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May 29, 2004

moving forward

This is the last post I will make from this house, except for a Memorial Day post I have set to go. I've been here 14 years and one month. When I first moved here, Natalie was an infant. In between then and now, I had another child, got divorced and got remarried. There's a whole lot of history - good and bad - in this place. The thing I will miss the most is having my parents across the street. Oh, we're only moving about six or seven blocks away but the convenience factor of having one's parents across the street can't be beat. On second thought, the irritation factor can't be beat, either. At least now, we'll be close enough to still bum a meal off of my parents, but not close enough so that they are all up in my face all the time. This house - the one I'm leaving - is situated in what we call the compound. It's a corner house and on either side of the home is a relative. Or two or three. So all the yards - from two houses down to the west and the house to the north, all conjoin in some way to form a really big complex of yards and homes. At any given time, there are about ten kids outside, plus various aunts, uncles, cousins and other assorted relatives. It's great when you want to have a family gathering, but other than that, it pretty much sucks. Especially when your family is as nosy as mine. So this flight from "the compoud" rings like freedom. No more aunt and uncle upstairs; that would be the batty uncle who does nothing but scream and curse all day and the aunt who has sneezing fits that last up to an hour. This is the same uncle whose hobby is feeding birds, thus turning our yard into a wildlife sanctuary filled with birds and squirrels who never, ever shut up. No more aunt next door who constantly wants to know what we are doing and why we are doing it. No more little cousins running back and forth by the doorway. No more mental self-torture of comparing myself on a daily basis to the fitter, happier, more productive cousins next door. Now, my yard is mine. No sharing, no dibs on whose friends were playing out on the lawn first. Oh, and no more idiot across the street who revs his truck engine for at least a half hour every morning before he leaves for work. The block we are moving to is not without its share of horrors. For instance, last night one of our new neighbors had a party. A pre-teen girl party. Twenty of them, screaming (and you know that the decibel level of a female pre-teen girl can shatter ear drums), running up and down the street. And there's the guy next door who has a tendency to suck face with his girlfriend for hours at a time in front of his house. Minor things. The best things about the new house? One of DJ's best friends from school lives next door, and about half the boys in his class live on our street. Constant baseball and basketball games outside. Natalie's best friend lives around the corner. The people next door (the one with the kissy face son) are huge Yankee fans. Hey, that's what I like in a neighbor! I've known a lot of the families on this block forever. One couple, I've known for about fifteen years. Another couple - I was close friends with the husband in junior high; we grew up just three houses from each other. This street is famous for its block parties and barbecues. They're the kind of people who will see you doing work on your house and before you know it, they will all be standing in your yard with tools and cold beer, offering help or advice. So today we start taking our belongings out of this home and driving them over to the new home, leaving behind the invasion of privacy issues, the sticky bedroom door, the uneven floor in the kitchen, the noisy uncle, and - most important - the baggage that went with this place. After all, this is where I lived with my ex, where I divorced my ex, where I built a lot of miserable memories. For the first time, Justin will not feel like he is living in an ex-husband zone. This is a grand step forward for us, it's almost like we are starting over. Fresh. No layers of bad marriage dust lurking around the corners and under the beds. We bought paint yesterday. Beautiful bright colors, not a stitch of boring old white. It's our house. We can do whatever we want. If that means golden walls in the living room and a red hallway, so be it. We made plans to gut the bathroom and start over. We ordered new windows for the room where the office will be. Natalie has plans to paint flames all over her walls. DJ wants Justin to paint a mural on his bedroom wall so it looks like he's sleeping in Yankee Stadium. Our fridge makes crushed ice (I know, I'm obsessing over this, but I have a compulsion with eating ice), we have a garbage disposal, I finally have the flat top stove I always wanted, the garage is going to be fantastic rec room and we are determined to make this horrible lawn look decent. We are going to be poor, there is no doubt about that. But we are going to be happy. Sure, I nitpicked and bitched about everything the other day, but I'm feeling better as the days go by. Every crack, every little blemish, they are all mine to fix and I love the way that feels. Now comes the hard part. The actual moving. I'm really not that fond of hard labor. Anyhow, thanks for putting up with my endless posts about home buying and moving the past few weeks. Look for my Memorial Day post tomorrow (or late tonight) and I'll catch up with you on Tuesday. Everyone enjoy your holiday weekend. You know the drill - don't drink and drive, eat lots of burgers and try to visit a local war memorial if there is one near you. You can see photos of my last trip to the Nassau County Memorial here]

Memorial Day 2004

[I wish I had a better Memorial Day post to give you, but I am on borrowed computer time here, and won't be back blogging until Tuesday]

John Donavan
The Memorial Day Project
The Command Post

A NATION'S STRENGTH
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky

- In memory of all those who gave their life in service to this great country -

May 28, 2004

the ice cream is melting!!

I'm taking a half day today, which means I'm leaving soon. We are going to make the great, hallowed trip to Home Depot today and I suspect that by the time we get home, I will be as withered as my bank account. I find that spending money on anything besides entertainment is very stressful. Even the entertainment spending leaves me with an aftertaste of guilt once the movie is over or the game has been defeated. We hit Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target yesterday and the little, inconsequential things we stocked up on there put a huge hole in the budget as is. However, I have to say that brand new outside garbage pails and a new coffee maker go a long, long way towards making one really feel at home in a new place. My garbage pails. Not the landord's garbage pails. Mine. It sounds stupid, but it feels really good to say. We made coffee as we took measurements and made lists last night. The aroma made the house feel homey; even with bare walls and floors and no furniture in sight, I felt the first twinges of home sweet home in my stomach. Excitement, nervousness and a bit of pride. Today, we begin the stripping of some ugly-ass wallpaper and the painting of walls. It's the most pleasurable hard work one can do (that doesn't take place in a bed). I won't be back until late this evening, if I have the energy.

Coming Soon: Blogging Rehab Centers

If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic -- Tony Pierce on blogging, quoted in this New York Times article. I see the Times is still dismissing blogging as unimportant. Only now it's not just unimportant, it's a hobby taken up mostly by losers in bathrobes. Ok, ok. Point taken. But not all of us are like that. The author of the article goes a long way around to make blogs appear to be nothing more than a pointless exercise of talking to yourself.
Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research's estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs.
The decidely negative tone of the article left me wondering why? - why would the NYT care enough about blogging to pay someone to write this pointless drivel? Perhaps Bill Quick figured it out:
Total number of internet users: 785,710,022. Four percent of that number: 31,428,400. Total number of NYT readers: Hard to estimate. Print circulation varies from about 1.16 million daily to 1.8 million on Sunday, website page count 1-2 million per day, total readership somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 million. Blogs as a whole are more widely read than the New York Times by a factor of seven plus. As for political blogs? Again, hard to say, just as it is hard to quantify the readership NYT's political offerings (OpEd, news, etc.) garner. But N.Z. Bear's The Truth Laid Bear: Weblog Traffic Rankings gives a total daily visitor count for the top fifty ranked political blogs of about 950,000. That certainly puts these top blogs as a whole in the NYT's daily circulation league. It has apparently also put the NYT into a a dress-rending frenzy.
I'm not suggesting the NYT is afraid of bloggers; but I do think the consistently negative articles are something akin to a pre-emptive strike. bq. Indeed, if a blog is likened to a conversation between a writer and readers, bloggers like Mr. Wiggins are having conversations largely with themselves. I beg to differ. Let's use this week as an example. I tried to use posts on a variety of subjects, so one can't refute this by saying that warblogs or techblogs or X variety of blog topics are the exception to the rule. Little Green Footballs: this post had 132 comments. Atrios: this post had 222 comments. Tim Blair: this post had 43 comments. Sheila O'Malley: 55 comments on this post Bambino's Curse: a lot of comments (he doesn't make the count viewable) on this post. Electric Bugaloo: 43 comments on this post. Talking to ourselves? Hardly. What about the blogs without comments? How do we know they aren't just masturbating with words when they blog? Instapundit 110135 visits/day Gizmodo : The Gadgets Weblog 62990 visits/day Volokh Conspiracy 14038 visits/day Tom Tomorrow 13902 visits/day Well, they still might be masturbating - that's none of our business - but the point is - they are not talking to themselves. Far from it. Now, as far as the painted picture of blogger as obsessive, single-minded, anti-social, basement dwelling dweeb, I think that's all just a ruse by the New York Times to put a pathetic face on blogging. I mean, we know that the NYT would never, ever employ someone as sad and delusional as they make bloggers out to be. Right? Ok, I'll grant them one thing: If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic I'm already worrying that my ISP is cutting my service on Saturday evening, and won't be hooking up the new house until Tuesday. In fact, I feel a panic attack coming on. Good thing I'll be too busy with the move to really think too hard about it. Well, I may see if any of my neighbors are using wireles routers so I can use the laptop to steal their signal. Or I could always go to Starbucks. Or my mom's. Chug that beer. That's right, keep chugging. Oh, it goes down sooo smooth. Quick, give me another. I do have a question for the people over at the paper of record: If blogs are so damn boring and unimportant, why do you keep printing stories about them? Keep the beer flowing, barkeep.

You Can Add 'Death Profiteer' to OJ's Resume

So, what's OJ doing to mark the tenth anniversary of the murder at his hands of Nicole Kidman Simpson*?
Can't this man be stopped?: Apparently taking a break from his continuing search for the real killers, O.J. Simpson is hoping to mark the 10th anniversary of wife Nicole's savage murder June 12 - along with the fatal knifing of unlucky waiter Ron Goldman - by cashing in big-time. Star Magazine reports that Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, has been shopping his client around for paid interviews. "It will be expensive," the mag quotes Galanter. "TV rights are going for $100,000. For print rights, between $20,000 and $25,000." Nothing if not classy, Galanter adds that O.J. might even be willing to do a photo shoot at the Brentwood crime scene and at Nicole's grave site - if the price is right. "It would have to be a multimillion-type deal," Galanter says. A grave site photo would be "worth $500,000 ... Our preference is a standard interview ... but it's just money."
Would it really be so bad if someone put a bounty on this guy's head? Can't we get Ashcroft to add him to some "wanted, dead or alive" list? I mean, who would miss him? Is there a soul alive who still thinks this scumbag is a good man? Oh, gosh. There I go again wishing harm or death to someone. Damn me and my vision of a world without murdering thugs. *This is a lesson: Never, ever blog before two cups of coffee have been finished.

Metaphor Storytime

Once upon a time there was a neighborhood where people did work on their house daily. Every day, they would add things on. They did all the work themselves; they researched it, they gathered the materials, they put it all together piece by piece and made it look pretty damn good. This is the town we visit today. One of the residents of this town is particularly pleased - as most of these citizens usually are - with the work she did today. She decides (as she does every day, really) to have an open house, inviting anyone and everyone over to see what she did that morning. People come. They comment. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people make suggestions on how to do it better, yet all of them are mostly polite and those who are hating on the new room are debating the pros and cons of certain decor with those who love it. Sometimes the hostess - the person who designed the entire room - will engage in conversation, but mostly she watches from the sideline, curious to hear what people are saying and quietly watching the door to see who else comes in. This guy comes in. He barges in, we should say. He doesn't make a single comment on the new kitchen, he doesn't remark on the work - good or bad - and he doesn't attempt to engage anyone, not even the hostess, in conversation. He just sticks his head in the door and loudly proclaims "I did my kitchen over today as well and it's much better than this. Come on over to my house everyone!" He finishes his announcement, immediately leaving as soon as he's done. The hostess is kind of flabbergasted. She remarks to one of the guests how obnoxious and rude that man was. The guest concurs and says, you know, if he would have just come in, maybe made a short comment or two about your kitchen and then said 'well I did my kitchen too and maybe some of you might want to come over and see it later when you're done here' well that would have been much more polite. The hostess agrees, but decide to let it go, even though this neighbor has annoyed her previously by sending her, all day and night long, unrequested photos and details of every single thing that goes on in his house during the course of the day. She discovers that he does this to a lot of neighbors, none of whom requested these updates. So she decides to take a walk around the neighborhood to see what everyone else in this home improvement crazed development has been up to today. She see everyone has added at least one thing and, coincidentally, her new kitchen decor has a lot in common with the neigbors' additions. She stops, admires and makes a note that when she gets back home, she will tell her visitors to go see all of these houses. However, she notices something disturbing. At almost all the homes she stops to look at, the owners complain about the same obnoxious man that was at her house earlier. He did the same thing to them; barged in with nary a comment, just shouted that he had something better to see at his house. They all thought it was very rude. And they all thought, well the next time I'm giving a tour of this neighborhood, I am going to skip right by his house. And the moral of this story is: In the world of show and tell, manners mean things. Those without manners will end up with no audience to show or tell their stories. The end.

movie quote of the day

[quotes always taken from here] "Well... it sure ain't "Ozzie and Harriet." And now, the visual, courtesy of reader Kieran: [click for the enermous size which is now my desktop] Or perhaps you prefer this visual, from reader Ellen: demon_house.jpg Thank you both for the lovely Photoshops. I noticed something strange at Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday. The latest in kitchen decor seems to be dressing the room up in cocks. Which led to some fun conversation between my husband and myself in both those stores. Honey, what about this lovely cock to hang on the wall? Oh, wouldn't you just love to drink the milk that pours out of this cock? We are easily amused, as well as Beavis and Butthead juveniles.

May 27, 2004

All Star!

DJ made the All-Star team. We are quite excited in the Catalano household tonight. I just know that you are as well. Thanks to everyone who showed interest in his baseball exploits this season. And now, the playoffs.

Al Gore, Spanky the Clown and Cooties

I thought I would dream last night about the new house crumbling down around me, or being lost in a maze at Home Depot. But no. I had to dream* about Al Gore. Probably because as I downed my third celebratory/stress-relief Captain Morgans and Snapple, I collapsed on the couch mumbling, this man was almost our president! In my dream he was wearing a clown suit and and his name was Spanky, but I knew it was Al Gore by the way he was yelling that the cicadas were coming to get us and it was all Bushitler's fault! So there was this clown, trailed by thousands of cicadas wearing Hitler mustaches and they were chasing me through the streets of New York City, which were covered in snow and ice, due to the global warming effects brought on my too many viewings of The Day After Tomorrow. I finally found sanctuary in a bomb shelter, where I was greeted by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Bush, who had just resigned from their posts and were sitting in this safe haven waiting for the inevitable bombs to fall because it was really a silly thing to make the president and his staff step down during wartime. Oops, here comes another dirty bomb! Can you smell that poisonous gas? Mmmm.... I love the smell of cowardly defeat in the morning! So eventually - I'm talking months here - we leave the bomb shelter and swim through the city, which is now hot as hell and flooded with melted glaciers and we're just lazily swimming away, talking about the good old days when Bush was president, before Kerry sold the Statue of Liberty back to France in exchange for some hair product, before Kerry decided to invite all the world's Imans and Shahs and clerics over for tea, before those same people took advantage of Kerry's appeasing demeanor and started bombarding our cities. In front of Madison Square Garden we meet up with Al Gore himself who is no longer wearing a clown suit, but still quite resembles a clown. He now carries a megaphone and a soapbox around and every so often he stops to address a crowd of young schoolchildren, explaining about the American gulags that exist because of Bush. The children laugh, as children are wont to do when confronted with crazy people. As we stand around watching Al with amusement, this ghost of a guy comes along and says he is the Spirit of What If and he wants to show us, just for shits and giggles, what would have happened if Al Gore was president on 9/11. So we follow this spirit guy to the nearest movie theater, where he projects his vision on a big screen. Comfy theater. Nice, reclining seats and extra big cup holders. Al tags along and sits next between Cheney and myself. I give one look to Cheney and he knows what to do. We exchange cootie shots. There, much better. We never do get to see the movie because Gore freaks out and starts tearing up the theater, like metal fans at the last Guns n Roses concert. Stuffing flies out of the seats, the screen is ripped down and all the while Gore is screaming that Bush is Hitler and George Soros is King. We feel sorry for him at this point and Condi tries to calm him down while Rumsfeld loses all patience and kicks Gore in the balls. Gore cries even louder. Then the damn birds woke me up. I would really like to know how the movie played out. Maybe one of you can finish it for me? _____________ I am off to a celebratory lunch that will consist of giant Bloody Mary's and little else. I will then make my way to the new house to clean it up a bit and then I head to the Little League field for the exciting finale of the 2004 regular season. So, until tonight. *Unlike all of my other long-winded, heavy-plotted, convoluted dreams, this one is purely made up. Why? Just felt like entertaining myself today. That's why.

Our (Demonized) House, in the Middle of Our Street

Update: Thanks to Sarah for the most recent Photoshop, that I shall call Neighbors From Hell. You need to click for the big size to get the full effect. All the things that were "no big deal" or "easily fixed" when we first looked at the house loomed like distorted nightmares after we had the keys in hand. I don't recall the shower leaking, but there it was yesterday, leaking away, every drip-drip-drip sounding more like fix-fix-fix. I remember thinking it was quaint how they kept the original 1950's bathroom decor. I could live with a fifties look for a bit, I thought. Kind of nice to have one room that maintains the history of the home. But upon closer inspection last night, my allegiance to the house's history waivered. Suddenly the blue tiles and archaic bathtub lost their charm; they were scowling at me, daring me to talk bad about them. The small hole on the side of the bathtub now seemed the size of infinity. Oh, god. My bathtub is the portal to hell! Don't go near that hole, kids! Look for the light, Carol! I ran screaming from the room, stopping briefly to slam the cover of the bowl down, because I swear that yawning toilet was mocking me. Ok, calm. Made a little note on the notepad I was carrying around: gut bathroom, start over. Exorcise as well. The transition of the house from charming abode to live, gargantuan, soul-eating monster continued as walked through the house, seeing it for the first time as owners. The three walls worth of floor to ceiling windows in the sun room (aka office) that we once thought would allow us to view both sunset and sunrise as we sipped coffee and dreamily stared at nature? They have become looming panes of sudden death. Every time someone takes a step anywhere in the house, these flimsy windows rattle something fierce. And now, standing there wondering what the hell I saw in this room in the first place, the rattling windows stared back, like opaque ghosts shaking their chains at me. Notepad: new windows in sun room. Call priest for holy water. The kitchen is no better. While the appliances are all brand new (take one moment of pure glee for the crushed ice dispenser on the fridge), the fridge itself is off balance. I imagine my ice cubes will all turn out like uneven glaciers. I'm not fond of the light fixture. Ok, not bad, not bad. No monsters in this room. Ah, but then I see it. Winking up at me from the floor, one lone tile that is surrounded by pink grout. Pink. Grout. The rest of the tiles are safely enconsed in normal, grayish white grout. But this one, evil tile ended not like the others. I think it's not happy about that. The floor is now a cyclops with pink eye. Notepad: Gray grout. Crossbow. In Nat's bedroom, the walls are wrapped in a hideous wallpaper that shows old fashioned maps of North and South America and some other places, all in gold and blue and surrounded by dotted lines marking navigation routes and it's tiled in the same way that the hamsters doing that hamster dance are tiled. Yes, like a 1990's web page. Continents and divides dance before my eyes and suddenly a pirate appears, emerging from one of those dotted lines, shivering me timbers for sure. Notepad: Wallpaper stripper. Hire a pirate killer. And so it goes. In every room, another monster or spirit or gnome lurks and every time I see something I actually like - for instance, the light fixture in our bedroom - I half expect Gollum to cry out preciousssssss and fight me for it. The biggest monster of all is the giant ceramic pig that sits by the front door. Sort of like the pig in Amityville Horror which, given the locale, could have just walked over to my place from Amityville, so it's really not far fetched to think that it was Jody, red eyes and all. Except my pig has a huge slit in his back and wants me to deposit money every ten minutes. And when I do drop a hundred dollar bill or a Visa or Mastercard into that slot, Jody makes a loud flushing sound. Ok, so it is my house, haunted, possessed or not. Mine. I can slay these monsters, I know it. I can exorcise the spirts and demons and caulk right over that black hole to hell. I may have to sell a kidney or offer my kids up as house slaves to the locals each weekend, but I am going to do this. This house is not match for me. Right now, with it's evil piggy bank and winking kitchen tile, it thinks it can outdo me. But I am well experienced in the ways of these kinds of goblins. A few magic spells, a dozen or so margaritas and an offer of my soul to the loan officer at the bank ought to work.

Best. Response. Ever.

RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, in response to Gore's lunatic fringe tirade yesterday:
ďAl Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years. During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole.Ē ďAl Goreís attacks on the President today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia.Ē
That's what I call a smackdown. High-fives all around, Jim.

movie quote of the day

Yes, this will become a regular morning feature. All quotes pulled from this post. She's a vicious life-sucking bitch from which there is no escape. Which refers to this.

May 26, 2004

The First Decor of the New House

Brought to you by Chuck Update: My house is number one in the hood, G!

The Seven

Below are the faces of the seven terrorist scumbags Ashcroft and Mueller referred to today. Armed and dangerous, clear and present danger. Click each mug for info on each al Qaeda operative.
Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects
Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects Photograph of and link to Amer El-Maati Photograph of and link to Aafia Siddiqui Photograph of and link to Adnan G. El Shukrijumah Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects
Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects Photograph of and link to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Photograph of and link to Adam Gadahn Photograph of and link to Abderraouf Jdey Photograph of and link to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects
Graphic of FBI seal and seven Be On the Lookout Suspects
[Thanks to Puddle Pirate for the code]

The Last Word on the Whore Story

Is here. Ace tries to follow the Washingtonienne way to fame. bq. And so we began walking to an alley behind the store. He began pulling the rings off his fingers. "Just for safety's sake," he told me. What the hell did that mean? Read it. Don't be drinking anything.

in a word picture

pwn3d!!1!!!!

It is officially ours. Already nicknamed The Money Pit. More later.

poetry and patience

I made some partisan nursery rhymes for Jeff, including this one: Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep And can't tell where to find them. Try Democratic Underground, Bo. and then I wrote Murray a birthday poem. I'm trying to work, really, but I'm incredibly distracted today due to the fact that our on-again/off-again closing on the house is scheduled for later this afternoon. Please, keep your fingers crossed for me that all goes well this time.

Quickie Poll: Olympics

Several factors at play here: The worry over whether security will be adequate enough; the revelation yesterday of incoming terror attacks this summer (with the Olympics specifically cited); the unwillingness of security officials in Greece to allow Israeli athletes to bring their own security; those same officials warning American and Israeli athletes to not wear their countries colors or symbols in public during the Olympics and the fear that we might antagonize other countries by waving our flag after victories, the question is (and a very hypothetical one(: Do you think we should ask our athletes to stay home from the summer Olympics? Update: Some relevant links.

addendum

What was I saying in the post below? That we should trust our troops to take care of the terrorists gathering in Iraq. al-Sadr's cult of terror took a big blow today. Next. Update: More. bq. U.S. warplanes helped Afghan forces pound Taliban militants in the mountains of southern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing some 20 suspected insurgents at a recently discovered camp, a senior Afghan commander said.

Newsflash: The War on Terror is Real

The big news today would be Terror, with a capital T. 'They Are Going to Attack and Hit Us Hard' Sources: Major terror attack possible this summer Terror fear Agents in Country Said To Be Planning Attack Am I suprised? Not at all. Scared? You bet. Then again, I've been scared since September 11, 2001. However, two and half years have gone by and we have yet to be attacked again on American soil. Today's frightening headlines are brought to in you part by an International Institute of Strategic Studies report stating (pdf format) that al Qaeda still has 18,000 members. The spin that followed went in two different directions, depending on your outlook. What's not up for argument is that the Iraq war has strengthened the terrorist base in the Middle East. Where paths diverge is when you ask why. The left will maintain that our occupation of Iraq has so angered the Arab world that they signed up by the thousands to join the jihad against America. I am going to beg to differ. The people who joined the ranks of al Qaeda (and I will say that while the report states AQ has 18,000 members, it's a good bet that most of those members are recent inductees) and other terrorist organizations since March of 2003 were jihadists beforehand. They were in the death-to-America camp long before we landed in Iraq. But the gathering of forces in Fallujah, Pakistan and other hotspots gave these sideline terrorists strength by numbers. Muqtada al-Sadr and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are no different that Jim Jones or David Koresh, in that they have cult-like followings, people following them blindly into battle. The battles themselves, even the enemies may be different, but in the end, the loyalists of both men will meet the same fate as the followers of Jones and Koresh. Who deals that fate out - their own leaders or their enemies - is all that remains to be seen. While the war in Iraq has certainly been a catalyst for jihad recruitment, let's not delude ourselves (I'm looking at the left here) into thinking that the hatred and death wishes did not exist beforehand. Which makes the Iraq war less of a reason and more of an excuse. Some of these terrorists have been sharpening their knives for years, just waiting for that moment when they could rise up with thousands of others and whoop their war cries. Iraq is it. al-Sadr knows this. al-Zarqawi knows this. If bin Laden is still alive, he knows it. Every jihad leader worth their 72 virgins fully understands that the war in Iraq is the opportunity of a lifetime; it's like Bill Gates getting an invitation to the graduation ceremony of The School For Brilliant Computer Programmers. It's a grand buffet of potential employees. And that's what Iraq is to Arab terrorists; a buffet. The leaders are lining up and filling their plates, even coming back for seconds. Them's good eatings! I swear I overheard someone say that once at a buffet So, while Iraq is not the reason for the upswing in threat theory, it is the central force at play here. I'm pretty sure that most of the recent al Qaeda recruits don't give a damn about what we are doing in Iraq. They just want to be where the action is; they just want to be part of the game. And the game is getting huge. Their hatred for us - and thus, their death wishes upon us - did not begin with the start of the invasion of Iraq. I think that should be obvious to anyone who lives with their head above the sand. You can go back to February 1993, but that's just a stopping point on the long, long timeline of the Arabs v. U.S. World Tour. We could take you back to 1983 if you'd like, too. How about 1979? Different factions, you say? Different countries? Different terrorist groups? Yes, but no. It's all related. It's all steeped in the history of radical Islam, in the history of militant Arabs - a history of a movement that demands a call to arms against the west and against Israel. Iraq and Afghanistan are nothing more than giant gathering places for all these factions to come together and join up for the same cause. Think of it as a reverse Lord of the Rings, where a combination of races and tribes spend generations battling together against Sauron. Here, we have a combination of countries and terrorists groups battling together against America. Combine forces. Work together. You can strike the enemy harder and faster that way. So into battle they go, finally learning that singularly, they probably could not launch a great attack against their common enemy, but together they can finally conquer that bastard. Which would be us. Us. That includes you with the anti-war sign. And you, with your conspiracy theories. It includes whether you are voting for Bush or Kerry, whether you drive an SUV or a hybrid, whether you listen to Hannity or Franken. It includes those of you who don't care about politics, who don't watch the news. We are their enemy. Do you think that Sauron would have taken the time to find out if anyone was sympathetic to him before he unleashed his evil army upon the tribes? Hardly. Which is why it really is an us v. them world. Usama bin Laden's network appears to be operating in more than 60 nations, often in concert with local allies... The U.S. occupation of Iraq brought Al Qaeda recruits from across Islamic nations, the study said. Up to 1,000 foreign Islamic fighters have infiltrated Iraqi territory, where they are cooperating with Iraqi insurgents, the survey said. Hmm. Do you still want us to leave Iraq? Still want us to pack up our troops and go home? I'd venture to say that most of those Islamic fighters are hanging out in Fallujah and Najaf, using mosques, shrines and holy cemeteries as their base. Should we attack any of those places, we're the bad guys. Never mind that the people who want to burn down America are hiding in those holy sites. We can't go after them, lest we be labeled the aggressors. Meanwhile, they are making plans, signing up new recruits, combining forces, sharing weapons and plans and generally becoming the lone horseman of our apocalypse. All right under our nose, in the countries that we our currently occupying. Yet so many want us to leave those countries. So many think we are wrong for being there, that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror, that Afghanistan is a waste of our time. A little wake up call might be in order, but I do not wish for your wake-up call to come in the form of an explosion. I do not want to leave the investigation and rooting out of terrorists and discovery of potential terrorists plots to the FBI or CIA. Sure, they've been doing a pretty good job (when they haven't been arresting the wrong people). All those flights that were grounded back in the winter showed me that our intelligence is working, but I think this war on terror has been stripped down to the most primitive level. It's not intelligence alone that will save us. It's the war that will, in the end, save us from doom. While all these forces are gathered in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably Pakistan, we need to let our troops loose to do the right thing. The right thing is? Protecting us from the what ifs that rattle inside our heads every time we watch the news or read a paper. "There is clearly a steady drumbeat of information that they are going to attack and hit us hard," said another senior federal counterterrorism official, who described the intelligence as highly credible. The summer of 2002 was what I called the Summer of Fear:
Summer of Fear. That's what this is. No matter how much you say you do not fear them, you don't believe the hype, you don't watch the news, I am willing to bet that the drone of a crop duster flying over your house will send you running for a gas mask. I'm willing to bet that you feel it. You feel the blanket of unease that our own security agencies have covered us with. I'm waiting for the comic book ending. For the superheroes to band together and form an alliance and kick the shit out their enemies. Or at least foil their evil plans and put us all back into our safe, comfortable place, where panic doesn't spark the air, where our lives don't exist in a constant state of electricity, like we just collectively stepped on a third rail.
That was when the terror alert changed nearly every day, where every morning brought another new warning, another shout to be vigilant, be alert. Hell, I couldn't be more alert if stuck toothpicks in my eyes. Two years later, I still believe in superheroes. I still believe we will win the war on terror. But you have to let us win it. You cannot stand between our troops and a holy shrine if that shrine is crawling with people plotting terror attacks. It doesn't even matter if the plans they are drawing out are against us, or Israel or the citizens of Baghdad who are just trying to find some kind of good life. Because we are all part of the same coalition, the same combined force of tribes and nations that are gunning for the bad guys. So, what to do with these headlines today? Do I cower? Do I end up the way I did in 2002, with a case of agoraphobia? Or do I trust that we will prevail? Choosing trust is much more relaxing, I'll tell you that. It's better than fearing planes and avoiding trains and dreaming of underground bunkers and rockets red glare landing at my feet. Yes, they are coming for us. Well, they are going to try their damndest. And we cannot, and should not ever think of standing in the way of those who are going to protect us from them. We know where they are. They are in Afghanistan and they are in Iraq and, brace yourself, they are right here on our soil. Those who are already here are just waiting for instructions. It is our job to cut down those who are supposed to give those instructions out. It is our job to cut the ties between here and there and that means mainly striking them over there. To cut and run from Iraq now would be to lose the war on terror. I don't think that's what you want, is it? Ridicule all you want. Choose your theories. Ignore at will. Laugh, point finger and call it all a lie. What does it take to make some people see that the war on terror is real, that our enemies are not a result of the Iraq war, but the result of a culture war. I suppose that if 3,000 dead in one day didn't convince them, nothing will. But you can bet that if a bomb ever dropped on their neighborhood, they would be the first ones crying that we didn't take the war on terror seriously enough. I hope it never comes to that. I hope we never have to say we were right about the terrorists coming for us. And if they never come, to the left it will all have been a bold lie, rather than a good job done by those fighting the terror war. I am not going to spend my summer hiding under the bed again. I am going to trust that we will get this war won, despite those who want to stand in our way. That's not to say I'm not scared because I still shake in my boots some days, especially when I think about the Olympics. But I am not as convinced of the coming Armageddon of America as I used to be. A lot has changed in the two years since the Summer of Fear. Main thing is, I figured out who the real enemy is, and it's not us. Those guys coming toward us with swords raised and torches blazing? splinter cells and offshoots make for one pretty big army of darkness coming at us. I hope that we have the strength to take them down.

movie quote of the day

I am working on a rather lengthy post about terrorism. Don't know when it will be ready. In the meantime, I can't tell you how much fun I'm having reading your movie quotes, as well as guessing where some of them came from. On that note, my movie quote of the day goes out to...oh, most of you could probably figure it out. '"Son, this is what happens when you FUCK A STRANGER IN THE ASS!" Back later with some long-winded essay on the Summer of Fear. ALSO: Poor Stacy. She tries to do something good with the Hooters thing and she ends up being praised by Al Franken. However, Stacy proves that Al Franken just does not produce the buzz the way the blogosphere does. I think I'll go compose some nursery rhymes before I get myself too worked up about potential terrorism to do anything else.

May 25, 2004

party on, frodo!

And now (following another dinner and a trip to the hazy, cloudy and cold beach), a family viewing of Return of the King will round out the 24 hour birthday celebration. See you tomorrow. [I did read all your movie quotes. more on that tomorrow]

more posts about movies and quotes

Call it burn out, call it what you will. I'm feeling it today. Temporary, yes, but stifling nonetheless. I find myself just not caring today. Let's move away from the ugly world of politics, news and bicycle spills. Let's go to the wonderful world of movies, via Emily: (Well, via Emily's place, but in a post written by the lovely Ken Summers) bq. Iíd like to ask what you think are the greatest movie lines of all time. The best lines should be stand-alone great, but I realize that most are context-sensitive. Thatís okay, but supply the context if necessary. Below are some of my favorites. I'll post mine here and at Emily's in a bit. It takes time to cull these lists down to a manageable hundred or so. But you go right ahead and start. No limit. Knock yourselves out. Hell, I don't care if you write a 78 paragraph statement on why a particular line means so much to you. Just entertain me, damn it! Have at it. Update: It's actually twice as much fun when you don't source the quote. Update 2: Here's one of my all time favorites: bq. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane, with all the other rich people, and I want him brought right here with a big ribbon on his head. And, I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no good, rotten, floor-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy Shit! Where's the Tylenol?

the birthday party

Behind every great blog is a spouse/partner/friend who puts up with the obsession. Happy Birthday to the man behind ASV. Without his love, comfort, guidance, humor and strength (not to mention massages and kisses), I would not be sane enough to do this every day. I owe it all to the birthday guy. I would like to repeat what I said on this day last year (with a slight number change), because it still rings true. Happy Birthday to the perfect husband - the one who shares my obsessions with comic books and action figures and cheesy kung-fu movies and Faith No More, to the man who makes me feel like I'm 24. Yep, 24. I am one lucky gal, in so many ways. Tonight's radio station will be dedicated to my man. and man, am I getting mileage out of that one pic, I know, but he really likes this one

Blast you and your estrogenical tyranny!

And now, the entertainment portion of the blog. Read. Refresh. Enjoy.
Random Family Guy Quotes
[via Scott]

A Comprehensive Review of Bush's Speech, My Steak Dinner and Restaurant Trivia Games

As I mentioned, I watched the President's speech at Damon's Grill last night, surrounded by eight family members and a bunch of strangers. I'm glad I watched it there; had I been home and realized early on that the speech was not being broadcast by any of the major networks, I might have put something large and heavy through the tv. It probably says something about the state of America when television stations would prefer to run The Swan instead of an important speech, but it probably says even more about America that most people didn't think the speech was all that important and were quite happy to see The Swan instead of Bush. Why was the speech so important? Well, you would think that with all the complaining the media and the Bush opposers do about not knowing what's going on with the handover, or how there is never any good news coming out of Iraq, they would jump on this chance to actually hear about these things. Hah. So there I was in Damon's, waiting for the speech to begin. We're in this part of the restaurant that is lower than the rest. I guess it's set up like theater seating, but with booths and tables. On the upper level is the bar and some tables. The middle level has several booths, all semi-circles facing the huge tv screens below. The last level is where we were; long tables to fit large parties, but set at an angle so that if you want to look at the large screens, you must twist and crane in such a fashion that leaves you needing a massage at the end of dinner. Which, by the way, they do not offer. I asked. There are three screens. One shows FOX News (I've been there other times where it was CNN or even CNBC. But never MSNBC). One shows ESPN. The other shows trivia questions. Each table gets these little computerized boxes that remind one of a Speak and Spell (tm) and you enter your name using the keyboard. Your name - or whatever name or acronym you give yourself or your team for this purpose, appears on the large screen for all to see. The trivia questions appear, you type in your answer and the whole restaurant gets to see who got the question wrong. When the scoreboard shows after every question, you mentally try to match up the childish team/personal nicknames on the screen to the people in the room. Oh yea, I just know which guy is using GoldsGymGuy as his moniker. And yes, that chick must be MyTitsAreHuge. My sister and I tried to put in BUSH04 just to piss off the people next to us that were using KERRYPRZ (and discussing the topic loudly), but apparently Damon's thinks that Bush is a bad word, so we settled for GWB. When the game started and the list first appeared, I noticed someone was using KERRYSUX and I thought, heh, that was probably another response to KERRYPRZ and I looked around to see if I could figure out which family (this place is all families. Loud, obnoxious families like my own. Do not go there on a date during the week) and I noticed DJ smirking. Yes, that was my son's name. My sister high-fived him and the games began on TV3. At the same time, President Bush was getting ready to speak on TV1. A baseball game - Astros v. Reds - was on TV3. Now, each table has it's own volume control, with a switch to turn the sound to whichever tv you want to watch. If you choose trivia, you get inoffensive pop music, which I find, ironically, to be pretty offensive. We chose FOX. We turned it up loud. A few other tables also chose FOX and the president's voice wafted through the restaurant, booming over the shouts of Hey, waiter did you forget about us? and Mooooom, Bobby spit in my dinner! Bush started right in. The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating, and instructive. Good. He was addressing the bad stuff early on. I was pleased to hear him be so frank and bold about it and to use it to segue right into a "free and self-governing Iraq." ....a pilot? My mother was saying something. A pilot. John Travolta. Movie. Oh yes, the trivia! I was part of a team, I needed to pay attention! No, no not Look Who's Talking. I think he just wanted to be a pilot in that movie. Broken Arrow. Yes, the movie with Howie Long. Trivia. FOX. President. Travolta. Babies crying. Kids shouting. Enormous claps of thunder outside. My head began to swim. I look at TV1 and Howie Long is giving a speech about Iraq and he's winking at me. Awww yea, baby. Come to me, Howie! My sister slaps me on the back of the head. Hello?? The food is here. Wake up. I ordered the steak that comes with the grilled portabello mushroom and some decadant sauces or glazes or something that for some reason make me think of Steve. The dinner comes with grilled slices of a zuchinni that must have been so large, which for some reason made me think of Howie Long again. Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal.. This is really important. He's being completely honest, facing the truth head on and letting people know what to expect in the coming weeks. I like the way he looks. Determined, full of resolve. ....magnesium sulphur? How the hell am I supposed to know that? This is supposed to be fun trivia? I'm sorry, but I don't know anyone who thinks that gathering around a huge tv screen, eating steak and drinking beers while answering questions about chemistry is fun. This was followed by a question dealing with molecular biology, followed by a question about some long-forgotten television show, probably from the days back when people used tin-foil to get the best reception from the two channels they got, both of which would have carried any speech the president made. There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom. Yes, and all of America should know about these five plans. They should not, at that very moment, be watching some chick get her boobs surgically lifted. We are a nation at war and our president is addressing not only how the rest of the war is going to play out, but how the war is going to end. I notice a few people starting intently at Bush. The people next to me, the KERRYPRZ table, they are staring intently as well, but I think they are using the advantage of hi-def television to see if the scrapes on Bush's face are consistent with the topographic generalities of Crawford, Texas. My steak sucks. Too much peppercorn. Not cooked the way I like it. The portabello mushroom has the consistency of rubber dabbed in motor oil. I eat anyhow, because I am completely unaware that I am shoveling food in my mouth as I turn from TV1 to TV2, from Iraqís infrastructure to a question about Tatum O'Neal. The thunder booms on, the babies scream, the kids whine, someone in the Reds game scores. Most people have lost interest in Bush by now and I think, how can you not see this as important? But before I can make my move to stand up on the table and make an impassioned speech about Bush and Iraq and freedom, my mother starts to whoop and holler that she won the damn trivia game, all because of a question about Elvis that of course she would know and GWB is in second to last place. KERRYSUX comes in third. URMOM - and I'm sure URMOM is that sixty year old guy in the Green Lantern shirt and Marvel hat, dining by himself - finishes in second. In last place is KERRYPRZ and for some reason, that makes me feel good. I decide to take it as an omen, like a fortune cookie in a steak house. These two visions ó one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life ó clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over, and that nation is coming to life again. These two visions have now met in Iraq, and are contending for the future of that country. That, my friends, is how the war on terror involves Iraq. That is why we are fighting this war, because if you chase terror out of one place, it will simply find another to harbor it and it is our job, as defenders of the universe, to make sure that democracy exists in these places so that terror networks can't turn them into their own rogue nations. That's my take, anyhow. So Bush finishes, dinner is done, trivia is over. We escape into the rain and lightning and cross the parking lot to Best Buy, where I cross my fingers that some naive floor clerk will understand my plight about it being my husband's birthday the next day and how I really need to have LoTR all wrapped up for him in the morning, but the clerk suggest that I dress up like a hobbit and hand him a Best Buy gift card instead. Thanks, buddy. And now, I must devise my plot against the birds.

On WordPress and Moveable Type

So why did I hate WordPress, you ask? Most of the reasons probably have more to do with me than WP itself; I'm not that great with big, wholesale changes and I got a little unnerved while trying to navigate through WP. However, there were some things I just didn't like. For instance, no comment preview and no post preview. Yes, I know those things are available through hacks, but that right there is my number one problem with WP; a lot of the features I was used to having in MT were only available by using hack scripts in WP. I also didn't like the way the comment section looked. It was too busy and shorter comments got lost between all the other things going on, like the RSS feed, permalinks, etc. One thing I love about MT is being able to fool around with the templates right inside the program. With WP, everything is done using ftp. I also found the interface kind of clunky. What I like about is there were no rebuilds; that is something that irks me about MT. And the longer I use MT, the more I feel like my rebuilds are taking longer or that MT is going to crush under the weight of how many posts I have. But that just might be leftover baggage from my Greymatter days - that system actually did collapse on me at one point. There are many, many good features of WP. They just aren't the right featurs that will make me continue to use it. MT is simple enough for people like me who have a fear of coding. WP requires a degree in blog coding to get it to do exactly what you want it to. Some people will comment here or email me and say how easy it is to implement all the hacks and scripts, how easy it is to fool with the templates and that's great for those people. It's not great for me because I don't do code. I'm an HTML kind of gal. Also, I tend to break things a lot when I fool around with code. Just ask Stacy (if it weren't for Stacy, I would probably still be using Tripod and Front Page Express. She taught me everything I know, including how to redesign my own site without killing it. But I would never be daring enough to try different things if I didn't know she was there to mop up my messes. Which is why I am flying down to Florida in July just to buy her dinner). So that's my deal with WP. I will stay with this version of MT for the foreseeable future. I'll never, ever switch to the paid version, as I outlined my problems with that already. Despite my feelilngs right now about Six Apart, I still think MT is a pretty solid, easy system to use for less-than-geeks like myself. And that's the story.

May 24, 2004

say hello, wave good-bye

Really, really tired. Quick posting of things I wanted to blog about but will not due to the fact that my pillow and blanket keep calling my name and which I may or may not expand on tomorrow. * Went back to Moveable Type. Hated Word Press. HATED it. * Shrek 2 was absolutely delightful. * The reason for the free-floating mouth was because I promised Nat I wouldn't put her face on the internet. * The Sopranos was really good last night and more than made up for the wretched dream episode the week before. * Several people have asked if I'm going to comment on the whole Washingtonienne thing. The only thing I would have to say is, a whore by any other name...(and anything else I said on the subject would, if previous situations are any indication, be taken as petty jealousy. Ass fucking for money is not really high on my to-do list, though) * Sgt. Hook is compiling the Blogosphere's 101 Great Books for Real Readers of All Ages and would like your help. * I loved Bush's speech, which I watched at Damon's Grill while everyone else around us (save for my sister) played the giant video trivia game or watched basketball. We turned it up real loud and applauded in all the right places. * For all of you who ordered prints of my husband's masterful art, we apologize for the delay in sending them out; we've been caught up in house stuff and got backtracked on his business; we finally got the prints, they look fantastic and they'll be going out Wednesday. * Lost in all the hustle and bustle and aggravation of closing on the house/not closing on the house/packing/unpacking/moving/not moving is the fact that tomorrow is my wonderful husband's birthday. Just in time for both LoTR and Bubba Ho-Tep on DVD. Ok, don't tell him. I got him this and this for the new office/studio. Feel free to wish him a happy birthday if you so desire. I'm going to follow the directions of the pillow and blanket and go to bed. [One question: This can't possibly be right, can it? NO network covered what was a pretty important speech for the people of this country to hear?]

Smile!

bracefaceSo Nat got her braces today. And yes, they are pink. She thought the color would go nice with her predominantly black wardrobe. She's got a real 80's new wave thing going on. She just doesn't know it. We didn't have colors when I was young. Nope, just plain old metal. Hence the lovely moniker metal mouth. [Update: I've gone back to MT - more on that later] We're off to see Shrek 2.

Culture Wars!

I apolize to the residents of Queens, NY for saying that their borough is home to the wimpy. Maybe I was confusing the entire borough with Shea Stadium. Anyhow, sorry about that. What about just Forest Hills people? Are they considered wimpy?

And Where Was Lyndon Johnson on the Day That Bush Fell Off His Bike??

Welcome once again to the readers of Daily Kos. Now, let me ask you a question: Who is pettier? Me, the person who wrote about John Kerry making a snarky joke about the president's fall, or Kos, who actually took the time to research the amount of rain that fell in Crawford, Texas last week? My vote is for Kos because, while my post may have been making a mountain out of a molehill, Kos is making a mountain out nothing but the drool and soiled underwear of gleeful moonbats. I used to dig you, Kos. Now I just want to wrap you up in tin foil and put you in a group home for conspiracy theorists. Tighter, Kos! You have to pull the cap tighter!

E.L. Doctorow, Silly Professors and the Long Island Lolita (no, not really, but sort of)

I woke up to find several emails with this link, about E.L. Doctorow getting booed while giving a Bush-bashing commencement speech at Hofstra; the interest to me being not the Bush bashing itself but the Long Island angle. As in, be proud of your fellow Long Islanders!
E.L. Doctorow, one of the most celebrated writers in America, was nearly booed off the stage at Hofstra University Sunday when he gave a commencement address lambasting President George W. Bush and effectively calling him a liar. Booing that came mainly from the crowd in the stands became so intense that Doctorow stopped speaking at one point, showing no emotion as he stood silently and listened to the jeers. Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz intervened, and called on the audience to allow him to finish. He did, although some booing persisted.
I know, Hofstra is not just made up of students from Long Island, but a good portion of the students there are home grown and those who aren't, well - four years on LI can easily wipe out whatever local tendencies you had before you got you here. Once you're embedded here, you assimilate. Just the way it is. Knowing what I know about Long Island political demographics and the make-up of the general university student in America, combined with a intimate knowledge about the mind set of the typical Long Islander, I would have to say that these students weren't so much booing Doctorow for his anti-Bush statements, but for wasting their time with his drivel. Commencement speeches are supposed to be inspiring or educational. You know - life sucks, wear sunscreen. Sure, that may inspire one to enroll for four years of graduate school rather than go on to face the suckage of after-college life, but it's inspiring. So when Doctorow hijacked Hofstra University graduation day in order to spew his biased comments about the war and the president, the graduates reacted in typical Long Island fashion. They booed. I suppose many of them could have been booing in a "I'm pro-Bush and how dare you get up on that stage and denounce him" sort of way, but my last dollar says they were just pissed the hell off. The local news last night brought up the free speech issue. Free speech? Hardly. Being invited to give an address to a crowd of graduating students doesn't give you the right to show up with the sole purpose of stating your political agenda; and while this whole thing may or may not fall under some tenet of the constitution, the point is, it's just wrong. It would have been just as wrong if Doctorow had strode up to the microphone only to give a speech about how much he hates The Sopranos or how much he loves McDonald's new adult happy meal. It's a graduation speech! Inspire! Give advice! Wear sunscreen! Hell, he could have gotten on stage wearing Spock ears and extolling the virtues of the Star Trek universe and it would have been fine as long as he said something like go forth and prosper. Well, yes. Some people were quite angry that Doctorow was dissing on the president. I know I would have been. Not even a time a place thing, there. I just happen to get pissy when people go off on anti-war tangents. Many parents and relatives of the more than 1,300 undergraduates were livid over the address, saying afterward that a college graduation was not the place for a political speech. "If this would have happened in Florida, we would have taken him out" of the stadium, said Frank Mallafre, who traveled from Miami for his granddaughter's graduation. Obviously, Frank is not a Long Islander, because if a native had that idea in his head, he would have done it. Just stand up, walk calmly to the stage and lay the smackdown on "one of the most celebrated writers" in America. Bill Schmidt, 51, of North Bellmore, shared the outrage. "To ruin my daughter's graduation with politics is pathetic," the retired New York Police Department captain said. "I think the president is doing the best he can" in the war against terrorism. Hey, I know that guy. In fact, I used to babysit for his daughter. Ouch. That will keep me on a "man do I feel old" kick for a while. Many students also called Doctorow's speech inappropriate. Peter Hulse, 24, of Manchester, England, said, "He's a bit like Michael Moore." Will. Not. Make. Fat. Joke. Of course, there were those who thought Doctorow's behavior was absolutely appropriate. "I thought this was a totally appropriate place to talk about politics because that's the world our students are entering," said sociology professor Cynthia Bogard. "I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model." Well, Cynthia, that's just a bit of an insult to your students. See, they are already in that world. They are young adults, most in their early twenties already. So unless Hofstra University has a special cocoon covering it, allowing the sun to get in, but little else, your students are steeped in politics. Is it appropriate to talk about poltics during a commecement speech? Sure, if people can talk about sunscreen or read from Dr. Suess during graduation ceremonies, politics is certainly acceptable. After all, when you want to inspire, to send them off to go forth and prosper, you want to remind them to become active, productive members of society, which sometimes means getting involved in politics, whether at the local or national level. Politics may or may not, depending on the state of the world at the time of graduation, include war, terrorism and the like. But to base your entire twenty minute address on what you perceive as the president's failed attempt to wage a war, well, you are just asking for it. I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model. Looks to me like most of the kids at the graduation did have good role models. I don't know about Cynthia, but my parents taught me that it is absolutely rude to hijack someone else's special occasion to make it your own. My parents taught me that it is rude to be so opportunistic as to start rambling off your political beliefs to a captive audience that cannot debate or respond in kind. Obviously, these parents decided that it was ok to boo a man who was ruining their children's graduation day. That's what I call being a role model. E.L. Doctorow (and I have to admit that the first time I read the story, I read it as Cory Doctorow and I thought, geee, I know he's written a lot of good stuff, but most celebrated writer in America? Oh, there are some really good links over there today) hopefully learned some valuable lessons, like what to say at his next commencement speech. Maybe something like this:
Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the futureillegal war, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists bush lied people died, whereas the rest of my advice hasno wmds no basis more reliable than my own meandering bush stole the electionexperience. I will dispense this advice now.
See what happens? He gets to say whatever he wants to about Bush and the war, but by throwing in a few corny, not-written-by-Kurt Vonnegut lines everyone goes away happy. The professors can applaud the anti-war sentiments, the students can applaud the profundity of the speech and the parents can applaud the fact that they no longer have to support their kids and not one of them has to waste time getting all pissed off at the speaker. Originally, I was going to tie all this in with something I started writing last week about why I stay on Long Island, despite it being one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Something about the Long Island attitude, how I could never fit in anywhere else. I've got this Amy Fisher thing going on. We all do, in a way. No, no, I'm not saying we all have a thing for hairy-backed auto mechanics with an IQ less than that ofa muffler. What I mean is veteran Long Islanders have developed a tough exterior from having to deflect all of the jokes about accents, big hair and general suburban snobbery. Say what you want about Amy, but she was one tough chick, even when she was played by Alissa Milano. Underneath that rough exterior was just a girl who wanted to be loved. And that's us, hard shelled, but romantic. We're not Brooklyn tough, but we're not Queens wimpy, either. We're somewhere in between - soft enough to still enjoy our summer nights on the porch, waiting for the ice cream man and watching kids play, but tough enough to boo the world's most celebrated writer off the stage if necessary.

May 23, 2004

hmm...

So did anyone else just watch the Simpsons and think blogging?

you're so vain, you probably think this post is about you

Spent the day at the Little League field and came home not really caring if you think I was being petty in the post below. I also don't care about the weather map you sent me detailing the rainfall in Texas for the past week because honestly, doing so kind of makes you a jackass. Nor do I care if you think I'm being dishonest by mentioning Kerry's stupid joke without mentioning that Bush called someone an asshole four years ago. Why don't I care? Because you are a jackass. And I don't even care if you want to write Bush Lied People Died (tm) 1,000 times in my comments on every post I make because you, my friend, are a jackass. I certainly don't care if by some incredible stretch of imagination and/or delusional thoughts you came to the conclusion that my post about Kerry somehow shows my inherent racism(??) then, wow. You are not just a jackass, but a flaming idiot as well. As one person said to me when I mentioned the subject to him: Aaron can find racism in a ham sandwich. So what do I care about? Well, DJ had two doubles today, his team is 10-1, the Simpsons finale is on tonight, my daughter is getting braces tomorrow, hey, it looks like it might rain, my car needs an oil change, I'm out of cigarettes, the kid across the street is crying up a storm and.. Well, let's just say there are a whole slew of things I care about more than your petulant, whiny rules for what I should or shouldn't be posting on my site. Now, I have some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and a fresh Guiness waiting for me. Caio.

The New Scandal!

Update 5/24: Welcome, dear Kos readers. I suggest you read the post below this one and then the update. [Hey, it was a rush job] Idea blatantly stolen from Jeff, in the comments here. \ [click for bigger] Like I said before, anyone actually going through great lengths to find a conspiracy within Bush's bike fall is out of their mind and, frankly, doesn't deserve to vote.

Presidential Material?

Apparently, when news of Bush's bike spill made its way to Kerry yesterday, he said to reporters "Did the training wheels fall off?" You want this petty, childish man as your president? It's one thing for the idiots over at DU to be making jokes like that, but a man who is campaigning to run this country (and championing his own integrity and honor) should really have better sense than to say something like that. (Drudge has the story, but no link yet. Here's a screen cap) And the fact that reporters are debating whether to treat it as on or off the record speaks volumes. You can bet your ass that if Bush said something like that, it would be making headlines at WaPo. As far as insults go, I've seen a lot worse. But this just makes Kerry look stupid and small. Update: Let's clarify one thing here: Kerry said this to reporters. In my book that makes him come of a sneering, little man. The fact that no one is actually reporting it is also a big issue. And to those who think the whole story of Bush falling off of his bike is some kind of White House coverup, especially to those who are going so far as to look up rainfall totals in Texas for the last week, I say this: Holy hell, people. How much Kool-Aid did you drink??

Resolve: My Response to Bill Whittle's Latest

Words mean things. There were words I heard last night and words I read this morning and while they express two completely different sentiments, they both acted as agents of power. What I heard was this: Michael Moore arrogantly claiming that he made his latest film in the hopes that those American soldiers who died in the Iraq war have not died in vain. What I read was this: Bill Whittle laying it all out on the line with incredible clarity. Combined, those words had an incredible impact on my current mind set. For a few months now, I've held onto the thin, fraying line of kinship between myself and some anti-war, anti-America friends and fellow bloggers. Bill Whittle has effectively sliced the last wisp of rope that held these two disparate ends together. I am, without any shred of doubt, firmly planted on the side of America. That's not say I wasn't on America's side before. But I still had these little pebbles of doubt kicking around in my sneakers. Are we losing Fallujah? Are we losing the war for hearts and minds? Are we every going to get out of Iraq? Will Abu Ghraib be the end of the war for us? Am I being too hard on Islam? Every time I walked closer to grabbing onto the U.S. flag and holding on for dear life, the pebbles would dig into my soles, reminders of the questions that lingered. As I watched people applaud Michael Moore's words last night and then took a stroll around the internet to see who else was applauding him, I had to ask myself: do I want any remaining association I have with these people? Do I really care what someone who thinks Michael Moore is a deliverer of truth and justice thinks of my ideology? I thought about these things all night and I suppose my dream manifested some of the ideas rattling my brain. The first thing I did when I woke up today was read Bill Whittle's latest essays. And a funny thing happened. My sense of despair is gone, replaced by hope. My visions of failure are gone, replaced by dreams of victory; victory not only for us in this war, but victory for the people of Iraq. I took the bait, Bill. I took the bait and wanted to flatten Fallujah and eradicate every last one of those bastards and move on. And now, I release myself from that hook they caught me with. I am not that easily swayed by the words of others. I read Bill's essays at 5am. I thought about his words while I did the dishes, did the laundry, walked to the store. I thought about them as I sat outside, watching the birds and listening to their chatter. I thought about them while I snapped pictures of the mist rising through the trees. And then I went back to the computer and read them again. I have faith now that we know what we are doing. I have faith that we - and our allies and the people we are fighting with and for - will come out of this victorious. Sadly, I also know that there are some people who will never, ever see any kind of victory, no matter how bold and obvious that victory is. But those are the people on the other end of the line I just cut. Good riddance. Please call me if you ever decide to think this thing through, to look at the world from a standpoint of what is good for the world at large, not just for yourself or your causes. We must have patience. We must accept the losses we will suffer and know that we will suffer more. We must be prepared to lose battles in our attempt to win the war. That is part of what I got from Bill's words. Resolve. We must have resolve. And part of having this resolve requires me to slam the door on those little demons of doubt that approach me every day, sent by people who want to hypnotize me into thinking we are in phase Doom of the war on terror. Look into my eyes, watch the circles spin, spin, spin.....wedding party.....prison torture.....hearts and minds..... Don't bother anymore. I have a repellant for those hypnotic demons now and it is called Resolve. I know Bill's essays were very long and contained at least 100 sentences of potential pull quotes, but I'm going to go with this one: Americans eat disasters and crap hand grenades. And I got your quagmire right here. We will not turn our backs on the people of Iraq. We will not cave into the raving moonbats. We will not hand our faith and hope over to John Kerry, I firmly believe that. And we will not let lying kooks like Michael Moore dictate our foreign policy. If we did that, we would all be kneeling towards Mecca eventually. Over the past few months, I have been playing a tug-of-war with myself. The game pits my old, pre 9/11 self with the person I am today. In the middle of the two of us is the bottomless canyon, into which the loser will fall and never, ever emerge. My current self has been tugging hard, nearly winning a few times, only to be pulled back my old self who is buoyed at the end of the rope by nagging doubts, among other things. Those doubts are heavy, indeed and are what have kept the game both competitive and still running. I had two people join me in my game last night. They tied themselves to my end, anchored themselves right onto my rope and did a giant heave ho. Bill Whittle and Michael Moore working together. Unfortunately for Moore, his mealy mouthed histrionics caused him to score an own goal. Imagine his surprise to find himself tethered to the likes of Bill Whittle and Charles Johnson and Daniel Henninger. It took just one heave and one ho for the rope to go slack as my former self went head over heels into the pit. The little demons of doubt are surely standing around wondering what happened. They'll stare at me, standing tall in my new resolve and they'll think twice about every trying to knock on my door again. That person is gone, baby, gone. You can go through my archives all you like and point out the things I used to say, but I'll just point to bottomless canyon and say, that person you are looking for is on a very long trip to oblivion. We are at war. Wars are made up of battles. If you want to know why it's important to keep fighting those battles even when we lose some, go read Strength. Read it if you want to know just how important this war is. Read it if you have any doubts as to why it's important to fight radical Islam. Read it if you want to know the cost of appeasing our enemies, and especially if you're still not quite sure just who are enemy is (hint, it's not us). And if for some reason you still don't see what I see, then I guess we are just looking at the same story from different sides of that canyon. It is my utmost belief that you, my friend, are standing on the wrong side. Thank you, Bill, for being an anchor just when I needed one.

i had a dream last night

I had another airplane dream last night.

We were outside a small church, decked out in gowns and black ties. The day was gloomy, or perhaps it was the time between twilight and full sunset when the world has a thin film of darkness covering it. I wasn't sure and kept looking at my watch, trying to determine if it was day or evening. The face on my watch was empty, though. Just a blank white spot where the numbers should have been. I shrugged it off as I walked over to the limo parked at the curb. We would be headed to a party at some ridiculously priced banquet hall. Someone said there would be live chickens that we could slay ourselves. I asked the person, who uses the word "slay" anymore? The person - whom I believe was distantly related cousin - you alway say "slay" when you're talking about live chickens. Or people.

A thunder head exploded above and I hiked up the bottom of my gown, expecting a sudden deluge of rain to flood the ground. I waited. I looked towards the sky. To my complete horror, I spotted a jumbo jet not too far above us (why was I the only one not oblivious to the plane and noise it was making?). The jet was upside down and clearly in deep trouble. I waved my hands around like a court jester, doing an odd sort of hopping from one foot to the other dance, pointing at the sky. My voice would not work.

Finally, I got everyone's attention and they let out a collective gasp as we watched the jet sink towards the earth, making a sound like a thousand whistles being blown in your ear at once. We knew it would crash right near us, yet not one of us moved, we just watched with mouths hung wide open.

It made a final, shuddery descent and landed on the well-trimmed lawns on the block east of the church; the plane must have taken up about five of these lawns all together, and the homeowners came out of their houses, all at the same time in some kind of synchronized fit of anger, and they all shook their fists in the air and cursed the pilot of the plane.

I ran with the rest of the wedding guests toward the plane. The pilot was emerging from wreckage when we got there, dazed and a bit scratched up. He asked for a drink. A Harvey Wallbanger, to be precise. One of the fist-shaking neighbors ran into his home to see if he had the correct ingredients.

We waited for the plane to blow up. While everyone else ordered drinks and examined their demolished gardens, those of us in the black-tie wedding attire just waited. A fireman arrived - just one - and he opened the gas tank of the plane as if it were the gas tank on a car, just right there on the side of the machine, and he declared that while the plane was almost out of gas, the fumes were very strong and might ignite the plane, so we should think about leaving.

We stood still. I watched the neighbors stir drinks and fight over who was going to pay to fix the begonias. I watched them organize a volleyball tournament and take out their garbage. And the plane, smoldering now, sat on their lawns, with one lone fireman trying his damndest to get the passengers out.

I thought it was odd that there was no screaming coming from inside the plane. I mentioned this to my cousin, standing next to me in a tuxedo, holding a beer. Oh, they were dead before the plane came down. This shocked me so much that I started crying. I ran to the fireman and told him to forget the people inside, we just needed to get away from the plane before it finally blew. He nodded sadly, took my hand and we walked away. We walked past the crowd of wedding people that I came with. We walked past the neighbors, now playing bocci ball. We walked past the church and past the limo and I remarked to the fireman that I needed to find a computer to get this story out, or at least tell my first person account of it. He told me not to bother, that nobody would really care and the people that might have cared were going to be in no position to be reading blogs and newspapers come morning.

I felt this hatred rise into my throat. I could taste it. It was like a lump of acidy oatmeal, just rising up and down from throat to stomach. I wanted to turn back, run back to the scene of the crash and scream at those neighbors who were so indifferent to the wreckage of a filled to capacity jumbo jet on their lawns. I spit on the ground to get the tastes of acid and hate out of my mouth and my spit burned a hole in the sidewalk. I grabbed the fireman's hand. I told him we had to go back. We had to do what we could, even if the passengers were dead. We had to find all the people who were at the wedding with me and make them see that there would be other planes. He reluctantly took my hand and walked with me.

When we got back, the plane was in flames. All my wedding companions were gathered in a circle, crying. The neighbors played volleyball by the light of the fire, the flickering of the flames throwing weird shadows against the sides of their houses, like a dance of the macabre. Music played somewhere. Shadows swayed. Flames leapt. Children shouted. And I stood still, waiting for the sound of sirens or helicopters or something that would tell me that there was still some shred of normalcy somewhere.

The dream stayed at that spot for a while, as if someone had hit the pause button. I woke myself up.

May 22, 2004

cicadas in a half shell

Take the Cicada Test!

via the doc

Life of Sunburned Agony

Of course, it's Saturday night, that's why no one is around. I'm only here because my sunburn precludes from going out and stalking the mosh pit at tonight's Life of Agony concert, taking place within walking distance from my home. Ok, it's not really the sunburn. It's that whole not leaving the kids home alone thing. Damn kids, always ruining my fun. Wait, I think they're supposed to say that about me. I console myself with the Life of Agony DVD and the small, small glimmer of the old days I felt when I drove past the club today and saw the band's tour bus parked outside. Anyhow, I discovered a great picture I shot of DJ today, but the camera was on multiple shot mode, so it's a really small picture. Damn. today 011.jpg Maybe it is partly the sunburn. You know, I do this at least once a year - go to a game and sit there on a hazy day as if that haze was going to keep me from burning. I deserve this agony. Hey, Bill Whittle is at it again. Go read, I hear it's great. I printed my copy out for bedtime reading. How sad is it to be spending a Saturday night making belligerent comments on Fark and watching Finding Nemo?

there i was

This week's entry for Photo Friday (category: macro) is number 315. New 100 Word Story: Bad Luck Wind. Today's Advice: Don't forget the sunscreen. Really. I speak from experience.

DU jumps the shark

Democratic Underground can no longer be parodied. They've reached that level where a joke about them can't possibly be funnier than the reality. See, Bush fell off his bike today, ended up with a few cuts and bruises. Now, I knew the DU would be making fun of this and that's ok, because who among you didn't make a joke when Kerry fell off of his bike? But jokes are not enough for this crowd. They shook out their conspiracy banner for this story. I know, you're thinking that nobody could stretch this story into a conspiracy. Oh, but they have. See, Bush didn't really fall of his bike. In fact, he never even rides a bike at all. This is all something cooked up by his staff to make him look tough - or at least like he's smart enough to ride a bicycle, according to DU. And it doesn't stop there. The bruises we'll see on his face? Not from the "bike fall" at all. They're scars from having lesions (or legions as one bright light writes) removed, which were caused by too much sun exposure. Or....Laura hit him. Or....he crashed his truck into a tree (driving while drunk, of course). Or....Jenna threw something at him. They're even starting in with the fact checks. Clowns, I tell you. Crazy, out of touch with reality clowns. Pure comedy, folks. Unintentional, but comedic nonetheless.

talkin' (little league) baseball

If you need to de-stress, go watch a Little League game. Even though it was about 100 degrees and humid, it was still the best two hours of my week. He's so happy this year becausee heo has a really good team (and coaches) behind him - his pitching is great but the defense that backs him up is stellar. And his hitting has improved about 100% since last year. Baseball is the greatest thing for DJ's self-esteem, which is usually lacking. I love watching this team; for two hours these kids are nothing but fiercely determined and competitive. They have their game faces on the whole time. And the minute the game ends, both teams - no matter who wins - are running around the field, game faces gone and six inning forgotten as they douse each other in water or converge for a conversation about guitars or the Yankees. Not one kid knows their own personal stats (though the parents keep track - we do get some bragging rights, if only to ourselves) and they don't care. They play a hard as pros for two hours and then go back to being little kids as soon as the game is over. I wish I had that capacity to take something so seriously and then let it go when necessary. oh, who am I kidding? My son rocks. He's batting better than Jeter and pitching better than half the Yankee staff. The other coaches come around just to watch him play. His fielding would put half the major leagues to shame. Hey, I'm a parent. I have the right to do that.

programming note

As much as I love Blogrolling, and as much as it has served me well for the past year or so (probably longer), I have taken the code out permanently. It seems to be going down a lot a lately, which slows down the loading time of this site considerably. I'll be rolling my own, so to speak*. It's something I've been meaning to do for a long time, anyhow. Does anyone know how I can implement a "recently updated" feature on a hand-coded blogroll (using weblogs.com, I presume)? I just put the blogroll on a separate page for now. I know how terribly interesting this must be for all of you, as the world lives and dies by my blogroll. What's that? It doesn't. What a relief, then. *later, I've got a baseball game to attend first

Shadow Knows

American GodsYou are American Gods! You are mysterious,
intelligent, and creative. To the rest of the
world you may seem a little standoffish, but
really youre just a quiet person. Youre sort of
bookish and are intrigued by mythology and
fairy tales. You might be Wiccan or Pagan,
either that or youre unreligious. You have a
sarcastic sense of humor and are the kind of
person people like to talk to because youre
such a good listener.

*~Which Neil Gaiman book are you?~*
brought to you by Quizilla If you know Neil Gaiman's works well enough, you can pretty much choose the answers accordingly to yield the result you want. I tried to be honest. Well, as honest as one can be on tests that give you multiple choice answers regarding your innermost emotions.

May 21, 2004

hide the comic books

The most absurd piece of legislation I have ever seen. More on this tomorrow. I just wanted to point this out for now. And people wonder why I don't toe the Republican party line.

Mars, bitches!

This post is from my husband. He's dictating. [Hehehe she said dictating] All you liberal mofos and lefties and tree huggers and terrorist sympathizers and "you killed my son but i hate the president more than you" people, go watch Mars Attacks! I know it wasn't a very good movie but the message is there: The holy war is upon you! They will say they are our friends and that we give them no choice but to do what they have to do, and they will fucking kill you where you stand. You'll all be standing there holding your banners and flowers and saying ohhh they come in peace and next thing you know, Jack Black is vaporized. Arm yourselves, make weapons. Read the Zombie Survivial Guide, but cross out zombie and write terroristss/radical Muslims/whatever you choose in place of it. I have no political affiliation whatsover. I'm just scared and I'm purchasing my sixth katana and making potato guns and then I'm gonna buy two Howitzers and I'll name them Ebony and Ivory. Mars Attacks, bitches! Ack ack is just short for Allahu Akbar! JACK NICHOLSON IS NOT MY PRESIDENT!! --Justin [ed note: I see now that Allah spoke on this subject already. Great minds, etc.]

radio, radio: murder, she said

Tonight's selections are made to order for the post below. Enjoy.

Die, die my darling

Friday nights are generally quite around here, so I'll just throw out this one question for anyone hanging around: Via Bill and Shiela, name your favorite movie death. I voted for Sonny's death in The Godfather. I felt Sonny's terror - being trapped in the car, knowing what's going to happen, waiting for the first bullets to strike. I've seen the movie hundreds of times (well, maybe more like 70) and I still hold my breath during that scene. When the film came out, everyone said that Sonny's death was filmed at the toll booths in Long Beach and people would drive out there to check out the spot, but it was actually filmed on an old runway at Mitchel Field (which is now home to the Cradle of Aviation museum, but I digress). Anyhow, favorite movie deaths. [And now, I think I'll make a death-themed radio station for tonight] Update: To add to my list (or at least agree with people in the comments) "This is for...Matilda" True Romance Walken/Hopper scene Definitely the Black Rain scene with Andy Garcia. Whenever that movie is on, I watch it just for that part. The rest of the movie kind of sucked.

Blogosphere: 1 Hooters: 0 (updated)

[See previous post for context] Never, ever underestimate the combined power of blogs and Stacy's wrath. Stacy - and everyone else who emailed Hooters today - received this response from Hooters management:
Thank you for expressing your concern regarding the contest in Florida. A store manager decided to host an event for the employee's children which is not a part of Hooters National Marketing promotions, and has been cancelled. Best regards, Alexis Aleshire Marketing Hooters of America 1815 The Exchange Atlanta, GA 30339
Added Stacy: That sounds like an utter load of horseshit to me, but the goal of getting the damned thing cancelled has been accomplished. Many thanks to everyone who linked to this and sent email to Hooters. GO TEAM!!! Damn straight. Thanks for taking the intiative, Stacy. Update: Interesting update from Stacy: bq. **UPDATE the seventh - Husband just arrived home and reminded me of the phone conversation he had with the Hooters employee last night (he's the one that made the call)...and the person on the phone told us there was no entry fee and to be sure to get there early to sign up. Gee, that really sounds like an "event for the employee's children" doesn't it. NOT. I've emailed the Hooters rep with this bit of info, curious to see what she/he comes back with. Verrrry interesting.

lists for the listless (upated)

You know I have this thing about lists, so when I saw FAD was making lists today, I decided to steal his idea. Mostly because, while I feel like blogging, I don't feel like blogging anything that is going to make my head ache today. FAD made this list up. * Song that most makes me want to kick someone's ass. Sepultura - Roots, Bloody Roots I dare you to listen to this song and not get the urge to lace up the Doc Martens and find someone to kick. It's Max. He brings out the animal in me. * Most Romantic Song Type O Negative - Love You to Death Come on, is there anything more romantic than I am your servant, may I light your cigarette? Sure, you may think I'm confusing romantacism * Best Song For Seducing The Ladies Well, I haven't tried to seduce many ladies, but I suppose if were going that way I would try Prodigy's Firestarter. And maybe that's why I don't get any girls. * Secret Shame Favorite Song Limp Bizkit - Sour. Shut up. Just. Shut. Up. At least I have the balls to admit it. * Best Song Involving Confusion Over Eye Color The obvious (and I believe only) answer is FAD's: Temptation, New Order. That was a really short list. If you make up some more categories/questions whatever you want to call them, I'll put my answer up. Stick to the music theme. This post brough to you by a huge case of Friday Work Procrastination. And Farm Accident Digest. Update: As per Steve: Song I should like but I don't: For some reason people think I'm supposed to be using Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA as my personal anthem. Honestly, I don't think there are many songs I hate more. Also, I think I'm supposed to like Megadeth, it's like one of the rules of Metal Club that you're not supposed to talk about. But I hate Megadeth. I hate Dave Mustaine. And now, this guy is going to take away my Metal Club card.

disturbing behavior III

Little Miss Hooters: Wrong, in so many ways. Update: I know that this story is in good hands with Stacy, but anyone else in the Tampa Bay area who is as horrified at the prospect of a Little Miss Hooters as we are, should call their local papers and television stations. Update: Score one for the blogosphere!

the wrong enemy

I am blockquoting this whole thing from Jeff Jarvis, as he picked out the prize paragraphs: [Before you read this, let it be known that I do think grieving parents should be given a bit of leeway in situations like this; as I've said many times in just the past week, grief makes people do and say things that may not seem rational to others. However, Mr. Berg was a far, far leftie before his son was murdered. Everything I have read about and by the man leads me to believe that he truly believes in everything he is saying below]
People ask me why I focus on putting the blame for my son's tragic and atrocious end on the Bush administration. They ask: "Don't you blame the five men who killed him?" I have answered that I blame them no more or less than the Bush administration, but I am wrong: I am sure, knowing my son, that somewhere during their association with him these men became aware of what an extraordinary man my son was. I take comfort that when they did the awful thing they did, they weren't quite as in to it as they might have been. I am sure that they came to admire him. I am sure that the one who wielded the knife felt Nick's breath on his hand and knew that he had a real human being there. I am sure that the others looked into my son's eyes and got at least a glimmer of what the rest of the world sees. And I am sure that these murderers, for just a brief moment, did not like what they were doing. George Bush never looked into my son's eyes. George Bush doesn't know my son, and he is the worse for it. George Bush, though a father himself, cannot feel my pain, or that of my family, or of the world that grieves for Nick, because he is a policymaker, and he doesn't have to bear the consequences of his acts. George Bush can see neither the heart of Nick nor that of the American people, let alone that of the Iraqi people his policies are killing daily.... Even more than those murderers who took my son's life, I can't stand those who sit and make policies to end lives and break the lives of the still living.... So what were we to do when we in America were attacked on September 11, that infamous day? I say we should have done then what we never did before: stop speaking to the people we labelled our enemies and start listening to them. Stop giving preconditions to our peaceful coexistence on this small planet, and start honouring and respecting every human's need to live free and autonomously, to truly respect the sovereignty of every state. To stop making up rules by which others must live and then separate rules for ourselves.
I do understand why a lot of people are anti-Bush. Their belief system varies from mine and that's all well and good. Different strokes, etc. But this goes beyond reason. Like Jeff said, Mike Berg is using his son as a poltical pawn. Worse, he is using his son's death to gain sympathy for terrorists. And I am sure that these murderers, for just a brief moment, did not like what they were doing. The shouts of Allahu Akbar and the excuberant chanting tells me otherwise. So this guy thinks that in response to 9/11, we should have stopped what we were doing and gone over for a group hug with those people so we can better get to know them and find out why they want to kill us so. Root causes, my ass. You know what the root cause of all this? For 2,000 years, radical Islamists have believed that they own the right to chop off the heads of infidels. Last I checked, George W. Bush was not around 2,000 years ago. And let me tell you, Mr. Berg - if George Bush had looked into your son's eyes, it wouldn't be while he was slicing his head off. Proof is in the pudding. Even if the terrorists that killed Nick Berg found him to be a wonderful human being who supported their cause, they still killed him. Is Mike Berg ok with that? I'm never going to get tired of repeating this: They. Will. Kill. You. When they attack us again - and they will - they will kill you, too. They will not care if you belong to ANSWER or Move On. They will not care that you support them. They will not be going through the buildings or subways or whatever structure they plan to blow up and pull out the anti-war people. Make no mistake, they hate you. They will use you as pawns while they can but in the end, you'll be on the same end of their terrorism as I will. You are completely delusional if you think otherwise, just as you are delusional if you think this war of civilizations can ever be settled. People who believe that their god gives them the right to slice necks and blow up buildings will never, ever come to a peaceful settlement of any kind, at least not one that doesn't involve your conversion to Islam. Mike Berg is an opportunist who is seizing the moment of his son's death as a way to spread his leftist propaganda. How incredibly disgusting. [More from the Captain]

taking it when i can get it

This first place moment is dedicated to the Soxaholix. Update: Speaking of my favorite Red Sox fans, one of my best buddies, Solly (hey, he's a leftie and a Sox fan! Cats and dogs!), wanted to do something nice for me in light of all my stress and whatnot yesterday, so he - being the rock and roll god that he is - recorded himself singing the I Love You song for me, complete with smoking guitar solo. You can find it over in my metal up your ass radio station over there on the left. If you are so inclined - and you really should be inclined - you can hear more of the Great Solonor's guitar/vocal work over here.

May 20, 2004

radio, radio: stain of mind

the thursday portion of radio, radio goes out to carol Tonight's ASV radio program (left sidebar) reflects the current mood, which is one that I call combustible. If you like your music loud and hard you will most certainly enjoy tonight's playlist. If you don't, I suggest you wait until tomorrow for something more soothing. The Dillinger Escape Plan song features the vocal stylings of the one and only Mike Patton, in a remake of Aphex Twins' Come to Daddy. The Prong song is for Rob. Bang your head, kids. Do it for me. Do it for America. [I may take a few requests as long as I'm here - just make sure they fit with the playlist and I'll see if I can dig your song up] Update: Added some Sepultura by special request.

Jagoff* of the Day

Fuck you. It is people like you that are making a mockery out of what these hearings were supposed to be about. You don't even give a crap about 9/11. It is all about putting the spotlight on yourself for you grandstanding activists. To compare yourself and your showboating boyfriend to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks just shows how god damn ignorant you are. The only reason you were there is because your boyfriend is a career activist with a hard on for Rudy Giuliani. Just like a typical moonbat, you took someone else's cause and made it your own. I feel sorry for those that thought you were there to take up their banner. Now you're trying to gain some celebrity off of Christopher's outburst. You're a fucking leech of society. You may be proud of yourself and your antics now, but I hope some day down the road you look in the mirror and realize what that you were nothing but an activism whore. Sadly, your activism is all smoke and mirrors, nothing more than illusions conjoured up by your boyfriend so he can get his jollies by hounding Giuliani. Fuck you. [Karol wrote on this yesterday. Make sure you read all the comments. What a couple of egotistical, delusional swines] *

singing the doom song

So some of you caught the missing post here and wondered what happened. You guessed correctly: Another delay with the house. The problem is that we are dealing with a divorcing couple. Whatever ugly things are going on between the two, we are left dealing with the aftermath. Today's holdup comes because the guy just can't seem to fly in tomorrow. He knew about this all week, yet he just can't get a flight in tomorrow. Right. The woman doesn't even want to sell the house, but she has to as part of the divorce settlement. I'm not going to hold anything against her; from what the neighbors tell me, the guy just up and left her right after she gave birth to their only child. He told some of the guys that he just didn't want to be married or a father. Great time to decide that, asswipe. So now the guy screws us (most likely in the effort to screw his wife from getting the much needed money from the sale of the house) and we are left here amid boxes upon boxes of our belongings. When I say we are all ready to kill each other, I do not exaggarate. We have nothing. Everything is packed. And all the packed stuff is pile around the place so there's really nowhere to move. Two people cannot be in a room at the same time. We want to paint and clean up before we leave, but we can't do that until we get the furniture out of here, which we can't do because...well, that's obvious. Meanwhile, I have a new bedroom set and a couch stored at someone else's house and they kind of want it out of their house. I am barely holding it together right now, so you'll all understand if I go crawl under my bed and never come out, right? Or maybe I'll just spontaneously combust. They'll find pieces of me scattered all over the tri-state area. Just scrape them up and throw them out along with the cicada shells. Or maybe I'll just open the tequila and load some really loud, angry songs into the radio station. What I'll probably end up doing is crying, though. I'll shake my fists and sing the doom song while I do it, but I will cry my little heart out. Deep breaths. Deeeeep breaths.

one cicada, two cicada, three cicada, FIRE!

_40171173_cic_ap_203.jpeI'm waiting for these fuckers. That's when I'll be able to finally vent all of my anger and frustration. See, I remember the last cicada blast. No, wait, not the last one. I was 24 for that crop and I don't really remember much about 24. At least not about cicadas. But I do remember one summer when I was a wee child (obstensibly I would have been seven at the time, but maybe this was when I was 24 and was just hungover enough to think I was seven?). Anyhow, the cicadas came. They were loud, annoying and crunchy. Yes, crunchy. Everywhere you stepped, the cicadas crunched underfoot. We couldn't go barefoot that summer. We couldn't even eat outside. These things would just randomly drop dead and fall out of trees. So we spent a few weeks crushing and dissecting cicadas. If my memory serves me well, they had a yellowish, lumpy inside. For some reason, that's a childhood image that has stuck with me for all these years. Stomping on a bug and watching the yellow fluid that looked kind of like pastina run out of the dead insect. One less noisemaker! One less thing to step on! And then I dreamed for nights on end about the living cicadas taking revenge on me. They were giant sized and hard shelled and unkillable. And they ate me. Night after night, they would chomp off bits and pieces of me. First night, they took my hands. The next night I entered the dream as a handless child and then they ate my arms. And so on and so on. Until it all turned out to be one huge dream, where there were dreams within dreams all of w hich resulted in my ending up with nothing but a head, just my little, seven year old head sitting there on the blanket outside, the cicadas approaching and they were all singing something like "we're coming to get you for killing our king" and all I could do was blink and try like hell to wake myself up. My kingdom for a blowtorch. And some arms. So now the bastards are back. I haven't seen nor heard them yet, but I hear we are about ten seconds away from the army of cicadas emerging from the ground, when they will form armies and burn and pillage our villages, rape our women, kidnap our children and destroy our crops. I am ready for them. And don't you PETA people or insect activists give me any shit about this either. These cicadas have been haunting my nightmares for 24 years now. I will not be able to rest until I kill as many as possible. Right now I am armed with a gallon of gasoline and few matches, but I'm thinking a Howitzer wouldn't be too much overkill. Would it?

can't we start a petition to ban him from his own movies?

From Garrulatis: bq. But it isn't just that. Apparently, when he releases the DVD's for Return of the Jedi, he'll be cutting out Sebastian Shaw from the famous shot at the end of the movie where the ghosts of Anakin, Yoda, and Obi-Wan are standing together, and replacing him with that whiny little punk Hayden Christiansen. Please stop him. Somebody, for the love of the force, stop him. There's a reason this site is number one for George Lucas is a Fuckwad. And so ever shall it remain, so long as he still breathes. To quote myself, if I may: I am working on inventing a time machine. I will use it to go back in time and kill George Lucas before he ever had the chance to make Episodes 1 and 2. Maybe even I'll go back as far as inventing the Ewoks.

sometimes it comes back

"We're all hurt," he said. "We're all damaged. We're all very, very angry. And we're all feeling the loss of heroes that we love." - Rudy Giuliani, May 19, 2004 Every so often I get days like today where itís right there. 9/11 stares at me from every corner and crevice, it envelops every sentence, every thought and it drives a chariot through my nerves, leaving them raw and bleeding. Thereís usually a reason; this monster doesnít just leap up out of nowhere like it used to. Lately, itís been the 9/11 hearings but sometimes it is as simple as a dream that carries with it the memories I thought I buried, or perhaps itís the weather. A blue sky, a warm wind, the temperature set at early spring. Thatís all it takes sometimes for the day to appear the same. Iíve been able to brush the days off, mostly. I email Faith because we share this proclivity for wearing our 9/11 memories very close to the skin. I didnít mail her today; sheís on vacation and I donít want to bring her the one thing sheís trying to get away from. So I sit and think and write and stare out the window. The sky is a perfect blue. An airplane is approaching - I hear it before I see it. It glides overhead, casting a very quick shadow over the block. The shadow is gone before the plane is, and I watch it carefully, imagining that itís banking the wrong way or going too fast or flying too low. Ironically, itís not the sound or sight of low flying planes that gives me the most pause. Itís the lack of planes. When the sky is empty - which is not often just miles from Kennedy and LaGuardia - I find myself holding my breath. I wait. In the days right after 9/11, it was the absence of noise in the sky that made the nightmare scenario so stark. No airplanes, no thunderous approaches, no whistling take-offs. The complete silence made the world a surreal, empty field. When the planes started flying again, they made noises like bullets and bombs; that is what my ears heard, anyhow. My skin would break out in little bumps of fear. Sometimes I would put down whatever I was doing and swiftly walk inside the house. Often times, I saw my neighbors do the same. They would look towards the sky, stare at the plane for maybe a moment and then the rake would drop and my neighbor would be in the house before the clang of the rake hitting the floor stopped. Almost three years later and we have learned to love the sound of flight. The thunder of a jet engine is welcome, it means all is ok. Itís the prolonged silences that disturb us. Have the planes been grounded? Why are there no planes in the sky? My sister will call from her office and whisper, I havenít seen a plane in half an hour. This is my residue of September 11th. I live with it, some days more than others. I live with the pain, the sadness and the anger that have sometimes consumed me since that day. There are some who say I have no right to those feelings. I was not there. I was miles away, watching the burning sky from a distance safe from the inevitable fall of the towers. There are some who say that you donít have the right to grieve or feel anger. You live in Arkansas or London or Canada. You did not know anyone who died. Youíve never even been to New York. But they have the right, of course, because their brotherís best friendís teacherís cousin died that day and therefore their grief and their anger is more important, more certifiable than yours. I did not know anyone who was in the Murrah building when it exploded, yet I still cry for the victims. I donít remember anyone trying to deny the nationís collective grief over that tragedy. So why 9/11? Why has this become a polarizing event, one where certain people feel the need to line us up according to grief size and determine that only the people at the head of the line get a pass on being angry or sad? I took 9/11 personally not because I knew people who died that day, but because it was personal. My city was attacked. My state was attacked. My country was attacked. This was not an attack on your wife or cousin or neighborís stockbroker specifically. It was on all of us, every last one of us, left or right, black or white, in Nebraska or Georgia. My country. My pride. My safety. My childrenís future. No, not just MY. Ours. Our country. Our pride. Our safety. Our future. Nobody has the right to tell you that you canít be pissed off that this happened. Nobody has the right to say that your emotions are any less valid because you saw the towers fall from television. I am still astounded at how these attacks divided us rather than bring us together. Itís only gotten worse; the hearings have made it so that people are lining up on sides that I never imagined existed. I donít think anyone imagined on September 11, 2001 that there would be a Blame Bush movement when the smoke cleared. I certainly canít imagine that anyone would have been able to predict a blame Giuliani force, or that major D.C. players would be mocking the efforts of the NYPD and NYFD. When the day comes back to me in full force, as it has today, I have this added sense of loss to go with it now. Not just people I knew. Not just 3,000 victims. Not just the hole in the face of New York. We have lost something even greater since then and it kicks me in the gut every time I wake up and feel like 9/11 all over again. It was hard enough to face these days knowing that the images cemented in my head would do their free float again. Now I add to that the grieving I do for all of us, for this country and the future of it. When did we become so embittered that even the topic of grieving over a loss of thousands of your countrymen and women is a battle in and of itself, that instead of assigning blame to the forces that broke us, we gather in meeting halls with torches ready to burn each other? A nation divided. Who would have thought that an act of war could force us into a war of our own? I certainly would never have ventured to guess that we would be fighting over the right to our rage, fear and tears, that's for sure.

the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my hair

Never underestimate the power of hair. A bad haircut (or just a bad hair day) can really destroy your sense of well being. I am not even close to kidding about this. In fact, I have already written several times about hair trauma. To wit:
I'm having a Bad Hair Day. I'm not a vain person, by any means. However, Bad Hair is about more than just walking around looking like a blind person constructed a wig for you. No, Bad Hair encompasses the entire body, soul and mind of your being. It weighs you down, it makes you grumpy, it takes that last shred of human decency you had and shoves it over the cliff of dignity so you are left with an attitude that would maim the most hardened terrorists with just a glare from your frosty, evil eyes. Bad Hair is not a bad coif. It's not a brush or comb away from sanity. It's miles and miles away from any sane place in the world. Bad Hair combines every aspect of your body, mind and soul, taking you on a strange journey from your mutterance of death wishes upon every person in the world to the sharpening of your fingernails so you can better gouge out the eyes of your co-workers. So let's go, Meryl and Andrea (ed note: this was written on a day when Meryl and Andrea wanted to throw down). I'm waiting. As soon as someone nominates an entity, human or otherwise, who is deserving of our wrath, I am there.
And then there was something about taking my bad hair mood and working with it, channeling that anger to do...something. I am Bad Hair Girl. Superhero to the sufferers of split ends, savior to the follicly challenged, avenger of the too-much-conditioner victims. Here I come to save the Bad Hair Day. With blowdryer and hot oil treatment packed in my bag to take care of that hair, and my trusty spork-of-death and fists-of-rage ready to take care of your emotional outlet needs. Yea. So if anyone needs any sporking done today, I'm your gal. And until I figure out a way to dissipate this hair-rage, whatever long winded essay I had in mind for this morning will have to wait. I wonder if their is such thing as a hair-rage defense in court?

day by day takes wing?

So do I take this to mean that Day by Day has finally made it? Ah, it won't be long before product placements appear in the strip and Chris does book signings with a posse in tow and starts saying things like Blogosphere who? Kidding! I hope and I read this right and congratulations are in order.

May 19, 2004

radio, radio: My Playlist Wants Atkins

Tonight's radio program is called Does This Playlist Make Me Look Fat? (thanks, Rob) I don't know if the songs have all that much to do with the title, except that a couple of the dudes in COC are kind of fat and Billy Corgan has a fat head. Oh, and Peter Steele has a fat ego. Anyhow, enjoy the tuneage and, as always, feel free to give short critique. Now for tonight's non-political, non-partisan question: Am I the only one is absolutley dying to see The Stepford Wives?

Where I Try to Part Ways With Teddy Boy

I gotta hand it to Teddy boy, he's really going out on that limb of nutiness to draw a crowd. Problem is, I really don't know what to do with this one. Excerpt: bq. Had they stood firmly against the war and Bush, on the right side of history, they might have helped slow or even reverse the rush to war during the winter of 2002-3. Their failure to accurately assess the case for war, coupled with their willful blindness to this Administration's neofascist tendencies, contributed to needless carnage, attacks on individual rights and the creation of dozens of covert CIA gulags around the world. Every time someone was raped at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base or Gitmo, Tom Friedman and Christopher Hitchens and Bill O'Reilly and David Brooks were de facto accomplices. He ends his little screed with this: The pro-war pundits got the biggest story of their careers dead wrong. Now a lot of people are wrongly dead. The fact that this sorry lot still draw paychecks is a tribute to America's infinite capacity for forgiveness. It's really making my head hurt. Ted Rall, who told people to not support our soldiers. Ted Rall, who has published countless numbers of columns, cartoons and the like all but supporting (and in one or two cases outright supporting) terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, Ted Rall who thinks that someone calling a newspaper to say that they don't like a shitty cartoon they carry is crushing of dissent - he wants the war commentators fired. And he implicates them in crimes. How very Vast Right Wing Conspiracy of you, Ted. I'm starting to think that I should end my relationship with Mr. Rall. This column is far beyond the pale that just reading it made me feel...icky, for lack of a better word. I see Ted in a whole new light now. He's the kid in the back of the class, the one with snot stains on his sleeve and a crust of saliva around his mouth, the one who talks to himself on the playground and whose personality is a guaranteed friend repellant. Is there anyone who wants to touch this guy now? Even most lefties I talk to - and I mean leaning towards moonbat lefties - hold up garlic cloves and crosses when I mention his name. One has to believe that most of the supportive mail he prints is either from make believe friends or made with some random fan mail generator, maybe the same one that Vincent Gallo uses. You can go to land of make believe and you can pretend, but in the end you still have no friends Ted, I think this is goodbye. We've had joy, we've had fun, we had treason in the sun...I just can't keep reading the work of someone whose words make me feel as if I stuck my hand in a bowl of worms. Icky. (thanks to Jim for the link)

programming note

The radio is back, as my blogging legal advisers sthink it's a far better thing for the feds to chase me through Vegas than for me to just sit here drinking and having hallucinations about women and polar bears. That is really freaky, man. I need a title, however ridiculous, silly, lengthy or obtuse, for tonight's mix.

Open Discussion in Lieu of Hand Wringing: Best Sporst Moments

I have three posts on draft. All of them the rants of a raving right winger. Or maybe just a depressed and disheartened denizen of Doom. Which is the capital of Gloom. They'll stay on draft for now. Let's just do something mindless*, ok? Over at this post, we've been discussing the greatest moments in baseball history. So let's bring it up here and open it up a bit. The greatest moment (in your eyes, at least) in the history of all of sports. Discuss. * I say this knowing full well that this topic could start a flame war that will burn at levels higher and faster than any war/news topic could ever approach.

buy me some peanuts and some of that other stuff that tastes like CRAP!

Let's move on to a different subject, shall we? I'm not quite done with the old one yet, but I need a breather. cj1.jpgI am boycotting Yankee Stadium. Granted, I don't go to too many games because the Major Deegan Expressway is something I try to avoid at all costs. Still, this is cause for outrage and action: The ballpark snack paired with peanuts in the stadium anthem "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" will no longer be around for the seventh-inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. Cracker Jack has been replaced by the competing caramel popcorn Crunch 'n Munch at the home of the Bronx Bombers. "Cracker Jack is a brand name," Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost told The New York Times for its Wednesday editions. "We're selling a caramel crunch that is the same thing as Cracker Jack." Trost compared the difference between Cracker Jack and Crunch 'n Munch to "Frigidaire versus refrigerator, or aspirin and Bayer, or Jell-O and gelatin. One has to believe that Mr. Trost has never tasted Crunch 'n Munch. See, Cracker Jacks nearly melt in your mouth as they drown your taste buds in sugary, smooth as butter waves of pleasure, which is only heightened by the sweet, salty peanuts. Eating Crunch 'n Munch is comparable to eating cardboard laced with some kind of acidic medicine. There is no comparison. And it's not just the taste, it's the history. The Yankees themselves, and the stadium, are steeped in glory and history. Their name is legend. To take Cracker Jacks away from the masses and replace it with such pedestrian fare is tantamount to erasing the entire aura of historical greatness from the Stadium. It's a slippery slope, folks. How soon before they take away the dirty water dogs? We cannot let this happen. And what of the song? Take me out To the ball game Take me out With the crowd Buy me some peanuts And Crackerjacks I don't care if I never never get back Buy me some peanuts and Crunch 'n Munch? Does Crunch 'n Munch even have nifty prizes? I don't think so. So Steinbrenner and company are trying to deny you the one thing that may make suffering through another lousy pitching performance worth it. Give me my teddy bear tattoo back, you thief! I think at the next Yankee home game, everyone should go right ahead and buy a big old box of the Crunch stuff. And when the seventhing inning stretch comes along, you just go right ahead and sing along with Take Me Out To The Ballgame. But when they get to the part about Cracker Jacks, everyone should throw their boxes of Crunch 'n Munch on the field. This works on two levels - not only will the Stadium management get the point, but the pigeons will swoop in to eat the spilled munchies, thereby ruining the field, causing the Yankees to forfeit the game. Yes, I'm a Yankee fan and I know how much this would hurt, but I am first and foremost a baseball purist (no, I do not like the DH), and the Yankees' vulgar display of historical ignorance in the name of presumably saving a few bucks has hit quite the sore spot. Trust me, there are plenty of other ways for the Yanks to save some money.

that day [Updated]

I'm listening to Rudy Guliani testify before the hearing committee. I was going to write as he spoke. He just mentioned Pete Ganci's name and I lost it. Again. More later. But you should be listening or watching. Update: He is describing the last moment's of Pete's life - his heroics and his efforts to have his department save as many people as possible. This makes yesterday's histrionics by that piece of shit John Lehman even more despicable. Please listen to this. Giuliani: "And then [Pete Ganci] wished us well...I shook his hand and said God bless you and he said the same....on the way to the command post I saw Father Judge, shook hands with him, it was the last time I saw him....." It's that day all over again. Sometimes I wonder why I am not over this yet. It only lasts a second until I realize that I don't want to be over it. But, still....there are some days, like today, when I cry as if it just happened. And then I think about where we are right now as a nation and I know that are too many people that haven't learned a damn thing. I wish I could just put it all behind me like they do. Update: Who the hell are these people clapping. Timothy Roemer just mentioned that bin Laden was specified in the warnings. People applaud and whistle. That gives the whole commission and all the hearings a huge black eye. Every clap and every hoot and holler makes this whole thing look like nothing more than a partisan sham presented with the intent to discredit people and get Bush out of office. More: Kerrey talking about the people who died that day... "Christians...Muslims..Jews..and, dare I say it, people who don't believe in God." What an ass. 10:00: They keep moving the bar on Giuliani. What if, what if, what if? What if there were ten thousand bombs falling from the sky while radiation leaked from the sewer system and Godzilla was trampling through Brooklyn? Huh? I bet you don't have anything in place for that scenario! Lie of the day: this commission not in search of blame or villians. Yet everything about it says exactly the opposite. Update: Somebody just interrupted the hearing - a woman shouting my son was murdered! There are people clapping and someone else shouting Lies! These fucking people are asking about oil contracts, they are shouting from the audience about god damn contracts. Son of a bitch. Shut these people up. If they want to protest about that crap, go stand on a street with the rest of the ANSWER crowd. This is not the time and place. We are supposed to be helping. We are supposed to be holding these hearings to prevent something like 9/11 from happening again. Instead, it's an anti-Bush rally, once again. I am so disgusted I can't even find the words. 10:30 - I missed part of it when the Windows Media froze up, but it looks like some people were shouting as the walked out of the commission. I could have sworn they were saying something about al Qaeda, but I'm not sure. Last update: Giuliani received great applause at the end. The applause for him drowned out whatever that sleazy guy at the end was ranting about. I do know that the people giving grief at the commission are a small number. But they are loud and they make me angry.

correction on perfection

The most beautiful thing in baseball has always been and always will be this. ctm-denthr.jpg

We are what they are not

We are the United States of America. We are a good people, a just people and, above all, people who treasure freedom, democracy and all that comes with having those things. They are the rulers of the modern dark ages. They are (or were, as the case may be) Saddam, Uday, Qusay, bin Laden, al Sadr, the Mullahs of Iran and many, many others. They are from many countries, many different places, but they all represent the same thing: evil. For those who say there is no difference between us and them, this should tell you that there is all the difference in the world: Sivits Found Guilty in Iraq Abuse Trial We see abuse of prisoners as a crime. They don't. We make those who abuse others pay for their crimes. They reward them. We view prisoner abuse as an aberration. They encourage it. They cut off their prisoner's hands. We find doctor's to give the victims new hands. We have men and women among our ranks who commit crimes and dishoner the armed forces. We do what's right. They hired people specifically to behead, torture and rape prisoners and that is what they consider honor. That is what separates us from them and why you should never say we are just as bad as they are. We are the good guys. They are not.

May 18, 2004

Perfect is...

Randy Johnson. There is nothing in all of sports more beautiful than a perfect game.

What could be worse?

My entry in this contest. whatcouldbeworse.gif Either my Photoshop skills are in serious decline or I'm really tired. No matter what, I'm going to have nightmares. By the way, click this link if you don't want the baby jesus to cry.

radio: I'm going surfing cause I don't like your face

There has been a slight change in programming for tonight's radio show. Conditions warranted it. The ASV radio program for May 18th is called: "The girl who cuts my hair is on maternity leave so I let this other chick do it and now I have the worst haircut ever and not only did she give me a semi-mullet and botch my hair so bad that I'll have to go to another place to have it fixed, but she was so heavy handed with the huge metal brush she used that I think I have several holes in my head that weren't there before and I hate when haircuts make me cry so I really, really need to hear some of those songs that make it feel all happy and jumpy and ready to smile though my heart is breaking, if one's heart can break over a haircut." Or, similarly: Get Happy. [I think most of you will like the Freegan song. It's only thirty seconds long, so try that one out] Also: A couple of people have emailed me to ask about the legality of blog radio. I just assumed that because nobody is downloading, they are just listening, that it would be ok? Anyone?

Rall's Inflatable Ego

I spend two years cultivating a fine hatred of Ted Rall, evidenced by my 9,000 posts about him. Laurence Simon makes fun of him for two weeks and Rall writes about him. Yet somehow, Rall has yet to acknowledge my vitriolic attitude towards him. Strangely, I think I'm ok with that. On the same post Rall takes a few digs at Tony Millionaire. Then he says: Other better-known cartoonists, such as Art Spiegelman and Sam Henderson, have attempted to copy my style but to no avail. Bitch, please. That is the biggest case of self grandeur I have ever witnessed. Anyhow, that's fine way to fade out ATS and fade in full of crap, Lair. Update: My favorite response so far, by Coop: Thank God Ted Rall has the courage to tell the truth about that terrific cartoonist, TED RALL!!

hearings or spanish inquisition?

I honestly thought that this portion of the 9/11 hearings would lack the partisan bickering, finger pointing and childish behavior of the previous hearings. Man, was I wrong. bq. The former police and fire chiefs who were lionized after the World Trade Center attack came under harsh criticism Tuesday from the Sept. 11 commission, with one member [John Lehman] saying the departments' lack of co-operation was scandalous and "not worthy of the boy scouts." ..
Families of Sept. 11 victims applauded the tough questioning and shook their heads sadly as the panel enumerated a litany of communication breakdowns between the departments. Family members sporadically mocked and booed Von Essen, Kerik and Richard Sheirer, former Office of Emergency Management commissioner, and they wept earlier in the day as they watched videotape of the buildings collapsing. As Von Essen testified, Sally Regenhard - who lost her firefighter son - held up a piece of paper reading: "LIES."
Mocked and booed? The fire department alone lost over 300 members that day. They did their best, I don't doubt that at all. They went into those buildings when everyone was running out so they could save lives. What do these people want? What despicable behavior. Absolutely horrifying. I can rattle off an extensive list of family members that I know personally would never say anything like that. What a terrible way to remember those who were killed trying to save others. I understand that grief makes people behave in startling ways, but I just cannot understand mocking and booing at these hearings. The purpose of today's hearing (and tomorrow's) was meant to find out how to better respond to future emergencies of this nature. But the people who testified were subject to scrutiny about their knowledge of terrorism prior to the attacks, asked whether they had hear of bin Laden or not. The former director of the World Trade Center, Alan Reiss, was asked by Bob Kerrey if he's angry that "things might have been different had they (FBI) trusted you enough" to deliver important intelligence. Reiss said he was not angry at the FBI, but rather at "19 people in an airplane," referring to the hijackers. Right answer. Unfortunately, the people on this "bipartisan" committee didn't think so. This whole commission sickens me. Nobody wants to know answers. Nobody cares about anything but laying the blame on someone besides the people who planned and executed the attacks. Why? Why this strong need to lay blame at the feet of someone else? Shouldn't we be trying to learn from this, to make our future safer should any terrorists attempt a feat like that again? Nobody is learning anything by mocking, booing and throwing condescending, derisive questions at the officials testifying. You would think from the way these people are behaving that the Port Authority, police and fire departments planned the attacks themselves. I'm sure you can throw some comments down and make the case for needing to know who knew what and when they knew it, but I just cannot get past the disrespect shown to the dead rescue workers.

radio, radio III: mood alteration

Someday, we will really move. We will really close on that house. I am under the impression that it will be Thursday, but the way things are going, they might mean some random Thursday in the year 2008. Someday, we will not be living out boxes and we will not have to struggle to find out where the looseleaf paper is and we will not trip over Rubbermaid containers while trying to answer the phone. Someday, I will have a new address and then, and only then, will I be happy. And that day better be Thursday or else. And when I say or else, I mean...or else. I am going to soothe the savage beast that lurks inside me by going to get about six inches cut off of my hair. When I get back, I will make a radio station to go with the mood, and it will be titled "I was bordering on psychotic rage but I am going to hold off on that while I search for my inner peace through the purchase of beauty products and comic books." Song suggestions would be helpful.

.

I didn't know "waistdog" except for what I read on his blog and mostly from his comments on Melly's blog. If you want to find something really good about blogging it's right here. He died with a lot of love and a lot of friends, love and friends he would not have had otherwise. From what I am reading, there are many people who feel blessed to have known him. He left a legacy of sorts. My condolences to Rick's family and to everyone who knew and loved him. I love you, Melly. You know my number. I'll be home all night.

progress report

Day one of not caring has gone quite swimmingly, I think.

Great Moments in Music Lyrics, Part I

[Too busy for anything requiring heavy thought today. all filler, no killer.] I want a girl with a smooth liquidation, I want a girl with good dividends. At citi bank we will meet accidentally Weíll start to talk when she borrows my pen *** Morning has broken Mr. Coffee has spoken **** I leaped on the counter like a bird with no hair running through the mini mall in my underwear **** i'll set the world on fire and, in burning light i'll write my first love song and i will feel warmth *** I was thinking of you while I jerked off into my sock last nite *** Cause I'm kind of like Han Solo always stroking my own wookie, I'm the root of all that's evil yeah but you can call me cookie. *** You may beg to differ and go right ahead, because it's lunch time and I'm hitting the burger deluxe today.

Tony Randall (1920-2004)

So long, Tony. Tony Randall did played many roles in his acting career, and in life, but to me he will always be Felix Unger. I still know every episode by heart and to this day, even though I have not seen the show in years, I can hear Felix's sinus attack in my head. While I identified with Oscar (being a slob and all), I enjoyed Randall's character more, just for the way he played it. Great comedy, all around. My favorite Odd Couple episode is the one where Felix sings the song "Once there was a man named Oscar" or maybe the one where Felix writes poetry, or Password... What's yours?

The High Cost of Living

I think the whole world's gone mad.
Uh-Uh. It's always been like this. You probably just don't get out enough.

Sexton and Death in Neil Gaiman's Death: High Cost of Living*]

Death is probably right. But in Sexton's defense, he has never seen the world before with Death as his guide.

Most of us go through life seeing the world only through our own eyes. This is what I see so this must be the way it is. Your only view of the world is your own interpretation of events and surroundings.

Sexton is one lucky guy. Sure, he's a despondent, black-souled, angst ridden teenager, just one crappy lyric short of being Kurt Cobain. But he gets the delicious treat of meeting Death, the perkiest otherwordly being this side of Katie Couric.

Death - spending her one day a year among the mortals - saves Sexton from a rather dubious exit from life and they make their way together through the city, going off on surreal adventures and playing out a modern, mystical version of It's a Wonderful Life.

So Sexton gets to see life through Death's eyes and it turns out that life is pretty magical. Pure irony there, being shown the wonders of life by Death herself, eh?

Imagine if you had a guide; someone who would spend a day walking through cities with you, showing you all the things you didn't know where there. It's not enough to take someone else's eyes and watch what they see, you have to have the mind behind those eyes as well.

Say there are two people laying on the grass, staring up at a cloud. One person sees a fish, another a castle in the same cloud. They can describe what they see so the other person recognizes it as well - see, there's the fish's eye, and the fin....oh, yes! I see it! - but the other person can't see what's behind the vision. Sure, it's just a fish, but in the other person's mind, the fish has already been given a name (Frida) and she's swimming towards something (sunlight) but the evil dark lord (the cloud behind it) is going to snatch up Frida and eat her for lunch before she can get anywhere near that sunlight.

You keep those things to yourself, mostly. Your friend who is laying on the grass with you won't get the real feeling of the story. He won't know why you chose the name Frida or why Frida will never make it to the sun and he certainly won't know that you will proably spend the rest of the day imaging scenarios between Frida and the dark lord.

Sexton, depressed, morose and suicidal as he is, is quite a lucky guy. He gets to see life through someone else's mind. He gets to experience the magic that Death experiences. And by doing that, he is able to see the world outside of his narrow view.

The problem is not that Sexton didn't get out enough; it's that he didn't get out of his own mind enough. Yes, the world has always been mad. It's always been crazy.

Perhaps we can say we do have these guides and they are books and music and all kinds of mass media that let us see into the minds of others, let us travel along their paths and experience their unique experiences.

Yes and no. It is not the same as actually running through the city with Death looking for an old woman's lost heart. Our guided tours are vicarious.

I assume that when Sexton realized he was hanging out with Death he had to figure they were perfectly matched companions. After all here he was, trying to kill himself. And there she was, Death personified.

Turns out they each had a little more life in them than Sexton realized.

Which all begs a question. Do we really want to see the world through the minds of others? It might be a very uncomfortable thing, to take a day's journey with someone quite unlike you. It might even be more uncomfortable to see the world through the mind of someone who thinks exactly like you do. And if we are our own guides, how many of us are really comfortable with that?

When I was a child, I had all kinds of daydreams where I would hang out with magical people and live within their magical lives. I'm a bit more grounded in reality now, but not much. I believe the one stark difference between then and now is I no longer wish to see the world laid bare as it really is. I thought, once upon a time, that it would be infinitely cool to have a magical companion who could show me everything that lies beneath the facade, every bit of myth and lore and fantasy that is hidden by the harsh realities of the world. I just knew that underneath all the dirt and grime and everday boringness of life, there were things happening that only those who possessed a certain magic could see. Things happening right underneath our feet, right in front of our eyes, but we are too wrapped up in the ordinary to see the extraordinary.

The fear is that mixed in with the angels and faeries and exciting, noble creatures of some other realm (where everyone eats chunks of cheese and hunks of bread and golden, crunchy apples, because that is what every hero in every fantasy book eats), there are creatures like devils and ogres and perhaps even grues, waiting to devour you.

I had a dream once, when I was about twelve, that I was being led through a dark passageway by a lighted, winged fairy. Along the walls of the passageway were drawings that would come to life as the fairy's light landed on them. At first, the passage was filled with the sound of my giddy laughter, as I watched all kinds of funny, mystical creatures take wing and fly around me. But as we rounded a corner, the light played upon a creature so hideous that the site of its face knocked the wind out of me. I fell to the ground and as I did so, I caught site of the creature. He was staring at me through hideous eyes. Now that you have seen me, I will never let you forget me, is what he said. And I didn't forget him, which is obvious as I repeat this dream to you now.

And that is my fear. That taking a ride through life through someone else's vision would reveal hideous ogres that should have been left unseen.

I suppose that one can't get to see the knights and good witches without seeing the trolls as well. What I would give to run through the city with Death as my companion, living Death's adventures. What I would give to be Sexton, to have someone shake me and say, look at all the things you didn't know existed.

Still, would I do that if a fleeting glance in a glass building revealed myself to be a monster?

*The most brilliant piece of work Neil Gaiman has ever written.

gratuitous links

Dear Andy, I have set my blaster on fun! In a completely unrelated note, Slipknot is on Jay Leno. Something really disturbing for that. Disturbing for Slipknot, I mean. Jay Leno? What's next? Touring with Jessica Simpson?

May 17, 2004

Notes

* The Mighty Geek celebrates his blogaversary by mentioning my boobs and trying to piss me off. * Alan has a great new design. * Thank you, Mrs. PedersonSandy. * Thank you to the kind person who sent us Samurai Jack Season One. * I do get good mail, and I am behind on responding to it, especially to the really great lady from Texas who wrote one of the best emails I have ever received. Tomorrow is the day I catch up on responding. * Right now and right now only, I am giving away a free one month blogad on this site. First come first serve, starting...right....now! (Must be in email, not in the comments) * Radio, radio. * I think that we should all get X-Box Live and fight out our differences by playing Rainbow Six Three.

separation anxiety

I was going to post some mail tonight, but I got so much mail in the past few hours that I think I'll just paraphrase them all into one neat little piece, and include some bits and pieces from other blogs that refrenced yours truly today: bq. You're an idiot if you are for gay marriage and you are also an idiot if you are pro-war and you're stupid for thinking that sarin gas means anything and you're stupid for not saying more about Lebanon terror plot. You're wrong on the war, you're wrong on gays, you're wrong on the Olympics. You want to turn America into a sewer, you are too jingoistic, you are a stupid flag waver, your kind will destroy America. You forgot to blog about A, B an C. You blogged too much about D, E and F. I'm on your side except when you say things like that, and I hate you except for that one thing you and I agree on. You really don't know what's good for you, I know what's good for you and I know what you really think and know better than you do. You are just a mindless drone for your party. You should be ashamed to say you are part of my party. You suck because you link to Blogger A and you suck because you didn't link to my story and I'm telling Blogger A that you still link to Blogger B and you should be ashamed of yourself for reading a person with views like that because he is going to destroy America, you know. Just like you. Except for when you like America and say things I like about it, then I love you. When you choose to sit in the middle, you are an easy target for both sides. So while my hawkish posts get me grief from the left, my posts on gay marriage and other social issues get me grief from the right. What I want to know is this? Are there other bloggers who get this kind of mail? Or do I just have a huge Kick Me sign on my ass? And for those who keep are now claiming that I took down the comments on the gay marriage post because people didn't agree with me: try again. I think there are more comments on this blog as a whole disagreeing with me than agreeing. Find another argument to base your rants on. That one won't work because I have the proof right here to back it up. I suppose I still have some liberal tendencies and that pisses off conservatives. It also pisses off the liberals, who can't understand how I can agree with them on some issues, but not all (yes, I am generalizing, so please stop assuming I am talking about you). I think my favorite email was the one I got from a reader who was very confused as to how I can have such Republican ideas yet still list The Big Lebowski as one of my favorite movies. It was just so absurd, I had to laugh. It was almost as good as the one tonight from a young man who was so disturbed at the site of a Beastie Boys song on my radio station, that he vowed to not come back to the blog until I remove it. Separation, people. Separate politics from everything once in a while. Separate it from movies and music and most of all, friendship. Accept that most people do not go in for groupthink. You'll be better off for it. Anyhow, please make a note of a program change for the future. Today is the day I stopped giving a shit what other people think of me. Really. It's just not worth it. And lest you think your email or comment or post made me or the baby Jesus cry, I am sorry to disappoint you, but this is probably the best mood I've been in in days. I just dropped about eighty pounds of guilt ridden baggage when I decided not to care about you anymore.

disturbing behavior II

So we are flipping the channels and we come across WWE (the all encompassing wrestling conglomeration). There is a person/actor/wrestler who pretends to be retarded. Part of the "story line" is making fun of him and making him appear to cry and be sad. They humiliate him, make fun of his being retarted, etc. The worst part is watching him act like retarded, because it comes off as horribly...what's the word I'm looking for? Ugly? This is the absolute worst thing I have ever seen on a supposed entertainment show and that includes anything seen on FOX. This is so many levels of wrong I think they created a new defintion of wrong. But, hey. Here comes everybody's hero, The Rock, out to avenge the ridicule of the fake retarded kid. Offensive. That's the word. [I used to love wrestling. Maybe that would make a good blog post for tomorrow instead of the usual bitching?]

radio, radio II

New playlist is up. It has a definite them, not sure what. Your job is to listen to the songs and give the playlist a name. Meanwhile, look at this site and you'll see what I mean by themes. Your job is to come up with a title for a mix and I'll create that mix out of my music collection to put on the radio station. The playlist changes every night (time willing). I'm going to start making a collection of the playlists. Perhaps I'll eventually end up with one for each of my moods and personalities.

not the end of the world!

Hey, check it out! The sun is still hanging in the sky. No tidal waves, earthquakes or massive fires. Looks like we can finally cross gay people getting married off of the list of things people think will bring on armageddon. Congratulations and best wishes to all the happy couples. Update: People are fucking assholes, down to almost the very last one of you. The comments on this post are not only closed, they have been removed.

Read

Welcome Home, Dad Welcome Home, Dave's Dad. Thank you.

radio, radio

You may have noticed my new radio station on the left. It's a nifty little thing that lets you listen to a blogger's selection of songs without having to download them or download a separate player. It's all right there in flash. Today's selection is a random one, taken from the first few songs that appeared on my playlist last night. I'm thinking themes, so suggest one for tonight's selection. It doesn't have to be a specific genre theme, get creative. I have 5,000 plus songs to choose from so even if you suggested the theme of quantum physics as a standard form of currency, I would be able to come up with a list. I know, that made no sense. It wasn't supposed to. I'll also take specific song/band requests providing you don't ask me to offer up something ridiculous like Skid Row.

psa to whomever it may concern

As you may recall (or not), last month I posted a few times about my attempt to get off of Paxil and Wellbutrin. I wrote about the withdrawals, the side affects, etc. As progress reports go, I'll make this quick because I have a longer piece waiting on this: It's going well. All the withdrawal symptoms have long since gone and I weathered the cold turkey quitting without killing anyone. Some of you -whether it be in the comments here, in email or on your own blogs - have decided to hold that part of my life over my head like a sword. Every time I am angry about something, I am guaranteed that somewhere in the blogosphere, someone is telling me to go back on the meds. My anger is separate from the anxiety for which I was taking the medication. I would be reacting the same way whether I was still on the meds or not. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot in this world right now that is either pissing me off or making me sad. And that's just me, it's just the way I am and have always been. I take everything to heart. I take it all personally. I am passionate in my anger and if that is a bad trait to have, so be it. It's who I am. I resent anyone who tells me to take a pill whenever I write something that shows anger or any kind of intense feeling about the subject at hand. It's a personal attack, really and one I won't stand for. It's pretty easy to jump on a flaw instead of addressing the issue at hand. Much easier to say "you need a Xanax" instead of opening a discussion on the subject. If you want to say "I think you are an idiot because you believe X," that's fine. I still don't think it's a good way to approach what someone wrote, but I'm sure I've been guilty of that just the same. But the "take a pill" is bullshit. I'm sure you have something better than that to offer. If you don't know by now that you're going to get a lot of raw emotion here, then you're never going to figure that out. And, by this point in the post, you should figure have figured out that I'm going to tell you to not let the door hit your ass on the way out. You are not welcome here. Yea, I'm being an asshole about this, but it's my site which makes it my prerogative. Those emails will go unsanswered, your comments will not be responded to by my and your blog posts referencing my medication or lack thereof will not have your desired result of my coming back at you. Anyone who uses that kind of wording to make a point does not deserve a reply. You know what? I haven't even approached real rage yet. Wait until I start singing this song. That's when it's time to take cover.

bringing the world together

There are so many things that make us fight and scream at each other. But I think we can all agree on this one particular issue: Apple is a very silly name to give your child. A few weeks ago in Target, I witnessed a woman yelling at her son. His name was Macintosh. Perhaps we can get these two kids together some day.

survey says

Please fill out this survey for BlogAds. No information you enter will be sold to anyone. Please put this blog as your referrer for number 22. It wouldn't kill you to put it as your favorite blog either, you know.

getting on the same page

On December 8th of 2002 Saddam was supposed to provide a "currently accurate, full, and complete declaration" of any weapons of mass destruction The U.N. resolution read, in part: bq. Any failure on the part of Iraq to comply fully as required by the established dates would justify the United States and its allies to use military force in order to enforce the U.N. resolution. Iraq did not comply, as evidenced by the discovery of sarin and mustard gas, both of which Iraq claimed to not have. Still with me? We just did what the U.N. said we could, which is all you ever wanted in the first place, right? Annika has more

I'll have a sarin sandwich, with mustard

Via Ed, we find that mustard gas has also been discovered in Iraq.
Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective." They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year.
Failed to account for. Do you get it now? Saddam lied. Imagine that, he was lying on his weapons declarations. Does that matter to you at all? If he lied about the sarin and mustard, does the thought even enter your mind that he may have lied about everything else? What are the excuses? What is your spin going to be? How will you twist and turn this so that the mustard and gas mean nothing, and his lying on the declaration mean nothing. He lied. He said he did not have any weapons and he did. What do you make of that? Anything? Or should I keep walking towards the ever moving goalposts?

when is a weapon not a weapon?

Silly me, thinking that sarin gas would count as a weapon. Of course not! Nothing short of a blazing nuclear reactor would suffice, I assume. I guess it doesn't matter that Saddam declared that he didn't have any sarin - and he declared this before the first Gulf War. This was a 155mm shell. ...a conventional 155-mm shell could hold as much as "two-to-five" liters of sarin, which is capable of killing thousands of people under the right conditions in highly populated areas. But get on with your spin, everyone. Cross sarin off of the list of WMDs just to suit your cause. Fact remains, this is something the old regime swore up and down they didn't have. Look for more of this. Most of us have been saying all along that Saddam stored his weapons underground, not in obvious warehouses. Keep moving those goalposts, guys. It's expected. Predictable. And sad. Update: Someone in the comments at Command Post makes a good point: bq. The problem is that now the insurgents know they have chemical weapons, and you can bet that they will be checking through their stockpiles. Iím not surprised Army is downplaying this - the potential for harm is huge, even more from the psychological than the physical effects - imagine 2000 dead from a sarin release in a marketplace. Exactly. Do you really think this the only instance of sarin to be found? And for those who are downplaying this by saying it's "only" sarin: Sarin is a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. Nerve agents are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. Laurence's comment here is worth repeating in the post:
I challenge anyone who claims this was not a WMD to rent a movie theater, gather up their family and friends and neighbors and everyone who means anything to them, ask everyone to take a seat, and set the thing off in the middle of the room. (Make the movie Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, just for S&G.) Anyone who makes it out alive from that theater is more than welcome to bitch that it isn't a chemical WMD. You'll be able to count those survivors on the fingers of the missing hands of prisoners Saddam had amputated and mutilated for writing against his regime.
Well, let's see what some of the left bloggers have to say about this event. Whoops. Nevermind. Guess they haven't heard about it yet. Or they are just ignoring it.

extra reading

Today at Garrulitas (the conversation blog), they are expanding on yesterday's thoughts about the Olympics, while conversing about humanism, evil and pride.

About those weapons...

Fox is reporting that a roadside bomb filled with sarin went off in Iraq. Now where in the world did that sarin come from if Saddam didn't have any? Unless, of course, he did. It looks like the insurgents who set off the bomb had no idea it was filled with nerve gas, which is not surprising, as Saddam and Co. loved to hide their non conventional means of murder inside conventional weapons. Now, who wants to take bets on how long it takes some leftie to claim that the nerve gas was planted by US operatives in order to make it look like Saddam had WMDs? Update: Hey, they are at it already!

For Marc Weisblott

Marc, in the comments on this post about that whiny, wretched Canadian friend of yours, you point to my "retirement" as a warblogger as proof that your friend was right. Wrong. She was implying that the silence of warbloggers was indicative of some loss - that perhaps we were now silenced by shame, or a sense of loss in the war. No, I think that sometimes most of us just get tired of feeling outraged all the time, especially when people like Antonia act as if we have no right to feel all the things we do; pride towards people like Pat Tillman and outrage towards people like Michael Moore. It gets frustrating and sometimes I want to stop but it in no way means that my views on the war on terror are any different, or that I feel any less pride in my country and gratitude towards our soldiers than I did before. If you are going to use Antonia's column as some kind of jumping off point to whip yourself into a frenzy ringing the warblogger death knell, you should first read a few of those blogs that Antonia points to. Sorry, Marc. We are not going away. And even if we do go away briefly, it's not because you won this round of checkers and we're taking our board and going home. Sometimes some of us just need to rest and regroup and gather our strength for another round of battle with the likes of you and yours. In fact, it was mainly warbloggers who linked to and posted this story at Command Post, where we raised $14,000 for a very worthy, very non-political cause. We were hoping the left bloggers would link to it as well (only one or two did), but I guess they were too busy trying to tell people how bad America is. Too bad they missed the forest for the trees. Silence can mean a lot of things, Marc. It does not always mean death. Sorry, man. You got your hopes up for nothing. Update: Jeff has gathered all the necessary links.

Freedom's Light Burning Warm

I've had Neil Diamond's America playing in my head since last night. I believe they may have played part of the tune on the Simpons last night (a pretty unfunny episode that had the potential to be hilarious), but I know it was playing in my dream. It was a standard dream on my part. Plenty of allegory, plenty of subtext, lots of surrealism. As always we were fighting a war, or being bombed - it's hard to tell the difference in these dreams anymore. There were scattered parts of houses, trees and bodies laying about and I tripped over a dead dog as I ran. I held a newspaper over my head (the New York Times) to shelter myself from the exploding sky, which lit up with a combination of fireworks and just plain fire. As I tripped over this dead dog (which looked more like a stuffed Clifford than a real dog, even though I knew in the dream the dog was very real), the Neil Diamond song played on loudspeakers, the same verse over and over: Everywhere around the world/They're coming to America/Every time that flag's unfurled/They're coming to America, repeat the last line about ten times before going back to the infinite loop. I hugged the dead dog and cried a gallon of tears into its matted fur, begging it to wake up. I looked into its huge, dead eyes, opened wide, each one about as wide as a manhole and I saw the fireworks and explosions reflected in the eyes. I pulled down the lids and kissed each one softly as the eyes closed. The song kept playing. I climbed on the dead dog's back, laid my head down and slept inside my dream. So I dreamed about war and part of the dream was about the Olympic flag-waving flap and this isn't suprising considering it was what was on my mind when I fell asleep. And while my dreams are never easy to analyze, I'm going to go out on a limb here and analyze what that dog represented. Pride, of course. The dog is pride. Oversized to some, dead to others, reflecting the glory of America while at the same time reflecting the war. I still cling to this pride. In fact, I cling harder each time someone begs me to let go. I do not participate in the self-loathing of America that is so fashionable these days. I can't. See, I used to be a self-loather. I used to be one of those people who wouldn't hang a flag outside their house. I freely admit to this - and still keep markers of this attitude in my blog archives - because I like to mark my steps from here to there. I woke up. It took just one day, a couple of off-the-path planes and about 3,000 deaths to wake up that pride that had been dormant since grade school, back when American pride was a subject as basic as math and reading. I assumed the pride I was feeling was just a result of the desperate, passionate grief I was experiencing. I had a need to be with others who felt that grief and it just so happened that all those fellow grievers were waving flags and blessing America. I reluctantly began (so to speak) waving my flag as well. And it felt good. I renewed my relationship with America. I remembered all the wonderful things about her. It was easy for me; I was never in as deep as some of the self-loathers I knew. I always respected my freedoms, I always pointed out to people that we do live in the greatest country on earth despite all our protests about it. What probably made the break from them so easy is that they mistrusted me when I spoke like that, as if I were some narc infiltrating their secret loathers club. Honestly, I was embarrassed to be the only one on the block without a flag, the only one who wouldn't sing the National Anthem at a ball game. It seemed absurd in many ways, yet I was trying my hardest to keep in step with the my fellow loathers and any slip off the edge of anti-Americanism would get me a tongue lashing from one person or another. So I reintroduced myself to America. It felt right. It felt good. There was one night in particular that brought me around full circle (I wish I had it in my archives, but I don't and archive.org never seems work properly) but it had to with candles and singing and a community sense of pride so strong that I finally broke down and cried me a river. And it was that night that my leftist friends were gathering in some protest about Bush, saying we should give the Muslims the benefit of the doubt because, surely, Bush was at fault for 9/11. He did it. He planned it. And from there it was the whole root cause thing. There would be people standing on milk crates, screaming into megaphones, shouting out "Why do the hate us?" It made me sick and that night marked the beginning of the end of my relationship with the self loathers. I met America again. I met my freedoms and my rights (which were not being taken away as some would have me believe). I remembered all that is good about this place, the deep yet soothing voice of Mrs. Reese, my third grade teacher, booming in my head, renewing that pride that sometimes only an innocent eight year old can feel. Sometimes an adult can feel it, too. I didn't want to be with the loathers anymore. They were only adding to my feelings of trauma and despair. They were taking an ugly, brutal event and making it even uglier. They were painting black over black over black, the layers of hatred and bile so thick that you didn't even know what was underneath anymore. The message on the wall appeared some time after 9/11: Hate at all costs. They were the only words peeking out of the black, the only thing they had left to offer. I wanted to love. I wanted to feel pride. I wanted to make good on the threats to avenge the 3,000 deaths. I wanted to kick some ass, take some names and hug a whole lot of people. For this I was shunned by the loathers. I should be thankful for that, I suppose. They kind of kicked me out of their club and I ended up here, proud of my country, proud of our soldiers and proud to be an American. Sure, there are people within those groups - Americans, soldiers, pick any other defined group - that will momentarily shake my pride. But I know that these people are abberations. I know that's not what the core of America is about. Republican or Democrat, east or west, north or south, most people do feel pride in this country. It's not strictly a conservative thing. It's not even a pro-war thing. You can be against all kinds of things but still have pride in your country. It takes a special kind of self-loather to hate this place so much that they would embrace the lies and propaganda of those who want us dead rather than embrace the words of the people who are protecting their freedom. I keep thinking of Jim Craig, wrapped in the American flag after the U.S. hockey team beat Russia. I think of what Americans felt that day, the amazing surge of pride that came through and I don't remember anyone making fun of that pride or belittling it. Then came 9/11 and we again wrapped ourselves in flags and suddenly we were jingoistic. And now they don't want our athletes to wave the US flag during the Olympics. What happened to pride? Or are there more people proud of their loathing and hatred than there are who are proud of our freedoms? Are there more people willing to pick and choose the goats of the country than people who will point out the heroes? Or are the loathers just louder? I weep for this country. I don't recognize it anymore. I want to be the third grader holding her hand over her heart and saying the pledge with fierce pride. I want it to be 1980 and I'm standing in my living room bursting with pride as I watch the hockey team. I want it to even be 1991*, the beginning of the Gulf War I, when ever single tree in this neighborhood was adorned with a giant yellow ribbon. I love my country. I love America. That's really all I had to say. [may be edited for clarity later, as this was a rush job] *edited from previous typo that read 1994

May 16, 2004

Hide Your Pride

I'm still seething about this. This is what the USOC does NOT want you to see this year: untitled.bmp Hide your pride. The American slogan of the 2004 Olympics.

Mommmmmmy that blogger called me a naaaaaame!

The warblogers are so stooopid all they do is call people names and shit and neener neener Bush is losing! Damian Penny is a poopyhead! Someone called me a mean name and I'm going to write about them in my slam book! Meanie heads with cooties!!!! This woman is paid to write shit that wouldn't even be found on a thirteen year old's Live Journal. Now playing at a hundred blogs near you, so no hat tip Well, except for this deserving line: "Fat, drunk, and Canadian* is no way to go through life, Antonia."

USOC to Athletes: Be Ashamed of Who You Are

Via Garrulitas bq. American athletes have been warned not to wave the U.S. flag during their medal celebrations at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens, for fear of provoking crowd hostility and harming the country's already-battered public image. ... bq. The plan is part of a charm offensive aimed at repairing the country's international reputation after the deepening crisis in Iraq and damaging revelations of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison. Charm? No. Offensive? Yes. This is disgraceful. The U.S. Olympic Committee has hired someone (Mike Moran) to advise athletes how to behave. The U.S. Olympic Committee thinks we should feel shame for being Americans. That, in and of itself, is the most shameful thing I have ever heard. If a Kenyan or a Russian grabs their national flag and runs round the track or holds it high over their heads, it might not be viewed as confrontational. Where we are in the world right now, an American athlete doing that might be viewed in another manner." ... "We're not the favorite kid in the world right now," conceded Bill Martin, the USOC's acting president. "We are sensitive not only to the security issue, but to jingoism in its raw sense. That is why we are sending people around to educate the athletes as to the appropriate behavior." Since when is celebrating an Olympic victory jingoism? Forget about our reputation as thugs or whatever the French, Germans and "the Arab street" sees us as right now. This will make us look like wimps, apologists and have other countries laughing at the incredible lengths we go to for political correctness. Add this to the reports that Greek officials have warned U.S. and Israeli athletes to not wear their "colors" in public, and what we have here is a farce. When did we go from a powerful nation to a dog hiding its tail between its legs? What about the athletes from Palestine, Korea, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Burma, Pakistan, Syria, Rwanda, Nigeria? Is anyone telling them to tone it down based on whatever their country might be involed in at the moment or has been involved in? I doubt it. Only in America will you see this kind of thing. Only in America would we tell our Olympic athletes to not show their pride after winning an event, for fear of pissing someone off. Only in America would the Olympic committee hire someone to instruct athletes how not to hold up their flag with pride after taking a gold medal. Just another reason in a long list of reasons to not watch the Olympics this summer. ---- Contact the USOC

Syd Hoff (1912-2004)

Syd Hoff is dead. sammy.gifSyd was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. His books were simple to read, those early primer readers with short sentences in big type and not too many words that broached two syllables. But the imagination, laughter and improbability packed into those books made those simple words magical. I was introduced to Mr. Hoff by way of Danny the Dinosaur. My teachers would let me take home as many of the I Can Read series of books home with me; I'd read one every night which certainly impressed the teachers. I remember trying to explain to them that reading Hoff's books weren't really like reading at all, they were like playing with words and pictures. I don't think they understood. Hoff also wrote a slew of joke books filled with the kind of humor that only a child or an adult who never forgot how to be a child will laugh at. His book Animal Jokes (I'm nearly positive it was that one) was my first introduction to the wacky world of puns. In addition to writing and illustrating wonderful children's books, Syd Hoff was a regular contributor of cartoons to The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and many other magazines. He also had two comic strips - Tuffy, which appeared in hundreds of papers daily and the one panel strip Laugh it Off, which was syndicated by King Features. Rest well, Mr. Hoff. And thanks for all those hours of enjoyment.

No Soul

No, make the year. Even century. From Michael King: bq. [America's Dumbest Soldiers] lists each of the soldiers killed in Iraq on a separate page with a description of how they met their demise, along with a "Am I Hot" type of rating system for you to determine just how "dumb" the soldier pictured is. Michael is not amused. Nor is Lt. Smash. I'm not sure what I want to do to this person. The thing that bothers me most is it's not just a whim, this site. He goes to a lot of trouble to dig up stories on each soldier. He must spend a large chunk of time putting this site together and maintaining it. What I'd like to do to him would entail a lengthy jail term for myself, and I'm just not willing to go to those lengths to give this guy what he deserves. .... Ok, I waited a bit before posting this to make sure I wasn't going to say anything out of anger that I would regret later. The more I thought about it, the less angry I got. My anger has been replaced by a complete sadness that has left me in tears. How could someone be so cruel? No, I wouldn't even hit this guy. I wouldn't even yell at him, given the chance. I pity him, really. To exist with such a deranged mind, to be so full of hate and contempt; it must be a terrible thing to live with. I'll let him deal with himself. Someday he might grow a conscience, regret what he did and jump off a bridge. Was that wrong? Oh well.

confusing the issues

This is why I have no respect for most anti-war protesters, here, there or anywhere else.
SEVERAL hundred Islamic students threw rocks at the British embassy in Tehran and tried to storm the building in a protest today over the US-led occupation of Iraq, but were turned back by riot police, an AFP correspondent said. "Death to America, death to Britain and death to Israel," chanted the protesters, called together by volunteer hardline militias, and also burned flags of the three countries. "We will protest here every day as long as the prisoners in Abu Ghraib are not freed," read a sign held up by the crowd, which also denounced clashes between US forces and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.
If they just came along and protested the coalition occupation in Iraq, that would be fine. But once they drag Israel into it, all credibility of their cause is gone. They claim they are protesting about Abu Ghraib and the war in Iraq, but last I checked, Israel had nothing to do with any of that. Abu Ghraib has become a cloak that Islamic protesters are wearing in order to get their Jew hating/America hating jollies. As far as freeing the prisoners in Aba Ghraib - sure, free the people who were held but committed no crimes or have no ties to terrorist organiziations or are not part of any violent insurgent group. However, if these people think that the U.S. should free all prisoners based on the torture that went on in that prison, well, that's just silly. Imagine if every time a prison scandal broke in the U.S., they had to let all the prisoners of that jail free? These militants or whatever you want to call them are just looking for excuses to throw rocks and call for jihad. If I were in charge, I'd be saying here's your jihad right back at ya. Get your causes straight, people. Are you anti-war or anti-Israel? Because those two things are two separate causes and to throw them all together (ala all the Free Palestine signs at anti-war gatherings) only tells me that your underlying cause has less to do with the occupation of Iraq and more to do with Zionism and your false belief that terrorists are really just nice, sweet oppressed people.

100 Word Stories

I bought the Retrovertigo domain a while ago. My first intention was to put my fiction there. Then I decided to make it a novel in progress site. Then it was a photoessay blog. More recently, it became a link dump for my mp3s and photos. Finally, I settled on hosting my photo gallery there. Still not satisfied, I figured there was more I could do with the home page than use it as a splash entrance for the gallery. So, inspired by Laurence, 100 Word Stories was born this morning. I've been pulling paragraphs out of old, unfinished stories and paring them down to 100 words that more or less tell a story that could be part of a bigger tale or just a tale in and of itself. For each story, I found a corresponding photo to go with it. So, in essence, the site has become what I set out for it to become. Words and pictures. The first story, Angel of Death, is up.

site help

A) Something is horribly wrong with my archives. The pull down menu doesn't work, and when I try to get the full list of archives by title, it stops at the day I did something stupid trying to put in three columsn by myself. B) If someone who is a whiz with MT Blacklist can help me install it and clean up Dr. Frank's blog, I'd appreciate it. Comment, email, whatever. Any help appreciated and duly rewarded.

May 15, 2004

Read it, loathed it, loved it, two snaps and a thumbs down

All the cool kids are doing it, and I really have nothing better to talk about while I kill ten minutes waitingf for the Lewis Black special. Below is a list of 101 Great Books Recommended for H.S. Students & Readers of All Ages. It appears that of the books on the list that I've read, most of them were read in high school or college. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy them. Notes on some, bolded titles are the books i've read. Beowulf 7th grade, Mr. Mangano. Mr. Mangano's (now ex) wife became famouse for making that squeegee mop and appearing on a ton of infomercials. Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart Agee, James - A Death in the Family Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights Camus, Albert - The Stranger Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales 8th grade. We had to act parts of this out. I think I was a hooker.Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard Chopin, Kate - The Awakening Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness Read this after I saw Apocalypse now in the theater. I was such a pompous ass in high school. Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage Dante - Inferno Did this one in World Lit in college, though I read portions on my own. Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote Read this about twenty times. The first time was in high school. The theater department was putting on Man of LaMancha so we did Don Quixote at the same time the play was running. One of the classics that I own a copy of not because it looks good on the shelf, but because I honestly love reading it.. Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities I hate Dickens. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man Read this during my heavy sci fi stage. Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays Some day I will write about the impact Emerson's writings had on my life, especially in high school. Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones (I think we weren't allowed to read this for some reason) Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier Goethe, Johann Wolfgang - Faust Golding, William - Lord of the Flies Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter Another one we had to act out parts of. Another time I played a hussy. Heller, Joseph - Catch 22 Read this only a couple of years ago. Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms With the exception of his short story Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway bores me to death. I hate his style, hate his words, hate his books. I am a neanderthal, I know. Homer - The Iliad Homer - The Odyssey I do believe that I was the only person in both high school and college who thoroughly enjoyed reading these epics. Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God Huxley, Aldous - Brave New WorldOy. Ok, let's just say that I did a lot of drugs in high school and I truly believed that Adlous Huxley knew all the secrets to the world, the universe and the mind. It was only later I realized that he was nothing more than a shill for the mescaline industry. Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw Henry was ok, but we studied him while I was going through a tumultuous senior year breakup. So I always associate him with Bobby, which is not a good thing. Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManApologize/pull out his eyes. I never forgot that. I practically memorized half the book, especially the part where Stephen writes his name and address and continues from town to city, to state and on until he ends with the universe. It was profound to a fifteen year old. It's still profound to this 41 year old. Joyce was a huge inspiration to me. Still is. Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt London, Jack - The Call of the WildI cannot describe how much I hated being forced to read this book. Mann, Thomas - The Magic MountainI cannot describe how much I loved reading this book.Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener Melville, Herman - Moby Dick Yawn. Miller, Arthur - The Crucible Morrison, Toni - Beloved O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night Orwell, George - Animal Farm Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales So there was this one point in my early teens when I swore I was Poe reincarnated. My mother put a stop to that when she pointed out that my supposedly harrowing poetry would have embarassed Poe. Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49 Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye Shakespeare, William - Hamlet Shakespeare, William - Macbeth Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream Well, I loved studying Shakespeare in high school. I memorized almost the whole of Macbeth. I daydreamed about being Juliet. And when it came time to act out some Shakespeare parts, I ended up playing a hussy. Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Sophocles - Antigone Sophocles - Oedipus Rex Read it in college, sort of. See, St. John's was in the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament at the time and our minds were not on this guy and his mom. Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island My mother bought me this huge set of books when I was about ten. They were green, hardcovered and had intricate drawings scattered throughout. Treasure Island was included in the collection. But I didn't read it then, because I was too concerned with the stories about fairies and knights. I came back to it when I in my mid teens, when I decided I wanted to be a pirate when I grew up. Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair Thoreau, Henry David - Walden If I had to choose the one book that made the biggest impact on my life, the one book that changed my view of the world, the one book that I would take a copy with me wherever I go - this is it. Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Luckily, there was no harlot in this story. So I got to play Huck for just one scene. And for the next few months or so, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to live a life like Huck's. And then I grew up. Voltaire - CandideRead it first in tenth grade and shrugged. Read it agian in college and thought Voltaire was a riot. Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five Walker, Alice - The Color Purple Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories Whitman, Walt - Leaves of GrassLong Island pride. I have a very dog-eared paperback of Leaves of Grass that I take out every once in a while when I need some inspiration.W Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray Williams, Tennessee - The Glass MenagerieI have to say that when we read this in high school, I really didn't understand it. By the time I did understand it, I didn't care. It was like one day I was sitting there and this very delayed light bulb went off in my head and I said ohhhh yea! Mhhmmmm. And then I promptly forgot all about Williams again. Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse Wright, Richard - Native SonRead this on my own during my college years, after the St. John's team disappointed us. I wouldn't be surprised if I skipped over some by accident. My eyes are tired. Some day I will make a list of 100 books I read that will never make it onto any Best Of list anywhere except here.

We had joy, we had fun

It was too hot in the sun But everything seems nice With margaritas poured on ice That thing on the right is a bungee racer. Yes, I raced. No, I did not beat any of the ten year olds I raced. Yes, I pretty much looked like an idiot. But I had fun, so neener neener. Just a few up in the gallery for now. More later. Hey, does anyone visit the gallery? Just curious. I put the stuff up there so I have somewhere to keep it all, but it's nice that you come and take a look. If you do. So, thank you. If that's you. Max? I waited for you at five. You never showed up. I want that lemonade. Is lemonade the official drink of lefties? Just wondering, in case I invite any to my housewarming party. Lefties, that is. Not lemonade. Oh, and Max? You're not invited. I really don't like being stood up. Especially when it comes to frisbee.

Max Needs a Friend

We're out for the day - big double communion party at the house of our cousins (next door, no travel time!) who really knows how to throw a party. Sure, they won't have Guinness and strawberries, but there will be plenty of good food, lots of alcohol, swimming and those bouncing castle things that are a lot of fun when grownups get too drunk to remember that they aren't kids anymore. I do have something to leave you with, though. Go see what our good friend Max Sawicky is up to. Why do they hate us?? Whyyyyyyy? I have to say, I'm pretty upset that I'm just not making the cut there. Methinks Max is looking for a wee bit of attention. Go rub his head or something and make him feel important.

Disturbing Behavior

I really don't know which of these two things witnessed during today's trip to the store disturbed me more: A mother allowing her barely ten year old daughter to buy a shirt that read "My boyfriend's out of town" (it was a heated tossup over that or the one that read "I dated Ashton)" or the discovery - through the power of one billion watt speakers in the store - of a disco version of Midnight Oil's Beds are Burning.

ted has lost his head

And Laurence is looking for a new one for him. It's a contest and here is my early effort: micahrall.jpg Go have some fun with Ted's head, without having to actually touch it.

A Small Victory - The Band

Speaking of Google searches.. pieceswekeep.gifA good portion of my Google hits from people searching for "A small victory" have other search words added on that lead me to believe they are searching for this band, who reside at asmallvictory.com. I've known about this band's existence for a while due to the searches, but only now got around to checking them out. They describe themselves as rock/emo/southern rock, which is a pretty unique combination of genres. I listned to the sampling of two tracks available few tracks here, and was left with the impression that, while the genre mixing may be odd, it works. (You can download Hammer Strong and get a good bio of the band at their lable's site) ASV brings to mind Glassjaw (the harder portion of the music, the lyrics) and bands like Brand New (the melodies and voice) but the thing ASV has that Glassjaw and Brand New don't is a sense of rock and roll. It's good stuff. I'm going to buy the CD and give it to my son. He'll be able to say he was way ahead of the curve when ASV breaks out. They are on tour now and will be appearing on the Warped Tour this summer (which we just may attend). Hopefully, you'll go over and check out the band 's site if they sound like you're kind of thing. Which site, by the way, is the reason I had to settle for .net instead of .com. But I won't hold that against them.

torture and moral equivalency

First, the photographs. They are of actual live castrations of Kurds. Now, the video tapes: Two beheadings, during one of which "Happy Birthday, Saddam" is being sung in Arabic. Fingers being cut off one by one from a hand tied to a board. People being thrown off four-story buildings, one forced to wear a Superman costume.
Read Roger Simon. Right now.

Armed Forces Day

A single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. Thank you.

retraction and apology (updated. again)

[If you didn't already read the post that was here before this, don't bother reading this, then. It won't make sense] I deleted the words to this post, which is not something I do often. I've actually done it twice in three years and both those times were due to my own personal things in the post that I later realized should not be on web. I made a mistake writing about this. People misunderstood what I was getting at or, worse, thought I was talking about them when I wasn't. It's hard to be vague and ambiguous when pointing fingers at someone. Everyone thinks the finger is pointed at them. Eventually it just turns back on you, anyhow. I apologize if I offended anyone who did not deserve to feel offended. Next time, I keep my bleatings to myself if I don't have the balls to come right out and say who I am writing about. Update: Heh. According to my mail, there are more people who think I'm an idiot for taking down what I said than people who think I'm an idiot for writing it in the first place. Update 2: Because I'm tired of answering mail about this: If you must know, this post was about people bragging about the traffic they got from hosting the video of Nick Berg's murder. I mean bragging, as in outright gloating. It was sickening. And that was the gist of the thing and I'm now sorry I took it down (and didn't save it) because there are some people who really should have seen it. And there are other people who got their panties in a bunch even though it was obvious (at least I'm told it was) that I wasn't talking about them. I apologized to several people who took an opportunity to bash me, and I've yet to hear back from any of them. I'm really tired of worrying about other people's feelings when the courtesy is never reciprocated.

The Final Tally on the Tom Family Fund

Straight from the TCP chat: (Susan was having trouble with the chat, so Alan transcribed for her) [Alan] In three days, the Command Post Readers have raised $14,777.16 for the Tom Family Education Trust [Alan] And my wife and I are kicking in the difference to make it an $15,000 [Alan][ (Susan's) kids are cheering ... [Alan] She's telling the kids ... they're asking a million questions ... [Alan] They want to buy things ... she says "You can have an education, and you can buy your own house." [Alan] Thank you, everyone. You are the power of the good [Alan] Susan is still talking to the kids ... [Alan] Susan: "That is unbelievable ... I am speechless." [Alan] Susan: "Tell them I double everything they're saying." [Alan] Susan: "The only person who can tell you you can't do something is yourself." $15,000 in three days. Alan had the right idea when he called this Strengthen the Good. It's something we want to expand on and there will be news about this by the end of the weekend. Thank you to everyone who donated and especially to everyone who linked the story and spread the word. You are all generous beyond thought. Thank you for keeping our faith in humanity alive. One more: Susan: "This has just been awesome ... please post our biggest thank yous and hugs and kisses, and anyone who wants to email me just go to http://www.stomfamily.com and click the email link"

May 14, 2004

one more reminder

Command Post chat, going on now. Live! Real! Girls gone wild! Kidding, was trying to get you to join us.

Gimme that, gimme that now, now, now, yeah!

I changed my mind about something. Thunderkiss 1965 is the greatest driving song ever. Soundgarden's Drawing Flies will just have to bow out gracefully.

Chat Tonight; BYOC

Don't forget to join us at Command Post tonight as we chat with Susan Tom and celebrate our Strengthen the Good victory: $11,000 for Susan's kids and counting. We'll be there at 11pm(EST), just hit TCP for the chat link. Hope to see you there. Bring your own champagne!

Mike Patton 101

Actually, this would be 102, as we've had our first lessons already. See here, here and here and probably a million other times. The purpose of this is to introduce you the many musical stylings of Mike Patton. And also to fill some space on a Friday night. First, take a look at that picture. Look at that face. Ah, I would give anything to.... I want to... Err.. Nevermind. No need to know that. Let's listen to his music instead. Then, if anyone is actually around on such a beautiful Friday evening and you actually download and listen to the music, we can discuss it, if you would like to do such a thing. Yes, we can discuss the versatality of Patton's voice, his soothing tones, his guttural screams, his passionate moans, his lyrical genius, his musical genius..and then we can discuss his face, if you still want to. Here, for you to study, are three Mike Patton samplings, from three different eras/bands. 1. Download: Faith No More - Midlife Crisis It's not my absolute favorite FNM song, but somehow jumping right into Crack Hitler didn't seem right. With lyrics like Your menstruating heart, it ain't bleedin' enough for two and liberal use of Patton's clenched teeth hissing and growling, Midlife Crisis is a great starting point for the uninitiated. It's got this raw anger that comes only with age; a bitterness that leaves a taste like Greek olives in your mouth and a certainty that yea, you're getting old but at least you're bound to beat the shit out of someone before you're too tired to do it. Ok, maybe that's just me. 2. Download: Mr. Bungle - Retrovertigo. Taken from the pure work of art known as California, Retrovertigo is, in my mind, one of the greatest songs ever recorded. It's slow, it's moody, it pulls at your gut and sucks you in and never lets you out. Patton's voice is at its finest here. He's all smooth and low one minute and powerful the next and in between there's about a billion emotions. Here, you can also get a great lesson in how to compose a tune that will forever be etched in someone's head. You'll be watching the news one day and suddenly these words will pop into your head: Now I'm finding truth is a ruin Nauseous end that nobody is pursuing Staring into glassy eyes Mesmerized There's a vintage thirst returning But I'm sheltered by my channel-surfing Every famine virtual Retrovertigo And Mike Patton will be singing them. And you will thank me. 3. Download: Lovage - Anger Management Here we have a selection from another Patton band, Lovage. Guys and gals, if you were ever looking for music to make love to, Lovage is it. In fact, this album is called Music To Make Love To Your Old Woman Lady By . It was produced by Dan the Automator and features the incredibly sexy voice of Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) as well as appearances by Kid Koala, Damon Albarn of Blur and Prince Paul. Listening to Music to Make Love is to put yourself in a red velvet bedroom with mirrors on the ceiling. It's sitting in a smoky barroom watching the female lounge singer lick her lips and run her hands down her sides. It's red lipstick and black garters and cigar smoke and maybe even a few dollars on the nightstand in the morning. my inner demons compel me to be here your cheeks are flush like rose petals you're consumed with rage but i'm consumed with you our eyes intertwine through the haze intoxicated by your bloodshot stare in all of my dreams i never thought i'd see a face that could launch a thousand ships Swoon with me, baby. Just swoon. Download and discuss at will.

By the way

yankeesfirst.gif Yea, baby. By the way 2: Ted Rall is Full of Crap.

friday night decisions

Ok, it's Friday. I have some free time on my hands for a change and I don't want to talk about war or anything to do with war tonight. So, what do you want to do? Or are you all going out and having lives? I've got a six of Guinness and a huge plate of strawberries and lots of time and blog space. What's it gonna be?

PSA from Host Matters re: Nick Berg Video

Folks, please do not host copies of the video within the network here. Whatever your position on the availability of the video itself may be, from a technical standpoint, the network disruption created by having it on a server within this network is significant and unfairly impacts your fellow residents. We will be going through the servers looking for any copies, so if you receive a notice that we've disabled it, please abide by the notice and do not reenable it. Thanks. Thank you, -Hosting Matters Management

psa

Susan Tom will be joining the Command Post chat tonight as we have a little "chat party" to celebrate the incredible generosity of those who have raised over $11,000 for the fund to send Susan's kids to college. Please join us tonight at 11pm (EST). One more Another note: I am seriously behind in my email - I have read it all, but I am just now getting to answering it all. I got some great mail yesterday - thank you everyone. One more note: I love Jeff Goldstein.

photo friday/voices project note

Yep, it's Photo Friday again. I'm number 112, aka retrovertigo. This week's topic is Parts. While you are there, you can vote on last week's topic, which was play. My entry is number 183, but I'm voting for Alan's (309). Not just because he's my hero of the day - he just so happens to be an incredibly talented photographer. In a programming note, I am finally taking the Voices project to its own home. Stacy is working on that for me right now - the new home will eventually be here. The total lapsed time between idea in my head and the domain registered and Stacy setting up a contents sytem for me was about ten minutes. Which is why I continually bow down to Stacy and Host Matters. I am still getting submissions for the project, almost a year after I started it. If you are waiting for your entry to show, I will probably be spending tonight getting the new site set up and beautified (hopefully) and putting all the new entries in, so expect to see yours soon. We've decided that since we aren't moving to the new house until next week, we would take today to goof off and work on our own personal projects instead of fretting about boxes, mortgages, Home Depot owning us, etc. If you have anything you would like to contribute to the Voices project, or any ideas for what you would like to see there, just drop me a line.

Strengthen the Good: A Victory of Sorts

Over at Command Post, we are celebrating the fact that we have reached our goal of raising $10,000 for the Susan Tom fund. We've raised $11,388 so far and we are keeping the door open until midnight tonight. Your generosity has been overwhelming, to say the least. From the people who donated $500, to the people who donated one dollar, to the people who couldn't donate but linked and spread the word, you have all done so much to spread good in a week that has otherwise been so bad. And that is the point. All the things that have been going on in the past week are things we can do little about except rant and scream and cry. Alan, who is one of my heroes regardless, came up with a beautiful way to make us feel like we can do some good, we can make a difference. The beauty of this is that, by donating money to send Susan Tom's kids to college, you are not making a political statement. You do not have to examine your feelings about war or politics or the upcoming election - all the things that divide us - to drop a few dollars in the jar or to call on your readers/friends/families to rally 'round and suppor the cause. It is a human cause. A good cause that nobody can find fault with or find a reason to not support. It is our hope that some of the bigger left side bloggers pick this up as well, proving that there are some things we can agree on an the divide between Americans that is so deep right now is one that can be crossed given the right circumstances. So how about it? Kos, Atrios, Oliver? Will someone pick the ball up and run with it? Please? I also want to address some of you who read this blog and have the power to reach thousands upon thousands of people. You know who you are. I'm asking you to link this and help us reach new heights before midnight tonight. We are going to celerbate tonight. As Alan wrote on TCP:
Itís a remarkable thing, what weíve done together over the past two days. It shows a lot about the goodness in people, and the number of bright stories that surround us that, unfortunately, are so often drowned out by the evil we see in the world. But this was a great response: to strengthen the good. So great, in fact, that we want to celebrate what weíve done. Tonight Michele and I are hosting an online ďCelebrate The GoodĒ party in the Command Post Chat Room! Weíll open the chat room at 11:00 PM EDT, and everyone who has given (and everyone who didnít) are invited to join us to talk about the Toms, the past two days, and what else weíve seen thatís good today. Then at Midnight, Iíll announce the final total, and weíll pop the virtual champagne. Iíll also call Susan and see if sheíll join us to share her thoughts and the thoughts of the kids. It may just be the three of us, but thatís OK Ö the real fun was in the doing. Between now and then, donít let up. There are still some 4 billion people who know nothing about this effort, so get out the word, and help us blow away the goal. Thanks for helping to strengthen the good Ö letís help send these kids to college
I'll be there, Alan will be there and we hope you will all be there. Read more at Command Post for some great words by Alan, an email from Susan Tom (he also had a wonderful phone conversation with her) and ways that you can help. Strengthen the good. Now, more than ever, this is what we need to do. And thank you for all you have done already. Update: Thanks, Oliver.

May 13, 2004

Six Apart's Virtual Suicide

You want to see what happens when a small company decided they want to be big and they forget about the people who got them where they are in the first place? Take a look here, read the trackbacks. I have no problem with Six Apart wanting to make money. What I have a problem with is that they are practically doing a wholesale dumping of those who don't want to cough up the big, big bucks for a paid version of MT. Hell, they won't even list your puny weblog on the recently updated list anymore if you don't pay for the new developer version. That sucks. For all the praising, touting and free adversting most of us have done for Moveable Type over the past years, and for all of us who donated to them in the early days, we get a fuckyouverymuch send off. I see where Ben and Mena are going with this; I think it's great that MT has come so far so fast and I totally see the need for them to offer a paid developer version. But I see no need to for them to rip things away from those who helped them get to this point. The recent update thing may seem like small potatoes - I don't know if I even get any hits from that - but it's the principle that matters here. What a stupid thing to take away from the free users. I think Six Apart just shot themselves in the foot with this one. So, how's that Word Press?

and we would all go down together

My sister's father-in-law died this week. That's whose wake I went to tonight.

Rob's dad was a Vietnam vet. He spent the last year or so of his life in and out of the Vet's hospital, battling cancer. He took a turn for the worse earlier in the week and they started him on a morphine drip. Which means, if you've ever been in this situation with a loved one, that it's time to say good-bye. Rob's dad died that night.

At first, my sister wasn't sure when the funeral would be because the hospital couldn't find his honorable discharge papers and you have to have those papers to be buried in a national cemetery. Imagine having to deal with the death of your father and then, on top of that, having to worry that you wouldn't be able to bury the guy right away because of some papers? My sister made the point that you can only get into a veteran's hospital if you were honorably discharged, so obviously Rob's father had the paper at some point, so that proves he had the discharge. Well, no. So the funeral home called Washington and Washington said, geeez, just bury the guy already. So all was clear.

So, the wake. The local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America were there. They were decked out in their combat fatigues and they lined up by the casket while the person I presume was the chapter leader said a few words about Rob's dad. Then they did a very synchronized, touching tribute, saluting the coffin two at time, turning on their heels, greeting Rob and my sister.

I was really humbled watching this. I am awed by veterans of any war, but especially Vietnam veterans. Perhaps this is because the Vietnam war took up a good chunk of my childhood and I remember so much about it. Mostly, I remember how the veterans were treated when they got home. They fought an unpopular war and came home as unpopular vets. After all they went through, I think coming home to that must have been worse.

I didn't know Rob's father that well. In the sixteen or so years I've know Rob, I think I met his dad twice, and once was at my sister's wedding last June. But Rob loved his dad and I love my brother-in-law, so....well, that's how family ties go, I guess.

On the way home from the wake I thought about the Billy Joel song, Goodnight, Saigon. I'm sure some people think it's too sappy, too overwrought but, like the Vietnam War itself, it haunts me. I've seen Joel do this song live several times. From the helicopter sounds in the beginning to the chorus of "we will all go down together" - I don't know how you can't have tears in your eyes and a bit of pain in your heart when you hear that.

I can't begin to imagine what it's like being in the middle of a war, your life on the line every single moment. I have incredible respect for the people who put themselves there.

This one is for Rob's dad and all the Vietnam vets.

Billy Joel - Goodnight Saigon (mp3)

lyrics below

We met as soul mates on Parris Island
We left as inmates from an asylum
And we were sharp, as sharp as knives
And we were so gung ho to lay down our lives

We came in spastic like tameless horses
We left in plastic as numbered corpses
And we learned fast to travel light
Our arms were heavy but our bellies were tight

We had no home front, we had no soft soap
They sent us Playboy, they gave us Bob Hope
We dug in deep and shot on sight
And prayed to Jesus Christ with all our might

We had no cameras to shoot the landscape
We passed the hash pipe and played our Doors tapes
And it was dark, so dark at night
And we held on to each other
Like brother to brother
We promised our mothers we'd write

And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together

Remember Charlie, remember Baker
They left their childhood on every acre
And who was wrong? And who was right?
It didn't matter in the thick of the fight

We held the day in the palm of our hand
They ruled the night, and the night
Seemed to last as long as six weeks...

...On Parris Island
We held the coastline, they held the highlands
And they were sharp, as sharp as knives
They heard the hum of our motors
They counted the rotors
And waited for us to arrive

And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together

A Nation's Strength

Just a thought I wanted to leave you with before I head out for the evening.
A NATION'S STRENGTH Ralph Waldo Emerson What makes a nation's pillars high And it's foundations strong? What makes it mighty to defy The foes that round it throng? It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand Go down in battle shock; Its shafts are laid on sinking sand, Not on abiding rock. Is it the sword? Ask the red dust Of empires passed away; The blood has turned their stones to rust, Their glory to decay. And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown Has seemed to nations sweet; But God has struck its luster down In ashes at his feet. Not gold but only men can make A people great and strong; Men who for truth and honor's sake Stand fast and suffer long. Brave men who work while others sleep, Who dare while others fly... They build a nation's pillars deep And lift them to the sky.

meeting the enemy

[Before you read this, just a note that we need only $200 more dollars to meet our goal of $10,000 raised in the Strengthen the Good appeal at Command Post. More on that later] Because I unwillingly - or due to unfortunate cable modem circumstances - had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to say before I actually opened up the browswer to say/write it, most of what you're about to read has been covered on plenty of blogs last night and today. I'll plow on, nonetheless. Well, no. I don't have the time to plow on right now. It will have to wait. Really, what I just wanted to say comes down to this: The war we are engaged in right now is not just the war in Iraq. We are at war against an ideology. We are at war against evil. Saddam and al Sadr are just part of that evil. al Qaeda and the martyr's brigades are just part of it. If you put it together as a whole it is called World War III, or even IV depending on your perpsective. This is the time to forget about oil, forget about WMDs, forget about whatever reasons you have for protesting. Nick Berg's murder should bring us together. It should have the exact opposite effect that the murderer's intended. It should make us feel that, as Americans, our lives are at stake. It should make us feel the way we did on September 11, 2001 when we stared out our windows or at our televisions and said holy shit, we are at war. Our enemy has not changed since that day; we are still fighting the same core group of fundamentalists that have the common goal of wanting the infidels dead. And who are the infidels? Americans and Jews. We should look at the video of Nick Berg's murder and see a common enemy called evil. We should hear the audio of Nick Berg's murder and listen to the chants of Allahu Akbar and hear what we are up against. The video should make you angry. But it should not make you angry at your own country, your president, a few bad soldiers, Donald Rumsfeld, conservatives, liberals, Al Franken or John Kerry. Not even at the media, misguided as they are. We should not be angry at anybody but the people who swung the knife and every last person that follows the beliefs that they do. That's where our anger should directed. That's where the fingers get pointed. Think about that. Go, listen to the shouts of Allahu Akbar, watch the soulless men with the covered faces dance and chant while Nick Berg screams in agony. We have met our enemy, again. We met him in Munich. We met him in New York. We met him on the Achille Lauro, at the Kobar Towers, on the USS Cole and in Fallujah. We met him at the mass graves. We will meet him again. And again. Our enemy cannot be defeated if we cannot agree on who he is. I know with certainity that the men in that video and everyone who subcribes to their deranged version of the religion of peace is our enemy. What's it going to take? Another 9/11? Maybe the loss of a whole city? What will it take before people stop blaming everyone but the doers of evil? Something's coming. Wait for it. As long as they know that we don't have the backbone to do the right thing, they'll come at us full force. Which begs the big question: What is the right thing? And are we right now doing the wrong thing? Update: Read this.

A Note From Hosting Matters - Server Issues

Stacy at Hosting Matters sends this PSA: We're having a power issue that's affecting one of ourcabinets housing multiple servers. Most servers are unaffected but we just want to let folks know it's being worked on and should be resolved very shortly. If your blog or any of your favorite blogs are inaccessible right now, that is most likely the reason. If you know HM like I know HM, then you know the problem will be resolved as fast as humanly possible. Here's the link to the emergency forums, should you need it. Patience, grasshoppers. [On an unrelated note, blogrolling has been out most of the day. I suggest that if you are running a blogrolling script on your site, you take it out until the service comes back, or your site will be very slow to load] Update: Looks like everything is up and running again!

Just shoot me

Our closing date has been pushed back. Again. Don't ask. We won't close until next Thursday and Friday. I took vacation time this entire week to pack and move. I have no more time to take. Everything we own is boxed up. No pots, no pans, no dishes. Almost all of our clothes are packed; I left out just enough to get us through to Saturday. We literally have no food in the house. I thought we were moving tomorrow. We're told we can put things in the garage of the new house, except that the garage of the new house still looks like this. I have to go to a wake tonight and a funeral tomorrow. I still have the tortured screams of Nick Berg ringing in my ears. I have about 50 pieces of mail received since last night accusing me of advocating genocide. At least that I can deal with by explaining to myself that those people are idiots who cannot comprehend what they read. The rest of the stuff? I am about thisclose to a nervous breakdown. All I want to do is throw up, cry or scream. Or all of the above. And I haven't even watched/read the news or a blog since yesterday morning. I imagine I probaly shouldn't at this point. I'm a camel in search of a straw.

Finally

Cable is back. Going to get to all my mail now, blog later. Miss me? Update: Well, that was quick. They disabled the digital cable again. Are these people really that stupid? I'm sure it won't be long until the modem cuts out again. If you happen to see a news story on tv tonight about someone going postal at the offices of Cablevision, that would be me. I'll be the one in black, smashing the office up with a sledgehammer.

May 12, 2004

(Re-post) Response to Bad: Strengthen Good

I thought I would keep this up top while I'm not really blogging. Command Post: We were shocked by the evil we saw [yesterday]. Our response is to help strengthen something that is good. We're contributing all donations to our PayPal account made between now and Midnight EDT Friday night to the Tom Family Education Trust Read more about the Tom family here. This was Alan's idea. When he ran it by me I knew immediately it was something we had to do. Why? Because, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Opposite. When evil strikes - and make no doubts about it, the men in that video are evil - we need to counteract that evil by doing something good for the world. As regular, everyday citizens, we cannot bring justice to Nick Berg's family. We cannot avenge his death. Nick Berg was an American. When those bastards held up his severed head, they were holding America. That's not conjecture, it's a fact. The Tom Family Education Fund has nothing to do with Iraq or the war on terror. It is a non-political, non partisan charity fund and giving to this fund is just a way of making some good happen on a day that seemed to be nothing but bad. Help us to keep the good karma flowing. [A great way to help would be to link this on your own blog]

coming to you live from...my mom's

Just so you know for future reference: When a Cablevsion representative says to you "So, you want your internet and cable turned off on Friday, May 14th right?" What they are really saying is this - bq. We are going to turn your service off on Tuesday, May 12th. We will fuck with you all day long, telling you that we know we made a mistake and the technician will be there any moment to hook you back up again. But in reality, he's not coming. We'll tell you he will be there by two, but he won't and you'll call us and we'll tell you that you are our Number One Priority! and he'll be there by six the latest, bet your bottom dollar on that and then when you call at 6:05, our supervisor will tell you that all the techs have packed it in for the day and you're shit out of luck. And when you tell us that your husband lost some clients because you were unable to answer inquiries today, we'll tell you that we will take twenty dollars off your next bill, even though we know that means nothing to you. And then our supervisor will promise to have someone back at your house in the morning, or maybe the afternoon, or maybe dinner time and when you finally go ballistic and start screaming, she'll just keep repeating the same cue card lines over and over again because, guess what? You really don't fucking matter. We are Cablevision and we are a monopoly and you are our bitch. So, I had to deposit Nat here at my mom's for a while so she can see American Idol and I figured I would check in and let you know where I've been all day, in case you got to wondering where my usual 40 posts a day went. Too bad, because I had a lot to say today. Per usual. I see there are about 200 mails sitting in my inbox, and I haven't read a single comment on whatever I wrote today, so I apologize if you are waiting for a response and have yet to receive one. The future lies within the hands of Cablevision. Hopefully, they'll turn the service back on tomorrow - just in time to turn it off again on Friday. I hope my ranting and screaming did not do any harm to my Saturday morning appointment to have services turned on at the new house. Oh, I forgot to mention. We close on the house Friday afternoon. We start moving in Friday night. Finally. Anyhow, I've been making good use of my internet down time by finishing up the packing and I guess I'll spend tonight cleaning the place up for the next tenants. See you sometime tomorrow, depending on Cablevision's defintion of priority. Or, I could walk around the neighborhood with the laptop strapped around my neck, looking for a house with a wireless connection. Nah, not that desperate. Yet. Update: I should note this: I've used Optimum Online as my ISP for three years. I have rarely experienced downtime and then only in the case of sever weather. It is Cablevision's (their parent company) customer service I have the problem with.

Monsters, Inc. [Updated]

bq. Even ABCNewsí anchorman Peter Jennings was philosophical about the animalistic act. ďSimple depravity is inexcusable under any context,Ē he said. ďThis outrage certainly puts the Iraqi prisoner abuse story in context. ABCNews will henceforth better endeavor to keep a sense of proportion when reporting certain stories, even when reporting those stories we believe can be used politically against the American military or to Republican administrations.Ē Haha. Kidding. I want to make mention of the fact that Nick Berg was a Jew, just like Danny Pearl was a Jew. Which leads me to make the assumption that Berg was handpicked to be slaughtered, just like Danny Pearl. Which means that his beheading -as we all know anyhow - has nothing to do with Abu Ghraib. By the way, have you seen any news outlets give room to the story that Palestinian thugs opened fire at the funeral of Meirav Hatuel and her four small children - you know, the ones that were shot at point blank range by Palestinian terrorists? No, didn't think so. I only saw it at the Jersualem Post, thanks to Meryl. Interesting note here, too. MSNBC moved the Nick Berg story to third most important, giving the private viewing of abuse photos and a story about Afghanistan prisons top billing over the brutal murder of an American by Islamofacists cretins. Yea, WaPo moved it down also, under a bunch of headlines about Abu Ghraib. Reuters gives it top billing, but only a story that plays on the blame of the U.S. in Berg's killing. ABC news has Berg as the top story, but uses it to explore Berg's own blame in his death. CBS - same thing, and same with the Guardian. The LA Times sinks it even further - their lead story has to do with the wife of the Madrid bomb suspect from Oregon. USA Today gives it room below a story about heart disease. What am I getting at? Read Cox & Forkum today to figure it out, if you haven't already. In my eyes, Nick Berg is not just one person, but 3,000 people. His murder is another 9/11, on a lesser scale, but not on a less important scale. He was murdered because he was an American. Just like the two towers and the Pentagon represented America to those bastards who flew the planes that day, and to those that planned the attacks, and to their followers, Nick Berg represented America. Why is this being downplayed by the media? Why, once again, are people seeking blame everywhere but where to find it? Blame the people who drew the knife. Blame the people in the video. Blame their followers, blame those who bastardized the religion they follow, blame the hatred that spewed from the mouth of bin Laden, Saddam, al Sadr, Arafat and his thugs and all those who wish harm on this country. How hard is it to understand that the terrorists are to blame for their actions? Why are people always looking past the details right in front of their faces? We did not turn these people into terrorists. They have been terrorists for ages upon ages. They kill Jews. They kill Americans. They kill with glee and with righteousness and they shout their chants of god is great as they slice heads and put bullet holes in little children. Their god is not great because their only god is themselves. I am wandering very close to a dangerous ground here, where visions of nukes dance in my head. bq. The West doesnít have the power to change Islam; it only has the power to destroy it. We have a lot of nukes. We could kill everyone. We could just take out a few troublesome nations, kill millions, and irradiate Mecca so that the Fifth Pillar is invalidated. The hajj would be impossible. Every pilgrim a martyr. I donít think weíll do either; God help us if we do, but inasmuch as we have the capability, itís an option. But it would be a crime greater than the crime that provoked such an act, and in the end that would stay our hand. They know we wonít do it. So we are pretty much stuck where we are. We can't kill them all; that's a profoundly horrible option. We can't change them. And if anyone suggests that we change ourselves, then I will suggest that the person who says that is an apologist in a place where apologies are not necessary. Don't forget, the apologists will die just as quickly at the hands of the so-called martyrs as do those of us who think we have every right to be proud of our freedoms and everything that comes with those freedoms. As of yet, the terrorists have not come up with their own version of a smart bomb, which will kill only the filthy American pig-dog capitalists and Jews and leave the sympathizers standing. In fact, their bombs consist of flesh and blood; every time they take out 3,000 of us, they take out at least one of their own. Personally, I don't think it's a good trade off. Then again, the less of them the better. Maybe their well will dry up some day. Maybe there will be less and less followers of Islam who view their religion as an excuse to murder and more of the kind who want peace and prosperity. Maybe they will kill themselves off in all their attempts to kill us. Maybe moderate Muslims will stand up and be heard and drive the terrorists out of their holes and into a hail of machine gun fire. Would I care about their deaths? Nope. Not at all. They aren't human. They are monsters. Die, monsters, die, as my son used to say in his sleep. So my son, an eleven year old who already knows too much about the world, happened to see part of the video yesterday as he watched the news. He was devastated and horrified. He took Nick Berg's death very personally. We discussed the matter, discussed about terrorists, about good v. evil. He asked can't we just drop a bomb and kill them all? And I realized, as I explained to him the best I could why we cannot do such a thing, that what he said is absolutely an eleven year old way of dealing with things. We are not eleven. We are adults. Ok, then how come I keep whispering die, monsters, die in my dreams? Update: Garrulitas is a live discussion between several people in the form of a blog. They are discussing this very topic today. Comments open. Update 2: Dave says: bq. The world has to wake up and realize that attempting to understand these people with our Western, Judeo-Christian mindset, is an exercise in futility. These people belong to a totally different culture. A culture that values death more than life. A culture that sees compromise as weakness, and force as strength. A culture that sees the desire to live as weakness, and the desire to die as strength. A culture that sees itself as the only valid way of life, to the exclusion of all others. A culture that justifies all kinds of atrocities in the name of Allah. A culture that is holding the world ransom. How should the world respond to these people? The answer is NOT to try and understand the "root causes" of their actions. The answer is NOT to constantly attack the one country in the world that has been dealing with this phenomenom since its inception. The answer is NOT to attack the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to ensure that these people do not get their way. Read the rest.

picture day

New pic of the day over to the left. A whole new batch of pics have been uploaded to the gallery. Just in case you're looking for something besides lots of impotent screaming.

May 11, 2004

W

For the inquiring minds that want to know, DJ's team is now 7-1. Today's win was hard fought; they were down 4-2 early on in the game, but had a big third inning where they took an 11-4 lead. The other team countered with a big fourth inning and the lead shrunk to 11-8. Our team held it together, thanks to two stellar defensive plays at short in the last inning by a certain kid who happens to be my son. DJ pitched two innings, adding three strikeouts to his season total which we keep no real record of. The best part is he went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs, which makes him very happy because hitting was a big problem for him last year. I think the added two inches of height since last season helps him a lot. He did walk two players during his two inning pitching stint and I think I need to have a nice talk with my little man about handling disappointment with himself. All in all, a very enjoyable game on an incredibly warm and pleasant and spring evening, and it made me really happy to see a big crowd on hand. I'm also pretty damn pleased with the rest of the photos I took tonight. I'll get them up in the gallery later.

Random Phallic Ice Cream Thoughts and FREE SHREK MUSIC RIGHT HERE!

Before I get back on the warpath. * Why does the neighborhood ice cream man play lullabyes? Rock-a-Bye Baby just doesn't seem like the kind of song that sells too many King Cones. * I was already very excited for Shrek 2. Now that I hear the movie contains a cover of the Buzzocks' Ever Fallen in Love, I'm doubly excited (Nick Cave and the Eels make appearances as well. And, wow - this is a really decent soundtrack!). * Perhaps the ice cream man should play Buzzcocks songs. I think a few rounds of Orgasm Addict would sell some of these. Just trying to help. Update: Kick ass! They let you host the soundtrack machine thingie on your own site! Well, not really. It's just a banner with a link. But it still makes me happy and that's alright with me.

Breather

We've got a baseball game to go to. I didn't want to leave all that rage up top while I was gone.

What next?

Yes, I've taken a deep breath and collected my thoughts, thank you for asking. Seeing this video has put many things in perspective for me. I am pissed at the soldiers who committed abuses because we don't do that. At least, we aren't supposed to. What they did was terrible because it derailed our war efforts. But this. This is different. This is in-your-face terrorism. And you can bet your ass we won't get an apology for it. I just had this ugly thought while I was sitting in my car waiting for my son to get out of school. The last two weeks have cemented whatever line there was between the left and the right. Abu Ghraib has become the definitive dividing point and the break is irreparable. I had my first political fight with my best friend this morning. We've been friends for fourteen years and have had differing politics since day one, but we've debated, talked, and discussed and never fought. Today, we fought. We raised our voices. We had an angry edge to our words. The bell rang and I watched the kids stream out of the school. Sorry, kids. We fucked the place up for you. This makes me physically sick. I don't know how some people can sit back and say it doesn't matter. It does. Am I part of it. Yes, of course I am. I'm not going to deny that. America is broken and we all had something to do with it. When's the best time to kick a man? When he's down, of course. Watch your back, America. My post 9/11 wariness is back and it tells me that kick is coming. Yea, I've been wrong before. Doesn't make the fear any less real. It's just harder to take knowing what a tremendous part we all played in tearing this country apart, and that we will continue to do it because to not fight for what you think is right and against what you think is wrong is not in our nature. Where do we go from here? I'm serious. Someone answer this for me. How the hell do we get ourselves back together again? [By the way, Hannity.com is showing the video. Not that anyone really wants to see it, but I understand the point he is making by having it available.]

Lose the war within and you lose the war as a whole

CAIRO, Egypt - A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq, and said the execution was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit ó similar to a prisoner's uniform ó who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. contractor whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday. "My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Susan," the man said on the video. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in ... Philadelphia." After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ó "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.
This is what I was talking about last week when I said that these people would use the prison abuse as an excuse for murder of Americans. It's an excuse for them to act like the animals they are. This is the man who is supposedly behind the beheading. This is who we are at war with. Barbaric animals. We are not at war with each other. We are not at war with our own military. We are not at war with Rumsfeld and Bush or Kerry or Kennedy. We keep forgetting this. Self included. Let's remind ourselves. The factions of radical Muslim are no longer separate entities. Al Sadr, al Qaeda, all these people are just one big army out to get us. Oh, they wanted to get us all along, no doubt about that. But the amount of time and devotion given to the abuse scandal has renewed their energy and made them feel more powerful and righteous. This is what separates our soldiers from theirs. We may have a few rotten men and women among our own, but the ranks of al Qaeda and the ranks of the martyr brigade are made only of the worst kind of human being, from top to bottom. There are no good terrorists. I wonder if the people who thought that making sure al Jazeera knows how much the left hates our administration still think it's a good idea? Today it's Nick Berg. Who knows who it will be tomorrow. We have taken our eyes off of the prizes - peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and the eradication of Mid East terror networks. I don't think we can win this war if we keep having to separate wars at home. That scares the crap out of me. I look at this picture of Nick Berg, moments away from being slaughtered and the only phrase I can come up with is neither eloquent nor print-worthy.: We're fucked. Yea, I'm all over the place today, I know. I got hate mail from the left and hate mail from the right and more than a few people have accused me of pandering to each side. Whatever. I'm terrified for the future of the country. I fear for all of us. Update: Someone explain to me what the hell is wrong with these people? This isn't Bush's fault. This has nothing at all to do with prison abuse, either. They are just using that as an excuse. In case anyone has forgotten, al Qaeda hated us before this damn war started. And they are starting up conspiracies that it was a CIA hit. Jesuschristontoast. People are just fucking insane.

One person's happy is another person's sad

[Yes, there was a post below this one, but I put it on hold until later. There are some things I want to add to it] One more thing before I get back to what I was doing. happymeal_salad_dasani.jpg This is a McDonald's Adult Happy Meal. Salad, water and a prize of a fitness book and stepometer. That is not a Happy Meal. It is a Sad Meal. Ice cream, tequila, nachos and prize of porn: That is a happy meal.

Random Thoughts on Abu Ghraib (or: What's at Stake)

If there are people who are not horrified and outraged by the Abu Ghraib stories, I do not know them. Nor do I want to. I expect that every American should right now be feeling a bit of shame or embarassment to go along with their anger and shock. Abu Ghraib can and will be compared to many things. Some will misguidedly - or, in Limbaugh's case, ignorantly - compare it to frat house stunts. I see that as a partisan reach to justify something that deserves no justification. Some are comparing Abu Ghraib to Nazi Germany, its guards to Hitler and his henchmen. Hitler marched Jews off to concentration camps, where they were killed because of who they were. Killed. By the thousands. At least 700,000 were killed in Treblinka alone, and that was just one of several death camps. I'd say the comparisons to Nazis and Hitler are not only off base, but a blatant attempt to further demonize America and its troops. Some are comparing Abu Ghraib to My Lai. In My Lai, over 500 unarmed men, women and children were intentionally massacred. The soldiers went into a village and systematically killed anyone that was standing, including babies and praying women. Abu Ghraib is not My Lai. I am not defending the soldiers of Abu Ghraib here. I am not the one comparing the atrocities. I just want to point out why your comparisons are baseless. Now, let's put to rest all the talk of the notion that somehow all of our troops are guilty, all of our troops are torturers, rapists and potential child killers that don't care about the people they are supposed to be freeing. Sgt. Stryker does not seem to fit into that mold. What about Spc. Joe Darby, who blew the whistle on all the abuse? Not LtCol. McNease, who recently spread some Spirit of America love around Fallujah. Or Chief Wiggles, who has done so much for the Iraqi people. There's Smash, a great defender of freedom and denouncer of prisoner abuse. Try also BlackFive, Greyhawk or Sgt. Hook. For every soldier who deserves a court martial, you will find a thousand soldiers who deserve a medal. Which ones do you want to concentrate on? Which soldiers will your favorite papers/news channels give the most attention to? The few or the proud? Let's move on to President Bush, our Commander in Chief. He is rightly pissed off at the stories coming out of Abu Ghraib. How you view his anger depends on where you sit. I see it as genuine anger, combined with a genuine sadness over this whole incident. I see his emotions not as reactions to the reactions but as reactions to the acts. There is a difference. The left sees Bush's anger as something sinister. If he is mad, he's only mad that the pictures got out. He's only mad that the guards got caught. He's only mad because this might make him lose the election. It seems that the left has so demonized Bush they can no longer see him as having any human qualities. In fact, when Bush comforted the daughter of a victim of 9/11 last week, the left had a field day trying to twist the sentimetnal moment into something sinister. So I suppose it's really not surprising when they doubt Bush's anger towards the Abu Ghraib guards. I am however, surprised at Kerry's response. The quickness with which he and his campaign staff politicized this awful story was astounding. They jumped on this as if they had found the magix elixer that would turn Kerry from a contender to a president. I wonder how many Kerry staffers and supporters are secretly rubbing their hands in glee over the Abu Ghraib scandal? You don't think it's likely? Oh, don't go and give me that how dare you. You, the people who think that Bush giving someone a hug is a political manuever. Here's how to tell the difference between moderates (be they Republican or Democrat or otherwise) and those on the fringes of everything: The left fringe people are dancing in the streets, raising their arms in jubilation because this whole torture scandal means bigger numbers for Kerry. They are calling for impeachment and calling for heads rather than trying to find a way to fix this thing or punish the actual perpetrators, who are, last I checked, adults and responsible for their own actions. Well, what do you expect from the same group of people who think it's McDonald's fault that people are fat? They are comparing Bush to Hitler and Abu Ghraib to Auschwitz and using the word massacre wontonly. Above all, Abu Ghraib is a victory for them. Even though they won't come out and say it, it's in their words and phrases. The right fringe are justifying Abu Ghraib. They compare the prison with that of Saddam's prisons. They compare it to frat parties and juvenile stunts. They make claims of stress and poor guidance. They dismiss the use of the word torture and make light of the situation by cracking bad jokes about Iraqi prisoners. Some even cheer the abuse. They also see this as a loss; not a loss for America's fight to maintain it's good name, not as a loss for Iraqi dignity and American pride, not as a loss for the war we are waging against evil in the Middle East; no, they see it as a November loss. If you look at Abu Ghraib and cannot see it any other terms but what it means for November, then you do not understand what the war is about. You do not understand that this war, and this scandal, will reach far beyond your own backyard. I am sorry for the Iraqis that suffered under the hands of American soldiers. I look at those pictures and I want to cry. Humiliation is a terrible weapon to wield. It has a bigger impact on a person than a knife cut or bullet wound. And the humiliation of these Iraqis will have a much bigger impact on America and the war in Iraq - even the war to save ourselves - than you think. As a nation, we are taking responsibility for our actions. That is a good thing. Yet for some, it is not enough. Nothing short of an impeachment - or maybe a public beheading of Rumsfeld - will be enough. I don't understand the mind set of people who put the needs and wants of their own political agenda above that of country. Your first debt is to your country. The country that gives you freedom, the country that lets you say what you want, when you want, the country that allows you to break into a Senate hearing and shout down the Secretary of Defense and you live to tell about it, the country where you live, work, play and protest - that country deserves your respect if for no other reason than the rights you have to not respect it. The right thing to do right now is obvious. The wrong to to do is this: give the enemy ammunition. By making this a partisan story - and I'm talking to both the Rushes and the Ralls out there - you are doing a great disservice to the country that harbors you. By making this war about nothing but Abu Ghraib, all day, all night - and I'm talking to both the Reuters and Fox people and everyone in between - you are doing a great disservice to the great many soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq who want nothing more than to give freedom to an oppressed people. Make no mistake, our nation is in a crisis right now. Our standing with the Arab community and, within that, our standing with radical, jihad crazed Muslims is at stake. We need to find some common ground or we will fail in this crisis. Failure means more terrorism, more death. Failure means a halt to the push for world peace. Failure in this crisis, right here, right now, does not bode well for our future. When a nation is in crisis, it's people need to come together. Unfortunately, we have gone way past the point where that is possible now. But we need to find something, anything to agree on here, something that shows the rest of the world that we can act in concert, we can pull together for the sake of our country because if we don't, it certainly looks like we don't respect America and how can we expect our enemies to respect us when we are constantly making a mockery of ourselves? The common ground is this: Abu Ghraib is a blight on this war. We must punish those responsible and by that I mean those that held the weapons, those that uttered the commands, those that took the pictures, those that were in the pictures. We must roundly denounce the actions of a few yet praise the actions of many at the same time. We must not call for heads to roll, we must not spit in the face of our president while a war wages and while our enemies are gathering force against us, using Abu Ghraib as another notch in their hate America suicide belt. Yes, I know. I'm grasping at straws and talking out of my ass and living in a dream world. But remember, I'm not asking liberals to vote for Bush. I'm not asking Freepers to kiss a liberal on the mouth. I don't want you stop writing about how much you hate Ann Coulter or how much you hate Ted Rall (obviously, aimed at self). America affords us the opportunity to do that and not really incur any damage from it. But the subject of Abu Ghraib - it's different. I'm asking that we take a long, hard look at what's at stake here and act appropriately. Now, if I could just figure out what that appropriate action should be. Related: Day by Day by Chris Muir

May 10, 2004

blog semantics

Lileks: Then I got to thinking: well. Why not take the week off for real. But what of my Ė and brace yourself, Iím about to coin a word so inevitable it may spread, and youíll find yourself sick of it shortly Ė what of my blogligations? Blogligations. The word doesn't exactly roll off your tongue. In fact, it's kind of awkward to say aloud. But I suppose the opportunity to say such a word in a verbal conversation wouldn't come along very often. Friend: So, you have time to meet me for lunch today? Me: Nah, I have these blogligations... It's a great written word; one of those words that is just self explanatory - as long as you are using it on a blog, where people will see it, nod their heads and understand. My boss is not going to understand about blogligations. You will. A sense of blogligation is what causes one to write posts like this very one you are reading. I must put something on the blog, even though my mind has already shut down for the evening and I can barely scrape my fingers along the keyboards. It's something bloggers create themselves; it's doesn't come from the readers, it comes from within. So in order to fulfill my personal blogligations, I spend ten minutes talking about this silly yet comprehensive word. It's a Lileksian word, which makes it a good thing, even though the connotations of the word itself are negative. What's interesting here is that I coined the word that is the exact opposite of blogligation: blogathy. Sometimes you don't feel the obligation at all; in fact, you feel obligated to not feel obligated. This been your blog-word lesson, and my blogligation, for the evening.

Serenity

We found it. It was in a steak dinner, a pint of Guinness and a walk through the park, camera in hand. I put some of the photos over at the gallery - I have to say again how much I love the new camera. I think this is the first time I've ever been happy with more than half the shots I took. So the good half is here. Here's one that didn't make it to the gallery: Serenity Now!

packing/moving update

Days packing done. Closing date pushed back again. No pool permit. Much frustration, anger, tears. Attorney makes everything ok. I hope. By Saturday. In five minutes I will regain my mind by going out for a well-earned, expensive as hell steak dinner which will be washed down with tequila.

Absent Note

To whom it may concern, Please excuse Michele from blogging today as it is now crunch time in the packing/moving experience. Michele has been ordered by all concerned to not blog again until this evening, when she will be allowed a short respite from her day of hard labor. You may wish to visit this post and add your two cents. Sincerely, The better thinking half of Michele's brain

The Wrong Way to go About Things

Lesson one in how to do a lot of damage to your cause: War graves vandalized over Iraq abuse scandal

Here's to Good Friends

My father, who has been called the world's oldest living teenager, has this group of friends that refer to themselves as the Dirty Dozen. They are all men, all in their 50's or 60's and all a bit on the wild side. These men are politicians, county officials, business owners and the like. While they've known each other since time began (more or less), they bonded over Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce meetings. Over the years, their comradery became something more than that and the thirteen of them became nearly inseparable. They span the East Coast each year in search of a golf course that will put up with them; from upstate New York to North Carolina to Florida, they vacation together, sans wives, in some male bonding ritual that always seems to include an elaborate practical joke. Sometimes there would be fourteen, maybe even sixteen. But it was always that original twelve that formed the core of the group. One of the dozen died a few days ago. Sam* was a loud, boisterous man whose height and build, not to mention the baritone depth of his voice, made him seem larger than life. He was a good man with a good heart, which isn't surprising given the nature of the dozen; after all, it was these men that people called on when they needed wheelchair ramps built on their homes or Thanksgiving dinner cooked for 100 hungry senior citizens. Sam was diagnosed with cancer of the throat several months ago. Maybe it was even a year ago; time flies when a friend is dying. From the get-go, the rest of the dozen were there to take care of Sam, even against his will. They drove him to doctor's appointments (I think he could drive himself at that point, but given the chance to take care of himself, he probably wouldn't). They made sure he did whatever the doctor was ordering him to. When he would get depressed or defiant about his sickness, his wife would ring up one of the dozen and they would be at Sam's house in seconds, knocking some sense into him. Knowing someone with cancer is like forever being an audience to the theatrics of their disease. And there's always that singular point in the program when you shift from lounging back in your seat, whispering to another friend I know this is a drama, but I still think it's going to have a good ending, to sitting rigid and upright, stunned by the sudden knowledge that the ending to this one is going to suck. The clearer it became that Sam wasn't in this for the long haul, the more the dozen pulled together. They took him out to dinner, they picked him up and dragged him to the weekly Kiwanis congregations, which are more along the lines of social gathering than meetings. They took him to the golf course, to the bar, to the diner for lunch. They wanted to make sure that Sam's last days were well spent. Towards the end, Sam's boisterousness bordered on belligerence. His wife would often call my father crying. She knew where Sam's attitude came from, but that didn't make it easier to take. My father would drop what he was doing and go over to Sam's to give him a what for. The dozen took no shit from Sam. Sure, he was dying, but they weren't going to let him go out with a scowl on his face. When it got to the point that Sam couldn't leave the house, the dozen brought the gatherings to him. They cooked huge dinners and brought them over to Sam's house once a week. They stayed until Sam's wife kicked them out. A few Sundays back we were at my parents' house having dinner when Sam's son-in-law called. Sam couldn't breathe. He needed to be in a hospital. I watched my father go into action; I imagine he had this part of the script already planned in head because he did it with such inevitability, in such a business like manner. He called the fire department (he is the commissioner), spoke to the dispatcher and told him that it was time for Sam to go to the hospital. He would meet them at Sam's house. He then said to me something along the lines of it being the last time Sam would be leaving his house. The next week or two were a balancing act of waiting for the end and not wanting the end to come. My father and his friends went to the hospital every single day; all these men work, some of the run businesses and some of them run towns. Every one of them took the time from their days and nights to go hang out with their friend, even if their friend didn't know they were there. They did it for themselves, they did it for his wife and family and they did it for the dozen. I don't know why I'm so amazed at the strength of friendship that the dozen exhibit. After all, my father - and may of the dozen - worked within a brotherhood. For my father, that came from twenty years in the fire department. You learn a lot about bonds and trust between friends when your lives literally depend on each other. My father lost a lot of friends on 9/11. I really don't think he's been the same since then and each subsequent death of a friend has hit him harder than the one before. Maybe when you're in your sixties and your circle of friends start dropping out of the human race - whether it be from tragedy or disease - you find yourself in that old cliched spot of facing your own mortality. How long before the friends start coming to your house to comfort you and bring you dinner and a few needed laughs? And perhaps for men like these, who find their joys in life best expressed by acting like overgrown teenagers (and I mean that in a good way), the reality of one's life expectancy hits a bit harder. I would suspect that for a person who is 65 and views that number some sort of downward decline towards the inevitable end, death comes marching like a good soldier and you salute it and get in line. But 65 isn't what it used to be; I see more and more people who fit into the AARP demographic range but are holding off on getting in line for the old age death march. We work, play and live hard into our 70's and 80's now. I know a man who just celebrated his 100th birthday by getting up and going to work. So while our minds are set on our senior years being just as much fun, just as fulfilling as our younger years, it makes accepting the coming end of our time here just a bit harder. It must have been nice for Sam to round out his dying days with a dozen or so friends who have this great friendship and know what to do with it. And I'm sure it was a great comfort to him to know that those friends would always be around for his wife and family, that they would always consider his family an extended part of the dirty dozen even after he was gone. There were 200 people at the funeral home when I was there last night. That was just the beginning of the long strand of people who lined up outside, waiting to get in and pay their respects to Sam and his family. His absence will be reflected every time someone says the phrase dirty dozen and I believe that is a great testament to his life and to friendship. I wish that everyone could experience the kind of kinsmanship that these men have; friends held together by humor and love, carrying you through life until the proverbial bitter end. Here's to good friends. And Sam. *Name changed to protect this post from Google. I've discovered that people aren't always that happy when you write about them on the internet.

While you are waiting: porn

Well, yes. Doesn't everyone spend their Monday morning patiently waiting for me to post? Hey! Don't be ruining my egocentric fantasies! Anyhow, there's an interesting discussion on porn's place in society going on over here. It really is a fascinating subject if try not to look at it in a Beavis and Butthead kind of way.

May 09, 2004

I am Alice

Last night I dreamed that my uncle died and his wake was held in a saloon. The body sat upright in a coffin, while next to it, young girls with legs as thin as pencils danced hoochie dances on the wooden bar tables, while my drunken cousins hooted and hollered and told the girls how brave they were. One girl's name was Cassidy and the other girl had no name, but her legs kept bending at odd, rounded angles, as if her body was putting too much pressure on the limbs. She was wearing a mini dress and couldn't have been more than twelve. Her pigtails flipped and swayed as she danced and my uncle's corpse wore a look of embarassed amusement. I went to a wake tonight. Because of the dream, I was hesitant to walk into the funeral home, but was greatly relieved to find that there were no dancing teenagers or drunken cousins. However, there was a huge floral arrangement made to look like the Ace of Hearts, which gave the room a very surreal quality. leading me to believe that the Queen of Hearts herself was going to walk in at any moment and start beating the bereaved with a croquet club. So I left.

picture of the day

The nephew. [warning, the pop up size is HUGE]

request

I've had some interest from various places in putting together a book of the best of ASV. If you've ever gone back and read your own stuff (she knows what I mean), then you know how difficult it is to pick out the good stuff because in retrospect it all looks like shit to the author. So my request is this: If I were to put together a "best of" list, is there something in particular you would like to see on it? I appreciate the help. You'll all be mentioned on the dedication page of my first book "How to Not Strangle Your Children on Mother's Day."

On Being a Mother

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

Happy Mother's Day

This one's for all the moms out there. Hope you all enjoy your day. [click for oversized] [I have no idea how Kermit ended up on the plant stand. He was there when I went outside this morning. But he seems rather happy, so I'll leave him]

hmmm...

Is it me or is my site ridiculously slow today? It's taking forver to load up. I tried taking down the squirrel banner, but apparently that wasn't it. Or maybe it's just me?

SNL

Saturday Night Live is having a field day with the torture scandal. Is it just me or is it really, really wrong to find comedy gold in this? There's bad taste and then there's tasteless. [And before you go off on a rant, this is not about them making fun of Bush or whatever, it's just not a subject that should be made light of in this way]

May 08, 2004

the blue phase

Update 5/9: The blue phase ended this morning and I decided to keep putting up different graphics and colors until the new site is ready, just to annoy you. Because for some reason, site changes really do annoy some of you. GET OVER IT! I swear to you, the midis come out next. And it won't be Led Zeppelin. It will be Barbra Streisand. Temporary. I had to let Lenore go, so this will do until I come up with something better. You say you don't like it? What? WHAT? WHAT?? Update: Did I mention that I really don't care if you like it or not? Good. Because if anyone else sends me an email complaining (yes, people are that nervy), tomorrow I'll break out the animated flames, dancing hamsters and Led Zeppelin midis I've been saving since 1996. It's temporary, people. Deal.

That Crazy Kerry Campaign

[Note: the guest blogger has been gone for some time now. I've been back ever since those (WR) letters stopped appearing in the titles.] Meeting at Kerry Campaign headquarters: Hmmm...how can we make this torture thing work for us? Well, we can always politicize it. Yea! We can send out emails saying how concerned Kerry is about the scandal and then we can ask for cash! Wow, is this country great, or what? Man, Kerry stepped in shit in this one. Who knew that rape and torture of prisoners could be a virtual campaign gold mine?

And while I'm on the subject...

After 9/11, we were told time and time again by the righteous left not to brand all Muslims as terrorists, as the works of a few should not be held agains the whole. Fair enough. But now these some cretins in uniform torture Iraqi prisoners and it's not only a burning brand on the entire army, but on America as well. If we all wear that damned blue dress, then why were you so insistent that not all Muslims wear the terrorist's gear? I'm not in any way saying all Muslims are terrorists. I'm just wondering why you don't afford your own armed forces the same respect you afforded Muslims after 9/11? Anyone?

No tickee, no shirtee

I wasn't just blowing smoke out of my ass when I made that little quip about the left thinking a vote for bush is vote for rape. And hey, it's not just the FAR left because Atrios is repeating this mantra and everyone knows that Atrios doesn't represent the moonbats, right? Anyhow, this guy has the whole scoop for you. Here's the choice bits. Clever title! We Are All Wearing The Blue Dress Now bq. The United States cannot simultaneously stand against depraved sexual torture and the wanton abuse of human rights, while electing the commander in chief upon whose watch these events occurred. The seven hundred thousand or so viewers of Fox News may be able to rationalize such cognitive dissonance; the six billion people who make up the remainder of the world will not. .... bq. The election will determine whether America can ever again be seen as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope and freedom the illuminates the entire globe. Sadly, the election of George Bush will mean that the United States will instead be viewed as a rat hole prison in Iraq, where nude prisoners were bound together, tortured with hot chemicals, and beaten to death. Ok America, you know what to do. Wait? Do you? Because now I'm wondering if a vote for John Kerry is a vote in favor of Vietnam war crimes and atrocities. Hmmm...if you voted for Clinton did you vote in favor of extra marital affairs and the bombing of the WTC, the USS Cole, et al? Yes, this is a stain on America right now. So go ahead and think of America as the big blue dress. But guess what? That's what they have dry cleaners for. I think our president deserves the chance to show that he can clean this mess up. There are a million dresses in America's closets and I sincerely believe that we'll end up wearing the one that fits right. You know, the one that makes your ass look small and your tits look big and everyone looks at you and says, hot damn. I want to be in that dress. I'm voting for the dry cleaner guy.

Teddy's Friends Think We're Stooopid

So Teddy Boy gets cool mail to go along with his hate mail. But Teddy only prints the names and email addresses of the people who send him hate mail. Hmm...is that a veiled attempt to get his lefty buddies to start sending threatening mails to the "curs" who oppose him? Hard to say with Ted, as his definition of the word "threat" is really kind of vague. Anyhow, that's really not of concern right now. Let's take a look at the last paragraph of one of the pieces of cool mail Teddy decided to print on his blog: bq. Thank you for saying what many of us know and try to say, but can't, due to censorship. In particular, your column of May 4, 2004 was excellent. In fact, America HAS committed genocide, but the American people have been indoctrinated into dismissing as "Marxist lies" any and all evidence of American war crimes. Keep up the good work, Ted. Let's play Spot the Idiotic Statement, shall we? Go ahead, you go first. Then go read the rest. Hey, Teddy's friends think Tillman was an idiot, too! What were the chances of that? Oh, I see where the current mantra going around the (far but not really that far)left is that if you vote for Bush it means you condone the wholesale torture and rape of women and children. Uhh..yea. Right now you're just getting a big, old whatthefuckEVER from me.

Here's some good news (WR)

Go and check this out. Keep in mind, the broad that runs this joint had a big hand in helping these folks out. For which she has my gratitude. Thanks Michele.

psa

The Wars and Battles post is here. Permalinks, people!

With Cheese!

Doctor Unheimlich has diagnosed me with
A small victory's Syndrome
Cause:genetically-modified cheese
Symptoms:mildly high blood pressure, occasional dilation of pupils, purple skin, swearing
Cure:infect someone else
Enter your name, for your own diagnosis:
Well, that explains a lot. Damn you, Domino's Pizza cheesy bread! Found here. Yea, I am so done packing for the day.

Fall back! It's a trap! (WR)

Ok, full disclosure - the post about how life was great at Circuit City was about as reliable as a Peter Arnett report from Baghdad. Actually, I had a red-shirted minion hovering around me wondering what I was doing with the HP Media Center laptop I was playing with. He sortof left me alone after he saw I was saying nice things about the place. Actually, it was going ok, till I finished saying how wonderful it all was, then walked up to the Camera counter. Seems I was just in time for the effing parade. Parade? Yeah, the parade of people just browsing or pretending to want to buy a camera, and monoplizing the two sales guys' time. One woman, with three kids in tow, asked the kid the same two questions about the same two cameras about five or six times. The pain agony was obvious on the sales kid's face. This tells me I'm not cut out for retail sales - on maybe the third and certainly by the fourth go round, I would have probably used the Digital Rebel, swinging it on the end of the security lanyard like a bolo, and whacked her upside the head with it. Probably a poor customer relations technique. Finally, the guy gets to me. Exactly two questions - 'what type of battery?' and 'it does include a USB cable, correct?'. I picked up a set of rechargables plus charger, and less than 3 minutes 37 seconds after the terminally clueless woman wandered off still mumbling with technical confusion, I was out the door with a Nikon Coolpix 2100 in the bag. Badabing...well, you know the rest. Sidenote to Ken - they have an Oyster Point road that changes to Victory Blvd where it crosses I-64 then passes by a PUD named Kiln Creek in Yazoo too! Now, after fiddling around and having the camera software refuse to recognize that the camera was attached...yank the memory card, and put it in a flash reader and...

Click for bigger

Hot Time Shopping (WR)

Whoo whoo! Coming to you LIVE from Circuit City at famous Yoder Plaza. Good day for shopping. The bank of wide screen HDTVs is playing Master and Commander, and there aren't a lot of folks in the store. Already stopped by PetsMart to get a new water bottle for the lardball, and may head over to Bed Bath and Beyond for an item or two. Like I said, they have it ALL here at Yoder Plaza, the retail envy of Yazoo, Mississippi. Of course, now I have to find a sales associate to help me pick out a Digital Camera so I can take a picture of the seat. Hey! You! Kid, get over here!

Sleeping on the job, Excuses (WR)

Yeah, so I took a nap. Wake up to find people are asking for pictures of the seat. Sounds like a good excuse to me. Next entry may be a LiveBlog from Circuit City at Fabulous Yoder Plaza, the converted dairy farmland with a preserved/refurbished milking Barn but no cows that is a shopping mecca for virtually the entire greater Penninsula area, and some sections of southwestern rural Ohio. The citizens of the greater Yazoo, Mississippi metroplex dream of having a retail extravaganza to rival it some day. Go, Yazoo, go.

pardon me...

...while I barge in on Windy's excellent guest blogging. First, I just have to vent. The people who left the house we bought were supposed to clean out the garage. We were allowed to take possession of the garage today even though we aren't closing until Wednesday. This would be great, as I can start getting the big stuff out the house, making it easier to box up the rest of the stuff. So I drive over to the new house this morning. Enter the garage. I swear, they left enough crap in that garage to stuff a landfill the size of a small country. And it's not even good stuff that we could make use of. It's paint cans and assorted pieces of wood and an old, rusted out stove. There's three boxes of worn out pots and pans, about six gazillion nails and other boxes that I'm afraid to open. I'm not happy. These people are gone and they have no intention of ever claiming their garbage. Not only that, but they left about three rooms worth of furniture and junk out at the curb and a quick phone call tells me that no, they didn't call for special pick up to come get it. No, not happy at all. Anyhow, I made this last night and I'm trying to find some way to incorporate it into a header for the site (it needs some tweaking, but that's the general look it will have). Any ideas, feel free to leave them. Any dumb comments, keep them in your head. [click for bigger] Now, some of you may think I'm being a real asshole with this. And you'd be right. And that's just tough, ain't it?

Cassini (WR)

Can see Titan. Read about it here What's your most memorable Space event? Neil stepping on the moon? ? Columbia?

Moving Day Stories, or How I ended up with an aircraft seat (WR)

One of my most prized posessions is a retired Aircraft seat. This seat flew on literally thousands of sorties, carrying dozens of my friends at various times during its active use career. It's a bit tough to decorate around, but it works. Aluminum sheet metal and rivets, with red flame retardent fabric covering the foam cushions that fit in where the parachute and seat kit were designed to go. Unfortunately, the 4-inch wide lap belt and 2 inch wide shoulder harnesses are long gone, but the take up reel for the shoulder harness is still there, and works. The seat was one of 10 used in a palletized system flown aboard C-130s. When that system was replaced, the only unit using the system, in Panama, asked Lockheed Martin if they could keep the seats. Since they were going for scrap, LM handed them over. The seats were used in the lobby/waiting area of the Squadron's Orderly Room, the admin area where the Commander and First Sergeant maintained their offices. They sat there for a number of years, until the Squadron had to give up the office spaces as Howard became host to more and more of the US activities that were previously located at bases we began to shut down in preparation for the handover of the Canal in 99. So the seats had to go. The Commander ordered the Unit Supply NCO to research the paperwork and determine the proper method for disposing of the seats - everyone figured they'd be turned over to the Defense Re-utilization and Marketting Organization and sold for scrap. Turns out, however, that there was absolutely no paper trail whatsoever on the seats. They officially did not exist. I was the second person in the unit to learn this tidbit (when the Supply NCO, my wife at the time, told me). Several other people got word of the situation, and some folks began to voice the intention of laying claim or just plain making off with the seats in the dead of night. Seemed like a good plan to me at the time. But why sneak around about it? So I borrowed a friends pickup truck the next day, and drove over to the Orderly House. I surveyed the seats, and picked out the one that was in the best condition. They don't weigh that much, but they're pretty bulky, so I was going to need some help. I immediately discarded asking the admin folks, they'd probably start asking a lot of ridiculous questions, such as 'are you supposed to be taking this?'. Like I said, utterly ridiculous. I spotted the newest member of the unit - a freshly minted 2nd Lieutenant, who'd just arrived the week before. Young, bright, full of energy, and ready to jump in and help with anything and everything. "Hey, El-Tee, can you give me a hand with this?" "Sure, where are we going" "Just out to the truck" "Ok!" He's actually a really great fella, still in, with a line for LtCol at this point, and I think I saw his name come up on the list for potential Squadron Commanders -and he'll make a good one, but he had no clue he was participating in grand theft chair. I thanked the Lt, then headed on over to the house, and to much consternation and a 'you ARE NOT putting that thing in the living room' joint decorating discussion. The next day the poop hit the propellor - but not over the missing seat; the Commander knew I had it, and was ok with that. The bruhaha was over the second wave of folks to find out learning that the first wave of folks that knew were calling dibs on the chairs. General pandemonium, heated words, and a few near fistfights ensued. Fortunately, word had not leaked out that one of the chairs had already been snagged... The solution was to hold a raffle. Everyone that wanted a seat put their name on a slip that went into a coffee can. The winners would be announced at the Squadron monthly hail and farewell picnic, in a week or so. In the meantime, I was getting ready to leave the Squadron and rotate back to the 'Land of the Big BX' (stateside). We had our moving day scheduled, and in fact had the crew of Panamanian workers in packing up all of our stuff, loading it into big shipping crates, so it could disappear for several months, then re-appear magically at our new house, with all the carefully arranged stuff inside completely out of whack as if the Jolly Green Giant had picked it up and shook it like someone trying to figure out what's inside a Christmas present. The phone rings. It's one of the admin types from the Orderly House. "The commander says you have to bring the seat back" "Bring the seat back? I can't bring the seat back! The movers are here! I can't leave them alone with my stuff!" "Um, er, hang on (hand over reciever, muffled discussion)...ok, well, don't let them pack the seat, we'll give you a call back when he decides what to do." "Ok, fine" Great. So out to the truck, and I have the Panamanians unload the chair, which was already buried deep in one of the crates. It made a nice seat to observe all the rest of the goings on, and the movers were all informed that it would be staying, for now. This was necessary, cause these guys don't make a single decision about what goes or what stays - if they can get their hands on it, it goes in the truck. I've heard tales of people unloading their household goods after a move, and finding the kitchen trash can, with trash still in it, all nice and bundled and taped up with butcher paper and masking tape. Finally gets to the point of absolutely nada in the house, except the stuff we were keeping for the last week or so in country, our personal items, and the chair. No phone call. The next day, at the picnic, everone was abuzz about 'The Chairs'. I talked for a bit with the Commander, and he didn't mention a thing. The drawing was held, and one of the winners was sitting at our picnic table. Sue had put her name in, cause she thought it was a good idea at the time, but she'd thought more about it in the interim. "Oh damn, now what am I going to do with it? Hey, you guys want a chair?" I looked at her with a straight face - "Thanks, but Deb says I can't put it in the living room, and besides, the movers already came to get our stuff." Well, it was true! Now, when the military moves you, if you're married, you actually have two bunches of stuff. Your household goods (which the Panamanian crew had packed up already) and something called your 'Hold Baggage'. This is what most single military folks get - it's a small weight allowance for the things that someone will accumulate - stereos, CD's, TV, professional gear, etc. Usually about 500lbs of stuff is the limit. And they're usually somewhat picky about what they will or will not take. The next day, a couple of Panamanians show up to collect my 'Hold Baggage'. They are shown the chair. The two guys could care less, but the supervisor, a somewhat meticulous sort, is a bit concerned. He mentions that it's rather large, and he starts to wonder if it is really 'professional gear'. A quick trip to the closet, and a short fashion demonstration of the latest in USAF Nomex Flight Suit attire, and he reluctantly caves in. And that's how I got the chair, which now sits in the corner of the dining room, with my helmet hanging off the top edge. Deb never did let me put it in the living room.

What's for Lunch? (WR)

Baked? Steamed? or sauteed with some fava beans and served with a nice Chiaaaaaanti?

Today's Guest

Will be the famous/infamous Wind Rider of Silent Running fame. Be nice to him. Well, nicer to him than you are to me.

Who wants the keys to the blog?

Today is going to be a hectic day, filled with packing, moving, a three year old nephew staying with us until tomorrow, and a wake. Aside from a little tinkering I want to do with the site and some photos I want to post, there won't be much blogging until I force the children (and probably my husband) to pass out tonight. By that I mean feed them all sleeping pills when they aren't looking so I can have some time to myself. Kidding. Really. Ok, so I'm setting a goal for myself. At 10am, I begin to tackle my Saturday Moving Chores. I turn off the computer. For real. Who wants to take over ASV today? I'm feeling like sharing today, so I'll hand the keys over to two random people who respond to my pleas for guest blogging. The only caveat is this: No political blogging. No news blogging. Today is Saturday and, my previous post notwithstanding, it should be fun day. So I'm looking for two people to share fun links, tell funny stories or just make fun of celebrities and sports stars. Email if interested. Contact info on sidebar.

Wars and Battles

How many wars are we fighting at once? Let's see... There's the war on terror, which includes the fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This war is specifically meant to find and destroy terrorists. There's the war to win hearts and minds. This is also being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It entails building schools, hospitals and other public facilities, helping the people of these nations overcome their past and instilling some kind of democracy in their governments. There's the war against Zionism. This is being fought against us by radical Muslims who believe that America is run by Jews and therefore must be crushed. There's the war against freedom. This, too, is being fought against us by radical Muslims who think any country that has a freedom of religion clause in its basic contracts must be filled with infidels and therefore must be crushed. There's the public relations war. Are Americans generally bad or generally good? This war is being hindered by the fact that Americans themselves are pretty much divided on this issue and are now fighting their own inside skirmishes during the war. While one side tries to sell the idea that Americans are good and only want good for the rest of the world, the other side feeds the enemy juicy bits of gossip designed to fuel their cause. A war being fought on the inside and the outside. Then we have the Civil War. Call the sides what you will. Left v. Right. Dems v. Republicans. Moonbats v. Freepers. Whatever you want to label the sides, it doesn't really matter because the fire caused by this war has spread so far and so wide, the whole country is aflame whether they want to be or not. There used to be lines in the middle designating a sort of home base, like in the childhood game of tag. Moderates and mainstreamers gathered at this home base often, watching both sides of this war with car wreck fascination. Oops. Home base has been destroyed! Pick a side, quick! The war against people who should have been our allies: A constant battle with France and Germany wages as we try to figure out why they took the side they did in the first place. And with France jumping into the War on Zionism fray, it won't be long until these separate wars become part of the same big battle. In this Civil War, we have separate battles, such as the Battle of the Ballot. Having a presidential election involving a sitting president during a time of war makes for some intense firefight. Expect this battle to rage on until November when a winner is declared. It becomes an all out war of its own after that. Also, this battle is just in the warming up stages. Look for things to get uglier before they finally implode at the end. Let's not forget the War on Peace. This is being fought all around the globe, in Georgia, North Korea, Iran, in Gaza, in Ethopia, in Nigeria, in Portland, Oregon, in New York, in Madrid, in Pakistan, in Egypt....need I go on? We're expected to somehow take part in all battles of this war. How can we with so many wars going on at once, including nasty blowups on our own homefront? Our loyalties are being stretched thin. I mean, at some point you have to line up all your ducks and decide which ones to shoot and which ones to keep. It's a column A, column B thing. Alright, I'll take the side of umm...Democrats, Palestinians and al Jazeera. Right, I'll go line up for my flak jacket and haircut now. Abu Ghraib is but one battle within a battle within a battle. Instead of dragging this fight on so it starts eating up all the other fights and we forget what the battle was about to begin with, we do this: We say, yes this is incredibly disgusting and vile. Line up the people who committed these atrocities. Punish them to the full extent of the law. Do it on national television. Show the world how we handle our criminals. Then put someone in charge who will make sure this will never happen again. Yea, I don't really care if Saddam tortured his people or whatnot, we're Americans and we don't do this. We are supposed to stop this kind of behavior. So stop it. Burn Abu Ghraib to the ground. Demolish it. It would be a nice symbolic gesture and they seem to like symbolic gestures over there. So do it. And then move on with the battle, and the other battles. Take down Fallujah, just like we should have done when we first went in there. The hell with the mosques, the hell with trying to look nice. The mosques are no longer holy places, they are base camps for terrorists. Take them down. See, first we take care of our own business by stopping the torture and abuse. Then we burn down the prison where all the torture and abuse took place. Then we burn down the terrorist bases. So we show them: Yes, we can do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is apologizing, prosecuting and moving on. And sometimes the right thing is dropping a few tons of explosives on people who want to kill us. Pick and choose your battles. We've got other wars to fight and other battles to win and none of them will be victories until we take care of Abu Grhaib in the right manner. Then we can concentrate on preventing more terrorist attacks in the U.S. and worldwide. We can concentrate on giving the good citizens of Iraq what they deserve after suffering under Saddam for so long. We can give the people of Afghanistan a new life. We can carefully explain to Arafat and Hamas that the war on terror includes them. We can win the hearts and minds of freedom-loving people. We can stamp out the fires that threaten to consume us come August. We can show the rest of the world what happens when you try to rule by terrorism. And then we can sit back and watch how the Civil War plays out and, with any luck, watch that home base form again and fill it up with moderates who want to once again distance themselves from the farther sides of the war. Then we can see which people still want us to lose. Make no mistake about it. There are people - and I mean Americans - who want nothing more than for us to lose - lose the war on terror, lose the war for hearts and minds, lose the PR war, the Zionism war, the civil war. Because nothing makes them happier than the failure of their enemy, even if that means more death, more destruction and more war. Our failure is their success and in that respect, they line up on the side of everyone we fight against. The war within the war within the war. I keep resisting the urge to put my head in the sand. I don't know how much longer I can keep looking at this without finally giving in and shutting it all out. There's something to be said for being blissfully ignorant.

May 07, 2004

Ilyka and Rummy

Click. Scroll. Refresh.

The Reckless Left

Idiots. Complete idiots. At DU, regarding the people protesting while Rumsfeld was speaking. bq. I saw it break on Al-Jazeera Website The Arabs desperately need to see more of this to know that there are still decent Americans with guts, like Rachel Corrie. I am compeltely dumbfounded by the ignorance and recklessness of that statement and no, it has nothing to do with Rachel Corrie. Do these people not understand the implications of this kind of gloating to the enemy? I'm pretty much speechless on this one.

That Burger King done got your ass fat*

In the battle of Michael Moore v. PETA, there are no sides to take. You just grab a big bucket of buttered popcorn, sit back and watch. The way one would watch Hannibal Lecter take on Norma Bates, I assume. *

Photo Friday

I made my first foray into the Photo Friday contest. I'm number 183. I put the wrong link, damn it. I should have linked to the gallery page and specifically the photo URL. Oh well. Anyhow, there are a lot of great photos there.

Press Up, Down, Start to Unzip Pants

nesbelt.jpg I want this. Badly. Oh, you think I wouldn't wear it? You are sadly mistaken, then. I would wear it with pride. And I'd wear it with this shirt. And these Zelda pins. Anyone want the cheat code to get into my pants?

Salad Blogging: Breaking down the barriers of blog topics

Turns out that people are actually interested in how my salad was.

I don't venture to Burger King too often. No, I'm not a fast food snob, I just prefer the myriad of other drive-throughs along Hempstead Turnpike to Burger King's rubbery meat and cardboard fries. However, last night BK was participating in a fundraiser for my son's school, so off we went. I would suffer so that the fifth grade can have their class picnic.

Have you noticed the proliferation of salads among fast food places these days? It's like they all got together in a show of unity to figure out ways to combat the Atkins diet. Lettuce! Tomatoes! One for all and all for one! And then the CEOs went their separate ways and ordered their product and development teams to come up with a better salad than their competitors.

So McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and whatever other franchises are floating around out there all came out with tasty, fresh and exciting salads at the same time. Not Your Mother's Salad! Taste the mandarin oranges, the cranberries and sesame seeds and apples! It's a fruit! It's a salad! It's a dessert topping!

fggarden.jpgAnyhow. I went for the salad at BK last night even though, in my heightened state of starvation, those Angus burgers looked tasty (turns out, according to my husband, that they - surprise! - taste like rubber).

I had a bad feeling about ordering the salad, but that had more to do with the cashier's reluctance to speak or understand English than with the food itself. Once we got it clear that I wanted the Fire Grilled Salad ® and I wasn't trying to tell her that her hat was on fire, and once I got past the fact that the odor wafting from her armpits was what one would imagine Michael Moore might smell like if he had just chased the ice cream man for ten blocks on the hottest day of the year, we proceeded.

You get a choice with the Fire Grilled Salad ®; chicken or shrimp. I have this thing against ordering anything that comes from the sea in a fast food place, but I was feeling daring so I stared the cashier right in the eyes, slapped my palm on the counter and whispered in a low, John Wayne-as-gunslinger voice, Shrimp. I'll try the shrimp.

We get our food and move over to the nearest table that could accommodate all of us, which turned out to be the table right under the air conditioner vent. This has nothing to do with the salad, but everything to do with creating the proper dining atmosphere. Granted, you're not going to get a quality dining experience when there are kids in the partly padded cell to the left of you throwing brightly colored balls at the plastic window in an effort to interrupt your conversation and ruin your dinner all at once. But let me tell you, it takes only one time for an adult to press their face against the window and mouth the words "I will eat you and your little sister for dinner if you don't stop throwing those balls right now" for a kid to really get it. The balls stopped coming at us and we made the attempt to get comfortable in the frigid air, though I had to keep putting my arms across my chest because apparently the town workers that were standing on line thought they could determine the temperature in the room by staring at my boobs.

So, the salad.

We didnít get off to a good start. I could see as soon as I opened the plastic bowl that there was mostly Iceberg lettuce packed in there. Caesar = romaine. Caesar does not equal Iceberg. The sooner all restaurants figure this out, the better off we will all be. Upon further examination of the bowl, I saw that there was more than a handful of Romaine, and the Iceberg was mostly of the chunky variety (I hate wilty lettuce leaves), so I decided to suffer in silence.

Mixed in with the lettuce were a few cherry tomatoes, a fistful of shredded carrot and a couple of cucumber slices. I examined each vegetable carefully, noting the texture and quality of each. The tomatoes were the right consistency of hard, the carrots were the correct shade of orange and the cucumbers did not have the feel of hardened jello. Good start! However, the topping that pushed the salad over the "I'm going to dread this" line to "this just might be good" line was the Parmesan cheese. I expected a few sprinkles of some no-frills Parmesan that smelled like a cow's butt, but was instead pleasantly surprised with actual chunky shavings of real, doesn't-smell-like-cow's-ass cheese. The lettuce/topping portion of the salad judging over, I thought we just might be onto something more than mediocre here.

Next up was the shrimp. At Burger King, they don't just toss a bunch of shrimp onto your salad. No, it comes separately. You know those bags you get from a Chinese restaurant when you order beef sticks (what? you never ordered beef sticks before?), the kind with the foil on the inside? Yes, a bag-o-shrimp. Said shrimp were swimming in some kind of murky brown mixture that upon first glance looked like sludge, but ended up having a much lighter appearance than first thought once the shrimp were removed from their keep-it-warm container. Now came the important part: the smell test.

I don't like my shrimp to smell too...shrimpy. Or fishy. There is no bigger food turnoff than trying to eat something that smells like Christina Agueleria's crotch. Not that I've smelled it. I just heard. From Fred Durst.

I decided to use my assistant for this one. I picked one of the shrimp up with my forefingers and held it to my daughter's nose. She recoiled immediately. Ewww, I'm a vegetarian, get that shrimp out of here. Gross. Ewww! Gawd, mom, you're so rude! Relax, I told her. I don't want you to eat the thing, I just want you to smell it. Does it smell....dead? She put her nose right next to the little creature, took a whiff, pronounced it ok smelling and then I gave her a little slap on the back of her head so that her head sprang forward and the shrimp ended up in her nose. No, not really. But I thought about it.

With the shrimp pronounced good-smelling by a certified vegetarian, we could move forward. I shook the rest of the shrimp out of the bag and they poured out like a rain shower of baby crustaceans right into my salad bowl. My sister broke out into a chorus of "It's Raining Shrimp" and my daughter crawled under the table.

I have to say, I was surprised at the amount of shrimp that came out of that bag. I expected seven or eight at the most, including the one up Natalie's nose, but were twenty-two, that's right 22 shrimp swimming in that pouch. I still don't know what the glaze/sauce was that they were covered in, but that doesn't matter because it tasted good.

Now, for the last moment of preparation. The dressing. Sweet Onion Vinaigrette, as it were. Ok, so points off for no actual Caesar dressing, but in a way I didn't mind because you just can't get a good Caesar dressing anywhere but a true Long Island Greek diner. As it turns out, they did have a Caesar dressing but, for some unknown reason, Miss I Smell Like Michael Moore decided I would prefer onions.

I opened the dressing packet with my teeth, because there really is no other way to open it properly and squeezed every last drop over the salad, wondering how this onion goop was going to taste when mixed with the brown, murky goop that the shrimp came in.

Croutons. You cannot have a Caesar salad without croutons! I searched the mess of BK food and foodstuffs on our table but alas, there were no croutons. I sent my daughter to the counter to ask Michael Moore for croutons. She reported back that they did not have any. I was incredulous. Many style points taken off. Many.

All the ingredients secured in one place, I put the cover back on the salad, made sure it was properly secured, grabbed the bowl in a frisbee grip and tossed it to my sister across the table. She threw it back. Don't ever think those high school days spent playing Frisbee instead of studying Trig won't come in handy, because they will. As I just showed you.

My salad was now tossed. Go ahead, I'll wait while you make your juvenile sexual innuendos. Done? Good, because they were lame. Surely you can do better than that.

I took one last glance at my wallet to make sure my insurance card was there. Then, in a style reminiscent of Babe Ruth, I slowly raised my arm and pointed to the hospital across the street. I uncovered the salad, grabbed a plastic fork, and dug in.

It was a caesar salad and it was good. Very good. At times, while I was shoveling forkfulls of shrimp, tomato and lettuce in my mouth, I would feel somewhat cheapened that I was enjoying a fast food salad so much, but then I would stab a cucumber, wipe it in the dressing that spilled onto the table, stuff it in my mouth and proclaim I love Burger King salad and I don't care who knows it!

In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to take one home for my husband, just in case he didn't approve of his New! Fresh! Angus Burger! Which he didn't. And damn if when I got home and watched with envious eyes as Justin unpacked his salad that there was not one, but two packages of croutons in the bag. Only, they weren't called croutons, but Parmesan toast. Personally, I would have called them Parkman Toast Chips, but that's just me. So I stole a bag from my husband's stash and ate them just on principle.

Overall my BK salad experience was a pleasurable one, if you are judging on taste alone. On the service end, they fail miserably. I mean, I'm not expecting white glove service, but I do expect that the people taking my order will be able to converse with me and won't smell like dead people.

The atmosphere gets an ok rating. Though my children have long passed the age of jumping into ball pits, and even though I find children who like to bang on windows in an effort to disturb me to be annoying little pissants, the presence of those play areas help me learn to appreciate that I no longer have to chase my kids through human-sized hamster tunnels when it's time to go home. I could have done without the sub zero temps, though.

Final say? Let Burger King toss your salad.

May 06, 2004

kicking ass for your lord

In my effort to not post about Ted Rall again, I came thisclose to blogging about my Burger King salad. I was only saved from this astonishing display of blog sickness when my husband said Holy Shit! and sent me this link. Give me that old time religion! No, I'm not really making light of 630 people being murdered. But geez...organized religion just has so much going for it. Like Homer says. The cause of and solution to all of our problems. Kill, pray, rinse, repeat. Speaking of praying and killing, Old Dirty Laden is back with a brand new edition. This time he's got some gold and he wants you to have it. As long as you kill Bremer. And you don't actually get the gold - your family gets it. You get to meet God up close and personal. So, if anyone takes ODL up on this offer and gets blown to pieces in the process, you could do me a favor when you see God and ask him if he's enjoying the show? Thanks.

the phantom baby?

Ok, so I watch this one episode without really knowing any history of the characters except what Nat filled me in on and what I've seen on other Thursdays when she's watching the show in the living room and I have no choice and I just have one burning question that needs to be answered: Where the hell is that baby Rachel is supposed to be the mother of? Is it invisible? Did she sell it to Barbara Walters? Does she keep it in her purse? It just seems...strange.

Iguana Update/Bad Rock Music

Some Iguanas are good. Even if they spell it Igwana. Rob is a Long Island Iguana/Igwana. You need to go read this post and upload the song he has there. Then, you will know everything that is wrong with today's music. It's both funny and sad. I can't believe that no one has brought up barbecued iguana yet. Go listen.

notice

fre.jpg Yea, I got bored making the dots in between the letters. Sue me. Update: This is not a dis on those who like the show. While I was never a fan of it, that's mostly because I never watched it. We've started watching the early evening reruns and I enjoy the show. However, when I was standing in 7-11 today and I overheard one girl nearly break down in hysterical sobs talking about never seeing her "Friends" again, and when they were talking about the show on every radio station and every news show and when they were on the cover of the freaking Daily News today, well...I just had to step in.

Buttons, Boxes and Burger King

Thanks for the great response to my plea for graphic help this morning. The new, smaller, better looking buttons are from Mr. Dork. I thank thee, dork. Several other people sent icons as well; I'll use some for the permalink pages and some for the archive pages. Maybe I'll switch once in a while just to get them all in. Other people wrote offering help making new icons or making other graphic things I want for the sidebar - I'll answer all the email tonight. Lisa, I'm going to take you up on your offer, please thank your husband for me. Now, about this packing/moving thing. I quit. I think I packed one hundred boxes already and it looks like I haven't even begun. There's nowhere to walk in the house. I haven't done dishes in days. That doesn't matter, because I haven't cooked because I haven't gone food shopping because I don't want to put away food that I'm just going to pack up again. I want magic Jeannie powers. I want to blink my eyes and have it all boxed, taped, labeled and ready to go. I'm not even tired. I'm just frustrated and bored. I've lived here for fourteen years. Do you know how much shit a packrat accumulates in fourteen years? Packing up our comics, action figures, DVDs and CDs alone will kill an entire day this weekend. I quit. I'm taking the kids to Burger King and then I'm going out in search of one of those gypsy people who will sell you a magic power in exchange for your soul. I wasn't using mine anyhow.

waaaaahh!

Ted Rall if whining on Hannity right now. here * Rall just called himself a moderate mainstream Democrat. * At least Hannity is going right after him, unlike O'Reilly. * Hannity gave Rall a chance to apologize to the Tillman family. He declined. * Yadda yadda, Afghanistan is a fake war. Fake war. Fake war. * Rall claims Tillman had a history of violence because of a fight he had when he was young. So that justifies everything. Hannity has an annoying way of not letting people get a word in. I hate his interviewing method. Rall will be on Hannity and Colmes tomorrow night. I have it on good word that he will call Afghanistan a fake war.

covering all my bases

You people made me do it.

MR. MET IN IGUANA LOVE SHOCKER!

still trotting that ted rall carcass around

Jim Treacher tells you why you really ought to take Rall's cries of death threats with a grain of salt. Or two. I mean, the guy called the Feds because he thought Santa Claus was going to kill him. Treacher is also ten times funnier than Rall (ok, maybe 800 times). I went too many Rall posts without saying this: Free Dirty Danny. and when I say carcass, I mean it as a metaphor for the dying story of how misunderstood Ted is, and also as a metaphor for his sanity, and I in no way mean that I was wish Ted would become a carcass, or that anyone would turn his live body into a carcass or that if he were to become a carcass that I would literally trott him/it around at any time.

packing per jeff

OK.

bird on a wire

bow2s.jpg bows1.jpg [You can see the full size versions of these photos at the gallery] I've been spending a little time each day with the new camera; the learning curve on this thing is daunting. But far be it from me to read the book. I'd rather learn by doing. Pushing buttons, dialing numbers, whatever it takes. Today I ventured outside to take in the glory of spring. The birds were out in full force. Normally, I'm not a big fan of the birds that hang out around here. But when you have a camera in your hand, you look at things in a different way. I don't know much about these birds that live here except there must be about twenty different species that commune in my yard. I've seen sparrows, dirty pigeons, doves, screeching seagulls, nasty crows and the occasional hawk. The rest of them, save the one single cardinal that keeps evading my lens, I'm not sure what they are. They gather on the wires during the day and they talk. All these different languages, yet they seem to communicate so well with each other. There are chirps and squeals and squawks and song. Some let out short little bursts of sound, others let their music linger in their throats. They hang in the trees, rest on the wires, run across the lawn in search of crumbs and dive bomb into the bushes when a passing car frightens them. They fight with the squirrels in what can only be described as a heated verbal exchange. I know they are fighting because the squirrels always get up on their hind legs and - I swear - throw up gang signs with their little paws. All these things and more are just distracting me from my task at hand (still packing), but it's worth the break every once in a while.

scratching my head

I do have one question on this whole torture/hostage/prisoner thing. [see here for story]When the "insurgents" hold American civilian employees hostage, show them on television all blindfolded and tied up, that's ok because hey, they're just mercanaries and they get what they deserve, anyhow. But when we tie up some al-Sadr or Saddam henchmen and capture it on video, it's not ok because hey, even terrorist prisoners have human rights. Oh, and when guy joins the Rangers and goes over to Afghanistan and dies in battle, that's ok, because he was just an idiot Arab killer who was duped into thinking Afghanistan had something to do with the war on terror. And say there's this guy running for president, and he's spends 25 million dollars on a campaign to tell everyone he fought in Vietnam, therefore he's qualified to run the country, but gee, didn't he say Vietnam was a horrible war filled with atrocities perpetrated by our side and ummm...didn't he take part in some of those atrocities and then later on denounce the very war experience he is now basing his campaign on? So, I'm not really about torturing prisoners, as that's kind of what we were over there to put a stop to, in some part. But I'm also not into double standards, as in insurgents can tar and feather our guys and hang their charred bodies from wires, and rebels in Afghanistan can shoot down our guys and terrorists can blindfold hostages and threaten them with death but that's ok, because...err...because why? Oh yea, and people can come into our country and kill a few thousand of us but when we go on the hunt after them, we're like, the bad guys. Weird, eh? You know, I'm not really into torture from any side of any given war, but I gotta admit, there are an awful lot of people who are going apeshit over these war crimes committed by U.S. soldiers and these same people have been eerily silent about even worse crimes and atrocities committed by the very guy these prisoners are fighting for, and come to think of it, they don't say much about all that torture and criminal activity going on in Iran either. Hmmm.. Weird. It's ok, I know you'll explain it in full detail. You know, all the ways in which I am wrong, mistaken, swayed by lies and hypnotized by Rumsfeld's kung-fu. Update: Because I need to clarify this and repeat it, I shall quote myself: bq. I abhor what was done to those Iraqi prisoners. But I also abhor what was done to the very same people under Saddam's regime. I abhor the fact that thousands of people have come out of the woodwork to denounce these actions and (rightfully) vilify the soldiers who committed them, but failed to make so much as a peep while Saddam was torturing, killing, maiming and raping. And I abhor those who are justifying the torture and abuse of the Iraq prisoners while lashing out against Saddam's bullies for the very same thing.

Inside Blogging: The email edition

Many people mistake weblog writers for paid mass media columnists. They mistake weblogs for daily newspapers. There's really no other way to explain the mail I get. Why haven't you been covering the torture scandal? Are you avoiding the issue? Are you embarassed? Are you trying to cover it up? Do you not deem it as worthy as Ted Rall's comic? Real email. Verbatim. Here's the thing: I have no obligation to cover everything in the news. I am not Newsday or the Daily News. I have no business model of fair and balanced coverage. Should I skip the days events and write about badgers and bananas, you really have no right to complain. If you pay for delivery of the Daily News every day and you feel as if they have not been complete in their war coverage, by all means - write them and tell them. Complain about their bad grammar or poor choice of headlines or biased editorials. They may even listen, because they depend on you to keep in business. I don't. If you choose to skip over this blog, I don't lose any money. I lose a hit, but hits aren't cash and your decision to not read here does not really weigh heavily upon my mind. I have no board meetings or story meetings. I have no staff. I have no one to answer to but myself. Therefore, I write whatever the hell I want. It's not just me. I see it as I glance over other weblogs. You've seen the posts: Blogger A has ignored the latest Bush controversy! Blogger B is ignoring John Kery's past! That must mean something, right? Lack of coverage means you condone whatever it is your not covering! Right. Sure. Well, to set the record straight (even though I already wrote a lengthy post on this a while back), I am really not in favor of torture. There, I said it. That should take care of about three emails I received last night. Speaking of emails, here's another bad side effect to being a popular blogger: the "link this" email. Sometimes it's a blog post, sometimes it's a news story. Now, I do appreciate every link sent me. I use them often. And sometimes, I don't. It's either something I don't feel like writing about, something I don't agree with, or maybe a supposedly funny post that's really not at all that funny. Sometimes I just don't have the time or space to blog all the links I get. If I did, I would no longer be writing what I wanted to - this site would become nothing more than a link dump similar to Fark. I don't want to appear ungrateful. I have a pretty large readership and I'm thankful for that. I'd say that 90% of the people who send me links or stories are understanding; they say things like if you have the time to look at this or something similar. Most of the are bloggers themselves and understand the time/space constraints running a weblog while working, etc. But there are those people who take great offense when you don't link what they ask you to. They email it again. And again. Maybe a fourth time, with a slightly angry note asking why I didn't think their blog post/link was worthy. I answer them - I make every attempt to answer every email that has a personal note attached to it (the ones with just a link, I don't think the people are expecting response, it's more like a check this out email) - and explain the reason why I haven't or won't link it. Or I just thank for taking the time to email me. It's usually met with the email equivalent of a cold, stony stare. As for the covering the news obligations; people who read weblogs tend to read a lot of them in one day. So if Bloggers A-D are covering the torture story and doing a comprehensive, intellegent job of it, there's no need for me to employ redundancy. This weblog is for my enjoyment as much as it is for yours. But I cannot possibly write about every single thing every single emailer has asked me to. Not unless I quit my job, ditch my family and hold off on eating and peeing for days at a time. It's the curse and the blessing of having 6,000 readers a day. Prepare for 6,000 emails a week. There are bloggers with far bigger numbers than I; how they handle their email, I don't know. Everyone has their own way of dealing with these things. I feel guilty when I don't blog what you want me to. I feel bad when a blogger sends me a link to something they wrote and for whatever reason I don't want to link to it. As someone who, for months and months had no more than ten readers a day, I feel a certain obligation to help newer/lesser read bloggers out. I wouldn't be where I'm at now if people didn't do that for me. So I do what I can, but I don't want to sacrifice my own blogging time - or m principles - in order to accomplish that. People assume I am a heavy conservative. I am not. So if you send me a 500 word essay on why gay marriage is a bad thing and ask me to please post it on ASV, I'm going to have to pass. It's not that I don't think your view should be heard. But I'm not a corporate owned newspaper that sort of owes it to the public to be fair. I don't get paid for this; quite the opposite, I pay monthly and yearly fees to other companies so I can maintain this place. Which means that I am under no obligiation to offer up your point of view to my readers. I'm sure you wouldn't invite a convict into your house to talk to your children about the glamour of being a bank robber, just so they have that point of view as well as yours. And while we are at it - and I think I speak for many, many bloggers when I say this - the quickest way to get me to not link to your site is to send me an email with the header Link Me, and a body that reads something like "I linked you, so now you link me." Also, sending me an email that says "You're an idiot, I hate you, you are a worthless liar. Oh, here's something I wrote that you should quote on your weblog" - well, that's just going to get you nowhere, buddy. Except the trash bin. And while I have your attention, let me say something about comments. This is good: Hey, I wrote something on this subject as well (include link to your post). This is bad: I know you're talking about clowns here, but I wrote a post about iguanas, here it is, everyone come read it. This is good: I disagree with you and here's why (with a link to your post). This is bad: (Just a link to your post, using the words "you are a fucking asshole") This is good: Here is an excerpt from my post, in which I disagree with you (short excerpt, with link) This is bad: [Excerpt sixteen paragraphs from your post, with twenty-six links back to your website] This is good: Here's what Jonah Goldberg said about this (follow with short excerpt, linked back to Jonah's article) This is bad: Here's another opinion (copy and paste Goldberg's entire article, with no link) This is good: I found your post very funny and amusing. Here's my take on it (with link). This is bad: If you think this is funny, you should see what I wrote. It's just rude, man. Ok, I'm done. Just some things I needed to get off my chest. Thank you.

War: We Have a Winner!

Newsweek declares the winner of the Iraq war and it isn't us. They actually have a photoessay titled Anatomy of Quagmire. The Media: Winning the hearts and minds of anti-Americans everywhere.

Thanks for playing!

Open Mic Night is now closed. The login has been deleted. I'd like to thank everyone for playing. Even though some of you didn't quite follow the rules/topic, I enjoyed reading all of your lists. You can find all of the Open Mic posts right here.

May 05, 2004

Meet the Mets, Beat off Mr. Met,

Not when it comes to all things Mets/Yankees.

The truth about why Rob loves Mr. Met.

[click for hideous size]

You really don't want to be startin' something with me, dude.

At first I was Tinkerbelle, but that last bang did me in

This is why I love Farm Accident Digest. It's all about the originality.
How 'bout a new meme? 1. Find the nearest solid surface to you. 2. Bang head repeatedly on or against that surface. 3. Which Disney character do you think you are, now?
1. Desk. 2. Ok (four times was enough). 3. Michael Moore. Thanks, FAD!

Today's required reading

Meirav was two.

Question #80: Meet the Mets, Beat the Mets

This post is part of what was the Spirit of America Ask a Blogger challenge, a challenge in which I am woefully behind. All the previous questions are in one happy place.

Disclaimer: This is meant as no offense to two of my favorite Mets fans. There are exceptions to every rule. By the way, Mr. Crank is celebrating his fourth blogging/baseball writing anniversary today. That's like, elderly, in internet years. Go say congrats.

This seems like an appropriate time to answer question #80:

You always say that your Mets rivalry is different than your Boston rivalry. Explain.

This is easy.

  • Boston Red Sox fans have a sense of humor. Mets fans - for obvious reasons - don't.
  • You can discuss baseball with a Sox fan. A Mets fan will only discuss for about ten seconds before he threatens your life with a broken beer bottle.
  • The Sox have a nice stadium and classy uniforms. The Mets stadium looks like a giant toilet bowl and their uniforms belong in a cartoon. It's much easier to make fun of the Mets.

Oh, wait. I've been sidetracked into writing about why the Mets are easier to make fun of. Let me try again.

It is much easier to maintain a rivarly with a team that can actually compete with you. Rivalries against teams that will be 67 games behind yours in the standing two weeks into the season are just not worth it.

Other reasons I harbor much hatred towards the Mets:

Gary Carter, George Foster, Howard Johnson, Keith Hernandez, Len Dykstra, Roger McDowell, Doug Sisk, Lee Mazilli and 1980's era Strawberry, Gooden and Cone. Old shit? Yes, but rivalries run deep. Oh, it started before that. Way before that. Approach me with the phrase You Gotta Believe and I'll vomit in your Mets cap.

So, about that Mr. Met? Why make a mascot that just begs to have his head smacked in?

Being Ted Rall

Cox & Forkum

On Living With Katie Ka-Boom

[This post is dedicated to Ratty, who suggested this topic at part of the Spirit of America challenge and who has a daughter who reminds me very much of my own. All previous dedicated posts can be found here]

The fates conspire to turn me all melodramatic and melancholy this morning. I was going to write about my daughter today anyhow, but an hour packing away photos last night and a trip to the Bleat yesterday made it seem somehow more apropos that I sit here and bemoan the passing of Nat's innocence years.

I grabbed a handful of photos to stuff into a moving box (I'm not very organized when it comes to pictures, which is why I prefer digital over analog. It's so much easier to move one hundred photos into a little set of folders on your desktop than it is to separate them by hand into real boxes that clutter up an already cluttered up closet). As I moved each pile of pictures, I would glance at one or two, getting quick visuals of the past as I dumped about twenty years worth of memories into a box marked in thick, black Sharpie "You are not allowed to take any more pictures until these are organized."

Looks like I'm in the Nat pile. Well, at least my mountains are organized, sort of. There she is on the first day of nursery school, crying. And there she is on Santa's lap, crying. And there she is with her best friend and hey, she's laughing!

And that's Nat in a nutshell. She's either hysterical crying or hysterical laughing. My child of extremes. When she was four, and had been tested and re-tested for a million different learning disabilities, one of the specialists told me that Nat has no middle ground, no even keel. She'll either cry as if she had been stabbed in the heart or laugh as if the whole world had told her a joke. When she got mad, it would be a rage filled anger. When she became happy, it would be a heart-bursting happiness. And during those down times when none of those emotions seemed appropriate, she would have what the specialist called a flat affect on her face. Nothing. Blank. Looking at her during those times was like looking at an unplugged television.

Ten years later, we don't see the flat affect as much, but Nat still knows how to completely turn off. And the big difference is, she can do it at will now, and she pushes that on/off button with seeming delight. Look, ma! I can turn you off! I can almost hear the click as her eyes glaze over and that look of emptiness comes over her. So I'll walk away, not wanting to waste my time trying to reach someone who is the equivalent of a thousand miles away.

When she was younger, she wouldn't even notice if I walked away, that's how far inside herself she would go. Now, if I ignore her - even though it seems to be that she wants to be ignored - the histrionics begin. I never listen to her, I never hear her, I never talk to her. Tears, sobbing, the world is ending and I'm the one killing it and oh, how her life is miserable and I don't understand her, in fact, no one understands her and she's just going to run away to Canada and start an ice farm.

Yes, I remember being a teenager and of course, I did the same thing. And when I was done making my mother feel like an utter failure at parenting, I would slam my door, put on the stereo and start composing morbid, depressing poetry. Which is pretty much what Nat does. I believe it's a requisite for being a teenager.

Back to the photos. I try to reconcile the charming, playful girl in the pictures with the girl who is, at this moment when I'm taken back to the day when she first walked and I caught her in a pose of half standing, half falling and there's the tv in the background and it's showing the first night vision scenes from the first Gulf War, she is screaming at her brother, calling him vile names because he dared to look at her and I think - my daughter has already seen two wars.

That's not a statement on the world or anything like that, it's a statement about time. The first Gulf War seems like ancient history, so does that make my daughter's childhood ancient history? It hits me then how much she has grown since that first step that coincided with the first bomb. Now there's a thing to remember, eh?

I put the photos away and I conduct a very hush-hush surveillance. I watch my daughter carefully as she moves swiftly from the kitchen to the bedroom. Back and forth. Send an instant message to someone, run into the bedroom, shriek about American Idol, run back to the computer, type with one hand while she balances the phone with the other, playing social director for one group of friends. She makes a plan, hits the three-way-calling button which I've told her not to use without permission (and which I mentally note that she owes me another fifty cents for), slams the keyboard drawer in, runs back into her room to hit record after the commercial break ends, all the while crying into the phone that no one understands her and I see the mental breakdown coming, it happens every week when she tries to juggle two separate but very unequal groups of friends and it's the Honor Society v. The Punks all over again. I secretly root for the Honor Society to win this week, not because the punks are bad kids, they are actually really good kids, but for some reason, I have ended up designated driver for that crowd.

It's obvious the plans will not be finalized this evening. Nat does not have time for this. She has to watch the end of American Idol and she still has not spent her allotted fifteen minutes she gets each evening to bitch at me for life in general and I just know tonight it will be about her impending orthodontic work, money for the Blink 182-concert, why I won't let her see R-rated movies and how mean and strict I am for not letting her paint her bedroom in the new house ten shades of black.

Her emotions change from second to second. I keep a scorecard in my head and tonight it's despair in a knock out over sullen anger. Oh, she's not mad that I am making her take the $62 for the concert out of her bank account; no, she's upset that her mother would actually make her pay for something herself! And she's not flailing the flying fists of rage over the black paint. No, tonight she turns on the waterworks and claims that I never let her do anything she wants. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever.

The waterworks of puberty are like no other. Once a girl is consumed by the PMS monster, tears no longer trickle. They pour. And each tear is accompanied by a choking sob and an appropriate phrase such as, you....(sob)....don't....(sob)...love...(sob)....me! Niagra Falls has nothing on a teenage girl's tear ducts.

I can see the conversation will go nowhere this time; sometimes anger is easier to deal with than the crying. I'm just about to get up off the couch, thus signifying that I have ended the discussion, when she beats me to it by shutting down. There it is, the flat affect, the distant eyes. She has won.

She retreats to her room and I resume with the photos. There she is at seven, at eight, at ten. She's got a great smile. There's one of her with her fifth grade teacher, who pretended she was at a book signing and Nat was autographing a copy of her latest book for the teacher. This teacher - the best thing that ever happened to my daughter - swears to this day that Natalie will be a famous author some day. I believe her.

Nat has an amazing imagination. Unfortunately, she sometimes cannot discern between imaginary and real, as when she thinks that I will just randomly buy her a laptop one day, or that I will take in her friend because he doesn't like his father or that we're going to get seven Dalmatians when we move into the new house.

Nat lives in Natville, population one. It's her world and she is the most important thing in it. As such, we should all revolve our lives, schedules and bank accounts around her.

She is Katie Ka-boom , sweet and beautiful one minute and an explosion of hormonal imbalance the next.

She's manipulative and devious, but sometimes it's a pleasure to watch those traits in action when she's giving her younger brother some deserved comeuppance.

Like many girls her age, Nat is a commpendium of emotions, personalities and quirks. Sometimes her moods change so quickly that even she is confused as to what mode she is supposed to be in.

The best thing I can say about Nat - and this is something I'm proud to say, not a cast-off compliment - is that she is firmly her own person. She has her convictions and, by god, no one will break her away from those convictions. I don't ever worry that she will start smoking or drinking because she is so adamant against those things that she'll probably end up on one of those truth.com commercials one day. If you ask her to go against her beliefs, she'll ditch you like yesterday's garbage. In her mind, no one she even dare suggest you betray your own values. She's a loyal, trusting person to have as a friend, but to be her enemy is to stand in the path of a hurricane. She's a deep thinker, a gifted writer, an improv comedian, and has, underneath that layer of blackened crust, a good heart.

I don't lay awake worrying about why she hates me; I know she doesn't really hate me. I don't worry that she turned out to be a rotten kid because she's really not. At all. I do think about what it was like when I was a teenager and I remember how hard it was to be thirteen, fourteen, even fifteen. I remember struggling to figure out who I was or who I wanted to be. So I empathize with her. It's just that the empathizing reaches a saturation point that directly correlates to the pitch and length of her whine.

Somewhere underneath all the bickering, accusing, crying, screaming and selfishness, underneath this brooding facade, is the thoughtful, smiling girl in this picture.

I drive Nat to school every day, even though she has a bus available to her. It's right on my way and gives us about six minutes of just us. Six minutes may not seem like a lot, but I take what I can get. In that short drive she manages to tell me everything that's on her mind. She's smiling as she confides in me. She laughs. We're friends. And when I drop her off in front of the school, I get a kiss and hug and an I love you.

It's those six minutes and a box full of photos that make every last whine worth listening to.

RED VADER ALERT!

dy1.gif The force is strong with this Yankee team! Fastest shrunken lead ever! That will teach you to gloat so early. That's seven for those counting at home.

May 04, 2004

tonight's rall finale

I can't believe I forgot to post this today. Idiot? Sap? Hero? Ted Rall!

bark at the moon

[click for uneccesarily big size] Well, that certainly explains a lot.

Baseball and Cleavage go together like Clemens and Beanballs

American League Pitcher of the Month: Kevin Brown bq. Brown went 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts, throwing at least six innings in each outing. Brown opened the season with three seven-inning, one-run performances against Tampa Bay, defeating the Devil Rays three times. The third win marked the 200th of his career, as he became the 101st pitcher in baseball history to reach that milestone. Oh, and... Sierra named AL Player of Week bq. Sierra batted .467 (7-for-15) with two home runs and three doubles in six games, leading the league with 11 RBIs. Sierra also led all qualifiers with a 1.067 slugging percentage last week, and he posted a .500 on-base percentage. Six game win streak. Two sweeps in a row. Crawling up Boston's ass - just one game out and no, it's never to early to look at the games behind column. Soon, I'll be calling it the games ahead column. And on another, less enthusiastic baseball note, mark your calendars for tomorrow night, when I will make good on my pledge to wear a Mets cap to repay those who made contributions to the Spirit of America just so they can see me squirm. This will be more painful than the wearing of the B. My hatred for the Mets and 90% of their fans (including my father, if he's in Mets mode) runs deeper and thicker than my hatred of the Sox. The Sox thing is just a good rivalry. The Mets thing? Well, that's more like war. The things I do for you people. I haven't decided if there will be cleavage showing as I don't want to cause a certain blogger to have to write another 500 word essay on why women who don't like sexism should wear burqas at all times, nor do I want to once again explain the difference between boobs and cleavage.

Rall v. O'Reilly

Rall is on O'Reilly now. Claiming that the strip isn't really about Tillman. * Ok, he will NOT admit why papers aren't running the strip. * He claims he's not offensive, the adminstration is offensive. Total avoidance of the issue. * O'Reilly: "There's something the matter with you" * Rall is still claiming the war in Afghanistan is a scam. * Rall says bin Laden never said he was responsible for 9/11. Apparently Rall doesn't think we know who perpetrated 9/11. * Ohh Blix agrees with Rall! There's your proof he's right about everything. This guy is delusional. * Hey, did you know that the NYT is a moderate newspaper? Ted says so, so it must be true! Well, all in all, that was very LAME. O'Reilly used the time to do his usual snarky, bully commentary and barely approached the issue of Tillman, which is what this was supposed to be about. Once again, O'Reilly's need to satisfy his pompous ego let's another one get away. Yawn.

So....?

Couple more changes coming. Anything to keep from finishing up the packing.

fragmented thought of the day

I really wish I knew in advance how heartbreaking it can be to be the mother of a teenage daughter. Not that I could have done anything about it, short of selling her off on 20/20, but...still. I would like to have been more prepared for the radical (ableit temporary) attitude and personality changes in a 14 year old girl. Fragmented, because I'm going to write more about this subject tomorrow morning. I just like to throw these things out here once in while to give anyone who wants the opportunity to say to me "Don't worry, it gets better." I promise to believe you.

Pop Song 89

Mr. Lileks is still going on about the worst songs ever, but he's thrown in a twist. Next up: The Best Pop Song Ever. Now, you may have a hard time reconciling the word pop with the word best, but even I, a metal/thrash/hardcore kind of gal, can appreciate the goodness of a sugary, bouncy pop song once in a while. And by pop, I'm going to assume James meant any song that has ever made an appearance on American Idol. That kind of thing. My definition of pop is this: There's no discernable electric guitar; if there is a guitar present, it sounds more like a Casio keyboard set on the rock mode. It's not often I open the the closet for you to see my skeletons, so pay attention while I do this once and only once. Bye Bye Bye NSYNC Just Want To Be Your Everything Andy Gibb - Don't ask. Just don't ask. I Ran - Flock of Seagulls Just A Friend - Biz Markie Wonderwall - Oasis Anything by Air Supply What? Stop looking at me like that. I'm sure I could come up with more, but I have to go listen to some Iron Maiden now to wash the sound of Biz Markie out of my ears. I mean, I like the song, but I don't want it on repeat in my head all day. [On a slight related note, I'd like to thank James for this morning's Bleat. It was just what I needed to take me out of a seriously foul mood. Chicken soup for the blogger's soul, if you will.]

Set the TiVo

Two of my least favorite people in the world appear together tonight! I hear that Ted Rall will be hanging with Bill O'Reilly on the O'Reilly Factor this evening. The clash of the bloated egos should be interesting, to say the least.

Reason Number 32,568 why the U.N. is a Farce

Sudan keeps seat on U.N. rights panel bq. In elections Tuesday for 14 seats on the main U.N. human rights watchdog, the coalition said three out of four African seats will be filled by non-democratic regimes -- Sudan, Guinea and Togo. In Asia, Vietnam and Pakistan, which both have questionable human rights records, are vying for seats and at least one will be elected, it said. Sudan:
"What I saw was village after village which has been burnt down," [British journalist] Phil Cox said on CNN's International Correspondents program. "Usually there are bodies around the villages. There are mass graves outside. When I say mass graves, I mean large pits in the earth, maybe 10 to 20 bodies in them, and these pits, 20 to 30 pits around the villages."
Give me one good reason why the U.N. should not be dismantled.

intermission 2

Why didn't anyone tell me the Olsen twins are making a zombie movie? I haven't seen anything that scary since I saw Paris Hilton naked.

intermission

So....How about those Yankees?

AHA!

Thanks to alert reader Sarah, who pointed me to Mr. Blackfive, we can now see Kerry and Rall sitting in a tree. [clicky clicky] So much for the theory that I made that one up.

yea.

Here's an idea. I understand the need (or want) of television stations to run footage of Americans running rampant in Iraq or Afghanistan, helicopters firing on people who "don't look like a threat" or the bombing of mosques (nevermind that there were terrorists in the mosques firing at us); and I understand the insatiable desire for certain countries and/or American tv stations to continually hammer home the point that war is bad and insurgents are victims and suidice bombers are victims and Bush is evil for bombing Afghanistan and Saddam wasn't a threat and oil, oil, oil, and American soldiers are bad, bad people killing thousands, no millions, no gazillions of innocent Iraq babies on a daily basis and torturing Afghan women and burning down mosques and whole villages - yes I understand why they want to do that because everyone has an agenda and everyone loves good ratings but god damn it I am going to raise a million dollars and open my very own tv station that airs nothing but images of 9/11, footage of mass graves, documentaries on the Kurds, news clips of suicide bombings in Israel and footage of both Saddam and bin Laden threatening annihilation upon the United States and that's going to be it for 24 hours a day seven days a week and if I have to I will tie you down to a chair ala Clockwork Orange and force you to look.

Rhymes with Gall

I've never boycotted anything. Not a store, not an entertainer, not a certain food product. I figure if people have a problem with some entity, be it a corporation or a rock star, they can choose whether or not to consume any goods put out by that corporation or person. And I can see where that might be seen as standing behind your convictions, and where my lack of boycotting might be seen as not standing by my convictions. I try to separate the parts from the whole. I like Johnny Depp, the actor. I can't see throwing away all my favorite Tim Burton DVDs just because Johnny stars in most of them and Johnny doesn't like the U.S. of A. I still call my fries french fries and I eat croissants and drink French wine.At least half of my CDs are produced by bands or artists that have been know to participate in anti-war activities; some are even on tour right now, promoting some kind of anti-Bush, America is Evil agenda. But I like the music. I enjoy the music very much. And I am not going to pull all of those CDs off of my playlist because the lead singer is an anti-American jerk. When the music plays, he's just a singer, or a guitarist and I dance/sing away. I still treasure all my copies of Too Much Coffee Man even though the author of those comics is a Friend of Rall. I am not going to deny myself the laughs that Shannon Wheeler provides me just because in his spare time he parades against the war in Iraq. Separate the politics from the person is my motto. Unless, of course, the politics is the person. Then you can't separate them. So I've struggled with myself last night over the issue of boycotting the papers and websites that pay Ted Rall to print his crap. The struggle lasted about ten minutes. There is nothing redeeming about Ted Rall, I reasoned. His art sucks, his humor is devoid of cleverness, his rants border on treason (see his rant on encouraging the troops to abandon Iraq) and he's just a cruel, callous man. There is no message in his comics except vile hatred for America and most of its citizens. Do I want to engage in this boycott? Do I want to follow Andrew Sullivan's lead and protest Universal Press Syndicate? Yes, I do. Mike says this: bq. The time for merely railing in places like this against Rallís childishly treasonous outbursts is past. Itís now time to do something more concrete and tangible about him. Let him scream ďstifling of dissentĒ all the way to the pauperís grave he so richly merits; let him peddle his filth from somewhere other than the protective bosom of the country he so obviously despises. Let him lie down with the terrorist dogs his nihilistic ivory-tower Leftism breeds, weans, and coddles and see if heís more comfortable in their embrace than our own. Let him reap what heís sown. There is no reason in the world that any nation, any society, any civilization, should have to tolerate such trifling, intellectually dishonest, and despicable attacks. The fact that he lacks the self-discipline to muzzle his own baser impulses is no reason to continue letting him shit on a rug he didnít pay for in the first place. I'm inclined to agree with him. Wholeheartedly. Let's call this proverbial straw on the camel's back. I've been running after Ted Rall for two years now. panel1.jpg It's just one panel, not even the whole strip. In just one, tiny sentence, Ted Rall changes from just another bitter anti-America screech owl into a hatemongerer. Sure, you can say that some of Rall's past works have been hateful. But not like this. He paints Pat Tillman and, in essence, every soldier who enlisted after 9/11, as racist thugs who want nothing more than to murder Arabs. That's disdainful. It's arrogant, it's obnoxious, it's vile and it's contemptible. No newspaper or syndicate in their right mind should be letting this hateful attempt at humor grace their pages. Rall is a disgrace to America. Here is a man who, as a New York City resident, saw the charred rubble of the World Trade Center up close. He saw first hand the devastation of 9/11. And yet he thinks going into Afghanistan is evil and wrong. I don't understand his mind set. After we began the war on terror in Afghanistan, Rall took a trip over there (risking his life as a visiting cartoonist, mind you). Apparently, he made nice with some residents who told him that this was no war on terror and Bush was just bombing them to protect an oil pipeline. Ted smacked his head and said, DOH! What I would like to ask Ted is this: What about the Taliban, who had large bases in that country? What about bin Laden, who was hiding out in Afghanistan? No, scratch that. I want to ask this not just of Rall, but of all people who think that the war taking place in Afghanistan is evil, wrong and immoral: What should our reaction to 9/11 have been? Please, enlighten me. Back to the matter at hand, that being whether or not to ask Universal Press Syndicates to get rid of Rall's comic. Yes, I am going to write emails today. I don't think Rall's brand of humor and/or political rants belong in anything but some underground paper distributed to raging anarchists in the basement of some decrepit apartment building. And while I will stop short of asking them to no longer print Rall's work, I will be telling them that I will do everything in my power to make it known that Universal Press Syndicate advocates hate speech and the degradation of our soldiers during wartime. Rall hatred is no longer a source of amusement for me. It's disturbing. Will I be provoking censorship by emailing UPS? No, because I am not going to ask them to stop using Rall's work. But I'm going to be damn sure to spread the word that UPS is syndicating a columnist that wishes ill will upon our troops (yes, he has stated this in so many words) and thinks they are all racist, wannabe murderers. The fact that he thinks we had no right to a)defend ourselves and b)attack Afghanistan to prevent more terrorism is another rant for another day. I'll be doing what Sullivan asks today: bq. The hate-monger is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate. It's not censorship or "McCarthyism" for people to complain about any syndicate that peddles the poison that Rall lives off. Today's disgusting diatribe against Pat Tillman is so vile, so utterly devoid of any motive or argument but personal malice and hatred, some form of protest is surely merited. Email the vice-president for print syndication, Lee Salem, and tell him what you think of Rall's cartoon. Please, please, be civil. His email is lsalem@amuniversal.com. He needs to hear from you. I reiterate what Sullivan said: Civil. Flies with honey. [For a further look into the mind of Ted Rall, go here] Related: The Ted Rall Unemployment Project If anyone has a screeshot of the Kerry ad appearing on Rall's site, please email me. I got that information from someone else and I would like to make sure it's accurate. Update: I just received an email from a reader that read, in part: bq. I'm forwarding an email to you that I sent this morning to the national sports talk show host Jim Rome. Rome had a personal relationship with Pat Tillman and actually gave the eulogy at Pat's funeral yesterday. If you've ever heard one of Rome's rants on the radio you know he's capable of beating a subject to death and he does have a national audience that rivals Rush Limbaugh. I wanted you to know what I'd done in case you'd care to rally YOUR troops to email Rome about taking the fight to Rall. He includes a copy of the email he sent:
Jim, Iím sending you this email because youíve demonstrated in so many ways the high regard you held for Pat Tillman. Ted Rall, a political columnist and cartoonist has recently published a cartoon that defamed Pat in a manner that was particularly despicable. Rather than try to describe the garbage this jackhole produced Iíll provide an internet link: http://www.ucomics.com/rallcom/ This particular cartoon was/is published in a wide array of places on the internet including MSNBC, which has since removed it from their website. Today, Mr. Rall is vigorously defending his work, saying, amongst other things: "At best, Tillman was foolish and misguided." And "Mr. Tillman served an evil president and an evil cause" as justification for his defamation. As you can imagine, this lunatic has infuriated a large segment of the online community who, like you, revere the memory of Pat Tillman. Jim, this moonbat deserves to be publicly excoriated for his actions and as the songs says "nobody does it better" than you my man. Dave
Do with that what you will. [*ed note: This may be edited later for clarity, as I'm writing it on the fly]

chalabi in a dress, my thoughts I confess

Long post on Iraq, Afghanistan, Fallujah and 9/11 coming up. Meanwhile, I just want to share this. For the past two weeks or so, I've ended up with Come On, Eileen running through my head on a constant loop. This is not A Good Thing. In fact, it's a Very Bad Thing. But why? Why would this song override every single song I hear during the day? Why, out of all the music I listen to, would a song I never listen to inch its way into my brain at the oddest moments? I realized after a while that it wasn't just the song itself that was stuck in my head, but one particular, annoying verse: Come on Eileen too-loo-ra-yay Come on Eileen too-loo-ra-yay Tooha toora-too-loora [your spelling may vary] Upon further listening to the voices in my head (the voices that do a damn good impersonation of Dexy's Midnight Runners), I realized that's not what they were singing at all. Instead, it was this: Come on Eileen, Fallujah-ay Come on Eileen Fallujah-ay Fallujah, lujah The mind does work in mysterious ways, is all I'm saying. Perhaps I need a vacation. Or a psychologist.

Rall Answers His Critics

Sort of. Excerpt:
Second, Mr. Tillman served an evil president and an evil cause. Anyone with an open mind after 9/11 could easily have learned the truth, that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq occured instead of a war on terror, not as part of one. A person who planned to risk his life in combat should reasonably be expected to dig a little deeper rather than to fall for Bush's transparent lies. We all judge each other, and while Tillman's decision to sacrifice millions of dollars for his beliefs is admirable, his belief that killing the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan had something to do with defending America was not. At best, Tillman was foolish and misguided. Finally, it's time for troops who signed up post-9/11 to take a little personal responsibility. It's one thing for a career soldier to go where the politicians tell him or her to go, but quite another to join the military when the "president" is an illegal usurper occupying the White House, he's an out-of-control warmonger using the deaths in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to promote a partisan political agenda and his wars are nothing more than grabs for control of oil and gas resources and pipeline routes. Liberals tend to let volunteer soldiers off the hook, but let's not forget the hard, cold truth: If no one had enlisted after 9/11, we wouldn't be fighting these immoral wars based on lies and greed now.
There's more, including Rall comparing Tillman with a Palestinian suicide bomber. It angers me that Rall still believes that Afghanistan has nothing to do with the war on terror. It infuriates me that he took the word of some Afghans he hung out with (when he "risked his life as a visiting cartoonist") and determined that we were there for an oil pipeline. His outright reluctance to see fighting the Taliban as fighting terrorism mystifies me. Dementia, indeed. P.S. Until John Kerry stops advertising on Rall's blog and until Kerry stops linking to Democratic Underground, don't try to tell me that Rall and his kind do not represent the mainstream left. Obviously, they represent the man you are supporting for president. Update: I am going to say this just once more. While I view Pat Tillman as a hero, he was no more a hero than anyone else who puts their life on the line each day to fight the war against terrorism and evil. However, because Tillman was already familiar to many of us, his face became the face of the war. For myself - and I believe this is true for many people - Tillman represents all the soldiers who have died in the war on terror. If you piss on Tillman's grave, you're doing it to all of them. Second Update (below) Comics Journa writer Rich Fiore says:
This is in keeping with a theme in Rall's cartoons from even before the Afghanistan invasion, which is an absolute mania for denying any kind of heroic dimension to anything any American has done in the wake of the September 11 attacks. You saw it in his embrace of conspiracy theories regarding the airplane that crashed in Philadelphia. You saw it in his attempts to undermine the heroic aura that attached to police and firemen. Now, public safety employees are not expected to commit suicide, and the police and firemen who were killed in the buildings didn't realize they were going to fall down, so even though they were undertaking extra hazardous duty for the sake of others you could conceivably argue they were not acting heroically. But here you have the Tillman story. If giving up wealth, fame and comfort to go into anonymous and deadly combat for patriotic reasons isn't objectively heroic behavior then the word has no meaning. Even if you don't believe in the cause yourself, you have to admit that this is the sort of thing that makes gentlemen safe abed hold their manhood cheap. But it's precisely because the behavior is heroic that Rall needs to attack it. Like many people who become obsessed with JFK conspiracy theories, he has gone off the deep end.
Yes. [credit: Treacher]

May 03, 2004

MSNBC's afterthought

MSNBC - Why we pulled Monday's Ted Rall cartoon Item did not meet MSNBC standards of fairness and taste MSNBC.com pulled a cartoon by syndicated political cartoonist Ted Rall on Monday. Rall's cartoon, distributed widely by United Press Syndicate to scores of newspapers and Web sites, concerned the late Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit football to join the Army. Tillman was killed last month in Afghanistan. The cartoon, like others on MSNBC.com, is published daily on the site via an automated syndication feed. Such feeds are rarely reviewed. However, MSNBC.com Editor in chief Dean Wright concluded Monday's Rall item did not meet MSNBC.com standards of fairness and taste. You can see the original cartoon here. Maybe they should start looking at this crap before they put it out there for everyone to see? Rall has quite a track record. They should have seen this coming - most of us did. Liberals crying about free speech in 3...2...... Hey, before you get your panties in a wad, this is not a free speech issue. MSNBC is not obligate to give Ted Rall space to spout his filth. Makes me spit nails. h/t American Digest

talkin' to myself

A couple of things before I once again delve into the bottomless pit of packing. After perusing various comic sites reading about the Micah thing, it dawned on me that I have written about comics in a while (especially since I opted to let Four Color Hell drop off the cliff of the internet). Alas, all my comics are safely tucked away in long boxes, ready for the move, so I can't even take out the newest purchases for review. I do owe someone a rather lengthy post on Neil Gaiman and Sandman, so I suppose that will have to fulfill me until I can pry those long boxes open after the move. On the subject of guitar riffs: When I read the article announcing the list (in the post below), what I thought of was not riffs that are made great by their music, but by the instant recognition one gets upon hearing them - that and riffs that open songs, rather than middle of the song riffs. With that in mind, I nominate (songs that don't already appear): Black Sabbath, War Pigs Pink Floyd, Money RATM, People of the Sun Kinks - Really Got Me You know I can't do anything without including a Faith No More song in the mix, so for this purpose, I'll go with Ashes to Ashes. And to throw in a song that probably two people who read this site will know, Life of Agony's This Time. Yea, there's more. But boxes await. And Brainster, thanks for reminding me of Jeff Beck's Freeway Jam. It's been way to long since I heard that, or thought about the people I associate that song with. Do I really want to pack? Or do I give myself a night off. We're not closing until the 11th........

Musical Interlude: E-A-B-E-A-B-A-E-A-B-E-A

Let's take a moment to step away from all this madness and argue about a topic that really means something: The top guitar riffs of all time. Total Guitar magazine in the UK put out a list of the 100 greatest guitar riffs ever. I don't have the time right now to get into the reasons why I think Smoke on the Water should be higher up, so consider this an open discussion while I get some real work done. The only thing I have to add to this is that this list seems to be an exact copy of my son's list of mastered guitar riffs. Even eleven year old rock stars need to know the classics, of course. Here's the top twenty: 1. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses 2. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana 3. Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin 4. Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple 5. Enter Sandman - Metallica 6. Layla - Derek & The Dominoes/Eric Clapton 7. Master Of Puppets - Metallica 8. Back In Black - AC/DC 9. Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix 10. Paranoid - Black Sabbath 11. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne 12. All Right Now - Free 13. Plug In Baby - Muse 14. Black Dog - Led Zeppelin 15. Aint Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen 16. Walk This Way - Aerosmith 17. Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream 18. No-One Knows - Queens Of The Stone Age 19. Paradise City - Guns N` Roses 20. Killing In The Name - Rage Against The Machine. Discuss.

ted rall pisses on tillman

Update: Visitors from The Corner and other various places - you will want to read the two updates to this story as well: here and here.

[click for even more offensive size]

Dear Ted,

Should you and I ever cross paths one day (and the time is getting close to where I will do my best to make that happen), I will risk the chances of going to jail just for that one moment of joy I will feel when my fist meets your face. You are a blight upon the human race and a disgrace to your profession. Yet, you are too stupid and self-absored to realize just how much of an idiot you are. I don't know whether to pity you or kick you in your small, shriveled balls.

A festering sore on the face of humanity, indeed.

Update: Smash has something even worse: people encouraging soldiers to frag their officers.

[Ed note: While I normally don't consider violence a proper reaction to circumstances like this, I did advocate it here, and I'm not taking it back. I seriously would punch the man if I ever saw him. However, I do not in any way condone death threats. You want to threaten the man with death, do it on your own site. Homey don't play that.]

Update: Please note that the comments here have been closed. Just...really unproductive.

77-79: Something old, something new, something to make you feel like you are drowning

I have not forsaken you, my Spirit of America contributors. I have just been sidetracked by a lying jackass, as often happens around here. I still have 20questions to answer and about twelve topic requests to fulfill, and I shall get to every last one of them. Sooner rather than later, I hope. So, we are at 77, I believe. 77. What song is rocking your world right now. By that, I mean a song currently being played on the radio and not an old song. Funny you should ask that. Just yesterday I heard a Jazy Z/Linkin Park collaboration/remix that did indeed rock my world. 99 problems and a bitch ain't one. I happen to be an unabashed Jay Z fan. I think he writes the smartest rhymes in the business and his vocals are sexy smooth; even when he's cursing and complaining, he's making love to your ears with his voice. Runners up to this questions include Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Audioslave's I am the Highway. 78. Now reverse that. What OLD song is rocking your world right now? Hard to say, man. Most of my playlist right now consists of old songs. Currently making the rotation is I Had a Dream Last Night by the Butthole Surfers, Stuck on You by Failure, Anthrax's Inside Out and Crowbar's Planets Collide, which also happens to be the answer to: 79. What's the heaviest song you know? Well, there are all kinds of definitions of heavy - I don't know if you mean heavy lyrically, musically or both. So I'll go with what I define as heavy and that's Crowbar's Planets Collide, as stated above. Sludge rock, as the term for Crowbar-type music has been coined, is just what it sounds like. Listening to it is like being aurally dragged through a swamp filled with thick, dirty mud tinged with soup-like tar. It's a million grey clouds suffocating your very soul. Seriously. This shit is heavy. But it's so damn good. I've been kind enough to upload the mp3 for you. Download here. Lyrics below. There's no inbetween with this one, you'll either love it or despise it. By the way, this is the song I was referencing last week. -------- Note: this post is part of what was the Spirit of America Ask a Blogger challenge, a challenge in which I am woefully behind. All the previous questions are in one happy place. Swollen eyes that bleed for you Cold steel bars I'm watching through You've been baptized in a lake of tears Crucified yourself with your own fears But you learn from what's killing you And this time it's real Beyond your prayers Too numb to feel Beyond your prayers Deepest darkest thoughts you dream Curing's harder than it seems Slave to no one but your misery Broken man lies where you used to be Now watch the planets collide

May 02, 2004

Dedication #12: How to make Fallujah and walking for cancer appear in one post

This post is part of my Spirit of America challenge, in which people donated money to SOA in return for my writing on the topic of their choice. All previous dedications can be found here. A funny thing happened on my way to the blog. This was earlier in the week - I was going to make a long post about our tactics in Fallujah, and how I think it necessary that we do bomb the mosques - as long as the "insurgents" are using them for bases - and that we need act with more force. Then I came across this editorial in Newsday by one Robert Stewart, pretty much saying the exact same thing. Orignally, I was going to quote the article, but he did such a fine job explaining my own issues, that I figured I would just link to it. Now, remember that I have all these dedicated posts to do in return for donations to SOA? One of the generous people who donated was Jen of Cup and Saucer, who asked that I write about her participation in the upcoming the Breast Cancer Three Day Walk for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. So how do these two things tie in? Well, when Jen wrote to me about the walk, she also sent along a link ( to and blogged about) an editorial her brother wrote about Fallujah. It was the Newsday article I had just bookmarked. It's a small blogging world, after all. About Jen's walk and why she is walking for three days (from the North Shore of Boston to Charlestown) to raise money for breast cancer research - I'll let Jen herself tell the story:
In June of 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Believe me when I tell you I was stunned to hear that news. I thought I was too young. I hardly ever get sick. I eat my veggies, for heaven's sake! How could I end up with cancer? But I did have it, and that diagnosis was the start of a long journey of getting well. A journey that included a few surgeries, four cycles of chemo, and several weeks of radiation. Somewhere during the months of feeling nauseous and tired, I promised myself that when I was done with my last chemo I would sign up for the 3-Day walk. A few hours after my last chemo, in December 2003, I made good on my promise and registered to participate in the Boston 3-Day walk, being held late July of this year. I will be walking in honor of my Grandmother Kate (pictured above left with me), my Aunt Joyce (pictured above right, with my grandmother), and my cousin Diane, all of whom are breast cancer survivors and sources of inspiration to me. (The bald chick is yours truly, of course.)
You can read more about Jen's battle with breast cancer here. Jen's prognosis is good, but not everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer will have the same good fortune as Jen, which is why raising money for this cause is so important. Jen's personal goal is $5,000. She needs just thirty dollars to reach that, but I'd like to see her exceed that goal, by far. I've been reading Jen's blog for at least a year, probably more. She's one of those people who are instantly likeable. Head over to Cup and Saucer, say hello to Jen and then drop by her walk page and drop a few coins in her cup. The walk is not until July, so I'll be mentioning this again and that gives you a couple of months to check on her walk training and offer up some encouragement. Go, Jen! Speaking of dedicated posts, at some point today I will have to don some Mets gear in answer to my Mets/Sox challenge. I may have to wait until tonight, so I can get drunk enough to not feel horrible about wearing the blue and orange.

May 01, 2004

tonight's last laugh

Joe Wilson cruises with the man.

see me feel me yadda yadda

Tommy is on IFC. I once thought this movie was pure artistry. I must have been smoking some really strong stuff back then. It is both cheesy and pretentious, with a touch of abstract weirdness, for the sake of abstract weirdness. Which really amounts to a whole lot of cheesy pretentiousness. No, Tommy has not held up well. Not at all. Update: Ok, the whole Cousin Kevin scene worked, only because the dude who played Kevin (who later went on to do the voice of Spot the Dog for Disney UK) was really pleasing to look at. The Ann Margaret/baked beans scene? Just really, really wrong. And I totally forgot about Jack Nicholson.

Hey, Ladies!

Val followed through on his end of the bargain and he's looking all smooooth for you. Isn't there a breed of dog called the Cuban Hairless? And I don't mean that in the way it sounds, because Val is, as the girlies say, smmmmokin'. On a similar tangent, I have discovered new wisdoms each days as the packing saga unfolds. Today's gem: Packing tape. You can strip the hair off a man's back with that shit.

76: GOTO: NERD

76. What was the nerdiest thing you ever did? I think I just did it. BASICBD.gif -------- Note: this post is part of what was the Spirit of America Ask a Blogger challenge, a challenge in which I am woefully behind. All the previous questions are in one happy place.

Body Movin'

terror alert banana Terror alert banana. russian01.gif The Big Lebowski Dance Page I'm sorry. Really.

Time To Get Ill

I finally heard the new Beastie Boys song, Ch-check it Out. The music is tight and the lyrics are reminiscent of the Rock the Mic days but, damn. Time catches up with all of us, I guess. Listening to middle aged white men rap is sort of like watching a 70 year old clown tell fart jokes to a room full of kindergarteners. I'm not finishing that metaphor. I think you can figure it out. Take note that the song made it's world debut on this week's episode of The O.C. There's a joke in there somewhere. Now, doesn't Tibet still need freeing?

72-75: Bite my shiny, metal ass!

I just completed one goal for the day. Emptied out a storage room, packed up everything from that room in proper boxes, taped and labeled the boxes and vacuumed out the room. I reward myself with coffee and blogging. packy.gifI had a lot of "What's your favorite...." questions in the leftover questions pile (granted, a lot of them are from one person, but I'm trying to get to 100 in the most expedient, yet entertaining manner), so I'll hit those right now. The first was last night's Simpsons question. 72. Favorite Aqua Teen episode MC Pee Pants Look at me, man! I'm a giant spider wearing a disposable diaper. I'm insane, man! 73. Favorite Futurama episode Anthology of Interest II For the Space Invaders/Pac Man sequences alone. You are defeated! Instead of shooting where I was, you should have shot at where I was going to be. Muahahahaha! Anyone who has ever played Space Invaders will understand that quote. 74. Favorite Family Guy episode Death is a Bitch. Because it's the funniest thing Norm McDonald has ever done or ever will do. Meg: You could kill all the girls who are prettier than me. Death: Well, that would just leave England 75. Favorite Seinfeld episode Marine Biologist was definitely the best ever, but the second runner up also has my favorite line: What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for!? In context, the funniest line ever spoken on television. Ok, I'm gonna hit the laundry room - I'll back with more favorites later. Only 25 to go! -------- Note: this post is part of what was the Spirit of America Ask a Blogger challenge, a challenge in which I am woefully behind. All the previous questions are in one happy place.

bitchslap ted rall day, spellcheck version

Update: Like Jeff says, sometimes being minimalist works best. So... Ted Rall is still an idiot.

On Those Photos: Double Images

Let's stand here in the middle of the road for a moment, where people are rational and thoughts are based in common sense. These photos make me sick. After all our talk about winning hearts and minds, after all our posturing about saving Iraqis from torture and rape, what were these people thinking as they committed these heinous acts? Not only perpetrating the acts, but videotaping them, as if it were some frat boy stunt that would get them laughs at the next keg party. Left or right, Democrat or Republican, the one thing rational people can agree on here is that the people responsible for the torture must be held accountable and be made to pay the full penalty allowed under law, including death should that photo of the dead Iraqi prove to be of a person who died at the hands of these soldiers. I specifically say "under law" because that is what America is about. Due process. Laws. Crimes being punished. What the soldiers in those photos did went against every one of those concepts. They became the enemy. And, if you paid attention to your mother when you were little, you would know that two wrongs do not make a right. In fact, adding wrong to wrong makes everything worse. These men and women, small a group as they may be, have cheapened our efforts in Iraq. They have also committed a form of treason, in that they gave aid and comfort to our enemy by providing them with propaganda material that will fuel Arab hatred towards us for years to come. The result of the photos will be much more than head shaking, finger pointing and "you are just like them" accusations. The result will be heard in the forms of bombs and blasts and many more dead Americans. Should a terrorist attack happen on American soil and these photos are referenced as basis for the attack, then those soldiers will be responsible for the deaths incurred. Should our troops be attacked, ambushed, killed, tortured and their bodies paraded around like party balloons, those soldiers will be responsible. The few moments of juvenile, scornful glee they got from demeaning those Iraqi prisoners will have repurcussions the soldiers never gave thought to. And that's the view from the middle, where sane and reasonable people meet. Should we venture to the far side of the street - go left or right, it doesn't matter - the sanity and reason start to shred. The farther you walk, the less comfortable you feel. On the far left, you have the people who think this torture is a good thing, because it will make Bush's ratings go down. To paraphrase and sum up what the view from this side of the road is: * Yess! Now we can just wait for Kerry's numbers to go up. Bush is so dead! * This is the way all soldiers are. These guys were just stupid enough to tape it. * All those women prisoners are being raped by U.S. soldiers every day. How can we logically conclude anything else? * This is how soldiers have always viewed brown skinned people. * This is worse than anything Saddam ever did. Let's just open our own torture chambers! * The orders to do this stuff came from high up. * They will get away with it because the Bush ass kissers will justify the action and demand that the charges - whatever they may be - be dropped. * This is worse than 9/11. I hope there is another 9/11 just to prove that you reap what you sow * These people are representative of all U.S. and British soldiers. * They were really Halliburton mercenaries. Yep, that's the far left, who look at the tapes and see a moment of victory. Now, let's cross the street again and head over to the far right. To paraphrase and sum up: * There are no bad soldiers, this is made up * It's a conspiracy by the left, someone staged the whole thing to discredit our soldiers * This can't be true, so al Jazeera must have made the whole thing up * They were only doing what the Iraqis did to their own people * The prisoners probably deserved it * Man, I wish I was there to join in * The Arabs made up the whole thing just to have an excuse to terrorize us again * Oh, like Kerry didn't torture people in Vietnam Most people will look at this and say, so what? These are fringe people. Ignore them. But the fringe can no longer be ignored. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and other technological marvels that can spread information faster than you can say Conspiracy!, the fringes are now being heard loud and clear. And if we are hearing them, then the radical Arabs are hearing them. And both sides will add something to their already poisonous mix of hatred, ignorance and violence that has been stirring for years. The far left will give them the strength and encouragement needed to proceed with their jihad, knowing that there are Americans who might very well cheer when their terrorist acts are set in motion. The far right will give them all the ammunition and evidence they need to bolster their beliefs that Americans are egocentric elitists who believe they can do no wrong. The big problem, as I see it, is that nobody is paying attention to us folks here in the middle of the road. Those who seek revenge for these acts of torture will only look to the left or the right for their encouragement and/or evidence. We are Americans and, as thus, we follow American rules, which tend to be civil. There are always going to be a few who won't play by the rules and it's usually those few that get the most press. Of course, this all should get press. The soldiers in those photos should have their faces plastered on the front page of every newspaper around the world. They should be made examples of. And, because we are Americans, they will be found, prosecuted and made to pay for their actions. That's a good thing but, for some, it's not enough. For those who already hated us and now have turned that hatred up a notch, the soldiers pictured in those photos represent all Americans and, as such, America and its people must suffer. And we will. I truly believe that we will. I will, in advance, blame the guilty soldiers for any terrorist attacks that happen here in the near future, just as I will blame them for any ambush or attack our troops suffer today. It doesn't matter whether these attacks had already been planned; I am sure that many Arabs, looking at these photos today, will have a familiar phrase running through their heads today: Faster, please. And the funny thing is, we all suffer. Far left, far right, somewhere in the middle, we all end up victims eventually as long as we keep giving the radical Muslims fuel for their fire. It won't matter whether you stood behind them or railed against them, either way we are pretty much screwed. All of us. We can thank a few bad apples for making the next attack on US troops possible. We can thank the far left for cheering the Arabs on as their hatred rises and we can thank the far right for for their continued denial that there is such a thing as a bad American. We can thank every soldier who took part in the torture session. We can thank the US media for focusing on this in such a way that they make the stench of the guilty men and women permeate the entire armed forces. I abhor what was done to those Iraqi prisoners. But I also abhor what was done to the very same people under Saddam's regime. I abhor the fact that thousands of people have come out of the woodwork to denounce these actions and (rightfully) vilify the soldiers who committed them, but failed to make so much as a peep while Saddam was torturing, killing, maiming and raping. And I abhor those who are justifying the torture and abuse of the Iraq prisoners while lashing out against Saddam's bullies for the very same thing. Look in the mirror, everyone. How many faces do you see?