food stamps, etc. In other words, their food dilemma is already taken care of. If there was a reasonable argument that the meals the students are getting causes a sharp increase in academic performance I would consider the program valid. Here's my cold conservative solution.

1) Stop trading wic vouchers for cigarettes, beer and microwave food.
2) Go to bed before Leno ends so you can get up early and make breakfast and a healthy brown bag lunch. If you follow step 1 you can afford to do this.
3) Take the extra 30 minutes a day I saved you by not watching Leno and learn a little bit about general nutrition. Surprisingly enough, healthy food is much cheaper than most microwave meals/snacks.
4) Write thank-you cards to all of the taxpayers for the food we already provide you. Make a point to have child get an education so he will not be dependent on charity.

A common misconception about poor people is that there is only one class of poor. Welcome to the working poor class. People who are deemed to make too much money to be eligible for food stamps and welfar, but make too little money to have anything but the basic necessities in their fridge.

Not all poor people are neglectful parents. Not everyone who would apply for a free lunch program at school is jobless or homeless or drinking and smoking on a street corner while their kids are at school.

Well fed kids are better educated kids, on the premise that a hungry kid cannot think or concentrate. Feed the kids, feed the future. Sure, that's broad and simplistic, but it's coming from a person whose kids were not hungry during the day because they got a discounted lunch; it's coming from a person who did not choose to be poor and was greatly appreciative of the help she got while climbing out of poverty.

As is always the case when I am writing about something that has pissed me off to the point of turning my stomach, I probably haven't been very eloquent in making my point.

But I think you get it nonetheless.

four nice things about the red sox

Here are your payback links.

And now, for something nice about the Red Sox, which I am being forced to write by virtue of the Yanks getting blown out two games out of three last weekend.

I've missed four days due to being busy with other things, so now I must make up for it. This is making me ill, I want you to know.

Nice thing 1:


Yaz is a Long Island boy, so I always give it up for him.

Nice thing 2:

Red Sox fans are not as nasty as their Bruin counterparts, who once tried to beat me up outside of Boston Garden.

Nice thing 3:

They are not the Mets. Specifically, they are not the 86 Mets, my most hated team of all time in any sport, ever.

Nice thing 4:

They are not in first place.

That's a nice thing to me. You didn't say it had to fit in with your idea of nice.

And yes, I am still working on finding a piece of Red Sox paraphanelia that I can wear in a photo, which will be suitable for framing and/or humiliation.

Twelve is a magic number.

you can hear the ocean if you hold a cell phone up to your ear

Alan just called me from the deck of his hotel in Fort Lauderdale, where he is staying on business. Apparently the deck is over the water, about three feet up from it.

He held the phone out into the air and let me listen to the waves crashing.

That beats a shell any day.

Alan, being the good friend and semi-business partner he is, often calls from the road to tell me about the wonderful time he is having sipping drinks and flying on corporate jets and seeing awesome sights of nature. Actually, he's rubbing it in, but I'll let that go.

The ocean sounded a bit tempestuous today. Isabel approaches.


[click for larger image]

--Chris Muir's Day by Day--

oh, ann....

Ann Coulter:

In the wake of Dean's success, the entire Democratic Dream Team is beginning to sound like Dr. Demento. On the basis of their recent pronouncements, the position of the Democratic Party seems to be that Saddam Hussein did not hit us on 9-11, but Halliburton did.

Did I miss something important? I was sure it was bin Laden/the Taliban/al Qaeda that hit us on 9/11.

I really shoudn't write about Coulter. Every time I do, I have nightmares about her and she takes the form of Sebastian Bach.

She is just one of the many reasons I would never align myself with the far right. Besides that whole ideology thing, I mean.


In my dream last night, the number 13 figured prominently.

I was in a museum, viewing an exhibit of paintings that were different interpretations of the number 13. Below one of the paintings was a lock box, whose combination was simply, 13.

There is no deep meaning to this dream; the simple fact is that I spent most of yesterday with Johnny Cash's "Thirteen" running through my head.

Today happens to be the thirteenth.

And, in a bit of beautiful symmetry, the Yankees magic number is now 13.

[Yes, I am behind in keeping with making good on my bet, and as such I need to say three good things about the Red Sox today. I will get there eventually]

[Written for Cash by Glenn Danzig]

Bad luck wind been blowin' at my back
I was born to bring trouble to wherever I'm at
Got the number 13 tattooed on my neck
When the ink starts to itch, then the black will turn to red

I was born in the soul of misery
Never had me a name
They just gave me the number when I was young

Got a long line of heartache, I carry it well
The list of lives I've broken reach from here to hell
Bad luck wind been blowin' at my back
I pray you don't look at me, I pray I don't look back

I was born in the soul of misery
Never had me a name
They just gave me the number when I was young

I was born in the soul of misery
Never had me a name
They just gave me the number when I was young

They just gave me the number when I was young

[somewhere around here I have an mp3 of Danzig's version. when i find it i'll upload it here]

September 12, 2003

who are you, martin sheen?

To the person who sent me this as an annoy.com postcard from one Martin Sheen:

Was it your intention that I should want to run to the medicine cabinet and down an entire handful of Rolaids after reading that?

I washed them down with Kool-Aid. I feel better now.

But not good enough to fisk that baby yet. Maybe tomorrow. But thanks.

springsteen and arafat, together at last!


I told you he always looks like he's constipated.

Is it improper etiquette to quote myself?

"...a singer who looks like he is eternally constipated and sings like the shit is on its way out the hole."

It's times like these that I wish I had a Fark membership.

Four Family Guy episodes and one Sleeping Beauty later, and my own sleeping beauty is snoring away on the couch.

Which means it's the perfect time to watch Princess Diaries!

Or do I stay here and talk about Arafat?

Here's what I don't understand: Why is it ok for Bush to call for the heads of Saddam and Ol' Dirty Laden, want to take them out dead or alive, yet it's wrong when Israel finally has the balls to say let's kill Arafat? Where is the difference? Why can the U.S. protect itself against tyrant leaders and terrorists by killing them and the administration acts all horrified and aghast when Israel wants to do the same?

Arafat is a murderer, a terrorist and a tyrant. No different than the leaders of al Qaeda, no different than Saddam and his his two evil sons.

Kill the bastard. Let allah sort him out.

so you see, this is what I meant by Springsteen and Arafat together at last. I hope I did not lead anyone to have false hopes that the guy with the tablecloth on his head and food caught between the spikes of ten day old stubble on his face was going to get on stage with the Constipated One. Though that might make an interesting show, I imagine the security would be hell. I could probably find some humurous way to compare Arafat to Springsteen, maybe even make one of those fancy charts or a Venn diagram, but that means I would be spending too much time thinking about two people I can't stand [though in entirely different ways - I mean, I hate Bruce but it's not like I want to shove explosives up his ass, too] and that's pretty much why I stuck these two very disparate thoughts in one post because it's like killing two birds with one stone. Two really ugly, annoying birds.]

movies, movies

After my lunch of ice cream, whipped cream and cake all lumped together in a huge glass, I stopped off at Best Buy and picked up the second Family Guy DVD, Monty Python's Meaning of Life and Sleeping Beauty. As soon as the kids take off for their father's house, Justin and I are going to open a bottle of wine, plant ourselves on the couch and watch them all.

Well, there's one other movie I bought. I didn't tell Justin yet. In fact, I don't even know if I should tell you.

Ok, fine, you dragged it out of me.

I bought......

The Princess Diaries.

Don't laugh at me. Don't point those fingers. I know you all have that one movie that you love that you don't tell anyone about. Call it a guilty pleasure.

Confess. I did. And I promise not to tell anyone.



Then you’re home. Barky dog, happy daughter, lovely smiling wife. This lifts the spirits. A pizza helps. Play with Gnat; give Jasper a bath, which he endures better than he usually does. Sunset comes. It starts to rain.

First, let me thank James. For most of the day yesterday, he had no column on The Bleat and just a link to the Voices project. More than a thousand readers came from that link. More than a thousand. Oh, to have that kind of power. Well, not really power, but people taking your word for something. See this link here? Go there. And then thousands of people go, because you said to and they all trust your judgment. If I had that power of suggestion I would wield it like a Sword of Linkage and soon everyone would be enjoying Acid Keg or reading the blogging perfection of Avocare.

But that's not the subject right now. The subject is being thankful and being grateful and taking in the little things. The whole life goes on mantra, except longer and more drawn out than three little words.

I have this thing for clouds. I could lay on the grass and stare at hours for the sky, just watching the clouds form and dissipate and form again into something bigger or wider or grayer.

I don't look at the clouds to see shapes of familiar things. I just take them for what they are; a huge mass of swirls here and a cross-stitch pattern of waves there. Clouds are powerful and fierce. They are benign and comforting.

Today, the clouds rose like mountains to the north. They were angry smokey grey tinged with white and they were hanging down so low it looked as if they stretched down into the ground, that if I kept driving until I reached the place where those clouds hung, I would drive right into them and get lost in the thickness.

It's just one of the little things I enjoy, one of the small pieces of living that reallly make me feel alive. I don't stop and smell the flowers because I'm allergic to them, but I do wake up and smell the coffee almost every day. But life is not as simple as a cliche. If it were, everyone would be smelling and seeing the same things and we would have nothing to tell each other.

Maybe you stop and smell the flowers and I stop and look at the clouds and another person will stops to taste the marzipan. Wake up and smell the bacon! Life is like a box of Froot Loops! Eat, drink and be....drunk!

I watched my son playing hockey with his friends in the driveway last night and my daughter chasing her little cousins around on the lawn and it felt so damn good. The air was cool, the sun was throwing off colors into the early evening sky and the jingle of the ice cream could be heard from blocks away. It was just one of those moments that you want to hold onto forever; you want time to stand still so we are always this happy and this joyous and this free.

Of course, it doesn't work that way, which is why we have cameras and camcorders and halfway decent memories. There are going to be days when the kids are screaming at each other instead of playing harmoniously together, where the neighbor's dog is taking a crap on your lawn and it's raining so hard your gutters are overflowing and someone is calling you with bad news.

No one remembers the exact moments of being estaticly happy. No one says, oh on July 16, 2002 at 7:08 p.m., I felt a surge of happiness in my heart. But we all remember times and dates and intimate details of our moments of despair. Just as no one takes pictures or movies of their family members sobbing over the coffin of Grandma. Well maybe they do, but I don't.

What I'm getting at is this: Right now my co-workers are taking me out for a much belated birthday lunch. And I am going to have a Strawberry Tallcake for my meal. And a margarita. And on the way back to work I am going to stare at the clouds and feel really good and lighthearted and wonderful. And I am going to write down the time and date and the color and shape of the clouds so I can remember in great detail how I felt complete joy at being alive at that moment, in the same way I remember in great detail the times I felt great sadness.

11:48 a.m. on Friday, September 12, 2003.

I feel good.

point, counterpoint

Jeff Jarvis has an OpEd in today's New York Post, on 9/11 PBS and globalization. The whole piece is a great antidote to Mark Morford's black-soul searching essay on the anniversary of 9/11, which, for all its wordy euphemisms and long-winded sentences reads just this: Blame America.

And really, that's all Morford's columns should say at this point. He and Ted Rall should just put out a weekly standard sentence or two instead of these lingering, messy piles of words and just write on the blackboard 100 times, I Hate George Bush. It will expend less of their energy and and will make much more sense to the flower children that read their drivel as if it were the constitution of the left.

johnny, john and....john paul?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging program.

Much like last year, I felt a small sense of relief when the date had passed, as if I could breathe again. And, also like last year, I feel calmer, cooler and more collected.

The link to Voices will remain on the sidebar, always. The Voices project will remain live as long as this blog does and I will always be accepting and posting contributions to the project. It's a never ending thing, this "getting over it."

So I wake today, with my mind ready to seize the day and be less morose and less depressing and get back to my hobby of catching moonbats in my net.

And then: Johnny Cash is dead. And, what? John Ritter? Dead?

My first reaction to the news about Johnny Cash was, he's back in the arms of his wife. Almost comforting to think about it. I'm sure there will be many bloggers - and Blogcritics authors - waxing poetic at the Man in Black today. He deserves all the flowery eulogies and beautiful memories that will be pouring out today.

Let us stop here, then, to remember John Ritter. And let us not remember him for Three's Company, which was probably the worst show on tv with the exception of Small Wonder, but let us remember him for his amazing work in films such as Stay Tuned, Americathon and Bride of Chucky.

You think I'm kidding or being sarcastic? Not a chance. If you've never seen Stay Tuned, today would be the perfect day to go out an rent it. Sure, you'll have to put up with Pam Dawber through the whole movie, but I think it would be a fitting gesture to the memory of John Ritter to watch him at his finest moment.

And if there is any truth to the belief that death comes in threes, and if perhaps there is a special call for Johns in the next world, I guess this guy will be next.

September 11, 2003

thank you

Night has fallen, the day is nearly over. But that day is not over. It will never be over.

Thank you to Lesley, Daria and Jann for all their help with the Voices project.

Thanks to Cam Edwards for having me on his radio show this morning to talk about Voices.

Thank you to everyone who linked and everyone who stopped by to read the stories.

Thank you especially to everyone who contributed a story. I still have more stories to add, the emails keep coming. I know how hard it was for some of you to get those words down and I hoped it help a little to release some of that emotion. The stories were heartbreaking and hopeful, painful and poetic.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with rest of us.

As for me, I am emotionally exhausted but doing ok. I'm ready to think and write of other things. That's not to say I am moving on or letting go - never. It will just be another year before I pour so much of myself and that day into words. It makes my heart ache too much.

Thank you.

two years later


FDNY: On September 11th, Our World Stops

New York City Bravest Scholarship Fund

FDNY Tribute




The Falling Man

Jeff Jarvis was at the WTC ceremony today. His post about the children made me cry.

I'll be adding to this post as the day goes, linking to others who are remembering the day as well. If you have written about it, please leave a link in the comments.

[Update: Please check the comments for more links - I will be leaving the house for a while and won't be able to move the links from the comments to this post for a while. Thank you, everyone]


Sheila: lots of links

Judith has a ton of links

Tristin Laughter [Please read this]

Cox & Forkum

Resurrection Song

Spoons Experience

Sugar White Sand


Primal Purge

In A New York Minute

NYC 99

Matthew Hoy

Michael Smith

Cup and Saucer

Jayne Darcy


Winds of Change

Dissident Frogman


The Daily Rant

Overtaken By Events

601 AM

Cut on the Bias

Dizzy Girl





Frank Digiorgio


Stephen Green

Remember The Blood of Heroes


the voices of 9/11

Getting the Voices site together is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I didn't just post the contributions, I've read every single one. They were put there, unedited, unrevised, just as the authosr sent them, with all the emotion and tears that went into writing them.

I still don't know what I'm going to do to today. I know I'll be going to the cemetery at some point; in addition to visiting the resting place of Pete Ganci, I will also visit the place in the cemetery where the other local victims of 9/11 are buried, gathered together. After that, the day will stretch out before me and I'll be thankful for it.

I'll think about that day and remember everything; the silent sky, the smells, the streets at night glowing with candles lit by grieving neighbors.

At night we'll be going to Brooklyn Heights to get a clear view of the blue lights that will rise upward once more from the place where the World Trade Center buildings once stood.

I'll keep looking at the sky during the day, as if waiting for it all to happen again. I'll shudder at the sound of low-flying planes. I'll hug my children. A lot.

I'll read the paper and watch a little television and remember, and vow to never forget, to never let it go, but at the same time, to move on. To live and cherish and hope, always hope, for a better tomorrow.

There are so many voices to be heard, people yearning to get their stories out, to share their thoughts, to find some company in their grief, which is still as fresh as the day it cut through our hearts. Take in their voices, listen to them, mourn with them and then vow with me that there will be a better tomorrow, one where we no longer look at an airplane slicing through the clouds as a potential weapon, where we no longer fear the next big thing.

What would the voices of the 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001 say to us if they could speak? I imagine they would tell us not to forget them, to carry them with us wherever we go. And they do speak to us, in a way. They speak to us through our hearts, just as my grandmother and my grandfather and friends and loved ones who have left this world do. Unlike my relatives, though, those 3,000 people belong to all of us. They are our legacy because they died representing us; representing freedom and life.

Life goes on. We carry with us memories, and not all of them are good ones. It is our duty to take the painful memories with us as we move along so we do not forget that we still have so much to learn from life.


Thank you to everyone who helped out on Voices and to those who contributed and/or linked to the project. It will remain in its place for the foreseeable future.

September 10, 2003

a sweet lemon

The Lemon - a satirical online magazine - pays homage to the anniversary of 9/11 and states some good reasons why television and mainstream media could not do justice to the day. Yet the author of this article does it just right:

I would be glad to take up the task of remembering 9/11 In A Meaningful Way, but I'm not really any better equipped than the television networks for such a thing. I'm good at being sarcastic, making funny pictures, and finding clever ways to imply people are stupid. That's great when I'm talking about Jayson Blair, Texas Lawmakers, or French diplomacy, but it leaves me unarmed when it comes to the loss and pain of 9/11. I don't have the words or the skill to give proper respect to the heroes and the fallen.

But I'm going to do it anyway.

Read the rest, as they say.


Please note that the robot is not me, either.

scavenger hunt

I know I can blame myself for being grumpy because I keep searching the garbage dumps of the internet and I never fail to find something to aggravate me. It's like a game show. Today On Indymedia!

We have this:

asshat23.jpg.jpe9/11 Personal Protest Action
Print out the image onto a sheet of paper or use as a graphic in a label or sticker formatting program. Tape or stick the paper or sticker everywhere tomorrow. Display on the back of your car. Stick it on your shirt. Stick it everywhere you can.

Need I explain what will happen if I see anyone pasting this sticker anywhere near me tomorrow?

Wear on it your own clothes, stick it on your own car, I don't care. I may spit in your soda while you're not looking or maybe accidently trip you so you fall face first into a pile of dog shit, but hey, all's fair in protest and war, right?

I would really like to see a whole bunch of these morons slap the stickers on their shirts and jackets and pants and walk on down the memorial service at the Word Trade Center site tomorrow. And I'd like to have a camera handy. And maybe a tire iron.

I really need to calm down today.

every day is like another new slogan

via Jeff Jarvis

Make Someone Smile on September 12.

I'll give you a little advice right now. Don't even attempt it. There is nothing I hate more than someone trying to force a good mood on you.

Like Jeff, I am grumpy. I will remain grumpy for another day or so. I wallow in my grumpiness. In fact, in the terror-alert scale of my mood levels, I am moving along at a record pace from the greenish stage of grumpiness and will probably bypass pissed off and move right to the high alert of force of satan.

The anniversary of September 11, 2001 brings back many sad memories, and the days that followed were moving in untold ways. Amid the loss, shock, and fear, people reached out to one another. New Yorkers, so often stereotyped as living too independently, treated each other tenderly and patiently. The grief shared around the world in those days opened many hearts and eyes.

September 12 can be our ongoing reminder of those positive emotions, a way to remember and repeat that surge of warmth and togetherness.

There are few things more annoying than someone coming up to you and saying "Smile, it can't be all bad!" If you want to be all happy and prancing and lead a flash mob of clown-faced do-gooders down the street singing "Put On A Happy Face," by all means, go right ahead. Just don't involve me, don't expect me to stop and applaud your efforts and don't be suprised if I start revving my engine while you're skipping through the crosswalk in front of my car. Your smile is not contagious, bumper stickers stating as such notwithstanding.

Never force a person to smile when they don't feel like it. It only leads to resentment. And maybe a well-time punch.

same song, different venue

Hamas warns that it will start targeting homes in Israel

In a warning of reprisal, Hamas says it will begin targeting Israel houses in response to an Israeli air force attack on the home of a senior Hamas leader on Wednesday -- the day after Hamas suicide bombings killed 15 Israelis.

They still don't get and neither do their supporters. Israel targets the homes of known terrorists. They are rooting out terrorism. They are taking down the people who are responsible for sending the suicide bombers out to the cafes and bus stops.

What difference does this make anyhow? Is this some kind of denial that they were ever targeting innocents, like announcing that they will now drop bombs on private homes is somehow different from the way they have been going about the task of wiping out Israelis? These people are delusional.

There is a black cloud over Israel right now. Bad things are going to happen. Terrorists need to die. Soon.

where did the girl go?

Time for a new background. Too many people thought that girl was me and I did not want to be responsible for the disillusionment you would suffer if and when you ever met me.


Cox and Forkum on the Pentagon.

Pentagon victims

Flight 77 victims


You can pretty much guess what the subject is going to be on this page for the next two days. Feel free to pass it by until Friday if it makes you uncomfortable or angry, or whatever you feel about people who can't move on.

I listen to Curtis and Kuby on my way to work every day. Yesterday (or maybe it was Monday) they were talking about an atheist group that wants to remove the cross - the cross that came from deep within the World Trade Center - because it is a religious symbol.

Susanna wrote about this yesterday:

Now consider this: Yesterday a group of atheists in New Jersey began agitating for the cross at the WTC site to be removed, and not included in a memorial of the site. They cry "separation of church and state", of course, which is a construct of the latter half of the 20th century, not a Constitutional fact.

I heard about it on the radio, and dug around all four NYC papers, FoxNews, the NJ papers and WaPo without finding anything about it. But Ron Kuby, a lawyer and talk show host on WABC radio in NYC - himself an atheist and communist - denounced the effort. He said that, in his judgment, the cross was neither inappropriate nor unconstitutional: the former because it represents a lot of people who died in the WTC attack, and the latter because it would be a part of a larger memorial that is broad in scope.

I am an atheist and I said the other day, when I wrote again about that cross; it is not so much a symbol of god or a symbol of religion as a symbol of hope. Perhaps for some it represents the hope that their loved ones are somewhere above now, watching over them. For some it could be a symbol that we will rise again from the ashes. Yes, for many people it represents God, and for them, that is a good thing. Why take that away from them? This isn't a case of one person trying to force a religion on someone, it's not a matter of separation of church and state. It's a reminder and a promise and a prayer for the dead and symbol of strength and hope all rolled into one powerful memorial. Not a man-made memorial, but one that lay there among the victims, one that is forged of their ash and skin and bones, of the fires that raged, of the papers that burned, of the oil that spilled, of the ghosts that remain.

Leave it be.

life, archived

september 10, 2001:

That morning I went on a rant about Mondays and rude people and all the little things that were aggravating me. We didn't know what would come just 24 hours later. I still lived in a state of mind where I felt the world was a mostly decent place, that people were mostly good, that life would hold no big suprises that I couldn't handle.

I don't have my September 2001 archives on the sidebar. If you would like to read them, and see how that day - and the days after - progressed, you can fin them at the web archives here.

and on and on

From Yahoo News: Hamas supporters celebrate in the streets of Gaza City after a suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem, September 9, 2003. The military wing of the Islamic militant group Hamas hailed two suicide bombings in Israel in a statement sent to Al-Jazeera television on Tuesday. Picture taken September 9. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

From Tal G. in Jerusalem: one of my wife's old friends - was hurt by shrapnel in last night's bombing. Doctors say there is a screw lodged near a major artery, which requires removal via a delicate procedure.

See, they don't just detonate bombs - they fill the bombs with nails and screws so as to inflict the most pain and injury and death possible. Are these people really human?

As long as they continue to strike out at innocents, as long as they believe that it's ok to kill in the name of your lord, as long as they bring their children up to be martyrs and murderers and teach them to hate and loathe and celebrate death, there will be no peace in the Middle East or anywhere. The cycle of violence does not run back and forth between Hamas and the IDF. It runs between parent and child, one passing on to the other the sick blood lust and the notion that dying for your cause and killing as many innocent civilians as you can in the process is virtuous.

role playing 9/11

I got to work especially early that day. I did the usual routine of buying my coffee, going outside by West Street for my cigarette, and heading upstairs to the 87th floor to my office.

No, that's not another story from a survivor of 9/11. It's a made-up story from a video game - 911 Survivor (Mod based on the Unreal Game Engine).

When I first saw this page, I was hoping it was a hoax. But this is a real company, making real video games.

From the page that describes the game and the reason for making it:

From here on the other side of the world, it is safe to say that many found it difficult to form deep empathies with the victims of the attack. Unless we knew people personally involved, it was more tempting to celebrate the event as a spectacular undermining of an international dictatorship; one so out of touch with the morality of global equality that it now considers itself free from international law due to self-adorned ‘exceptionalism’.

The makers of this game could find no empathy within themselves for the victims of the attack. And then they thought, what better way to dig up some fake tears then to put yourself there?

The World Trade Centre will never stand again, but in this modification of a computer game, we can use fantasy to imagine ourselves transported there. In this fantasy, we can attempt to understand what it might have really felt like in the last moments of those people's lives. This game mod sets out to provide both the makers, and all other users, with an opportunity to empathically comprehend the reality of what happened at the WTC.

So, by engaging in a little role-playing, where you become the victim, you can relieve your guilt over not feeling any empathy by playing a game about a terrible tragedy that took 3,000 lives.

Some "highlights" of the game:

  • Recreate Twin Towers: Different floors need to be in different states - normal, fiery, debris, and mixes of each

  • Scenarios: Have to choose between being engulfed by flames or jumping from window
  • Sounds: Yells and screams

I don't know if this game is even available - the last update to the game page was in February. Still, the thought behind this game is sickening. Basically, it's something like - even though America deserved this, let's see if we can dig up some emotion by pretending we are the ones jumping out of the building.

Hey, if you don't feel anything about that day, that's your problem. If you think America deserved this, if the deaths of 3,000 people didn't cause you to blink an eye, don't worry about it. They probably didn't want your sympathy anyhow. Creating a game engine that helps you find your way to that place in your soul where you may feel something - and obviously some people can only feel empathy for themselves - then you need more than a video game to help you.

Why would these gamers, or anyone for that matter, want to roam around in a virtual replication of a building moments before it became a coffin for over 2000 people? Why would anyone want to spend endless hours practising to kill enemies in a computer game? The answer is specifically because these activities are fantasy, because we can’t perform them in real life. The violence is not the primary motivation; many computer games do not contain any violence at all. But all games allow us to enact fantasies that are otherwise prohibited, restricted or impossible in reality.

Point taken. But most of those games are based on fantasy. They are made up scenarios designed to look nothing like reality. It's not so much the violence that disturbs me in this one or even the reality of the situation. After all, I have played many video games that simulate real wars. It is the reasoning behind the making of this game that makes me want to take the creators and shove their faces into the rubble that was the World Trade Center.

Let me repeat that one line for you:

Unless we knew people personally involved, it was more tempting to celebrate the event as a spectacular undermining of an international dictatorship; one so out of touch with the morality of global equality that it now considers itself free from international law due to self-adorned ‘exceptionalism’

I know a bunch of people over here who will probably buy this game if it's ever released. Which tells you a whole lot about it.

September 09, 2003

news, views and a snooze

I've been neglecting most of my email and I'm catching up now.

The lovely Sasha Castelhas moved. Please update your blogrolls, as she is now residing at the Cold Fury residence on the web.

The just as lovely Arthur Silber has just celebrated his one year blogging anniversary. Stop by and say hi. Arthur, you have the soul of a lion.

Cam Edwards is going to interview me on his radio show Thursday morning about the Voices project.

In other news, my 13 year old daughter just asked if she could paint her bedroom black and decorate it with skulls and other creepy Halloween-type things. She's already done the depressing poetry thing. Should I be worried? Ratty, a little help here?

More flashback-inducing than Pink Floyd.

Has anyone read the His Dark Materials trilogy? Did you know Pullman wrote a companion book called Lyra's Oxford?

Today was brought to you by the letter D, which stands for defeated, dead-tired and done.

That's ok because Opus is coming back. Everything is better with Opus.

Tikkun Olam

I'm glad I didn't have the chance to catch the PBS 9/11 special last night.

Both Sheila O'Malley and Jeff Jarvis watched it and they both do a good job decomposing the complete lack of humanity in this special. You should go read their posts for some of the more unbelievably cold hearted quotes.

After reading the transcript and feeling somewhat angered at the coldness in the words of the participants, I was heartened - yet saddened - by this beautiful passage spoken by Mario Cuomo:

I would like to see some depiction of all the religions list them all: atheism, ethical humanism, Catholicism, etc., etc. All of them. And you notice that each of those religions, these value systems, have two principles they share in common. And the two principles started with monotheism and the Jews: tzedakah and tikkun olam. [Tzedakah] means generally: we must treat one another as brother and sister. We should show one another respect and dignity, because we are like things. We are human beings in a world that has nothing else like us. And we ought to treat one another with love, charity-use your own words. And the second principle is: Well, what do you do with this relationship? Well, we don't know exactly how we got here, why we got here, etc., etc. That's for minds larger than ours. But we know that we are like kinds, and we should work together to make this as good an experience as possible. Tikkun Olam -- let us repair the universe. Now Islam believes that. Buddhism that has no god believes it. Every ethical humanist I ever met believes it. Those two principles: we're supposed to love one another and we're supposed to work together to make the experience better. That's all the religion you need, really, to make a success of this planet. And I'd like to see that in 9/11 somewhere. I'd like to see that captured somehow.

Beautiful as that sounds, it will never happen as long as people keep perverting their religions and ideologies to fit their demented needs.

It is my deepest hope that some day we do see a world such as that. I want that more than anything for my children, for their children, for the future. But all people have to be willing, not just some of us. We have to come to a future where people aren't striving to be martyred by bombs for their cause.

I hope and I wish and I strive to teach my children exactly what Cuomo was speaking about; tzedakah and tikkun olam. I am only one parent, one teacher. I cannot change what others teach their children, especially others who see their own religion through martyred-colored glasses and show the same to their children.

I long ago left behind the naive young girl I was. I used to believe that if we all joined hands and wished for peace, we would get it, so to speak. It's no longer possible to make this a joint effort. We have to do it one person, one parent, one teacher, one child at a time. Perhaps someday my great-great granchildren will reap the benefits of that. And perhaps that day will never come.

I feel less and less certain about my hopes being fulfilled as the years go on, and the hate and death in the name of religion does not subside.

How do you repair the universe? I don't think it's possible. You can only repair your own heart and soul when they feel torn and worn out, and hope that when you feel renewed and hopeful again, you have enough faith and belief left to help repair someone else's heart - and then to pass that skill on to those who come after you.

this is a peace process?

Can you just feel that aura of peace? The road map glittering with golden stones, shining in its brightness, a hope for the future?


Two suicide bombings. At least ten dead.

But hey, let's give them a state.

last word on Ed

Ed (of the posts from this morning) took down the entry he wrote about me. In fact, he took down the whole front page of his blog. He also seems to have left MetaFilter, and the internet in general, in a huff.

You make your bed, you lie in it. Despite some emails to the contrary, I am not to blame for Ed's web demise. In fact, I'm sure Ed will be back spewing some kind of hateful vitriol in just a matter of days.

Ed opened the door by posting about me on MetaTalk and on his own blog, making some clumsy assumptions about me. Of course, he tried to pass it off as satire, but it failed to be viewed as such by the majority of people who read it.

Let this be a lesson. If you want to attempt to take someone apart on your site, don't provide a link to that person, or their referrer stats will just lead them to you, and will most likely lead them to defend themselves, loudly and to rule out every single fallacy you print about them. You end up looking like a fool if you don't have your facts straight.

I make no apologies for the way I handled Ed. He deserved every last bit of what was handed to him. Pleas stop emailing me asking me to apologize to the MetaFilter community and to Ed because I owe no such thing to either.

a bet is a bet: day two

Here are your payback links.

And now, for something nice about the Red Sox, which I am being forced to write - for the second of seven days - by virtue of the Yanks losing last weekend's series against the Sox:

Nomar doesn't suck. In fact, he's the second best shortstop in the league.

Five more days of this.

today's required reading

A moving story of a true hero:

Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.

John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. "Rick, you've got to get out, too," Olson told him. "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out," Rescorla replied.

To paraphrase Greyhawk, the author of this very moving story: this is just one single story of the tragedy that happened that day. Multiply that by three thousand.

And then try to figure out why some of us still feel the pain.

for ed

See post below for reference

[click images for full picture]

There's more where that came from, Ed. Those are from last year and the year before.

They are why I am still angry.

ed rants, ed makes assumptions

Nothing like starting your day with some fresh anger.

Mr. Ed, whom I refer to in this post about MetaFilter wrote another one of those every so popular rants about how James Lileks and myself cannot get over 9/11.

It's as if James and I have become the pinatas of "move on, already" crowd. And Ed beats us furiously with his big stick today.

The first thing I notice is that Ed refers to me as Michele Wigglebottoms. Ah, there's a footnote attached to that. Let's see what it says.

While I'm aware that Michelle's last name is "Catalano," she doesn't seem to have the courtesy (let alone the courage) to include it on her website. Perhaps this represents an implacable fear that some Republican admirer might notice that her surname doesn't have, shall we say, pure Teutonic roots. To respect Ms. Catalano's Little White Lie, and for my own peace of mind, I will refer to her as Wigglebottoms throughout the course of this essay.

First things first. There's one L in my name. Thanks. I've referred to my last name many times on my site; which is obvious or else he wouldn't have know it. As for the Teutonic roots remark, I do think Ed has discovered that gasp! I'm not an Aryan! Oh my goodness, what will my fellow Republicans think of me now?

It's interesting how much someone can glean about a person by going through their weblog and its archives. What's more interesting, however, is what one does not glean by reading just one or two posts.

Ed talks about moving on:

And yet James Lileks and Michelle Wigglebottoms of A Small Victory, two people who did not lose anyone on September 11, cannot. Lileks, the less arbitrary of the two, writes that "almost two years later I'm still f*#king furious about it, if you want to know the truth [his censorship, not mine]." Wigglebottoms calls me "and the people who can't seem to understand" a "sick cancer." She states that "we will, in all probability, not move on" and consigns herself (and the other people she seems to speak for) to "stay with the anger and pain." [emphasis mine]

Had Ed taken the time to find out anything about me, he would know that the emphasized statement is untrue. It wouldn't have taken much - I've written about it often enough in the past month alone that a cursory skim of this site would have told him different.

Ed continues:

Why did Lileks and Wigglebottoms flip out about September 11 when the people who suffered real loss, irreplaceable loss, have the effrontery to move forward? Any rational person would want to escape a life of bile, hatred, anger, ferocity -- insert your intense emotional noun of choice.

All Ed knows about me is what he read in a few sentences. I do have a life outside of this weblog, and there are things I don't write about because they would bore people to tears. But I'm not here to justify myself to Ed. I don't have to explain my behavior or give examples of how my life is not 100% bile and hatred. This is my forum and I use it as such. And if it sometimes if filled with vitriol and anger, so be it.

I am not going to write another ten paragraphs on why I am still angry about 9/11 or why I still feel the pain. I am not going to tell Ed about the losses and those mournful days after. If Ed wants to know, he will dig through my archives. Something tells me he doesn't really want know, though.

It's too early to deal with this.

September 08, 2003


The Miracle Survivors:

In Stairwell B of the North Tower, 16 people lived amid the avalanche of concrete and steel. But surviving was only the start of their struggle.

Jeff Jarvis wrote about one of those survivors, Pasquale Buzzelli, last year. He wrote about him again today:

I met Pasquale and his wonderful wife, Louise, about a year ago when she asked me for advice on trying to get Pasquale's story published as a book to support the foundation she started to help the mothers who became widows that day. I knew it was a great story, but it was not just some happy-ending-cue-the-music saga. Surviving brought its own difficulties: guilt for living so near death, anger at the people who did this, disorientation in a world utterly changed. I thought that Pasquale's story was the amplified version of the story of our nation as it has tried to emerge from the debris.

Some of Pasquale's story can be found here.

..the amazing thing is that he survived by landing on top of the debris pile. So what was a peculiar thing in that collapse is that there -- the entire building beat him to the ground.

It's good to take a look at the survivors - the living - in between all the remembering of death.



Thank you so much to Jan of Sweet Inspirations for making this beautiful logo. Feel free to swipe it (save to your own server, please) to link to Voices.


Attention Wal-Mart shoppers:

This site is now available in Mozilla.

Courtesy desk help provided by Kevin. Prodding provided by Dave and Jim.

dear vince


Once again I must approach you publicly. I was kind enough to accept your apology, thinking it would shut you up and you would move on to bother someone else, seeing as that even Indymedia won't have you.

In regards to your most recent comment directed at Andrea, you have just proved the point I made in my original post about you: You reduce every single arrow aimed at you to your gayness.

No one cares if you are gay, Vince. That's not the issue. Remember when I said that you use a bait-and-switch technique, making long rants about whatever Palestinian soapbox you are on and then you add one tiny sentence saying something about being gay so when someone attacks you, you accuse them of being a homophobe?

Obviously, you learned nothing about that lesson, Vince.

Get over yourself, hon. It's not about your sexuality. It's about your arrogant idiocy.

Apology retracted. Now, shoo.

Indymedia and blogs

An Indymedia moderator writes a lenghty observance on Indymedia's role in the blogosphere.

Yes, I'm mentioned. Without insult, I may add.

I think the basic premise of his article is that while bloggers talk and complain, Indymedia spurs people into action.

In the weblog world, sometimes it seems as if debate spurs argument, which itself spurs a hypertext link somewhere else and yet another argument, ad infinitum. On Indymedia, at least in theory, journalism spurs debate, but also action, which in turn creates yet more journalism. For a generation variously written off as politically disengaged, hopelessly post-modern, or both, Indymedia’s embrace of political praxis can be a refreshing antidote to the endless burbling of the blogosphere.

So, to sum up: Indymedia rules, blogs drool.

Sorry, Chris, but you are blowing Indymedia's worth way out of proportion. You can find more jouralism type stories in one hours worth of surfing blogs than you can find in three days worth of surfing every single IMC site.

I don't claim that this site is anything like journalism, but there certainly are blogs - on both the left and the right - that put out media-worthy posts day in and day out. If posting Photoshopped pictures of Bush and hiding posts that go against the Palestinian version of peace can be construed as journalism to the IMC moderators, then perhaps some of them should go back school and learn what journalism really is.

Indymedia has the potential and the reader base to be something important and powerful for the left. By moderating it down to specific ideologies (which not all on the left follow) and dismissing anyone who does not fall in line with ANSWER type activism, IMC is doing a great disservice to those it purports to serve.

My suggestion is to open it up a little more, let people speak their minds and stop making room for every conspiracy theory in the world while censoring posts that are just reporting facts - even if these facts are not ones that you want to hear. Perhaps some real discussion is warranted in those instances, perhaps the comments section on the various IMCs would consist of more than trolls and anti-Semites if you stopped thinking of IMC as a forum for the tin-foil hat crowd and took the real leaders of the left - those who can think beyond conspiracies - seriously.

Just my two cents.

the things they carried

This photo was taken at the Fresh Kills landfill, the place where all the debris from the World Trade Center made its final stop. Wedding rings, watches, gold bands, all once worn by someone very much alive.

When people ask why I still feel so much pain and anger two years later, why I spend so much emotion on that day when people die every single day, they only need to look at this picture. 3,000 people. One day. One hour. All dead.

There are their wedding rings. Their watches and gold chains, some given to its owner by a lover or mother or friend. Some worn as mere dressing, some worn as testaments to love and honor. Earrings that were carefully picked out that morning, bracelets put on in a hurry as someone rushed to catch a train.

These items speak of the humans they belonged to. People with lives and families and jewelry boxes sitting on dressers, filled with trinkets to wear on another day, a day that would never come.

Imagine if all that was left of someone you loved was a wedding band sitting in a box in a landfill. Imagine if someone you loved or even just liked left for work one day and never came home because some zealots on a mission used their office, their building to send a terrible, devastating message. Imagine if all that was left of them was a segment of a gold chain they had worn that day.

Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you feel pain? Would you expect that the pain would subside two years later?

Are you a free person? Are you an American? If so, then put yourself in those buildings on September 11, 2001. Put yourself in the Pentagon or on a plane flying over Pennsylvania. Because those pieces of jewelry? They belong to you, too. It wasn't an attack on a middle-aged clerical worker filing away papers that morning. It was an attack on all of us who value freedom, who value democracy.

Look again at those rings and bracelets and chains. Think about them lying in a box at Fresh Kills. Think about who they once belonged to. They belong to you, now. That is our legacy. To forget, to move on, to let that day slide into the back of our minds like just another Tuesday morning is to forget that the death of 3,000 people was directed at all of us, not just them.

psa and a the weekly whoring commentary

I just want to publicly thank Daria, who is busy today helping me out with Voices.

There's plenty of new stories to be had. Read, link, pass it on.

Thank you, Daria, and thanks to all who offered help. I'll be in touch.

Also, please go visit Kelley's weekly devotion to the blogosphere, the Cul de Sac.

And this being Monday, it's your chance to whore yourself, your posts, your announcements and your blog in the comments. Just no pet talk, ok?

UPDATES: Thank you to Lesley also for volunteering to help me out with the posting on Voices.

And I forgot Pietro when I did my links to Red Sox fans this morning. I don't think I have to say something else nice about the Red Sox because the bet was once a day for a week, so I'll hold off on my musing on Bill Buckner until tomorrow.

the daily french report

Merde in France reports that crass French author Frédéric Beigbeder's hitting the publicity circuit to promote his book "Windows on the World," had a bit of trouble:

For the new season of France state television's weekly anti-American hate fest 'Tout le Monde en Parle', Frédéric Beigbeder was so shitfaced from drinking vodka backstage that he did not come out to do his book promo. He took a raincheck and will be back next week.

No comment.

Meanwhile, Beetswerkin has decided to write a book about the French heat wave:

Do you think grandma will be ok, said the French woman with the French hair. Certainment, replied the French man with the French name. But reports say it is hot in Paris, said the French woman with the French hair. Perhaps we should have bought grandmother an air conditioning unit. Never, replied the French man with the French name. Grandmother need only take herself down the five flights of stairs and enjoy a refreshing lemonade at the cafe. Air conditioning destroys the environment, overtaxes the electrical grid and leads to the absolute decay and destruction of the societies which use them, pontificated the French man with the French name.

Oh, I'm sorry. Is that crass?

for solonor: october 2, 1978

torrez.jpeSolonor thinks I was off getting stoned behind the school the day Bucky Dent hit his famous home run. Not so. And just for his snarky comment, I’m going to be really ungracious and mean and tell that story.

October, 1978. Junior year at my Catholic high school. Because the kids in my school came from all over Long Island, we would often stay after school, hanging out in the front lobby or the grass by the side of the parking lot instead of asking our parents to drive us all over creation.

The previous August I had a sweet sixteen party, one of those dress-up, dancing affairs where we played nothing but Who records and my friends got in trouble for sneaking Vodka into the pitchers of soda.

Those drunken friends, Kevin, Tim and Chris, had chipped in to buy me a wonderful birthday present: a portable radio. Keep in mind this was in the days before boom boxes. This radio was small, had no cassette player or 8-track player, just an AM/FM radio, which was all I wanted. Their intention in getting me this particular present was so I wouldn’t rush home after school during the baseball playoffs - I could stay after and hang out with them and listen to the games (which used to be played in the afternoon) on my portable radio.

On October 8th of that year, there was a one-playoff game for the AL East title. Yankees. Red Sox. Fenway. This is what baseball was all about. This is the stuff that rivalries are made of.

I listened to most of the game in front of the school while everyone else was smoking or starting fights or whatever it was we did in those days. I held the radio up to my ear and did a play-by-play for everyone who was interested. As the game wore on the tension grew, everyone gathered around me on the lawn and I turned the volume up. And then the late bus came. I had to leave them all there, not knowing what was happening.

My school district didn’t give us private school kids our own yellow buses. We had passes that allowed us to take the public buses for free. So for the four miles home, I had a bus full of commuters gathered around my seat, crossing their fingers, praying, waving lucky rabbits feet in the air.

The moment happened when I got off at my stop. It was a 1/4 mile walk to my house, down one straight road. I had the radio up to my ear again as Dent came up to bat. My heart was beating fast, my nerves were tingling. I went into a half-run, hoping that I could make it to my house - which I could see all the way at the end of the block - before anything great happened. And there was no doubt in my mind, I felt it in every nerve in my body, that something grand was about to happen.

The only reason the Yanks left Dent in to hit in the seventh inning of a game they were losing 2-0 was because they were out of spare infielders.

Before his home run, Dent fouled a ball off his foot, hopping around in pain and asking the trainer to come out and take a look. After walking around a bit, Dent decided he was OK and went back into the box.

Mickey Rivers was on deck, and the Yanks leadoff hitter had been closely observing Dent the entire time. While most everyone in Fenway Park was watching Dent grimace in pain, Rivers noticed that the bat Dent was using was the same one that Rivers had used earlier in the game — and Rivers knew the bat was cracked. He grabbed a bat-boy and sent him to the plate with the bat he was holding, and Dent took the new lumber despite being in the middle of an at-bat.

And then it happened. Dent swung at a Torrez fastball. It was going, going, gone. A three run homer. I don’t even remember the call of the play on the radio because I was whooping it up, all by myself on the sidewalk. I heard the happy roar of a man coming from inside the house I was in front of. I was literally jumping in the air. I broke into a sprint and ran the rest of the way home, where my mother, who was the source of all things Yankees for me, was standing in the kitchen, waiting for me. High fives all around. The Yankees went on to win, 5-4.

Bucky Dent sails one over the Green Monster. My number two moment on my list of Greatest Sports Moments Ever.

a bet is a bet

Ok guys.

Here are your links.

And now, for something nice about the Red Sox, which I am being forced to write by virtue of the Yanks getting blown out two games out of three this weekend.

Fenway Park is nice. I really like the Green Monster. I had a good view of it on tv when Bucky Dent's home run went sailing over it on October 2, 1978.

standing tall

Of all the pictures I took at Ground Zero last week, it was this one, of the steel cross, that really sucker punched me, followed by this one.

Two days after the disaster, a construction worker found several perfectly formed crosses planted upright in apit in the rubble of the heavily damaged 6 World Trade Center.

The large, cross-shaped metal beams just happened to fall that way when one of the towers collapsed. An FBI chaplain who has spent days at ground zero says he has not seen anything like it on the vast site.

As word of the find has spread at ground zero, exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed rescue workers have been flocking to the site to pray and meditate.

I'm not a relgious person but I know a symbol of hope when I see one. For a time, the steel cross that was then erected in the rubble of the World Trade Center became a beacon of hope and prayer for so many. It is, at this time, all that a visitor to Ground Zero can see of the ruins of the two towers. It stands there like a sentry, guarding the place where all that remains of so many people are ashes and soot and the ghosts of their footsteps walking through the halls of buildings that no longer exist.

My father has his own miniature version of the cross. I've repeated what I wrote the day I first saw that cross - given to him by a fireman who made several crosses by hand forged from steel from Ground Zero - and touched the remnants of a tragedy:

I ran my fingers across the discolored metal. It was rough and heavy and parts of it flaked beneath my fingers. My mind could not reconcile that piece of worn steel with the towers that used to be part of the New York skyline.

I imagined that the energy of every person that died that day was captured inside of something I held in my very own hands. I could not hold onto it any longer. I put it down and cried. More than six months later, I cried, again

And still, when I go to my father's house and I look at the cross on his shelf I sometimes have to look away because it is too much for me to bear, to know the history of that burned metal, to know where it was and what it is made of. To touch it is to touch tragedy.

I cannot imagine how the people who are working at Ground Zero now do their jobs every day without being haunted by the past.

I cannot imagine how the rescue workers sleep at night without being innundated by streams of memories of the smell, the sound, the horror of digging through dirt and glass and pieces of office equipment, knowing that the chances of finding someone alive were so slim.

I can't even look at a photograph or a small cross of steel without my eyes filling with tears.

The weather is beautiful today. The sky is a deep blue, the clouds are perfectly formed bundles of white, the air is crisp and cool; chilly enough for long sleeves but warm enough to keep the windows in the car rolled down.

It's a day just like that day. It was a perfect day, for a while.

them bones

Bone, organs found on beach near former president Bush's summer house in Maine

A woman walking along a beach about a mile from former president Bush's summer home Sunday found what appeared to be body parts on the shore, police said.

The state medical examiner will inspect the items, which include at least one bone and what appeared to be internal organs, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Public Safety Department. He said it wasn't immediately known if they were human.

At some point today at either Indymedia or DU, there will be theories thrown about that Bush has been sacrificing humans in order to keep his pact with the devil or it's the body of someone who knew that 9/11 was just a big lie and Bush had to have him killed.

Of course it's probably just the remains of a seal. Or an alien. Or Jimmy Hoffa.

Hey, has anyone seen Ted Rall lately?

September 07, 2003

i love you, you love me

I figured out why I attract a ridiculous amount of oppositional haters.

It's the tagline.

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Perhaps I should change it to Bunnies! Kitties! Hamtoro! or I Want To Be Your Best Friend or All You Need Is Love.

But that would just take the fun out of everything, wouldn't it?

i am a broken record

Regardless of what people think of my not letting go of the pain and anger, I'm going to continue to not let go. Expect that this week will consist mainly of posts about and relating to 9/11. That's just the way it is, the way I am and what I need to do.

In the interest of self-preservation and a tiny bit of self-awareness, I've decided to forgive Vince after he sent another email, one that I truly believe is sincere in his offer of an apology.

I've got to let some things go.

Anyhow, I'm becoming nervous that I will not have enough time to get all of the contributions up on Voices before Thursday. There's just so many of them and I can only do a few at a time before it gets hard to read any more stories. If anyone would like to help me out with posting these stories over the next few days I would really appreciate it. Just let me know.

Once again, please take some time to read the stories. A link on your site, if you have one, would be great, especially this week. Like I've said before, so many people expended a lot of energy and emotion getting these stories down and I want them to be heard.

And I am not going to apologize or make excuses for refusing to let go of my anger and pain. It's what drives me to do things like Voices.

group flaming

Now I'm being flamed on MetaTalk, an offshoot of MetaFilter:

I wouldn't place too much importance on what a site like "A Small Victory" has to say about the level of debate on Metafilter. Come on! Look the bile, hatred, bigotry and self-righteousness the author and respondents generate.

I think I'll use that as my new tagline. Bile! Hatred! Bigotry! Except that I don't recall ever being a bigot, but that does not matter in the land of flaming your enemies.

Note to MetaFilter people: I am not a right-winger, especially not a rabid one. I am more of a centrist, with some right handed leanings. Just because I wrote in one post about my need to hang on to the anger of 9/11 does not mean I am an all out Bush cheerleader, school-prayer loving, white supremacist who frequents dirty water trenches like Free Republic. Of course, most of you have just read that one angry post so what would you know?

Anyhow, in two and half years of blogging, I've been flamed and broiled and skewered and roasted a number of times. This won't be the last, even though it is probably the first group-flame I've received and it most likely will remain the nastiest, for reasons I'll keep to myself.

Anyhow, get over yourselves, guys. Most of the descriptions you set up on right-wingers go for left-wingers as well. Self-parody indeed.

from the man who wants to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses

From Fox:

California Gov. Gray Davis on Saturday took a dig at Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger, telling one potential voter at a campaign stop that "you shouldn't be governor unless you can pronounce the name of the state."

Someone should tell Mr. Davis that you shouldn't be governor unelss you can actually run the state without running it into the ground. I'd rather have a governor with a bad accent than a governor with bad fiscal management skills.

for vince: too late for apologies

There's this guy named Vince. Vince is somewhat of an enigma. I know, for instance, that Vince isn't too fond of Israel or Israelis. I know that Vince likes to cause trouble. I know this because Vince is a stalwart of Indymedia, yet he has felt their wrath as well. He is often censored, his posts are deleted as much. I'm not sure what personal agendas are behind all that, but it seems that Vince has as many supporters as enemies at Indymedia.

I don't like Vince. He mistakenly called me a homophobe once. But Vince thinks everyone in the world is a homophobe, so I wasn't particularly bothered by that. I wrote about Vince over here as well, after he posted something about zionist dogs at Indymedia. Following that, Vince posted about me on Indymedia, using my picture. I had asked him to take the picture down but, alas, it never happened, although the post was hidden by an IMC moderator.

I asked Vince also for an apology and a retraction, as he poste some very false things about me. I'm glad I didn't hold my breath for those because I would be dead by now.

So eventually I forget about Vince and I start skipping over his posts when I'm gathering moonbat seeds in the garden of Indymedia.

Now, flash foward to today. Who do I get an email from? That's right, Mr. Vince. It's a long, meandering email, much like his posts and it took me a while to get to the gist of it, to figure out what he wanted.

I'm going to go ahead and excerpt parts of Vince's email. If it pisses him off well that's just too damn bad, as the apology and retraction that I've been waiting for since May 27th was thoughtlessly tacked on to the end of today's email. Vince decide to take me down in a public forum; I can do the same to him. Sure, two wrongs don't make a right. But if pissing in Vince's Cheerios is wrong, I don't want to be right.

So, where has Vince been all this time that his apology has been delayed by months?

In any case, sorry for the months' long delay in getting back to you. I
have been promoting a benefit for Palestinian hospitals and working to bring
about a more reasoned U.S. foreign and domestic policy. I am doing all this
because I love you, my fellow citizens, and of course, I know better than
all of you.

Have I mentioned that Vince is arrogant? And really, Vince. If I had a dollar for every time you posted something on Indymedia while you were too busy to apologize to me, I would have enough money to buy you a clue.

Well, Sistah, if, long, long after the fact, you want me to post a retraction to Indymedia NYC, regarding earlier comments that I erringly attributed to you, I can do so. However, it's a bit moot, as the brain surgeons on 29th street seem to be calling out their attack dogs on fellow activists. Indeed, they have itchy fingers on the delete post button these days. Also, it is true, I am gayer than a pink bonnet, and take no offense at your earlier comments posted to your "insightful" weblog.

Sorry Vince. I do believe I am part of the reason for those itchy trigger fingers. Anyhow, it's too late for apologies. Also, I'm not sure what offense you are talking about. If I insulted you, it certainly wasn't for being gay. It was for being a jackass.

He then goes on to tell me about his Palestinian project, how he supports the two state solution and how he's a moderate. Could Vince possibly be coming around? Could he be giving up his anti-Semitic ways, his arrogance and his disdain for anyone who doesn't think like him? In a word, no.

In the beginning of his email, Vince wrote:

Darling, I hear you are good with computers. Can you help me? I am trying to improve my Palestinian group's website. Oh, my, I hope through
inadvertence, I haven't stepped into a hornet's nest.

And in closing, he writes:

Lastly, honey, you've great skill with graphics and it's hard to conceive
how, on the other hand, your reasoning abilities and politics, could be so
off base.

And I address this last part to Vince.

Welcome to my hornet's nest Vince. You were so kind as to invite me into your own nest in May, where you proceeded to sting me like a hornet gone mad. And now, tis my turn.

First, knowing what you know about me, and knowing that I think you are an anti-Semite and that I am pro-Israel, what in the wide world of idiocy made you think that I would be willing to lend a hand with your website?

Actually, I might have even thought about it if I thought your email was sincer and not just some pandering, patronizing attempt to butter me up so you can get some free graphic advice from me. It was the last lines, however, that gave your true nature away, Vince. You almost had me fooled.

You question how I can have the ability to redesign my website yet not have the ability to, what was that? Oh, think like you. I do think you just called me dumb, Vince. You didn't have to spell it out, the genuine feeling was there, right between the lines.

Your offhand apology attached to the P.S. in your email is wholly without merit. And your feel-good announcement that you've joined some touchy-feely emotional management group does nothing for me. I've been sitting here trying to decide if you are so incredibly pompous that you feel to see your own transparency or if you just thought that I was really that stupid to fall for your bullshit.

I think it's a little of both, Vince. Too bad you are wrong on the second count. Go back to your crude anti-Israel and anti-Bush drawings and graphics. Maybe some day you will reach the level of incomptence that Ted Rall has. There's nowhere to go but up, Vince.

new language

Breaking on Fox:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli helicopters fired two missiles at the home of a Hamas militant in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, wounding at least nine people, witnesses and rescue workers said.

Allow me to translate. Militant = terrorist.

You're welcome.

i feel so unclean now...

This is shaping up to be a terrible sports week for me. First the Yankees (who are being one-hit as of right now), now Green Bay. Good thing hockey hasn't started yet or I would probably be looking at a losing trifecta.

I have not forgotten about my bet. It's very hard to find something with a Red Sox logo in New York. Please settle for this until I do find something.

Update: The Yanks have pulled ahead. I'm not even going to bother looking at the Green Bay score.


i hate you, kimmy gibbler!

In the October issue of FHM Magazine (I read it for the articles), you'll find the 50 Most Hated TV Characters. [via NY Post]

kimmyg.jpgSome of the author's wrath is directed at the likes of Dwayne Wayne, Harry Stone, Edna Garrett and Andy Rooney. I haven't seen the full list yet (I still have to find my disguise I use to sneak into the local deli to buy the magazine), but I do know that number one on the list is the entire Tanner family of Full House. That's all well and good, except to include just the family leaves out the person who is possibly the least-liked tv character ever, the entire world over: Kimmy Gibbler.

Now, there were many characters I hated enough to make me throw a shoe at the television or just change the channel completely: That stiff robot girl and her brother, the wife on Mr. Belvedere, Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, the entire cast of Friends, both Will and Grace, the ever-perky chick on that other show, and on and on. Trust me, there is no shortage of hate-worthy television icons.

But Kimmy Gibbler was the epitome of sitcom characters gone awry. Brazen, annoying and nerve-wracking, she took the cliche of "quirky neighbor" to new heights. The lactose-intolerant Kimmy was a scene-chewer, often dominating the little mini-plots within the shows to such extreme that you would eventually be pleading for Joey to bust in with a well-timed Cut-It-Out!.

I think Andrea Barber, the actress that portrayed Kimmy, felt seriously threatened by those cute, darling Olsen twins. She must have known that some day those adorable girls would grow up to be two hot babes who run their own media empire and poor Andrea would be left with nothing but a future episode of Where Are They Now? or a bit role in Skateboard Kid 2.

I can't say that she doesn't deserve her fate. After all, if she didn't overact in every scene and steal the thunder from the other fine actors of Full House, if she didn't bust in the door at the wrong time, trying to make people laugh at her idiocy when we were just about to hit the poignant moment in a too-short half hour, and maybe if she didn't do such a crappy job piericing Steph's ears (which I think was intentional because everyone knows that Steph hated Kimmy and maybe Kimmy was hoping Steph would get an ugly infection and die), well maybe she would still be acting.

But what would I know? I never watched Full House. Nope, not once.

of humanity

Rossi writes: I started looking at some photos taken of me at ground zero...I considered running them on my site two years ago but decided against it because everyone in the photos is smiling, myself included.

It seemed absurd for us all to look so charged, so happy as if we were doing a job we absolutely loved.

But you see, nearly two years later, that's the thing that has stayed with me the most. Now that the horror has let go its icy grasp, I remember most the love, the kindness, the unflinching bravery and goodness that was more thick and tangible than the endless smoke.

.....But it's right that we should have smiled, because then and now, we had found the one good thing to come out of that wreckage;


When you are done reading that post, go read her archives from September, 2001, of the time she spent at Ground Zero, cooking, serving and handing out large helpings of humanity.

September 06, 2003

out of the sky

plane911.jpgThe camera, pointed upward, zoomed in and out, and then, with a roar in the background that built to a piercing screech, it locked on the terrifying image of the second plane as it soared, like some awful bird of prey, almost straight overhead, banking steeply, and blasted into the south tower.

Less than one week before the anniversary of the attacks on America, a new video tape has surfaced. This image took the wind out of me, as if I had been knocked down by a blow to the chest.

"Now they are beautifully visible," Mr. Hlava narrated in the manner of home movies. "Do you see that? The two tallest buildings in New York: 411 meters."

That's what the person who took the video, Pavel Hlava, was saying as he scanned the New York skyline while aiming his video camera at the towers.

And then:

"A short while ago we were camera-ing the twins and they were cool," he said in Czech. "And now they're on fire."

via Arthur

more voices

I just put some new stories up at Voices. A little at a time is all I can handle, but I promise they will all be there by Thursday.

Go read these stories. Most of these people obviously spent a great deal of emotion getting their stories into words. They deserve to be read.

hooker with a penis: a completely made up story

You can blame this nonsense story on Solonor, who blames it on D (which is interesting considering I blame those two for everything, and D blames it on a guy named Pomo. I'm just following suit).

Back in the days when I worked for a sinister, secret cabal of government types who wanted to take over the world, I had the misfortune of meeting one Mr. Ken, the man with no last name.

I was knee-deep in sinning that year. I broke every commandment known to man and then some, as it was my job to protect the secrecy of the cabal at all costs. Murder, adultery, idolizing the almight dollar - I did it all. Though the adultery had a lot to do with the dollar itself, but that's another story. Anyhow, when one is entrusted with the truths of life and death, one must do anything they can to keep those truths hidden from those who would use them for the wrong reasons.

This cabal was made up of not just government types, but otherwordly types as well. Forces from the great beyond, evil creatures with horns on their head and fire-streaked tails were as important to us as the politicians who sat among us. Satan himself would show up once in a while, if the meeting was important enough, and he would always wear this stunning black silk suit he bought at Barney's, back in the days before Guiliani tossed the devil out of New York.

It was at one of the meetings, attended by both devils and angels alike, that I met Mr. Ken.

He was a tall, imposing man with hands of solid steel. I wondered what else of him was made of solid steel, but I was too polite to ask. My boss, an ex-president who will remain nameless, asked me to brief Mr. Ken on the current situation. I apprised him of all the details; the information leakage, the dead courier, the strange, talking, human-sized rat in a running suit who bought me dinner in a restaurant that appeared like magic in a misty meadow, a place that served the best damn burger I ever had.

Mr. Ken told me that the rat was an informant for the enemy. He wanted to know what I told him.

"I told him nothing," I said.

"Then what did you talk about while you ate?"


Mr. Ken looked at me curiously. He shrugged his shoulders and lit a cigarette.

"Why do you suppose the rat wanted to have dinner with you?" he asked.

"He was hungry?"

"Yes, yes. Hungry for information! He probably sucked the brainwaves right of your mind and read every thought you ever had!"

"Obviously not. Or he would have known I didn't want to sleep with him and he wouldn't have bothered asking."

I could tell Mr. Ken did not like me. In fact, he said, "I do not like you, woman."

I stood up and drew my gun. Mr. Ken did not even flinch. The steel metal hands then made a whirring noise and extended out from his french cuffs and onward, until they were within inches of my throat. I shot him anyhow. The bullet clipped him in the leg and he fell down, crying in pain.

Mr. Ken did not bleed. In fact, his wound healed right as I stared at it. Damn automatons. Can't trust them, can't kill them.

My boss watched all this with a wary eye. I say a wary eye because he only had one. After his presidency ended in a rather disturbing fashion, he had been reassembled by the cabal's doctors, but they couldn't find his left eye, so they just left a gaping hole there, which was unnerving to look at but made a nice ashtray.

"What is it you want from me, Mr. Ken?" I was stepping on his abdomen at this time, my Doc Martens making an imprint on his suit jacket.

"I want to know who your contacts at the U.N. are. I think one of them is the source of our information leak."

"You know what I think, Mr. Ken? I think you are the information leak."

Mr. Ken's face turned ashen. My boss remained still, staring with his one eye at the painting of Marilyn Monroe on the wall.

"That is slander! A lie!" Mr. Ken stood now, as I had removed my foot from his body. He wiped my dusty footprint off of his jacket.

"The rat ratted you out, my friend. He has video. Audio. Photos. Your game is up, Mr. Ken. Tell us who you are really working for."

But Mr. Ken would not hear of that. No, he made for the door, using his steel metal extendable hands to reach the knob before I had a chance to turn on the locking system. He was out the door in a flash, his hands clacking against the floor as he ran. I guess he forgot to pull them back into his sleeves and I could only watch as his the metal of his hands scraped across the metal gratings on the floor as he ran, throwing off sparks in the hallway.

I ran down the hall after him and as I closed in on Mr. Ken, I did the only thing that came to mind. I pulled out my gas vapor gun and aimed it directly at his still extended hands. I pulled the trigger just as the next spark came up from the floor and suddenly the hall was filled with flames and remnants of Mr. Ken's part-human, part-automaton body.

I flashed back to the duck-and-cover exercises we were made to practice in third grade and crouched next to the wall, tucking my head between my legs. I stayed in that position for a few minutes as all around me sirens blared and stormtroopers, Imperial Guards and Satan himself came running into the hall to see what happened. After a while I dared to look up and as I did, I saw out of the corner of my eye a piece of metal hurtling towards me. I didn't move fast enough and it flew across the side of my face, it's hot surface stinging my cheek. It then fell to the floor with a clang and rolled right against my boot. I looked down and saw a twelve inch, tubular piece of metal and my burning question was then answered. Mr. Ken indeed was made of metal in other places.

Had I known that, I probably wouldn't have been so quick to kill him.

ya think?

EU Joins U.S. in Denouncing Hamas as Terrorist Group

Welcome to reality, EU. Took you long enough.

It's a new world, folks. Perhaps - in a few years - we can even look forward to Reuters and CNN dropping the square quotes around the word terrorists.

credit where credit due

The background image that you all love so much came from iStockPhoto.com, which I've linked down in the bottom.

The photographer's name is Chris Bokitch and I will definitely be using more of his photos as backgrounds. And here are some more shots of the model in the picture.

You may resume laughing at my Yankees now. I'm off to buy something that has the Red Sox logo on it. I may be a lot of things, but I am not a welsher.


If you value your life and/or your reproductive organs you will not say a single word about the game.

Yes, I will hold up my end of the bet. Give me time to get my fist out of the tv, ok?

say what?

So, the guy who brought us the twin towers as a swastika now brings us the twin towers as Coke bottles. I'm sure it has something to do with consumerism and America being the land of capitalist pigs but I'm not sure because his writing style is stultifying.

If someone could translate this overwrought paragraph into plain English, perhaps we could understand what Mr. Self-Important Creative Writing Major is saying:

It is unfortunate for us, the conned, the consumer and the consumed, we here ignore the great lessons looming before us -- that, from these telegenically cleansed dead we make increased idolatries to that aggressive propitiation for which they here, experienced but an iota of the full measure of consequence -- that we here blithely empurple these dead through didactic commercialization; that the nation, shall trade platitudes for latitude, so that commodification of the devastation by the government for the corporation, shall forever degrade memory’s worth.

I think he is saying that things go better with Coke. What do you make of it?

moonbats: the gathering

Hot on the heels of Michael Meacher's conspiracy theory laden piece on 9/11 in today's Guardian, comes word that the tin foil hat brigade will be gathering in Berlin on Sunday to discuss how Bush "facilitated" the attacks.

Among the speakers will be America's own Cynthia McKinney, who told a reporter, Who else knows ... why were the innocent people of New York not warned.

One of the organizers, Nicholas Levis from New York, said the conference was encouraged by the fact that a recent opinion poll showed 19 per cent of Germans believed the US government may have given the order for the September 11 attacks.

Want to know more about these wingnuts who call themselves the 9/11 Truth Alliance? They are the ones who believe that a plane never really crashed into the Pentagon. They are endorsed by fellow foil friends Unanswered Questions.

And they aren't the skeptics out there. There's 9/11 coverup. And there's Barbara Honegger, who claims that the U.S. set the date for the attacks. The endless theories about Flight 93.

Oh, in case you haven't heard, the movie 2001 not only predicted 9/11 but that prediction also led to the death of Stanley Kubrick.

There's all kinds out there. It's unfortunate that people like Cynthia McKinney, who once represented the U.S. government and Michael Meacher, who once represented Britian's government, give credence to all these theorists.

It seems to me that there is a mass of people out there who want nothing more than to bring down Bush, lies and truth be damned. They probably don't even believe half of what they appear to support. They will align themselves with the strangest of people if that person has something bad to say about Bush. That is the agenda of the far left. Not truth. Not saving the world. Just hating Bush. Nothing more, nothing less.


I'm just experimenting. I'm feeling fickle these days.

thou shalt not kill (well, maybe sometimes)

Maybe someone can clear up a few things for me. You know those beloved ten commandments? Those same commandments that people in Alabama are genuflecting on the courtsteps for? One of them basically states that thou shalt not kill. So, I was wondering. Is there a footnote or addendum somewhere on those original tablets that I missed, maybe one that says Hey, it's ok to murder someone as long as you do it in God's name? As you can see, I'm pretty confused as to why those people in the photo think that Paul Hill, a convicted killer, is a hero. Sure, he stood up for his beliefs, but I think his way of going about making his beliefs known kind of goes against the teachings of Jesus, doesn't it? So just tell me - is taking someone's life in cold blood ok if that person is doing something against your religious beliefs? Because if that's true, then you can interpret that a whole bunch of ways. Like, if someone takes the name of your Lord in vain, can you shoot him and then be hailed as a hero within your congregation? I know that you see abortion as a sin, but does committing a sin justify someone committing another sin? Wouldn't that just create a whole mess of sinners running around sinning against each other? I just want to understand this, that's all. I just want to know someone who broke a very strong commandment is a hero in the eyes of a religious person. I thank you in advance for shedding light on this subject for me.

[Image via Jack, who has a nice photo roundup of these hero worshippers]


Chris Muir's Day by Day

[click for bigger image]

September 05, 2003

attention red sox lovers

All Bettors:

Please note that the bet this weekend is not for links, but for humiliation.

The loser has to wear the logo of the the opposing team (hat, t-shirt, jammies, etc.) and have photographic proof. And you have to smile in the picture!

Yes, I know what the score is right now. Don't be countin' those chickens, yo.

i'm not a critic but i play one on the net

I finally got some time (having your own office is good for these things) to listen to Ken Layne's CD. I suck at writing the clinical sort of review you see in magazines. I'll stick to a blog-like review.


Ken Layne’s The Analog Bootlegs is at once familiar. You swear you’ve heard these songs before, maybe in a dark bar back in those heady days after high school when you swore you were going to give up college and become a traveling bohemian musician. It’s the vibe that’s familiar, the strains of a sincere voice beckoning you into that barroom, making you drink watery tap beer and maybe developing a crush on the guy sitting on the stool, playing his guitar and singing right at you.

Listening to a song like Worried, you get a Rolling Stones feel and Monkey Cup makes you think of Nick Cave while Like A Train is definitely Lennon, yet Layne layers those sound with something - let’s call it an aura - that lifts the sounds up from the speakers and gives them some unique color that is nothing like any of the artists the song first evoked.

The final song, National Day of Mourning is one of those tunes I can imagine listening to late at night, headphones on, in total darkness, coming off a red wine drunk. In fact, I could listen to the entire Analog Bootlegs that way which, from me, is high praise. I save those moments only for songs that pull at that small space inside my gut and make me long for things I’ve forgotten about. Like smoky barrooms and tap beer and sincere guys with guitars.

big pimpin with the juice

Hey, I'm not just a pit bull. I'm a super hero with a dildo. And I'm going to save you from super-energized, drunk pimps.

Just call me Strap On Sally. Man, when I get together with the rest of those guys we are going to kick some drunk pimp ass.

exposing hate

I found this on, where else, Indymedia and it almost left me speechless. The site this orginally appeared on is blocked here at work, I'll have to try it at home.

Here is the Indymedia blurb:

Annoy.com’s Clinton Fein uses striking imagery and a perversion of T.S. Eliot’s Christianity-focused poem, Journey of the Magi, to highlight America’s descent into despair and ascent into fascism from the ashes and memory of a September morning.

This is the end of the poem:

We patriotically ascend from the flames of our complacency, this Complacency
But no longer free here, in the new Justification
With a deluded people clutching their sentimentality
Why do I grieve Phoenix’s Rise?

The "Phoenix" he refers to is obviously the World Trade Center. And that striking image? You'll find it below. I didn't want it on the front of this site and the only reason I downloaded it and put it up here is because it will probably disappear from Indymedia soon so the moderators can claim that they never post anything offensive.

I don't even have any response to it. I have just made it my duty to expose these bastards at every turn.


and there is also joy

Allison sent me her contribution for Voices.

It starts like this:

To me, September 11 will always be a happy, joyful day.

Even my memories of September 11, 2001 will be cheerful ones.

“WHY?” you may ask in horror, and then justifiably insist that I give you a damn good reason.

OK, I will. My wonderful beautiful son Eitan was born on September 11, 1996.

It was the kind of story I was hoping for: one with feelings of hope and life.

I emailed Allison, telling her that my mother-in-law's birthday is also September 11th. I wrote, Life goes on - and must go on - even in the midst of mourning.

To which she replied, If everything stopped because of mourning, Israel simply wouldn't function.

How true. Sad but true.

I think some people are misconstruing my meaning behind Voices and my reasons for writing so much about 9/11. I don't want anyone to stop living. I don't expect the world to call in sick on September 11th. The best thing anyone in mourning can do is live and hope.

I just want to remember, is all.

Go read Allison's entry. I'm going to spend a good portion of this weekend getting the rest of the contributions posted.

Happy early birthday, Eitan. I hope it is wonderful and joyful.


James Lileks uses a pit bull/bone analogy to describe my obsession with 9/11 and I take it as a compliment.

I am never giving up that bone. And I will not hesitate to rip the living flesh off the person who tries to make me put it down.

Somewhere inside of me is not only the heart of a pit bull, but the soul of an Angry White Male.

Go ahead. Make my day.

from a child's eyes and heart

DJ wrote/drew these last year upon the first anniversary of 9/11. I thought a child's thoughts were worth repeating.

The one on your left is called Love. Click for bigger image.

2. Hero

3: Anniversary

He was nine when he wrote these. A year later, he still gets that wounded look on his face when someone mentions the World Trade Center. He still asks about that day. He still worries.

Have we changed? Sure we have. Mostly, our children have changed. We may not notice it now, but we will later. Their world is different than it was two years ago. Their future is different.

Anyone in America who thinks that their life was unaffected by that day lives in a vacuum.

yankees v. sox, part 2

I'd like to thank all of the people who lost last week's bet and held up their end of the bargain by linking to me and (trying to) say nice things about the Yankees.

Care to wager again on this weekend's series?

Yes, I know Jeter is out for the series. But I'm confident. Besides, it will all even out when Ramirez finds himself in a bar instead of the Stadium.

September 04, 2003

wheel! of! terrorism!

Sick of all those terrorist attack warnings? Not sure what color today's alert is? Wondering if you should stay away from water or bridges or wheat fields?

Worry no more. Now you can use the handy-dandy Wheel of Terrorism. It's just as accurate as those flashing bulletins on CNN and the constant news releases from the Department of Homeland Security.

Amaze your friends! Stun you neighbors! Just cut out the wheel, attach an arrow with one of those clip thingies, and spin away. You can be the star of your block by alerting everyone around you that today's warning is blue, with a chance of small pox.

[Alternate warnings available. Margin of error 90%. Not responsible for mass hysteria. Duct tape sold separately]

[click for bigger image]

required reading.

via Instapundit:

First Class.

Go, read.


Someone at Metafilter posted the same link I did today - Who were you on September 11th?

Most of the MeFites took the opportunity to enage in the ususal America Is Just a Big Bully line of reasoning.

There was one guy, Ed, who posted this in regards to another poster quoting James Lileks:

Funny how it's easy to disregard the Rwanda and Bosnia genocides and yet remain the eternal victim because of 9/11.

James Lileks: What the hell does he have to be angry about? He's Caucasian, male, and living in the richest nation in the world. He has more opportunities in one day than a Third World citizen has in a lifetime. Is he being targeted because of his ethnicity? Is he being thrown into a camp and being repeatedly raped? Is he being buried alive in a pit by hateful condotierres paid a pack of cigarettes a day?

The 9/11 victimhood seems to me an excuse for the Angry White Male to make a comeback. Except this time it seems to be justified, even if you weren't anywhere near the WTC. And that's the sick cancer festering within the American psyche.

No, ed. You are the sick cancer. You and the people who can't seem to understand why we haven't moved on, why we will, in all probability, not move on and why we feel it necessary to continue to stay with the anger and pain. You and the people who think that only those who were standing in the shadow of those two towers have any right to feel like a victim, you are the cancer on our psyche. You and your friends who spend your time engaging in moral equivelancy, who compare every single person in America who feels victimized or traumatized by 9/11 with Rwandans and starving kids in Africa and terrorists who strap bombs to themselves because of some root cause.

James Lileks, like myself, like so many others, were the victims of 9/11 because we are American and it was an attack on America. Your belief that being an American is a shameful thing does not negate or diminish our sorrow and pain at all. In fact, I feel even more anguish when I realize that people like you are trying to minimize the real loss so many people felt that day.

With a few exceptions, like David, the rest of the MeFi gang took someone's well-meant post and turned into a snarkfest filled with flippant remarks.

Grow up, people. Take a look at this country you live in. Go on, look at it. You are free. Yes, you are free to throw insults around and free to berate the president if you don't like him, but I am free to berate you if I feel like it. Those 3,000 people died because we are free and our enemies don't like it. Our democracy is a threat to their perversion of a religion. If you don't think that we owe those dead people anything, then you should pack your bags and go live in a country where you won't have to worry about being attacked because your homeland wants you to live free.

Staples: The next level of hell

When Dante created his hell he forgot the final level: School supply shopping.

To the schools and teachers that insist on handing out a lengthy supply list the first day of school instead of sending it in the mail over the summer like other disctricts, I offer you a hearty fuck you.

Do you know what it's like to walk around Office Max on the day after school starts, lists in hand, kids in tow and every person in that building fighting over the same things? Would it be asking too much for the managers of the store to stock more than a dozen packs of EraseMate pens, knowing that last year at this time, parents were pitching fits in the aisles because the store ran out on the first day of school?

Is it really necessary for a teacher to ask that her students get five folders, all in different colors? Have these teachers ever stood next to a fourth grade boy (not mine) crying that there were only purple folders left? Why, oh why do they ask for different colored marble notebooks? What is wrong with the standard black and white? I think the kids can tell the difference between the math and social studies books because in fifth grade, they know how to read! They don't need to color-coordinate their subjects and I certainly don't need to traipse around to five different stores trying to find everything in a set of red.

And parents. Could you please, for the love of my sanity, not let your tots run loose around the store while there about a million people packed into a building that has the capacity of about 1,000? I'm sorry I tripped over your adorable toddler's legs, but she shouldn't have been laying in aisle four crying for a bottle while you were in aisle six arguing with your teenage daughter about getting a nose job. And to the mother who gave me a dirty look when I pulled the little plastic frog out of her nearly-infant son's mouth: Too fucking bad. He had the whole thing in his mouth and you were too busy flirting with the copy boy to notice. And way to go, giving it back to the kid and letting him put it in his mouth again.

Back to supplies. Staples and OfficeMax charge double for every single supply that a small drug store like CVS or Walgreens sells. Too bad CVS and Walgreens sold out of the stuff three weeks ago when the grammar schools sent their supply lists home, like the other schools should do. Unfortunately for those stores, they didn't restock and that's why there was that scene with the manager and an irate father in the tampon aisle today.

And why the hell do we need to send in baby wipes and paper towels and tissues? What the hell do school taxes pay for? I'm ok with the highlighters and Sharpies and scotch tape and other sundry things, but jesus on a pogo stick people, you can't afford to put freakign tissues in the classroom?

Also, can you please be careful what you are talking about when you are on a very long line in a very crowded store? I do not want to hear about your bowel movements, I don't want to know the size of the snotball you coughed out of your throat today and I certainly don't need to know that you "suprised" your daughter by packing condoms in her suitcase when she went off to college last month. Put the cell phone down. Shut your mouth. Or try talking to your obviously lonely, ignored child who, by the time you were done yakking to your friend about bodily functions, was sitting on the floor picking his nose, eating it and talking to his imaginary friend.

Who's got a valium?

religion of peace, part 45950

Instead of asking whey they hate us, let's examine why I hate them.

Oh, Kate already did. And I have to say if that makes her a resentful feminist, it makes me one, too.

Or maybe it just makes me (and Kelley) resentful of Islam and its view of women.

I'm just curious about that Religion of Peace(tm) label. Perhaps in their world the definition of peace has something to do with misogyny. You know, the Religion of Shut The Hell Up, Woman!

And in case you are wondering why they hate us, it's because democracy is a threat to their pervesion of a religion.

Klan with a Koran, indeed.

your moments of zen

[I thought I was getting too maudlin on you and figured it was time to lighten up. ]

For those who think the United States is too loose with its morals and that the media is saturated with sexual talk, perhaps you should turn your accusing eyes towards Japan.

From the Mainichi Daily News in Japan, here are this weeks hot topics (all right there in the sidebar, free for anyone to peruse);

Frisky females fancy fornicating frills, but forget the facials. This story includes the phrase beaming at her paramour, who unleashes a gushing jet of his love liquid into her face.

The job may suck, but 423,000 yen in 10 days makes it easy to swallow. ("I've got a real inferiority complex about my big breasts. But now that I realize my tits can be an asset, I want to try really hard")

Lip reading priest finds fortune in holiest of holes. (Unless you see a woman's private parts, there's no way you can ever know what destiny the future holds for her)

Head honchos give blow by blow lowdown on 'going down'. ( His thingy hit the back of my throat and almost made me barf)

Hey, where are you going with that box of tissues?

Who were you on September 11?

Tristan wants to know.

Next week will mark the second anniversary of the September 11th terrorist act. Since then a lot of people have said that things have changed, that WE have changed. However, when pressed for details, no one can clearly point out how or what really changed.

As a memorial this year, I would like to get a number of people to answer the question as to how they changed. This is where you come in.

Who were you before and who are you now? How did the September 11th experience changed your life, if it did in any way? How are things different in your life now? What have you done/not done as a result of September 11th?

Once you've blogged it (on September 11th),

send me a link to your entry and I'll get a list of everyone who sent me a link up here.

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you think might be interested and together, we might be able to create a joint memorial.

Good thing I have this weblog, where I have documented every aspect of my life for the past two years.

Personally - in the deepest parts of my psyche - I changed fundamentally.

Things have changed. I no longer take future years for granted. I no longer expect the future to be rightfully mine. It's the wars and the violence and the sudden explosions of terror that have loosened my grip on my 5 year planner.

It changed who I am, what I think, how I feel. It changed my the entire core of my beliefs.

Please understand that I was never happy being labeled a liberal because I honestly don't think I was a liberal in the true sense of the word. But the attacks on this country and the ensuing emotions I went through led me down a path that I was headed down anyhow. 9/11 just pushed me there faster.

As I wrote on 10/29/02: I was never a full-fledged liberal. I never wanted to free Mumia, I always thought Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky were boorish fools, I detest the utlra liberal way of protesting things. For christ's sake, people. I drive an SUV. What kind of liberal would do that?

September 11 changed me forever. I'm sure it's changed every one of us, if in some small way. Some of us had larger, broader changes in our world view. I am one of them.

I've been engaging in a lot of self-therapy since last year. Part of that therapy is coming to grips with who and what I am, and not bending to suit the needs of other people. Part of that therapy has been taking medication so I can sift through the self-made anxiety and nervousness that made defining myself so hard. I can see into myself with a much clearer view now that I have removed the filters that stopped me before.I have taken a lot of flack for my stand on certain issues. Let it be known that I am not here to put out your point of view. If you want to be disappointed in my change of course, that's your right. But I am coming clean today and facing up to the direction in which my political compass has swung since last year. I am sliding towards the right.

Who was I on 9/11? Honestly, I don't know. And who am I now? How have I changed?

It's all right here in black and white. I'm not who I used to be and that's ok with me. I like where and who I am right now. I'm more passionate, I'm fiercer in some ways, but gentler in others. I'm more intropsective. And there's something I have inside of my that I didn't have before that day. It's like a black mark on my soul, or a weight on my heart. It's always there but I don't always remember it until I see something that reminds me, and then I suck in my breath and my stomach clenches and that lump rises again in my throat. It's a good thing to have, funny as that sounds. It's like someone pinching you when you are dreaming. A cold, bleak reminder of how the world can be.

That black mark is part of me now and I'm glad for its constant reminder that I should love while possible and do while I can and all those other Hallmark sentiments. Corny, yes, but they are good to carry around.

I wish it didn't take something like 3,000 dead people to get me here. But reality will do that to you sometimes. Wakes you up with a kick in the head.

smack dab in the middle, maybe?

I'd like to think that I am the only person who was called a "liberal goth" and a "right wing wacko" in the same week.

Thanks to these two quizzes, I can prove both of those labels to be false.

Are you a leftist?

Are you a rightist?

Like Michael Totten (where I saw the links), I am thankfully neither, regardless of rumors to the contrary.


Morning blogging will be late morning blogging today.

Meanwhile, please keep in mind that today is National Penis Day in New Zealand.

In order to show solidarity with our friends in New Zealand, it is imperative that we all take time today to honor the penis.

It would also be a good day to call someone a penis-breath or penis-head.

Now find the nearest penis, grab onto it and thank it for being such an integral part of society. Go ahead, you know you want to.

September 03, 2003

thanks, i needed that

Always end your day with a laugh. Even if it's one of those "I can't believe I find this hysterically funny" laughs.

[click for larger image]

Penny Arcade. It's good for what ails you.

[ed. note: I fixed that image thing in the individual archives links. All by myself]

jackasses of the world unite

I just got this email:

Stop with your fake sentimentality. And your crocodile tears. Everyone who isn't taken in by your bullshit knows that you are doing this "project" for hits. Oh, now you're a big gun. You want to be the female instapundit. You want to get as much money as Andrew Sullivan. I bet that as soon as this is past you are going to ask people to hit y our tip jar. I'm not the only one saying this you know. A lot of people think that you are a fake and a phony and everything you do or say is to get attention. All those stupid pet projects and charities of yours. You just want attention. Low self-esteem, much? Get rid of the stupid voices project. Stop doing it and stop blathering about how much its bothering you. If you really want hits, just show your tits. Thats all any guy in their right mind would come here for and the girls just come to suck off of you. I will tell everyone you are full of shit and you dont care about dead people at all. You are a hit whore. How many people did you beg to link taht project?

Some people really suck. I was going to do a search on his IP and then I said the hell with it. I just deleted the email because honestly, I don't want to know who he is (I'm assuming it's a he because it was signed "a guy who hates you").

I was going to answer him in full right here and explain things as if I were talking to a little kid and then I decided that I would much rather play a game of Monopoly with my kids and then go to bed and get this day overwith.

Bite me, jackass.

I still don't know how not to be a wreck

I've just posted a bunch of 9/11 stories for Voices. There's still more than a hundred to go.

This is getting difficult. As I just wrote in an email to a contributor to Voices:

I've been sitting here reading all these submissions to the project and it
just gets harder and harder to get through them. Then I read something as
personal as yours and I know that I have to keep going because I feel this
need to do my small part to make people remember the names and faces and
lives behind the attacks.

It's not just that. So many people who have sent their stories also wrote notes to me saying that they wanted to tell their stories, they needed to get it out, to talk about it.

It's just hard to sit here and read so many in so short a period of time. I can only do ten or so and then I have to stop, maybe watch an episode of The Simpsons, play a game with my kids, something to clear my head.

One of the judges I work with lost her son last night. He was 25. Just finished law school. He died, just like that, from an anueryism. Tragedy happens every single day, to millions of people. I ache for this woman and her family.

I ache for each person who has sent me their story. I cry for every one of you. Some people have written to say that I am placing a larger importance on the death of 3,000 people than of any other person who died on any other day. But I'm not.

I have no idea what I started out to say here or how I was going to tie in the death of Noah to the Voices project. I lost my train of thought. Just please forgive me if it takes a while to get your story up. I promise they will all be there before September 11th, it's just slow going right now. There's only so much I can read in one sitting. But I will not stop for long. Not until all the stories are told that want to be told. Not until I do my part to make sure we never forget not just that day, but the faces and lives and the human aspect of that day. The colors. The smells. The noises. They are all still fresh to some of us.

If you want your voice heard, just write it all down and send it to me. It's the least I can do.

terror alert level: zombie

The dead are coming for us.

ISLAMIC JIHAD are in Haiti recruiting a zombie army to invade the United States in a nightmarish reprise of 9/11, intelligence sources in Washington have learned.

The plot hatched by the notoriously ruthless Islamic Jihad terror organization is to invade the east coast of Florida with the undead: Troops who don't have to be fed, obey mindlessly, and are extremely hard to kill.

There are no plans yet to ratchet up the terror alert level in the U.S.

But sources say intelligence chatter 'strongly suggests' a 1,200-strong zombie army led by a few suicidal terrorists could invade our shores on or around the second anniversary of the terror attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, leaving death and horror in their wake.

Prime targets may be nuclear power plants in Miami and Fort Pierce, football stadiums in Tampa and Jacksonville, and NASA operations at Cape Canaveral, the sources say.

"The threat is disturbing and real," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in an alarming memo to President George W. Bush dated August 6.

"Finding and arresting human terrorists is hard enough. But now we're looking at the possibility of having to fight a completely different kind of enemy -- one that you can't kill because he's already dead."

Yes, I'm sure that quote is real. Did I mention this comes from the Weekly World News? I suppose that's a key fact here.

I do have an obsession with zombies so I think I can be of help here. Perhaps I can offer my services to the Department of Homeland Security when the living dead come marching into Florida [insert jokes about old retired people here].

Wait, what's this?

"Zombies aren't simply dead people who rise up out of their graves and shuffle around town spooking people like you see in the movies," explains one CIA source.

Well that's the kind of zombie that I'm familiar with. The ones who say things like BRAAAAAAAAINNNNNS and They're coming to get you, Barbara. All the zombies I encountered would have nothing to do with being controlled by humans. Trust me, I've tried. All they want is brains, flesh, human entrails and a nice cold beer.

Ridge has to remember a few basics. First, zombies are pretty stupid. They can be easily tricked. Also, shooting works best. Always aim for the head. And don't try using knives or swords.

I know, it's oxymoronic to claim you can kill the undead. See, it's not really a case of killing them, but of making them really, truly dead for a bit until they get up and try again. However, if you shoot them up enough so they end up in little bitty pieces spread out all over the place (tip: to remove zombie guts from your kitchen wall, try a little Clorox on a damp sponge), they have a hard time getting it together again.

It's very important that when you are done "killing" the zombies, you get away as fast as you can if you haven't totally obliterated them. They tend to reanimate (at least the ones I've encountered have), and they come back meaner and stronger.

Using a drill on a zombie works well, but that means getting pretty close to it. Keep in mind that the undead smell terrible. In fact, they use that little secret as a weapon. If you get close enough, one of them just has to breathe on you and the stench will knock you off your feet. If you want to drill a couple of holes in their skulls (though aiming for the eyes work best), wear a gas mask.

If all else fails, head down to the local PETA chapter, kidnap a few members and hold them out in front of the zombies. They are DEATHLY afraid of vegans. It's like holding a cross up to Satan. They will probably melt and corrode right there on the spot, leaving a goopy, messy stain on the ground. You then sacrifice the vegans (a bonfire works nicely for this - you can roast hot dogs at the same time) and the zombies probably won't come back, as the air and ground will be tainted with vegan dust.

Ok, Tom Ridge. Hire me!

Electric Boogaloo

I'm tired of being in a pissy mood today. Let's change gears.

Todd sent me a link to Retro Crush's 20 Worst Movie Titles Ever. While their list is honorable, I don't see how they can make a list such as this without including The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

There's some ridiculous titles that made the cut (Manos: Hands of Fate and Blackmale), but I feel they missed out on some genuinely bad titles. What about Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead? Hudsucker Proxy? I Dismembered Mama?

Ok. You know the drill. This is the part where you do my blogging for me and present your own nominations for worst movie title.

more anguish over that book

In today's New York Times, Alan Riding reviews Frédéric Beigbeder's Windows on the World. [For background on this book, read here, here , here, here and here].

One has to wonder if Riding read the book at all. He gushes over Beigbeder and omits any reference to those parts of the novel that read like third-rate porn and portray America as having deserved the attacks of 9/11 for being obsessed with money and material things; for being consumers, so to speak.

No, I have not read the book. But I have read enough excerpts to know that the story is an appalling view of what happened in the Windows of the World restaurant on 9/11. Though some have taken issue with W's excerpts over at Merde in France, stating that W. has ulterior motives and might not have given a correct translation, I took it upon myself to seek out a few translators here in my building who are fluent in French. They gave the same translations as W.

It is not a matter of context, either. Reviewing the book as Riding did without alluding to the crass portions of the story where Beigbeder has the victims - identified only by the designer labels of the clothing they are wearing - engaging in hedonistic sex, is to do omit a large part of what has made the book so popular in France.

Instead, Riding focuses on the part of the story where a father and his sons are having breakfast in the restaurant:

He tries to reassure the boys that it is a simulated accident to test security procedures, but they soon see through the ruse. As panic spreads and the heat become unbearable, Yorston and his sons prepare to die.

Yet for all that, Mr. Beigbeder has not written a movie-style action story.

He hasn’t? What about this excerpt, one that was toted by the publishers before the book hit the shelves? (again, translated by several different people with the same results):

- As far as I'm concerned, it's simple: forget the Porsche, I'm liquid, said the brown haired guy wearing Kenneth Cole. But I'm sure that 2002 will be better, just wait until Greenspan does his thing on the rates. - I love you, said the blond wearing Ralph Lauren. - I want to launch a hostile takeover on you, said the brown haired guy wearing Kenneth Cole. - Leave your fucking wife, said the blond wearing Ralph Lauren. - OK, I swear I'll tell her everything this evening when I get back from the health spa, said the brown haired guy wearing Kenneth Cole. And they French kissed real deep, using alot of tongue just like in the California made porno films and perfume commercials.

No, maybe it’s not movie-style action. It’s more like straight-to-Cinemax action, which is a serious slap in the face to anyone who suffered on that day. And most of us did suffer, whether we knew someone who died in those attacks or not.

Riding then goes on to help explain why Beigbeder wrote the book at all:

"In the face of American self-censorship, I wanted to give form to this tragedy," [Beigbeder] said, adding that American television viewers saw "an asceptic, almost clinical" version of events. He said he wanted "to reinject colors, smells, noises, to reintroduce the human dimension that has been carefully removed," adding, "A novel should enter forbidden territory."

We do not need Mr. Beigbeder to “give form” to such a tragedy. It already has form for us. What asceptic, clinical versions of the events is he referring to? Watching the second plane crash into the towers? Seeing the posters and cards tacked to the walls, pictures of missing people desperately being searched for by their families, the harrowing stories of the firemen who rushed into the building in order to get others out? Colors, noises and smells? Just ask anyone who was in the vicinity of NYC that day about the smells and noises. And what colors do we need to know except the colors of flames and smoke? Does it matter that someone was wearing a blue Donna Karan suit? No, it would not matter if they were wearing a Blue Light special from K-Mart. And I certainly fail to see where the human dimension has been removed from that day. What gall this man has to assume that he can sit in “while breakfasting at Ciel de Paris, the 56th-floor restaurant in the Tour Montparnasse, the tallest building in Paris” and channel what the people in the Windows on the World were thinking and feeling at those moments. The arrogance is astounding.

I spoke to W about this today in email and he gave me permission to excerpt a few of his choice words, but you would do best to keep checking over at Merde in France, where W. will be writing about this review, the book and the other books mentioned in Riding’s empty review.

W. thinks that perhaps Riding never really read the book at all:

Note that the reviewer omits any mention of the chapters with the nameless characters (only identified by their clothing labels). I find that a bit curious and it leads me to believe that the reviewer is just gushing over promotional material from Grasset (the publisher) rather than taking in the entire book.

W. also said:

Beigbeder defends the book as siding with the victims (ie. writing about, and therefore living vicariously, the experience from their point of view). This is the line that the French literati, and the NYT, have adopted. That is all well and good but then of course you have to read the book and see if the content (ie. the excerpts I have sent to you and posted on my site) are appropriate.

I'm sorry but the book contains vile, exploitive content and the worst excerpt (the porno scene at the end) was actually selected for promoting the novel.

Rumor has it that Beigbeder will be nominated for the Goncourt literary prize for this novel.

Once again, the comments will be filled with people saying I am French-bashing, but at this moment (though I did in previous posts about this) I am not. I am Beigbeder-bashing. And I am taking Andrew Riding to task for glossing over what is an inflammatory, insulting and degrading book, in light of the real tragedy that occurred in that restaurant. The publishers released a statement a while ago that said the only way to know what happened in the Windows on the World that day is to make it up. Not so. There are real transcripts of telephone calls from real people saying real words.

I don’t have to read the whole book to know that just the one part where Beigbeder turns tragedy to porn makes the rest of the story a complete washout. I don’t care if there is Pulitzer type writing throughout the rest of the book; the fact that Beigbeder chose to play fast and furious with the last moments of the lives of real people - and less than two years gone since it happened - leaves the rest of the book tainted by the poison that exists within it.

If you want to know the "human dimension" and colors and smells and noises of that day that Beigbeder seems to think has disappeared or maybe weren't even there at all, go listen to (read) these Voices.

he said, they said

The commenters at Democratic Underground are cheering this column by Molly Ivins, which lists quotes by Bush and others in the administration in regards to finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. She says:

...but I think it is important to remember how we got here. May I remind you of what we were repeatedly told?

And then there's the listing of the usual Cheney, Bush, etc. sound bites on the WoMD.

Perhaps Molly Ivins and her fans over at DU should go take a look at this, a list of quotes by Gore, Clinton and the rest of the admired cotillion of the DU members. Such as:

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out."
-- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

And there's more over here:

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

Now, what were you saying about Bush lying?


On second thought, maybe that feeling of impending doom was nothing more than a harbinger of the new school year, which starts today.

Out of five possible fifth grade teachers, DJ got the only one I didn't want him to get - a 74 year old man whose passion for teaching died about twenty years ago.

And then Natalie starts the year asking for a belly ring (NO!).

It's going to be a long one.

i'm gonna sing the doom song

I woke up full of dread today and I don't know why.

There was this dream in which all the cars on the road stopped. Just. Stopped. We all sat there, turning our keys and pumping the gas pedal and nothing, nothing at all. It was pouring and we covered our heads and ran from the car, all the way home. There, my mother and father were running around the house, frightened and crying, ripping the phone jacks out of the walls. And the sky was on fire.

And now I sit here, wide awake but still fuzzy-headed from the dream and there's a couple of crows outside my window making ugly noises. They aren't cawing; no, that would be creepy enough because I hate crows as it is. They are wailing. Crying.

I have this overwhelming sense that nothing good is going to come of today. That something wicked this way comes feeling. This is one of those times I would love for my feeling of impending doom, disaster and destruction to be proved so laughably wrong.

Which got me thinking about another thing. How many times has the end of the world been predicted, only to have that date pass with not so much as a minor earthquake occur?

The first time I remember hearing such a prediction was in high school. The end was nigh because the planets would align in such a way, on one fateful day in June, 1980, that havoc would pretty much render the planted useless. This was also supposed to happen in May of 2000.

Then there was the 1981 rapture that never materialized (unless it did and Jesus decided that not one single person on this earth was worth saving and left us here to kill each other off on our own), Pat Robertson's prediction that we would meet our demise in 1982. Massive earthquakes were supposed to upset the balance of the world in 1988.

There were a million millenium predictions that never came to pass as well as several predictions of the second coming of Jesus, Hitler, Genghis Kahn, or Jack the Ripper who was, indeed, the devil himself.

There's still time left for the great nuclear war of 2003 to happen. In fact, that one is coming in November.

Really, whether it's aliens, massive tidal waves, war, rapture, asteroids, the resurgence of dinosaurs, machines coming alive, spontaneous combustion or what have you, it's going to happen some time. Could be tomorrow, could be two thousand years from now.

I just wonder if the crying crows outside my window are trying to tell me something about today.

30 seconds till the end of the world
We'll blow it all to bits (End of the world)
30 seconds till the end of the world
We'll call it quits (End of the world)
30 seconds till the end of the world
Blow it all away (End of the world)
30 seconds till the end of the world
We'll call it a day
Ten seconds till the end of the world
Five seconds till the end of the world

[30 Seconds Till the End of the World - Pennywise]

September 02, 2003

art corner

Quite a few of you have emailed asking to see more of my husband's artwork.

This is one of my favorites (though it's not one of his favorites, but that doesn't matter, does it?).

[cllick for bigger image]

It's a portrait. Of someone. Two dollars to whoever can figure it out first.


Little by little, I'm getting the contributions for Voices posted.

There's a few new ones today, which I think you should all read. An especially interesting story is Wayne's, who describes it as Rip Van Winkle tale.

Wayne was canoeing in Minnesota with some friends and did not find out about the attacks until that Friday. Imagine asking what happened?and being hit with all that information at once.

I'm up to 110 stories, not including last year's contributions. Thank you, everyone. Keep them coming. It's part of never forgettig.

my mom went to the mall and all i got was these lousy seven t-shirts for $120

Back from the mall. Didn't kill anyone but came damn near close. If it wasn't for that broken elevator that zapped the last strands of my energy, the jackass in the Marilyn Manson t-shirt would be crushed by my super powers right now.

Damn human beings. Damn their infernal machines.

And damn Hot Topic, which is a black hole that eats twenty dollar bills like candy.

There's got to be alcohol in this house somewhere.


Best of the Web is back from vacation. Just so you know.

I am going to fight the masses in the mall so I can do what I've been putting off until the last possible minute - finishing school shopping. Yes, school starts tomorrow. That's what last minute is all about.

School shopping has gotten easier, at least. Just a few years ago I would have to drag the kids to seven different stores until I found enough clothes for each of them that met with minimal satisfaction to their tastes, sizes, etc.

Now, all I have to do is take them to Hot Topic. Everything in one place. Too bad that place is in the mall I hate the most.

See, I have something called mallergy.

As I said many times before, I have a pretty low tolerance for people in general. When those people are gathered in massive amounts and all of them are pushing, shoving and clamoring for that last must-have backpack design of the moment, and the mothers are more surly than the kids, and the smaller kids are running loose and getting between your feet and wiping their runny noses on your pants, well let's just say that I always bring extra money when I go to the mall, just in case I'll be needing bail.

Back later.



I guess the fact that the whole "Jenin was flattened during a massacre" was refuted, disputed and proved untrue didn't get in a way about someone making a "documentary" about it.

Nor does the fact that the producer of the film "Jenin Jenin," Mohammed Bakri, is being sued by reservists in the IDF for the way the IDF was portrayed in that film stop people from calling it a "harrowing and poignant" film.

I guess Bakri went to the Michael Moore School of Documentary Making.

how indymedia remembers 9/11

While I sit here collecting heartbreaking stories about that day, reading very personal and very bittersweet details of the emotions that people went through on 9/11/01 and the resulting affect it had on their lives in the two years after, there are people with bitter hearts and depraved minds making efforts to remember the day as the day that Bush=Hitler became the mantra of the far left.
I used to pity some of the people on Indymedia. I used to laugh at some of them. Since last month, I've been feeling this outright disgust bordering on hatred for all the denizens of that sewer of the internet.

Never let anyone tell you that it's not all the people at Indymedia who feel that way - people don't hang out there and post there and take part in their activities (activism, if you will) if they don't fall for the whole ideology.

This is the picture, just in case it disappears. Remember, even though posts of this kind are taken down from time to time, it's not because the editors are horrified at the thoughts of the posters. It's because they don't want people like me making posts like this, making public what the collective cretins of Indymedia really are.

[Nevermind about the picture, I don't have Photoshop here and can't optimize it. If anyone would like to do that for me, I would appreciate it. As it is now, the photo is 1.04MB and that's just huge].

UPDATE: Thanks to Stacy, the picture can be seen here, in the even of its removal from Indymedia.

perhaps this psychologist needs a psychologist

Oliver James psychoanalyzes Bush.

As with most psychobabbling professionals, James finds the root cause of Bush’s problems: his parents. Any good psychologist worth his hourly fee knows that when you don’t really have time to analyze someone (or, like James, you doing your analyzing in absentia), you just blame the parents and the childhood.

The outcome of this childhood was what psychologists call an authoritarian personality. Authoritarianism was identified shortly after the second world war as part of research to discover the causes of fascism.

Well, there you have it. Bush is a "facist" because his mother was strict!

I am not Bush’s hugest fan but even I find this article ridiculous. What is the purpose of it? What does it tell us that we did not already know or what we don’t need to know (or guess, in this case)?

Well of course we know the reason for the article. After all, this is The Guardian. Obviously they were just looking for a chance to reiterate all those leftist anti-Bush catch phrases: daddy’s money, big drinker, poor student, makes up words, doesn’t play well with others.

Now, let's take this psychoanalyzation thing a bit further. It is obvious from James's writing that he harbors a deep resentment towards George W. Bush and his family. The meaning underneath his words are clear: James is obiviously unsure of himself professionally and is quite jealous of those who he perceives to have gained prominence in their own professions. If one looks further, you can also see that James has mother issues - perhaps even an Oedipus complex - and some sibling rivalry issues that eat away at his soul. In fact, he probably went into psychology in order to evade his own problems by concentrating on the mental afflictions of others. By analyzing his clients and political figures, he can keep his own mental demons at bay, though they do seep out into his hateful commentaries.

See, I can do this too. Maybe The Guardian will pay me to analyze Ted Rall. Geez, if they paid by the word I would be richer than even the Bushes!

Stay tuned for next week’s feature, when The Guardian uses numerology to tell us why Bush does the things he does and calls on the world’s greatest psychics to back up the claims that Bush was actually Attila the Hun in a past life.

did someone say boobies?

Your link o' the day:

If anyone has a blogger cause or charity that they support, the second
annual Boobie-Thon (Robyn's project) is now taking applications for the $359 blogger purse portion of the event. The first $359 raised is earmarked for bloggers and/or their charities in need -- the rest will be going to Susan G. Komen for breast cancer research. More information can be found here, last year's efforts can be found here (NSFW).

Yes, there are real, live blogger boobs involved. Yes, that would include mine. Anything for charity, I say.

Go nominate a charity, throw some cash in the pot or volunteer your own boobs for the cause.

vote early, vote often

simfamily.gifSure, I've done a millions Simpsons threads before. But this one is different. This one means something.

Forget your local primaries. Forget Arnold v. Arianna. I've got a more important vote for you to make.

FOX5NY, our local Fox programming channel, is running a Simpons Viewer's Choice election. From now until September 21, viewers can vote for their ten favorite Simpons episodes (from the ones listed below). Fox will air the 30 top vote-getters from November 1 through the 21st on it's nightly Simpons block (6:30-7:30).

You do realize the importance of this vote I have to make, don't you? This is not something one should take lightly. After all, many a man has been murdered while arguing Homerpalooza v. Lisa's Sax.

So I'm calling on all of you to help me decide which ten episodes to vote for. Please remember that voting is a privilege, not a right. We do not want a repeat of the 2000 elections here, so don't go trying to vote for a crappy episode just to throw a wrench into the proceedings. I can just imagine spending the next year or so listening to Ted Rall whine Two Bad Neighbors is not the real winner! That's the episode with George Bush, Sr., in case that sly reference went over your head.

Anyhow, vote, but only choose from the Fox-approved episodes listed below. They are not taking write-in votes and there is no vote for Worst Episode Ever, though that can be another thread for another day when I find myself at a loss for something important to write about.

Help me to make my vote count. (And if you live in New York, go vote yourself!)

[Eligible episodes are listed below]

Homer decides to gamble on a "hunch" at the dog track when his annual Christmas bonus is cancelled.
01/14/90 BART THE GENIUS 1
Bart is believed to be a genius after he switches I.Q. tests with brainy Martin Prince.
01/21/90 HOMER'S ODYSSEY 1
Fired from his job at the Nuclear Power Plant, Homer decides to embark on a campaign to make all of Springfield safer.
After attending the annual company picnic, Homer becomes jealous of employees with "normal" families.
Grandpa Simpson aids Bart in his war against a school bully and his gang.
02/11/90 MOANING LISA 1
Lisa befriends a saxophone player when she develops a case of the blues.
Homer is mistaken for Bigfoot when he takes his family on a trip into the wilderness in their new camper.
Bart attempts to impress his new friends by vandalizing a statue of the town's founding father, Jebediah Springfield.
Marge contemplates having an affair with a local womanizer after Homer selfishly buys her a bowling ball for her birthday.
03/25/90 HOMER'S NIGHT OUT 1
Bart photographs Homer with belly-dancer Princess Kashmir.
To Homer's delight, Bart is sent to France for the summer as part of a student exchange program.
When Homer positively identifies Krusty the Clown as an armed robber, Bart attempts to clear his idol's name.
Marge & Homer unwittingly leave their children in the care of a villainous babysitter when they attempt to rekindle their marriage.
10/11/90 BART GETS AN F 2
Bart must pass a critical history test or he will be held back a grade.
Homer's life changes dramatically when he purchases a miracle hair growth formula.
The Simpsons tell three bloodcurdling tales of horror on Halloween night.
Homer supports Mr. Burns in his bid for governor, but Marge remains loyal to Burn's political opposition.
11/08/90 DANCIN’ HOMER 2
Homer becomes the official mascot for a major league baseball team.
Homer and Ned Flanders pressure their sons to win a miniature golf championship.
Bart learns the true meaning of Thanksgiving when he runs away from home after having an argument with Lisa.
Bart is determined to leap a gorge on his skateboard after witnessing the death-defying stunts of a real daredevil.
Marge initiates a protest movement against gratuitous violence on television when Maggie begins acting aggressively after viewing Itchy and Scratchy cartoons.
When Mr. Burns hits Bart with his car, Homer is enticed by a disreputable lawyer to sue him.
Homer believes he has only twenty-four hours to live after he eats an improperly prepared blowfish.
01/31/91 THE WAY WE WAS 2
Marge recounts to her children how she and Homer first met and fell in love.
Lisa disapproves when Homer has cable television installed illegally into their home.
Homer arranges a date between Principal Skinner and Marge's sister, Selma.
Homer locates his long lost half brother Herb and discovers that he is rich.
03/07/91 BART’S DOG GETS AN F 2
Bart must help train Santa's Little Helper to pass an obedience course or Homer will give the dog away.
03/28/91 OLD MONEY 2
Grandpa Simpson falls in love…and inherits a fortune.
Marge renews her interest in becoming an artist after Homer finds an old painting of Ringo Starr in the attic.
Lisa develops a crush on her substitute teacher, Mr. Bergstrom.
Marge insists Homer accompany her for a weekend of marriage counseling at a wooded retreat, but Homer takes advantage of the location to attempt to catch a legendary catfish.
Bart and his friends pool their money to purchase the first issue of "Radioactive Man" comics, but then
cannot decide who gets to keep it.
07/11/91 BLOOD FEUD 2
Homer expects a generous gift in return when he donates Bart's blood to an ailing Mr. Burns.
Homer is institutionalized after Bart fills out his sanity test. A man thinking he is Michael Jackson helps Bart write a song for Lisa.
The Simpsons travel to the Nation's Capitol when Lisa becomes a semifinalist in an essay contest on patriotism.
Ned Flanders opens a store for left-handed people and Homer is overjoyed when it performs poorly.
Bart fraternizes with a gang of mobsters and becomes the prime suspect when Principal Skinner mysteriously disappears.
10/17/91 HOMER DEFINED 3
Homer becomes a hero when he averts a catastrophe at the power plant, but what is perceived as his skill of being a quick thinker is actually dumb luck.
Bart and Lisa scheme to reunite Krusty the Clown with his father, Rabbi Krustofsky, who disowned him for not carrying on the family tradition.

The Simpsons eat too much on Halloween and experience nightmarish tales of horror while they sleep.
11/07/91 LISA’S PONY 3
Homer realizes that he never shows Lisa the attention she deserves and buys her a pony.
Realizing he has not been a good father to Bart, Homer aids his son in building a soap box racer.
11/21/91 FLAMING MOE’S 3
Homer gives Moe the recipe for a unique alcoholic drink, and when it turns into a sensation, Moe takes credit, and the profits.
Homer is fired from his job when a German firm buys the power plant from Montgomery Burns.
12/26/91 I MARRIED MARGE 3
When Marge believes she may be pregnant, Homer recounts how Bart was born.
01/09/92 RADIO BART 3
Using his Superstar Celebrity microphone, Bart tricks all of Springfield into believing that a child has fallen down a well.
01/23/92 LISA THE GREEK 3
Lisa accurately predicts the winners of sporting events that Homer gambles on so she can be closer to her father.
02/06/92 HOMER ALONE 3
When Marge reaches the breaking point, she leaves for a much needed vacation, leaving the rest of the family to realize how much she does for them.
02/13/92 BART THE LOVER 3
When Bart discovers that his divorced teacher has placed a "personals" ad, he decides to create fake correspondence.
02/20/92 HOMER AT THE BAT 3
Mr. Burns bets one million dollars that his power plant's softball team will win the championship.
Bart finds new respect for the law and Lisa hangs out with the wrong crowd after they both take career aptitude tests.
03/12/92 DOG OF DEATH 3
The Simpsons must choose between frills and their dog when Santa's Little Helper needs an expensive operation to save his life.
03/26/92 COLONEL HOMER 3
Homer becomes the manager of a beautiful Country Western singer.
04/08/92 BLACK WIDOWER 3
To Bart's horror, Selma announces that her husband-to-be is none other than Sideshow Bob.
04/23/92 THE OTTO SHOW 3
Bart attends a Spinal Tap concert.
Bart becomes jealous when Milhouse falls for a girl who transferred to their school.
Herb Powell asks his brother Homer to let him borrow $2,000 to develop a new invention: a translator of baby gibberish.
09/24/92 KAMP KRUSTY 4
Bart and Lisa are horrified when their summer at Kamp Krusty turns into a nightmare.
When Marge lands the role of Blanche in a local production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Homer cannot hide his disinterest.
Homer creates his own religion as a means of escaping church services on Sundays.
Homer enters Lisa in a beauty pageant when her self-esteem plummets.
During a Halloween party, the Simpsons tell three horrifying tales of the macabre.
Homer forbids his son from seeing a new movie about his favorite cartoon heroes as punishment for misbehaving.
11/05/92 MARGE GETS A JOB 4
When the foundation to the Simpsons' house is in need of an expensive repair, Marge takes a position at the power plant.
Bart falls in love with the girl who moves in next door, only to find she prefers the school bully.
11/19/92 MR. PLOW 4
Homer and Barney vie for Springfield's lucrative snow plowing business.
12/03/92 LISA’S FIRST WORD 4
Marge recounts how Lisa first spoke as the family awaits baby Maggie's first word.
Homer suffers a heart attack and hires Dr. Nick Riviera to perform a delicate triple bypass operation.
An unscrupulous profiteer sells the people of Springfield on a defective monorail system, with Homer as the conductor.
01/21/93 SELMA’S CHOICE 4
Selma decides to take her dead aunt's advice and have children before it is too late.
Bart tires of Homer's lack of interest in him and chooses another father from the Bigger Brother program.
02/11/93 I LOVE LISA 4
Lisa feels pity for Ralph, a nerdy classmate, and gives him a card on Valentine's Day.
02/18/93 DUFFLESS 4
Marge convinces Homer he may have a drinking problem. Lisa plots to humiliate Bart with her science
project after he ruins an experiment.
Homer is elected union leader at the power plant and tries to save the dental plan so he will not have to pay for Lisa's new braces.
Family and friends reminisce about Homer's life after Bart's April Fool's Day prank sends him to the hospital.
04/15/93 THE FRONT 4
Using Grandpa as a front, Lisa and Bart write their own "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons.
04/29/93 WHACKING DAY 4
Lisa seeks to end a local holiday in which snakes are chased into town and beaten with sticks. Bart is expelled from school.
05/06/93 MARGE IN CHAINS 4
Marge is jailed when she is convicted of stealing from Apu's convenience store.
Bart, Lisa and a group of celebrities help Krusty turn his career around after his TV show is cancelled.
Homer recounts his phenomenal rise to superstardom as a member of the barbershop quartet, The Be Sharps.
10/07/93 CAPE FEARE 5
Sideshow Bob terrorizes Bart after he is paroled from prison.
Homer enrolls in a nuclear physics class at Springfield University and convinces three nerdy classmates to help him pull off a prank.
10/21/93 ROSEBUD 5
The Simpsons find Mr. Burns' long-lost childhood teddy bear.
In a ghoulish gallery, Bart hosts three bloodcurdling tales of Halloween horror.
11/04/93 MARGE ON THE LAM 5
Marge joins divorcee Ruth Powers for a wild night on the town, only to discover that her friend is driving a stolen vehicle.
The host of a self-help workshop convinces the people of Springfield they should emulate Bart's uninhibited personality.
Bart inadvertently joins the Junior Campers, and during a rafting trip, he becomes lost at sea with Homer and Ned Flanders.
Homer is attracted to a sexy co-worker with a personality identical to his own.
12/16/93 $PRINGFIELD (or How I learned to stop worrying and love legalized gambling) 5
Marge becomes addicted to playing slot machines after the town of Springfield legalizes gambling.
Homer takes the law into his own hands after Springfield is victimized by a cat burglar.
Bart becomes an instant celebrity after he ad-libs a line during a sketch on the "Krusty the Klown Show."
02/10/94 HOMER AND APU 5
Apu offers the Simpsons his services as valet after he is fired from the Kwik-E-Mart for selling rancid meat.
Lisa manufactures her own talking doll for little girls.
NASA scientists train Homer to become the first average American in space - with near disastrous results.
Flanders is horrified to discover he has become Homer's best friend.
Bart wins a full grown African elephant as part of a radio contest.
04/14/94 BURNS’ HEIR 5
Mr. Burns chooses Bart as the heir to his vast fortune.
Bart suffers enormous guilt after Skinner is fired from his job as school principal.
Only Bart can clear Mayor Quimby's nephew of an assault charge, but he fears that identifying himself as a witness will mean expulsion for skipping class.
Grandpa and Mr. Burns vie for Mrs. Bouvier's hand in marriage. Bart purchases a worthless Itchy and Scratchy animation cell.
Marge kicks Homer out of the house after she discovers that he revealed her personal secrets to an adult education class.
Stuck in his room with a broken leg, Bart watches Ned Flanders through a telescope and thinks he sees his neighbor murder his wife.
09/11/94 LISA’S RIVAL 6

When Marge suspects that romance has gone out of her life, her family recalls romantic encounters from their past.
The Simpsons visit a theme park based on the gratuitously violent Itchy and Scratchy cartoons.
Sideshow Bob runs for political office after Mayor Quimby pardons him from prison.
The Simpsons spin three tales of Halloween horror.
Bart falls in love with Reverend Lovejoy's beautiful daughter, only to discover that she is more of a hellion than he is.
11/13/94 LISA ON ICE 6
Lisa joins a hockey team and finds herself pitted against Bart in a critical game.
11/27/94 HOMER BADMAN 6
Homer is wrongly accused of committing sexual harassment.
While selling a homemade tonic guaranteed to increase sexual desire in men, Grandpa reveals that Homer's conception was accidental.
12/18/94 FEAR OF FLYING 6
Marge seeks professional help from a psychiatrist after realizing she is afraid to fly.
01/08/95 HOMER THE GREAT 6
Homer's popularity skyrockets when he is chosen as the leader of a secret organization.
Homer recounts how Maggie's accidental birth changed his life forever.
02/05/95 BART’S COMET 6
Bart discovers a comet that is on a collision course with Springfield.
02/12/95 HOMIE THE CLOWN 6
Homer enrolls in a clown college franchised by Krusty the Klown.
Bart must apologize to Australia after he tricks a boy from down under into accepting an expensive collect call.
02/26/95 HOMER VS. PATTY & SELMA 6
Homer is forced to borrow money from Patty and Selma after he wipes out the family's savings by investing in pumpkins.
03/05/95 A STAR IS BURNS 6
Homer grows jealous after Marge asks critic Jay Sherman to co-judge Springfield's film festival.
03/19/95 LISA’S WEDDING 6
A fortune teller describes how a genteel Englishman will ask for Lisa's hand in marriage in the year 2010.
Bart and Lisa attempt to rescue 25 greyhound puppies from Mr. Burns, who wants to use their hides for a new tuxedo.
04/16/95 THE PTA DISBANDS! 6
Bart masterminds a teacher's strike, but is humiliated when Marge takes charge of his class.
Lisa is saddened by the death of blues great Bleeding Gums Murphy. Bart ingests a piece of jagged metal
while eating Krusty-O cereal.
Marge joins the police force.
05/14/95 LEMON OF TROY 6
Bart and his friends march on Shelbyville when Springfield's lemon tree is stolen by a gang of children from across the border.
Just about everyone in Springfield vows to kill Mr. Burns after he cheats the elementary school out of a newly discovered oil well - and threatens to block out the sun.
Lisa aids police with the investigation of the Burns shooting.
Hollywood producers cast Milhouse in a motion picture based on the popular "Radioactive Man" comic books.
Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars. Moe tranforms his bar into a family restaurant.
The Flanders gain custody of the Simpson children after welfare workers accuse Homer and Marge of being negligent parents.
Lisa turns vegetarian after her family visits a petting zoo.
The Simpsons appear in three horrifying Halloween tales.
11/05/95 KING-SIZE HOMER 7
Homer intentionally gains weight so he can qualify for disability and work at home.
After Homer fakes his own death, his long-thought-deceased mother arrives to pay her last respects.
Sideshow Bob threatens to detonate a nuclear bomb unless television is abolished.
Former President George Bush and his wife Barbara buy a house across the street from the Simpsons.
Troy McClure hosts this special 138th episode, which includes the first-ever cartoon shorts, trivia questions, and never-before-seen footage.
As Christmas approaches…Marge treats Bart like an adult after he is caught shoplifting.
01/07/96 TEAM HOMER 7
Homer reluctantly accepts Mr. Burns into his new bowling league. Bart causes a student riot by wearing a Mad magazine iron-on.
The Simpsons apply for membership at a posh country club.
02/11/96 BART THE FINK 7
Krusty is arrested for massive tax fraud after Bart inadvertently exposes his hero's illegal bank account.
Lisa discovers that Jebediah Springfield was a vicious pirate. Homer wins the coveted role of town crier in an upcoming parade.
Homer acts as Mr. Burns' assistant while Smithers is away on vacation.
Troy McClure stages a Hollywood comeback when he begins dating Selma.
Bart and Lisa come to the aid of a down-and-out man who claims to have invented the concept of cartoon violence.
04/07/96 BART ON THE ROAD 7
Using a fake driver's license, Bart rents a car and embarks on a Spring Break road trip with his friends.
The lives of Springfield residents are highlighted in a series of interconnecting vignettes.
Grandpa and Mr. Burns, the last survivng members of a World War II army unit, vie for a priceless collection of rare art hidden in a secret location.
Apu faces deportation when a referendum on illegal immigrants is placed on the Springfield ballot.
Homer is hired to perform in a rock festival.
05/19/96 SUMMER OF 4 FT. 2 7
While on summer vacation with her family, Lisa sheds her nerdy image in an effort to make new friends.
The Simpsons appear in three tales of terror: Bart discovers an evil twin brother living in the attic; Lisa creates a microscopic society; and space aliens transform themselves into Clinton and Dole look-alikes.
The Simpsons relocate to another community after Homer unwittingly takes a job with a company controlled by a super-villain.
Homer becomes a professional boxer when doctors discover he was born with a unique genetic condition that protects his brain from injury.
11/17/96 BURNS, BABY BURNS 8
With Homer's help, Mr. Burns' long-lost son stages his own kidnapping.
11/24/96 BART AFTER DARK 8
While Marge is out of town, Homer allows Bart to work at a burlesque house.
When Milhouse's parents get a divorce, Homer grows convinced that his own marriage is in jeopardy.
Lisa develops a crush on bully Nelson Muntz. Homer uses an automatic telephone dialer for an electronic panhandling scheme.
Ned Flanders suffers a breakdown after his home is destroyed by a hurricane.
After ingesting several Guatemalan peppers during chili cook-off, Homer experiences hallucinatory visions that inspire him to find his true soul mate in life.
X-Files Agents Mulder and Scully investigate Homer's encounter with an alleged extraterrestial.
After being expelled from an investment club, Marge starts her own pretzel franchise.
Homer and Mr. Burns are buried beneath an avalanche during a survival trek in the mountains.
The Simpsons hire a Mary Poppins-like nanny when Marge becomes overwhelmed by the demands of being a housewife.
When ratings for Itchy and Scratchy cartoons plummet, a studio committee creates a new, hipper character - and hires Homer to provide the voice.
02/16/97 HOMER’S PHOBIA 8
Homer gows homophobic after he realizes the family's new friend is gay.
Bart fears the worst when Sideshow Bob wins release from prison by claiming he is a reformed man - and is hired by his brother to work on a construction project.
Homer and Marge allow Lisa to baby-sit Bart.
Homer turns bootlegger when Springfield enforces an antiquated prohibition law.
Bart exposes Skinner and Krabappel's clandestine affair.
Bart gives away Santa's Little Helper so he can keep a fully trained, blue ribbon Collie.
Lisa helps Mr. Burns build a recycling center after a series of bad investments costs the multimillionaire his fortune.
04/27/97 IN MARGE WE TRUST 8
Marge becomes a church volunteer. Homer discovers his image printed on a box of Japanese dish detergent.
05/04/97 HOMER’S ENEMY 8
A resentful, hardworking employee at the power plant makes Homer his enemy. Bart purchases an abandoned factory for $1 at the government auction.
Troy McClure hosts three spin-offs from The Simpsons television show.
Cadets give Lisa the "silent treatment" when she enrolls in an all-male military academy.
The Simpsons journey to New York City to retrieve the family car.
A stranger claims that Principal Skinner is an impostor.
10/19/97 LISA’S SAX 9
Homer and Marge recount how Lisa got her saxophone.
Homer battles killer mutants after Springfield is destroyed by a nuclear blast; a matter-transportation device melds Bart with a housefly; in Colonial times, Marge is accused of being a witch.
Homer purchases a handgun to protect his family.
11/09/97 BART STAR 9
Homer becomes coach of the Springfield Pee Wee Football team - - - and appoints Bart as starting quarterback.
In an effort to annul an arranged marriage, Apu tells his mother he wed Marge.
Townspeople believe Lisa has unearthed the fossilized remains of an angel.
12/07/97 REALTY BITES 9
Marge gets a job with a realty firm, but her honesty costs her lucrative sales. Homer purchases a 60s hot-rod convertible at a police auction.
People throughout Springfield open their hearts - and wallets - after Bart claims the family's Christmas
presents were stolen by a burglar.
The Simpsons recall their many musical moments from seasons past.
01/11/98 BART CARNY 9
A carnival worker and his son move in with the Simpsons after Homer costs them their jobs.
02/08/98 THE JOY OF SECT 9
Marge tries her hand at deprogramming after her family is brainwashed by a religious cult.
02/15/98 DAS BUS 9
Bart, Lisa and their classmates fight for survival when they become stranded on a remote island. Homer
starts his own business on the Internet.

Krusty shuns his old routines in favor of edgier material - and suddenly becomes the hottest comic in show business.
When Moe goes broke romancing his new love, he enlists Homer in a scheme to collect on an insurance policy.
Lisa fears she is genetically predisposed to lose her intelligence. Apu uses a frozen Jasper as a tourist attraction.
Bart is appalled when Marge pairs him with Ralph Wiggum.
03/29/98 SIMPSON TIDE 9
Homer becomes the captain of a Navy submarine. Bart gets his ear pierced.
When a tax audit lands him in hot water, Homer goes undercover for the government - and attempts to retrieve a trillion dollar note from Mr. Burns.
04/19/98 GIRLY EDITION 9
Bart attempts to upstage Lisa when the pair co-host a children's news program. Homer obtains a helper monkey.
Homer enters the race for Sanitation Commissioner after garbagemen refuse to collect his trash.
05/03/98 KING OF THE HILL 9
After improving his physique, Homer attempts to climb a treacherous mountain.
05/10/98 LOST OUR LISA 9
Lisa gets lost in an unfamiliar part of town while searching for a museum. Bart adheres novelties to his face - only to discover they cannot be removed.
Homer and Marge discover the secret to reigniting their sex life. Bart and Lisa hunt for hidden treasure
using Grandpa's old mine sweeper.
08/23/98 LARD OF THE DANCE 10
Homer thinks he can net a fortune by recycling grease. Lisa helps organize a school dance.
After realizing half his life is over, Homer decides to become the next Thomas Edison.
09/27/98 BART THE MOTHER 10
Bart tends to a nest filled with eggs after he inadvertently kills a bird with a BB gun.
An evil toupee possesses Homer; Bart & Lisa find themselves trapped inside an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon; baby Maggie turns out to be the daughter of a space alien.
Homer befriends a group of Hollywood celebrities vacationing in a remote part of town - and promises to
keep their wherabouts a secret.
11/15/98 D’OH-IN’ IN THE WIND 10
Homer embraces his newly discovered hippie heritage.
11/22/98 LISA GETS AN ‘A’ 10
Lisa suffers a guilty conscience after she cheats on an exam. Homer believes he will save a fortune by raising his own lobster.
Homer offers to donate one of his kidneys to Grandpa…until he realizes the surgery will place his own life in jeopardy.
12/20/98 MAYORED TO THE MOB 10
Homer takes on the mob when he acts as Mayor Quimby's bodyguard.
Homer shows Flanders how to enjoy life by taking him to Las Vegas.
The children of Springfield rebel after Wiggum enforces a curfew.
Homer and his friends eagerly anticipate the Super Bowl…until a ticketing snafu threatens to keep them from seeing the game.
02/07/99 HOMER TO THE MAX 10
Homer changes his name when a dimwitted television show character named "Homer Simpson" becomes an overnight sensation.
02/14/99 I’M WITH CUPID 10
Apu showers his wife with Valentine's Day surprises…making men throughout Springfield look like cheapskates.
Marge discovers the pleasures of driving a sport utility vehicle…until her aggressive highway habits
catch the attention of Chief Wiggum.
02/28/99 MAKE ROOM FOR LISA 10
Lisa exhibits signs of stress when she is forced into sharing her brother's bedroom. Marge becomes addicted to eavesdropping on cellular phone conversations.
Homer and Bart attempt to deliver a dead trucker's cargo on schedule. Meanwhile, Marge decides to have an adventure of her own…and purchases a new doorbell.
While listening to one of Reverend Lovejoy's sermons on a sweltering Easter Sunday morning, the Simpsons fall asleep - and envision themselves as characters from the Bible.
04/11/99 MOM AND POP ART 10
Homer pursues a career as an artist when his barbecue pit attracts the attention of a gallery.
Bart must perform community service at Grandpa's retirement home.
Mr. Burns attempts to win adoration by transporting the Loch Ness monster to Springfield.
Lisa is invited to join Mensa; Homer receives a free erotic photo session.
The Simpsons board a mega-saver flight for Tokyo, only to find themselves trapped overseas when they run out of money.

end of days

That's it. Summer is over.

Today brings decidely fall-like weather with rain, wind, blowing leaves and temperatures cool enough to warrant a sweatshirt. Tomorrow we go full-force into fall by sending the kids back to school. Sweet mercy, at long last.

Once September rolls around, the year is gone. You start with buying fall clothes and school supplies and before you know it, you're in Target and some awkward teenager in an red vest is stalking you, replacing every Halloween decoration you take off the shelf with a Christmas ornament. No breathing space. No time to go around the board once or twice and pass Go.

So now you prepare for New Year's Eve right around Columbus Day and one of these years we'll just go right ahead and celebrate New Year's with our Jewish friends, who generally ring in their New Year, Rosh Hashanah, some time in September or October.

But wait, we forgot all about Thanksgiving, whose meaning has become something akin to the sorbet they serve you in fancy restaurants between courses, to cleanse your palate in between Halloween and Christmas. The turkeys and pilgrims and other Novemeber accoutrements get tossed between the costumes no one wanted and the fresh winter plastic trinkets like inch-high plastic ice skaters and musical baby Jesus. Even the outdoor decorations for Thanksgiving are just toss-offs from Halloween; take down the witches and goblins and leave the pumpkins and bales of hay and look, it's Thanksgiving!

Then there's football which, week for week, makes the end of the year move faster than a speeding bullet-like completion. You start fresh in September with high hopes and maybe a new replica jersey and a few bucks thrown in the weekly office pool. By Halloween you are grumbling under your breath, by Election day you're headed into a funk, by Thanksgiving you spend every Sunday cursing and drinking and by New Year's you insist that the Super Bowl is just some over-hyped dramatic ratings ploy anyhow, so why should you watch it?

Suddenly it's 2004, a new year has dawned and you wonder what the hell you've been doing since August because it sure doesn't feel like four full months have gone by - even though your bank account assures you that yes, it has been depleted thanks to a succession of holidays and gift giving occassions - and you have no choice but to face the black hole of the calendar, those months marked by early darkness, snow and a few Monday holidays thrown in to keep you sane. But that's all ok because soon you will hear the cries of pitchers and catchers flying south for the spring and the Easter Bunny will come hop-hop-hopping along as you try to find summer camps for your kids and book that vacation condo in the woods, the one that makes you feel all rustic and back to nature but gets 800 channels on the tv including porn, and we start all over again, sweating, conserving electricity, avoiding blackouts and killer mosquitoes and getting an early start on back-to-school supplies.

Time flies whether you're having fun or not.

September 01, 2003


Today in the bakery: Long line, agitated, hungry and late for my sister's barbecue.

DJ, standing next to me, suddenly tugs on my sleeve and whispers shyly in my ear:

Mom, what's an affair?

Too much tv, I think. I look around, make sure no one is in earshot and then I say to him as delicately as possible:

Well, it's when two people are in an...umm...relationship and one of them is married to someone else.

DJ, looks confused and points towards the wall:

Then why does it say "We Will Cater Your Affairs" on that sign?

Boy, was my face red.

as i labor away, eating and drinking

Off to spend the rest of the day with my family doing typical Labor Day things like drinking beer and eating hot dogs and arguing about the Mets and Yankees.

Thanks to everyone (about 100 so far) who have sent in their stories for Voices. I should be able to get started in earnest uploading all the stories to the site tomorrow.

Being that this is the unofficially the last day of summer, I will leave you with my poem about hot dogs.

ode to a hotdog

i think that i shall never eat
a substance more devoid of meat
than the hot dog i ate last night
but damn, i did eat every bite.
and when i was done i ate another
so did my sister and my mother
i would have gone for three or four
if there had been any more.

hot dogs are the food of gods
despite the arteries they clog
in the oven, on the grill
floating in a watery swill
mustard (yellow), saurkraut
that's what summer's all about
pile them high upon the plates
don't talk to me about nitrates

no turkey, tofu, chicken filler
real meat hot dogs are what's killer
so please don't call me a big ol' meanie
when i won't share my all-beef weenie.

and the bartender says...

So far, Solonor is the only one who has made good on his bet, and he couldn't even do that much without his usual snarkiness. Would it kill him to say one nice thing about the Yankees without an addendum basically negating the compliment he just gave? Probably.

Solly told a joke about the Yankees. Now I have one about the Sox.

Manny Ramirez walks into a bar...

Eh, I'll just get straight to the punchline: 5 1/2 games back!

file under "biased"

Speaking of all things anti-American, the English language version of Aljazeera launched today.

Think Indymedia crossed with the Washington Post.

quote for today

I found a new site, Spathic and just two days after I started reading it, the author comes up with this quote:

I think the problem with most anti-Americans is their realization of the difference between the amount of time they spend thinking about how much they hate us...and the amount of time we spend not thinking about them at all.

Of course, some may call that harsh. I call it reality.

burying blood

Michael Ragusa's funeral is next week.

Michael died almost two years ago, on September 11, 2001. He is just one of at least half of the people who died that day whose remains have not been identified and most likely will never be.

His family will instead bury a vial of Michael's blood, saved from when he donated to a bone marrow center. It is the only part of Michael's body they have left to bury.

Closure may be an overused word these days, but it is an important concept. So many families of the victims of 9/11 will not have a full sense of closure because there was nothing left of their loved ones - or nothing that could be found among the ruins of the World Trade Center.

I can only imagine that the emptiness one feels when someone they love dies is only compounded when there is nothing concrete to put in a coffin.

When I went to the memorial services for Claude Richards, there was nothing of him. No coffin, no urn, just memories of the man, pictures, mementos. I felt more like we were memorializing a missing man, rather than a dead man.

It speaks of the massive destruction caused by people wanting to make a statement against us. People were here, and now they are gone and there was nothing left to show their families any evidence that yes, they are dead. Of course, there is no doubting that fact but there's still that word - closure - something that evades the families of those never found.

Just one more thing that still haunts us two years later. One more reason to never forget, one more reason why it is still so fresh and raw 24 months after the first plane hit.

Michael Ragusa's family at least has his blood. "I'd much rather have a bottle of blood that flowed through him while he was alive than parts of his body," Ragusa's mother said.

Some families don't even have that.


UPDATE: More from blogger Frank, who was related to Michael.


I don't know about you, but I think this one is a keeper. Maybe I'll bring old creepy guy back around Halloween.

I'm done with the designing. I'm going back to the business of blogging.