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July 31, 2004

Fairy Tales Can Come True

The Ghost of Ed Whitson is gone. I am a happy Yankee fan. Other baseball news: Here's to a few less times I'll have to look at Nomar's face.

Because it had to be done

The Kerry Hamster Dance. Courtesy of my crazy friend Faith.

A Day in the Life

12:15: Rip roaring fight with the daughter over the way she treats her brother when she has friends around. Only about the twentieth time we had this fight. Daughter, ever the one to get the last word in, seals her fate with "Holy geez, I said I'm sorry. My god." With a stamp of the foot, of course. Grounding ensues.
12:25: I go to my room to put away laundry.
12:30: Come out of room to discover daughter has gone "out." Where? DJ says she went to the store. I remind self that I just grounded her not fifteen minutes ago. Also take into consideration: No one is allowed to just go "out" without telling me or my husband where they are going and when they'll be back.
12:40: I decide to just wait it out and see if she comes back soon, figuring she went to visit her friend down the block to tell her what a horrible mother I am.
1:15: Call her cell phone. It's turned off. Now very pissed, I decide to see just how long she'll stay out. Proceed to clean the house.
2:15: Try her cell phone again. Still off. Drive past her friend's house, but no one is home. Small creep of panic sets in. Go home to see if she turns up or calls.
2:45: Try her other friend's house. She hasn't seen her.
3:00: Phone rings. It's the owner of the cell phone store a few blocks away. Someone found Nat's phone on the sidewalk and brought it into the store. The guy found the address book and called the "home" number. Go to store to get phone and start thinking all kinds of crazy things, incuding what a horrible mother I am to have sat there and not went looking for her right away.
3:10-3:30: Drive around looking for her. Stop at my mother's house and two friends' houses. At the second house, the mother says that Nat has been there for a while, but just left. Big sigh of relief, which gives way to renewed anger.
3:40: Find her a few blocks away, walking towards home. I say nothing as she gets in the car. Say nothing until we get in the driveway and then I let her have it. This exchange occurs:

Why did you go out of the house without asking me?
Because if I asked you if I could go, you would have said no.

You know the word flabbergasted? It was made for that moment.

New, firmer, longer grounding ensues, as do the tears. Yet absent in the tears and apologies for losing her week old cell phone is an understanding of what she has done wrong. Witness this question after we get in the house and I tell her to go to her room:

Does this mean I can't go out with Jen tonight?

Walk out of room. Go into office, close door, light cigarette and wonder who it was that told me all those years ago that teenage girls are a delight, a mother's best friend. Because I'd sure like to kick them in the teeth right now.

The Need to Read

I've been on a non-fiction tear for at least six months now and I need some escapism. Good fiction is in order and I'm taking reading suggestions. I'm looking for something in the fantasy realm, but not sci-fi fantasy. As an example, I've read the His Dark Materials trilogy twice and I'd love to come across another story as compelling, well written and far away from reality as that. No romance, no murder mysteries, no alien invasions. I want something with magic, something fantastic, something that, for a few hours each evening, will take me away from Earth, 2004. Think a much darker Harry Potter. Sure, maybe I'm being to specific and/or picky. In that case, feel free to recommend anything else. I'd even go for some good (non-cheesy) horror. But I'd prefer something that a) will take me more than two days to read and b) stirs the imagination. I've got a Borders gift card that I want to use this afternoon. Thanks in advance. Update: I should have mentioned that I've read everything Neil Gaiman already. Update again: I read the Dark Company books and Snow Crash as well as a slew of the Discworld books. We're not going to Borders until tomorrow, so there's still time to give a suggestion. I'm leaning towards Roofworld at the moment, but I have enough to get more than one book.

July 30, 2004

They Love Us in Europe

[Via Ian and the Corner] [click for bigger] Translation of this Subway tray-liner that's out in Europe, via Southern Appeal:
HEAD: “Why are the Americans so fat?” Michael Moore quote: “The only time I have been scared for my life has been going through a McDonald’s drive-thru.” The New York Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock asked in Michael-Moore-style this profound question and lived on fast food in a self-experiment for 30 days of only products of the largest fast-food chain in the world. Astonishingly [the results]: 25 pounds more around the ribs, alarming liver count and blood count, which would alarm any doctor. In his top-Satire, which won the prize for best direction in Sundance 2004 for an outstanding film, Spurlock questions the responsibility of affiliated groups and consumers, the large amount of money that the “fast-food-culture” has made and the alternative – to make the heavy-weighted Americans again a healthier population. An ironic blow to the stomach - loaded with a lot of fat and facts about a questionable mega-industry. Super Size Me A true fat film by Morgan Spurlock…Now in theaters! Don’t care what you eat? Then do not allow yourself to miss this exciting and important Film about the dangers of poor nourishment – it will open your eyes!
Presented without commentary. I'm going to Quiznos.

The Ghost of Ed Whitson

Jose Contreras has furthered my theory that he is the Ed Whitson of 2004. "Sometimes, the game speeds up for him and his mind speeds up. When things start going badly, it gets out of control for him." Ed Whitson was booed out of New York. How long before someone buys Contreras a raft?

promises to keep

I got this list from al Jazeera, of all places. I know I saw it elsewhere this morning, but I couldn't find the link. This is what John Kerry promised the American people last night. My question is this: Can he keep all these promises without bankrupting the country?
-Invest in new technology and alternative fuels to lessen US dependence on foreign oil. - Make America "finally and forever" independent of Middle East oil. - Cut the US deficit in half over four years by ending corporate tax cuts, which he called "corporate welfare." - Offer targeted tax breaks for the middle class. - Roll back tax cuts granted by the Bush administration to people earning over $200,000 a year. - Close tax loopholes to companies moving jobs abroad and give breaks to firms keeping good-paying jobs at home. - Pledged not to privatise Social Security or to cut benefits. - Incentives to revitalise manufacturing and investment in technology and innovation. - Pledged that as commander-in-chief he would never lead the United States into a preemptive war, only sending troops to battle "a threat that was real and imminent." - Immediately reform intelligence gathering. - Rebuild alliances with other nations. - Ensure the United States would lead the global effort against nuclear proliferation. - Add 40,000 active duty troops. - Double the number of US special forces. - End the military's heavy reliance on National Guard and military reservists. - Immediately implement the recommendations of the September 11 commission. - Offer incentives that would save families $1,000 a year on health insurance costs. - Allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from countries like Canada, where they are often less expensive.
To quote BFT: bq. The numbers don't add up. You can't raise some taxes, transfer that money to other people through tax cut, spend more on healthcare, protect social security, increase military spending AND cut the deficit in half. In the immortal words of Fugazi, promises are shit. You can list a litany of sweet talking promises from now until November but you better be prepared to answer to the people who are taking those promises to the voting booth when you can't cash the checks your acceptance speech wrote.

my hamster story is better than your hamster story

As Alex Kerry told the poignant story of her dad saving her hamster, I thought to myself, gee, self. It's a good thing you're never going to run for President. Because what would your kids say about you in that situation?

I imagine a reporter saying to them, hey kids! Have any hamster stories to tell us? And they would tell this one (culled from the now defunct Rasing Hell archives)

The kid at the pet store swore that we were buying two male hamsters. So when they began retreating to a corner of the cage and performing nasty deeds with each other, we just shrugged and figured they were gay.

Kobe, the smaller of the two, gave birth this morning. So much for the “two males” theory.

Natalie and DJ were standing by the cage, watching Kobe run around while a tiny mutant looking thing dangled out of his backside. Akuma, the molester hamster, was trying to pull the mutant baby out.

Ok, the babies weren't exactly mutants but have you ever seen a newborn rodent? They look like miniature versions of ET. Anyhow, I grabbed Akuma out of the cage, put him in the attached cage, and took off the tube separating the two. Some maternal rodent instinct kicked in and I was sure that I was doing the proper thing. It just didn't look right for the father to be pulling the baby out with his teeth.


Sure enough, Kobe was stuffing the mutants into her mouth like they were treats.

"Maybe she's just storing them in her cheeks so she can take them to the upstairs cubby," I said.
"Right, mom. She's chewing."
DJ was staring intently. "Do you think they taste good? I bet they're really nutritious."
"You want to try one?" I pretend to open the cage up.
"Ewwww mom! Hey, how come there's no blood or anything squirting out when she bites on them?"
"She's eating them whole."

They stare for a few minutes then a look of horror crosses DJ's face.

"Umm..mom? Weren't they from the same litter?
"Yea, why?"

DJ and Natalie alternate between making gagging sounds and cracking up. Meanwhile Justin, my husband, is sitting at the computer looking up FAQs on hamsters while he's holding Akuma. I hear him talking to the incestuous rodent.

"You should have thought about this before you started humping her, you know. What did you think was going to happen? Now you get stuck in the little apartment and she wants no part of you. Oh yea, I know, she's partly to blame. She could have said no. But you're going to have to go back in there and take responsibility for your actions."

He's obviously reading one of the FAQs as he's talking to Akuma. "Now, Akuma, you go back in there and umm...lick the babies and eat the placenta. And then umm...clean up your girlfriend, too. And help her out with the babies."

I'm standing there envisioning him giving this talk to DJ some day. Without the placenta eating part. Obviously Justin was thinking the same thing because he turned to me and said "It's never too early to start stocking up on condoms for DJ, you know."

You can learn an awful lot from a rodent.

I guess I could count out the PETA vote.

She's drinking my kool aid!

Hillary and Al share a laugh over a cup of Command Post coffee. hillcommand.JPG [credit:my sister, who got the original photo from Allah]

The Speech: A Day Late and a Link Short

[Hey, I've been sick. I'm still trying to catch up on my missed homework] Interestingly enough, I thought the Dem convention (speaker-wise) was great, right up until the main event. I think Kerry came off as arrogant, but that's just me. He wasn't out to convince me. Nor was he out to convince the his cheerleaders. He needed to convince that 7% that are still sitting on the fence (or sitting on a third party candidate's fence). So what did everyone think about the basics of the speech? Well, it had 52 applause points (and sweat broke out at point 32). Now, I know that speeches are made for maximum applause. They are meant to manipulate, cajole and convince. But sometimes the manipulation factor goes into overdrive. Kerry's speech came right out of the Pander and Dig school. Pander, pander, pander, DIG. Wash, rinse, repeat for thunderous applause. When I checked my email this morning there were three identical emails from three different people. All just contained one line: Did he just salute? Yes, he did. Couple that with his "Help is on the way!" mantra and you've got Dudley Do Right, at your service. Kerry should have come out with an "S" emblazoned on his shirt. It would have been more subtle. bq. And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW’s and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam. At Command Post (where Alan did a superb job of objective blogging from Boston), someone commented on that line: bq. THIS is ALL he had to say about how he stabbed all soldiers in the back when he returned from his BRIEF stay in Vietnam? That’s all? That’s it?
There are no words to describe the anger that I feel after reading this speech - especially the sentence quoted above. The problem is, Kerry gave his speech in an echo chamber. If anyone else felt anger over that line, it won't get heard while the sound of applause is still ringing in Kerry's ears. I didn't really expect Kerry to address the protesting or throwing of medals incident, but if he wanted to completely whitewash it, he shouldn't have said anything at all, especially using a euphimism like making peace with Vietnam, which I guess means years of protesting the war. bq. The United States never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to. Which, I suppose, let's out the possibility of going to war because we are provoked. Also, as E. Nough says: So the Iraq war was elective? We should have left it alone, even though everyone thought it had a WMD program? Hmm. Oct, 1998, Kerry signed a letter to President Clinton that read, in part: bq. "We urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs. In January 2003, he said: bq. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real. I would like John Kerry to clarify what he means by "have to" go to war. Would that be to retaliate after we've already been attacked or would it be to protect ourselves when threatened or provoked? Or, as Captain Ed said: bq. "We only go to war because we have to." After twelve years of failed containment, I suppose this means Kerry would have waited until the sanctions utterly collapsed, Saddam re-armed, and actually did catastrophic damage before doing anything about him ... Other random thoughts: A lot of the speech was filled with nastiness directed towards the Bush administration. I thought the Bush bashing was verboten during this convention? Or did Sharpton's ad-lib moments give way to Kerry's verbal attacks? Hey, barn door is open, may as well let all the bulls out? I really thought Kerry would try to appeal to the center with his speech. Instead, what we got was a private talk with the left. How much of a bounce can he get by delivering a speech to a targeted audience of people who are already voting for him? For a candidate that stresses he wants to be a uniter, not a divider, he sure did a lot of divisive speaking last night. If this was what a positive campaign looks like to Kerry, we're in for a nasty few months ahead of us. There was a underlying sense of socialism running through the speech. Everytime someone talks about one of those programs - like Head Start - I hear my college professor screaming about the dangers of "from each according to his abilities to each according to their needs." He was right. I heard this speech not as a "What can a John Kerry presidency do for you" moment but as a "What can not voting for George Bush do for you" thing. Again, Kerry isn't really telling people what he will do, just what he won't do. All in all, it was typical of any convention speech. If you're a Kerry supporter, you thought it was great. If you're not a Kerry supporter, you'll pick on his words. The problem here is, for anyone who is not a Kerry or Bush supporter, for those proverbial fence sitters, there wasn't much to cling to. I hope Bush remembers that 7% when he stand up at the podium in August. Around the sphere: Stephen Green did a great job blogging the speech as it happened and Glenn Reynolds actually had comments open on his speech post. Kerry alluded to the "bake sale for body armor" myth. Michelle Malkin points the way to a debunking of that lie. She also has a few links to go with the air pollution/asthma lie. John Podhoretz in today's New York Post: So, in the end, it appears Kerry has decided to run as Howard Dean with some medals. Mickey Kaus: This is the Eddie Yost candidacy. Say as little as possible and hope for a walk. My favorite speech related post comes from Jesse Walker at Reason: bq. Don't mind me, I'm obviously not the target audience for these things. I keep getting bored and flipping over to the convention reruns on C-Span 2. Last night I saw George Bush '88 promising never to raise our taxes. Tonight I saw Bill Clinton '96 promising to protect our airlines from terrorists.
Kind of puts the week in perspective, no? For now, the only speeches I enjoyed at this convention were Bill Clinton's and Al Sharpton's. The rest will only become entertaining after history adds some layers of irony and dust. I think that when history adds those layers, we'll be fondly recalling the 2004 Democratic Convention with memories of rodent mouth-to-mouth and fucking balloons.

July 29, 2004

tv or not tv

When you spend nearly 24 hours straight on the couch you sure miss a lot. Or not. I see that there a major al Qaeda figure has been captured. And I see, rather unsurprisingly, that the "suspicious timing!" shrieks have already started. Ace has some questions for you shriekers. Like, when is a good time to capture a terrorist? I see that John Dvorak still has a bug up his ass about bloggers. (use bugmenot for login). Ahh, we just got a fresh batch of mail delivered from the old address and it wasn't just bills this time, but goodies, too! Thank, JFH for the 1776 DVD. I can now force my kids to watch it the way my mom used to force me to watch it. Nothing says loving like tradition. Thanks, Joseph for the Invader Zim DVD which I am going to watch right now. Much moosey goodness. And looking around the blogroll, I see I really haven't missed much at all. But I can tell you without hesitation that daytime tv sucks, that all those designing shows are the same, that, for some reason, CNN thinks the fact that John Kerry wrote his speech longhand is news worthy enough to be splashed on the bottom of the screen no less than five times an hour, that FOX is obsessed with dead, pregnant white women and that at any given time during any weekday, an Eric Roberts movie is on some cable channel. Apparently, whatever bug I have is still standing in the way of my writing anything interesting or thoughtful, so I'll quit now. Hopefully tomorrow will find my mind in working condition again. I suppose tomorrow you will get to hear my thoughts on the DNC. Because 400 other bloggers writing on the subject just isn't enough.

still out

Leave it to me to come down with something undefineable. It's not really a cold, or a flu, or a stomach virus. It's a hybrid of all three, complete with cold sweats, constant nausea and the feeling that one would get after being body checked by Tie Domi. Don't know if I'll be up to blogging later or not. I don't know how much I can actually sleep again today, one too many dreams about dancing food (I believe it was Al Sharpton and John Kerry in costumes) makes me wary of closing my eyes again. And there's really no point in blogging when my head is filled with some kind of mental fuzz and I can't form complete thoughts. Meanwhile, Alan, blogging live from Boston, is scheduled to interview both Max Cleland and Joe Lieberman today. He's taking suggestions on (serious only) questions over here. And you could always take a nice walk through my blogroll while I'm gone. I shall return.

July 28, 2004


Not avoiding the debating going on in the comments today, just very under the weather. Back tomorrow. Play nice.

Ask an Honest Question, Get an Honest Answer

Bill O'Reilly blew that "fight" with Michael Moore. Moore kept hammering home one topic: "So you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that," demanded Moore. To which O'Reilly kept replying that he would send himself. What I would have said if asked that question is this: bq. It would not be my choice to sacrifice my child, you idiot. No parent makes that choice for their child. You can enlist in the army when you are 18 years old, an adult. An adult who makes his or her own choices. When you ask if I would sacrifice my child, you make it sound as if parents all across the U.S. are rounding up their young children and boarding them on planes bound for Iraq against their will. Maybe even dropping down them down a live volcano to plead with the Gods to bring peace to Iraq.
Asking me if I would sacrifice my own child is disengenous, Mr. Moore. Now if you were to ask me how I would feel if my grown child were to freely and of his own will enlist in the army during this war, I would tell you that I would be proud of him for wanting to serve his country, join the process of bringing peace and democracy to another land and combat terrorism. I would be damn proud. Yes, I would be scared that he would never come back, but it would be my son making the sacrifice, Mr. Moore, not me. Ask an honest question the next time and I'll be able to give you an honest answer. But that's just me.

Nothing to Fear

[A follow-up to this post] Much has been said by Democrats about Republicans running on a platform of fear. They want to scare you into voting for them, is the popular thinking. So when Ted Kennedy says The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush! is he not engaging in the same type of fear-mongering, if from an opposing point of view? Well, I suppose that doesn't matter in the long run as Kennedy's fear mongering is made from hyperbole and ignorance of what we face as a nation. The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush! The only thing? Is that really all we have to fear? If you read into that statement (and read into anything else in the speeches coming from the platform of the Democratic convention), one could surmise that Kennedy - and those who cheered him - believe that George Bush is the true enemy of America. How many speeches in the past two days have referred to "squandered goodwill?" What this means, in my eyes, is that Kerry will mend our fences by making nice with France and Germany. Kerry will make nice with the U.N. Kerry will offer a hearty handshake to those who think terrorism should be handled by inviting the terrorists over for tea to talk things over, or by appeasing them in the sense that we try to be a little bit nicer to those who would bully us. That's what I fear. I fear four years of John Kerry. It's not my only fear, but it's a big one. The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush! No. I fear a time where we cower instead of standing tall in the face of threats. I fear a time when we become too worried about being every so multi-cultural and politically correct and forget who we are and how we got here. I fear a future where terrorists perceive our nation to be weak and passive. I fear a future where we give too much deference to the wishes of the U.N. - an organization that gave Libya the chair of their human rights commission. The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush! Who does Ted Kennedy and the Democratic party think the enemy is? Judging from everything I've heard in the past few months I do believe they think the enemies of this country are not only Bush and his administration, but Republicans as a whole. Fellow Americans. You and I. So I fear a time in this country where the administration that is supposed to represent me and protect me looks upon me as an enemy and yet refuses to point a finger in the direction of the true enemy. Of course we have things to fear. The Republican party did not invent this fear. The Republican party did not hijack planes on September 11, 2001 and the Republican party is not issuing threats to attack yet again. Yet, my fear is tempered by the fact that I truly believe the man in the White House right now knows damn well who our enemy is. But my fear begins to grow when I think that we might face four years with a new man in the White House, one who comes from a party that believes the enemy lies within. As a postscript, I just find it interesting that the big theme seems to be that George Bush is a divider, not a uniter, and there has been plenty of speech talk that would confer that label upon the Dems themselves.

ASV Morning Preview/Bugs Bunny Votes

I thought I would spend this morning writing about Bugs Bunny's birthday. Some silly quotes, list a few favorite episodes, open up another discussion about how great Bugs was. But what I've discovered about blogging is this: it bestows obligations upon you. Unlike, say, a newspaper reporter, you can't just write an opinion piece and be done with it. Instead, you have to review all the comments and emails and then respond accordingly, sometimes making one opinion piece drag on over the course of several days. Which is fine with me; we bloggers are nothing if not opinionated and given the chance, we'll go on forever about any given subject. I can't speak for all bloggers, but I know that if I print something that becomes a hot subject (generating a lot of comments and trackbacks), it's a safe bet that within all those comments and pings there will be dissenting opinions. Which in turn obligates me to counter those opinions, or at the very least, back up my own words. And sometimes those comments derail into another subject entirely, which (I feel) obligates me to address that subject in a separate post. And so it went yesterday and last night. There was the abortion t-shirt post which ended up with someone implying that because I'm an atheist, my moral opinions are worthless. There was the Ted Kennedy post, which some people just did not get. So, which do I address now? Well, as it's 7:17, neither. So just consider this a preview of later today (hey, if Lileks can do it, so can I). In addition, I'll be writing something addressing emails I've received concerning the RNC credentialing system. However, I would be remiss if I didn't spend at least some time wishing Bugs Bunny a very happy birthday. Here's something for you to mull over until later - Who would Bugs vote for in this election and why? Silly? Yes. I figured I'd get the silly quotient in early today, as the rest of the day will be a bit heavy handed.

July 27, 2004

You're Either With The PDFs or Against Them!

There have been thousands of things I've written and said that could be construed as divisive, but never in a million years would I have thought that a few comments of mine about PDF files in a Wired article would generate such an onslaught of angry email. You would think I attacked the Pope. I had no idea there was such a strong, devoted, contigent of PDF apologists out there. The last time I got email laced with such fervor was when I wrote disparaging remarks about furries. Draw your own conclusions.

Fear of a Passive Nation

[I wrote this post in my head while I watched the speech and damn if the same exact thought I had wasn't right here already. But I'm doing it anyhow.] Ted Kennedy: bq. The only thing we have to fear is four more years of George W. Bush! Once again, the Democrats prove that they have no clue who our real enemy is. ___ By the way, Alan has made his way to Boston and is blogging live from....The Purple Shamrock.

List-ing, Part Five

I'm feeling like crap on a stick today (not really sure what crap would feel like on a stick, but I always liked the way that sounds) and it's unlikely that I will be checking in again until later tonight or tomorrow. Of course, I'll leave you with something on the fun side, because I'm behind in my list making. Today's list (keeping with the same theme as the movie list): Five CDs I Own, Yet Won't Admit To Owning Them By Accident Or Reallly Enjoying Them: # Limp Bizkit, Three Dollar Bill Y'all # Oasis, What's the Story, Morning Glory # The Hair Soundtrack (Original Broadway Recording) # Linkin Park, Meteora # Huey Lewis and the News, Sports (ok, that one is on vinyl) Have at it.

Questions About Blogging the Convention

I'm trying to figure out my logistics for the RNC and I have a question for those who are blogging the DNC or have done this kind of thing before. See, the housing pricing memo just came in the mail and, well, no. You have to guarantee a minimum of five nights at a pretty pricey rate and I can't do that. Plus, I'm staying over two nights at the most. What I'm wondering is this: What time do things usually get cranking during the day and what time do they wrap up at night? I'm thinking of not staying in the city at all, but going home to Long Island each night and coming back in the morning (I could also then have a blogger or two crash at my place with me, as long as you are relatively well behaved, clean cut and won't frighten my children and/or husband). So if I go home late at night, what's the general time I should expect to get back into Manhattan in the morning in order to not miss anything of relative importance? Or does anything of relative importance every happen? Any help or suggestions on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I'm a novice at this thing. Also: Anyone who received creds for the RNC, please leave a link to your blog here so I can compile a list. Thanks.

T Shirt Hell (and other convention-related observations)

Gloria Feld of Planned Parenthood addressed the crowd at the Fleet Center last night. Yesterday, Planned Parenthood proudly announced their new t-shirt available for purchase: bq. Planned Parenthood is proud to offer yet another t-shirt in our new social fashion line: "I Had an Abortion" fitted T-shirts are now available. These soft and comfortable fitted tees assert a powerful message in support of women's rights. Like most who have already written about this shirt, I thought abortion was a privacy issue. Well, now you can proudly display your choice on a t shirt. How repulsive. I wonder how proud the Kerry people are to have invited to speak at their gala a woman who represents the group selling t shirts with this saying? The gap widens. Watching the convention on C-Span last night (there's a lot to be said for tv without commentary), I felt as if I were watching a variety show; well-rehearsed skits complete with running gags, on cue applause and scripted emotions. That's not to say those things are exclusively Democrat. I'm sure I'll be witnessing the same scripted affair come August. It's all window dressing, anyhow - just a few well-timed phrases and pretty words designed to get you to come on inside and make yourself at home. I wonder how many people are really comfortable once they get in there? I find myself staring at the Republican end of the window sometimes. No, not just Republican - conservative. Let's face it, I'm really not a true conservative (an atheist who supports gay marriage? No way), but there are days I'm enticed by all their pretty words and emotions. So I let myself in, wondering if I could truly embrace everyone inside. And then they throw this at me: bq. Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the "F-word" are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling. That's Ann Coulter, writing at Town Hall the column that was spiked by USA Today. It's a simple paragraph like that which will cause me to run screaming from the conservative base. A few days ago I said that liberalism is the new elitism. Perhaps I misspoke. Maybe extremism is the new elitism, on either side. Coulter's piece - and just that one paragraph is enough to make my point - reeks of "better than you" attitude. Basically, she is saying that Democrats are ugly and vulgar while conservatives are beautiful, religious patriots. No matter how much you want to believe that, it's just a ridiculous notion. And I'm apt to think that Coulter really believes every word she wrote (admittedly, I never liked the woman). [on edit: Yes, I know Coulter's column was supposed to be humorous - but it's a kind of humor that often gets thrown back in your face. If you are considered part of the politics that Coulter represents - which I so often am - then it gets thrown at you also and that makes it hard to have a firm ground to stand on when you're trying to claim the other party is the intolerant one] I wonder if any Democrats are equally appalled at the Planned Parenthood shirts as I am at Coulter's column? More to point, I wonder how much of either party the extremists on either end really represent? How many of us - Democrat or Republican, left or right - are left thinking, what about me? On the radio yesterday, I heard an interview with a Democrat (can't remember her name) who reiterated the tired idea that somehow we are all to blame for 9/11, that we were attacked for our culture. She spoke about family values and moral values and then blamed 9/11 on hip-hop (they hated us way before hip-hop was around, lady) violent movies (How many of the Islamofacists took the time to see Dawn of the Dead?) and our degrading televisions shows (I think they would be rather pleased with a show like The Bachelor, where woman are thought of as property to be discarded or used). I always thought the degradation of America's values, the taking down of the white picket fence, was a conservative talking point. Perhaps this just proves the idea that left extremism and right extremism are just two halves of the same whole. Suddenly the Dems are all about family values and a moral America. John Kerry is going to give America back it's lily-white virtue. Kerry and Edwards are going to bring back the days of Kennedy, when smiling white families played football on their front lawn. I wonder if anyone in the smiling families of the perfect Democrat future will be wearing "I Had an Abortion" t shirts?

July 26, 2004

Kerry Does Woody

No commentary. Just inspired by Steve. Update: Oompa Loompa doompadee doo.

RNC: Live From Blogger's Corner!

I have received my official invitation to cover the Republican National Convention. I always had this nagging fear in the back of my head that something would go wrong and I wouldn't get credentials. So this is a big relief.
For the first time, bloggers will hold an on-site presence at the Republican National Convention called "Bloggers Corner." Positioned near Radio Row, credentialed bloggers will have the opportunity to connect with delegates, guests and other surrogates for interviews, and to provide original content, including multimedia, to their audiences. Through this behind-the-scenes look at the convention's proceedings and events, bloggers will play an important role in telling the story of the 2004 Republican Convention. Bloggers Corner will be located in Madison Square Garden's Theater Lobby in the corridor adjacent to Radio Row. Electrical outlets, tabled work stations and necessary hook-ups for laptop and other portable computers will be available for high-speed Internet and Intranet access. Main TV monitors will also be accessible in all convention common areas including Bloggers Corner and will carry closed circuit coverage of all floor activities. Bloggers will be credentialed to move about all media areas with access to the Media Center and the news conference center for briefings.
I hereby call dibs on using the phrase Live From Blogger's Corner for my interviews and dispatches. I hope Ralph Kiner approves. As an aside (I'm watching the DNC festivities), there are few things less entertaining than old women in red, white and blue hats trying to rock out.

From the Saddam Poetry File

In light of the recent discovery that Saddam is enjoying his days in captivity by gardening, writing poetry and eating muffins, Command Post has decided to hold a Saddam poetry contest (as has Dave). My entry follows. Please keep in mind that I am not a poet, nor do I pretend to be one. Ode to Martha by Saddam Hussein Rays the color of gold bullions streak across my garden The petals of the roses so soft and soothing, so neatly folded just like your towels on the shelf at K-Mart. The smell of gardenias give me pause; I think of the time you made a boutonniere and gave it to Larry King He seemed so touched at your generosity But then, aren’t we all? Oh, I hear the faint buzz of the oven, like a honeybee whispering in my ear; My muffins are done. We are destined to be, Martha Our souls and lives intertwined Unjustly accused, unjustly imprisoned but still warmed by a simple recipe or charmed by a pine cone place card Do not let your heart be troubled, Martha Do not let your soul become black like the oil I used to worship Before I worshiped you. I have found inner peace and when I escape my dark place I will find you, Martha and together we shall be the new age Mickey and Mallory driving around in your BMW mowing down the proletariat later, we will plant a date palm in front of our palace and plot to kill George Bush. Such is love.


Whoever has been sending letters to Mark Steyn using my email address, please stop. None of your letters have been printed yet (I just got some automated responses, which is how I know this has been going on), but I imagine that - given the type of people who participate in charades such as this - that Mr. Steyn and his staff probably think I'm some kind of deranged nut. Which may be debatable, but if anyone is going to think I'm a deranged nut, I prefer that it is of my own doing. Cease and desist, dude.

Dreaming of Paul Krugman

I had this dream last night. There were more than a few plots and it involved my husband being taken away by "the military" only to return a few days later with two black eyes, a bandaged up face, a broken leg and missing teeth. But that's not the interesting part. Towards the end, a few of us were flying (I love flying dreams) through the night sky, trying to see who could go highest. We came across a huge mountain and glided down to a ledge where there was an enormous coffin partly covered with dirt. On the coffin was inscribed: Paul Krugman. Died 1812. I said to my flying companions: Whoa, Paul Krugman lived before! I wonder what he wrote about in 1812? At which point one of the other flyers tipped the coffin over and Mr. Krugman's corpse came tumbling out and proceeded to flip over the ledge, bounce down the mountain and land in a grassy field where it stood up, dusted itself off and proclaimed, You have not heard the last of me! I swear to you this is what I dreamed. Be damned if I know what it means.

terror in the skies, terror in my email

I didn't address the Annie Jacobsen issue over the weekend because I didn't feel like it. And I suppose that's the upside to not doing this for a living. I can write whatever I please whenever I damn well please. As I mentioned yesterday, I received a boatload of emails (24 at latest count) from people asking if I would write once again about Terror in the Skies, giving consideration to some of the updates bouncing around, the most significant update being that someone thought Jacobsen was an hysterical, shrieking woman (description taken verbatim from email). Several of the emails demanded a retraction in light of that description of Ms. Jacobsen. Several of them applied that description to me. So, will I retract? In a word, no. Go back and read my original post on the story and show me where I took Jacobsen's story as wholly, completely accurate. Alas, you can't. So, no. I want to move on from the whole Terror in the Skies thing now, thank you. I'm sure the basic themes within that story - security, fear, ethnic profiling, terrorism - will come up time and again here but for now, there's no need to spend an hour rehashing what's already out there. If you have a specific question on this matter, I'd be happy to answer it honestly. However, if you're just barking up my tree for no other reason than to get me to apologize for some perceived wrongdoing on my part (which makes me believe that your reading comprehension skills are a bit lacking), go find another yard to make noise in. Your bark is not at all that intimidating and is, in fact, irritating. And please keep in mind that being concerned about the health, welfare and safety of your family does not automatically equate to being a shrieking, hysterical woman (and I'm sure some of those comments stem from my security moms post). What is it with guys who think that the minute a woman raises her voice in concern, she's gone apeshit? Are we supposed to be good little women and leave the big, scary concerns to the menfolk? Give me a break.

dental update/saddam's poetry

Emergency might have been an overstatement, as this has been going on all week. It just came to a head today. Nat has had braces for a few months now, but last Monday she was also fitted with what's known as an appliance. Anyone who has ever had braces knows that the proper reaction to the word appliance is one of horror and revulsion. The purpose of this appliance was to take care of her tongue thrust. Basically, it's a non-removable retainer, affixed with glue to the roof of the mouth. Hanging from that retainer is an oblong shaped piece of metal. This keeps her from thrusting her tongue forward when talking. However, it has also kept her from eating, sleeping, talking and generally being happy. We gave it a few days because we thought once she got used to it, it would be okay. But a week later, she's got an indent in her tongue from where the attachment rests at night, a cut next to the indent, a stomach ache from eating only yogurt for an entire week and a headache from not being able to sleep. Plus, she's given up on even trying to have a conversation with anyone, as she cannot be understood when she talks due to the oblong metal thingamajig getting in the way. In short, she's miserable. And this morning, she woke up with her tongue bleeding. I understand why the orthodonist put the appliance in but, in the long run, it's not going to impact the work of her braces any if we have the retainer taken out. If Natalie's miserable, we're all miserable. So my mom is taking her to the ortho at 11 and I already called the office to tell them it's coming out and that's the final word. No real emergency, I suppose. But if we had to put up with one more day of her (justified) crabiness, we might have had a hostile situation on our hands. We're being pre-emptive here. At least she'll never ask if she can get a tongue ring after this. Back with real blogging shortly. Hey, while I'm trying to find the time to write something besides orthodontal minutae, you could be entering the SADDAM POETRY CONTEST over at Command Post. In case you haven't heard, Saddam is now a poet. Bet he didn't even know it. Hahaha.

On hold...

Orthodontic emergency with daughter this morning. Be with you shortly.

July 25, 2004

Blogger of all trades, expert at none

I just did a phone interview with Wired about the 9/11 report. CNN wants to come to my house next week to do an interview about security moms. I've spoken to at least three reporters from various news agencies this week about the conventions. And I hear my blog was flashed for .5 seconds on CNN today (I think it was the Glenn Reynolds interview, not sure). I think in the past year alone, I've done about 100 media interviews on various subjects. The fact that they email me looking for two second sound bites or a few words about a chosen subject is a source of great bemusement to me. I still have the same attitude whenever I get an interview request: Who, me? It's almost surreal at times and when I go ahead and read my two words out of a thousand spoken that get printed in the story it's almost as if I'm separating me from that me. It's just....weird. I don't think I'll ever get used to people actively seeking out my opinion on anything except video games and horror movies. And no one has called me on that yet. It makes me wonder what impression someone might have of me if they've read an article where I'm quoted. Maybe they think, oh must be an Important Person Who Is An Expert In The Field. When in reality, I've got the phone in one hand and the Game Cube controller in the other and I'm in my pajamas. I always wanted to be an expert at something. I could never decided just what, though, which is probably why I bounce all over the place as far as subjects go here. But last night I was watching VH1's Most Metal Moments and there was one guy, I forget his name, but the blurb that came up on the screen when they showed him on camera was Metal Expert. I wonder if anyone grows up thinking, I want to be a metal expert when I get older? And how does one get the credentials that would deem them an expert in that field, anyhow? Either, way, it's sort of a cool thing to have attached to your name. Imagine: Michele Catalano, Metal Expert. At this stage in the game, it's probably too late to become an expert on anything. I mean, my life is half over (that's assuming I die of natural causes at a ripe old age) and the second half usually consists of a down hill slide towards early bird meals and reruns of Murder, She Wrote. So I suppose I should just ride this wave of meager successes right now and some day I can tell my grandkids - when they get surly with me and call me a foolish old bag - my opinion was once sought after, you damn whippersnappers! Who knows? Maybe I'll still be blogging by then and people will call me to ask my opinion about adult diapers and diet supplement drinks. Or maybe they'll have opened a Home For Aged Bloggers by then. I think I figured out why my success (blogger-ly speaking) has been somewhat limited, in comparison to other bloggers who have turned their gig into paying jobs. I never quite nailed down what it is I blog about. But I kind of like it this way. I'd rather regale you with tales of DJ's guitar prowess some days then write another post about Sandy Berger's pants. Being an expert is probably overrated anyhow. How many times could one answer the same question about Marilyn Manson's boobs (fake or real?) without wanting to scream? I think I'll scratch "metal expert" off of my short list. Maybe I'll go for an expert credential in Antagonizing Red Sox Fans. I seem to be pretty good at that. Or maybe I'll just go back to the couch and try to regain my Crash Team Racing championship title from Natalie.

Rockin' Out (Gratuitous Kid Post)

For you listening pleasure (or not) DJ doing The Darkness during this weeks "Sunday Is Annoy The New Neighbors Day" jam. [click the pic] You probably can't see much, but that's not the point. In other DJ related news: My mother takes DJ and Nat to a play at the local theater every month. So I asked him what play they were going to see in August. He answered: "Joseph And His Amazing Technical Difficulties."

caption, please.

Or commentary on the game/fight.


New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez takes a punch from Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek in the third inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts July 24, 2004. The fight came after Rodriguez was hit by a pitch from the Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo.Varitek and Rodriguez were ejected from the game. REUTERS/Brian Snyder REUTERS

Pretty exciting game, even if it had a shitty ending.

The Last Time I Slept Until Noon, Reagan Was President

Wonkette was on the Today show and came out with this gem: Q: What is a blogger? A: Someone who doesn’t get up before noon, usually. Also: * I talk a lot about sex in politics, which is one of the ways to make it interesting. * If they’re trying to get news from me, they’re not succeeding. Aren't you all pleased as punch that the media see her as the new de facto representative of news and political bloggers? Not for nothing, but I can read more fresh blog posts by 8am than Wonkette posts in an entire day.


First, note: Several people (actually, 22 at last count) have emailed asking if I am going to do a follow up on the Annie Jacobsen story, given all the new stories coming out in regards to that flight. Yes. But not today, or at least not this morning. The whole family is going out to breakfast at the local buffet, which means I'll probably take a five hour nap after overdosing on carbs and salty foods. Now, I'm not really a big fan of buffets, but it was majority rules today. Hey, here comes another list. Three Worst Things About Buffets # Waiting ten minutes while the obsessive/compulsive guy in front of you picks out the perfect piece of bacon # When Mr. Perfect Bacon man has really bad body odor and leaves his stench all over the food # When Mr. Perfect Bacon man tells his Little Perfect Children that it's ok to use their hands to grab the scrambled eggs One Favorite ThingThat I Witnessed At A Buffet # Little Perfect Children run rampant through the food line, putting their grubby hands on everything, cutting in front of people, sneezing on the food, making rude remarks, spilling juice on other patrons, and then one Little Perfect Child slips on a piece of jello that his brother dropped and Mr. Perfect Bacon Man starts bellowing about a lawsuit and tiny, 70 year old waitress gets all up in his face and says: "Maybe if you controlled your little rugrats, that kid wouldn't be on the floor whining and crying right now. Now sit down before I make your brat clean up the jello he spilled." And then applause from the other patrons. Gosh, I love America. Five Uneccesary Things at a Breakfast Buffet # Pine nuts # Saurkraut # Carved turkey with gravy # Bacon bits (the real bacon isn't enough?) # Me [Ok, fine. I do love the biscuits and gravy]

The New York Times: Liberal and Loving It

The New York Times is better than you. While making the case that the NYT really is liberal, Daniel Okrent also admits that the Times demographic target is a jaded hipster who reeks of psuedo-intellectualism and, while claiming to be open-minded, rejects anyone who is not like him. I give Okrent credit for letting the beast out of the closet once and for all, but instead of coming off as an honest look at what the NYT is really about, it smacks of intolerance and smugness and reads like Okrent wrote it while standing on the pedastel the Times made for its writers, one which they refuse to step off of because it would require that they actually do some "self-questioning." All the news that's fit to print? No, how about all the news that's fit to be read if you're a New Yorker (or wannabe New Yorker) who loves abstract art, trendy issues, Bush-bashing and looking down at the people are not as good as you? I mean, if you're gonna be honest, why not go the whole nine yards? Liberalism. It's new elitism. _____ See, also: Allah and Ed Driscoll, who makes a good point about the NYT setting the tone for the rest of the media.

July 24, 2004

Heaven in an Ice Cream Bowl

This sounds like nirvana: Guinness ice cream.
1 cup water 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup Guinness stout In a heavy saucepan whisk together the water and the cornstarch and simmer the mixture over moderate heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the milks, the salt, and the sugar, heat the mixture over moderately low heat, whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved, and remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool completely, stir in the Guinness, and freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 1 quart
Am I the only one drooling?


It's insane insects day on Sci-Fi. I just sat through Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare, which is probably the worst-acted, poorly written movie of all time. That includes Killer Klowns from Outer Space and anything starring Pauly Shore. Yes, it was that bad. Sad to say, this is not the first time I've watched it. Now showing: Deadly Swarm. Never saw this one, but I can see from the first few minutes in that Americans are Ugly and their greed causes mass havoc the world over. So at the end of Killer Bees, there's a scrolling warning. The killer bees are really coming (this was 1995) and they are headed for downtown Los Angeles. And NOBODY KNOWS HOW TO STOP THEM!! Whatever happened to the killer bee thing? We waited all that time for them to show up and then they stood us up, just like the plague of cicadas stood me up this year. Anyhow, I've seen a lot of deadly insect movies in my time, so I may as well beat this list of five thing into the ground. Five Best Deadly Insect Movies # Food of the Gods # Mothra # Arachnophobia # Empire of the Ants # Starship Troopers I know there's a lot more, but I'll leave that in your hands. I have to go see what happens with these killer wasps. And next up is They Crawl. Tonight's dreams should be interesting. Update: Dustin Hoffman will save us from the bees!

Death Notice (for Metal Heads Only)

Pantera is officially dead. Now, some will say they died somewhere between Far Beyond Driven and the Great Southern Trendkill. I am one of them. Still, one always had the hope that Phil Anselmo would wake up from his fantasy that everything he does rocks and go back to just being the guy who sings in Pantera. But, no. They tried with Reinventing the Steel, but the album kinda sucked. Phil lives on in his band Superjoint Ritual, which he states: "are the most dangerous band out there, period! We're anti-image; we're anti-everything. All we have is our music. And me." I see he hasn't awoken from the ego coma yet. Pity that. Well, at least I get to use this fun tombstone maker I found today. [news via Fark]

Q&A Time for Libs and Dems

I have a question specifically for those liberals and/or Democrats who have spent the last (almost) three years blaming President Bush and his administraton for 9/11: Now that the report has been released and you've presumably read most of what the media has excerpted or read the report yourself, do you feel that the Clinton administration in any way shares any part of the responsibility you have placed on the current White House staff for the events of September 11, 2001? [It's 6am on a Saturday so I'm not expecting a rush of answers, but I'm hoping that at some point, I do get some reasoned response. I'm not trying to pick a fight here or spin anything one way or the other and this question is not meant to be snarky. I am truly interested in your answers and explanations of the answer you give.] Update: I'm not trying to place any blame myself here. I've said all along that I don't care at this point, I just want to know where we are headed and how we are going to get there safely. I think this (the report) was a learning experience for everyone. This question is not about my looking for blame. I just want to see how many people who have had their finger pointed solely at Bush this whole time will admit that this whole thing was a failure of years, not just one president, not just one administration. I'm really tired of everything, from global warming to your lost socks being pinned on Bush and there are very specific people who I am looking to come forward and say that their Clinton Made The Universe And Bush Destroyed It theme is quite stale. I'm not holding my breath.

July 23, 2004

For Your Reading Pleasure

The Doggerel Pundit (aka the poet of the blogosphere) has penned an epic poem in honor of Sandy "Do these pants make me look fat" Berger. bq. Well filled suits look presidential Coats and pants the leader shows. In the oval residential Problem was, to keep them closed. Read the whole thing. He's brilliant.

Still List-ing

Ok, it's Friday. I'll tone it down a bit. Let's go to the lists. Five Movies I Not Only Own, But Watch Regularly, Which I Should't Admit To But I'm Braver Than You So I Will # Armageddon # Princess Diaries # Leprechaun in the Hood # The Last Boy Scout # Club Paradise Feel free to add your own movie list while I go spend my lunch hour at the parking and violations bureau.

Never Forget

It's 5am and I've been sitting here for almost an hour. Very restless night of sleep, partly from the heat and partly because my mind was using my dreams to sort out all the news I soaked up yesterday and the results were not pretty. My mind prefers not to rest. Even when my body is pointing itself towards the bed, even when exhaustion kicks in and I'm so tired my blood is yawning, my brain is still going at warp speed. I imagine the images and thoughts in my head playing out as a montage film clip on the bedroom wall. There's the sound of an 8mm projector - that clickity noise the film makes as it goes around the spool. The montage looks like a home movie from my childhood. Either black and white or muted colors, the images marred by scratches, sort of a visual static. Last night's film was a nightmare of airplanes that never reached their destinations. Those images were interspersed with those of burning buildings. It never leaves my mind. It's always there, a feather tickling the back of my brain. Little things - the roar of a jet engine, the site of the WTC in an old movie, a bumper sticker on someone's car - will set the feather in motion and I have to stop what I'm doing, take a deep breath and try to shake the thoughts out of my head. But there are some days, like yesterday, when the reminders are too much, when the images are everywhere. And then it's hard to push from the mind. The release of the 9/11 commission report yesterday pushed all the residual grief and anger to the forefront again. I can't imagine it was any different for anyone who still wears September 11, 2001 on their sleeve. Many people ask me, why don't you want to forget? Why do you keep on talking about it, thinking about, dreaming about it? bq. WE HAVE SOME PLANES
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States. Millions of men and women readied themselves for work. Some made their way to the Twin Towers, the signature structures of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Others went to Arlington,Virginia, to the Pentagon. Across the Potomac River, the United States Congress was back in session. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, people began to line up for a White House tour. In Sarasota, Florida, President George W. Bush went for an early morning run. That's page 1, paragraph 1 of the report. I am now defined by what happened shortly after I arrived at work on September 11, 2001. It defines my politics, my beliefs, my ideology and my heart and soul. It has changed me and forged me into something that is stronger and more determined than I was on September 10. It made me reevaluate my ideals and reorganize my life. It changed the structure of my world. It woke me up and made me more aware of the world around me. It changed me drastically and completely. Forever. There is no other way to explain it. There are no other words I can find to justify my obsession with that day and to all the people who question why I continue to write about, talk about and dream about it as if it happened just yesterday all I can say is, because it feels like it did. And I don't think anyone who chose to spend the time after 9/11 by sticking their head in the sand can comprehend that. How, after everything that happened that day, can you still believe that I am a hawk for calling it an act of war? How can you still believe that there is nothing to fear but fear itself? bq. The lesson of 9/11 for civilians and first responders can be stated simply: in the new age of terror, they—we—are the primary targets. The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of the terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it. The first responders of today live in a world transformed by the attacks on 9/11. Because no one believes that every conceivable form of attack can be prevented, civilians and first responders will again find themselves on the front lines. We must plan for that eventuality. A rededication to preparedness is perhaps the best way to honor the memories of those we lost that day. ch. 9 of report, by way of Jeff Jarvis] As someone said this week (and I wish I could remember which blogger it was), we are safer. But not safe. I don't think we will ever be safe as long as their exists a group of people who wish us dead for being American or Jewish or Christian or anything that isn't Muslim. You can't wipe out an ideology, but you can wage a war on anyone who funds that ideology or harbors those who enact the tenets of that ideology that include the murder of innocent people. We are doing just that. But it's awfully hard to predict what people hell bent on annihilation will do. No one thought they would use planes as weapons. I received an email last night that said "Stop being terrorized. Stop cowering like a puppy dog." Couple that with some comments yesterday on my security moms post that imply I'm a overprotective paranoid freak, crippled by 9/11, who is turning her kids into fearful wimps. Well, no. We live our lives. We go to school and work. We take vacations. We shop and play and sometimes we even shop and play in New York City. We aren't hiding under our couches and I haven't built an underground shelter. While I remain fearful that another 9/11 could happen, I don't let it paralyze me. There's something to be said for being completely honest with yourself. Yes, I'm scared, some days more than others. Every threat, every bit of chatter, every signal that AQ is ready to go sends my senses into overdrive. But I still go about my day. I mean, what else can you do? Hiding under the bed isn't going to help if a supply of sarin is dropped in your town. But it's always there. 9/11 is always there because I choose to keep it there. The knowledge that there are people out there who want to murder you and I is always on my sleeve. And the knowledge that people I know were murdered by those very people makes it hard to keep my anger at bay when I am confronted by reminders.
At three seconds after 10 a.m., Mr. Jarrah is heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying: "Is that it? Shall we finish it off?" But another hijacker responds: "No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off." The voice recorder captured sounds of continued fighting, and Mr. Jarrah pitched the plane up and then down. A passenger is heard to say, "In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die!" Then a passenger yelled "Roll it!" Some aviation experts have speculated that this was a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.
What would you do if this happened to you today? Would you be paralyzed by shock and horror that there were people on your plane that wanted you and every other passenger and crew member dead? Would you stare in disbelief at the scene? Or would you, in your mind, have prepared for this possibility by a few years of remembering what happened on Flight 93? Would your instinct be to cower, cry or confront? Perhaps on September 10, 2001 I might have been one of those cowering. Not now. I am fully prepared for a situation like this because it is no longer a piece of fiction ripped from an action movie. It is real. It has happened. I don't know about you, but I never want to live through a day like 9/11 again. I never want to visit again the horror and anguish of the days and weeks that followed. I never again want to attend five funerals in one week. I never again want to see my friends and neighbors and even complete strangers crying, grieving and scarred in so large a number, over so many days. What have we learned from the 9/11 commission? Is there anything in that report that will help us prevent another terrible day? Was the report meant to look forward or look back? Because looking back is not going to solve anything. Partisan bickering over who was to blame is not going to prevent another attack. Recognizing that we cannot worry about political correctness or hurt feelings of certain communities should be a priority. It is obvious who wants us dead. bq. In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests “over there” should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America “over here.” In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just “terrorism,” some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism —especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology. [chapter 12, via Wizbang] We are safer. We are not safe. And only a comprehensive strategy that recognizes who our enemy is will make us safer. Only the realization by everyone that we are at war against a specific ideology and we need to be a bit more vigilant and a lot less liberal in our ideas in dealing with our enemy will make us safer. This is why I never forget 9/11. This is why the images are burned in my mind and my anger is worn on my sleeve. We must never forget who our enemy is and what they did to us. We must never lose sight of the fact that they declared war on us. I am not paranoid. I am realistic.. And I will never, ever get over it or stop carrying it around with me because to do so would be to become complacent. Which would be a great disservice to the memory of those who died for nothing more than a blatant hatred of freedom. Never forget.

July 22, 2004

Five Words, One Contest (and two more lists)

Tonight's list of five. Sort of. A sentence using the five words Ketchup, Waffles, Bergers, Pants and Socks, dedicated to Jeff Quinton and also using the bonus words of donut and Krispy Kreme, in addition to the bonus phrase would you like fries with that?: So the teenage girl waiting on us at the diner said umm like, I'll get your burger and stuff, but, like, uh, the coffee machine is like, broken, so maybe after you eat here you should try somewhere else, cause I hear that Krispy Kreme has like this donut flavored coffee and I hear it's totally rad and like, can you eat your dinner real fast -hey, try the waffles and ice cream - because I'm like getting off in two minutes and I'm gonna meet my boyfriend and we're gonna make signs for the big protest coming up, cause we are like totally into our cause and all, even though I'm really not sure what the cause is, I'm just, like, doing it because it really turns Bobby on when I get all into his activist shit and I like it when his pants get that little bulge when I say things like Socks the cat would make a better president than Bush, it really makes him go wild and he gets like all crazy and one time he got so excited when I wore my Kerry for President shirt that he poured a bottle of Heinz ketchup all over my tits and licked it off, oh my god, it was hot, and he was saying things like all the Sandy Bergers in the world couldn't fill up my pants like you do, baby, I was giggling so hard but I guess you had to be there and ummm yea, would you like fries with that? Additionally: The lists I promised yesterday. Five blog posts you should not miss # Thomas Galvin's Lost at Starbucks # Jeff Jarvis on the 9/11 Report # Richie's Baseball Bleat (for baseball history buffs/stats freaks only) # Tim Blair: Eat Heat # Ace really cracks me up. Five backup trades I will learn for when armageddon strikes and we have to start civilization all over again (providing I'm one of the few survivors) # School Marm # Bar Wench (I got a head start on that one) # Blacksmith # Evil Overlord # Spiderman

Text File of Report

Because we all hate PDFs. You can download it from me for a limited time only (use "save target as"). Thanks to Jason at Moore Lies for putting into text format. And, off topic but of interest to some: The big winner at Band Sausages so far is the person who put seven band names together. Try to beat that. Update: Jason Kottke goes one better and puts the report up in HTML, with links to all the individual sections (via Jarvis)

I think a blanket would be a big seller*

I'm leaving work now, hoping that will make this day end sooner. Some days, work is measure in dog years. Which means I've been here 49 hours already. Anyhow, I just wanted to leave you with a link. Because Stacy knows how to take a meme and run with it. And hey, my birthday is next month. Security Mom Shop *get it? Security blanket? Yea, I'm leaving.

Voices: Year Three

I wasn't going to do it again this year, but here it is the end of July and I find myself thinking about September already. I know in my heart that in each subsequent September the memorials will become less in number and there will come a year when it seems almost forgotten about. So I've decided to do the Voices project again this year. The first year, 2002, Voices was just a blog post on September 11, albeit one with over 100 personal stories about 9/11 in the comments. The second year, I moved Voices to its own page and added many more stories. This year, Voices will have its own site. I'll be transferring all the stories over to that site, organizing them and presenting them in what I hope is a way that brings hundreds of stories together as one. While I'll continue to accept contributions from anyone who still has a story to tell about that day, what I'd like to do different this year is ask those who have already contributed to write a follow up - how have you coped? How has this changed you? Are you more hopeful now than you were back then? Even if you didn't contribute the last two years, you could still offer up something on those themes. Regardless of whether I get new contributions or not, I'll be working to relaunch the site in September. I'll always keep those stories alive because they need to be told again and again. We must never forget. You can email me with any questions or contributions at michele.catalano@REMOVETHISgmail.com.

Are you having a protest or a picnic?

Organizers have asked that the city consider helping to defray the cost of equipment, which Ms. Cagan said would run at least $150,000 more than it would have in Central Park. In addition, organizers are asking the city to help provide access to things like water and transportation, since the new location is far from mass transit and lacks the shade of Central Park.
Wow, times have changed. The spirit of Woodstock is howling from the great beyond. Wimps. Past generations of protesters are hanging their heads in shame. Have the left become such a spoiled, self-absorbed bunch that they can't stand in the hot sun for a few hours for their cause without having a port-a-potty and free water nearby? It takes reall balls to ask the city you are about to distrupt to provide for your creature comforts while you are protesting. Seriously, this is a disgrace to your 1960's forefathers of activism. Even back in the late 70's when I was doing the no-nukes tour, we would have rather died of thirst before asking the government to provide us with water. Perhaps you would like the mayor, his staff and the NYPD to make your signs, stand in your place when you're tired or shout your slogans for you? Hey, they'll let you tie up the West Side Highway for a few days and they'll also throw in 1,000 pictures of Hitler, some crayons, cardboard and Elmer's Glue! Pack a freaking umbrella and a cooler, people. Nobody owes you anything.

security moms and other thoughts

As most of you know by now (this is what happens when I go to bed early; I miss the breaking blogger news), a reader of Powerline did a bit of research and discovered the name of the band that was on Annie Jacobsen's flight. Clint Taylor writes:
Anyway, this is good news. Nour Mehana's band might have acted like jerks on the plane, but it appears safe to say they were not casing Northwest Airlines for a suicidal assault, and we can quit worrying about this being a "dry run" or an aborted attack. And if Jacobsen was wondering why one man in a dark suit and sunglasses sat in first class while everyone else flew coach, well, it seems pretty clear that this was the Big Mehana himself. Which is definitely not the same as saying Jacobsen was wrong to worry. The proven existence of this band confirms one of the last details of her story, and her story confirms some of our worst fears about airline security. The mindset of passengers, of the crew, and even of the law-enforcement personnel (Jacobsen said a flight attendant reassured her husband by pointing out that air marshals were on the flight), and decision makers higher up the ladder was reactive, not proactive.
I stated in my first post on this subject that there were parts of Annie's story that read like fiction to me. I still think the story has been somewhat embellished. Did Annie really think the man who had been so nice to her pre-boarding had turned and glared at her when they were on the plane? Or was she just remembering details that didn't exactly occur, but were more like dramatic flair? But that's really neither here nor there, is it? What we have here seems, on its face, to be an ending, a conclusion, the closing statement on a now legendary (in internet terms) story. Or is it? The really story here is one of security.
June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327. That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.
Jacobson's fears turned out to be, thankfully, unfounded (though she still maintains that the Wayne Newton look-alike singer and his traveling band are not the people she saw on the plane). And now we delve once again into the land of what ifs; what if her fears were not unfounded? What if these guys were terrorists on a dry run? Given the circumstances of the day, that should have been a real fear. Perhaps Annie Jacobsen overreacted and, in my eyes at least, retold the story in a way that was a little too over-the-top in the drama department, but the pilots and the air marshals that were supposedly on board should have reacted differently considering what the warning of the day was. Today, splashed all over your news, we see stills from the video of four 9/11 hijackers at Dulles Airport. It's chilling to look a these pictures because we know what comes next. It's like watching a horror movie you've seen ten times already, but you still want to scream at the screen at a certain point: don't go in the basement! But they always do. And no matter how many times you look at these pictures and you want to say don't let them in! the scene has been acted, directed and wrapped. You can't change it. You can leave a theater after seeing a slasher film laughing in the knowledge that even though you just watched fifteen people die, it wasn't real. You look at the pictures of the hijackers entering the airport, you look at pictures of the burning WTC, and you wish it wasn't real. And sometimes there's a part of your brain that still can't grasp the reality of it and you look with kind of a disconnect, much like you do with movies. Unlike the movies, where fifteen more horror films will make their way to your local theater and the dumb girl will go into the basement/closet/dark room every single time, we have the power to make sure that what we see on the Dulles surveillance tape never happens again. That's my issue this election year and it's my only issue. My vote will be selfish. My vote will be about me and my family and nothing else. I will admit right here that I am not considering social security, spending, health care, taxes, gay marriage, education reform or any other issues of 2004. They are all secondary to me. What is the use of all those wonderful things like health care and the right to marry whom you want if we're not safe? First things first. Make this country safe for me. Win the war on terrorism. Make sure that we never have to scrutinize surveillance tapes or have a commission figure out where we went wrong ever agin. Then we'll talk about everything else. See, I am a security mom. Michelle Malkin speaks for me when she describes what makes her a security mom:
Nothing matters more to me right now than the safety of my home and the survival of my homeland. I believe in the right to defend myself, and in America's right to defend itself against its enemies. I am a citizen of the United States, not the United Nations. I want a president who is of one mind, not two, about what must be done to protect our freedom and our borders. I don't care about the hair on his head or the wrinkles in his forehead. I am not awed by his ability to ride a snowboard or fly a plane. Nor does it matter much to me whether his wife speaks four languages or bakes good cookies. What I want is a commander in chief who will stop pandering to political correctness and People magazine editors, and start pandering to me...
I have a place this election. I have a stand to make. Remember soccer moms? I never understood that phrase nor did I understand what made the soccer moms such an appealing part of the constituency. What did they stand for? Better soccer fields? Nicer SUVs? More after school programs? It was disingenuous to describe young, suburban mothers in that way and frankly, it pissed me off. I felt it was an insult, that we were being thought of as no more than the appendage to the family, the cheerleader for the husband and kids. Looking at me in that light was no way to get my vote. I really don't remember anyone liking the soccer mom label. It labeled us as passive observers to the political arena whose vote could be had by offering us free coupons for diapers. Condescending. But, security mom. Now there's a label I can sink my teeth into. It means something. It shows what I stand for. It shows where my vote is going and why. Security moms are not passive. We are knowledgeable. We are aware. We are active. Most of us were thrust into this role after 9/11 and we accepted it gladly. I probably do myself - and others like me - a disservice by saying my vote is a selfish one. Just because I am not putting your right to marry or your education concerns first does not mean I don't care about those things, or you. National security is for all of us. I care about this country and its future. I care about your family, your children, your safety. Somehow, our national security has become little more than a platform of partisan bickering. The release today of the 9/11 commission's report (speaking of partisan) will relieve both Clinton and Bush of any outright blame for what happened in September of 2001. Mostly, that's a good thing. Our presidents were doing all they could to protect us, right? The problems can be fixed and future terrorist attacks can be prevented. From MSNBC:
Administration officials familiar with the report told reporters late Wednesday that “neither President Bush nor President Clinton would be blamed for failing to act.” They said the panel would include an appendix praising the Bush administration for its actions since the 2001 attacks that had made the nation. The report will also debunk several “myths” that have built up around the terrorist strikes that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, the officials said. According to the report, they said: * The Saudi government did not fund the 19 hijackers. * Relatives of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were not allowed to fly out of the country until after air traffic was allowed to move freely after it was grounded following the attacks. Moreover, those family members had no connection to the terrorist plot. * Bush did not know about the specific threat beforehand, and there was little more that he could to prevent it.
Still, the report is expected to provide fodder for arguments in the presidential campaign. Advisers to the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have said they hope to use the report to show that the Bush administration was inattentive in the summer of 2001 to threats of a possible attack.
Well, damn. The report is good. What a shame for the Kerry campaign. Instead of saying, look, we did all we could, let's not place blame, let's look forward, Kerry's advisers are disappointed that they can't blame Bush for everything. They're hoping to get political mileage out of it. That shows me that Kerry is not pandering to me, other security moms or anyone who cares about the future security of this country. He is pandering to the people who think Bush made it happen or let it happen (MIHOP or LIHOP for those who swim the dark waters of Democratic Underground). He is pandering to those who believe Michael Moore's fallacies. His people think that security is an issue to be used to be divisive, to drive a wedge between the Kerry supporters and the Bush supporters. He should be embracing the findings of the report and telling his supporters - and his rival's supporters - what he will do to ensure that he follows up on those findings by making this country a more secure place. Here's a man who had as his security advisor a guy - Sandy Berger - who was, by the admission of his own friends and collages, a bumbling, error-prone, careless man. And obviously a man who didn't know much about the man who was advising him on security matters:
John Kerry to Tom Brokaw tonight: Brokaw: "Did you know that [Berger] was under investigation?" Kerry: "I didn't have a clue, not a clue." Brokaw: "He didn't share that with you? Kerry: "I didn't have a clue."
Not very comforting. I am a security mom. It's a label I wear with pride. It's the reason I am voting the way I am in November. I don't think a man who is disappointed in the findings of a committee that says our president and our recent past president were doing all they could would make a good president. I don't think a man who knows so little about the people in his entourage would make a good president. And, if I can be frank here, I think John Kerry would be the worst thing to happen to national security since Jimmy Carter. Instead of pandering to me, to the people who are worried about the future of this nation, to the people who want protection and the people who want their safety concerns addressed, he panders to the far left liberals who think making up with France is a priority. I am a one issue voter this year. I find nothing wrong with that because it's an issue that directly relates to every single other issue. Without a good national security, without a strong president who will not cave in to terrorists, without a president who will stand down the antiquated machine of the UN, we will likely be looking at pictures just like this some day and asking why. [At this point in the rambling thought process, I have to leave for work. I probably did not tie all the above thoughts together and I will most likely have more to add to this later, though I'm sure some of you will not hesitate to point out any inconsistencies.]

July 21, 2004

kicking it old school, ASV style (Games! Fun! Laughs! inside)

I have this thing about lists. That's probably apparent by now. I notice that a lot of other bloggers have a list obsession as well and I'm thinking it's time to bring back the Lists of Five.

Now, before you go and say that I'm ripping off this guy, you should know that I started my Lists of Fives back in of 2001. And besides, my lists differ in that I request - no, demand - your involvement.

Wait. Hold the presses. I am going to hold off on my List of Fives tonight because I just now dug up something else that I used to play on the blog every once in a while. It's good to do something fun and meaningless once in a while, and Band Sausages always was a bit of both.

What's a band sausage, you ask? Well, I actuall had a page dedicated to band sausages, but if I link to it, you'll steal all the good ones.

The idea; To take as many bands as possible and squeeze their names together to form a new band. For example; Vanilla Ice Cube, using Vanilla Ice and Ice Cube. You need to use the full names of the bands and they need to blend together. Sometimes cheating is allowed if it makes for a good band name, like Godflesh Lives Underwater.

Other examples: Barry White Lion. Cheap Trick Daddy. Sly & the Family Stone Temple Pilots. You can even string three together: De La Soul II Soul Asylum. Or, if need be, you can be crafty: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Artist Formerly Known as Prince. (Those were all taken from previous incarnations of the game on the various incarnations of this site).

So let's have a little non-partisan fun for a change. And hey, if no one wants to play I'll just go ahead and delete the post and pretend I never brought it up.

Lets go slow, lets go fast, licorice twist, gonna whip your ass

Natalie just left for a three day trip to Hershey Park with three of her best friends and the father of one of the friends. So, what do I worry about? No, not about her getting abducted or lost in the park. This father is a hawk when it comes to keeping an eye on the kids; it's his third year in a row doing this outing. Do I worry about a terrorist attack happening while my daughter is hundreds of miles away? Not so much. No, this is what worries me. It's called Storm Runner and it is easily the most frightening display of twists, turns and topsy turvys I have ever seen. All I can imagine is her falling out of that thing. Did I mention I hate roller coasters? What a stupid thing to worry about. Beats worrying about nukes, I guess. Speaking of nukes (and the roller coaster ride that is current event), yes, I realize today's story didn't quite pan out to be anything. Which gives me great relief in many ways. And speaking of news, this is my latest bookmark and will become an oft used one: Newsfeed: News for bloggers, news for junkies. I can keep track of amusement park mishaps there! Kidding.


Three Four Conspiracy Theories Regarding Sandy "ScandalPants" Berger. # Hillary told Sandy to take one for the team, furthering her agenda for a brokered convention. # The Karl Rove Theory (which is, anything that smells like trouble for the Dems is Karl Rove's fault) # They weren't documents, they were compromising pictures of Hillary and Linda Tripp (update) 4. Cheney Strikes Back! Five Things on Berger's Handwritten Notes That Had Nothing to do with Security: # A rough draft of a romance novel featuring a Hillary-esque heroine # The lyrics to Gwar's Sadda-a-Go-Go. # Cheat codes for Metal Gear Solid 2 # A doodle showing Bush the Elder in a mime constume # The stolen recipe for Red Velvet Cake Five Other Things Found in Sandy Berger's Pants: Oops, make that fifty. Five Linda Rondstadt Songs That Could Be About Sandy Berger # You Can't Treat the Wrong Man Right # Goodbye My Friend # I Keep It Hid # Telling Me Lies # It Never Entered My Mind I think I'm going to blog in lists for the remainder of the day.

Michael Moore's Greatest Fallacy

Michael Moore proves that he is still an ignorant ass, writing here about poor Linda Rondstadt. Nevermind his First Amendment issues and the nevermind that he thinks an property owner has no right to ask a person to leave their property. I'm sure plenty of other people will pick up on that. No, what bugs me the most is his assertion - no, his outright lie - about a certain song. bq. For crying out loud, it was a song DEDICATION! To "Desperado!" Every American loves that song! Another fallacy being bandied about by Michael Moore as if it were the almighty truth. Well, I have something to say to Mr. Moore: Michael Moore, I am an American. And I hate that song with a passion that goes back to 1973, when my ears were first assaulted by that overwrought piece of music. I ask you now, Michael Moore, to retract your statement. You do not speak for all Americans and your continued belief that you do has reached new heights with this false statement about Desperado. Because all of your fans believe every single word that comes out of your mouth, no matter how absurd, no matter if those words are proved false - those people will now believe that I, as one of those Americans you speak of, love that song. The very thought that I will be lumped in with lovers of such horrid dreck makes me physically ill. I may have no recourse but to sue you, Mr. Moore, if you do not take back that statement and stop telling your lies. Thank you. I may have to ask David Hardy and Jason Clarke to include this in any updates of their book. Update: An anonymous reader penned a little parody to Mr. Moore based on the Desperado statement. Read it below, but be warned there are many Michael Moore is Fat jokes ahead. Update 2: Another proud American agrees! BLUBBERADO…. You better come to your meetings You been out eating doughnuts, for so long now Oh, we’re here for you In the evening and the day time To help you stop shoving All that food in your face… You just play to the leftist moonbats, boy And they eat up all their able Kinda like you at an all-you-can-eat buffet Now it seems to me, you needs us There’s fruits and veggies on your table But all you only want is a sloppy Big Mac Bluuuuuuuberado Oh, why don’t you come to a meeting Your face and your body, they’re not a nice sight And bathing, oh bathing, well that should go without saying Your prison is your body and you’re trapped inside all alone Don’t you ever take a look in the mirror? You might want to take a peek It’s not hard to admit you need lots of help You’re never losing, just gaining weight Ain’t it funny how you don’t even notice? Blubberado, why don’t you come to a meeting? We’re located in Flint, we won’t make you wait You may be an ass, but you can be a thin one You better let Weight Watchers help you, before it’s too late.


I'm waiting for some other confirmation on this besides UPI, but if this pans out, it is HUGE.
Iraqi security reportedly discovered three missiles carrying nuclear heads concealed in a concrete trench northwest of Baghdad, official sources said Wednesday. The official daily al-Sabah quoted the sources as saying the missiles were discovered in trenches near the city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "The three missiles were discovered by chance when the Iraqi security forces captured former Baath party official Khoder al-Douri who revealed during interrogation the location of the missiles saying they carried nuclear heads," the sources said. They pointed out that the missiles were actually discovered in the trenches lying under six meters of concrete and designed in a way to unable sophisticated sensors from discovering nuclear radiation.
Put that together with this (New report to back up WMD claims) and things surely start to look different. Update: Reuters reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry calls the report "stupid." Update 2: As Allah says, things might be looking bleak for Josh Marshall. Update 3: Make no mistake that I [do not * see comments for editing reasons] view this only as an oppurtunity for gloating. If this report is indeed true, that means there are probably other nukes buried about the country and I'd hate to see them get in the wrong hands. Frankly, I'd feel a bit more comfortable if it wasn't true. * I cannot get that damn song out of my head today.


To (some of) My fellow Americans: Do you enjoy living in this country? Do you appreciate all it gives you? Or do you spend your time complaining about every last thing? Do you think this country is fascist and run by an evil cartel? Do you gripe about having to pay high taxes on your property or your luxury goods? Do you piss and moan about the crushing of dissent and the making of a police state? How would you like to live like this? bq. Rapes are still occurring. People do not feel safe leaving the camps to go out and forage for food. The situation remains very, very serious, and first and foremost the security has to be dealt with." That's Colin Powell talking about the ethnic cleansing going on in Sudan. You know what struck me the most about that quote? The word forage. Imagine having to forage for food for your family. Let's move on:
In 1988, the people of Burma revolted against the country's military rulers. It was one year prior to the widely-telecast Tiananmen Square uprising in neighboring China. Both uprisings were met with bloody crackdown by the respective regimes in Burma and China. *** In 1988, within minutes, Burmese security forces machine-gunned down over 300 peaceful protestors including students, school children, monks and other citizens in an Upper Burma city of Sagaing. Subsequently, the troops bulldozed the dead and the wounded from the streets of Sagaing, threw them onto army trucks and dumped them into the Irrawaddy or the Nile of Burma.
And more:
Since its announcement of a 'roadmap' to democracy in August 2003, Burma's ruling military has been engaged in a nationwide crackdown on Burma's democrats. A new report by Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean) reveals that the crackdown includes: the sentencing to death of journalists, the shooting of political prisoners and the arrest, imprisonment and torture of pro-democracy activists.
Not getting the point yet? Let's try Iran. bq. The Islamic republic regime executed publicly a third individual in less than two days. This new victim of the Mullahcracy's repressive policies was named "Moosa Noori" and was hanged in the central square of the western City of Dehloran. Here, try this photo on for size. There's a few more here. Are you someone who likes to protest? Try protesting in Cuba: bq. At the risk of being taken from their homes by force, at the risk of being brutally interrogated, at the risk of being encarcerated like their husbands and family members, twenty-two wives, mothers and sisters organized a protest in Cuba this past Father's Day. Yes, they risked their lives to protest. See, in some countries protests are illegal. In some countries, freedom does not exist. In some countries, dissent is really crushed, along with your hopes, spirit and probably a few limbs. In some countries, there are no inalienable rights. There is no freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to come and go as you please. In America, you have rights and freedoms and cry wolf as you may, you are not being oppressed. Go read about Sudan. Women are being raped, some many times a day. Rape is used as a political tool there, condoned by the government as a form of coercion. Thousands of children are starving to death every single day. A race is being ravaged. Now stand here and try to tell me that our government is oppressing you. Go ahead, try to tell me that they're shutting you up or keeping you down. Have they ever sent a group of men to your house to slaughter your children in front of you because you dared to speak out? No, they haven't. Go read about Iran. When was the last time you went to an anti-Bush protest and some of the protesters were rounded up and hung right in front of you? Go read about Burma. Have your protestations ever been met by a hail of machine gun bullets? No to all of the above. To you, a grave crime against humanity occurs when Whoopi Goldberg loses her Slimfast ads because the owners of the company decided that she no longer was a good representative of their product. She spoke out against the president, against his administration, made jokes about him and she lost an ad contract. She didn't lose her life. She isn't in jail. Her family hasn't been wiped out. Try some perspective. The Dixie Chicks dissented and made the cover of Entertainment Weekly the next month. That's America for you. Fascist land of dictatorship, oppression, stifling of dissent and a police state. Get some perspective, people. And stop taking your country for granted. I look forward to facing the protesters in front of Madison Square Garden next month at the RNC. It will be a wonderful reminder of how great our country is, and how free we are.

July 20, 2004


I'm getting ready for bed at 9:30. I'm either getting old or getting sick. I just wanted to leave you with this link, a guest editorial over at Command Post: Comparing Bush and Hitler. Well worth your time to read. Hey, you know what sucks? A sudden, torrential downpour when your car windows are wide open.

you spin me right round

In other news, I'm suing the left for medical services. All the Sandy "Big Pants" Berger spin today has given me a nasty case of whiplash. I mean, he stuffed the papers in his socks. His socks, for crying out loud. But the Bush Cartel are criminal nazis so what Berger did doesn't matter. See, Berger was just careless. Because don't you know papers have a way of ending up in your socks all the time? Yea, that's the ticket. SpongeBerger ScandalPants! [Ok, that's it - got a big afternoon with the kids planned, won't be back til this evening] Update: Hambergler! One more update: Interesting hearsay.

It's outta sight in the dead of night*

Boy, this pipe bomb that exploded on a NYC subway last night, coupled with this idiotic judge determining that police can't search "bulky" bags during the RNC convention makes me feel really secure about going. Hey, look at that. The pipe bomb was in a backpack. And backpacks can't be searched, according to Judge "Protesters love me 'cause I'm so" Sweet. Yoohoo! Terrorists! It's open season in New York! Just make sure you pack your arsenal in a bulky package and no one will question you. Wanted: Body armor and a sense of bravado. Willing to pay good bucks for either. *

Guitar Face

I have to enter DJ in this contest:
...a new contest will determine who has the best "guitar face" ... The 20-odd judges range from musicians to producers to rock photographers like Mark Weiss, who has captured everyone from Led Zeppelin to Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne in 25 years of taking pictures. Weiss is looking for someone who reminds him of Ted Nugent. "When he plays his notes, it's emulated in his face. He's all over the place. Look at his mouth and you can tell he's playing the guitar; you don't have to look at his hands."
A couple of weeks ago, DJ withdrew his hard-earned money from the bank so he could purchase a new amp. When we got to the store, he immediately plugged in a guitar and started testing out the amps. Within five minutes, the staff was gathered around this eleven year old kid wailing away on Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride. When he noticed he was being watched, he went through a little montage of his repetoire, throwing in some Sabbath, Weezer, Dokken and Sum 41. At one point, the manager said "Check out his guitar face! He's doing the face!" And sure enough, DJ had that face on. You know the one where the guitarist looks as if he's built a stairway to heaven with his chords and he's about to experience complete fulfillment and enlightment, which often morphs into a half grimace/half sneer, giving way to furrowed brow and eyes clenched shut tight; an insane look if there ever was one. When DJ puts his guitar face on, I know he's about to tune out the world and become one with his guitar. I'll have to take some pictures of him playing tonight. And you've got to see this amp. It has an insane mode. Which, yes, drives me insane. But no more so than DJ when he's got his game face on.


All these "Berger Gets Probed" headlines are warping my mind. [click for bigger] I should get back to work now. I won't be bothering you with this probing news again. Update: Heh. Update again: I'll call it SpongeBerger NotesPants-Gate. Ok, maybe these names are better.

Sandy "Big Pants" Berger calls Greg Brady to the Stand

I just wanted to fall asleep. It had been a trying day and I crawled into bed at 10:30 because I just wanted the day to end. I finally drifted off but a surreal dream about Spiderman fighting Superman over a dinner check forced me to bolt upright in bed. The room was dark. The projection alarm clock beamed the time onto the wall like an ominous warning. 12:00. Midnight. Here come the vampires and werewolves. Good thing I had my silver bullets and garlic handy. But then....I thought I heard a voice. A high-pitched, wailing voice not unlike that of a man having his balls squeezed. I strained to listen as it became clear the voice was singing. My god, was that John Travolta? Saaaandy, Saaaaandy, why-yi-yi-yi-yi.....Oh Sandy.... Yes, my restless night and subsequent nightmares about John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John engaging in a menage a trois with Bill Clinton while Sandy Berger furtively stuck notes from Epstein's mother down his pants are all courtesy of Sandy "Big Pants" Berger. This, folks, is why you should not read the news just before going to bed. I've read a dozen different interpetations thus far about Mr. Berger's absent mindedness (it's ok to read the news in the morning unless, of course, you plan on falling asleep at your desk. Which some people do with regularity). In all the accounts, one thing is left unclear: Did Berger stuff those notes in his pockets or, as most of the stories lead you to believe, did he actually stuff the notes down his pants? Because there's a big difference between the two. And this matters more than the argument over whether Sa-a-a-ndy was Clinton's adviser or is Kerry's adviser. When I was a young juvenile delinquent (made so by peer pressure from my cousins and not of my own doing because nothing was ever, ever my fault, you see) we often hung out a place called PlayWorld. Well, hung around outside is more like it. You know, loitering. PlayWorld was a huge toy store, much like Toys R Us, but without the talking giraffe. And without very good security. My friend Patrick liked to boast that he could steal anything from anywhere and never get caught. So we challenged him to steal a skateboard from PlayWorld. Patrick, true to his word, made his way out of the store with a skateboard stuffed down his pants. He just found the smallest skateboard he could and stuck it down the back of his right pant leg and proceeded to hobble out of the store as if he were a child gimp. Unfortunately for Patrick, his father pulled up just as he was unloading the skateboard from his pant leg. When Patrick tried to explain that he was just "umm...holding it there because umm...I didn't feel like carrying it....", the father smacked him in the head and said: Patrick, you are a liar. And not a very good one. Because no man would put a skateboard down his pants unless he was trying to hide it. Pants are not crime accessories, young man! And then he marched Patrick back into the store and we never saw our skateboard stealing friend again. You do see where I'm headed with this, right? Patrick's father had a point. Who would stuff something down their pants if they weren't attempting to steal that something? That's what pockets are for. So, obviously, the way to get to the bottom of this whole story is to determine whether or not Sandy Berger (ahhhh, there it goes again....Saaaaandy, some daaay....) actually put the notes down his pants or in his pants pocket. That will tell you whether or not the notes were taken with nefarious purposes or not. Then again, I suppose that depends on what your definition of taken is. Do you mean taken as in taken out of the building knowingly and secretively, by the stuffing of the pants, or taken as in taken out of the building accidently after absent mindedly folding up papers real small and putting them in your pockets? Ah, you see the dilemma there. Either way, it looks like Saa-aa-andy pulled a fast one. But fear not, Mr. Berger. I have a way out of this for you. It's called the Greg Brady defense. All you have to do, Sandy, is stand in front of your accusers and say "Those were not my pants. I must have gotten the mixed up with the pants of another person on the commission. Hey, have you checked Ben-Veniste yet? I bet he's wearing my pants! That bastard!" And then have Johnny Cochrane come to your aid with a measuring tape and shout "If the pants don't fit, you must acquit!" If anything, it will distract them. This just in. Pants jokes are out. No, wait. They're in. Anyhow, I'm still having a hard time getting that damn song out of my head and I suppose the more I write about this story, the harder it will be to purge my soul of John Travolta's singing, not to mention his unspeakable acts with Bill and Olivia. I wonder if Saaaaandy took notes on that one? God, I hope not. Also, may I suggest these as a nice Christmas gift for Sandy? Just in case he gets the urge to stuff his pants again. ___ Lots'o'links here.

July 19, 2004

Big Shout Out

Don't you hate that phrase? A big thank you to everyone who donated to the ASV pledge drive today. You all got personal email responses but I just wanted to do a public thank you. And a real big thank you to those who wrote to say that they couldn't donate at this time, but wanted to give me some love anyhow. Right back atcha. Paying the electrician and the oil burner repair guy hurt a little less today. And there was enough left over for the extreme size 7-11 coffee (toasted to you, Aaron). My begathons only last one day, so this is the last you'll hear about it for a while. While I'm on the subject of thank yous, thanks to everyone who linked the story in the post below. You all make me proud to be part of this blogging thing.

Important: Please Help

Blogger Mark O'Brien emailed me this morning with a link to this New York Post story about his son:
The father of a young man gunned down in front of his college buddy's Lower East Side apartment nearly two years ago has launched a Web site and upped the reward for finding his son's killer. Burke O'Brien, 25, was shot through the heart in January 2003 after he and his friend Forrest Bloede returned to Bloede's Orchard Street apartment from a night on the town. The killer or killers are still at large. Frustrated by the lack of leads in the case, the O'Brien family has upped the reward to $50,000 and launched a Web site, www.burkeobrien.org. The slain man's story will also be the subject of an episode of the controversial all-access show "NYPD 24/7." It will air tomorrow night on ABC. O'Brien's father, Mark, says it will be tough to watch, but he hopes the show will be seen by someone who knows what happened. "I want them captured," O'Brien said. "The key is more public exposure."
Please read the rest of the story. Link it on your blogs if you can. Give a link to the site Mark launched to help with the search for his son's killers. Watch the show tomorrow night. Perhaps if the word is spread, it will eventually reach somebody who knows something that will help the investigation. Mark feels more public exposure will help find the killers. Let's help him get that exposure. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Mark.


It looks like they are coming to get you, Barbara. bq. Mark September 29 on your calendar because it will mark the beginning of the end of the world.
That's the chilling news from E.T. expert Dr. Terry Johnson, who claims various conglomerations of alien races are conspiring to destroy planet Earth on that day -- with the help of a few volcanoes and earthquakes.
Johnson says an earthquake is scheduled to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, and when the "crest" of the quake happens, a giant spacecraft will slam into the fault line like a "kamikaze" fighter and start a global chain reaction that will result in the ultimate destruction of the planet. All bets are off at this point. I am not saving up for Christmas presents. I'm not going to bother getting a new fall wardrobe. Halloween decorations? Forget it. This sort of frees us up when you think about it. None of us have to think past September 29th. This opens the door for all kinds of hedonistic behavior (though I would wait until the last week of September to engage in it). You can finally do all those things you wanted to do without fear of long-term repurcussion. Run naked through the mall. Tell your boss to stick it. Take twelve items down the ten item or less line. Live a little! Let down your hair and let it all go, as you won't be around to deal with any backlash. I say a slow build up is in order. Today, you start spending all your cash on porterhouse steaks and Guinness. Tomorrow, propose to your girlfriend even though you have a terrible fear of committment. Hey, the day will never come when you actually have to get married and she might be so thrilled with your proposal that you'll get some last minute nookie. Take all the money out of your retirement fund and buy a Corvette. Race it down the street at 3am. Piss on your neighbor's lawn like you always wanted to. Run up your credit cards. Take up chain smoking and binge drinking. You've got two months to live life to the fullest before the aliens wreack havoc on our great land. Oh: bq. Some humans will be saved, and Johnson says many are already being abducted to other planets to be used as super computers.
It sounds hopeless, but he says hundreds of human abductees are working as a resistance force by learning to fly UFOs. Viva le resistance! Maybe we should temper our near-death experience partying. Wouldn't want to be standing naked on top of the bleachers at Yankee Stadium throwing hundred dollar bills culled from your life's savings at total strangers when you get word that earth will be saved. Could be embarassing. At any rate, mark the date, set tin foil hats to stun and wait for Will Smith or Bruce Willis to lead us to safety. That's the way these things usually work. [link via Fark, of course]

The Time Has Come

I haven't done this in a long time and the situation sort of warrants it now. Without getting into much detail, I'll just go ahead and say the dreaded words. It's pledge drive time at A Small Victory. If you've enjoyed my work here and can afford to drop a buck or two in my PayPal account as sort of a thank you, I'd appreciate it. I'm not looking to make a living off of blogging, because it really will never happen. I'm not looking for anyone to pay my hosting fees because they are gratis. I'm just letting you know that I would not be averse to anyone contributing to my shrinking bank account by donating a few bucks. Whenever I do one of these pledge drives, I feel the need to defend myself. I'll just say this time that with the amount of work I put into the site, I consider it a job. My main source of income from this job is ads (which are not always in abunance) and donations. No one holds a gun to my head to make me do this, and no one is holding said gun to your head to make you donate. You either do or you don't and if you do, I thank you. If you don't, I thank you anyhow for reading ASV every day. Without you, there's really no blog. I can plead that it's for the children, or tell you of my home repair woes thanks to the idiot who previously owned this house, or I could tell you a million reasons why I'm short on cash and spending less time at the blog and more time trying to put a book together or get some freelance writing work, but umm...yea, IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN! That always seems to work. So this ends my lame pledge drive announcement/pleading. The PayPal button is over to the left, should you be looking for it. For some reason I can't get the image to appear in the post.

Appeasement 101

The report comes from the Philippines Daily Tribune via Michelle Malkin. bq. A ransom of $6 million was offered and paid out to the Iraqi rebels holding Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz hostage, to ensure his release before President Arroyo’s scheduled State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 26, a high level Philippine intelligence officer told the Tribune yesterday. The reaction of the Philippines government to the kidnapping has set off other terrorists: bq. TAKING advantage of the government’s changed stance against terrorism, the New People’s Army said it would not release the soldiers it captured until the government suspends all military and police operations in the Bicol region. Isn't that a great precedent? For those of us who maintain that appeasement and caving in to terrorism will just embolden the terrorists, this is the proof in the pudding. I imagine that if some of the anti-war people got their wish that we pull out of Iraq now, we'd see a lot more demands like this. Is the United States one of just a few countries left who will just say no to terrorism? Speaking of standing tall in the face of terror: bq. The Council on Foreign Relations is hosting a task force on Iran that calls for the US to engage Iran - which is Washington speak for 'make a deal'. Your voice is needed to demonstrate just how dangerous this is for America and for Iran. Please send a fax or email to the Council (in English if possible) letting them know that to "engage Iran" will mean complicity in the torture, repression and murder of an entire people -- while also allowing Iran to shelter al Qaeda terrorists and extremists bent on using nuclear weapons. There will be a demonstration this morning at the Washington Club (Dupont Circle). We must stand with those who fight against regimes that support terrorism. And we must take a stand against those who capitulate.

Hot Topic: Response to Comments on the Amy Richards Story

I'm not too thrilled about starting off a Monday morning blogging about abortion, but in light of some of the comments on this post, I think it's in order.

A few commenters took issue with the fact that people who define themselves as pro-choice were distressed over the story of Amy Richards, who underwent "selective reduction" to kill two of her unborn triplets as a matter of convenience.

Pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. There are so many mitigating factors that lie within my stance on abortion that I honestly don't know what to call myself anymore.

The issue of abortion is something I've struggled with for a long time. I've gone back and forth, hanging out on both sides of the fence. Yet for all my fence jumping, I always end up back in the middle, still fighting myself to define my views either way.

On a personal level, I think abortion is a terrible thing and not something I would choose for myself. I think too many people use abortion as a form of after-the-fact birth control.

My views have been colored somewhat by my life. Perhaps one, back in high school, I had a hardline pro-choice stance. Women's body, etc., etc.

I had a friend who had two abortions before she graduated high school (we'll call her T.) When she called me from college to ask if I would drive her to have yet another abortion (and admitting that she had a third at the beginning of the semester, so this would make it her fourth), I lectured her on personal responsibility, hung up on her and never spoke to her again.

My hardline stance wavered. While I still thought women had a right to make choices about their own bodies, I wondered what kind of door that opened. When you end up with people like T., who had four abortions by the age of 19, that's not a door I would care to look into.

Then there was the issue of life. When does it begin? Conception? A certain date marker? When the brain was fully formed? At birth? No matter who you talked to, you would hear a different explanation.

At some point I thought, well why do I have to make a stance either way? I don't have to have a clearly defined stand on every issue.

In 1989, I became pregnant with my first child. I had problems during the first three months and it was touch and go for a bit. As I sat at home following every doctor's instruction carefully - feet up, plenty of rest, no heavy lifting - I thought of T. Here I was struggling to hold this baby inside me when T. willingly had four babies expelled from her.

Babies. There, I said it. I called my fetus a baby.

A few years later, I was pregnant again. I found out pretty early, just two weeks in. I took my maternity clothes out of the attic. I started eating healthier. Took my pre-natal vitamins. I thought about names and imagined what Nat would be like as an older sister.

Six weeks in I had a miscarriage. It was devastating. In my eyes, that bundle inside me was a baby. Not a fetus, not a thing. Yet the attitude of some of my family was astounding. It was only six weeks. It wasn't even a baby yet. It was just a thing. What are you so upset about, it was only blood and tissue? Even my then husband joined the chorus of people who thought I should just grin and bear it.

Again, my stand on abortion changed further. It was obvious that I could no longer distinguish between fetus and baby, which is pretty important to a pro-choice person.

So what was I? Damned if I know. Damned if I know now. But I know what I am not. I am not a person who believes that any abortion, any time should be legal. I do not believe in abortion as a means of birth control. I believe in personal responsibility and responsibility to the life you make.

Perhaps my ideals are also colored by the fact that I know so many people, my sister among them, who cannot have children of their own. I see a young girl walking into a clinic and it makes me want to cry. Why not have the baby and give it up for adoption? There are so many families out there who would take that beautiful baby from you. But who am I to tell this girl to go ahead and carry the baby around for nine months? Then again, perhaps she should have thought about that before having unprotected sex.

But I have issues that force me to fence sit. I think a 16 year old who was raped should be able to choose to not have the rapist's baby. And I readily admit that flies in the face of my "life begins at conception" idea that all fetuses are children. But I also can't imagine forcing a young girl to endure carrying around the baby of the man who violently forced himself on her for nine months and delivering that child to the world.

I believe that when a mother's health is in grave danger, she should be allowed to abort. I can't imagine that one would choose the life of an unborn baby over the life of a women with a family, maybe a husband and other kids who she would leave behind.

I think late trimester abortions are reprehensible. At some point, you have to acknowledge that there is a baby, not a fetus, living inside you. Moving hands and feet, strong heartbeat, maybe even a little thumb sucking. I can't understand how even the most strident pro-choice backers can't acknowledge that a fetus at that stage in the game is a viable, living, breathing person.

I contradict myself at every turn on this issue. I can't reconcile one thought with another. It's a very complicated, oft times confusing manner.

I know abortion would never be the right choice for me. I'm just not sure if I have the right to tell you what do if you are in a situation that calls for a choice.

As for the topic of last night, I call BS on those who think that just because someone is pro-choice, they have no right to be horrified at the choice Amy Richards made. While abortion is never a 100% good choice, I think there's a vast difference between, say, someone who didn't intend to get pregnant (think broken condom) and is agonizing over their decision and someone who willfully went off the pill and cavalierly discarded two of three babies when a multiple pregnancy ensued. It's her attitude that kills me. It's the fact that she sold this story to the New York Times and that the NYT saw it fit to print. Amy Richards is no different than my old friend T., who probably had a frequent visitor's discount card for the clinic. I find them both reprehensible for different, yet similar reasons.

And as for the people who think that I've had this attitude that abortion was just fine and dandy right up until I read the NYT article, you couldn't be more wrong. Just because you have clearly defined lines on an issue does not mean people who don't see those lines are engaging in some kind of false emotion for dancing between them.

I see that writing this out has not only not clarified the issue for me, but has further confused me.

I know there are many people who are sitting here in the middle with me, unsure of which side they fall on. Perhaps we are being dishonest by calling ourselves pro-choice, just as our detractors are being dishonest by calling us pro-death.

So if I'm not completely pro-choice, and I'm not entirely pro-life (which is also a dishonest term), then what am I? And why do I feel the need to define who or what I am on this issue?

Damned if I know.

[I'm going to take a risk here and leave comments open on this post. But be forewarned, if the comments derail into any kind of fire and brimstone finger pointing or righteous name calling I will close them. If you have something to add to the topic, that's great. Please do not preach. That goes for both sides of the fence.]

July 18, 2004

Expendable Children

If you already read this, please read the updates below I thought I'd seen everything. I thought I was jaded and nothing I would read would surprise me anymore. Guess not. Via Michelle Malkin and Allah, I just read this story in the New York Times about a woman, Amy Richards, who got pregnant, found out she was having triplets and nonchalantly decided to abort two of them because: bq. I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it. This is a professional, secure woman with a long term boyfriend who willingly went off the pill. bq. My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to? I was not married. That didn't seem to phase her when she went off the pill knowing full well that she could get pregnant. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to? What a self absorbed woman she is. She has three babies living inside her. She was able to hear all three heartbeats. When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Psychologically comforting or perhaps a little bit of justification? Well, the "stand alone" came first so it's only fair that we let him live and kill off his siblings. Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can't believe we're about to make two disappear. And they were going to make those heartbeats disappear because this woman didn't want to become the archetypical suburban mom, shopping at Costco and living out of the city. On the subway, Peter asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' So, hey. Why not just give up the life of two of them? You've got three, some are expendable, right? I'm pro-choice and this is completely revolting to me. When you become a mother, you give up your life whether you have one, three or five children at a time. Motherhood is a selfless thing. Your life belongs to your child. Or children. Is one child better than three because you'll have to buy less mayonnaise? My sister cannot have children of her own. She went through hell to get the child she has now, my beautiful nephew. Reading stories like the one above leave me seething. How many women out there are struggling to conceive and this woman just throws two babies away because she doesn't want to change her lifestyle? My friend Debbie has triplets. Two beautiful girls and a gorgeous boy. Debbie works, goes out with friends and does not buy mayonnaise in bulk. But her life does belong to those kids and she wouldn't have it any other way. Because she had to undergo years of fertility treatments and experience several miscarriages before she gave birth to her children. And here's someone who just willingly gave up two babies because she's a selfish prig. Could she not have made the choice to give the twins up for adoption? Or perhaps she didn't want the inconvenience of doctor's ordered bed rest getting in the way of her lifestyle. Perfectly good reason to abort, right? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don't know. Please, Miss Richards, do me a favor. Don't breed again. Don't take the chance that there will be two more babies you'll discard because you don't have the time nor the inclination to care for them. Please don't slap every infertile couple in the face by flaunting the fact that you think those heartbeats were expendable. Why Amy Richards decided to tell her story to the New York Times is beyond me. Why the New York Times saw fit to print this awful tale of selfishness, I don't know. Richards should be ashamed of the choice she made. She knowingly took the chance of getting pregnant and then bailed out when it looked like she bit off more than she can chew. I wonder if some day she'll tell her son that he had two siblings but she killed them because she was afraid of becoming a soccer mom? This story left me literally crying. The heartlessness of Amy Richards, and the obvious fact that she doesn't see anything wrong with her decision and the NYT telling this story to the world is really a sad, sad comment on today's society. Listen, I know people do things like this all the time. And I know that sometimes people have to choose options like this for medical reasons. But the fact that Richards decided to tell the world her story as if she's making some kind of statement is just appalling. I pity Amy Richards. I hope at some point in her life she looks back on what she did and the way in which she did it and she feels some sense of remorse. But I doubt that will happen. [Check Michelle's trackbacks for more blogger reaction to this story] Update: There's some speculation that this may be a hoax or satire, based on some people speculating that the Amy Richards in the article is this Amy Richards (based on the articles Ms. Richards "I lecture at colleges" statement - it seems that's what the former editor of Ms. Amy Richards does also. She also lives in New York City). If so, the New York Times has sunk to a new low. They either willingly played along or were taken for a ride by not fact checking. Honestly, I hope it is a hoax. That would be the lesser evil of the two. Update Two: This is not a satire: Allah did some digging around and discovered that the Amy Richards in question is, indeed, uber feminist Amy Richards. He notes this paragraph by Amy's feminista sidekick Jennifer Baumgarten in the Nation: bq. If abortion were connected to actual women--people like my friend Amy Richards, who had an abortion at 18 and a selective reduction last year when she found she was pregnant with triplets, or Nancy Flynn, who was a single mom finishing her BA at Cornell when she had an abortion and who told me she would "never have been able to have the rich life I've had and help my son as much as I have if I'd been the single mother of two children"--perhaps the mounting restrictions wouldn't pass so handily. So there you have it. This Amy Richards is that Amy Richards and hers is a true story. Sad, but true. And maybe she likes to call it selective reduction because it makes it sound oh so clinical and detached. I call it selective abortion. Let's call a spade a spade, Amy. No wonder Amy didn't want to live the soccer mom lifestyle. It would have killed her feminist credentials.

Comic Stripping

We've been quite busy around here, hence the light posting. Yesterday was a blur of garage sales (where Justin picked up a light box for ten dollars!), lawn care, plumbing problems, bulk shopping (no chicken broth this time), cell phone shopping for the kids, dinner, clean up and finally, a relaxing end to the day by falling asleep while playing my favorite 2D video game.

Today being Sunday and, ideally, a day of rest, I thought I'd get our day started right by getting bagels (to go with the five pounds of cream cheese we bought yesterday) and the newspaper. I opted for Newsday, knowing I'd just skip over the opinion pieces and go right to the Sunday comics.

Honestly, one of the reasons I bought the paper (which I very rarely do) is because I noticed a lot of hits the past few days - and quite a few emails regarding - this piece I did on newspaper comics last year.

You smell a repeat coming on, don't you? Well, you're right, but in a minute.

Some of the emails I got on the subject asked the same question: Do I still believe that newspaper comics suck?

Why, yes, I do.

The main problem with newspaper strips is that so many of them rely on jokes that have been told time and time again. Bigwig brough this up last month, specifically dealing with Andy Capp.

Below I posted the entry I wrote last November about comic strips. There's a few questions at the end for you.

[This is what's known as lazy Sunday blogging a/k/a Keep Away From Politics Sunday]

the demise of newspaper comics, or Dagwood beats the crap out of Billy

I haven't bought a newspaper since September of 2001, and then it was only to clip articles about someone I knew. I read the paper online now; I get all the news I need that way and I don't have to wade through ads or ridiculous filler articles about stars getting married/divorced/pregnant/arrested.

I had a method of reading the paper back when I actually had it (Newsday) delivered to my home. I would read the entire sports section, flip the paper over, skim through the news, head for the editorials and then sit back and relish the real treat. Ah, the comics section.

Remember when the comics section brought daily delights? At its heyday, you could get Calvin and Hobbes, Far Side and Bloom County in one sitting. Everything else was just extraneous. [note: I refuse to date myself here and write about anything else before then. I did that already, anyhow]

You really don't have to pick up a paper today to know what's happening on the comics page. In fact, I will boldly predict what today's full-paneled, full-colored strips will bring: Cathy goes on a diet! Garfield eats Lasagna! Jeffy says something precious! Dagwood makes a sandwich and/or takes a nap!

Where's the fresh jokes? Where is the satirical commentary on modern life? Is life in comic strips really that predictable? I long for the days of Spaceman Spiff, talking cows and my favorite penguin. Yes, I know the penguin is back. It's just not the same anymore.

I imagine a world where all current comic strip characters live. Their daily lives are much like the lives they play out in the newspaper each day. Here comes Billy, running zig-zag through the neighborhood just to fetch his dad the paper, which was right on his front step all along! Ah, but next door neighbor Dagwood has had quite enough of this nonsense and runs after Billy, knocks him down and beats him with a Subway 12 incher. Cathy comes running out of her house to see what's going on and as Dagwood is mercilessly rubbing Billy's face in the dirt, Cathy gives in to her cravings and eats the Subway sandwich that Dagwood dropped. Uh, oh! Here comes the mom from For Better or Worse And they would all be entertained with a fantastic donut eating contest between Garfield and Cathy, and later on Momma will find Cathy puking her guts out and she'll realize what the rest of the world figured out long ago; Cathy has an eating disorder, most likely brought on by stress from dealing with both her overbearing mother and her passive aggressive boyfriend.

Of course, if I drew that comic land one day, it would end badly. I suppose some giant, drooling alien who goes by the name of Calvin and looks somewhat like a dinosaur would eventually stomp through town, crushing every last cliched character to death. Free at last. Ding Dong, Ziggy and his animals are dead.

I long for the days when comics weren't so treacly and warm and fuzzy. I don't want to see Grandpa's spirit hanging over Jeffy's shoulder, making sure he doesn't get hurt. If I wanted something like that, I would just start a Precious Moments collection. I want to see more strips where moms tell their sons to go play chicken with a train. I want to see more surreal silliness.

One can only live so long on a steady diet of shopping and lasagna before they give up and close the paper. Sure, there are still a few comics I find interesting, but I can just click and read and not have to open the paper funny page to find Dick Tracy still staring up at me as if he was still relevant.

In my comic world, Dick Tracy would be retired by now, living in a one bedroom apartment where he spends his day cursing at Matlock on the television while resting another can of Miller Lite on his beer belly. Every once in a while, Brenda Starr would stop over for a visit, but things would always turn ugly when Dick reminds Brenda that she hasn't aged well at all.

Not many of them have aged well, actually. And the ones that did packed up and left the neighborhood a long time ago. Guess you gotta know when to fold 'em.


The questions:

Do you read newspaper comic strips on a daily basis? Which ones are your favorites? Are there strips you just stopped reading because either the storyline was going nowhere or they became repetitive? Are newspaper strips a dying commodity?

Feel free to add whatever to the debate. Or nothing.

July 17, 2004


Free Martha!

Elton John's Alternate Reality

Sir Elton John, reflecting on the shortage of successful pop songs condemning the invasion of Iraq, tells Interview magazine: "There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious. They're all too scared… Things have changed. I don't know if there's been a time when the fear factor has played such an important role in America since McCarthyism in the 1950s as it does right now."
Allow me. F911 Ignites Box Office Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1 Celebrities Lash Out Against Bush Coalition of Celebrities Against Bush Celebrities Work with MoveOn.org Russell Simmons Unites Anti-War Stars Celebrities Challenge Bush Howard Stern Lambasts Bush Morrisey Slams Bush American Stars Slam Bush My god, can you feel the chill wind of fear blowing? The crushing of dissent, the blacklisting of celebrities....it's so frightening! It's a police state, I tell you! Anti-Bush movie stars, directors, producers and musicians are cowering in fear! The silence is damning. Has no one a bad word to say about the president or is everyone being stifled? Elton, please spread the word quickly. But be careful, or the black helicopters will come for you! Don't forget your tin foil sunglasses!

July 16, 2004

Got Game

Just wanted to thank everyone for their game suggestions yesterday. On the basis of your reccomendations, I bought Beyond Good and Evil. I suppose I'll be busy the rest of the night. Oh, also got a very cool thing. See, I've been lamenting that Nintendo hasn't re-released the old Mario games for the Game Cube like they did with Zelda and Sonic. So, for I bought an attachment that lets you play GBA games on the GC, and then picked up the Classic NES Super Mario Brothers for GBA. Now, I am a happy camper.

Just saying (blogging crap dept.)

When you title a post Denigrating the Overblog, and then have a contest where your readers pick the most overrated blogs and snipe about them, you really shouldn't act all surprised when it devolves into a personal attack hatefest. Really. People who think the blogosphere is nothing more than a high school clique of over opinionated assholes need only to look at that contest and see the comments denigrating the work of other bloggers to prove their point. And this has nothing to do with me. Personally, I don't really care if you think I'm overrated. Sometimes *I* think I'm overrated. But the level of insults hurled at some bloggers (not the blogs - the bloggers themselves) is really disgusting. Pissing contests always seem like fun until the piss ends up on your clothes. You know? I'd watch my pants if I were you.

if news was told through movie quotes

A hospital? What is it? It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now. I can't be the only person to have thought of that.

On A Plane

As much as I see fear at every turn these days, I still remain - mostly - the cynic and skeptical person I've always been. This is the story of Annie Jacobsen, who saw supsicious activity on a flight and was distressed at how the incident was handled. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do. It's long, but it's thought provoking in many ways. My first reaction was to call BS. There were too many holes, too much detail, and it came off like a bit of creative writing. Some of the passages seem too far fetched to be real. Some read like they were taken out of a cheap novel. However, most of the blogosphere is taking the author at her word. Michelle Malkin has more on the claims (and on people's skepticism) here and here. Over at Red State, MartiniPundit is calling the whole thing a hoax. And over at Jessica's Well, they are asking what you would do in a situation like that, or more specifically, if a plane was taken over by terrorists. I don't know what to think. Racial and ethnic profiling makes me uncomfortable. I have too many Arab neighbors to start thinking that every Arab I see is a potential terrorist. Are people, given the abundance of threats hitting the airwaves these days, seeing things that aren't there? Are they looking too hard to find something suspicious in people who fit a certain profile? I suppose I should be honest and say the main reason I don't believe this story is because I don't want to believe it. I don't want to think that our national security is at risk because people's suspicions aren't taken seriously or because we have a quota on how many people of a certain nationality we can give the once over. Which all flies directly in the face of my stance against ethnic profiling, I know. Maybe I'm just subconciously denying that Annie's story is real and these men were terrorists because I really don't need another thing to worry about right now. I'm oversaturated with fear at the moment, thank you. If these passengers were indeed doing a dry run for an attack, we're in deep shit. But suppose they were just some guys in a band, all traveling together. Then suppose the passengers got agitated enough to confront them, or the pilot took Annie's supsicions seriously and immediately landed the plane and escorted the men off the flight. If they are innocent of any wrongdoing, we've got egg on our face and we're accused of being some kind of racists police state. If this story is real and these men were what Annie thought they were, it's a frightening story, indeed. Enough to make me start doing that nervous twitch everytime a plane flies a bit too low over my house. I thought I got rid of that twitch. The more I write about it (as I'm reading other bloggers' reactions to the story while I compose this), the more I think, why not? They keep saying they're going to do something, why would I think this story is not true? Again, I don't want it to be true. The implications are not something I can let my brain chew on right now. Head, meet sand. But what if? What if they were making a dry run? You can't really protect the country by dealing in what ifs. So what's the solution? Or is there one? And what do you make of this story? Update: Where I see fear, Scott sees optimism. Good on him.

signs of life

I hate summer. I hate the heat, I hate the long days, I hate the humidity and I hate having to turn the air conditioner on. The days and weeks seem to drag on. Three months feels like a lifetime. So I'm always looking for signs that remind fall is not far off. I'm probably the only person who doesn't mind seeing backpacks and school supplies in the aisles in Target lined up next to the pool supplies. Today, I saw my favorite tell tale sign that summer is not endless, no matter how much it may feel that way. As I drove past Hofstra University on my way to work this morning, I was greeted by a huge green banner hanging on the fence. New York Jets training camp. Opening in less than two weeks. It feels ten degrees cooler already.

panicking in bulk

When I wasn't having the usual nightmares last night, my husband was keeping me awake by talking in his sleep. He played Resident Evil for a few hours last night, so I imagine that's where some of his more bizarre lines came from. I dreamed that I was on an operating table. There were people all around me, none of them doctors, all of them holding sharp instruments. They were going to dissect me. When the first person laid the sharp edge of a razor blade on my stomach, I didn't even flinch. I saw the thin line of blood emerge, and then another person ran his fingers down the line, spreading the slice open. Yet another person, this one a female, used gloved hands to pull the skin of my stomach apart, revealing several cans of Snack pack chocolate pudding, a few spoons and a jar of pickles. Inside my stomach. Yes, those individual chocolate puddings used to come in small, flip-top cans. I remember this vividly because my sister once sliced her tongue open when she tried to lick the cover she had just pulled off. I suppose the dream has something to do with my post from yesterday when I wrote about hoarding food under my bed as a child. I also spent a good portion of the day yesterday looking up suggestions for bug-out boxes and contemplating a trip to Price Club. I figure if I want to stock up on all the necessities needed in case of nuclear winter or a zombie invasion, I'lll need to empty make some kind of underground bunker the length and width of my backyard to store all the stuff safely. I've been wondering why I'm such a hoarder. Is it just a genetic defect or did something from my childhood (stories about the depression from my grandmother, perhaps?) send me into a lifelong panic mode? Ah, look. I already wrote something about my penchant for bulk buying and the purchase of unecessary items in large quantities. Which is a good thing, as I need to leave for work now. [the rest of this post is a repeat from early 2002, but it might server as further psychological evidence that I lived through some kind of great disaster in a past life. Or didn't live through it, more likely. Maybe I was a member of the Donner party and I don't want to have to go through another episode of cannibalism] so, does anyone else collect chicken broth? I have a shopping problem. I like to buy in bulk. It's not even one of those Costco/Price Club bulk binge problems. Because I don't buy the bulk all at once. I just collect items until they become bulk quantity. I've been this way since I was little. I was a hoarder. I would take canned goods, candy bars, those little boxes of cereal and put them under my bed. I once packed a suitcase full of silverware, napkins, canned fruit and, of course, a can opener. I hid it in my closet, sure that one night a hurricane or earthquake or tidal wave or alien invasion would necessitate my having a suitcase full of sliced peaches ready to go. I was always prepared for the worst, ready to stave off starvation by just reaching under my bed. Eventually my mother realized what I was doing and took all my supplies back, muttering something about therapy. This quirk persisted into high school and beyond, when I would buy pot in mass quantities and store it away in my nightstand in case there was a nuclear war and I was the last one standing and needed to spend the rest of my lonely days in a hazy oblivion. Eventually my pack rat sensibilities crossed over into other areas. I saved months worth of Creem magazines to read when I was under quarrantine when the inevitable plague arrived. I bought loose leaf paper by the box, sure that I would need it all to write down my memoirs when I was the sole surivor of an asteroid disaster. At some point, I was able to keep my hoarding impulses under control and I stopped collecting things for future disasters. You can never keep a good quirk down. A few months ago, I went into the pantry to get hot cups. I stared at the shelves in horror. When did the uncontrollable urge to buy uneeded items in bulk strike me again? I didn't even realize it had started up. But there lining the shelves was the evidence. 6 packages of hot cups. 4 packs of styrofoam bowls, 100 to a pack. Enough paper plates to take down the entire rainforest. I walked around the house in a daze, opening cabinets and drawers and cupboards. 4 Economy sized boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups. 12 - yes 12 - cans of coffee. 5 lbs of butter in the freezer. 7 boxes of Success white rice. And somewhere along the line, I must have developed a chicken broth fetish without realizing it. Justin took out the calculator and did a quick survey. All together, in a myriad of cans and those stay-fresh-forever boxes, was 293.5 ounces of chicken broth. The sad thing is, the compulsion to overbuy doesn't end with food. I have 3 100 count boxes of CD-Rs in my closet. 6 packs of blue Sharpies. 10 marble notebooks. And tampons. I could plug up the Mississippi River with the amount of tampons I have. Am I subconciously getting ready for a nuclear winter? Am I preparing once again to be the last person standing on earth? Or do I just have really bad buying habits? Gotta go. ShopRite is having a sale on plastic forks.

July 15, 2004


I can't believe I forgot to blog this. One of my favorite Photoshoppers, reader Kieran, made this a few days ago. No comment necessary, really. [click for bigger] Thanks, Kieran. I needed that.

The Brief Return of the Radio

ASV Radio is back, for one night only. At least for now. {radio is below in the post] These are just a couple of songs that are on repeat on my playlist this week. (If the whole radio frame isn't loading up for you, just click on the top song to start playing) The first song is one of those songs that takes getting used to. Give it a shot. Hayden, if you've never heard of him (Hayden Desser), he's a Canadian musician that's been around a long time. There's something about his lyrics and voice together that make you feel like you're sitting in a dirty bar drinking a stale beer and crying to every song that comes on the jukebox. At two in the afternoon. Brand New is a band out of Long Island. Every kid you talk to around here claims to know them. This song - I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light - is a favorite of mine. Most of you have probably heard the Dashboard Confessional song as its on the Spiderman 2 soundtrack and getting a lot of play. I love the lyrics, the guy really has a way with the pen. The Killers song is, well, killer. They lyrics are kind of silly, but the song makes me want to roll the windows down in the car and sing. And that's your entertainment for the evening. Give a thumbs up or down on the songs if you wish.

here and there

Yesterday, the DNC slapped "every woman in America" in the face by not inviting Hillary to speak at the convention. Today, they try to rectify that. By asking her to introduce her husband. I don't know about Hill, but in my book that just makes it worse. _____ Anyone who makes their election choice via Ozzy Osbourne deserves exactly what they get. Hey, nice job raising those kids, Oz. I'm sure Kerry's thrilled to have you and your Bushitler musings on board his family values wagon. ____ Mike has a great recap of all the latest news, complete with a handy dandy chart that details how all this news troubles the left. ____ Allah's best work. _____ While Josh Marshall still evades the truth, Glenn Reynolds has turned his gloatron up to 11, and rightfully so. ____ Added: Announcement: Jay and Jane of Classless Warfare are no more. Jay is now flying solo, over at Mr. Blonde's Garage.

today's burning question

Quick, what's your favorite game to play online? (I'm making an ASV portal and this will be one of several categories I'll ask for your help with) Update: Links would be really helpful, guys.

What does imminent mean, anyhow?

Yes, thank you. I've received about forty emails with this link about Italy blowing up any minute now. You people are not really helping my Nervous Nelly status, you know. Doesn't anyone ever send out links to furry bunny rabbits and rainbows and frolicking children? I used to get emails about cool online games or pictures of really fat cats or hell, I'd even take a chain letter about the man with the knife hiding in the back seat of my car right now. Part of me believes everything I read about imminent terrorism and part of me believes nothing. Right now, they are in a knock-down, drag-out fight over who gets control of my brain. Do I take all these threats seriously or do I laugh them off and continue working as if the world is just a place filled with peace, love and flowers? Hey, did you know the bin Laden ultimatum against Europe expires today? That Jack Daniels is looking mighty good right now.

Who's Got Game?

I've got a couple of Best Buy gift cards burning a hole in my pocket and I'm in the market for some new video games. What are you all playing right now? Any good suggestions? We've got a Game Cube and a PS2 and my control fingers are itching for something good. I'd especially like to hear a report from anyone who's played Viewtiful Joe, as I'm thinking of getting that title. [Update: We have Tony Hawk Underground. And I don't do sports games. I'll play mostly anything else; RPGs, first person shooters, racing games, anything in the Mario line, etc. But I SUCK at sports games.] By the way, this is the first (PC) first person shooter I ever played. It rocked.

they're coming to get you, barbara......*

This is how my morning writing goes: I have no idea what I'm going to write about until I check my mail, look at the news sites and take a short trip through my favorite blogs, starting with Lileks. Usually by that point, some idea has inched its way into my brain and the cogs, greased up by caffeine, slowly begin their turn. I fine tune the idea in the shower and by 6am or so, I'm ready to write.

Some days, like today, there's an idea that comes ahead of time. I knew when I went to bed last night that I was going to write something about New York City in August and how my mother calls me every day to beg me to change my mind about going to the convention. I don't know if she's worried about protesters or a terrorist attack, but I have a feeling it's a combination of both.

There were several links in my email this morning - plus some that were hanging around in my "blog this soon" checklist" that sort of changed the course of this morning's topic.

Is the deployment surge just an exercise?
Intelligence briefing on Al Qaeda threat
The coming strike on America
Al Qaeda has nukes inside the U.S.
(the last three from Allah)
Wild in the streets - and follow up

So a few of those links are suspect. But it's not like I wasn't thinking those things anyhow.

Let's face it, I'm a what my mother calls a Nervous Nelly. My nervousness has just been more pronounced since 9/11. I'm also - again, my mother's phrasing - a Worry Wart. So let's just say the above links don't make me feel any better about the near future.

Like Likeks, I have a bug-out box. It's not as comprehensive as his; it just contains some basic medical supplies, a small radio, a flashlight and batteries. If I actually put together a box of the things I need In Case of Emergency, it would be too big to lug around. I'm a pack rat, even when it comes to emergency supplies.

When I was a small child, I used to hide canned foods under my bed, just in case the Russians came or aliens landed. I'd at least be able to eat some cold beans and corn while I waited to die. Dying at the hands of the commies would certainly be better than starving to death, no?

Reading through the links about nukes, I realize the futility of packing emergency supplies. But what if it's not nukes, but some other nefarious scheme by terrorists? What if we all have to evacuate? Lileks is headed for Fargo. I'm headed for....death.

I live on an island. What was the first course of action when those planes hit the towers? They closed the bridges and tunnels. Nobody in, nobody out of New York City. I imagine they would do the same thing should another attack occur. There is nowhere for me to go, unless I buy a boat just In Case of Emergency. Then we can set sail for Connecticut or Jersey. Yea, that's where I want to die.

Oh, it's not just terrorism. There's meteor crashes, tidal waves, earthquakes and asteroids. All those things the typical suburbanite worries about. No? It's just us Nervous Nellies.

We're an odd bunch, we paranoid worriers. We have an innate Spidey sense. We're known to say things like something's not right, I can feel it in the air. But I wonder if 9/11 sharpened our Spidey sense or if it made it go haywire. Because it seems to go off a lot these days. I spend whole afternoons and long, sleepless nights trying to get my tingling nerves to calm down.

My mother calls last night.

Are you still going?
Yes mom. I'm going.
I wish you would just stay home.
I know. But when have I ever done anything you wanted me to?

She sighs. It's the same conversation we have every day.

There's going to be trouble there.
Well, that's part of the reason I'm going, mom. I want to cover whatever trouble breaks out.
You'll get hurt. You might get killed.
They're protesters, mom. Not terrorists

As I hang up my Spidey sense goes off. No, not terrorists, but activists. Fear not, they are just activists. I mean, when have you ever seen activists turn violent or cause mayhem? Right?

Despite all my worrying about impending nuclear war, tsunamis, alien invasions, bloody riots, Armageddon and terrorism, I keep a certain phrase on repeat in my head: There's nothing I can do about it. I'm not Superman; I can't turn back a tidal wave with the flick of my wrist. I can't deflect a nuclear warhead into the far reaches of outer space. So I go about my life. I just tend to look over my shoulder a lot. I prepare in the small ways I can. Flashlights, batteries, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a few Xanax, for that In Case of Emergency, Pass Out and Sleep Through Armageddon way of dealing with things. Yea, I know that part isn't in the handbook, but I don't like the handbook.

I suppose there are a thousand handbooks out there, one for every type of paranoia. Some call for duct tape and plastic sheeting. Some call for you to make a cardboard sign, stand on the corner and tell people to repent. We each deal with the specter of the end in our own way.

Ready New York supplies their own list. They call it a Go Bag. I call it a False Hope bag. Where the thoughts of my paranoia lead, no one is going to need an ATM card or comfortable shoes. You'll either be annihilated in less time than it takes to notice the sudden flash in the sky, or you'll be throwing bricks through windows of liquor stores, as everyone takes my advice to welcome the age of no vegetation, poisoned waters and glow-in-the-dark skin in a drunken stupor. Sure, maybe you can plot the fastest route to an unaffected, rural community that was spared the reaches of the blast or the aliens or the earthquake, but I've got nowhere to go. The bridges and tunnels are closed and I never did buy that boat.

And this is why I'm not so worried about the activists, at least on a personal level. Whatever havoc they create, whatever mayhem ensues, I have the ability to stay away from it. I can choose to stay inside MSG and cover the more mundane aspects of the convention. I can watch the bloody festivities from Faith's apartment, where I'll be staying. There are things I actually can do something about, and this is one of them. You guys go ahead and have your fun. Throw your marbles, or whatever you anarchists are planning. You go right ahead and bait the police into turning the tear gas on you. I've made the decision to avoid you and your puppet shows. I've got better things to worry about then getting hit on the head with a brick meant for Starbucks.

There's freak weather, hijacked planes, invisible gasses, plagues, zombies and aliens who do not die when splashed with water do worry about. I've got cans of beans to stock up on and bug-out boxes to pack. I think you should drop what you're doing and follow me. This Jack Daniels ain't going to drink itself, you know.

Underneath this cool exterior, where I joke about zombies and tsunamis, lies a very troubled Nervous Nelly. But I can't do anything about those things that worry me most, so I just trust that the people who can do something about it do it to the best of their ability. That may not be enough, of course. Sometimes the unexpected happens. And then you just look to the sky and think about repenting. I'll be damned if I'm going to go out at the hands of some wannabe hippie who smashes my head instead of smashing the state. But if a chain of events should occur that has that scenario playing out, my last words will be, 1968. I told you so.

I guess I'll call my mother and tell her I promise to stay inside the whole time I'm there. She's one of those Nervous Nelly types.

And I totally forgot what the topic I wanted to write about was.



July 14, 2004

Not Fair, Not Balanced, and Biased as Hell

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Call off the dawgs

Never underestimate the power of the blogosphere, especially if contained in that power is a pony-tailed man in a suit. The problem of Chief Wiggles has been resolved.

Slap Happy

Hillary didn't get an invitation to the party. Let the pouting begin.
"It's a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America," said Judith Hope, a major party fund-raiser.
Every woman in America. Every. I've just been slapped in the face! Ow, that hurt! I'm not quite sure why I should have to feel the righteous indignation of a thousand screeching Hillary fans, but that handprint on my cheek isn't fading and I suppose I better do something about it. FAD suggests running naked through the streets in protest. But in the "give an inch, they take a mile" spirit, I'm afraid to bare my ass, as they might slap that as well. Who knows, maybe they won't let Nancy Pelosi speak. Or Patty Murray. Then I'll be slapped all over again and sorry, my ass only gets slapped by certain people. So no naked protesting. Instead, I'm going to open my office window and scream as loud as I can "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Maybe it will catch on and before you know it, there will thousands, no millions of women opening up their windows and screaming in that shrill, high-decibel Hillary voice. It will be a movement. A call to action. We'll all put red marks on our faces and wear pins that say "When you slap Hillary, you slap me!" Errr...can someone else go ahead and get this started? I have to ummm....wash my hair. Go ahead, I'll catch up.

DNC Cred Update

Just heard from the DNCC - they've changed our perimiter credentials to hall credentials. Yet they still had no room for Bill. Update: Alan and I had a staff meeting and decided that he would go to Boston and I will cover New York. So if any Boston-going bloggers are trying to get together that week, contact Alan, not myself. Me, I'm still trying to figure out if anyone is coordinating blogger type things for New York. Like, drinking and making fun of protesters. As an aside, I think I fixed the disappearing text problem. Let me know if everything is copacetic now. The problem lies with background colors.

conspiracy theory of the day: Piazza Knew, Clemens Blew!

The big conspiracy of the day: Mike Piazza tipped batters off to Clemens's pitches last night in an act of sweet revenge, thus letting Clemens get battered in the All Star game, in front of his home town crowd. Rumor also has it that Piazza was smiling widly underneath his catcher's mask. Now, I don't really believe this theory. But, if true, I can't help but want to buy Piazza a beer. However, I tend to believe that Clemens did himself in the old-fashioned way. By choking.

Ted Rall's Mixed Bag of Myths, Lies and Spit

Every time I try to ignore Ted Rall, he drags me back in. His latest is called: Boycott the Military bq. A peace-sign necklace hanging above a loose floral-print dress billowing about her unshaven legs, the hippie chick scornfully scans his uniform, spits in his face and screams: "Baby killer!" The veteran scans the crowd for support, but sees only contempt in the faces of passersby.
It's a powerful, tragic cliché of the Vietnam era, dramatized in the "Rambo" movies, and a cautionary tale for today's antiwar left. But according to Holy Cross College professor Jerry Lembcke, a Vietnam vet and author of "The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam," it never happened. Never happened. So my parents, whose memories of that time are pretty clear, have been lying to me. My Vietnam veteran relatives are also lying. Neighbors, past teachers, parents of friends - all lying. The most dishonest thing about the left is how they dismiss everything that exposes them in a less than adoring light as media lies or conspiracy theories. Not only did it happen then, it's happening now.
"If you go back and look at the historical record, like I did--newspaper accounts, police records, and also just things historians have written," says Lembcke, "you don't find any record or any evidence that these things happened--or even that they were being claimed as happening--in the late '60s and early '70s." There isn't even one letter written by a soldier at the time referencing such an incident.
Forget the historians. Go find some actual vets and talk to them. Just because the incidents aren't embedded in media stone doesn't mean they didn't happen. But when it's convenient, people like Rall and Lembke will say, if the media didn't tell the tale, it's not true. And then turn around and say everything in the media is a lie. bq. Michael Moore's documentary film "Fahrenheit 9/11" reflects the left's internal contradiction about the military. First we see U.S. forces indiscriminately bombing Iraqi civilians, torturing and sexually harassing prisoners and terrorizing women and children in their homes. But the film's longest segment focuses on deaths and injuries suffered by those who, in Moore's words, "defend our freedom." Well, which is it? Are they torturers or footsoldiers of democracy? I wouldn't really call it an internal contradiction. I'd call it hypocrisy. These are the people who claim they support the troops by saying bring them home now, but that turn of phrase is just another in their long line of disingenuous taglines. They call our soldiers Rambos and compare them to cold-blooded killers. They don't care about the lives of the soldiers. They want them home because it would mean an end to Bush's Illegal War on Brown People. To pull the soldiers out and leave Iraq to fend for themselves when they are not ready to do that would be to turn Iraq over to all the terrorist factions that are hiding under the rocks there. The ensuing chaos and breakdown of whatever semblance of democracy has been instilled there would be a great big victory for the Ted Rall left. Anything that makes Bush, his administration or the war look like failure gets the V sign from them.
There was a time when service in U.S. military was honorable and professionally rewarding. But because of politicians who use the military to pump up corporate profits instead of defending us, that was a long time ago. Americans with personal integrity should boycott the volunteer military and discourage everyone they care about to do the same.
That's the left in a nutshell. Their ideals come before anything else. Before your safety, the safety of anyone else in the world, before the security of this country. Personal integrity? Integrity is giving up a lucrative career and certain fame in order to go and serve your country. Lack of personal integrity is villifying a person who does just that. Ted Rall is the last person who should be talking about personal integrity. bq. "They come from parts of the country where jobs are hard to find," an acquaintance condescendingly excuses the enlistees. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'd rather sleep under a bridge, eating trash out of a Dumpster, than murder human beings for Halliburton. Talk about myths. Ted still believes the one that says everyone in the military is comes from destitution and joined the armed forces as a way out of poverty. I'll tell you what happened to personal responsibility, Ted. It's right here. And here. And here. Sitting at a desk drawing crude cartoons and writing screeds against the military is not some great show of personal responsibility and it certainly doesn't take much integrity. There are people putting their lives on the line so others can live free, and Ted wants you to boycott them.
Until military service becomes less of a scam, no one should sign up. Those who have should not reenlist. Who will defend the United States if attrition shrinks the volunteer armed forces? If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Americans will line up to volunteer. World War II, won six decades ago by a storied generation of draftees and volunteers, was fought to defend American freedom. But we haven't fought an honorable war since.
You heard the man. Nobody sign up. Don't reenlist. Rall, in what has to be the height of ignorance, thinks you should wait until we are attacked and then sign up. Don't worry about having people in place to defend us, to keep us secure, to be there the moment something happens. If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor So, is Rall saying that 9/11 never happened, or is that an innuendo that he thinks we attacked ourselves? Either way, that has to be the most powerfully corrupt thought Ted has come up with so far, and that's no small feat. This from a New Yorker who walked through the debris and saw the destruction up close. Pat Tillman lined up to volunteer after that. But according to Ted, the war in Afghanistan is a lie, a farce, so Tillman's show of integrity doesn't count. I don't know who Rall thinks we should have attacked after 9/11 but only a misguided, brainwashed fool would think that the events of that day did not constitute an act of war. Rall is also one of those selfish lefties who is happy enough with Americans having freedom and doesn't care about the people of other countries. He is also ignorant enough to not see that democracy for everyone is a safer world for all. Would he prefer to let al Qaeda live on? Would he prefer that the "insurgents" in Iraq be let alone to do their thing? Ted Rall wants you to boycott the military. He wants the rolls to diminish. He wants the enlisted numbers to wane. Only then will he be happy. Imagine if Ted's dream came true and no one re-enlisted and no one volunteered. Imagine then another large scale attack on our country. There would have to be a draft in order to shore up our defenses and then Ted would run to his computer and bang out a column about how evil the draft is. I envision a scenario that brings the war to our own soil. I see Ted Rall cowered under his desk as his fabled "insurgents" and Michael Moore's Minutemen are dropping bombs in Rall's backyard. And I imagine that if a U.S. soldier were to rescue Rall, he'd welcome that soldier with open arms. See, with people like Rall, their personal integrity only reaches so far. Soldiers - whom you should not support - are only poor, ignorant killers until you need one by your side. If we're attacked by a foreign power, as we last were in 1941 at Pearl Harbor A man who believes that believes in lies. It's no wonder he now subscribes to the myth that Vietnam veterans were never spit on or treated badly. And years from now, he'll claim that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were treated with respect, even though he - and everyone who subscribes to the Ted Rall Doctrine - is doing a great job of spitting on them himself. And this time it's being set down in stone. [cross posted at RedState.org]

July 13, 2004

Go, Go...

I take back what I said about the 90's. The first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ROCKED. No, I am not kidding. Oh, and I apparently still have that crush on Chris Jericho.

presented without commentary

MR. THOMAS: There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox. They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.
The Mr. Thomas in question is Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek. (via DP and IP)

roger that

Good show, Clemens! Much more enjoyable than watching another round of I Love the 90's.

new olympic sport: dog herding

EXPERTS fear up to 15,000 stray dogs will be poisoned before next month's Athens Olympics so the city looks "pristine". Authorities in the Greek capital fear the sight of packs roaming the streets will damage the country's bid to show it is modern and civilised, the RSPCA said yesterday. Greek animal welfare groups say slaughter of the city's estimated 15,000 strays has started. Eighty dogs have been found dead in Saronida, a coastal resort where members of the British team are expected to stay. One animal welfare activist said: "There's been a big increase in poisonings and we expect it to rise sharply."
You got that? Greece will be stray-dog free before the Olympics, even if they have to kill every last one of them! Nevermind about the blackouts, lack of security, half-built venues and such. Gotta keep those stray dogs away. And don't forget to round up the humans as well! Low expectations, indeed.

Calling on the Blogosphere

Operation Give needs some help. Per Chief Wiggles:
Folks, we need your help! It's as simple as that. We are having a problem with the first shipping company that we used. The problem comes in the form of deposits that we were required to put down on the 3 containers that we shipped. For each container, we placed a $10,000 deposit to guarantee its return. This deposit was placed with the shipping company in the US, Atlas Line. This is where the problem comes in. The containers arrived and the shipping company in Kuwait responsible for the containers safety never received their deposits. We were still able to ship the contents of the first container on to Baghdad, but the 2nd and 3rd have been held in Kuwait because of this. We have tried working with the shipping company in the US but to no avail. They are currently holding $30,000 of Operation Give's money and we need resolution. We have bank records showing our deposits and their acceptance and cashing of the checks. We have also contacted Bank of America, the bank we use, and they have traced the checks and confirm that they were deposited by the US shipping company, Atlas Line. We are asking for anyone who can help us, especially anyone in the Atlanta area where the company's US office is based. Following is the contact information: Atlas Line President: Alicia Ludwig Atlas Line (USA), Inc. 650 Atlanta South Parkway, Suite 500 Atlanta, GA 30349 Phone: 404-766-4676 Fax: 404-209-8493

daily post about that book thing

I put a few more pieces over at Don't Pee. Thanks to everyone who commented or sent emails yesterday. Today's selections are some of the longer, more serious posts, so I don't blame you if you don't get over there to give me the thumbs up/thumbs down suggestions. Thanks to everyone also for your encouragement on this. I have a few good leads as far as people in the industry who want to talk to me about the book, so we're off to a good start. Also, if there's something you remember that I wrote here (as opposed to on Raising Hell) that you think I should include, let me know.

the pyramid is passe

The food pyramid has outlived its usefulness and the Department of Agriculture is looking to give it an extreme makeover.

I took care of it for them. Knowing that many people were offended by the image of the pyramid to begin with (it made some think of Egyptian slavery) and knowing that the pyramid has taken an image beating since the Pyramid schemes of the 80's, I did away with that shape all together and came up with a more appropriate form for my nutritional suggestions.

I present to you, The Food Pentagram.

[click for bigger]

If we're going to kill ourselves with obesity, we may as well enjoy the ride.

Brought to you by Satan's Minions, Souls of Gluttony Division.

mazel tov!

Allison had a baby girl!

don't let the door hit your ass, etc.

Ok, thanks Philippines. We'll be seeing ya. And hey, make sure you give us a call when your friends in Abu Sayyaf start acting up and we'll come give you a hand, ok? You do realize that you're basically sending a personal ad to terrorists saying "loves appeasement, caving in to terror demands and living under radical Muslim rule," right? Ok, then. Thanks for joining the War on Terrorism. Your parting gifts will be left in a car or a building or a plane.

one day i'm gonna grow wings

This story about the RFID chips for Japanese kids makes me think of Battle Royale. BR is by far one of the most violent, sick and depraved movies I've ever seen. It's also in the top 20 on my favorite films list. The future is now. It's really not that pretty. In fact, I'm having an email conversation with a friend about the future. We do this thing everyday where one of us comes up with a topic and we discuss it for the rest of the day. Makes work a bit more enjoyable. So today's question was: bq. What's the one technology that you can think of that is being worked on, or has not been invented (though it has been conceived of) that will change the way that humanity exists? My standard answer to something like that is, I WANT MY FLYING CARS! YOU PROMISED ME FLYING CARS! However, we started talking about teleportation. He sees it as something we will use our minds to do, as scientists discover ways to awaken parts of your brain that humans have never used before. I see it as more of a machine-driven form of travel, which would have to be heavily regulated by the government. Can you imagine terrorists using instant teleportation? Can you imagine me showing up in Heath Ledger's shower unannounced one morning? Unregulated teleporation would mean the end of barriers, the end of classes. You want money? Teleport yourself into a bank vault. You want food? Grab a cart filled with groceries and then teleport out of the store without paying. Civilization would collapse. Which is why, if scientists ever did discover a way to use your brain to power travel, the discovering scientists would probably be killed before word got out. But what about machine-driven teleportation? Could it be regulated like airline travel is? I would think it would be illegal to own a personal teleporter. You'd have to buy tickets, check bags, etc. to use one or we'd be in a heap of trouble. Or..what if the changing magnetic fields causes nature to freak out and we go through some weird evolution and suddenly, humans can fly! Sorry, lost control there for a minute. Anyhow, I was wondering about your answer to the question above about future technology. And I still want my flying cars.

it's raining, it's pouring, this blog post is boring

Some days you have nothing to write about and some days, like today, there are too many things all clamoring for attention in your head. They make it hard to write when they scream en masse like that. I start a paragraph but Iraq gives way to the guy from Jeopardy which leads to the dream I had last night and all the while that thought about the Olympics is fighting for center stage with the half-written paragraph about raising teenagers, which is stomping on the Why I'm Voting Republican post that's been started and discarded eight times already. I need more than 7am to sort this stuff out. The rain has been relentless since yesterday and I think that's adding to my frustration. I'm a light sleeper, so the whole night was spent tossing and turning and trying to shut out the sound of a torrential downpour. Bolstered by sweeping winds, the rain made drumbeat noises as it lashed against the side of the pool, swishing noises as it whipped against the trees and then, as the ground couldn't keep up with the soaking, a thousand waterfalls formed as the puddles turned into small lakes which emptied over curbs and sidewalks and steps. Needless to say, I had to get up to go to the bathroom about five times during the night. In our old place, we had floods. The drainage systems was about 100 years old and because the apartment was half underground and half overground, whatever rainfall couldn't be held by the dirt seeped into our kitchen. The floods would occur only when there was abnormal amount of rainfall in a short time. But, as they say, weather happens. It takes a while to shake old habits off. So last night, my well-trained ears sent my brain the Too Much Rainfall Alert and I got up to check for floods, forgetting that we no longer live in that place and the new house is well equipped to deal with this weather. So a fitful night's sleep leads me to another gray, chilly and rainy day. I don't want to go out. I want to stay home in my pajamas, curl up on the couch and read Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man. Not gonna happen. Work is so busy this week that I'm going to have to turn down a (London based) CNN interview for Friday morning. I keep turning down these interview requests and, like Alan said to me in an email this morning, that's kind of silly given that I'm trying to a) become a World Famous Writer and b) help Command Post go big time. I have a fear of cameras, I suppose. It probably has to do with reconciling the image people have of me and the real thing. I'm not confident enough to face a tv audience. I imagine this scenario: I appear on CNN. A few bloggers see it. They all point and stare, then run to their blogs to report the news. Oh my god, did you see her? We've been misled! Not how we imagined her at all! And before you know it, the meme spreads through the blogosphere like wildfire and I'm the new version of the Elephant Man and the blog police drag me out of my house and stick me in a cage where little kids prod with me with sticks while I shout "But I'm a human being. I'm not a blogging animal!" Just wait. So far Faith and WindRider and all the other bloggers I've met have kept my secret safe, but once I get to the RNC convention, all bets are off. I give it two hours before Tim Blair does a major expose on The Hideous Creature of ASV. My dreams of bedding every male blogger and then writing a tell-all book about it will be crushed. I told you I wasn't ready to blog yet today. I really had just intended to do this for now - join Johnny B.'s little meme on what's on your bookshelf. Except I wasn't going to write the list out because I happen to have a picture (ok, it's from the old house, but the bookshelf in the new house looks like an exact replica of this pic). [click for browser-hog size] There. That's what's on my bookshelf, or at least part of it. And that's all I got this morning. At least I came up with a clever title.

July 12, 2004

the course has been run

Ten minutes into VH1's I Love the 90's and it's already painfully obvious that the 90's were void of anything interesting.

Anarchy in NYC

I've been compiling a list of people and/or groups who are planning events meant to disrupt the RNC convention. So far, they're a benign bunch who want to ring bells and shout NO! in unison. But not this bunch of anarchists: bq. Internet-using anarchists are telling would-be troublemakers to decoy specially trained Labrador retrievers with gunpowder or ammonium nitrate-laced tablets in a bid to halt trains or even spur the evacuation of Madison Square Garden. The peace-loving protesters think that endangering the public is the best way to get their point across? Well, I shouldn't be surprised. After all, they thrive on self-centeredness. Everything is about them. As long as their goals are fulfilled and their sense of self-satisfaction is bloated yet again, it doesn't matter how many people are inconvenienced along the way. bq. The dog decoy ploy is the among most insidious in the fringe groups' bag of tricks - which includes throwing marbles under the hooves of police horses and using slingshots to pelt the animals. So, animal cruelty is ok as long as it's for a good cause? Their arrogance knows no bounds. bq. "They're trying to use up our resources with false alarms. ... The sensitive dogs would become burned out with too many alerts," said a police source. With all the alerts we've received in the past few days, with the knowledge that al Qaeda is still gunning for us and has the election season in mind for something, these idiots would sabotage the efforts of the police to keep this city safe just for...for what? To evacuate the convention? What will that prove? What message does that send? It's not like it's going to stop the official nomination from happening. Oh, I see. They're like kids pulling a fire alarm during school. Lots of giggles, a notch in the belt, ride the wave of ego-boosting backslaps for a few days. Except this isn't some school monitor they're messing with. This is a police department that's trying their best to keep a city that's already faced two terrorist attacks safe from harm. bq. After being alerted to the gunpowder posting, investigators uncovered Internet mentions of dispersing traces of ammonium nitrate on the trains.
Ammonium nitrate is one of the most common farm fertilizers in the world. The dogs are trained to detect the fertilizer because it has been used in major bombings, from the 1993 World Trade Center attack to Oklahoma City to Bali, Indonesia. They call themselves activists? I thought activists did things that were constructive. Look at the difference you're making! Panic in the streets of New York! Yea, that's going to change the world. But I don't expect that they will ever understand anything except their own wants, needs and goals. Damn the safety of the citizens, full speed ahead. Pacifists these days. The Dude: And, you know, he's got emotional problems, man. Walter Sobchak: You mean... beyond pacifism? Update: I apologize for confusing anarchists with other protesters. The other protesters will not be doing anything at all to disrupt the lives of New Yorkers, disrupt traffic, disrupt the convention or give extra work to the NYPD. Only the anarchists - who are not peace loving people, I'll admit to that - will be engaging in any kind of organized disobedience that will inconvenience the people and the police. So sorry about that. Anarchists are not peaceniks. Got it.

not so random thought

Am I the only one who wants to smack the shit out of that guy on Jeopardy?

pick and choose

Reading your old writings is an exercise in courage. I was all excited about putting this book together, so I started going back through my Raising Hell archives to pull out some of the finer posts. I scrolled through for an hour. It's very hard to be subjective when you read your own writing. You tend to think everything sucks. So I made this site and posted some of the posts that I remember getting decent comments on. I started with the funny stuff, later on I'll add the more serious essays. There's five or six posts there to start with. And now, a favor. I'd like some feedback from you, the people who would ostensibly be buying the book. Just a simple answer to the question, should I include this post in my proposal/book? Or, whatever. It's really hard to judge your own stuff. I like the word stuff too much. But it is all purpose. Comments are open here, or you could leave them here if you wish. Oh, obviously I'm going with the Don't Pee in the Millenium Falcon title.

DNC Cred (Updated)

Just got home from work and found a letter from the DNC saying that I (as part of Command Post, I presume) have received credentials for the convention. Interesting. I thought that they were all handed out already. And taken away. I'm tempted to turn down their offer or turn my creds over to Bill. Update: Eh, they're perimeter credentials, not for the hall itself. No media work space, and no access within the Fleet Center, which I presume means no access to the filing centers set up for people with hall access. Also, they say that anyone using the creds must have completed a security and mailed it back. I know of no such form. A CNN article states: bq. Bloggers will have the same access as traditional journalists within the FleetCenter convention hall, Wilhide said. And bloggers will join radio journalists with workspace in the FleetCenter itself, while other media will be in nearby buildings, she said My letter states: Perimeter credentials allow access to the site, but NOT access within the FleetCenter. Honestly, I have no idea what that means. Do we get to stand outside and interview stragglers? Another update. Someone sent me a link to Aaron Bailey, who has been posting about this. I'm unable to bring his blog up for some reason, the html comes up instead, so I saved it and loaded it up onto ASV. Pertinent part (aside from their being no WiFi access, which won't even mean anything to me if I'm not in the hall): bq. The letter states: "Perimeter credentials allow access to the site, but NOT access within the Fleet Center."
This means that you'll be able to take a bus to the Fleet Center, get off the bus, go through security, but you will not be able to enter the building, access media workspace (space purchased by media companies housed in a temporary structure in the parking lot), enter the arena and sit in the press gallery, or access the floor with delegates. In other words, you might as well stay home and watch C-Span. Indeed. Did anyone else get perimeter access? Does anyone know if the other bloggers credentialed got hall access? Ok, Aaron's site is just not loading in Firefox, it works in IE. He's got a bunch of posts about the convention.

Critics, Comics and Graphic Novels: Or When is a Comic Not a Comic?

Yesterday, I compared life to Watchmen, leading several people to email me the link to this New York Times article from yesterday that refers to Watchmen. Ah yes, another "are comic books books?" piece.

I can paraphrase the entire article in one short paragraph:

Hey, there are people writing novels and biographies using pictures as well as words. You should take them seriously, but I mean only take the real mainstream, famous ones seriously. Jimmy Corrigan, Maus, Ghost World, hey let's even throw in a mention of that ubiquitious pretentious guy, Dave Eggers. Oh, don't forget Harvey Pekar. And some girls are writing and drawing this stuff, too! Graphic novels aren't really comic books, they are novels with pictures, if you read the right stuff and by right stuff I mean the stuff by the guys who win literary prizes because to read anything else would be pedestrian.

Ok, so I took some liberties there. But I get tired of these articles that purport to present comic books and graphic novels as real reading material and then go on to list only the titles that a stuffy college professor would agree to let you do a paper on.

Here's what bugs me:

Comics are also enjoying a renaissance and a newfound respectability right now. In fact, the fastest-growing section of your local bookstore these days is apt to be the one devoted to comics and so-called graphic novels. It is the overcrowded space way in the back -- next to sci-fi probably, or between New Age and hobbies -- and unless your store is staffed by someone unusually devoted, this section is likely to be a mess. ''Peanuts'' anthologies, and fat, catalog-size collections of ''Garfield'' and ''Broom Hilda.'' Shelf loads of manga -- those Japanese comic books that feature slender, wide-eyed teenage girls who seem to have a special fondness for sailor suits. Superheroes, of course, still churned out in installments by the busy factories at Marvel and D.C.....

Ok, so comic books are getting more than two shelves in your local Borders. That much is true. Finding the graphic novel section in any chain book store used to be a combination of adventure and detective work. Ask an employee and they would say something like take a left turn at romance novels, go three rows down, turn right at the lawn care books, follow along the wall with the postcards and coffee mugs, look for a small mouse, follow him into the tiny hole and you'l see the graphic novel section behind the soda machine. Great. And then you get there and you'd find one tiny shelf with about ten titles, six of which were issued in 1982 and the other four on the lap of a drooling fanboy who won't budge for the next six hours.

Now the graphic novel sections are larger, but they look like they've been swallowed whole and spit out by Tokyo Pop. Gone are the fanboys, who probably found the local comic book store more to their liking. They've been replaced by giggling 14 year old girls flipping through the pages of the latest in wide-eyed-girls-save-the-world fiction (for the record, I prefer my wide-eyed girl manga from Dark Horse).

The graphic novels mentioned in the article are all certainly well done; I've read most of them. And this isn't to take anything away from Speigelman, of whom I am a big fan. But I think the author misses so much - in his effort to keep up with the required pretentiousness of a critic, he further marginalizes 90% of the already marginalized graphic novels out there by citing only what can be described as literary GNs. They are mostly navel gazing works of a personal nature, self-reflection titles meant to explore human nature. He misses the titles that the core comic fans read - 100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Preacher.

Sure, these are not graphic novels in the sense that Jimmy Corrigan is. They are (or were) ongoing series that are later bound in collected versions. But they are - or were during their lives - all novels in progress. By citing the GNs he did, McGrath misses out on the core of comics in general - the action, the grittiness, the bam! pow! wham! that is present even in non-superhero comics. McGrath is writing about stories that were put to pictures. Comics, at least from my end, is where writing and art flow seamlessly together. In a good comic story the art is part of the words; the words, part of the art.

I'll be honest. The part of the article that sent me into "must attack this author" mode was this:

One solution to the drudgery of cartooning is to get others to do it for you. Companies like Marvel and D.C. essentially produce comics on an assembly line: one person thinks up the story, someone else draws it, another inks it, yet another colors it and so on. Most graphic novelists tend to be dismissive of such products, but a couple of people have emerged from the factory system and attained something like auteur status -- as writers whose comics are worth paying attention to no matter who draws them. Neil Gaiman, creator of the enormously successful ''Sandman'' series, is one such figure.....

I'm sure the artists involved with Sandman would be ever so pleased to know that they are considered a "factory system" or assembly line artists. I don't think there has ever been or ever will be a series of comic books or graphic novels where the art is so intrinsic to the story, where the life of the comic is so intertwined with the visual.

Perhaps I just have something against high-minded critics. McGrath is trying hard to convince us that comics and graphic novels in particular are good reading for everyone, but by pointing his readers to the least comic-like GN's out there, he's doing a disservice to the genre he is purporting to support with this piece.

Comic books will always have an image problem. No matter how you dress them up, there will always be those who dismiss them as literary junk food for kids. Those people never look beyond Archie or a few Spiderman books. But it's also not doing the industry any good to have the graphic novel genre taken over by smarmy literary elitists like Dave Eggers or even mass-produced manga. I'd hate to see the day when the only titles on the GN shelf are either biographies done in colored panels or school girls run amok.

There's always your local comic shop if those two things aren't your cup of tea, but for the casual comic observer who might get hooked on comics after accidently finding the graphic novel section at Borders, the smaller his options are, the less likely he is to embrace the genre.

Which begs the questions: Is the problem of the graphic novel and comic book in general the history of the genre? Is it the presentation of the current generation or the the perception by non comic-readers that touching a comic will turn you into Comic Book Guy? Or are critics of the genre just a bunch of literary snobs that should be trundled up and put in a dark room and made to listen to Jason Mraz cds for hours on end?

(After writing this, I see that Alex Knapp covered this a bit more succinctly than I and says this about the article: Yeah, they give props to Alan Moore, but Moore's so good that even critics can't ignore him. Exactly.)

Links and further reading:

100 Bullets
Jimmy Corrigan
McSweeney's does comics
Everything you ever wanted to know about graphic novels and then some: Artbomb


Something you need when writing a book proposal is a proposed title of your book. Well, maybe you don't really need it, but I have always been one of those writers who needs to have a title for a work in progress. I'll be collecting all my relevant essays on a separate blog, so whatever the title for the book would be will be the title of the blog. Actually, there will be two, as one will encompass my Raising Hell and other parenting stories, and the other will encompass all the pop culture related memoirs and such I've written here. I really wish I could use the title Raising Hell, but I can't, as it belongs to a whole bunch of us (especially Mig) and not me. So I need to come up with a title for a book that will be a collection of essays on raising kids, but not raising kids in that "kids say the cutest, sweetest things" way, but more in the "mommy, what's a blow job?" way. Or in the now infamous "don't pee in the Millennium Falcon" way. So, obviously, I'm looking for help with a title. If I eventually use a title you suggest, I promise to give you credit in the book, which will be widely read by my entire family and a few friends.

Talking Comics: A Repeat/Forward

I'll probably be doing a lot of repeats as I scour my archives looking for pieces to put in my book proposal - and a big thank you to everyone who left a comment or emailed me last night about book publishing. I received some great advice as well as a few offers of help and/or calling in favors on my behalf. It is very much appreciated. Anyhow, I'm in the middle of writing a longish piece on graphic novels, in response to this article in the New York Times. It won't be ready until later this morning, but writing it did remind me of something else I wrote on the subject a while ago and I'll take this opportunity to bring you a repeat. Consider it more of a forward to the upcoming post. ******* When I Rule the Comic Kingdom: May 12, 2003 I went to Borders this weekend and, as usual, headed over to the Graphic Novels section. And, as usual, that section was populated by the dregs of the earth. Is there some code of comic book fan ethics that I haven’t received? The one that says you must smell like you haven’t showered in eight days and your clothes should look like you slept in them and you should have the personality of a wet mop that’s dripping with both dirty water and sarcasm? Every time I go to Border’s it’s the same thing. There’s a small crowd of under achievers gathered around the anime books and Marvel collections, practicing their mouth-breathing and crotch-itching while they read. They never buy. They always read. The last time I was there, I got into it with one of the neanderthals who wouldn’t move from his spot even though it was obvious I wanted to get a book from the shelf. I ended up calling him a fanboy, and that was like a stake through his heart. I think he spontaneously combusted. I’m a comic book geek. I admit it. But I’m not like them. I didn’t read the entire Akira series while sitting on a stool at the local bookstore. In fact, I was trying to buy the first Akira volume yesterday when I was thwarted by a drooling fanboy. I mean that literally. He drooled. The spittle hung from his mouth for a few seconds before it dropped onto the Art of Hellboy. My stomach turned. My appetite for Akira disappeared. Why don’t I just go to a comic book store, you ask? There’s three comic book shops within a mile range from my house. The first is a single-person run shop that was once a used-book store. The guy follows me around the place, repeating the same lines over and over. You like Frank Miller? You like Frank Miller? Have you read 100 Bullets? You like Frank Miller?. The selection in the store is not worth the aggravation of being shadowed by a 400 lb parrot every time I’m in there. The second is the one we used to call the Star Wars Store back in the day. It was a small shop on a side street that specialized in Star Wars figures and had boxes upon boxes of indie comic books to browse through. They eventually moved down the block to a huge space. They have a great toy selection, but they insist on grouping things together into sets, so you can’t buy individual figures. They pride themselves on their glass-shielded displays of old action figures that sell for the price of a college education, yet they don’t carry enough new toys at reasonable prices to let you do anything else but stare wistfully at the displays. The comics section of the store might as well have a huge sign that says Marvel Whores. Enough said. The third store is a small, narrow shop that sometimes carries the indie comics I like to read and has a good selection of figures and back issues. The problem is they are also the Grand Central Terminal for Magic gatherings and Yu Gi Oh! tournaments and whatever other card games the kids are playing these days. I know that in the far reaches of the store there are boxes filled with great back issues, but I don’t feel like elbowing my way passed the pimply-faced kids and overgrown teenagers speaking in the language of the Cult of Cards to get through to them. So I’m left with a 40 minute car ride to Port Jefferson or a 40 minute train ride to New York City if I want to find some Slave Labor items or back issues to complete collections or something besides superheroes. I’ve been thinking about opening my own comic shop. I’m pretty sure I could find backing. There are plenty of empty spaces available around here. Justin would be more than competent at running the store full time. I just wonder if there is a call for it. How would I go about finding out how many comic book fans there are around here that would clamor for the indie stuff that can’t be found anywhere else? I would love to have a full anime section that doesn’t have Dragonball Z as its main attraction. There would be an imports section and a reading area (with a No Drooling sign) and I would never, ever hold a Pokemon tournament on the premises. I would have a whole area just for comic art. Sure, I would stock all the Marvel and D.C. stuff, but I would carry heavy doses everything else. People would never come in and ask for some obscure title like Creed and have the person behind the counter look at them as if they were crazy. You wouldn't have to watch the salesperon make 100 quizzical phone calls as he tries to find you a copy of Blade of the Immortal - Blood of a Thousand. I have a million ideas on how to make it work, but right now it’s just a huge fantasy rolling around in my head that I like to shake around every once in a while. (originally appeared on ASV on May 12, 2003)

Welcome to Red State

Welcome to RedState.org, a Republican community weblog. In little more than two years, we have seen blogs blossom into a public square for the open exchange of ideas and opinions. Blogs are already a revolutionizing force, changing the way opinion-makers interact with new ideas ... defining candidates and campaigns in a critical election year ... and planting the seeds of democracy around the world. RedState.org is focused on politics, and seeks the construction of a Republican majority in the United States. We hope to unite serious, innovative, and accomplished voices from government, politics, activism, civil society, and journalism to participate in this work.
Most of you will recognize the names of the founders of Red State. Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and Tacitus have put this great site together. There's already a stellar list of contributors; I'll be joining them shortly. Go check it out and give it a plug on your own blog if you can.

July 11, 2004

Notice to My Neighbors (and maybe yours)

It's July 10th. Let the firecracker thing go, already. Please.

Nuanced Notices

1. I'm putting a halt to the Best of the 90's polling. If something as silly as that can generate vicious hate mail and comments that need to be deleted, then it looks like things of that nature will have to be pushed aside for the time being. I think if I put up a poll that said Eating Poison for Breakfast: Good or Bad? a fight would ensue in the comments. 2. There will be subtle changes around here. You could use the word nuanced, if you like. Some of you may see the changes, some may not. Depends on how well you read nuance. I like that word. 3. I'm putting together some essays from my Raising Hell days as well as some of my pop culture stuff from this site. I'm looking to self-publish a book or two. If anyone has had any experience in this area, using online self-pubishers such as iUniverse, I'd be happy to hear from you. Also, it would help if you would say something like, "I'd buy your book if you went through the trouble of self-publishing one!" Of course, it would help more if you said something like "I have a friend who works at BigNamePublishing and they would like to sign you up and give you a six figure advance." Because that would be swell, as we seem to have run out of money with which to fix this house up, so we are kind of in a limbo between white trash and middle class Martha Stewart decor. Not to mention those pesky bills that keep showing up every month uninvited. So, yea. Six figure advance would be nice and I don't mean $1.05555. Guess I'll keep the day job. That wasn't very nuanced, was it?

Tales From the (linked by Kerry) Democratic Underground

Post on DU today: California man killed in Iraq after losing 150 pounds to enlist bq. (from article) When Justin Hunt initially tried to join the Marines, the recruiters didn't have a scale that could weigh him.
Instead, they estimated the hulking athlete just two years out of high school was more than 150 pounds too heavy to join the service.
Hunt didn't let that stop him. He worked out, changed his diet and shed the pounds so he could enlist. Comments at DU: * Sounds like his motivation for weight loss was a death wish. the case could be made, I think. Stranger things have happened. * Sorry, but IMO, this just improved the gene pool. * Sounds like the poor kid was trying to please *somebody*... "Hey look, Mom, Dad, everybody, I'm thin, I'm a patriot, I'm a Christian, and I'm a soldier. *Now* am I okay?" * Because they are KILLERS Bums and Bullies . I knew guys like that in the service who loved to KILL, and loved to hunt other human beings. They are always with us. Between wars some of them assume the mantra of serial killers. Just buy or rent Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, to see a few examples. Reading through the comments, you get the overall sense (excepting one post by a newcomer who took the gloating person to task) of the DUers thinking that this young man, who enlisted freely, must be dumb, joined the army to just to kill people and he was a religious zealot. May I take this time to remind you that the Kerry for President official site still links to Democratic Underground? Why?

Disjointed Ramblings for a Sunday Morning

I had another one of those dreams last night. The sky was on fire, the air filled with the sound of humanity exploding.

I've been having dreams like this - at least once a week - since childhood, so they aren't necessarily brought on by current news and events. However, they are certain aspects to each of the dreams that incorporate current stories. For instance, in last night's dream, I could see the world from high above. You know those Bugs Bunny cartoons where they show Bugs traveling across the United States by using dashes across a map? That's how the dream was, like I was looking down at a map, I could see different states and then countries just disappear into a whirlwind of dust and fire. Over in Europe, there was a wall that stretched from one end to the other. A high, stony wall that was covered with foliage in some place, not unlike the walls in this dream. A disembodied voice said to me, pointing at the wall, that side is for Jews, the other isn't.

So the first thing I see when I check the news this morning is an explosion in Tel Aviv. A bomb on a bus, of course. And then there's this lovely story (via LGF) about a young mother traveling with her baby in France and being attacked by anti-Semites.

I'm feeling discouraged today. Hell, I feel discouraged a lot these days, but today I'm really feeling it and I don't know if it's just residue from the dream or a general malaise that's starting to crawl its way through my mind and into my heart.

The whole world is making a giant sucking sound right now. From Sudan to Iran, from the Gaza Strip to France, from New York to California, it's flush city. You'd need a plunger the size of a small planet to stop this sucker from overflowing.

For some reason this all leads me to thinking about Alan Moore's Watchmen.

The world of Moore's classic comic in some ways mirrors the world of my dreams, which reflect our current world; dark, scary, poised on the brink of disaster. There's an inherent distrust at work when you read the series. A character like Ozymandias seems so underhanded, yet his ways prove to be the path to peace.

Watchmen is basically the story of superheros trying to save the world from itself. It begins like this:

"The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"… and I’ll look down, and whisper "no."

Are we worth saving at this point? If superheros existed, would they even bother at this point in history? And what would we expect of superheros if they were real?

In Watchmen, Rorschach says: Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.

Easier said than done. I think our basic instinct is to compromise. We have to dig a little deeper into our hearts and souls to stand as one with our ideals. Sometimes it seems easy, even safe, to compromise, but safe isn't always right and safe doesn't always bring about the ending you desire. You may find yourself one day struggling to survive in a post-armageddon world and wishing that we didn't take the easy way out, that we said no to compromise. Compromising smells like weakness to your enemies.

We can leave it to our modern day human superheros to stand fast and true for us, as they are our own Watchmen. But, as the saying goes, who watches the Watchmen? And who watches those who do the watching? It's like looking into a mirror image, seeing the same thing over and over for miles; a question repeated ad infinitum only spurring more questions - or the same question - never an answer.

At some point, there has to be a place where we stop asking and start trusting. There really are no superheros. There are just humans fitted in costumes that we made for them and sporting powers that we gave them. Even if we strip them of those costumes and powers, we owe it to the world to see that someone else wears them. Someone who, in the face of armageddon, will say no.

Because I know some of you will mention it. I have heard about the proposed Watchmen movie. According to IMDB, Darren Aranofsky is attached, as they say. Though the most recent report I can find seem to indicate it's going to be another one of those on-again/off-again projects.

Personally, I think it needs to be a cable mini-series, as trying to cram the whole thing into a movie wouldn't work, and picking and choosing what to leave in and what to leave out would just turn the movie into another comic-to-film crapfest. However, let me be the millionth to cast Bruce Campbell as The Comedian.

July 10, 2004

scratching the itch

Made it through mom's retirement party. She was definitely surprised - so much so that it took her a minute or two to figure out what the party was for. The party went well, we had way too much food on hand as always and I enjoyed a smorgasbord of liquor today, which is always a big mistake. I am completely wiped out, so I'll deal with the results of the movie poll tomorrow. I leave you with my favorite photograph of the day - my nephew in a rather striking pose. Which I will show to a future girlfriend of his some day. Or maybe I'll use it to make a statement when my comments get out of hand. Typical guy.

Poll Time: Best Movie of the 90's

Took me a while, but I finally got around to gathering your nominations for Best Movie of the 90's. Remember: If you didn't make any nominations you have no right to bitch about the final nominees. Most of my faves did not make it into the top ten. They would include, but are not limited to, Army of Darkness, True Romance, Boondock Saints, The Professional and any Tim Burton movie. Just for starters. However, I do like most of the movies listed in the poll and I think most of you can figure out which one I'm going to vote for. (Hint, look at the tagline of the blog) Poll is below. Hopefully it won't slow down the loading time of the site. I'll be out most of the day and night (today is mom's suprise party), so you're on your own. Polling closes at midnight. New category coming up later in the morning. Bonus question: Take a wild guess as to what my least favorite movie of the 90's is. *Polling has ended. Results will be posted Sunday afternoon*

July 09, 2004

This Could Be The End of a Long Relationship

No less than three people emailed while I was out today to let me know that there are rumors circulating that the Yankees are looking to get Roger Clemens back. Excuse me while my stomach turns... Ok. I am announcing right here, right now, in full public view that if Roger Clemens ever again plays for the Yankkes, I am done. DONE. I will bid farewell to my life-long relationship with the New York Yankees. Just the fact that they are even thinking about it is making me clench my teeth. Curse you, Roger Clemens. You will rue the day you put on those pinstripes again! Do you hear me? I said RUE!

Confession: I love the nightlife, I love to boogie

Ok, I'll admit it. I like the Bee Gees. And once or twice I was video taped dancing to Funky Town. But I was always drunk when that happened. Except when I secretly danced in my room. But yea, I like the Bee Gees. But disco still sucks! And maybe that Saturday Night Fever soundtrack wasn't so bad. Maybe. [reference]

Tip of the Day

When renting a tent for a party, it's best to just pay the fifty bucks and let the tent people put it up for you. Unless, of course, you enjoy people being impaled with tent poles, a husband threatening to drive a stake into his wife's heart or the sight of skin torn apart by a rope burn. Then you go right ahead and put up that tent yourself. Just don't come crying to me because, hey, I warned you.

The Night That Disco Died: Open Discussion

Monday marks the anniversary of the official Death of Disco. It is my belief that this should be a national holiday, complete with parades, a line of greeting cards and a giant outdoor heavy metal/punk rock music festival. I thank DJ Steve Dahl for his Disco Demolition night. It was certainly the greatest thing to ever happen at Comiskey Park. Of course, there are those who think the Disco Sucks movement was nothing more than thinly vieled bigotry, but I beg to differ. It was just a backlash against sucky music and polyster suits. I'd really love to write more about this as I have so many disco memories of the era (including an especially good one involving Twisted Sister), but I have a full agenda today. So I'll leave this here as an open discussion for you all. And don't give me any of that "but you had to be there/Studio 54" crap. I lived the diso era, baby. I have the bad memories and nightmares to prove it. Did disco suck or did it not suck? And who wants to celebrate Disco Demolition Day with me on Monday? I'm buying the beer. You bring the punk albums. [I won't be back until much later, try to behave yourselves]

18 Tir News

Pejman is covering the demonstrations in Iran. He links to this article which details how one student was tortured during the 18 Tir uprising. Above the wall has more on 18 Tir (permalinks not working). Student protesters held in Iran. The anniversary of the death of Zahra Kazemi. In rememberance of the fifth anniversary. HRW calls for students to be released. Protesters in Ankara detained. Renewed unity among students.

News Flash

But the committee absolved the Bush administration of charges that it put pressure on analysts to reach pre-set conclusions. The bipartisan committee said it found no evidence that administration officials pressured agencies to change their judgments on Iraq weapons programs. "The committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities," it said. It specifically cleared Vice President Dick Cheney, a leading advocate of the war, of charges that he tried to bend the evidence to fit his agenda. "The committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments," the report said.
Also, some very interesting observations on the Nigeria* uranium claims. Now, the question is, what do we do about our intelligence system? Do we tear the whole thing down and start again or is it fixable as is? Update: As usual, the folks at DU respond with "it's lie" or "it's a coverup" and the same old tired cliches. *edited, obviously. I need a proofreader.

answering questions before they are asked

Why, yes. You're very observant today. Thanks for noticing. Minimalist? Well, it seems I'm all out of ideas. Which would be a blogger's nightmare, I suppose. But thanks, yes. I do like it. Complaints? Write them down in invisible ink and I'll send them to Encylopedia Brown to decode so he can figure out why it is that people think they have a right to dictate how someone makes their site look. Oh, that thing? Slowed the site down. Yes, that's my son in the photo. No, I have no intention of bringing the little dead girl back, but it's really cute how you keep asking. Does this design make me look fat? Don't answer that.

Kerry: Vulgarity and Hate Equals Heart and Soul!

Edwards said it was "a great honor" to be there and insisted, "This campaign will be a celebration of real American values." Kerry thanked all the performers for "an extraordinary evening," hailed the "great producers" - Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Jann Wenner - and said "every performer tonight ... conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."
They're talking about a star-studded fundraiser in which celebrities took turns making jokes about Bush, some using vulgar sexual innuendos and most mocking the president. So that's the heart and soul of our country? Priveleged celebrities telling dirty jokes about the president? Real American values, guys. Judging from the several reports I read about this gala, it appeared to be a hate filled rally against Bush, rather than a rally for Kerry/Edwards. Postive message, my ass. When Howard Dean faced the same situation (a fundraiser in which hate-filled celebrities got out of hand), he quickly denounced the vitriol at his party. Kerry and Edwards embraced it. It was also pretty revealing that Kerry had time to attend to this fiesta of farce yesterday, considering he had no time for real senatorial business:
"It is a great example of John Kerry's priorities that on the day he said he did not have time to receive his intelligence briefing on threats to America, he found time to attend a Hollywood fund-raiser, filled with enough hate and vitriol to make Michael Moore blush," Schmidt said. Schmidt was referring to Kerry's interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" earlier Thursday in which Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had been offered a briefing from the Bush administration about new terror warnings, but told King, "I just haven't had time." Kerry then told King he would be briefed later this week.
Forget terror threats. Kerry had to go get his hate on.

Friday Morning Fluff

Here's something to start your Friday off right. [click each for bigger] These AFP photos are either a) a secret code used to send out messages about a future shadow government; b) not Kerry and Edwards at all, but a very dexterous Dick Cheney playing shadow puppet theater or c) just really damn hokey. I'm sure they could use some captions as well.

July 08, 2004


I'm kinda busy over here. Did I mention we're throwing a surprise retirement party for my mom tommorow? Just family...which means about 70 people. If anyone has any ideas for good gag gifts for my mom I'd appreciate it. Because we never, ever take anything seriously in my family. There always has to be some kind of gag. We already bought her a cane. Anyhow, won't be around much between now and tomorrow evening as we've got a lot to do before the party, but I will make it a point to get the poll up for the best movies of the 90's vote tommorow morning. Go make your nominations, because I don't want to hear any bitching when the final list is announced.

Watch me 'splode!

Finally, a quiz that really speaks to me.
Wackiness: 20/100 Rationality: 32/100 Constructiveness: 14/100 Leadership: 26/100 You are an SEDF--Sober Emotional Destructive Follower. This makes you an evil genius. You are extremely focused and difficult to distract from your tasks. With luck, you have learned to channel your energies into improving your intellect, rather than destroying the weak and unsuspecting. Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack. Few of your peers know you very well--even those you have known a long time--because you have expert control of the face you put forth to the world. You prefer to observe, calculate, discern and decide. Your decisions are final, and your desire to be right is impenetrable. You are not to be messed with. You may explode.
Damn straight. T-90 seconds. via ms. locks


You know it's just what you always wanted: A Command Post travel mug. This is just a first in a line of swag we'll be putting up for sale. I'm telling you, this item is going to be HOT. Get your hands on one now before you're the only one left without one. Kind of like Furbies. And you do NOT want to be that kid without the Furby.

The Command Post PX.

Best Album Poll Winner: Exit Sandman

First things first: Lileks beautifully puts Michael Moore in a shredder today, but it's Treacher who supplies the best headline, as well as few scathing remarks about Moore on the Daily Show. And Ed Moltzen has a list of liberals that conservatives can like and a list of conservatives that liberals can like. Second thing: For those who are complaining about the best album poll and the lack of anything representative of their taste on the poll, I suggest that next time I open the floor for nominations you nominate. That list was not compiled by moi. I just took the most popular nominations. Anyhow, we have a winner and thank jeebus it's not Metallica's black album. I have nothing against Metallica. Well, yes I do, but that's another story. I am one of those pre-black Metallica fans. Give me Ride the Lightning anyday. The pre-black stuff was nothing short of amazing. The rest; suckage. Big, slurping suckage. And even if you are a post-black Metallica fan, how could you possibly say that album was the best album to be released in the 90's? Enter Sandman? Feh. Thankfully, people with good taste came through and we have a much more please (to me) winner. You can view the final results of the vote here. Winner and scary trophy below. tenaward.jpg What better image to use in the trophy? Furbies defined the decade! Nomination process is ongoing for the movie category. Nominate your own or don't complain when the poll comes out and Kazaam isn't on it.

How I Got Here, Part II

I intended to write a follow up to yesterday's entry about social civil war, then promised myself I would just let it go. Then I dreamed about. If I dream about it, it must be weighing heavily on my mind and I would be just adding to my rising blood pressure if I ignored it. In the dream, I was stuck in a maze. The maze was made of stone and shrubbery, the walls at least ten feet high. All I could see above me was a sky littered with small storm clouds that were joining together to form a rather black sky. The walls of the maze were decorated with old, torn posters of Fidel Castro. Every time I thought I found the way out of the maze, I would be confronted by Michael Moore. At one point he was eating an Egg McMuffin and I asked if he was enjoying the Canadian bacon. He said it was a little too rough for his taste. Whatever. He still wouldn't let me through. The dream went on for a good twenty minutes after that, but you don't want to hear about that. Not really important. What's important is that I clarify my issues from yesterday. No it's not. It's not important at all because I really don't owe anyone any explanations for the way I feel. I'll just say to those that thought my entire post was about the Importance of Bloggers, you missed the boat. And to the one person who thought I should be grateful for my trolls because you don't get any comments: you're a complete idiot. Wait, there is one thing. I suppose a lot of people are wary of comments, so they email me instead. One person wrote: bq. You keep saying you used to be a lefty or a liberal. I know that 9/11 had a lot to do with you changing your views. But I've read your archives and I want to know how you can come around full circle like that. It's like throwing out who you used to be. Were you a phony lefty or are you a phony rightie? Again, clarification on that needed, but I'll wing it. Yes, I was a liberal. When I was seventeen, I marched in no-nukes rallies. Now I think that nuclear power is our future. You live and learn. I was a naive teenager who was sucked into the "movement" by older friends who preached their gospel to me daily. I was always uncomfortable in that group, as if I were a poser, someone who didn't really belong but was going along for the ride because it was supposedly the right thing to do. In later years, I went through several periods of self-loathing that stemmed from activities I participated in with these people. I never went to bed feeling self-satisfied like they did. Most of the time - even as recently as three years ago - I felt slightly dirty, as if I were doing something wrong or not being true to who I was. But I went on carrying the banners and talking the talk and using all the correct phrases and terminology and talking points. I could have made a movie: I Was A Leftist Robot. The thing about lefties is they want you to follow whole play book or none of it. You are either with them and their issues 100% or you're a pariah. When I bought an SUV, I lost my street cred. I went from a compatriot to a baby killer. I was shunned by a good portion of the society I belonged to. It was then that my cool exterior began to chip away. This was even before 9/11. I would have conversations with my father - a conservative Republican - and find myself agreeing with him more and more, though I would never tell him that. I would fight with him on certain issues but I didn't fight with a strong will. At some point, I realized that when I debated with my father, I was only reciting from a script. Were these really my core beliefs? I questioned myself and my motives more and more. I became increasingly uncomfortable with my own ideals. I would write something and then immediately feel ashamed about it. But I didn't want to step out of line. I didn't want to lose the friends I had and I certainly did not want to lose myself. If I admitted that everything I had been saying and writing and doing was done out of some sense of obligation and not with any true belief, then I would be branding myself a liar and a hypocrite. Did I really hate my country the way the rest of my clan did? No. Never. Did I think we were an evil people out to conquer the rest of the world? No. Would I give some more thought to being a vegetarian? No way. Would I get rid of my SUV in the name of the cause? Nope. Would I be a tree sitter or give money to the people who want to destroy a car dealership? Hell no. So umm...why are you calling yourself one of us? Damned if I know. The big thing at the time I was doing this soul searching was a G8 summit, or one of those world conglomerate gatherings, where people who were at the time my peers did a the protest-by-smashing-private-property thing. I wrote something that basically said those people were idiots. My peers were aghast. All these things, all this self doubt and internal questioning happened before 9/11. That fateful day was just a huge wake up call for me. Even then, it took several months before I would finally let go of the left and admit that I was more of a moderate or a centrist than a liberal/leftist. Once the conspiracy theories started and people started blaming America first, I knew I had to cut loose. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know the rest because it all pretty much played out right here in public, preserved in bytes. An interesting thing happened to me after I shed that faux lefty skin I was wearing. I was finally at peace with myself. No longer walking around denying who I was and pretending to be something else, I was able to be happy with who I was. I hated myself when I was trying to fit in with people I should have abandoned when I was 18. I hate my thoughts, I hated the slogans I blindly followed along with, I hated the way I couldn't really hold my own in a debate because I was debating only with words they armed me with, I wasn't debating with my gut feelings. I don't deny my former politics at all. They're all here, in my early archives and the ones that aren't here you can find by digging around on archive.org. In fact, I'll gather them all up and put them in one place for easy reading. I will never deny my past. I'm uncomfortable with it and I am ashamed of many of the things I did and said, but I've never been one for revisionist history. I am who I am and I was who I was. I'm not here to please you or to seek your approval. I did enough approval seeking in my lifetime and I finally figured out that the only person whose approval I should seek is myself. A little late in life to be learning a lesson such as that, but better late than never. I feel at home now. I don't feel like a stranger in my own country. I don't feel the nagging self doubt, I don't feel the strings being pulled when I talk. And I don't need a playbook to debate anyone because all my talking points are my own. I hope that answers your question. [You can read more about How I Got Here at Part 1, from November 2002]

July 07, 2004

Radio, radio

ASV Radio this evening brings you songs of the 90's. All of them are from albums mentioned on the Album of the 90's post. Where you should go and vote to prevent Metallica from winning.

Poll 2: Movies

I've got a lot to do between now and this evening. However, I must implore you to GO VOTE. Do not let Metallica's black album win this thing. And now for Poll 2 in the Best of the 90's Awards: I open up airwaves for you to list your favorite movies of the 90's. Any genre. List as many as you want.

Free Iran

Two days ago, I posted this story at Command Post: Iranians Arrested in Iraq. It got little play in the mainstream news. Today, it's getting a little more coverage (posted again at TCP), but still not enough. Back in the day, during the Iran hostage crisis, some radio DJ took The Beach Boys' Barbaran Ann and did a parody called Bomb Iran. Maybe it's time for an update. No, I'm not really calling for the carpet bombing of Iran. But something has to be done. However, I wonder if this is something we should leave alone for now and let the people of Iran take control. Today, Ace says:
Without doubt, we have the right to bomb the living shit out of Iran. As has been the case for 10 years, though, we probably won't, because we have what seems increasingly-futile hope that the Iranian democracy movement can change the regime at some point, and we don't want to turn those pro-US reformers against us.
That's a good point and one I take seriously. I really, sincerely have this hope that they can make a difference. And they don't want American intervention. They want American support. I don't know where the two situations can meet. Iran has proven itself to be our enemy. Yet, if we were to attack in retaliation for their acts of war, we would diminish all that the pro-democracy activists have done to help themselves. Can they actually succeed? I believe they can if give them strength by letting them know we are behind them, and by letting the mullahs know that we are out here, supporting the revolution. It's important for this story about the Iranians arrested in Iraq to get out there. The more people that know about it, the more people will get behind the student uprising. It's three days until the anniversary of the 18 Tir uprising. We need to give the Iranians our support. If there is any group of people living under an evil regime that can change their country from the inside out, the revolutionaries in Iran are it. Roger Simon, who has been diligent in his support of the Free Iran movement, will be on XTV today at 2pm EST (that's fifteen minutes from as I write) talking about the Iranian struggle for freedom. The XTV link has the info you need to listen to it live. Please support the Free Iran movement. I have more here and here about it. Pejman has more.

Best Album of the 90's: The Poll

[Followup to this post from yesterday] Unlike some of my commenters, I think the 90's was a great decade for music. Depsite the influx of those damn nu-metal (rapcore) bands towards the end of the 90's, the rest of it was good for rock and roll. If you like my kind of rock and roll, that is. Some of my favorite albums from those years will never make most people's top tens. Incubus's S.C.I.E.N.C.E, Faith No More's Angel Dust, Mr. Bungle's California, Fear Factrory's Demanufacture and Tool's Undertow - among many other fine ablbums - all helped mark the 90's as a banner decade for me. But, that's just me. Let's look at your choices. okcomp.jpgI narrowed the albums down to ten because that what the poll machinery allows. Mostly, I chose the albums that were repeated in the comments several times. There was no formal counting. I run elections according to my whim around here. Of the ten albums in the poll, I own...ten! That's not to say I listen to them all. I haven't listened to U2 in years. The Tori CD might not even be open. Metallica was handed down to my son. I got sick of Nevermind a long time ago. The Jane's Addiction CD has been MIA since we moved. The remaining titles: Portishead - Dummy: Dummy gets taken out on dark, rainy days when I'm sitting on the couch reading and need a little headphone music. It's also known as the go-to album for when I've had too much to drink and am under the false impression that my husband would like me to serenade him. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream SD is still to this day a pleasure from start to finish, especially Mayonaise, which - in my humble opinion - is one of the greatest songs ever written. Even the songs that got constant radio play - Cherub Rock, Disarm and Today, never suffered from the wear and tear that radio often gives to good songs. SD is a great reminder of what Billy Corgan was capable of before ego and drama ruined him. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape It might not be as fast and furious as the self-titled debut, but Colour and Shape is still an amazing album. Hey, Johnny Park is always on my songs I can't live without. And Walking After You makes up for the overwrought My Hero. Pearl Jam - Ten One of the few albums I can listen to from start to finish without ever skipping a song. My sister says this about Pearl Jam - they started with a ten and went down a digit with each susbequent album. 'Tis true. Each PJ album after Ten left me vaguely disappointed, like they had topped out with their first effort. Best song on the CD: Porch. Radiohead - Ok Computer I prefer The Bends, but you guys seem to like OK. Actually both albums are works of art. While the rest of the world were scratching their heads over Paranoid Android and Karma Police, the rest of us Radiohead fans were being swept away by the beauty and sadness of Lucky, No Suprises and Exit (Music for a Film). I never, ever get tired of Ok Computer. In fact, I'm going to put it in the player right now. So which will I vote for? I think you can figure that out. The poll is below and you can vote starting now. Comments on voting enabled. New category in the Best of the 90's Awards coming up later today, hopefully. Category suggestions warmly welcomed. (Poll ended. Poll gone.)

The Social Civil War

[This is another one of those written-on-the-fly, rush to post before I get to work, unedited things. Sorry in advance for the lack of clarity. I'm sure I'll add an addendum or two on later] I'm not the only one to bring up the subject of comments. Daniel Drezner and Kevin Drum are both talking about the subject. Billmon has closed down his comments. Kevin at Wizbang is mulling that over. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the problems bloggers are having with commenters is just a microcosm of what's going on at large in the country today. Alan responded in Daniel's comments in regard to the Command Post comment controversy. You can read his whole comment here, I'll excerpt. bq. personally, I see in our comments casual evidence of what the polling firms have been saying for some time: that left and right are becoming increasingly entrenched, and by extension, less tolerant and civil in debating opposing viewpoints. This is complicated by another factor: I believe “regulars” come to feel nearly proprietary ownership for the commenting forum, and they’re increasingly less likely to tolerate “outsiders” over time … because of the community blogs can create some come to see it as their sandbox, rather than ours.
And if you buy that blogs (especially those with high readership levels) are points of collection for opinion leaders … well, it may be we’re seeing a leading indicator of less civil debate in our classrooms, breakrooms, and political conventions. As I Michele and I said to each other on the phone just this evening: we may be in for another summer of 1968. With bloggers on both the left and right complaining about the level of discourse, it's obvious that both sides - self included - are reaching a point where honest debate and talking out the issues is becoming an impossibility. I've been voting since 1980. I've been paying attention since long before then. I honestly cannot remember a presidential election where the sides were so far apart that the feeling of a war between the voters - not the candidates - was in the air. Well, yes I can. We can go back to the 1968 for that. I may have only been six years old at the time, but trust me, I was fully aware. My mother reminds me that I was reading the newspaper every day from the time I could read. Not just the comics or the sports pages, but the entire paper. I asked questions, some she couldn't even answer. And, as my parents were news junkies before me, we watched the nightly news together every evening. I had cousins who were in the thick of the protests. In fact, I had to go with my aunt one evening to drag an older cousin away from a protest that was turning ugly. What I remember most about that year (I do have a memory like an elephant) was the feeling that something was wrong. It shaped how I viewed politics. And now, all these years later (36!) it's come full circle. Back to feeling like something is wrong. Back to the great divide. It's not just bloggers. It's not just protesters. Look at your news talk shows. Bill O'Reilly spends half of his show screaming at or over whatever guest he has on. Other talking heads deride their guests, yell at them or completely dismiss anything they have to say. These shows are nothing but Jerry Springer does politics. And now here we are, in the heat of a presidential election. On the surface, these two duos look strikingly similar - a couple of rich white men on either side. But they could not be farther from each other ideologically. On one side you have the most liberal senator coupled with the fourth most liberal senator. On the other side, two men who are as far to the right as their opponents are to the left. We are in the middle of a war. We are struggling to reign in terrorism. We are inundated with threats. We are still recovering from 9/11. These are major issues. There's no in between. There is no one who says, eh war, I can take it or leave it. Very few people are uttering those words I got used to hearing every election year: It doesn't matter who you vote for, they're all the same. Each side has declared war on the other and while we are not in the throes of some great civil war, we are definitely in a social civil war. Perhaps that is just the precursor for what's to come. So we sit here at our blogs and we write about how much we hate. We write with vitriol, we write with the taste of battery acid on our tongues. We make it a point to post the lies and half truths of our opponents and their followers. We fight amongst ourselves and, by virtue of having comments open or our email address available, we open the door to others to oppose us or agree with us. It's the same as starting a political argument in a public place. At a rally, for instance. Lt. Smash engaged in a battle of sorts with some anti-war protesters. It's no different than what goes on in the comments of this very blog. Perhaps we are just mimicking the world around us. Or perhaps we are bringing the world into our little corner of it. If this blog is my own little pro-Bush or support the troops rally, then part of the comments becomes the corner where the opposition lines up to outscream me. Blogs are just reflecting what is going on around us. I had a Bush/Cheney sticker ripped off my car last week. My friend had her Kerry sign stolen from her front lawn. That about sums up what is happening here. No one wants the other view heard or seen. Perhaps if we scream louder or try to silence the other side, our goals and visions will be the ones everyone sees or hears. I've always been pretty attuned to the air around me. By air, I mean the general feeling in the atmosphere. Someone once told me I could read people's karmas. I suppose if America had a karma right now, it would be a very dark color. It's obvious it's not going to get any better. 119 days until the election and two conventions within those days. The level of animosity is only going to grow. If you want to keep a pulse on the karma of the country, read blogs. Read the comments. I'd venture to say that before 9/11 most bloggers fell in between the Democratic Underground and Free Republic. We lined up just to the left and just to the right of center. You didn't see many tin foil blogs. Something happened to America since then. The hole in the ground in New York became a dividing line. It wasn't evident then, and it didn't become truly evident until after the war in Iraq started. That's when bloggers started lining up on either side of the hole. Instead of bringing us together, these two major events have only widened that hole that sits before us. So do we reflect the country at large? From what I hear on the radio, see on tv, overhear at work, in the supermarket or read in the paper, yes. We do. The comments on all of our blogs represent what non-blogging America is thinking right now. It's an us v. them scenario. Who is us and who is them depends on which side of the hole you are standing on. Is there anything we can do about this? Is it past the point of trying to engage in civil discourse? Has the fuse already reached the point of no return? How many times have I said in the past year that I feel a 1968 coming? Quite a few. Unfortunately, I think it's no longer just coming. It's here. The air has the same quality to it that I felt as a six year old. Like lightning about to strike. You can almost hear the thunder in the distance. I don't think the violence will reach the point it did that year, that's not what I mean. But the ugliness, the divide that keeps getting bigger, the hatred and vitriol; all present and accounted for. In the world of blogs, the only thing we can do is close our comments when they need defusing. Even then, we end up doing the anger dance ourselves, lashing out at the left or the right. We reek of hatred right now. I admit to being part of that. Thing is, I don't know what to do about it. It's perhaps too late to reign in those feelings. Honestly, I don't know if I want to. It feels good to be able to sit down here, type away for an hour or so and release whatever pent up frustration I have. The fact that I allow people to respond to that rage probably fuels it. I honestly want to know what people think. I don't have my comments open so I can get a few pats on the back and someone saying you go, girl. I want to discuss. I want to debate. I want to hear your point of view. I open my site up to people from all sides. Sometimes that backfires. I get enraged emails from readers who demand that I not allow so and so to comment. They say I am supporting the enemy by doing so. Then I get enraged emails from people who demand to know why I delete comments from someone like Robert McClelland. They say I am crushing his dissent. Then an email from someone who wants to know why I deleted their comment when they agree with me. Well, agreeing with me is great. Agreeing with me while directing a racial insult at one of my readers will get your ass kicked out of the comments. It's not easy trying to moderate the comments. I wish I didn't have to. But times like these, they call for a bit of moderation. I see it everywhere. I see the right behaving as bad as the left. I fully admit to fanning the flames with some things I write. I need to take responsibility for that. But I have been sucked into the black hole of 2004. I've drawn my sword, picked my side and I'll stand here until this thing is done. I don't know if I can turn back now. I don't know if I can turn down my volume or lower the level of my righteous indignation. Sometimes I go back and read old posts and I'm ashamed of myself. Other times I'm proud of myself. So I have to take the good with the bad, just like I do for others. I read some blogs from the left that make me cringe at times, but I go back later in the day and I applaud their clarity and sincerity. It's just how it is today. We all go off the rails once in while. Often times, we take others with us. What do we owe to our readers, if anything? What do we owe to those who wish to comment? What do we owe to our country and the civil discourse going on now? We have been called opinion makers. With great power comes great responsibility, you know. Are we too far gone to make a difference in the way the rest of this election plays out on the streets. I'd have to say yes. We can try from here to temper our words, but then are we silencing ourselves? And honestly, I think it wouldn't matter. Even a genial post on the reasons for war would elicit mean spirited comments. Like I said, the blogosphere is just a reflection of the street. And these are mean streets, indeed. Welcome to the social civil war, where we are all soldiers, all victims and all losers, no matter who wins the election.

July 06, 2004

Gothic Dance!

Sure, I may be the last to know this, mainly because I'm behind in my web comic reading, but [almost] the entire cast of Achewood isblogging. That's right, they all have their own blogs. Links are up top. And this whole goth storyline is giving me giggle fits. p.s. don't forget to vote in my album poll thingie. I may not blog again tonight, so I just thought I'd remind you now.

Today's Required Reading

Someone writes Val asking him to participate in a Cuba "exchange" program and Val gives a lesson in how to put someone in their place. Read the whole thing. Val rules.

Best of the 90's Poll Phase 1: Albums

Weapons of Mass Distraction. That's exactly what I need right now. I'm betting that quite a few of you feel the same way. That is why I am unveiling the ASV Best of the 90's Pop Culture Awards. This is all the fault of VH1, which is presenting it's I Love the 90's series starting next week. Here's how it works. Each day I will announce a new category. I'll take nominations all day for that specific category. Eventually, I'll add up the nominees and present a very unscientific poll to come up with the final winners. The categories will be the usual; Best of books, movies, music, video games and whatever else comes to mind. I'll probably do a Worst Of award as well for reach category. I'm open to suggestions. It will pretty much run the same way I ran the video game awards: at my whim. I'm not going to be bothered with breaking down each category into genres. Just don't have the time or patience for that. Besides, who really cares about the best disco album of the decade? We're going to start right here, right now, with albums of the 90's. I already blogged this subject before and you can find my own nominees right here (just scroll down). The nomination process goes like this: Pick your favorite albums from the 90's (no more than three, please) and put them in the comments. You may include commentary if you so desire, which may come in handy at final voting time. Easy enough, right? Let the Nirvana v. Pearl Jam bickering begin. Nominations open until midnight tonight. Tomorrow brings a new category and the best album finalists. Below are some links to get your memory in gear. Select Best of the 90's Top ten of the 90's In the 90's Important 90's rock albums

Caption Contest

I'm a little busy at work today, so work on the 90's thing will have to wait until later. Until then, humor me. Caption, please. kerryedwardssmoochies.jpg' No prizes, just (hopefully) some Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday laughs.

Anyone Home at the New York Post?

As of 9:17 am, a full hour after everyone and their brother announced that Kerry chose Edwards, the NY Post still has this on their website. [click for larger] Notice the juxtaposition of the Gephardt news with the breaking Edwards news on the right. There are rumors this was all a disinfo campaign by the Kerry campaign because they consider the post an "enemy" paper. I refuse to believe that. [Thanks to Allison for the tip] Alan is going crazy with the live blogging over at TCP. Check it out. Update: The story that the Kerry people conned the Post seems to be making the rounds and I suppose I'm the only one who didn't believe it. It just seemed so...dishonest. I guess I still have a few naive moments left in me. Update 2: Reader Keiran sends over this Photoshop: (below)


In regards to my entry below, someone at the New York Post is going to get fired today. Kerry picks Edwards, live coverage at Command Post.

A Bit on Comments, Leading to a Bit on the 90's

Alan and I have made the decision to turn off commenting at Command Post until we can install Type Key. I have a feeling that even Type Key will not dispell the acrimonious air that pervades the comments over there at times. There are certain commenters (some left, some right and some moderate) who have set the tone and ruined what used to be a pretty good open forum on the day's news. Warnings, deleted comments, a new comment policy and bannings did nothing to stop the hate and ugliness that pervaded the comment section at TCP. I know the comments are what a lot of people came to TCP for. Not many news sites have such a place for open exchange of ideas and civil discourse. Of course, the discourse became rather uncivil and we will sacrifice our hit counter (which directly affects our adversting and credibility, especially in terms of getting press credentials) in order to clean out the house. Like Alan says, it's just getting to be a pain in the ass to read the comments in order to police them, rather than reading them to enjoy them. It's time consuming, especially when most posts garner over 100 comments. It's eventually going to happen here as well; I'll either start with comment registration or Type Key or move to no comments and a bulletin board type place instead, where I will take no responsibility for the comments within. As it is, ASV is my home and if you do not wipe your feet before you come in here (that goes for righties as well as lefties, no free passes), I'm going to end up shutting the door to everyone. I don't want to end up having to approve comments; that leaves too much room for people to claim that I am crushing their dissent or whatnot. It mostly makes me laugh when people say that, or call this site an echo chamber. A quick walk through the comments on any political post will prove otherwise. However, the level of civility in the comments here is shrinking down to nothing and I feel it's just going to get worse in the coming months. I'm giving it another week before I decide whether ASV will follow the lead of Command Post. Of course, one way to get away from the ugly commenting is to post about something besides war and politics. Which is why I was thinking about resurrecting the video game awards from last December. I think it would be a good distraction from the underlying current of antagonism that usually permeates this place. That's not to say I won't be writing about the news and politics, it just means that I'll be concentrating mostly on my new idea: In honor of VH1's new series I Love the 90's, I'll be staging the Pop Culture of the 90's Award Show. Well, not really a show so much as a lot of polls and a lot of posts on the subject. Look for the start later on today or tonight. If that goes well, I'll think about doing the 80's. I just need a fun distraction and this just might be it.

Vice President: Gephardt Dewey Defeats Truman

Update: Looks like the Post is going to have a bit of egg on its face this morning. nypostkerry.bmp That's the NY Post Scoop of the Day. Should we believe it? It's unlikely a paper as big as the post would risk it all by printing a cover like that without being pretty sure. Kerry is supposed to announce at 9am (EST). If you've got some last minute prognostications or thoughts on the subject, now is the time to spit them out so you can appear to be astute and prescient later on. Also, let's go with the Gephardt announcement. Good, bad or indifferent? That's pretty much moot now. [Post story via Michelle Malkin] Update: Fox News is citing reliable sources say that the pick will be Edwards. Live coverage of Kerry/Edwards at Command Post.

July 05, 2004

Poor, Sad Ted

Ted Rall's latest post in its entirety:
Time to Trade Up Saddam Hussein, influenced by fascism, ordered the deaths of tens of thousands of people, fought two disastrous wars, turned his nation into an international pariah and ruined his country's economy. In other words, his record is identical to George W. Bush's. As we saw at his "arraignment" before a U.S.-picked Iraqi puppet tribunal last week, however, there is a difference between the two men. Hussein is much smarter, funnier and more erudite than Bush. When Saddam pointed out that Bush was the real criminal, who could argue? He even managed to defend the invasion of Kuwait! So why not swap them out? We get Saddam Hussein as our president; the Iraqis get Bush. Consider the benefits: we get gargantuan statues and a leader capable of using language--think how fast he'll solve the Palestinian issue! and they get, well, the guy who's really in charge anyway.
Ted's just reaching now. See, Michael Moore is stealing all of Ted's thunder. Rall used to be the "go to" guy for asinine quotes. With F911 all the rage now, poor Ted (who is miffed that Moore didn't invite him to the opening of the film) has been relegated to the back of the shelf. What else could explain this steaming pile of crap? Last I checked, Bush wasn't gassing his own people, building torture rooms in the White House, running unopposed, watching while henchmen decapitate people who oppose his views, stealing oil for food money or growing a silly mustache. Ted knows this. He's just going through a rough time right now. Moore has surpassed Rall in conspiracy theories and outright lies about the adminstration and he's making millions doing it to boot. Teddy boy is languishing in New York, still virtually uknown outside of political junkie circles, still churning out badly drawn cartoons that repeat the same stale punch lines over and over again and still making about one hundredth the money that Moore is making. Moore is the celebrity du jour now. He's practically spearheading Kerry's campaign by proxy. And Ted, well, he's just still Ted. This latest post is just Ted's way of trying to out-Moore Moore. I think we should feel bad about this. I was thinking we could all send him an e-card. In fact, I made one that you could just add your signature to. Send it to chet@rall.com. dearted.jpg I think Ted would really appreciate it. I definitely take him for a wallow-in-pity kind of guy. (More on this at Ted's full of crap) Happy Bunny is property of Jim Benton. You can purchase Happy Bunny products here.


Did you have a great Fourth? Did you take lots of pictures? Then upload a few of those photos to the Command Post 4th of July Reader Photo Gallery. Show us how you celebrated! Working on I Wanna Rock, the sequel. I found my Monsters of Rock CD, so you all better get ready to bang your head! Update: Meant to link Meryl's parody song earlier in the week, but forgot. If you haven't seen it yet, go.

Free Iran

I made a couple of images for anyone who is blogging about Iran, especially the 18 Tir demonstrations. (See yesterday's post here for more of my thoughts on that) freeiran1.jpg

bfiran.jpg Fee free to swipe them, just save them to your own server, please. The first image was taken from the Activistchat.com Cafe Press store, where you can purchase all kinds of swag to help fight the good fight. Free Iran links: Americans for Free Iran Democracy for Iran 18 Tir Demonstrations (July 8, 2004) Michael Ledeen: Fear of the Terror Masters I remember last year at this time it seemed that the whole blogosphere was "blogging Iran" in support of the 18 Tir demostrations. It seems quiet this year. Let's get behind them in force again.


Well, the fireworks shots were better than last year's but still not great. Although, I have to admit I like the look of them, even if they didn't come out looking exactly right. Practice, practice. You can see the rest of the pictures in the gallery. I thought I ran the gamut on freedom talk yesterday, but today I see that Laughing Wolf is asking: What are you for? Short answer is, I'm for freedom, but you know better than to think I only have a short answer to something. So, what am I for? I'm for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I'm for all men being equal. I'm for choosing; where I want to go, what I want to be, who I want to talk to or walk with. I'm for reading what I want, when I want. I'm for seeing the movies and television shows and playing the games that I choose for myself. I'm for education that doesn't indoctrinate. I'm for free thinking and questioning everything. I'm for demanding answers and accountability. I'm for open source knowledge and sharing ideas. I'm for taking responsibility for actions and words. I'm for letting our children be who they are. I'm for giving kids the freedom to make up their own minds, to guide them towards a path but let them find their own way and accepting them when they stray from that path. I'm for setting boundaries and setting down rules. I'm for honesty and sincerity, openness and truthfulness. I'm for a society built on respect for everyone within it. I'm for treating others the way you want to be treated. I'm for safety and precaution. I'm for security and a life without fear. I'm for protection and deterrence. I'm for facing down enemies and standing with allies. I'm for freedom for everyone, not just my neighbors. I'm for peace. I'm for justice. I'm for countries and people that are for those things as well. I'm for things that have nothing to do with gaining freedom, but are by products of it. I'm for picnics and parades and barbecues. I'm for spending money at huge malls or small stores. I'm for the pursuit of love and the building of friendships. I'm for the information superhighway and unlimited access to all it encompasses. I'm for free speech, free press and free ice cream days at Baskin Robbins. I'm for paid holidays, well-stocked libraries and concerts on the lawn at the local park. I'm for fireworks displays, cheesy movies and rock and roll. I'm for the freedom that allows me to have or do all of these things. I'm for America and all it has afforded me. And believe it or not, I'm for your right to hate America. I'm for your prerogative to not be for anything. I'm for people who are against the things I'm for because that only underscores the freedom that is at the top of my list. I'm for my freedom. I'm for everyone, everywhere eventually having the same.

July 04, 2004

Happy Birthday, America

My fireworks photos came out more like fractal art than fireworks, but I still like them. I'll post some in the gallery tommorow. It's like closing time at Disney around here. For a place where fireworks are illegal, there's sure a lot of sky show going on. We're headed back out for more. Hope your Fourth was safe and fun.

For Met Fans

I'm at my parents' house for the day. As you know by now, my dad is a die hard Met fan as well as a rabid Yankee hater. So the game ends, the Yanks are swept by the Mets and dad tells us that he put a new flag up in front of the house to replace my mother's Yankee flag. I'm only posting it here because I know that some of you will get a good laugh out of it. Don't say I never did anything for you. It hurt me to post this. (Some of us Yankee fans do have a sense of humor)

(All I've Got is a) Photograph*

The Command Post wants your Independence Day photos. Also, found a few places with helpful hints for taking photos of fireworks with a digital camera. Here and here. * gratitious Def Leppard reference. Still on that metal mania kick.

Independence for All

bq. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. The photo in the banner you see here today is of a building that stands next to the spot where the World Trade Center towers used to stand. I use this photo today not only because it shows Lady Liberty, standing tall and proud. I use it because the place where it stands represents a time in my life when I stopped taking my country and its freedoms for granted. When I was very young, I understood very well what the Fourth of July meant. My mother would often read to us from the constitution on that day. In later years, she would force us to watch 1776, a surprisingly moving and entertaining musical about Independence Day. The advent of the VCR meant she could play the movie at whim. Which meant that all day long, every July fourth, we would grudgingly sing along with mom: Commitment! The croakers all say we'll rue the day There'll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory Through all the gloom, through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory! I felt pride in my country then. At some point, I'm not sure when, that pride waned. In later years the Fourth was more about having parties - it was my grandfather's birthday and each subsequent year brought a bigger, better and louder family gathering. We watched baseball instead of 1776. We craned our necks in the evening gasping over beautiful fireworks, never giving thought to what those fireworks were supposed to be a celebration of. Now that I've renewed my relationship with my country, I no longer take for granted the freedom I enjoy as an American. I am thankful every day that I live in a place that affords me the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the right to complain loudly if I should feel those rights are being taken away. I don't feel that way at all, but the idea that I could go down to Washington, D.C., stand in front of the White House and berate my president if I felt like and not be put to death for it is something that I cherish. Those of you reading this who are Americans, take stock of what you have. Your day is filled with choices. Your life is filled with choices. You can be or not be whatever you want. You can practice any religion you desire, or no religion at all. You can come and go freely. You choose your own destiny. It's not the same around the world. There are countries where the people have to fight every day to try to gain just a tiny fraction of the freedoms that we so often take for granted. Our forefathers stood up to tyranny and look how we have reaped the benefits of that. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone else who wants to stand up to tyranny. In Iran, they are doing just that. And while today is America's Independence Day, a day to celebrate liberty, in order to ensure that our liberties always exist, that our flag will always still be there, we must stand side by side with those in other countries who are fighting for their own liberties. We have 228 years of freedom behind us. There are countries, like Iran, with zero years of freedom. While we live free, they are oppressed. Yet, like our founding fathers before us, the freedom fighters of Iran are rising up against tyranny. They are risking their lives to speak out and fight for their basic rights. What good is our freedom if it is only ours? Regimes that oppress their own people would also oppress us, given the chance. To fight for the people of those countries is to fight for your own country as well. We are all humans and deserve the basic dignities that come with liberty. There is no dignity in a country run by cruel mullahs. Life is not sacred to them. Neither is freedom. But it is to us, and we have the freedom to support those who are fighting for those things. I want to share my Independence Day with the people of Iran. I want to take this day, a day in which I celebrate my freedom, to stand side by side with those who have the guts to take on the tyrants. bq. We cannot sit around and wait for the bureaucracies of the world to bring freedom to WE THE PEOPLE, so we must join forces and unite with all who believe in freedom. When freedom is in danger, it matters little what political leanings or perspectives we hold. We are all human beings and so together we must show our strength through unity and defeat the Islamofascist Terrorists and the regimes who sponsor them as they work hard to divide us. Roger Simon (who is the force behind this post) says: bq. This is not a Democrat/Republican/left/right issue, but about basic human rights. All of us should want to help end a totalitarian regime. And let me emphasize one thing--these young people are not asking for US military assistance. They see that as counter-productive. What they want is the firm diplomatic and economic isolation of the Mullahs by the United States and other countries. They will do the rest. Let's give them a hand! July 9th (18 Tir) marks a symbolic movement against the evil regime in Iran. It is the rememberence of this day: bq. The Students Uprising of July 9th, 1999 was the first popular movement, which showed beyond doubt that killings of Foruhars and writers, not only did not stop the ones who want real change in Iran, but it has made them more determined, when seeing the reformist regime did not even work hard to protect its own friends, let alone guaranteeing the protection of real opposition, as one would expect of a real reformist regime.

The Students were vocal about their demands for change in Iran, and the regime was also very clear in its attack on them. The vigilantes attacked, killed, and wounded the students ,and many of the student leaders were arrested, but Khatami threatened the students to discontinue or get the stick, and some of the student leaders are still in Islamic Republic’s dungeons, have been forced to TV pseudo-confessions, and the like. But even the TV confessions have backfired on the regime, making its image more like that of Savak confessions of this regime’s predecessor, Shah’s regime, which Iranian people still remember. I posted many links about 18 Tir last year, when the blogosphere came together in a big way to support the Iranian students. We need to do that again this year. There are many Iranian blogs now - they will know we are here, standing beside them. Celebrate your own independence by vowing to help those who are seeking the same. Sign this petition to show your support. If possible, attend some of the U.S. rallies listed on that page. Read this site daily to keep with what is happening in Iran. This will be an important week for those in Iran who are battiling for liberty. As we celebrate our own liberties and freedom today, we should take some time to remember those who do not have the things which we so often take for granted. The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, and we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good. - Thomas Jefferson Our freedom is inextricably tied with the freedom of others. We must help all those who want to face the tyrants as our founding fathers did. In order to truly be secure in our freedom, we must make sure that others are also free. And we must, as a tribute to our forefathers who fought and died so we can live like this, help those who struggle to have what we have. If that means just showing support to anyone in any country that is willing to fight for basic human rights, we must do that. I know you are probably wondering why I've chosen to take this American holiday and spend the time talking about Iran, but I see the two as sum parts of whole. Of course, I will do the usual celebrating today, with the requisite barbecue, fireworks, beer and baseball. But I will not take my freedom for granted and I will not forget that there are others who strive to have a day like this each year, a day to raise their glasses to liberty. Happy Independence Day, Americans. Here is to the hope that someday we will celebrate as one with the rest of the world to mark a time of freedom and justice for all. Notes: I will be spending a good deal of time writing about 18 Tir this week, as will many other bloggers. You can find out much more about this day right here. Also, I will not tolerate trolls on this post. Not today. Any off topic references or attempts to start a fight will be deleted. Give it a rest for one day. Please.

July 03, 2004

checking in, checking out

We spent the day fixing up the pool. We thought it just needed a new liner, but we discovered after taking the old liner down that the sides of the pool are a bit rusted. I swear, the people who had this house before us didn't take care of anything they owned. We can't afford a new pool this year, so we're winging it with this one. We're just hoping that it lasts through summer and we don't have any incidents. Like the pool collapsing while the kids are in it. Apropos of the post below, we lit up the charcoal and fired up some steaks for dinner. Perfection. And now, we head out to the backyard again to await the fireworks show at the local park. So Metal Mania Radio, the sequel, will have to wait. I really wanted to post some Fourth of July stuff today, had every intention to do so, but this having my own yard thing is really getting in the way of blogging. That's a good thing, by the way. Snippets of things I meant to write about: Two great Fourth of July baseball memories. Mets and Braves go 19 innings. It was one of the most bizarre baseball games I have ever seen. A pitcher (Rick Camp) had to pinch hit in one of the late innings and ended up hitting a home run to tie the game up yet again. Stayed awake for the whole thing, which ended at about 3am. Dave Righetti's no hitter. Dave was the man. For a while. And then I wanted to write about one of my favorite Revolutionary war heroes, Ethan Allen. But Washington Irving wrote about him a long time ago, you can read that here: The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga I'll have something more on the holiday - and freedom itself - in the morning. Remember my fireworks warning, kids. I mean it. That's why we're going to watch from a safe distance.


I stopped in the house briefly - been working in the yard today - to check the news and saw that their are claims the Marine held hostag has been killed. Decapitated. There is nothing I can say that I did not say the last three times this happened. It does not get any less despicable. It does not get easier to swallow with each passing murder. Instead, I get angrier and I suppose there is nothing to gain - as I've learned here - from spitting out the same angry rant for the fourth time in just a short time span. As an aside - most news sites have had this story up for hours. CNN still has NOTHING on the front page about it. Command Post is covering it. Jeff Quinton has tons of links. The fact that he was a Marine does not make it any worse; all the victims were human beings with families. But it does make it different, in terms of retaliation, one would think. We'll see.

ASV Radio is BACK!

Inspired by many of the comments in the I Wanna Rock post of yesterday, I bring you the ASV Metal Mania/This Should Make You Feel Old Radio station. Check over on the left sidebar for the player. We're on our way out to get DJ a new amp, so I just rushed these up there without checking to see if they converted ok. Sorry for any skips, errors in the music, etc. I'm taking requests for Metal Mania, the Sequel, which will be added to the existing playlist later today. Try to keep with the theme, guys.

Charcoal (Homer) v. Propane (Hank)

Over at Fark, there's a thread about gas grills v. charcoal grills. We have a charcoal grill. There's just something about burgers cooked over a pile of red hot coals that make them more savory than anything grilled over propane. The smell of a charcoal grill is the smell of summer. It's just not right any other way. You can keep your expensive gas machines with all their trappings. Give me burning embers, lighter fluid and roasting marshmallows over the the simmering remains of the fire any day over your dangerous, expensive propane. This is about more than how you grill. It's Homer v. Hank Hill. v. Are you a Homer or a Hank?

Tour de France: All You Need to Know

Remember that song by Kraftwerk? Hated it. Anyhow, if you are a fan of the big race or even just a casual observer , Joe has a great preview with lots of information. He's a big TDF fan as well as a bike racer (is that the proper terminology?) himself. I'm sure Charles will be covering the race as well.

Celebrate Your Freedom With Something Free

Don't forget, kids. Today is the third annual Free Comic Book Day. It looks like they are gearing it more towards the youth market this year, with offerings like Archie, Mickey Mouse and Teen Titans. Check the locator to find a participating store near you. Bring a kid or two. It's a great way make a new comic book fan.

July 02, 2004

Nature Rules

I've just witnessed a freak show put on by nature. A lightning storm played out in the clouds to the south of us. At least a thirty minute long display of flashing lights and bolts that looked like skeletons in the sky. The storm never moved at all, it was stuck in one spot where it kept spitting out electricity that would rival any special effects light show. Sometimes it looked as if armageddon had come; my brother in law said it reminded him of scenes out of Band of Brothers, like constant gunfire and explosions, except it was completely silent. Not a thunder clap, not a crackle, not a single sound. Total eeriness. I tried to take some pictures but it was near impossible. All I know is that the entire block was standing outside watching this. I have never in all my years seen anything so spectacularly awesome and fearsome. I'm just glad it appears to be several miles away. [I think it may have been heat lightning. Is there a meteorologist in the house?]

I Wanna Rock!

I don't listen to the radio too often because New York music radio sucks. But once in a while, K-Rock comes up with something good. This time, it's the Metal Meltdown Weekend. They blasted off the metal mania at 3pm, when I was in my car, driving home towards a three day weekend. First song: Scorpions, Rock You Like a Hurricane. You know the rest. Windows down, volume turned up to 11, resurrecting my metal goddess scream. And it dawned on me: I miss stadium rock. You know what I mean by stadium rock (a/k/a arena rock). High-pitched, screaming lyrics in songs that put today's three minute ditties to shame. Blazing guitar solos. Rolling drums. Come on, get there with me. You're in a stadium, circa 1979, wearing your baseball jersey, probably the one with the AC/DC logo on it. Tens of thousands of fellow metal heads swarm around you. And then, the lights go down. Laser beams turn on. It's all neon and effected smoke. The drum roll begins and some dude in a leather vest and sequined pants is being lowered onto the stage by strings. The guitarist screeches his entrance and the leather dude emits a roar into his microphone. Rock. On. For the next three hours you're a mess of sweat and spilled beer. You smell like Cheech and Chong's van. Your throat is sore and your ears are ringing. And as the leather dude and his band exit the stage, you let out a strained scream and flick your Bic until your thumb goes numb. That is rock and roll. God damn, I miss those days. I intend to spend this weekend with K-Rock's metal mania turned up all the way. I'm going to drink nothing but warm Budweiser, cut my hair into a mullet and turn my living room into a replica of Nassau Coliseum, complete with strobe and laser lights and bad acoustics. I'm even going to pretend there's some dude outside who wants to rip me off by trying to sell me a nickel bag of oregano, and I'll kick his ass and have my boyfriend kick his ass too and then we'll all go hang out behind 7-11 and talk about how much Ozzy fucking rocks, man. Eh, who am I kidding? I'll be drinking martinis and painting the trim in the kitchen while Dio'sRainbow in the Dark blares from the speakers and makes me feel old. But I do take solace in the fact that Dee Snider is seven years older than me.

For your entertainment/kneel before Jor-El

This is the funniest things I've seen in months. Saddam plays rock, paper, scissors. Also: I apologize for being flippant about Marlon Brando's death. Several emails ask: Did I like anything Brando did as an actor? Yes, I thought he was great in Superman and fantastic in The Godfather. Superb in On the Waterfront. And, unlike many people, I thought he was superb in Guys and Dolls. I've seen several versions of the play, and nobody played Sky Masterson as perfectly Brando did in the movie. Nobody. He was also one good looking man back then.

The Making of an Evil Sports Fan

I've discovered that a sports rivalry can be more divisive than any left/right politics. I am not a spoiled sports brat, contrary to popular belief. It's not like the Yankees have always had good years. I've sat through some major suckage, just like the rest of you. Bob Lemon ring a bell? 89? 90? 91? I'm an Islander fan. Who has suffered more than that? The early years were a disaster but it's even worse to win four cups in a row and then hit rock bottom all over again. I grew up a Jets fan. You want miserable failure? Try wearing the green and the white. How many of you had a team actually abandon you? I've taken a lot of crap over time for my sports allegiances. If you Red Sox fans want to complain about my attitude, go talk to your fellow sports enthusiasts in town, the Bruins fans. They singlehandedly did more to embitter me toward opposing fans than anyone else in any sport, including Flyers fans and Duke fans. And don't even get me started on the fair weather Met fans of 1986 who, to this day, remain on my list of people to smite when I receive my godly powers some day. I used to be casual about rivalries. I used to enjoy all teams from all sports. I've worn the jerseys of the Maple Leafs, the Braves and the San Antonio Spurs. I've cheered on teams from Winnepeg down to Houston. I've been a good sport. But those days are gone and you've all played a part in it. So now I've joined the dark side and become on of them; the sports fan that you hate. The one who gloats when your team sucks. The one who lords it over you when your team is so error prone they make the Bad News Bears look like a gold glove all star team. The one who cuts pictures of your favorite players out of the newspaper and mails them to you, defaced and disgraced. I am a bitter, war-torn sports fan and even though I will never, ever be the one who wears face paint or starts a stupid chant, I will be the one grinning like an evil bastard at you when your team goes down hard. I hate myself for it sometimes, but it can't be helped. I'm not spoiled. I'm just filled with a bitter poison that's been fed to me from years of rivarly abuse. Evil sports fans are not born, they are made. You made me. Are you happy now, Dr. Frankenstein? Well, are you? Yanks v. Mets tonight at the Big Blue Toilet Bowl. Bring it on, bitches.


Not here. Here: The Real Environmental Terrorism. Also, this: Poor, poor Red Sox fans. I think I just might feel sorry for them.

Dr. Mephisto Dead?


Reports surfacing that Marlon Brando is dead. I wonder what will happen to the North American Marlon Brando Look Alike association now? (Honestly, I thought he was dead already) Update: It's been confirmed, but just remember that you heard it hear first! So that makes me the absolute leader in Marlon Brando death related news Write that on my tombstone, ok?

Do Not Drink and Detonate

It is time once again to remind those of you with less than normal intelligence that fireworks are hot, dangerous and may burn you if you do not handle them properly. Trying to light fireworks after consuming a twelve pack of beer is not a good idea. For anyone. Accidents can happen, people and they will happen to you, especially if you mix drinking and detonating. Let's go over last year's warning: That should be enough to sway you. Now, you can go use the signmaker to make your own Fourth of July Warning Signs. It's Friday. Have some fun!

More Ramblings About the Right and Left, Moore or Less

Through Simon's new showcase, I came across Harvey, which lead me to Michele. Harvey tells Michele's story, which is quite similar to another "one l" Michele you know: This Michele also lost loved ones on 9/11. She also was once part of the the left. She also changed her political beliefs in the wake of 9/11. And she, too, has been losing friends and gaining enemies over that. Not only have those on the left she used to associate with all but dismissed her, but they hijacked her site as well, after she posted the announcement that she was leaning away from the left. Michele is up and blogging at a new site now. It's been almost two years since my conversion to the right-of-center was cemented. It was a slow process that I wasn't even aware was happening until something triggered my awakening. I still get the emails, I still get the comments once in a while and I still get a good dose of ridicule on sites of former friends or blog acquantainces. It just goes with the territory. I expected it and I suppose the other Michele expected it as well. I think the venom with which they come at you is what's surprising. Anyhow, I wish Michele the best. It's not easy to come away from personal attacks with your self-esteem left standing, especially when you've been dealing with such introspection and self-doubt while acknowleding that you've changed, that your ideals and politics are just not what they used to be. We downloaded F911 last night. I really wanted to see this movie just so I could write/talk about it without relying on other people's reviews or comments. Of course, I wasn't going to pay to be lied to, so we stole it. It's the socialist way! I watched the first ten minutes or so and had to turn it off. Perhaps attempting this on a Thursday night at 11pm, after feeling so good about Spiderman 2 and so cranky from being tired, was not a good idea. We'll attempt it again tonight, armed with apple martinis and maybe some cannolis (You say canole, I say cannoli. I'm the Italian, that makes me right). Maybe it was more than ten minutes we watched. I got through the part about Bush being on vacation all the time. That always irked me. Even back in the beginning of his presidency, when I was still considered an anti-Bushite, it bothered me. Do these people think that Crawford, Texas is fenced in an alienated from the rest of the world, cut off from all communication? That ranch is like White House South. Yea, the man golfs and cuts down brush. Personally, I'd rather have a president who cleans up his yard in his spare time than one who has his dick cleaned by his intern when he's got nothing else to do. Watch ths drive, bitch! Now I'm wondering why they would want the soldiers on their side, anyhow. After all, our soldiers are not heroes. In fact, they represent everything the left hates. I wonder what they do consider a hero. Mr. "Free" Mumia? Che? Michael Moore? I gave a lot of though to the subject of heroes last night after seeing Spiderman 2. In my eyes, a hero is someone who sacrifices for the common good. A fireman, like Pete Ganci, who went into a burning building to save lives on 9/11 and never came out. A soldier, like Sgt. Hook or Lt. Smash, who put their lives on the line to preserve and/or bring freedom. No, their heroes are cop killers. Their heroes are profiteers who engage in opportunistic pandering in order to benefit themselves and their bank accounts. Hey, I thought capitalism sucked? Then again, hypocrisy seems to be their strong point. Some people say that I'm being unfair to the left by not pointing out the zealots on the right. Like I've said before, it's not my job to be fair and balanced here, nor do I ever purport to be that. However, in the interest of fairness I can tell you that I don't give much credence to the far right. I don't listen to Rush. I don't care for Ann Coulter. In an email conversation yesterday with Stacy, she reminded me that I am not the right. I'm a centrist, I guess, though she calls me - and herself - a libertarian. Honestly, I'm not sure what I am. I know that I believe the war in Iraq is just. I believe that the war on terrorism is worth fighting. I believe that George Bush would be a better president than John Kerry. I believe that the security of this country and the need for freedom and democracy in the Middle East are priorities. Those are the things that align me with the right. Those are the things that make me hated by the left. They don't want to know about my stance on taxes, abortion, gay rights, religion or anything else. They get angry that I haven't put their needs at the top of my list of things to look for in a candidate. I have my priorities and because they are not their priorities, that makes me Public Enemy Number One. With a bullet. Oh, you're there as well. It's a collective number one. If you have a Blogs for Bush button on your site, if you support the war, if you think Iran is a dangerous threat, if you are pro-Israel, you're on their list. Listen, I've been on the right's list. I've been targeted by them before because of certain views I have or had. But it's nothing like what I see from the left. They've turned vicious. They've become rabid dogs. And here I go again, yet another post lamenting the fallen ideals of the left. I can't help it. I'm confronted with it every day. Today it was the plight of the other Michele that got me going. So I'm preparing myself to watch F911 tonight. I'm sure most of the lefties who stop by here would love it if I finished the movie, took off my tin foil hat and declared myself a devout Moore follower, going AWOL from the Bush camp. Alas, I am able to think on my own, something they just don't give anyone else but themselves credit for. Of course, these are the same people who insist I was brainwashed into becoming a Bush supporter. The moral of the story? If you support Kerry or the left, it's because you are a smart and a free thinker. If you support Bush or the right, it's because some nefarious underground cabal of neocons spiked your Kool Aid. They think we're idiots. We think they're misguided. And never the two shall meet. It's a shame, really. Feels a bit like '68 around here lately.


Jeter is the man.

July 01, 2004

Does Whatever a Sequel Can

Just came back from seeing Spiderman 2. I said that the first Spiderman was the best to comic to film movie ever. Spidey 2 is more than that; it's an action movie first, a comic book movie second. It would stand on its own whether or not the legacy of Spiderman, comic book hero, came before it. It's got everything I love in a movie: action, adventure, drama, romance, car crashes, explosions and a cool villain. But what makes Spidey 2 work so well are the two things that pull all the other stuff together: a great sense of humor and Sam Raimi. I don't want to write a full scope review now, there's a few underlying themes I want to work into a post in the morning. I'll just tell you what I'm going to tell everyone else: Don't miss this movie. It's a great summer joyride. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably see it again.

show those mad skillz

Head over to Command Post, where we celebrate seeing Saddam in a courtroom by launching both a Photoshop and caption contest. My entry: saddphoto.jpg My sister Lisa's entry is below. saddam1.jpg

Fun With Dick

The Dick Cheney photoshop template just keeps giving and giving. It started here, which is my favorite of the whole bunch. I opened it up to the readers here, and these are my three favorites so far. [click for bigger images] 1. Laurence 2. Rob 3. Researcher You, too can have fun with Dick, Rudy and George. And it's equally amusing for liberals, conservatives, Yankee and Sox fans. It's quite versatile too, as you can use it to make your point on everything from hot dogs to war! Help yourself to my Dick and join in the fun. Speaking of captions, check these out. Laugh and the world laughs at you. Or something like that.

Debbie Does Disney

Ok, not Debbie, Jessie. Disney has paid the Jessica half of the Skankette duo a six figure sum for a novel based on her real-life exploits selling her body to dirty old men for extra cash. Well, girls. Why spend all your time and money going to college to earn a degree when you can just get butt fucked by a few politicians and become an overnight sensation, a psuedo celebrity, get profiled in all the biggest newspapers and magazines and make a nice living off of it? And special thanks to Disney for being another cog in the "women are just the sum of the parts of their bodies" wheel.


Over at Command Post, I posted The Quotable Saddam. * When he was charged with ordering the killing of Kurds in the poison gas attack at Halabja in 1988: "Yes, I heard about that." * On the Kuwaitis: "They were trying to turn Iraqi women into prostitutes for just $10. How could you defend those dogs?" * On his appearance in court: "This is all theater, the real criminal is Bush." * Justifying the invasion of Kuwait: "It was for the Iraqi people." So Saddam did his perp walk today and I have to say, it's a proud day for me both as an American and as a citizen of this planet. No matter how much some people want to dismiss this is mere theater (Saddam included) and no matter how many people are carping about how we ended up with Saddam in custody, it will not take away from this one important fact: Saddam is going to face justice. Imagine that. This "illegal" war, this war that was "all about oil," this war that never should have happened according to some, has resulted in a terrible, terrible tyrant being taken out of commission and brought before the very people whom he tormented with fear for many years. Is that not worth celebrating? I would hope that for this historic moment, people could put aside the ideals they have about this war and why and how it was started and be thankful for all Iraqis and for the rest of the world that Saddam Hussein can never kill again. bq. "With all the mass graves we have seen in Iraq, I think Saddam deserves capital punishment," said Sawsam Jamal, a Kurdish woman from Kirkuk, a region where the deposed leader reportedly authorized the gassing of thousands and the murder of thousands more. "Saddam should be wiped out as soon as possible so that the Iraqi people can awaken from this nightmare." Of course, there are many in the Sunni Triangle area who still support the deposed dictator: bq. "We had a better life during Saddam era," said Faleh, who works at the Ramadi Education Directorate. "We want a fair trial where Saddam can speak and defend himself against the fabricated charges filed against him. Saddam used to punish only the bad people who used to destabilize the country." Of course he had a better life under Saddam. Those who walked the walk with Saddam's henchmen often had good lives. And if this quoted man believes that all the women raped and children killed and men decapitated by the Saddam regime were destabilizing the country, then peace isn't exatly his cup of tea. There are going to be many, like Faleh, who want Saddam brought back to power. He will always have his followers because there will always be people who believe that absolute power and might, made evident through the systematic abuses wrought upon those who stray the wrong way, are the only way to keep those below you in line. As long as they have their cash flow and their lives and the lives of their families are secure, the torture and abuse of others doesn't matter. These are the people who now call themselves insurgents. They parade the streets of the Sunni Triangle with rocket launchers. They keep women and children in "safe houses" so that when a safe house is raided or bombed, the US can look like child killers. So I take what a man like Faleh says and discard into the propaganda pile, where the words of all those who fell under the hypnotic glare of Saddam's dirty money and false sense of security lay. I won't say it doesn't worry me that a not insiginifcant amount of Saddam supporters still exist in Iraq. But I do believe that as the ranks of insurgents dwindle, the Saddam believers will become less and less visible. Today is indeed an historic day. In keeping with my theme from yesterday - build on hope - I have to say that Saddam facing trial in his own country gives me great hope not just for Iraq, but for the world. Do not be so quick to dismiss the significance of this event. Even a symbolic gesture, such as seeing Saddam in handcuffs, must be a wonderful sight to those who lived under his thumb for so long. It gives hope, and hope is the best of all foundations. Update: From Robert Stewart's Saddam and Justice in today's Washington Times. bq. Asked whether he believed Saddam deserved the death penalty, Iraq's Interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said in a recent interview: "We are people of an Iraq that used to be when the trial starts, there's already a precooked or prepared sentence in the pocket of the judge. We don't want that to happen. We are different." Mr. al-Yawer's words signal optimism for an independent judiciary, one that will compile and weigh the facts rather than determine his fate before holding a fair trial. Read the rest, as the say.

July is National Moshing Month!

[Not really, just making the title reflect the themes inside the post, but I am willing to start a movement to make it so] Get up, turn the calendar page and let out a small moan. The dread that is July has arrived. Almost all the boxes on this month's page have markings. Parties, appointments, some kind of repair person showing up on my doorstep. In my mind, each box for each day of July is also marked with a thermometer. The thermometer has one setting: Uncomfortable. That's what July always has been, always will be, unless that villian known as global warming makes all my dreams come true and turns New York into a winter wonderland twelve months out of the year. Gotta be better than bathing in your own sweat all the time, right? So I have this whole month ahead of me filled with hot weather, check writing and stultifying family gatherings. Yay for summer! See, August isn't so bad. Even though it can be just as hot, my mind is always tricked into thinking fall is just a day away because the minute the calendar turns to the eighth month, the back to school sales start. Hell, they even have Halloween decorations on sale in August now. So while it may be 100 degrees outside, my mind is thinking sweatshirts and pumpkin pie and my kids going back to school. July 12th, mark that down. It's going to be a TiVo day around here, even if I don't have TiVo, which means trying to remember how the VCR works and recording one thing in one room and one thing in another, though hopefully they will be on at different times. What you talking 'bout Willis? Oh, pardon, I was rambling to myself again. Apparently not only will Natalie be on national tv that day, but so will my cousin Chris, who will be on ESPN's World Series of Poker or some such thing. The story of Natalie's appearance is thus: There's this Lutheran church down the block that sponsors youth groups on Friday nights. At least once a month, the Friday night youth thing is a battle of the bands. At first I thought it was that spiritual rock stuff, which I once heard someone refer to as ChristCore, which cracked me the hell up. But, no. These are local bands trying to gather a following. Most of them specialize in that whiny, lovelorn hybrid of hardcore and Robert Smith-type love songs, which follow the basic formula of: whine to melody/harmonize/guitar break/scream like you've been listening to early VOD/whine to melody/harmonize/writhe around in pain. Hey, don't laugh too hard. I fall for that crap. I like it. It sounds dumb on paper but when you put it all together, it plays like your diary on amphetamines, et to music. I've never heard these local bands that Nat sees, but I'm sure, from what she describes, they all sound like that. So long story short (or is too late for that?), the particular band that Nat seems infatuated with (Patent Pending) made it into a video contest for FUSE tv (formerly MuchMusic, out of Canada, like MTV without reality shows and Carson Daily) and they'll be showing the video on July 12th at 6pm. Natalie informs me that we'll be able to see her in the mosh pit and possibly doing some stage diving. Whoa. Screech. Halt. Mosh pit? You're going to a church-sponsored function on Friday nights and you end up in a mosh pit? Ok, this has nothing to do with it being at a church. It has to do with a convergence of lifestyles. No...no, not even that. It has to do with my teenage daughter picking up where I left off. I mean, it wasn't too long ago that I using my heavy duty black combat boots to kick some ass in a pit. I'm talking mere years ago, I guess 1999, Fear Factory with System of Down. My sister and I showed those tattooed hardcore boys what moshing is all about. It was that night that I came to the inevitable yet dreaded realization that I'm Too Old For This. My knees and back hurt for days after. I resigned myself to standing in the back of the club after that. So now my daughter is moshing, and I suppose moshing with a bunch of local Long Island teenagers who don't even know what a pair of Doc Martens looks like is sort of like moshing-lite, but still. This is the girl who just two years ago was swooning over Nsync. We talk a bit about moshing and she's flabbergasted that not only was her mother once a mosh pit denizen, but that she walked the walk so recently. Oh my god. You moshed?? Uh...guess where you learned those moves, darling? You think all that knocking people around comes naturally? You think your stage dive talents just appeared out of nowhere? Great moshers and stage divers are not born, they are made! Which, perhaps, is all just an excuse to drag this story out of the archive closet, because this former mosher has to go to her very adult like job now, where she will do her best to act like a professional, responsible adult all day long even though she is harboring thoughts of lacing up the black boots one more time and heading out to a show. Anyhow, the story of how my kids learned the basics, from the now defunct Raising Hell archives, circa 2002: caught in a mosh It started one rainy week several years ago. We had intended to go to the park just about every day, but the storm that came in the beginning of the week never let up. By Thursday, the kids were stir crazy and I was ready to kill them. I needed something to help them blow off steam and energy. I needed something to keep them from killing each other with Power Ranger imitations. MTV was showing a video. I don't remember what band it was, but the lead singer had just jumped into a sea of fans and was going back onto the stage to dive into the crowd again. DJ was enthralled. I explained the concept of stage diving to him. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. Natalie must have too, because she was standing on the couch, ready to launch herself to the floor. She wanted to stage dive. Hmmm. Hmmm. Yes. Bad idea. Very bad idea. But....but......excess steam......pent-up energy.....bored out of their minds. I did it. We took all the cushions off the couch and got all the pillows from the beds. We laid them down in the middle of the living room floor, just in front of the couch. I told the kids to pick out some music. DJ picked Metallica. Natalie picked Offspring. And I taught them to stage dive. It became our nightly ritual, tucked between dinner and story-time. Cushions on floor, music picked out, ready, set, dive! They sang the songs, they played air guitar and occasionally got me to jump with them. I held up cardboard signs scoring their dives. We laughed and cheered and I kept the band-aids and ice packs handy. The ritual stayed for a year or two. Not every single night, but most nights, we would gather round the couch cushions and I would put my kids in harms way for a few moments of giddy fun. Eventually they got too big, or as they say, the living room got too small, and there were more bruises and crashes than fun. Hockey and basketball and baseball have taken the place of our ritual. I like to think that our nightly stage dives had some sort of purpose, that when DJ is making a dive for the ball at third base or Natalie is diving to the floor to keep the basketball in play, that their skills were honed in a pretend mosh pit with Anthrax playing in the background. Humor me, ok?
__________ So, you see, my teachings came in handy. I hope. We'll find out on July 12 when my daughter shows off her skills on national television. I hope I taught her well. It's all aging rockers want for their kids; to follow in their stomping footsteps.