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December 31, 2003

until next year...

hny4.jpg


And now, for your cliche, yet important, New Year's message: Don't drink and drive. Only jackasses do that and you're not a jackass.

BlogMadness: all the fun of March Madness without having to put up with Dick Vitale

Ah, March Madness.

Oh, wait. It's only January (sort of). Almost three full months of crappy college basketball until we get to the fun of brackets and the Final Four.

Fellow Madness lovers, you don't have to wait until March to print out a bracket and start red-lining your picks and pans. Let me introduce you to BlogMadness.

what would happen if you combined the fun and excitement of March Madness with the writing (brilliant and otherwise) which abounds in the blogosphere? The result of our discussion was the creation of a Blog Tournament. Everyone would go through their 2003 archives (which is fun in and of itself), pull out their very best post, and enter it in the tournament. We'll throw together a bracket, everyone will vote, and in the end the winners will be crowned King or Queen of some small portion of Blogland.

I like this idea better than any other blogging year-end contest ever, because it is based solely on writing and content. It's not about being American or Canadian, gay or straight, an A-list or never heard of blogger. You just enter what you think was your best post of 2003 and watch the fun ensue. Even if you don't enter, or your entry gets wiped out in the first round, there will still be that same March Madness excitement with Cinderella teams (blogs) and the anticipation of the final round.

So yes, I'm going to enter. Why not? My problem, of course, is in choosing one entry out of something like 1,000 that I wrote in 2003. I suppose later on in the week I'll go through the archives and pick favorites of my own and whittle the list down from that, but if you have a favorite of mine from this year (you can see all 2003 posts here, starting from this one, working your way up), drop a note in the comments.

And, if you are planning on entering, let me know so I can cheer you on.

Now, onto the preparation of jello shots.

predictions: bloggers editions

Ah, New Year's Eve. Time for ruminating and resolutions. Also time for drinking, throwing up and making an idiot of yourself, but we'll get to that later.

I'll join the ranks of millions and make some predictions. But I'll stick to a subject I happen to know a lot about: bloggers.

  • Glenn Reynolds will write the sentence Indeed. 145 times.
  • Oliver Willis will post 38138 photos of Britney Spears and/or Beyonce in various stages of undress.
  • Bill will alienate every single one of his readers.
  • Allah's true identity will be discovered. He is, indeed, Jesus.
  • One of the Bitch Girls will run for public office under the platform of Guns Are Sexy!
  • Stephen Green will get violently ill after drinking too much Grey Goose one night and subsequently change his blog name to TequilaPundit.
  • Dr. Frank will have to close down his blog when the new MTX album becomes such a huge hit that groupies start leaving pictures of their underwear in his comments.
  • Mikey will make 1,389 references to porn.
  • Jim Treacher will be the subject of an internet exposť.
  • Stacy will develop the ability to kill a trolling commenter just by thinking about it.
  • James Lileks will reveal that his favorite song is Sister Christian by Night Ranger.

As for me, I have only one resolution, one prediction. I will get something published this year.

Feel free to add your own blogger predictions. I'm off to buy annoying noisemakers and silly hats and lots of liquor so I will not have any inhibitions about using the annoying noisemakers and silly hats.

Update: I really meant to type "138" in reference to Oliver. Seriously, does anyone in their right mind think he could stop at 38? Maybe I should make it 538....

December 30, 2003

looking back at 2003: manning the post

I was looking through my archives for 2003. Blogging is a great way to keep tabs on your life. Things I swore happened in 2002 happened in 2003. It's nice to be able to fact-check yourself.

So many things happened this year; good, bad, funny, sad - the usual span of emotions and motions one goes through in a full year.

One of the best things that happened in 2003 was the creation of The Command Post.

It started here on March 20:

So many of us are blogging minute by minute about this war. We are all basically posting the same news links, with our own comments added in. We should have come up with something like The Corner to blog this war together.

Two minutes later I received an email from Alan saying let's do it. Less than two hours later, he had a Blogger Pro account set up and the first draft of the Command Post was born. Two hours later, ten bloggers had joined our ranks.

Three days later, we had a shiny new URL and a Sekimori design.

In the first few weeks, we broke one million visitors. We were featured in Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Newsday, several radio shows and a myriad of other publications I can't think of off the top of my head. We were being fed tips by important people at important locations. We were linked to by major media outlets. It was an interesting time.

Once the war started winding down people wondered what would happen to TCP. Alan and I never really thought about that; I guess in our minds we always figured it was something we would keep going. We added different sections, started covering the war on terror, Iran, North Korea and later the race for the White House. We added an OpEd section so our contributors could state their opinions while keeping the rest of the site bias free. Mostly.

My father was reading TCP and so were all his friends and business associates. My boss was reading it. My whole family was keeping up with the war through this site.

Our contributors made the site. Each and every one of them put hard work and long hours into covering the war in return for not a single penny, and most of them are still going at it.

Nearly a year later TCP is still going strong. We cover news as quickly as it happens, sometimes beating the major sites to the punch. A good day for me is when I beat Drudge to posting a major news item.

Yes, TCP consumes me sometimes. I am constantly reading news sites, newspaper, magazines, listening to the radio, scanning weblogs and watching news crawls. I like the rush of trying to get a story posted before it's already stale. I like being able to use TCP to reach out, to point our readers to things like Operation Give, Books for Soldiers, or any kind of disaster relief when it's needed. I like taking part in something that is here and now, like when we covered the blackout this past summer. I've always been a news junkie; Command Post just feeds into that information addiction I have and I thrive on it.

I like to think we are performing a valuable service. Many people have written to tell us that they head to TCP whenever there is breaking news. Some have said that they like the varied information they can get there. Others say that they enjoy the heated discussions in the comment section. Whatever your reason for coming there, if you do, I just want to say thank you for making this happen.

TCP may or may not exist well into the future. It may or may not become a source of steady income for Alan and I. It may or may not help me land a writing job. Whatever it does or doesn't do, the one thing I'll always be grateful for is the friendship with Alan that came out of this project.

Alan, thanks for making TCP what it is, for putting up with me and for making 2003 an exciting, if frantic, year. And Kate, thanks for graciously allowing me to eat up a lot of your husband's time.

I hope all of you TCP readers are still around when we cover the 2008 election, the realization of world peace, and the Red Sox winning the World Series. In other words, for a long, long time.

Update: I want to thank Jeff Jarvis for pointing something out in this post. : TCP doesn't report the news. Our real strength lies in "finding, editing, selecting, and presenting the very latest and best news..." He says, They edited the world and did a great job of it.

And I should thank you, Jeff, for your strong support of TCP right from the start.

reminder

Did I tell you that Four Color Hell is back? Yes, I did. Well, I've got a list of year-end lists over there.

And while I'm on the subject of my other sites, Command Post is just rocking these days.

bloggers v. journalists

Jessica's Well sets off a debate (intentionally) by asking for comments on this:

Resolved: This House (OK, this Blog) believes that the collective knowledge of the blogosphere is greater than the collective knowledge of professional journalists regardless of the subject.

My response:

We seek our knowledge out. There's is handed to them at story meetings. We fact check each other. They don't. We have a passion for our subjects that many professional journalists lack. We have each other to rely on for knowledge, as well. Want to write something about the Iranian earthquake? Read a few Iranian blogs. I certainly didn't know nearly as much about the city of Bam than I do now - simply by reading and following links on other blogs.

We are far more knowledgeable because our database (each other) is nearly bottomless.

Head for her comments and add your two (or ten) cents. I think I'll expand on these thoughts later.

Super Bowl Prediction

I'm going out on a limb here, but I just feel it.

Pack wins. Favre gets MVP.

There's no greater motivator than love.

And I say this without bias even though I'm a Pack fan.

inner demons: Oh my God! That's MY nipple!

eb.jpgScott (you remember Scott, he's the guy who saw Joe Lieberman pee) poses an interesting question today: What tv character would represent your inner demon?

After giving it much thought - and discarding my original answers of Jan Brady, Kimmy Gibbler and Wesely T. Owens, the evil little brother from Mr. Belvedere - it dawned on my who my evil alter-ego really is.


Elaine Benes. Elaine and I have in common the fact that we both hang around mostly with guys. In fact, when I was in high school, I was the lone girl in group of five. We never ate at Monk's, but we did hang out at the same 7-11 pinball machine corner ever day.

However, it's not about what I have in common with Elaine; with an inner demon it's more like what I want to be sometimes, what I would become if I had no inhibitions or morals. Your inner demon usually has the personality traits of someone you despise. And I often despise Elaine Benis.

Elaine is self-centered, self-absorbed and a bit on the neurotic side. She's impulsive, egotistical, and rude. She's incompetent at most of her jobs because she really doesn't care about doing a good job. And, she's a skank. A ho. A woman who keeps a storage of contraceptives in her closet. She also has a tendency to fall for dangerous, psychotic men.

Elaine :"I'm not a terrible person."
Jerry :"Noooo...."
Elaine :"No, when I shoo squirrels away, I always say 'Get out of here." I never ever throw things at them and try to injure them like other people."
Jerry :"That's nice."
Elaine : "Yeah, and when I see freaks in the street, I never ever stare at them, and yet I'm careful not to look away, see, because I want to make the freaks feel comfortable."
Jerry : "That's nice for the freaks."
Elaine :"Yeah, and I don't poof up my hair when I go to the movies so people can see."

Yes, my inner Elaine comes out sometimes. I can't help it. Sometimes I will be that stranger at a party who counters the obnoxious behavior of another guest with Maybe the dingo ate your baby.

iran

This is no surprise:

President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday U.S. aid to earthquake victims in Iran, while welcome, would not alter the state of relations between the two arch foes who broke off ties nearly a quarter century ago.

"I don't think this incident will change our relations with the United States," Khatami told a news conference in the capital of southeastern Kerman province where officials say up to 50,000 people were killed in a quake that struck Friday.

I certainly didn't expect the mullahs to change their tune. But the people will. And then there's this:

Nothing could ever show the real sense of diconnectivity and distrust between Iranian people and the Islamic regime, and its deeply dysfunctionality better than a devastating quake. Everywhere you go and every blog you read, there is talk about the political implications of such tragedy going on.

Read the whole thing. It may make you think differently about the situation.

Worst New Year's Eve Ever or I Want A Man Just Like Dick Clark

New Year's Eve, 1992.

sp3000.jpgI'm eight months pregnant with my second child. The first child, almost three years old, has a raging fever and sinus infection. My then husband has chosen to take the overnight shift at his job, leaving me home to take care of the sick child on a holiday evening.

I make little snacks for myself and the daughter to eat while we wait for midnight. Of course, there is no way I'll make it to midnight because I'm suffering from exhaustion, plus the only way to forget that I am so huge that I waddle instead of walk and it takes me about an hour to tie my shoes is to sleep. Forget the daughter. She's on some mixture of antibiotics and cold medicine that knocks her out for hours at a time.

After an hour of coloring and making silly little crafts, I decide to turn the clock ahead, pretend it's midnight, celebrate the new year with a toast of sparkling grape juice (white grape juice and seltzer) and go cry myself to sleep while thinking about the misery that is my life.

Daughter has other ideas. She decided that what she really wants to do is to vomit up a pile of medicine, snacks and chocolate milk all over the living room floor. I try not to cry as I attempt to clean up the floor, my very pregnant belly pressing against the rug as I'm on my hands and knees scraping puke from the carpet. The daughter has passed out on the couch.

I pick her up while she's sleeping - no small feat for a pregnant woman with sciatica - lay her on her bed and change her out of the vomit-covered pajamas she was wearing. I wash her up and tuck her in and she never flinches, never wakes up even once and I wonder if maybe she's gone into a coma and she's suffering from some terrible strain of the flu or a virus that the doctor overlooked, so I stay in her room and make sure her breathing is even and that she responds - even in her sleep - to a pinch on her arm. She does. I feel bad, but love hurts sometimes, you know?

I go back to the living room and clean up the crafts. It's only 8:00. I call my husband at his job to tell him how this night is going but he says he's busy, can't talk and as I go to hang up the phone I hear the sound of a merry party going on in the background and I yell into the receiver I hope you're having fun! Slam the phone down. Go on the couch and pout.

I flip through various rocking and rolling New Year's specials. I'm bored. I'm lonely. I wonder what kind of husband Dick Clark would make. I wonder if his wife gets pissed that he's out every New Year's eve, but then I figure that she's probably in the ABC green room munching on caviar and sipping champagne and saying, Yes I'm Dick Clark's wife. I'm soooo lucky.

I fall into a light sleep, sitting up with the remote in my hand, and I start to dream about the ghost of New Year's past, when midnight meant giant swigs of Boonesfarm wine that someone stole from their father and a joint passed around with Pink Floyd playing in the background and maybe a stolen kiss, even an attempt to get under my shirt, which I respond to with a kick in the shin. If you're not Dick Clark rockin', don't come knockin'. Yea, I always had a thing for Dick. Clark.

10:00 on this miserable New Year's Eve. I decide to go to bed. I call my parents to wish them Happy New Year and I sneak in a few well-placed twinges of self-pity, hoping they'll tell me to pack up the kid and come on over to celebrate with them. But my parents had a long-standing tradition - since all of their kids were old enough to be out without a curfew - that New Year's Eve, being my father's birthday, was their special night and no one was allowed to interfere with it. My father would make lobster and shrimp and he and my mother would sit in front of the fireplace and sip wine and enjoy the evening alone. We all complied with their wishes because it was our understanding that this was the only night of the year that my father was able to get some from mom. At least that's what he told us.

So I get on the phone and whine and cry and tell them I'm going to bed because I just want this year to end and they wish me a Happy New Year and I hang up with my bottom lip trembling as I try to keep from exploding in the biggest fit of self-pity my family has ever seen.

I put on my pajamas. I settle into bed with Dick Clark and the remote. And then I hear the sound of little feet and they aren't pitter pattering, they are running. Full steam. And they are accompanied by the sound of a three year old girl screaming Moommy! I can't stop the poop! It won't stop! Oh lord.

I get up and catch her just as she's about to slip in whatever she's trailing behind her. Oh, yes. Diarreah. Bad, bad diarreah, most likely a result of the antibiotics that I assumed she lost with the vomiting episode. Her jammies are brown and drooping. It's running down her legs. I scoop her up and run into the bathroom, throw her in the bathtub. It takes about an hour to clean both of us, the kitchen floor and the bathroom up. She falls asleep on the living floor, I just fall to the floor in tears. Dick Clark stares at me from the tv. Stop your crying, woman! Get up and make the most of what you have! Right.

I go back into the bathroom to wash my face and see that the daughter, who insisted on helping me clean the tub and the floor, threw some of the used baby wipes in the toilet. I flush without thinking. The toilet overflows. And overflows. I try to stop it. I use the plunger to no avail. I call my father. The...toilet...won't...stop! He thinks I've been drinking. Or smoking. He has no idea what I'm talking about and I take his questions as a sign that he doesn't care. I want my sisters to come take care of me. They both have plans. Sorry, you've got to deal with the toilet on your own, sis. There is no way I can convey the misery of my evening to them.

I call the husband while I'm cleaning up the toilet overflow (I finally got the water to stop pouring out) and he asks why I can't take care of anything myself. I hang up. I cry again.

My mother calls to see how it's going with the toilet. I break out into a long, wailing cry, the kind that Italian grandmothers invoke over the coffins of their husbands (whom they hated while they were alive). Nobody loves me! I'm now sobbing and my breath is coming in deep heaves. No...body....loves me! I'm all alone and the toilet won't work and the daughter is losing her lunch from both ends and the baby is kicking me and I smell like poop and vomit and my husband is in New Jersey having the time of his life and I bet Dick Clark would never, ever do this to his wife!

When I'm finally done, my mother heaves a heavy sigh. Fine, come on over. I wrap the daughter in a heavy blanket and we walk across the street to my parent's house. It's 11:00. I fall asleep at 11:10. I miss Dick Clark ushering in the New Year and when I wake the house is dark and my parent's bedroom is closed so I assume that my dad got his yearly present anyhow, which makes me want to throw up just thinking of it and thinking of throwing up makes me relive the whole sordid evening in my head. I curl up next to my daughter, in the room where I used to sleep back in the day and I wish a whispered new year greeting in her ear. I silently make some resolutions, some that take years to complete, but I do eventually complete them all.

Except for marrying Dick Clark. Who, it turns out, is really a robotron. So I hear.

December 29, 2003

notice

Saying this once and once only. I will not respond to any emails that address this issue:

I am not "in a fight" with either Laurence or Meryl. I love Meryl like a sister and I love Laurence like the retarded brother I never had.

We have the ability to disagree strongly yet still remain friends. That's sort of the basis of a good friendship, I think.

the newest threat:

Almanacs. Be on the lookout for people carrying almanacs.

But what kind of almanac, specifically? Should I be dodging people carrying the Farmer's Almanac? The Baseball Almanac?

So many almanacs so few terrorist type (shifty eyes, possibly wearing a stocking on face, uzi strapped to side) people walking around. We need to be careful to not engage in almanac profiling. Perhaps we should narrow down the list of almanacs to the most dangerous.

Let's discount dog almanacs and tree almanacs and almanacs that predict the best day to harvest the crop so as not to upset the children of the corn. Damn, it's all a bit confusing, isn't it? We don't want to end up calling the authorities on a person who was just reading Leo Laporte's Technology Almanac. That's embarassing enough in itself. Let's not be so quick to judge people by their fact-reading habits.

So go easy on our almanac reading citizens. Unless, of course, they are reading the 2003 issue of this:

almanac.jpg

fives

Let's move on to the pleasantries, shall we? I think I'll continue on with my listmaking.

Five Movies I Will See in 2004

1. SpongeBob SquarePants, The Movie [see the hilarious trailer here]
2. Garden State. I originally looked into this title because I thought it was a movie version of the Rick Moody book of the same name, which I enjoyed. It's not, but it still looks like a good movie, and it's got Natalie Portman.
3. Spiderman 2. Of course.
4. The Incredibles. It's Pixar, so everyone should see it.
5. Hellboy. Please, please, please do not ruin this one. Please.

[Yes, there are others, but these were the first five I could think of]

Five Movies I Will be Sure Not to See in 2004

1. Garfield
2. Scooby Doo 2
3. Star Wars Episode III (Ok, so that's 2005, I'm just getting my hate on in advance)
4. Dawn of the Dead. Why remake a classic?
5. Seed of Chucky. Please. Stop. Now.


Five DVDs I Will Buy in 2004

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm - The First Season
2. Ed Wood Special Edition
3. Comic Book - The Movie (this one is a bit confusing as some sites say it will be a theater release and some say it will be a DVD release)
4. Futurama Season 3
5. Simpsons Season 4 (assuming they release it)

The One Album I Will Buy Through Amazon So No One Knows I Bought it, Yet I Will Be Strangely Proud to Own it:

William Shatner, produced by Ben Folds, guest appearance by Henry Rollins. Read about this remarkable work in progress here [scroll down just a bit]

Five Things I Should Be Doing Right Now

No, nevermind. I'm going to finish Legend of Zelda.
1. Raft 2. Ladder 3. Red Candle 4. Potion 5. Magic Wand

on giving even when it hurts

It seems I opened a can of worms yesterday. I wasn't trying to bait anyone with those worms; I was more or less just letting them loose.

Laurence claims I was being righteous. Perhaps I was. If the ability to separate people in distress from their crazed government is righteous, so be it.

Meryl says I have no idea what it's like to be a Jew, so I can't understand why her and Laurence would refuse aid to the people of Bam, and I can never understand their visceral anger.

I only know what it's like to be hated as an American. I know that people hate us so much that they would steer full planes into office buildings and kill thousands of people in the name of that hatred. But no, I am not a Jew - although I am a passionate defender of the Jews - so I have no idea about hatred that would drive one to hate a government so much that you would take it out on the people. Perhaps I am being naive or simplistic. Prehaps not.

It's a personal choice, I suppose, whether to support the U.S. decision to send aid to Iran. It's certainly personal when it comes to giving on your own. In much the same way, their anger is personal and who am I to dispute that anger or ask them to justify it?

Andrea says:

See, maybe I can't "understand" what Jews go through, not being Jewish myself. But, you know, by that criterion I can't understand what it means to be Chinese, or Yanomamo, or male, or a victim (yet) of a suicide bomber, or anything but Andrea Harris.

Right. All I understand is my need to help people in need. I can't do anything from my safe little haven here except ask other people to help as well.

Lileks seems to share my feelings:

I heard a network news feed on the radio say that the US was sending aid despite having branded Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil. Oy. Did the author of that dispatch believe that the administration regarded the Iranian people as a seething mass indistinguishable from the calculated madness of the ruling clerics?

For me, it's simple. Earthquake = disaster = people in need. Conversely, we have your basic mathematical theory:

The Iranian government hates Jews.
The citizens of Bam are Iranian.
Therefore, the citizens of Bam hate Jews.
True or false?

A prize to everyone who said false. It was kind of obvious though, wasn't it? Maybe. Maybe some people see this:

The Iranian government hates Jews.
People who live in Iran are Iranian.
All Iranians should suffer the same wrath of my anger for the simple fact that they are Iranian and their mullahs hate Jews.
True or false?

Ah, but that's a personal theory, not a mathematical one. So we'll leave it at that. I give to Mercy Corps, you give to MDA and we both feel like we've done something, right? Well, I've given to MDA as well. And the IDF.

And there's where my claws come out. I think it was Laurence's need to add this little self-righteous paragraph after his childish braying about the people of Iran:

This gets me to wondering. How many other Blogathon participants keep an active fundraising campaign/effort for their charity going year-round? How many others do more than just toss the third-class postal announcements or e-mail newsletters or let their bumperstickers and buttons gather dust on a shelf?

So, my work for MDA during the blogathon is not as worthy as yours because you give to MDA year round? Please. Get over yourself. You are not any more virtuous or charitable than anyone else who gives, be it a child giving a dollar of their allowance or someone raising thousands of dollars for the same charity.

And while we are on the subject of that particular post, I'll take issue with this statement as well:

Don't like it? Tell the students to grow some balls and bring the Mad Mullahs down instead of whining on their weblogs and pretending they're cyberrevolutionaries.

Seriously, Laurence. Do you really think it's that easy to rise up against a regime that would shoot people just for thinking about a revolution if they could? It's so easy to say that from the comfort of America, but if you really read any of those weblogs, you would know how hard it is to fight fire with nothing more than words.

I'm feeling very disillusioned today.

If you would care to give to the people of Bam, you can use the link to Mercy Corps in my sidebar or go here for other links.

Update: Ilyka has much more on this subject, as does Starhawk and Mike Sanders.

December 28, 2003

this evening's medical advice

When fresh out of NyQuil, Sake makes an excellent substitute.

Conversion:

3 shotglasses of chilled sake = 2 tablespoons NyQuil

spiteful and loyal are two different things

Many Iranians have shouted slogans or expressed signs for stating their gratitudes to the US and Israeli governments despite getting beaten up by the regime's security apparatus present to monitor these gatherings.

For those of you who would deny the survivors of the Bam earthquake aid from the U.S. because the Iranian government happens to be Jew-hating tyrants, keep the above statement in mind. The people are not necessarily the government and vice versa.

While I think the Iran regime's decision to not accept aid from Israel is deplorable, I really expected nothing less from them. However, that does not mean that we shouldn't come to the aid of those who need it. Bam is one of the poorest regions in Iran. These people are completely devasted. There are children who need food, elderly who need blankets, thousands who need blood. It's a bit sad that you would want to make their suffering worse by saying no to their pleas for help.

Iraq's former government was not exactly Israel-friendly. So why would you support the war against Iraq, support spending billions of U.S. money to bring democracy and peace to that country, yet deny these Iranians basic medical supplies?

We get it. You're virtuous. When you want to be, of course.

Thank you

Tanya (who is blogging again) received this email today:

Dear Tanya,

We threw a donut and pizza party for our soldiers on Friday on behalf of the readers of "A Small Victory" who most generously contributed. The total amount raised was $651.

Please pass on our sincere thanks to Michele and all the readers of "A Small Victory" who showed their support for IDF soldiers during these trying times.

Best Regards,
Karen
www.pizzaIDF.org

Thank you to everyone who donated. Same time next year?

psa

Four Color Hell is back.

Bam: Past, Present, Future

[Please note that I knew little about Bam before this week, save for what my children learned about from their history books. My research today turned up many conflicting facts about dates and periods. I did my best to gather what I hope is correct information about the history of Bam]

The human toll in the devasting Iranian earthquake seems almost unfathomable. It's hard to comprehend so many people - over 20,000 - dying in one day, in one place.

Photos can show you the wreckage. They can show you the crumbled buildings, the flattened homes, the roads that have all but disappeared. bam3.jpgYou can see the human wreckage as well; tiny bodies wrapped in colorful blankets, laid out on the roadside awaiting burial. You see the anguished faces of men and women praying over the corpses of their relatives.

You look at these pictures and you try to imagine these people before the quake. You see a small child smiling, a mother cooking, a father working. At some point you stop looking at the photos. You stop watching the sweeping, panoramic shots of the devastion and turn off the tv, close the newspaper, shut down the computer. You go about your day and maybe you don't think about the quake and its victims again because it's too much. Your brain will not let you imagine the scope of so much death in one place, so many lives ruined and families lost.

While the human loss is a tragedy so enormous we may not want to think about it, their is the historical loss to ponder as well.

bam1.jpgBam was founded in a time so ancient, the years are accounted for with only three digits. Some of the structures in Bam dated back to the Sassanian period, from 224-637 AD. Imagine that. Structures made of nothing more than clay, straw, mud bricks and tree trunks withstood the rigors of so much time and now, in 2003, they are gone.

There was the Zoroastrian fire temple, which was the commercial center of Bam, as well as a site visited by many pilgrims during that time. Later, a mosque was built there, as well a the tomb of an astronomer.

Most of Bam was actually built during the Safavid period, from 1502-1722. In 1722, Bam was invaded by Afghans. In 1810, it was invaded again, this time by an army from Shiraz. Bam was then used as an army barracks and then abandoned sometime around 1850.

Look at this before (1975) and after (12/26/03) comparison of Bam from Getty Images to understand the magnitude of destruction.

The ancient citadel (over 2,000 years old) of Arg-e Bam and the ruins of the surrounding town is a tourist destination for those who are interested in viewing history. A deep moat that surrounds the citadel has kept it from being damaged. Inside the walls of Arge-e Bam were the original public bath, gym, garrison, stable, jail and the governor's house. [Many photos of historical Bam can be found here]
I was searching for photos of Bam while writing this and came across this one and thought, they are probably dead.

Despite our political differences with Iran, you cannot help but feel sorrow for these people. bam4.jpgThere are those who want to deny aid to the people of Bam simply because of the ideology of their government. We can't turn our backs on people in need on the basis that their leader is a hateful, dangerous man. If we can send doctors, food, medicine, clothing and comfort to those who need it and we don't, that makes us just as despicable as the Iranian government. And we are not like that.

***
Where to go if you want to help:

Activistchat.com, an Iranian activist site, has many photos, complete coverage and a forum about helping the citizens of Bam.

Iranian blogger Pedram has some poignant words as well as links to sites where you can donate money towards relief.

Alireza of Persian Blogger Chronicles has encouraging news about the structure of the citadel, as well as links to relief organizations.

Mercy Corps has a list of ways that you can help the victims.

Red Cross/Red Crescent
Direct Relief
NIA Council

Also, Matthew Stinson has a news-filled, frequently updated post about the earthquake.

December 27, 2003

coughing, quoting, cave-bombing

I'm continuing with the list even though everyone seems to have abandoned me and left me with the sound of crickets chirping. Surely I can't be the only one who is spending Christmas weekend at home with nothing but antibiotics and videogames to keep me company. Well yes, there's the husband and the kids, but for some reason I cannot fathom (could be the incessant hacking cough?) they refuse to come near me. Fine, I'll play Double Dash all by myself.

Anyhow, on with the list.

Five Great Quotes From 2003

1. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf: ďThey fled. The American louts fled. Indeed, concerning the fighting waged by the heroes of the Arab Socialist Baath Party yesterday, one amazing thing really is the cowardice of the American soldiers. We had not anticipated this.Ē

2. Charles Pierce, Boston Globe: ďIf she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.Ē

3. Sheryl Crow: "I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

4. Lewis Black: "It's 2003. Why can't I teleport?"

5. Johnny Depp as Agent Sanders in Once Upon a Time in Mexico: "Are you a Mexi-can or a Mexi-can't?"

That's all I got. The meds are kicking in and it's time to fall asleep playing Legend of Zelda. Perhaps I'll dream again about blowing holes in walls to find hidden caves.

If you've got better quotes, let's have them.

I had nothing to do with this

Ohhh...so close. Yet so far.

I swear, I have not had voodoo relations with that man George Steinbrenner.

FYI

I still comment on the news and politics. I just do it over here, instead. Like this subject, for instance, which has angered me just enough to write a sentence or two about it at CP, but about which I have refrained from going into a full fledged rant over here.

Despite the best effort of some you who have emailed articles to me in the hopes that I will break my streak of not writing about DU, Indymedia, Ted Rall, et al, ASV is still a non-seething site.

Serenity Now. That's the motto and I'm sticking to it.

Lists of Five: 2003 Edition

I decided to make some year end lists just to annoy Gary.

I'm doing them in the List of Fives tradition.

Five Movies I Really Enjoyed
1. Winged Migration [Originally released in 2001, but I only saw it this year]
2. Kill Bill
3. Finding Nemo [Which I enjoyed more the more I watched it]
4. Once Upon A Time in Mexico
5. Pirates of the Carribean

Five TV Shows I Actually Made A Point To Watch

1. Six Feet Under
2. Carnivale
3. The Simpsons
4. Adult Swim [Lots of tv shows that I will count as one because I can]
5. The Saddam Gets Checked For Lice Show

Five Bands That I Used to Like, Who Put Out Releases in 2003 Which I Couldn't Care Less About

1. Korn
2. Staind
3. Metallica
4. Led Zeppelin
5. Radiohead

Five CDs the Daughter Has That Make Me Want to Destroy Her Stereo

1. Kelly Clarkson
2. Ruben Stoddard
3. Clay Aikens
4. American Idols Sing the Something or Other
5. Dashboard Confessional

Five People Who Should Not Have TV Shows But For Some Inexplicable Reasons, They Do and People Watch Them

1. Paris Hilton
2. Ashton Kutchner
3. Shannen Doherty
4. That Hilfiger Chick and Her Friend
5. Bill O'Reilly

You know what? There's more where this came from. I'll be here all weekend. Feel free to add your own Lists of Five.

Mr. Death's Year End Review

Mr. Death had some year. In 2003, he collected a myriad of stars and famous figures, some of whom I wrote blogituaries* for.

Johnny Cash: 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.

John Ritter: 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.

Fred Berry: You were cooler than Roger, cuter than Dwayne and sweeter than Shirley.

Robert 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."

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

Bob Hope: There is no doubt that he was a generous, giving man and a great American.

Mr. Rogers: For a misanthrope like myself, the whole theme of the show flew in the face of everything I believed in.

Maurice Gibb: I still love the old Bee Gees. I still get those pangs of melancholy when I hear "Mining Disaster" or "I Started a Joke." And I will still deny that I ever danced to Jive Talkin' while in a drunken frenzy on my eighteenth birthday.

Uday and Qusay Hussein: "Yes, let the joyous news be spread! The wicked old witches at last are dead!"

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

Herb Brooks: Even if he had won a Stanley Cup or two, Brooks would always be known for coaching one of the greatest hockey games ever played and in the eyes of some, the greatest moment in sports.

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

And those are just the people I wrote obituaries for. Also dead are:

Warren Zevon, Katherine Hepburn, Charles Bronson, Art Carney, Gregory Hines, Barry White, Gregory Peck, Robert Stack, Nell Carter, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Idi Amin, David Brinkley, David Bloom, Tex Schramm, Joan Krok, Bill Shoemaker, Warren Spahn and the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

I know there were many more, but there was one death that caused a bit of controversy for me, with just two sentences about his death:

Strom Thurmond: I bet even the worms in his coffin find him distasteful. Good riddance to 100 year old racist rubbish.

It's interesting to note that two of my most controversial, mud-slinging, troll-attracting posts occurred when I angered bloggers on the right. Remember the free lunch issue? [Follow ups here, here and here. Oh, and here. And here.

Anyhow, about Mr. Death. He really raked in the celebrities this year and didn't take out as many ruthless dictators and mass murderers as I had hoped for. Also, he took too many people at too young an age. Hopefully, he will make an effort to be more considerate this year and aim for a higher number of people who actually deserve to die (i.e., bin Laden) and much less tragedy.


*No, it wasn't necessary to make that word up. But I did it anyhow.

December 26, 2003

The First Annual Peerless Prognosticator Contest for Humor and Accuracy

ppc.jpgSo I've decided to change the 2004 Prediction Contest (which needs a snappy new name) I had originally planned to something more like a free-for-all.

Gone are the fill in the blanks suggestions. The contest is now open to any and all predictions for 2004. The only rules are these:

  • Each entry can contain as many or as few predictions as you wish. You can only enter once in each prize category (see below), so get it right the first time. There is no second time.

  • Your entry must contain (but is not limited to) predictions in the following areas: Politics, sports, celebrity, entertainment and blogging.

  • Points will be awarded for each prediction that comes true, but - because I can be as abritrary as I want to - points are also awarded for the amusement factor of your predictions.

  • There will be two separate and as yet undetermined prizes; The Peerless Prognosticator Prize for accuracy and Silver Statue of Silliness (which will be neither silver nor a statue) for the most humorous entry.

  • All entries must be in by midnight December 31, 2003.

  • Entries can be submitted in the comments on this post or by email. Be sure to mark whether your entries are for the accuracy or humor contest. Or both, if you can pull that off.

  • In the event I don't get enough entries, this post will self-destruct so I can pretend I didn't hold a contest that nobody entered.

A master list of all entries will go on a separate page so you can all keep track during the year. If you have any questions about the rather confusing rules (blogging under the influence of cold medication should be outlawed), don't hesitate to email me with your questions. Chances are that if you are confused, other people are as well.

Entries will be accepted now until midnight next Wednesday. I will post periodic updates as predictions come true during the year and I will keep a button on the sidebar that links to the master list. I'll also make contestant buttons as long as enough people enter.

Have fun with your entries and pass the word around.

[If you want to do predictions about the state of the world, without the humor or Paris Hilton predictions, there's always the Command Post contest]

so this was christmas

Christmas 2003, come and gone.

And now I sit here, surrounded by discarded wrapping paper, crushed up boxes and piles of presents that have to be put in their proper places. I have my annual Christmas sickness; this year it's laryngitis with what appears to be bronchitis, maybe even swollen glands. But I really don't mind being sick the day after Christmas. It gives me an excuse to just sit on the couch all day playing with my new toys.

This year it's the GameCube and I've got an extender for the controller so I can lay there all day, propped up with pillows and covered with a blanket and just hit those buttons and curse at the games. Just like the old days!

I miss the old controllers when your only choices were up, down, left, right, A and B. Now you have as many choices as a pilot looking at an instrument panel. If you want to use this weapon, hold down X while simultaneously pressing Y, using your pinky to quickly hit the Z switch. North, west, south west. I did that in my dream last night, leading Link around the bushes, killing spiders and other assorted pixelated creatures.

The son is in the other room playing Double Dash. By the end of the day, he will be complaining about a cramp in his hand. The daughter is on her GameCube, playing Super MonkeyBall2 (thank you Stacy and family, you made Christmas spectacular!) Is there not something creepy about a game in which you guide a monkey who is encased in a plastic ball through all kinds of mazes and games? In Monkey Billiards, the monkeys themselves are playing pool and they are cueing up and smashing their pool sticks against other monkeys in balls! Bizarre. Even more bizarre is the fact that when I turned off MonkeyBall last night (I couldn't play because I kept questioning how the monkeys could breathe in those balls) Bubble Boy was on one of the ten thousand cable channels. All I needed was the Simpsons episode where Bart is in that bubble and I would have had a bubble trifecta!

Anyhow. There are movies to be watched as well. I got Christmas Vacation and the Back to the Future boxset, Justin got Winged Migration and Ninja Scroll and Nick Cave's God is in the House DVD. Before all that, though, is my Very Special Present of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Space Ghost Coast to Coast DVDs. Before Link, before Sonic, I deal with Meatwad.

What else was there? CDs for the kids that I will probably borrow and CDs for me that the kids will probably borrow. My parents bought the son a new stereo for his room (I think it goes to 11) and thankfully, my parents are smart enough to have bought him headphones as well.

We've got books; The Art of Simon Bisley and the Zombie Survival Guide. We've got wonderful trinkets - Nightmare Before Christmas champagne glasses, jigsaw puzzles, Peet's Kona coffee, a new coffee grinder.

And we gave. We gave an awful lot, which is my favorite part of Christmas, depsite the cost and stress. I aim for the perfect presents for my family. I doubt they are ever perfect (everyone knows the perfect gift is either cash or a brand new car), but they are always well-received and bring smiles to faces and yes, Christmas is all about the smiles and sharing. I love my family, love them fiercely. I am of the firm belief that nobody has a better immediate family than I do. Make that extended family; Christmas Eve was our annual (started even before I was born) get together at the aunt's house, and there was the exchanging of gifts and eating of stuffed squid and the exuberance of all the kids. Lots of kids. So many kids. If I ever invite you to my aunt's for Christmas Eve, bring Excedrin.

December 25th may be gone, but Christmas is not. Not until we have opened and assembled the last present, not until we have tried out every single gift given us, even the clothes that don't fit and the games that look lame, not until we have stuffed our faces with leftovers for as many days as it takes to get rid of them, not until a drunken, rousing rendition of Christmastime in Hell with my sister, and not until New Year's Eve when we toast to my dad's birthday and the changing of the year, is Christmas really over. Even then, the spirit lingers a bit as we take our time dismantling the tree and get ready for the three events that mark the real end to our holiday season; the Super Bowl and both the son's and daughter's birthdays.

11 and 14. That's the ages they will be before the school winter break comes. They are mini adults. I think I'll take them to see Peter Pan this week to give them a gentle reminder: don't be in a hurry to grow up. In fact, don't ever grow up. Once you do, not only will Christmas lose its magic, but so will life in general.

Me? Nope, I haven't grown up yet and I guess at this point - 41 years down the road - I won't. And even if start to get old and crochety, if I start to ignore some of life's wonderful magic, there's always Christmas morning to bring back the twinkle in my eyes and the kid in my heart.

It's been a wonderful Christmas. It still is.

December 25, 2003

in which i assume the role of Link for the foreseeable future

I love my GameCube. You may never hear from me again. I'll be stuck in front of the tv, going through all the old Sonic and Zelda games. When I'm done with those I'll tackle all the new stuff.

Just wanted to drop in for a moment to say that Christmas is going swimmingly - the kids said it's been their best Christmas ever and it's been pretty swell for the husband and I as well (I even got a Christmas greeting from Mr. Lileks - though he does refer to me and several others as imaginary). Except for my laryngitis, which I suppose is a nice present for the rest of my family.

Hope you're all having a peaceful day. Now if only I could remember the exact path I used to take in Legend of Zelda.

December 24, 2003

christmas love

c03.gif


And I do love each and everyone one of you. In a strictly platonic way, of course.

No matter what kind of holiday you celebrate this time of year, I wish you a happy and healthy one.

Spreading Cheer

Greyhawk had a wonderful idea: Be the Bob Hope of the blogosphere. Visit blogging veterans to spread holiday greetings. There's a growing list here of links where you can go and leave comments on the blogs of soldiers. Great idea, Greyhawk.

Please don't forget about the Pizza for IDF fund. The link is right on the sidebar there. We've raised about $400 so far and will take donations up until midnight Thursday.

mind is gone

Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it
It's Christmas time and we got the spirit
Jack Frost chillin, the hawk is out
And that's what Christmas is all about
The time is now, the place is here
And the whole wide world is filled with cheer

*

You hear that? Cheer! Stop honking your damn horn. Stop pushing and shoving.

Cheer, damn you, cheer!

Well, I've got a recipe for a four-whiskey eggnog that will take care of everything.

Yea, I'm getting around to my Christmas wishes and my hearty Christmas message of peace and love and maybe a hidden message or two for those who deserve them.

DRINK YOUR OVALTINE!

Can I get some rum in that Ovaltine, please?


*Run DMC, duh

liner notes

Winds of Change hosts the Christmas edition of Carnival of the Vanities.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You're a pain in the ass but I love you anyhow.

24 hours until I get my GameCube.

Back with my Christmas message later.

December 23, 2003

george, adam and me

Yes, I'm still here. Thanks for the concerned emails but, no, I did not get arrested for beating up other shoppers at Target, nor did I finally have that nervous breakdown. Just very busy.

And I got a Christmas present for my blog:

newmed.jpg

It's official. This blog is officially voting for Bush next year. Unless, of course, something drastic happens, like we find out that all those people were right and he really is the anti-christ, and then it won't really matter who I vote for because we're all pretty much fucked, no?

Anyhow. Today is a little-known holiday. Back about five years ago, I was explaining the concept of Christmas Eve to the son. He thoughtfully rubbed his chin and said, hmmm...if Tuesday is Christmas Eve then Monday must be Christmas Adam!

And now, every December 2223 we celebrate Christmas Adam by going out for ribs.

So Happy Christmas Adam, everyone. Go offer your partner an apple and see what happens.

busy busy, repeat, busy

I start an eleven day vacation tomorrow. I need to get all this work out of here before 2pm on Wednesday and the office cleaned up so I can enjoy my vacation without work guilt hanging over my head.

Far be it from me to leave you without something, though. I'm just thoughtful like that.

This was originally posted at Raising Hell right after Christmas 2002. I think it might come in handy for some of you today.

Helpful Christmas Hints


Now that Christmas 2002 has come and gone, I would like to offer you some helpful hints that you may want to keep in mind for next year:

When your kids stop believing in Santa, you can still deflect the blame of bad or missing presents.

"Sorry kids. The economy sucks. If you don't like your presents, write a letter to your congressman."

"I didn't get you that Grand Theft Auto video game because Joe Lieberman says that video games rot your brain and make you crazy."

"Tipper Gore said I shouldn't buy you the Eminem CD. Take it up with her."

"I know you wanted the $100 Nike sneakers, but I didn't want to support child labor and sweatshops. Payless shoes are made in America, kids! Wear them with pride!"

Keep your expectations of your kids behavior on Christmas morning low. In fact, if you encourage the kind of behavior you pretty much figure will happen, you won't end up being disappointed.

"Ok, kids, it's 9am, time to argue about who got more presents. Natalie, you go first!"

"Don't forget to scowl when you open the hand knitted sweater from Aunt Rosie. She will be terribly disappointed if you actually pretend you like her gifts."

"Make sure you act jealous when your cousin opens his X-Box. In fact, stamp your feet and run out of the room just to heighten the dramatics."

Insist your kids get up at 4am, thus taking away the joy they derive from waking you at 5am.

"Do you think Santa flew all the way here and left these presents so you can sleep in like lazy bums? Get your asses up right now!"

Make sure to throw in a few gag gifts just so you have something to laugh about at 5am.

"Santa says brushing your teeth is an important part of your day. I knew you would love the economy pack of toothbrushes, then."

"I know you think a bucket of cleaning supplies isn't a great present, but I do think Santa is trying to send you a message."

"But I thought you still loved Barney!" (This gift should be saved for when your 12 year old child's friends are present.)

Ok, so Christmas did not go exactly like that at our house, though I harbored thoughts of implementing a few of the ideas.

Natalie and DJ no longer believe in Santa, but they still insist on leaving out a snack and a note for the jolly old man. This year, DJ fell asleep early, so Natalie put out a rather obnoxious note with the wine and cheese:

Dear Santa,
Leave presents...
Take the brother!

Santa left this note for her:

Dear Natalie,
I hope you like coal.
Santa

P.S. Your brother got more presents than you!

Hope your holidays were as fun as ours!

happiness is....

Having bosses who know that cash is the perfect holiday gift.

stupid broken alarm clock

Of course, I'm running late again. But what do you need me for? Lileks is back to blogging, which makes him a copycat, because I came off of my Lileks-type hiatus before he did. I bet he was afraid I would steal all of his traffic.

Yes, I'm still feeling delusional.

December 22, 2003

it's beginning to look a lot like a mental breakdown

So. Very. Tired.

Bordering on delerious.

Monkey Balls. I need Monkey Balls. 1 or 2. Walking into six, seven, eight stores. Ask "Do you have Monkey Balls?"

Hahahaha. I don't have Monkey Balls! Balls, get it? Hahaha.

Kick salesboy in nuts.

Must. Have. Monkey Balls.

Excedrin. Sleep. Never go to Best Buy again. Line long. Very long. Around the store long. Recording of Babs Streisand singing Jingle Bells. Must never hear that version again. My ears, they burn.

No Fargo. No Angel Season 1. No Double Dash. Everything on list: No. No. No. No.

Sob. Fall on floor. Go into fetal position. Scream about Super Monkey Ball. Santa wacks me on head with Slayer boxset. No, Santa. Please don't hurt me. I'll be good.

MONKEY BALL WHERE ARE YOU? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

So very tired.

I predict

I'm running another contest and, once again, I need your help.

Command Post is having a 2004 Prediction Contest. I'm going to do the same, but on quite a different level. The ASV contest will be more of a fill-in-the-blanks thing, with a Most Likely To theme.

The categories I have so far are:

Celebrity Most Likely to Be Involved in a Criminal Trial.
Sports Figure Most Likely to Get Arrested
Chemical Substance or Drug Most Likely to Harm Us, Only to Be Later
Reclassified as Beneficial.
Organization Most Likely to be Harassed by PETA
Band Most Likely to Break Up.
Politician Most Likely to Switch Parties.
Movie Most Likely To Suck
Hollywood star most likely to get a DWI

I may or may not use those, but you get the idea, right?

I'll have more on the contest and rules later on (and I guess having this contest obligates me to blog for at least another full year) but for now I'm taking category suggestions.

[And go join TCP's contest, too]

lies, damned lies and fakeries

First, it was the presidency itself. Bush didn't really win the election. His leadership of the U.S. is fake.

Then it was 9/11. Those terrorists didn't really hijack planes and kill thousands of people. It was all faked and staged. Bush was behind it all.

Thanksgiving? The turkey was fake. In fact, the whole setup was shot in Hangar 18. Bush never even made it to Iraq.

And now, a British newspaper is claiming that "unnamed sources" swear that Saddam was found and drugged by Kurd forces and left for the U.S. soldiers to lay claim to.

So, you see - everything Bush does or has a hand in is obviously fake. In fact, he has a Department of Lies which employs a Photoshop expert, a special effects staff and John Lovitz.

Also, all these terror alerts? Faked. They're just lies created in conjuction with suppliers of gas masks, duct tape and plastic wrap. I'm sure if you look hard enough, you'll find some website that details how much Home Depot has donated to the Bush campaign.

Soon the truth will be discovered and everyone will realize that George W. Bush does not even exist. He is nothing more than a robot, quite like Robocop, put together by Ralph Nader and Ross Perot to discredit the Republicans. He's the Optimus Prime of presidents. Take him apart and he makes a hand can opener/apple corer/pencil sharpener.

Remember, everything is fake. Nothing is real. In fact, Washington D.C. is nothing more than a cardboard city, populated by actors and droids.

This is not the president you are looking for. Nothing to see here.

most sacreligous commercial ever

So wrong. Yet so amusing.

via Bitch Girls

Update: It has been brought to me attention that the link goes to the Moby ad, when I was trying to link to something else. So just go to adrants.com and watc the Come All Ye Faithful ad.

dream a little dream: i choose you, pikachu!

In last night's dream, I was on one of those reality shows where a guy gets to pick a date. Even though I was married, I got picked to be on the show after my sister inadvertantly signed me up (she thought she was signing me up for karate lessons with a man dressed in a Pikachu costume).

So, I go on this show and just go through the motions when I realize my two rival conestants are kind of slutty and I don't stand a chance. I purposely ruin my chances for winning when I taking the guy out for a ride on an ATV and I fail to negotiate a hairpin turn, thus tipping the ATV over and causing the guy to fall into a river. I get up, wipe my hands on his jacket and go home.

No, not home. I'm at my mother-in-law's house in Pennsylvania. My sister calls and needs me to come home and watch her son because she is going to be artificially inseminated and she has to leave now. I start walking home. To New York. I make it there in under ten minutes. Turns out I'm not just watching my nephew, but at least a dozen other kids, all of whom have foul mouths and smell like they hadn't had a diaper change in months.

I leave the kids and go to a movie theater where they are showing the finale of that show I was on. And then I'm whisked away by an usher who brings me to the set of the show so I can be there for the big announcement. I'm holding a plate of spring rolls (spring roll imagery thanks to last night's episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and whispering stage instructions to the two bimbos.

All for naught, all for naught. Seems our hero has not chosen either of the girls, and is locking lips with the male stage-hand. He keeps saying I choose you! I awww and ahhhh because it's so cute and romantic while the two slutty girls are horrified.

That's when the plastic replica of the Concorde comes swooping down and a robot captain appears telling me to get on board if I want to live. I climb into the plastic jet and it's filled to capacity with little kids in smelly diapers.

The horror.
***

Yep, that's all I got this morning. I'm in full Christmas panic mode and - right on schedule - I have gone into my yearly frenzy of "I don't have enough presents for everyone!" and now there's only three days left to shop and I'm working full days on all of them. Tonight is Hannukah dinner for my brother-in-law. I have to make my famouns matzoh ball soup. I still haven't wrapped anything yet. It's my December 22 Day of Dawning Horror when I realize that Christmas might not be the perfect fantasy world of a Norman Rockwell painting that I strive for - and fail to live up to - every year.

This thought to be continued.

December 21, 2003

hark, the fighting children scream

Twas three days before Christmas
And all through my mind
was the running thought
that I'm way too kind

The GameCubes are wrapped
tucked under the tree
but what have those children
done for me?

They've not cleaned their rooms
not made their beds
they've not done their laundry
they've played games instead

they don't listen
to a word that I say
yet what will they get
come Christmas Day?

A GameCube (one each)
some board games, CDs
A bunch of band t-shirts
and some DVDs

a new pair of Vans
gift cards, some candy
one more DVD with
Sponge Bob and Sandy

All of these things
they were bought by me
not some guy in a suit
it was my money!

and now they are fighting
and whining and crying
and making a mess
and cursing and lying

I want just one night
in a nice, quiet house
where no creatures are stirring
not even the mouse

I need one small moment
to contemplate
why I spent so much money
and stayed up so late

wrapping the presents
topping them off with a bow
whispering to myself
ho fucking ho

thirteen years now
I've been doing this schtick
and what to I get?
aggravated and sick

And for all of my ranting
and bitching and screaming
come Christmas morning
my kids will be beaming

***

No, not a great poem by any means. Considering this post started off as a reminder about Pizza for IDF and I got sidetracked when I heard my son call my daughter a word that I had no idea he knew, and I wrote these crazed-metered stanzas on the fly while listening to something that sounded very much like one child beating the other over the head with an electric guitar and I was sitting here, pounding the keyboard, trying to go into ignore mode, well, it's really not that bad of a Christmas poem. I think I'll leave it out of this year's card, though.

it's my terror alert and i'll laugh if i want to

Yes, this one seems serious. So why am I making jokes?

Before this, the alert level had not been raised since May of 2003, when it went from yellow to orange. It was moved back down to yellow ten days later.

When the color coded chart was first established, the level moved up and down so fast the entire nation suffered from terror whiplash. It became somewhat of a joke, and every time Ridge warned us once again to be careful and Ashcroft told us to stay vigilant and Home Depot had a sale on duct tape, we would laugh at the story of the Government that Cried Wolf.

The fire alarm in my office building goes off frequently. We stopped paying attention to it. The alarm is ringing, ringing, ringing and I just continue on with what I was doing, not even flinching when the first bell pierces the air. But when that alarm goes off and is followed by the sound of a court officer yelling Get out of the building! I run.

Ridge is that court officer yelling at me to get out. He's saying, in essence, that this is serious. This is real. They stopped messing with our heads a long time ago. They realized eventually that the chart was becoming a joke. So now when they raise it, it sets off an alarm in my head.

So what do we do? There's really not much you can do, is there? I keep wrapping the Christmas presents and making plans for my upcoming work vacation. And yes, I make jokes about the color change because I'd rather die laughing than die curled up in a fetal position in a closet.

But I suddenly find myself back to those panicky post-9/11 days, looking at the planes overhead, waiting for a giant shoe to drop. Forgive me if I appear to be laughing it off - nervous laughter is sometimes the only defense we have against panic and fright.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Panic and they'll laugh at you. So pardon my sneaker color alert system, and excuse my laughter at the expense of ready.gov.

I'm going out smiling.

sound the sirens

With the new alert level in full swing, ready.gov is at your service once again. It looks like they've updated some of their visual aids.

vis_chem_choke2.gifThis is what happens when you eat ten bags of Skittles!

A little black humor is good for the soul.

Honestly, this one has me just a bit scared, unlike all the other fluctuations in the color level. It seems somehow different this time.

So, how does one go about being vigilant? Do I carry a switchblade? Wear a protective mask? Saran wrap the house and be on the lookout for shifty looking characters?

Maybe this will keep the crowds out of Best Buy and I can finish my shopping tomorrow without killing someone.

An Orange Christmas

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mmmm... donuts for soldiers

On this third day of Hannukah, I would like to continue with what I hope becomes an annual tradition. Today, I start the Second Annual Pizza for IDF Drive.

Last year's drive was such a rousing success (we raised over $1,000 for pizza) that Tanya and I are at it again. As you can see from the Pizza IDF page, your money will go towards supplying Israeliesoldiers with pizza, donuts and soda. You can see from last year's photographs and letters how much this effort is appreciated. Also read this letter from Sara, who helped deliver donuts to the soldiers last year.

It will be a little easier for you to donate this time around. Karen from Pizza IDF has set up a special page so you can donate directly without going through PayPal.

If you would like to make Hannakuh a bit nicer for some Israeli soldiers, just go to that page to donate. If you are unable to donate now but want to help in another way, just grab one of the logos below (save to your own server please) and let your readers know about it, or send out a few emails to friends.

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Please link the buttons to this page.

December 20, 2003

from our house to yours

Our annual holiday card. From all of us to all of you.

sing-a-long with the vandals [another saturday cleanng avoidance method]

Ok, this took me forver and I'm not even done. My intention was to have a link on nearly every word, but I woke up with a head cold today and need a rest. Why don't you help me. Find an appropriate link, tell me what word/phrase you want it on and I'll add it as we go along.

Why? Duh. Why not?

Everything this year's been bring me down,
It's Christmas and I'm pleased as punch
I'm going to stand my happy ground.

I refuse to let my family make me crazy
I'll smile at their insults and their frowns
I'll ignore the shitty weather
Cuz what counts is we're together
Loving, safe and sound

Nothing's going to ruin my holiday
Not this time, Ya hear?. (I won't let it happen)
And If you try to ruin my holiday -
I swear you will regret it for the rest of the fucking year.

The turkey might have made the children vomit
The tree burned down and torched up all of our gifts
But I will grin and bear it
And this nightmare we will share it
Till I get my only wish - it's

Nothing's going to ruin my holiday
No act of God or family fight
Cuz if you try to ruin my holiday
I swear you will regret it for the rest of your fucking life
You'll burn in hell with hot pokers in your eyes and acid on your flesh

This is going to be the best Christmas ever.

Soon this crappy Christmas will be over
And I'll go right back to my pissed - off self
But until that happens I'll just continue laughing
Like one of those creepy, retard, mutant, North Pole Elves.

Nothing's going to ruin my holiday
Not this year I won't let that be the case
And If you try and ruin my holiday -
I'll punch you in your fat, disgusting, turkey eating face.

Understand me
This is going to be the best Christmas ever!

things that make you go hmmmm

I had this weird dream last night. I was at Wrigley field. We were allowed to go on the field and run the bases. I was rolling around on third base and someone kept saying "Tinkers, to Evans, to Chance." And every time he said "Chance" the guy on second base threw the ball to me and I either ducked or missed it on purpose or just couldn't catch it.

I have a feeling this requires an analysis.

December 19, 2003

psa

The combination of exhaustion, stress, PMS and Nine Inch Nails is a deadly one.

Do not try this at home. I am a paid professional.

Nine Inch Nails - Hurt (Live) -mp3

Happy Hannukah

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Meryl, Allison, Barbara, Lewis, Lair, Faith and all my Jewish friends and readers and fellow bloggers.

today's memos

To: Howard Dean
Re: "Catching Saddam did not make America any safer"

Oh. Really?

To: Allah
Re: A-Rod

Wooohoo!

To: All of You
Re: Command Post

There are some guest blogger OpEds over there today, as well as the usual stellar opinion writing from our regular contributors. Why don't you go take a look?

clarification

There either is or isn't a threat of an imminent terrorist attack. It may or may not be against New York City. You should probably be nervous and panicky, at the same time appearing nonchalant and bored. The alert code may or may not change. That Santa in front of Macy's just might be a suicide bomber. Or it might be Santa. Check to see if it's female. Then again, a terrorist might be a man dressed as a woman, so be vigilant, trust no one, practice extreme caution, but don't worry, be happy and go about your normal lives. The threats are credible but not corroborated; serious but nothing to worry about.

Are we clear on this yet?

proof there is no god

Right here.

another update on the terrorist threat

As someone in the comments on the previous post noted, plenty of other media outlets have picked up on the story of the dollar dropping due to the threat, but not many have followed the story of the threat itself.

Reuters did pick it up. Guys, you're about an hour behind weblogs.

breaking: imminent threat to NYC

U.S. intelligence has received information about a credible and imminent threat to New York City, ABCNEWS has learned.Sources say the threat involves a suicide bomber, possibly a female. The information was received through communication intercepts, and no specific target has been identified. Discussions between local and federal law enforcement officials are currently under way to develop a response.

Trying to find other sources. So far, only ABC has it.

Saw it on OW first.

UPDATE: They've now added the phrase "and other cities" to the warning:

In the past 48 hours, there has been an increase in terrorist threats to a number of cities in the U.S., including New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., ABCNEWS has learned.

It sounds less imminent and specific than it did twenty minutes ago.

Gaming: retrocrush invaded my mind!

I swear, I was going to do this same contest. I even had 10 screenshots saved already. Just ask Todd. I told him about it two weeks ago.

It's a hard contest. Out of the 40 screenshots, I think I recognized only 12 immediatley. I have to study the rest. How did you do?

[Category: Gaming]

it's all about the cup security

So Volvo got a bunch of their female workers together and had them design a car with women in mind. This prototype will include such innovations as a valley down the center of the headrest for ponytail wearers, and an hood that can only be opened by a mechanic (who is contacted by some wireless thigamajig) because women just hate to be bothered with mechanical maintanence of a car.

Whatever.

I have two payments left on my Explorer and then I'll be looking for a new car. Not because I don't like my SUV, it's just old ('92). When I go out and look for a new car I don't think that room for a ponytail is going to be a number one priority. That is just demeaning to women everywhere. It's an outrage! It's scandalous! When I go out comparison shopping I will have my automobile priorities straight.

It's about the cupholder. I want an expandable/contractable, deep cupholder. I want one that can hold either an 8oz bottle of water or a 20 oz cup of 7-11 coffee, and hold them tight, hold them like a clingy lover. Oh, and I want them to have some kind of insulation so that the cool liquids stay cool and the hot liquids stay hot. I want cold water and steaming coffee. I want to run into the bookstore, get lost in the graphic novel section and come out hours later to find the ice in my lemonade still in it's original rectangular form.

In fact, make it two cup holders. No, four. Two up front and two in the back so my kids can have their shocking green or bright blue drinks stay in their bottles instead of decorating the backseat with sugary stains. And I want those drinks locked in there so tight (think suction) so that when I fly over a speedbump and round a corner at 90 in an effort to get that parking spot before that bitch in the Expedition gets there, they stay in their containers. Oh sure, my kids will fly out of their seatbelts, which aren't nearly as secure as those cupholders, and they'll bounce all over the car, bumping heads and probably knocking each other unconcious, but my grande vanilla frappucino with whipped cream and caramel will not budge one inch.

I can change my own oil. I can charge the battery and change a flat tire and figure out when I need a new fan belt. But I refuse to scrub the various dried up liquids off of the floor mats just because my cupholder is just about big enough to hold a thimblefull of hot chocolate.

Which probably explains the funky odor in my car.

December 18, 2003

too tired for compete sentences

Work. Costco. Target. Wrap teacher presents. Make festive Hannukah dessert platters for bosses' families. Run into boss at Costco while shopping for his present. Take crapload of consumer goods out of car and into house. Put crapload of consumer goods away. Uh oh. Book report due tomorrow. Rehash Charlotte's Web. Need shower. Need coffee. Need sleep. Stress over football picks. Ninth place, money in sight, time to choke. Check suggestions for Dad's present. Check prices for 20 year old single malt scotch. Point and laugh at $285 price tag. Think Jagermeister. Remember puke-covered sneakers. Forget Jagermeister. Just joking anyhow. A-Rod still not in Boston. Breathe sigh of relief. Blister on palm of hand from pushing shopping carts too long. Make rum and coke. Make rum and rum and coke. Please stop playing the guitar. Please. Head explode. Wish for coma.

Christmas with Ronnie James Dio. Could get into that. Is it January yet?

help wanted: one personal shopper

I hate buying gifts for my father. There are more things on his list that he doesn't want us to buy (no golf stuff!) than he does want us to buy (a 4 foot plasma tv. Right). To make matters worse, his birthday is December 31st, so I have do buy him two things. Three if the kids want to give him something separately, which they usually do.

So, what do I buy him this year? I'll tell you a little about him.

Republic. Retired NYC Firefighter. Travels often to make presentations and speeches. Likes biographies and books about history. His favorite movies are War Games and Airplane. Loves the Mets, but I refuse to buy anything with a Met emblem on it. Loves the Jets but doesn't want that public knowledge. Gourmet cook. Wine afficianado. Likes buying gadgets even if he doesn't know how to use them.

Oh, and he has everything.

So, any ideas?

Bill O'Reilly: His rantings are insaaaaaaaane!

O'Reilly, pissed off that Matt Drudge actually had the audacity to print Bookscan sales figures that showed O'Reilly lagging behind Hilary and Franken, took to the airwaves to air his grievances, a la Festivus:

On his show, O'Reilly called Drudge a "threat to democracy."

On Imus's radio show, O'Reilly said: "There is no other cure than to kill Matt Drudge," and "I just want to tell everybody that Matt Drudge is smoking crack - right now, in South Miami Beach on Washington Avenue... And the authorities should know it."

Uh oh. Looks like somebody's ego has been bruised.

Note to O'Reilly: See your doctor immediately.


there you go a-rod, there you go!

Hey, if you are in the NY area and you're pissed at Major League Baseball Players Union for nixing the A-Rod deal, there's a protest going on right now.

May I just say one thing?

Mwahahahhahahahah! As if I would attend, Dave. I'm throwing a celebration today!

[I know, it's not completely nixed yet - they have until 6pm today to work something out. I'm starting my countdown now]

The last mepham update because i want to go back to my little magical world where kids do not do these things to other kids

Itís been a while since Iíve done an update on the Mepham case; things have been relatively quiet since it was determined that the rapist boys would be tried as juveniles instead of adults.

Todayís Newsday has new details about the attacks and they are brutal. You thought being raped with a mineral ice coated baseball bat, golf ball and pine cone was horrible? Thereís more.

Apparently, the boys who were sodomized face that torture more than once. They younger boys were forced to sexually assualt each other.

As many as 24 players watched these acts take place.

A witness says that there is a fourth boy who has not been charged that sodomized at least one of the victims.

A black player was the target of racial epithets. The other victims of the attacks were forced to put on white sheets and yell at the black player that the Klan is back and the player was going to be lynched.

The JV players, who were barely out of middle school and most likely either 13 or 14 years old, were constantly threatened with more abuse if they told. They were frightened of the older boys, some of whom weighed 200 lbs.
The ďhazingĒ started the first night. On the second day, in the afternoon, a lineman molested a boy with a broomstick and Icy Hot. He was threatened with a beating if he didnít comply. The younger boy was held down by two older boys. One of them was co-captain of the team.

The next day, the captain tortured the same JV player with duct tape, ripping hair off of his body, including his pubic hair.

Another JV player was forced to sodomize another player. He was told if he didnít do it, they would do the same to him. He complied. They sodomized him anyhow, with the broomstick, the pine cone and a golf ball.

All the boys were threatened not to tell. At least one boy recalls one of the victims screaming.

These events took place both day and night. How did not one adult know when 2/3 of the 60 boys at the camp knew?

I found myself in tears reading todayís story. These were more details than I previously knew. These are boys the same age as my daughter; still so young, so vulnerable. They were damaged by their teammates, they were hung out to dry by their coaches, they were let down by classmates who supported the football team over the victims, and they will probably be disappointed by the justice system, which will most likely slap the rapists on the wrist and hand them a light sentence.

What kind of person does this? What must go on in someoneís mind to think that this behavior is permissible? If I was a parent to one of those bastards, I would ask the court to lock him up for a long time.

I believe in justice. I believe in our legal system and I trust them to do the right thing. Iím not really into the whole eye for an eye thing. But if I had one moment with those rapists, one moment with the teen torturers, I swear I would tear their eyes out with my bare hands.

I am so sick about this that I almost wish I didnít know. The previously revealed details were bad enough. Somehow, these extra added minutes of agony that the boys suffered, the little add ons like the duct tape, the way in which the boys were manipulated and mentally abused makes it so much worse than it was thought to be.

I donít trust these boys to be rehabilitated. Obviously, they had some kind of upbringing that instilled in them a sense of entitlement and power. They are damaged goods, the worse kind of bully - the kind raised with the idea that being a bully is ok, that being a star athlete gives you some kind of ownership over everyone around you.

There was nothing constructive about this post, nothing added to the already lengthy list of Mepham stories I have written. Itís just me venting and me feeling the need to stick my kids in some kind of protective bubble - especially my daughter, who starts high school nine months and is just the kind of naive, trusting person who thinks everyone is her friend.

[The Mepham story is featured in this week's Sports Illustrated]

working retail in december: a horror story

qr1.gifThose of you who have worked retail during the holiday season will understand my reluctance to speak about this before now. The memories are horrific, brutal and sometimes cause flashbacks that leave me curled up in a fetal position, sobbing and begging to be sedated.

1983 was my first holiday retail experience. It was a baptism by fire, as I landed a job at the busiest record store at the busiest mall on Long Island. Record World, Roosevelt Field, a/k/a/ RF#1. On my first day - two days before Thanksgiving - I was handed the requisite blue vest, a name tag and a few whispered words of advice: don't let them get to you. My co-workers were referring to the barrage of customers that were at the gated entrance to the store fifteen minutes before opening and still clinging to the cassette racks as we were trying to close. You have not seen a whirling dervish in action until you have seen someone hell bent on getting everything on their kid's Christmas list.

I, however, was no wimp. I could handle any customer, any crowd, any cash register breakdown or old woman sobbing over the Julio Iglesias albums. I immediately volunteered to work the irons - the opening to closing shift - nearly every day. From Thanksgiving until Christmas, I would not have a day off, and most of the days would be the full work shift.

In the beginning I had superhero powers. I never got tired from the long hours. I manned every spot in the store; the cash register, the cassette department, the imports. I spent time downstairs unpacking boxes upon boxes of shipments, sorting albums, slapping stickers on them and writing the title, artist and store # on the plastic sleeve of every record with a blue sharpie.

By the second week in December, I was spending more time on the floor, helping customers find exactly what they were looking for. During the holiday season, this usually consisted of frazzled mothers trying to remember exactly what it was their son or daughter had asked for. This resulted in a lot of guesswork, humming and/or singing. It also involved many loud gasps of horror when the mother matched the title of the record with the album on the wall (the wall was where the albums were displayed in rows of pockets). So many dropped jaws and wide eyes as parents spied the cover to Quiet Riot's Metal Health. That's what my child is listening to? Oh My God! He's a devil worshiper! I knew it!! And the mother would run screaming from the store and head straight over to Catholic Supplies, where she would beg for some holy water.

The kids were just as bad. They would come in without a list, trying to buy music for their parents. Getting the title of a song out of them was like pulling teeth. How about if I sing it? Yea, sure kid. Sing away. A tuneless dirge would emerge. No words. Just la la humm hum la da dee. I begged for lyrics. Just one or two would do. Uhh. Love. And umm...heart. I would lean in close to the kid and say sweetly, Well that narrows it down. And as soon as the kid smiled I would yell, To about 3,000 songs! Eventually I would convince the kid to settle for a Billy Joel or Lionel Richie single, unless the kid was really rude and obnoxious, in which case I would convince him that the song he was humming was actually Frank Stallone's Far From Over , knowing full well that I would be going to hell for inflicting such pain on an innocent person.

The closer it got to Christmas, the more of a frenzy people were in. They fought over the last copy of Synchronicity. They mobbed us when we opened a new box of Madonna cassettes. And every once in a while, I would have to step over some fur-coated, blue-haired grandma who fainted when she saw the larger-than-life cardboard cut-out of Julio. And I started to feel the result of all work and no play. I was tired, cranky and I lost my voice.

My co-workers made signs for me to hold up so I could still help customers. Two days before Christmas, the only sign I had to use was "Sorry. We are out of that title right now." I faced the wrath of customers who, through no fault of mine, had waited until the very last minute to pick up that Echo and the Bunnymen album and sorry, we are out of that title right now. I listened to the complaints that the register lines were too long (this is when everything was done by hand) and the store was a mess and the floor people were rude. We had to chase people out of the store ten minutes after closing and even as I was vacuuming and closing up cases they would say "oh, are you closing?" I lost my patience and I lost my fixed greeting smile. No longer was it "Welcome to Record World, how may I help you," but "What you really want to buy your kid is clothes. Go to The Gap and leave me alone."

This was all played out to the constant background music of the crapfest of pop music that came out that year, especially Huey Lewis and the News's Sports album which, to this day, makes me break out in hives.

Had I known that the next year I would be doing the Record World Christmas stint again and would be subjected to the non-stop playing of Do They Know It's Christmas, I might have appreciated Huey a little more.

I tortured myself through Christmas of '86 and decided that I was going to retire from retail after that. I could not handle another holiday season of bitchy parents and surly kids and girls screaming and drooling over New Kids on the Block albums. I had used my holiday bonuses and store discounts to accumulate a nice collection of imports and that almost - almost - offset whatever mental damage that job caused me.

Despite all that, I still refer to my term at Record World as the best damn job I ever had. But I never did work retail again.

December 17, 2003

Tales from the PETAfiles: They've outdone themselves this time

PETA activists - including cuddly, costumed raccoons and foxes - are making guest appearances outside performances of The Nutcracker across the country this holiday season with a cheeky message of compassion. As children arrive to see the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy," some will be unaware that their mothers are already starring in a real-life horror story! PETA will be there to greet any fur-clad moms and their children with their newest anti-fur leaflet-PETA Comics presents..."Your Mommy Kills Animals!"

Kids will see the bloody truth behind their momsí pretentious pelts. Accompanied by graphic photographs of skinned carcasses and animals languishing on fur farms, children will read: "Lots of wonderful foxes, raccoons, and other animals are kept by mean farmers who squish them into cages so small that they can hardly move. They never get to play or swim or have fun. All they can do is cry-just so your greedy mommy can have that fur coat to show off in when she walks the streets."

Here are the two pages of the comic: [click each for full size graphics]


What gives them the right to intrude on my personal life and choices? Ok, I don't wear fur - just because I think it's ugly - but I do eat meat and drink milk and engage in all those other things that PETA thinks are evil. How dare they use children to engage in their activist warfare? Isn't there a law against this? Endangering the mental health of a minor, maybe?

This angers me six ways to Sunday. Enough so that I have the urge to take my kids and go to the city, dressed in fur, and stand outside the theater just waiting for one of those cretins, dressed up as a raccoon or whatever woodland animal costume is the theme of the night and I swear on all that his precious, I would kick that activist so hard in the balls that they would come out of his ass. To be fair, if it's female, I would do something similar.

People who engage in this sort of activity have no conscience. They care more about the feelings of a rabid raccoon than they do human children. I say we kill them, skin them and make coats out of them.

I'm just wondering, how would you react if someone handed this comic to your kids?

Memos to various people

To: Jacques Chirac:
Re: Banning religious wear in schools

Jacques - Enjoy your future assasination. I give it two months until someone tries to stick a knife in your back. Maybe a mental health exam is in order?


To: Vatican
Attn: Cardinal Martino
Re: Treatment of Saddam

Get back to me when you can show the same compassion for all the kids raped and molested by your priests.

To: Sen. John Kerry
Re: Your remarks on Howard Dean

Someone named Kettle called for you. Something to do with the word black.

To: Santa
Re: A-Rod Deal

Is this the year you finally get something on my Christmas list right?

To: George Steinbrenner
Re: Sheffield

See, Festivus. You're first on my list, George.

To: PETA
Re: Telling kids thier mommies are murderers

If you ever approach one of my children with your propaganda, I will personally see to it that you are brought to a meat farm, killed, dismembered, ground up into pieces and sold to Wendy's to be used as hamburger meat, where you will then be grilled, sold and eaten by a pig farmer.

Then you can tell my kids I am a murdering mommy.


I'll take your memos right here. But don't expect me to make coffee.

Rolling Stone's Usual Suspects

Pop quiz. Multiple choice.

A) I am finally too old for today's music scene.
B) I am hopelessly out of touch with what passes for the best music these days.
C) The editors of Rolling Stone magazine are a bunch of pretentious bastards.

Different year, same rant.

Out of the 50 albums on this year's Rolling Stone list, 17 are artists I never heard of. And of all of those 50 albums, I have purchased five and they were all for my son.

Some day a popular, mainstream magazine will print a year-end list that doesn't look like Indie's Greatest Hits. Much like I said last year, be a man. Own up to what you really loved. Sure, everybody and their hipster brother has The Shins in their top 50 of 2003, but not one of those pansy critics was ready to admit that they bought - and loved - the Clay Aiken cd.

about that semi-hiatus and watching Lieberman pee

I thought I could do it. I can't. The less I write, the more I feel an ulcer coming on.

Now, go read this story of a blogger (one of my favorite bloggers even though he's a Hated Red Sox Fan) who witnessed Joe Lieberman's unsanitary bathroom habits.

Carry on.

today's backblog and a favor

This is one of my favorite entries ever from Raising Hell. You've probably read it already. If not, hope you enjoy it.

Backblog: Golden Rule.

Also, if there is anyone who is willing and able to install MT Blacklist over at Command Post immediately if not sooner, please email me before I hunt down a certain spammer and engage in deadly combat.

a festivus for the rest of us!

[click for bigger image]So, like the new look? I've been on this gaming craze lately and visions of pixels have been dancing in my head.

That's another Christmas picture, obviously, though I'm not sure of the year. It had to be around '82. The specs of this personal home computer were daunting: Specs:ROM 16Kb. RAM 5Kb (3.5Kb user memory) expandable to 32Kb. Screen: 22 columns by 23 rows. Screen dot matrix: 176 by 184 with up to 16 colours. Sound: 3 voices plus white noise. Media Tape drive (controlled by VIC), Disk Drive, Printer.

We've come a long way, baby. And we're never satisfied, are we? No matter how fast and powerful our toys are, we always crave more speed and power. That computer you bought just six months ago is suddenly a huge disappointment to you when compared with the newer model.

Speaking of disappointments, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Festivus (December 23rd). You do know what Festivus is, don't you?

Seinfeld episode The Strike, from December 1997:

Frank (Costanza, George's father): Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had -- but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born -- a Festivus for the rest of us!

And out of that was borne a new way in which to make family gatherings even more dysfunctional than they were already. Festivus, by definition, is the airing of grievances. You share with family members all of the ways in which they have disappointed you during the past year. Like any holiday, really, but with more formality. Those other holidays don't have the Festivus pole, after all. That's just a plain metal pole, which serves as the Festivus version of the Christmas tree. There are no decorations. No lights. No garland or tinsel. Just the cold metal of the pole itself.

Festivus also involves the Feats of Strength, where one family member physically challenges another. On Seinfeld, this is usually where George would wrestle his father - and lose. In your family, it may be your and your father fighting over the last can of beer. In my family, it's usually a belching contest.

I'd like to take Festivus a little farther this year. Why stop at bitching at your
family? I'm sure there are plenty of people and events that sorely disappointed you in 2003. Politicians. Musicians. Sports teams. Movies. We shouldn't limit our grievances to just people we know when it's common knowledge that the whole entire world sucks on a daily basis.

Why, I could dedicate an entire hour - at least - to George Steinbrenner. Grievances? I've got a laundry list for the entertainment industry. As for Feats of Strength, I bet I could shove that metal Festivus pole up Saddam's ass faster than you! And don't get me started on George Lucas. I need to set aside a whole day to take him on.

Basically, Festivus is a big old You Suck! to everyone who has wallowed in suckiness during the past year. Of course, you need to be careful, as what comes around goes around. You never know when those grievances will be flung at you, or when someone will challenge you to a tequila drinking contest. Hey, at least next year you can say "I was really upset when you puked all over my shoes at Festivus."

So join me in celebrating Festivus. Air your grievances. Share your disappointments. Make challenges you would probably never win if you had to actually perform them. There's a whole world out there just chock full of crap for you to carp about. Now's your chance. Take a whirl around my Festivus pole and let loose a torrent of atrocities.

Trust me, it will make you feel better in the long run and it will empty your soul of all the darkness living inside of you so you can enjoy the rest of the holidays in peace. Serenity now!

And yes, I'm fair game. As long as you are.

December 16, 2003

programming note

While I am on this psuedo-hiatus, I've decided to make use of my other domain and do a daily "best of" from my writing here, at Raising Hell and at Blogcritics.

Today's is from February, 2002.

santa and impossible dreams


[click for bigger image]Christmas, 1971. I was nine years old, wiped out from an exciting day opening presents, playing with my toys and sneaking sips of "grown up drinks" when no one was looking. Those Winnie-the-Pooh feetie pajamas were the height of sleepwear fashion back then, as was the decorative yarn in my hair.

I wrote thank you letters to Santa back then, because I was still young and naive enough to believe that the fat guy really existed. Nevermind that I had this inkling that reindeer couldn't fly and that it was physically impossible for Santa to carry all those toys and swoop around the world in one night. A couple of listens to the Man of LaMancha Broadway soundtrack (as prescribed by my my mother) and I learned how to dream the impossible dream. So Santa was real, as was the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and the little goblins that lived under my bed and would bite my feet off if they hung over the bed at night. Which is why I wore feetie pajamas. The bites didn't hurt as much.

Makes you wonder how much of your childhood thoughts were based on lies your parents told you. All those fictional holiday heroes were just figments of someone's overactive imagination. Who thought these things up, anyhow? Hey, let's make up some neat characters whose reward system of toys and candy and money will bribe the children into behaving and later on, when they are older, we'll spring it on them that (ha ha!) we were just kidding and they will be crushed by the unfairness and duplicity of it all! Well, that certainly prepared us for dealing with politicians, didn't it? Remember back in the 60's when the great mantra of the time was don't trust anyone over 30? They were right. Once you hit adulthood you begin lying to kids as if it were programmed into you.

My mother and aunts used scare tatcits that placed Jesus and his dad in the role of Big Brother. Jesus will be upset if you do that! God is watching you! He'll punish you for that! And then I would trip over the dog or bang my head on the cabinet and I would be told that God was, indeed, punishing me.

The lies seemed to roll of their tongues with ease. If you have a sore in your mouth, it's from lying. Have you been lying to me? I used to lay in bed at night wondering how many Ethiopian kids were starving to death all because I refused to eat my spinach. All that stuff had to be true. Because if it wasn't true about the starving kids and the eyes in the back of my mother's head (I never did find them, no matter how hard I looked), then everything must be a lie, including Santa. So I believed it all because not believing one thing would mean not believing anything they told me.

I went on asking for and accepting gifts from jolly old St. Nick. He didn't bring my everything I asked for, of course and one year - I believe it was the year of that photo - I came to the conclusion that Santa was not bringing me a record player or a baby brother (Two sisters? Is that some kind of punishment?) because I was being selfish. I figured if I doctored up my Christmas list with some altruistic wishes, I would get everything I want because Santa would see that I was an unselfish, caring, compassionate little girl.

I asked for world peace. That's what all the people on tv asked for when they were interviewed about their Christmas wishes. I tacked on an addendum that by world peace I meant that the Vietnam War should end. Oh, and the starving kids in Africa should get some food. And please, make Jesus stop watching me all the time, because that's your job, Santa and it's kinda weird to have the two of always knowing if I'm bad or good and it puts the pressure on me to be good for goodness sake.

So Christmas morning, I wake up and run to the living room, expecting a nicely wrapped box under the tree that would contain world peace and an end to hunger. I had to settle for turning on the morning news instead. Well, ain't that a kick in the head. The war is still on! And I bet those kids in Africa are still starving! Damn you, Santa, damn you to hell!

Much to my surprise I did get the record player. And I did get the doll with the hair that grew. I didn't get the baby brother but, looking back, that was probably in my best interest. It turns out I didn't really care much about world peace anyhow, because I spent the rest of the day in Christmas glory, playing with my new toys and listening to my Disney records.

Now I'm thinking about Santa again, and what I would ask for if he was real, if there really was a guy who could grant you favors and wishes once a year.

World peace, of course, and this time I mean it. Too bad I'm too cynical now to expect that gift to ever appear under my tree.

and what a life it was

stiyl.jpg

Saddam Hussein, This is Your Life.

My OpEd at Command Post today.

And here's an article about bloggers covering Saddam's capture.

[note: this does not count as my one post for today]

December 15, 2003

a lileks-like hiatus

At the risk of appearing to be a Lileks copy-cat (although that's not a bad thing to be) I am going to take a semi-hiatus until the new year.

Life is incredibly busy right now and there are things that need my devotion and attention more than writing about video games and comic books do. It's all good things that - but things that are keeping me from having too much free time. I'm also trying to concentrate more on my fiction writing - I'm putting together a book of short stories that maybe someone will buy one day - so I need to not spend all of my writing time here.

I will be writing only one post each morning in the form of an essay about a photograph. I will try my damnedest to make that one post worth something. It won't be Lileks-like content, but hopefully it will be enough to make you stop by once a day until the first week in January, when I can resume writing about everything and nothing ten times a day or more (The gaming posts will continue then as well).

So hopefully, I'll see you in the morning, with the first of my one-a-day essays.

There will be no matchbook covers. I'm not that much of a copy-cat.

[You'll still be able to find an Op-Ed from me once or twice a week over at Command Post]

Back to Gaming: Sports Games

Not only am I home with the flu, but I'm incredibly busy updating Command Post at a feverish rate.

I have not forgotten about the series on gaming. We will get back to that tonight, if not today.

I thought we'd move away from console-specific talk today and bring on some game-genre awards. I've gotten a lot of email in support of covering the more modern consoles, so we will open this category up to all games, but break them down. Cast your nominations for:

Best Sports Game for console or PC.

Please make nominations for pre-Playstation and post Playstation eras and, if you so desire, coin-op games.

Presented Without Commentary


Mike Keefe - Denver Post

I have a roundup of today's cartoons over at Command Post.

December 14, 2003

it's been a great day

Been at the parents house most of the evening, recovering from a few hours of solid posting, linking and writing over at Command Post.

Now I have more posting, linking and writing to do. If you know of a good link - either news or bloggers - that I haven't posted here yet, please leave it in the comments. Yes, self-linking is appropriate.

Meanwhile, Puce is back and he has the real design of Saddam's little hidey hole. And Command Post is having a caption contest.

fair and balanced

While the candidates' commenters may be frothing at the mouth, the candidates themselves are acting with class and pride:

Howard Dean: I think the first order of business is to say this is a great day -- I congratulate the Iraqi people -- and to say that this is a great day for both the American military and the American people and for the Iraqi people.

Gen. Wesley Clark: I could not be prouder of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces for capturing this horrible despot. This is a testament to their courage and determination. I'd also like to congratulate Lt. General Sanchez and the intelligence community for the crucial role they played. We've been due good news from Iraq and the world is a safer and better place now that he is in custody.

Excellent statements, both.

no buts

Jonathan, who unfortunately stopped blogging, poses a very interesting thought, something that has been on my mind all morning.

Wouldn't it be better for a Dem candidate to embrace the capture of Saddam and congratulate the Iraqi people and the coalition forces without making caveats?

Jon says:

If a single democrat put up on their website "Congratulations to our troops on the capture of Saddam Hussein" I would throw my full support behind that candidate. Unless it was Kucinich, he's a creepy dude.

It wouldn't be a support of Bush, it would be a support of our troops and an understanding that Iraq was important, and Hussein evil.

Just a simple "Congratulations" with no attendant Buts.

No "but this doesn't mean the mission is over"
No "but this doesn't vindicate the invasion"
No "but where are the weapons of mass destruction."
None of that. Just congratulations.

And then I would marshall whatever I could to help that candidate. And I bet a good number of warbloggers would, because it would show that whichever candidate it was is serious about foreign policy and the middle east mess, while having different social policies than Bush.

Won't happen, of course, because Democrats are stuck in the "Beat Bush" mentality instead of the "How should we run the United States" mentality. But still. It should.

Update: Jonathan is a man of his word.

live from iraq, it's the day of the bloggers

I've got a growing round up of links from bloggers, Iraqis and other news sources over here.

The posts from Iraqi bloggers should bring tears of joy to your eyes.

Meanwhile, the commenters on the Dean campaign blog are saddened by the news of Saddam's capture because it's not good for Dean. Seriously, folks. Buy a clue. The world does not revolve around you and your needs you selfish prigs.

Anyhow, read the good stuff instead. I'll probably re-post all the Iraqi blog links over here later.

the money quote

Read at Late Final:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the leading Democratic hawk running for president, is on Meet the Press and is unabashed in calling this an important victory. He also said that Saddam Hussein must face the death penalty for his crimes against humanity.

"If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison," Lieberman said.

the death star has been destroyed

I've been updating this post at Command Post all morning, as links and updates come in. I've got a few quotes from Iraqi bloggers, but this is my favorite, from Baghdaddy:

The celebratory fire, and the smiles on everyones faces is reminisent of the victory scene at the end of Return of The Jedi, when the Death Star was destroyed signifying the end of the Empire. The scene here in Baghdad is truly one worthy of a John Williams soundtrack! My mood is one of joy, thankfulness, and brotherhood with the Iraqi people (for whom we have laboured long to free of this tyrant and his cohorts). GOD BLESS AMERICA, AND GOD BLESS IRAQ!

i predict: let the conspiracy theories start

I am breaking my self imposed hiatus from news blogging due to the beautiful story coming out of Iraq this morning.

This news has almost forced me to once again swim into the muck of Democratic Underground, which I have not read in almost two weeks.

But I'm not going to do it. I'm just going to guess. Someone braver than I can go there and tell me if I'm right.

First, I assume that they are engaging in the same kind of pissing on the parade that Metafilter is. They are probably talking about an illegal war, posting that Bush is the one who should be captured instead and saying that this will not stop the "insurgents" from their round of attacks on U.S. troops.

The conspiracy theories will abound, such as:

  • It is a Saddam double, not the man himself.
  • They had him for months, they were just waiting until Bush's poll numbers were slipping.
  • This is to take our minds off of the fact that we haven't captured bin Laden yet.
  • The whole thing is faked and staged, just like the Thanksgiving story.

I don't even have to look to know that I'm probably right.

Anyhow, back to not posting about DU. That was my one break from the moonbat hiatus. Really.

gotcha

Saddam Captured!

Command Post has the news and updates.

Baghdad - Celebratory gunfire rang out over the Iraqi capital and much of the country on Sunday amid growing reports that ex-president Saddam Hussein had been captured in his hometown Tikrit, AFP correspondents reported. Joyful Iraqis let off prolonged bursts of fire from automatic weapons and other guns they are allowed to keep for self-defence. The huge Shia slum of Sadr City was still calm.

"It's a great joy for the Iraqi people because a great dictator has been arrested," said Governing Council member Mahmud Othman.

In the Shia holy city of Najaf, which suffered harsh oppression under Saddam's Sunni-led government, people took to the streets to dance, an AFP correspondent said.

Yes, joy. They are happy.

Now tell us again how wrong this war is.

Update: Of course, Metafilter pisses on the news.

Did you see the Iraqi reporters cheering at the press conference? Damn. That is good tv. I'm so happy for all Iraqis.

December 13, 2003

now this is what i call christmas music

If Freddie Mercury, Bruce Dickinson and King Diamond all morphed together and started a band backed by Whitesnake, their Christmas song would sound something like this:

The Darkness - Christmas Time [mp3]

via Treacher

all we want for christmas is three game cubes

So why did we buy three Game Cubes? There's an explanation, really.

One is from Justin to me. That was the only thing on my Christmas list and that's what I'm getting.

So each year the kids get one big present and then a bunch of smaller ones. They both wanted a Game Cube this year. Well, DJ wanted an amp, but the one he picked out was $400, so no dice.

Well, there was no way in hell I was sharing my Game Cube with them. Hands off mommy's toys, kids. They don't touch the Dreamcast, they don't touch the action figures and now the Game Cube would be off limits.

Easy enough fix. Get them a Game Cube as well. Then I had this nightmare of the two of them fighting every single day over the game. They already spend half the day trying to find new ways to annoy each other. The last thing I needed was another thing for them to fight over. Hence, the three Game Cubes.

We all have our own and if we want to play a game together, we have three controllers. Sure, we'll all have the same Zelda pack, but that's ok. We'll probably trade one in at EB World and put it towards Metroid Prime or Monkey Ball.

So now we have every gaming system save for the X-Box, which we will probably never purchase.

I should probably buy a set of encyclopedias for them just to make myself feel less guilty for indulging their passion for gaming.

But, hey. Like mother, like kids. It's in the blood.

hell hath no fury like a mother on a bedroom cleaning binge

I'm on a cleaning rampage today. Blogging resumes later tonight, if I have the energy.

Know what I came home from Christmas shopping with last night?

Three Game Cubes. That's right. Three.

I must be insane.

roger that

Clemens is taking the weekend to decide whether he'd like to pitch for the Astros, where he would join friend Andy Pettitte, he told local talk show hosts from KKRW-FM Radio.

Rumors have been circulating since Clemens announced his retirement that he would unretire and pitch near home for the Astros. Clemens is technically a free agent, and can sign with any major league team.

When Pettitte decided on the Astros Thursday, that likely added to Clemens' motivation. Clemens and Pettitte were best friends on the Yankees.

Clemens is seriously considering this (though the Astros haven't said anything about it yet), but he's concerned that the Yankees would take away his retirement gift - a Hummer. So KKRW has offered Clemens a new Hummer if he signs with the Astros.

May I have a word with you, Roger?

Go. Go play for the Astros. Come out of your two month retirement so you can crawl up Andy Pettitte's ass. Yankee fans treated you a lot better than you deserved, Roger. But that's ok, just turn around and give them all the finger on your way to Houston. I'm not like the rest of the New York fans, Roger. I expect this kind of behavior from you.

Oh, remember that little dilemma you had about which cap to wear when you are inducted into the Hall of Fame? Please spend enough years growing old and useless with teh Astros so you can wear that cap. You don't deserve to have the Yankee emblem on your head ever again.

Then again, I was never a fan of yours. I'm glad you retired. Now I no longer have to agonize over whether to hope my Yankees win or hope you lose.

And even if this is all a big hoax or joke and you don't end up playing for Houston, I still hate you. I hope your retirement sucks.

That is all.

December 12, 2003

my house is your house (within limits)

fireplace.jpg

I'm out for an evening of Christmas shopping, dinner and the Last Samurai.

Make yourself at home. There's hot chocolate on the stove and a platter of fresh baked cookies on the table. The liquor cabinet is open.

Talk about anything. Gather round the fireplace and tell stories. Have a sing-a-long. Relax and enjoy the evening at my open house. Oh, stay out of my underwear drawer. I have hidden cameras.

And don't let the fire burn out, ok?

today's gaming fun: haiku tributes to the atari 2600

Quite busy today, but squeezing in some time to work on a tribute to the Atari 2600. In honor of that, I think I'll have an Atari haiku contest. It's Friday and we should be having fun. So sharpen your mad haiku writing skillz and pen an ode to the system itself or your favorite game; anything as long as it's Atari 2600 related.


Remember, haiku is 5-7-5. Incorrectly metered haikus and any other types of poetry will be discarded.

the gateway drug to gaming: winky dink and me

winkydink.gifIn the early sixties, when I was just a wee child and television was still broadcast in twenty shades of black and white, I had my first experience with interactive tv viewing.

Winky Dink and You originally ran in the fifties, but was brought back, if momentarily, in 1969. The premise was this: Winky Dink was a kid with hair that was shaped like a star. Winky would get into all kinds of jams and he would ask the kids watching at home to help him out by drawing whatever he needed to extract himself from his predicament. We did this with the Winky-Dink Kit, which consisted of a greenish plastic screen and some crayons. If Winky needed a ladder, for instance, you would put the screen over the tv - it magically stuck to the screen! - and draw a ladder. Usually there were dots to connect to help you draw the picture.

The show originally hosted by Jack Barry, and I don't remember if he also hosted the episodes I watched. There was a goofy assistant with the name of Mr. Bungle, which maybe explains my fascination with the band of the same name - some deep seated memory makes me cling to the band as the only connection to my innocent, black-and-white childhood. No, not really. But it's still an interesting side note. Sadly, the rebirth of Winky Dink in 1969 didn't last long, as doctors everywhere decided that children could go blind from sitting that close to the tv.

Winky Dink was my first inkling -at just seven years old - that television could be more than something to stare at. It was a slippery slope from there, kids. Winky Dink was the gateway drug that led me to Pong and Oddyssey many years later.

Today's Link

Today is BlogCuba day at Val's. There's a whole plethora of interesting posts about Cuba from a variety of different bloggers.

sometimes a bracelet is just a bracelet

It started a few weeks ago with Oprah. My mother called me in a panic. "It was on Oprah! Those bracelets your daughter is wearing? They have sexual meaning!"

Deep sigh.

My mother believes all this stuff. She sends me fowards with scare stories that have were debunked by Snopes years ago. I have to explain to her over and over again that my kids will not die from eating Pop Rocks and there will not be a man with one leg, a hook arm and a bottle of chloroform waiting in the back of my car in the mall parking lot.

Yes, my daughter wears about fifty jelly bracelets up and down her arms every day. Most of them are black, as she is in that goth phase.

Supposedly, this is what the bracelet colors stand for:

  • yellow: hugging
  • Purple: kissing
  • Red: lap dance
  • Blue: oral sex
  • Black: the full monty.


In a game called Snap, if a boy breaks a jelly bracelet off a girls wrist, he basically gets a sexual coupon for that act.

It's become such a problem in some middle schools in Florida, districts started banning the bracelets.

If your daughter is wearing one of these bracelets, it certainly doesn't mean she's having sex, following through on the Snap game, or even knows about the code.

But experts say it's a good opportunity for you to have that all important conversation about sex, what you think is acceptable, and best for your family.

Yes, wait until your child comes home wearing some urban legend on her wrist before you have that all important conversation with her. This stuff is going on mostly in middle schools. If you haven't had the sex talk with your kid by then, you may as well start purchasing condoms in bulk now.

I asked the daughter about the bracelet color code. She never heard of such a thing. She checked with friends who go to different school and none of them heard of it. In fact, most of them laughed and thought it was the dumbest thing they ever heard.

The real danger here is not in letting your child wear five-for-a-dollar rubber bracelets; it's in believing every rumor that comes out of the mill, ever teenage sex urban legend that comes through in an email. If you start giving credence to every Oprah manufactured, forwarded 100 times warning about what your kid is wearing, listening to, watching, eating, reading, or even thinking about, you will start to view your teen as as a sexually active, satan worshipping, drug taking rebel. And maybe he or she is. But you're not going to find that out from looking at some checklist that says if your kid is tired he must be using heroin, and you're not going to find it out from looking at your daughter's jewelry.

I trust my daughter. I trust that when I look at the twenty black jelly bracelets running up and down her arms that she hasn't had sex twenty times. Or even one time. I trust my daughter enough to laugh at Oprah and Dr. Phil and all the other "experts" who want to scare you into thinking your child is the devil's spawn. What I don't trust is a school admistrator who would immediately ban the wearing of jelly bracelets upon hearing this rumor without looking into it or talking to the students about it. Open communication is the key to raising kids we can trust. That goes for the people who run the schools as well as parents.

Perhaps the reason that kids as young as eight are talking about the "sex bracelets" and referring to the code of color is because the adults keep talking about them and the news is talking about them and yes, the grownups are giving the legend the snowball effect.

Today, it's bracelets. Years ago, it was "sex coupons." Months from now it will be text message codes or the color of your hat and what kind of notebook you have. If you stop building the myths, they will stop creating them.

one beam

[click for bigger image]7 World Trade Center was the last building to go down, and it will be the first building to go up. The first steel beam of the WTC was erected yesterday at 7 World Trade Center. It marks the official beginning of the reconstruction of the area.

The American flag that flew below the beam was made by Afghanistan craftsmen in memory of September 11, 2001.

7 World Trade Center burst into flames and collapsed seven hours later after it was hit by debris from the towers.

We are moving on and rising up. We will never forget, but we will not curl up in the rubble and die, either. The New York City skyline will never be the same; none of us will ever be the same. But we can adapt and we can look at the rise of new buildings as another stage in healing.

December 11, 2003

new gaming subject: console wars

Tomorrow's gaming talk will be a knock-down, drag-out death match fight between Atari 2600, Colecovision and Intellivision.

Let the console wars begin. Start your defense of your favorite one.

Worst Game Ever: The "winners"

It took a lot of contemplating, research and consulting of People With Opinions, but I finally have the winner for Worst.Video.Game.Ever.

Winners, that is. Because of the passion generated by the haters of both E.T. and DaiKatana, I am awarding them each a Comic Guy statue.


An Atari 2600 game that took only six weeks to produce and was rushed onto the market for the Christmas season. Obviously, there was no time test the playability or it would have never been released. One hopes, at least. Supposedly, so many people were angered at the lameness of E.T. that they returned the cartridges to Atari in droves. Adding insult to injury, Atari had produced over five million copies of the game, anticipating that it would be a huge seller, but word got out that it was the most wretched game to bear the Atari name. E.T was basically unplayable. The object was to get the little guy home, but there were so many pits that completing the game was nearly impossible. Legend has it that there were more copies of the game left on the shelve than sold, all of which were crushed and buried in a secret New Mexico landfill. It's said that E.T. was the beginning of the end of Atari.

dk.gif
I don't know much about this game; I've never played it. But the votes came in heavy for DaiKatana and some Googling and research and a couple of phone calls later, I had to agree that Dai-Katana deserves one of these awards. I'll leave it another blogger to describe the fiasco of this game:

Dai-Katana. That career ending, over-hyped, unplayable and uninspired monstrosity by Mr. Romero.

Remember the ads for this game? "He's gonna make you his Bitch!" Turns out the only folks he made his bitch were the ones that shelled out $50 for the game, which was vastly behind schedule, and even farther behind the technology of the day. It was one of those "we dicked around until technology left us in the dust" stories.

Design, Produce, Test, Distribute. It's easy, folks.

So, to E.T, DaiKatana and their creators, I offer you this little award to put on your mantle:


wge.gif

psa

Attention, people who like to read good weblogs. I'm assuming that's all of you.

The Queen of the Internet is blogging again.

That is all.

Steinbrenner redeems himself

NOT.

What the hell went on in Steinbrenner's office?

Oh, let's see. How do we counteract the fact that we just lost Andy Pettitte? Ohhh, I know, let's sign trade for a 39 year old pitcher for 15 million dollars a year! Oh, we are geniuses!

Hey, Brown and 38 year old Ruben Sierra can sit around and talk about the good old days when they had to walk uphill to school both ways!

My god. It's not even pitchers and catchers season yet and I'm burning George in effigy already. It's freaking Black Thursday for Yankee fans.

Update: The anonymous person who emailed me the Yahoo article on Pettitte:

70858.jpg

i'm so verklempt

I am so upset over Andy Pettite leaving the Yankees that I must go out for a very unhealthy, fattening, expensive lunch.

The last time I was this upset about a sports figure leaving a team was in 1983.

I need a moment to myself. With a bacon cheeseburger deluxe, french fries and a chocolate egg cream.

george steinbrenner must be stopped

I.am.so.pissed.off.right.now.


Yea, I know Andy wanted to go home. I know this was as much Pettite's choice as it was the fault of Steinbrenner for not taking Pettite's threat to leave as seriously as he should have. But if Georgie boy doesn't take a back seat and let the people who actually know baseball run the team, then there's going to more of this.

And I spit on Gary Sheffield. He's poison.

stay gold

If there's one way the daughter does not take after me (besides that whole American Idol thing), it's that she does not like to read. She says that reading just isn't "her thing" and that she should not be forced to pick up a book for pleasure when she has to read so much "junk" for school. She loves to write, though, so I let the reading thing go sometimes.

So imagine my suprise and delight when one day she comes home from school all excited about a book she's reading for English class. She's so excited, in fact, that she wants me to buy her the book because she is sure that she will want to read it over and over.

I ask her what novel has her so excited to read and she pulls a well-worn paperback out of her bag. My jaw drops.

"The Outsiders!?!"
"Oh, you've heard of it?"
"Heard of it? That was my favorite book in eighth grade! I did a spectacular report on it."
"Oh.My.God.Mom. I'm in eighth grade. And I'm going to do a report on it, too! I had no idea the book was so old."

She pronounces the word old as if what she really means is so ancient as to be from the time of dinosaurs.

She's already read half the book in school, so we reminisce over some of the scenes and characters. I tell her about the movie version. Another Oh.My.God. moment.

I pull up the IMDB page for The Outsiders.

"Who are these people?"
"That was an amazing cast for that time. They were all the hottest stars of the day."
"Who is Francis Ford Coppola?"

I explain the legacy of Mr. Coppola. She is not impressed.

"So who are these actors? Oh.My.God!" (she says that a lot)
"What?"
"That's Tom Cruise! He was in that stupid movie."
"He sure was. Uhh..which one are you talking about?"

She gives a convoluted, lengthy description and I realize after a few minutes she's talking about Legend.

"So who are these other people? What were they in? Are they still famous?"

I explain about C. Thomas Howell and how he ended up in one of the worst movies of all time. I tell her about Ralph Macchio, fellow Long Islander. She gets him confused with Scott Baio of Joanie Loves Chachi fame (too much Nick at Nite, I guess), and the recognizes him from Karate Kid, which she deems the dumbest movie ever and does a sarcastic wax on, wax off thing. She sort of recognizes Patrick Swayze and Emilio Estevez. She thinks Rob Lowe is cute in a girly kind of way, whatever that means. Then I pull up a photo of Matt Dillon from his Outsider days.

Her eyes light up. She's got this dreamy look on her face that I haven't seen since the first time she fell in love , with this guy.

"Who does he play in the movie?"
"Dally."
"Oh! Dally is my favorite! What else was he in?"

I have to think about my answer because I'm certainly not going to tell her about Drugstore Cowboy or Wild Things. I think about forcing her to watch Singles. Wait, what about.....

"Over the Edge. One of the greatest movies about teenage rebellion ever made."
"About what?"
"Nevermind. I'll just rent it for you someday. Matt Dillon looked really good in that movie."
"He is sooo cute."
"Hon, he's like 40 years old now. You can't have a crush on this guy. It's just not right."
"Eeww, like I would like a guy that old! I just like the young him."
"So, you have a retroactive crush on Matt Dillon?"
"Huh?
"Nevermind."

A couple of days later, she has finished the book - twice - and watched the movie seven times. She aced the book test. And now we have a little inside thing between us. Instead of saying goodnight to her, I say, in a wry sort of way, Stay gold, Ponyboy. She laughs. And I go sit on the couch and and think about Ponyboy and SodaPop and feel like I'm in eighth grade again, until I recall the above conversation and feel so, so old.

today's gaming talk

Today's gaming topic will be Worst Video Game Ever, thanks to a suggestion by Dodd. I suppose Most Disappointing Game would fit the topic just the same.

For this one we will include everything: coin-ops, PC games, and the new stuff as well as old school.

Nominations in the comments, please.

My first nominee is below.

etbox.jpg

the ghosts of blogging past

I realized (three years later) that it works out much better if I don't blog so early in the morning and just wait until I get to work. Actually, it's just that I've become less of a morning person than I used to. There was a time not too long ago when I would get up at 4am for no particular reason. Now, I cherish my sleep.

Anyhow, I thought that for the remainder of this month I would satisfy my own ego or something like that and post a "best of" from the past year. Hey, if I'm going to compile best of lists for every single form of entertainment out there, I can certainly compile my own, and it's not a bad thing to have favorites from your own writing.

Set the time machine back to February 25, 2003, when the TupperWar Lady came a knocking on the door:

TupperWAR, anyone?

This is why I love hate mail. It gives me a reason to go on each day.

Todayís mailbag brings some spittle-faced deep thinker to the forefront:

ďYou know what you are? You are just a mouthpiece for Bush and The U.S. Army. They probably pay you to go around spreading your warmongering ideas. You use your website as both a church and a collection plate. You preach and preach and you collect people into your little basket and crush their spirit and turn them into warmongers just like you. I wouldnít be surprised to find out that you arenít even who you say you are, but a paid government employee whose job it is to write shit about the war and terror and get people all riled up. You are evil, just like you say you are and you think thatís funny but itís not. You are whatís wrong with America, women like you who think your opinion is right, women who should be doing other things rather than writing about guns and tanks and bombs.Ē

Oy vey.

This guy doesnít know whether heís a member of the leftist brigade or a spokesperson for the John Birch society.

Either way, heís found me out. Itís true. You heard of the Tupperware Lady? Well I am the TupperWAR Lady, and I rule a vast organization of pearl-wearing, pot roast cooking women who go door to door in hopes of charming other women into becoming warmongers.

Morning, noon and night, all I do is attempt to convert anti-war or otherwise neutral women into war hungry Republicans. And I don't stop at the women, I get to their children, too. Every day after school I drop my kids off at the Very Young Republicans Club where they too can master the art of warmongering and pass it on to their friends. I mean, what's a war movement worth if it's not passed on from generation to generation?

During lunch I hop into my TupperWAR brand black Hummer and drive around picking up lonely housewives and confused anti-war protesters. I play Rush Limbaugh on the Hummer's stereo and face the speakers out the window. When people come running up to see what's going on (The "Free Cookies Here!" sign really helps), I chloroform them and throw them into the back seat. Then I drive around, chanting, "We Must, We Must, Bomb Iraq or Bust!" over and over again until osmosis has taken its toll and when my victims awake, they have this sudden taste for bombs and biological warfare.

tupperware.jpgWe stop at the diner for some Liberty Fries and I school my new group in all matters of war. I read from Fox News transcripts and Ann Coulter columns. Then I take them back to my house where we are met by my coalition of TupperWar Women. It's like a big old revival meeting. We sing war songs and throw darts at pictures of Arianna Huffington. We pretend it's that U.N. meeting, but this time Powell gets up and shoots down Chirac. Blood! We love blood and violence!

This is what I do all day, every day. I knock on doors and hand out tracts extolling the virtues of nuclear bombs. I go to supermarkets and stick leaflets on car windows with pictures of Saddam's head being blown off. I take my group of women with me and we march through the parking lot chanting "What do we want? WAR! When do we want it? YESTERDAY!"

I go to Kindergarten classes and replace their Sesame Street flash cards with pictures of Michael Moore and Hilary Clinton. Bad! I tell the children. Bad! They repeat. By the end of the day they are kneeling reverently in front of a poster of Tony Blair and they can spell out KILL SADDAM with their little magnetic letters.

A TupperWAR Woman never rests. I am always working, always brainwashing, always calling for the death of some tyrannical dictator, or some French guy. I do all this in a day and still manage to cook a lovely dinner for my husband and get all the housecleaning done - while wearing a dress and high heels.

All in a day's work for the TupperWAR Woman.

If you see me standing on your doorstep with a nice jello mold in hand, you may not want to open the door.

December 10, 2003

another award

If there was a Weblogger of the Year Award, I would give it to Jeff Jarvis. And I just might make up such and award and give it to him.

For all he has done to help make blogs recognized by mainstream media, he would get it alone. But even more, he would get such accolades for helping Iraqi bloggers get their voices heard. Thanks to Jeff and the camera he sent to Zeyad, we can see what is really happening in Iraq first hand.

Thanks, Jeff. You've done an amazing thing.

choose your own video game adventure

So, what shall we cover tomorrow? PC games? Old school console games (Atari, Oddysey, Coleco, Intellivsion)? A specific genre of games? Name your poison and I'll serve it up.

psa

Due to popular request, I've put all the video game posts into one archive. You can find them all here.

what i need is a "shut down" switch

Hey, I think I'm holding up pretty darn good with my vow to not blog news or politics for a while. It hasn't had the desired effect of de-stressing my brain and nerves, but that's because I have a 13 year old daughter and she has almost completed her desired effect of sending me into a complete meltdown.

I can imagine the conversation years from now:

"Mom, what was I like when I was a teenager?
"Damned if I know. I drank a bottle of Jack Daniels every night so I would be too drunk to kill you."
"Wow. Jack Daniels saved my life."
"And mine honey. And mine."

I drink because I care!

Actually, I'm drinking herbal tea. Raspberry Zinger with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I have the headphones on. Nine Inch Nails.

Hey, what's with you people and Nine Inch Nails, anyhow? Why does everyone think that whatever came after Pretty Hate Machine sucked? I love The Fragile. I think it's a work of art, a piece of musical genius overflowing with emotion. Yes, sometimes it sounds as if Trent took a bunch of guitars and ran them through the "noise" filter on Photoshop (ok, you have to imagine there that you could actually Photoshop a sound to understand that). But it's beautiful and heartbreaking and it's just loud enough to drown out my son's guitar playing, which sounds like it was put through a "I want play guitar in an emo band" filter.

So, tea. Trent Reznor. Christmas shopping at Amazon (I'm getting a GameCube for Christmas!). Husband cooked dinner and did the dishes. Kids in another room watching the Billboard Awards.

Something is going to go wrong eventually. I better go get some playtime in while I can.

Open Thread: A Very Special Christmas and all that other crap

Hey, it's that time of year. Usually around Christmas time I ask for your favorite Christmas-themed movies, your favorite alternative Christmas songs and I think once I even asked for your favorite Christmas episodes from beloved television programs.

Why not do it all at once? I won't be back at the blog until later this evening, so have at it. Make it a whole open thread on holiday music, movies and tv specials. Hell, talk about your holiday food and holiday traditions and whether or not you think Christmas tree Peeps are overdoing it just a little bit. Tell me your holiday horror stories. Paste in the lyrics to a South Park Christmas song. Give me a recipe. Throw me som links. Drop a link to your own posts about the holidays. It's an open house, write anything you want. It just has to have something to do with the holiday season.

It's a Very Special Holiday Thread, brought to you by A Small Victory.

a sad, sad christmas story

You watch your Christmas favorite movies over and over again. No matter how the movies (and you) age, you still drag them out every year because they are part of your holiday tradition. You connect with the characters. They are like family, like friends you grew up with. And then, one day, you discover that those cherubic, goofy child stars have grown up. They have gone to other things, leaving the days of cute smiles and family movies behind them. They....they....

Oh Flick....why? Why have you gone and become a porn star? My whole Christmas world has just come crashing down. How can I enjoy 24 hours of A Christmas story knowing that good old Flick is now a porn star. Your tongue was not meant for such dirty things, Flick! Sigh. At least he's hanging with Ron Jeremy. Flick's (Scott Schwartz) acting credential got him a part in a top notch porn movie instead of being the jizzmopper for some amateur outfit.

I will never be able to watch that scene in quite the same way again. No, I'll be having horrible thoughts about Dirty Bob's Xcellent Adventures #35.

I feel so betrayed.

all i want for christmas is for the red sox to suck

Dear Santa,

There is really only one thing I want for Christmas. It's not jewelry and it's not cash and it's not even video games. In fact, it's nothing that can be made by your hardworking little elves (Is that politically correct? Should I call them height challenged laborers?) at the North Pole.

Santa, I need to you to work some magic for me. I've really been a good girl this year. I didn't kill all those people I threatened to. I didn't run anyone over. I gave to charity and was nice to small woodland creatures and ate my vegetables. So I ask for just this one thing, this one gift that would lighten my days for years to come; especially the days from April through October.

The present I want is simple: Please fix it somehow so that A-Rod does not play for the Red Sox. I will do anything in return and I mean anything. I'll work in your toy sweatshop next Christmas season. I'll help you hand out toys. I'll beat up any fake Santa that is ruining your good name. And I'll...well, I'll just give you all things that Mrs. Claus refuses you. I am that serious about wanting this gift for Christmas.

I don't care where you send him, where your beautiful magical powers lands him. I don't even care if its on the Hated Mets. Just please, Santa, let me wake up on Christmas morning knowing that Rodriguez will never join the Hated Boston Red Sox.

Love,
M

P.S. I love you, Santa.

P.P.S. I mean it about that Mrs. Claus thing.

P.P.P.S If you let A-Rod go to the Red Sox, the terrorists win.

video game lifetime achievement award: xyzzy!

When it comes to reading a book that has been made into a movie, I always prefer the book, no matter how well made the movie is. The reason is simple - I like to use my imagination. I prefer to conjure up the scenery, the look of the characters. I have a definite vision in my mind of the world that exists within the story Iím reading and no cinematographer will ever match what I envision.

I thinnk this is why I fell in love with text adventure games. From the first time I loaded up Zork on my Vic 20, I was obsessed. It was a story, but with choices. I could direct which way a scene would play out. The heroís life was in my hands. No, I was the hero!

There is a small mailbox here.

> look in mailbox

That mailbox probably looked different to everyone who played Zork. For some, it was made of wood, for others it was gold, or silver, or just a shabby, rusted box by the side of the road. I read the leaflet that was in the mailbox. I was on my way. I stood in the open field, west of the big white house with the boarded front door.

And thus my adventure began. And it was my adventure, nobodyís elseís. No matter how many people were playing Zork at that exact moment, no one was having the same adventure as me. I had a set vision in my mind of the way things looked in the house and in the cellar and underground. In fact, I dreamed about these places - in a precursor to the days when I would dream about falling Tetris blocks - and thought about them even when I wasnít playing the game (yes, I did stop to sleep and eat once in a while).

I never wanted the game to end. I wanted an endless array of puzzles to solve. Yet I did want it to end because I had to prove I could do it. Once I finally solved it, it was like a piece of my life was missing. Pathetic, I know. But there were sequels to Zork and many other adventure games to keep me going once I finally got back to the mailbox and found the barrow.

You are in a twisty maze of passageways, all alike.

>

Colossal Cave Adventure was made before even Zork; it was the first known interactive fiction game, created by Will Crowther originally to simulate his cave exploring experiences. I played "Adventure" so often that sometimes I would fall asleep at the computer. So many days and nights meeting dwarfs and saying plugh, catching the bird and falling into a pit because I forgot to turn my lamp on. Again, I got lost in a world that existed solely between my head and my keyboard. There were other text adventures I played endlessly, but Zork and Adventure are the ones that I can still reenact in my head; every detail I gave to those worlds still exist for me (Later on, Level 9 would add graphics to Adventure).

Eventually, graphics were added to the adventures. I thought I wouldnít like it, but I was amazed by the pictures that appeared on the screen before me (Hey, I hear you young whippersnappers laughing. Those pixilated graphics were amazing for that time!). Pirates convinced me that I could get used to having pictures to go with my games. Once you got into the gameplay, you were only concerned with getting to the end.

Some of my favorite graphic adventures came from Windham Classics. Sure, I felt a little odd sitting there playing games based on childrenís books, but the puzzles were hard and the authors of the games kept them interesting enough so that you never felt like you were in a childís world; there was something very adult about Aliceís adventures in this Wonderland. Same for Below the Root; the story was fascinating and the gameplay pretty hard.

Colossal Cave Adventure and the Infocom games paved the way for future generations of amazing role playing and adventures. From Zelda to Metal Gear Solid, they all owe a debt of gratitude to the simple command choice of north, south, east or west.

Of all the games we geeks played, of all the nights we never went to sleep because we had to find our way out of the chasm, for all the grues we met and treasure we found and all the times we had to say xyzzy, for the trolls and dragons, for the drafty room and for the trial and error way of getting that last point in Caves, and for all the reasons the readers have shared, I am giving the ASV Lifetime Achievement Award to both Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork: The Great Underground Empire.

You may make your testimonials now.


until later, have some cookies

For the first time in my life, I slept through my alarm clock. I swear, that has never happened before.

I'll leave you with a blast from the past while I scramble to get us all out of the house on time.

From December 10, 2001, a story on why I no longer attempt to bake.

c is for god damn ugly stupid cookies

I cannot bake. I can cook - I can whip up a gourmet meal at a moment's notice. But baking leaves me frustrated and in a foul mood. So generally, I don't do it. I leave the baking for the Martha Stewars wannabes in my family.

So why did I find myself standing in my kitchen tonight, elbow deep in flour and frosting? I'll tell you why. It's my sister's fault.

I work with my sister. She, like me, is a bit of a misanthrope, yet manages to be the social butterfly of the workplace at the same time. You accomplish this by making friends with a few select people, and hating everyone else in their department. Then you vocalize that hate. Loudly. Me, I just sit in my office and mutter death threats under my breath.

Anyhow, it came time for the annual cookie trade-off lunch. This is where all the secretaries get together for a holiday lunch, and bring a dozen home-baked cookies for each person attending. This is my fourth Christmas in this job, and I have avoided the cookie exchange every year so far. My sister would have none of that this year. She enthusiastically signed me up without asking. Why? Because she is a sadist. She knew I would now have to combine my hatred of baking with my loathing of my co-workers all in one day. I suppose I could have e-mailed the head cookie cutter and offered my apologies, but I decided I would give in instead. Maybe if I do it this one year, they will leave me alone for the next three.

Now, there are two people at work I like. One is the sadist sister of mine, and the other is my good, dear friend Bonnie. Bonnie was also "anonymously" signed up for this cookie brigade. I despise the other women who are going. The woman I hate the most is joining us, and she has the nerve to say she is coming for lunch and not baking cookies! What the hell? If I am going to stand in my kitchen and curse the cookie gods, so are you, bitch!

I had an option in regards to the cookies. I could cheat. There are various ways one could cheat when it comes to cookie baking:

First degree cheating: Go to bakery, buy fresh made, gorgeous, incredibly delicious cookies. Put on throw-away Christmas plate, wrap in something festive and pretend like you slaved over a hot oven all night making them.

Second degree cheating: Buy the Pillsbury slice and bake cookie rolls. No fuss, no mess. Just chop the roll up, stick in oven and proceed with festive wrapping and lying about the recipe.

Third degree cheating: Buy a pre-made cookie mix, follow same method as above for wrapping and lying.

I opted for third degree cheating, sugar cookie styel. Have I mentioned I suck at baking?

First I followed the directions carefully. One rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie. Well I did that and the cookies were the size of a baby's toenail. 6 cookies wasted. I made them a little bigger; somewhere between a tablespoon and a scoop. Apparently they weren't rounded enough and came out looking like lumps of brown coal. Finally, I decided to throw some flour into the mix and roll out the dough. I had no cookie cutters, but I found the cover to one of my nephew's bottles and used that to cut the dough into large circles. They came out the perfect size and shape. I was on my way to Marthaness.

I couldn't just give plain sugar cookies, could I? They had to be decorated. I was ready with green and red colored sugar and some Christmas tree shaped sprinkles. So the cookies are out of the oven, a bit cooled and I sprinkle the sugar on. It rolls off. I press the sugar on. The cookie breaks.

I put a fresh batch in and a light bulb goes off in my head. I sprinkle the sugar on before they bake! They come out looking like someone threw up in my baking pan. I bake a fresh batch and come up with a new idea. I have to somehow find something to put on top of the cookies when they are cooled that will make the sugar stick to them. Frosting! I only have pink frosting, though. I recruit Natalie to mix some red food coloring into the frosting until it looks Christmasy. She stirs and pours and stirs and finally the frosting is red, but the consistency of water. At this point I don't care. I remind myself over and over that I don't even like the people who will be eating these cookies.

I take each cookie, smear it in blood red frosting and then pour the colored sugar over them. They end up looking like a kindgergarten craft project. I'll give it one more try. What is wet enough yet not distasteful that I could put on top of the cookies to make the sugar stick? And then I see it, right there in my cabinet. Pam no-stick spray. Buttered flavor. Of course.

I spray each cookie with a little Pam, hysterically laughing to myself that I have reached so low a point. I take each non-stick coated cookie and turn it upside down in a pile of red and green sugar. Voila! I have Christmas cookies. I have baked.

They are the ugliest, worst tasting cookies this side of dog biscuits. I don't care. I made them. And I will laugh all this week at the fact that those stupid, lazy, slacking, bitching, gossiping women are eating cookies whose main ingredient is no-stick spray, and which may or may not have fallen on my kitchen floor. I'll never tell.

December 09, 2003

on text adventures and reality tv

That text adventure post is going to have to wait until morning; it's a crazed homework/project night here.

Two things:

When I said text and graphic adventures, the graphic adventures I was referring to were mostly point-and-click games. Anything that wasn't either all text or pixelated graphics should not count for this category.

Also, and I am really embarassed about this - so embarassed that I've waited a whole day to type it out in such a public forum, but......

[I cannot believe that she chose Jason! What a superficial whore!]

If you don't know what that means, consider yourself lucky.

update to that car accident

I found out what happened to Cheryl. The WABC message boards report that she was rear-ended and her SUV flipped over, so she was hanging upside down, held in by her seatbelt, when she yelled out to Curtis and Kuby to call the cops. She was taken to the hospital and her injuries are not life-threatening.

Of course, someone had to mention that she was driving a "dangerous" SUV. Hmm..she was rear-ended on an icy road. Yea, must be the SUV.

oh, henry

Reason #4,563 why I love Henry Rolllins.


[thanks to reader curt for passing the link along]

speaking of video games

A new phrase has been coined: Killographic.

It pertains to video games that portray "graphic depiction[s] of brutal violence."

Get it? See, pornographic is for sex and killographic is for....oh, nevermind. You understand.

The problem is here is that most pornography is made with real, live people and video games aren't. I'm sure David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family understands that. He just doesn't get it.

Remember Frogger? Did you ever make the frog purposely get hit by a car just to see him splatter? Killographic!

Are you one of those people that made the rides on Rollercoaster Tycoon go so fast that your visitors were flung from the coaster cars to their death? Killographic!

Hell, even on Tiny Toons Adventure, tiny Bugs Bunny (Buster?) dies and when he does, a little halo appears above his head as his ghostly shape rises to bunny heaven. That's animal cruelty. It's a horrible potrayal of death as a game. Killographic!


Sure, the games that the research center list as "killographic" are games meant for mature players. And yes, they do contain graphic violence. Against animation! The horror!

On the other hand, look at the games they recommend. Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga is one such game. Look at this picture! Just look! Luigi is about to pound Mario on the head with a mallet! If that's not Killographic, I don't know what is.

And SimCity 4? Why, you can set fire to your city! You can make a volcano explode or have lightning bolts strike a neighborhood. Death, destruction and mayhem - family fun for all. Killographic!

What's the difference between the simulated violence in Backyard Wrestling and that in SimCity?

Sorry for being so cynical, but killographic is just a stupid word, used to scare parents into taking away their kids' video games or not even buying them at all. News flash: most of those games are rated T or M. The little kiddies shouldn't even be playing them.

Oh, silly me. That would be putting the responsibility in the hands of the parents rather than the video game industry. Everyone knows that parents aren't responsible for their kids do. The entertainment industry is. Instead of shouting from the mountain top that some video games are bad, bad, bad, perhaps someone should be educating some parents about keeping an eye on what your children are buying, playing and watching. We'll make a movement out of it and call it Parentgraphic: The almost realistic display of parents taking charge of their children.

Too horrible to even think about for some people, I know.

video game awards: new category

Before we move onto consoles, I will be presenting a lifetime achievement award to the the old text adventures and graphic text adventures, from the days of the Commodore 64 and Vic 20 (those are the machines I used, you may have used others).

You can make suggestions here as to which specific games should be honored. This is not a poll like the others were, just a love letter to my favorite computer games of all time.

crash and rock

Listening to Curtis and Kuby on WABC, as I always do on my way to work, I "witnessed" a car accident. A woman was on the phone with the duo, screeching about Michael Jackson, when another screeching - that of car tires - sounded through the phone. The next thing I heard is the woman, Cheryl, yelling for help. Curtis tried to get her to say where she was, but apparently her phone had fallen out of her grasp during the crash. They could hear her, but she could not hear them. She was just yelling "Curtis, call the cops!" Then there was the voice of man and the sound of him banging on the window. He said he would call an ambulance and try to get her out of the car. Curtis and Kuby were going to try to get an update on Cheryl, but I pulled into the parking lot at work before they were able to give anymore details. Totally unnerved me for the last half of my ride to work, though.

In blogging news, Sour Bob is back and stills somewhat sour, though not as much. His writing still rocks. Speaking of rocking, my favorite rock critic from the days of my misspent youth, Wayne Robins, has a blog and you should all go read it. And, speaking of people who rock, Jane and Jay of the Daily Rant are now at Classless Warfare.

this month in history: the tale of the 47 ronin

It was a snowy night in December, 1702 when the greatest act of revenge in history was played out. On that night, 47 ronin (masterless samurai), avenged the death of their master, Lord Asano, two years after he was ordered to commit seppuku , or ritual suicide, for taking a swipe at one Lord Kira. Kira, by all counts, deserved the slashing that Asano gave him. But it wasn't that supposed attempted murder of Kira that Asano was punished for, even though striking a man in anger was against the law; it was that he committed the act within the walls of the Shogun's castle, which was a far worse crime in itself.

Such was the ritualistic world of the samurai. They lived by the Code of Bushido - literally the way of the Samurai. The code dictated concepts such as loyalty, honor and virtue.

It was that loyalty and honor that took the 47 samurai on a two year journey to avenge the death of their master, Lord Asano. The samurai, who were now ronin, had to leave their castle, as the law permitted the Shogun to take over Asano's castle after he committed seppuku.

Several choices were available to the ronin. They could accept the law and surrender, they could fight and refuse to turn the castle over, or they could exact revenge by plotting to murder Kira, who the ronin felt was responsible for their master's demise, but received no punishment from the Shogun.

Of course, they chose revenge. It would not have made such a riveting tale if they hadn't. And the code they lived by basically bade them to avenge Asano's death.

At first there were 59 ronin plotting to kill Kira. They laid low, pretending to be street merchants and even drunken gamblers to get information on Kira. Kira and his allies remained vigilant for most of that time, always on the lookout for the ronin, knowing full well that the samurai would want Kira dead.

For nearly two years the ronin waited and watched until Kira eventually let his guard down, thinking that the ronin were not coming for him after all.

Finally, the moment had come. On December 14, 1702, 47 of the 59 ronin (the 13 other ronin were sent back to their families) stormed Kira's mansion. Account on this event vary; some say that in the ensuing fight, all of the ronin survived. Other accounts say that one ronin died in the battle.

For ninety minutes they fought and when it was over all of Kira's men were either killed or they surrendered. Kira himself was found cowering in an outhouse. The ronin gave Kira a fair chance to die honorably, to commit committed seppuku, but Kira would not do it.

The ronin beheaded Kira and deposited his severed head at Lord Asano's grave.

The Shogun Tsunayoshi - the same one who ordered Lord Assano to kill himself - was impressed with the loyalty of the ronin. But he had a samurai code to follow and could not let the ronin go without punishment for their acts. He ordered the ronin to execute themselves, which was a way to let them die with honor. They were buried next to their master, Lord Asano.

So, why do I tell you this story? I suppose there are lessons to be learned from it, but even on its own, it is a great tale. If there was a definitive moral to this, it would be that revenge is, indeed, a dish best served cold.

There's more to it than that, though. Much, much more. You'll have to wait for Part 2, though. For now, I'd like to know your thoughts on the tale of the 47 ronin.




Images and some facts fromShitoryu.org

December 08, 2003

december 8th

I almost forgot the date.

My annual John Lennon post, repeated for you viewing pleasure.

Or not.

December 8, 1980

When an event happens that shapes your life, or plays a significant role in it, you tend to remember every little detail of the moment it happens. Twenty-one years ago last night. December 8, 1980. I was in my bedroom, lying on the bed with the headphones on, listening to WNEW. It was Jim Morrison's birthday, and the station was running a two hour special devoted to him. I was obsessed with Morrison at that time, and was taping the special I was listening. I know I was wearing an old Led Zeppelin t-shirt and sweat pants and I was writing a poem as I listened to the radio.

My room faced the front of the house, and the Christmas lights that hung from the roof glowed red and green and white over my bedroom window. There was a decoration hanging on the window; a big white star made out of plastic pieces melded together. The colors of the bulbs outside made the star look psychedlic. I had smoked enough pot that night to stare at the star for a length of time, imagining the colors blending into one another. My concentration would be broken every now and then by headlights beaming down the street, and I would run to the window and peer out. We were waiting for my cousin Michael, my favorite cousin, to arrive by car from Florida. I was anxious to see him and disappointed that each susbequent headlight did not belong to his car.

All the while, Jim Morrison's life story played out in the background, and I stopped looking down the street for my cousin at some point and started paying attention to the radio. I remember it was late, probably close to 11:00. I may have drifted off at some point and I was jolted fully awake by a shaky voice announcing that someone tentatively identified as John Lennon had been shot outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City. I waited, nearly numb, hoping for more news. Soon after, it was confirmed. I went inside to tell my parents, but they already knew. I think they announced it on Monday Night Football.

I was never much of a Beatles fan. But sometime in high school I went through a hippie phase and took a liking to John Lennon and his ideas. The fact that he spoke out for peace and died so violently was one of the first things that struck me when I heard the news.

The event didn't change my life the way it did the lives of Beatles fans. It didn't impact me in quite the same way as someone who was mourning Lennon the man, or the music he created. I mourned something else. I think up until that point, I still had a sense of innocence about me. I was still naive about the ways of the world. I was still all about peace and love and tranquility. I assumed the rest of the world was too. I thought we could all live in harmony and love one another and make the world a better place for future generations.

Something happened to me the night John Lennon died. I lost a lot of that idealism. I couldn't get past the fact that someone who was so fervent about living peacefully could have his life taken from him in such a way. I couldn't fathom that something like this could happen. How did we let our world get to this point, that people could just walk around murdering one another?

It was then, that very night, that my eyes opened to a new vision of the world. When Lennon died, whatever was left of the peace movement died, too. I dropped my peace sign mentality some time after that night. I gave up and gave in and became cynical like every grown-up I knew. It wasn't all because of Lennon; there were other things that lead up to it also. But the death of John Lennon - the murder of John Lennon sure as hell played a very significant role in shaping my psyche for the rest of my life.

That, more than anything, is why I remember every little detail of that night. Somehow I knew, I felt it in my gut the moment I heard the news. I knew that I would never be the same again. I ingrained that moment in my brain somewhere, marking it down as a "this day in history" of my meager little life.

21 years now that I'm a cranky bastard.

[Originally posted December 9, 2001]

psa

If you have a wishlist on your site, you might want to check and see if it's working. Amazon changed the URL of some wishlists (mine included), which explains why my sister still hasn't bought me the GameCube I asked for.

Well, maybe that explains it.

if i can't win, i may as well try to control who will

bmv.gif


I did mention that I could be bribed and David took me up on it. For his $7.50 he gets a link every day until the awards, along with a testimonial.

Who cares that I already donated a nifty button to another competing rodent? I think the fact that I am offering my votes for money and/or wishlist items lets you know right off the bat that I'm on the take.

My testimonial for Dave tonight is this: Where else will you find a man so willing to entertain his readers that he posts a picture of himself in a cow suit? Nowhere.

Want to buy my vote? Telephone operators are standing by. Don't hesitate, time's a wasting.





I do hope you realize this is all in jest.

It's a late rush win!

rotb.gifFor almost 24 hours, it was a contest between Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man and Galaga. But neither the dot-chewers nor aliens-as bugs space game has taken the crown.

In a last minute surge, the ostrich riders of Joust pulled out a victory. I have a sneaking suspicion that this guy had something to do with it.

For those of you who are not old enough to remember Joust, I am not kidding about the ostrich thing.

Tomorrow, we will move on to console-based games, but not before I present the Lifetime Achievement Award to a certain genre of PC games in the morning: the good old text adventure/graphic text adventure.

If you have something you would like to say on behalf of the games that paved the way for adventures in gaming, please do so here so I can add your testimonial to mine. Damn, I'm getting all verklempt.

plowed

It's still a tie.

A half hour left until I have to declare co-winners, and I hate doing that.

Oh, and to the managers of Waldbaum's grocery store in East Meadow, NY:

Don't you think that plowing the lot would have been a good idea seeing as that people leaving your store have to put shopping carts filled with groceries to their cars? Those carts don't have snow tires, you know. I would very much like the fifteen minutes of my life that it took me to push $300 worth of groceries 1,000 feet to my car back.

Thank you.

every vote counts

It looks like it's still a dead heat between Mr. and Mrs. Pacman and Galaga.

I'm going food shopping on my way home from work. Do you think you could have this thing decided by the time I get home? I want to move on to the other categories but I'd rather not have to deal with a messy recount or deal with the fans of either game spending the next four years harping on and on about how their choice lost a flawed election. Know what I'm saying? Good.

Go vote. You have about two hours.

a change in atmosphere

Iíve got nothing today. Not a damn thing. And you know why? Because itís Monday and during the week my usual morning/afternoon writing deals with the world at large; war, terrorism, etc.

I learned that when you feel like you are pushing something that wonít budge, itís best to let it go and come back when you have more strength or find a new way to tackle the problem.

Itís not that I stopped caring about the news. I care a lot. Iím just tired of writing about it. Thereís only so many ways you can say the same thing over and over again. I already put a moratorium on writing about Ted Rall and Indymedia and Democratic Underground. Now itís time, for a few weeks at least, to shove the rest of the news off of this page as well.

I know Iím defined by some people as a warblogger or a news blogger. If thatís what you come here for, you will find this page devoid of any of the usual stories about Bush bashing or the war on terror or what the left is doing and what the right is doing while the left is doing that.

Iíve been having way too much fun writing about video games the past couple of days. Writing fluff like that does not aggravate me. It does not get my blood boiling. It does not put me on edge and make me want to simultaneously smoke a pack of cigarettes, drink a bottle of vodka and stab myself in the brain with a Q-tip.

I need to relax a little bit, bring it down from screeching heavy metal to a nice power ballad, so to speak. I prefer to spend my holidays relaxed and calm and I canít do that if Iím writing about this crap-infested world all day because I have a terrible tendency to take everything to heart and let the weight of the world take up residence on my shoulders.

Iíd like to say that I am going to take a complete hiatus and concentrate on decorating my house for Christmas and baking all kinds of cakes and cookies and carving homemade gifts out of the wood we gathered from the forest. But that would just be ridiculous because I donít bake and my decorating consists of hanging a Ninja Turtles Christmas ornament from the ceiling fan in the kitchen. As for the homemade presents, only a lunatic like Martha Stewart would do something like that when Amazon is just a click away.

And did I mention my kids are off from school for 19 straight days? And that we are forced to take a vacation during the same time here at work? Know what I mean about keeping my stress level down now?

Anyhow, what Iím getting at is the content of this here blog will be changing for the next few weeks. Itís just going to be a bunch of fluff about video games and music and movies and my kids and life in general. So if youíre looking for snarling rants about politics and war, come back in the New Year and weíll see what happens.

If youíre going to hang around, I promise to do my best to still entertain you even if Iím not cursing at Mark Morford. I can always curse at Axl Rose instead.

there can be only one

A naked, samurai sword-wielding martial arts expert screaming, "I'm God! I'm immortal!" hacked his wife to death yesterday in a blood-soaked Bronx rampage, police said.

Cops were able to confirm that the man was not, much to his chagrin, God. God was unavailable for comment.

And, laying the blame on The Last Samurai begins in 3...2....1...

You know how wrong they will be when they lay the blame on a Tom Cruise movie, don't you? It will be an outrage. The guy in question was clearly watching Highlander before his rampage.

Not to worry. I hear Joe Lieberman is on the case already.

the weblog awards: i can be bought

Perhaps you have noticed the lack of war/news blogging here lately. Contrary to what others are thinking, this does not mean that I have retreated in defeat. It just means that I'd much rather write about something else for a change so as not to get myself all worked up over world events during the holiday season, when I need to keep my stress level at a minimum.

Anyhow, there's campaigning to do. The Weblog Awards are upon us and I must take a stand on some issues.

First of all, this is supposed to be fun. If you take it too seriously, your head will explode and then where will you be next year? There is no category for Blogger Who Spontaneously Combusted Due to Taking Awards Too Seriously.

Unlike other blogging dog and pony shows, Kevin has seen to it that these awards stay lighthearted. If you keep your sense of humor about you when others are losing theirs, then you get to point and laugh at the others. It's just the way it works.

That said, I will now address the issue of campaigning for myself. Simply put, I am not going to be engaging in it and I'll tell you why: I'm not even close to winning. I think it's time to concede the race and throw my support behind other weblogs.

In best overall weblog, I am lagging seriously behind the leaders. 161 votes? Is that all my legion of admiring fans and stalkers could conjure up for me? Don't you love me enough to hack the system or cheat for me? Apparently not. And I've only got 116 votes in the Higher Beings categories. I'm not feeling the love here, people.

So who do I throw my hefty weight behind? Which blogs are so worthy, so stellar, so fascinating and amazing that I, a person of such stature that I only get 161 votes, should endorse?

That's easy. See, in the category of Raging Marsupials or Homicidal Marsupials or whatever the kangaroo category is, I am wholeheartedly supporting World Wide Rant.
Why? Because Andy gave me five dollars to do so.

Those who want to buy my votes can line up right there on the right. I have no shame, no morals. You can bribe me with dollar bills, tequila or compromising photos of Jason Kottke, Dave Barry, James Lileks or Charles Johnson. Ok, so maybe I do want to win. Even if I have to play dirty.

Anyhow, go vote for World Wide Rant so Andy can wire me that five dollars. It's almost lunch time and I'm hungry.

note on video game voting

I won't be posting any new video game voting until tonight. Meanwhile, I've decided to leave the polls open for the latest vote, because it's such a heated contest. Right now it's between Pac-Man, Galaga, Joust and Space Invaders, but things can change quickly. You can also run a campaign for a write-in vote if you feel that strongly about Bezerk or Robotron or whatever other games you freaks keep writing me about.

ice, ice baby

I've got to get out of the house early today, as it will take me quite a while to unstick my car from the ice-encrusted driveway.

So, blogging later. But for now you may enjoy an oldie but goodie, keeping with the theme of video games, etc.

[yes, i already reprinted this just a short time ago, but i'm just going with a theme here and it would really throw my whole day off if i didn't post something before heading out the door]

she's a pinball wizard

I was about 13 years old when I first entered the Palace. I was a tag-a-long to an older friend who was going there just to score a nickel bag.

Pinball Palace was a small, almost hidden place, tucked between the Jerry Lewis Movie theater and a specialty bra shop. From the outside, it looked forbidden and dangerous, two things that combined to point a beckoning finger at me.

Gina opened the door and I followed, knowing that this was exactly the kind of place my parents warned me about.

As soon as we stepped inside my brain went into sensory overload. The smell hit me first; cigarettes and pot and teenage sweat swirling together in the dank heat of the Palace.

The noises. The clacking of pool bools as someone yelled break!; the dings and and whistles of the twenty or so pinball machines that lined the walls; the cursing of the bikers at the pool table; the jangling of quarters in the pockets of Levis; the fist banging on the glass as a machine cried out TILT! It was all underscored by Led Zeppelin's Trampled Under Foot shouting from the jukebox, and the combination of those sounds became my own Pied Piper, begging me to follow.

I was hesitant that first day and just hung in back of Gina while she made a deal with guy at the change counter. When she was done, we went behind the movie theater, smoked a joint, and then snuck in the back door of the theater. They were showing Shampoo. We watched Warren Beatty, naked on the floor and humping the daylights out the poor girl underneath him and all I remember is a person was watching them through a window and said something like "Now that's what I call fucking!" Gina sat gaping at the screen, taking in every word, every movement, probably taking notes in her head, and all I could think about was going back to Pinball Palace.

The next Saturday, Gina took me with her for another buy. This time, I brought quarters. While Gina flirted with her dealer, I made the walk towards the machine in the far corner. The Bally Wizard.

I slowly put the quarter in, knowing full well that I would become addicted to the flashing lights and turning numbers. The quarter dropped. I hit the reset button. The silver ball popped into place and I slowly pulled back the lever, feeling the resistance of the coiled spring. I let go. The tip of the lever and the metal ball connected and as that ball went around the curve on its journey towards the playing field, it took with it my grades, my social life, my allowance. From the first loud ding when the ball rang up my first score, I was obsessed.

My fingers worked the flippers as deftly as the lady in the school office worked the typewriter. I moved this way and that, swinging my hips and nudging the machine a little to the left, a little to the right, careful not to piss it off enough to make it tilt. My eyes darted between the ball and the scoreboard and my heart skipped a beat as I saw the paper taped to the top of the glass with the high scores for the week listed. My name would be up there one day. Yes, it would.

Gina had to drag me out of the Palace. Even when my quarters ran out, I wanted to stay and watch the masters play, the guys who turned over the numbers on the scoreboard, the guys who could smoke and drink and play at the same time.

And then it wasn't just Saturdays anymore. I started walking there after school. If Gina wouldn't go there was always someone else willing to hang out and watch me play pinball with me instead of going home. We would throw a few quarters into the jukebox (three plays for twenty five cents!), and play the same line up each time. Led Zeppelin. Todd Rundgren. Deep Purple.

Sometimes I would ask my mother for a ride to the library and when she pulled away after dropping me off, I would run across Front Street and duck into the Pinball Palace. I rationalized my lying. I wasn't out doing drugs - no respectable 13 year old considered pot a real drug, not when the bad kids were doing angel dust - and I wasn't out getting pregnant like Mrs. Winslow's daughter. I was just playing pinball.

The frequency of my trips to the Palace waned when winter dug its heels in and no one wanted to walk that far. Occasionally, we would get a ride to the movie theater and slip inside the Palace instead. Each time I walked through those doors was like the first; the smell, the sounds, the pumping of my adrenaline would all be new again.

They closed Pinball Palace before the good walking weather came back. Neighbors were complaining. Community action groups were picketing. Churches were praying for the souls of the kids caught up in the glare of those flashing lights. They claimed Pinball Palace was a haven for dirty, unkempt teenagers who cursed and drank and smoked. It was stealing the life and soul of the community's young adults.

And then, it was gone. I cried, I mourned, I laid in bed at night, my fingers twitching to imaginary flippers, the game playing out in my mind. We had to find another place.

That summer, my parents sprung the news on me that they were taking me out of the "terrible" public school system. They didn't like my friends. They didn't like my attitude. Catholic high school would surely lead me on the path to a righteous life. I would make new friends, they said, friends that wouldn't drag me to those filthy pinball places, friends who wore skirts and ties and gave their quarters to the collection basket instead of machines.

By the end of the second week at the new school, I had made a few new friends just like my parents wanted me to. Momlet me stay after school each day and take the late bus home, assured that I was sitting quietly in the cafeteria with my new virtuous friends studying and doing homework.

Not quite. See, the 7-11 across the street from school held a deep dark secret in its back corner. A Bally Wizard pinball machine. My new friends, who hated ties and skirts and hoarded their quarters like gold, would watch me play for hours each day, taking bets on whether I would break the high score or not. I had a following. I was the Pinball Wizard. Catholic school was working out just fine.

Sure, 7-11 wasn't quite the same as the smoke-filled palace. But Kevin did bring along a portable cassette player each day and we listened to Genesis and Todd Rundgren while I swished and swayed and occassionally tilted.

Pinball eventually gave way to other video games; Asteroids and Galaga and Space Invaders. Arcades started popping up everywhere. My pinball skills were no longer celebrated, I was a has-been, a thing of the ancient past.

I never regret all those hours and quarters spent feeding my pinball frenzy. I never regret the time spent learning the exact angles of each machine, or feeling the excitement when my name went up on the high score chart.

My mother always told me that I was wasting away my life playing those games, that I would never get anything useful out of it. Hah. What does she know? If it wasn't for those quick relfexes and incredible hand-eye coordination I developed at Pinball Palace, I would have never kicked my son's ass at House of Dead 2 the other day.

December 07, 2003

Video Hall of Fame Awards, Stage 3: The Rest of the Best of the Coin-Ops

This is the last coin-op entry, and then we move on to platforms (which will include the C64, Vic 20, etc. Won't somebody please help me break those things down into categories?).

There were too many nominated to get them all in the poll, so here are the most frequent nominees.

[Poll in extended entry]

You have the rest of the day to vote. We've got snowmen to build.


Video Hall of Fame, Category 2 Winner and new category

mm2.jpgWe have a clear winner in the Coin-Op Trackball category. Congratulations to Marble Madness.

I always loved the idea of Marble Madness but I couldn't play for more than five minutes. As soon as my marble went over the edge and into oblivion, I would get a sudden attack of vertigo. Yes, my fear of heights transcended into video games. Sad, I know.

Coming up later - most likely in the afternoon - will the Best of the Rest category, featuring all the other Coin-Op games in a death match battle. There's still time to make your nominations (see the others there). Just remember that we are honoring old school games, pre-Playstation. So anything coin-op before 1994 (but not vector or trackball games, because they've already had their moment) is good for this category.

december 7th: how long does infamy last, then?

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the "date that will live in infamy."

On Dec. 7, 1941, six Japanese aircraft carriers positioned 200 miles north of Oahu launched 181 attack planes toward the slowly waking port of Pearl Harbor and at U.S. military airfields elsewhere on the island. The two- stage attack killed 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians -- men, women and children.

Infamy, yes. Memory, perhaps not.

The anniversary of such an event should not pass unnoticed. I looked for stories today on the CNN and Fox websites. Nothing. I looked in Newsday, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Nothing.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

Attacked - suddenly, no warning - by a nation we were not at war with. Sound familiar?

I would hate to think that 60 years from now the annivesary September 11, 2001 will be noted by nothing more than small paragraphs in small town newspapers.

It seems almost absurd that this day, this date of infamy, would see the front page of media websites and newspapers boast headlines about Paris Hilton and the Miss World contest with no mention at all of Pearl Harbor. I thought one of the things we - meaning all Americans - took from that terrible incident was this: Never Forget.

So have we forgotten? Will we eventually forget 9/11 as well? Perhaps many years from now the 3,000 dead will, like the nearly 2,500 dead in 1941, be just a faded memory that gets a cursory recognition on the scrolling headline underneath the latest Hollywood scandal playing out on your 24 hour news channel.

If so, we have learned nothing from Pearl Harbor and nothing from September 11th.

Never forget.

December 06, 2003

logomania, part 2

So far, I've made Weblog Award buttons for Kelley, Allah, Andy and Erin. Erin's is all purpose. Anyone can use that.

[I put them all in the extended entry to be kind to dial-up users]

barry.gif[Erin]www.gif[Andy]
allah.gif[Allah]kelly.jpg[Kelley]

And Erin, in return, made this for me!
bestoverall_asv.gif


Oh, and I got my ass kicked at Yahtzee a few dozen times.

You have the rest of the night to vote for Stage 2 of the Video Game Awards (see post below). Stage 3 is tomorrow.

Video Hall of Fame Awards, Stage 2: Trackball Coin-Ops

games2.jpg





We have one more category to go on the Coin-Op (and that would "the rest of them") and then we'll start on the platform-based games. No idea how I'm going to split them up yet.


And the winner is (plus new category)

results.gif

Asteroids kicks the collective ass of everyone else.

I'm working on a separate Hall of Fame page and I'll make the gaming thing a separate category so all the entries will be in one place.

Now, for the next category. We're still working with Coin-Ops here, remember. This will be for trackball games. There's a lot of nominees here, but you can still make more suggestions on this post. Pre 1995 is the only requirement.

You have a little bit before I make the poll; I've just been challenged to a game of Yahtzee by my son.

logomania

I've had Photoshop open most of the day. I get that creative urge whenever I'm stuck in the house because there's fifteen feet of snow outside.

I'm honing my banner/button making skills. And I made this for anyone who is nominated in the Weblog Awards. I'm also taking requests. If you want a button or banner for the awards (vote for me, don't vote for me, I'll kill you if I don't win, It's great just to be nominated, etc.) just drop me a note. I'll be here all night.

Graphic below. Feel free to steal it. Save to your own server or I'll kill you faster than Eminem kills the president.

monk.gif

last word on eminem, plus video game voting

Dennis Dennehy, a spokesman for [Eminem], told CNN the song was not ready for release. "This was an unfinished song, either lost or stolen," Dennehy said. "There was no determination where, when, how or if it was going to be used."

It's also a pro-gun song. Put that in conservative pipe and smoke it.

You have a half hour left to cast your vote in the first category. Asteroids is kicking ass.

once more, with feeling

Fuck money. I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead.

There is no mention of Eminem wanting to personally kill the president himself. Which part of that do you not understand?

Furthermore, even if he did say he wanted to kill the president, it's music, people. It's a form of art, which is a form of self expression. Eminem haters, meet free speech. I don't believe you two are acquainted.

Hell, we might as well lock up Suicidal Tendencies. They are potential serial killers: I shot Reagan I shot Sadat...I shot Lennon, I shot the Pope.

Please, get over it. It's about the mad freestylin' skillz, yo.

Video Hall of Fame Awards, Stage 1: Vector Coin-Ops

Here's how this is going to work [if you're late to the party, see here for reference]

I'm dividing the Coin-Op Category into three sub categories. Don't ask how I came up with the subs. I'm not sure.

And the nominees are:


games.jpg

Vote early, vote often, vote with your heart, not with your head. It is now 1pm EST. Polls close...later. Some time today.

will the scandals ever stop?

SoldierGate

weather happens

The news channels have officially gone mad. My impression of CBS, NBC, ABC and The Weather Channel:

OH MY GOD, THERE IS WEATHER OUTSIDE! IT'S....IT'S....WEATHERING!

They are calling it a blizzard. They're broadcasting live from Home Depot and the Long Island Expressway and the Parks Department and 7-11, waving their microphones and hoping to catch a car accident on tape. Stay home! Death will surely ensue if you travel! Hide the children!

Me, I'm going to the dentist at 10:00. Blizzard, schmizzard.

I'm not saying that it's not dangerous out there but take heed, people. If you drive like an ass, bad things will happen to you today. And you will deserve them.

I'm going to try to get the first poll up before the inevitable happens and the cable modem goes out.

December 05, 2003

attention people who take things literally:

I really don't think Eminem meant what everyone thinks he meant. I believe it was just an easy way for him to make a play on words to fit with the rhyming. Hey, I'm not a huge Eminem fan, but I think some people are blowing this way out of proportion. I mean, the Secret Service? Come on. It's freaking song lyrics. Do you think that every band that sings about killing someone actually means it? It's songwriting. It's fiction. Let it go. You're all looking like a bunch fo knee-jerk reactionaries. And I'm talking to you, Bill O'Reilly. And several bloggers.

vote early, vote often, and don't forget about Pengo!

Don't forget to keep making your nominations here for best Coin-Op game. I'll be posting the five finalists tomorrow and then we'll move on to the next category. I still could use some help making the categories if anyone has suggestions. Still undecided on the platform/genre issue.

[Pengo]

poll position

Speaking of voting and such, go vote for you favorite bloggers over at Wizbang.


[click it]

Ok, I made that for Kevin but it just looks like crap when I try to resize it. I thought he wanted it for the top of the page, but he just wants if for the poll section. Every time I change the sizing, the graphics look like shit. I've never had this problem before and I can't figure out where I went wrong.

Anyone? Bueller?

Update: Thanks to Stacy who, as always, had the answer I needed.

Also, I am getting my ass kicked in the awards. Kottke? Please don't let me get beat by Kottke. Go vote for someone else ahead of me, just for the principal of it.

zaxxon and me

This one is for Jack, who nominated one of my favorite games, Zaxxon.

zax.jpgOnce upon a time, I worked at the Video Vault, which was one of the first video stores to open on Long Island. The Video Vault was located in the lobby of Modell's, which was then a Wal-Mart type store, not a sporting goods store.

Modell's, in their quest to attract dirtbag teens to their snack bar, which shared a lobby with the video store, installed some video games right at the entrance to the store. I think Tron was first, then Dragon's Lair, then Zaxxon.

I probably turned most of paychecks from VV into quarters and spent all of my break time - and time before and after work - playing Zaxxon.

My little anecdote about Zaxxon is this: The Clash song Rock the Casbah has some weird sound effects in it, and they sound so much like one of the sound effects from Zaxxon that every time I hear the song, I am back standing in Modell's, hand sweating, hunched over the Zaxxon machine and making bets with Pete the security guard that I could break the high score. And I always did.

You can find out more about Zaxxon here.

Video Hall of Fame, Category 1: Coin-Op Games

[ED NOTE 12/6: The nominations for VECTOR COIN-OP GAMES ONLY are closed. You are still welcome to leave nominations for all other coin-ops. To vote in the official poll for this category, go here]

I see I'm not the only one that drools over old video games, so I'm going to go ahead and start up the nominations for my awards/hall of fame type thing. I think this is much better than doing a year-end round up of my favorite things because, honestly, 2003 sucked for new music and music would have made up the bulk of my posts.

Anyhow. We're going to start by nominating Coin-Op stand alone games. Because I drew the cut-off line here at BP (Before Playstation), we'll keep it at before 1995, which is when Playstation was first distributed in the U.S. So, for this category:

I'll then whittle down your choices in each category to five, and have a poll for those five, and then we'll move on to other categories. If you have a suggestion for a category (for instance, should I break them down by type of game, or by platform?) just add it to the comments.

First Category: Coin-Op games before 1995.

Gentlemen (and women), start your nominations. And yes, you can nominate as many as you like.

the white stuff

So, they were right this time.

They've upped the prediction to eight inches, which is fine with me because being stuck in the house for a day or two means I can enforce slave labor on the kids and make them work for their food.

The only thing I'm not happy about is the potential for lots of wind and driving sleet, which means downed wires, no electricty, etc. Meanwhile, I have lots of time to sit here and ponder the meaning of life as viewed through old video games.

today's required reading

Sgt. Hook made me cry today. Go wish him well as he gets ready to head for Afghanistan for twelve months.

video game revolution (with hall of fame voting enabled)

Watching those wretched Video Game Awards last night - and breaking out in hives as they named Madden 2003 Game of the Year - kept me awake most of the night thinking about gaming. Yes, I actually lay there in bed, tossing, turning and cursing the video game industry.

Still harping on the subject today, I started a conversation with my fellow stunted-maturity victim Todd and we both came to the same conclusion. Old School beats New School when it comes to gaming.

Iíve had enough of 3D. Itís starting to bore me. Iím sick of first person shooters. I hate video games that spend too much time presenting themselves as slick CGI movies. Iím tired of the way they dick you around when you are buying a system, making you purchase your second controller extra or buying bundles with games you have no interest in playing or, in the case of the Game Boy Advance, having to purchase a light so you can play the damn thing without going blind. Most of all, I hate that the industry has become nothing but a relationship between whores and pimps.To wit: Two whores for the price of one today: IGN and GameSpy are merging. That means one less place you can go to for biased reviews of games, paid for by advertising from the companies who make the games that are being reviewed. Pity.

I am going to start a revolution, even if itís a revolution of one. I am going to drag my Super NES and my Sega Genesis out of the closet. Hell, Iíll even break out the Atari. Iím forsaking 3D rendered worlds for the flat world of Mario and Luigi. Iím kicking out all the half-dressed babes and macho men for the simple world of Pole Position. I want controllers that donít have as many buttons as the space shuttle. I want cheat codes that consist of U-D-R-D. I want cartridges that take a beating and keep on ticking. Come on, how cool was it to be able to attach Sonic & Knuckles to Sonic 3? I want simple midi music and cheesy looking characters. I want Pitfall Harry and poorly rendered spaceships. I want to waste hours upon hours playing Dr. Robotnikís Mean Bean Machine or Castlevania. And I donít want your new-fangled 3D super spectacular improved and anatomically correct Mario or Zelda. I want a scrolling flat screen, a simple controller. I may even search the attic for my C64 and Vic 20 and rescue Leisure Suit Larry from oblivion.

Join my revolution. Tell John Madden and his over hyped games to take a hike. Bring back the Tecmo Super Bowl!

So what am I going to do about this but have a revolution from my living room? Iím going to make my own awards. Simple, easy and no David Spade or Missy Elliot to distract you from the real issue at hand. The award will be called the Old School Video Game Hall of Fame Recognition (for lack of something more creative at the moment).

Make your nominations below. Nominate as many as you want. The only rule is, the game has to be for older platforms, meaning Sega Genesis, NES, N64, Atari, C64 or, basically, anything before the Playstation came out.

snow job

Yes, there were server problems this morning and the site was down for a while. Life goes on.

So, what did I do with that extra half hour I usually set aside each morning for reading blogs and coming up with my morning post? I watched New York go into Defcon 1 (Snow Version).

thehorror.jpgYes, the world is ending! Gather the kids, head for the shelter and most of all, PANIC! Up to six inches of snow - that's right, Six Freaking Inches! My god, a small child could drown in that. Animals could get lost. We could all be stuck in our houses for at least several hours. Hours? What will we do? Cabin Fever awaits!

The morning news shows have already kicked into high gear. Storm Watch! Blizzard Alert! Friday Flurries! Saturday Snowstorm! Everyone, run out and get your snow shovels and halite and run to Old Navy to take advantage of their
sale on hats and mittens. And the milk! Don't forget to run to your nearest grocery store and use your cart to knock down old ladies and toddlers so you can reach that elusive gallon of milk. Then fight the old man in aisle one for a loaf of bread and stock up on batteries and tissues and bottled water.

This is all for a possible six inches. That's half a foot. Sure, this storm has nor'easter potential, which means lots of wind and maybe some driving sleet, but it's really not a panic situation. Getting stuck in your house for 24 hours at the most, before those plows hit your street, is not the end of the world. You will not starve to death. You will not die of thirst. You will not witness the demise of your family structure as the cabin fever and delirium sets in and you start
eyeing each other as hamburgers and hot dogs and your grandfather reaches for the machete with a wicked grin on his face.

Look at it this way. We all get to use the four wheel drive on our SUVs, thus justifying the existence of SUVs on Long Island for another year.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. I've got a ton of books waiting to be read and an economy size box of hot chocolate just sitting on the counter waiting to be called to duty.

[note: if you sent me email sometime in the past few hours to either the asv or command post mail, please resend]

December 04, 2003

worst. awards show. ever.

Considering that the video game industry has been the whipping boy of lawyers, parents and the moral masses lately, the Video Game Awards playing out on Spike TV tonight was not a very a good idea. Lots of beeped out words, half naked girls, guys showing their dicks and sex, sex, sex.

This ought to set back the PR machine about 10 years. Sometimes I long for the days of my Commodore 64.

show and tell, part 3

Everyone once in a while I like to exhibit my husband's art. If he lets me. This was his experiment with using pieces of old cardboard boxes as a canvas.

I think I dated this guy once.


[click for bigger image]

thursday is acid keg day

ak1.jpg

Hmm..you mean Florida wasn't Hell all along?

tonight's mailbag: barking up the wrong tree

I get mail, and some of it is idiotic.

Just because someone happens to be on my blogroll does not mean that I agree 100% with his or her views on life, politics, religion, sports or even comic strips.

If a person on my blogroll happens to say some rather rabid, foaming at the mouth, juvenile things on his/her own blog or in the comments on someone else's blog, I am not guilty by association. I am also not responsible for the things they write and no, I will not defend his/her words nor will I have a talk with him/her about their attitude. If this person wishes to continue making a fool out of him/herself then, by all means, let them at it.

I have a hard enough time keeping myself in line without babysitting other bloggers who rant and rave and wish death upon people. In fact, I do not even have a formal relationship with the person in question, so it would be quite presumptious of me to email this person and complain about their style.

I address this issue here, out in the open, because the email I received just now is not the first to bring up this subject and this particular blogger.

News flash, kids: "Warbloggers" don't have some secret membership club. We don't all know or even talk to each other (well, maybe there is a secret membership club and I wasn't invited). What one does is not indicative of what another feels.

I do understand part of the reason why the lot of you have emailed me. Sure, it's ok for you to ask if my opinion is the same as this person's. But don't assume it is. Not all "warbloggers" are made alike. Some of us know when to keep our barking down.

essential media 2003: the lists of the lists of lists

I'm making some lists and checking them twice. Lists of lists, that is.

It's time for that ubiquitous year-end roundup of everything and anything. Not being one to do things the plain, tired way, I'm going to make different kinds of lists. Sure, they'll still be about the same things, but it will be more fun to read. Rolling Stone is too snobbishly indie with their lists and People Magazine is too "beautiful people" for me.

Oh yes, I talked about this already, didn't I? You can just go there to see what I'm talking about.

Anyhow, the list making begins tonight tomorrow and continues on a not-so-regular basis until I'm done.

I'll be compiling all of the lists - mine and yours - and putting them into one large, ribbon-wrapped package in January, so you can, at the click of a link, look back in wonder on 2003 and maybe cry some bitter tears at how good the world of entertainment used to be and how crappy it is now, or you can just look back on 2003 and say, yea, that's the year I fell in love with Gollum.

Whatever floats ya.

I'm going to start with Most Disappointing Records of the Year, Not Including Anything That You Thought Would Be Disappointing To Begin With and Not Including Anything American Idol Related. While my list may be extensive, you are limited to one, but you may write as much as you want about it. That means now. I'll be working on mine.

Grammy day: what's old is new again

Dear Grammy Nomination Committee,

Fountains of Wayne released their first album (self-titled) in 1996. Their second album, Utopia Parkway, was released in 1999 and contained the college radio hit Denise. Their new album, Welcome Interstate Managers, would therefore be their third - and worst - album.

So, can you please explain to me how Fountains of Wayne qualifies for Best New Artist? Yes, I understand that your definition of 'new artist' is a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist, but I am not sure what qualifies as "public identity" for this purpose. Call me crazy, but I think a band that is on its third release on a major label (Atlantic and Virgin) just doesn't get the new label.

Also, your Best Female Rock Performance category nominees include Pink and Avril Lavigne. Didn't you mean to put them in the Pop category? Please tell me this was a mistake on your part.

Well, at least there was no Jethro Tull in the metal category, I'll give you that much. But what I really want to know is, did all of you on the committee really sit around and listen to that whole Nickelback album? If so, you have my sympathies.

Not for nothing, but I haven't taken the Grammy Awards seriously in years. I give more credence to Howard Stern's annual award show than I do yours.

Just saying.

M

something is afowl: the hoax of the century

My god, stop the presses! Call out the investigative reporters! Set up a special commission! THE TURKEY WAS FAKE!

Apparently this is big news of a big scandal according lefty bloggers and reporters.

[click for bigger image]The beautifully presented turkey that Bush appeared to be presenting to soldiers during his Thanksgiving visit to Iraq was not, in fact, real. Nevermind that "They said the bird was not placed there in anticipation of Bush's stealthy visit, and military sources said a trophy turkey is a standard feature of holiday chow lines." [emphasis added]

Well, if the turkey wasn't real then the whole thing is a sham, right? This makes Bush a pathological liar. The natural order of progression from a fake turkey would be to believe that the whole trip was fake, that Bush's emotions during his speech were fake and that the soldiers weren't really happy to see him - all those smiles and all that applause was just, you got it, fake.

In fact, I myself have uncovered evidence that the whole trip was just a put-on. That was not Iraq you saw on the television. It was actually a sound stage in Hollywood. No, it was a hangar! The same one where that fake moon landing was filmed. All those soldiers were just SAG extras, earning some overtime holiday pay. And - hold onto your hats - the bird was not only made of paper mache and paint, but it had a small digital readout display embedded in its breast so that Bush could read his carefully crafted lines to the "troops" assembled before him. Look at the evidence!

What an elaborate tale we weave when the public we deceive. But who's deceiving who? Was Bush really performing the equivalent of telling a lie when he held that turkey platter, or is it the reporters and bloggers who are making such a huge stink about a fowl that are dabbling in deceit? After all, making a fake turkey out to be a scandal is pretty much a lie in itself.

many thanks

Thank you to everyone who responded to Gene the vet's plea for help. You people never cease to amaze me with your generosity and willingness to to help others. I will forward all of your offers to Lou Dolinar and he will contact you further.

While I'm on the subject of thanks, everyone who responded to my quest for knowledge about Lyndon Johnson: you were very helpful. I'm going to head to the bookstore during lunch today and purchase some of the books you mentioned; I'm also going to listen to those tapes on C-Span. Thanks for that link, Ed.

December 03, 2003

a veteran's call for help

Lou Dolinar of Newsday (and an official Friend of Bloggers) forwarded the following email to me, hoping that someone reading this can help a veteran out:

Lou, I am a 72 year old veteran who was stationed in Trieste from 1952-54. Am also the secretary of the NE Chapter of the 88th Div. We were known as TRUST TROOPERS, TRUST being a synonym for TRieste United States Troops. We were the replacements for last remnant of the 88th. Div.-from WW Two who had fought from Sicily to Trieste.

Lt. Col. Tom Cohoon Retired, started an impressive Web Page Oldsoldiershome.com some time ago to attract those Veterans who had been TRUST TROOPERS. I believe he is self taught as he tells me he had to learn HTML himself.

At this time he is reaching out for members to either help him with his Pages or to take it over completely. Where would I get started to learn the basics of Web Page management in order to keep this site alive a bit longer? Courses in a local schools, Reading, Library or whatever?

I have an eMac G4- OSX 10.2.8 - 256 MG - 1 GHz with DSL hookup. Although I have been Mac owner for 10 years I am a rank amateur to Web Page Management. I mostly use my computer for word processing and e-mail to my friends.

War is not the worst thing; The worst thing would be to forget those Veterans of the 88th who made the ultimate sacrifice. I would like to keep the memories of Trieste and our unit alive a bit longer. Any advice or direction you can give will be appreciated.

GENE Bily

If anyone can help Gene out, or if you know of someone who would be willing to help Gene keep that site alive, please leave a comment saying so and I'll contact you. Thanks.

please hold

All circuits are busy right now. Your call will be answered in the order it was received. Some portions of your call may be recorded because Ashcroft says we can do that.

While you are holding, please enjoy our theme song.

Faith No More - A Small Victory

QOD

The question of the day returns, this time with a purpose which will not be revealed until later. After lunch. Where a big giant cup of hot steaming coffee with some kind of liquor added into it awaits me.

So, the question:

Is one ever to old to rock and roll?

See here for reference, ponder the questions that arise and I'll have more on the subject when I get back.

Pretend Peace Sells, and Powell's Buying

Powell intends to meet with Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed-Rabbo, the Israeli and Palestinian ďrepresentativesĒ who met - unofficially - to stage peace talks.

Beilin and Rabbo, along with notorious left wingnut Amram Mitzna, met Monday in Geneva to sign a prototype peace deal, though none of them are really sanctioned to do so. The ďpeace dealĒ is backed by such stalwarts as Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela.

If a "deal" like this was to happen within the United States, it would be a violation of the Logan Act. Colin Powell, by meeting with these two men, is validating an agreement that should not be validated, especially by a member of the United States government, where such "deals" are prohibited.

This puts Bush in a quandry. Does he publicly dress down Powell for seeking an audience with two people who are entering into a non-binding peace agreement, or does he sidestep a bit and pretend to condone Powell's actions? You either have an administration that comes out looking like its in disarray or you have a president who is going to lose a lot of votes next year by - for all intents and purposes - standing side by side with Carter and Mandela.

In today's New York Post, Eric Fettman weighs in on the Logan Act and Carter and Bill Clinton supporting the Geneva peace accord:

Which makes you wonder why both former presidents enthusiastically endorsed the so-called Geneva Initiative for the Middle East that was signed amid much hoopla Tuesday in a ceremony emceed by that renowned international diplomat, Richard Dreyfuss.

What is Powell thinking by virtually shaking hands with an idea that basically support terrorism?

This document, in other words, would obligate Israel to undertake far-reaching territorial concessions in return for non-recognition of its status as a Jewish state, an open-ended "right" of Arabs to resettle in Israel and no guarantee that terrorism will be halted.

This is just another way to get peace on Arafat's terms. Which means no dismantling of Hamas and other terrorist organizations. It means a continuation of suicide bombings. It means more concessions from Israel and another clean slate for Arafat.

I am continually perplexed by the hand slapping Arafat and his crew get for their brutal acts of terrorism. Until the Palestians are forced to stop peddling death as the answer to everything, Israel should not give into any concessions.

For now, Powell should be taken to task for getting involved in this sham of a peace process at all, and Bush should make it clear that Powell was acting on his own. Even if it makes the administration look shaky, it's better than looking like you stand in line with Clinton, Carter and Mandella by supporting terror.

inside baseball

First and foremost: Carnival of the Vanities, at Begging to Differ. Really good stuff this week, as always.

I know I said I didn't do award shows, but I lied because I did vote in John Hawkins's poll for this year. It's the 2003 Warblogger Awards, which is pretty damn specific so no one can shout at the awards being biased or leaving someone out because it shows its bias right in the title! Anyhow, I have to say that I was very surprised to have won the top spot for Best Looking Blog. Considering this is my first attempt at designing and coding a site myself, I am honored. Though I must point out that the inspiration for this design came from Kitty at Miz Dos. And hey, I moved up one spot from last year in the Best Blog Overall category, and Command Post finished fourth for Best Group Blog. Congrats to all the winners and thanks to all the voters. Despite my protestations, which are basically borne from my inability to accept compliments without wanting to crawl under a rock, it really is nice when your peers - in this case, fellow warbloggers - admire your work. So, thanks.

On other blogging notes, there are few things I've been meaning to say:

1. Trackbacks have a purpose. That purpose is NOT to tell another blogger that you wrote about the same thing as them. The purpose is to tell another blogger that you referenced a specific post of theirs. It really irritates me to get trackbacks, go the site in question, and see that the post they tracked was not referenced at all. Trackbacks are not a notification list. They are not to be used in lieu of an email saying, hey you may be interested in something I wrote. They are not to be used to say, hey, why don't you link me?

2. My comments are not here for your PR purposes. I really don't mind fellow bloggers leaving links to their blogs in the comments when that link is relevant. In fact, I encourage it. However, do not abuse my comments in such a way that every, single comment you leave has a link to something you wrote in it. That makes me think you are using my blog as a platform for yours. Stop it now or you will be banned.

3. I get a couple of hundred pieces of mail every day, not including Nigerian scams and Britney Spears begging me for sex. Please do not be offended if I don't use your link, suggestion or quote your email. Sometimes 20 people will send me the same link and I can't credit everyone when I use that link. And I know there are a million carnivals going around now and linkfests and link lists and round robin, double elimination, fight to the death contests and collections of links that everyone wants other people to write about and honestly, I can't do them all. If you'll notice, my blogging has been relatively sparse lately (considering that I used to post about 20 times a day). Tis the season to be busy. I link CotV every week because that's the one I participate in. It's the first and orignal link fest and I'll stick with that. And on the subject of emails, I am way, way behind and I am trying to return every single one. I will never delted an email just because I have more than I can answer. I read every single one and I will write you back eventually, even if its a month later.

4. Again, comments. I reserve the right to think that you are too much of an asshole to appear in my comments again and thus, I will ban your ass if you misbehave. It is unlikely that you will be unbanned because you have to be a really big asshole to begin with if you've angered me enough to get rid of you.

5. If I make a veiled reference to another blogger, or even a vague reference, please don't email me and ask who I'm talking about. If I wanted to be specific, I would have been.

6. I think that's it for now. I may change my mind, depending on how cranky I get during the day.

still there

I thought I was over it. I thought the fear had packed its bags and left me for a person less rational than I. But there it was yesterday, sharp and clear; my fear of low-flying planes.

The fear came, naturally, after 9/11. It's a bad fear to have when you live so close to a major airport. The planes fly low all the time; I swear I can make out faces in the little windows sometimes. The sound drowns out the television, makes you shout to be heard.

After that first week or so when there wasn't a single airplane in the sky, the absence of noise from above became somehow worse than noise itself. And then the planes came back and the skies were filled with traffic again and I, like so many other people, cowered in fear every time the underbelly of a jet made an appearance above me.

Eventually - more than a year later, actually - the fear subsided and it dawned on me that a traffic heavy sky was a good sign. As long as the planes were flying and airports were open, all was right in America. There had been no sudden attacks that would shut us down again.

Cut to yesterday, driving home from work. A cold, but bright and sunny day. Winter in the air, Christmas on my mind, a good song on the radio. So hakuna mattata.

See, the odd thing about the planes is how they seem to appear out of nowhere. The noise, the rumbling ground is just suddenly upon you, sometimes jolting you out of whatever state of reverie or spacing out you may be in. Yesterday, it was more than a jolt. It was a bullet. I was stopped at a traffic light, fooling around with the radio stations and it was just there. The roar, the pounding in my stomach as if some bass-heavy song was thumping on the stereo and then my instinct, as always, to look up.

The jet was right above me, dark against the bright sky, tons of metal screeching through the air. Something snapped inside my brain, perhaps a fragment of a memory of a fear that I thought was safely sent packing and I froze. I felt the familiar palipitations of my heart, the quickening of my pulse, the dryness in my mouth. I stared at the plane, craning my neck to follow its path and I had a vision of it crashing into some building, any tall building, taking it down with a purpose and vengeance. It just seemed so low. So huge. So ominous.

The light turned green and I pulled into the CVS parking lot on my left. I took some deep breaths. In with the good, out with the bad. I pulled myself together and headed towards home again, with the metallic taste of fear still in my mouth.

I felt somewhat ashamed that, two years later, I still have this notion that planes are evil weapons of mass destruction, that I still had this anxiety and stress swimming in my head when people who were there, right at those buildings, right at that street, even inside the buildings, and not watching from a distance, seeing the smoke in the air as almost a secondary event, are able to look at planes without flinching. And then it hit me, again. Another one of those clarifying, defining moments.

I will never get over it.

December 02, 2003

the monkey made me do it

Kevin's got some 2003 Weblog Awards going on. I'm not much into participating in award events, as I have been soured on them and besides, I am no good at singling out people and I'd feel much better if I could just give everyone an award for something, which may appear to be very liberal at the outset, until you realize that some of the awards would be titled "Biggest Asshole on the Internet Ever," which would probably go to Dvorak or perhaps a host of other people, self included, but, as I said, I'm not going to do any nominating or voting, at least that I would let you know about (so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, again), but I told Kevin I would make a logo and wouldn't you know, as soon as I sat down to make the logo, that evil monkey that lives in my closet started talking to me again, and he made me promise that I would put him into the logo, so there he is and yea, I still don't know how to make borders on an image in Photoshop.

Right now, there's an ad on that page of Kevin's, and there's a guy in the ad with a really cute smile so I keep reloading the page, hoping that he'll wink at me. Nope, he winked at the monkey.

Man, I need some sleep.

could gandalf be next?

His confidence bolstered by the support from Grandfather Twilight, Denis Kucinich seeks the elusive Santa endorsement.

LBJ, IRT, USA, LSD* or All I need to know about LBJ I learned from bloggers

For some unfathomable reason, I have developed an obession with Lyndon B. Johnson.

lbj.jpgIt started innocently enough. I was reading Nelson DeMille's Up Country, which, in part, deals with the Vietnam War. As always happens when I read a book with some factual base, I become obsessed with research. So I began reading about the Vietnam War, digging up old articles, taking books out of the library and generally not watching Apocalypse Now.

My Vietnam War research came in handy when people start comparing Iraq to that war. At least I was able to compare and contrast with the confidence gained from my new knowledge (I had studied the Vietnam War before, but at the time - many, many years ago, during my No Nukes phase - I was a bleeding heart liberal and studied the war through the blood-colored glasses of propaganda).

So, inevitably, my Vietnam War obessesion led me to wanting to delve into the life and times of LBJ. As luck would have it, Path to War was available on demand (on my digital cable box), so I watched that - twice- and mentioned it to my father during Thanksgiving dinner, who then gave me a book he had coincidentally just finished; Means of Ascent. I finished the book yesterday, and it pretty much confirmed my view that LBJ was an arrogant bastard. While his domestic policies were admirable - he did a lot for racial equality, even though I believe it was grudgingly done - everything else about him was false. His presidency was filled with lies and deception.

The only thing I remember about Lyndon Johnson was his presidential funeral. I vaguely remember watching television and seeing some kind of procession go by the White House. I was seven when he left office, too young to have cared about world and domestic affairs. I was eleven when he died, still too young for him to have mattered much to me.

I want to know more. But I want to hear it from people, not books. That means you. I want to know everything about him and his presidency and his wartime policies and strategy. Did you like him? Did you hate him? What did he bring to Americans? What did he take away? Am I wrong to come away with a feeling that he was a major hardass, a liar, a phony and a creep?

If you could recommend any further reading on LBJ, I would appreciate it. (My library seems to stock books that are older than the Pope, and the reference librarian is nothing more than an old man with a computer database). I'd like to read books that show different sides of LBJ, from different points of view. Mostly, though, I want to know what you all think of the man. Hopefully, I will get opinions from all sides of the political spectrum.

Thank you in advance for indulging my research-specific obsessive-compulsiveness.

*[see here for reference]

deck the halls....

with Ivins, Molly.

That's what I was singing all day. Don't know how it got in my head.

i have been to heaven

And it's name is Cold Stone Creamery. I pity the person who does not have one near their home.

I got a pint each of: this, this and this.

Like the name implies, they mix the ice cream on a cold stone. They smush all the ingredients together and mix it up until it is a soft, creamy, consistency. As each spoonful goes down your throat you can't help but compare the experience to having an orgasm.

I am going to make love to my ice cream now.

buddy holly?

[No time for bloggin', Dr. Jones]

Deck the halls with.....

the he-womyn's men hater's club (Vassar Campus)

Doctor Grosz has the sentence of the day:

Honestly, the only difference between the Religious Right and the (Post) Modern Liberal is a pair of clunky black shoes, a Wilco record and the support of Michael Moore (which, in this day and age, is a mixed-blessing for either side).

What has the good Doctor in such a state? He's been censored.

My latest painting to be installed in the Vassar College Media Cloisters was removed with extreme prejudice under the pressure of the Women's Studies Department. Now, if you haven't seen the painting yet, or if you're simply a Vassar student who has learned how to use The Internet to explore the World Wide (Oppression Free) Web, I would encourage you to view the piece as seen here and here.

He never even heard directly from the Women's Studies Department. He just found out by word of mouth that, in so many words, as a white man, he is a dominating force in the art world and therefore guilty of providing the world with mis-interpretations of the female form.

I'd write to the Women's Studies Department and complain, but then they would just accuse me of being a traitor to womenhood or something. Hey, how come it's not the Womyn's Studies Department?

And Doc is absolutely spot on. Though the reasons for wanting such a painting taken down is different for each side, both the far right and the far left would find the painting offensive. Frankly, I find hardline feminists and those who make up the moral patrol offensive. Which is probably why I hate people in general.

[ed note: this post has been edited for accuracy]

capturing the moment

Very busy at work. Oh, an editor from Reader's Digest is going to call me this morning to talk about one of my posts from Raising Hell. He may want to use it for a new section in RD, or at least quote me on it.

So, while I clear my desk and anxiously await the phone call, I'll just repeat the post in question, which I wrote on Mother's Day of 2002 and which is one of the few things I've written that I actually printed out and put into a notebook. Just to keep reminding myself of certain things.

Defining Moments

My defining moment as a mother came in 1994, when DJ was 18 months old. I was standing in the cold, bare hallway of a hospital, listening to my child wail and scream from behind a closed door. He was getting a spinal tap and I swear that the needle they were using was larger than he was. They wouldn't let me in the room. It was 1am and I stood in the hallway, pacing and crying and listening. Suddenly the crying stopped. I panicked, thinking they had done something terrible to my child. I ran down the hallway and looked in the tiny window on the door. A nurse was holding DJ, soothing him, rocking him and singing to him. He was cradled in her arms, wearing nothing but a diaper and a scowl. As she rocked him, the scowl turned to a half grin and he fell asleep, his face pressed against her chest.

It was then I realized a number of things.

That I could not always make it all better. Sometimes, someone else besides mommy would be there for my kids, wiping their spills and putting band-aids on their knees.

That this would not be the last time that I felt that sense of helplessness with one of my children. Motherhood is rife with helplessness. From infancy to adulthood, there are moments where you can only stand by as your children combat broken hearts, broken dreams and failed attempts. And all you can do is hug them and listen to them and know in your aching heart that they are learning how to cope.

That you feel every single things your kids feel. When they are getting a shot, you feel that pain in your arm. When they fall off their bike, you feel their scrapes. Your heart sinks after every missed free throw and strike out, after every break up and denied college application.

That you can only protect them so much. You can keep them from crossing busy streets and make them wear helmets and seatbelts. You can get them immunizations and make sure they wear their hat when it's cold out. You can protect them physically, but you cannot put a helmet or a seat belt on their hearts and souls. You can only hold their hand and offer them worn out cliches about time healing old wounds.

That no matter what, no matter what trouble they cause you, what backtalk they give you, that you will love them fiercely and unconditionally and forever. That you will still walk into their bedroom at 1am just to make sure they are breathing, even when they are in their teens. And you will look at their faces and listen to their soft dreaming sighs and your heart will fill with smiles.

That there will be times, many times, when you hate being a mother. When you can't make it all better and when there is too much whining and not enough cooperation and lost homework and messy rooms, and you run into your room and slam the door and wish you could do it all over again. And then you realize. If you could do it all over again, you would be doing this very thing.

observation

The worst invention of the last century is the car alarm.

ho ho ho and the patriot act to you!

Running later than usual, blogging later.

Meanwhile, Santa has hired Rumsfeld as his Director of Security, Production and Beatings. He makes his first appearance today.

it's sort of sweet that the NYT quotes me in a paragraph about bill

[Considering he is obsessed with me]

So Bill gets mentioned in the New York Times (though they don't provide a link) for his recent post on the war between Long Island and Connecticut. And hey, they used MY motto that I posted in Bill's comments.

The one they quoted was: Long Island: Come have some cawfee at our mawls! Which really had nothing to do with the rivalry with that little, snobby state of Connecticut. For those who think CT has it all over Long Island, to those whose snobbery can be felt across the Long Island Sound, I have only two words for you: Hartford. Whalers.

December 01, 2003

caption, please

Dick Gephardt, master of his domain.


You need to click and see the large version to really appreciate the photo.

stranger than fiction

I suppose it was inevitable. Or perhaps it had already happened but this just hammers home the point.

Ladies and gentlemen, Denis Kucinich's mind has left the building.

antici....pation

AP Magazine unveils it's choice for the most anticipated album of 2004.

In a year which will see Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, Beatsie Boys, Queens of the Stone Age and Ben Folds all release albums, AP chooses Good Charlotte for its honor.

Excuse me while I weep.

(Anyhow, I am anticipating MTX's release more than anything)

And here, I announce the least anticipated album of 2004: WASP. As if that wasn't bad enough, it's a two part concept album! Why, Jeebus? What have we done to deserve such wrath?

more disney fallout

[Continuing from this discussion this morning]

Director Stanley Gold resigned from the Disney board this morning, just one day after Roy Disney resigned (or was forced into retirement, depending on how you look at it).

Following in Roy Disney's footsteps, Gold also called for Michael Eisner to resign.

"It is clear to me that this board is unwilling to tackle the difficult issues I believe this company continues to face -- management failures and accountability for those failures, operational deficiencies, imprudent capital allocations, the cannibalization of certain Company icons for short-term gain, the enormous loss of creative talent over the last years, the absence of succession planning and the lack of strategic focus," Gold wrote.

In other words, Eisner has shaped Disney into his own image and, in the process, has cut the animation giant off at the knees. I restate my declaration from this morning: If Eisner stays on, Disney will sink with him.

look who's back

Back again...

The Santa Blog is back. Hide the women and children.

[Anyone waiting for an email regarding HHHS is going to have to be patient. I won't be able to work on anything until later tonight. Also, I hate to say it, I have limited logins to people who are already bloggers. I don't want to discriminate against non-bloggers, but I don't have the time to guide anyone through Moveable Type at the moment]

war, sport and ugly names

Sure, it's a great thing that U.S. forces killed or captured over 60 Fedayeen members. The Fedayeen are the scum of the earth - they are the ones who carried out Saddam's plans for torture, rape and murder.

However, I think it really does the right a disservice to refer to the firefight with such vim and vigor, to mark the deaths of Saddam's goons as if one were keeping score in a basketball game. Calling them camel-fuckers or towelheads or whatever term you are using. When you call them such names, you are referencing people who are indiginous to that area. It is a derrogatory name and, no matter how you feel about those that are members of the Fedayeen, using those terms is an insult to everyone of the same race.

I think those words make their users look . This is not about political correctness so much as it is about looking ignorant and childhish. When I read those words, I imagine a ten year old boy shouting them. I don't know, an adult using those words to describe someone of a certain race, religion or color just strikes me as ignorant and childish and is borne of the same juvenile use of language that so many on the right accuse the left of using.

War is not a game. One does not keep score or carve a notch in your weblog for every dead enemy. War may be necessary, but it is ugly, brutal and mostly barbaric and not something to make sport of. Let's count the Iraqis that have been saved rather than the enemies that have been killed.

memo to michael eisner: it's the story, stupid

Item: Roy Disney resigns, tells Eisner he should be the one going.

dispix.gifDuring the great revival of Disney movies, starting in 1989, the studio released the following movies: The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. These movies were beautiful in both story and animation.

In what can only be viewed as a greedy rush to cash in on the newfound success of the studio, Disney subsequently released the following movies: Pocahontas, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo And Stitch and Treasure Planet. None of them enjoyed the box office success of the previous movies, nor did the merchandise tie-ins fare as well. Inevitably, heads rolled, changes were made, employees of the studio left in droves and it all seemed very much like Eisner was blaming the animators when, in fact, it was the stories, the writing, that made the films seem devoid of life.

During that time, Disney entered into a five film contract with Pixar Studios, which gave us the the wonderful tales of Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. The contract will be fulfilled with The Incredibles and Cars, in 2005. The contract started after Toy Story was released, so that doesn't count, and, much to Pixar's chagrin, sequels (which Disney owns the rights to), don't count. Which means we can look ahead to some beautifully animated but devoid of any real content films like Toy Story 3.

Disney's 2D studio is gone, closed down (though they do have one last-ditch effort at hand drawn animation coming out). The Disney animation studio is going all CGI now, in what one supposes is an effort to keep up with the times. Eisner has yet to figure out that while 3D animation is great, no one will want to sit through it if the storytelling is flat. 3D movies with Disney writers will be like the hot chick with no brain. Sure, you'll stare at her, maybe even drool, but as soon as she opens her mouth, you get turned off.

Pixar could still renew their contract with Disney, but I wouldn't bet on it. The success of Finding Nemo alone should give Pixar the balls to venture out and find another studio to work with. Sure, they may end up staying with Disney but, if they don't, Disney will be left with nothing but a lot of memories and a pile of straight-to-video sequels that just won't hold a candle to what other studios (i.e., DreamWorks) are doing.

Eisner needs to bring Disney back to what it did best; telling a good story with sweeping, gorgeous animation. If Eisner thinks that it can't be done anymore, I have just two words for him: Spirited Away. He should be familiar with it, anyhow. Disney distributed the movie in the U.S. And if Eisner keeps up this charade of pretending to know what's best for the studio, they will be relegated to nothing more than a distributor of films far better than anything they've made since Lion King.

[Drudge link via OW]

do you have the time?

Five people worldwide die of AIDS every minute of every day. HIV has hit every corner of the globe, infecting more than 42 million men, women and children, 5 million of them last year alone.

Today is World AIDS day. Some AIDS figures:

  • People newly infected with HIV in 2002: 5 million
  • AIDS deaths in 2002: 3 million...that's over 8,000 deaths per day
  • Estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2002: 42 million
  • Total of AIDS deaths at the end of 2002: 28.1 million
  • Total number of AIDS orphans: 13.2 million

See World AIDS Day for more information. Go to Link and Think to help spread awareness about AIDS.

Links:

aids action
stutends global aids campaign
treatment action group
visual aids
positive visions
artists with aids

josh
an hiv positive teacher living with aids
a survivor's perspective
phil's story
autumn farewell
elegy for john patrick montgomery

Allison passes along this link: UN recruits Israeli activist as AIDS campaigner.

Jonathan passes along this link: href="http://fightaidsathome.scripps.edu/">Fight AIDS At Home and says "It's one of those things where you can help by doing virtually nothing. It's just very much under advertised."